maarmie's musings

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas card!

Surprise of all surprises! My parents sent a Christmas card this year. I wasn't expecting it at all, especially considering I didn't send my father a birthday card or Father's Day card this year. I didn't send them a Christmas card this year, either, the first time in my entire life I haven't done so. I'm trying to send the message that I'm done. I assumed that, considering they haven't bothered to contact me since we last spoke in January, they were done as well. But I guess sending a card doesn't mean they're not done. It just means they sent one. It doesn't really mean anything at all. And it doesn't not mean anything, either.

The thing is, this card, this Christmas card AND the other Christmas card, the one sent to my daughter that included the standard $50 check for her (I already ripped it up), the ones signed LOVE DAD and MOM and LOVE GRANDPA and GRANDMA, these cards sent me into quite the tailspin. My friend, Michael, asked me about the tailspin and I hadn't talked about the card thing yet with anyone and the first thing that came to mind after a good 20 seconds of thinking about it was

Let's say you get raped and the rapist comes by your house a year later just to say hi.

Now off to think about this some more.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The usual Christmas melancholy

I seriously doubt I will be getting a Christmas card from my parents this year. I actually don't think I'll ever be hearing from them again. I feel sad about it, but, in a way, it will make my life a lot easier.

I didn't send my parents a Christmas card for the first time in my life this year. I also didn't send dad a birthday card or a father's day card this year. In fact, I will likely never be sending them another card as long as I live. I will never be phoning them again, either. I feel sad about it, but, in a way, it will make my life a lot easier.

The only thing that could make me forgive my dad for his final transgression would be if he called me up (or showed up at my doorstep!) in tears, apologising for all the horrible things he has said to me over the years and all the good words and deeds that never came to be. He would have to weep and beg for forgiveness and promise that everything will be different. He would have to do so many things, things he's probably never done in his life. He's certainly not going to be doing them for me, folks. Of that, I am sure.

So what will be, will be.

I guess it's good that Elliot has only ever talked to them on the phone once and probably doesn't even remember the conversation. The only photo she has ever seen of them is the group shot at my wedding. To her, they are basically nonexistent. And it's not like they've ever sent her any gifts to know them by beyond a $50 check twice a year.

They don't appear to be treating my brother much better, either. Two weeks after Thanksgiving, they still had not contacted him about getting together for Thanksgiving. Two weeks after Thanksgiving, it was my dad's birthday, so my brother called them again to wish him a happy birthday and see if he could go by their house to give him a card. During this phone conversation (he should be grateful they at least answer the phone for him!) he made a point of asking if they got the message he left about Thanksgiving. Apparently, dad just kind of blew him off by not mentioning the message or why they didn't call him back. With just a "Um, we didn't end up doing anything that day" the conversation was over.

Brian says he doesn't see this knocking back as disrespectful. When I told grandma about the whole thing, she laughed and said it sounds like they're trying to send my brother a message by not contacting him after he left the message. I don't really ever see the humour in it, and, every time I hear of them acting not altogether nicely towards him, I am angered anew.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Letter #4

(Note: These letters are in no particular order. I have lost most of the envelopes, and there's no date on the individual letters)

Wednesday

Dear Julie,

Hi honey. Thanks for the note...yes I have been waiting - not actually sitting, doing nothing, hoping and praying...but nonetheless thinking of and looking forward to hearing from you.

Sorry I unnerved you about your "passion". Sometimes I get carried away with my sporadic enthusiasm for writing and am momentarily empassioned myself. Don't let it scare you.

No, I don't have an e-mail addresss as I am not on line...so phone or mail are all the tools I have to communicate with.

Tommy and I split up and he is once again ensconced in the safety of his NP Richey inherited home. Such a relief. Guess I'm not the marryin' type girl. With longevity, men bore me. Better on my own so must concentrate on staying in that mode and not let emotions sway me.

Erics car burned - engine caught on fire and my poor little chevy at 140,000 miles is a tired wreck...but I still want to come and see you. As soon as I get a reliable method of travel I will let you know and ok a weekend with you. Am going to borrow a car, if possible.

So, you're writing has impressed brass. That's wonderful...if it's what you want. Send me a copy of your latest, if you'd care to. I AM interested.

Helped Brian and Cindy move. The bigger stuff anyway - then was given a tour of the new house. Very nice - and roomy. Lots of light and storage space. AND the necessary garage. That will keep carburetors out of the kitchen.

