Monday, March 24, 2008

Letters to the Friend I Never Got to Have

I’m going to keep writing these until I get one right.

Dear Mom:
I got a scholarship and a stipend. Me - at twenty-five, a two-time dropout! Thought you’d be proud to know. Thought you’d have been proud to know all sorts of things that have happend, though, and you haven’t shown the least bit of--

Dear Suby. Do you even care that I’m alive? Your daughter.

Hello, Suby. This is a message from the UNIVERSE. There are certain things that people are supposed to learn and accomplish and change about themselves in their lives before they die - just a friendly reminder about the big one you’ve left hanging.

To my Maternal Unit:
Hello from your first successful live birth... Just wanted to let you know that I’m still alive, waiting for you to give a rats ass about loving me unconditionally. Let me know one way or the other, would you, so I can quit stressing over not knowing?

Hey, what’s up. I was just thinking about that time I was in junior high and you told me I *could* be so pretty if I’d just wear makeup. Scratch that - all those times you said that. What the fuck were you thinking? You’re lucky I didn’t kill myself, you know.

Hi, Mom. I’ve done a lot of changing in these last seven or so years. I was curious about whether you’re still blaming everyone except yourself for the things that go wrong in your life, or whether you’ve actually gained the ability to accept it when you’re wrong - and maybe even admit it? Holla back.

Dear Mom, I hate you, Love me.

Mother: In these past few years, I’ve visited cities you cannot name. I’ve written books you’ve never seen. I’ve held jobs you know nothing about. I’ve had lovers whose names you’ll never know. I’ve accomplished so many things you haven’t even heard of. I’ve recently had this huge thing happen in my life, I’m so proud I can’t even tell people the news without crying, but the woman who gave birth to me is not a part of it at all. And I still don’t know if it’s because you’re too scared to apologize, because you don’t think you should apologize, or because you couldn’t possibly care less.

Mommy: Camp is scary and the other kids are mean. Please come get me and bring me home.

The best friend I never got to have...

My mother and I haven’t had a relationship for seven years now, and it’s debatable whether what we had before that could be called a relationship.
This blog entry will be neither short nor skin-deep. Consider yourself warned. It might not even be up here for long.

I cannot decide which is worse, I cannot decide which I want less. Do I want to have a mother who will never love who I really am the way she wanted to love who she wanted me to be? No. No I do not want a love with conditions, no I do not want a love that frequently tastes so strongly like hatred, no I do not want a love in which I must tiptoe around my feelings and desires and true self. Then, do I want a life without a mother? NO! I want a mother who loves me.

It’s greedy, I know. So few people have parents at all, let alone parents who love them, and my father loves me more than enough already. I realize my desire to be a selfish one, but most desires are, and I cannot seem to stop this yearning despite trying for either seven years - or perhaps more like seventeen, since the first real altercation we had, since the first time I felt that she didn’t actually love me.

And then I saw a poem performed at a National Poetry Slam that I didn’t even think I would get to go to. I can’t find a recording of that specific performance, and so without any permission at all, I repost here two copies of two separate performances of the poem "Central Park, Mother’s Day" by Rachel McKibbens.

I heard this poem and I thought to myself... maybe she didn’t mean to fuck me up. Maybe what I’ve become, what our relationship has become, wasn’t her intention at all. But then I say to myself, duh, no one would have intended what we’ve become...

I’m feeling the universe bombard me with a need for a mother. What’s that all about? I want her to want me. I want her to miss me, to love me for who I am, tattoos and sapphic tendencies and all. I want her to wake up in the middle of the night reaching for something she cannot name, something she misses, something she could almost grasp... with my name just on the tip of her tongue... I am a strong independent intelligent successful female. I should be just fine on my own. I am twenty-five goddamned years old - this fall will complete my twenty-sixth year. Why, then, do I feel this need for my mommy?

She was never a good, loving mother, or at least not at any point that I can actually remember. My father tells me she’s wonderful with children and was wonderful with us as children, but I cannot remember back that far. I can remember her painful grip on my arm, I can remember her telling me I could be so pretty if I’d only wear makeup over and over, I can remember her packing my things to give to goodwill after I ran away...

