Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kenny and Tara

I found out about them when my mom went to Georgia for a break from the circumstances that became her life. One of my dad's acquaintances revealed the truth one summer day while we were sitting in her kitchen drinking iced tea while I vented about the complexities of my 12 year old life. Jeanie was a nice but accentric red haired lady with chickens and llamas and horses and other random farm animals. I'd spent most of the summer making the mile bike ride to her house to spend time with her and her husband who was confined to a wheel chair from a stroke and her senile mother who lived on the property in a 26 foot trailer. I had always enjoyed spending time with older people but mainly she was the closest thing to a confidant that I had within the 30 mile radius of my home.

I don't remember how it came out exactly but being told that I was not my mothers first or second child came as a real surprise to me. Shocked that I had an older brother and sister somewhere in the world and that my mother was a drug addict, bordering on the edge of mental emotional distress made me question my entire life.
 How did I live with this woman, this mother of mine, for 11 years and not know her? I could accept her use of coke or meth or combination of both. I never noticed anything unusual but why would I have? She kept me busy playing soccer or bowling or gymnastics or playing with friends or sleeping.  But why she hadn't  told me that she had another family was incomprehensible to my prepubescent mind. Did she walk out on them? Where were they? I'd always wanted more siblings- Did I look like my sister? I needed to know.
But I was young and incapable of confronting the issue so little by little, I distanced myself from her. We were 2500 miles away from each other and still that wasn't enough. When she called, I never mentioned it, I just gradually stopped taking her calls. I questioned my dad about it but he was vague saying only that he knew that they existed, that when he'd met her, she told him but didn't want to discuss it at length. When she returned a year or so later, I told her I knew. I forgave her. But I didn't understand and she wasn't ready to explain it. But then something else happened and I stopped talking to her for several years. It wasn't until I was well into my early twenties that I grew the courage to demand more from her.
She told me their names. Kenneth Jr, after his father, her first husband, and Tara. I knew their birth dates. I knew that they were born in Germany when my mother and him were living on a military base there. They had married sometime around when my mother should have graduated.
I tried using people searches on the internet and finally traced down the last known addresses and phone numbers of my brother and sisters grandparents, aunts and uncles. I couldn't call because I didn't know what to say. Besides, I didn't want to talk to just anyone, I wanted to talk to my brother or sister. I learned from my mother that she had been in contact with their stepmother, Tina, several years earlier.  Tina was actually my mothers' friend when they lived in Germany. Apparently after Kenny left my mom because she claimed she hadn't loved him, he had married again. Twice actually. He was still married to Tina. She told my mother that Tara had had a child and lived in Oregon and my brother Kenny had spent some time in prison. They were adults now.
Finally, I decided that the best way to reach them would be through a large social networking database. Everyone had either a myspace or facebook page these days, I began seeking Tara. Realizing she could be married and have a different name, I broadened my search to every Tara. That's right. I copy and pasted thousands of messages reading "Were you born in Germany and now have a father and brother named Kenny? I may be your biological sister." After a couple years, I gave up. In the mean time, my mother shared more information,  pictures she had of them when she'd last seen them. They were babies. 2 and 4 maybe. I got her side of the story and then my Aunt Helen's take from things as well.
Finally, one day while  checking my facebook messages, I received a message from Tara. She had just checked her Myspace messages, an account she had neglected for some time and received my message.  She sent a message to me but got no reply. Then she searched on facebook and found me. We conversed, me confused and angry but trying to welcome her into my life, to convince her to tell me what she knew of my mother and discover how things had ened up like this. Then our brother sent me a friend request and then Tina. Tina I talked to more freely, asking questions I was afraid to ask Tara. How had she ended up with their father? How did his relationship with my mother end?
Now I've heard all sides but my mothers' ex husbands. I don't know why I want to know what everyone else knows so badly except that maybe it's because I went so long without knowing myself. But I hope that one day, my mother who has seen their Facebook profiles and knows that I speak with them, will somehow muster up the courage to reach out to them. She told me once that she didn't contact them because she had nothing to offer them. That it had been so long she didn't know what to say. But I know she hurts because she longs to know them. I'm glad that I found them. Because at least now it's possible for my family to reunite-or in my case, unite.
I can't imagine what it would be like to be a parent and to live a life without your child. Not after you'd raised them for the first years of their life and them be divided from them suddenly and permanently. I can't imagine how hard it must have been on my brother and sister as children; Although young, I imagine being separated from her must have been confusing and painful. And I don't know how they feel towards her now, if they feel anything at all. One thing I've learned is that as we get older, life seems more fragile and you want to hang on to the things that shaped your life. That one persons choices dramatically change other people's lives. And sometimes, although we think we're doing what we think is best, for our parents, our children or ourselves, the damage we can create may be more hurtful later on down the road; Even if time heals our emotions, the scars are still left on our hearts, reminding us of what was and what will never be.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

crazy girl

 I've been in the ARMY. Maybe that won't surprise you. But the events proceeding it may. 

