I was there, at my mother’s house, not at all enjoying my spring break, tending to her after her knee replacement surgery, when I discovered she’d been lying to me to get me up there.
Her cats had tapeworms again. After I had taken them to the vet in January, two months before. This was one of the few things I told her I needed her to do for me to come up there. I just needed her to treat them for fleas consistently so I could be in her house without parasites. She said she would
I felt manipulated. Used.
At this point, I don’t trust her anymore. She’ll do whatever she feels she has to and will say whatever she feels she has to in order to get whatever she wants. My needs, comfort, health and safety don’t matter.
That’s not at all to speak of her cats’ health. I asked a couple of people if I should get them treated again and they told me the same thing: if you treated them two months ago, and they’re sick again, they’ll just keep getting infected. There’s nothing you can do for them.
Unfortunately, I think they’re right.
Then I came back here and tried to get work done. I didn’t get anything done up there. Yes, poor me! I have the privilege of being one of the elite few in the world who can earn an advanced degree full-time. I have no illusions about where I am in the world. This is the top, really. I have clean water, a safe place to lay my head, an automobile–this is great. I do get anxiety, though. I’m behind in my work.
And I churned out a book for a contest just now. I’m proud of it, and proud of myself. It’s good work. Poems. No one would read it except for my boyfriend. They’re too depressing. Everyone said to send them some, but they didn’t really want to read them because they’re too down. I understand; they’re all about death. That’s not something people really want to read.
My habit has been to wait for the muse to come to me and then work off of inspiration, and I didn’t do that this time. I just worked through the time I had allotted. There was only so much time, so that’s the amount of time I had to work on it. It’s still work I’m proud of. This means I can do this always–it’s a new skill for me. I feel like I should have had this sooner (I’ve been writing for twenty years! I should be here by now!), but I’m at where I’m at and it’s here.
I also feel bad today because I set a boundary that was the right thing for me, but I don’t think the other person saw it that way. I can justify and explain and make a case to you, but I don’t have to. I know what was the right thing for me to do. I can’t hurt myself today because that’s what I think other people want and need. I have to put my own oxygen mask on first. Besides, I don’t know what they need! I’ve never been that good at figuring that out. I destroyed my own life and showed up somewhere with a shoebox full of most of the pieces and needed help putting them together. What do I know from life coaching?
Boundaries are tough, y’all. But living without them? Way fucking worse. You can take that to the motherfucking bank.
My mother is an artist. Her medium is reality. You know how some people work with oils, or clay? She shapes facts, events and time. It’s folk art more than a trained thing.
She’s a liar, is what I’m saying.
The world isn’t what she wants it to be, so she makes it up to be more comfortable for herself. But when she lies about me? Oh no. Fuck that shit.
Here’s the nasty truth of this particular matter: one of her cats is obese. Morbidly so. He’s a nice cat, sure. (He keeps tapping me on the shoulder while I’m typing, asking politely if I haven’t forgotten to give him some extra calories. Oh, he has as much kibble as he wants. But lardito wants gravy.) But he’s gotten too fat to wash his own ass. That’s disgusting. Today, on his normal sleeping blanket, there was cat shit. That is so far from okay I can’t. So I washed his blanket. I told Moms about this, because I will not be giving him treats or extra food. He does not need to weigh seventeen pounds. He needs to wash his own ass. I’d get him a rag on a stick and be done with the matter, but he doesn’t have thumbs and can’t use that, so he needs to shed the three or so pounds.
I found him sleeping on something else today while my mother was talking on the phone. (Mom has weird phone manners. Relevant, as she will talk about me while I’m present.)
Here’s what happened:
- Fat ass cat was sleeping on something.
