Don't make it so easy

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dear Man in his late 50's with a white puffy head of hair in the silver open top Porsche that just HAD to pass our car as we drove the speed limit on the mountain in Montreal:

Having the song "Love is in the Air" cranked from your sound system as you sped by us just makes it too fucking easy.

Please. We beg you. Just take the Viagra and simmer down.

Baleful Regards,

Pretentious Snob

Monday, July 28, 2008

My relationship with my mother is....complicated.

I rarely write about it because honestly I don't want the grief that will come from her recriminations and accusations. And there will be grief. And recriminations.

I have been in YEARS of therapy trying to come to terms with my experiences as a child, as a young woman and finally as an adult and mother to my own child.

While I never blamed my mother, per se, for my experiences - I did seek to place events in perspective.

Last night in a deserted Chinese restaurant in the town in which I came to adulthood, many years of silence broke into a hailstorm.

It was not because of my mother that I made the drive south. No. It was for my sister, about whom I also rarely write.

My mom is a narcissist. With a capital N.

I have spent a life in the shadow of her most beloved - herself. Her children, her husband - all played second fiddle to HER experiences, her opinions and her greater glory. She sets grand drama into play and then spins it all - hard - to her advantage. She is the great martyred mother, whose ungrateful children disrespect, abuse and abandon her. She accepts no responsibility for her part in any of the dramas she has created. She is a victim of them, you see.

It is generally useless to argue with this, as you can never win. This has led my to simply refuse to talk or engage with her in her presence. Which, I must admit, drives her crazy. She will up the ante until I engage. Like when she tried to wear a white dress to my wedding. And asked who was walking HER down the aisle. At which point I suggested she just wear her wedding dress and walk on my step father's other arm. Then I think I hung up the phone on her.

And I tried last night. Tried to withstand the baiting over dinner designed to draw me into this ridiculous rehashed argument about what a good mother she was to us.

It was when she asked me when I became such a pretentious snob that the dam gave way.

Not because I believe that to be untrue. I can be a hell of a pretentious snob. I have gotten to this point in my career and life BECAUSE I can be a gi-normous pretentious snob. As I have also been called whore, slut, bitch, and told that I was ruining her reputation by dating a black man ( I read this as nigger-lover, don't you?), the names don't affect me much.

No. It was my overwhelming need to serve this woman a dose of reality to her face.

My answer? I became a pretentious snob when I was forced to be the only adult in the house...say 1971 or so.

It was, in all, a foolish thing to get drawn into with her. It, as always, exhausts me.

But the funny thing is that I didn't feel any rush of adrenaline. I felt flat during this whole argument. I kept saying my be rebutted by being told that my childhood wasn't "so" bad. That I took my blog title from HER, since she always said that she was doing the best she could, that she never kicked me out of the house and withheld the last year of college tuition from me because I was dating Terrance....

Exasperated, I finally asked - "What do you want from me?". But I know what she wants and I can't give that to her. She wants me to tell her that our family is normal and all right. That she is/was a good mother and that none of the current events in her life, or the lives of her children have anything to do with her actions, words or omissions. She wants absolution, and I can offer her none.

She has reaped what she has sown. In her obsession with herself, she has put forth children who can not give her what she wants. We were too busy protecting and raising ourselves. She does not actually know any of the three people produced from her womb.

"Was I that bad a mother - was I abusive?" she shouted.

"No - I never said that. You were inattentive." I said.

My feral childhood filled with benign neglect came from life with an inattentive mother so consumed with herself that there was no authentic room for her children. We were props in the greater drama of her life.

Exit, stage left.

Mix with Sangria and watch the fun begin....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This summer my husband and I had some friends over for 4th of July. Normally, our child is safely ensconced in Detroit and we have a blissful month, where we act like we are child-free sophisticates once again. But this summer, she was home with us.

When she is in Detriot, we do wild things like eat dinner after 6 p.m., stay in bed until 10 a.m., read the paper all the way through without exclaiming "Emily!!", drink wine and other adult beverages and have really relaxed evenings in which I remember how and why I conceived this child in the first place.....Lovely Summer nights exactly like that.

So, we have friends over for the 4th and Emily is there. I proceed to drink ALOT of wine. In fact, we all drink alot of wine and allow our child to run around the yard with the flaming sticks of death that are sold under the brand name of "sparklers." [3 packs for a buck! Enough sparks to burn your house down - gar-un-teed! Your eye gets put out or your money back!]

Through our 3rd pitcher of sangria, I am a giggling mass of female. It hasn't gotten dark enough to see fireworks, but I am well on my way to full on drunken debauchery.

