la Ketch

my life story

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

fill it up

“We should just keep going,” my sister said. “I know. we should,” I agreed. “Keep going, where?” our step sister muttered. “Back to California,” my sister and I chimed back in unison. I had decided that we shouldn’t actually go driving around on the roads. I didn’t want to get pulled over and thrown into jail. I was reckless but I still had an aversion to jail. It's telling that I was afraid of getting pulled over but it never occured to me that we could wreck the truck. Apparently, it didn’t occur to any of us because no one was wearing a seatbelt. It was a suicide mission of sorts.

I decided to drive up a gravel road near our house that lead pretty far into the woods between plots of land on which they would eventually build more houses. This is where my mom had taken me on my driving lessons. The road leads to a dead-end circular turn around, making our chances of making it to California very slim. Still, we rode along and I have to say, I was having a pretty good time. The music was awesome and we were crusin. It felt so good to be driving away from something, to be behind the wheel and in control of something, even if we were headed towards a dead end. My sister wanted to know when she could drive, “after me.” Story of her life. I was still going pretty slowly. Remember, it was a stick and my step dad had only taught me how to go from reverse to first and back again. I had made it to second gear. I decided to try third and then I shifted up to fourth. We were going pretty fast now, through the woods, trees whizzing by at about 45 miles an hour. 45 miles an hour doesn’t sound fast but on a one-lane, winding gravel road, it's pretty fast. We didn’t get much further once we reached this speed before the back end of the truck started to fishtail. We were sliding back and fourth all over. I was sort of trying to slow down but I panicked. I had no real driving experience and I couldn’t shift down. I should have just pulled the key out of the ignition or something. I don’t know what I should have done but I just kept going at the same speed, trying to regain control of the wheel. Our swerves got wider and wider until finally we hopped a ditch and the car flew up into the air and hit a huge tree head on. Hard. We hit the tree hard.

I just sat there. There was a mellon size indentation in the windshield from where my sister’s head had hit it, breaking the glass with her face. She was bleeding everywhere. She broke her nose. I bruised my ribs with the steering wheel. Our step sister fractured some bones in her hand. “Oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God, “we were all sort of screaming, muttering or chanting versions of this. We got out of the car, “is everyone okay?” I asked. “My dad is going to kill you,” my step sister said. She meant it in the same way that My First Friend had meant it when she said her brother would kill us for stealing his beer. I knew she was probably right. Meanwhile my sister had no idea that her face was broken. She looked like a mad woman, moaning to herself blood all down her shirt in her hair. As soon as I really looked at her I started to cry. I had to keep it together though. I had to devise a plan of action. “Ok, you two go back to the house, get her cleaned up and I’m going to try and move the car.” Never mind that my sister probably had brain damage, I was going to try and save my ass. They obeyed probably just because I was still speaking with some semblance of authority. Lord knows where I was getting it from.

I got back into the car. The music was still playing, “she was a fast machine, she kept her motor clean.” Fuck off. Turned off the stereo. There was steam coming out of the engine. I went to put the stick in gear but there were no gears. The transmission had fallen out. It just went around in a circle. I hopped out of the car and went around to the front. I lifted up the smashed hood to reveal the engine turned on it’s side. I went around to the back of the car and the tires were torn off the rims. This is what they mean when they say a car is “totaled”. It is unfixable. It would have to be sold for parts. The plan I had been devising consisted of me driving the truck back to the house and placing it in front of his tiny baby tree we had on our property. I would then tell my mom and step dad that it was this tree I had run into, that I had simply lost control and run into it. Clearly, I couldn't get the car back to the house. So I walked back behind my sisters. It was then that it started to rain. That’s nothing special, it’s always raining there. It just made the whole situation muddier.

When we got back to the house, it was about a mile and a half walk, my step brother was, of course, freaking out. Both he and my step sister were crying. They kept telling me over and over how their dad was going to kill me. They were seriously, actually afraid that he was going to kill me, with his bare hands I’m assuming. They were afraid for me. It was actually touching.

My poor sister was in pain and her nose was starting to swell. I had absolutely no idea what to do. I had no way to get a hold of my mom (no cell phones yet) and so I just started dialing my friends. What to do? What should I do? I got my friend J.S. on the phone in California. I have known her for a long time and she is still one of my dearest and closest friends but J.S. is not exactly the person you want to call for advice in a situation like this. She gets squeamish sort of easily, especially when she was younger. I start telling her what happened and she is just like, “well, ummmm… I don’t know! I mean, I think you are just going to have to accept that you are about to be in a lot of trouble.” Ummmm., yeah….. I was so fucked.

When my mom called finally, to check on us, I knew I had to tell her. I just came out with it. “We crashed the truck.” She didn’t believe me. I explained to her the entire story, how we had just gone up the road and I had lost control and I had and accident and that I thought my sister should probably go to the hospital. She still didn’t believe me. “You know, that’s not very funny,” she said. “Okay. Fine. Just come home and you’ll see,” I told her. They did come home and the first thing they did was drive the mini van down the road to see if I was telling the truth. My mom came tearing back to the house. She demanded that we all get in the van and she drove us all straight to the emergency room. She couldn’t believe we were alive, the truck looked so bad. She was furious. Much more so than I expected her to be. She was freaking out. Of course she was. I mean we could have been killed and how dare we put her in that position after all she had been through, didn’t we understand what that would do to her? How selfish we had been. I felt so horrible. Even writing this now, I can feel it again, how horribly I felt doing this to my mom. Even more so though, I felt horrible that I had gotten caught and that I was going to be in such trouble that I couldn’t even imagine what was in store for me.

