Learning To Love You More




Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Laura Lark
Houston, Texas
Email Laura



I was born on April 28, 1962, around 12:30 p.m., at Pima County Hospital in Tucson, Arizona. My mother says that I had so much thick, dark hair, the nurses referred to me as "that little Indian baby", and until they got to know my mother by sight, they would say, "What are you doing with that little Indian baby?"
My father was a graduate student in chemistry at the University of Arizona. I don't remember anything of that time. My mother says that she and my dad and the other grad students went to this bar called the Dolphin a lot and I crawled around on the floor while they played pool.
My first word: "Shit." I said it when I fell down while walking across the kitchen one day.
When I was three, my sister Lisa was born. My father was teaching chemistry at a small college, Park College, outside of Kansas City, Missouri. To save money, my parents were dorm parents at Dearing Hall, the boys' dormitory, and we'd been living there a year or so. I remember living there well. I got a lot of attention from the guys, and they treated me like a mascot because they liked my parents. There was a professor that they didn't like, and he had a little boy, so they were always doing things like sending me over to the other kid and telling him that if he was drinking a magic bottle of pop, and if he turned it upside down over his head, the pop would magically stay in the bottle. He fell for it every time, but I don't remember that boys' name.
I remember that there was a huge Christmas tree in the common area, and that I got a Fisher Price circus. That, I think, was when I was the happiest I've ever been. I was doted upon, and I was too young to pay attention to my parents' doings.
My mom and dad hung around with the students, mostly. My father decided that he didn't like teaching and that it didn't pay enough. My mother says that all he did was drink with the students and he didn't get along with the other faculty, but I don't know.
My dad got a job with DuPont Chemicals and we moved to a very small town in North Carolina called Grifton. I'm still not sure where it is, but I started kindergarten there. I had to be baptized in order to go to kindergarten, because the only one in town was run by the Episcopal church. Every day I walked to school, and my sister, who was now two, would run after me, screaming and crying that she wanted to go. My sister was always screaming and crying. She bugged the crap out of me. My mother always says, "I love your sister Lisa, but I don't really like her."
I always thought that was weird, even though I've always felt that way about my mother.
In Grifton, a lot of the kids were dirty, literally. A lot of them looked like they had dirt rubbed into their skin, and many of them had unfilled cavities in their front teeth. We had weird neighbors, too. One neighbor kid always got up before the milkman came around and peed in people's milk bottles and put the lids back on them, until a neighbor lady caught him. My mother said she was always thankful we never got milk from the milkman, but from the grocery store.
There were a lot of weather catastrophes that really impressed me there. One winter it snowed so much, we lost power for a week and our family camped in front of the fireplace with our sleeping bags. My sister and I cried when the power came back on.
It rained one spring for so long that it flooded the entire street. One night I woke up in my bed because I kept hearing a weird sound. I got up and opened the window, and our entire yard was a glimmering black pool of water shining in the moonlight, and there were hundreds and hundreds of huge frogs making really loud, deep, "ribbit" sounds. It was freaky. I watched them for a long time, and I'm the only one who saw them. Everybody else slept through it.
My father got another job, this time with a strip mining company in Morenci, Arizona. It was outside of Tucson somewhere. When I think back on it now, I know that the place we were living must have been some kind of toxic sewage paradise, but it seemed really cool to us back then. My sister and I always walked to this fenced-off area. The chain link surrounded what must have been a body of water, but we would always bring long sticks and poke them through the chain link and push at this layer of white, meringue-like goo that sat atop the water's surface. I found a lot of horned toads there and kept one in a shoe box. Every week or so, my father would bring us home a tarantula or a scorpion encased in a small block of resin. They would wander too close to the smokestack near the plant and die, and he would pick them up and cast them in the lab. We used them as paperweights.
