I was 19 when I met Adriana, a woman from Germany, who was maybe 10 years older or so than myself. She was extremely warm and kind, with an honest curiosity, much like my own. She asked countless questions, not in an interrogative way, but because she was completely curious about people whose lives were so completely different than hers. I knew her for all of 4 days. I think she and I could have been great friends, peppering the world with our endless questions.
It was the week of Christmas, and she was the girlfriend of the older brother of someone I was living with at the time. I remember wondering within the first 10 minutes of meeting her why she was with such a simple Meathead…but then again, why are we ever with anyone? Is it seriously easy to answer that question-ever? I mean besides the basics everyone is looking for, of course: kindness, honesty, magnetic personality, etc…so in retrospect, I realize that whatever the reason she was with him, she just was…even if their personalities seemed so different…then again, he was never impolite to me or anything. A year or two later, he actually drove me for nearly an hour to my mother’s home and played The Cure’s Disintegration CD for me the entire way…How terrible can a fellow be if he listens to Disintegration, right? So perhaps he had more layers than I realized. But the post isn’t supposed to be about him, or even about Adriana. She just happened to introduce something to my world that I had never seen before and it became a symbol in my world later on, and that leads me to the piece, Bedtime Stories, that I’ve rewritten and am posting here.
The Christmas gift, (and the amazing new introduction to my world), that Mr. Meathead and Adriana gave to his mother was an amazing multi-tiered wooden candle carousel, complete with intricate small, but very detailed pieces…people, some dancing with a partner, some dancing on their own. At the base of the carousel was a crown of candles, and when the candles were lit, the heat made the layers spin, and when the layers spun, so did the many dancers. I remember spending all of Christmas Day watching the dancers spin, and amazed by the idea that the candles could be creating this amazing effect while managing to not ignite the entire carousel.
That was my introduction to candle carousels, and at the time, I had no idea whatsoever that one day, over a decade later, my life would begin to mimic that carousel at different times…and that with the help of certain lighted heat, I would find myself, and all of my unique selves that live inside of me, dancing and spinning around in circles.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but in case you’re new to my blog, I grew up without my father. The blame lies both with him and my mother in my opinion. But I try not to hold onto blame these days, and I understand the reasoning behind some of the choices they made, actually more of my mother’s choices than my father’s. The marriage between my parents had not been a happy experience for either of them. My mother was young and looking for a way out, or more likely, a way IN to a new life. My father was 22 years older than she was…I’m 100% sure that because he was older and had a pretty generous amount of life experience, and a charming personality, he was the perfect answer, so she felt content enough to trust him to give her the life she wanted.
He didn’t give her that life…He was a wild thing, always on the hunt for something new…a new wife, new experiences, new places, new existences…by this point, my father had more than his fair share of professions, beginning with newspaper reporter, and one of his stories actually earned him the risk of nearly being killed at some late-night meeting that was supposed to take place with someone that could give him some interesting information… (instead, he just lost all of the windows of his car to the shower of bullets). I would assume that he was more of an investigative reporter, (something that I’m extremely interested in doing myself, despite the risk of angry bullets… if the story is important enough to me). Eventually, he began running a diner, where my mother met him and began working for him. I can completely see how she would have fallen for him…I know his ways too well…Most of my ways are his ways, for better and for worse. Later in life, he would also become a car salesman before becoming a strip club owner, and probable pimp, to finally a private investigator…
The reason for bringing any of this up is that I grew up without a father, and as much as my mother trying to patch life up by giving me a stepfather and siblings and trying hard to forget her past, it didn’t work for me. Early on, I was extremely protective of my mother, standing up to anyone that might hurt her…later, I began to resent her, because at the time I believed she had torn my world apart…now I realize that it was both of my parents that were at fault, but what are two people who aren’t in love to do? Spend eternity unhappy, attempting to maintain a happy facade for their child? It never works, and it isn’t fair to anyone…and I realize that now…But the pain it has caused has never gone away…this is something I’ve worked on coming to terms with for years and there has been progress, but still…does this pain ever go away completely?
I don’t think so.
So, despite the fact that I had a stepfather that I felt pressured into referring to as ‘Dad’, he never felt or behaved like a father in the least bit. Fathers never show photos of their 12-year-old awkward daughters to fellow truckers and discuss the idea of those truckers marrying her, right? No, I don’t think so either. So, I learned early on that he was not my father. For the first half of my life beginning at age four, I was completely fatherless, and regardless of what you might think, daughters need a father…as much as sons need a mother, (or nearly as much at least). I grew up feeling half empty, even more than half actually, because I found very little common ground with my family, partially because I was a rebellious, wise-ass kid-who wanted something better, something more kindred, and also because we were and are completely different, so I spent most of my formative years feeling empty. And throughout my life, mostly unbeknownst to me, that emptiness grew, changed shapes, and at times even controlled complete aspects of my life.
I had absolutely zero experience as far as boyfriends go. I was a very new 18 year-old and had never really had a boyfriend in school, except a poor shmuck that tried dating me when I was 16, which meant free movies at the cinema, if I allowed him to do a bit of clumsy groping. I had no clue at the time how to be assertive or simply say “get the Fuck off of me!”. I had grown up thinking men were in charge of most things. I was a foolish 16-year-old.