And in the distance....we hear sounds like.........the song "the Entertainer".........which would make it............the theme song for............................

"The Ice Cream Man!!!", come the joyous cries of my child and her neighbor girl friend!

They tear off running - full tilt- in the direction of their houses, each running and screaming "I need money for the ice cream man! Mommy, please, mommy please can I have money for the ice cream man? Mommy?"

In my mind's eye,I really must admire myself . I am quite intoxicated. I also realize the importance of having money for the ice cream man - in a global kids memory way.

I leap up from the picnic table in the middle of our yard and begin to run - full tilt- toward our house. I am not a small woman, nor do I have a small bosom. I must have been HYSTERICAL to watch run from the picnic table. Like pee your sangria drinking pants funny.

I get into the house and empty my purse in my bedroom. I know this because I found it there the next day - emptied, upside down. I am too drunk to do things in an orderly manner. I find my change purse and then begin the run into the street to catch up with my child and the ice cream man. I have had several glasses of wine.

I should not be attempting to chase down the in a truck ice cream man on foot. About half way to the ice cream man, it occurs to me that I am not built to be running in this manner. But, I make it and thrust my wallet out to my child to take what ever she wants from within, as I bend over - hands on thighs- and begin panting in exhaustion and the whole hearted effort to not Keel over and begin to puke my guts out.

Emily gets her ice cream and we walk hand in hand back to the house where I resume my glass of sangria. I may not be the most perfect mother in the world, but she's gonna have ice cream from the ice cream man, dammit. Even if I have to chase him down.

(originally published September 2005)

A letter to Paul from Sarah

Friday, July 04, 2008

My dear Paul.

Yes, I see you a few rows over there with a fancy grave marker. People dressed in the attire of our "day" wander in and out of this graveyard all day, pointing you out. Some people leave you flowers. Nearly all of them point small devices at your grave, stopping for a few extra moments.

And where am I? Your beloved wife. Woman who bore you 8 children. Yes, count them. 8.
Nearly four rows over...buried next to your father. Who, forgive me for saying so, is a miserable grave companion.

On this day of days Paul, let me remind you of just who did the work of revolution in this fair city. Was it you and your friends? Oh, perhaps as recorded in the poems and histories of the events. But we both know who it was. The wives. The wives who spun and sewed the clothing. The wives who cooked and served meals for children, friends and co-conspirators until late into the night. While your friend Sam Adams gets a huge statue down the road, we know who the real brewers were, right? Women.

We gardened, we harvested, we preserved and slaughtered the animals. We made soap, washed, quilted, stuffed beds with straw. When you came home at all hours of the night, I made sure you had food to eat, and a warm home in which to enter. I nursed and cared for 8 babies...until I died not long after our youngest was born.

Who stitched wounds, bandaged cuts, and wrapped the dead after the massacre and battles? Women. Who brewed that tea that you all eventually went crazy over for being too expensive? Who then served it to you in the silver mugs that you crafted? Yes. Me and the other wives.

Paul, ,my love, I am not saying that you and the other "founding patriots" of the day don't deserve recognition for your commitment to an idea that a society could be different. I am merely suggesting that the visitors to this grave yard do as Abigail Adams later exhorted her husband John - to "remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors."

Yes Paul. I watch you from over here. I watch the stream of people wander by you, struck silent by you - the midnight rider ( by the by, I thought that poem was pure hilarity - I know I was dead when it all occurred, and I felt for your second wife, Rachel...You galloping off into the night, with ten children at home. The poor woman was sure that you would be hanged before the sun came up.)

This woman stops at my grave. She peers at the name engraved on the stone. She brushes mud off the letters, as the damp spring ground sucks at her boots. She walks back over the sign near your grave and reads. She comes back, kneels close and points one of those devices at my stone. She stays awhile. She leans close, and in that terrible accent the people here have acquired, she whispers "Thank you, Sarah".
Yes Paul. She thanked me. She thanked me for weaving the fabric of the country with my body and my work. She thanked me for feeding and cooking and bearing new citizens.
She whispered that it is not an act of heroics, or lofty speeches that make a patriot, but the unending toil that is life.

Indeed, Paul. That is what patriotism is - it is stoicism in the face of endless work. It is doing what is needed, not for acclaim, but because without that labor, life as we know it would halt. It is seeing your giant grave over there, and living with the knowledge that without me, without all of the wives, the American Revolution would have gone nowhere.

Happy Independence Day Paul Revere.

Your Consort,
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