I was the only one that suffered any real punishment. It was acknowledged that my sister and my step sister had gone along with me in a willing fashion but it was also pointed out that it was my idea to take the car out for a joy ride and that it was me who was driving and me who drove the car straight into a tree. The driving it into a tree part is sort of hilarious to me now because it’s such an intense metaphor for how I was feeling. I was so pissed off, so fucked up, that I just took a car and drove it right into a tree.

I was grounded for the rest of the school year. I think this happened in late Winter, so it wasn’t that long. I would extend it later. That wasn’t the big punishment though. The big punishment was that I had to dig a ditch around the entire house one foot wide and one foot deep. No, no, I’m not. I’m not kidding. That was it. By myself, I had to dig a ditch around the entire house one foot wide and one foot deep. I did it too. It took me a couple of weeks and when I finished, i handed the shovel to my step dad with a sort of feeling of acomplishment. I had completed this concrete task and could now be absolved for my sin. He handed the shovel back to me and said, “Fill it up.”

I did not fill it up. I don’t remember how it got filled up but it wasn’t me who filled it. I was done. My guilt had subsided and my rage was back in full force. No way was I filling that ditch up again, YOU SICK FUCK. No one made me but I was still stuck with the remainder of the punishment. I was truly not allowed to do anything but go to school and come home again until summer started. How could I possibly take over the school if I was locked in my bedroom like rapunsel every night. So, I did the only thing I could do in that situation. I snuck out. I was really good at it too. I made dummies in my bed. I faked sick and went to bed early. I would usually wait until they went to sleep and leave but once they stayed up watching a movie and I was challenged to crawl on my hands and knees behind the couch where they were sitting, slowly open the front door, silently close it behind me, get down on my hands and knees again, crawl under the window they were sitting next to and run for my life down the long driveway where two guys in a truck eventually came and picked me up.

What do you do when you sneak out of the house you might be wondering? Well I’ll tell you. A. drink B. make out. That’s pretty much it. I was still a virgin. Don’t think I had given it up already. No! I was always drunk and pretty slutty but I was still a virgin and in "the Claw" your virginity is everything. This was a popular joke:

Q: What do you call a virgin in "the Claw"?
A: An ugly ten-year-old.

That still makes me laugh.

A few months later my family went on vacation but I wasn’t allowed to go. I was still being punished. I had to stay at my best friend’s house instead. This was hardly punishment but for some reason they didn’t get that. It was while they were on this vacation that I found a way to get in even more trouble, to do something even more horrible. Oh yes. It gets worse or better, depending on how you're looking at it.

moving mountains

Before I get into the cheerleading saga, I feel that I must first tell you about how much trouble I got into my freshman year. There were two big events for which I became permanently grounded. Then there was a dramatic meltdown and finally…. the divorce.

The first time that I really got into big trouble was the time I totaled my step dad’s truck. I was fourteen and I didn’t have a driver’s license. We had moved into the new house. It was very big and sat facing an acre of land and to the back was the air strip where all of the local residents could take off and land their little airplanes. One family even had a helicopter (ouch). The house had five bedrooms and five bathrooms. I had my own bathroom, which was pretty amazing and I had the biggest room. It was very big but not big enough to contain me and my anger. That would be a very big room indeed.

When the house was first finished, there was this huge mound of garbage next to it. Not really garbage but refuse from the build, all sorts of scraps and materials. Mixed in with all of it was a bunch of wood and it was sitting out there rotting in the rain. My step dad (I’m going to call him this now because it take’s too long to type “the man my mom married”) decided that it would be a good idea to sift throught the pile and separate the wood from the rest of the garbage so that we could use it for fuel in our wood burning stove. This was a good idea, if you weren't the one doing the separating of the wood and the hauling of the wood and the stacking of the wood in the garage, which he wasn’t. This was a chore for the kids to do, like little slaves, his minions. God I hate him. He was one of these old school guys that grew up walking in ten feet of snow, ten miles to school, uphill both ways. No one knew the discipline and hardship he had to endure growing up and it did him a world of good and we were all going to benefit from some hard labor and discipline so that we could grow up and be mother-fucking assholes just like him.

We worked on the wood project for weeks, separating and stacking, all four of us (me, my sister, our step-sister and our step brother). One weekend day, my mom and step dad took the little plane out for a romantic day trip to have lunch in some cute little city and look at antiques or something similarly lovely and boring. The kids were to all stay home.

By this time my step dad had given up completely any notion of trying to “win me over” and had begun just trying to get avoid me whenever he could. As I mentioned, he was strict, especially with his own kids. His own kids were terrified of him but I was not. I challenged him at every turn and I swore like a sailor, which was like finger nails on the chalkboard to him. He would ask me to clear my plate from the table and I would respond, “Fuck you; you’re not my fucking dad.” With a look that said, “Watch your back because I will kill you in your sleep.” He eventually stopped asking me to do things like clear my plate. He thought I was a spoiled brat. He never considered what it was that I was going through, what my mom and sister and I were going through. He just wanted his house and his hangar and his kids living with him (they had been living with their mom because he couldn’t afford a house). He wanted this fantasy life that he had always dreamed of. My mom was his ticket and I was the only thing standing in his way. He hated me. If my mom wasn’t there watching, he would have beat the crap out of me. I’m sure of it. He came close to doing it too, a few months later.

So they left on their trip and we were all to stay home sorting and stacking the fucking wood like little soldiers. Just before they left though, I came up with an idea to help our chore go more quickly. I suggested to my step dad that he allow us to use his little pick up truck to aid us in our task. We would sit the pick up truck next to the pile, stack the bed full of wood, then back it up to the garage and unload it. This would finish the job in half the time. He was leery but he had to admit it was a good idea. It had been taking us much longer than he thought it would to get this job done, walking back and forth from the pile to the garage, a few boards at a time. He agreed to let us use the truck. I would be the one to drive, being that I was the oldest. I had had a few driving lessons already in my mom’s mini van.

