Sunday, September 18, 2011

I spend a lot of time feeling vaguely upset with myself for being so self-obsessed that I am utterly incapable of writing fiction.  But I just had an idea.  What would I be like if I had not been abused.  It would be interesting to try to write two chapters in parallel going through an imaginary life I could have had while comparing it to what did happen.

You never know the full impact of your life until you are dead.  I don't want to die yet.  I figure I have at least fifty more years.  Given that I am thirty that means I have a long way to go before I hit halfway through my lifetime.  I hope I am grown up by then.

I was born the fourth child in an established relationship.  My mother was a stay-at-home mom who excelled at cooking, baking, sewing, and being involved in all aspects of her children's school.  She often babysat for half the neighborhood because she was just good at managing children.  My father was a printer.  It was the family business.  He tended to work graveyard shifts because it earned a lot more money.  My father was also kind of the suburban ideal dad.  He coached many sports teams.  He was heavily towards boys, that's normal.  He only wanted to teach things like sports, heavy Sci-Fi novels, and appreciating alcohol.  He figured that was his role in the family.

The first few years of my life were just a continuation of the same-ole-same-old my family had been doing for years before me.  My father was apt to say "no" to things so my mother learned how to work around that.  My mom thought that her little boys should have linoleum in their room because all they wanted to do was play cars and the carpet was terrible.  So she put the boys to sleep in her bed, took speed, and ripped the carpet out in the middle of the night and had the linoleum 3/4 installed before he came home from work.  She never did tell me what he said when he got home.  Now I can never ask.

I have to admit that most of the same-old-same-old in my family was pretty darn good.  My mom said that my father was bringing home $900/week in the 1970's.  That's a fair bit of money.  They were able to do things like install a pool in the back yard.  That was my sister's 16th birthday present.  My father asked her if she wanted a horse or a pool.  She wanted to be popular in the neighborhood so she said pool.

My brothers were both born gifted athletes.  And they lived with a rather good coach who worked with them night and day.  Everyone did well enough in school to not bring shame on the family.  My brother Tommy had learning disabilities.  It was obvious he would never enjoy reading as a hobby.  Frankly it was already obvious he had a career as a professional athlete ahead of him if he wanted it, so who cares?  At least that seemed to be the feeling.  That is what the stories say.

My family lived in idyllic Southern California.  Far enough from Disneyland to be considered hick but close enough for annual passports.  We also lived biking distance from Magic Mountain.  I hear Canyon Country was a fun place to grow up in those days.  It was the kind of community you see in movies.  Tight knit.  Not the kind of place that produces monsters, right?  But actually that is the perfect place.  Most people are good kind people.  They mean well and all.  It's easy to understand why they want to believe the nice family down the road is ok.

My father gave my sister the pool to buy her silence and consent.  I don't know exactly what her sexual abuse was, she was never willing to tell me.  Years later she told me I never asked and I had to laugh.  I used to pester her like crazy.  I wanted to know what he did to her because I had been told he molested her.  I didn't know what that meant.  I didn't know how to match that up with my experiences.  I didn't know if I was being molested or not.

My family went camping a lot.  My parents were on adult soft ball teams.  They were very active in the community.  Everyone knew them.  Why would anyone think he was raping his teenage daughter?  After all, he was so nice for adopting her anyway.  You see, my sister was a bastard.  My mother slept with someone in high school and he wasn't ready to admit being a daddy.  He accused my mom of sleeping around.  Folks believed him.  My father's brother married my mother's best friend.  My parents eloped a week or so later.  I think my sister was around a year old, but I'm not sure.  Hey!  I have the family bible!  My parents got married on January 13th, 1969.  Holy shit.  My sister isn't a bastard.  My sister was born on January 21, 1969.  Oh wow.  My father married her when she was 9 months pregnant.  I don't know how I got that detail wrong my entire life.  Holy shit.  I thought he adopted her.  That's actually an intense clue for me.


Holy shit.  I'm Russian.  Now I'm distracted by the family bible.  I had no idea that whole branch of the family was Russian.  I was always told German.  Maybe I should reread the Mennonite books.  If I want to tell this story right, I need all the background.


  1. also, I think that's a really interesting idea for a story. and I'm surprised at how normal-seeming your family sounds. That's not what I would have imagined, just from the context of your other writing.

  2. Things changed a lot when I was 3 and my parents divorced. That bit is coming. :)