PML 2012: Days 5 & 6
BIG chunk of text today. As it happens, Life intervened in getting Day 5 out on time, but then after I read the prompt for Day 6, I realized I needed to just keep writing as the first dovetailed into the next.
Day 5 – From playwright/teacher/actor James Venhaus, the song “Why I Love Country Music” by British singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole. I loved the song, and was particularly struck by and fed by the power of the lyric “What she needs, I don’t have”
Day 6 – from actor Adrian Churchill, a couplet from Shakespeare, plus a challenge to think about the value in a rebuke, especially one that comes from introspection. Adrian shared advice from his father: “at some point all it takes is some one to say ” yes” to you at the right time for it to make all the difference in your life.”
“So I return rebuked to my content/And gain by ill thrice more than I have spent.” (Sonnet 119)
And then, even though he’s not officially pimpin’ yet, Rev. Eric Folkerth contributed here after his Lenten meditation/sermon yesterday on repentance, defining “to repent” as simply “choosing to go another way.”
Inspiration abounded, and what is below is about 7 pages typed. So pull up a cup of coffee, relax and enjoy, I hope, another installment in the lives of Cricket and her family.
[SUMMERTIME. Cricket’s father has been honorably discharged from the Army after being severely wounded in the Gulf War, and the family has moved to his parent’s farm in central Oklahoma. Cricket is again writing to her cousin, John Parker.]
Dear John Parker,
I am writing back on my old typerwriter because the computer is broken and we do not have inInternet anyway here out on the farm. Lexi isso mad about it and everything all the time, there’s no room for me to be mad too. She is mad about every single solitery thing, so I won’t even be made just to show her face! HA!
How is your brother’s hand? I am sorry to hear about him gettingupset about your dad having a date and hitting the wall with it! I do not blame him, I think I would do that too if I saw my dad with sombody who was not my mom! I am more okay with being here than everybody except Dad who is the most happy here. I sure like it more than Lexi and Mom, absolutely sure. But man I hate hate HATE HATE HATE the way people, mostly the boys but some of the snottysnotty girls too treat my brother. Douglas would never hit a wall, or hit back at them or anybody, and they since that about him and are on him like big black flies all the time, before and after school and at recess and when ever the teacher’s not around, bugging him until he cries from madness! My mom used to take care of it before it go so bad like this. She would get so made and go after the bad teachers and get people helping Douglas! But every time Lexi and tell her stuff they’re doing to him, she goes something like “Huh, really.” and just goes back to her book or staring at us like wahtever like she does not even CARE!!!!@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is not like her, and Mamie says you girls, you let her alone now or I’ll get after you!
I AM HELPIng my dad some when I am not at school. The school here is way easier on some things. I am very excited to find out I can pick out a animal to raise and my grandarents will pay for it and I can learn how to care for it and also to show it at the fair! I am thinking about getting a chicken BUT THAT THEY CAN’T EAT IT WHEN WE’RE DONE! That is my biggest rule. NO EATING MY FUNKY CHICKEN!! Ha, ha, ha!
Man, Savannah is fat as a tick! Her legs have heat rash on them and it’s not summer! She is forever eating stuff she’s not supposed to. She will eat anything, even stuff that is not really food, like paste, although Mamie says it is just flour and water, so the good news is that won’t kill her. We still have to put everything up way, way high because she’s a climber.
Dad is working on an old boat that has a place to sleep and a little tiny kitchen with his dad/my grandfather (Pops). They are finish and go somewhere like on the gulf in Texas to sail it and fish, for a month, hopefully this summer is their plan. There is plenty of time to do stuff like this here Dad says because the TV sucks. We don’t get good tv here at all, and there’s no texting or talking on cell phones unless you go outside and stand next to the flagpole, which you can’t do except at night because Lexi says the day is too bright and you can’t see what you’re texting.
It is all very tiresome! (Tiresome == frustrating. Did you know there’ s a dictionairy that just gives you other words for words you can’t think of? It’s called a “Thesarus” which I think is a misleading name and sounds more like an animal than a disctionary! Lexi says “Gah Cricket, it’s on the computer! GAH! It’s not like it’s a BIG DEAL, Cricket! Gah!” I think it Is a very big deal, or as the ones of us here are smart enough to love the “Thesaurus,” I think it is a QUITE LARGE EVENT!
