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.