Friday, January 28, 2011

Wednesday is Today

The rain drove down at an angle, solid.  It has been pouring now for three days.  Bunny's ears were gone, no longer peaked in their playful alert way.  Detached from years of companionship.  Years of bringing Bunny along by hanging onto his ears.  Then that one painful moment of tearful tug-a-war induced by my brother.  The ears came off but Bunny was loved just the same.  Injured, yet loved.  Bunny was my guy.  Pink, green, yellow...all the colors of Easter drenched in finality.  The rebirth squandered, disregarded, tossed out.  As special as Sam Snake, who went early.  Went first. 

There bunny was.  Rain water atop kerosene.  Dirty.  Oily.  Abandoned.  Nose deep in the soot encrusted burn barrel.  An old barn-red barrel about 80 gallons large.  Solitary, it sits center yard under the sole yard light.  One light.  One light pole.  A singular patch of grass.  Barrel and Bunny.  Abandoned bunny.  Here since Sunday.  Wednesday is today. 

Sunday brought us to see my Grandma.  With Mommy half across the universe, I found comfort in Grandma.  Never cross.  Always shining happy and laughing.  A laugh that emanates through the years.  The smells of her and her kitchen haunt as they waft in smell memory.  A day spent with her, shared lovingly with my brother and resentfully with my step-siblings.  Often times we are forced to share our Grandmother Love with them.  Step-mom placed the love scale on the table and the mound of my Grandma's love was set in the tray, heaping and oozing over the sides.  It was weighed, measured.  Sliced and divied up.  With them.  They who spent time with their Grandparents without us.  They who got to see their Father every other weekend.  We who saw our Mom maybe twice a year now.

After a beautiful Sunday with Grandma, we come home in time for evening chores.  As Grandpa descends the driveway into the barnyard, he turns the circle around the pole.  Dad and Step-Mom are west of the house, just outside the porch door.  Burn barrel aflame, dolls crying, baby cribs shattered, children's games, stuffed animals distraught, various toys waiting their turn for the incinerator.  Sitting in line.  Sullen.  Defeated.  Neglected.  Abandoned.  In chains.

In this overcrowded house, this blended home make-up, there are rules.  Rules that must be abided by.  Disregarding rules can lead to the cruelest of punishment.  First, the outraged enforcer - an absolute anger-filled verbally abusive rampage of a temper tantrum, followed by a momentary pause, a deep breath, a rearing of the gargantuan hand and finished with the hit.  The shove.  The "Goddammit kid get your head outta your fucking ass before I pull it out for you!"  The "What the fuck were you thinking?!"  The "You dumb ass!" 

Younger years brought pants down, little bare bottomed girl laid sunny side up over his lap.  Open handed brute force spankings from 5-inch-wide hands.  Fingers like polish sausages.  Older years brought cowboys booted kicks to the ass while being escorted across the lawn to finish something I had forgotten to do from my daily list.  Brother endured worse.  Step-sister remained untouched.  Step-brother defenseless against the rage.  Two years old, carried down the stairs with a softened alarmed beast, the minute boy bore a bruised eye, rivers of tears and a pathetic summation, "I think we may have gotten a little carried away.  But we made up and we are buddies now." 

But today.  Today is Wednesday.  And Bunny gazes sullenly back at me.  Bunny says, "Don't cry.  You will be ok.  Your brother will protect you.  Don't worry about me.  Don't cry."  I stroke his cheek with my cow-feed encrusted cow-hide work gloves.

The simplest of rules meant that your bed had to be made every morning.  That there needed to be a clean floor in your bedroom.  The rules didn't account for your two-year-old step-brother who might be intrigued by your items, while you are at school, and leave them on the floor.

Bunny was last in line.  Once descended into the death chamber, Bunny was doused and lit aflame.  But the sprinkles turned into drops of rain falling on Bunny's face and ears if nothing else but to grant us a last good-bye.  But not a good-bye like this.  Not three days of torturous detainment.  From Sunday nights flames to thunderous rain.  Rain for three days.  Three days of waking to see Bunny sitting in the barrel. Three days of Bunny in the barrel when I get home from school, put on my coveralls and bring out the house trash to add to his grave.  Three days of walking around him, crying with him, talking to him, plotting to save him.  Three tedious days. 

Day four brought little rain and enough sunlight for the old man to give it another go.  Another gasoline drench and a toss of the match and WHOOSH!  Bunny is aflame.  Neglected.  Abandoned.  Abused.  Alone.  Aflame.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If this is writing, why is my ass so sore?

So, I decided to take a break from my writing, by writing.  What the heck? 
I've been sitting in my writing chair for so many hours today that my brain is getting foggy and my ass is feeling froggy, so here I am to clear the air.  I need to get present, get grounded. 

I haven't washed my dishes or vaccuumed my floor.  I barely made it into the shower by 3:30pm.  I am writing.  I am writing a memoir and this is exhausting.  Well I think that any writing is exhausting really but sometimes it can be an exhilerating release.  That is how I feel about this but its still exhausting for sure.

What was originally going to be a fictionalized account of the summer I lost my brother -- you know, a coming of age story that included death and suspense -- has turned into a memoir.  This fact has revealed itself to me.  Rob said, "Don't get too fictional."  Then I read Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish.  It resonated.  Recently, Eddie referred me to Nick Flynn's Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.  It too resonates.  And, I've absolutely got enough life experience now to truly subscribe to the idea that fact is far stranger than fiction.  I'm sold.  Memoir it is.

So, I'm just writing.  I've got a million words floating in my head that have been waiting to come out.  There is no issue of writer's block.  I just need to get it out, formulate later.

Dione and Lee (1974? Tustin, CA)

This memoir corresponds with some personal therapy I'm putting myself through.  That and the organizing and cleaning out of a lot of old heirloom boxes of stuff that include letters I wrote from about age 10-18.  Perfect! 

Dione and Dancing Snow Bear (1982 Crooks, SD)

This story has been brewing since junior high school when I would pass notes back and forth with my best friend, Staci Ramstad.  At that young age, I secretly dreamed that someday the story could be told but never believed that anyone would care about a midwestern farm girl's life journey.  I spent a great many daydreaming moments during class to now believe.  And, after pursuing the wonderful experience of editing my friend Monique Antoinette's memoir Grateful for Grief: Seasons of Transformation, the truth became explicitly clear.  This is a story that needs to be told.  A singular perspective explicated with the hope that someone out there will benefit from my story.

Lee visiting Mom (1982 Santa Ana, CA)

Dione visiting Mom (1982 Santa Ana, CA)

What I do know is that the dis-ease of this journey should help to staighten out some things inside of me that have been unsettled for most of my life.  And, with that, I hope to be able to move on.  Yep, move on.

Thank you for listening.