Tuesday, October 25, 2011

After the Fall

It's difficult for me to write about my mother. She has eyes like soul saucers and strangers tell her secrets. At 5ft 3 she has more conviction, and cool than I ever will. She also has MS. Two small letters we ignore. I can't express her experience, only attempt at mine. Below is that attempt.

It was always Fall. Always in Fall when it happened. When it started. We were trick or treating and I got half a house, just half a house ahead, because my costume broke. I was the earth, and I wanted to get a safety pin at home; down the street, because it broke. The 'earth' broke, and she slipped, she fell. And there it was, the Fall. The first fall. Here I was at seven holding the (cardboard) weight of the earth in my hands as my mother tripped on a step. She tripped not because she couldn't see it, but because she couldn't feel it. I ran back, saw my mother on the ground for the first time, saw her get up. She fell, she got up, and suddenly I didn't want my candy anymore, and the broken earth didn't matter, she did. Over twenty ears later that's what we kept doing; falling, getting up, and hoping no one would notice.

My mother was 33, newly divorced, had just started a company. She was told it was stress and not just two little letters. MS. Ironically my mom was always a Ms. before, not a Mrs, it was the 80's, but these letters weren't as liberating. M.S. : Multiple Sclerosis; this weird slowly blinding, slowly crippling thing that we couldn't see, that came as the seasons changed, that hit in Fall. Every Fall it would creep in, we'd forget, and there it would be. As we got older she got better at covering.  We weren't going to suffer because of two letters. We'd forget, we'd abuse her like all children abuse their parents. 'Oh mom's acting like a bitch... Oh, maybe it's because she can't see?  Oh yeah that'... And every Fall she'd pretend, pretend she could see, pretend she could walk, pretend she could feel as everything numbed, until she couldn't pretend anymore. On those days we'd get dirty looks at the grocery store because we used the handicap spot, because you can't see two little letters.

Before the first fall I was obsessed with make believe, obsessed with Halloween. My father would sit on the floor with me handcrafting costumes meticulously. He turned our house into a castle with tin foil, we'd craft every torret. I loved the idea of being someone else, being somewhere else, pretending. I delighted in the idea of having their thoughts, their feelings, their hopes. As I grew older, I stopped caring for Halloween, for pretending. We had enough of that. Pretending was for safe spaces, puppet theaters, sets and stages. Now I'm a professional pretender, but even then I didn't need more.

Every Fall I get a little restless. I want to move, or change, or in the very least get a new lunch box or trapper keeper. I want a distraction, a project. I go out too much, or hibernate.  I leave the house without an umbrella on purpose. I gain weight, or lose it, I come up with excuses to ignore parties involving masks. I feel it, the shift. My freshman year I found out my grandmother passed away on Halloween, minutes before I had to play a dead body in a play, and my relationship with the day just got more complicated. These scary things just seemed stupid. I lived in NYC for eight years and never attended the West Village parade. Unless I do it all the way, unless I can disappear completely, I don't dress up for Halloween. I don't care to court fear or dress up as a slutty janitor. I guess I don't like seeing people pretend when they don't have to, unless they choose to fully go there. I assume this is hypocritical because I make believe for a living. I become and create people who don't exist, while my mother created someone who did. This Halloween she's 'Mom who can see' she's wearing her 'Mom who can walk mask'. She's pretending that the MS is the pretend thing, and life is the real one. She told us a story and we bought it. We lived, pretending, and sometimes the fall was a little more rough than others, but it would be over eventually. She made us believe, made her self believe so she could keep going, and we did.

Friends from home who I haven't seen in a while always ask me how my mother is. Sometimes I forget, I forget about the two little letters. Sometimes even if it's not true I just answer "She's great". It's amazing the masks we wear.

(For more info on MS and donating please visit the MS Society)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

the dobler effect

It has been mentioned to me consistently, that I have really bad taste in men. And they aren't bad men. They're not, so perhaps I have really bad taste in timing. I'll never know if I tend to connect to people when they are in the midst of change, or challenge, or if they are always in that place, or I gravitate to that. And I take full responsibility in this; my patterns, my part. For the most part, not all, they are restless, artistic, funny, intense, intellectual people who have difficulty multi-tasking. Across the board, they have nice eyes, like words, David Lynch, have/do chainsmoke, or are completely against chainsmoking. Emotionally aware, but not emotionally available who usually just 'can't deal with a relationship right now'.

And there's something in me that says that if you like someone enough it won't matter where you are, or what your 'processing' or if you have your shit together. Lloyd Dobler did it! Lloyd Dobler believed, and held on. And I realize most of my issues can be traced to Cameron Crowe's 'Say Anything'. Dobler. John Cusack, there are few women who are not attracted to John Cusack (and Ryan Gosling). The problem with Dobler, he was sensitive, self assured, and geeky; he was attainable.

And I think about these boys. These are boys who would have heldup the boombox when they were eighteen, but they're not eighteen, and boomboxes are heavy. They've made the decision to not ' to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought' and are looking around their late twenties/early thirties freaking out, making up for lost time, making up for lost art, lost money, and holding onto convictions. So the new consuming conviction is work,not the girl, they've tried that before, it's all or nothing. And we accept this because at one point they were the guy that held up a boombox, for some other girl when they were eighteen, and this boombox hurt them.

Lloyd Dobler and Diane Court would break up. He pushed for her, she'd push him to be better, get a career, try to change him and he'd try, but bolt. He'd continue hanging out with smart girls comparing them to her, but never really let them in, once he decided what he was doing. Or trying to do. They'd be stupid try to pry, try to get their own dobler moment. She'd consistently date guys who had Lloyd like qualities, but they'd never really love her the same way or own ' new soul classics'.

Lloyd is cynical and yet open; he is morose and yet curiously happy -- he believes.

This may be our problem, we see the internal Dobler and we want that, but that can't be sustained, that belief. With that boombox moment there's a guy whose going to be pissed off he got a pen, for the rest of his life. There's a guy who 'just wanted to be with a girl for the rest of his life' but probably woke up eventually and swung the opposite direction. And it's not entirely his fault Diane Court took him for granted.

I think most of us have had him, that guy when you were 18 who loved you so ridiculously it made you feel like they knew something no one else did. At that time his future and finances, and career didn't matter to him, because you mattered. We hold onto that guy, that feeling as we get older, because eventually that other stuff has to matter. So instead we look for that, and inherit other peoples doblers. And in turn we become the Lloyd, the believer. We wait, we make orations to people who give us pens, that we know aren't right. We say 'One question: do you need... someone, or do you need me?... Forget it, I don't really care'.
Diane Court went to London, and never got the baggage.