Photo by Waldemar Salesski
Every time I call Russia, I have wild stories to tell. So here is one for you, after I talked to my mom this morning (and in case you're wondering where the weird shit that I'm writing about comes from).
WHERE MY CRAZY STORIES COME FROM
Every time I call Russia, I hang up the phone bewildered. Was it true? Was it fiction? How can I separate the two into bits that make sense? Primarily I call my mom, sometimes my half-sister, sometimes my cousins or my step-mom, but most of the family drama comes from my conversations with my mother. I have just started reading The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton and got to thinking. This is human shit and blood and sweat that we're all wallowing in and yet are afraid to expose. She wasn't, Anne. She turned herself inside out and dropped her guts on your face, whether you wanted it or not, but you related. Of course you did, it was the hidden stuff that gave you nightmares.
And I thought, maybe I should stop being afraid of exposing all this family drama I have dangling over my head. I fictionalize it, because I don't want to hurt anyone, having been hurt so many times by other people that I know how painful it is. And yes, I'm a storyteller, and this is the stuff of life. And unless I commit it to paper, it eats my insides like acid. Perhaps that's what Anne did, perhaps that's why in the end she killed herself. It's not easy being naked among those who are clothed. You get pinched and cut and slashed and, in the end, beheaded.
The stuff that happens in my family is a bad horror show, only it's happening in real life.
"Hey, mom. You called?"
"Oh, yes! I just finished making the inheritance documents for dad's apartment, and can you believe it, he was stashing away his pension, and there was a total of $10,000!"
"Wow. That's a lot of money."
"But it's all gone! My sister [my aunt] took it all out. How could she do it? That's thievery! She must have forged the documents. Half of it is mine. I asked her, and all she said was, 'I needed it,' with this unperturbed look on her face. But she promised she will give me my half back when she sells this property [she's a realtor]. I'm afraid she's going crazy, you know? She makes all these promises and never fulfills them. Maybe she's going through a nervous breakdown like you did?"
"Um...I don't know..."
"Anyway, I just got done making these documents that will get me half of our dad's apartment [my grandpa who recently died], and I will write a will, in case I die, so that you and your sister will get it, and she [my aunt] will get squat."
"Thanks, mom. That's very generous of you. But why would you die?"
"Because she wants me to die! I can see it. I had heart palpitations again, and she was just watching me curiously, watching me suffer. She is weaving ropes out of me, getting me all worked up so my heart would fail. Can you believe it? She wants me to die so she can have the apartment. I won't allow it. I was taking care of our parents, and she was gone! She wants me to die!"
At this point I can only say, "uh huh," "uh huh," and wonder, is this stuff real? [read on]