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.
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.
Hey Ninjas! It’s been a minute cuz so very much has been happening (translate: I had to write for clients and shelve my crazy blogging aspirations ferra sec.) Aaahhh, but today – I might have found my most fave part of this little revolution and it’s so cute in it’s corrective leg braces and bottle-thick glasses. I’m calling it Just Cuz You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should.
Only because the Gods of fiction are smiling so generously on the words being shared, the wealth of bullshit to wade through every single day, leaves me speechless. What I find myself most grateful is that so much of this makes me laugh. If I were writing for SNL, they would SO pay me extra.
Based on the “Scientifically Backed” studies I read, Cannabis cures everything, makes you smarter, motivates you to get more things done, seriously supercharges your creativity, shuts down all your kill impulses and it probably means you are smarter, prettier and funnier than all your non-consuming buddies (assuming you have them.)
It’s just a kinda big deal that way.
One of my first days in Washington, I was essentially kidnapped by a madwoman who saw a photo of me with a paintbrush on facebook and needed me to provide all her business signage in the 3 remaining hours before she frantically and hysterically opened her new deep-fried tofu stand.
It was a subversive plot, in retrospect, but I’m glad to have been woken from a sound slumber like my bed was on fire, before I had the sense to back out. I grabbed the two brushes I had brought with me and ran towards the biggest, tallest SUV I’d ever seen in my life – Black with deeply tinted black windows. I kinda went all NCIS with the vibe and jumped in the front seat.
Like a freakin’pixiesprite, this lil’ firecracker of a madwoman throws herself up and behind the wheel, buckles her belt behind her and pulls out a 2′ bong. Yea. For real. We’re IN A CAR and she whips out a bong the size of saxophone.
Welllllllllllllll, cool beans… that’s what I thought to myself. I fought the urge to say out loud, “I’m so SO not in Kansas anymore.”
She then pulls out a neatly rolled bath towel, stashed beneath her seat, and a propane torch. I shit.you.not. Propane.TORCH. IN the car. She spreads the towel across her lap, fishes a wad of something that we’re apparently going to smoke (IN.THE.CAR!!!) and never misses a beat in the extra-loud story she is telling about her evil nefarious neighbors who trimmed her chicken’s hair WITHOUT.HER.PERMISSION!
The rest of the story is pretty fabulous, but the moral (like SO SO many others in the industry) is that you don’t HAVE to test limits so boldly. If you can’t go some number of minutes without smoking dabs (a cannabis byproduct that is magically delicious and super cool in a whole bunch of ways that DON’T involve driving around tricky mountain passes with a freakin’lit torch in the car) MAYBE, just maybe you should sit back and consider the path you’ve chosen.
Today’s nug of wisdom: Don’t Dab and go.
Hunker in. Stay put. Build a fort and dab, but no dabbing and driving.
When the squeeze gets too tight for the masses that grind the gears that keep the American engine greased, there’s a pretty great chance it will blow. But, that’s just the way it feels today and probably a bigger story for another day.
From here, 5 months into shedding all but about 100 things that I own and choosing to stop being curious and start getting some answers, I can tell you this: It’s gettin’all real up in here. I no longer stand out as the only non-traditional, unconventional American out and about doing grown-up things like a responsible adult. It’s weird. Weirder still to not be an outlaw for the first time ever. Ever, ever, like in my adult life: I am breaking no laws. I also still have no stomach for drama, career slothing and passive-aggressive manipulation, but that’s old news.
Two weeks into Washington state and I’ve formed all kinds of opinions and solidified some others.
These are my Top Three:
- When people talk about the Wild West or The Revolution or Ninjas or Pioneers, or the highly sought-after Pioneer Ninja, they are taking for real. All these things were just conceptual to us before – they were romanticized and woven into great books and cinematography. Now they can fall into conversation and not raise an eyebrow. There are no new words. dangit. All those words are current again. It’s NUTS in America, just ask any one of all the other countries. These changes are simultaneously awesome (literally.makes me gasp) and straight-up scary. So many considerations, so few waking hours.