I loved the Monkees then. I carried my Monkees album around with me all the time, and once I scraped it against something and part of Peter Tork's face got ripped off on the cover. I cried and cried until my mother put a Band-Aid on it and sent me back outside with the thing.
A lot of our neighbors and my schoolmates in first grade were Mexican, and I became friends with a girl that lived down the street. Until, that is, her father showed up at our house with a large gray sack. I opened it up and it was filled with dead doves that he'd hunted that day. I screamed and cried and lay on the floor until my father took it back and thanked them but told them we couldn't eat them. I quit speaking to the whole family, which is really stupid, because I eat meat all the time! I must have thought that those packages in the grocery store never came from an animal.
I got all A's on all my report cards and if you showed your report card to the manager at the grocery store, he would give you a big red shiny apple for every A. It was a thrilling time, holding all those apples. I think I reached my academic peak right there.
My father lost his job at Phelps-Dodge in Morenci, and I distinctly remember this as being the time that I became aware of the fact that my parents loathed each other. One morning my mother was following my dad around yowling about something or other, and he was walking around eating a bowl of Cheerios, and he finally turned around and turned the bowl upside down on her head. She cried and milk poured down all over her face.
My dad didn't have a job for a while, so we moved to his mother's house in Oregon, Missouri, so he could go on interviews and not have to worry about us. My grandmother lived on a soybean and pig farm, and she never let us go out to play unless we baked a cake first. And it was weird, because they were all gross cakes, like Jell-O cheesecakes and discount brand box mixes. Every time we opened the refrigerator, we had to take out all these cellophane covered cakes that we'd put on foil-wrapped cardboard. And then we'd have to throw them away.
My grandmother taught first grade at the elementary school and I was in first grade, so I was in her class. Almost every day she would talk to me about calling her "Grandma" instead of "Mrs. Lark."
My father finally got a job with Nalco chemicals in Park Forest, Illinois. We lived in a duplex that was just like every other duplex in the neighborhood and I attended second through fifth grade there. I really liked those Keane-kid posters that were popular back then, the ones where the kids look really waifish and have huge, sad eyes. My mother sent to the grocery store once, and I was standing on the corner, looking very sad and, in my mind, just like one of those beautiful Keane kids, and I had my eyes opened very wide, and a car pulled up and a teenaged boy said, "What the hell is your problem, kid?"
And so I realized that I wasn't pulling the look off correctly.
I also, like most young girls, loved horses. I had all the Marguerite Henry books. My best friend in fourth grade was German. Her name was Frauke (frau-key) and one day we got into a horrible argument on the way home from school and she told me, in her clipped accent, that I was a fake horse lover. That stung.
During these years, too, I discovered my gift for sales, my desire for cash, and a deep competitive urge. I got a paper route and won top sales a number of times. I would tramp around in the snow collecting for Unicef or selling Girl Scout cookies until my feet were numb, but I got to be UNICEF queen and wear a cardboard crown with fake fur, and I always sold a lot of cookies. I don't know whose idea this was, but one day when I was bored, my mother suggested that I buy a lot of candy in bulk and pop a lot of popcorn, and put it in individual plastic bags, and then put all this into my sister's toy baby buggy, and then go around the neighborhood and try to sell the stuff. I think now that either this was some form of child abuse, or just a case of the worst parental judgment ever, but I'll never forget how humiliated I felt walking around pushing that baby buggy.
I don't think my sister or I really cared where we lived all those years, but my mother really loved it in Park Forest. She was friends with a lot of the neighbors, and they were very liberal and mildly hippie-ish. My mother and father joined the Unitarian church, and my mother started making her own granola and yogurt and we went every Sunday to a food co-op. It was at one of these co-ops that I first noticed this very hippie looking woman who didn't shave under her arms and wore a see-through gauze peasant blouse. Her boobs hung down to her waist. By that point in my life, I was convinced that I was being spied on all the time, mostly through a camera in my showerhead, and I always dressed in the closet, so I was really freaked out by people who wore stuff like that. It was also about the same time that they were showing those "Tinkerbell Gets Her Period"-type of education films to the girls in school, and they were sending us home with pale pink pamphlets that I always threw away before I got home.
