Source: Dear Daddy Issues
My daughter is a formidable writer and an even more meaningful psychologist. She wrote a letter to her therapist for Father’s Day, and that act made me appreciate how I write lots of letters, but very few of substance. Given what she had to work with, I would imagine that she wrote either a very long, or very succinct letter – maybe both: thorough and concise. I don’t keep a therapist on speed-dial anymore, but I blog freely and pretend. To that end, today I write this.
(Sidebar: It makes me terribly uncomfortable to write these kind of truths. I write copy and peddle bullshit to pay the bills and even when I write for myself, I write with an agenda. I have a brand and I have an obligation to my message. My message is survive… thrive, rise above, fake it till you make it… seeing it in print, my message makes me kind of sick. But, I’d be remiss if I didn’t start here — I still have sentences to sell, memes to market and wearables to merchandise like the ninja pioneer traveling medicine woman I am.
So, A Thousand Howdies, Dad.
In the million variations of this letter that I’ve written in my head, not many were actually full of forgiveness. I get that that’s on me and not you, but today I’m glad I can drop in on a Father’s Day and tell you that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that I paid a quarter to light those tall red candles down at Blessed Sacrament and offer up ten Hail Mary’s in an effort to call upon divine intervention and have your plane go down. I was a kid and still believed in that voodoo, but it does haunt me that I did that. You can not even imagine how completely unhinged my brother and I were, that one time when you actually did go down and almost died. That could mark the beginning of the end of our belief in the church. I don’t think we ate (or made eye contact) for a week.
What the Shrinks advise now, in cases of flat-out bizarre family of origin stories, is to think of everything you are grateful to have carried out with you when you survived. In this area, I consider myself to be among the richest girls, ever. Ever.ever.
Thank you so much, and so for real for teaching me The Masters of music and art when I was still a toddler. This familiarity has allowed me a relationship with my creative side that most of my peers don’t have. I’ve been able to segue both of these into revenue streams, modest but steady, for many years and I don’t think I thought to thank you. Mom and her family taught me all about making music and creating from the heart, but you taught me to recognize it. That rocks.
Thanks for insisting I take penmanship classes during all those years my friends had to take piano. I still wished I’d learned how to play piano, but I have unreasonably nice handwriting… so, I got that going for me. I’m the envy of all my friends.
Professionally, you were probably the tightest trainer a girl in the ’60s could have. I think of you on the regular when I engage in printing, writing, editing, publishing, rounding corners, die-cutting, kerning, measuring to within 1/16th of an inch, alphabetizing and chronicling, interviewing and soliciting ad revenue and negotiating the slippery ethics of a wide variety of employers. That last one seems to have given me the most mileage during my slave-years, working for you and actual employers, and that probably proved invaluable. I’m still alive and all, so I’d call that a win.
The things you gave me that you didn’t even know about are the ones that I’ve gotten to stare at the most. You gave me every single good acronym an American girl could want in the Midwest (NTSB, FAA, NSA, NASA, CIA, M5, etc.) but, by either spinning incredible stories OR sharing intimate truths that I had no business knowing – you made me starved for information about the CIA.
I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out if you were involved, if the story mom told me was real and if so — how did things play out this way? I’m sure it’s none of my business, but you made it my business by sharing such profoundly weird stories and engaging in such shady, shifty, hinky behaviors. Dude. that was uncalled for. But, thanks for what amounts to an undergraduate degree in sociopathy, clandestine behaviors and conspiracy theories. I’ve proven that I do, indeed, know just enough to be dangerous, and I doubt I’d get clearance to go on a tour of the White House. Job well done, Sir!
You cannot even imagine how adept I’ve become at negotiating traumatic unexpected events. Gunfire, stabbings, arson, mismanagement of resources, abandonment, broken bones, cancelled flights, police investigations, death, messy-death, nun-wives, hospitalizations, hoarders, drug addiction, rapists, identity theft, bumpy landings, aborted take-offs, felonious theft, polygamy, kidnappings, bastard siblings, hidden offshore accounts … I so SO got this. That’s all child’s-play.
I’ve become a tour guide for the terminally fucked. I’d say it’s good work when I can find it, but it is not. Not good work at all. This present has been a super duper double-edged sword. Only so cool, Dad. Only so. But, yeah — thanks for this gift of invincibility. I’m sure I’m going to appreciate it more soon. And, it was groovy to understand the concept of “double-edged swords” before grade school. I think it gave me an advantage.
