Tuesday, March 30, 2010


My mother is a case.  I wonder sometimes if she's bipolar or schizophrenic or something.  From an early age she would tell me about her visions and the angels that came to speak with her.  She told me all of her children had visited her before they were born and that I had begged God to be her daughter.  She had some kind of breakdown when I was 12, locked herself in a bathroom for days and refused to eat, said it was her Garden of Gethsemane trial, claimed she was on the verge of being translated...  Yeah.  Good times.

The thing that sucks about being raised a devout Christian is that scriptures give validity to that kind of thing.  You don't know if you're dealing with a truly crazy person or if you just don't have enough faith to experience these things for yourself.  When she raised her hand to a square and called me Satan, I had to wonder if maybe I was possessed of a devil.  Maybe I always had been and was used to it?

At 14 I was put into a mental hospital.  It started with a visit to a psychiatrist about migraine headaches.  A few days later I left school early for an overnight hospital stay, again because of my headaches.  Only it wasn't.  They took all of my belongings (including my shoes), put me in a smock and locked me in a room with barred windows.  I was there for 6 weeks and no one ever told me why.  At the end of the first week they asked if I felt better and wanted to go home.  I was angry with my parents for lying to me.  I said no.

I don't remember a lot about that stay.  I remember going to group therapy and being told I was in denial because I couldn't come up with a reason for being there.  The other kids were suicidal, bulimic, severely depressed.  I was hyperactive.  No one was yelling at me, no one was hitting me, I was allowed to drink soda.  It was almost like a vacation.  I suppose I really was in denial.  I didn't want to talk about the darkness at home.  It was so much easier to push that away and not think about it.

They say crazy people are convinced of their own sanity.  Since being hospitalized I often doubt mine.  Was/is something truly wrong with me?  Or was that incident just part of the epic power struggle between me and my parents?  I'd like to think it's the latter but this nagging thought keeps coming back: they wouldn't have kept you there if you weren't just a little bit crazy.  And maybe I am.  Maybe it's hereditary.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

To do list

My list of things to do got a little bit longer this week.  On Wednesday I came home from work and found a huge hole behind my lilac bushes.  Since last summer a groundhog has been living under the concrete slab in front of my house.  I didn't mind, I thought he was harmless.

THIS is not harmless.

I called an animal control company immediately.  They came out Thursday evening to set a trap.  Unfortunately, my groundhog is a bit of a roamer and wasn't home.  Groundhog traps go over the entrance of a burrow to catch critters on their way out; there isn't much point in setting them over an empty burrow.  The animal control company left without setting any traps but they're going to try again next week.

Whether or not we catch him I can't leave that hole.  We measured the burrow and it's 22 feet long from end to end.  It goes the length of my foundation and all the way to the outer edge of the slab.  It could damage my foundation and - worse - it will attract skunks.  SKUNKS!

This spells doom for my lilacs.  I can see no feasible way to fill in the hole without killing them, so I decided to have the job done right.  I called a landscaping company on Friday for an estimate.  They can do it for less than $250.  I was pleasantly surprised; I was expecting at least double that.  Now I'm thinking about having them do more.  I've asked them to give me an estimate for building up the soil around the entire house and possibly replacing the wood borders with something more sturdy.

Of course, once I get the landscape looking pretty I will have to do something about those leaky gutters to cut down on the erosion problem.  Then I'll need to address the rotting wood I found in a couple of places.  Once that is fixed the house should be painted.  I still need to stain and seal the deck, which should probably be done after I get the deck braced because it's a little bit wobbly.

Some days I really regret buying a house.  There are way too many things to keep up and I typically don't even know I should do something about them until they're on the verge of breaking.  Oh, I didn't mention that I may also have moles in my yard.  Another blessing.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cute stuff

My sister, Twoofadozen, has been very busy crocheting very cute things. Look what she sent me! I especially like the green flower with the tan button in the middle. Too cute!!

