Monday, November 30, 2009

Tacoma

After a slow, lazy Sunday morning, I finally was dressed about 10:30 a.m., and went outside to work on my winter project—taking down a 10’ tall bushy cedar, one yard-waste container at a time. These are things I do in lieu of living a life. The yard-waste container is only picked up every other week, so of necessity, I can only do a bit at a time.

I live near McChord AFB, and often hear aircraft overhead and I’m used to that. However, there were two helicopters constantly circling overhead and I guessed that they were hunting for a criminal. No other neighbors were outside—my closest ones had gone to church as usual. And it’s not unusual that I seldom see anyone else outside their homes. The helicopters were obviously scanning over my immediate neighborhood so I considered going back inside, but once I start on a path, I’m not easily dissuaded, so I just continued.

I worked out there for about two hours, raking some leaves and sweeping my front deck. When I finally went inside both my cell phone and landline showed waiting messages and it was my daughter checking to see if I was alright because just the distance of six city blocks from me, four police officers had been shot dead in a coffee shop—shooter unknown and on the loose. This happened about 8:30 a.m., on Sunday morning. Now, on Monday evening, there is a suspect, but he is on the loose but thought to be moving north above Seattle.

The normal people around here are devastated and fearful. Heartsick. This follows by four weeks a shooting of a Seattle policeman and his rookie female partner on Halloween—they were in their car and a car with the shooter in it pulled up alongside, and just opened fire. The suspect in that case was wounded and is still hospitalized. But he will live to testify or be tried at least. The male policeman died instantly in that case—his partner got off a couple of shots but it was not until a few days later that suspect was found and he ran and was shot by the police. He was found after someone called in a tip that a vehicle matching the description was in their apartment parking lot, under a tarp.

Before Tacoma earned the reputation of a gang-infested city, it was just Seattle’s ugly sister. When I was a kid, there was a paper mill here which stunk up the entire town and several miles around it. Its downtown area was populated by bums and hobos and one just never went there. At some time though during the many years I was gone from this area, Tacoma cleaned up its act, getting rid of the paper mill and another factory that contributed to the stink and dirtied the atmosphere (I think it was a smelter, whatever that is).

The downtown has been very gentrified and it is now beautiful as it lies on a Puget Sound waterfront. There is a beautiful train station there, built probably in the 1800s, which is still used for lawyers’ offices and such, and the main lobby is decorated with Chihuly glass sculptures. Still almost deserted though—the only people who go there are those who work in that area in county government buildings, a couple of museums and fancy-looking banks.

And of course, Tacoma has many, many upper class neighborhoods—they are so classy and exclusive that little people like me didn’t even know they were there until one of the residents (Linda Evans) got talked about in the tabloids when her lover Yanni moved in with her there.

When I returned to this area after my divorce I moved to Tacoma only because it was near my Army job. Although the smell was long gone, it took me awhile to love this city, but after wearing out a dozen or so walking shoes enjoying its downtown thrift stores, parks, and waterfront, I do love it now to the point when someone asks me “What—why do you live in Tacoma!”, I ask back “What’s wrong with Tacoma?, in all innocence.

Of course, this is not really about Tacoma. It’s about people turning into monsters for whatever reason—drugs, the economy, mental illness, the war, hopelessness and loss. They leave so much grief behind and the misery spreads to include their victims. The normal people, and I’m including myself as weird as I am—we are so sad.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dick

There was a day when one could be named Dick, and called Dick, and no hilarity ensued. Actually, I’m not sure anyone was ever actually named Dick—probably it was Richard—in fact I don’t even know why that was ever shortened into Dick. But hey, it happened.

Sister #2 was a beautiful wild thing—white-blond until she reached adulthood—she (and all three of us actually) were kind of untamed in early childhood, untaught about do-unto-others kind of stuff. We’ve been told that we stood inside the picket fence of our babysitter once yelling “hey you son-of-a-bitch” at passersby. I am innocent—I couldn’t yet talk when that happened, but I was there. I learned at my sisters' hands about do-unto-others, as they did unto me—some mild physical stuff (I could run away after all), but mostly verbal, horrible emotional abuse that I could not run away from and it sticks to me still to this day. And it was abusive but there was also truth in it to the point that I wear clothes I’ve had for 20 years because I can’t stand to try things on in a store, catch sight of myself unexpectedly in an unfamiliar mirror or window reflection. To glimpse a photograph of myself cripples me for days. There are other limitations to my life directly attributable to my childhood with these two (or three if you include my mother), but hey, who doesn’t struggle with this stuff? Maybe it’s a good thing, but I will tippy-toe around conversations and interactions always in an effort to never hurt anyone’s feelings because I know how awful it feels. Until a certain point has been crossed; until I know that there’s no hope there.

