"If writers possess a common temperament, it's that they tend to be shy egomaniacs; publicity is the spotlight they suffer for the recognition they crave." Gail Caldwell, from her book "Let's Take The Long Way Around"

"To look life in the face, always to look life in the face and to know it for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. . .always the years. Always the love. Always the hours." From the movie "The Hours", based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham

"Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly." Baz Luhrman, "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)"

"A writer can do nothing for men more necessary, satisfying, than just simply to reveal to them the infinite possibility of their own souls." Walt Whitman

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant or talented?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Define Sensational

I have been told through sources (forgive me M. and M.) that I am not being "sensational" enough in my re-telling of stories, of life events; but what constitutes sensational when your everyday life includes on a daily basis arguments over money, the final act of just taking Mom's purse and withdrawing the cash from her wallet; walking in on Dad while he's cleaning his crack pipe, or discovering that once again Direll is freebasing in the downstairs bathroom and Mom can't do a thing about it or is willing to believe or accept Direll's denials.  It becomes slightly more sensational when you wake up one Saturday morning and Mom has a black eye, except the look on her face says don't even ask about it.  What is truly sensational is when Direll is finally gone for a period of two or three peaceful, glorious months; when life becomes truly normal and calm and there is no fear of what lies behind the front door when you come home from school; when Dad is finally in rehab and recovery and you find out one day that he believes - truly believes - in a higher power, and gives you advice that you will carry with you for the rest of your life, and even more so, that that advice includes prayer.

The sadness in it all is that there is no expression, no acceptable expression of sadness over the drug abuse, the violence and chaos and desire for meaningful interaction with one's parents and siblings.  The sadness comes out in other ways:  the knickers (by this I mean American knee length pants that button, not the British kind of knickers) that are so in style, that you finally got so that you can pull your knee socks up under them, shrink in the wash and no longer fit.  Or maybe it's that they didn't shrink but I expanded in the waistline.  Gouchos, or coulottes, are no longer as chic.  I want the knickers; I want to fit in, and suddenly the shrinkage of the pants are the most horrible, worst thing that could ever happen, worth tears and tantrums and upsets that no one can fix.  The sadness is in the disappointment that the cardboard replica of Parliament required for my report on England does not match the picture in my head.  It does not sparkle like gold; it is a sad cardboard box cut-out, done at the last minute because I had no parent to guide me or help me.  Where was the mom who helped my make the incredible dioramas in 3rd grade?  Who showed me what could be achieved with styrofoam balls and shapes and a little paint and material?  That is the sadness of a 10-11 year old's life and it shows itself in the form of a mean older sister, a sullen, sulky pre-adolescent who feels as if she has no allies when it comes to science fair projects (yuck), homework checks (who cares?); no after school programs or ballet classes for me.  Only the TV with its soap operas and Oprah and Phil discussing topics I can't quite understand.  There is nothing spectacular about that.  Nothing spectacular at all.  I am merely a codependent person in the making and god-willing, a child who will grow up perfect and good and get herself through school and into a good college all on her own, without any physical bruises of her own, merely the internal damage that fortunately no one can see.  And it isn't until 33 that I realize my childhood was not normal; that I am not crazy to feel as if I am going crazy, and no wonder I had no boyfriend in high school or college, or that I was afraid of my own shadow.  Broken, forging on, but really just managing, hanging by a thread and unable to access the true feelings that were covered up by the disappointment of social failure.  That can only go on for so long.  If only, I always said and then tried not to imagine "if only" because of one thing I was sure:  "if only" was never going to happen, at least not through any of my efforts.  And it certainly seemed as if God wasn't listening, no matter how many times I resorted to prayer even though I wasn't religious, per se.

I could have gone to a school counselor, a teacher, the detective who came to our apartment to investigate a "domestic disturbance" and gave me his card.  But CPS, the dreaded CPS, was possibly an unknown more frightening than the norm.  I don't know how I got through it, what got me through it.  I don't know how my brother and sister came out so together, even though I see the scars.  I am the only one willing to beat a dead horse, it seems.

Maybe there is room for sensational later in my story.  What you've read so far is child's play.  It is mere foreshadowing, for there is still time to get out!  To stop using drugs!  To get help!  To think of the children.  Oh yeah, the children.


  1. Spectacular comes when you finally realize you are grown up and in control of where you want your life to go. Spectacular is seeing the most beautiful sunsets Arizona skies can display. Spectacular is knowing people who are your friends and love you because you are spectacular.