Monday, October 25, 2010


The first time I was 1013'd - I  was madder than hell.  Now 1013 is when you're committed to a mental facility because you're  judged to be a danger to yourself or others.  Some years back, all of these emerging memories got the best of me and I became suicidal.  Fortunately for me, I decided to call  a friend and say goodbye.

I didn't say I was going to walk out into traffic or slit my wrists or even blow my brains out.  I just told my friend - FB- who lives in New York- goodbye.  I wasn't crying.  Just wanted to say goodbye.  Hell, for all he knew I could have been planning a cross country road trip..  But noooo - you would have thought I owed him money.

When I didn't answer his subsequent phone calls,  he placed a call to the New York City police, who called the police -in state of  Georgia -in the town that I live in- and all hell broke loose.  At that time,  I remember asking God to give me a sign that what I was about to do was okay with him. I also wanted his guarantee that I would not spend  an eternity roasting in hell.  Now God has a sense of humor.  It is my belief that while he doesn't always come when you call him -  he is always on time.   That's the Baptist in me.

I heard sirens....a lot of sirens.  For a minute I thought it was either the heavenly host or a terrorist attack.    The sirens got closer and closer, until they sounded like they were in the room with me. 
God was answering big time.  A knock came- so loud - at my door, that it scared the piss out of me. Really.  I wet the bed.

Talk about a slow news day.  Lord can you give me the Fantasy 5 numbers? Cause you gave me a sign big time.  I mean really big time.

When I got to door,  it was like they were giving out government cheese or these days - bailouts. There were firemen and EMTs, the police department, the sheriff's department, my neighbors - hell- I even think my bill collectors were there.    I was speechless.   But when everything got sorted out -  they  hauled me to the emergency room where they 1013'd  me and sent my monkey ass to a mental facility.

Yes, I was mad hell.  I was a U.S citizen.  I hadn't committed a crime against anyone.  Okay, well I wanted to commit a crime against myself.  But was that against the law?  Yeah... it is, and you get 72 hours to think about it.  I stayed two weeks .......Thank You God.  You were right on time.  Thank FB too.

You meet a lot of interesting people when you're in a mental hospital.  There was the lady that thought she could cast out demons and we were all possessed, so she was on a mission to cleanse our souls.  There was the girl who believed she was  the actress -Halle Berry and we were all extras in a movie she was shooting. There were people who had lost their jobs, lost the spouses, lost their savings and investments or who had just lost their way.  There were the old and the young.  There were no dividing lines of race or sex.  Mental illness is the great leveler. When you were  not in therapy or groups - you  would see just how fucked up life could be.

There was  the husband who told his wife to take an overdose of pills to save their marriage.  She didn't know he would use it as leverage to take her kids. 
This waste of flesh brought their children for a visit and served her with divorce papers.   I had to pray over that one.  Cause I would have put my foot so far up his ass he would have been tying his tongue and polishing his head. There was also black humor.  There was the woman, who told us about her father- a primitive baptist backwoods  preacher, who had shown her children porn - to acquaint them with sex .  She put a water moccasin in his bed.   According to her the snake bit him.   I never asked her where the snake bit him.   I'd like to think the snake bit him on his wrinkled old thing.  Serve his ass right.  I remember the girl who put Nair in her ex-boyfriends shampoo....he loved his hair....he'd given her herpes.   I told them of the time I found out I had been betrayed by the man I loved and how I had driven his beloved car off a boat dock into the flooded Ocmulgee River.
That car didn't surface until the spring.  It still had my keys in the ignition.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Streetcar Named Desire

" Whoever you are, I've always relied on the kindness of strangers".  Throughout my life, I have shared a connection with the tragic Blanche Dubois in this classic film.  Her character had no where to go.  She was trapped in a situation that she had no control over and was prey to the people surrounding her.  She spoke of deliberate cruelty and how it could never be forgiven. 

During my childhood I felt trapped by the very people who should have protected and nurtured me.  I wonder if the people whose job it was to protect me realized that they were deliberately cruel.  Each day of my childhood was to be endured or survived.  I never knew what it was like to have a real family.  I watched  a lot of "Leave it to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best" and I  would wonder if families like that only happen to white folks.