I admit I haven't worn the headband or purple hat as much as I would like to. My moisturizer has a lot of peroxide in it and I'm afraid it will bleach them - like it bleached my towels and pillows. Not cool. I can wear them, I just have to be super careful that they don't touch my forehead.

Speaking of cute things, I bought myself a new purse. Look at how beautiful!

Why yes, that is a Dalek hanging from the purse strap. How astute of you to notice. I'm even more impressed that you know what a Dalek is.

This particular Dalek is a cell phone charm that flashes and vibrates when my phone is active. Text messages and phone calls get it all excited. Good times.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Eleven & Heaven

My youngest brother was the 7th boy and 11th child. He had cerebral palsy and profound autism. When he died at age 11 it tore a hole in my heart. I blamed myself, I blamed my parents, I blamed myself again.

I was 28 years old and pissed off at my parents for their latest round of bad choices; getting their house foreclosed, blowing all of their money on supposed life-changing seminars ("Oh, it's made such a difference in Dad. He's joyous, he's peaceful, I've never seen him so loving...") and buying into yet another natural healing pyramid scheme. I decided that it was time for me to get some distance so I told my mom that I couldn't afford to come home for Christmas that year.

The Sunday after Thanksgiving I got a phone call. "Eleven's dead". No sugar coating, no easing into it. Very blunt, matter of fact. He'd suffered a seizure on the previous day and gone to sleep, then never woken up again. Because he died at home the police were there. My mom was worried that they would find evidence of abuse and neglect. We worried and waited for the next 5 days before his body was finally released by the coroner. I still don't know the official cause of death.

At the funeral my father grieved while my mother rejoiced. She spoke from the pulpit and told the congregation about angels who had come to prevent her from saving his life. She talked about his green aura. She said he had come to visit and comfort her. I sat in shame and wished someone would tell her to stop talking.

I was angry with my parents for a long time. I blamed them for Eleven's death. I hated her for saying those things at his funeral. I hated myself for letting him live in their house and never alerting anyone to how he was treated. His life could have been so much better than it was. I should have spoken up when I saw him being yelled at by my father or slapped by my brother or left alone for hours in his room with the TV for a babysitter. I wanted my parents to suffer for all of it. I hoped they would be arrested for child abuse.

Within 2 weeks of his death my parents left the state. They said the kids couldn't stand being in the house where he died, didn't like walking past his empty room, couldn't handle the daily reminder. So they sold everything they didn't need and ran away. To me it was an admission of guilt. I was angry to see them escape justice. But once again I said nothing and did nothing.

What is it about family that inspires such loyalty? Why in all the years of beatings and insults and manipulation didn't I try harder to get help? Why did I stand idly by as my parents flitted around ignoring the child who needed them most? Grief is a difficult thing. I suppose I'm over the anger now but I still blame myself for Eleven's death. If there is a Heaven then I hope he's there. I hope he's happy. I hope he forgives me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sundanced again

I saw the WORST movie last weekend - another Sundance Channel bomb. It amazes me that no matter how bad a film is you can always find at least one person on the IMDb who likes it. Are they deluding themselves? Are they not able to recognize bad material? Maybe they think that cultured people should like the film so, in an attempt to appear smart and cultured, they look for reasons to downplay the negatives. Clich├ęd and predictable become restrained irony. Unrealistic and unbelievable become a glimpse into a character’s projected fantasy.

The movie probably would have been better if it was deliberately ironic. Too bad everyone tried to play it seriously. It was adapted from a novel by Elizabeth Taylor. I wonder if she was trying to write a parody? What is the point in writing a parody if it's identical to the actual genre? You might as well read and laugh at the original novels. At least now I know not to bother reading anything by Ms. Taylor. Yich.

Why, you may ask, am I still watching movies on the Sundance Channel after all of the flashing last year? Well, this time I was interested in a specific actress, Romola Garai, whom I recently saw in Emma on Masterpiece Theatre. I loved it. I even pre-ordered it from Amazon so I could have a copy the minute it became available. Then I searched the TV guide for anything else she had done and found the Sundance channel listing. I should have known better. Next time I swear I'll be more careful!