I HAVE TO (I keep forgetting to take off the capital lock! I forgot how hard a typerwriter is. When you have to go back and use one after you have used a computer, it s SO HARD!!!!!)
I have to go now because it is my job to wash and peel potatoes for dinner. Miss Q is here with us, but she is not in her right mind, so she does not help much, except to folks towels. She is a whiz at folding towels, Mamie says. Mamie gave us all jobs to do every day, even Savannah, who gets to bring all the laundry to the washer. Mom does not have a job because Mamie says Mom is sick and we are going to respect that and do what we can to help her get better. Depressed means something is missing or wrong from the body, just like a disease. So whenever Lexi yells at Mom for not protecting Douglas anymore, Mamie yells right back at her “Sister! You think you’d be yelling at your mama if she had cancer? You need to rethink your at-ti-tude, because one day it might be you who can’t get yourself up out the bed!”
I WAS NOT LISTENING IN BUT JUST THERE IN MY BED but Dad went in yesterday and told Mom that if she does not show some sighn she’s feeling better ASAP, he will take her to the doctor. Mamie said “It’s harmones, Ben, it’s all harmones. You go easy on her now!” Mom did not say for herself.
Oooo! I am going to get my butt swatted if I do not hurry up and go. Mamie has called me twice. She will swat if it gets to three times. Swats do not hurt at all, maybe sting a little if she catches some of the back of my leg, but the surprise of it, and how iembarrassing to be swatted on the butt!! Dougas never hardly gets swatted because he just stays quiet does whatever whenever he is supposed to unless it’s something like “Douglas, go down into the cellar and bring up a jar of tomatoes” But they don’t even ask him that because they know they could beat his butt clean off and he will STILL not go into the cellar, no matter what. Lexi told Mamie and Pops that if they ever hit her she will hit them back BY GOD!!. She was real, real mad when she said it and her whole body was shaking, she was so MAD SHE started crying. So, Dad let her calm down because she was about to throw up or lose her breath, she was so upset. They had a private talk father and daughter, and came out with a new thing for her that insetead of swats, they take stuff away form her. Which she does not really care TOO much until they are going to take her makeup away and then she is all like NO! IT’S OKAY! IT’S OKAY! I WILL DO WHATEVER! I AM BEHAVING NOW! Savannah gets swatted on the bugtt all day long. She only laughs about it, until she gets mad and then she grabs the flyswatter and hits back at them! On Sunday Pops burped at the table real loud and Savannah got down and got the flyswatter and popped his leg and said, “You BAD, Drampa!” Pops and Dad think she is so hilarius. Mamie does NOT. She says laugh now because when she is lexi’s age, Savannah is going to be Helen Wheels!
Tell your brother we are praying for him and his broken hand. We pray at bedtime, and he always gets a big mention there. We are praying for all of you too. Because we are so very perfect and all sainty and you are not! Ha, ha, ha! Just kidding!
[NEXT, a text message, sent much later, the same date. Cricket’s mother Emily, to her sister Ginnie – John Parker’s mother – who is separated from her husband and lives in San Antonio with her two boys]
Hey G – Ben says you called a bunch. Sorry. I am not much for talking right now, but pls don’t worry. I am standing next to a flagpole at night to type this text. No suicide/homicides planned at the current time. Just real sad. And real effing pregnant. xxo love you – Em
[Then it’s DECEMBER, a few months later. Another letter from Cricket to her cousin]
Dear John Parker,
SEE ENCLOSED PICTURE – MEET BREWSTER THE ROOSTER! I GOT A ROOSTER! He is still a baby, but he is a rooster. He is so cool! His name is Brewster, which was not my idea, but my Dad kept saying “Brewster the Rooster, Brewster the Rooster” until I couldn’t even think of what I’d named him!!!! He is real cute, a Japanese Bantam so he is smaller than some of the other kinds of chickens, which is good because even though they are just chickens, they can be real scary when they come after you! I did not plan for a rooster. I thought I would have a hen, but oh well! He is going to be real, real, real pretty when he’s all fledged out. That is what they call it when the bird gets all it’s feathers instead of the baby fuzzy stuff. He lives in the chicken pen at the FFA barn because if he was here at the farm, Dorkus Malorkus the rooster here who likes to chase us and would spur us if Pops didn’t drimmel down his spurs- would kill him or try. Brewster is not old enough to crow yet. I am so waiting for that! He loves spinach and worms! To him, that is like spaghetti and meatballs, he is all BRING IT ON, CRICKET!
