Tuesday, March 27, 2007

There will be no Christmas this Year

So for anyone who reads my blog or knows me (or my dad) they will know that I avoid Thanksgiving and X-Mas at all cost every year. Usually this is because for the first 30 years of my life it was inevitable that at some point, my father would stand, point directly at me, and declare to the masses, "You ruined Xmas/Thanksgiving/World Peace! Really Joy why dont you just shoot the fuckin Pope for next Xmas!" This might not seem very scary to some, but my father is 1) Italian. 2) 69 and 3) Extremely opinionated, racist and yet caring of outward appearances. Damn, it was just in the last couple years I found out that if I wasn't run out of the house before the 'holiday' was officially over, they even give you pounds and pounds of cookies, fudge, leftover ham and sometimes even FRESH BREAD.

Now before I move on I want to make sure anyone reading this knows Im not a racist nor judgemental person. Of course I get all codgery sometimes and rant and rave but there is no one I hate just because _____. Trust me, I hate everyone with equality.

But my father, he is very very racist and judgemental. So Thanksgiving and X-mas 2005 was bad enough. My sister had married a black man. My oldest sister. C Ill call her. The one who had married, had two kids and gotten divorced because her husband realized he was gay. (For the record I knew he was gay when I was 12, so I was always mystified as to how she didnt know) So my sister, who already had earned herself a few hate points that year for remarrying (which is stressful enough for someone as intense as my father) but she married..... she married.... SOMEONE NOT WHITE.

Dear God In Heaven

So I barely make it through Thanksgiving and X-mas of 2005, even though I was suddenly not getting the glares and the expectations of ruining the holidays right off, they still... really thought I would somehow manage to outshine the fact that there was a non-white person in the house.
Then last year, even though my father is extremely racist, my mother is extremely christian and does not pass judgement (on anyone but me) she invited my old bro-in-law and his 'friend' to X-mas dinner. M Ill call him. M was always a great guy. He always knew what to buy the kids, he always brought my mother and father lavish gifts and was always always very kind and gentle to us all. He was still GAY. He wasnt just GAY but he was bringing what my father knew to be a GAY friend to X-mas dinner. So even though I lack judgement over the situation, I still silently giggled to myself, in a more then slightly evil villianous type way. tee heeeeee, I wont be ruining X-mas this year either!!! Thanks be to the gods.

So I went and enjoyed yet another X-mas that I didnt ruin. I didnt even get the looks this time. There was NO way in hell I could ruin Xmas with my sisters non-white new husband, and her now gay ex-husband + his 'friend' in the house. Even my 5 days in jail just before X-mas wasnt brought up. No one even bothered to shun me. Not once. Life was sweet. I had a record now, 2 years of not ruining the big 'family' holidays.

*sidenote* Remember I said my dad was italian. Well two things you dont do to italians. 1) Make them uncomfortable in their own homes and 2) Do anything to make a 'family' meal uncomfortable, shady or have anyone questionable at the table.

God was I set or what?

So Im talkin to my niece a couple of weeks ago. Ash, little Ash. The sweet sweet innocent one. She is 23? 24? now. Daughter of Alice Ill call her. Alice, she was the ONE. The good child, the one who never ever fucked up as a kid. Did the band thing, moved out early, NEVER came back home... oh she was the dessert of daughters. (well she did have Ash when she was 15) (which by the way wasnt even in the least as bad as me having my son at 15) I dont know but she breaks this out on me as if she was talking about an errant neighbor or a Jerry Springer episode.

