God Put Trump In And Obama Out

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Like many, this election divided my home. Now I work to untangle love from Trump’s ascendence. 

I’ve been silenced by the results of this election, paralyzed, unable to find words, shocked that my mother voted for Trump. “God has put Trump in and Obama is out!” She said to my younger brother. Even if voting for him meant voting against the health of her eldest who survives  on disability checks and voting against her daughter’s safety, to say the least of it. Never mind all the rest of his atrocities. I’m keeping this close to home.

I feel his election heavy on my body, on my skin. His body is an affront to the office he holds. His skin is a revulsion. The words that come from his foul mouth poison everything, including my relationship with my mother.  I’ll never forgive her for being taken in by the greatest con man of the century.

As I write this I know she could read it. I try not to write about my family. I did that once. Words. Once you put them out there, you can no longer control them, or what you mean to say. Family can’t hear your truth, particularly because it isn’t their’s. And I respect that. Yet, here I go. I will write a thing I shouldn’t. And for that, I’m sorry. But I’m in pain. I can’t write another word, until I write these.

Once my mother’s love flowed like a river. Now I feel her strain to give it. I rejected faith. She took that personally. Not long ago she told me God comes before her children. “I know,” I said, but didn’t tell her I’ve always known. It’s one of the reasons I rejected faith. A God who asks a mother to put him before her children is a petty god.

Words. Once you put them out there, you can no longer control them, or what you mean to say.

During a recent visit she said, “You never read the Bible, never studied it as I have. If you had, you’d still believe!”   I didn’t argue it. What was the point? There were so many factors, a myriad of reasons, losses, and gains that led me to this place, a space so far away from her.

I do not condemn faith. Instead, I have great respect for it, when it brings joy, instead of pain and boundless love instead of fear. In short, when it is consistent throughout one’s life.  My mother’s vote for Trump telegraphed, in an instant, the crisis between us. She either believes Trump is a Christian or doesn’t care to really know. How do you vote for a man whose life demonstrates complete disdain for your values, see his win as an appointment from God, but struggle to love your only daughter because she what, no longer calls herself a Christian?

I have great respect for faith, when it brings joy, instead of pain and love, instead of fear.

After our argument, I didn’t sleep all night. Our fight raged in my head. As dawn broke I decided in order to save our relationship, I’d have to swallow my pride and say what needed saying. I descended the stairs from my room and entered her bright yellow kitchen. It sparkled with newness. I found it ironic and depressing. Nevertheless, it was idyllic. My mother’s home is the All American Dream replete with the American flag waving out front. It creeps me out a little.

As my mother prepared breakfast, I put my hand on her shoulder and told her I loved her. No matter our disagreements, I’d never look down on her or her beliefs. She turned, her face contorted in pain as she tried to smile. She’s a terrible liar. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I think she thought I was lying. Was I? No. There’s a half truth there, but here’s the whole of it, my achilles heel has always been that there’s never been another god but she. I’d say anything to bridge the gap between us.

But could I mean it?

I value knowledge above most things. Yet, she raised me to believe that when Eve ate from the tree of knowledge she seduced Adam to eat of it. Then God cast them both out of the garden. Knowledge is associated with the dark arts, alchemy, and witchcraft. While I’m no witch by any means, my education inspired me to pull on the threads of faith and it unraveled. I live outside the garden and strain to see her beyond the vines where she prays she’ll see me bow to God in her lifetime. I long to feel close to her again, like when she held me and played with my hair in childhood, like when we shopped in thrift stores in high school, like when we talked almost everyday in college. I feel the space between us when we talk. Wide gaps stretch out in our sentences punctuated by broken stories as we pick our way through minefields. Tell this story, but not that. Share this anecdote, be careful to leave out that detail.

My achilles heel has always been that there’s never been another god but she.

So  yes, I’m angry that she voted for Trump from her white-picket fence home safe in the suburbs where she’ll never have to feel the effects of his lies.  That said, I get that her  vote is not some grand symbol of her failure to love me. But it is an expression of her lack of interest in facts. It is this that creates a divide between us that can’t be bridged. Yet, what of it? Does that mean love is not possible? What if it’s not she who struggles to love me? What if it’s that she struggles to express it? Now that we no longer know one another, who can blame her?

I tire of these questions. They circle round and round and I can’t find the end of them. I need to leave this post alone and get on with the rest of my writing. So, I’ll leave you with Desiree’s Baby.

Desiree’s Baby is a  Southern Gothic tale written by Kate Chopin. In it Desiree pens a desperate letter to her mother because her husband no longer loves her. Her mother responds, My own Desiree: Come back to Valmonde; back to your mother who loves you. Come with your child. Instead, Desiree kills herself and her baby. I wonder if daughters don’t always value their mother’s love? Or simply don’t see it as enough?

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My mother is from Georgia. There, mothers love their children with a fierceness I’ve not seen up North. When I read that line, in Desiree’s Baby, I recognized a truth within it. I experienced it when I went to college. My mother grabbed hold of me and cried my name. My father had to pull her away. Other people just went to college, I felt rent from my mother’s bosom.  This last time I saw her, on a trip to Portland the week of the election, she grabbed hold of me on the last day and said, “Come home whenever you want. Come home and stay as long as you need.”

