I have no idea what the hell is up with me today. My brain has gone into extreme overdrive and now I’ve got thoughts and words and feelings and shit (yes, I can swear and am actually very good at it) bouncing around in there and they won’t leave me alone. Maybe I’m finally having a mental breakdown. Maybe I’m finally having some kind of epiphany that will let me find my “true calling” in the world. Whatever the hell it is, it’s driving me freakin’ nuts and I can’t stand it!
It’s like the voices in my head are trying to get me to write my autobiography. Nice idea but who the hell would want to read it? I’m nobody. I’ve not done anything fantastic and famous. I’m just another schmuck on the sidewalk with the rest of the people whose hopes and dreams are dashed by themselves, their problems, their families, their jobs, their government, or any other number of outside and inside forces. Yeah, I’m sure all of the major bookstores would make lots of prime real estate for a book about me — right in the bottom of the dumpsters. Besides, if I wrote an autobiography I could never get it published because all of the people in it would hate it and what I had to say about them at one point or another, they’d try to sue me for slander, or I’d just never get the rights to use their names or likenesses and then my book would have a bunch of blank spaces in it I couldn’t fill. Yeah, that’s going to be interesting reading.
So where do I start? What am I supposed to be doing with this mess in my head? I didn’t even want to open the word processing program but now I find myself here typing as fast as my fingers will move trying to get onto the page everything at once. And that’s not a good thing to try to do because I have OCD and I have to proofread while I’m typing and when things are not flowing well my brain starts yelling at me and I have to start over again. I’m going to try to switch it off for a bit but I can’t guarantee how that’s going to work out. If you don’t hear from me again somewhere in the middle of this diatribe it’s probably ’cause my OCD-blocking caused an aneurysm and I’m face-down on the keyboard with the dogs wondering why I won’t let them outside.
I remember things from when I was little. I told my mother that I swear I remember the green seats on the airplane back from Hawaii to the mainland. I told her once that I have a vivid memory of a bright circle of light in front of me and an ugly green upholstered seat back to my right and I’m laying down in the seat and can’t say or do anything. She says it’s just me remembering her telling a story about the trip when my family moved from Hawaii to Missouri and she flew with me while my dad was still getting out of the Navy. I don’t remember anything else from then until I opened my eyes after “making a wish” and blowing out the candle on my 3rd birthday cake. I remember that. I remember my brain saying, “We have to remember this. This is an important day.” It was like I’d switched-on a tape recorder in my brain and I have vague memories of doing that many times when my mind would believe that something was worth remembering. Not like things from school or grocery lists — just places and events that should stick with me for some reason.
I was an only child. I say “was” because I do have step-siblings and a half-sister. But biologically, it’s just me. Even though my biological father refuses to acknowledge me anymore and claims the children of his other wives as his kids, I’m the last of his bloodline and he’s way too old and sick to do anything about it now. Yeah….he always told me about how awful it was when he was 4 and his father walked-out on his family and then never wanted to have anything to do with him until he’d remarried and divorced and had a bunch of kids in Utah somewhere and was dying and then tried to call my father for help and support. And my father, being the person he is, was more than happy to tell my biological paternal grandfather to shove it and didn’t give a crap even when I gave him the message sometime in the early 1980s that we’d gotten a phone call and his dad was dead.
Kind of the same thing is happening now, in a way. My biological father wanted a son. He was sure that he’d have a son. Then I popped out and spoiled his fun. I don’t really know when my parents’ marriage began to fall apart, but I have a feeling that even then things weren’t so good ’cause they decided to not have another child. I don’t know why and no one has ever tried to tell me a reason, so it’s just a guess on my part. But, good ol’ dad knew he’d have at least a decade before puberty would set-in and make me the daughter he couldn’t pretend I wasn’t. So he taught me about cars and guns and sports and I was the epitome of a tomboy. Oh sure, I had Barbie dolls and other girly toys, but if I was playing with friends, they were usually boys and I loved their toys WAY much more than my stuff.
I had a friend, Russell, who lived two streets away and my parents taught school with his parents. Oh yeah, I left that part out. We moved back to Missouri because my dad didn’t want to be in the Navy anymore even though he was offered stations in London, Madrid, or Washington D.C. Nope, he wanted to go back to being a schoolteacher for some insane reason. My mother then became a teacher. Her father was already a teacher. You can see where I’m going with this. I was doomed from the start to be a teacher in some form or fashion.
Anyway, back to Russell. His family and my family were friends and Russell and I were the same age. We stayed at the same babysitter’s house since they didn’t have formal preschool in those days. Sometimes when our parents would go out together in the evenings, they’d drop us off at the sitter’s house and we’d either stay until our parents got back or spend the night. Russell and I had a blast together ’cause I’d been raised so much like a boy by my father that I didn’t mind getting muddy in the yard or trying to catch crawfish with my bare hands in the ditch at the end of the road and I watched all of the TV shows that the rest of the guys liked. I fit right in. Heck, my babysitter figured I “fit-in” well enough that I do have the memory of bath time at her house one night.
Her husband and sons worked at the local grain elevator. They came home and got cleaned-up from their long, dirty day at work and went to eat dinner. I didn’t know that they were used to the old country ways of when you had to bring water in for a bath by hand and everyone shared it. She got Russell and me into the bathroom and stripped-off our clothes and plopped us into the large claw-foot bathtub that had just been used by I don’t remember how many stinky, oily, dirty grown men. I just remember the water was so dark I couldn’t see anything of myself under it and there was a film of some sort that carried small curly hairs past my face. She reminded us that we needed to use plenty of soap to keep the other dirt off of us so we’d be clean. This was one of my first introductions to lye soap. It doesn’t suds-up like soap we use today does, so I kept rubbing and rubbing it on me thinking it was never going to clean anything. Then she scooped each of us out of the murky broth (remember, we’re both in the tub together), dried us off, gave us our pajamas we’d brought with us, and finished it all up with a healthy dose of NyQuil. Yup, back when it had a high enough alcohol content to knock you on your butt. We’d already had dinner and she wanted to make sure we went to bed. I was basically an alcoholic at age 4 from all the times I stayed at her house.
My biological father helped Russell’s dad build an addition onto their house. For some reason, my dad had gotten into the building craze and was making shelves and cabinets and anything else he could think of with power tools that I longed to use. I’d go out into the garage and look at the tools and ask to help and he’d occasionally give me a hammer or a screwdriver to “pretend” to fix something. Heck, I knew in my young mind that I was doing better than he was ’cause every time my mother would ask him to fix something he’d end up breaking it or trying to screw-in all the attachments with a butter knife. Now that I’m older I realize that this is a specific “Dad Phenomenon” that all males have. They don’t want to do the “honey-do” lists and figure if they screw up whatever they’ve been asked to do enough that the wife will decide to never ask him to do it again and will hire someone else to take care of it. Yup, even before Kindergarten I’d already learned how guys worked.
Anyway, when the guys were building the addition onto the house, Russell and I would play outside. By this time he had a younger sister and she and our mothers would sit inside and do something. I don’t know what it was because I didn’t want to be stuck inside. Russell and I would chase each other around the house and up-and-down the street because this was back when you could play in the street and traffic watched-out for children. It was also the time when neighbors watched-out for kids as well and if you did something wrong they had every right to punish you just as your parents would and then tell your parents about it which usually got you punished again. Plus, our babysitter with the claw-foot tub lived just diagonally across the street from Russell’s house, so everyone knew we’d be safe.
I remember hearing adult voices telling me to not run in the construction area a thousand times but it was still fun. There were the studs for the walls to weave ourselves through and unfinished stairs that we’d climb and jump off the top before being scolded again. Finally, it happened. The klutz gene in me decided to show up and I tripped on a piece of wood. That wasn’t too bad ’cause the floor had already been laid and the concrete and I were already good friends. What sucked was the small board with the very large nail sticking out of it that just happened to be in my landing zone. This large framing nail went into my left calf and somehow didn’t hit either of the bones in my leg. But I bled like a stuck pig; my mother screamed that I was going to die of tetanus; and my father carried me to the bathroom with the board still nailed to my leg before pulling it out. Someone was on the phone to the doctor to ask what to do about it and I remember the evil bottle of Mercurochrome was brought out to be poured into the large hole. Of course, I did the screaming-jumping-whining dance of any kid who’d been assaulted with Mercurochrome and watched my leg become dyed a weird rusty color wherever it ran. The doctor on the phone told them to just put a bandage on it and it would heal. It did. I’ve got a cool round scar there that’s faded with age but because there were no stitches or butterfly band-aids, it’s still the same size as the nail that caused it. I loved showing it off to guys like an old war wound on the playground. They’d cringe and I usually won admiration for having the most awesome scar in the group.