Went back to work, our of necessity (that's the only reason I'd go). Sales and office administrative crap for a furniture repair company. It's a study in inefficiency. Oh well - if it doesn't work there's something that will. I shant panic yet.

Eric and Sheri are ok. Both working and hanging in with the relationship. It's work at times...as it is with all relationships. (I've a crude attitude about coupling...eh?) Sheri is going to college and Eric hoping to - as soon as he has a set of wheels under him again. (After the freedom of being able to roll at will, it's hard on him being housebound and dependent on others for transportation.)

Is Dallas/Ft. Worth still a plan? If so, do you know when you're leaving? You seemed rather ho-hum in your letter about it all. Enthusiasm shriveling? Maybe a little hesitation about the effort of re-establishing? It's a mammoth maneuver...unsettling too - but probably worth the energy expended. Let me know.

Even though I don't miss Tommy, my life seems drifty and purposeless now. I'm sure the feeling will pass when the experience has a chance to age and life fills with new and bizarre adventures. This is just momentary down-time. Not pleasant - or unpleasant either. Just different.

Oh, re: the Tennessee Clutch. Tandy went back up there a couple weekends later and saw Grandma, who knew nothing of my interest in her eldest, Talmage. She sent some plants back with Tandy for me and told her to be sure to tell me, "This plant is from Talmages grave." It was eerie yet fascinating. Maybe intuitively she knew of my interest in him.

Mom is coming to Clearwater soon. Will be here a few months...at Lisas house. She is going to have a knee operation and could not possibly care for herself at home. No one there but her and some scattered neighbors and friends. Guess we'll all look after her 'til she heals.

Julie, I miss you. Need to see you. Seems like I'm writing in a fog.

I love you,

Janine

Hi to Garreth!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Road Dog Warriors

I graduated from junior college, went away to FSU, came back home for a summer, and graduated from university before I wrote to Janine. It had been at least 3 years of no contact.

During this time, I was busy, of course, but I don't remember ever particularly thinking about her or longing for contact with her. I don't remember wondering if she was thinking about me, if she was sad that we didn't have any kind of relationship, if she was regretting that she had desserted me when I was a baby only to come back into my life and effectively dessert me all over again. I don't know why I decided to write to her after I graduated. I don't know why she kept promising to come up to Tallahassee to see me, only a five-hour drive, only to never come. I moved to NYC and then on to Oregon and back to Florida before seeing her again one Christmas toward the age of 30.

During this long interval, we wrote to each other only a few times. I don't even think I gave her a forwarding address in NYC or Oregon or wrote to her at all when I was living outside of Florida. Seems odd that I could just disappear for years and not give one thought about any of it. Sound familiar? I thought it did!

To be fairer to myself, only when I left Florida did my anger towards my dad and stepmom really surface, an anger that took over a big chunk of my life that was otherwise filled with work, a boyfriend, the daily stress of living in big cities, and what seems like constant moves from place to place.

During that Christmas visit and the one visit after that but before the car accident that would eventually lead to her death, Janine wasn't working much and was obsessed, instead, with hanging out with Clearwater's elite band of homeless rogues. For a couple of years at least, she was working on writing a book she later titled "Road Dog Warriors," a book about their lives that never got published. During this time, too, she was dating one of said warriors, a much younger man with a penchant for drugs, alcohol, and violence and who thought nothing of stealing her money to buy drugs and cheating on her with anyone and everyone else who ever came along.

The only things I remember about her boyfriend were that he was terribly beat up looking and looked aged beyond his years. He had a broken arm from some recent altercation and was missing most of his teeth, probably from a combination of drug use and poor hygeine. During that visit, he was badgering me to dance with him, and, when I told him no, he told Janine to make me dance with him. I remember taking an almost instant and intense dislike to him. I remember not wanting to ever be around him again and was glad when he finally fucked off for greener pastures, though Janine would continue to have on again/off again relations with him whenever he needed some money or a place to stay.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter #3

Wednesday

Dearest Julie,

Hi sweetie. Haven't heard form you in a while so thought I'd drop a line and see if you're OK.

