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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snow Angels

I really enjoyed checking on my parents.  We had a pretty nice arrangement for quite a few years.  Mom took care of Dad, and I took care of her.  Plus, I had the kids.  They were still little boys at the time.  There are many reasons I am glad to be sober.  When I think about that particular chapter in my life, I'm grateful I got a second chance to be a reliable daughter.

I know my mother loved watching me in action, raising my family.  I could tell it brought her tremendous satisfaction to see me become a good mother.  The kind she likely always thought I could be.

When I was very young, I played with my dolls for hours on end.  I dressed and fed them.  I changed their handkerchief diapers.  I propped them up in front of the TV set.  I made them go to sleep when my father came home drunk.

"You will make a good mommy some day," Big Mare said.

That meant a lot to me.

*******

The snowstorm wasn't nearly as nasty as the weatherman had predicted, but my mother was disappointed and reluctant to accept reality.  She loved a crisis, even if it just had to do with the forecast.  Without drama, why even bother putting a bra on?

I called the apartment and waited for one of them to pick up the phone.

"Hey, Mom.  I'm going to the grocery store when the kids wake up.  Do you need anything?"

"Oh, babe.  I'm watching the news.  It's brutal out there."

Two whopping inches had fallen, an epidemic of catastrophic proportion.

I heard noises directly above where I stood at the kitchen counter, folding laundry. The sounds of an argument, maybe even something physical.  Desmond and Rory were supposed to be taking a nap.  Little boys need their rest after lunch, you know.  For two hours.  Otherwise, they burst into flames and die.  At least, that's what I told my children.

"Hold on a minute, will ya, Mom?"  I walked over to the bannister and yelled up the stairs.  "What's going on, gentlemen?"

"Nothing," they both answered.

"Please don't tell me 'nothing,' guys.  I have ears, and I definitely heard something."

I saw their short, bulky shadows against the wall at the top of the steps.

"Come where Mommy can see you," I told them.

"We're fighting," Rory admitted.  "I want to play with Little People and Desmond wants Little People.  But he took the airport guy I was playing with.  So I punched him."

"It really hurt," Desmond added, rubbing his shoulder for emphasis.

"I'm coming up there in a minute, my dears.  And I'm gonna punch both of you."

"No, don't!"  They ran from the top of the landing, dropping their brightly colored pieces of plastic as they tumbled down the corridor.

"Oh, honey," my mother said as I returned to our conversation.  "Don't punch them."

"No, Mom.  I'm really gonna do it this time."

Of course, I wasn't.

"You hear that, fellas?  Your poor grandmother is on the other end of this phone, begging me not to dole out the punches.  But I told her I have to.  Nothing else seems to get the point across."

"Please, Mom.  No!"

"That's right, Grandma.  I have two of the most unappreciative sons any mother has ever known.  Ninety thousand dollars worth of toys in that playroom, a beautiful afternoon to spend indoors together.  You would think they'd be thankful.  But that's just not the case.  These two have to fight and punch each other.  It's unbelievable."

"You're not really gonna hit them, are you?" Big Mare asked.

"I most certainly am."

"You know," she confided in a voice that suggested this was brand new information, "I belted the shit out of you and your sister when you girls were their age, and I regret it."

I kinda liked what I was hearing.  Until she continued.

"Make no mistake.  You deserved what you got.  Especially you, Mary Jane.  You were the boldest bitch," she reminded me.  "Promise me you won't hurt my precious angels."

"What's that, Grandma, you changed your mind?  You want me to punch them extra for you?  Well, I don't know if I'll have the strength, but I suppose I can try. Since you asked so nice."

"She's coming," Desmond whispered from behind the towel rack in the bathroom.

"To punch us?" Rory cried.

"Yes.  We gotta hide better than this."

They dashed through the hallway and slammed the closet door shut.

"If you lay a hand on either of those babies, I mean it, Mary.  I will kill you.  I can't do it today because it's snowing.  And probably not tomorrow, either.  But definitely by Thursday."

"How about I just drive over there right now and make it easy for you?" I offered.

"No, honey.  Stay there.  The roads are too dangerous."

Monday, January 26, 2015

Modern Love is Automatic

The topic of sexuality came up again recently.  Whenever it does, I try not to flinch. These lively question and answer sessions tend to occur during the commercial breaks of TV sitcoms the boys and I like to watch on Wednesday nights.  Sassy language is bandied about in colorful, relaxed settings.  Casual references to pleasuring oneself  and "getting it on" spark energetic bursts of curiosity from my peri-pubescent sons.

"What does that mean, Mom?  When you masturbate?"

"Well, honey.  It's when you touch your body in a special way.  And it feels really good."

"Oh," Rory scratched the side of his head with his Spirograph pen.  I could smell the wood burning.  "I do that, you know."

"Really?"

"Yeah.  All the time."

Of course, I assumed he was thinking of very excellent hugs.  He is ten, after all.

"You do not."  Desmond vehemently disputed his young brother's innocent claims of self-love.  Having endured the torture of a fifth grade health class last year that covered some of this material at length, he seemed eager to set the record straight.

"Rory, you're not doing masturbation."

"Sure, I am.  When I'm in the shower, and I wash and stuff.  I do it, like, every night."

"That's disgusting, Bro."

"How do you know?  It's private."

"Well if it's so private, just shut up about it then.  I think I'm gonna be sick."

"That's not nice, Desmond.  Masturbation is a natural, beautiful thing.  But you're both right.  It is private.  So you should keep it to yourself."

One thing about my children that I find particularly satisfying is that, for the most part, they seem to be listening to what I have to say.  What a huge responsibility.  I try to give them all the details I can.  They're gonna need this information.  This is a modern world.

"Hey, Mom."

"Yes, honey."

"What does it mean to be a closeted homosexual?"

"Well, that's not a particularly nice thing to say, sweetheart.  Folks may suggest someone is hiding in the closet when that person isn't confident enough to reveal whether he or she likes boys or girls."

"Why does that matter?"

"It doesn't."

"Then how come other people care so much?"

"Because they're nosy."

"Because they're jerks," Desmond remarked.

"Why do closeted homosexuals have to hide?" Rory asked.

"They could be self-conscious or frightened.  They might not understand their own feelings.  They may be afraid of what their friends might say.  Some people can be very mean."

"Oh, yeah?  Well, I like both boys and girls."

I didn't actually see Desmond slap his hand across his own face, but I heard the sound it made.  And I heard him mumble, "Oh, God," under his breath.

"Knock it off, you." I warned.

Desmond is our resident robot, and as broad-minded as he can be in the fields of science and technology, he struggles when processing emotional issues.  This data did not compute.

"You can't like boys and girls at the same time," he told his brother.  "You have to pick one style."

"Is that true, Mom?"

"No, babe.  You can like whoever you want."

"That means I'm bi-sexual, right?"

"I guess."

It makes perfect sense that if given a choice, Rory prefers access to many options. More just seems like a better idea.  He has a big, bold appetite for life.

"How about you, Des?  Guys or girls?"

Analytical by nature, Desmond is careful with his evaluations.  At twelve years of age, he currently stands right at the gate of adolescence, looking through the fence at all the confusion.  He's not in any hurry to enter the fray.

"I think I'm supposed to feel something, and I don't feel anything yet.  I'm not gonna make a decision until that happens."

He rubbed his eyes.  It looked as if he might have been getting upset, but the moment passed almost immediately.  Growing up is nuts, and he is logical.  That can't be an easy combination.

"It's okay if you're gay, you know," Rory replied.  "I'm still gonna love you.  And I'll definitely be in your wedding."

"And I promise to love you, even if you're straight," I added.

"I don't think I'm gay," Desmond responded thoughtfully.

"Fine, whatever.  I don't care."  Rory held up the piece of paper he was working on, so I could admire the design he'd created.

"It's nice," I said.

"Thanks."

"You know, Bro," Desmond continued.  "You probably like girls more.  You're just too young to realize."

"No, I'm definitely bi-sexual," Rory insisted.  "I want it all."

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Alone Again Or...


There is a specific chair in my heart.  A stackable wooden one, the kind you might find in a bar or restaurant.  Covered in crepe paper streamers with balloons taped to the frame and all around the seat.  I decorated this chair myself.  It is truly a sight for sore eyes, but this chair is for you, Claire.  Here is where you can sit and be with me for the rest of my life.

I will bring you the gifts of my everyday pursuits and place them at your feet.  Just as I've always done.  As you unwrap and examine each story and occasion, admiring the contents, I will tape all the ribbons and bows to a paper plate and make you a ridiculous hat.

