The Whole Story

I’ve been sick with the flu for the past three days.  I had some Tamiflu left from when my son had H1N1 two years ago; I took that and I do feel much, much better.  I have to work so today’s post is short and full of pictures.

I  hope that yesterday’s rant about the uncivil behavior of believers on Facebook will lead to some public discourse about this troubling issue in our faith today.  Honestly, I’m sick of it and I think it is time we start talking about it.  So many of us are feeling victimized by these Christian Facebook bullies and powerless to do anything about it because the social cost of confronting them is so high. But if we don’t stand up to this unacceptable behavior I fear for the future of our faith.

I was talking about this with a friend yesterday and she said that if we get many more anti-christs going we’ll need to have a game show to figure it out:

Now, back to the topic at hand.  First, I must apologize.  On Sunday I played a dirty trick on my readers and put a link to this post right here that you’re reading now when it wasn’t actually written.  It was a dirty thing to do and I apologize.

Many people have been writing me and asking me to please tell the rest of this story–How did I get my groove back, what happened after Marc, etc, etc.  I’ve been dragging my feet not knowing where to begin when it obviously begins here with what I wrote when my mother was dying.

For those of you with ADD, the twitter version is this:

2 teens have sex in a bunkbed in the Projects. Uncle is a jerk. Clothes on the lawn.  I’m born. Their lives are ruined.  It’s all my fault.

HA! 139 characters. I have one character to spare. Pretty soon we’ll all be reduced to trying to fit our entire lives into 140 characters or less.

So when I last left off, my two teenage parents were screaming at each other under a street lamp in a dark parking lot.  Cutaway to a poignant close-up of poor little blond girl taking on the entire weight of her parents rotten marriage and ruined lives upon her own slender shoulders.  So sad.  So very, very sad.  Here.  Have a hankie.

Dad in disguise.  He looks a little like Sonny Bono now

This is a picture of my dad holding me when I was just a little newborn.

He was young.  Too young.  He’ll mostly be cast as the villain of the tale because that’s the role he chose to play.  Or was it chosen for him?  Nature versus nurture. So hard to know which one rules us, isn’t it?

His mother was a woman who likely made all of her major life choices based on whether she liked the sex or not.  I can’t really fault her for that, can I?

But unlike me, she choose poorly.  Or shall I say, she repeatedly choose poorly.  (Every girl gets a mistake allowance, but I’m afraid this grandma exceeded hers.)

This is me at about a year old with my mom in front of the University of Louisville library where my father attended.  I used to have the little sweater with the pom poms, but I lost it long ago.

I went looking through the few family pictures that I have and I found this one.

This is me standing in the courtyard of the Housing Projects in Louisville, Kentucky, where I was conceived and born.

I thought I’d post it just in case you thought I might be making this story up.

I even remember the little outfit.  I was a fashionista even way back.

In case you missed it here, this is a picture of these same projects right before they were demolished in 2005.  All the grass and bushes are gone.

This is a picture of me with my mom’s mom and my little cousin, in front of my grandma’s apartment.  She would watch us while our parents were at work. Yes, that’s my evil Uncle Thomas’ little boy, in case you were wondering.

I figure I’m about four in this picture, so that makes my grandma about one year younger than I am right now.

It was around the time of that last picture that we moved from the projects to Indiana so that my father could attend Indiana University in Bloomington as a pre-med student.  I was four the first time I tasted champagne and that was also the year that my parents converted to Mormonism.

The only real downside to Mormonism is that we had to stop watching I Dream of Jeannie because of all the drinking and the smoking and the magic, and my mother didn’t approve of the relationship between Jeannie and her Master.

I really missed I Dream of Jeannie. I still wanted to watch it.  I felt guilty.

I think Mormonism was a very good thing for my parents and maybe it could have been a permanent fix if it hadn’t been for the Viet Nam War.

As painful as it is for me to watch, I really do like Mad Men. Sometimes I watch this show from between the cracks of my fingers because it is just that painful for me.  But I watch it anyway.

Mad Men is sort of like how Bewitched would have been if Bewitched had been a drama, Samantha had been a hot mess, and Darren, either one, had been straight AT AL

I loved Bewitched, but my mother wouldn’t let me watch it either because of all the drinking and smoking and magic, and she didn’t approve of the relationship between Samantha and her Darrens.

Mad Men is sort of like my childhood would have been if my father had been successful.

At the end of Season 3 of Mad Men, Joan’s husband, the creepy rapist, Dr. Harris, realizing that his medical career is a bust, comes home and tells Joan that he’s taken a commission as an officer in the Army.

My father did not get accepted into medical school so he came home one day and told my mother that he’d taken an officer’s commission in the Marine Corps.

It was a chilling scene to watch as a five year old through the crack of my bedroom door.  It was a scene my parents would play over and over and over and over again for the rest of their marriage.

I’m five years old in this picture.  It must have been taken at some point after my father had joined the Marines but before my sister was born.  I taught my mother to drive in the car behind me.  My father went off to Basic Training and my mother didn’t know how to drive, so the two of us got in the car one day and I taught her how to drive by hanging out of the window and telling her how close she was to hitting things.  Kids didn’t wear seat-belts in those days.

The car was blue.  They don’t make cars in that shade of blue anymore and I’m sad about that.  I still really like blue cars.

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12 thoughts on “The Whole Story

  1. I'm sorry for all the sadness! So sorry! But I'm enjoying all the pictures.I'm also still pondering this sentence: " I taught my mother to drive in the car behind me. "First, I was taking it really literally. And then, I thought…no, she means the car that is behind her in that picture. And then, I kept reading, and I thought…no, she means LITERALLY behind her. Was she behind you while you were hanging out the window?

  2. Chloe, I'm always amazed by how happy memories are so enmeshed with the tragic. I have family members who are living much the same life that you describe while a beautiful, innocent child is being taught to believe that she is the source of the problem. Thank God for loving memories of grandmothers, good story books, butterflies, green grass, independant excursions around the building, and the utter joy of hanging one's head and upper body out of the car window while driving down the road.(I vividly remember flying down the interstate at 85 MPH sitting in a lawn chair in the back of my father's truck.)Somehow, I think, the trick is to hold on to the joyous times and see the perpetrators of the sadness as the pitifully deluded ones that they truly are. Susan

  3. SiB, I'm talking about the car that is behind me in the picture. I would sit wherever was necessary to see what was either coming or going, and tell my mother how close or how far she was from hitting something. Parallel parking was the most fun. It was a very large car and probably not so easy to see out of.Chloe

  4. Susan,lol, I can totally get a picture of that in my mind. Kids today don't know what they're missing. All this safety has really removed some of the thrill.I certainly didn't think it odd that I taught my mother to drive when I was five. It was a warm memory for us at the end when she was sick.

  5. I am enjoying this series. I love people's life stories – especially the people I love.Have you ever read "A Girl Named Zippy"? I think you'd enjoy it. It's one of my favorites for a lot of reasons.

  6. I'll second the recommendation for "A Girl Named Zippy" (and Haven Kimmel's next book, "She Got up Off the Couch"). Great reading. I too am sorry for all of the sadness – and thankful that you came through it with a beautiful zest for life!

  7. Hey Cindy, thanks for the book recommend. If Robin and you both think I should read it then I probably should. I went to amazon and it sounds good.I did come through it on the other side. I hope that as people read this they realize that I realize that too. I'm not in a dark place as I write of these sad times. They are simply what happened.love, chloe

  8. I am enjoying this series. I love people's life stories – especially the people I love.Have you ever read "A Girl Named Zippy"? I think you'd enjoy it. It's one of my favorites for a lot of reasons.

  9. Chloe, I'm always amazed by how happy memories are so enmeshed with the tragic. I have family members who are living much the same life that you describe while a beautiful, innocent child is being taught to believe that she is the source of the problem. Thank God for loving memories of grandmothers, good story books, butterflies, green grass, independant excursions around the building, and the utter joy of hanging one's head and upper body out of the car window while driving down the road.(I vividly remember flying down the interstate at 85 MPH sitting in a lawn chair in the back of my father's truck.)Somehow, I think, the trick is to hold on to the joyous times and see the perpetrators of the sadness as the pitifully deluded ones that they truly are. Susan

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