Speaking of which, I think the o.g.b.d. really enjoyed seeing Sherlock Holmes yesterday. I totally blurted out on our way to the theater how much the way Robert Downey, Jr. played Sherlock reminded me of him, against the plan I claimed to make that I would not say anything, so I’m afraid I spoiled that surprise. But otherwise I think he dug it. We got gushy over Zimmer’s excellent score, too. It was a lot of fun.
Archive for the ‘babymama drama’ Category
Correction notice: On 3/14/10, I implied that I controlled the events of my life. I regret this error. Correction — I do not control the events of my life.
Even at all. I don’t control them and I absolutely cannot predict them.
Things are going badly for the o.g.b.d. with his split, and I think it is taking its toll because he said some unusual things to me that came from left field for me. But this is a terribly difficult time for him and I understand that everything must be examined through that filter, because it is just simply one of the most difficult times of your life to be newly separated from your spouse. I went through the same things.
I am not going to let him struggle alone. I have this opportunity to be there for him, and I am just going to be as understanding as I can be and take as much time as is needed to help him through this. He’s my kiddo’s father and we’re a team.
I had a good time with him at the movie yesterday, but I think he has a lot going on right now and it’s difficult for him to work through. Some financial stuff, too, the end result of some ugly back-and-forth with his wife which was really terrible to be present for his finding out about because there was literally nothing I could do to help; ditto his sorrow at seeing less of his son, which has to be horrible. He calls him “Mr. Cheeks.” I really pray that he and his wife can work things out because I can tell it’s killing him not to get to spend as much time with his son as he was accustomed to.
I still think his wife will come around, I don’t believe people can sustain bad feelings forever, especially not someone who seems as essentially nice as her. I think she may have deleted me as an imaginary friend on the myspace, but if I worried what happened on social networking sites, I’d never have any peace. Those aren’t real gestures, not with any deep meaning or permanence. I still can’t see this going so badly forever. I mean, it is almost impossible, isn’t it? Look what happened between me and him, for example. We did hurtful things to one another, said unspeakable things to each other (I finally got to apologize for calling him “human garbage,” which has literally haunted my heart for years, and I’m so happy about that) but in the end we have made it up and now things are great.
Well, pretty great, that is. Some weirdness. There are some things I don’t understand, but I will figure them out. All that all is almost as an aside. Yesterday’s news and mainly things I’m filing away to think about so I can give them their proper due consideration at a better time and with an open mind and untroubled heart.
What’s bad today is that my grandmother is having a Bad Day. It started at 3:00 a.m. when I startled awake to find her bent over me, shaking me by the shoulder while she clenched and unclenched her other hand. “E—,” she said urgently, “I’m flat broke. I can’t think where my checkbook’s got to but I don’t know how to get home! Am I going to fly? You have to call them. I don’t want them to know I don’t have any money. [never did figure out if ‘them’ was the airline or her bank or what] You’ll arrange it, won’t you?” I calmed her down and told her of course, got water for her and lead her back to her room.
Then it just repeated about two to three times an hour ’til I finally woke my mother and said, “Your turn.” I was feeling drained and uneasy about some of the events of the day before and I just needed to rest. I feel selfish, looking back on it, but I was at a breaking point. It had repeated itself, the conversation, to the point of exhaustion. Both of us were near tears and I figured the perspective of someone better-rested (ie: my mother) might put a fresh and more positive spin on things.
But the whole thing just set the stage for the day. It’s a pacey and fearful kind of day. Things are preying on her mind today, over and over. She can’t relax, and she keeps cyclically freaking out and confiding the same fears again and again. There’s nothing I can say or do that comforts her for more than twenty minutes at a time. It’s heartbreaking. I think the trigger was that fuckall hellpit altar of commerce the mall, which if I had been around, I might’ve tried to intervene, but I wasn’t, I was out with the o.g.b.d. My mother reported to me that yesterday while I was gone, they’d taken my grandmother to the mall to pose for pictures with my kidlet (I’d approved this mission), but then afterward they actually drug my grandmother around that godawful anthill of capitalism, and not surprisingly she hated it.
She did not like the number of people in weekend crowds one bit: it understandably scared and confused her to have that much crap coursing all around her. Mom said she also didn’t like how large the stores were and kept asking why they were so big.
I’ve taken Dorothy to the mall several times and we’ve been just fine walking around just after it opens of a weekday morning, stopping and getting lemonade, and mainly using it as a very large indoor track with window displays, but in all honesty I’m not fond of visiting the mall for its intended purpose with my mother anymore than my grandmother was. My mother likes to shop, which I hate. She has to look at every single thing, the minutiae of which bores and vaguely frightens me. I skim at best, if I even enter a shop at all rather than simply scan their storefront as I walk past. The marathon philosophy with which my mother takes herself to the mall is some kind of crazy, gritty, kamikaze combination of let’s-pretend-we’re-so-girly phony ego trip and a chillingly toneless, flinty determination to get a bargain no matter what the physical or emotional price.