"You have to wear this thing, you know.  At least, so we can get a photo," I'll suggest.  And you will make a face because your hair looks so wonderful, and this monstrous headpiece will surely put an end to that.

"Can't we do it later?" you'll ask, grabbing my hands in yours.  "This is such a magnificent party, Mary.  I simply adore you!  And I can't get over this chair."

"No." I instruct, ignoring your request and fastening the straps beneath your chin.  "Later, we'll forget.  We have to take the picture right now.  Hold it straight, just like this.  I'm gonna run to the car and look for the camera."

And of course, you'll indulge me.  You always do.

When you told me you were sick, my darling Claire, I immediately went to God to voice my complaints.  I mean, concerns.  He and I are close, but I knew right away that my happiness was in jeopardy.

"Oh no, you don't," is what I said.  To God.

As if my reluctance to accept this news would somehow challenge and affect the outcome.

"Oh no, you don't."

Perhaps the most unproductive response one might choose when confronted with unpleasant information.  But given the circumstances, "Oh no, you don't" was all I could manage.  A knee-jerk reaction.  I know you'll never agree, but I can be such a jerk.

I realize our lives are always changing, and that's how we continue to grow.  We talk about this all the time, Claire.  You are the person I come to, without fail, to discuss these potential changes and celebrate all the growth.  And awareness.  And enlightenment.  And awesome, awesome haircuts.  Now, none of that seems possible without you.  And I am beside myself.

I need God more than ever.  But instead, I continued to threaten him.

"How dare you," I cried, indignantly.  "How dare you."  To God.

I use "How dare you" with my children when they misbehave and I'm at my wits' end.  When I really want to get their attention and nothing else is working.  "How dare you" seems to suggest "Mister, you have gone too far."  But unfortunately, there's something about "How dare you" that makes them cry.  And then, I cry.  And I end up feeling worse.

Well, the same thing happened with God.

I knew you would leave me.  I could feel the shift when you and I last spoke. My prayers were reckless and self-serving.  I scrambled to prevent this change.

"I'm sorry I didn't call you back," you said.  "Please know that I love you."

As if there were ever a doubt.  You have loved me from the moment we met.  I remember trying to describe you to my husband.  Your lively, benevolent nature.  "She can't be for real," I said.  "No one is that good."

And I was wrong.  You are  that good.  You are  the perfect friend.

Back to God I went, this time with what I thought was a much less hostile approach.

"I don't want to be without this girl.  Please, Lord.  Anyone, but her."

I am brokenhearted, but I remain faithful that God knows how desperate I feel.  He recognizes the depths of my sorrow.  He also believes in my strength and worth.  God has blessed me with one of the most beautiful relationships I have ever known.  Your love has been a gift that no one but God could have given me.

I don't understand everything yet.  But you are an angel, Claire.  Of this, I am certain.  And you are here in a new and different way.

That's why I decorated the chair.  So we can be together.

Thank you, God for giving me the idea.  For giving me what I need, even if it's not what I want.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken


I had a job at this magazine for a while.  I worked with these two guys, Lloyd and Matthew.  I dug them both, and we got along well.  Neither picked up on my availability, though.  Probably because I sucked at sexual cues.  So we just hung out together after work.

These dudes hit the booze pretty hard, which was just fine with me.  And there was never a shortage of cocaine.  They were generous, and I was always appreciative.  I loved when a drink at the end of the day lasted all night.  And I couldn't wait to have at it again.

Lloyd had a girlfriend.  Her name was Tamara, and she was a student.  I only met her once.  She wasn't particularly friendly and didn't strike me as anything special, but he was crazy about her.  He kept her photograph in a frame on his desk, where she stood stone-faced in the basket of a hot air balloon.  I found myself staring at that image constantly, wondering what she had that I lacked.  I wished someone cared enough about me to keep my picture nearby like that.  At least, I'd manage a smile. But no one at the time was even the least bit interested in what I had to offer.

Matthew liked this chick in our department, Linda.  She had to know he was into her and seemed to delight in letting him dangle.  It was rough to watch.  He was such a bright young man otherwise, with a big heart and a terrific sense of humor.

Linda and I worked together occasionally on assignments.  I could tell she thought I was half a wheel and my pals were dicks, so she kept her distance socially.  Except if she knew we had blow.  Then she was like a cat, rubbing against everybody's legs.  I didn't like that about her, but I kinda did the same thing sometimes.