When I was in the fifth grade, they started bussing programs in the schools in the Chicago area, and the schools in Park Forest would have mostly black students brought in from a poor area called Beacon Hills in Chicago Heights. On my first day of school in Mrs. Scarth's class, our desks were arranged in a horseshoe and names were printed on construction paper on top of each desk. I sat down and waited for SHARON, on my left, to arrive.
She was beautiful. Light coffee-with-cream complection, her black hair pulled into two perfect puff-balls, and she was tall and wiry. I loved her immediately, and, just like a fifth grade girl, I was delighted to see her outfit: "Oh!" I said, "I have a shirt just like that! If you wear it tomorrow, we can be twins!" "OK," she said.
I ran home after school and looked for my shirt, but I couldn't find it. The next day, I said, "Oh! I have the exact same shoes as you! We'll wear them tomorrow, and we'll be twins!" "OK," she said.
It went on. Pants, blouses, sweaters. I came home every day, pawed through my dresser in frustration. My mother was cleaning the linen closet upstairs and said, "What are you looking for in there all the time?" "Oh, you know! That red checkered shirt with the cap sleeves and those brown shoes and that sweater with the rainbow, and..." "You never wore that stuff! I gave it to the Salvation Army!" "What?" I was angry. "Now me and Sharon can't be twins!"
A few questions later, my mother drove me to school the next day and looked in onæmy class and Sharon. It turned out that Sharon was wearing my clothes, the ones my mother gave to the Salvation Army. When I got home from school, my mother warned me to never say anything about being twins again, and to never, ever, ever, let Sharon know that those clothes belonged to me at one time.
In retrospect, I had to hand it to Sharon. She never blinked, and she never acted like her clothes hadn't always belonged to her and her alone.
Sharon became my best friend in fifth grade. She stole the guy I had a crush on, and she beat the crap out of me when I wouldn't give her the kickball. She lived in Chicago Heights and in the dead of winter, her house had no window glass in any of the frames. Her mother was pregnant, and she had fifteen brothers and sisters that didn't look anything like her. She was really tough, and she punched me in the head so hard one time I couldn't speak. And I loved her for it. Loved her for being black, excused her every move. I loved the Jackson 5, hated the Osmond Brothers. The Other was waaayy cooler than I could hope to be.
A walking case of white liberal guilt, and at such a young age. Tragic.
My dad got fired from Nalco and when he was unemployed, he sat at home and did nothing but watch the Watergate investigation and drink beer.
When he decided to go on interviews again, my sister and I went to his mother's house for the summer. I had just finished fifth grade, and before we left my mother took me shopping for a new bathing suit. I had been wearing my green and white Girl Scout one piece, but she insisted I had a "cute figure" and she talked me into this lilac bikini with white plastic rings attaching the front bra and the sides of the bottoms. My sister and I went to the public pool in the town of Oregon where my grandmother lived, and after swimming around a bit, I joined Lisa by the side of the pool and we lay on our backs on bath towels. This tall, cute guy walked up and stood over me. "Hey," he said. I smiled and shielded my eyes from the sun. He loomed over me, a dripping silhouette. "Hi!" I said. "Guess what?" "What?" I was sure he would ask me to play water volleyball or something. "Your bathing suit's see-through." I could feel myself shrinking, shriveling. I looked down. He was right. My bathing suit was see-through.
We moved to a town 40 miles west of Chicago called St. Charles, Illinois, when my father got a job as a research development chemist with Amoco Chemicals in Naperville. We bought a house with an above-ground pool and a finished wet bar in the basement. My mother hated it there. It was then, she says, that she really started getting "hefty". We ate a lot of Weight Watchers meals, even though she was the only one who was "hefty". I was tall and skinny and was starting the 6th grade. I looked older than the other kids and wore hip hugger bell bottoms and halter tops and big loopy earrings.