This was poor preparation  for me as an adult.  My examples of  real love  and trust were either from television or books.   As I grew into womanhood,  I would suffer mental and emotional cruelties from the men I shared my life with because I had no positive yardstick to compare their actions with.   The only thing I did know was this:  I would  put a man in an early grave, if he even "thought" about hitting me.  Madea, had nothing on me.  I carried around a gun from age 13 and I was never shy about shooting at someone.  The Lord must have had something better in mind for me, because I never hit anyone .   Of  maybe I was just a bad shot.    But you can best believe, when I got older "Nobody "  would fuck with me.  My anger had a life of its own.  It terrified me and didn't make those around me feel all that secure either.  Even now I find my anger a problem. I guess because as a child I couldn't my express anger so I kept it buried inside.  Some times it has a life of its own.

Okay back to growing up.

I didn't  know that mental and emotional cruelty inflicted just as much damage  as someone whopping your ass.  I am my mothers daughter.  She found escape in the bottle.  I sought my escape in my tattered version of what a family should be .  My description of true love came from fairy tales where everyone lived happily ever after. My favorite fairy tale is Cinderella.  Like her, I survived the evil sisters.  Where is my Prince Charming?  Where is my Happily Ever After?

I look back over my youth and weep over all the time I wasted  looking for my happily ever after.  The examples from childhood never prepared me with the knowledge that I deserved better.   I subconsciously choose men who were emotionally distant and unable to return love.  I think now, that no one can really make me feel secure or loved.  I am damaged goods.  And I wonder...will I ever escape my past.
I take the meds now and I get the therapy...but will I ever heal?  Will I ever break the bonds?  I am riding my own streetcar of desire.  I desire to be loved.  I desire to love.   I desire to forget my past and the dirtiness.  But it keeps coming back now.  I have kept it damned up and protected myself from it for so long.  But the memories are revealing themselves to me now.  I don't know if I can survive them.  I don't want to remember them.  I hope writing about them will lessen their power.

My friends... the few that I have let get close to me are a godsend.  But how much can I reveal to them?  Will they judge me?    I am so scared of letting people get close to me.  I've  put up so many roadblocks to friendships because I'm afraid of betrayal and hurt.  The same shield of protection that I've put up, isolates me.  I'm so anxious .  My past made me feel so little.   However, no one who  has ever met me would believe that.   I have always put up such a confident facade, I've been a chameleon all my life.
All of my life I have hidden behind the  masks.  Strong, sexy,  educated and secure.

Now when I look in the mirror I see that little girl wedged in the window.  Searching, afraid....and lonely.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Something in the Milk Ain't Clean

I am so surprised at how people use profanity these days  The first time I heard someone cussing on the radio, I thought I was being punk'd.  Don't get me wrong, I can sling a "bitch" with the best of them.

But profanity is used so much these days that it's loosing its impact.  When I was growing up the worse thing somebody could call you was a motherfucker or a son of bitch.  Those were fighting words.  You were talking about somebodies mama.  That was an automatic fight.  Hell, you "had" to fight, it was imperative that you protect your mothers honor.   I remember people saying: "a hit dog don't holler"- which meant someone had caught you in lie or "something in the milk ain't clean" which meant  the situation was suspicious or wrong..
It was a long time before I became able to protect my mother.  Back then I was trying to be invisible.  I needed someone to protect me.  That " something in the milk ain't clean" was what my childhood was like.

My mother was a troubled woman and the only way she could escape her life was to get falling down drunk.  During those times she forgot she had a child.  I can remember her leaving on a Friday night and shutting me up in our one room.  We lived in what was called a boarding house, one room  either connected to other ones in a big house or a single room in a shotgun house.
There were times I would be so afraid  she would never come back.  I would be in the room all day by myself and then night would come....and I would be in the dark by myself.  We didn't have electricity.  We had a kerosene lamp and a wood stove.  I would be so afraid.  It seemed as if the darkness was so thick, it took on a shape and personality. I would find it hard to breathe, my pulse  beating so hard in my ears that I knew whatever was in the dark with me in that room, could hear it and would come for me.