When I first considered the military, I was sitting my my room, late at night watching reruns of law and order. An advertisement came on. The promise of an education and adventure sounded good enough to me. After all, school was ending in a couple months. I had no plan. My grandmother was dying. Just a couple weeks earlier, I had miscarried a baby and my boyfriend had moved to another state. What did I have to lose? The next day, I drove to the nearest Army recruitment center and signed myself up. It all happened so fast.
I was taken to Los Angeles to do an asvab (military occupational aptitude test). Because I only wanted to sign up for the minimum of 2 years, pickings were slim. I was deemed a 92 Yankee, aka, supply and inventory specialist. Then I had to do the physical. Passed with flying colors although I did fib about a couple things. Later that night, tired from a 12 hour day of "hurry up and wait"ing, I retired back to the hotel room. This was when I decided that being in the military may not be so bad. There were hundreds of us staying at the hotel. Some of us were just beginning the journey, others were shipping out the next day to training or even overseas to their permanent duty station. I met a guy and we hit it off and made it back to my room discovering my roommate was nowhere to be found and... I'll just leave it at that.
3 months later, I went back to that hotel because I was flying to South Carolina the next morning for boot camp. Me and the others being "shipped out"  were mortified that we wouldn't be having any fun for the next few months while training and so we went big-  had a party on the  roof, more casual sex and a minor run in with the law after some idiot threw a beer bottle off the roof and it landed near another hotel resident in the parking lot. but before we knew it, we were on a plane heading to our new life.
When we got to "Relaxin' Jackson", I was so relieved to be at a fort that had such a good reputation for being easy. Except for me, it was anything but easy. I had thought that with my athletic body shape this would be a cinch. Who would've guessed I would develop shin splints upon completion of the first 3k run? Who knew that I would not make any friends or that I did not possess good group skills? Who knew that I would become so homesick for a place I despised and my parents would sell their house in California and move to Missouri? Who knew that my drill sergeant would have it in for me so bad?
I spent a part of nearly every day in the nurses office begging for pain pills for my shin splints or sitting out some of the activities because I had on more than one occasion, broken down in tears while on a hike  or running. I was humiliated. The only person whose company I enjoyed got kicked out. I was so alone. So I petitioned that I be given a medical discharge because I felt I could not complete the training course. To my surprise, they responded by telling me I would sit out the rest of the 6 weeks of training but they would not give me a medical discharge because according to xrays, there was nothing wrong with my legs. And I would have to repeat the entire training.

So, from then on, I would get up at 4am and guard an office until 8pm, taking 3 meal breaks and then going to bed. While guarding, I met another girl, a black candid, unatttractive but personable girl whose name I do not recall. I told her how much I despised the Army and would do anything to get out. Of course, there are only 3 ways to get out. Medical, honorary and dishonerary. Since I was not eligible for medical or honorary, I determined that I would go the tough route. And that is when the plan began.
One day, we left the guard station to use the restroom. I drank a canteen which contained all the pain pills I had saved and some bleach. Private whats-her-name then went and informed an officer that she had caught me "trying to kill myself".
I never realized how bad this would get.
Ever had your stomach pumped? Not fun. Not fun at all. Ever lived in a psych ward in a hospital? Definately not fun. Even worse, I had to call my parents under a nurses watch and tell them what I had done. And that I would have to stay in the mental ward of the hospital for the next few weeks while the hospital staff determined if I was a danger to myself or not. And the worse part was that I HAD to pretend that I had wanted to kill myself. I should have just made out with that black girl, we would've been kicked out for being gay.
But the routine in the ward was the worst part. Still had to get up at the crack of dawn and there was a tv but there were 15 of us in the ward so I never got to watch what I wanted to. Instead, I made crafts all day. Stiched moccasin slippers with plastic needles. Colored with crayons. I had to wear paper clothes and socks all day. I could only shower every two days and I shared a room with 2 pretty insane girls. I never figured out how they had passed a physical to get into the army in the first place but honestly, they were insane.
The worst part was when my drill sergeant came to visit me and brought two of the girls from my squad with him so I could have visitors. They looked at me like I was one of the insane girls from my bedroom. They told me that everyone was worried about me- I couldn't believe this, THEY ALL KNEW?? And again, I had to pretend I really had wanted to kill myself otherwise I was afraid they wouldn't let me out. Well, they finally did. But I still know if my parents ever really believed me when I said I didn't really try to kill myself, I just really wanted out of the Army. But one good thing that did come of it- I got an honorable discharge.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

