Friday, October 24, 2014

Memoir #3

Woman, Splits/Ville

"Do the 50 memoirs have to be in chronological order?" Danika asked.

"Well, that's the idea, " I mused and reconsidered.

It's my blog, so I break the rules at will.

I'd read the book, so yeah, I wanted to see the movie.

I'll call it , Woman Splits/Ville.

The book was a real page turner, I'll give it that. I'd read it about a year ago. But sometimes my memory deletes the bad parts, so there were scenes I forgot. After we saw the movie, my sharp Katie commented, "Books are tamer. Black letters typed against white pages aren't as graphic as the theater screen, plus you read a book in segments. You have more time to digest it in parts." Isn't she smart?!

Rated 'R' movies are worse than they used to be. Or maybe I'm just getting old. Either way, the images and slang/jargon/vulgarity steam rolled through my central nervous system like a freight train.

The real embarrassment here is, I brought my daughters and a male friend of theirs.

If I'd gone alone, it wouldn't have been so bad. But I was blindsided by the current chaos of my "What Next Family" and I just needed an entertainment escape. I should have suggested a Disney flick. In addition, my brain was fried from the week at hand, hence the name of the day, "Fry Day." It was past my bed time. I wasn't thinking clearly.

I did remember from the book that the characters lacked nobility. I sort of liked two of them, but they were supporting roles, one a sister, the other a detective. They had a bit of moral fiber, authentic humanity, and a little humor. The protagonist was insipid;  had no humor and no moral compass. The villain should have been named, Marvelous Malevolence.

So into the black comfy seats, a bucket of popcorn and soda, at the ends of our elbows, we noshed and watched. And soon, we squirmed. We winced. We covered our eyes. Too late at times we plugged our ears. It got pretty bad, real fast. I kept waiting for it to ease. Not half way through, I leaned over to my daughter and whispered, "I can't watch this."

I walked out. I'd forgot my phone, didn't bring a book. I was hoping the kids would wander out to me and we'd get our money back and leave. It didn't happen. I sat on a bench outside the movie chamber and across the aisle, two other macabre types reeled on. The doors were propped open, so I could picture the chain saw slash and dash of heinous supernatural crime scenes. There I was, sitting in the den of iniquity, Hollywood style. I fingered my Rosary beads and wondered what to do.

I thought of all the research on the effects of violence in television and movies on humans. There are some images, memories, that can't be unseen. Some auditory scabrous slurs, that can't be unheard.

I went back in and asked the girls if they wanted to leave.

"It hasn't been bad since you left."

Reluctantly, I sunk back into my chair.

Quickly, it worsened, with one graphic depravity after another.

The movie should have been rated Rx, because it required a sedative to get through.

With the augment of one of the final grotesque scenes, disgusted, I got up and announced, "Let's go."

Back in the car, reeling, Katie said, "That was disturbing."

We all dished about how bad it was.

"I'm sorry, guys. I should have known better. That was over the top. We should have left sooner."

"It's okay Mom."

I went to Confession before Mass on Sunday. I wanted to be rid of it.

Is it possible to sift through a bad memory and learn from it without being bruised and scarred? The scars remember, I'm afraid.

Rated R means restricted audiences. Those sensitive to speed, spin, and visceral violence.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Memoir #2

We've all done it when we were kids. At least the dreamiest of us little scamps. In Fort Lauderdale, where the sun bakes, and the air is a thick wet blanket, I'd lie down on the sidewalks and stare at the clouds.

I had a lot of time on my grubby finger painting hands. Scarlet Fever flushed my cheeks that year, 1969. I missed 1/2 a year of kindergarten because of it. Mom stayed home during that blessed time. She was so tall to me, all five foot three inches of her.

I remember our living room as a burnished sepia toned photo. The outside borders are fuzzy, like my memory. Yet what I remember is what counts. It seems that the carpet was all shag, green, like pea soup. The walls were blank. We never lived in these apartments for very long. Mom liked to iron and watch a little TV. I think the ironing made her feel leisurely. I don't know for sure, because Mom and I are different, but if it were me, as much as she worked outside of the home when we were growing up, I'd think that time at home, tending it like a garden would be cherished. I recall the ironing board and the giant television set.