Boys at that age show their affection in weird ways. This kid named Steveæ kept stealing my Army hat. I finally pinned him to the ground, punched him, and let drool slip down on his face. That night, a big rock came through our basement window and landed in the fish tank and killed all the fish. At school the next day Steve said, "I know who threw that rock!" So I went home and told my parents and they sent the police to Steve's house and he started crying and admitted that he did it. So my parents made him mow our lawn for three months to pay it off. During this time, my mom found out how bad Steve's home life was. It turned out that his parents were really abusive, and my mom had become really fond of him. My mom looked into it and he ended up being my foster brother for six months. When he lived at our house, he moved into my sister's room and she took my room and I took a room in the basement. He ate a box of Twinkies every day, and he never once brushed his teeth. One night on New Year's Eve my parents went out somewhere and me and my sister and Steve drank a case of Old Style and three bottles of Heublein's Chocolate Mint Cow. When my parents came home after midnight, Steve and I were passed out on the couch and I was only wearing my bra and my jeans and sneakers, and so Steve Bray had to go back home which made us all sad and he cried and said he loved me.
By the time I got into 7th grade, it was obvious that my parents had bought a house on the wrong side of town, and none of the "nice" kids would hang out with me. I hung out with a trucker's daughter and started smoking cigarettes and pot and making out with high school dropouts and hanging out at the bar at the VFW until my bus driver told the bartender how old I really was. After that, I started going to the booths instead of the stools at the bar. I worked as a carhop at the "Dog N Suds" and did a lot of acid with my boyfriend.
By 9th grade, most of my friends were pregnant or had been sent to reform school or were so obviously screwed up I didn't want to be around them. I got a job at a pharmacy and a girl named Nan became my friend. Ah, Nan, as her name implied, was wholesomeness personified. She discovered that I had artistic talent and was smarter than I let on and presto, I was on the A team. But not, she let me know, before I stopped dressing like a "hill-rod". I guess that was something like a hillbilly. I got my mom to by me a couple pairs of those snappy polyester Bonnie Brooks pantsuits that were so popular in the 1970's (one in tan, and the other maroon), and I got a "cute" haircut. By senior year I was art editor of the yearbook and the newspaper and no one would have ever imagined that I'd once been a hill-rod.
At home, things were rotten. My mom got fatter and I hated her. Once in a while, we'd have fun as a family. My dad, who was always working or was out of town, would bring home carpet or fabric samples from the textile lab, and my sister and I would sit in the bathtub and pour urine or salad dressing or wine or ketchup on them, and my dad would see if the samples would resist stains. He was working on an industrial patent for a Scotchgard-like product. Other than that, though, things were hellish, but fun. I moved my room into the basement with the wet bar, and when my friends came over, I guess my mom could hear us talking. When they left, she would repeat their conversations at the dinner table, doing uncanny impressions of them. I felt like I was being watched. My mom also was very lonely, and she would do anything to be thought of as the "cool" mom, so I smoked in the house, had beer parties. Whenever she got mad at me, which was often, she would scream for hours about what a horrible, selfish little bitch I was, and she would repeat bits of conversations that I didn't know she'd heard, and whenever I would try to walk away from her, she'd follow me, always raising the emotional and aural pitch. After she'd reduced me to tears and apologies, she'd hold me and tell me how sorry she was, that she was the only one who loved me, and that my father didn't care anything about our family. He was never there. He didn't care about us one bit.
Then she would take me shopping and I could buy anything I wanted.
The pharmacyæwhere I worked, really became the cool place to work by the time I was a senior in high school. Everybody who was anybody with a part-time job was there, and I had been promoted to the back, where we did pharmacy refills, license registrations, and a whole lot of stuff that only the "smarties" could do. It was then that somebody noticed that the reputed mistress of the owner of the pharmacy, who ran theægift shopænext door, was stealing a lot of things. Logic followed that if she was ripping off the boss, why shouldn't the rest of us?
