Saturday, October 31, 2009

Isn't Family A Wonderful Thing?

Not my actual family. But pretty close.

My mother's oldest child somehow got the impression he's an only child. He's a prickly curmudgeon with an undercurrent of contempt and disdain for the rest of us. A 62 year old little boy who drinks, smokes, rides his fancy Harley Davidson around with an aging boomer crowd of contractors and other middle class creeps up in the Fox Valley.
There's something in the water up there that makes people homophobic-Jesus loving-John Birch Society-Racists. Not all of them, but a lot of them. He's soaked in it, a republican thug who sneers like Dick Cheney, sputters out buzz words like "Chappaquiddick" or "Nancy Pelosi Liberal Values" like they mean something. When the subject of how fucked up Iraq is comes up,, he sputters out "Saddam was a Bad Man!" like it's supposed to justify mass murder and destruction.

He's a thug. He's been one his whole life. And for the last 40 years, on some level, I craved a connection with him, mostly because I grew up with the mistaken concept that blood family means something. It does for my Mother. She's got an amazing connection to her siblings to this day. They see each other all the time, laugh, have dinner, hang out all the time. It's what I saw growing up and thought was the norm.
But it's not the norm. And it's taken me years to realize that I will never be connected to my brother. Mom used to tell me to stop in and see him on the way to see her further north. When I did, he'd spit coffee on my shoes, insult me and I wrote it off to the family penchant for being smart asses. I remember when I was in my late teens, something I said pissed him off and he wound up slamming me against a wall. I should have known then there was something broken in him. But you're supposed to love your family and forgive, I was told.

But today I decided to stop that cycle of bullshit, to stop being a part of it, although I suspect Mom will be very hurt that I didn't go to my sister's 60th birthday party. I told them I was sick. And I did feel sick. Not just the tail end of this flu bug I've had, though. Sick to my stomach that I felt like one more thing out of big brother's mouth and I'd smash him in the head and kick him off the 19th story balcony at my sister's condo.
Our family would never admit it, but we have a lot of rage and anger and a history of violence. I suspect we're not uncommon, but denying the existence of a violent streak is a truly human habit. My long dead father got in a fistfight with my Uncle Richard who I never met before I was born and they didn't talk again for another 40 or so years.
My dad was a screamer and a laughter and lived large, mixing intensity with a sense of humor. But my eldest sibling somehow lost a lot of the old man's laughing side. Or maybe he's not a thoughtless and subtle homophobic creep, and among his pals and the "normal" folks he's a charming sweet guy.
Yeah, right. Never mind.
I have noticed that Sweetie and I do push a lot of buttons in folks with our brand of queer, although making other people comfortable by not being yourself is a way to madness, illness and an early death.
But I feel like there are some lakes of shit you have to stop swimming in if you want to be happy, or at least want to overcome feeling the family rage and anger.
It's never easy walking away from family, but it's harder to cling to the idea that after a lifetime of having coffee spit on your shoes, being dismissed for being weird, and just being around the angry spite filled bozo radiation that comes from old white baby boomer guys that anything is going to change.
I will never understand why my dead cousin, my dead uncles and my brother are so mad. They got it all, power, money, control over their lives and the right to marry who they want, and to not be given the beat down for being queer or of color. In a lot of ways, they own the world, but still they hate, spit on and hold nothing but anger and disgust for folks not like them. Why so often I feel like they just wait to pick a fight with somebody, often me.
And guess what, fucking Thanksgiving is just three weeks down the road!
I get to go to my nephew's house and guess who's going to be there?
Big Brother!
I am for sure leaving axe handles and my very large pistol at home. And I'm sort of glad that my nephew only has a two story house without a balcony, because I doubt I'll be full of warm fuzzy feelings. For Mom's sake I'll try and be civil. But I still carry around the same family anger issues. And I will fucking stomp any more bullshit like a roach, or leave.
Holidays are such piles of expectation, but with family they're more often steaming piles of shit.
Sometimes so much shit the happier family members feel compelled to dig through the pile to find the pony.
Good times ahead!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Late October

There's something about a grey late October day filled with rain and mud that really tweaks my moods. The way the daylight shrinks, that blizzard of leaves and the rustling wind blowing the last skeletons of my garden around, the sound of the tarp covering our nightmare motor home project flapping in the wind, (and I swear, I can hear that pile of shit yearning to start rotting again where I've repaired it...) all of it brings up a sense of bleak frustration and a low grade numbing of the soul.