We stood at the back door of some bar on Eighth Avenue, doing quick freezes from the gram we bought.  The line waiting on the bathroom was ridiculous.

"As soon as we're done here, I'm gonna ask her out," Matt announced with coke-fueled confidence.

"Don't," Lloyd warned.  "She's gonna say no."

"That one's a man eater," I added.

 "She'll rip you to shreds, brother.  And me and Mary will be sad."

"I cry easy," I told them both.

"She'll say yes," Matt insisted and headed back inside.

Linda draped her hair and arms across several of my co-workers, making certain to help herself to the remainder of our dope.  She ordered specialty margaritas which Matthew gladly paid for.  Then she categorically rejected my friend and pranced into the street with some bald guy she just met.

"I told you, Matty.  She's a bitch, just like her mother." I set our fresh beers down on the table.

"You know her mother?" he asked.

"No."

"Then why'd you say that?"

"To prove a point."

"I don't get it.  What's your point?"

"My point is…"  I paused to try and catch up with the last few words that escaped from my mouth.  Luckily, I reached them just in time for me to start talking again. "My point is she's a bitch."

Lloyd backed me up.  "I can't agree more."

"You're not really helping, you know.  Besides, I got a feeling she'll come around."

Matthew smiled like he had a secret and took a long swallow of his draft.  The foam clung to his moustache.  Gosh, he was adorable.

"Did you see the way she danced with me?  She definitely wants the Matty Experience.  She just doesn't realize it yet."  He kept grinning and drained his pint.

Yeah, that's it."  Lloyd nodded, checking his watch.  "She wanted it so bad, she left with Professor X."

"She'll get tired of pushing that motherfucker's wheelchair around.  And when she does, I'm gonna point her right in the direction of my two good legs.  And my cock."

The three of us busted up, laughing.  I wanted to go home with both of them.  And be together forever.

"I gotta split."  Lloyd grabbed his jacket from the back of his chair.  "Tammy made enchiladas."

He leaned over the table to kiss me goodbye.

"Well then, you probably should marry her," Matty joked.

"Not tonight," Lloyd said.  "Someday, maybe."

They shook hands, hugged and stood saying things for an additional fifteen minutes.  Matt and I bought some more drugs and stopped in another dive on the way back to the subway.

"I just don't get it," he said, lifting his head from our operation on the back of a broken toilet tank in the ladies' room.

"Dag, Matty.  Linda's a cunt.  Open your eyes, man."

"Now, that's where you're wrong.  She's everything I'm looking for."

"Then you must be looking for a giant-sized Godzilla monster.  Move," I instructed as we switched positions, and I got my turn with a big, fat line.

"I guess I don't understand women.  How come you think she's like that?"

I thought about his question as best I could.  After several hours with the powder, explaining my thoughts with any measure of clarity was difficult.

"Because you make it easy for her to treat you like shit," I told him.

"Hmm.  Maybe."

Matthew stared into space for a brief moment, considering this detail, perhaps.

"Here's something I do know, Mare.  I love you."

"I love you too, Matt."

"Let's get outta here."

I should have headed home, but my mind still said go.  We rode the train together to his apartment, and he yammered on some more about Linda.  We drank wine and when that ran out, whiskey with soda.  The morning arrived.  That's when most folks reconsider another run.  They know they should be eating breakfast instead of scoring dope.  So I waited to see what my host wanted to do.

"I gotta take a nap," Matt said.

"Yeah.  Me, too."

We laid in his bed and smoked a joint.  I didn't want to be awake any longer but I wasn't tired, just exhausted.  Matt turned toward me on the mattress, leaning on his elbow.

"You're a good girl," he said.

I felt sick, and his words were like medicine.  I touched his face gently.

"Maybe we should fool around," I suggested.  "So we can sleep."

And we did.  It was awkward and empty and terrible.  I wasn't what he wanted, and it ruined our relationship.

Of course, I blamed Linda.  I had no problem taking money from her purse after that.  Until she got fired a few weeks later.  For being a bitch, I'm guessing.

She cried the day they cut her loose.  Matty helped collect her crap from her cubicle and offered to take her to dinner.  Supposedly, she got so drunk, she finally let him fuck her.  He didn't tell me, though.  Lloyd did.

By then, Matty and I weren't really friends anymore.

Monday, January 12, 2015

God Left the Ground to Circle the Earth


When the telephone rang, I grabbed for it before any of the other girls could answer.

