Dec 18th, 2008 I called home after work to see how everybody was doing. I started doing this every week or so because my parents are rather old, and while they are fiercely independent to this day, it seemed like the least I could do. I had checked out the independent living facilities near me and there were several within blocks of my rent controlled apt overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Bonus points: they would take my paranoid schizophrenic aspergy brother too. He has lived at home with my parents for 15 years and they go together as a threesome, or they don’t go at all. This is one reason they hadn’t moved into a facility in Maryland. They couldn’t find one that would take Charles. And they immediately rejected moving to California when I had brought it up earlier.
The rec list? Huzzah Trizza!!!! Lets barf grass.
So there I am on a chilly (not cold, this is the sf bay area after all, just mildly chilly) December eve waiting for the bicycle shuttle and my then 91yr old dad tells me that my mom is in the hospital. “Oh, and why is that” I ask. “She fell and broke her pelvis.” “How long ago”? “About 2 weeks.” Since my mom was the only driver, my Dad and brother had been eating what they could find in the cupboards for 2 entire weeks (this could easily be Uncle Ben's from 1985) and had no idea when she would be coming home, if she would be coming home, and whether she would be able to go grocery shopping when she did.
And no one called me to tell me. Not their church (that I attended until 13). Not their doctor (who was my Dr as a kid so he knew I existed), not their neighbor (who I think had heard about me), NO ONE called me to tell me that my family was stranded. So I hopped on a plane and came home to the family I ran away from (well, strolled around the corner from, really. I just stayed with my 23 yr old boyfriend who lived 2 miles away) at 16. These were not nice people to me growing up but my Dad had helped me later, financially, with school and I couldn’t just let them starve. I don’t know if I would’ve dropped everything (healthcare, friends, my life) if he hadn’t.* I only knew that when I asked for help with school, I was making a bargain in my mind. They couldn’t give me love in any recognizable form, but they could help financially so that was going to have to suffice. I’m just holding up my end of the bargain here.
As I started processing this, it became clear to me that life as I knew it was over. I was moving in to take care of these people none of whom had ever seemed to like me very much. My mother still screams at me occasionally to go back to California, and there is no place I would rather be, believe me. You need to understand something, she left me for dead when I was 12. If your child has a fever of 104, you do something. Emergency room, Dr, icebath, aspirin, SOMETHING. I asked for a glass of water and she screamed at me that I would make her late and left for work. I could not even sit up without falling over I was so dizzy. Like I said, not nice people.
And of course, she didn’t come straight home from the hospital. She went to rehab and after a month she broke her hip because she wouldn't wait for help so the merry-go-round took a good 6 months and then she absolutely had to have the wires that had held her knee together just fine for 25 years removed 3 weeks after she got home so back to the hospital and rehab which cost $8,000 (had she waited 8 more days the rehab would’ve been free). Meanwhile my brother, unbeknownst to me, wanted to kill me. Really.
He was fantasizing about stabbing me to death and he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to finish the job. That’s what he told the cops.You can’t tell with someone who always looks pissed off what they’re thinking. Is he mad at me because I uncovered the couch (my mother’s a hoarder and we’re talking tunnels here, old, wobbly people and tunnels lined with slippery magazines on the carpet) or is he really mad, or is that all it takes? My parents said he was getting better so what did I know? Until the cops were bursting in the door ready to save me as I sat on my bed calmly reading a book. Apparently (and thank ceiling cat for this) Charles had recognized these thoughts were perhaps something he should tell his psychiatrist right away. Dr S. suggested he call the police and so he did and there they were as proof, protecting me from my brother who I had no idea wanted to kill me. I still don’t have a door that I can close and lock between me and him.