Many times during those years, at some point though, Sister #2 would recognize when they’d gone so far that I could not live if I believed what they said, and she would apologize or make up for it in some way. Sister #1 never regretted any of it. If anyone outside the family would try to pick on me, sister #2 would attack them. She was afraid of no one. So, although I could not depend on her in any regularity, I knew that in her way she cared for me. And yet, as I began to have relationships with boys, she could not resist just appearing there, next to me, and letting me see that she could have them if she wanted, and once I saw that, she would go on her way—leaving me alone, the guy ruined for me.

A major reason I married my husband was that he never noticed her, even when she tried that appearing trick.

Anyway, Sister #2 went through a number of very cute guys—they all fell in love with her and she messed with them as it pleased her, switched them around as it pleased her, and they faithfully remained there, waiting for their turn to come around again. However, after a short marriage to the guy she married right out of high school, she went home on a vacay and decided it would be okay to date a former beau while she was there and before she returned to hubby. Hubby did not agree and they were divorced. Set loose, she came to Seattle and joined me where I was living, just before I lucked into my first job which changed my life forever.

Men continued to fall in love with her—one met her at her bus stop one morning and told her he’d seen her there for several mornings and just had to tell her she was the kind of girl he’d always dreamed of meeting.

However, somehow, somewhere she met Dick. Now she was never hung up on male beauty—her most serious beau in high school was a quite ugly guy with whom she fell deeply in love and at 16 or so, they asked my dad if they could get married. Well, of course, the answer was no and my parents made it hard for them to continue to see each other so they kind of drifted apart onto other relationships. She never forgot him though and 30 years or so later, while standing in line to get into the fair, she recognized his voice behind her talking to his wife, and turned around and hugged him and visited awhile. Neither one would have been recognizable visibly to the other, but his voice was.

Anyhoo, at some point she met Dick, an older guy in his 30s (she was 21 or so), white-blond if he’d had any hair, ponchy, and unattractive, but for some reason he did it for her. He got her pregnant in a few months but he was immune to her and when he found that out, he was gone. Our mother’s only advice to her was “Well, you’re not coming home.” (I’ve never disputed that both sisters have their own very legitimate issues with my mother’s parenting). Sister #2 then agonized over whether to seek an abortion. She continued agonizing over this until one day when I called her at work and she wasn’t there, I immediately knew where she’d gone (she’d told me previously someone had told her of a doc who would do abortions, in a medical building I was familiar with). I left work and ran there and met her as she was leaving the building—she was crying a little and said he’d told her it was too late to do anything. I was sympathetic but inside thrilled because I was looking forward to the arrival of this little one, and completely unable to really grasp the difficulties involved. And in the long run it did turn out alright—she had a girl with red curly hair, a temper to match, and my sister’s beautiful features. Although when my sister’s friends and I first saw the baby, an hour or so after birth—all we could see was Dick. On this baby’s wedding day we held her down to apply just a touch of mascara and lipstick—neither one of them could ever stand makeup—and, oh God, she was even more stunning. And she remains today one of my favorite people. And the reason I decided to have babies.

I don’t remember now if I’ve mentioned that sister #2 and I fell out after she abandoned my mother and me a few weeks after my mother’s stroke, wanting her life back, and refusing to help or accompany me as I tried to look after the house, and keep my mother from going crazy by being there with her every weekend while she was in the nursing home. I complained about this to my daughter via e-mail and somehow, although I NEVER use the “reply to all” key in e-mail, inexplicably did click that as I forwarded an excuse-filled response from sister #2, and commented to my daughter on how useless sister #2 was. This hurt her feelings and she’s not spoken to me since.

And eventually Sister #1 recruited her and made her part of the plan to sell my mother’s house immediately and become joint owners of my mother’s bank account (from which I was paying her bills, etc.). I don’t know if they ever would have taken any money from it—I didn’t wait to see.

Well, the other shoe finally dropped, and they received the letter from the attorney telling them thanks for their help but my mother had decided to handle her assets in a different way, and that now I was the only one on the POA.

Sister #1 sent me a letter, filled with her specialty, cruel words. I am rotten, greedy. I’ve obviously spent much time manipulating an old lady into doing things my way. She is going to inform our mother that she wants to be removed from the will and never wants anything to do with either of us again. I read this, and it made my heart pound, not with pain, but with pleasure—I have for the first time ever affected this person.

And yesterday I saw the letter she’d sent to my mother—a shorter one where she told her never to contact her again in any way, and that she’d known since age 4 that she didn’t like my mother. My mother pored over the letter, sadly laughing a little at the drama of it, and finally saying “Well, of course I don’t like it, but I can stand it.” She has no plans at this time to change her will, but will wait awhile to decide that. Maybe replace sister #1 with her children.

I still don’t understand Sister #1’s logic—she wanted to sell assets even though the proceeds would have belonged to my mother while she still lives. But since she was stopped, she wants to remove all her chances of ever getting anything? I don’t get it.

There has been only silence from sister #2. I may be fooling myself. But I have hopes she may be salvageable.