"Manchester and Associates.  This is Mary.  How may I help you?"

"Yeah, it's me," Charlie muttered.

I braced myself but didn't say a word.  I knew he'd be calling.  I left this morning before he woke up.

Last night was insane.  That's the worst it's ever gotten.  We haven't been together long, but there sure have been some ugly fights.  Actually, they aren't really fights. Charlie gets high, and I get mad.  I get high and needle him.  He gets mad and breaks things.  I don't have much, but I kinda feel like I'm running out of things for him to break.

It does seem like he's getting more comfortable throwing punches though, and that makes me a little nervous.  But it's not entirely his fault.  I egg him on, and I do bruise easy.  And I'm clumsy.  Last night, I tripped and fell when I was yelling.  I turned too fast, getting out of the way.  That's when he stepped on my back.  A couple of times.

At first, I thought it was gonna be bad, like maybe he broke something.  I had a little trouble breathing.  But I think I just panicked.  It doesn't hurt as much today. I can feel two big lumps right above my hip, but I can't see them.  Not without using an extra mirror.

It's not as if I'm worried he might actually kill me.  Even when he says shit like, "Tonight, I'm gonna kill you."  It doesn't seem possible.  Well, maybe it did last night for a couple of seconds.

"I'm sorry," he offered reluctantly, I guess expecting me to respond.  I didn't.  "Mare?  You there?"

"Yes."

"Did you hear me?  I said 'I'm sorry.'"

I heard him.  He always feels bad right after.  Until it happens the next time.

"Hello?  Hello."  The tone of his voice grew impatient.

"Look, Charlie.  I don't know what you want from me."

"I don't want nothing, okay?  I was just calling, that's all."

"Fine, then," I replied.

"Yeah, fine," he snapped and slammed the phone down.

One of the young ladies I work with came over and sat on the edge of my desk. Ingrid is my age, but she seems older, more mature.  She lives in Connecticut with a white cat and a roommate.  Her boyfriend has a silly beard.  I'm very fond of Ingrid.  She's quirky, yet responsible.  She wears scarves with confidence.  I wish I could be more like her, but I just can't seem to get it together.  Ingrid hardly drinks, and she doesn't do drugs.  Still, I think she's great.

"Is everything all right?"  She rubbed my shoulder and right then, I wanted her to be my mother.

I shook my head 'no.'  My vision blurred as huge tears leapt from my face.  She handed me a box of tissues.  I pulled one out and blew my nose.  Gently because it's always sore and bleeds if I'm not careful.

I choose what I share with my co-workers very carefully.  I've told them lots of things, about the quarreling and how Charlie can get.  They've seen the bruises, and I welcome their sympathy.  I use this information as leverage every time I'm hung over, late or missing in action.  Nothing shameful or questionable about my own behavior.  I dump it all on Charlie.

"Oh, honey.  Tell me what's wrong."

"Not right now," I whispered as the phone rang again, and I grabbed it immediately.

"Manchester and Associates.  This is Mary.  How may I help you?"

"You hung up on me," Charlie insisted.

"I did not."

"Well, I got something to say."

"For Chrissake, what?  I have work to do, you know.  Or don't you give a shit?"

"Oh, yeah?  You got work to do?  You're so fuckin' important?"

This time, I did hang up on him.  But I lifted the receiver again on the very next ring.

"Manchester and Assoc.…"

"This crap ain't all my fault, bitch.  You fuckin' know that.  I already said I was sorry."

"Great," I exclaimed with no shortage of sarcasm.  "Then just be sorry!"

"You don't fuckin' get to tell me what to do."

I was silent, while he paused and changed directions.

"See what I mean?  How come you gotta make me so mad?"

This guy was unbelievable.

"That's just it!  I can't make you do a goddamn thing," I reminded him.  "If I could, you'd have a fucking job."

I tried not to raise my voice.  The clients are in the office on Mondays, so I had to be cool.  And dealing with Charlie was just like defusing a bomb.  I knew my colleagues were listening to every word.  I don't mind that so much anymore, but I can tell they worry about the black and blues.  They ask questions, and I mostly act like it's a joke.  My crazy life!  I kinda like the attention.

Tish turned around in her chair and made her eyes go wide.  She mouthed, "What's his problem?"  I smiled and pointed to myself.

"I'm his problem," I spoke softly, half laughing.

"What'd you say?" he asked.