We had sold my dad’s bronco by then. My sister and I protested but we weren’t listened to. When we were at the car lot, doing the trade in, my sister sweetly explained to my step dad, “We don’t want to sell the car because it reminds us of our dad.” And he replied very smugly, “that’s a pretty expensive memory to hold on to.” He put the nail in his own coffin with that statement. No one puts baby in a corner, if you know what I mean.

I had had some driving lessons but my mom’s mini van was an automatic and this little pick up was a stick. Before they flew away, my step dad gave me a quick lesson on how to put the car into reverse and then back into first and then back into reverse again without killing it. It was tricky but I got it well enough and they left us to it.

Before their plane was even a speck in the air, I announced my plan to the others, “We’re going for a ride kids.” My sister was down. She knew when I had suggested that he leave us the keys that this was what I was scheming towards. My step sister faltered but eventually gave in. She would do anything to be accepted by us. My step brother refused to go. He was the only one with half the sense god gave him in the group that day and his decision saved his life because I was suggesting that he ride in the back of the truck. He most certainly would have been killed if not permanently maimed if he had followed my suggestion. Thank god he didn’t go.

Off we went, little step brother stacking wood in the rear view mirror like a dutiful son and the three ladies crusing fast down the long driveway rocking ACDC in the tape deck. Free at last, free at last, god almighty….

Monday, August 29, 2005

first friend

I went into the offices the day before school started, to register for my classes. The two things I wanted to know were: A: did they have school plays? (yes) B: did they have cheerleading for freshmen (yes but I had missed tryouts but there would be try outs again for winter sports cheerleading soon). Okay, not so bad. I signed up for the regular things plus College Prep English (which I had to drop my sophomore year because I didn’t study hard enough) and Speech class because Drama One was filled and the Drama teacher taught speech, so it was the next best thing. I showed up to school the next day feeling cocky and nervous. I had always gone to school with the same people, most of them since kindergarten and I never really had to make new friends before, not all at once.

Part of the reason that we had moved to "the Claw", of all places, was because there was land available on a residential air strip. I should probably explain that after the accident, my mom got a bunch of money. She was pretty much set for life but she has since blown it all using her brilliant investment strategy, “buy High / sell Low.”. The money is gone but I don’t blame her. She had a huge hole to fill and she was filling it by buying things: houses, cars and furniture mainly. She bought us a bunch of stuff too. I probably would have done the same thing. The fuck wad she married though, he took a lot of her money. He built a house with it. And then, because she is generous and felt guilty, when they got a divorce, she let him keep it for a song. This is her own fault but I still blame him. I had mentioned before, he was a commercial airline pilot but he had his own little plane, a four-seater Cessna or something. So they wanted to build this big house with an airplane hanger next to it. Or, I should say, he wanted my mom to build him a big house with an airplane hangar next to it for him. When I got there, the house wasn’t finished yet (they never are) and so we lived in these little apartments that were like a block away from the school. My mom and her new husband and his son lived in one and right next door my sister, my mom’s husband’s daughter and I lived in the other. This made sneaking out of the house very easy for me in the beginning. I would later turn it into an art form.

I had forgotten to mention that my mom’s new husband has kids. Oh yes, he does – four of them actually. Two boys and two girls. The older two were adults and didn’t live with him. I met them only a couple of times and I have to say, they weren’t so bad. I even sort of liked his older daughter. The younger two did live with us and they were interminable, intolerable, terrible, twerps. The younger daughter (my new stepsister) was my sister’s age, one year younger than me and starting the eighth grade. My poor sister had to go to a new school with that fat drip following her around like a puppy. The younger son (my new stepbrother) was like eight or nine and he was the most text book nerd you ever met. He was so hilariously nerdy. He even spoke in this real nasally voice and pulled his shorts up over his shirt way too far, like Urkle. He had no friends or social skills and his main thing was making noises. He was very good at this. He would sit in his room alone for hours and perfect it his art. You could give him any combination of noises and he would recreate them with astounding accuracy. “Step brother, do a ..........garbage truck falling off of the empire state building .....with a tin can rolling away.” He would pause for a moment and then he would make a sound exactly like a garbage truck falling off the empire state building and then, just when you thought he’s forgotten about it “cha chink, clink, clink, clink.” The tin can rolling away. That guy is either making millions doing sound effects or in jail for murdering people.

So, we’re living in these apartments and I walked to school on my very first day at EHS. The first thing I notice is that there are a lot of big trucks, some of them have actual gun racks and some of them have like, bull’s horns and things on roof or hood. Then I notice that a lot of the guys are dressed like cowboys. I wonder if it’s “cowboy day”. Every girl has huge, permed hair with huge bangs and every girl is wearing “silver city pink” lipstick, which is very light pink and has a metallic shimmer. I would own a tube of my own in a matter of months.

I walked in wearing these lace up sandals, sort of linen, white clam digger pants and a lime green tank top. I had a brown leather sort of “hippie” purse and my hair was very straight and bobbed. I had no bangs. Also, I was very, very, very tan. I stood out and it was palpable.

The first thing you learn when you are the new girl is that the people who want to make friends with you are the people who need friends. If you are going to make friends with people who are not insane, then you are gong to have to be proactive about it. Unfortunately, it took me a few months to learn this first, valuable lesson. The main reason that I had a hard time making friends at first was because I was so stuck up. I thought I was so much better than everyone else and I was working off the notion that it was all temporary. I was devising my plan to break my mom’s new husband’s will to live. Soon the plan would be successful and we would move home. I was walking around with my arms crossed literally and metaphorically. If someone tried to talk to me I would just smirk or say something snotty about how we do things in California. People started to hate me very quickly.

