Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Light As A Feather

Hi everyone! Thanks so much for all your kind comments and support this week. I'm starting to get caught up with everything going on -- and I'm going to start posting some contest entries this week -- especially Cheri's particularly adorable witch pictures! Here's the prologue of Second Day Reported. I'm in the home stretch with the book so soon I shall start posting new material about new subjects. I've kind of been buried in this book since February (catching a nasty case of the flu turned out to be fortuitous in terms of resetting my priorities), and I'm glad the end is in sight. Of course, I feel like that famous Olympic marathoner who crawled to the finish line with all her internal organs failing, but I think everyone feels that way when they finish a big project. I'm still working on adding new links of people whose blogs I've begun to read and enjoy under my brand new Pick Your Poison/ Bar Open sign. Thanks for your patience and as always, thanks for reading!


At my dad’s funeral, my godfather stood up and talked about what had brought our family to Mineral Wells, Texas a town known for having every poisonous snake indigenous to the United States, a hotel in the dead center of town that had dispensed curative water filled with lithium (the unknown secret ingredient) to celebrities during the thirties, and a decommissioned army base that served to train helicopter pilots for the Vietnam War. A union strike had closed down his work at a factory in Iowa so my dad left the Midwest and took a job in a plant that made resistors, a main staple of employment for the town. Eventually he would be fired and convicted of a felony for falsifying government documents during his work inspections for quality control, but for many years our family lived in this small, desolate place. My godfather knew my dad in Iowa and had already moved to Mineral Wells. On the phone, he told my dad that Mineral Wells wasn’t the end of the world, but that you could see the end from the city limits.

In my earliest memory, I am waiting for God to speak to me through the Texas heat. I didn’t know how it would happen or what I expected to hear; all the stories I knew told me that God spoke through bushes, angels, sacrifice. We lived next to the rodeo grounds and while I drew on the driveway with a white rock, I heard an announcer say, Out of chute three, here comes Black Thunder! I told my dad who laughed and conceded that maybe it was God. Even then, I was looking for signs on how to live.

The Devil held sway as well; nobody had dismissed him yet the way they would be tempted to later. After all, I lived in Texas, that big, lonely state with vast stretches of road populated by three name serial killers that trolled for victims. A skinny child, I often played victim in childhood games -- the one who got to levitate or the one who played dead. Light as a feather, stiff as a board, I thought as I trained to be a lifeguard, strapped onto a backboard as the other lifeguards pulled me to the surface with instructions to be careful, that they couldn’t possibly know what my injuries were. Years later, I’d become Catholic and learn about victim souls, those girls who’d remain in a coma and take on other people’s pain and disease. In Texas, we called the emotional form of this a salvation complex or being a woman.

After my rapes, I still liked men. I had a very good daddy, the kind you want to marry. I said as much at his funeral, making everyone laugh. Everyone liked him which could not be said of my mother. People described her in many ways; sufficed to say, she scared people and not just because she kept snakes all around the house. But as for the company of men, I knew them but they never knew me, not really. When feeling really romantic, I’d think, I’d kill myself for you if I wasn’t already dead. Timing, I suppose, is everything.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Joseph, Mary, pray for those/ misled by moonlight, and the rose." W. H. Auden

Cocktail Hour
Drinking memoir suggestion: The Tennis Partner Abraham Verghese

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!


Charles Gramlich said...

A powerful excerpt, both funny and poignant. Very visual writing here too.

Congrats on getting so close to the finish. Yes, I've felt that Marathon crash effect myself.

Cheri said...

Thanks Michelle!

You're almost done with it! Cheers to that, many cheers!

Tim said...

Congrats on nearing the end Michelle, it's going to be great!

laughingwolf said...

harsh... brutal... real...

grats on being near the finale....

Anonymous said...

I never thought that I was important enough for God to speak to me. But I always knew that I would be scared to death if He did talk down from on high to me so I kind of wished that He just ignored me.--Wee Willie Winkie

Scott said...


I always enjoy reading your work. It's emotional and well-written. I live in Texas, and I know what you're talking about, to some extent.

Take care, and I hope you have a good week!

Keith Hood said...

Hey Michelle,

Take a mental health break here http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2008/10/mental-health-4.html or here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87FjkqtK67o



the walking man said...

Redact first paragraph begin with 2nd.