"I didn't say anything."

"I heard you.  You think you're funny, with your greasy work bitches.  I'll fuck you all up."

"I have to go," I announced and hung up.

"Let me get it this time," Ingrid suggested when he called right back.  I watched her face light up as she reached for the receiver.

"It's a great day here at Manchester and Associates.  My name is Ingrid.  Good morning."

When Charlie started in on her, she held the phone away from her ear.  She responded politely, "One moment, please," and put him on hold.  We giggled, watching the line blink for several minutes and then disappear.

"I'm next," Tish said.

This was a dangerous game.  I got caught up in how free these girls were.  They didn't realize what an animal Charlie could be.  They weren't afraid of him like I was.  It felt good to be free.  But the switchboard remained quiet, so we returned to our assignments.

I knew exactly what Charlie was doing in the meanwhile.  Looking for cash.  I always hide it in different places.  I have to.  Either I'll spend it or he'll steal it.

It was two o'clock by the time he called back for more.  Getting late, so he was good and angry.

"I need money," he growled.  "Where's it at?"

"There is none," I informed him.

"Don't fuck with me.  I have to get outta here.

"I'm telling the truth.  Alls I got is tokens for the train."

Which was a lie.  I had $105 left until I got paid again, but I had to make it last.  I kept my coin on me.  I earned it.  Besides, I gave him money yesterday so he could look for a job.  Instead, he went right down to Harding Park.  Came back to the basement all zooted out and set fire to some garbage.  He punched a hole in the boiler room door and poured Lysol in the fish tank.  I told you, last night was nuts.

"Don't fuck with me.  I'm about to tear this place apart.  Where's the money?"

"I needed it to get to work.  I'm the one with the job, remember?"

"Listen, you fucking cunt.  Tell me where's it at or I'm coming down there.  I'll make sure I break your fuckin' back this time."

"How you gonna do that, huh?  You got no way to get here."

For the next four minutes, I listened to the sounds of him throwing shit around the apartment.  I tried to identify in my mind which items were being destroyed.  I have a few little plants.  The dirt's a pain in the ass to clean up, especially since he broke the vacuum.  The resin cactus statue my sister gave me for Christmas.  I love that thing, but I've already had to glue it twice.

The second round of noise was considerably more impressive.  Something glass, maybe a window.  We didn't have any plates left, so that couldn't be it.

"You hear that?" he menaced.  "Say goodbye to your kid's TV."

"C'mon, Charlie.  Please stop," I pleaded.

"Fuck you!" he roared, and the line went dead.

He'd clearly yanked the phone from the wall.  Again.  Game over.

I sat in my chair, frozen.  I felt like I'd just been somewhere else.  The clatter of typing and whirr of the xerox machine brought my thoughts back into focus.  Ingrid and her boss discussed changes that needed to be made to someone's letter of introduction.

"Mary, line one," Tish called over her shoulder.  "It's Rich."

"Rich who?"

"I don't know, but he said it's an emergency."

"Hello?"

"Mary, it's Richie from upstairs."

I recognized the voice.  My neighbor, Mindy's boyfriend.  I guess he lives there now, which is nice for her.  She's a sweet girl, and she likes him a lot.

"What the fuck is going on in the basement?" he asked.

"I'm not sure.  I ain't there."

"Your man's gone crazy.  I'm telling you, lady.  Somebody's gonna call the cops."

"Promise me you won't go down there.  He ain't right," I warned.

"Oh, I'm not.  But you can't come back here neither.  You understand?"

"I got nowhere else to go," I whispered.

"You better just stay there, I guess.  Let him calm down.  I wish I had a magic answer."

"I know, Rich.  I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry," he said.   "Just do something about it.  Either Charlie gets some help or he's out.  We pay our rent for peace and quiet.  Not for this shit.  And you're gonna end up dead."

"Yeah, okay."

I hung up and tried to concentrate on my work.  I went to the ladies' room.  I sat on the toilet and did two small, chunky lines of blow.  I licked the little mirror I used and dried it with my elbow.  I held it up to the reflection of the big one by the sinks, so I could check out my back.  I lifted my shirt.  It was all sorts of colors - purple, yellow and green, with satellite bruises all around the larger points of impact.  I went outside to our cubicle.