Ash: Hey! Guess what???
Joy: Yeah?
Ash: Get this, my mom... my mom is dating a new guy.
Joy: Maybe she will let this one stay a while.
Ash: She says hes really really hot.
Joy: Means nothing unless he is also blind, deaf and mute. (ash knows I have issues with her mother)
Ash: Well thats not the bad part. (now Im fading out as I always do when someone trys to drag out a surprise, Im paying more attention to the crunching noises of eating and the sound I can hear when I swallow the Kool-Aid she gave me)
Joy: mmm hmm
Ash: He is mexican
Joy: What???????????
Ash: He is hispanic.
Joy: Does Pawpaw know? (i call him that now since im used to like 25 years of grandkids)
Ash: Nah not yet

Now Im almost choking on kool-aid. I dont know what to do, its fuckin March and Im thinking OMFG, X-mas will have to be canceled this year. Maybe something tragic will happen. Maybe Ill lose a leg or something on the 23rd and it will just have to be canceled this year. Okay, calm down, calm down, maybe there is a chance.

Joy: So, uhh, I mean does he ... erm... look spanish? What, whats his name? Tell me its Brian or something. (dear god let his name be Brian Johnson or Dave Brown. Even I cant revel in this X-mas not being ruined by me. I think my Dad will actually explode this year, I cant bear to watch it. I mean, if he is racist and doesnt like gays, being mexican is the equivalent of being someone who picks their teeth at the table. Being spanish is like, the guy who chews with his mouth open. Jesus H. Christ its just not acceptable. Suddenly being black or gay or even black AND gay is soo sooooo sweet)

Ash: You're gonna love this
Joy: Oh god, I bet I wont.
Ash: Julio
Joy: HU-LEE-O??
Ash: Yeah, isnt it great. Pawpaw is going to shit himself.
Joy: No, pawpaw is going to finally wig out and kill us all.

I looked at her and seen the mirth in her eyes and was floored. Had she no clue?? Speaking of shit, I swear, Ive seen my father slap a strangers kid out of his chair at a dinner table for chewing with their mouth open (You do NOT do unacceptable shit at an Italians dinner table) but if we invited a bum to X-mas who immediately climbed onto the dinner table and SHAT directly on the X-mas Ham, it wouldnt have been as bad as this) As a matter of fact its like I can almost hear my dad at the last couple X-mas's thinking to himself. 'Well, there is a black man in my house.. at MY TABLE, and a gay man and his gay lover... but ... okay well I guess I can cope with this, I love my daughters... but whew.. jesus, I guess at least none of them have brought home a mexican.'

And suddenly Im so curious and scared at once. Im guessing this might be what it felt like the first time I got on a rollar coaster. And Im elated. Suddenly, out of nowhere, and 33 years in, I am THE BEST DAUGHTER EVER. Dont mistake this, I am a brave and straight up girl. But if I was dating a mexican guy, I MIGHT just wait until my dad was incapaciated (god forbid) in some kind of way before I told him.

I can hear the convo now, driving down the road, probably glaring at me cuz hes taking me to do a drug test for the courts.
Dad: I heard you were dating a mexican.
Joy: What??? Me??? No way, thats crazy where did you hear such insanity???
Dad: Your mother said you told her you were dating a mexican and his name was Jorge Rodriquez.

At that point Im 100% sure Id tuck myself into a ball, open the car door, roll out, wish for the best and hope I didnt break my legs so I could jump up and run away once I came to a rolling, bouncing, bone crunching stop, all the while thinking...OMG my mother must be PISSED at me for something. So now Im really worked up and I look at Ash and I toss in my one last hope.

Joy: So, does ..uhh.. Daddy know his name yet?
Ash: No, you know how my mom is, shes just gonna end up showing up at X-mas dinner with him.
Joy: I have to go now.

Immediately I pick up her kids and kiss them and put them down a little faster.. a LOT faster then normal. I want to get home, I want to find cover, maybe a bomb shelter before X-mas because Im sure something is going to explode this year BIG TIME.

So Im driving home, nearly hyperventilating, and Im picturing a new X-mas. M and his lover passing around the nicest matching X-mas gifts. C and her non-white husband, my father probably staring lovingly at them both. And Alice, with Julio, maybe a couple of those lil mexican candles burning on my fathers sacred X-mas dinner table, and me sitting next to my mother. Looking like an angel suddenly, full wing span and halo on perfectly. Then I had a thought, I know what I can do. Ohhhh, I got it. I SO GOT IT.

