November 8, 2009

We Were A Glum Lot

A cup of coffee on a morning windowsill. 1979 at Dog S--- Acres.

Himself: Says he thinks he is over the bug at last. Tomorrow we apply for Medicare, his Cobra at 600 something a month, and finish the bookcase. Perhaps nap too as last night's dinner didn't sit well.

Herself: Very creaky. Hurt…boy do I know I need to get back in the water. Saw the Calder Jewelry show…glorious stuff!!! Saw the Russian artists in America mostly WPA. Some great Rothko’s. Poked my head into a show on Picasso, Miro, and Calder. Most of the Russian stuff was mediocre, but the Rothko’s were glorious as were Picasso, Miro, and the Calder jewelry and paintings. Terry Gunthorp's Obituary in the paper today. Very sad.

Reading: Finished HP 1 Read cookbooks.

Balance: Starting to write about the move to Dog S--- Acres. Way too long but I’m leaving it.

Han’s and Ron’s opinions and vitalities were some pretty strong stuff. They would do some pretty rotten, rough stuff to the behind in their rent tenants to get them out….illegal stuff. Enough was enough after about a year. Lenora was doing well in school….except for her mouth, I thought. But her sister was in constant trouble.

The order to, “Clean up your room,” elicited hysterics from Lessa. Hysterical hysterics. Her poor sister had to share a room with knee deep dirty clothes intermixed with rotten food. I ran a piece of tape down the middle of the room. Lenora kept her side mostly clean. More hysterics then Lessa ran away, and did all those other teen things mixed with drugs and drink. And ran away again. Stayed out all night. Of course, I didn’t see that part of it all just the running away and the terror of not knowing where she was. Fear all the time.

You bet I drank over it, I assure you.

When I decided to quilt my job at the Purple Palace, I applied for welfare and food stamps then I packed us up and moved us all across the street.

It was a three, old building, complex that once was officer housing at Camp Pendleton. The kids had a room with a sunny patch of dirt garden outside their double windows. I had a room looking out on a bit of dirt with a giant shade tree shadowing my room and encouraging mold growth. We had a living room/dining area/kitchen to share. It was a nice big two bedroom end apartment with real wood floors, real lath and plaster walls, and real tile in both the bath and kitchen. An end unit with really cheap rent too…but we never used the front door because the rest of the building was full of Hells Angels.

We moved in with all the burned and smoky furniture from the Garritson house.

Lenora brought me coffee in the mornings.

I probably didn’t act very grateful then. I’m certainly grateful that she did that for me today. I was very needy, and this was the one act of caring I got to start my day.

As they headed out to school, I’d drag out my journals to record whatever was on my mind, whatever I had drunk, whatever adventures I’d gotten into the day before. If I was badly hungover, I would eat a carbohydrate, take four aspirin, and write about it….after checking to see what I’d written or drawn the night before.

Next, I’d find enough money for cigarettes and a bottle of wine for this day’s wine time. I’d do a surface pick up and someone would drop in. The day would begin, or some crisis would appear, and off we would go. Things like: Lessa wasn’t at school, Lessa and Lenora both skipped their therapy appointments, I’d forgotten to check a box on my welfare form and we didn’t get any money. Oh, the list was endless and they always called my mother instead of me.

We didn’t have a phone.

Mother would descend on me and fill my head with negatives. If she was really drunk, she would yell or take back whatever she had given me last. I’d go across the street and use the pay phone on the corner to call old friends for a ride. Bill, or JR, or Dorothy, or grandmamma would help…..once I got mother out the door.

By four, I would be out sitting on the grass in my beach chair with three or four neighbors. We would all have a drink of some sort. I’d usually have glass of wine, a book, and share the laughter. If it was a cold foggy winter day, we would gather in my kitchen. The kids had been in, dumped their books, grabbed a snack, and called, “Bye,” as I was reminding them to be home in time for dinner.

One late summer day, they came back and dumped a giant bottle of ice water all over my head.

“Don’t do that to me,” I yelled jumping upright, “I don’t have a sense of humor.”

That was a low, low point.

Sam and I in the side garden with our beer and wine.


  1. This journal makes me wonder about all the people who are just like that today and sitting someplace hiding from their life. Clearly you had a compelling talent for writing and drawing that caused you to work at it even in the cloud of alcohol.

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  3. what a beautiful drawing!
    drawing is so good for drawing one out of low points, yes? xoxo


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