I 'd get so hungry that I would wedge myself in the window, always looking for her and hoping that when she got back  home she would be sober and I would get a hot meal.  Sometimes when she came back, she wouldn't  be alone.  She'd have company.  Some nameless man who she would take to her bed.  I remember being on the floor and hearing grunts and moans, smelling liquor and trying to be as invisible as possible.  I prayed the man would either leave or he would be the  first one to pass out and not her.  Sometimes they both would pass out and when she woke up, she'd be halfway sober and remember me and she'd make the man leave.  Other times, I wouldn't be as lucky and I would be on my own with a stranger.  These men didn't see a toddler .  They only saw another female body to be touched and fondled.  I wasn't  old enough to be in school, yet I was old enough to attract their attention. Something in the milk wasn't clean.

I knew about fucking  at an early age.   The adults in my life, never felt that they had to shield me from it.  Although I was exposed to the act at an early age, I was green as grass as I grew up. I did my best to block the memories out. No one  ever took the time to explain to me about the birds and bees, I was just threatened with what would happen to me if I opened my legs. These threats were not necessary because I equated sex with something nasty, smelly and feared.   I got my first  period when I was 10 and it nearly scared me to death. I thought I was dying. I had no one to hug  me or try to calm my fears. The white folks had taken me away from my mother by then.   I was just given some torn up some  rags and told to put them in my panties.  The milk wasn't clean.

There were times when I was wedged in that window, that the liquor lady, Ms. Alberta or her husband Mr. Nap, would come out of their house, at the top of the hill and call me and tell me to come up there and eat.  My mother got most of her liquor from their shot house.  I learned how to pour a fifty cent shot before I was in first grade.  If one of them told me to come out of the house, it was okay.  I wouldn't get punished and I would get fed.  She was the woman that I remembered hanging out the clothes with my momma .  My first memory.  During those time I thought she and Mr. Nap were my saviors.  How could I know that these two people would put scars on my psyche that would be with me for the rest of my life. Both of them  would make my mother seem like Glenda the Good Witch.  There would come a time in future....when it was too late...that my mother would try to protect me from them.  Too little, too late.

My mother wasn't intentionally cruel.  She was just an alcoholic who drank to forget and when she forgot, she forgot everything...even her child.  Nothing went on during her watch, when she was sober.  But she would always drink and she would  always forget about me.  Once,  when she couldn't afford her moonshine.  She became so desperate, that she mixed sugar with rubbing alcohol and drank it.  She got so sick.  And she stayed sick for a long time.  But I was happy.  At that age it never crossed my mind that she could die.  All I knew was she wasn't drunk and I was safe.  The milk would be clean for awhile.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I have always wanted to tell my story.  Yet, I've never wanted to revisit the past.  I have grown old, trying to live in the moment because the past was too painful.  I told myself that everyone had a sad story to tell and that mine was no different.  Look at the talk shows, Maury, Oprah and the rest.  People will get on television and air not only their dirty laundry but tell things they hadn't even told the Lord.  People put it on t.v., they sing about it on the radio, even write books about it.  Everyone wants to play the victim.  Look at what my momma did or my daddy never loved me enough, so this explains why I fuck everything that has a pulse or this is why I killed my neighbor or tortured the dog.   Not me.  I have always believed that life is a about choices.  You choose to be a victim of your circumstances or a survivor.  All of my life I have considered myself a survivor.  But now.....I wonder.  Have I survived or just existed?

 I am Catherine's daughter.  Catherine with a C ...not a K.  My mother never went to school, she was from the rural south....a little  hiccup of a town called Sandersville.  She couldn't read or write, but she could spell her name and print it.  It made her different from the other people around her. They signed an X for their signature.    She always spelled her name for people and made sure that they knew it started with a C.   Her mother died in childbirth trying to bring a third child  into the world.   My grandmother left two little girls in the world to be raised by her older  sister .  My mother and her younger sister...Snook. But if you're looking for a Waltons story.   You won't find it here.  You will find  only bitterness, jealousy and what it means to never forgive.

