Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cool Chimney

I referred to the cool chimneys in Sweden in another post.  But then I could not find a cool picture to illustrate my point.  I seriously cannot remember which post this was.  But here is a cool photograph.  It might not be the very best... I dunno, maybe I'll keep this post to illustrate what I am talking about, and I can update it on a reg. basis.

Fuck, and I am wondering why no one reads this blog.  Hm.  Could it be b/c I am even boring my*self*?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doing It

Doing It

When I was thirteen, my best friend April and I spent almost every weekend with each other, as both of our fathers lived in the same city, which was over twenty minutes south of the sleepy, college town where we lived in during the school week with our mothers and younger siblings.  Our siblings, though mostly invisible to us, went with us back and forth on these weekends.

My dad lived in an impressive condo that overlooked the bay.  While he typed in his rapid hunting and pecking system, I would stare out the floor to ceiling windows at boats idling through the water’s dangerous current.  There was no wishing myself out of his condo, so I would call April.  Though April understood that my father was the antithesis of cool, she preferred spending time with me there in this place of exquisite light and clean lines.  We would make fun of my sister who was eight years my junior while my father either ignored us or suddenly blew up at us, whacked-out in his declarations of our under achieving slummy-ness.  Her father lived in the more poor section of this city, though it was not a dangerous area, nor were there any family housing units that accepted section eight vouchers or that kind of thing.  April’s father lived in a seedy place with a roommate who we never saw.  We wondered several times if there was even a roommate.  April’s father had a perennial bottle of JD next to his bed.  His bed was a mattress sans box spring on cracked wide pine floorboards.  The house smelled like stale pot smoke and broken air conditioning, especially in the winter.  If I had been the more dominant friend, the friend with the power, we’d have spent our weekends, all of them, at April’s dad’s apartment.  I felt bohemian there and though I wore preppy clothes that my mother bought for me and that mirrored the outfits of all my peers, I enjoyed fantasizing that I dressed like singer Steve Nicks, like some kind of haf prairie girl, have witch of all that is enchanted: black, sparkles, and everything billowing and flowing. 

On one particular weekend that punctuated our regular schedule of time spent reluctantly at my dad’s;, we sat in April’s dad’s living room almost crazy with boredom.  We brushed our hair and then each other’s hair.  We organized our makeup bags and talked about tampons as opposed to pads.  We wondered if we were anything like Dicey from Cynthia Voight’s Dicey’s song.  Would we have immediately gone for adult for help?  Would we have been instant in seeking out an adult first before single-handedly taking on our little siblings, traveling across the country looking for a living relative?  Or would we have ditched the siblings and found a cute man to look after us? We loved this idea; like the character in the book, our mother has abandoned us at the mall.  Before we decide what to do, we would shoplift tee shirts from the Limited.  Then, we might take the bus downtown to the record store where we’d find a super nice guy who would take care of us.  He would be old, but not so old that he was no longer cute, like almost forty.  We would leave our siblings in the dust, we usually concurred.

While we wandered through our fantasies out loud with each other, mostly whispering our ideas about these men who were several years younger than our fathers, we took big slurps from a red vintage thermos filled with cheap wine we found in the refrigerator.  We listed to reggae, UB40, on his turntable.  “Red Red wine, you make me feel so fine; you keep me happy, all of the time.”  Her little brother and father were sleeping.  The roommate, as usual, was nowhere to be found.  We decided to look through her father’s bureau that doubled as one of the crooked couch’s side tables.  After rummaging for several minutes through rubbers, broken pens, pencils with teeth marks and soiled erasers, and endless receipts for groceries, we found a stack of neatly typed, tissue-y papers.  We pulled them out gingerly and then, with girlish excitement, quickly. 

April’s father was taking a creative writing class, we decided.  For these papers were organized into bundles that were mostly fastened together with rusty paperclips and some were stapled together.  Each bundle had a header in the left hand corner with a first and last name and a date.  Below this, but centered, each bundle seemed to have a working title.  Looking through all the bundles, almost all at once, we almost immediately zeroed in on one bundle with the name “Cynthia Danish.”  Cynthia’s title read, “The First Time.”  April and I locked eye’s and squeaked.  Then she started laughing and borderline somersaulted over onto her heap of pillows.  She mock screamed into one of the pillows.  Then she said, “We have to read it;  it is a “doing it” story. 

We had read a ton of doing it stories.  As middle school girls, we were somewhat “over” Seventeen Magazine, realizing that style was not something you gleaned from a magazine, especially not for “teens.”  We gathered our current ideas for fashion by sitting in the student union building on campus in the town where our moms lived during the school week.  We would take notes and sometimes ask older, college girls what the thought of doc martins with hippy skirts.  And were high heeled cowgirl boots classy with jeans, or were they just slutty.  We wrote for hours about these questions and answered them on occasion after watching and asking so, so many older girls. 

I passed the doing it story to April and waited for her to stop with the giggles so we could start reading.  She took a big swallow of the wine, wrinkled her nose, coughed, and then took a big swallow of diet coke.  She cleared her throat again, and tucked her silky, near-perfect blond hair behind an ear.  Shaking her head, she started to read:

I saw Peter for the first time when I was over at Chuck’s house. It was afte a football game.  Our team had won and we were all pretty crazy with happiness.  SO happy, in fact, that we invited the other team to party with us that night.  My friend Jane’s parents were out of town, so that’s where we were all at.  I was sitting on a couch, on Dan’s lap.  And then I looked into the kitchen, and there was this tall guy with super hero hips and hair that looked like a movie star.  He was nodding his head and smiling with a cute frown that prefaced the grin.  I imagined a carton heart above my head.  Then I hoped off of Dan’s lap.  And I walked, sticking my chest out kind of, but not in a slutty way.  I walked like this the whole way into the kitchen.  And I tried to make my hair bounce, because I have naturally curly hair and it kind of boings when I walk, or at least people used to tell me this during highschool.

“Boing Boing.”  April and I howled.

“Girls!” Aprils father yelled, or I should say slurred loudly through his paper thin, bedroom walls.   

I could see this red headed Cynthia.  I could see her looking at this gorgeous dude and I was so impressed that she knew she was pretty enough to got and get his attention.

“Would you ever just talk to someone like that?” I asked April.

“Like what?”  She asked.”

“You know, first.  Like, she’s going into the kitchen to talk to that guy.  My God, I would be so nervous I would puke.” 

“You cannot be like that,”  April told me.  Sometimes she could be such a know-it-all.  And, I thought, I have had way more boyfriends than her., so why was I even asking her?  Because, I answered myself, she held all the power.  She was the boss of the friendship; without her, really , I was just a half pretty preppy alone at my father's house on the weekends.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kate Braverman

Is freaking amazing; my God, I adore her.  She is like a poet.  Or, she uses poetry to write her fiction.  She makes everything you read feel like a narcotic.  I feel her words in a visceral way.

And this page:

made me feel excited to write; however, the writing I've started, the "story" about Ella, Ella's parents, and Delia is depressing to me.  The only kernel of hope for me with that project is the image of JT's old cape (which I've morphed into a New Englander), and the idea of the stained glass windows, etc.

Braverman suggests to you this:  do a case study of a landscape.  OK, resort town, you cold as a witches' hands, mean dark place, I will look into you like I look into the mirror.

I do think I differ here as both a writer and reader.  I am now less concerned with the writing that I am reading, and want more to hear/read about character.  Literary writing is less interesting to me, unless it is really good.  I no longer have "rules" for myself about what I read;  I love this; it is very, very freeing.  I wasted years forcing myself to read boring shit.  I want that time back.

Monday, November 28, 2011

I am kinda self conscious....

…to the point of being a shitty writer.  Every last thought, that tangled ribbon of nonsense, gets put onto the page, as though editing were a bad thing, a thing for assholes, chumps, or the nouveau riche.  I am in the middle of reading an essay over at Tav's magazine,  Rookie and fuck it all, if I could write like Emma Straub I would never have a sad or insecure day again.

I wrote nine pages of a story the other day.  And it sucks.  It is about a thirteen year old girl named Ella whose unemployed, addicted, former nurse mother commits suicide; meanwhile, her Junky father is left to deal, though he can hardly take care of himself, though he is a former genius artist with a fancy RISD bumper sticker on his clunky old gas guzzling truck.  And then there is Ella's half sister Delia who is schizophrenic, a loose copy of the real half sister who I feel haunts our life and who in some ways is the very bane of my existence.  Dramatic much, Violet?  

Here is Emma Straub.  Isn't she freakin' adorable? 

One issue I am having now is I joined a writing group and I am not sure the two women are right for me.  I am lured in b/c I loved one of them right away, as she is a real salt of the earth person.  And the other woman has some impressive cred.  Well, at least somewhat impressive.  I just think their writing is boring, well written, but not at all appealing to me; I need to be around ppl. who are more edgy.  But I am going to stay with them and be honest about how I feel, and maybe it'll lead me to somewhere else that will fit me in a better way. 

