Monday, February 27, 2017

Birthday Week

Mom had me on a rain-soaked and rosy-fingered
dawn in March,
in Beverly Hills,
of all places.  
Good,
bad
or melodramatically worse,
she loved being a mom,
and so do I.
My son has my bad habit of
only wanting everything or nothing
and my bad heart.
Yesterday when I told him it was time
to take his heart medication, 
I forgot to use our magical language,
I just said "It's time for your heart medicine."
"That's not what it is."
"Oh?"
"It's watermelon juice."


Monday, February 20, 2017

more like a movie

Sometimes I start to describe a sad detail about my mother here but then change my mind because I am self-conscious about sounding like I think I have the market cornered on tragedy.  Or on a certain type of misery, I should say -- the type of misery that so clearly interests me -- mother/daughter sadness and things that concern addiction.  Also, I'm trying to save my details for the larger piece I'm working on these days.  Last night I had a very vivid dream though, that a friend trained peacocks to leap impossibly high in the air and dance around on the spot where, in the dream, my Mom had died, a park that looked like Huntington Gardens, where we sometimes went.  

It was a beautiful dream that had me thinking extra-hard about her this morning and I remembered something that gave me an acute pang of sadness (and then a dull acceptance of how fucked up real life can be).  I remembered how towards the end of her life, when I'd stopped picking on her all the time and we spoke/texted often, with frankness, and in the tone of two good friends, and she could tell me rotten stuff she thought or did without me judging her, she told me one day that she couldn't stand the way things were going in her life at the moment, and that had a plan -- it was a staged cry for help that, just in the mere fact that she had these thoughts in her head for how to stage it -- was also a real cry for help.  She cut herself on her arms deeper and more than she usually did, with the plan to get put on a 72-hour hold in a mental hospital, in hopes that the person tormenting her at the time would be guilt-tripped into laying off for a while.  and also she just needed a few days of being fed, sheltered and cared for.  

Her plan didn't work.  She went in through the ER for her cuts and they just gave her a few painkillers and sent her home.  I could tell she was embarrassed that she'd  been so sure of the plan when she'd told me about it -- she'd told me that she probably wouldn't be in touch with me for a few days because she'd probably be in the mental hospital.  I  could tell she was also sad that the cuts she'd inflicted on herself hadn't been such a big deal.
  
A couple weeks later, though, she said something like, "Remember how I went to the hospital and they just sent me home?  Well I was sorting through some of my junk, making a pile of things to throw away, and I took a look at what I thought was just the discharge notes from the hospital, and it turned out to be a prescription for Vicodin.  I couldn't have been happier if I'd found a thousand dollars lying around."

At her memorial service one of her friends was putting Mom's death in a sort of sociopolitical light, like being really/rightly pissed at our health care industry's greed and disregard for poor people like Mom, and that it should be illegal to evict someone so easily, as Mom was being evicted when she died.  He said that he knew Mom had cut herself out of frustration and sadness over the eviction, and that he had no doubt in his mind that she'd died of blood poisoning from those cuts.  

This is kind of one of my shaggy dog stories.  I didn't really have a point when I started writing it and I don't know how to summarize it.  I guess I think of it as an instance of life feeling more like a movie.
my mom at the huntington gardens

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I Hardly Ever Did



I Hardly Ever Did

I watched TV
Through birth, death and taxes
When I was the addendum
Or when it was my own mother
Or my own uterus
An organ saddled with far-reaching expectations
And sickness
I watched TV.
People came and people went and still
I watched TV.
In the hospital, a woman named Holly and I watched
Hours of this thing called Special Victims Unit
Every day
Even though a Vietnam Vet with delusions of grandeur
Begged us to change the station.
I watched TV every day of Summer Vacation for pretty much
My entire childhood but I vowed that the next day I
Would stop,
That I would take a walk or something,
But I hardly ever did.




Special Victims Unit