April fools Day- A tribute to my father

My father has many qualities which I adore. But his silly side is probably what will be most remembered. You would think it would have taught me to be less gullible and less taken by surprises but I think it has only made me more appreciative of a good joke and an even better target.  If you've ever had a practical joker for a father, I know how you feel:)

Under my fathers' instruction, I went out to the meat freezer to get a steak. Imagine my surprise when I open the door and there was a coiled rattlesnake ready to strike! I screamed of course, shut the door and ran to tell my father, only then realizing it was just a joke. I went back out to the freezer and sure enough, the frost bitten thing was dead. It sure was fun having our guests go "grab a steak" after that:)

I was the luckiest girl in the world, my father presented me with a white cardboard jewelry box. He held it carefully in his palm as I open the lid and lifted the cotton fluff off the top to reveal... a bloody finger that squirmed inside the box! (Of course I realized momentarily that it was just catchup and the finger was still attached to his hand as he chased me around wiggling it into my face but it was still quite startling.)

I got a small yellow envelope in the mail and boy did I feel lucky. I never got mail. There was no return address, that should've been my first clue. When I opened the envelope- the sound of a larger than life rattlesnake tail caught me by surprise and I threw the package into the air and ran. Upon observing the contents of the package, a rubber band and a rigged paperclip never seemed so imaginative.

And who could forget this one-The electric pen that zaps you when you click the pen top- I don't know how many times I fell for this one.

The book that was hollowed out and rigged with pop out surprises---I still can't believe I fell for that one. I was nearly an adult.

After that, I became less gullible on April Fools day, but any other day of the year, I make an excellent candidate for a practical joke

Sexual Lies

Some girls lie because they are embarrassed about the guys they slept with, I on the other hand, lied about guys I hadn't slept with and created an awful reputation for myself. I would like to take a moment to set the record strait although I'm certain none of the people I hurt with these lies will ever read this.
When I was 12, I kept a phony journal which I would write about things which never happened in. My life was boring, I lived on a ranch in the middle of nowhere with no friends for 30 miles. The journal started out just that, an honest assimilation of heartfelt thoughts and dreams- but one day at school, a note that had been passed in class got into the wrong hands and that's when I realized that I could do this with a journal and everyone would believe whatever was on those pages because after all, who would lie to their journal, right? So, I created an alter ego, one who stopped riding her dirt bike alone, and began riding with cute neighbor Brett (who by the way, was not completely fictional, rather inspired by a 3 year old neighbor whose name I liked.)
Then there was Grant, my best friend Rita's cousin who lived in LA who I secretly crushed on.  I assimilated a romantic fantasy evening spent necking underneath the large trampoline in his backyard while Rita and i were visiting one time. When my "diary" got out, this is the one that not only ruined my first "relationship" with my 13 year old boyfriend but may have put the first rift between Rita and I because as far as she knew, it could have happened. Or perhaps she knew it didn't happen at all.
I also told my friend Melissa that I kissed Rita's boyfriend Lino, although that never even came close to happening.
Later, I pined away for this guy Ricky for so long...he cheated on his girlfriend with someone else and we spent countless hours alone together so when I told everyone in my circle about this magical kiss that I conjured, it was believable. But it inevitably contributed to the frequent brawls I ended up having with his then girlfriend.
That was it.
But after creating quite the bad girl reputation for myself that I had, real or falsified, I fell into another trap of lies. And these lies may have proved more damaging as they were the ones that covered up sexual encounters that were true.

I am sorry, Lauren, for Freddy. Although you guys were broken up, I knew what he meant to you. I knew this, but I went behind your back and slept with him for months on the down low, because in truth, I really liked him too. I felt like although you and I were friends, you were never really my friend and would have done the same thing to me if our roles had been reversed. In fact, I know you would have.
I'm sorry Erica, for Billy. You guys were only just beginning and I didnt think anything would really become of you two- I was just trying to make Manuel jealous. What I didn't realize at the time, was that I would lose a friend very dear to my heart.
 I'm sorry Andrea, for Dave. Even though he was a one night stand to me long before you two had considered dating- I just didn't think who I slept with was any of your business. How was I to know you would end up having two kids together?
I'm sorry Melissa, for Felipe. You had been out of both of our lives for several years and it was a complete surprise when you resurfaced into our lives. I admitted to you what I had done, not because I saw it as wrong, but because I knew you would find out and hold it against me.
I am sorry, Dearl, for Shelby. I had no right to violate our relationship and put your heart at such distress. I love you.