Back to the story:  I feel like I cannot get edgy enough with it, so I am dancing around what I truly want to say.  And it is , btw, super hard for me to write fiction.  

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Follow This Blog, No Wait, Steal This Blog

I am kinda a wannabe.  If I act/write/speak like my real self, I am sort of like a boring, less talkative, vapid Kelly Kapoor  character.  Even if I act like my alter ego Violet, it is like this, too though really.

Only, we know in real life how fucking smart she is.  I am sorta half smart. I have kind of a "fake smart"  or "smart, affected deal" blahblahblah.  I am a huge phony.  And I am tired; I would love to just sort of become who I am.  But I am too scared, I do not have enough money, etc.  I am no:

Read this blog.

Follow this writer.

Follow this blog.

Write comments about what I say.

Read what I say.

Really, I live with someone who is rarely in a good mood and I am not working.  And I cannot stand to live in my head another moment.  I have seen too many Office reruns.  Fucking save me.

If yer reading, fucking say something about me.   Even if it is only to tell me I have essentially zero to say to me.

I'm sexy and I know it.

Or, read this story, and tell me if you like it or if you did not and why.  BYE.

But my question remains:  David Wallace?  Is he derived from David Foster Wallace?

And my basic germ of thinking is this:  I am fucking desperate for anybody's attention, seriously.  If you knew anything about the prick-ish way my loser BF treated me, you'd fucking tell me to get the hell outta dodge.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thankxgiving

We're going to our friends' house which is right down the road.  I am pretty happy to be clear of in laws.  I ran into a casual friend the other night who lamented about the culture of Thanksgiving avec her MIL.  She went on and on.  I would not be able to deal with what she is dealing with.  I would say no, but I know now, from the tiny iota of maturity I've gleaned from my almost four decades on the earth that sometimes it is just better to deal with hit in order to keep the peace.  I am horrid at this.

I have the beginnings of a migraine, I think.  I am in a sort of denial about it, as I do not want to purchase my medication; it is so fucking expensive.

We lost power last night.  I was on my nightly walk the moment the power went out.  It was scary, but mostly so fucking gorgeous.  The trees heavy with too much snow.  The ground perfectly white.  And the air that reminded you of every sledding adventure you've ever had.  I was a bit onto the woods path that is lit up with street lamps and they went dark.  At first, I thought it was just the path and I just has bad luck with my timing, as this has happened on the path before.  It reminded me of being at a kiddie baseball game at night, when they shut the lights off, as it is finally time to go home, and you stumble with your kid(s) and your stuff, hoping you do not step on another person or yourself.

But then, I noticed it was not just the path, as there was a flicker, the lights going back on and then, reluctantly they went off for good.  I looked behind me, down into the street where the path spills.  And it was dark there, too. I scurried home, using my ipod to light the way. waving it over my head somewhat when cars drove past, worrying they'd not see me with my black hat and black jacket.   I looked like I was holding a lighter a t a cheesy, classic rock type concert.  Here is what I loved the most, well, there are two things really.  The way the star lit up the sky was intense in a way that is more organic than any recent experience I've had.  Everything seemed so real, so natural.  And then, as I approached our apt., I saw dim lights from the windows, people lighting up their rooms with tea candles and florescent flashlights.  And I heard them: Mr. Z and the old man shuffling down the epic stairway in the dark looking for the lone, lost momma in the dark.

I loved last night.  If I'd gone in the night, I think I wold have had a good last day.  We played charades in the dark and Mr. Z and I acted out scenes from The Office.  Life felt so sweet.  and I felt like I loved and was beloved.  I did miss my family though, mostly my dad.  I think I will always miss my dad.  It is something that will never go away; I do not want to let go of the hurt b/c it is all I have from him.  It is something.

Here is what I was reading last night and this morning: Confessions of a Memory Eater by Pagan Kennedy.  I'll maybe discuss it in depth later on, another day.  It is an extremely fast read and she has created a work filled with beautiful sentences, amazing imagery via analogies and metaphor.  I am impressed; however, there does seem to be something slightly amateurish about the overall work.  I cannot put my finger on what it is that makes me feel this way.  Again, I'll discuss the work in more detail later on.  I need to shower, get my migraine meds, make a salad, and get my family off to our friends' house.  The novel often refers to Thomas De Quincy's masterpiece, Confessions of an Opium Eater which I have never read, but, of course as a wannabe junky, want to.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

That Digression Business got on My Nerves

Here is a blog I read often.  I like the writer.  She is straight-forward and cute.  She reminds me of someone I'd have been friends with if I were like 100 years younger and was less edgy, I mean, um, not a fucking junky disguised as a normal mother, wannabe teacher. The blog is called "Confessions of a Book Lush."  I might've talked about on here before.  Her blog compelled me to read The Bitch Posse.

Here's an example of how I simply cannot just fucking say something without going on and on in this ridiculously silly, digressive way.  I'e got this digression problem, and though I want it to not be a problem, I also struggle when I a not digressing.  As our brilliant character sys, "That digression business really got on my nerves."  There is this book called Howard's End and the book's author, E.M. Forester epigraphs (not a verb, but I think it should be...) "Only connect."  Well, English majors everywhere and Mr. Forester, don't you think it should be, "Only digress."  I think this quote to myself, often.  But about digression as a problem, a problem that gets on our nerves:

I was saying...Ahem, I mean writing, I mean trying to get the fuck on track somehow (maybe me telling ppl. that bupes are a solution is bad advertising??  I'm worried sometimes about this!) I was on the blog, Confession of a Booklush: and wanted to tell the blog's author that she should read Summer, as it has been sitting on her bookshlef for some time, unread.

Here is what I say:

Hey there. Listen, Summer is a quick, easy, fun read.  I read it when I was a library director and led a book group; this was one of our books. I seriously do not think anyone disliked it.  We had a great time assigning current terminology to the older text.  We kept referring to one character (not to gove too much away) as the baby daddy.  For some reason we could not get over that being hilarious to us.  The protagonist is a librarian, so I was identifying all over the place.  And the tiny town where the novel is set is a lot like the town where I worked and used to live.  I definitely recommend this book to you.  I have never read another book of hers, but I keep meaning to.  I was going back and forth with myself about turning m blog into a book/reading blog and was counting what I read and was also trying to push myself into reading "better" books (less chick li, more classics, etc.), but it made me feel miserable, o I am reading very much like the slacker I am.  The point of this is:  I prolly will not get around to reading anything by her or any one else of any higher merit any time soon.  

To Lorrain above, I am now 38-years-old.  I have not read a SVH book in years, but am interested in reading the sequel that came out most recently.  My mother used by so irritated with me complaining I should read more classics and such.  She and my Reading teacher even offered to PAY me (with my mother's money, not the teacher's obviously) to read books of a high caliber.  I would not.  I needed to be heavily involved with Jessica, Elizabeth, boring Todd, and that awful Lila Fowler.  I think Jessica had kinda a "player" type bf, too, right?  

I have a 12-y-o boy who is not a bog novel reader.  He loves to read online statistics and sports stories, mostly about football, also baseball and hockey (and other sports, but those  are more parenthetical for him).  At times, I obsess about this and wish he'd read more fiction, thinking if he were more used to narrative form then he'd test better, and he' got SATs coming up (um, in like four years...)  But we get along the best when I really stay out of what he reads.  He has an assigned 0-30 minutes to read, nightly.  But, knowing how much I hated having my reading controlled; it felt so insulting and like my mother was trying to control my thinking even.  I would hate it if my son felt like this.  

I wonder though if having some books frowned upon and some even *forbidden* (V.C. Andrews, other "sexy" books you'd find @ the grocer,etc.) made me feel that on some level that reading was/is a subversive act.  I have a tendency to have a pull towards anything forbidden and hate to follow rules, thus, my reading always has felt a bit sinister, even if I am reading something mainstream, like Olive Kitwhatever (Pulitzer winner, recently).

I dunno.  I am like a big epitome of a blogging digression.  As I write, I think and as I think....  

I hope readers everywhere have a super Thanksgiving and that they have a lot to read.  I myself am pist @ the chick who is overdue with The Marriage Plot @ my library; bing it back already!!!!

Part of what draws me to good blog is what they look like. I am going to say some things here that might be a bit over to the top, and please understand, they have nothing to do with the aforementioned blog.  There's tumblr blog referred to dot dot dot...   It almost like inappropriate porn, really, but it mostly  illustrates the images-within-the-mind that so many ppl., girls, women, have in their minds if they've also got a weird-o daddy complex, as I do.  And for women who see themselves as much younger than they are, esp. sexually, this tumblr site nails it (no pun intended, iw.)  I am not including a link to this site, as I worry about the legality of it; some of those images are too innocent.  What the images do, the book by Jennifer Belle entitled Little Stalker also does; it encapsulates that pervy impulse we might have to be on the receiving end of a pedophile.  It is a big, huge, unembarrassed Lolita POV.  It is that weird, broken daddy issue that some of us have.  I am growing fucking tired of this issue, btw.