My first friend was the toughest girl I think I have ever met in my life. She was unlike anyone I had ever met before. I wish I could tell you her name because it is perfect but I don’t want to use real names here, especially hers, for fear that people will be very pissed off about these stories being on the internet. My first friend was quintessentially white trash. We started talking in gym class and she invited me over for dinner and to the football game that night. I agreed to go. She was actually quite pretty, in a hardened way. She was tall and thin with nice skin and a pretty face. She didn’t wear too much make up, just blue eye liner and blue mascara with a touch of “silver city pink” lipstick to tie it together, understated compared to what most girls were wearing. OH YEAH. The other trend was to go tanning and to wear tons and tons of “bronzer” powder on your face so that all of the girls looked like little orange Oompa Loompas.

We took the bus home from school and out to My first friend’s house. I had never ridden a school bus before. Her house was really far out there and it was quite a shock for a girl who grew up in track housing. It was pretty big actually, a split level with a basement and a big kitchen but it was dilapidated, cars in the front yard, over grown yard, Christmas lights up from three years ago – you get the picture.

She had invited me over for dinner but we never ate anything. Her mom was huge like, “What’s eating Gilbert Grape” huge and she was obsessed with how skinny My First Friend was. My First Friend was very skinny. She wore really tight acid wash Guess Jeans, which I’m sure she stole, and she looked good in them. She also wore crop tops that showed her navel but she was very flat-chested. She and her mom had opposing eating disorders. She had a dad and he was in the living room, looking disgusting, drinking beer and watching T.V. He didn’t speak to us. She had a little brother, about three years old who was wandering around, filthy dirty wearing just a diaper and very thick glasses. The mom was sort of feeding him. The house was really dirty and it smelled like dog food. I was relieved when My first friend suggested that we go downstairs to her room.

The basement had two rooms in it, my first friend’s room and her other brother’s room. Her other brother was older, had graduated high school a few years before but still lived at home. I think he was a logger, a lot of the guys in the town were. The first thing we did was go into her brother’s room where she proceeded to pull a half-rack of warm beer out from under his bed. It was Rainer beer, which is the only beer anyone drinks in "the Claw". They are insane about it. I’m surprised they sell anything else in the stores. “My brother will kill us if he finds out that we took his beer,” she said taking two from the box. I figured that when she said he would “kill us” she mean that he would be really mad. I didn’t consider that he would actually try and kill us, which is what she meant.

After we took the beers, she slid the half rack back under the bed and we went to her room. I should have suspected something when she pulled the bookcase across the door, baring it from outside forces. We sipped our beers. “I’ve never had this kind of beer before,” I said casually. She nearly spit her mouthful across the room. “Are you serious?” She stammered in disbelief. “But you drink, right?” “Oh yeah, of course,” I was telling the truth. I had been drunk a few times. It was never pretty. It still isn’t. I’ve never been able to hold my alcohol, even though I’ve been drinking vast quantities of it since I was thirteen years old. The first time I got really drunk was at a high school party my cousin took me to when I was in the eighth grade (I was still in California, she was a year older than me). I ended up climbing up on a door knob and swinging back and forth singing the theme from “Spider Man” over and over again. I wouldn’t let up. I ran around the house climbing up on anything that would get me off the ground, exclaiming to everyone that I was Spider Man and that I had Spider Powers. They ended up locking me in a closet to get me to shut up. That was off of three beers. I was acting like I was high on acid (uh-oh, FORESHADOWING).

“I think it’s cool actually, that you can admit that,” My first friend said to me after a long pause filled with beer slurping. “Admit what? That I’ve never had a Rainer beer?” I responded. “Yeah,” she said, “I mean most people I know, even if they had never had one before, they would lie and say that they had.” “Oh,” I said. I’m sure if I knew that it was uncool to not have ever tried a Rainer Beer before, I would have lied too.

I’m not sure how long we sat there before this happened but eventually huge truck pulled up in the driveway. My first friend’s face turned white. “Pound!” she said desperately. We did. She threw the cans under the bed. Then she sat her skinny ass up on the book shelf, pressing her feet into the ground to brace the door even more than it already had been. She had clearly done this before. “My first friend's name, you stoopid bitch, you BETTER NOT BE DRINKING MY BEER!!!” It was her brother if you haven’t figured that out yet. He came barreling down the stairs and I don’t think he even stopped at his room to count how many beers were left under the bed. Maybe he couldn’t count. More likely he just assumed (correctly) that she had taken them. I got the sense that this was some strange ritual that they played out every Friday night. Next, he came at the door with such force that I was sure he would break through it. He was pounding on it and saying the most horrible things to her as he came at the door again and again. “I’m going to fucking kill you, you stupid skinny little cunt. I’ll rip your fucking twat open with a hammer,” etc. etc. There were things I had never imagined a person could say coming out of his mouth. She kept bracing the door and then whispered at me to open the window. I did, quickly and climbed out of it. As soon as I cleared it she followed. Her mom was already waddling out the door with the toddler in tow. Although neither parent had come to our rescue in the basement, she was at least paying attention. We all climbed into the brown paneled station wagon and were backing down the driveway before the book case gave way. My first friend and her mother didn’t say a word about it to each other. We rode in the back and her mom drove with the toddler in the front with no car seat and no seat belt. I was dumbfounded.

