Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Story of Me (ABRIDGED)

When I was born I was ugly and red and screaming. I looked like some kind of demon toy recalled by Mattel because it gave too many children too many nightmares. I know because I've seen the pictures.

When I was four I was in love with a Pisces named Shane, my first cousin my favorite cousin and my best friend. I know because I was there.

When I was five I carried around a portable tape recorder. I made up skits and songs. "I'm just a raindrop falling from the honey tree." That was a song. In my favorite skit I pretended to be a man interviewing a bumblebee.

"Hello, Mr. Bumblebee. How do you do today?"
"Bzzzzz. I do just fine. I'm just flying around stinging people and I'm about to sting YOU!"
"Aaaaaaah! Help me! I'm being attacked by a bumblebee!"

When I started kindergarten in Munday, Texas I asked my mom to pack mustard sandwiches in my lunch. Just mustard on white bread. That was my favorite sandwich. My mom refused. "People will think we're poor," she said.

In first grade in Jacksboro, Texas I tried to ask my teacher if I could go to the bathroom. She told me to go away, she was busy. I was much too terrified of authority to leave the classroom and walk down the long hallway to the bathroom on my own so I wet my pants and rode the bus home that day soggy.

In second grade at Kidwell Elementary in Iowa Park, Texas the class clown (Jeremy) fell in love with me. He gave me a picture of himself riding the mechanical bull at Gilley's with a bubble coming out of his mouth. "Will you mary (sic) me? Yes. No. Maybe." (I circled YES.)

In fourth grade at Jefferson Elementary in Wichita Falls, Texas my best friend was a Sagittarius named Jennifer. One night Jennifer and Emily (a girl in our class with pretty long black hair and brown eyes...I don't know her sign) spent the night with me in the government subsidized apartment I shared with my single mother and my two younger siblings. We were all three on the fold-out sofa in the den. Jennifer and Emily thought I was sleeping so they talked trash about my apartment. They wanted to go home to their nice houses. I sat up with tears streaming from my eyes and screamed at them. Jennifer lived in a brick house on a cul-de-sac with her parents and little brother. She had her own room. There was carpet on the floor. She had a canopy bed. Trampoline in the backyard. I was envious. One night I ate dinner at Jennifer's house and I'm sure to her it was just an ordinary meal but I was blown away...there was meat and vegetables and cornbread and dessert. But some of my most eBuLLieNT memories are from the time I spent with my family in our shitty little apartment with no carpet on the floors and nothing on the table but fish sticks and Malt-O-Meal. I would ride my bike to the arcade and play Donkey Kong, Q-Bert, Ms. Pac-Man, Skee-Ball. I would shoot hoops until ten o'clock at night on a school night. I would hear songs like this on the radio and get giddy. I wanted to grow up to be a Solid Gold dancer. I sent John Travolta a fan letter and his people sent me an autographed 8X10 glossy. Wheeee. (Love.) And I rode my bike to the Hallmark store across town and spent my pocket change allowance on a Snoopy diary. That was the beginning of my writing career.

When I was twelve I lived in a brand-new brick house in Monahans, Texas with my mud engineer Virgo stepdad, my gorgeous Gemini mom, my little bratty Libra sister and my adorable and hilarious baby brother, a fellow Aquarian. I had a black Labrador Retriever named Pickles. I named her that because her dad's name was Pepper. One night at a barbecue the older Capricorn boy across the street pissed me off because he told me he didn't believe in Jesus. I screamed at him until I cried, told him he was going to go to hell when he died. He laughed at me. Later we were a couple but only for a few days. I wasn't feeling the chemistry. I would hide in my walk-in closet and read books after my stepdad turned the lights off. My friends Amy and Anna thought I was immature. They had tits and periods. I was a late bloomer.

My only friend at Goddard Junior High in Midland, Texas was a Cancer named Tiffiny. I was only friends with Tana, also a Cancer, because she and Tiffiny were tight. Tana got on my last motherfucking nerve. She was so self-righteous and prissy and unimaginative. Tiffiny cracked me up. We had the same warped sense of humor.

I almost died when I was fifteen. I lost more than half the blood in my body. Menorrhagia. They gave me blood transfusions in the hospital, the same hospital I would visit in 1996 when I gave birth to my daughter then handed her to the adoptive father I chose for her in my fifth month of pregnancy.

I never went to prom or homecoming. I was a wallflower. I attended my first dance when I was thirteen. Goddard Junior High. I stood against the wall in the gym watching couples dance to Bon Jovi songs. Then I sat alone on a bench in the courtyard, looking up at the moon. I cried that night in my bed. A Rhett and Scarlett poster hung on my wall and my bookcase was filled with stuffed animals and fairy tales and Sweet Valley High books.

My parents were snooping around in that same room when I was seventeen. They were worried about me because I didn't have any friends. I was obsessed with The Beatles. I had a crush on Ringo Starr. My stepdad found a notebook filled with poems. In one of the poems I wrote about checking into a seaside motel and killing myself. That poem was influenced by this movie.

So they sent me to a psychiatric hospital in San Antonio. The doctor put me on Prozac. I got turned onto Pink Floyd because they made us watch "The Wall" and then listen to the soundtrack. I wrote more poems. And I cut my hair myself. I gave myself a choppy uneven bob. My mom was horrified when she dropped by for a visit. She has always taken my hair pretty damn seriously. She has Venus in Leo opposite my Venus in Aquarius.

My mom had a fur coat once and she's owned diamond rings. Her favorite perfume is Knowing. I've never had a fur coat. I've never owned a diamond ring. My favorite perfume is Guilty. I've been told that I'm beautiful since I was a child. I've always felt pale and insignificant in my mom's formidable shadow. When she was younger she was femme fatale Marilyn Monroe Ava Gardner Elizabeth Taylor beautiful. She had power. An ex-boyfriend, a Capricorn, told me in 2014 that I was a bruja at the peak of my power. I didn't believe him.

When I was eight years old I stood on the stoop outside the trailer house on Cuba Road that I shared with my mom and siblings. I wished for true love. I'm still making that same wish at forty-three.

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