And I can remember fight after fight in that old house that became so cold. I can remember her screaming - I’m sure I screamed back. What I remember most is how those fights were resolved. If I was actually wrong, I would go to her and apologize and she would stroke my hair while I cried and forgive me... in her own way. Even as she forgave me she would continue to criticize what I’d done but I didn’t care, I just wanted her hand on my head, her words in my ear, my tears on her knees, anything to be close to her. If she was wrong, however... that woman would hold a grudge until Christ came back. Days and days would pass in which she would refuse to acknowledge me - any necessary conversation was limited to as few syllables as could be used to get it across. At some point, I’d cave, I’d go and talk to her, and some type of conversation would be had after which I was allowed to be her daughter again, but there was never an apology, never an admission of guilt.

And here I am with this need for a mother, and out there in the world is a woman who is actually and biologically my own mother. I want to reach out to her, I want her to be a positive part of my life, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I don’t know if the integral bits of herself that I would need to change in order for us to have a relationship will ever change. I wanted this fight to end differently than every fight we ever had - I wanted her to be the one who would instigate peace talks.

I have written books she’s never seen. I’ve had jobs she’s never heard of. I’ve been to cities she cannot name. I’m going back to school in the fall with a full scholarship and a stipend and she doesn’t know about it. I would have thought she’d want these accomplishments to be a part of her life, too. But her pride prevents her from saying, "You know what, I failed you as a mother and I’m sorry. Help me to make it right."

I know it’s proud of me to want her to make the first move. But right now I’m dying to send her an email and I don’t want to - I want this fight to end differently than all the others we ever had. I even set it up for her two years ago to be able to come back to me and be able to start things off, and she’s completely ignored that.

I want someone to tell me what to do. I want someone to tell her what to do. I wonder if anyone has experience with something like this and can lend me some wisdom.

I also hope you will not judge me based upon this particular blog entry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MENU. or: write, rewrite, peer edit, rewrite again...

Found this post-it note on the sidewalk in front of the convention center while walking my dog. I read it, re-read it, and it stuck with me as found art. Wondered about who must've written it, why, and what they were thinking while writing... and got the poem below it.


menu. start with sunday
night. pot roast with onions and peppers, tomatoes, potatoes.
white rice with garlic. stewed carrots.
you will talk about your day and i
will listen.
strawberry and jasmine tea.
early bedtime, just some kissing.

monday next.
grilled thighs, sweet potatoes, green
beans. heavy petting during dishes,
so much work to do.
pineapple salad. floss,
watch two shows, then bed.

tuesday third. afternoon yoga class.
walk the dog in the park with
out you again,
sushi to-go. i'll watch a tear jerker and
go to bed before you come
home but only after leaving you a note
about leftovers in the fridge.

wednesday. lunch with your mother:
iced green teas, she will casually joke about grandchildren again, and i
will listen.
for dinner i will make a lasagna casserole and cheesy bread
and steam vegetables and when you come home i will attack you
with kisses until you relent and hold me like you used to.
after intimacy, we will reminisce and laugh like we used to.
tiramisu will be forgotten in the fridge until breakfast on

thursday. with coffee.
my day to work late and when i come home you
have left me

a note about leftovers in the fridge.
meatloaf. mashed potatoes. poppy peas. remorse.
i still remember the first time i told you i loved you
and every time since that one.

then friday i will open
one can tomato soup eaten with saltines
and when you come home entirely too late smelling of beer
and cigars (which i was sure you hated)
i will wake up just enough to roll over
and cling to you and not let go
and neither will you.

saturday i
will grab a chai,
walk across the bridge sipping it slowly and
stop to stare over the edge a tiny bit too long.
go home and fold all your shirts just right except
for the one i'm sure you'll wear first which i will fold
all wrong just so you might say something.
you won't.
margarita pork chops. grilled corn. wilted spinach with cumin and garbanzos.
you will smile and tell me it reminds you of spain while i
will listen to the words you don't say: it reminds you of us in spain.
a girl will take what she can get sometimes.
a pint of ice cream shared with graham crackers.

sunday again. we will have dinner out
(you will have tuna, i’ll have the duck)
catch a show
talk too little on the drive home
then make the best love we've made
since that trip and the night with the spinach con garbanzos.
afterward we will lay to
gether in the silence
and listen.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

queen of hearts


the thing about my heart is its
tenacity i was
born with a
stainless steel heart.
its transitive elasticity its
refusal to break apart
its crimson scarlet garnet gold
its grip grits guts rust
a heart like this
should belong to a queen
—a heart like this,
maybe it does.