Back to the digression:  Am I deluded enough to think I am interesting enough for ppl. to read all of that shit?  I am practicing concision, not IBS of the fucking digits.  Shut it Violet, yer awesome and adorable, and man, sometimes you can spit out a smart sentence or conjure a lucid image, but calm down with the over wordy blathering on.

I write too much; I make sense not often enough; I make too many connection that other people fail to see b/c they do not scare my loosey-goosey brain.  I feel lost in my thinking, often.  I think that this blog in addition to other social media and ALSO the imagery that is not really organic the way it was pre1990's is a recipe for an utter ADD, disorganized disaster of any written thing, written by me.

Only digress. xo

Monday, November 21, 2011

Migraine the Day Away

I have spent the day in bed.  I tried shrooms the other day, but we got ripped off.  I am not even making that shit up.  So lame.  So, get this, fake drugs are getting past around @ Further concerts.

Today I staid in bed eating port wine cheese and baker's chocolate.  Boys are both on my nerves.  I am reading blogs and trying to wish myself back into childhood.  Ain't working.

Here is a weird thing I think about often:  I was fucking adorable until maybe four yeas ago. I wish I'd had more racy photos taken of me.  Or, I shoulda taken them my god damned self, for fuck sake.  GR! Oh well, if yer under thirty, take yer fucking clothes off and take a ton of photographs of yerself, for yerslf.  You cannot lose.  Yer gorgeous!  Unless yer a fatso loser fake druggie wannabe.  Then yer just boring and decided waste of my time... And everyone else's too.

Next show, hopefully I will know the tripping experience.  I am such an amateur, man.  At least I have the real deal with me here, and I am without a doubt, unwilling to share,  like ever.  And I am no longer talking about mushrooms.  In yer face, ugly.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Story, Draft

The Story--

First, A note about the story: 

To Whom It May Concern,
The following is a short story or a novel exploration; it is a very, very rough draft (obviously)...  Right now, what I have is this:  some characters and their house.  What is on the following pages is what has spilled out of my head thus far.  What I need to do next is this:  I need to have something happen.  The story is about Ella’s parents and their profound, but messed up love for each other and also for Ella.  It is about their problems and how that they do not have the strength to transcend them due to their own weaknesses and mental unsoundness.  The story is about Ella and how she triumphs despite her loss (her mother’s suicide).  And the story is also about the characters’ relationship to Delia (Ella’s half sister, her father’s first daughter) and how she (Delia) shapes the rest of the family whether she is present or absent.  This is trying to be a story about what happens when there is loss…. I keep thinking that Ella, the main, teenage character is (or at least becomes)  “strong in the broken places” like Hemingway talks about. 

And here is the actual, thus far untitled story:

“Living here all together was so sweet.  Even when we fought.
 I felt like it would never end.  I’ll always miss it.”
-Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Good Squad

“I want to go up to them and say Stop,/ 
don't do it--she's the wrong woman,/ 
he's the wrong man, you are going to do things/ 
you cannot imagine you would ever do,/
you are going to do bad things to children,/ 
you are going to suffer in ways you never heard of, /
you are going to want to die.”
–Sharon Olds, “I Go Back To May 1937,” The Gold Cell

            The year my mother killed herself, we still lived in the tiny and white New Englander that my parents had rented forever from Ryder, one of my father’s oldest friends from his RISD days. The house sat snugly on three acres of meadow, a knuckle of spiny apple trees out front and four stained glass windows punctuating the house's old clapboards which bathed our inside rooms and hallways with violet and emerald light for the whole entire day and for part of the evening.
          Ryder came up from Manhattan with his wife and their two small boys once a year to look at the leaves.  They spent the week with us, helping with household chores that were too big for my mother to take on alone while Dad worked as many hours as possible at the pallet factory down the street from us; they helped us with cleaning the house’s gutters and also helped repaint the deck a rich slate color.  When they had finished for the day and my father drove up our driveway from his job--where the only day off was Sundays--we’d all sit outside under the stars.  Dad and Ryder would strike up an easy melody on their just slightly out of tune guitars, teaching us kids and our moms lyrics to their goofy, boyish songs, born out of their unaffected, childlike perceptions that belonged to their art school days when life was one big welding project, there were no mouths to feed, and every other person was a like-minded hippy or hipster.   "The stars, the moon, your smile in June," we would sing and laugh, feeling like forever was a good thing, and not that life had already passed us by.  
            My father did  miss his younger days though; there was no doubt.  When the guitars were put away and it was time to drive back to the factory, the poetry he lived in often disappeared quickly.  His college friends seemed to miss the old days as well, only his friends seemed less sad than Dad and also seemed older, too.  Dad’s friends, especially Ryder,  seemed, in my child and then teen mind like this: they are wearing ties to work and sometimes even to the dinner table on certain nights while eating with  certain company; they are talking about preparing for depositions and the stock market; they seem collected in their mannerisms, their speech, and in their home décor, choosing clean lines over comfort.  My dad: he is wearing a perennial flannel and worn Levis; he drinks beer on our over stuffed couch, letting a series of Rolling Rocks clatter collectively to the floor in his absent-minded way.  He does not expect Mom to pick these up, though she will.  My dad’s friends seemed to take care of their parents; one even purchased an immaculate cobalt colored stained cape on a popular, resort town’s just for his mother. My mother stared at this friend as though star-struck when he told us the details. 
            “I cannot have her forever sitting around at our summer place, right?  Cathy’d divorce me before the summer's half over.  This way she can just come over for dinner and watch the kids.  At her place”
             Sometimes my mom had to borrow money from her father for the rent. My parents could never seem to save up enough money to put on a down payment, and Dad was too proud to borrow or just plain accept a gifted down payment on a house.  My father owned one tie for funerals and weddings. Each time the tie resurfaced from its burrow, we had to watch youtube videos to figure out how to get it looking good or even normal, like a person who was not impersonating a straight person.  I was better at this task than my dad, but my mom usually was the one who got it the most normal 
looking, but only after watching the video about six. 

          Though visually and viscerally fascinated with the choices this man had, both my parents also held a minute buzz of disdain, feeling that their belief system led them to their own life which bumped up against poverty.  They had to look down on people with money; if they could not do this, then they were failures.   I remember visiting this guy’s mom who hosted a dinner at her impressive lake house.  I remember she was so sweet to her son and even kinder to her daughter in law, which made us all squirm, as we knew how much her daughter in law loathed her.   This place was a bargain, she’d tell us.  But even as a bargain, she'd say "my goodness, the cost of this place is more than twelve regular houses off the lake.  I wish my father were alive to see me here, to see how well things are going for all of us.”  And then she’d add with wonder how usually art majors like her son were penniless.  She meant no harm to my father when she said this, but I am sure it was difficult for my father to hear nonetheless.   
           "What did the necktie say to the hat?" My father would laugh.  I would answer, my mouth forced into a serious line to perfect the delivery, "You go on a head;  I'll just hang around." My mother would shake her fluffy hair at us, happy that we were assuaging her anxiety at whatever event we were off to.  Mostly, funerals and weddings often forced us to not only scavenge for Dad’s tie, but also propelled us to reluctantly conflated with her rich, stuck up parents who sneered at my father’s “career” at the factory and seemed baffled about where my mother could find a hairdresser or a copy of The New York Times in the sticks.           