This year, for the first time ever in my life, I am going to say grace. I will bless the food. Never has this been done and I bet even my mother who cant walk anymore will help my father in making an effort to lift me upon their shoulders and carry me around the table, singing some new song made up about the Best Daughter ever. It is over. Another chapter in my life. A chapter that began 33 years ago where the new screaming redheaded baby started ruining X-mas with her antics and sacrilege at the dinner table. And here, 33 years later the chapter ends. Never did I once even consider this a possibility, never did I comprehend this could happen. I FUCKING WIN. I WIN the best daugther contest. I win LIFE.

Space Lord Mother Mother

If you have never heard this song, go download it. Its by Monster Magnet and the link to the lyrics is the title of this post.

I dont know why this song is so stuck on me for this last week or so, something about it drives me. In a wild direction.

The last part of this song goes...

I left my throne a million miles away
I drink from your tit
I sing your blues every day
Now give me the strength
To split the world in two yeah
I ate all the rest and now Ive gotta eat you

Well I sing... space lord mother

I lost my soul when I fell to earth
My planets called me to the void of my birth
The time has come for me to kill this game
Now open wide and say my name
Space lord mother

Not even my type of music but those lyrics there feel... ominous, potent, shit I dont know, I bet Cathy, Kuan and the Wookie understand as much if not more then I do why this song is kicking my ass while I wax my kitchen floor!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

DNA > All Part II

The thing is that by the time I became a full fledged teenager. All of those childish questions became angry teen ones. Confusion set in and haunted me often. Why aren't I more like them? WTF is wrong with me? By 12 I realized that I was out of the ordinary. Shouldnt I agree more with them? Shouldnt I share a few... a couple... ONE view with them? Rebellious, out-of-control and wild. Those were the words I heard my parents refer to me as more often then not. So why was I so odd? They had raised me since I was just an infant. Well then I went out and perfectly screwed up. I was pregnant by 15. Being adopted also makes you at least 50 percent less likely to ever give up a child of your own for adoption. I just could never imagine giving my own child away to ponder the things I had been dealing with. I could also never imagine wondering where my only known blood relative was. There was no question about keeping my son. I didnt do too bad though, I quit school, got a GED and was in my own apartment and attending college by age 17. It was a hard uphill battle but thankfully my life had already been that, so it wasnt out of the ordinary or particularly taxing for me. My son started school not long after I restarted it. We did our homework together most nights. But I also had other homework to do. I was always told that I could apply for a birth parent search when I was 19. So at 19, I did just that. A lady who had been present during my adoption was my go-between. I remember the first time I talked to her, and her saying, 'Oh yes, I remember you, you were the redheaded baby'. I live in a city of 100,000 people. I couldnt have been the only redhead child ever to go through their system. WOW, 19 years later, she remembered me. That is one incredible social worker, or I was a terribly memorable child.