 

Fiction Friday-Kiss The Kitties Resumes In a Week

IMG_0174I’ve started a story called Kiss The Kitties. Each entry will go up on Friday and will be about 1000 words. If readers tell me they want more, I will definitely comply. I just find that 1000 is about as much as anyone, including myself, has time to commit to at any given moment of the day.

These last two weeks have been a whirlwind of excitement and sadness. Last week our opera, The Place Where You Started, premiered in Portland on November 12th. The first night of dress rehearsal was November 8th. My husband and I barely stayed focused. We barely slept and by the next morning found the ground beneath us gone. It felt as if we floated into unchartered and terrifying territory holding on only to each other.

Protests vibrated in the streets and strained the already taught space between my family and I, half of whom voted for the other party.  I can only imagine what the election results will do to families across this nation as they gather for Thanksgiving. Maybe people should lay off the libations a bit. Spirits already run high. But then, how does one manage that kind of strain for an entire day sober?

Anyway, last week was intense. I’m sick now. I haven’t been able to get myself to the keyboard. Additionally, and sadly, I must drag myself to a day job that frustrates and drains me.

Next week, thankfully, I’ll resume my writing. Thanksgiving Day I’ll be at home, in Southern California, with my husband and my two glorious, magical, majestic cats. We will cook a turkey, the cats will allow us the scraps, and all will be well on that little day. Chloe will hold court on the state of the nation. Fortunately, William won’t be here to argue.

Kiss the Kitties will resume next week. I have lots in store for Chloe, Charlie, and William. You’ll also meet Helen the Siamese, Jack the Mancoon, and Akihla the Abyssinian. There are many adventures ahead. I hope you stay tuned. Thank you for indulging me this break.

The Song Of David

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Sunlight shot through her dorm room windows and burned a spotlight onto her bed. No more time in bed. It was Sunday, the day for renewal. God’s day. She’d planned a reunion with him. For weeks she’d been visiting churches on Sunday mornings but they’d each left her dry. She’d even tried to commit to one, a hip one, one that offered worship songs that swung and a pastor with a knack for storytelling. Her mother said sometimes you have to commit to one for a while, sow the seeds, for a time, in order to make connections that bear fruit down the line. A community doesn’t emerge overnight. It had taken a full four years for her high school friends to grow into a family.

Continue reading “The Song Of David”

Women’s Appendages

Obsessed with Prince since his passing, each morning I awoke with an ache so heavy it was hard to breath. His death stole the possibility of something for me. Something I’ve been chasing since. In the dark moments before dawn, as I once rose to study scripture, I opened my phone to read every story on Prince— as if more information might reveal more, lead me into his presence. It only blurred the edges of him further.

His belief in conspiracy theories. His recent celibacy. His mercurial relationship with scheduled meetings, time, and saying goodbye. One never seemed to know if he’d show up or when he was gone, if he was gone for good. In his penetrating Prince biography, I Would Die 4 U, Touré recounts the time he interviewed Prince at Paisley Park. Abruptly, Prince left him without saying a word. Touré waited for him to return. Finally someone came out and told him it was time to leave. Prince didn’t do goodbyes.

Today I finally stopped. My obsession soured to disgust. I’d become a cliche. One of those middle-aged women in the office with Twilight posters pinned to the walls of their cubicles. Continue reading “Women’s Appendages”

We Strive To Be Ourselves

Hunter Thompson’s work is a beacon in the black. This letter, written to a friend in 1958, might have been written to all blind souls tossing about in the midnight sea. Here is a brief piece.

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Let’s assume that you think you have a choice of eight paths to follow (all pre-defined paths, of course). And let’s assume that you can’t see any real purpose in any of the eight. THEN — and here is the essence of all I’ve said — you MUST FIND A NINTH PATH.

Naturally, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve lived a relatively narrow life, a vertical rather than a horizontal existence. So it isn’t any too difficult to understand why you seem to feel the way you do. But a man who procrastinates in his CHOOSING will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

So if you now number yourself among the disenchanted, then you have no choice but to accept things as they are, or to seriously seek something else. But beware of looking for goals: look for a way of life. Decide how you want to live and then see what you can do to make a living WITHIN that way of life.

I’m overwhelmed with gratitude at having found these words tonight. Now if that could just pay my bills.

What Shame Looks Like

I wear a denim mini skirt in the summer because L.A. is very hot. I’m not trying to be sexy. One day I walked up a staircase as a man walked down.

imgresHe had stringy white hair and a white 5 o’clock shadow. He wore a straw hat, a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. I did not like the look of him, but that might be something I’m laying over the memory because of what happened next.

I felt weird, so pulled my skirt snug around my thighs and looked down. He was looking at my bare thighs and deeper, into the center of me.

And in that split second we locked eyes. Continue reading “What Shame Looks Like”

Salon: 5 Reasons Chris Christie Might Be Lying

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In January, following Chris Christie’s initial press conference I wrote this article for Salon and based my findings in a book called Liespotting, Proven Techniques To Detect Deception, by Pamela Meyer. It won Editor’s Pick, trended for over a week and earned me a Spotlight appearance on The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell.