Wednesday, November 25, 2009

brain dump #2: freaky four-eyed foster lizard

a bit more than half an hour this time, sorry.


look at it from a 'knack' perspective. people who seem to have innate abilities, aptitudes or gifts. my gift has been materializing people to help, and lately they seem to appear more easily, the depression isn't a constant fog anymore (keeping me busy with the very basics). So much glimmery light and possibility now. A challenge to choose a path, when I can do whatever I want-in small increments of time. (Hard for a person who likes to dive right in.)

my legacy with money. At 16, I lived with one fostermom whose sole pleasure in life seemed to be shopping, acquiring things. My foster parents bought me a beautiful opal ring in one of those pawnshops they frequented. A dainty opal, center-set in yellow gold, with petite accent diamonds on either side. So very fun, the high of picking out and owning nice things. Seeing it sparkle on my finger. The significance doesn't occur to you at the time. It was pretty and they blew some money. Whatever. Commitment? Whatever. A kind of wedding ring. A symbol of change, of commitment, to signify the event. And yet I don't ever recall that kind of conversation. What of this is pure invention, interpretation? My own projections? I wish I knew. I think I do, and where I don't, I won't lie. Or I won't intentionally lie. Because the records will carry their own weight. Have court documents, with dates. Official things. Fuck.

Pawnshops were the junkyards of the city dwellers, and they housed historical and unusual things, old diamond filligree wedding rings, each with a history of its own, but lined up at a pawnshop, it's common thread, decline. We'd head out to the Killeen area. The dad had a restaurant there, and the mom had a good friend whose family owned and operated a beauty school. She ran it, efficiently, so it seemed, with good student output. She bought a tanning booth, and I would use it, not for tanning but for my psoriasis. The doctor said sun was good for it. For lots of reasons, vitamin D, UV rays etc. I became aware of psoriasis in the 5th grade. Small scaly patches that reacted to regular lotion with a sting that would grow into a mad, flaming red. (stress, internalized stress)

Little patches became big scaly patches on my elbows and knees, my toes. It sucked. Itchy and ugly. I tried so many different things over the years, lotions, salves, medicated tape. Psoriasis and the fog both started in the 5th grade. It was the same year that I realized I was going blind. I had no idea that leaves on trees had just started melting and melding into more globular structures. That I was inching closer to the chalkboard in school. So, by fifth grade (age 10), I was a scaly kid, with big teeth and glasses. Like some kind of foster lizard, from a distant desert. Maybe it was the onset of puberty that set it off, but I didn't start having a period until 7th grade (age 12). What I really think is that foster care put me over the edge. Which means stress. HIgh levels of stress affect our bodies in crazy ways. Autoimmune disorders for example, which psoriasis is. That and my weak ankles. The ligaments in my ankles weren't working properly, maybe it started in the 6th grade? I would be walking along, walking along and phfllt, my ankle would twist, often resulting in a painful sprain. So I was a scaly kid, with big teeth and glasses, and my ankles were constantly giving out on me, AND i loved to read. Just call me granny. The doctor who told me that I had tendonitis (my ankle issue), said, this is a disorder we usually see in the elderly. I can't understand why you would have it. (stress, internalized stress)

one of the placements I had was with granny, my bio father's step mom. In the lingo, this is called a relative placement. Though she wasn't related in blood, she was in spirit. Her spirit was tough, but her body was weak. (stress, internalized stress; asthma, diabetes, allergies.) I lived with her for 5th grade and the beginning of 6th. (So, more than 12 months, but I'm not sure how much more. ) With Granny I could not let go. I had to protect her, from me, and so it bubbled out in other ways, forgetfulness, for one. I was such a forgetful kid, I could only focus on what was at hand. and when I was back at my front door at home, when I was supposed to be waiting after school to be picked up, I would remember. oh shit. I did it again. It was not spitefulness, it was just trying to keep up with the tight little sphere around me. Granny didn't realize all kids are challenging at such an age. She thought, that as a veteran 6th grade reading teacher, used to dealing with wacky hormones and attitudes applenty, that she could just 'handle' me. Or so we hoped. I have this vague perception of visiting my bio dad, while I was living with granny that year. She would quiz me when I came home, wanting to know what I had eaten, at his house. I didn't understand that it was insulting to her that my dad would eat steak, while she was subsisting on a teacher's salary, paying off massive debt from her dead doctor husband, and raising me on her own. She was grudgingly supported by most of her family. (They had already given up on me. The apple doesn't fall to far from the tree, they must have thought.) I remember my Uncle Allen telling Granny to save money by recycling the kitchen garbage bags. That we should take the garbage and dump it all in the big outdoor can, returning the plastic bag to the kitchen. Granny, a clean freak, thank god, would not have it. And grumbled about his brand of helpfulness.

In the year between being removed from my father's home, and moving in with granny, I was a stressed out little person, who ranted, raved and broke lamps while living with my first foster family. I was so happy to be with Granny, but it wasn't easy. I knew that I needed to be good because she was fragile. I knew that I had to take care of her too, but bottling all of the anger and confusion, with no place to go? Ticking timebomb, kind of shit. Really. Except I must have been in therapy. Don Johnson was my therapist off and on for so many years. He was often the only constant. But it was a thin thread, that constancy. I want his notes. I need to contact him. I don't remember the therapy as much, because it was a safe place. But I know that it helped, because I'm here today, with a such a beautiful life. I work hard every day to have this beautiful life.