            Because I loved my mother and because she was an addict and then a suicide and also because I lost her so young, you probably assume I remember the dark things more intensely than our happy times: the reason for why my mother, desperate to quiet her mind, took two consecutive Ativan prescription of my father’s, washing them down with a bottle of inexpensive, red wine.   It is true:  I do see our sad times from those days.  I think of them though without much clarity, with a fuzzy, distant uncertainty: my parents’ rabid fights which left behind broken dishes in the kitchen and holes in the dry wall of their bedroom; both of their stints at rehab, when I worried the state would place me in a foster home and the vapid characters my parents would begrudgingly invite to our home, trying to make the best out of the sad situation that was their mutual, court-ordered attendance of AA; my mother’s “extra-curricular” boyfriend who dealt pot, but shot speedballs and  who lived in a lean-to made out of sticks and indoor-outdoor carpet remnants located deep in our town’s conservation land (my mother’s boyfriend:  famous for showering at the Y and then sometimes at our house while Dad ripped apart pallets, also famous for driving in zig-zagged patterns down our long, country roads); and then there was my much older, half sister whose sporadic visits left my father with a sadness so visceral to him, he would shoot up for days in his closet office, leaving his works out, a jumble atop blood spotted song lyrics.
            I can still see him as though I am peering into a dollhouse, the wall only figurative for the house’s spectator.  I am looking at this father doll; he is so close, his mouth big and handsome covering strong, but crooked rocker teeth.  His hair is thick, matted like a dog in the woods.  Looking at him in this way: his fragility scares me; I could extend my arm, reach into the house, pick him up, look into his eyes, and then maybe I could save him, if only I didn’t crush him first.  Seeing him this way, inside of this house without him noticing, I see a situation: my sister is gone after a particularly draining visit and he is like a man you’d see in a Vietnam vet documentary, a picture of shell shock: those boyish, scared eyes, eyelashes that both girls and women alike coveted, boyish strength undercut completely by uncotrolled disaster; everything in him and around him broken and beautiful at the same time.  My father: nodding out in the kitchen, too scared to be alone, but too messed up for actual conversation, the shapes of his words overwhelmed by low sounding vowels that sound like moans.  My father, with his usually perfect voice singing his perfectly boyish songs reminded me of an old man with throat cancer on days like these. 
            My half sister, Delia, had schizophrenia and lived with her rich, maternal grandmother in another state, hours away from us.  The distance did keep her at a safe distance; however, it added stress onto the already stressful visits, and it added to my father’s guilt which was already about to break him where she was concerned.  She would come to our house once every two months for a long weekend.  She would leave her suitcase in the kitchen and it would stay there until me or my mother bought it into my room, where we had a twin bed set up for her.  For the whole visit, with the exception of meals we ate in the kitchen, she would sit in front of the television while my mother watched the clock and talked in a voice that sounded different from what I knew.  Misery and confusion rolled off of Delia while I sat next to her; I was half enthralled, half disgusted.  And I always grappled with the confusion I had which was this:  was she hideous or beautiful or neither, just regular?  I always wondered how the same blood was racing through our veins.  I was like my mother in almost every way: light with light blue eyes.  You could nearly see though my hair, ashy blond.  We are both waifs, my father could pick us up at the same time which he does on the weekends when he is not too tired from ripping up pallets in the factory.  He never did this on Delia’s weekends though.  In fact, in the recesses of my mind, it is hard to place Delia and my father in the same room.  I can see her sitting next to me, only speaking to complain about our house or my mother’s food, or our water pressure.  I can see her dark, solid limbs and longs hair that was pretty, but too thick somehow, looking like it would turn into dreadlocks if she had skipped brushing for more than half a day.   I can see her near my mother, looking so dark and solid in comparison.  Near my mother she is always scowling; and there is my mother with her pseudo cheer, exhausted just underneath the surface, almost grey, counting the moments to the visit’s end. 
            Delia was built in a solid way, but was also she was tiny in terms of height like her mother I’d seen once at a rest area, where we’d met to pick her up.  This gave her a matronly look, which she had had even as a young teenager.  I think it was weirder for my mother to have her in the house when she would see the two of us looking so very differently.  My mom would look with her head tilted as though puzzling out a crossword; Delia was oblivious, zoned out on reruns.  It was as though my mother were a desperate woman, looking for a clue, for anything, a sort of figurative glue that would turn the situation into a solution; she wanted to welcome Delia into our lives, for Delia had been in their lives before I had, but mother could not love Delia.  And not loving Delia made the guilt of my father’s inability to care about Delia in the way he cared about me unbearable. 
            It was when my father got laid off from his factory job that my mother said to him one night in their room, the walls so thin it felt like they were at the foot of my bed, “Sam I cannot have her here anymore.  You need to be here for Ella.  Delia's got her grandmother.  What does Ella have?  Ella needs you here."
            And it was true, I did need my father in a way that Delia did not.  She had a safety net, while I had my parents.  I was seven years younger than my sister who only seemed like a child, but was partly into her adulthood.  She needed our father, too; however, her need was insatiable.  In her teen years alone, she had visited more mental hospitals than my parents had visited rehab during their whole lives.  Her life, despite the fancy language lessons during high school, constant cruises, and endless shelves of fashionable, but overly girly clothes, was unpleasant.  However, her grandmother and litany of preppy cousins cushioned the space that was her tricky mind. The French lessons, her leased horse, the swimming pool felt stacked up in a neat pile next to my own life: the rented house full of broken poetry and parents who lived in a hopeless whisper. 
            When she no longer visited us, I was mostly relieved.  My mother breathed in a deeper way.  And my father, after binging on JD for a fortnight at the bar down the street, seemed lighter, too.  She was not our problem.  But somehow we could not erase her.  Like the violet and green brilliance that permeated our house, my sister was a ghost who could not be erased.  The spiny apple trees out front, my father hugging our bodies close to his for warmth, the way the three of us were like the knuckles on a one body’s hand now was flowered with just a little bit of guilt.  And I wonder now if it was this guilt that finally tipped us over the edge. 
            But when I look back, it is not her visits or even her ghost that I remember with any lucidity.  Gathering memories of Delia is a struggle, as they--along with the other, darkly sad times--that were at least in part responsible for my mother’s overly careless inability to take care of herself, are like shadows cast across a vibrant sidewalk chalked with a hopeful series of hopscotch rectangles.
             My mother could hardly take care of herself, never mind her supposedly beloved thirteen-year-old, eighth grade daughter.  But where she neglected me, I rose to take care of myself.  Her neglect made me strong where it broke me.  And what I remembered in my strength is now infinite.  Her short, but pretty, smooth fingers as she brushed her hands through my thick hair, her freckly skin polka-dotted more so on the left side, where her face and arm was exposed to the sun while she drove me to school, ballet classes I received through a kind scholarship, and art classes at the local, art center. I wish you could see her like I do now, still: my mother, smiling tiredly at my as my father impersonates the childlike, unaffected and adorable Jonathan Richman’s infamous song about being straight.  They adore his razor edge ideology, as it is the opposite from their own despite the fact they have me and want the world and the moon for my life.  Mom’s head is in her hands, her whole body bouncing happily with giggles when my father sings with mock seriousness, “Oh, I’m certainly not stoned, like hippie Johnny is.”
        I have memorized the year my mom left this planet the way my third grade self could see multiplication facts in the camera of my mind, penciled hurriedly with excitement.  For me, even as a little girl, math facts were like prayers that were not fantasy or a just an idea; they were prayers that had real answers every time.  Like the magical math, I can see my mom’s last year on earth the same way I know my own face in the bathroom mirror.  I can feel her last living twelve months in a physical way, the way I know how my own teeth feel each moment--and each moment after this one--in my very own mouth.
             I read something years after my mother died when I was pregnant with my own daughter:  When a mother gives birth, her cells are inside of you, and your cells are still inside of her. When she is carrying and loving you during her pregnancy they are in you, and you are in her.  Then, after you are in the world on your own, next to her, coloring a picture of a star, you are also still inside of her and she is inside of you, too.  Each mother holds the cells of her children after they leave her body.  These cells are like tiny tattoos of your soul on her heart. 
            My mom had a tiny Polish box filled with mementoes from her girlhood and in this box she also saved my baby teeth.  My cells stayed inside my mother, until that year she took her life, like the baby teeth in the Polish box.  When she left this earth, I wondered if I was literally lighter on this planet, my cells less numerous.  The etching of me she carried inside got snuffed out, unseen, unheard, and unknown except to me and my father, and maybe other people, too, if they ever thought of us. 
            I can still see her Polish box, round and orange with tiny black, brown, and green detailing sitting on the top of her dresser though it now sits on my own holding not only my baby teeth, but now my daughter’s as well.   
            I can see this box vividly, as I can see other details in our little, rented house of my childhood:  All of my art work is hung almost professionally, though my parents have little money for small things, even like frames.  It is displayed mostly in the hallway where our stairs led down to our kitchen; and it is overlapping sometimes just slightly in frames resting on the tops of the bookshelves in my father’s office and in the hallway that met the stairs.   Every time I climbed the stairs to do my homework or go to bed, I could see my progression as an artist.
             I worked mostly with charcoal and Cray pas, but sometimes I experimented with other mediums.  I adored the idea of hand colored photographs.  There was I did collaging, too.  I would paint oceans of grey and green and blue hues and then tear these pages, sometimes for hours past the middle of the middle of the night, and then glued these oceans into shapes that were precise little houses.  These houses seemed better than our own, sturdier, less poetic, but sharper architecturally.   The collages were from middle school, as were the hand color photographs.  The charcoal started when I was maybe eight.  I remember the art teacher showing them to us, and she worried more about the mess than the product.  Recanting the teacher’s anxiety to my mother, she laughed sadly, remarking, “That’s public school for you…” 
            My dad’s factory job and my mom’s inability to find work as a nurse because of her drug felony could not place me into the private, alternative private school they dreamed of in their minds.  As a result, whatever grades I brought home were perfect.  If I failed English because I wrote poetry refusing to apply the assigned meter, my parents believed I was a subversive genius.  If I excelled, as I always did in my art classes and seemed to do in math as well, adoring the rules of algebra, which felt as perennial and true as tiger lilies, my parents knew that my genius was pulling up the idiot IQ of the  “other” more “common” kids whose brains certainly would have rotted without my presence.
            I remember the morning best, the whole house still and hushed with only our sleepy murmurs to each other like far off crickets in a damp, just lit meadow.  I would stagger down the painted white stairs that glistened under my artwork and the light of our stained glass windows.  Barefoot, I would walk across our sticky kitchen.  My mother was a late riser on her own, but my father and I were morning people, so she always pulled her body out of bed.  She had trouble talking so early, but she always made coffee for dad, tea for me.  As I sat in my chair, Dad would greet me like we were pals from another lifetime, recently reunited, “Good morning Cowgirl in the Sand!” My father’s green eyes held mine, and he smiled. 
            I felt sad for my father almost every morning back then, for he was a welder by trade and was an artist, too, our yard punctuated by his innovative butterfly and bird sculptures made from metal scraps found by the factory’s trash bins.  I hated that he went somewhere he hated everyday, and I hated that there seemed very little I could do about it.  He also was in a band, the band sometimes changed, as his buddies, like my dad, were always in and out of rehab, but there was hardly ever a time when people weren’t coming over to jam with my dad.  He was usually the singer, but occasionally played bass, too. 
            My father was not a nine to fiver by nature; he was a definite free spirit artist confined by the family life burden we forced on him without meaning to.  We would have encouraged him to leave if we had thought he would have listened, but he loved us more than life itself, so it would not have mattered what we said.  We lived so far in the woods it was impossible to find high paying union work.  “And in this economy, really, “ my dad explained to me once, “even if we moved closer to the city, in some sketchy as shit triple-decker, it would do us zero good.  They’re constantly union busting these days.”  Watching my handsome, artist dad, a dreamer if there ever was one, stuck inside at a factory—even on Saturdays, especially on Saturdays--broke my heart each and every morning.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Boys are Watching