I've never been an instigator, mostly a follower. It took me a long time to get into the swing of things. In the meantime, two sweet-faced rich girls had started dealing speed out of the pharmacy.æThe homecoming queen was doling out merchandise from the cosmetics department where she worked faster than one could utter L'air du Temps. One day I came home with a bottle of shampoo and some cosmetics, and my mother knew that I didn't have any money. She asked if I would take a few things for her.
After a while, one of my friends said she wasn't going to steal there any more because of ethical reasons. I quit then, too. But it was probably just because I didn't want to do anything that my mother wanted to do.
All my parents did was fight. My mom got fat, she cried to me about how horrible my dad was, and how he didn't love any of us.
One rare afternoon, my father and I were home alone. He asked me to do something for him and I said I'd do it later. He got mad and said to do it now. Then the weirdest thing happened. I started screaming at him, and telling him to fuck himself and the whole thing spilled out into this tirade that was nothing more than what my mother always said about him. We were in the kitchen, near the stairs that went down to the basement, and he kept telling me that I'd better shut my mouth, and I just kept ranting and cursing and he slapped me and I slapped him back and he went to slap me again and I backed up and fell down the stairs but I kept screaming and he came down the stairs and grabbed me by the hair and stomped on my right foot with his cowboy boot and ground it in with his heel and he was crying and telling me to please shut up and then he walked up the stairs and I fell down in a heap but then I limped up the stairs and got to the kitchen and my dad was standing with his back to me, crying at the counter, and I picked up a cast iron skillet and threw it and he hit the ground.
He had a cracked rib and I had a broken bone in my foot, and we both started crying and we hugged each other and it was all so sick and I felt so bad because I really never hated him or felt any of those things I said, I just said them and I didn't know why.
In my senior year, after I'd gotten accepted to a state school in Illinois and decided to be an art major, my dad said he was buying a textile plant in South Carolina and starting his own company. He was tired of doing all this research for people and not getting to keep the money. We moved the morning after my high school graduation, in 1980, and we drove to Greenville, South Carolina. My dad had bought a huge house in a wooded country club community called Pebble Creek and he filled it with furniture that he'd gotten in some shady way he never really talked about. He bought a Cadillac. He started talking in a southern accent. I was sent to school at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, and my mother urged me to join a sorority. As usual, I walked around in this weird robot daze. Sorority? Why not. I pledged Chi Omega, because this bizarre, smarmy blondeæ told me that her sorority only wanted the prettiest girls. I'd never really thought of myself as that good looking, so I was flattered. My drinking, which had gotten bad in high school, became worse with all the alcohol-related mixers and socials and I got crappy grades and woke up all the time in weird places and in strange beds and I was an art major and I got a D in Basic Drawing.
In December of 1981 I had come home for Christmas Break and I was upstairs taking a bath. My dad walked in and put the toilet seat cover down and sat. I clutched at the shower curtain. A little privacy, please? He said he needed to talk, so I pulled the curtain shut and said, "OK, talk." It was like some weird, Macy's decorated confessional. He said he and my mother couldn't stand each other any more. He said that his business had gone down the tubes, and that he had to spend our trust funds to keep it afloat for a while, so I couldn't go back to school. He said he had fallen in love with a beautiful woman named Millie, who looked just like Veronica Hamel on Hill Street Blues. He didn't know what to do about my mother. He said I was the strong one in the family (God, where did he get that?), so I was going to have to take care of her, take her somewhere.
The morning after Christmas, my mother and I got into the car with our clothes, a set of pots and pans, and our two dogs, and we headed out for Tucson, Arizona. My mother's decision. She loved it there. I was born there. My sister stayed with my dad. Driving across the country, I drank beer and listened to her cry about how much of an asshole my dad was, how bad, in detail, the sex was, and how great this whole thing was that we were doing.