I took a deep breath and let my brain creep into position.  I thought about what Richie just said.  God, I hate it when people get so dramatic.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Virtue of Disclosure

I am uncomfortable writing about Jason, so that's why I generally don't.  As I continue to record my experiences and build a timeline of events, I really should include him.  I suppose I have to get over whatever my problem is, so I can move on to other topics.  It would be great to perceive our involvement as having been something useful and constructive.  That is the best approach, and I guess I can do it.  I just don't always feel like it.

Jason and I were married, and we did have a baby together.  That's a pretty big deal. Kirin is 28 years old.  He currently has no contact with either of us.  That is his choice.  I do not even know where he lives.  For all the years we fought over that child, we are left only with our memories.  And we deal with them on our own.

How I wish the situation were different, but Kirin is an adult.  He is accountable for his decisions, as I am for mine.  Not a day goes by that I don't think about him.  I love my son dearly.  I have to get on with things, though.

Jason is a decent man, but we are not friends.  He has become a footnote in my story, a piece of historical information at the bottom of the page.  My relationship with him definitely served a purpose in my life, but I'm ashamed of my behavior.  I was such a jerk to him.

I didn't like how Jason scolded me.  I saw him as the villain.  This tactic took the focus off looking at myself and taking any responsibility for what I was doing.  He was just a young guy with a kid to take care of.  And he got nothing but problems from me.

Quite honestly, I prefer to communicate with Jason's wife.  Samantha is a lovely woman.  When I was using, I thought for sure she was out to get me, as well.  He and I haven't actually spoken in several years.  Except for the occasional text here and there, it's been quiet.

Have you heard anything?

No.  I was hoping you might have.

The last time we exchanged words, Jason seemed just as frustrated as he always has been.  It's curious that we've ended up in the same place, as far as our son is concerned.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Step Nine and Three Quarters

The Lord is my constant companion.  I take Him with me wherever I go.  Often times, we walk hand-in-hand.  I have been known to run ahead, especially when I'm excited about something.  But I try not to go too far.  And here's why.  God carries me when I get cranky.  He never complains.  Who else does that?

I think it's okay to give some stuff to God when circumstances get too difficult for me to handle on my own.  I can be practical, although it isn't my natural reflex.  I realize He is very busy, and He's not supposed to do everything.  I take care of the day-to-day business.  I pick my own clothes and look after the kids.  I drive us places.  I mostly just need extra help with the kinks in the road.  The scary and frustrating shit that reminds me I'm not in charge of very much at all.

Illness.  That goes right to God.  When anybody gets sick, I lean on Him immediately.  Yes, I respect doctors, and I trust medicine.  But I like to know that Jesus is on the job behind the scenes, taking special care of the people I love.  My inability to anticipate the outcome often makes me feel like a child.  I want someone to tell me everything will be okay.  Only He can do that.

Confusion is a biggie.  I am reluctant to approach God when I can't figure out what's bothering me.   I can chew on something for days and not recognize what it is.  I forget that He knows what I need before I even ask.  I'm not gonna try to explain how that works because I'm already confused.  Why make it worse?

I just need to remember that if I am disturbed about a situation, it's on me.  I can't blame anybody else.  When I am hurt or upset, I have to look for the reasons within myself.  I must be willing to admit and correct my own mistakes.  These are the only wrongs I can right.

Control is also an issue.  It presents in situations where I find myself waiting for someone to tell or give me something that I think will make me feel better about myself.  I can't just surrender my significance like that, but I do it round the clock. All it takes is one person to suggest that I suck for me to question my own worth.  I can be ridiculously insecure.

Not everybody wants to be my friend.  Of course, my ego is appalled by this possibility.  Still, I do not live in a vacuum.  I have a past and also, a future.  I make the choice to live in the present and work on what I can right now.  When I recognize the simple fact that I can't make everybody like me, I save myself a ton of grief.

I don't always aspire to do the right thing.  Sometimes, I want to act like a baby and behave unkindly toward people who've hurt my feelings.  Sure, I could write about them.  So many of the stories I'm ever gonna tell have already gone down.  At this point, I'm just going through the trash and rinsing them off.

But that wouldn't make me a good writer.  Just a bitch.  And it'd turn my version of the truth into gossip.  So I try to weigh the options of how best to approach sensitive material.  I pray for the courage to write about things that make me uncomfortable, without attempting to adjust what happened so I look better.  And without being mean.  It's not easy, and I don't claim to know exactly what I'm doing.  That's why I pray all the time.