As I said before, my parents were teachers. My dad was my school principal from second grade through eighth grade (with a small respite when I basically had to retake fifth grade — more on that later) at two different school districts and my mother taught 8th grade math and science, so I never had her as a teacher since we’d moved and I’d changed districts before I reached that level.
Okay, so I mentioned “retaking” the fifth grade. Here’s what happened. I was very advanced in Kindergarten. When I went for testing to see which class I’d be placed in, the teachers knew me because my parents habitually loaned me out to their friends who were in the process of getting their Master’s of Education and needed to run tests and show experimental learning styles on a subject. I was free labor (well, they did have to take me to McDonald’s) and was soon also known by most of the graduate-level instructors at the college where everyone was attending. Someone would pick me up, take me to the college, run their test with me, get their grade, and then take me to McDonald’s for a burger before heading back home. The college was over an hour away and we didn’t have a McDonald’s in our town, so I thought I was hitting the big time by getting to go there a lot.
Since I’d been tested and had a rabid reading habit of my own that allowed me to devour books in a very short time, I was very advanced for being only 5 years old. The school even said that if I’d had a better grasp of mathematics that they would have considered having me skip Kindergarten and perhaps even 1st grade because I was already reading on a 3rd grade level. But, my poor math skills kept me back and I hated the first day of Kindergarten because it was nothing but recess all day. I was there to learn, by god, and all the playing was SO boring! And I couldn’t get over the other classmates who would cry and whine and need to be restrained as their parents left each day! Didn’t they realize that this was where you could learn more and be away from your parents and be who you wanted to be?
Obviously not and no one informed me that it wasn’t proper for me to “be who I wanted to be” because I wanted to get the heck out of there and they made me stay. My class was divided into groups by abilities and I so vividly remember the first day we had our reading circle. Everyone was given a copy of the book we were going to learn to read and my teacher sat in the circle with us and read the first sentence very slowly. “Okay,” I thought, “this is just a warm-up and we’ll be done in no time.” I started reading the book and was done before the second child to her left had finished reading the sentences assigned to him after the first child had stuttered and stammered her way through her attempt before saying she didn’t know the words. When they finally got to me, I was ready. I was going to show these kids how it was done. The teacher called on me to read the next page and everyone was stunned that she’d ask me to read so much. I started reading and was almost done with it when I realized that she was trying to stop me. I hadn’t made any mistakes and was very confused. “You need to slow down,” she said. “Not everyone else can read like you can and they need to hear the words. You’re going too fast.”
What? I remember thinking that if they couldn’t read as fast as I could then they needed to be in another group or another class. And I remember my teacher (another friend of my parents) talking to my mother and explaining that I needed to slow down and that it wasn’t anything I’d done wrong but that she needed to help me understand that I was going to have to help “teach” the others to read.
Looking back, I wonder if that’s where my desires to teach and control started. At the age of 5, I was being told to “teach” others which meant I had a certain “power” over them. It didn’t help when almost halfway through the year the teacher’s aide we had that did our language and spelling “classes” was arrested and we didn’t have anyone to grade our workbooks. My teacher said that since I knew how to read and had already completed my book on my own that I could grade the other students’ books. Yup, I “taught” language and spelling in Kindergarten. How cool is that?
Okay….my fingers hurt, I’ve been typing for over 2 hours straight, and I’ve got the voices in my head screaming at me that I’m going WAY off topic. What topic? It’s supposed to be about me and this is about me. They have other issues and topics they want brought up and put on paper. I can’t do it at the moment. I’m exhausted; I’m making way too many typos to suit myself (told ya’ the OCD-block wouldn’t work) and I’ve got to stop for a while. I’ll try to pick it up again tomorrow. Probably after my therapist appointment — that always is a good trigger for me.
Now I’m going to try to shut the voices up with some inane television and something to drink (non-alcoholic). Maybe this running commentary will be good for me to be able to see how my mind is working and organizes things. And maybe I’m just full of crap and want to feel self-important again.