We were in Tucson for three months. Work was hard to get, so she worked in a Circle K convenience store, and I was a telephone solicitor at the Acme Carpet Cleaning Company, where I was tops in sales the entire time I was there. Our apartment didn't have much furniture, and my mother would lie on her mattress on the floor and cry all the time. In April we moved to Houston, Texas, where her sister was married to a NASA engineer.
Mom got a job at NASA and I worked as a waitress at Bennigans. We rented a cottage in a small harbor community called Clear Lake Shores, but I rarely stayed home. I went out every night after work and drank myself stupid. One morning after working there for a few months, I bought a case of beer and a bottle of rum and drove around and by the time I got to work, I fell flat on my face. After I was fired, it only got worse. My mother was "worried" about me, but I hated her so much it made me sick, so I took to staying out wherever I could. One night, some guy beat the crap out of me for I forget now what reason, and he slugged me in the head really hard, and I think it messed up my already faulty wiring, because after that, I started living under a bridge near Kemah or with whatever guy I could pick up who would let me stay with him. And then I got this notion that I was the Second Coming, that somehow the first one's failure had led the Great One to believe that only a woman could be the Messiah now. I preached to many a fisherman and homeless person. I was finally arrested and taken to the psych ward in Galveston. After releasing me twice with even weirder relapses, I went back to the hospital for a month. They figured out that I had bipolar disorder, and when they put me on lithium, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. When I was in a manic state I thought I was invincible, and I never bathed because I couldn't smell myself, and I never slept, but when they first put me on lithium, it knocked me out. I had a vivid dream that I was walking down the hall in the ward, that I could see myself in the glass as I approached the end, and that there was a large, lidded, rubber waste can there. I picked up the lid and looked inside, and there was a man's severed head in there (I know, it seems like I'm ripping off a Freudian case book here) and it turned into a lot of different faces of guys I'd slept with, but then it turned into my father's head and I knew that I'd murdered my dad.
When I awoke after two days I smelled myself and it was horrible. And I thought that I'd killed my dad, so I knew that I was going to be sent to the electric chair for murder and everybody who had thought that I was the messiah a couple of days before now knew just how horrible I was and I was convinced that the throngs outside were calling for my execution.
I was released immediately, even though I was just as delusional as before. I wasn't making a racket, and my mom picked me up. Lesson to any reader here: don't go ëround uninsured! After three months of freaking out in public and passing out in shopping malls, my mother finally convinced me that some Lee Harvey Oswald type was not going to step out of some corner and punish me for my crimes. I was spaced out for months before I adjusted to the medication, and I eventually quit taking it, but was doing okay, although I should have stayed on it.
After that my mom and I moved to an apartment in Clear Lake, Texas, and I worked as a checker in a grocery store and sat around and got stoned a lot. My sister came to live with us because my dad had left her by herself for three months in our old house in South Carolina and didn't pay the electric bill and he got remarried to Millie and acted like he'd æfound the Lord, and my sister was too much for him. She had changed. She used to be really quiet and geeky and could play all kinds of instruments. She used to jump on the bed and play the theme to "Clutch Cargo" on her flute at the same time. But now she was rebellious and surly and she hated me and my mom always didn't like her because even though she and I looked a lot alike, Lisa reminded my mother of my father's side of the family. There were a lot of arguments.
One night my sister and I went to the Prickly Pear Lounge at the Holiday Inn on NASA Road 1 and started doing tequila shots. She told me that she had thrown out all my old paintings and burned a lot of my clothes and we got into an argument, and then we got into a fist fight in the parking lot outside, and then a cop car pulled up and we both ran away. Then I got into my car to look for her, but I was really drunk and I got pulled over and arrested for drunk driving and had to spend the night in jail and my sister walked to the freeway and hitchhiked to New York. She lived on the streets and did a lot of drugs for a long time after that, and then she went into rehab in Missouri and lived with my father's mother. My mom put a Missing Persons out on her when we didn't know where she went, and for years after that, every nine months or so, the police would show up at my door thinking that they'd found my sister, but I would say, "No, sorry. It's not me you're looking for even though I fit the description."