Smile! You're Pretty.

The City.  I am in seventh grade, Mr. Z's age now.  I am flat as a board, wear an unpadded bra and big oversized tee-shirts from The Limited that says Forenza in cursive writing where the breast pocket would be if there was one.  As I walk into the heart of the city from my dad's ratty duplex, the one with the telephone wires scrambled in a cage behind the driveway, my movement is nervous, I would hide my hands in my sleeves if it were cold enough to be wearing them.  I am worried about my too pale skin.  Look at me: on my face is Clinique foundation a shade darker than my real skin thinking, incorrectly, that it makes me look tan or at least healthy.  I wear pink Clinique blush over this foundation and then--over this!--I wear red as apples gel rouge.  Three layers of crap because I am scared of myself and of you and because I feel the need to hide.  I think I ripped the rouge off of drugstore in the small downtown which doubles as the university's campus.  I also wear light blue eyeshadow, purchased with babysitting monies and medium blue mascara that cakes.  Though in my mind I have long, wavy blonde hair, it is dishwater colored with yellow highlights, it is cut in layers and hangs just above my shoulders.  The curls are hardly sexy and say only: middle school eighties perm.  I  might weight ninety pounds at this point, but I am thinking it might've been closer to eighty.  I remember feeling impressed with people who hit 100 on their weight in gym lass earlier in the month.

Over the summer, several months before I am walking to Rock Bottom Records to peruse the used 45 section and lust over the Duran Duran posters, I was at a musical with my grandmother in her boring little village at the Cape.  She is my height, with a froggy face that is on the cusp of attractive cute.  She has no ass, shapely legs from golfing, a permanent tan, and breasts larger than anyone I've met since,; my grandmother might not have mush, but she's got those double D's. She also has my eyes, or I should say, I have her's, turquoise blue and o matter what kind of bad hair day I am having or how concave my bony chest looks in comparison to other girls my age, they are remarked on, aften. People describe m by noting my blue eyes before anything else.

I am used to blending in.  I am next to my gram and we a re in line for Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.  My flowered Benetton Sweatshirt goes to my knees but it is tucked into my skinny white jeans in the front and is left hanging low in the back.  I do not understand that I should be showing my butt off yet.  All I know about are boobs, mostly because I do not have any to speak of. I am humming Jacob and Sons to myself, thinking fondly about the church we all went to before my parents separated and suddenly I realize that I am the center of the line.  People from the front are looking, as are the people in back of us.  I was humming so quietly; how cold they have heard me?  I want to ask my grandmother, but she is staring, too.  I must be so ugly to have them this entranced, right?

What I did not know is this: teenage girls are more beautiful than anything on the planet: brilliant, glistening stars punctuating an early blue sky, moss carpeting the labyrinth of trees in all each and every forest; the lonely, perfect sand dollar on a New England beach during the winter.  Teenage girls, even if the are weird, acne coated, flat chested, and the large legged, are creatures unlike any other.  And sadly, nobody whispered this truth in my ear.  My grandmother was so clueless thinking only of acting herself out of her welfare background, worried more about my pronunciation of words than what was in my heart.  My mother, tall and "handsome" had no experience with being tiny and adorable.  She was playing mirror mirror every morning.  She did not want to soften the blow of the world kicking me out of childhood, but wanted to steal any joy that could have been my own; it was my time.  I deserved to feel pretty because I was.  Teenage girls have always been, and will always be the most illuminated creatures on this earth.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Stories of our Lives

Here is what I wrote in response to a post by Gunther today over at:

I really miss Gunther's videos.  Gunther, I know you prolly have your reasons for not having them up, but seriously, I would *purchase* a DVD of them.  I remember that month, your "Park your car in the Harvard yard," all of it.  It was the month I realized you guys were all *real*.  I do not mean to make you uncomfortable; I know you sometimes analyze your “Part” for being a leader of sorts on the anti AA movement.  My unsolicited advice for you on this is to enjoy it and embrace it. 

I am rewriting my story, too.  All of the time and every day.  It is not like I am tacking on a new chapter though; it is like I am editing.  And while I am doing so, I am figuring out what my story actually is about.  And my voice is becoming so much stronger, too.  Even now, during the editing, there are times when I ask for "God's" help.  And this is interestingly, as I am evolving into an unbeliever. Sometimes I think leaving AA has completely changed me, everything is now completely the opposite of what is was.  It is like bizarro Jerry on Seinfeld.  But then I wonder if the change is actually infinitesimal, that things would be pretty similar if I stayed in AA; maybe I’d be uncomfortable with all the powerless stuff, the rapes, the control games, but I would look at these like they were only a   peripheral issue, and my voice would lucidly help new women coming in. 

If it is a huge change or not though, I wonder about my waning belief in God, especially my idea of God that was created in the AA context.  Today, I think it is OK for me to ask God for help, if only out of habit.  Some of the smartest academic and intellectual thinkers in our history believed in God with a fervor that I never felt, even while in AA.  Wanting to believe (even in the lame AA God) is not a weakness; for me, it is a way to make sense of this insanely beautiful, but mostly terrifying situation we’re all in, junkies, alkies, regular mentally ill people, or “normies.”   And sometimes I wonder if I had not hit AA, maybe I would have come upon another way to believe in God; the belief itself would have been similar, but it would have been a different mode.  And this different mode may have been far graver than any sick AA situation: think poly-type Mormon compounds, or think born time infinity.  I might have been the baby mamma opposite a sick, Baptist never nude with an appetite for teen girls.  Instead I am counterpart to an aging deadhead who still has visible track marks, but who loves our son like the stars burn into the night sky and who gave our spare cash (when we had very little) to Howard Dean’s misguided, but hopeful campaign.

(Unrelated Note: I drove with this same father and our son this weekend past the Eric Carle Museum, and Carle's stars danced unhurried in my mind.  This father, though intensely flawed is the father who, without question, would get the moon right out of the sky if his son asked.  The Eric Carle Museum is across the street from Hampshire COllege, where I saw Mary Lou Lord when I was like 18 years old.)

Mary Lou Lord is so fucking parenthetical to this post, but I gotta let you hear her sing, man, it is like watching a teenage ballerina dance.  And one last thing about her, the beginning riff to this song sounds like Big Star's "Thirteen."