Natalie Wood in what I believe is a still from the underrated noir Daddy Issues extravaganza A Cry In the Night (Tuttle, 1956), in which very young Natalie plays Elizabeth, the daughter of an overprotective and repressive police captain who is kidnapped from her makeout session with her boyfriend by dangerous young voyeur Raymond Burr. Out of the frying pan, in to the fire, kiddo.
Both of those qualities freak me out to no end, like actually boggle my mind and scare me. It becomes a nightmare, with me feeling more and more hemmed in by the crowds and infuriated by the abundance of meaningless shit all around to buy, buy, buy — all the advertisements, the people dressed identically so you start to feel like you cannot even tell which are the mannequins. Ugh. It starts making me want to burn the whole place down. That’s not hyperbole: I literally want to watch it all burn.
Gar. Positive straw at which I’m grasping: I guess I may not control the events of my life but I can at least control my reactions. Staying as positive and peaceful as possible so that I don’t get overemotional and fuck things up. That’s what I’ll focus on for today.
I haven’t been writing much lately, not because I have nothing to say, but because I have had too much to say, and too little free time in which to say it. But thankfully I’ve had the chance to talk things over with good friends both in person and on the telephone this week, and that’s released a tremendous amount of pressure.
Besides the counsel of Miss D, which is always uplifting, I also got to hang out with Panda Eraser, Mr. Kite, and the Mister earlier this week. Lady K called several times and I also got to talk to the o.g.b.d., who was again surprisingly encouraging, kind, and thoughtful. They all really helped me clarify the things that were on my mindgrapes and squeeze some goodness out of them.
My grandmother has been staying with us. It was a move that was supposed to be a brief visit but is now most likely going to be as permanent as possible. While her physical health is still great, her mental decline is staggering. She had always had a sharp tongue, a quick mind; if I had ever dreaded her visits or had negative feelings about her in the past, it was because we had equal minds and could clash over things (especially her daughter, my mother, of whom I was defensive and felt she was too critical). That mercurial and impish figure of my youth is gone. My grandmother now is a million miles from the Dorothy that I thought would be living with me. I am so glad she’s here, and that I’m able to have with her even those few minutes of a time where she has drifted “in,” but the pain of the remainder of her waking hours, her confusion and fear, her redundancy and pacing, is sometimes breathtaking.
What I am now fearing even more than the pressure of her moments of anxiety and loss now is when a physical declination in her health sets in; when I and, when she’s free, my mother are no longer adequately equipped to provide for her physically. I hate to picture her completely unaware of her surroundings, somewhere where no one knows her. I know places like that are full of loving and compassionate people, but what scares me is the times when Grandma has enough on the ball to know that she is in an unfamiliar place, and expresses fear and the sense of being lost.
She told me several days ago when I came in to get her ready in the morning that she’d woke from a nightmare and been up for several hours, reading, to settle her nerves. “Bethy,” she said, “I dreamt I flew home and I didn’t know a single soul that was in my house. It didn’t look like my house. Other people lived there, people that I had never seen. It was all completely strange to me.” She said the worst part was that then she woke up here, and she thought her dream had come true until she saw a picture of my daughter and I on her nightstand and remembered she was here for what she thinks is a visit. (Given her nightmare, I suspect part of her knows this visit could be permanent.) She concluded by saying, “I don’t mind telling you — I’ve never been so frightened in my life.”
That’s what I’m scared of. That’s why I feel like no matter how hard it is, or how hard it continues to get, I can’t let her go.
And that’s why I value so greatly all the kind ears of my friendohs right now. I am so lucky to have a support system to whom I can slip away and bitch and moan and noise my anxieties. Whether it’s over sushi, pints, the phone, or wherever, thank god for them. I had thought last year was going to be the most challenging of my life, but this year is shaping up to build on the growing I did then (to put a positive spin on it, rather than say, “this year sucks too”).
One of the things I’ve been doing to keep Grandma from getting agitated and restless during the day, which is when she paces the house and starts to worry about her money, her belongings, how she is going to get a plane ticket home, etc, is I’ve begun taking her on little day trips and out to stores and such. Even to just window shop, because a) to be brutally frank she does not know the difference whether we buy something or not, and b) it is not as if either of us is made of money and she is happy to people watch.
Tonight, I’m taking her to a vintage-through-the-present hair show at Panda’s cosmetology school, and she seems to be looking forward to that, because she keeps asking me when it is; if they will be videotaped or live models; and whether we have the tickets already. (“7:00 pm,” “live,” and essentially “yes.”) So that’s hopefully going to go well!
This Sunday, after church, the o.g.b.d. is taking kidlet and I to lunch, and then much later in the day he and I are going to what is probably the last theater in America showing Sherlock Holmes right now. I’m looking forward to seeing it one last time before it leaves theaters. He had expressed interest in it last week after surprising me by suggesting we catch a movie sometime together when my mother was free, to give me a break from caring for my grandmother and have a fun night out, but he said that he was pretty sure it was no longer showing in our area. So he was super-pumped and surprised when I talked to him today to confirm our lunch plans with kidlet and told him that I’d found a nearby second-run theater that was still showing it through this weekend. The way Robert Downey, Jr. plays Sherlock as very herky-jerky, pugilistic, intense, and accidentally brutally honest really, really, really reminds me of the o.g.b.d.; I wonder if he will notice it, himself. I’m not going to say anything and we’ll see if he brings it up first.