I just talked to you on the phone yet still feel a need to communicate with you further. God you've grown...surpassed the old emotional bullshit with Karen and are now in a workable relationship with her. What a hurdle. And your Dad...he doesn't mean to hurt you (it's not in him) - he loves you but perhaps for a time longer you have to be - to him - the little girl who became a rebel and revolted against the world he has worked so hard to be part of, a rebel against the mindlessness of societies bumblers, a rebel against the blind followers of societies mores, a rebel that had to be pulled out of a rough space...but then went on to conquer. When you come into your own, though, are steadfast about your own convictions, and proud enough to possess quiet dignity about who you are and what you stand for...he will have to accept you as an adult. You don't have to fight who he is, what he does or feels...you just have to be convicted without apology. Who you are is exactly enough and exactly right...for you...and my dear, who do you have to live with all your life BESIDES you. You're accomplished, educated, pretty, intelligent, and so worthwhile. You feel deeply for that which is important. You're almost willing to fight for your right to be all you are...but quietly and with dignity. Those who shout loudest don't always win.

I really enjoyed our conversation. You're so bright and love to delve into that which most people aren't capable of even talking about. It's such a pleasure to talk about that which isn't the day to day grubbles of work, the house, kids, price of groceries, or the dead squirrel that got bit by 770 volts as he crossed a high wire and got tossed by thoughtless gods into the path of a runaway semi. The rain, the malls, the cost of cabbage, or the new tombstones that bear a hologram of the "dearly departeds" face and a micro chip of their voice implanted in the stone itself so the family can still "communicate" with their loved one. The bullshit. You're real - feeling - and talk on that level. No games...makes life easier...and harder too. (God, does anything make any sense?) Guess there are few absolutes - and then only in math. All the rest is just winging it...maybe landing in a pile of crap (maybe not) and just keep on keepin' on until you find your niche.

I love you Julie and I'm extremely proud of you and the uphill battle you're fought to be who you are.

I will be up to see you soon...in the next month or two. Thank you for allowing me that BUT if you change your mind please don't hesitate to let me know. I won't push anything you don't want. You CAN be honest with me.

Hi to Garreth. My love to you.

Janine

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Letter #2 (which should be titled "Letter #1" or "I never did get that Christmas gift")

My Dearest Julie -

I am so glad you wrote. I wanted to but knew you were angry about Erics "party" and the outcome and I guess I didn't want to risk rejection from you.

Everytime I've talked to Brian he let me know what you're doing. Told me you were writing and that you had a nice guy that was good to you, as you deserve.

Sounds like you dove into the world of journalism and are doing well with it. Could it be any other way? You're talented! I still have some of your poems, have read them to friends, and gotten favorable response.

Seattle - that's a long way from home. Go for it! See and do all you can! Take those risks! I know you'll succeed. I really wish I had known myself as well as you do, at your age. I just drifted and never finished my education - more regrets. But...I have revised the book and only need to write the closing chapter. Then I'll send it to a company outside Orlando, whom I have already spoken with...and will see what happens. It means all the world to me to see it in print.

Have started another book of short stories. A twisted humerous view of life in a dysfunctional family. Also am planning to write another..."My Name is Day" about a friend of mine who has had a really temptous life. Many twists and turns. That's a year away though.

Eric has settled down finally. Since I've seen you, Eric has spent most of those years in Par Treatment Center...both in Bradenton and Clearwater. He now has 1 year sobriety...today. He has a nice girlfriend, Sherri, and a decent job. Seems fairly happy but who really knows.

I'm not working at present...except for my writing. Done some more freelance for St. Pete Times. I'll enclose my last one. God...don't know how I ever had time to work :) .

Eric, Sherri, Tommy, and I live in an old house. I love it. Windows everywhere. There's a jungle-like back yard filled with plants. (I'm in a plant obcessive phase now.) It's so nice to sit out there in the evening with a cool breeze fanning your face. Occasionally will even have a visit from a possum or coon. The house is right off Court Street by St. Cecelias school and directly across from Chi Chi Rodriguez's golf course.

Mom was just here from Montana. Stayed a week. If you two are planning to drive to Seattle stop in Big Sky and stay with her. The area is gorgeous...as her back yard is Yellowstone Natl. Park. She'd love to have you. If you're interested just let me know and I'll set it up.

Julie, I DO love you. I'm not too good at showing it, but I think of you every single day. Wonder how you're doing, what's going on in your life...and if we'd ever communicate again. I miss you.

If you and Garreth have the time - come home. Maybe spend time together...before you go off onto your new life. My daughter - the famous journalist - world traveler. God...the wondrous opportunities in front of you. You will accomplish all this...I know that in my heart. You're intelligent AND talented. AND I'd love to meet Garreth!!

Julie - I've made a mountain of mistakes in my lifetime...and I still make them. I want you to know that the two happiest times in my life were 1. when you and Brian came back into my life 2. and when Eric came home to live. My children whose absence caused the most pain and whose return gave the most joy!! Baby, I do love you...please don't doubt that. You're in the heart of this old crone. I do apologize for hurt I've caused you. I only hope you will keep in touch and that I will see you again.

