Learning To Love You More




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

Grace Marks
New Mexico, USA
Email Grace



I was born in 1973. My parents lived in a log cabin in Colorado somewhere. We hitchiked all over the place and ended up in LA because my mom's dad was rich and owned a chain of diner's called Biff's. We got to eat for free and go sailing and ride in my grandpa's classic cars. We moved to Venice Beach and soon I had a brother. I was 3 and 4 when we lived there. I saw Starsky and Hutch being filmed from our balcony. I walked away from home one day down the street and tried to open a bank account. I went home when I realized I couldn't do it for some reason.
Then we moved to Santa Cruz and lived in an old pick-up truck that my dad built a wood shingled shack on top of. It was great, with stained-glass windows, bunk beds and a wood stove. We ate free from the Safeway dumpsters.
My parents split up because my dad was too much of a push-over. Or at least that's what they tell me. He's good at almost everything, but he never charges enough for his work. I guess he tiled the floors in Paul Newman's house in Santa Monica and didn't charge enough, so she dumped him and moved to Florida with my little brother. My dad's dad Julius drove from Wisconsin to pick me up and I went to live with my grandparents. On the trip, I decided I would only eat red food or food with red involved somehow, so me and Julius ate cherries, big red gum, and lots of grilled cheese sandwiches and french fries - with ketchup. He had a c.b radio and we rode in convoy's with lots of truckers. My handle was Big-red and I had a different hat I would put on for almost every trucker when we passed.
Life was good for a 4 year old. Exciting. But there were 3 things that sucked about this situation.
1. I missed my mom and especially my little brother
2. My dad had a good job as a brick-mason in Milwaukee, so I barely ever got to see him because we were in Madison.
3. My grandparents had this crazy idea that I was a little girl.

I guess my mom tried to tell me a few times, but I refused to believe it. It was a lie. How could I be a little girl? They were totally different than me. They hated everything I liked. They wore stupid clothes....My grandparents tried to make me wear those clothes - things called dresses and skirts and what the hell! I ripped them off, I locked myself in the bathroom and chopped off all my hair, which wasn't even that long to begin with, haha. I refused to wear anything except a spiderman costume for almost a complete year. In the beginning, when they were still trying to force me to wear girl clothes , I would piss myself at pre-school so I could wear the "back-up pants". I was on fire. They finally gave in.
I missed my dad alot. I thought the gold statue of a woman on top of the capitol building in Madison was my dad. I must have been insane. I stayed with him for the summer in Milwaukee in this giant 3 story old mansion in the middle of a ghetto. It took up an entire block and had fruit trees and shit. His friend who owned the house threw these giant crazy bohemian/biker parties and there would be fights and drugs and crazy shit happening all the time. In the day we flew kites on the roof and they would always get tangled up in the trees that surrounded the house. I always wonder if that house is still there, creepy, haunted by kite trees?
We went to see my mom and brother in Miami when I was 5-ish. We met at the football stadium (the orange bowl?). I saw my brother from across the stadium and we ran at each other full speed until we collided like those two kids in "The God's must be Crazy". We were at the football stadium because my parents followed a guru from India called "Guru Maharaji" and he was preparing to shoot colored water from high powered water jet cannons onto his followers in emmulation of a festival in India called "Holi". It makes everyone all tie-tyed in the end. My mom still follows the Guru. The Guru pisses me off. You'll hear more about him in my high school section. Or maybe not, who knows.
The next couple of years are sort of vague. I remember burying mexican jumping beans in the sand box at kindergarten and not being able to find them later. I think they're still jumping their little asses off down there. I remember kssing a 5 year old girl at the movie theater during a class trip to see the Jungle Book - actually we made out, wierd? My dad got my brother because my mom couldn't have him. She was really young, 17 when she had me, and she needed to do some more young stuff I guess. I don't blame her at all. She was a reggae groupie. She met Bob Marley, haha. She was a rollerskating waitress. She was cool, back when reggae was cool I guess, (because I despise most reggae now). We idolized her from far away when dad moved us to Denver.
So....Denver. We were being raised by a single dad. A poor guy who had to work a lot just to feed us, so we were almost always unsupervised after I got into first grade. We walked to school alone, we rode bikes after school everywhere until dark, we shoplifted candy like it was an addiction and we started a gang, a little our-gang. It was FUN! I think all that independence helped us both learn how to make the right decisions and ultimately we both stayed out of trouble - or maybe we just learned how not to get caught.
My dad met a lady and we moved to rural New Mexico and lived on a sort of farm. We lived in this house for free and my dad spent the next 5 years building a 2 story house across the road for the owners from scratch by himself. My dad's lady was crazy, and her daughter was a crazy teenager who was almost suicidal.
I had a crush on the daughter. Things were hard, we were in the middle of nowhere. We had a 20 mile trip to school. We got snowed-in a lot. We were bored out of our minds a lot with no t.v, no phone, nothing modern. We got really creative. We got kidnapped. Whoa, back up. Let me explain.
So, my mom wanted us to meet her in California. By this time, I'm like 8 or 9 years old. My dad said o.k and we flew out there for the rendevouz. It was awesome. We got to hang out with all the fun relatives, they spoiled the crap out of us. We ate like kings (back in New Mexico, we were macrobiotic, the most boring diet for a kid on earth, so the candy days of Denver were just a faded memory by then). We saw movies, played video games, went to the ocean. Damn, so fun.
The shit hit the fan when they decided to keep us. We just didn't go back and my mom decided not to tell my dad. I'm not sure how long we over-stayed the trip but one day, while rollerskating down the sidewalk at some park, a sweaty, stinky hippy grabbed me and my brother under his arms and left our cousin standing there in his rollerskates, cryin'. The sweaty guy threw us into his VW van and took off. By then, I knew it was our dad, but holy crap it was scary for a few seconds. He took us back to NM and after awhile, we forgot all about our little dream vacation. It was back to hard work and our crappy school where everyone hated us because they thought we were rich Texans. We had 3 goats, a shitload of chickens, cats, dogs, wild horses, even a handicapped kitten who was paralyzed from the waist down. So, it wasn't that bad, and we even realized that we actually missed it.
And then one day, a few months after we got back from California, we went to school and didn't come home for a year and a half.
How dramatic. My mom, my uncle and his wild-haired friend showed up before school that morning and snatched us both up, rollerskates and all. It's uncanny how we were wearing rollerskates both times don't you think? The principal was standing right there too and there was nothing she could do. They threw us in the car and sped off to Albuquerque, 120 miles away. We stopped at a motel and put on disguises if you can believe that. We made it onto the plane too which is even harder to believe. I mean, at that point, no one knew it was our mom who took us yet. It could have been aliens for all they knew.
So, the next year was dramatic to say the least. Moving all the time to avoid the fuzz, spy shit(my grandpa broke into all the relatives houses and bugged them), they hired a private detective, we were almost on a milk carton, we were enrolled in Catholic school even though we were totally not religious. For awhile, a pretty long while, when the relatives who were helping our mom hide us weren't able to come and bring supplies and money, we went hungry, surviving on sardines, anchovies, Neer-beer, old coffee, and once, even a giant gingerbread house that wasn't really supposed to be eaten. Still, I can say it was insanely fun for my brother and I. My dad finally found us January 4th 1984 or was it '83, shit I don't remember. Mom went to jail for a little while, dad got custody of us, and we went back to New Mexico for a few years until we moved to Wisconsin.
The only exciting things that happened in Wisconsin were:
1: We lived in a Cambodian ghetto in Madison and my brother, our three only friends and I were up against a huge gang of Cambodian kids who were led by a girl named Angie who was this insane bully. She was one of those kids that "has a black belt". You know what I'm sayin'? She had like a hundred kids on her side and my brother and our friends had to walk through the projects to get to the bus. I got to school some other way I don't remember, but I was 2 years older anyway. Every day, they would come home all beat up, having their faces shoved into the snow by Angie or one of her cohorts. We equated Angie to the GI. Joe character "Scarlett" - a real bitch of a cartoon character.
This went on for a little while, until spring, when my brother and I hatched a plan that would go down in the books as smarter than anything Encyclopedia Brown could ever come up with. We had a lot of shit; Toys, old bikes, clothes, action figures, tons of crap we were too old for or just didn't really need - our plan was to try and bribe the Cambodians.