I could go on and on but I’ll spare you. I’m not really looking for sympathy here (even though it looks that way). I grew up believing that everyone has responsibilities and I made sure that I limited mine as much as possible (happily single and I never wanted kids). There are a lot of people much worse off then me. Even here in our own silly part of the marble. I am not starving. I have heat. I have good quality food. My brother doesn’t seem to want to kill me anymore. I have 2 days where I can ride my bike and volunteer with normal people (2 dementeds and a shizo 5 days a week. You try it and stay sane). My brother likes to make breakfast for my parents so while it is still a full time job (the cleaning, the dr.s appointments, the grocery shopping and cooking, adult protective services calling me up and informing me that my mother doesn’t have anything nice to say about me and we need to do something about it), I don’t actually have to deal with her too much and things have calmed down. I’m doing fine and it isn’t anything more than anyone else should do for their family regardless of the luck of the draw in birth.
But I had to say all that so you could understand where I’m coming from when I say this:
I want the larger Kososphere to understand that the only thing I could count on, while friends of 35 years abandoned me to my fate, while I slowly lost my ability to write like an adult, while I felt, felt, every positive iota of my consciousness that I could call my own was being sucked into the abyss of that nightmare that I thought I had escaped 30 years ago, was the pootie diaries. You have no idea how important this is to me and probably lots of others because I couldn’t possibly have told you until now. I can write all that above and I don’t feel a thing. I write the first sentence of this paragraph and I can’t stop crying. I read those last 4 sentences and I cry. (Funny story; my mother was furious with me one day because she never heard me crying. She heard me laughing at night, but not crying.)
THE ONLY THING THAT I COULD LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY DAY WAS A FUNNY CAT PICTURE! And reading the normal conversations between others. And knowing that life was continuing as per usual elsewhere. I lurked with a ferocity you can only imagine. Shrinks were suggested and I tried them and they were a joke. I’m sure there are shrinks that do wonderful things for many people and I am very glad my brother sees 2. But I have never met one that didn’t think I was an oddity to be studied, or a lesbian and I didn’t know it yet, or didn’t try to compete with me about something I couldn’t understand. I’ve never met one that could hit the ground running and keep their interpretations to themselves. They make me angry (like I need another provocation to ignore). So really, Triciawyse and her dedication to the pootie diaries (and all the other pootie peeps!) is all I had while I felt like I was falling through a black hole and unlucky enough to be living through it.
Really, you have no idea who your community is. Sometimes, lurking is all that’s possible. I've stumbled around in the greater blog for years but it can be pretty unfriendly out there. And I understand that everyone has the right to speak and say their piece, and I’m thankful we have a lively lefty community that insists on facts and cogent analysis and I’m INCREDIBLY THANKFUL FOR TRICIAWYSE AND ALL THE POOTIE DIARIES.
The pootie wars seem to have died down and I’m grateful for that too. I’m not trying to start them all over again (even though I can’t help but mention that April Fool’s day was hilarious and very very big much appreciated here!). So I don’t feel like I need to tell you guys to play nice (although I guess that suggestion is never amiss).
We’re getting a foster pootie and the folks seem to be looking forward to it so life will definitely be more cheerful throughout the day (nothing beats a personal pootie) for me and everyone else.
And I’m not looking for gushing reassurances of what a great person I am. I’m not. Remember this* line? When people tell me what a great thing I’m doing, it’s like being complimented for not being a criminal (negligence is still a crime, isn’t it?). I’m just a child (qualifying for a free senior checking next year notwithstanding) who doesn’t want to be an asshole. Justice is just a manmade concept. It doesn’t exist in nature. You can fight for it, and sometimes you should. But you can also hold all your petty little grievances as near and dear to your heart as you want. But how does it make you feel? Do you feel like a petty person? Or do you feel like it’s all right to let people starve because they were probably so screwed up they couldn’t make obvious choices? I don’t. All I care about is being able to fall asleep at night without feeling like a petty asshole. It’s selfishness, possibly enlightened selfishness, but selfishness nonetheless.
I just needed to tell everyone how very important Triciawyse and the pootie diaries were (and remain!) to me. And I couldn't have done it before today.