We were early for the football game but that was fine because we still had to stop and pick up Lisa, who was My First Friend’s long time friend since elementary school and in our same grade. I hadn’t really hung out with her yet but she looked like Molly Ringwald. Lisa wasn’t allowed to hang out with My First Friend because she was a bad influence. Lisa lived in a huge house with a gorgeously manicured lawn. Not only was she not allowed to hang out with My First Friend, she wasn’t allowed to go out. Her parents were crazy Christians and kept her in there. She could only go to school but I guess she snuck out all the time. My First Friend’s mom helped us break her out. My First Friend and I hid behind some bushes and made signals to Lisa. Then she jumped out the window, ran across the lawn, down the driveway and we all got into the station wagon and drove off. It was all very easy and it seemed like Lisa’s parents must not have been home. They were though, she assured us. This all happened in broad daylight.

The game didn’t start until seven, so My First Friend’s mom dropped us at Godfather’s Pizza. Thank God because I was starving. We hung out there and then walked to the game. I don’t remember much more about the night except that I got drunk and someone brought me home eventually. I think there was a party. There probably was and it was probably about 10 miles outside of the town at a place called something like, “the Gravel Pits” or “the Power Lines” or “the Gorge” or “The Quarry” or “Mound of Shit”. There were probably kegs provided by guys that were much to old to party with high schoolers. This didn’t stop them from having sex with them. There was probably a huge bonfire fueled by wood pallets that burn really high and in the latter part of the evening a bunch of guys probably started jumping through the fire. The music was probably played out of a big pick up truck with it’s doors open and the music was probably country or ACDC. If the song “You Shook Me All Night Long” came on, then everyone probably went insane. This would describe pretty much every party I went to during my four year tenure at EHS.

My First Friend scared me and I knew I had to get rid of her. I slowly divorced myself, working my way up the social ladder as my attitude changed and I started to realize that I better make the best of my situation because I wasn’t going back to California anytime soon. It was easy really. I just stopped hanging out with her and she pretended not to notice. It was the easiest breakup I’ve ever had. I was grateful to her though. She took me in and gave me a start when I really didn’t deserve one. Also, she taught me that thing about Rainer Beer, which was critical if you wanted to go anywhere at EHS and I figured I had a pretty good chance at going far. In fact, I was beginning to see that I could take it fairly easily. I wasn’t certain of my exact trajectory but I was pretty sure it started with cheerleading.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

not a dad

When we got back from Alaska, my future step dad, the guy my mom met on the plane, called a lot and they started going on dates. He was gaga for my mom from the beginning. Who could blame him. I mean, she was still pretty young, cute, she had lost all of this weight from being so depressed and she is super funny my mom – funny, witty and charming. And so no wonder this guy was so into her because this guy was butt ugly. I’m not kidding you. UGLY. I hope he reads this one day. He was a total milk toast. Homely. No chin. He was boring. He was cocky. He was a conservative Christian. He was a racist. He was uptight. He was a fuckwad. And worst of all, the very worst of all – the most horrible thing – he was not funny. He was so unfunny that he was anti-funny. He was a funny vacuum. A void of hilarity. A chuckle free zone. At one point he layed down the rule that my sister and I were not allowed to say the word “fart”. Telling my sister that she can't say “fart” is like telling a bird it can no longer fly.

So, He started taking my mom out on all of these dates and she was just going along with it. I mean I know that she didn’t really like him, let alone love him…. honestly, I don’t know what she was thinking. I think she was just relieved at the notion that her life might go on and I’m sure she was enjoying the attention she was getting from him. She was in so much pain and I think it was nice for her to have a distraction. I also think that she thought my sister and I needed a father figure and I also think that she thought that because her marriage had been so successful, that she could have another successful relationship just as easily, like she was just good at having relationships. I also think that she was still in such shock that she had no idea what she was doing. She was in no position to be making major decisions but she was making them. Boy oh boy was she making them.

Personally, I just couldn’t believe it was happening and when I say that I couldn’t believe it was happening I mean that I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT WAS HAPPENING. How could she possibly be giving this guy the time of day let alone - - - KISS HIM? It made me want to vomit every ten minutes.

I was pissed and I wasn’t shy about it. This was the beginning of about a five year stint of me pissed off as hell. They say there are stages to dealing with the death of a loved one and I hung around in the “anger” stage for a long time. I pitched a tent and built a base camp. It was war. I was the good guy and this other guy (it pained me to even call him anything with the word “dad” in it – so I usually called him “my mom’s husband”) he was the enemy.

One of the worst things my mom did was let this dude drive my dad’s car. My dad was really into cars but we couldn’t afford really nice ones or anything. If you scroll down to “The first part” post I did, you can see this picture of him when he was young next to that little convertible that he had for a while (before I was born). When we were young though, he always had used, beater cars. A truck with a camper shell for a while, then no car at all, he had a scooter that he went back and forth to work in while my mom drove us around in a little Honda civic that she had forever. For a period he drove this white El Camino that he got for $200.00 after someone couldn’t get it out of the parking lot at his work. He loved that El Camino. He loved it but not nearly as much as the prized possession he bought about a year before he died – his Eddie Bauer Edition Ford Bronco. He LOVED this car. I believe he had to finance this sucker too and my dad always paid in full for even major purchases. We didn’t even have credit cards. He would have to save his money before he bought anything and pay cash for it. He was a very cheap man. But this, he sort of splurged on. He decided to go for it, get all the bells and whistles. It was a nice vehicle. He washed and polished it like twice a week. I can still picture him in our driveway washing it, staring at it with such love and admiration.