And so, now that I'm safe again, in life, in home, in community, in husband, in children, in dogs, in working, in mothering, in spreading myself everywhere; and being nourished in return. I'm such a freak show, and I have all this crap demanding release. I was a scaly, four-eyed foster lizard. but not anymore. oops, i think I'm missing something from my list of themes, that I'm a success story. It makes me a little sick to hear that nauseating phrase, but it's true.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

brain dump #1, devil inside

Per the challenge 'write for half an hour a day, for seven days'. Instructions: set the timer, write. The timer dings, stop writing, then post. yikes.


brain dump: mad drinking skills. T has mad drinking skills and I'm a lightweight. I should be though, kidney disease and all. wait. back up where's the rest of the writing ritual? I have superthin socks on that fit into my favorite coppery heels. show some respect for your husband. he mustered the troops out the door and over to the rec center so I can work.

It's like this, I'm a mom, with a stay at home budget and life. I want to be satisfied with attempting a well-oiled machine kind of existence, with preparing only the healthiest meals for my beautiful boys, my family. And I do take pleasure in doing those things, so long as they're not the only things.

"Devil inside, devil inside. Every single one of us, a devil inside."

That's my problem. A devil inside. A devil that has zero respect for housewives, despite demonstrated difficulty and mad skills needed to get the job done. I don't want to be anybody's bitch. And yet I'm everyone's bitch. I had no idea that motherhood would make me everyone's bitch. Familial slavery (on bad days). So where does this attitude come from? my dad, who required worship? A man born of his own childhood pain. His mother died when he was a boy. Of polycystic kidney disease (PKD), His father, a doctor, could not save her. Dialysis was brand new, but too late. The bottle became his father's solace, and nature too. Fishing trips. Lot's of fishing in Alaska and then back in Texas, where the local cops would stop him on his swervy drives home. They might have said, "Hey there Dr. Barr, let's get you home. Officer Pete here will drive your car the rest of the way. Nice catch today, Dr. Barr." Maybe grandpa set this man's arm, aftermath of local bar fight or maybe he birthed this man's three sons. The way it was back then, GPs in small towns saw it all. They were the closest medical help, period.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

exploring theme

This is a Lighthouse Writer's Workshop class assignment from 10-27-09.

1. read the rest of Stop-Time by Frank Conroy

2. complete theme exercise started in class
(15 minutes, writing every single theme Foster Princess could possibly be.)

coming of age
influence and escape of books (like oh god it's me Margaret)
privilege of place and race (whiteness) in the system/entitlement
what we hold onto vs letting go
transition framework (endings,neutral zone, new beginnings)
father complex/oedipal
surviving his god complex
middle class to middle class, and rags to riches
outsider, wanting in-
finding family
finding place
belonging- and being picky about it
fitting in/chameleon/shapeshifter/true core
anger as fuel
gospel of me: what is truth? what are records? bias? perspective? labels
leaving who, in whose wake?
cinderella story (I did have an evil step mother, and at least one evil step sister)
labels- how we use them and transform them: manipulative to strategist
secrets that we keep
the guides/people that raised me (mothers, fathers, grandparents, staff, siblings)
portals into the craziness
escape routes
control- what you can and cant control (survival mechanisms)/loss of control
depression in children
time- when is it a slow crawl/when its too fast to even record/passage and different speeds
born at the wrong time,
nourishment-emotional and physical
INTIMACY- emotional and physical (sexuality)
innocence regained
unbecoming evil
cleansing/making space
the culture of foster care

Now, highlight the ones with the most energy, (just 2 or three) and write a paragraph about each.


blogging intimidates me. I write on a daily basis, and yet I want to censor things before I post them. which begs the question: What is blogging exactly? An online journal? Sure. But with some boundaries? Because in my journal, it all hangs out. And that, honestly, seems a bit much.

Bottom line, perfection is the enemy, perfection is the enemy- certainly at this stage. So, a friend of mine challenged me to a half hour per day, for seven days fix. (seven working days...) Meaning set the timer, write. The timer dings, stop writing, then post. that scares the shit out of me. which means I should probably do it. Until then, here is a quote we edited out of Flux: Life After Foster Care, the imperfect yet groovy new book, just published by FCAA. This would have been in the bio family chapter. It's one of a few juicy bits (written by and about me) that were a little inflammatory for the final version.

I ended up in foster care, in part, because my father is a small-time Christian cult leader. Sounds crazy to say, but it's true. Cult leader types don't make the best dads, they're far too busy preaching, healing and having sex (aka: tending to the flock). At some point my dad decided that I was evil, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't quite beat it out of me (the evil). Foster care happened. Nine years and more than 20 placements weren't great, but it could've been worse. I called him every few years, to see if his phone number had changed. To listen to his voice. When I turned 18, he still thought I was evil, harming everything I touched; nine years and nothing much had changed.
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