I had talked with Panda about how I am persona non grata with all the women in his life, and, just by talking about it, I started feeling less horrible about it. As Panda pointed out, even if I don’t understand it and it hurts me, the bottom line is I can’t change someone else’s mind, and I’ve done my best. And we agreed, as I had done last weekend with the LBC and Miss D before the drag races, that probably his wife will come around, and she is only acting this way because she is still hurting from whatever chain of events lead to their split (I have not felt it was polite to pry into any specifics about that). I pray that will be the case, but it’s good to know all my girlfriends agree on this, too. So I’m hoping to have the opportunity to talk to him about these revelations, because I really feel like we are in this cool new place where we are a simple team again, in our queer and broken way.
All in all, I’ve had time to adjust to these new turns of events and I think I am going to pull through. And thank god for it.
You can be Catwoman without understanding cats or women, it seems.
Photo of Marilyn via nevver on the tumblr.
I have this very hackneyed and cliched theory that women are like cats and men are like dogs. It’s overarching and misogynistic and probably a bunch of hooey, because I can’t even apply it to my own good girl friends, but the thing is sometimes it feels like it is just exactly the truth. In talking to my daughter’s father this weekend, I found out that his wife, from whom he is very recently separated, apparently doesn’t like me. By which I mean, hella does not like me. Historically, even. This is pretty distressing to me because, like an idiot, I thought we were cool.
Not only had I been really excited about meeting her, about which I clearly remember writing in several entries, but in the actual event of it I’d made a point of being polite, respectful, friendly, and talkative with her on the occasions we met. We talked at various times both in person and in letters about my move down here, about cooking, about our families — I really thought we’d hit it off. I gave her a card for Valentine’s day and tried consistently to be as friendly and upbeat as possible when she wrote me about her troubles with my daughter’s father, encouraging her and saying I was praying for the best possible outcome.
To find out that she not only never liked me before but I am thinking pretty much actively hates me now was upsetting, but it was not the hardest blow. That was still to come. I don’t understand it, and I’ve known for a long time that his sister didn’t like me, never really understood why she had a bad impression of me but eventually gave up hoping she would change her mind and have just continued in as friendly a way as possible, but things are really compounded now. The toughest thing for me to grapple with is that Grandma P, who I’d always counted as a friend and counted on for sitting for my daughter and as a sounding board now and again in my own life, actually thought that my daughter’s father left his wife for me. That she would even consider drawing a conclusion like that, after knowing me all this time and knowing the separation and pain that I myself have been going through this year, is shocking and devastating to me.
The thing with his wife was bad enough, but the thing with his mom is stunning to me, and, as the time has gone by since he and I talked this weekend and I’ve had a chance to work through the jumble of feelings I have about all this, it turns out that’s one of the things that I’m having the toughest time with. I guess I was a fool? to imagine I had a connection with Grandma P, a) because I know better about myself and how some people just don’t like me, and b) I know that connections with many people are illusory and couched in ulterior motives. But I really did think that we were friends. I’ve welcomed her in to every home in which I’ve lived, always looked forward to her visits, encouraged her to call frequently and to have a relationship with my daughter even when her father and I were not in touch. So this has been a big surprise.
I don’t know why they dislike me so. If it’s because he and I hurt each other five years ago, then, isn’t that between us? I understand. When people hurt my friends and the ones I love, I want to tear them apart — but I also trust my friends’ and loved ones’ judgment. And if they tell me that it’s okay, then I have to know that that’s the end of my anger, and they know the way of it better than me. So if we can forgive one another and rebuild a friendship for not only our daughter’s sake but for the redemption of our own selves, then why in the name of heaven is that a bad or threatening thing?
This is what I mean about cats and women. They are full of secrets and you can never know what they are thinking. When dogs don’t like you, they make no trouble to disguise it: they bark and growl at you and try to bite. Cats are so much sneakier, you think they are fun to play with and you can trust them, and all the while they are stalking around and then coming out of nowhere with their claws … These women that I thought I could tentatively call friends made me think I was doing an okay job of becoming something like close and bonded with them, convinced me to offer up parts of myself and my personal backstories which I have a terrible time doing exactly because of situations like this, and it turns out that I guess I was wrong. I failed to meet the mark in some way, or could never have done so for some reason that is totally shrouded in mystery to me, like when they were handing out the woman-cat brains I was at a Polish sausage stand and missed the memo. It’s a real bummer.
There is nothing I can do about it except keep upbeat, focus on the daisies and bluebirds, and keep offering the olive branch as I have tried again and again to do — and pray that it “takes” at some eventual time. Because we have all got to know each other basically until we die, and I don’t understand why that has to be unpleasant or filled with drama, when we can just as easily choose to find the good in the situation? Until then, until they come around, I guess, I have to concentrate, have to try and stop dwelling on it and stop feeling sorry for myself, accept what I cannot change, and go forward. It’s just harder to do than say.