Mary Lou:

I have a tendency to write into what I am thinking.  As I write, I am not only expressing my thinking to the reader, but to myself.  It is a long, clumsy digression almost every time… And here is what I am reaching now, as I type this to you guys:  I think the germ of my overall life story has actually changed by leaving AA: if only my perception of my story.  And it is like this: in AA I was bad and sick and now I am flawed, but good.  And I am working on having the most fluid perception as possible, as I do not want to be imprisoned by that easy, black and white AA thinking that plagued me for so long.  It is hard, but, as Rilke says, I am learning to live the questions.  And I feel like I am in brilliant company, esp. with all of you, even the ones I fight with and say mean shit to sometimes.  To end this digression, I’ll say this:  I am glad you are all part of my story. Without irony or embarrassment I can say that we are like Eric Carle's illustrated stars, imperfect and splendid, bumpy and smooth against the darkness that is our collective experience.  Thank you.  

New Idea:  Expressive, autobiographical criticism of illustrated children's fiction. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How to Let a Summer Go

Here is an essay I wrote an an undergrad.  I was often obsessed with how to let things go, as I as in AA, and trying to work both the program's steps and suggestions.

How to Let a Summer Go

"The days are bright and free, bright and free."  -Jane Kenyon

Start early, at the beginning of August.  You will know it is the right time, as you will being to feel the kind of anxiety so acutely that you cannot eat, cannot sleep.  Go running every night so you will not have to sit with the pain.  Wear a tank tops, shorts; pull your hair into a long ponytail if it's long.  Forget stretching, and just run.  Run down the dirt road until you get to the stop sign, then go left.  You will pa run past a Christmas tree farm, a pond, horses, a cornfield, and an apple orchard.  Fireflies will light the way.  They are no gone yet.  Run until you can barely breathe, then run faster.  Think about how your mother;s friend, Ed, had an affair with a twenty-two year old woman, and was thus alienated by his friends.  H trained for the Boston Marathon a a means to deal with the isolation.  Go five, six , seven miles, make sure you run right through the pain. 

(Unfinished, but saved and posted)

I adored this poet, Jane Kenyon when I was a young woman.  You saw her books of poetry everywhere, as she had just passed away.  I even used to go listen to Donald Hall read her poetry.  I craved her.  I almost went to her grave, but then did not, but fantasized about leaving her the one sand dollar I'd found in my lifetime.  She wrote with astounding articulation about the tyranny of melancholy.  At this time in my life, I needed a working anti-depressant; however I was thick into AA, believing I needed to be "squeaky clean" to be any sot of success.  I thought my success would buy me a head seat at the community of AA's table.  I thought wrong, so wrong.  FTG, in some ways, became my new Jane Kenyon while I was reading the S.T. blog; ultimately, I need to find a Jane Kenyon or ftg in myself.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who Is Violet?

Here is what I wrote on Gunther2000's new ExposeAA site.

Hello, I am pleased to meet or know you: 

It has been a trip and a half to meet all of you in this fragile, but intense Internet community. Some members of this site may know me well enough, but for those of you who are just joining this community, I am including some personal information (with caution, of course) and a description how I think and believe.

I desperately want to resolve the AA questions and my hatred of its ideology that remain, with murder, in my heart. I believe in reading with passion and with intensity that mimics any escape artist. I love the whole entire forest and getting lost in its labyrinth of light and dark; and mostly, I live to understand, speak, and make peace with what is the truth. I might disagree and even hatefully argue with some of you, but mostly I want to feel as though what expelled us from the rooms joins us in a way that is powerful enough to keep us from going under again, that horrible feeling of hitting the ocean's bottom, that feeling of despair and affliction that is so ugly that AA looks like it might in fact save us. It won't.

Believe in yourself now, this moment, and the moment after this. Of course, there will be times of questioning, doubt, for you are human. You are not; no matter how loud the AA voices might be in your mind, powerless. You have the power, if only a tiny germ or whisper, in the knuckle of your mind. Reach, and you will find it. Listen to yourself and trust this voice, no matter how shaky or faltering, for it is yours. The more you listen and believe in this voice, the fiercer it will become. I have left AA successfully. I am trudging the road of happy destiny and truth. I no longer look to a fictitious Higher Power, waiting for the miracle that will change my life, all the while looking for where I was wrong. I look first, to see where I was right. And in the words of Ntozake Shange, “I found God in myself and I love her/ I loved her fiercely.” It is my hope that you will also believe enough to look inside and find your voice, your truth, and your power. It is important to listen, to read, to absorb as much information as you can, but it is also important that you speak, and that you question all things. Please, let us hear that perfect sound that is inside of you like a lark singing through the night. xo

Miss Violet

My blog, which is awesome, or, will be awesome the day I can stop being so utterly verbose and can figure out how to get to my point:  Out of the Library and Into the Night @ Blogger or Blogspot.  Link:

Note: I write for this blog and with other anti AAers  in a sort of affected way, not of an intellectual, but more like a valley girl who would actually look somewhat like a 1970's, vintage Blythe (my avatar), but the heart of my message, and who I am, is the spirit and fucking outrageously smart words of Ntozake Shange.  

"I found God in myself, and I loved her/ I loved her fiercely."  Amazing words by this amazing poet and play write. I have been whispering these words to myself since I was maybe nineteen-years-old.  Sometimes, while in the cult, I would not believe them with conviction, but underneath this, I still had courageous wonder and hope... My belief in both myself and the truth was a whisper under the lie that was 12 step religion.  It is this whisper, thank you Ms. Shange, that saved me. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Why I Left

It is a difficult to express why I left AA without going into why I entered AA.  The two are intensely intertwined, impossible to separate.   I got to AA when I was 21.  I was insanely depressed, dreaming every night about going completely and wildly insane, dreaming of being stuck in basements, or the “playroom” of my childhood.  And the worst dream, the one that still plagues me, is the one where I was in the car with my mother, happily in the front sit chatting, and then there is nobody driving.  I am stuck in the back, and it is clear she’s left the car without as much as a thought.  This dream represents my mother unlike any other description of her, literal or metaphoric.  And with my vulnerable personality type, having this type of mother, who never had the decency to just leave if she was going to leave, has nearly ruined me.  She has left me in the back seat of the 70’s Grenada, appearing often not to help drive, or to get me out of this fucked up, deranged car, but to use my son as a prop.  It is something I struggle with still, but it now is better, I am older, and so is she.  It seems like such a digression to my story about AA, entering and leaving, but it is not; it is the most central piece of this story.

When I was 21, just about to enter AA, I was living in a basement apt. by myself.  I’d dropped outta college, not b/c I was a poor student, but due to depression, anxiety, and decided social awkwardness.  I still have this social awkwardness, which has always been such a mystery to me, as I was so popular as a middle schooler (the age of my son, now).  Ppl . do not think I am that socially awkward though, when I meet them, but I digress (and I will do so often).

I was in my basement apt., depressed, few friends, and without many options.  Though I was a “drop out, ” I was taking a few classes and could hardly speak to ppl. in my classes.  I realize now I needed good therapy.  Or, I needed a supportive family member to urge me out of my own way.  But I did not have this.  After a series of tremendous nightmares, I called my mother, crying.

My abandoning mother had frequented Alanon (due to her Daddy’s drinking) like a feathered hair slut frequents bars, sent me to the Caron Foundation.  The Caron Foundation, briefly, is a sort of retreat Center that is steeped in 12 step ideology and rhetoric.  If you’re normal going in, you’ll be a victim of alcoholism or an actual alkie on your way out.  An aside to put mymother's 12 step obsession in perspective: I also had a tooth that was rotten @ this time.  I really needed help.  My mother (who has an obscene amount of money) decided she would send me to Caron, but at age 21, the rotten tooth was my problem. 

After partying a bit too hard in both high school and college, I sat in AA, knowing on at least some level, that it was bullshit.  I knew I was nuts and amazingly unhappy, but I also knew that I was not an alcoholic and that it was even more nuts that I was rotting in “the halls.”  Yet I was paralyzed, unable to make any sort of move.  I openly discussed this issue about the authenticity of my “disease” to people, old timers, mostly.  It was decided, collectively, that I was an “alcoholic of sorts” and that nobody, but nobody winds up in AA by accident.  I now realize that there are many, many ppl who are sitting in the halls with imaginary diseases, some who have scarely picked up a drink ever their lives. 

The energy and social way of AA was poison for me from the beginning.  Though I have a needy, over dependent side to me, I mostly like to be alone.  I like to read, and I like to watch television while crocheting.  I like taking long, solitary walks in the woods.  I loathe crowds.  Bars made and still make me feel ill, not so much b/c of the alcohol, but b/c ppl. compete for conversation that is completely ridiculous and boring.  I hate being on teams.  The only team I’ve been on that did not leave me feeling suicidal was cross country running.  I am at least kind of a misanthrope.  And there I was, trying to stay off the edges of AA.  And I knew I was was mentally ill, at least a little, but not really an addict.  But get this: I became one in AA.  I entered AA with a sort of fake alcoholism, constructed by my mother and the Caron foundation.  And the school of thought that is the 12 step religion.  And I left AA an addict, not of alcohol, but as a narcotic addict.  But I am getting ahead of myself as I often due with expressive writing. 