Thank you for teaching me how to build character by getting from Paris to Wichita with no more than $5 in my pocket, because you’d paid me with a hot payroll check. Thanks for the survival skills gained in allowing me and my kids to survive on the mean wicked streets of this small cowtown, while you had rental properties sitting empty. And, more than anything thanks for forcing me to learn self-reliance in the way that Emerson meant for it to be learned when he wrote it.
I don’t know many people as resilient as me and the kids, and very few days go by where I don’t thank you for that.
Funny thing about being a contract copywriter is that I cannot write copy for anybody’s anything until I get my head emptied of all my old stale words. Some of those words have fermented for weeks, sometimes months, and they are so comfortable being all up in there that they don’t want to leave. Sometimes they think I should daydrink and procrastinate until the last possible moment. Other times, they let me let them out. I’m glad today is the latter and not the former.
Funny thing about being an early adopter is that I get to watch my tribe and all the islanders come to grips with a world that I got to embrace almost 20 years ago. Medical care is not implied – if it isn’t profitable to stretch your death out beyond moral and ethical borders, then you don’t really get to live. Our politics were sold to the highest ridiculous and unbelievable bidder long ago and we get ringside seats to whatever historians will call this era. Every day we raise the bar on cruelty and we disconnect further from the consequences of our actions. There’s some funny business in that I get to be the Troop Leader into this new world where old realities are suspended but we’re going to need the strengths that our great-grandparents brought to the table. This stuff didn’t happen overnight, and while you were sleeping I built our fort and stocked it with all the verbs and nouns we’ll need. I hope you have good shoes.
Funny thing about being a girl with a horrible pirate mouth that turns the air blue with fucking fuck fuckity fuck bombs, is that I know you’re hearing much more despicable stuff and it’s devalued the effectivity of my fucking vocabulary. It sickens me to imagine toddlers, just building vocabulary skills with their delicate little ears…. ever hearing the term “Grabbed her by the pussy.” That is some fucked up shit, there. Babies heard that, man. I know they did. My saying fuck is the least of our problems. There are horrific sentences being shared on nightly news.
(SIDEBAR) I can’t believe we’re squandering our words on such awful thoughts. What IF those were the very last words you got to say or the last thing you heard? What then? That would, literally, suck out loud. And, if you’re so offended by my tight little predictable vocabulary but aren’t at all sickened by what you’re being fed on the regular — well, there’s no excuse for that and honestly, it makes me use the F-word more.
Funny thing about being a Pioneer is that I’ve learned to survive in ways you probably haven’t even had time to think of yet. I got to learn all about cancer and identity theft, crime scene clean ups, meth/crack/heroin addiction and domestic abuse as understood by metropolitan/state & federal laws so intimately that I now get to be a Tour Guide for the rest of you. Bam! Just like that I went from copywriter to Tour Guide.
You are SO going to love this ride. First we’re going to start getting rid of your stuff, mostly all of your stuff. You can take pictures of what you love and store it on a flash drive, and you do get to keep about 100 things. So, you got that going for you. If you can carry it, you can keep it.
Then in the middle of this purge we’re going to fill out your POA and DNR and put them in a safe place where all your loves can find them. In the extremely off-chance that your life collection tries to kill you, it’s best we all know how you want it to play out. This is a critically important part of the process because people are always leaving at inopportune times when their houses are a wreck. That overwhelming heartache then falls on whoever loved you the most and is a horrible parting gift. So, we get our shit together, first. (If you’re really lucky, I’ll teach you how to donate your body to science and avoid the expense of a funeral while advancing medicine.)
Funny thing about all these funny things is that this is the stuff that I have to store, externally and all – the hard drive called my brain gets sooooo very full-up. I’m way more hopeful than I was before, and I believe I’ve seen the power of change. I’ve seen us work well together. One voice in the atmosphere doesn’t amount to much, but about 3 million is loud as fuck. We’re growing up nicely and these are curious times. I look forward to seeing how we all play this out, nicely, together. Get your houses in order, Pioneers. We got stuff to do and we have to stop burdening the next generation(s) with stuff and horrible sentences.