- I picked him up. He was resistant. He had been asleep. He wasn’t angry, just sleepy and confused. He held onto the pillows he was sleeping on with his claws. (Who wouldn’t be a bit or a bunch upset? I don’t like it when people bother my sleeping body either. Apparently, I just wail, Why? in a sad and small and broken way. Unfortunately for me, my lover thinks this is adorable. Fortunately, he is not a sadist and has impulse control and doesn’t do this on purpose since the first time when he tried to smooth the furrow out of my brow while I slept. “You looked so sad, so upset! I was just trying to help. You sounded like you were channeling the ghost of a wounded bagpipe.”)
- I put fat’n’fur’n’browneye on the floor.
- I put a protective blanket on what gingery bacon had been sleeping on. He hopped up on it and went back to sleep.
Here’s what my mom said to her friend on the phone:
“Oh, Seer’s waking George up. Yes, she doesn’t want him sleeping on the chair. She wants him sleeping on a blanket. She’s waking him up because…because she thinks he’s too fat. Yes, she thinks he’s too fat.”
On what planet does that make sense? There are lots of fat people and creatures in this world. I don’t have an air horn in my hand waking them all the time. NO…SLEEP…FOR FATTIES! All god’s children deserve forty winks. I’ve been a big girl too, you know. I used to weigh about seventy more pounds than I do right now. That’s why my belt has thirteen extra inches on it. Because it used to fit me. Never forget. But why judge the obese? Not my steez. It was hard being fat. And everyone has their own issues with their own weight, good, bad, and indifferent, no matter what they weigh. I have mine, you have yours.
When Moms lies about shit like this, here’s what happens: her friends come over and ask me about these things and will hammer on me for harassing a poor fat cat. I can either put up with their wheedling or I can tell them there was cat shit on the furniture. Either way, I’m a horrible person. Either for being irrational or busting Moms on her disgustingness.
I told her today not to lie about what I’m doing. I told her it wasn’t fair. That it gave me no space to defend myself. She looked blank, as if she didn’t understand what she had done to wrong me. I explained again: I tell them nothing, I’m an asshole who hates him; I say there’s cat shit on your furniture, I’m an asshole and the house is filthy. She said the clipped, “Okay,” the one that really says, Stop picking on me. I am defenseless. I didn’t watch her to see if she started wiping her eyes later. She’ll cry over that. In my experience, those with no boundaries can’t stand having one set.
Later, I realized I got triggered by the whole thing. It happened in the moment, the triggering, but the knowledge didn’t surface until later. Because this has all happened before. More than once.
The worst instance that I can specifically remember was a long time ago. I was having terrible symptoms about twelve years ago before my medications got straight, and I couldn’t stand to go out and harvest the tomatoes in the backyard. Every time I saw a tomato hornworm I felt them crawling on me for hours (I have tactile hallucinations when I’m really ill). She told all her friends I was afraid of insects–they never asked, she would just bring it up, Guess what’s wrong with Seer now, the princess–and they would mention it. So I could either tell them I had psychotic symptoms as a result of my thought disorder or be teased by her friends. (Yes, grown adults in their fifties would tease a grown woman in her twenties who was for some reason now living at home. Some people are assholes.)
She folds my life around hers in ways that makes her feel more comfortable. I understand this behavior is one of her coping mechanisms. I understand this logically. Emotionally, it fucks me up. I feel manipulated. I feel used. I feel angry. I feel things I am not able to process or name or aware of yet because I am not an especially emotionally awake person. I’m learning the language, but I live in my body. I dissociate from my mind and I am not fluent in heartspeak. I’m learning to sit in both without flinching, but I still fidget.
I doubt she’ll ever stop doing it, the lying. And I know it’s not my job to control her.
It is my job to learn to stand up for myself and act appropriately. I’m getting there. Slowly. Fifteen years in almost, and getting there.
But it is hard. I don’t like it, and in no small part because of this: I don’t like remembering the person who gave birth to me does not or cannot or will not take care of me. I don’t like that at all.
Glory be. World without end.
I’m not sure today if I made it.