In AA, before I was addict, with my fake fucking disease: I was 13 stepped countless times.  I think on some level, I might’ve enjoyed the perverse attention, having always had a lame-as-fuck daddy complex.  But I was not getting better in AA and with this creepy attention.  Almost immediately, I started living with a street musician (this totally gives me away if anyone ever reads this from my old meetings) who was about 20 years my senior.  My parents expressed some concern, but not much.  People sort of looked at me weirdly, but he was so in AA, as he was obsessively writing his fourth step in a big book step study. The sponsor I had felt that I wold learn about relationships from this man.   I really loved this guy. There is a tiny part of my heart that misses him today; it is like a distant lullaby from my childhood still echoes in a way I can hear, but hardly.  A distant music box in a far away room.  A tiny dancer that was once in the palm of my hand.

But, as you'd prolly expect, he was horribly abusive.  I was so fucking adorable back then, but he had me believing I was hideous and stupid. He wold read my papers for school and tell me it was like reading scrambled eggs.  There was a concretely crazy chick, Bethany,  in the rooms who would talk at length about S and M and ritualistic abuse via her parents who then stole her child.  She had wild eyes and zero protocol for personal space. She would come upon you and another person after meetings saying huskily and desperately, "Am I interrupting a private convoe? Is this a private convoe!"  You'd want to rescue her form her crazy, twisted mess of a brain, but you had to get away from her even faster.  He would often tell me, "You're acting like Bethany, Violet, you're just like Bethany."  I started seeing her eyes in the mirror.  And I was too ashamed to ask anyone what they thought. I hid the Bethany secret in a sick, rusted part of me.  I think that part of me was so tiny back then, but then it oxidized quickly.  And the longer I stayed in AA it finally becoming the biggest part of me.  I worry sometimes about this, as once a car is rusted through it is only destined for the junkyard, no matter how perfectly and accurately the engine is fixed.

When graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, and he said, “Jesus, so what?”  Fucker.  I cannot not blame AA completely for this relationship, but I can say this with certainty: I never would have thought this man was normal on any level w/o AA.  AA normalized the most insane ppl. on the planet.  We’ve talked on the S.T. blog about pedophiles in AA.  I think there was a time when I would have opened up my heart to a person of this ilk, as this was/is the AA “way.”   For years, I believed that the most sociopathic, mean fuckers could get sober and become good humans b/c of “the grace” they’d receive a la the blessed transmission line.  Once, my stepmother (who hated me, btw) expressed some concern, telling me that I was losing perspective, saying, “Violet, seriously, yer meeting the lowest common denominator of people in that place.  And how much did you really drink anyway?”  It is difficult to look back on this time and see how vulnerable I truly was.  AA teaches us we can restart out lives at any time, but I know better now.  what ever harm we do to ourselves, and whatever harm other inflict on us, causes injury that is, at least in some way, permanent.  Treat yourself, and others,  well today.  There are no do-overs.  There are second chances, but they are always more expensive and more difficult that first chances.  I learned this. 

I continued in AA, and after somehow ditching the street musician, I met a former heroin addict.  He was abusive ,too, but in a different way.  Without digressing to the point of ridiculousness, I am still with him (we've had our on and off times), and I will give him this decided credit:  I have always been at least in part a borderline anorexic.  He is the first man I've felt that I could eat around.  This man gave me permission to eat.  We had a child together. Astoundingly, this child born from insane, misguided fucked-up-edness, is PERFECT.    I learned about pills from my husband and doctor shopping.  And after a horrendous labor and c-section, I was released with a baby and a bottle of percs.  I relapsed.  But really, I think now that I am no longer in AA, what I did was not a big deal.  Taking a pill or two over what was directed.  It is insane and puritanical to feel otherwise.   I eventually drank  b/c I wanted to make it certain that I was, indeed, on a relapse.  One only thinks in this way, this land of black and white “relapse” and “sober” thinking, while in AA.  It is a world where minds are permanently shut.  The idea of thinking openly is not accepted; it is feared and shunned. 

My marriage to this former heroin addict was crazy, my parenting was less than stellar.  My relationship with AA was nuts.  I went, and I wanted my life to be all about AA, but it made zero sense.  I’d moved out of the middle class, intellectual area where I’d “gotten sober” and into a rural town with lotsa rednecks.  I prolly do not need to go into too much detail about what these meetings looked and sounded like. Fitting into that AA scene wrecked me.  For years, I drove an hour sometimes to get to a “real meeting,” toddler in tow.  It sickens me that I put my son through this.  I have just asked him about this, punctuating this writing and he has agreed, saying, "Mom, it was EVERYDAY of my life."  Often, I’d get to a meeting only to play with him and other children out in the hall, as other parents seemed less interested in their kids, and more interested in what their disease was doing to them on that day.  Yes, I am making myself sound better than them, but I was and am.  I relapsed a lot.  Before I’d initially relapsed w/ my c-section, I’d had about four years.  But really, four years of what?  Being “sober” from a “disease” that I did not initially have?  

I could get into the minutia of the relapses, the lame meetings, the pit my life became.  But I will not.  Things got worse, and I believe that my membership to AA exacerbated my addiction (I never could shake the desire to be half out of reality on pain pills after the c-section) and my mental health issues.  AA made me feel like complete shit about myself.  I never believed like I should have and I never felt like "they" said they were feeling.  And mostly, ppl really grossed me out.  Nobody had what I wanted.  Nobody. The loneliness that I eventually felt was noting like I’d experienced out of AA.  But in my mind, I believed that there was a perfect life for me, just beyond the horizon, where I’d be “happy, joyous, and free.” In part, I believed that AA was going to be my ticket to this happy world, but at the same time I knew it was bullshit.  And then, knowing it was bullshit, I’d want to leave, yet, I feared I would be fucked completely via “jails, institutions, and/or death" as the AA the rhetoric promises you, if you dare think of leaving "the rooms."

Years later (now in my early to mid thirties),  I was  overly extended.  The economy, as we all know, was falling apart.  The heroin addict husband kept getting laid off.  I was in a master’s program I hated and was commuting a million miles away to a job where a boss wanted me GONE.  I was out of my mind.  I wanted to die.  I fantasized about driving off this bridge on my way home from work.  I’d try thinking in that trite AA way to assuage my desperation. I was asking that nebulous hp to deliver me from my own thinking, that wretched neighborhood of shit.  I realize now that characterizing myself and my thinking as a bad neighborhood is a form of self hatred.  You cannot save yourself if you hate yourself.  

This is confession is even more trite, but I think listening to NPR’s “This I Believe” essays in the car during this commute, might’ve been what saved me.   My memory delivers: Violet is zooming over those dark, seacoast waters, the idea of veering her little beige car, shiny in its newness (her first new car and could she even afford the payments?)  over the edge of the bridge.  And from her car’s tinny stereo she hears words from Kay Redfield Jamison: “I believe that curiosity, wonder, and passion are defining qualities of imaginative minds and great teachers; that restlessness and discontent are vital things; and that intense experience and suffering instruct us in ways less intense emotions can never do.”  She thinks, just maybe, she can keep going a teensy bit longer.  And she loves that boy of hers, the one who looks just like her, except for his wide, Polish face, moony cheeks.  She loves him with every iota of her body, his cells still inside of her, as they will be for as long as she will breathe air.  She cannot end her life, as his cells inside her; she cannot do this to him.  And then she remembers something, her mother explaining depression to her, what it feels like.  It was an idea so foreign to her, at six, seven or eight, that she feels as though it was invented by a famous  storyteller, an idea from Grim. She listens to her mother explain that some people would drive their cars off a bridge.  And they would do sick things, too, like rip up a picture in their daughter’s backpack.  And Violet wonders about her mind then, what is memory, what was her mother’s voice, and what might have actually happened. 

Around this time, the time of dark waters in my mind, I got a call from an old sponsor. It is still unclear if she saved me, or pushed me deep underneath the waves.  (Without equivocation though, she suggested rehab, not AA meetings, but rehab. ) -- Do I need to say this? Dunno?

In rehab, they put me on Subutex.  This is a drug designed, sort of like Naltrexone, but it is specifically for narcotic addicts.  It is kinder, more gentle Methadone.  It is a drug that allows addicts to live their lives like normal ppl., as they deserve to do.  One can take this prescription@ home, and not in some urine infested, creep zone, littered with con men and hookers and low lifes.  A prescription for Subutex  is the beginning of a promise that ppl. believe in when they’re young; it is the light at the end of the tunnel.  It is the beginning of the ever after.  

