"Since flesh can't stay, we keep the breath aloft. Since flesh can't stay, we pass the words along." --Erica Jong

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Poor Donald Duck

At ten. Embarrassed by my crooked teeth, afraid to smile. But not yet old enough for this to be a great hinderance to my self-image. I still like to play with dolls, and paper dolls, and read books, although my best girlfriends are beginning to like boys. My animals have become my best friends, my dogs and cats and birds. I am traumatized when some adult decides to shoot and kill all the cats and kittens that live in the bamboo field. My friend Carlita's dad decides to murder her pet duck, Donald, right before our eyes, the bastard. And I have to get braces on my teeth (which I will wear for the next three years). My big brother is away at college most of the time, and I spend a lot of time alone, drawing, trying to read Shakespeare--some sonnets, The Rape of Lucrecia, Hamlet. I have to look up the word rape in the dictionary, and I am intrigued by the concept. The picture of fair, mad Ophelia floating down the river, trailing daisies and singing mad songs stays with me yet. And my own grandmother, my dad's mother, whose name was Josie, and whose photograph at the age of twelve--about my age--was hung on a bedroom wall and used to whisper sibilant riddles to me, her paper lips moving mysteriously, scaring me. My best friend, my dog Lucky, was run over by a car while I was at school, and my dad buried him somewhere out on the desert. I searched tirelessly for his grave (as I had for my brother's dog, Sparky).

The family was still all together. Bacopickle and John lived next door. Uncle Ray and Aunt Louise, my mother's brother and his wife, and their three children lived close by. My cousin Wanda, who we called 'Ginger,' made me costumes out of old bedsheets and curtains. We practiced backbends and frontovers and cartwheels every evening in the front yard. We played hide n' seek until it was too dark to see. We ran until we were salty with sweat. My brother Gaylen, the year before he went away to school at BYU, and our cousin Billy, made gasoline engine model airplanes and flew them in circles out on the desert. My brother had an absolute passion for airplanes, and flying. He wanted to be an aeronautical engineer. Model airplanes were suspended on wires and strings from ceilings all over our house. Billy's nose always told him when Mama or Bacopickle were baking bread, and he was always the first one in line for the first hot-out-of-the-oven slice with butter. (Billy survived Korea, and was killed in a car wreck outside Las Vegas a few months after his discharge. Gaylen went on to the university and majored in music, becoming a composer and a professional musician--but he still loved flying.) Dad's sister Lauree and her family lived nearby and we ate Sunday dinners together after church, either at their house or at ours. Mama's sister (also Josie) and her two beautiful daughters, Donna, and Deana Rae, were just a house away. I loved them all immensely. Still do. The Family.

I still danced with Miss Dee. I had my first role in a Christmas play at school, as the 'Christmas Fairy,' with tinsel sparkling on my fairy wings and costume (made from an old silk petticoat of my mother's -- another great embarrasment to me. I cried, and complained, and carried on over that one for days!) and a sparkling magic wand. I don't remember much about the play, but my role was to help Santa by bringing in animals. My lines were: "Come birds, come! I need you!" and "Come bees, come! I need you!" Well, it wasn't Shakespeare. But, who knew? And actually, it wasn't really the first. The Christmas before, I had a line as one of the Crachit children when we did Dickens A Christmas Carol. "I hear the pudding singing in the basin!" That was it. Our onstage Christmas feast was Spam, hidden behind a paper mache turkey, and red Jell-o.


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About Me

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1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.