The first time my mom brought her future second husband around the house to hang out with my sister and me, I refused to be a part of it. I refused to even be there when he came. I went across the street to the neighbors while he took my mom and my sister to the movies or to dinner or some other such stupid boring shit. My sister was much more compliant than I was. She was also less angry and more compassionate towards my mom. Don’t get me wrong, my sister didn’t like this guy either, we were in full cahoots on this one, she was just trying to be good for my mom. She knew what a hard time my mom was having and she wanted to make it easier for her on any level that she could. I chose the opposite tactic.

When he got there, I staked the whole thing out from the window of our neighbor’s house across the street. We were very close with them and still are and they were all watching with me as my mom, my sister and my mom’s future husband walked out of the house and instead of getting into his crappy little piece of shit car, my mom gave him the keys the FUCKING BRONCO. He took the keys, opened the door, got into the drivers seat, my mom and sister got in after him and they all drove away. Like it was no big deal.

I freaked. I did everything but run out into the street and lay down in front of the car (similar dramatics would come later). In retrospect, I should have run out in front of the street and layed down in front of the car, shown him what a nut job he was dealing with right off the bat. Instead I just riled around on the neighbors floor screaming in agony. How could she let him do it? How could she let him DRIVE MY DAD’S EDDIE BAUER EDDITION FORD BRONCO?! Was she insane? Was she fucking insane? Apparently yes. And from that moment on, the war was waged against both of them.

The courtship was not long and soon my mother announced that she would be marrying this man, selling the house and we would all be moving up to the ass crack of butt fuck egypt which is "the Claw". Again, disbelief. Could anyone stop this woman? I apparently, could not. I still to this day can not believe that someone of authority did not pull her aside and tell her that she was making a huge mistake. We were in family therapy at the time and even the therapist told my mom she thought it seemed okay. That therapist was a quack. She was horrible.

So, I spent the next few months throwing fits and refusing to go. It was all happening in a whirlwind. My mom sold the house and had moved by late May. There was a wedding, in Oregon? God I barely remember it. I do remember though, that my mom was crying at the wedding and they WERE NOT TEARS OF JOY. No, no, no. She was crying because she was sad that this was what her life had become. I would say things like, “don’t do this, you are making a huge mistake. You shouldn’t be crying at your wedding because you are sad. This is a bad sign.” But she wouldn’t listen. Why, oh why GOD wouldn’t she listen? I refused to go but my mom said I had to. Her compromise was that I could stay and live with my cousins until I had to start school, which I did. She went up with all of our stuff and my sister and I spent the summer with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins in the house behind our house. I watched the new people move in.

The summer I spent at my cousins was strange. I was enrolled in the sort of summer camp called “Jr. Life guards”. It was in Newport Beach and you just ran around in these red bathing suits, swam in the ocean, played games, learned to surf and stuff. It was pretty fun and I got super tan from it (this will come into play later when I arrive on the scene in Washington). I remember that summer as being really solitary though. I remember riding my bike to the beach (mint green beach cruiser – fucking rad bike) and listening to my headphones and just contemplating my existence a lot. The tapes I had in my headphones at the time: Guns 'N Roses - Appetite for Destruction, Poison - Open up and say.... Ahhhh and Bob Marley - Legend.

As moving day for me got closer and closer the idea of moving became more and more impossible to comprehend. I had just turned fourteen and I was about to start my freshman year in high school. I was super into my friends. Not only that but over the summer I had procured a boyfriend. Not just any boyfriend but the hottest guy in our grade, J.R. J.R. was so fucking hot that it still makes me hot to think about him. I saw him about four years ago at a party and guess what? He’s still totally hot. J.R. had always gone out with R.D. who was by far the most popular girl in the pack. But they had had some problems and for some reason, he decided to move on to me. Actually, as I type this, I realize that I have to admit that the only reason J.R. was probably into me is because by this time, we all knew I was moving away and he thought he could get a piece of ass with no strings attached. And HELLO, he was right. We screwed around a lot. I was too scared to have sex but we made out SERIOUSLY. I thought I was in love with him and then I had to leave him. It was so intense the way that only love in the eighth grade can be. He gave me his signature, white pooka-shell necklace to remember him by. When I got to Washington, I'd wear the necklace to school and write his name over and over on my pee chee folder but it didn’t last. Oh J.R., you total babe ………

Then I moved. I moved about two days before school started. There was a big party for me and lot of tears and one last attempt by J.R. to take my virginity (I kept it with me – saved it for some lucky hick) and I moved. In utter disbelief, I stepped of the plane and into my new life. The next four years are what my family and I still refer to as “the dark years”. I had no skills or training to prepare me for what lay ahead. The piles of cow shit, the gun racks, the country music, the chew spit, the perms – the horror….. the horror.

Well, I got us there didn’t I? We’re at least in the town where the story occurs. I had no idea, my small audience, how long it was going to take me to tell this. I think though, that I’m going to just take my time with it. I will get there eventually, I promise. It’s a great story.

la ketch

Friday, August 26, 2005

back to Alaska

As many of you probably know, when you suffer any sort of tragedy, your mind and your body go into shock. There is a numbness that occurs, a freeze. What has happened is so incomprehensible that your mind feeds it to you a little bit at a time so that you don’t lose yourself completely. Often times, this is very common, you will erase a large chunk of time from your own mind and never give it back. You will hide it from yourself permanently.

I think this phenomenon was especially prominent with us because it was such a reality flip. We were in such la la land before. Especially, my sister and I, being children still, we hadn’t really experienced anything close to actual emotional trauma or pain. It was like everything was suddenly going inside out, upside down, black hole action. It really happened all in an instant too. I mean had spoken to my dad on the phone about 30-45 minutes before the crash.