It was a typical hot day, and she herded me like a cat, near the television set to watch Neil Armstrong stake that USA flag in a crater far away, but close, on the moon. The same moon that I watched when we would drive home at night after movies at the drive-in. I'd lie on the vinyl seat of the Buick with the windows down, as shadows passed over the convertible ceiling. I saw it, The Man in the Moon. He looked and still does, like a cop with a sideways profile, old school, like from the fifties, complete with the emblem above the brim. "Susie, sit down! This is history. Watch it! He's on the moon!"

I listened and obeyed. I was just that kind of kid. The air condition evaporated all the five year old burden from my fevered brow. And it was enough, so back outside I went. It wasn't on the same day that this other event occurred, but I remember quite a few things from that year, living in that duplex, and all the memories run together, like flipping through a scrapbook.

My friend Gina lived across the the courtyard in another duplex. Her mother sewed and we played with these straight pins, with the colored balls on the ends. Gina had to lay down for a nap, so I was sent home. I took a few pins with me, hiding them in the folds of my smocked sun suit. I lied down on the sidewalk and outlined the clouds with a blue straight pin, like a pointer a teacher would use. Then, I popped it in my mouth. Yeah, then, I swallowed it.

We rushed to Holy Cross Hospital to the ER. Mom clutching the steering wheel, white knuckled, pinched vocal chords, like mine. Hers were screaming. Mine were pricked.

I stared at my toes, barely over the edge of the seat. It was a mistake. I shouldn't have swallowed that thing.

They took an X-Ray and we saw it, floating like. A thin sliver, a slice of moon in the middle of the space of my diaphragm.

"Have her eat bread, and wait. It'll come out."

It did, in the toilet. It stuck on the way out, much the same way it stuck on the way in.

You don't make these things up, and you don't forget them.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Memoir # 1

In observing 50 years on the planet, I am writing 50 memoirs through the year

Here is Memoir #1

A Cat/ A Couch

     This will be short. I was maybe three years old. But before I get on with the first of 50 memories of my life, I pause to think about memoir, the French word for 'the study of memory'. I recall my own children with their window eyes; pooling-- the organ that they will grow into, taking it all in, like an aperture on a camera.

     What is it that impresses a first memory? Is it that the heart and brain are already programmed to absorb certain sights, sounds, tastes, textures? Are likes and dislikes already established? Do we have an acute sense of right and wrong, good and evil? Are we drawn to what is lovely, noble, worthy, and do we suppress the not so pleasant visuals, because our souls are built for purity? Or maybe we have a want for approval and we chase what is always beyond our reach? We seek to conquer, and we are adventurous in our quest for imagination.

     I was a breach baby. This is what I've heard: If the mother is under stress, the breach baby is intuitive and sticks close to the mother's heartbeat, refusing to turn head down to face the world. I wish I could remember the womb, but instead I imagine tugging on the umbilical cord, swimming around like a mermaid, a lifeguard (which was decided in the womb). Water holds me. I don't churn against it, but sense the turmoil of a current that would be my life.

My soul knows. It was in the womb where I started accumulating images, sounds, and feelings, building a frame of reference; a memory bank.

     Of course, that is the writer in me, constructing a story, from bits and pieces of what I've heard. But maybe it is the Holy Spirit revealing what really happened; a grace.

     But my first memory isn't that deep or profound. 

     I was itty bitty. I wore Mary Jane shoes and a dress that barely covered ruffled panties. My Dad placed a large baseball cap backwards on my head. The kitty scurried behind a tweedy beige couch. He looked Siamese, but I doubt it because I've heard that he was gathered from the pound to be a good mouser. His name was Fred. Dad tells me that he carried his prizes up on a hot tin roof. Dead mice and rats everywhere.

     The gap between the sofa and the wall was sliver thin. I reached to pet his furry softness. I remember his cat eyes. He swiped his paw at me.

     I feel the scratch, even now.