Just came from lunch with the o.g.b.d. No repeat of the well-understandable bottle thing of the last visit. I told you it would work out! Kidlet took ill halfway through our mutual lunchtime and demanded to be taken home. While swinging the o.g.b.d. back home after dropping her past the house, the o.g.b.d and I stopped off for “a coffee,” which is a trite phrase that in this case means “a pint.” (Now you are speaking our language.)
We came clean about a lot of sadness through which we’ve both been paddling, essentially rudderless, and, I think at any rate, ultimately the topics upon which we touched in our rambling but wonderfully amicable chat basically agreed with the age-old saying that is one of the ones I have always loved best. “Seek the headwaters of the river of pain.”
I think that we discovered that for both of us we are for one other indeedy some of the chief of those there ol’ headwaters. And we are forgiving each other first, ourselves second, and figuring the godforsaken rapids of the fallout out together, in the best and most platonic of ways. Absent of the prospect of sex and the agony of romantic entanglement, it turned out we had all manner of wisdom and laughs to offer one another. It was an amazing talk. I have great hopes for the future. Thanks for the vibes!
I’m packing now and gearing up to scootch down to C-town to have a gal night with Miss D and the LBC (I travel armed with Mean Girls, Josie and the Pussycats, and Anchorman — my go-to feel-good flicks) and then in the a.m. we are driving to Famoso for the last day of the drag races to ring in Gorgeous George’s 30th with Geo, Paolo, and the Gentleman.
I am feeling really upbeat and positive about the future. Always room for another friend in the circle, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. I am really excited to welcome someone back in to my life that I cared deeply about. So thanks again, and catch you on the flip!
We’re having lunch with the o.g.b.d. again today. I really hope it goes well. I mean, it went well last time, actually: the bottle only concerned me because I don’t want him to be feeling dissolute or inconsolable in general, and I know he’d hate to accidentally go too far in front of kidlet. That would hurt her image of him, and I know ultimately he would regret that terribly. I don’t want either of them to have to go through that, but particularly not him, because he does not need to hate himself on top of everything else he must be feeling right now with his breakup with his wife. I don’t want him to have to deal with that and compound any unhappiness he is already having to go through.
I want to tell him that I know what it’s like to have that inconsolable sense that life, taken straight, is intolerable; the feeling that you have to physically “take the edge off” of the knife blades of your thoughts and shield yourself from the “muchness,” the crazy coming-at-you-from-all-sides agony of crushing reality. I know the necessity of the filter: how it is to shield yourself and to see things through a veil in order to keep from seeing all of it at once, because you couldn’t take that because you feel too deeply about all things, and fearing the overwhelming magnitude of the difficult emotions you’re working through.
We have always been two peas in a pod in our way of being lost in this universe, oversensitive and underattenuated to proper socialization, and so of course we have brought suffering on ourselves, and of course we have both of us had terribly abusive relationships with anything that will alter our moods. I understand that alcohol and drugs are a handy, popular, easily attained crutch (long-term health and usefulness: debatable; short-term-pain-dulling and turn-to-able-ness: undeniable) that can help you come at your emotions sidewise, do that little crab scuttle over to them that keeps them from smacking you in the face and knocking you out. I know that.
But I know that it doesn’t work forever. There is always an ugly day that you face on the natch and you have this gnawing desperation and anxiety that mounts and mounts, and everything is unbearable and your eyelids are crawling and you just want to scream — but then that day passes. And then the next one, and another, and pretty soon you get in to the swing of mainly sobriety and it is not so bad, and you have the side benefit of not despising yourself quite so much.
I have no plans and particularly no grounds to get preachy: I just want him to know that I get it, and that he will want to set boundaries for himself around the kidlet, or he will regret it and hate himself all the more later. And I want him to know that I’m here for him. That’s a trite expression that in this case means I am physically willing to go pick him up from somewhere, or spend a long while on the phone, with disregard for personal inconvenience, talking him down from a ledge. I am actually here and present for him in a way that I never was when we were together, and I think that we have chanced in to a situation where we have a unique opportunity for renewal and redemption: where we can truly both benefit from one another’s company.
Please send vibes that I will find the right words and the convincing gestures to express to him my very ardent sincerity and my genuine love and concern without saying anything that turns him away.
Nina covers Bessie Smith.
I want a little steam
on my clothes
Maybe I can fix things up
so they’ll go
What’s the matter, Daddy,
Come on, save my soul
I need some sugar in my bowl
I ain’t foolin’
I want some sugar in my bowl
You been acting different
I’ve been told
I want some sugar in my bowl
I want some steam
on my clothes
Maybe I can fix things up so they’ll go
What’s the matter, Daddy,
Come on save my soul
I want some sugar in my bowl
I ain’t foolin’
I want some sugar – yeah – in my bowl.
A few weeks ago, the o.g. babydaddy treated me and the kidlet to lunch at the Soosh Gardino. He and his wife are mysteriously on the outs this month, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ve been trying to be neutral and supportive. They’re not living together any more, though, so I’m not sure what to make of it all.
I drafted her a friendly and supportive Valentine’s card and left it at a place where I knew she had a gig that night; a few days later she wrote me thanking me but then added some surprising stuff about “needing time as newlyweds.”