Thank you for your letter!

My love -

Mom

P.S. Did you get your Christmas gift?
PPS Phone # is 447-6183

xxx



Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Life with drama on wheels

Not long after I graduated from high school, I knew I had to move out of my parents' house. I had been working part-time as a cashier at Publix - a Florida grocery chain - since the day I turned 16, but I didn't have any money saved. The only cheap or free place I could think of to go was to Janine.

One day a few months after I graduated, still without plans for college or any interest in plans from my parents, I called her up and asked her if I could come stay with her until I got on my feet. She said she'd have to get dad's permission first, which angered me. I was an adult, and I wanted to escape from dad. I most certainly didn't want someone asking his permission for me to.

I moved out of the house anyway, but I didn't move in with Janine. Instead, I was homeless for three weeks, living with a friend in her car in parking lots at Indian Rocks Beach. I didn't really mind being homeless - even sleeping in the car wasn't so bad. The only things I didn't like were life without a shower in the Florida heat and wearing a dirty uniform to work every day.

Three weeks into homelessness, my friend and I had saved money, and we moved into a one-room holiday rental with two double beds and a stove and refrigerator. We paid $70 a week each - a hefty price in 1990 for one room. We lived across a walkway from the owners, and we were under their very watchful eyes. They laid down strict rules of conduct for us that included "no male visitors." After we broke more than a few rules, we were tossed out and rented a slightly bigger studio apartment just down the road. After we broke more than a few rules there (I've never SEEN so many cockroaches in one place), we were tossed out yet again.

Lucky for me, I had reconnected with abusive first boyfriend by then (insert sarcasm here), so I moved in with him. My friend moved back home to go to college. After boyfriend dumped me, I moved back home for a short time, then back out and into the converted front porch. I was there about a year then moved in with a workmate and his sister. He and I moved to a few different places, and his girlfriend moved in with us when we rented a really nice two bedroom off Gulf-to-Bay in Clearwater. She quickly got pregnant, and they decided to break the lease and move in with her mother. So I was stuck with nowhere to live and only months before I was going to leave for Florida State University. I turned to Janine again.

This time, she let me come and stay with her and my half brother, Eric, then 18. I was to share Janine's bedroom and bed and pay a third of the rent and bills.

Things seemed OK after I moved in, but I could tell Janine was a bit depressed. I was busy with work and college, so I wasn't aware of the major downward spiral. Either that, or it came on quite quickly, but, three weeks after I moved in, Janine decided to go check herself into the nearest mental hospital for a nice weekend of rest and relaxation. The day after she left, her son thought it would be nifty to have a major street party and invite the neighbourhood juvenile delinquents over for some very public alcohol and violence. I came home from college as the party was just gearing up and headed straight to Janine's bedroom to watch TV. Not long after, Eric and his buddies ran in the house and headed straight for Eric's room. Cue the police pounding on the doors and windows and yelling for Eric to open the door.

Knowing that Eric was cultivating some very tasty pot on the roof, I told him to answer the door but not to let the police in the house. I stayed in the bedroom while Eric opened the front door. Of course, the police just barged their way into the house, permission or not, and started screaming at all the boys to sit down and shut the fuck up.

I stayed in the bedroom for about 10 minutes deciding whether or not to go out there. The party had nothing to do with me, and I didn't want to get involved. But I figured the cops would likely be searching the house soon, so I figured it was best to show myself. The second I stepped out into the living room, the cops were screaming at me to sit down and grilling me for my age and accusing me of contributing to the delinquency of minors and threatening to take me to jail. My scumbag half brother just sat there and let me take it and would've likely let me go to jail had Janine's sister not phoned at that precise moment. I answered the phone crying, and she wanted to know what was wrong. She didn't even know that Janine had left, and she came right over to get me.

Saved.

I stayed with my aunt for a week or less before I moved into the hotel at which I had been working. I lived at the hotel until I went away to FSU. Finally, I got to just work and concentrate on my studies. No bullshit. It was heaven.

Not long after I moved into the hotel, Janine, who had not contacted me since she came home to find me gone, cruised by the hotel to try and squeeze some money out of me for the bills. Considering I had paid a third of a month's rent to stay in her house for three weeks and considering I almost got arrested during that time because of her dickhead son, I basically told her to fuck off.

I didn't have contact with her again for a very long time.