I don’t know. Today feels familiar, like I’ve lived it already, but it feels wrong. Dirty shirt, smells like BO. Gross. Open a box of shoes: there are sweaty footprints on the insoles, and they aren’t mine. I don’t think. Are they? I can’t tell. Why can’t I tell? That’s a simple question. Are these your shoes, Seer?
Is this your life? Well? Is it? I’m asking you a question.
As it was in the beginning.
And I’m in my mother’s house, and she’s got the sutures, and they’re terrible terrible things, looking just awful, but it’s okay it’s okay it’s all okay and everything will be okay and I can forget forget about yesterday yesterday when I was fetal curled up in my own safeness crying because I had to come here it’s okay I can forget that it’s okay to be here forget if you don’t think about it you can’t smell the piss. I have to wash my hair three times to get the ammonia out in the morning. Forget it it forget.
World without end.
Sometimes I wonder if I really died, you know. There were some times I came close. When people shook the very death off of me like I had leeches on my back. And I wonder if I came back to the world I knew I knew the world I knew was born into and of or stepped into a Purgatory version. Am I paying off my debts now? Do I ever get a list of what they are? A receipt?
And ever shall be.
If I were dead, how would I know? Do the dead know? Would I even know.
I know I spend a lot of time on here–way, way too much. Way over the rim with the rich taste of Brim. Far and away too much–talking shit on Moms. I’m [about to rationalize it away, this bad behavior] really anxious right now, feeling out of control and she is the symbolic manifestation of my trouble.
But in so many ways, she is awesome. I think I’ve mentioned on here that she can see auras. But have I mentioned that at times she can see people’s past bodies on them? Yeah, that’s intense. It happens mostly for her in times of her profound spiritual growth.
The one I remember the most was when some lady was talking to mom about not liking scarves or necklaces.
“I just can’t have anything, anything on my neck at all. I have to keep it free. Deep v-necks, boatnecks, everything. I have to. I can’t explain it.”
And like that, and it was all dark in the room, and it was the hold of a ship, and Some Lady was a naked African man with thick rusty fetters on her neck and arms and legs.
“I can understand that,” Moms said.
It never helps to tell people what you see of them, though. Everyone thinks they’re Jesus or Lancelot or Joan of Arc. No one thinks they’re just some guy who got shot in the back while stabbing someone else in the face, you know? And that’s why he has back pain? Who wants to hear that? How is that helping?
Moms has an irrational love for steel pans. That, coupled with her love of dance (is she a good dancer? Well, it ain’t ballroom, but it makes her happy, so don’t hate. Lots of shoulders and thumbs, she’s a master of the high shoulders and waving thumb-fist. It’s sort of a private Hora, perfectly content to sit right there in that chair) makes me wonder where she came from. She also loves Zydeco, which I cannot stand. It’s Louisiana hillbilly music with a lot of accordion and washboard and it sounds like blues on meth and glue and hooch before meth was popular. I will listen to almost anything. There are about three or four, maybe six artists and one genre–no, two genres I can’t listen to. The only thing I can’t listen to that she doesn’t listen to are those there Juggalos, whatever that genre is. That would kind of be awesome, if my late-sixties mother was into ICP. She does like the raunchy humor.
I have an irrational love for the carillon. I have always heard it pronounced “Caroline,” like the woman’s name, but I don’t know that for certain. It’s hard for me to keep going on my way and not linger when I hear one. The sound, if you’re wondering, comes from one of the weirdest instruments ever. It’s a bell tower (like the one on the UC Berkeley campus, if you know that one), but it’s played with levers that you hit with your wrists or your fists. Well worth watching, if you’re the kind of weirdo who likes antiquing for Catholic paraphernalia (I adore an old medallion or a rosary) and old graveyards and everything skull/skeleton. (Yes, I love all things Catholic and bother my Episcopal mom about her religiosity. I AM A CONUNDRUM AND A TROUBLEMAKER. Bad daughter, bad!) But my love of all this stuff makes me wonder where I came from.