I was sick that day with strep throat, which I had all the time. I had stayed home from school. He was working that night (the crash happened around 10:30PM) and so, he was home with me during the day. My uncle and my cousin were with me at the time of the crash. My mom was at work, as I mentioned before and my sister was asleep. Later, after it happened and my mom had come home and our house was filled with people at about one o’clock in the morning, my mom and I decided that we needed to wake my sister up and tell her what had happened. This part always kills me when I recount it. We went in and woke her up. She could tell something was horribly wrong. My mom said, “Something bad has happened.” And my sister said, “Did Taffy die?” Taffy was our cocker spaniel. “No”, my mom said, “no, it’s daddy. Daddy has died.”

Oh shit I’m sitting at my desk crying now. People can see me. I have to reel it in, get on with the story. That part about my sister always kills me though.

What was I saying? Before the crash, my dad called me on the phone. We had this very slow, very weird sort of underwater conversation. I remember when it was happening thinking that the conversation was very strange. My dad asked me if I needed him to come home. This is especially strange because my uncle was with me and my mom would be home soon. I was sick but I wasn’t that sick. Still he asked me and I considered it for what seemed like a long time and then I told him, “No, no I’m fine. I don’t need you to come home.” I didn’t tell anyone about this for a long time, this exchange. It tore at me for a long time because obviously, I felt that if I had said, “yes”, he would have lived. I have since some to peace with this. I like to think that on some very subconscious level he and I were having a conversation about his leaving and that he was asking my permission to go and that on some very subconscious level I felt that it was okay for him to go. I like to think this and it makes me feel better but if I had a time machine, I would take it back.


The accident happened in the middle of my seventh grade year and I don’t remember much of anything from the remainder of that year or what happened during my eighth grade year at all. It’s a blank. With one exception, a strong memory the pierces through the blank very clearly - our trip back to Alaska.

My dad’s uncle and his family live in Anchorage. He was estranged from them for a long time because of some rift between my grandfather and his brothers. A few years before he died, my dad wrote a letter to his uncle who was really overjoyed to hear from him and immediately invited us up there to visit. It turns out that we have this entire clan up there and that they own and operate an air service that flies sportsmen into the “bush” where they fish for salmon. They have float planes and they give you waders and a pole and a box lunch and fly you out there. You have a boat and a little shelter, they also have some cabins so you can sleep out there if you want. They drop you off in the morning, you fish and then they pick you back up again in the late afternoon. My dad loved to fish and he had taught us how to fish. He also loved the outdoors and was an avid backpacker. So, he jumped at this chance to go.

We flew up there and we had an awesome time fishing and hanging with our new family. My dad’s cousins have kids a few years younger than my sister and I and we all got along really well. We went during the summer and so the sun never went down. We got to play in the street until like 10:30pm and it looked like it was 5:00pm. I remember waking up one morning and my dad had stayed awake all night, “to see the sun not go down,” he explained. “It didn’t go down,” he assured us.

When my dad had his accident, the Alaska clan took it very hard, especially my dad’s uncle. It had meant so much to him that they had rekindled this relationship and then, he lost him so quickly afterward. After he died, they invited my mom and my sister up again and we went, only this time it was in the middle of winter, so it was dark all of the time.

During the winter, they close down the air service and put skis on the planes instead of floats. Then they fly out into the bush, which is now under about twelve fee of snow, and stay in the cabins they have out there. We went with them. It was pretty awesome. You are out in the middle of fucking nowhere. If you don’t keep the fire going, you will freeze to death. They had snow mobiles and snow shoes and cross-country skis. There are moose. There are many moose. We had a good time. There was so much white and snow and it felt like we were really far away from the sort of nightmare we couldn’t wake up from at the time.

The best part about being out there in all that snow was the snow tunnels. Under my leadership (being the oldest and the bossiest) all the kids dug a very elaborate tunnel system. We dug a huge great room that you could actually stand up in and then tunnels that went off from that and we each had our own little room. We would just dig and dig and then we played in the tunnels, going from room to room, visiting each other. It was pretty cool. Also, it was New Years Eve while we were there and we lit off a bunch of fireworks. We lit sparklers in the tunnels and they would light up so that if you were standing outside, you could see them glow from within.

The trip to Alaska was especially good for my sister and me. It was hard on my mom because my dad’s absence was really obvious there but pretty much everything was hard on my mom because she was having a really, really hard time.

The other reason that I really remember the trip was that on the plane ride home, my mom met someone. A man. She sat next to him and they talked the whole way home. I hated him immediately. A short while after the accident happened, my cousin and I were riding our bikes and she casually asked me if I thought my mom would ever get married again. I couldn’t believe she would even suggest such a thing. The very thought riled up in me such disgust. I knew that she never would. At least not for a long, long time. My mom was 36 when my dad died and she is very beautiful, funny and smart. If she had spent the rest of her life without entering into another relationship it would have been sad but I wasn’t ready to accept this so soon. By the end of the trip, they had exchanged phone numbers. He lived up in Washington State but he was an airline pilot and he was based in Orange County where we lived and he was down there all the time…

This seems like a good place to stop. I need an entire entry to properly explain how much I still hate this man to this day. They’re no longer married, just so you know and I like to think that I’m largely responsible for that. Mostly he is responsible though because he is a dick and also, he is a fucking asshole.

I just reread this entry and it’s not as funny as I would like it to be. I will try to make the next one a bit funnier.

la Ketch

Thursday, August 25, 2005

the first part

Ok. So this is the story. I’ll probably tell it in parts because I find it necessary to tell the entire thing, which means I have to give you the background. Which means that I will probably tell you my entire life story in the end…. oh well!