I had a conversation, this morning, with my loves on the prairie that went something like this: Them: Well, Kansas won’t be nearly as exciting as hanging out in the PNW being a stripper……
I had a conversation, this morning, with my loves on the prairie that went something like this:
Them: Well, Kansas won’t be nearly as exciting as hanging out in the PNW being a stripper….
Me: WTF did you just say?!?! I’m not a stripper, for godsake! I’m a trimmer. I am a contract trimmer who works with clippers. I am not a stripper! Have you told anybody else that that is what I’m doing? Jesus! I get paid extra to leave my clothes ON! I trim with all my clothes on.. shit. I wear extra clothes. Oh lord, you guys….
Them: Oohhh man, stripper… trimmer… same same.
And, I’m still laughing about it. Oh how groovy the way wording can make such a difference.
One time when I was at my sister’s house, my back was killing me and I was whining. She was walking towards the fridge finishing up a sentence about spaghetti and I could swear she said, “Oh. I’ve been gay.”
My mind had whole long seconds to ask so many questions … WHEN had she had time to be gay? She’d been married forever and she was raising four high-maintenance sons. Why would she tell me that, now? I don’t need to know that shit, it’s way above my pay grade. Was I the first person that she came out to? Did mom know?
When I could breath again, I said “Why the fuck would you tell me that?” She turned around and said, “You said your back hurt and sometimes I use Ben Gay on my back. I was just trying to be nice.”
Oooohhhh, I’m pretty sure I said.
Another time, she was standing at the freezer, getting ice and I was pretty sure she said, “Man I hate it when I’ve had Brian in the house, it smells greasy for days.” We have an estranged brother with that name, whom I have not seen in many years and again – what I thought she said was not easy to process.
“When was Brian in this house?!?” I asked. I’d been there for a hot minute and I sure hadn’t seen him.
She turned to look at me with a slightly exhausted face and said “In THIS house?!? He hasn’t been here for over a year.”
“But the house still smells greasy?” I asked.
“What the hell are you talkin’bout, Willis?” She asked with less humor and more exasperation.
I repeated back the sentence I thought I’d heard and she burst into laughter.
She said this: “Man, I hate it when I’ve been frying in the house. It smells greasy for days.”
About 30 years ago, I was walking into a marriage counseling appointment with a human I had yet to marry. Nobody was in a great mood and not a lot of talking had been done in the hours leading up to this date. As we walked by a fat strand of Yew bushes, I said “Ug. Yews smell like cat piss.”
That was all I said and I didn’t say to anybody in particular, but my companion heard “You smell like cat piss.” He stopped dead in his tracks so I did too. He turned to look at me and said, “What did you just say?” Not in the mood for any bullshit, I squared off and said, maybe a little too loudly “Yews smell like cat piss.”
I was able to clear up that little misunderstanding but it wasn’t nearly as funny at the time as it is now, after all these years.
maureenmasters © 2016
Dear Love. Yo.
I know that you know I dig you because I’ve proven it on a kabillion levels and I do so wish I’d been by sooner to say Hey, but I wasn’t so “Hey” now. You look super-great with that tan and all the muscles you found in your body and brain. I dig that about you so much. If I put my hand on the middle of your chest, I’m pretty sure I’d feel your heart beating sound and strong. If I were there, I’d confirm this first-hand and all, but I’m not. I’m here.
And, just for the record: OMG. It is so beautiful here. This is the first really cool and breezy morning we’ve had on the prairie for a couple weeks so I don’t even mind the flies that much. I’m going to fill the pool as soon as the sun gets high enough and then I’ll float and try to do nothing. Of all the things that there are to do, I am the worst at doing nothing. I just don’t get it.
I think it’s because I heard, “Make yourself useful!” for so many years, or because I’m living with the most ambitious, driven 85-year-old ever in the history of time. I dunno, but it’s curiously delicious most days.
And, some of the other days – not so delicious. Today is the day I’ve decided I’ll hit “Publish” no matter what. I’ve been having a hella hard time listening to my voice sing or reading the words I write. I have no idea why this happens, but sometimes my resolve and my brand … .they get broken.