This was confusing to me because I had just talked to kidlet’s father the day prior and he said in no uncertain terms that he would only take her back to avoid living with his mother … then the next day he phoned and I asked if they had patched things up and he said sort of, but not really, then the following week he said they had certainly not, and were still living apart, so like I said, I am just staying out of it. Because I truly don’t know what’s going on.
I wish there was a way for me to wave a magic wand or wish on some special star and make things perfect for both of us, but I don’t have those kinds of means at my disposal, and I have never been much of a great shakes at relationship stuff.
Apparently neither has the o.g.b.d., for which I can vouch at least during our time together lo five years ago, and also because he asked me abruptly on our way to the Gardino, “Can I ask you something? It’s bad.” He is in the habit of blurting things out so I wasn’t as surprised as I would’ve been with someone normal. I said okay and he asked me, “What happened? With your marriage?”
My stomach lurched but as my kidlet’s father and knowing he wants to support her and be able to be a sounding board for her anxieties and dreams just the same as I do, so why would I not arm him with all information possible in order for him to succeed?, I felt like he deserved a specific reply and not my usual shrug or head shake. I answered as best I could without going in to too many details, but as directly as possible because the o.g.b.d. has a lot of tics and one of them is a strong dislike of roundabout bush-beating. I’ve always thought that was a fair bugaboo and done my best to respect it. I wound down my short explanation as we pulled in to the lot of the Soosh Gardino by saying:
“You know how it is.” (he does) “Growing up, people like us don’t plan on someone loving us, because that means letting them know us. I thought I could let someone in and it didn’t work out. For right now, I’m just not interested even at all in trusting another person, not like that. The jury is out for me on the human race.” He made a tsking sound and started to shake his head, and I held up my hand and said, “Just for now. We’ll see. But maybe I was right, all those years; maybe I am supposed to just be alone.”
I had just parked and killed the engine so I was able to look him in the eye when he suddenly grabbed my hand. He said urgently, “No. Beth — don’t say that.” This is not a story about how I got back together with the o.g.b.d., or how there is still some unwritten chapter about us. I just realized that might be inferred.
That’s not at all the way of it. You don’t know him — everything he does is spontaneous, overemotional, and urgent. He can’t even brush his teeth without doing it slightly “off” like he is coming down off of heroin or flashing his eyes around like Rudolph Valentino. He’s an intense guy, that o.g.b.d. It was one of the things that attracted me so strongly to him when we were together: he is not like other people. He’s more vibrant. Like other people are watercolor and he is painted in oils.
What this story is about is this: You are pretty low when your recently-split, moving-back-in-with-his-mother, hated-you-for-years ex feels sorry for you. I thought, “Wow. Maybe we are moving in to a new phase of our lives where he will be a good friend and confidante to me. That would be pretty unexpected and neat!”
After lunch, we went to a park and it turned out he’d been drinking sub rosa from a fifth of whiskey all day. I was kind of bummed that I’d thought we’d been doing so well and it might have not really been heartfelt on his half. Quelle surprise, I guess. I will never learn, it seems. I don’t want to sound pathetic, I just felt pretty stupid for thinking someone gave a crap about me.
I found this out when he took a hit out of the bottle in his pocket. In front of a bunch of kids. I said, “Um, no thanks, dude.” He said, “Oh, I know. I wasn’t offering. You’re driving.” He had me there: I was indeed driving. And it was a visit we were both in charge of. And he’d literally split from his wife the day before. And the day before happened to be Valentine’s. So I’m not going to judge or flip out unless it happens again. “Everybody gets one,” right, Spider-man on Family Guy?
The point is: Yep. Probably meant to be alone. At least for a good long while.
It’s lonely to want some sugar in the bowl, sure, but the trouble is it’s tough to tell the sugar from the rat poison. Better safe than sorry.
Basking in the success and pre-indigestive warmth of the Chili Cook-off back in November, the friendohs unanimously agreed to have a Souperbowl Superbowl Sunday, wherein we would each bring signature soup dishes for everyone to try, smorgasboard style. Fast-forward to this weekend, and we’ve all been working on our recipes! I made my hearty roast red pepper and tomato soup with toasted bread crumbs, basil, oregano, carmelized pine nuts, cheddar cheese, and bacon on top. (My recipe is decidely not “heart”-healthy or low-carb.)
Gorgeous George and the Gentleman are hosting, along with relative newcomer and housemate the Great Dane. The LBC is doing chicken noodle, Geo called clam chowder, and Paolo and Miss D are thinking outside the box and bringing accompanying dishes rather than soup itself. I can only guess Jonohs is bringing cheesecake; I have not had the chance to talk to him between his phone being o.o.c. and my computer in the same state. That frumious bandersnatch about which I’ve been writing from time-to-time in my occasional efforts to remove it has stepped up its game:
It is now a straight up jubjub bird, heading swiftly in to Jabberwock territory. Not cool! Especially as I’m in the thick of the Valentine Vixens and I’ve got all kinds of babymama non-drama news to share (nothing but roses on that front, thank God one area of my life is moving along successfully) and yucky love stuff to ruminate on, as it comes up on a full year since my husband and I separated. I’m swamped with ideas and the actual desire to write for once, and the computer is decidely not cooperating.