See, one day, my mother caught her  younger sister in bed with her husband.  And they weren't reading the bible.   At the time she and her sister were both teenagers.  I never knew what exact  age they were when this happened.  All I do know, is that  my momma told me this story from the time I was old enough to understand what she was talking about.  She told me that story so that I could understand what hate was.  And she truly hated her younger sister Snook for this betrayal.  Never forgave her, never spoke to her again.  

I guess,  when you live across the railroad tracks and down the road from a saw mill in community called Frogtown,  marrying young and screwing younger, was just a fact of life. I remember visiting Sandersville when I was about four years old, they didn't have indoor plumbing, we used an outhouse.  That's the second thing I remember about my childhood.
Well, anyway, my mom  told me, she "tried to kill that bitch " .  I never knew her husbands name or what she did to him.  She was so busy trying to beat the shit out of her sister that he got lost in the story.  The story would always end with her telling me she left Sandersville and how she hated her sister and that she would never, I mean EVER,  speak to her again in life.  My mother died in her early 50's and she never  spoke to her sister again.  My mother went to her grave hating the only sister she ever had.  She would tell me:  "never trust a woman", be friends with men, never let a bitch get close to you.

 For a long time....I never did

And when I did, it was only one at a time.  For a long long time, I never knew what it was like to enjoy the friendship of another woman.  The laughter, the shared pleasure of just being female... of being women.  Of trusting someone with your secrets and sharing theirs.  I surrounded myself with males.  Not as equals or sexual partners.  I sought them out, learned their stories and when they finally realized that they would never become my lovers,  I learned their secrets.   You would think that this would have given me some sort of advantage.  That I would be smart and use this new found knowledge. 

But no, I was Catherine's daughter.  My choices, though few, were bad.  They were painful.  They devastated.  I always thought:  this is the one...he will love me....he will protect me.  I am a grandmother now and I have only loved two men in my entire lifetime.  Only two.  With both, I stayed too long at the table.  I should have gotten up  when I realized that love was not being served.  I know what it's like to fall in love at first sight.  Yes folks, it is possible.  It did happen.  And I know what it's like to trust someone so much that when you find out that they have betrayed you,  it actually stops your heart.  To feel your heart stutter in your chest and to pray:  GOD, please, take me now.  Please GOD, I can never survive this.  To feel like your heart will always feel that pain.  That even if love comes'll never let yourself revel in the ecstasy of "your man".  That Thank- You GOD feeling, that Jesus this is my soul-mate feeling.  When I was little I  remember  men beating the holy hell out of my momma, of her screams, the sound of fists striking flesh.  I remember my screams being as loud as hers. Of my wanting to be big so I could make them stop hurting her.  I vowed I would never let a man beat me.  I swore to Jesus that I would put a man in his grave if he even "looked " like he wanted to hit me.  No one ever did. Not physically.  But let me tell you.  I got my ass tore up emotionally.  I took so much mental abuse, an ass whooping would have been a blessing.  I didn't realize it then. 

My mother.  Catherine with a C.  She was, in my eyes  a remarkable person. A hard drinker, a harder worker, tragic, violent.  I remember her hour glass figure in a skirt and blouse, smelling so clean ....Monday through Friday...drunk by Friday night and feared throughout the weekend .  Don't get me wrong, by today's standards my mom was a saint.  She was not intentionally abusive..she just drank until she was falling down drunk and she took out her rage on the nearest person.  Usually that person was me.  But come Sunday...she sobered up and I was safe  I'm listening to Atlantic Star...Send For Me...
tonight , with the feel of  Fall in the air.  If I am going to write this...I can't bullshit me.  I've never felt safe, I've never felt secure.  I am 55 years old and until I had a nervous breakdown ...6 years ago....I couldn't remember anything about my childhood.  From infancy to age 10 was in the Twilight Zone.  The only thing I could really remember was...2 women women....hanging laundry on the line and it was sunny and they were laughing .  I see myself playing in their shadow.  I'm small and they are hanging sheets but they are looking around to make sure I'm there.. that I'm safe.  One of the women is Catherine...and I'm her daughter.