I believe you are capable of any and every.single.thing and I stand as support while I sit on about 5948 pages of words that I don’t think should get elected. The only way I can talk to you is to pretend that I’m just writing another letter, (probably my oldest good habit) and you’re not going to be shitty about it. (Please don’t be shitty.)
To that end, I gotta spend a minute on my Annual PSA to let you know that this fiasco of an election we’re staring at in America, has superseded my wildest expectations for what the Stupidification of a Nation would look like and I can’t burn one more precious calorie or give one more itsy-bitsy darling fuck on this low-hanging faux-political hatred. Not anymore.
The real problem isn’t the Democrats or the Republicans or the men or women or the rainbows or cauldrons or.or..or.. the real problem is that “Speaking Your Mind” has become a valued tick to be rewarded and applauded and supported and endorsed. I have, personally, thought some viciously wicked things and never said them out loud because I have some degree of social decorum and respect for our well-being as a tribe. (In your defense, I know that the only weapon I carry is my tongue and it’s ability to diminish you to ash in a heartbeat and I’m still not sorry because you’re taller than me. And, in my defense: I’ve never raised a hand to you.)
My will to go on living and not get shot or stabbed or bone-broke is much greater than my need to have the last word on something that I might just know nothing about, I may only know what I’ve been able to read or hear and dang if that’s not some compromised business, baby. People lie. Media is owned. It’s super complicated and requires your time in research, and I know research is totally uncool at cocktail parties. I know that you know ignorance is a choice and we all get to choose. I know you choose to trade your spirit, time and spark for trips to Walmart to buy plastic things that your kids will totally resent you for when you leave them behind after your departure, but we all gotta job to do. I’m not being all-judgey, just real.
That all notwithstanding, It’s been an epic twist to go from Kansas to the world, with you in my pocket. I’ve seen what I’m talkin’bout baby…. and I would encourage you to just learn to walk softly and move quick. I am pretty sure that moving quick is the secret to a long life.
Get out. Go. Go wherever you must go once you’ve met your obligations and weighed out the consequences and consulted the star charts. Believe nobody and hedge your bets. It’s a crazy time to be alive on this big blue ball. You don’t have to suffer. Go fast without hesitation and write me when you get there.
So, yea. I put in a year with cannabis and all things related and I’ve now returned to taking care. Mostly of me, but that’s only through the care I take of you and us. I got your back and I have a current DNR & POA …. I’ve been donated to science at universities all over the globe. I think we’re good here. You should write me sometime.
About 20 years ago we had a home that also served as home to a sweet variety of musicians and artists who needed a home when none (other than ours*) was available. Me and Mine had the downstairs and Wayne was upstairs, for the telling of this story.
Wayne played in a band called Technicolor Headrush. While I loved Wayne and Kirk and the other boys in that band (like little brothers,) it wasn’t so much my cup of tea. I still went to the shows and supported local music and all, but it was way more love than actual enjoyment.
It was a Wednesday night and it wasn’t full-frontal Winter anymore. I remember both of these things only because I still notice that so many bands I love all practice on Wednesday nights (that’s why I call it “Band Practice Night” instead of hump day) and I was barefoot. (For record keeping purposes -I wore two pairs of socks from post-Winfield until the daffodils bloomed. aka: leg shaving offseason.)
Our practice shut down by ten because we were old people, all being over 30 and all, and we were settling into the Recap Safety Meeting when Wayne knocked on the front door and asked if he could show us something. I was kinda hoping this would happen because the music I’d heard fall down the stairs all night was a huge departure from the angsty stuff we’d grown used to. Standing behind him in our funkyass mudroom foyer was Kirk with a guitar that had been punched squarely in the face, Jeff (holding what looked like the gas tank from an old Ford truck with a stick in it,) and Eric with a mandolin.
(Unless it was a banjo, which it could have been, but I’d think I’d remember that since we already had Richard, and back then we only got about one banjo player per zip code.) They shuffled in past the living room to the dining room which was completely open because it wasn’t really a dining room so much as it was the band practice room and office space for the first ISP in Kansas.
I don’t remember what they played first. I remember I was Sofa.King.Exhausted from working a 15 hour day, practicing for 4 hours and raising kids for 19 hours that I couldn’t remember where I left my shoes. I know they started out with strong clear harmonies and a completely rearranged bluegrass sensibility, but this music had teeth like The Bad Livers got involved in the build while The Pogues added a rogue chromosome to the DNA. I pretty much immediately forgot that I was tired.