Maybe this is why we don’t get along. (Also, see troublemaker.) Our past souls are too different. I’m all uptight monk and she’s all loose smoke-tough Jamaican and then I got put in a herbed form this time and she’s in a straight-laced body this time and hijinks ensued. And by “hijinks” I mean “fuck-you-pay-me,” and by “fuck-you-pay-me” I mean “you’re not allowed to set healthy boundaries around yourself without my flashing on you like a sullen thirteen year old.” Oh, and “you” is “Seer” and “me” is Moms.
But y’all, I heard some music today that made me extremely hopeful! I heard the music today that I think is my future. I can’t explain why, any more than I can explain why the carillon is my past. It’s from Thailand (at least, I think it is; I can’t read Thai, but that looks like Thai–I should ask Sparrow if that’s Thai. She can’t read it, but I know she can recognize it. She can probably read a few words, like “toilet” and “beer.” Her brother takes or took lessons. Why you would care I don’t even know) and it seems to be a mix of the old and the new and it’s fucking awesome.
Maybe Moms and I will meet up again there. And maybe we’ll have another chance to get along and get it right.
This is how the steel pan is supposed to be enjoyed: in the street, with someone going through the garbage behind you, little kids in your way and such. I’m also pleased with the random videography, and the weird tempo changes at the whim of the artist.
This is the sound that speaks to my soul: the carillon, a word I can never spell correctly. They come from different movie soundtracks, no? No one I know who loves me can stand this for long periods of time. Not unless it’s Mario Brothers or something, and even then they lose interest.
This is what I heard today and it rocked me. I can’t stop looking for more. I mean, look at how much fucking fun these people are having! Drinking and dancing nasty, immoral dances in the streets! It’s a tiny, movable rave! They look like a second line party, like the people who come back from the cemetery in New Orleans after someone is laid to rest. The living cut loose, because you only have so much time, you know?
i need to stop
with the angry
I really didn’t know I was such a bad person. Really, I didn’t.
I have been keeping more to myself than I used to. It started two years ago Christmas when I was telling one of my mother’s friends about my novel I’m writing for my thesis (she asked). My mother was getting more and more testy. She doesn’t like the attention pulled away from her, I think, especially when it’s her house. That’s what I think, at least. And she wasn’t approving of the plot. Mind you, it was sounding extremely convoluted and strange. But I had just explained it to my novel writing class, and after having come through an entire semester with them, they were really excited for me. I was really excited for me. I felt I was making huge progress. Things were looking up.
But as I’m telling the plot in my mom’s living room, I’m becoming more and more conscious of her eyes on me. Her throat, the sounds coming out of it. Squeezed sounds. Small sounds. Dampening sounds. The sighs, the dismissive cut of her eyes. We both do that. Neither one of us knows how to fix our faces. My pops doesn’t, either. All the no comes right to the surface.
“Well,” grumphasses Moms, “I hope I’m never expected to buy any of your books.”
I tried to save it. I always try to save it. I’m the baby of the family; it’s my job to save it now. Now that everything’s gone to shit and everyone else has stopped trying and no one’s in the same place at the same time and everything’s pointed at me: it’s Seer’s fault now. It’s so easy for the baby to feel persecuted, and it’s so easy to blame the baby. Spilled milk and all that.
“You’ll never be expected to buy a goddamned thing,” I said. But I didn’t say it cheerful enough. There wasn’t enough laughter. Too much vinegar. And I was ashamed of myself–for being a bad writer, a bad daughter, a bad person. Look what you did.
I don’t think she remembers saying this. I don’t think she remembers any of this. My brother had a bad habit of coming over and acting like family but wanting to be waited on like a guest. Mom wants to talk like family but be talked to like a guest. And she writes people tickets for minor infractions but has no idea how big the trailer she’s towing is. She’ll swing wide and knock out telephone poles and fire hydrants and then tell you she is hurt you didn’t say something the way she wanted to hear it.