Tell your mom that Mom is better. She is coming out of the bedroom now. I asked her if she had a message that I should say to you and your mom and she said “Say hey.” So HEY from Mom. Mamie thinks Mom would be able to feel much happie if she was not going to have a baby because of the body chemicals which are the harmones (which is what is making Lexi crazy too, Mamie says, but different hormons obviously because Lexi is not ghaving a baby!! Or else some dude’s gettin his head blowed off!!!! Ha, ha!) Mom and Dad are going to town too see the doctor today for something or other, but Dad is also surprising her with a stay over in a motel because it is near their anniversary.
Douglas says to say hello and ask if you are going to play the cello in school again. He is listening to classic al music and always wishing that he could learn the viola all the time because he can’t hear it on the music. I don’t get exactly what that means, the way he says it he needs to see the viola and hold it and hear it for his own ears, so that when he listens to the full music, he can tell what is what. He likes to know what each instrument is doing, is what he says. It is not possible here for himto learn viola or anything because we are way in the country and this school does not have any music at all here. There is a lady or two who teaches piano, but he is not interested. But Douglas is singing a lot because even though he’s the smallest boy in his grade he got the part of the lead angel in the Chrstmas play! The boys say “Dougie wears a dre-ess! Dougie wears a dre-ess!” because of his costume, and then because he has wings they say he is for real a real fairy. They are calling him Fairy all the time until it’s SICKENING. I get tired of hearing them say it! I scream at them to stop, and then I get in trouble for screaming. I wish they would ever get tired of saying it! I do not get to punch them either, not even in the arm. (I got sent home for that, but I did not get swats!) But Douglas does not care as much what boys say because the girls are way nice to him now. They like him now because in the play Douglas has to sing and not wear his glasses, and he is some goodlooking dude or something. He has really pretty green eyes when he is not wearing those glasses. I mean it! And he is my brother! Plus, he sings so GOOD. So now the girls are all squishy and squealy and liking him! It is not even out of December and he is getting Valentines already!! It’s funny but gross too.
I am not liking school because in this grade and in this school we have to do PEE EEE every day, which I H-A-T-E-H-A-T-E-HATE. It makes me feel like dying and wishing there was a deep hole in the floor to fall into and never come out. The Pee Eee teacher is Coach Missy Ball (me and Lexi call her Coach Missing Balls). She has real curly hair cut supersupershort so it looks like a lamb skin glued to her head which is too small for her body, which is tall and wide across in the shoulders and skinny in the hips, like Alice The Goon in the old Popeye. Coach Missing Balls talks about Jesus thinks this and Jesus thinks that and how we are disonoring God when we get fat and then she looks RIGHT AT ME! You bet I look right back at her because I am not fat. She is saying it because I am not fat SHE IS FAT!!!!!! Her thighs are bigger than her chair!!!! They hang over the sides!!!!! Dad says that they called her Saddle Bags when they were in school, and that she was the one who always tattled on everybody, and that she calld him Faggit all the time after he would not kiss her repulsively small face! (He did not call her face repulsive.)
I have to go watch Savannah so Dad can take Mom to the doctor and for her surprise.
Addy-o’s! (This is my grandfather’s joke. The other one is “Vaya con huevos, which means “Go with eggs.” I don’t get it, but it’s still funny.)
Your pen-cousin – hahaha
[And then in JANUARY, a month later, an email from Cricket’s mom Emily, to her sister Ginnie]
Sweet Ginnie, Virginia Sue, dear good sister –
Please calm down. Take it easy, please. I am okay. Relax, take a breath. Stop calling nonstop. And yes, this is really me, not Ben, and yes, I am okay. I am not hurting. I am tired, but not sad anymore. Honestly, I am not. Okay, it’s the drugs but I’m not feeling much at all now, other than finally feeling rested, feeling like I’ve slept. “Drugs. They’re what’s for dinner.” I do feel like The Happy Helmet is stuck on my head but I don’t much care.
Ben is here, sleeping next to the bed. He has not left my side. He is great in an emergency. AWOL most of the rest of the time, but he’s sure great in a crisis.
Oh my god, you should have seen his mother going after the “Pro-Life” people. If I’d have had a video camera, she’d be all over the Internet. We’d be making t-shirts, and she’d have her tv show, I wear.