I understand why I lied about the people who I got with and shouldn't have. But I will always wonder why I defamed my reputation so early on about imaginary boyfriends. And a word of wisdom: Nothing good ever comes about lying about sex.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Loser Club

5 years ago, I wrote this: 

"I’ve just started the long journey to discovery. My counselor tells me not to decide one way or another whether I have an alcohol problem but how can I not? Every week I have to attend a group counseling session with a bunch of “recovering alcoholics”. The state of California requires that anyone with two DUIs undergo the process which I have recently begun. It’s not a question of whether I will complete the lengthy 18 month program, it’s only a matter of time. Time and patience. It’s hard to believe that anyone wants you to succeed in getting your license back  when you go through the motions of the second offender program. I spend nearly $500 dollars a month, and 2 hours a day at group counseling on Friday, a half hour on Tuesdays, a four hour education class Wednesday evening, and the occasional AA meeting when possible. This may seem like a lot to do in order to get a license back, however, these requirements don’t  even begin to reflect the emotional strain that I experience when I’m at group or in counseling. Maybe that’s the point, to make us feel uncomfortable as possible, to regret what we've done but I’m beyond that, I’m spiteful and remorseful.
          A one on one counseling session is basically what i'd imagine a confession in a catholic church feels like except there is no forgiveness, only judgement. I've had three different couselors, they seem to change as fast as the clients. Of course, that's completely understndable. What a thankles job. For one thing, they are not graduates of any university, most oof them are only required to complete a certificate program at a community college to “couns” us. There are requirements which they are expected to keep up with, for example, a relative course and two conventions per year in order to keep their license. Obviously, some go above and beyond what is required.
            I know one “mentor”  is currently finishing his PHD but to be honest, he's an over achiever because he has to be. He's a felon for Gods' sake. This amuzes me more than you could imagine. Other than the fact that he's educated, the only reason he seems to be there is to reminisce about the times he spent getting high and dodging the police. Seriously. 13 of us will be sitting in a room while he goes on about the way he lived, the way he disapointed everyone in his life by being a drug addict and we're supposed to feel empathy to this man? The majority of us have a drinking problem not a methanphetamine problem. But there is a sickening sparkle in his eye when he's talking about his past, much like  a burned out blue collar worker discussing his old high school football days as the star quarterback. You know the look? It's pathetic that we are taking advise from this guys whose only reason for quitting in the first place was the  fear of being caught again.
            Perhaps that's why many people quit to begin with. They're not changed, they're just scared. But I can relate...
             I’ve recently adopted a new phrase, “ No more blackouts, bar fights or making bail”. That way, I won't have to face these losers again, I won't have to consider that my third DUI requires a year of prison time or that I'll lose my lisence for an additional 2 years, although I'd be in prison for one year anyways, so technically, it would only feel like one year. I won't have to see the disappointment on my friends or families face when they have to pick me up from the hospital or jail or scrape me off the sidewalk after being beat up by a group of mexicans because I said something off color since I felt invincible while drunk.
So, from here out, it's a zero tolerance for me, not a single drop of alcohol in the system while I drive."

So, 5 years later, the question hangs in the balance, have I lived up to my phrase, have I recoverd from drinking and making bad decisions? Absolutely. I do have an occasional beer and drive home an hour later, and on one occasion, I did drive home slightly drunk-a friend of mine was supposed to be sober driver but ended up getting more drunk thatn me. He refused to get a motel, stay with another friend or wait it out. So i did what I thought was best and put myself behind the wheel because if I didn't, he was going to probably kill us as he was determined to get home. I know, we could have taken a cab right, except in this rural town, it could be a 2 hour wait and more than 100 to get home. So, I fucked up. But we arrived safely at home and I thanked God for that and that was 3 years ago. If ever put in a situation like that again, I think I would just take his keys and throw them into the creekbed we parked near. But  as much as i hate to admit it, the second offender program may have helped me after all...