I’ve been trying a number of methods for exorcism and I’m hoping at least one pans out, but will keep you posted. I’m writing this from a borrowed computer which I’m about to vacate, so if you don’t hear from me for awhile that is the trouble. Wish me luck. Until then: “Technical difficulties — Please stand by!”
Oh, my gosh — next Saturday. The date is set! Kidlet and I will be going to meet, for the first time in her little memory, with her father and his wife and their baby son. To say I am excited is to understate it: I know it is probably abnormal for a situation like this, but I am never one to be in the “in” crowd. I have literally longed for this day. I know it is more popular to be bitter or hard-hearted, but I thought and prayed on it for so long that I finally came to realize, “to what good end, sadness? only good will come of this, only the best things will come of this.”
And I am so pleased and pumped that he is doing so well in life, and that my daughter gets to newly encounter him at such a happy juncture for him, and it seems to me it must in large part be attributed not only to the opening of his own heart, but to, I can only conjecture and gladly so, that opening’s impetus: his awesome wife. She actually emailed me today, incredibly thoughtfully, inquiring after my daughter to see how she was handling these new upcoming changes. I was bowled over by that level of grace and thoughtfulness: it is what I told people I expected of her, having an incredibly high respect for her as an artist and as a faithful person of a true heart, but it was still so wonderful to experience it in person. I have mentioned before that she is a very successful musician in our area, and, I think, soon to be nationally. I can’t believe our children will be playing together in just seven short days. I truly look forward to this meeting. This is my daughter’s brother. That is amazing!
I am so proud of him, her father, for having the courage to make a change, and for deserving and committing to such a worthy, good woman. And I am so delighted that she and I will share this beautiful connection of our children being siblings. It’s honestly beyond anything I could ever have hoped or predicted just five years ago, when kidlet’s father and I essentially said what we probably naively and immaturely imagined to be our goodbyes. Of course, life went on, and of course, as both of us are honest and loving and decent people, if a little damaged each, that perceived goodbye could not stand and has not stood as any sort of final word, not with our dear kidlet’s sweetness in the balance. How could I keep him from that, from my end, and, from his side, why would he want to be away, and what sort of self-centered monster would begrudge him the desire for this reconciliation? I have known and expected this for a while now, since my own changes began, and it is better as it stands than I could have hoped. This is such an excellent coda, such a promising new beginning, that I can barely contain my gratefulness and happiness.
It’s everything I would have ever hoped and more. Such an auspicious and God-granted beautiful way to begin this New Year and new decade. And I also hope soon to feature kidlet’s brother’s mother, the wonderful woman I keep speaking so highly of, as a Music Moment, a special edition where I will actually get to interview the artist! — and one of her band members, I hope, too, my own little one’s father! — but only with her permission, and I will wait respectfully to broach that topic. This little journal is nothing compared to the success that awaits them. I am so excited for my kidlet, who loves music so well and has such a natural inclination toward it, to have already the luck and joy of being in their lives as they continue to develop their talent and, justly soon, I imagine, musical reknown. They bought her a toy guitar already, one which I examined after she asked for it and decided I sadly could not afford: amazing that she gets to have it through their generosity, I know that to her mind it was the one thing missing from a complete Christmas season. We are already talking about lessons and a real guitar to follow if that instrument is her interest. This is truly so incredible.
All I know is that I cannot wait til next weekend. It is a great new chapter of good fortune for me and for my daughter, and all I can do is give thanks.
A year ago I would have frozen in shock if someone told me that next week I would be meeting with my daughter’s father, his wife, and their newborn, but I have served my time for so long and prayed so well out my worries, and I am a wholly new person now. And all I am is purely thrilled. I look forward to this meeting with all my heart.
In a cowboy hat on the set of Green Mansions, 1958. It was directed by her husband, Mel Ferrer. They divorced.
“Your heart just breaks, that’s all. But you can’t judge, or point fingers. You just have to be lucky enough to find someone who appreciates you.”
So the same week that the HRH is here, my daughter’s other father has burst back on to the scene, and who can blame him? She is wonderful and there is no right or wrong time to accept a father’s love. The only person who would be hurt in the situation is me, and that’s a selfish reason to hold her apart from him, his wife, and their son. So when they are ready, I imagine we’ll meet up. In fact, I’m actually eager to. That’s my daughter’s flesh and blood, and it’s been a long time since I tucked a fuzzy little baby head under my chin. I am far from made of stone.
I am sad to say I’ve lost the credit for this photo.
“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”
On top of that, my husband and I have been hashing over what went wrong in our marriage, with an eye mainly toward how to heal as friends and continue to do our best as my daughter’s parents, and, with cards all out on the table, we’ve drawn some not-so-upbeat conclusions. Knowing the whole truth about things I always half-suspected does not make those things hurt less; however, while it’s not the kind of thing you ever want to be right about, you know that it can’t get worse, and you’ve already survived it without even knowing, so why not keep moving forward? But despite it all, despite the icy gutpunches and sad truths being dealt and faced between us, for some reason I am finally in this really good place, feeling deeply and essentially all right about things — feeling far and away better than I was when I was anxious and wondering all the time what would happen next and putting off thinking about it all, with either of them.