- The Meth/Crack & heroin cultures have left a divide in this country that will never be safe to touch. Just like dry-drunks, there are dry-addicts. TONS of them. Check your maps and star charts before planning vacations. The societal impact and the long-term toll this takes on communities is generational. We’re into our second gen zombies now. From what I’ve seen, these drugs erase any suggestion of a moral compass unlike any other substance Americans have ever dealt with. It scares the shit out of me and is a constant reminder to never make eye contact with strangers, pack light and play all cards close to the vest. Even though it’s usually apparent to the untrained eye, the non-addict can be swept into empathy all too easily. It’s a dangerous world. Beware the zombies.
- People are disgruntled & disenfranchised for real. (this isn’t my forum for talking about the reasonably pissed off disposable humans, like veterans; That’s later.) There are a lot (by a lot, I mean A.LOT.) of super unhappy humans out and about in America. They’re alone and miserable or they’re with somebody and miserable or with a whole bunch of somebodies, annnnnnnnd: Miserable. It’s weird how people are so disconnected from owning their own happiness (to the tune of supporting a multi-kabillion dollar self-help industry) and critical thought is more discouraged than ever. Seriously, it’s weird. There’s also a whole bunch of people, crossing all the demographic divides, who don’t get that their vote matters. The stretch between words and actions has never felt greater. People don’t vote in this country and I get it … voter fraud (GO Kansas!) and the ability to buy office make it hard to argue that a vote matters.
- Women are Owning.THIS.Place. And, on a totally related note: Resistance IS futile. For real. Short of water covering our whole island, marijuana legalization is going to impact our future. It is up to you, each of you really – with your great big ol’darling ability to vote, to decide how soon you want to reap the economic benefits of turning this obvious game-changer into better schools and brighter futures. There is no shortage of data to support both sides of this debate and I just ask you to always double-check your source and find the other side before forming an opinion. Then go see how much money is generated. The Dalai Lama has a quote about Western Women changing the world and what I’m seeing out here in the Wild West (CO & WA only 2 states with legal med/rec) supports that notion. More women than men are driving these changes so it makes me like The Dalai even more. I believe women can sense change in the wind. We’re hard-wired to be ready.
That’s what I got today. Nose to the grindstone. Trust no one.
I hope his note finds you and all your relations well – Sorry it’s taken me so long to write, I’ve been busy with unexpected twists in the road that required my full attention. I know I’m the last person in the world that you expected to hear from, given the liberal amounts of shit I have shot your way for the last decade or so – My bad.
I judged you harshly for selling your soul to Reality TV – and maybe some excessive breeding and questionable fashion choices. As a girl who has worn overalls, almost exclusively, for 4 decades – I am in no place to judge. And, left to my own devices, God knows I could have had 19 children, if I’d applied myself and cancer hadn’t stepped in to do it’s preventative middle-class maintenance.
But, I gotta tell you: YOU rock for bringing things to the front and center of what we, the ‘Murkan People, care about. I am super-duper impressed with your crazy-crafty ninja skillz (with a “z”) in making sexual abuse a thing that is almost as popular as bacon and Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn. Way to rock the casbah without trying.
Women in our country (and a few others) don’t know that we hold all the power. The average girl has thighs that could crush a locomotive with a sigh, but she doesn’t know it. I am hopeful that you guys are having secret meetings that emphasize your kegel strength and the power to drive change.
You guys have been put through the ringer. I’m sorry you had to endure whatever it is that you went through. From personal experience, I would guess that you were violated in ways that you never thought possible and when you confided in somebody, they urged you to pretend like it never happened. They were just doing the best they could at the time with the information they had available. Sometimes humans suggest CUH-razy things when they are wrapped up in panic, expectations and dread.
I know that you are busy with publicists and spinners who are turning your story into the Next Big Thing that feeds your insatiable need to be noticed. You guys are awesome clown-car entertainment and I hope you start using your power wisely while supporting each other in all those family ways I’ve read so much about.
It’s not okay for somebody to touch you without permission. Your legs are much stronger than you might think and if your heels hit that little sweet spot between the eyebrows, with all the force you have inside you, it will break little bones above the nose that make a difference. Like, labotomy-kinda difference. You can say that he was like that when you walked in – it’s never a spectator sport.
Hope you guys are protecting your freedoms and special lady parts – write if you get time.