It was a late schoolnight and they played 3 songs before anybody drew a breath. Even the rebellious teens hanging out in my sons room smoking my flowers (stolen from the tray under the sofa like shifty baccalaureate ninjas,) came out to see who was making this music in our house. I had a slow motion Matrix-moment where I looked around and memorized the intersection of where I came from and where I was headed.
I memorized moments like this for a living by the time this night unfolded. The moments when my mother and her sisters busted out their 5 part harmonies at 2am after a pyramid of Schlitz beers and too many Kent cigarettes. We were short enough to listen from under the kitchen table and Aunt Carol always left half of every cigarette she lit.
I remembered singing at the top of my lungs with strangers during my 16th summer, in a war-torn alley in Londonderry when my mom and I had run away from home on my fathers payroll because we could and he pissed us both all the way off (and a country under siege was an attractive option, given the choices.) We locked arms with Italians and Germans and Austrians, that night, and sang till the sun rose.
I remembered how hot my cheeks burned when I didn’t understand the difference between “Winfield Virgin” and actual, bonafide Virgin, but I was rewarded with being taught the entire John Prine catalog by a bunch of editors from the Joplin Globe.
Fast forward a million miles, three lifetimes and all the breakfasts later – I got to see a show last weekend that rolled all those perfect moments into focus. I got to meet new Family (by choice not blood) and be reminded why we do this and how defined I am by the sharing. Music makes me stronger, taller and funnier in the morning. My personal chemistry is totally addicted to the seratonin and dopamine tsunamis that allow me to stay up all night and hatch plans to overtake the earth with love and music and kindness. (And, Underground Railroads. Viva la Revolucion!)
Larry & His Flask played The Tower last weekend and I got to take in a fresh new breath of how my musical moment memory works in 2016, after the Mumfords and Avetts and Oh Brother got their fingerpints allllll over this scene. My scene. The Family scene.
By the time this night ended, I had met all of the parents, most of the best friends and at least half the getaway drivers. I enjoyed one of the best, most dynamic shows I’ve seen in ages (my bar is set CRAZY-high) and I got to be reminded of how happy I am that there are no two-tops in this world. All our tables hold everybody. We need each other to help us build the soundtracks to play in our backgrounds. Me and my people: We’re all mix-tapes and kitchen sing-alongs and I just might be six feet tall.
Meet me at the table.
*My kids might still not love this truth. They had to share at an unprecedented level and I continue to hope that they know I know this, and am grateful for their beneficence.
I recently had occasion to hang out in Bend, Oregon for a minute or two (5 days) and was lucky enough to land at The Oxford Hotel with one of my most favorite partners in crime; It’s prompted me to return to my Love Letter Writing roots as it was one of the most restorative micro-vacations I’ve had in years.
I could go on ad naseum about every single detail that made my world a better place and returned the bounce to my step, but I love you enough to squeeze it into a Top Ten List.
Top Ten Oxford Hotel Coolosities (in no particular order)
- The Location Snuggled into a righteous corner of downtown Bend, surrounded by all kinds of seriously incredible ($$$) boutique shops, restaurants and salons, it was entirely possible to walk any and every where that held any appeal and it’s the perfect location from which to just adventure.
- The Vibe The attention to detail is evident in every single element and supports the “Upscale” claims in their promotional materials perfectly. It is upscale, but it’s also not so stuffy as to make a girl in overalls feel all judged and inadequate.
- The Restaurant 10 Below is tucked away in the basement of the hotel and proved to be a fine place to shake off too many hours in meetings or too many miles in exploration. The service was so good as to be remarkable, the menu was diverse and the vibe was classy without being breathless.
- Elevator Voice When she announces the lobby, she says it in such as way that you think of Lolita. It’s both sassy and sultry, and about guaranteed to make you smile if you’re listening. What a great elevator voice.
- Guitars & Mandolins available to borrow during your stay. Seriously? This is a first for me and is my most fave bonus feature. The Breedlove Guitar company is located in Bend and has worked out an arrangement with The Oxford Hotel to make instruments available to their guests. This rocks out loud so hard, I’m still smiling.
- The Pillow Menu True story. A menu fat with pillow options. Every bit as awesome as you might imagine it to be.