Audrey, second from left, and her mother Ella,far right. During the occupation of Holland during World War II, in the midst of blackouts and starvation, Audrey, Ella, and a small group of others entertained the people of their town by putting on plays. This was taken in 1940, not too long after her Uncle Otto was executed for being part of the Underground.
“I heard a definition once: Happiness is health and a short memory! I wish I’d invented it, because it is very true.”
Now it’s all here and by some strange miracle all that churning through my emotions has paid off and I feel this tremendous sense of peace and rightness: I know that whatever happens, will happen. I am not granted happiness or misery by any given situation, and faith and grace and love are a choice. It’s the sort of thing I have heard all my life and never understood how to make work, so selfishly, turned inward with my thoughts and fears, I assumed that those kinds of phrases and ideas were smarmy cliches, or somehow hollow, inapplicable to real life problems. But they aren’t. That’s a revolutionary idea for me. I mean, I strove, or thought I did, to keep upbeat, to respond to my friends and strangers with as much love as I thought I could muster, but I don’t think I was digging deeply enough.
Lotus eaters! Audrey and James Garner goofing around on the set of The Children’s Hour.
“When the chips are down, you are alone, and loneliness can be terrifying. Fortunately, I’ve always had a chum I could call. And I love to be alone. It doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m my own company.”
I’ve had to live it to understand it. I get it now. All I can do is accept what comes as gracefully as I can, show that I’m coming from a place of love, and hope for more happiness to follow. It’s really my choice. I have my friends, my family, and most of all myself. This place I’m in can be permanent, I just have to work at choosing grace.
Music Moment: “I’d like to sing this song especially for my little daughter.” Mama Cass — “Lady Love”November 5, 2009
I truly love Cass Elliot and I have boatloads to say about her, another day. Right now I need to dash this off, hustle her through her morning routine and take my sweet little kidlet to kindergarten, and come home and tend to some chores around the house, so I’m scheduling this entry to appear much later today in case I decide on reflection that it needs editing.
This song was written by Delaney Bramlett and was the B-side of the extremely successful 7″ single Make Your Own Kind of Music, featuring the eponymous A-side track “Make Your Own Kind of Music,” one of Mama Cass’s earliest solo efforts. (At this point she has hella outsold the Mamas and the Papas, besides being the whole reason they were popular to begin with. In your face, John, you monster … I’ll save that sauce for another day.)
The daughter she refers to at the beginning is Owen Vanessa Elliot, born in 1967, to whom Cass was a single mother until her early death.
Owen was only seven years old when her mother passed away, and Cass did not have the opportunity during her lifetime to reveal to her the identity of her father, which she’d also kept secret from most of her family and friends. I think it’s safe to assume she was waiting until her daughter was curious and emotionally mature enough to ask and receive the answer, and be okay and stable enough to handle whatever came next (like, you can’t lay such heavy stuff on a little kid from day one, don’t people see that??) but she unfortunately died before that time came. I don’t understand why everyone, even sympathetic biographers, gets up in her grill about that. Leave a bitch alone, people. Babymama drama is seriously some really heavy shit. I personally have weighed my options and always played it Cass’s way, and I don’t really care about anyone else’s opinion of the matter. It’s now between me and the kidlet and God, thank you very much, and thank you to my friends who know about it and understand.
Custody of Owen went to Cass’s sister Leah and Leah’s husband, drummer Russ Kunkel, after Cass’s death of a heart attack at 32 –which had nothing to do with choking nor a ham sandwich, and was a total tragedy for the entertainment world– and it ended up being, unexpectedly, Cass’s old bandmate Michelle Phillips who helped Owen track down her biological father in the mid-1980’s.
At some point in the mid-80s, when Owen Elliot was in her late teens, she called Michelle and said, “You have to help me find my father!” Michelle spent a year running down leads through musician friends.
Cass and Mitchie share a giggle on a plane during some of the tough years
Once she had pried loose the name Cass had kept so close to her vest, she placed an ad in a musicians’ publication, urging the man to call an “accountant” (hers), implying a royalty windfall. Like clockwork, Cass’s long-ago secret lover took the bait. When Michelle phoned him, she recalls, “he wasn’t all that shocked,” and, the next day, Owen says, “Michelle gave me a plane ticket and said, ‘Go meet him.’ ” (Owen and Michelle will not reveal the name. Owen says only, “I had envisioned this Norwegian prince.”)
The meeting “answered a lot of questions,” says Owen, who is now married to record producer Jack Kugell and has two children. Since then, she says, “there have been times when I’ve been devastatingly upset about things in my personal life, and I’ve really leaned on Michelle.
“She’s ironically been a mother to me in a way that would make my mom definitely chuckle.” — December 2007, Vanity Fair, “California Dreamgirl,” by Sheila Weller.
Anyways, I can’t believe that I have to type these lyrics up myself, that is a total trip to me, they are NOWHERE online. Maybe I’m just crappy at looking cause it’s so early in the morning. I’m happy to do it really quickly though. I’ll come back and fix typos later.