I finally moved out from my mother and moved into Houston, which was a pain at first because she didn't want me to go and she wouldn't let me take any furniture. So I camped indoors in my apartment for months until I got a futon. My mother found a boyfriend who was ten years younger than her, and she moved in with him.
I had established residency in Houston, so I went back to school. I worked as a bartender at night and went to school during the day. I rode my bike to school and I got hit by cars a couple of times. I tried to major in Art, but they wanted me to re-take a bunch of classes, and the materials were so expensive, and I tried to get a scholarship, but my dad was still claiming me as a dependent on his income tax in South Carolina. So I majored in English. I checked the books out from the library and I liked to read, so it was okay. I took a course in creative writing and liked it, and one day I was talking to this guyæI was friends with, and he told me how great the graduate program for creative writing was in Houston. So I said, "Maybe I'll apply." And he said, "In your dreams," which pissed me off, so I sat down and wrote a bunch of stuff and sent it in and they accepted me.
Which was weird, because I'd never wanted to be a writer. But I liked being in the program. I became best friends with my thesis advisor, Mary Robison, and we would sit in her apartment and smoke cigarettes and drink wine and paint designs all over the desk and the computer and the TV and the coffee table with funky colors of nail polish. I wrote a novel that didn't get published.
I only had a couple more nervous breakdowns after that, but it was always gross because I didn't have insurance and I had to go to Ben Taub, which is a charity hospital. And the last time I was in there, I was lying on a gurney and this orderly kept trying to put his dick in my hand and I kept freaking out. I thought I'd imagined it later, until I saw that orderly again when I was picking up a prescription once, and he winked at me.
I only got arrested a few times for public intoxication, and I was forced to go to AA for awhile. One of my friends and I used to go to these meetings where the Rockets would have to go when they got suspended from the team for drug and alcohol.
My sister married this guy she met in rehab and had a baby and they moved to Kansas City. She was working in a Waffle House one day and some customer kept touching her butt, and she got pissed and stabbed him in the arm with a steak knife. After that, she was committed and the doctors decided she was schizophrenic and so she got disability from the state. They quit doing drugs a while back, and they're working the steps.
I met my husband in 1989, at a party for writers. He's not a writer, he's a philosophy professor and he was really drunk and wearing a goofy t-shirt and was telling all these writers that they were full of shit, and I thought, "Wow! A townie! Cool!" And we started making out and we knocked over a bunch of plants and I moved in with him two weeks later and I still didn't believe that he was a philosophy professor, because he looked like a surf bum.
We got married in 1992, and I was hospitalized for a week shortly afterwards, but it was the only time in my life that I was hospitalized for something other than mental illness. I almost died from pelvic inflammatory disease, and my husband's insurance didn't cover me yet, so I had to go to the charity hospital again, which was really gross because I had to be in the OBGyn ward, and this black lady across from me in the room had just had a C-section, and she would moan really loudly all the time, and one night her boyfriend? husband? sneaked in after visiting hours and I don't know exactly what they were doing in there, probably a blow job, but they were making all kinds of grody noises and I was lying there thinking that I was in hell. They told me I couldn't have kids after that, and I said, "Fine."
My worse nightmare was always that I'd have a daughter.
My husband is a stable guy and comes from a nice family, and now I get to go to the doctor whenever I need to and when I told him that I didn't want to be a writer, he said I should just go back to school for art, and I finished my MFA in painting in the spring of 2002.
This past summer I had a studio built in our back yard and it's pretty big and I'm getting used to it even though I can't imagine what I ever did to deserve such good fortune.
January 2003