Luckily, I’m Not Going Anywhere!

Man, it’s been another one of those mornings. I cannot seem to focus for more than a nano second on any one thing.

I had already made up my mind last night that I wasn’t going to really do anything today. I was going to just sort of relax (or, at the very least, work on understanding my definition of the word “relax”) and just wait for the guys to come over and fix that upstairs toilet.

I did actually vacuum the whole house yesterday, and that pebble problem thingy had — miraculously — fixed itself.

I am so serious — this is one amazing house, gang. It sort of pitches in and helps you work miracles.

When they enshrine my house after I’m dead, they will rope off that hall closet so that no one can touch it anymore, and the eager docent will explain to the many visitors how it was a magic closet that worked miracles. “She would put her vacuum cleaner in here for many weeks at a time and it would fix itself.”

Then the inevitable questions of visitors to the shrine:

  • “That writer who lived here was crazy, though, right?”
  • “How come they don’t make magic closets anymore?”
  • And one lone woman with tell-tale cat hairs all over her clothes will pipe up: “I knew closets could do that!”

Okay. Anyway.

I woke up in such a sad little place this morning.  I was having another one of those dreadful dreams where my adoptive mother was abusing one of my beloved cats. This time, it was Daddycakes, my little rescued boy cat who died last spring from kidney failure.

Even though he was feral, he would let me pick him up and cuddle him, but he didn’t really like it too much so I tried not to do that to him too often. He did like to sleep on top of me and walk on me in bed and stuff. And he loved to be brushed. But once in  a while, I would scoop him up and force him to endure great big hugs and kisses! And he would look at me with a sort of tolerant dignity and an expression that said: “Please stop. They’re all looking at me.”

I miss him so much. And it broke my heart to watch my mother (in my dream) abusing him. I was finally able to get over to him and pick him up and he felt so real. You know, his body was warm and alive and all furry and wonderful.

So I woke up crying a little bit, I still feel like I failed him by not getting him to a doctor sooner. It just didn’t seem right to try to trap him here in the house, where he felt so safe, and put him through all that terror when he was so sick. And by the time he was docile enough to get him into the car without a trap, and drive him to a vet 30 miles from here, the only one I could find who agreed to treat a feral cat — it was too late to save him. It was just heartbreaking.

But when you’re dealing with wild animals, you have to try to let them live & die by their own rules. As much as possible. But it’s hard not to want to layer your own human perceptions on to who they are. You know, to me, it felt like he was my little baby boy cat. To him, it was probably more like: “No, I was a cat who came to live in your house for awhile and it was time to go.”

Anyway, I realized that probably I was actually thinking about my older brother in that dream (see yesterday’s post) and everything our adoptive mother did to him when we were little that I couldn’t save him from. (My memoir-in-progress, In The Shadow of Narcissa.)

And at the breakfast table today, I realized that she was all about dividing & conquering. My brother and I weren’t allowed to help each other or even to care about each other, because she was the center of the whole universe — we weren’t allowed to focus on anyone else, not even each other. And still, she wouldn’t allow you to openly care about her, either, because there was no way you could ever love her enough. She would scream at us in this truly god-awful way. Just so frightening. I mean, the physical stuff was awful, too, but that screaming was not to be believed. And there was always that undertone that she intended to kill you – literally. She wanted you not to exist. (She had an extreme Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and was likely psychotic, as well. Her mother — my adoptive grandmother — also dealt with various personality disorders and mental illness. Electroshock treatments, dark bedrooms, drugged to the gills kind of thing.)

Anyway. I realized that she instilled in us — and it’s still in my brother, at least — this wall of emotional resistance. As soon as it looks like you’re doing something that’s going to bother my brother, the wall comes down and you’re out.

Up until his second marriage, he used to keep in touch with me pretty regularly over the phone. However, his second marriage coincided with my becoming ” a pornographer” and he had less and less tolerance for me from then on. This sort of, “why are you doing this, Marilyn? Your music was so good.”

I got that from so many of the people I was close to; my writing made so many people feel really uncomfortable; they didn’t know how to process it. I barely know how.  But, you know, I was just lying around in bed one morning, like, 50 years ago, wondering: “Hmmm. How I can upset everybody today? Oh I know; I’ll become a pornographer…”

Jesus. Whatever. It makes me sad that my older brother doesn’t want anything to do with me. But I still feel our parents instilled that in him. It didn’t “take” with me because I am relentlessly empathetic and fear is not going to stop me from caring about people (or animals or insects or spirits in the night).

The last time my brother had anything to do with me, was when our adoptive dad turned 70 and there was a big party for him in a fancy hotel in the city where our dad lives. And my dad was doing another one of his “let’s be inexplicably cruel to Marilyn” things (I know I sound like Jane Eyre, but this is all true), so he had his big fancy hotel birthday party the night before his 70th birthday  — which was my 40th birthday — and then told me I was not invited to the party, even though I had flown in from NYC for it.

Even though I wasn’t allowed to go to the party, I still showed up at my dad’s house the following day to wish him a happy 70th birthday. Because I was always determined to ignore his cruelty.  And that’s when my brother called me, really angry at me, saying, “How could you snub dad like that, in front of everybody, on his big birthday?”

He refused to believe that I was not invited to the party and wasn’t allowed to come.  (And he neglected to wish me a happy 40th birthday, too!) And that sort of convoluted, parental manipulative shit, caused my older brother to not speak to me again.

Oh well. All this divide & conquer stuff — it also has a lot to do with wills & estates & inheritances. And I have no time for it.  Seriously. But it doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t get sad.

And this morning, as I was having trouble facing the idea of getting out of bed, and I was curling into a tighter fetal ball around my pillow, I heard a bird singing outside my window.

And I opened my eyes a little and saw that the sun was coming up in that way that looked like spring. And I remembered that I had put all my spring & Easter stuff out in the kitchen, and hung my Easter wreath on the kitchen door already, so I sort of suddenly felt: Wow, my kitchen looks really pretty. I’m gonna go down there right now and feed the cats and have breakfast!

And so I did. And here we are! The sun is indeed shining, the birds are indeed singing. Spring is sort of right around the corner. And two really nice guys from here in the Hinterlands are coming over to fix my toilet for me!! Without charging me a dime. I asked Kevin last night if he wanted me to buy them beer or something, but he said, “No, it’ll be too early in the day for that. All I want is to finally see one of those crazy cats of yours!”

Well, it isn’t gonna happen, because they always hide whenever he comes over — or anyone comes over, except for my birth mom now. But I went to the gas station last night and bought them beer anyway.

All righty. Have a great Sunday, wherever you are in the world, gang. Thanks for visiting. I leave you with my breakfast-listening music from this morning! (Anne Murray is my fall-back gal when my heart is a little bit broken but I don’t want it to remain that way!) Okay. I love you guys. See ya!

“Snowbird”

Beneath this snowy mantle cold and clean
The unborn grass lies waiting
For its coat to turn to green
The snowbird sings the song he always sings
And speaks to me of flowers
That will bloom again in spring

When I was young
My heart was young then, too
Anything that it would tell me
That’s the thing that I would do
But now I feel such emptiness within
For the thing that I want most in life’s
The thing that I can’t win

Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day
The one I love forever is untrue
And if I could you know that I would
Fly away with you

The breeze along the river seems to say
That he’ll only break my heart again
Should I decide to stay
So, little snowbird
Take me with you when you go
To that land of gentle breezes
Where the peaceful waters flow

Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day
The one I love forever is untrue
And if I could you know that I would
Fly away with you

Yeah, if I could you know that I would
Fl-y-y-y-y away with you

c – 1969 Gene MacLellan

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