We got to the hospital, and the “Pro Life” people were standing on either side of the driveway with the signs and those awful pictures. I was out of it, so I don’t remember everything. Ben’s dad was driving and his mom was in the front seat, Ben was with me in the backseat to keep me from…? (I don’t know what he thought I might do. Bust out the car window and take off running?) We had all gone “to town” for groceries and the weekly meal at Hamburger King. (The kids love Hamburger King. There’s an orange phone at each booth that you use to order your food, even though the counter is like 10 feet away. We let the kids do it, and they love it. Cricket loves it. You should hear her. “Yes, um, excuse me, but we are very hungry. I am going to speak our order clearly now if you have your pencil ready. Thank you so much.”)
Sorry. Got off track. Blame the drugs. Drugs, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful drugs.
I’d gone to the doctor while they were all at the grocery store. I had been spotting but felt fine and they checked me out and said I was fine, the baby was fine, everything looked good. (Riiiiiiight.) Oh my god, after the exam, the nurse gave me this maxipad the size of a throw pillow! I could barely walk right! And I couldn’t stop laughing. Every time I thought about it, I’d start laughing again. I mean it, I could not stop laughing. I didn’t feel lightheaded or anything, just a little crampy and so tired, like always. I hadn’t slept right in months and months.
Anyway, the appointment’s over, Ben and his parents and the kids come pick me up at the doctor’s office and off we go to Hamburger King. I couldn’t stop giggling, which got the kids giggling. The adults mostly ignored me. Because that’s how they do things, especially the menfolk. Pretend nothing’s wrong, and keep talking about what brand of caulk to use for the tub in the guest bathroom.
Anyway, we were at the restaurant, we’d ordered, and I started bleeding for real. I felt it, so I excused myself to the restroom, got there, sat down on the john, and felt it go. I got hysterical about it being in the toilet. Cried and cried and cried. I haven’t cried in months, mind you, all this sadness I’ve been feeling for so long and so hard, but none of it had connected until then. I am sitting on the toilet like a bird on a nest, and weeping until I am gagging. Then things went a little fuzzy, so I’m not sure where/how it went from there. I remember somebody coming in and asking was I okay. I remember telling Ben no ambulance, no way. (Why he listened to me, I don’t know.) I woke up in the backseat of the car, my head in Ben’s lap. I asked “Where are the kids?” and Ben said they were still at the restaurant with some friends of his parents, and they were shaken up, but okay. His dad’s driving, his mom’s in the front seat, Ben’s in the back seat with me, and we get to the entrance to the women’s clinic building at the back of the hospital, and there’s the Pro-Life people yelling “Don’t kill your baby!” and “They kill babies here!” I wanted to holler back, “It’s okay! I killed mine before I got here!” but Ben said absolutely not, this would not be funny to him at all. One of the guys protesting – they were all male except for this one woman with a thousand-yard stare and four boys in identical t-shirts with something about the president being The Abortion President. The youngest boy was toddler-age and the oldest couldn’t have been older than Cricket. I couldn’t stop asking Ben why those older boys weren’t in school.
One of the men stepped out in front of the car, like he was just crossing the driveway, walking very, very slowly. My mother-in-law rolls down the window and yells at this guy “We just lost our grandbaby! You all need to let us alone and let us pass on by!” And the guy yells back, “Well that’s just one baby – what about the millions of babies who are killed every year in places like this?” Oh my lord, but she BLEW up. I’d never seen it happen. Ben had talked about it, how when Mamie’s fuse finally goes, there is nothing but scorched earth. She cussed that dude like Satan had jumped down her throat and was riding her tongue. Ben’s dad is trying to drive and calm her down before she has a heart attack, and he almost runs the car into the building. Ben’s yelling “DRIVE! JUST DRIVE!” Mamie tells the protester guy he better own up to the fact that he is just another cruel, close-minded pseudo-Christian asshole who’d be a happier kinder human being if he’d just come out of the closet and stop punishing women because he is so angry that what he really, really wants is a man up his butt!!!
Oh Yes She Did!
