WRITING MY WAY HOME.


This is a previous post (2011) that I am re posting for new readers.

MY FAMILY  history was brought to life in an unpublished memoir.   The stories lived on during a long arduous journey of research and trying to get published.   Sometimes I read pages to get close to my parents.  I squeeze in between them like a ghost, hear their voices, and see their expressions.  If I remove the outside world, the hum of the hotel air-condoning , the delivery trucks, and speeding motorcycles,  I can remember swimming in the pool with my mother.  I see her bathing cap strap pulled down across her chin, her red lipstick, and her one-piece strapless bathing suit. I can see her freckles, and her long slender arms backstroking as she swam.scan0013

Early in 1960 my father decided to build a swimming pool in the backyard of our house on Thurston Circle.  I had just completed swimming lessons and asked my father for a pool. Years later he told the story: “My little girl asked for a pool, and I built her one.”   I think he built the pool for my mother.   He was under investigation with the FBI and Department of Justice, and spent most days in court defending himself against a deportation order to Russia.   Subpoenas, arrests, and trials were routine events that tied my parents together against a world of misunderstanding.  After eleven years of nail biting suspense, my mother just wore out.  The pool was built with the intention of removing my mother’s anxiety and sadness.   My father designed the shape of the pool around the original pool at the Garden of Allah, a highly scandalous Hollywood hotel apartment that attracted starlets and gangsters in the early 30’s.  I know this tiny detail from photographs I’ve seen of the Garden pool.   More obscure details surrounding the building of our pool were found reading his FBI files.

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My father accused the pool contractor of being an informant for the government.  One sunny afternoon he marched him out of the house. I was hiding behind a drape when the confrontation broke out.  I recall the big shouldered contractor running from my father’s threats.  Most likely an FBI agent was parked outside and  followed the man after he scampered out.

The pool was finally completed in mid 1961.   There are photographs of my mother and I in the pool; her smile is radiant and naturally composed.  She and I swam everyday.  My father  loved to swim too, but he was busy with court proceedings and meetings.  Before the year ended my mother filed for divorce, the house burnt down, and I was released from childhood. I don’t regret those events any longer.  They were steps that shaped my character, and what brings me back to the topic of growing up with gangsters.

The best memories of my childhood are in swimming pools and restaurants with gangsters and gamblers.  They were part of the family, and when they were around my father was on very good behavior, and my mother defenseless against their irresistible humor, pranks, and generosity.   She just sort of glided in and out of activities, and helped me ride the vibrations.   She didn’t laugh out of herself like I do, and she rarely yelled.   The older I get, the less I seem to be like her.  Maybe the passage of life experiences determines which parent you will take after. Had I married and had children, maybe I’d be more like her. Since I get into all kinds of tricky situations, and throw the dice, I need my father’s strength more.

Over the years, I have forgotten some of the dead reckoning discoveries I made about our family history.  Still nothing compares to reading about my Aunt Gertie.  She was my father’s sister. Until I read about her in the FBI file, I didn’t know she existed. I haven’t figured out why my father left her out of our life. According to the FBI files she was a remarkably loyal sister. Gertie was the one who confronted the federal agents when they arrived at the family home in Winnipeg, Canada.  She pushed my grandmother out of the interview, and spoke for the family.  The agents showed her a recent photograph of my father.   She told them that her brother left home when he was twelve and they had not seen him since.  She could not verify the identity of the photograph because almost twenty years had passed.  The agents left without any evidence and continued to search for the birthplace of my father. Every time he was arrested, he entered a different birthplace.  He named Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Los Angeles.  His origins were discovered through a letter that his mother had written when he was fifteen and confined to a boys reformatory.  The letter was turned over to the FBI, and that is how they discovered his parents lived in Winnipeg.  The government could not deport my father to Russia without verification from his family. Eventually my father won the battle. He was granted citizenship in 1966, two weeks after my mother died.

Gertie died after my father. I don’t know if they corresponded over the years.  I have learned enough about my father to know he was protecting her from further harassment.  Maybe if my father lived longer they would be coming after me.

THE THINKER & THE PUPPET


After I  published this last story,  I spoke with White Zen, my palgal in Santa Fe.  She said the last paragraph of the story made her cry.  Juxtaposed between writers Zen of exporting such feeling, and the sadness we both shared. White Zen had a Thinker too. I guess there are more of them than I knew.

Having had six true loves in my life, who impregnated me with knowledge generosity, and loyalty is what made me so unprepared for the Thinker.  He does resemble Macedonio;  the first man to peel off  the woman in me. They both have charisma, mystery and good dark looks,  Macedonio is dead now, and the memories of him still glisten;  like the day in Golden Gate park under the cherry blossom tree.