I’d heard of this drug from a fellow AA, interestingly and ironically a 13 stepper who I actually slept with in his home while his wife was at work. Another memory delivers:  Violet is puking out orange juice into this guy's wife's tacky trash can with painted gel flowers while she is naked in his bed, their bed. On the wall above this bed, a thickly made, wooden crucifix.  It is not ironic art, but evidence of the way these ppl think or at least pretend to.  Weirdly, Violet thinks, they are not Catholics, but misguided born agains, clinging onto a drug store sold idea of Jesus like teen girls would worship Justin Timberlake.  This man, who is, in a word, old, is kissing her.  Waiting for her to puke, and then kissing her.  He empties her trash can and then gives it back to her so she can puke again.  She knows he is wondering about how she'll blow him with the puking, and then he no longer has to wonder.  

They say the thing that saves you can also kill you.  And I imagine this works the other way around, too.  I stayed on this drug while I divorced my husband, lost my house, and lived, with my son, in a fellow AA’s house.  We were controlled in a way that I could never articulate in this tiny space.  I add this experience to my many, AA experiences that loose their shape in my shitty memory, but remain, rusty and chafing, creating the person who I am and who I will become. 

It is hard for me to have a lucid handle on AA and how it has truly affected my life.  I wish I’d never heard of AA, but w/o it I would not have my son.  And I never would have heard of Subutex.  But of course, I feel like AA might’ve edged me into the narcotic addiction I did actually develop, the one that made the Subutex necessary.  But perhaps, I developed this addiction in the realm of safety, which I would not have had w/o AA.  Though my marriage and relationship with my son's father has been a nightmare, it has also saved me, as I feel this man has kept my addiction manageable.  He has done much worse things than I have in terms of using;  thus, I can and have experienced these things vicariously through him.  But then I wonder, did I become an addict to become closer to him? As Rilke suggests to us, I continue to live these questions.  Unlike people in AA, I am growing comfortable with a life that does not demand immediate answers.

And then there is this: I  feel like this Subutex has saved me, as it not only works as a deterrent for using, but as an anti depressant.  No other anti depressant has ever worked like this before for me.  Subutex made it possible for me to say hello to people, where before I would have looked at my toes.  It has allowed me to walk through the woods and notice the treble sound of leaves and the color of moss against soil.  I can look at sunlight with out feeling angry. 

I would not characterize myself as a low bottom addict, though I went through the most terrifying times in my twenties and thirties, after entering AA, not before.  I blame AA in some ways, but I also blame PTSD from my abandonment issues , and of course, I also blame bad luck.  I know that staying in AA would have wrecked me.  It made me feel like utter shit about myself.  That voice, sing-songy and evil in a way that mirrors an eighties slasher film, I would have heard in my mind, forever, “But where were YOU wrong?”  I've made mistakes, and I try to hold myself accountable when I can.  But mostly, I forgive myself.  And try to love that small, still anxious creature that is within me.  She deserves comfort.    

I left AA, and thus the 12 step religion, finally, as I ended up having a full-fledged affair with the married 13 stepper who’d introduced me to Subutex.  The one with the fucking crucifix bolted to the drywall in his bedroom.  I’d known this guy forever.  And I was so naïve and stupid and trusting.  I actually believed that this guy, older than my mother, loved me.  He was @ every meeting that I was.  I am not sure if he’s sober today, but he was one of those chronic relapsers.  I used to feel disdain for these releasers, as an early twenty-something, a not truly addicted young girl fitting awkwardly into AA b/c she had nowhere else to go.  Now, I get it.  AA fucks you and it turns you into this relapsing person; the cure is worse than the disease and it is designed to make you fail and it is designed to keep you there, hostage to its bullshit.   Mostly, these chronic relapsers are junkies who seriously need medical attention.  And AA deters you from this, offering you a free “spiritual” solution.  The idea that a junkie who is fully, and physically addicted can get squeaky clean through either the steps or life coaching is the fucking lames idea ever.  It sickens me to hear about it.

About this guy, as the “situation” with him is what finally pushed me out the door, or, got me to get up and get the fuck out… This dude was in AA to get his wife to let him stay at home.  She said that if he were “trying,” he was ok.  He was “trying' @ AA by hitting on new and vulnerable women.  This wife of his, a probation officer, btw, is essentially sicking her creepy old man husband on the women in AA.  This funny little Christian, 12 step couple is keeping AA sick.  But this is just one little, tiny, sick story out of a ga-zillion.  This AA life, especially here in the sticks, has been stranger than fiction. 

I was pretty shaken up by the affair, and about being on a drug as severe as Subutex.  I wondered how much being on Subutex defined me; was a different now?  I desperately wanted to get my life together.  I was from a nice town.  My parents were shits, but they were shits who raised me to be a reader and to go to college, and to not say "anyways" as a plural.  And getting my shit together while sitting across from a lecherous, old man with a shit eating grin that said, “I FUCKED YOU,”  while every woman in the room was not supportive of me, but pist that they did not sleep with him (he was pretty hot) was too, too much.  Ppl. seriously spent HOURS trying to help this guy who was and is, I know now, a con artist of epic proportions.  There is a part of me that empathizes with him, one addict to another.  But there is a decided difference between us; I am not a predator.  And I really was trying to get sober.

This dood kept following me to my car after meetings, trying to “make an amends” in a loud voice for all to hear.  I tried to protect myself, but nobody would listen to me.  They all insisted, especially the unattractive, over weight women, insisting, and “He is TRYING.”  Have you, if yer a chick, heard in AA that the women you meet there are FINALLY yer friends and that when you were drinking, you could never find a chick friend?  I heard this millions of times. Yet, I felt like sisterhood was a lot more powerful OUTSIDE Of AA; my female friends in AA being the phoniest, most manipulative bunch of chicks I’d ever met…

It was not until I spoke with a worker from a domestic violence type place (about a completely separate issue) that told me, “Listen, do not go to those meetings.”  I felt like it was my right to go and that he should go to a different meeting; he was the predator.  But the woman who spoke with me made an analogy, “Well, if you were being stalked, you prolly would not find it fair to get an unlisted number, but you would for your own safety, right?”  And her reasonable voice struck something in me.  It awakened the sleeping, smart, little badass in me.  I needed to fucking protect myself; I need not worry about my relationship with AA. 

And it became clear to me then in a wild, deep way: it was no fucking wonder that there were not more middle aged, smart women in AA.  THEY HAD LEFT TO BE SAFE.  THEY DECIDED TO HELP AND SAVE THEMSELVES.  They had looked ahead, at the happy life waiting for them just beyond  that horizon, the life AA promises you.  The looked around and looked towards their future and got up out of AA to find it.  It was not fair, but it was how it was.  And it sucked for me (and still sorta sucks) that this is not spelled out.  Ppl. do not break this down for you.  They want you there, in AA.  They need to feed off of yer normie blood.  And I think they know the truth; they are too sick to leave though, and they do not wanna be stuck there alone. 

And it was then that I left.  I have gone back a few times, punctuating sanity with creepiness, but I never wanted to be there again.  I’ve missed it sometimes, as I love feeling like I am not the only fucked up person around.  But “normies” man, they are fucked up too.  However, they aren’t articulating their mental illness that in scripted bullshit.  I used to cry when I’d read that part about trudging the road.  And I would feel a decided kinship to those “AAIOU” mobiles on the highway.  Not anymore.  I am a “normie” now.  I am still taking Subutex, which sometimes makes me feel weird and vulnerable, but other days I accept it.  I have, to be totally honest, drank.  I have had like two beers on maybe three occasions.  I felt maybe three percent weird about it.  I did have a slip of sorts with pills, but it is a nonissue.  I am bringing up the drinking and the pills only b/c of the way I was raised in AA to be utterly and unapologetically overly confessional.  And b/c I am looking at life in a more open way, and seeing these slips  for what they are, not emergencies, but small things to be parenthetically noted, and b/c of this, I feel like I am more glued to this world.  That horrible, horrible loneliness I felt predating AA, and felt esp. during AA, I recognize is from being abandoned as a kid.  And if I live the truth and accept myself for who I am without equivocation, I am mostly OK. 

Like Kay Redfield Jamison explains about her own life, I “have come to see how important a certain restlessness and discontent can be in one’s life; how important the jagged edges and pain can be in determining the course and force of one’s life.”  I keep going, and I keep going for myself and for my little guy.  I no longer rely on any dogma, but on my own  inner voice.  I am trudging, but I am trudging on a different path than I had initially thought.  We are all trudging our own road to whatever destiny has either been predetermined or created by our own hard work.  I am beginning to hear my own voice after years of speaking in 12 step script.  If you are reading this and want to leave AA, you can do it.  You are not powerless.  I wish you all of the best in this world.  You will not meet me in a meeting and I not there, on some level, to help you.  I am now walking in the footsteps of that blessed transmission line that you will not see in AA.  This is not the line that you met in AA, the one that told you to wonder about your own thinking.   I am one of the women who knew we were unsafe in meetings, believing in in 12 step dogma.  I got up and got out.  You can, too.