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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Stop Showing Your Ass

Stupid fights that I have gotten into in the last week-

Cabdriver Fight-"Just shut up and run my credit card!"
"You will not be telling me to shut up!"
"Run my god damn card and let me out!"
"I am not going to be shutting up!"
"Shut Up!"

Parking Lot Fight--
Lady in the green Impala-"Nice Parking Job!"
Me-"Nice Monkey Face!"

Fight with my daughter over which shoes she would be wearing to school(she won)
Fight with Jeff in a crowded restaurant over something subtle that only the couple having the fight really understands because it is the same fight they have been having for four years(that one was a draw)

My dad called yesterday to tell me about a fight he'd had with a worker at Costco. He didn't feel like showing them his card("Gestapo") and showed them his middle finger instead. He is slightly embarrassed by this, but I understand it perfectly.

My family has always struggled with our tempers, the dominant Fuck-You gene passed along down generations, distilling itself into a more concentrated strain of hostility with each birth. As if someone was secretly conducting a Mendelian experiment, but instead of breeding the perfect pea, they are aiming to produce the perfect asshole. In my grandmother's heyday, most of the men in our family were in and out of prison for robberies and assault, their wives sporting bruises from fights no one mentioned. There had been murders, everyone knew but no one talked about it. Sometimes you just didn't come back from that hunting trip. My mother remembers the table loaded with pistols where her uncles dropped their weapons by the door before coming to sit down in the living room. It was a simple politeness to sit unarmed while you gossiped over iced tea. At all other times, though, everyone carried. Even my grandmother kept a loaded handgun in her red vinyl purse until the day she died. The nurse found it when she was cleaning up the hospital room.

It wasn't just for show. When I was small I could sit at Granny's feet and listen to her recount stories with my Aunt Mary about their wilder days. She'd married four truck drivers and aimed her gun at three of them. The running joke was that she'd be in jail if she wasn't such a bad shot.
When her man went missing she'd call up my aunt Mary-whose husband was probably behind it all anyway. They'd steal a car for the trip and drive down to the Mexican border to search the whorehouses and beer joints their men were partial to. Upon finding their husbands, they would either drag them home or shoot at them, depending on how drunk everybody was. After the inevitable reconciliation, they'd trade the stolen car for a bag of amphetamines and come home, friends again, with another story to tell over a glass of iced tea.

My own struggle with homicidal rage began when I was five the day I fell madly in love with a boy who lived down the street named Jason Beetles. He told me my dress was pretty one day on the swing set, that was all it took. That night I cut a paper heart from a magazine and wrote his name on it. The next morning in the schoolyard I gave it to him in front of his friends. I watched him look at it in shock, look at his friends and then rip it to pieces.

Oh boy. That would not stand.

I lifted my metal lunchbox high in the air and brought the full dead weight of it down on his arm. It cracked loudly, he began to howl. Unsatisfied, I raised it again and clocked the side of his face so hard he fell backwards. That would do.

"Kiss my grits!" I yelled at his friends who were gaping at me in fear, and ran home to my Granny. She just shook her head and made me a cup of coffee.When the school called later I heard her ask my teacher if there had been any witnesses, then tell her to "stop showing your ass."

My father's temper was never physically violent, but frightening to watch in it's own way, a quiet intensity that built up before your eyes like storm clouds-you knew you didn't want to be in the path of whatever was coming. He will need that now.
My dad has end stage Hepatitis C. Twenty years ago doctors pumped it into his body during a blood transfusion. He is living right now with only 10% of his liver left.

Yesterday he received a letter informing him that he has been kicked off the liver transplant list. The efforts taken over three years by dozens of people who love him to secure his spot on that list are too numerous to list here, but let me just say-it sucked. It was hard and hopeless at times and it took a village of well wishers making phone calls and filling out forms to get it done, and now it has been undone.
Oregon has a Medical Marijuana law, and his doctor gave him a prescription for pot. It helps him more than the opiates his other doctors dispense like candy. He won't take the opiates because he is afraid of getting addicted to them, so he smokes weed instead. It soothes his nausea and helps him sleep, eases the pain his body is wracked with because his liver doesn't work. The regional board that oversees who will receive a new liver doesn't agree with legalised pot for terminally ill patients. To them, it falls in with meth and coke and heroin. To them he is a junkie.

So when his piss test came back positive last week they dropped him from the list, telling him he can only have a chance of getting back on it if he undergoes a six month drug addiction program at a treatment facility. He can then reapply, assuming that he is still alive at that point.
In case you're wondering, there are no medical reasons for this denial, as there would be if he were a heavy drinker who was continuing to imbibe after his transplant.(Heavy drinkers, by the way, get transplants all the time, especially if they are wealthy)They have told him simply that it is the rule, and they cannot change the rule, or make any exception to the rule.
This kind of stupidity makes me want to steal a car and drive up there to pummel someone with my old lunchbox. It makes me crazy. But my dad is taking it in stride. He has contacted lawyers. He will take them to court and fight.
"They have no idea who they're fucking with." He laughs. And I do kind of feel sorry for them. Then he gets serious.
"You know, sweet daughter, I'm not afraid." I hear him drawing up a deep breath, imagine him pulling his wrecked body up to it's full height, preparing once again to go to war.
"Today is a good day to die." He says. And my breath catches, I blink back tears. I'm proud of him.
Then he giggles.
"But tomorrow would be better!"


  1. Ooohhh, that makes me mad for your Father. Swing by So Cal and I will join you on the road trip with my metal lunch pail. Fucking bureaucracies. Society really sucks and the double standards are ridiculous. Didn't that actor Larry Hagman get a liver after years of alcohol abuse? Give me a break.

    You can always email me Regarding doll head ideas, Mannequins and dress forms. You would fall in love with the about 30 forms throughout my house. I didn't make the one with the shelves, but am making a smaller tabletop version of one.

    Much love to you Dad!

  2. I'd say "I can't fucking believe that!" But it would be a lie. That's fucking terrible.

  3. Typical. These "medical" people make these decisions from afar and don't bother to get to know the person they are stripping the hope from.
    What's wrong with weed, anyway? Many of my friends smoke it.
    Know what you mean about the temper. I have the red-haired Irish-German temper. It takes alot to piss me off, but once I'm pissed-watch out!

  4. I once heard that it takes "less than death to kill someone". Whenever we stop ; even for a moment thinking our own thoughts and LIVING our own lives; awake in the awesome, terrifyingly beautiful "NOW" (the only moment that will ever actually exist); WE reach out ,with our own hands and help pull the chains of our own making around our own necks. Voluntarily dropping to our knees we join the heard on one of the many ruts that lead to the slaughterhouse, still moving yet already dead inside we slog on. There is an unending supply of Kings, Presidents, Doctors, cops, and other petty tyrants that are quite willing to think for us,telling us just how to live and when to die and then to pawn our useless carcasses when we're all used up . It's easy , so easy. While we sleep they feed. They can only feed in the dark. When the light of truth shines on them they slither away and wait for their next voluntary victim. The best thing we can do ( in my opinion ) is simply to refuse to be one. It is the greatest gift we can possibly give to ourselves and our children. Reading your Blog it's obvious that you are setting that kind of example for your Daughter and I am certain that your Father is very very proud of you. Your example makes me Hopeful for that future that does not yet exist.
    I always enjoy reading your Blog - It reminds me that it is time to wake up, pick up my hammer and to get on with it! Now's my time. .. . . . . . MY kid may be watching.
    Bless you!!

  5. You are a really talented writer. You're hilarious and you're honest. You tell sad stories but you don't make me feel sad.