(spoken) I’d like to sing this song especially for my little daughter.
I don’t require a lot to make it
times are hard but I can take it
as long as I got my little someone to hold on to
I’ve been down but I don’t mind it
what I’ve lost I’m sure I’ll find it
as long as I’ve got my little someone to hold on to
A little sugar to sweeten my tea
A little girl just for me
Hard times I can rise above
With a little help from Lady Love
I’ve heard it said if you’re strong
you can make it all alone
but I’ve got to have my little someone to hold on to
A little sugar to sweeten my tea
A little girl to set me free
Hard times I will rise above
With a little help from Lady Love, Lady Love
Well, time to go make sure my lady love has been getting dressed and brushing her teeth and hair all this time. Then we will sit and have breakfast and she’ll fill me in on the dramz with this boy she likes and her best friend (who has already stolen one guy: typical). Catch you on the flip side!
Crazy busy day for me, y’all. Taking yet another crack at DMV today with Gorgeous George, had to cancel on Grandma P cause kidlet is still croupy and I wager Grandma P is babysitting kidlet’s other father’s New and Improved Baby at least semi-regularly, and I’d hate her to get sick from kidlet and give it to the baby. So that part of the day is off but it’s still madness.
First DMV with Geo, then giving Miss D a holler for some late lunch as a team, then back home to dye Special K’s hair red so it’s faded to the right shade by Homecoming (I know I have mentioned it before, but I’m saying it again: she is nominated for Homecoming Queen because she is the most beautifulest and special girl on the planet!!).
Anyway, with all that chicanery to attend to, I’ll be out of the house most of the day, so I’m going to officially declare this day Wednesday Wednesday. Please enjoy!
She’ll be here in 30 minutes, the Grandma P. We have a good relationship, my daughter’s father’s mother and I. It’s all the other people in our lives who fuck us up. They are always putting us in awkward positions. She and I have similar perfectly fucked up backgrounds and are as a result perfectly insane and so perfectly capable of functioning in the tight little space we have carved out in which to negotiate our friendship and play with the kidlet. Seriously, the only tension comes from outside forces, which is to say the many individuals, predominantly men, in our lives who we have striven to please and be taken care of by and who instead have hurt, bullied, or disenchanted us both. If I was going to start a Utopian women-only cult, I would hella take P with me right out of the gate. Look at that, I found a positive in today’s agonizing piecework of weaving together some kind of central rope to pull myself out of my bullshit mental problems:
Grandma P brings out a side of me that is very empathetic to women and can admit that men are as capable of being flawed as a sex as that Other Gender I’m always bashing away at despite being among its ranks. Thanks, Grandma P!
The mother of my daughter’s other father is coming over today. Oh, look at the little layers of insulation, like a set of goddamned matryoshka dolls, this is how I nestle away my feelings and keep myself safe from them. I start with myself and erect shell after painted shell all around me: this means I am very tiny inside. Did you know?
You see, he got married in the last few weeks (stab), and has another child, now, a boy (twist), and has apparently totally turned his life around and aren’t I such an awful person for thinking him a stranger to me and to my daughter? I know it’s more, I know it’s more repressed and deeply painful even than the obvious things I can think of to say about why it’s bothering me so much, why it’s like a sliver of glass in my heart, cutting deeper and deeper with every breath. Am I holding him responsible for the fact that I and my daughter were not enough to make him want to become this awesome new person his friends tell me he is (not at all the person I miss anymore, I guess, I guess that person is gone forever), not like his New and Improved girlfriend, I’m sorry, wife and his New and Improved baby. They are the ones who get to have him around and hear his voice every day, whereas I get to wake up every day and know very specifically that I will not see him and will not hear from him that day. And as that pain is on me, I have to let go of that hurt.
I am glad he found someone who seems faithful and kind and full of grace, plus someone who is, like him, really good-looking and also musically talented like he is, I honestly am, they will probably go far together. But the son…and the wedding…and the probable amazing amounts of pure happiness, when I am in the midst of this waking-up to my old repressed self and this marital separation, that is such a kick in the stomach, especially coming from someone that I loved so much and so wrongly (in a way that poisoned the well instead of making it clean, you know? like a hell-version of soulmates that was best walked away from despite how hard it was to disentangle myself from it, because it was too enormous for me to see any other way out of) that I’ve shoved those feelings about that breakup so far down that I don’t even know what shape they will take when they come out? I guess, this shape. Matroyshka dolls, aimless crying over shit that doesn’t really affect me, events of my own life spinning outside my control, no way to keep myself or my daughter on what I think of as “normal” footing, so maybe it is time to redefine normal for us and stop letting my family judge me the way I let them break us up.
Oh hell, what was THAT.
Fucking jesus. This talking about your feelings stuff is some heavy shit. Like pulling teeth. That’s all for the day, sorry. Please send vibes for this visit that my daughter’s father’s mother will continue to pretend like our friendship is totally normal and continue to pretend as though the main thing we all three of us (daughter, grandmother, me) have in common is not her son.
I didn’t know it was possible to be ghetto and full of emo bullshit at the same time, but I am nothing if not amibitious.