Even before seeking out a boyfriend, I was searching for a father, but I didn’t realize that then. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t seeking out anything consciously, except for literature. I was consumed with gaining as much knowledge as I could from books, from writers like Nabokov and Kerouac and soon after, Henry Miller. They were poetry…new music to me and I wanted nothing more to develop their gift of language and feelings…and their fire. Boyfriends and anything of the such wasn’t of any interest to me in the least bit…but as is the case most of the time, that aspect of life happened, and I gained a boyfriend-a year and a half younger than me.
I fell into a full blown relationship, with someone nearly two years younger than me. Because he was quite clever, yet also very street smart, I quickly trusted him to look after me, and if I said he did not do as well as he could, I would be lying. He did. Everything from warning me away from people and streets to avoid if I were on my own, to stealing cans of beef stew and soup for me when I was hungry and had no money. This saved me at the time, but it also stirred the young subconscious child inside that was still longing for something she had not had since she was 4…I wanted to be nurtured and loved unconditionally. To be taught and defended, and protected, without doing or giving anything in return. Clearly, not something that a 16-year-old kid could give me. But of course, I was still unaware of how my brain was working, how my subconscious was searching for something bigger, something to fill the emptiness that was so insanely deep, it actually felt physical at times.
Skip forward 3 years or so, to when I became a mom to a perfect little boy. Nearly every hole in me had finally been filled; I had purpose, and a reason to exist. Though the need was still there for a father, it was pushed deep inside, and very well covered with the need to be needed and the fact that I devoted myself wholeheartedly to being the best mom I could possibly be, tending to every single whimper, cry, stretch and sneeze…That’s the best thing I have ever done…and I’m sure nothing I could possibly achieve throughout the rest of my life will ever come close to being a mom. However, time passed and my little boy grew older, and suddenly, when I no longer needed to attend to every single need, every single minute of the day, I felt that old familiar darkness begin to hover above me and the panic settle in once again.
This was years before I would be diagnosed with Bipolar II, so I hadn’t learned then how to distinguish the differences in the various darknesses that hovered over me sometimes. The depression I feel because of bipolar is a hungry, uglier darkness…it not only hovers, it pulls me, it throttles me and threatens to devour me completely. Mostly I fight it now and it only tends to come around at specific times. I have a pretty good restraint system in place now…it took a long time, but I’ve gained control…at least for the most part. The darkness from the emptiness I feel is different-its pain and its desperation and panic…a bit like what it might feel like to look down at your hand and see that your finger is missing…it’s a mad scramble to recollect the pieces, to fill the void and fix yourself. It’s the need to become whole again. But at least it does not want to end me like that other darkness attempts to sometimes do.
I’m not a conceited person…not in most ways, at least. I think I have a unique personality…though I realize I’m not the only person who collects dead bugs and keeps them in a cigar box on a bookshelf, that she sometimes takes out so she can study specimens like Butterflies, Mantises or Walking Sticks. I realize others do this too, so it makes me feel like the world is spotted with kindred spirits. That’s a comfort to me. There is absolutely nothing I feel is completely unique about myself, yet, my entire package, just like yours and everyone else’s is unique because we’re all wired differently enough to be a one of a kind.
My appearance has never been something I have taken for granted or been especially happy with. On the contrary, actually. I have struggled with BDD off and on throughout my life-the irrational ideas of cutting my nose off or finding ways to hide my face completely from the world (wanna know how many oversized sunglasses I own?) It’s why I learned early on, the absolute magic of makeup. If I’m not wearing makeup, I feel as shocking and doomed as Joseph (aka John) Merrick, as if some grand creator either became bored by the time he was working on me or was too tired to care anymore. Maybe they ran out of suitable pieces and just made do with whatever scraps they had left. It sounds crazy, but it’s crippling sometimes. There are times when I can’t open my door or even step out on my balcony for fear that people will see me and become shocked at my hideousness. I forever feel apologetic to people around me who have to look at my face day to day.
And still, there’s something akin to Maya Angelou‘s Phenomenal Woman that lives in the very core of me, so that despite the fact that I dislike my exterior, I have mastered some powerful, womanly gift that unfortunately not all women ever master. Please don’t be offended or think that I’m being boastful, because if you are a woman, you have this same gift…and if you are a man, you have more than likely already met women who have also mastered this gift…and for that, I feel a bit sorry for you, because I know what it can do to you…the power that it holds. And it’s this gift that works for me sometimes…when I’ve wanted or needed it to. For a long while, I became dependent on this gift to works its magic in hopes that I could finally find what I needed to complete myself once and for all, and stop this insatiable need to be loved in a way that I haven’t been loved since I was a little girl.
A friend of mine once referred to the company of males I sometimes kept as my pack of wolves, always scratching at our door. That friend was a woman, and one of the very few women I’ve ever had a friendship with. But she never learned how to become her own phenomenal woman, and sadly, I doubt she ever will. Then again, she crossed me terribly in the end, so maybe I don’t feel so bad that she’s eternally unaware of her own abilities.