By 20 I had found them. They came to my apartment together, although they hadnt been together since before I was born. And I spent several hours talking to them. Even then I knew, that although as an errant teenager, I would have KILLED to have these parents, who I could tell right off would have never offered me discipline, judgement or limits to my freedom, lord knows what the hell would have happened to me. So there it was, the empty place I had so long known, gone. Well, for a moment I thought it was gone. But there was still a lot left unexplained. My mother, she was.. well she was the late 40's version of me. My father, his girlfriend at the time I met them was 26. And here I thought, well, I am home. But then, there was STILL something missing. The years went by and I spent as much time as I could with my mother. I remember one day in particular that I went to visit my mother and her mother. A grandmother I had never had. Within minutes of meeting my granny, she offered me a beer. All 95 pounds of her. I sat and watched her drink 12 beers that day. And although I am not a huge drinker, I still felt rather comfortable with her, and with life, knowing that at age 85, she was still swilling down beers like the wild kid I knew myself to still be. As we were sitting there on her front porch an unassuming preacher walked up to us. Immediately he began preaching the virtues of abstaining from alcohol and other vices. Immediately, my mother stood up and declared "Get yourself and your god the fuck out of my yard!" I looked over at my granny for reaction to this and seen her giving the preacher the bird and glaring. Oddly, I beamed with pride at this. And my granny and my mother and me had a good damn laugh. I got a little closer to home as I listened to them talk about how annoying it was for these 'christian sob's' to be pushing their beliefs at every Tom, Dick and Harry they came across. I also met my sisters, who are both afflicted with FAS. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. And little by little I began to see how much of a miracle I really was. My mother had Fragile X syndrome, a gene that I also carry. It is very similar to downs syndrome as it normally afflicts the person with severely reduced intelligence and handicaps in most basic skills. My sisters were both greatly affected. Both were 4 to 7 years older then me, and had the intelligence and personalities of most girls around 12 years of age. Of course I lost a bit of respect for my mother with that knowledge. At age 15 and pregnant in the height of my drug abusing days, I still ceased all drug usage and even stopped smoking when I found out I was pregnant. But, a silent voice reminded me, 'you didnt walk in her shoes.'

Six years after I met my mother, I had to bury her. I didnt feel cheated though, not for a moment. Actually, I felt lucky. I had gotten to meet her in the best moments of her life. I didnt have to see her struggling within herself those years after her kids were taken from her. I didnt have to watch her be abused by her ex-husband who was the father of my sisters and brother. I didnt have to beat up kids around the neighborhood for calling her retarded and I didnt have to see the look of shame Im sure she would have held if I had been forced to hear such things said about my own mother. I got to see the self sufficient woman she had become in the end. The one that she had to struggle to get, a struggle much stronger then what people of average intelligence have to go through. She had her own apartment and took care of herself most sufficiently by the time she passed away. She was 56 and I had known her for 7 years by then. A couple of years later, my granny also passed away, at 95. She went to her grave still drinking a case of beer a day and smoking at least 2 packs, all 95 pounds of fire that she was.

Some kids dont have 1 mother or 1 father to love them and here I had 2 full sets, at least for a moment. And as I attended her funeral and cried for the loss, my tears were not for myself. They were for the mother who had lost her children, the mother who had probably spent countless hours wondering if her children were okay. Had the families who took them been good ones? Were they being treated well or horribly? I cried for so much wasted time she must have spent wondering if she made the right choice, if being mentally handicapped was enough reason to have said 'I cant take care of these 4 children anymore, I need help.'

Yeah Mom (I did call her Mom, it didnt seem right to call her Momma. I had a Momma who had been there, who had worried where I was all night, every night. Who had suffered in her marriage because of my childish selfishness. She had paid the price of motherhood, she was a Momma, she was my Momma) you did make the right choice, you made the hardest choice, that in the end was the best for your children. I still love you, I never once hated you, I never once questioned why you had done it and that was before I met you and seen the adversity you had to cope with.

RIP Edith Strothers Boyd

From the blog of Tiamat

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Wow, uh, damn.

Monday, March 05, 2007

DNA > All Part I

When I was four months old I was adopted. It took me years and years to realize how lucky that I was in the parents that got me. There were a lot of reasons for this. My mother, a devout christian, always tried to instill in me her beliefs, her character and her personality. Normally, children do take on traits of their parents. Some would say this is DNA and some would argue that your behaviors are completely learned. Even at a very young age I knew, I felt, like I was out of place. At around 5 or so I can remember the check out clerks, pretty much anyone questioning my mother, "where did she get that red hair!" And my mother in her wisdom and class always answered the same way. "From the milkman!" Well at 5 I had no clue what this meant. All I knew was that my Daddy was a milkman. He worked for a local dairy for as long as I could remember. So it always made sense to me... even though my Daddy was italian and had very dark black hair. I never questioned that statement. Just that I didnt fit. By age 10 or so I began to notice other things. My sisters, who were also adopted but were sisters by blood, looked very different then I did. As a matter of fact, just where the hell did I get this red hair?? The calico eyes? And why the hell was I so short??