What I miss most, is the giggling, dancing, folly-maker that the Thinker pulled out of me  as If I were a puppet. He called me Puppet because that’s how he saw me.  I’ve got to get my Jojo  by tomorrow. I live Thanksgiving as a day with admissions of selfishness and greed. I need  to be washed away into thanks that I am here with a mouthful full of food, and a napkin.

Thanksgiving with Rudy and Opus I his brother.DSC00512

REVERSE THE ORDER


There are themes to our lives. Sometimes a year, sometimes one single day launches the theme, or it may just tumble into our path unexpected and replace whatever we were holding on to dearly. The sensations leading up to my theme, reverse the order, peeked through the quagmire of disillusionment, frustration and mud heavy quibbling in my head. Reverse the order, blew into the quibbling, and straightened my piles of projects. Writing,editing, not believing in my word, leasing the house, getting into a relationship, deferred maintenance on myself and property I own, and sweeping leaves etc.
“ Stop writing as a means of self-gratification and start submitting what you have written. Leave the leaves to fall.

AUTUMN AWESOME SANTA FE, NM

AUTUMN AWESOME SANTA FE, NM

ADULT IS SHOUTING


The waking of an adult in a unwilling woman
Forever young is an idiom that I enjoy reading and humming in a song. In the honesty of thoughts, I feel the adult pushing through, and clawing it’s way into my perceptions, spirit, and creativity. The struggle is constant, because the adult has proven to be a protector, but lately she is interfering with my favorite toys. There it is, finally surfacing, and sounding off about trite irritations, suspecting, unyielding, distant, scrutinizing, and cowardly for being a little selfish.

This adult is more concerned with dust, and neat piles, then the sun beckoning my soul to a dance in the light, a trip to Greece, or a two-hour lunch and trip to the museum. The adult is pressing through the work plan, publication, interviews, the emails, and bills, the laundry, and a, the rain soaked rugs left outside, the weeds, and in between these tasks of productivity, the mind is rumbling like a tea kettle about to boil, about bumper sticker things I’d rather be doing. The rather be doing list drops down just before I go to sleep. I look at it blankly, and ask someone who never seems to answer; when am I going to begin the begin. If there is an absence of time to write, and the avoidance of time to play, then I am left with a very dry outlook. In the presence of my admission, is the sweep of rage that crosses over the keyboard. Yes, there is madness in an obsession to produce great things, bundles of money, inventions and art. In replacement, there would be gossip, self-absorption boredom, complacency, and trashy novels. Balance, as we know it today, means the consumption of everything we yearn for at more than moderate levels. That is also an idiom that I read about and hum in a tune, but it passes, and I am back to uneven feelings, and imbalances between laughter, and shouting.

VOYAGES WITHIN & WITHOUT


I live in a temporary tide-pool, a lily floating against the current, weighted down by a suit of armor that shields me from the beauty, love and freedoms stirring in my bud.

The throw of the dice this week lands on a quote from the archives of my peculiarity-clipping folder.   I don’t know if this is branded in a writer’s genes, or simply another trivial pursuit to aid us in remembering things, that at the time we feel we need to remember, but we are not sure why.  Being a clipper means that nothing in print is safe in our presence.  We cannot resist the impulse to possess particular images and words, and usually without any logical reason. Once we have retrieved the clipping, we file it in a folder or notebook. The clippings do not age well and after 10 years, they are yellowed with torn, frayed edges.  They are rarely plucked from their binding burials and given present day meaning because they live in the bottom of trunks, or in storage units, and are difficult to get our hands on.   Since I discovered a clipping several weeks ago I’ve been investigating the connection between clippings and destiny.  I stopped being a savage clipper in 2002.

I opened up this one journal from 1988, and reading the pages, I came across the quote that propelled me into adventures in livingness. It came from Theater Critic, Kenneth Tynan, from a magazine article he wrote.  It was a personal essay and the line that beamed through me like a telekinetic force was ,   “Adventure. Voyage, there is nothing else! ” When I ripped it out I did not live, or ever imagined I‘d live in Santa Fe.   That was the first time I had come across that article. I remembered it, and swore an oath to adventure ever since.   I memorialized the quote and have continued to look for new places to adventure and voyage.    Since 1982, I have called home behind 31 different doors, in only six different cities.

I realize Kenneth’s voyage metaphor was not about relocating, though moving has a definite adventure inside it, but more of an internal adventure, opening your own doors to unconventional, unacceptable, and unrealistic measures in the hopes that you discover real newness of vision.