When I was fourteen years old, I moved from Costa Mesa, California (aka the “OC”) to a very small, dairy farming community about 45 minutes south east of Seattle, Washington. The name of the city is "the claw" (aka "home of the evil spirits"). It sits at the base of Mount Rainer and it’s very beautiful there but I didn’t want to move there for many, many reasons. The reason we were moving was, my mom got remarried and the reason my mom got remarried was because my dad had died and she was trying start over but she was really running away from all the pain she was in and the reminders of our happy past-life.

I had an extremely happy childhood. I grew up on a culdesac in sunny So. Cal with a pool in my backyard. My parents were very happily married. I lived in the same house from the age of two and we knew all of our neighbors. My mom’s brother and his wife (my aunt) lived right behind us with our two cousins and we were really close with them (still are). I have a sister too. She’s one year younger than me. One year and five days younger. My sister is very sweet and funny and cute.

My dad was a police officer and my mom stayed at home for the most part. When we got a little older, she started working from home. She ran a sort of neighborhood day care, watching kids in the neighborhood while their parents were at work and then later, she taught swimming lessons in our back yard. Finally, when my sister and I were in the sixth and seventh grades, she went through a training program and got a job as a reservation agent for an airline called “Air Cal” which is no longer in business. She worked nights and this is where she was when she found out that my dad had been killed. She was on a break and it came on the TV in the break room.

Now, this isn’t the story. The story is coming up. The homecoming queen who dropped acid and had to resign as the student body president of the hick-town high school she hated story is coming up I promise you but this is part of it. There isn’t anything particularly funny about this part of the story, it’s pretty sad actually and I don’t mean to start off this blog with such a big, “oh isn’t this sad please feel sorry for me” story but it’s part of it. It will help you to understand where I was at later on…

So what happened was, my dad was killed in an accident. He flew helicopters for the Costa Mesa Police Dept. In Southern California, it’s very common for the police department to use helicopters to patrol most areas because everything is like a big messy grid and very flat and when they are chasing cars with cars they can talk to the cops in the air and the cops in the air can tell them where the cars are going. It’s easier to catch them this way. That’s what my dad was doing when his helicopter crashed. He wasn’t flying at the time, his partner was. Everyone in my family is always very quick to point this out when they talk about this. They worked with partners, just like car patrol cops do and my dad was really good friends with his partner. Some people in my family like to think that if my dad was flying, they wouldn’t have crashed. Personally, it’s neither here nor there. They did crash and that’s that.

It was a really freak thing, two helicopters crashed in mid air. They were chasing a stolen car (my dad and his partner) and the car went over into the neighboring city, Newport Beach. It’s procedure to pass off the pursuit but when they were doing that, as the Newport Beach Helicopter swept down to take over chasing the car, instead of flying off to the side, like they were supposed to, they turned back and the Newport Beach helicopter came down on top of them. No one knows why they turned back. The two officers flying the Newport Beach helicopter survived with injuries but everyone in my dad’s helicopter was killed.

I say “everyone” because at the time of the crash there was someone else in the helicopter with my dad and his partner. This is the saddest part of the story. There was a mechanic with them. He was one of the mechanics that worked on the helicopter in the hangar where it was kept. They were giving him a ride. I guess he had always wanted to go up and take a ride with them. They had been promising him they would take him up and this was his night. This wasn’t so uncommon, I had been up many times myself with my sister. This helicopter had four seats and it was brand new - a very cool machine. So this guy goes up and he’d never been in a helicopter before and it crashed and he died. He was recently married and he had a newborn baby. This to me is the saddest part because my dad and his partner, they were cops, they knew what they were getting into but this guy was just going for a ride. It’s a major bummer.

I’m going on too long now, this is a huge entry. I want to stop for now and continue later but I feel like I can’t possibly end on such a sad-ass note.

I will tell you that it’s okay! I’m fine! My mom is fine and so is my sister. We miss the guy like fucking hell and we wish he would come back everyday but you know what, people die. They die all the time and there’s nothing entirely special about it. I consider myself very lucky actually because as far as tragedies go, mine is so clean, so easy to talk about. I know people who have such horrible tragedies, suicides or molestation, etc. It’s hard to get that shit out and deal with it because people don’t really like to listen to it. My tragedy has fan fare. It’s had bravado. An accident! A little girl! A police officer! There were motorcades and ceremonies and draped flags from the president and twenty one gun salutes and there were newspaper articles with photos of my sister and I with our little white dresses with pink bows and blonde French braids and little white gloves. It was very big and very public and I was getting A LOT of attention for it for a while. If you continue to read this blog you will see that attention is something that is very, very valuable to me.

The thing that really makes it okay and I will leave you with this, is that I had my dad for 12 years and he was a very wonderful man. I was close with him and he really loved me and my mom and my sister very much. This is more than most people can say. It sounds totally cheesy and very obvious but he’s with me all of the time and he lives through me.

My dad was a cool guy. I will post a photo of him when I figure out how to do that.

I promise, the story gets less sad and more funny! Stay tuned!

la Ketch

money where my blog is

i didn't really think i would do it. i swear. i didn't think i would but i am. i'm starting a blog. i've become obsessed with everyone else's blogs and now i've started to copy edit my husband's blog and so i think i have to. i figure this will give me something to do besides obsessively check the other blogs and critiquing my husband's blog. i find myself getting so mad at my blogger friends when they aren't posting often enough. often enough for me is like, at least once an hour. i'm going to need a gimick though. Yesterday i was thinking, maybe i'll try to tell my life story like a serial? i've keep thinking i have to put together a one woman show but it's really just based on this one story, which is a long story, so maybe i'll start by telling that. i'll start it later this afternoon, break up the day. i work at a finance company and it's august, which means that there is no one here. My boss is in sag harbor until after labor day. So i have some time on my hands and the internet...... i've finished it.