Well my adoptive mother and father never hid it from me that I was adopted. Since I was the only child they had adopted in infancy, I was really the only clueless one in the house. They did everything, from buying books about adoption to read to me, to answering as best they could any questions that I had about my biological parents. Although by age 5 I knew I was adopted, even I questioned why I wasn't more like the folks who had spent so much time raising me. My parents, both very solid grounded people had no clue where my wild streak came from. Shit, I didnt either. I just knew that I was a wild and carefree spirit. I was fearless, yet careful. Opinionated, yet open to ideas. I was also their baby though, and my activities astounded them more than anyone. I think somewhere in their minds they felt they had failed me. They had tried to bring me up right, and here I was, doing everything I could to be wrong. My mother tried to force me into religion, boy, did that NOT take. They both wanted me to act the proper young lady, meanwhile I was busy in the neighborhood starting and winning fistfights with the local boys. They wanted me in dresses, and I would saunter home, big rock in hand to declare that I had finally 'wailed Chris in the knot' one good time, and was covered in his blood. Oh, my parents never fooled themselves though, and I used to get SO mad, that instead of my parents accusing me of falling to peer pressure, they always assumed... they always KNEW, that I was the leader of them all, that I did and others followed, never the other way around. Peer pressure applied on me has always resembled this...

Friend: You should try this!
Joy: You should fuck yourself!

I have no idea when, where or how I became so intimidating. Christ, Im only 5 foot 2 now. As a kid I may have weighed 100 lbs, soaking wet. But my best friends, the ones I love to this day, have never caved to that. Whereas hoards of elementary school and junior high school kids feared me insanely, I never respected those kids. I never respected and still to this day can not bring myself to befriend someone who is not willing to stand up to me and tell me to STFU if I need to be told so. In junior high I had friends here and there, but the thing about me was that I never really cliqued. My friends were the jocks, and the freaks and the kids that didnt fall into any catagory. But were my own friends to harrass the retarded kid, or the kid that was too fat, or the kid with the thick glasses, they could more or less expect me to jump on them and pound them in the face. I was never one to stand and ignore injustice.

Wow, did this NOT comply with the standards set at home. At home I was taught, a lady always acts like a lady. Ladies do NOT hit. Ladies do NOT hang out with boys non-stop. Ladies stand STRONG, but silently in the back ground. Ladies DO care what the neighbors think. Ladies do NOT draw attention to themselves for any reason. I think I got the best of both worlds though, and I do not regret it for an instant.

I willl end Part I though on this note.

From my fathers italian standards, I DID pick up most excellant table manners. I did learn to care just enough about what the outside world thinks to have and show some class in my living standards. And I did learn that even if you can't have your own children, kids that you love just as much as you would your own blood, would feel greatly loved and would still be the little girl who loves their Daddy endlessly, even at 33. (I still call him Daddy, never called him Dad, not once)

From my mother I learned to bend sometimes, but never ever break. To never show fear in the face of adversity. To find faith in whatever moves me, and never let anyone take that away, hoard it, hide it if you have to, it will be the steel that strengthens your spine when you feel like turning to jello. And to remember that children ARE children, but they are also future adults and that without some firm guidance and discipline, they will end up the adults that you would never call friends. And most importantly, sometimes Mommas have to be the bitches. Daddys are too busy being the friends and the breakers of Mommas rules, and that even though it might break Mommas heart, sometimes she has to say no, for you, for your future. Dont let them see you break, go to your room, cry your heart out if you have to, but return to them the same strong Momma that they KNOW loves them, but just wont let them get away with murder. (Still call her Momma too. Maybe this is a girl thing cuz my son calls me Mom, hasnt called me Momma since he was around 10)

Til Part II...