A Random Image
 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || May 11, 2014 || 11:05 pm

I remember my Mother and her sisters gathering in my grandmother’s kitchen there in the house on Quarles Lane. They always teamed up when it came to food: They canned produce enough for the families of all nine kids or made sausage enough to freeze and last all year. They’d prepare meals for daylong parties where horseshoes would chime a pole the whole afternoon while the the smaller cousins ran around like tiny escaped mental patients, gorging on pie.

The kitchen was small, and each of the six women had a distinct job. The blue- and green-flecked formica table was always laden with a small mountain range of raw foodstuffs and an array of knives and bowls. My Mother and her family moved alongside and around one another with an unselfconscious grace born of repetition. Other than the hours spent dragging cotton sacks, these girls had been in their Mother’s kitchen the whole of their lives, watching this dance, learning it and their individual contributions to it.

They laughed and sweated (“Women do not sweat,” my Mother once told me, “They glisten.”) or they frowned and sweated, and –though I can’t be sure because they’d never let me in to listen– I’m pretty sure there was a bit of ‘polite’ discussion about the goings-on around town. The general air was that the food dictated their mood: When making up quarts and quarts of chowchow, there was laughter and the occasional song would up and bust out of someone.

Sausage, though: Sausage brought with it pursed lips or furrowed brows. (please insert joke about the laydehs of my family taking their sausage seriously, that’s what she said, whatever)

During these food prep marathons I and my (mostly male) cousins were banished to the yard, which usually resulted in some sort of physical contest like a game of football or slingshotting rocks at a series of targets: A tin can, a six-ounce glass Co-Cola bottle, a piece of cardboard with an ‘x’ of black electrical tape marking its center. One at a time and in no particular order each cousin would get called out and heckled by all the other ones. That was a brutal five or ten minutes for the victim, but it served to give us cast iron guts and ready retorts born of practice when someone out in The World would chance to try and torture us later. Those who groused or didn’t have the proper bearing under pressure got a double helping. Those who whined through the screen door at the Mommas got a double helping of the double helping, and sometimes were temporarily shunned.

We loved so hard. We played so hard. We were special and not every family had what we had: Six strong matriarchs to watch over each of us in turns, each seeing some way they could minister to us children.

This week I talked to someone I love very much. He chanced to be included in one of our family gatherings when we were both on the cusp of adulthood. “I’ve never had better food in my life,” he said, and that called up memories about the pride and the effort that went into every one of those dishes. It caused me to spend a couple of days remembering all the mothering I got; that mothering not only came from my mom, I got it from my aunts and even some of my older female cousins. I never wanted for hugs or laughter or even a decent buttwhipping if I was in need of one.

The prevalent feeling of my young childhood was one of being regarded and doted on and well-cared for.  The women in my family are crazy-good at regarding and doting and caring, and also telling you when you need to zip up your face and bring your ass-end back into line.

We would arrive home after those days of food ritual, spent and happy. Mother would hustle me into the tub and scrub my black-bottomed feet hard but wash my long sheet of blonde hair in a gentle manner, rinsing my head carefully while singing or talking to me. Later I’d climb into the bed, my lanky legs brown as a bean against my pale pink nightgown, and my Momma would be waiting there, long and willowy, to tuck me in. She’d lean in, kissing my forehead –my favorite of all the kisses in the world– and murmur or sing to me. I’d catch the subtle leavings of her shampoo, her most recent cigarette, and her Chanel mingling, and feel perfectly at peace while I slid off into sleep.

mumandbub

 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || February 17, 2014 || 11:52 pm

Just got off the phone with my father. That call didn’t just elicit a couple of emotional swings, it built a whole damn swingset.

Let’s focus on this one thing, though: I just got off the phone with my father. You know, the guy who two years ago was given a death sentence containing the words “small cell” and “inoperable.”

He’s still here.

Now let’s tease out one more detail from that call: He’s going to Guatemala on a mission trip. This leaves me stunned in about fourteen different ways.

ByGod, it occurs to me that I am still proud of this man. Not thoroughly; not even mostly. But in certain key, important ways that damn near make up for the lack. I call that a win.

“I hope you’re proud / to be my dad.”

Even a decade and a half of estrangement can’t kill certain things.

 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || February 3, 2014 || 3:47 pm

There is a pit deep in the chest of every addict.

While we are born with it –we honestly can’t help it, despite some jaded thoughts to the contrary– and don’t own the blame for that bit, we expand its depth and breadth with every pull off a bottle, with every push, pop or snort of something that checks us out of ourselves and into the quiet shade of oblivion, no matter how brief. That part we own. That part we grieve, because yes, we know we did that to ourselves. With our grief comes punishment.

Addicts are notorious self-punishers. We don’t need your help with that at all.

If you think for even one second that there is not immense guilt and shame for the alcoholic, for the junkie, for the spun-out and diseased and tired human being that seeks solace from an over-arching sense of awareness about the world, then you have bought into a very hurtful lie. Don’t look now, but carting around that lie (and worse, braying about it loudly) damages your credibility as a human.

It’s the same credibility that you brandish like a weapon when condemning the unrecovered, the seemingly unrepentant, the lost and disheveled mess of humanity that exists at times only to prop up a disease.

Yes, it absolutely is that dramatic. We tumble ass-over-teakettle, we get back up. We try not to tumble again. Some of us are better at balance than others. For some of us it’s not a matter of balance, but of leaning so far into recovery so as to create a hedge against stumbling in the first place. There are those of us whose arms are forever pinwheeling, whose habit it is to end up face-down and skinned up over and over again. If you are close enough to someone to be able to do so, watching the element of try in any of these situations is inspiring and terrifying and heartbreaking in turns.

It’s hard to convey with words, and even harder to experience. No, you don’t have to understand. What you do have to do is not make it worse.

If not making it worse means not remarking on things you don’t understand, then you need to fall silent until you do understand, are trying to understand, or your voice is called for. If you don’t understand and don’t want to understand, then at least be graceful enough to shut the fuck up.

Consider shutting the fuck up for this, if no other reason: You are taking a chunk out of someone in recovery every time you level snide remarks at and condemnation on someone who couldn’t get it half-assed together and keep it that way for any length of time. You can’t imagine the type of hypervigilance it takes to walk the line if you weren’t born with that pit in your chest. You simply can’t, no bones about it, and you don’t have a right to steal the dignity of someone’s sobriety.

The pit in my chest is big enough, thanks. As evidenced by my track record, I can furrow it deeper and wider (with great aplomb! verve! determination!) all on my own. I don’t need your kind of ‘help,’ judgmental jackasses of the world.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Philip Seymour Hoffman

This man was one of the greatest talents of Generation X.
I sure am sorry he’s gone.

 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || February 1, 2014 || 3:05 pm

All aspects of being so sick that your eye teeth hurt aren’t necessarily bad. When the kind of sick I’ve got right now sledgehammers me, then I know I’ve got the dreams to look forward to. Those dreams, the ones I didn’t have to shell out dough on some overpriced hallucinogens to obtain.

I just have to lie here, mouthbreathing, and twitch and be too exhausted to even die, basically. Dying takes good energy, and this sort of flu is hoggy with all of the system’s resources.

Today I dreamed that I was inside a huge ancient coliseum, one with crumbling stone walls arcing into an inky night. Lynyrd Skynyrd was there, of course, and Ronnie Van Zandt called me out by name, heralding me as a sister of the South and lauding me for co-founding The Esteemed Society of Sister Neckbone. Ronnie wanted me to join him on stage and I shooed him with one weak hand, gesturing at the people and the stairs I would have to conquer to get there. I can’t, Vee Zee, I just can’t; go on without me.

It was then that I found myself buoyed up on a sea of hands, being shuffled easily but carefully to the lip of the stage, where I was gently poured into a pile of lank hair and flannel shirt and woolen socks, my flu-sweaty clothes having accompanied me from the scrambled-blankets landscape of my bed into my dreams. So much for the magical release of reality’s grip. So much for holding the world’s longest record of Good Hair In My Dreams. Forty-two years and some change was a good run, I reckon.

I lie there, an aching puddle of I Want To Die, horrified as the crowd began to chant “Free-BIRD, Free-BIRD,” striking their lighters and expecting in the way that concertgoing crowds tend to do. I started to cry.

“No. Noooooo,” I mumbled weakly, just inches away from the tips of Ronnie’s boots, “Don’t do that….”

I sneezed. I coughed. I sneezed again, twice. Then I parted my parched and cracking lips.

“Tuesday’s Gone,” I croaked. I didn’t have anything else in me. Nobody heard me.

I woke myself up singsniffling “…and I don’t know where I’m going, I just want to be left alone….” in a dry whisper.

 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || November 27, 2013 || 1:05 pm

ornexch13sm

Veterans: Let’s do the dang thang.

Newcomers: My friends have Big Personalities and this thing is a hoot. We have a lot of fun doing this; don’t be afraid. Sign up in the comments below (don’t forget to include your email address!) and wait for further instructions via email. To get more of a gist, you can refer to previous posts about the swap here.

I’m capping this year’s participation at fifty swappers. You have until Wednesday, December 4th to sign up; I’ll close the list and start pairing folks then. Yippee kai ay!

 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || July 27, 2013 || 12:39 am

I have a manual typewriter now. If typewriters had vehicle classifications, this one would be a cast-iron tank. It squats elegantly –if imposingly– on the livingroom desk. It would make a good burglar-killer if I could get that sumbitch hauled up over my head without tipping over backwards. This typewriter was built to outlive my grandkids and maybe even their kids. It is not fucking around with its here-ness.

I hope there is at least one person out there who never gets tired of making ribbons for it while I still have breath in me.

I sat down to write on it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and I was unsure of how firm I should be with the keystrokes. What passed as a comfortable action for my fingers felt somehow soft and insubstantial, so after the first couple of words rendered with two hands I poked the keys without mercy, two-fingered and savage.

Oh Lordy, the typos. But I am more adept at keyboarding  with two fingers and ten minutes than some people are with ten fingers and two hours, so there’s that. It’s like my favorite drunk says: “It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.”

The paper kicked up above the platen and I noticed little stars in it. For a minute, anyway, that’s what my brain thought, “Now there is a brand-new one: You have gone and typed stars onto paper,” then the inner capitalist kicked in and next I thought, “Holy SHIT, am I ever going to be RICH.”

Then sense came in and started stamping out the flames of imagination delirium: It was only the loud bulb of the lamp shoving its way through tiny holes I’d made in the paper with my no-holds-barred two-fingering madness*.  There were no stars on my paper. I’d knocked out tiny holes; I was using my typewriter as a paper punch: Cut that shit out.

I unclamped the beginnings of the letter and pulled it off the roller to examine it. It was after three in the morning and I wasn’t about to retype it.  I did, however, marvel at the mess I’d made of its backside before rolling it back into the machine, lining it up again as best I could, and finishing it off.

I even remarked on it in the text itself: Holy crap, I’ve made your letter into braille. The recipient will be able to read it into her old age, no matter if time steals her eyes. My overeager indexes outdid themselves. Kind of. I guess.

I’m pretty good at humiliating myself and most of the time I’m comfortable with that state of affairs.

Here I was, though, having sent what I thought was my haphazard braille out across some miles and the recipient said back, “You made lace of the paper.”

I looked at that letter and saw braille. She looked at it and saw lace. Perception is weird like that.

The people that can see the lace are the good stuff of life, and I’m sort of prone to finding them in the oddest ways.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Is there a non-WASPy way to say, “Hey y’all, I’m in a really great space right now.”?  Because I am. My bones holler and fuss. My heart sings to spite them. I am glad for today.

*Google is going to LOVE that sentence

 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || June 19, 2013 || 9:22 pm

You know, for some years now I’ve been trying to ‘get a hold of myself,’ to be even and mild and measured.
I’m thinking that I’ve put in a lot of work that was antithetical to who I’m supposed to be.
I don’t want to be gentle and quiet as a rule.
I want to roar, both in my laughter and my rage.
Supplanting that roar with a Mona Lisa mouth makes me feel all odd angles and unsatisfactory leanings.

I can whisper when I’m dead.
And if I can’t, I won’t know the dang difference anyway.

Tell me about your misplaced work, sugar. I miss your voice.