Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Mother Still Talks To Me Like This

As I pack furiously, I pick through the millions of memories lining the walls and cabinets of this apartment. I've stopped to re-read some journals, a habit I picked up last summer. Inside each one is a lost treasure from my past. Faded, pressed roses from a Dominican boy named Frankie who I was absolutely nuts about, snapshots that I hadn't deemed worthy of a photo album, business cards, invites to weddings and parties. A ticket stub to see Raquel Welch in concert.

All rammed inside pages and pages of the torment that is a journal. It took me years to figure out that the reason all my journals read like Dostoevsky was because I never wrote in them when I was happy.

One of the treasures I found was this typewritten letter to my father. It's faded and yellowed and after folding and unfolding, it's ripped across the middle. I discovered it in my father's belongings after he died. He'd kept every letter, every card that both my sister and I sent him over the years. This one jumped out at me and I brought it home 10 years ago and stuffed it in an old journal from the time I moved to Paris. I had left San Francisco after a very failed love affair with a man who turned out to be a heroin addict and who I found spooning in bed with my gay male hairdresser slash good friend Eugene.

This is a letter I wrote my father soon after I arrived.
This excerpt sums up the relationship I've had with my mother my entire life.

 (" with mom is just not possible. from the moment i arrived she has found things wrong with me. my eyebrows are too thin, i am too thin, i use too much toilet paper...")

Yes, I know that's funny. Thanks for enjoying my pain.

Here's a photo from the cruise to the Bahamas that my Dad took me on when I left San Francisco, to get my mind off the Being Dumped By A Heroin Addict Who's Really Gay thing. I arrived in Paris looking like this. Minus the cruise ship.

I was anorexic. On my right arm is a silver bracelet that I wore over my elbow. For those of you unfamiliar with bracelet etiquette, below the elbow is where most people wear them. 

And look, I'm smoking a cigarette!! Marlboros, in the red box. 

I would kill to still have those sunglasses. KILL KILL KILL. The purse is an old lady cloth one that I found in a thrift store. It's hilarious that after all these years my shopping habits haven't changed a bit. I still covet the things that others have tossed aside. The Greek cross around my neck was lent to my sister, who gave it to one of her boyfriends. She had brought it back from a trip to Mykonos, Greece and gave it to me as a gift. Years later, as an act of contrition, she got me another one on a trip to Cabo, but it was all shiny and silver and small AND NOT FROM GREECE.

Girls are dumb.

I still use too much toilet paper.

End of chat.


  1. It's amazing how we dated all of the same guys. And how we were both anorexic.

    You're lucky your dad saved your old letters. I'd kill to have mine.

  2. You're so fucking glamorous, I hate you a little now. Thank goodness that you have that toilet paper problem to humanize you.

  3. I understand. My mother has some good qualities. Today I got a package of anti-bedbug stuff she sent us, unsolicited, because I told her how afraid we were of getting them again. And I was geeked out because she addressed it to both me and my wife, using our married (hyphenated) name. But she runs hot and cold, and she's very critical. Tomorrow she'll be telling me I'm too old to surf, I don't need to spend extra money on organic food (this when my brother is an organic farmer!), calling my wife "that woman" and saying how hard it is on her that I'm in a same-sex marriage, etc. It's a hard thing to get over, isn't it?

    What you said about writing in your journal makes me think of how Sinead O'Connor talked about being unable to write songs when she was happy. She was, she said, "too busy being happy." She needed to write when she was sad or angry. I notice I don't really blog when I'm happy, either. But we keep the happy memories somehow, like with your ticket stubs.

    I'm so glad you had your father to balance your mother's criticisms and negativity. The cruise was a gift, but listening to your concerns and keeping your letters was even better.

  4. Really? You had to flaunt your skinny self in front of us? NICE!

    Those sunglasses are the schnizzle! They are back in style, you know!

    Oh, and who could get their bracelet above their elbow besides you, skinny minnie?

    Glad you had your daddy since your Mom fussed over you using too much toilet paper! It could have been worse, at least you didn't use the catalog or her favorite magazines!


  5. Oh, wow, seeing that typewritten typeface really sends me back!

  6. A boyfriend, in San Francisco, of course he's gay!!!

    I knew, I knew, I knew that you'd have these amazing stories surface while cleaning out.

    Also, my husband and I read this together, and I said, "she has more life in just one sentence than I"ve had in 50 years.

    "This one jumped out at me and I brought it home 10 years ago and stuffed it in an old journal from the time I moved to Paris. I had left San Francisco after a very failed love affair with a man who turned out to be a heroin addict and who I found spooning in bed with my gay male hairdresser slash good friend Eugene."

  7. Ugh. Its exhausting being a sentimental saver, isn't it? When we moved to the Pennsyltucky region of Our Fair Commonwealth I was left with the task of packing our old place. In the back of a closet I found the playbill from every show I've ever been in, ever, and each one had all the cards from the flowers I got. If I'd been in the road company of A Little Night Music this might be understandable but this was all from HIGH SCHOOL. I've tried to read the old journals. Too painful. And I can no longer remember the codes to decipher what I was saying I did with my smoking hot Sicilian boyfriend. (Who despite my efforts to corrupt him is now a Pastor with 2.5 children. And a wife 7 years his senior who used to be our youth leader. But thats another story.)

  8. I use too much toilet paper too which is why when i went to Europe for the first time, i almost died.

    You seem to have turned out ok, in spite of your mom's best efforts to mentally and emotionally destroy you.

    I'll be happy to send you a gift certificate that can be used towards TP. I usually buy Scott but you can purchase whatever type you want. OK?

  9. Glad you're not out here, our old pipes would get too clogged up. (though you would be fun to be around - come visit Vegas sometime)

  10. I still think of Cheryl Crow telling Dick Cheney to use only one square of toilet paper.

    Which is like telling people to eat one potato chip.

    Love the picture!

    -Currently wearing a silver bracelet as a belt.

  11. Five fewer pounds and you could have worn the bracelet around your neck! And I think Nicole Richie stole those sunglasses from you and started a trend.

  12. Sometimes I like to fantasize that women that I find fascinating would in turn have found me fascinating if we had ever actually, like you know, known one another. Then I read stuff like this. How could anyone who ever had a relationship, failed or otherwise, with a gay skag addict ever have found me even a little bit interesting.

  13. That's so great that your dad kept all the letters you sent him.
    My dad hasn't kept everything but he does have some things from when I was a kid and it's cute that he shows them to me when I visit.

    Of course you had a heroin addict, gay boyfriend in San Francisco. But really, who hasn't.

  14. I got my first electronic cigarette kit on VaporFi, and I enjoy it a lot.