The guy jumps at the car, like he’s gonna do something, and finally the hospital security guard reacts. Barney Fife hikes up his drawers and puts himself between us and the protester. Which might have ended it, except that my dear, sweet, cookie-baking mother-in-law had PULLED OUT HER GUN. She had a loaded handgun in her purse. She didn’t intend to kill the guy, but she was sure as hell ready to wing him if he’d come any closer. The security guard thought Mamie was aiming for him and totally lost his mind. She never even cocked the gun, and he’s on the ground screaming into his radio, “Officer down! Officer down!”
It took all afternoon into the evening for hospital security and the Shawnee police to get that all mess sorted out. Thankfully, they did let Ben take me on into the emergency room, seeing as how he was unarmed and I wasn’t packin’ nothing but a maxipad the size of a motorhome.
I came though the D&C with no problems. No more bleeding. Not much pain, not even beforehand. Ben says he only panicked because I was leaning against the bathroom stall and my skin was paper-white and my lips were moving but no sound was coming out. Thank god, there wasn’t a mess on the floor or anything. Still, all in all, I don’t see us ever going back to The Hamburger King.
Once I am discharged, I would like to take you up on your offer to come and visit. Ben says do whatever I need to, that he will deal with the kids and everything else. I don’t know what I need, exactly, except to not be in that house for a while. I love my in-laws, and they have been nothing but good, caring and kind. I just can’t go back there right now. I warn you, I don’t’ know what I’ll be like once the emotional part of this kicks in.
I know I killed off this baby. I did not want him, not for even a minute, and there is no doubt in my mind that that’s why he jumped ship. From the instant I knew I was pregnant right up to the end, thinking about pregnancy, birth, another kid to feed, and Ben’s medical and mental problems, him with no job, us with no insurance, no home of our own – I wanted it to disappear. Wouldn’t you jump ship if every beat of your mother’s heart was bringing the message GO AWAY YOU ARE NOT WANTED? I would.
I never wanted to be the person that I’ve been for the last six months (longer, if I’m really honest about it). When did I go from strong and capable and a good mom to the fat-ass (I am well over 200lbs now) mess who stays in bed all day, and pulls out her own hair, and picks at her skin until it bleeds? If I have to wear the Happy Helmet my whole life long, I won’t go back to being that person.
I love you very much. Please don’t waste time worrying or wondering. Just book me a flight, crank up the JT album, and pour me a biiiiiiiiiiiiiig glass of wine.
Em (as in, “EMbarrassed To Be Seen In Such a State As This”)/
[Two weeks later, Cricket writing to her cousin]
Dear John Parker,
Thanks for saying nice things about Brewster the Rooster. I am not real sad that he is gone, to be truthful about it. He was mean as a snake and I will have scars on the backs of my legs for the rest of my life is what the doctor said. I am not even sad that Mamie made soup out of him (but I did not eat it! no way!) I am mostly sad because I think I am probably the worst animal owner in the world because they all die or go insane on me. My dad said next he will buy me a Pet Rock. Ha, ha. I told him TAIN’T FUNNY MCGEE! which is what he and Mom used to say when teasing hurt their feelings. (I don’t know why, b ut I like it so I say it.)
I miss my mom. I amm glad she is getting better there with you. She sounds like more herself and yesterday Douglas said Mom called his teacher and wanted to know what plans the teacher had for keeping Douglas safe from the bullies. I think you are the one who told her about them, and I think you are A ANGEL for that, JP!! I wish I could come and stay with you and your mom and borther, too. I wish we all lived closer together, but then you and me couldn’t write because that would be just stupid!
Dad said Mom gets what time she needs to heal from having lost the baby, that those things are deeper than China and take time.
Dad is hilarious at reading stories at bedtime. We are too old to be read to, but he likes to do it, so me and Douglas let him. Savannah can’t sit still for reading. She is either awake and going 90 miles an hour, or she’s conked out and doesn’t wake up for hours. Lexi will not say she likes Dad reading, but she lays there and listens too, so ha, ha, ha.
Mamie and Pops are going to her sister’s house tomorrow down in Gainesville, Texas for the weekend. Dad says we will just have to have fun and weird food all by oursleves! I am looking forward to it. Lexi says she is having a slumber party and doesn’t give a flip what we do because Gah! we are stupid and immature. I say NERTZ to her. (This is also from Dad. I don’t know what it means, but I like to say it.)
Your cousin who is once again pet-less,
Cricket the GAH-REAT!
This is Brewster. Before Mamie wrung his neck so hard his head popped off. 😦