Lesson 1:

The assignment was to listen to a song that brings back memories, then to write for 10 minutes about that/those memories. I chose to write about a time just before I became a Christian and lived a pretty unsavory lifestyle to my taste now.

Song: Days n’ Days “F**k It”

There was a freedom in those early days. There was a lack of care and responsibility. Driving around carelessly, the biggest and most important goal of the day was drinking more and passing the time. Finding something entertaining to do. It was freedom on the outside, living rebelliously because we were there “other”. We were embracing our “otherness”. It was an acceptance that we were powerless to anything larger than our own ability to sedate ourselves. It was a putting up of hands and saying “F**k it” and learning how to be free. There was not much to do, so we spent hours chain smoking and dreaming up a future that would never come. It was the best and worst of times, ignorant to anything that didn’t affect me or what I cared about. I was self indulgent and selfish. There was a freedom in the grit and there was type of sick virtue to it all. We had embraced our lower-middle class stature. We were born into this without a choice, why not make the choice to feel good? We couldn’t control much, but what we could control we did. We didn’t have an urge to preserve ourselves, because, after all, what was the point? We had each other and that was all we needed. We passed the time with nicotine stained hands and alcohol induced arguments about nothing. Chasing passions that meant nothing but self glorification. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. We loved and hated ourselves because we knew the strange comfort of not being enough. We died to the idea of more. God was an idea we couldn’t relate to. God was in everything, but we searched for him at the bottom of bottles. It was the best of times, it was the worst of time. Our demons danced the nights away with us and we fed them the best food and drinks we could buy them.

It was long days full of caffeine and adrenaline and late nights full of gin, tonic and cigarettes. We couldn’t do much more than that. We were destructive and wanted to tear down society and dismantle it’s sickness, thinking we could do that with calloused elbows on a bar stool. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

10 possible ideas to write about:

-My spiritual journey
-my mother
-Florida
-Moving as a child
-Pancake
-DC
-Prison Letters
-Muriel
-Church of Christ
-Urban edible landscapes

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One Response to Lesson 1:

  1. My mother chose to raise me after I was born to another. I am not sure it was the right choice for her as she came from a family of anger, distance and a myriad of dysfunctional behaviors. I didn’t learn of my adoption until I was 51 years old when I needed my birth certificate to apply for a passport. She said she would send me a copy. A few days later she called to tell me she had mailed me a packet of information, “I sent you a newspaper article about one of my favorite Minnesota Twins players, your birth certificate ‘You’re adopted you know,’ and a recipe for a fish boil.” I learned the specifics of my birth sandwiched in between a sports figure and a method for preparing fish!
    It was clear that my adoptive mother felt passionate about keeping this secret from me. I chose to honor her wishes and never spoke of it again while she was alive.
    While my mom was difficult, she expressed her love as best she could. She was married to a raging alcoholic who kept her in fear all the time. When my father would come home from a night of drinking, he would always want me near him so she would make me sleep on the floor next to his bed so when he called out for me in his drunken stupor, I was there to calm him.
    I always fantasized about my birth parents. I wondered if they were good people, did they regret putting me up for adoption?
    In her final years, I had to confine my mother to a nursing home because of advanced dementia and, ultimately, cancer. She became so abusive to me, making it clear that her role as my mother was one she had never wanted.
    After her death, I needed to find answers. I knew of one person who could fill in the holes of my life that were so empty to me. I called her, and she did confirm the circumstances surrounding my adoption.
    She provided me with my actual adoption papers stating the names of my birth parents and, to my surprise and disappointment, learned that I was born to a woman who I always knew as my cousin. Mine was an intrafamily adoption, my mother offering to take me from her unwed niece as her own.
    I know these people! I used to babysit their son and twin daughters!
    Wait a minute. These are my twin sisters and my brother!
    My birth father was a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, serving on the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC. My birth mother was a meticulously dressed woman who never left her home without full makeup, well-coiffed and nails done. Staunch Catholics, they had a Mass at their wedding, my birth mother beautiful in her white satin wedding gown and lace veil.
    Here I am surviving a childhood of fear, exposure to the violence of alcoholism, lack of demonstrable love from both parents and feeling that, if I was going to be anything or have anything, I was going to make it happen on my own.
    And I did.

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