- The Staff The people of a place can make or break a reputation and this place has got their happy staff secured. From the servers in the restaurant to the front desk and the bellmen and the turn-down loves, these staffers make kindness look and feel authentic and I’m pretty sure I’ve come away with friends I’ll have forever.
- The Bathroom I know this shouldn’t make me as happy as it does, but dang – this bathroom (with the finest robes.EVER) was like movie stars and HGTV got together and built the perfect place to soak in a tub or stand too long under hot water in the shower. Props, you bathroom designers – well done.
- The People Watching 2am on the street in front of the hotel was a spectacular place to watch really really happy people call it a night and laugh hard. While the daybreak hours proved best for the small packs of young teen.angsty long-boarders who were more entertaining that ballet and ice skating put together.
- The Staff gets another mention here because of the top ten great things about this place, the people and their kindness is probably more important to me than a pillow menu. I did dig the fact that we could choose pillows, though.
Hey kids. Leave your boots by the door and set your coats on the radiator – I made Butterballs. Maaaaaaaaaaan, I’ve been missing you. It’s superduper Wintery up here in the Cascade mountains of Oregon – just like it’s s’posta be because it’s Winter and all. The days are short and while my will to live is way-high, my will to change out of yoga pants and leave this house is remarkably low. I’m glad you came by so I don’t have to move. This is perfect.
My most productive hobby, of late, has been to find new and clever ways to get better performance out of a body that is pretty-much in full-on rebellion. Arched back, stomping heels into filthy linoleum, ear-piercing shriek of a physical hissy fit it is, and it often calls the shots.
My body is furious with me and I’m cool with that, given the alternatives. There’s some old war wounds and some new working-too-much monkeys that proved to be great real estate for test-driving some of this $40 salve I was able to legally procure from my local dispenser.
The Bad Knee happened 40 years ago and never got put back together right so it’s some sweet bone-on-bone action up in there and usually just feels like a little pocket knife, not a big boning knife or anything, is jammed just up to the left of my kneecap. Sometimes it cripples, but duct tape, bracing and time fix it fine. The Salve (that I really can’t identify from the labeling and sorta wished they’d work with me on getting something a little more clear) was, for real – The Shiznit on that stabbing pain. It made me smile at my knee for, like, a whole 2 hours. Then it wanted more. I was also writing, not hustling through a station with gear or something, so I’ll know more when I’m back in orbit.
The Abdomen Alien is some seriously pissed-off old scar tissue from a couple things that tried to kill me. It is a bit more than a nuisance and I had my doubts, strongass doubts, that this salve could possibly do anything. It both did and did not disappoint – the old scars near the surface, did stop screaming for a bit. It didn’t do jack for the more serious pain BUT (and this is a big OL’HUGE BUT) I contend that a huge part of pain management can be found in chilling.the.fuck.out. I can’t see how a topical absorption of THC and CBD could be anything BUT good for chilling. Sooo…. who’s to say if I’m not crying less because my system is processing more cannabis. I dunno. I’m just an old white lady spinning words in a tower, looking for kindness, truth and a freakin’break from the alien in me belly.
The maybe I work-too-much monkeys that live on each shoulder are probably the most common ailment I hear the islanders talk about, and I can tell you: IF for no other reason than this alone: BUT THIS STUFF. Holy cow and yes please. I also generously shared with the soles of my feet before I tucked them into fat wool socks and I discovered that my usage of the word “Fuck” drop by 48% within the first hour.
With frequent reapplication, (including soles of feet and extending to my temples and forehead) I noticed that I no longer noticed and was in a way-better mood, writing shinier sentences … donating to kickstarters. Seriously. I think I recommend this stuff.
It did, for certain and without doubt, kick all kinds of ass on these old arthritic hands. That rocked. In fact, all the old broken bones responded well to this. Truthfully: I’m just kinda surprised at the outcome, I thought this rubbing it all over you thing was just kinda silly and excessive. Maybe not.
I’m lucky to have no shortage of both empirical and anecdotal data on this stuff and I’m more than happy to share. Next time we’ll talk about what I’ve seen in sexy-time cannabis; It’s gonna crack you all the way up what the kids are doing these days. Bring that bourbon your son gave you for Christmas, I’ll put out some flowers.