But about the wolves, and I apologize if, as a man, you feel offended by reading men being referred to as wolves…I’m only referring to the pack of males that for a time, at various times of my life, have gathered around, hungry, mad and sometimes a little too aggressive for their own good. Again, this is not something that happens to only me. Many women have sometimes attracted a pack of sharp-tongued, bloody-fanged, wet-mouthed devils, eager for overwhelming sustenance and claiming a desire for eternal companionship…I can’t say for sure that I have believed their claims, because for me, the mind of a man is just as mysterious and intriguing as a woman’s mind, so despite the claims of endearment and love at first sight, and the life or death desperate need they swear to have, I haven’t a real clue of what’s going on in the mind of a wolf or even an innocent man...What I do know is that Little Red Riding Hood is one of my favorite tales, and I have often changed the story to make myself happier with the ending so that the wolf, rather than the woodsman, actually falls under the spell of Red and something joyous happens for them both…wolves are alluring, brilliant creatures. Not my favorite animals though, (I’m a monkey lover above all other animals) But still, if I had to liken men to an animal, wolves are far more appealing than calling them my barrel of monkeys.
So, at times, I’ve had my wolves…and try as hard as I could possibly try to have them complete me-whether it was as an older, wise, fatherly figure, a strong-minded, self-assured boy-man, or even one of my former best friends, a gay man who asked if I would be his first and only heterosexual companion, nothing ever worked. They never finished the stories for me…Love was never unconditional…they always wanted (and most of the time, rightfully so, expected something in return from me). And so, the darkness remained, and I’m almost certain it’s going to remain with me for the rest of my life…though I would do most anything to patch it up and pack it away, to wake up one day and no longer feel like a part of me is missing.
My father loved jazz, just as I do…that’s something we share and that means everything to me because it’s one of the few pieces I will always have of him….I’m not delusional, I know that if my father were alive, we would never see eye to eye on most things…but it’s that idea, the idea of being loved for who I am and not for the things I do or the way I look. Not for what I can give him, but solely because he loves me unconditionally regardless of what I do or don’t do, for what I say or don’t say.…just as the way I love my own son. I’m angry and sad that I will never have that feeling- unless of course there’s a secret father adoption service that I’m unaware of, but I highly doubt it. I would more than likely be distrustful of his motives anyway…
So finally to the piece I’ve written. This piece was actually written nearly a decade ago, but the original piece had absolutely nothing to do with my father. It was actually more of a naughty tongue in cheek piece about ‘cats fucking circles in my wet grass, and mulatto boys with tiny toots and water guns’. I’m not entirely sure where those words came from…maybe because I liked the way they sounded together…their rhythm…or maybe because my first major (non-rock star) crush was a mulatto boy in high school…who’s to say? It doesn’t really matter anyway, especially because they were replaced with words about my father.
The words were changed during a difficult time when having a father would have made so many things so much easier for me…I had a father figure in the form of a friend, but it wasn’t the same…there was something off about it all and let’s face it, how many men sign up to solely be a father figure for a sad lady that’s seriously broken? So, while I had a small clan of wolves nibbling my ankles and sniffing at the hem of my skirt, I was soul-sick and needed something I couldn’t find…I needed bedtime stories from my father, not wolves fucking circles in my wet grass.
But just as the carousel was moved by the heated flames, I have been moved by the heat from the wolves, knowing that for as long as they were there beneath me with their heated intentions, I could keep spinning and dancing, and perhaps one day find what I was looking for, and even if I don’t find it, spinning and dancing has been pretty amazing.
So, here you have it. And By the way, it’s the first time I’ve created the sound for a piece, which I’m pretty proud of-as much as I can be proud of something I’ve created. There’s a tribal feel to it for me, a ceremonial vibe…a soul-sickness cleansing…though there are two tracks that are reversed, because in the end, I felt that rather than being cleansed, I was instead, being pushed deeper into my soul-sickness.
And here we are…still the same, definitely not cleansed, but for better or worse, I finished the piece, and despite everything, my carousel is still spinning in its own way, and I’m still alive, spinning and dancing…fatherless or not…all of my darknesses be damned!
Love & All that Jazz,
Brittle-boned and feral-eyed, she sits atop her stony world, Fleecing her wolves for the rest of the story.
And those Devils make the sweetest playmates for the hollow-hearted girl, the girl whose Daddy nodded off before the story was finished, the girl whose Daddy slipped out of her room and away to Mexico to plant his rose gardens and finish his story for precious new daughters- that never play with Devils and never grow up twisted and lonely;
Not like the raven-girl, humming her birdsong dirge to her flock and waiting for the surrogate that’s going to fill those big, big holes in Daddy’s big, big shoes;
That girl, stroking those wolves and counting the days of dry cheeks and sugar smiles on her idle little hands.
I’m tugging at the rope but Daddy isn’t coming, no hero, (not now).
And my heat must have a spell behind its sweet ass ’cause those wolves keep fucking circles in my wet grass,
but for now, I’d settle for just a story (or two).
… Oh, the tragic little worlds we build when we’re half asleep and half mad.