Monday, December 5, 2011

We don"t choose our family, and when it chooses us, we can just walk away

My mom left me with my dad one weekend when I was 10 and a week later she called me tell me she would be visiting her sister in Georgia until she "got better". I didn't know exactly what this meant except that I'd been living out of a car for the last couple months with her and my brother since her boyfriend of 2 years broke up with her. So, I guessed getting better meant finding a new job, a new house. But I had other problems. My dad had always been a weekend dad so neither of us were ready for this change and he had started answering personal ads to find a suitable woman to raise me. Connie must have been as desperate as he was because they had a whirlwind of a marriage 6 months later. I didn't know what he liked about her, she didn't bring anything of value into their relationship, in fact all she had to her name was an old copper colored '77corvette and a ridiculous Cocker Spaniel named Bentley. She was 10 years older than him with grey hair and a mustache for god sake. Yes, she was artistically talented and smart but she was manipulative and controlling too.
She fooled my dad's family but not me. There were too many unanswered questions. Like, why had she been married so many times? She still wore 2 wedding bands from previous marriages (both husbands which she admitted had died quite soon after the marriages....creepy) and had 2 kids that she didn't talk to for some reason. Then came the "incidents" when she swore that I locked her inside a closet and another when she claimed I locked her outside the house and inside the gated premise- both of these incidents I am certain to this day, never happened.
These accusations and other argments we had frequently enough landed me in therapy once a week. To be honest, I was quite happy to have someone to vent my feelings of frustration to however it only made things worse when the counselor requested to see us as a family. Halfway through the meeting, the counselor asked to speak to with Connie privately and suggested she have isolated counseling- I thought a breakthrough was occurring, that someone finally saw her for what she was, but she declined insisting I was the problem. I almost believed it too but I used my position to it's advantage and told my counselor the one thing I knew she couldn't ignore- I would rather die than live with Connie anymore. In less than one week, I was a ward of the court petitioning emancipation.
The hardest thing I ever had to do was tell my father I didn't love him and I didn't have to, but I did it anyways because I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me when he refused to part ways with her. I was his daughter and she may have been his wife for 2 years but he insisted he didn't love her. So why wouldn't he leave her?  I'll never know. But that was my revenge. Well, that and the $1200 per month he had to hand over to the state for the next 2 years.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Creston Village Retirement Home

          We stood silently as the elevator doors shut us in and I felt compelled to reveal something to her.  "Do you smoke weed?" I asked breaking the silence. She looked at me unexpectedly and then smiled. "I just moved here. I don't have any good connections." That was my chance. I suggested she come with me sometimes after work and get high with my boyfriend and his friend. I was getting bored of the threesome we'd become, spending every day driving the back roads to find a good spot to park and get high. I didn't have any friends of my own and I missed having a girlfriend to talk to. As we got off the elevator, I waved goodbye and headed the opposite direction. Steven and Steve were waiting for me in his car. Steve respectively got out of the front seat and let me sit up front with Steven. 
         I kissed him hello and told him excitedly that I think I'd found a new friend. I pointed her out as she walked across the street and he pointed out that she was hot. I confided that I thought she was a lesbian or bisexual in the very least and expressed my confidence in having a menage et toi. Although, truth be told, I did not want to share Steven with anyone. He was the hottest guy I'd ever seen and I didn't want him to get bored of  me. I spent the rest of the day not excited about my new job but excited with the concept of having a girlfriend. It had been 2 years since I had a female friend. My last 3 boyfriends, including Steven were all I had in the way of friends and I was ready for some girl talk.
       The next day, I greeted Andrea's smiling face with great enthusiasm, appreciating the fact that we were both wearing shades of purple eye shadow. I was even wearing purple capris that day although they weren't exactly regulation scrubs, no one mentioned it. It was a long day familurizing myself with the different wings of the retirement home, getting to know the residents and trying to get into a routine. The job itself could be downright disgusting, as a CNA I was doing all the stuff beneath the nurses such as changing clients clothing, helping them bathe and cleaning up their quarters, but Andrea and I formed a partnership and we worked well together making the day pass quickly.
        After our shift, she followed me to Steven's car and he drove the block to her apartment. When we walked in the door, I was assaulted with the sparseness and dinginess of her home. The living room consisted of 2 very old discolored couches and a small television perched on a shaky table. Only one wall decor hung and it was the well known art of the dogs playing poker game on a woven tapestry. I didn't appreciate it at the time, I just thought it was strange. Her brother sat on one couch, lanky and grungy but friendly. I liked him immediately. Steven I could see was uncomfortable in the environment where they smoked cigarettes freely in the home and walked barefoot across a greasy thread bare carpet I didn't want my shoes to make contact with. Little did I know it would become my home for the next two years.