It starts to remind me of my seven winters in Seattle cleaning toilets and watching mold grow on everything, pampering the egos of rich old ladies and cleaning toilets for lawyers and Microsoft geeks. Feeling like my brain was about to jump out of my skull and start scampering around the walls leaving streaks of blood and grey matter.
Living in a city still sometimes feels weird. Growing up in the north woods with a caretaker family meant that fall was a time of closing down the summer camp, tending to the herd of horses we kept of trail rides, stacking wood and the yearly ritual of butchering deer and all the bustling of deer hunters, taking out the piers and propping the roofs up to keep the snow from caving in the old buildings like the chapel and dining hall.
These days, living in Madison, getting ready for winter just means putting plastic over the windows and buying a few tubes of salt. No rituals, no hard outdoor work besides raking leaves, nothing to make you feel connected to the place you live.

I miss those fall rituals, although in all the years I went hunting with the family, I never put bullets in the Winchester after I had one misfire while unloading it. I realized that I had no interest in actually killing a deer, just in being outdoors and connected.
The world's changed a lot since my youth. We push buttons to warm up the house, buy meat from the grocery store that tastes like shrink wrapped misery and chemicals, and even in these times of financial disaster dine on stuff flown from the other side of the world.
We stopped making clothes, fixing our cars, buy most things premade and traded a connection with where we were for a facebook account where we post pointless shit to stay connected to people who we left behind long ago, usually ignoring the fact that things in the past were left there for a reason.

It bugs me, although there's a shitload of things about life now that are a hell of a lot better, and I have no desire to go back or spend time bitching about how everything's no damn good these days.

Everybody works too hard at things that leave them exhausted, stressed out and too often, worn out from sitting in front of glowing boxes. I feel like we lost our sense of balance, that we've been sold a bill of goods that says it's more important to own a house than have a home, to have a nuclear family than a tribe, and that we've lost something when everybody's more worried about having a job than a life. Things weren't as crazy that way 30 years ago. Somewhere along the line it seems most folks started reacting instead of acting on their lives, and we started letting corporations and marketing do our thinking for us.

Our society sure seems bent into something weird to me.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sick Bitch

I got the swine flu. It sucks. It takes three weeks to get over the worst of it, and it leaves you feeling like you ran a marathon for six months while living on canned corn and speed while a fat man sits on your chest and a tiny midget has taken up residence in your skull, used a heat gun to cook your eyes into hard boiled eggs, then plants both feet on the back of your eyes as he shits two gallons of snot a day into your sinuses.
It ate my October. And my September was so unremarkable I can't remember a thing we did during it worth mentioning. And Kori's work was so busy that we didn't get to go camping, although we were both sick enough that it just seemed like too much work to go anywhere.
It's been a depressing few months, that's for sure. August was insane, barking mad morons marching and complaining all over the country without a clue, bad news leaking out all over the place like a septic tank vent, and our nice articulate President turns out to be a hack in bed with big Pharma and the financial industry, who has no intention of changing anything about what the hell went wrong with our country the last ten years.
Two wars goin' on? Yup. Bailing out bankers without regulating? Check! Acting like the advocate for gay rights like he said he would? Nope. Pushing for active enforcement of regulations by government agencies? Nope.
Too much suck all around. And I keep having this feeling that it's all going to turn for the worse, the economy, the climate and the culture, a sense of dread that tells me we're headed for a bigger crash.
But hey, if you hang out on Facebook, you'd never know we were headed for a world of shit. To them, it's all good. I wish I could be that myopic. Maybe I just need a lobotomy.

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." Ralph Waldo Emerson