these texts are an archive of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area from march 2007 - march 2015. it stands as a record of close to a decade of my life, charting the struggles i faced as an artist, daughter, and lover. messy and chaotic at times, eloquent and poetic at others, these texts are an index i am proud of. it was here in this electric box that i learned how to be honest about my experiences and the person i needed to become. it was here that i first learned the truism that words make the world and how to trust such a beautiful, rife, hard fact.

thank you for meeting me here in such tall grass.

my artist website is here.

Mar 22, 2015

of death and shame


i write about my mother a lot here.  i suppose it's one of the only places where i feel i can.  i don't feel guilty for bringing it up here, the subject of her death and death in general.  i don't feel ashamed of my big emotions here.  i can have them, loud and unruly behind the ineffectual whiteness of the screen.  no one knows if i am crying or not.  everyone can imagine whatever face they prefer for me to wear.  or they can look away.  many people have and i don't begrudge them for that.  it's been 4 years. eventually, people want to hear about something else. 


i just re-read that paragraph and feel that it is a half-truth.  i often feel guilty about how much i write about my mother's death.  the last several posts here are specifically about that and i'm sure the majority of posts i've made during the last 4 years since her death are about it too or at least reference it in someway.  i look at my blog sometimes and back away from it because i don't want to be that girl who's droning on and on about her dead mama, about her broken heart, about the tragic twists of her life.  but why not?  why am i ashamed?  this shame is, perhaps, the thing that has made blogging so hard in recent years.  for awhile there i seemed to only manage the courage for it when i was drunk and disgusted with the world, drunk and disgusted with myself.  and for a moment, even i was afraid of those outbursts.  i started wondering if i'd fallen it to that weird literary alcoholism where one believes they can only write if they've had a few drinks.  i'd read back over my posts the next afternoon and feel the knife of shame in my gut but i wouldn't erase any of it.  i wanted to let it stand.  i wanted to be brave enough to endure my shame.  also (dangerously), i was attracted to being a bit of a mess, repulsive.  i was at odds with so many things and i wanted to force the issue of my pain, my disappointment, my revulsion.  i also thought the writing was simply that damn good.  i was willing to scare relatives and friends and the mothers of friends that i was in the midst of a total breakdown.  it wasn't the intention of the writing.  not at all.  but if it was the result, so be it.  i was trying to say something true.

and maybe i was unravelling a bit too.

of course i was.

2008, graduated from college.
2008, decided to end my relationship with my father.
2008, moved to Calistoga and absolutely hated it.
2008 - 2009, explored the possibility that maybe i was bipolar simply due to the fact that i could not get along in my new surroundings. this was encouraged by my partner at the time.
2009, my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
2010, her cancer metastasized.
2011, my mother died.  i was 30 years old.
2011, left Calistoga and moved back to Oakland.
2012, left a 7 year relationship that had been sexless for the last 3.

there's a lot in there to fall apart about.  of all those things, my mother's death is the only thing i've really written about.  at first, her death just made everything else seem so small and irrelevant.  it was the biggest, most obvious horror.  maybe it was also the most acceptable thing to write about, despite the overwhelming public discomfort surrounding death.  no one really writes about the trauma of sexual neglect.  at least not in the first person.  not that i've seen.  and not from the female perspective of being denied touch and how wounding that is.  i'd be very interested in reading a text about that if anyone knows of something.  and i'm still afraid to write about certain things, despite just sharing that secret.  i'm afraid i'm going to make some sort of horrible, unforgivable transgression if i write about a past relationship, if i write about my father, if i tell the truth of what really happened, if i tell the whole truth about my mother, her marriages, our family, our undoing, our pain.  despite my bravery, i still sometimes feel stopped.  i censor myself.  i don't want to dump lemon juice on the wounds of others.  one of my biggest fears is hurting other people- a fear that has derailed the lives and selves of so many people.

thankfully, the only member of my family that reads here with any regularity is my sister.  at least that i'm aware of.  all my relatives on my mother's side, curious about my life as an artist, stopped reading here once the drunken 3am posts took over as the norm.  long gone are the days of beautiful paragraphs about running with my dog down highway 128, through orange and red leaves, squirrels lobbing acorns at us from the tall trees, the scent of the vineyard crush filling the air.  so idyllic.  at least if that's all anyone knows, and that was all anyone knew for a very long time about my daily life in calistoga.  i never let on about what a tortured, ignored, untouched "housewife" i'd become.  i was so ashamed of myself and the deterioration i'd allowed to happen to my own life, my own dreams.  i was ashamed of finding myself in a scenario that so horribly resembled my mother's 2nd marriage: man on the couch watching tv, woman reading a book in the other room.  i remember so clearly the night i drunkenly confessed the sin of my sexlessness to my friend, Anne, while puking in the toilet at a mutual friend's house after having gone out and had one too many greyhounds.  at that point, i'd been single about 7 months and no longer felt a responsibility to shield my ex from judgement.  the reality of what my previous life and relationship had been burned within me, an awful dirty secret.  in that moment, my shame burst forth along with all the booze i'd consumed and whatever i'd eaten that day.  unstoppable.  the next afternoon, hungover and dazed by the night's events, i felt embarrassed but also free.  someone knew.  someone knew my dirty secret and they didn't sneer at me.  she sympathized and rubbed my back.  i looked at the crust of vomit on my sequin jacket, called myself "a mess", and went home and wrote about it in my diary.


there were more deaths than just my mother's.

there are more deaths than just the physical.

perhaps i did "act out".
perhaps i still act out.
i won't allow another death to occur where there should be only one.
i won't be another girl burning her papers on the back porch, afraid of their power to incriminate.


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