When I won the little poetry contest, she couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to show them to her. I’m not a masochist. I’m never showing her anything ever again. I’m writing everything under a pseudonym at this point and never telling her if I get published. It’s out of self-protection. After she said the thing about the novel? That little, tiny thing and who cares and blowing it into a huge whatever? Pole-vaulting over that mouse turd? (Yes, she had said something negative about one of the most important facets of my life right now. But it was a fairly small thing about just one thing that lives in one of those facets.) I got into a self-hatred thing and didn’t touch it for four or five months. I’m still doubting it now. I’m too sensitive still. Sometimes it doesn’t get me. But I never know when someone or something will infect me. When you hit me under one of my scales it’ll get swollen and tender for months, years. And I don’t need that bullshit. I have enough to deal with.
I am going up to see her tomorrow to run an errand for her. She’s quite capable of doing it herself. It’s hard for her right now because she’s in pain but people do more than that all the time. But I’m doing it as a peace-offering. I’m not staying longer than I have to, though (see: masochist, not a). She wants me to stay for dinner and: no.
I am really not looking forward to the upcoming surgery. It’s only a week. Only a week. The last time I nearly lost myself. I am scared. But I can do this.
I don’t know when I became this bad a person to her. Or she to me. Why do you hate me now? Why can you never be kind? I think she thinks these things, also. She thinks that I’m the asshole here.
It seems so sudden sometimes, the change in people. The car door slams and they turn and a new face, who is this? Who is this mother of mine? How do I treat you now? How do I let the stones you throw hit me, cover my face and still walk towards you?
So: like I mentioned, I was at Moms house and we were starting to get to one another. Picking on each other.
This was just after Christmas and all the decorations were still up. Someone on her street had an angel blowing a trumpet on their chimney.
“Do you think they’re Mormons?” I asked. It looked like the angel you see on the tops of the temples. Moroni? Is that who that is? I don’t know their angels very well.
“I don’t know,” she chrrmphh’d. No vowels at all.
“What’s that for?”
“Mormons have. Weird. A weird belief system.”
“You really struggled to not say ‘theology’ there.”
“Well,” she said, “it isn’t a real theology! It’s weird!”
“But Mom, I think all religion is weird.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Mom, you believe in a zombie.”
And she gave no vowels nor consonants to me, just used the dark side of the force to push angry across the car.
“I mean, I believe in energy in everything–that’s weird, too…”
This was the evening before I left. Have I mentioned that she doesn’t like me? But this was offsides. WRONG. Not cool, Seer, and I’m sorry.
Hey everybody! I’ve been away from this thing for fucking ever. Will you still read me here? Who fucking knows!
What have I been up to in the past year? It’s been a year, a whole year since I’ve written on the blog. I’ve been writing quite a bit, just not here. But since I got myself a diary and feel I should be making more writing for other people–not just myself and my classmates (especially not my classmates)–I thought I would come back here.
[HERE was some bullshit about OTHER PEOPLE and THEIR BUSINESS but really WHO GIVES TWO SHITS. IS THAT A QUESTION I don’t know maybe I do but not right now.]
Anyways. Something else I’ve learned here? Here is a place in both time and space, temporally and spatially. I mean in my life and in school both. Something else: I really, really, really love writing the “experimental” fiction. Maybe a little too much. It’s so satisfying. That’s even worse financially than being a Poet! I’m also working on some more commercial stuff, but there’s no way I’d share it with my classmates. They’re okay, but if it ain’t literary fiction, they’re really not digging it.
Yet another thing I’ve learned: bless my stars, my Moms is fucking awful right now. If she was emotionally fourteen before, I think she’s eleven now, and she is ready to rock! The woman has arthritis and is taking it to the streets. She ain’t blind and she don’t like what she sees, Seer! She had surgery to replace one of her goddamned knees and the way I did things for her was not up to her standards nor did it work for me.
Let’s review the fun:
Please Seer, can I have some more?