There was a kid who was really pretty nice when Angie wasn't around, so we went over to the projects and got his attention. We told him what we had and he came over with a bunch of other kids. At first they were suspicious, but soon, all our stuff was gone and by the next day, they were all hanging out with us. It was totally dirty, but it worked. Angie was outcast. It even got to the point where she was so forlorn and pitiful that one of the guys, this kid Josh, felt sorry for her and pretty soon, they were making out. It was awesome.
2. After all that, we moved again. From the time I was born until I finished high school, I count somewhere in the high 30's of times I moved. I went to 12 diferent schools. Maybe that's why I'm such a drifter now and why I want a home where all my people are in one place so bad. They're all spread out. I'm so envious of people who have a family who lives in the same place and sees each other all the time.
We moved to a suburb of Madison. Everyone was white. Everyone was concerned with fashion. They all wore Guess jeans and turtleneck sweaters and had lots of swatch watches. I was a skate punk who wasn't into any of that shit. My only friends at school were: the fat girl (who was also the only black person) and the 2 other skate punks besides me. I instantly made friends with high school kids who were also skate punks. We had 1/2 pipes in the woods and slam dance parties. We skated up and down State st. on the weekends and shoplifted. I got into trouble a lot, but it was all pretty harmless and I never got caught. I shaved my head and all the other kids at school were afraid of me. They thought I was Brittish for some reason and I loved it. My grades were terrible, so my dad thought it was time for me to go live with my mom in California.....What? Yeah, it was only 3 years since all that crap happened and he gave up. 1986, I was 13 and I finally got to go live with my mom without having to worry about the fuzz. It was perfect - except my brother had to stay.
I was happy anyway. I got to live in California. I was still a skate punk pretty much, but I got into waterpolo and soccer and (cough, cough) the high school marching band (cough). I ended up being a drummer and quitting all the sports except skating which I did every day in high school. The only exceptional thing about high school was being the captain of the drumline. I was pretty good. I like being good at things. My brother came to live with us during my junior year, and everything was great. We were poor of course, our mom on foodstamps, but we had so much fun anyway. I never officially graduated high school. I earned it, but some trouble I got in near the end made it nearly impossible to get my diploma. Whatever. I went to the Community college anyway and took a shitload of art classes, mostly photography. I got all into it. I convinced my two best friends one day to drop out of college with me and go to Alaska to become fishermen. We did it. We went up there and didn't get jobs as fishermen - we ended up trapped on this island working in fish canneries, which is a real crappy job. But while we were there(1993), beside having the wierdest, coolest adventure, we met two 17 year old kids from Connecticut who have been two of my best friends since. One of them was my girlfriend for 5 years. She was amazing and I guess she still is. We all drove across Canada and America to the East Coast to rob a safe in New Haven. The plan didn't work, but it was close. I lived in New York for about 3 months until I drove back to California with some girl.
I hitchiked all over the place the next couple of years. I got a dog by accident and he's been with me for 9 years. He's no ordinary dog. He's been in 2 magazines (accidentally) and has been the subject of some very good art (not like cheesy animal art). He's been to jail 3 times and stolen twice. He's also been attacked by 2 pitbulls, a pack of coyotes and a racoon or a badger. He goes to work with me. I don't get a job unless he can come at least some of the time. It's wierd how much that dog has changed my life. Anyway, I love him.
So, I met a group of really cool people and ended up in a band that got swept up by a record label and toured Japan and the UK. It lasted about 5 years and was an incredible experience I guess. I got to meet lots of famous people and play music in front of tons of people and travel and I even made a little money (not a lot, haha, good thing I wasn't expecting any). We toured with this great band called Stereolab a little which was an honor. I love making music and playing live. My basic goal is to make movies with my own music. I make art all the time. My band just broke up. It was the best band I've ever been in by far, and I'm a little depressed about it. We were a robot band. Ah well. Right now, I'm a tow truck driver who does ink drawings, haiku, watercolors and records music in my spare time. Who knows though? Tomorrow I might be a doctor who plays with model cars and goes on vacation to the tropics and reads porn on the toilet for all I know. Probably not. Anyway, that's about it.
Oh - i've had about 20 girlfriends so far. I guess it's not that much considering I'm 31, but the quality of those relationships has been pretty much good. I've had a ton of jobs, all very different. I think my life has been pretty exciting so far. I still have 6 hours left to write this, but I don't want to make it too long. Plus my fingers hurt.
The End?