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7. Things Are Tough All Over

Before I begin all of this, I want it to be known that I no longer blame my behavior on my upbringing.  I used to and up until recently still did.  It was so easy to use my past as an excuse to fuck up.  I thought it was a birth right.  My father was a fuck up, so why can't I be a fuck up?  There are studies supporting this idea and, just like any study, there are just as many that claim the opposite.  I don't pretend to know who is right.  I don't care.  I understand everyone's had it tough.  As it was put in the bastard novel of youth, The Outsiders, "Things are tough all over".  This is just what happened to me personally and isn't some shit-stain whiny attempt at sympathy.  I was told it would be a good idea to fill you all in on how I got to where I am.  I trust and value this person's opinion so I'm going to throw some shit at the fan.  And you try and not get any on you.

I was born in the late 70's when crimes weren't as heavily prosecuted as they are now.  When I was two, my father left to grab that elusive pack of smoked some father take to looking for when things get heavy.  Some fathers never find them and I'm sorry, I really am, I'm lucky that mine did.  After some years of foraging, he contacted me when I was 18.  After a severe asshole move on my part we've gotten pretty close, but I'm putting the balls before the dick as they say.

After my Da left, my mother and I stayed with my grandparents for a short while.  My grandparents are the greatest thing in my life but it couldn't keep me from the degenerate I was to become.  If you believe in fate or destiny understand that they are not always words attached to movie themes of rekindled love and finding lost puppies.  If there is such a thing as predestination, I stomp on the face of God.

My mother was raised well enough.  Not rich but not too far from poor.  A condition so many are familiar with, we'll call it  a normal upbringing.  She was born to my grandparents who met and fell in love shortly before the Korean war.  My grandfather is a tall handsome man with an unshakably optimistic but realistic disposition and the infallible wisdom of someone raised on a working 30's and 40's farm in rural Michigan.  He came from a respected family who weren't in the business of making sure everyone and their brother knew it.  They just were, and as a prize a road was named after them.  More than that was the utter simpleness of a related group of people who were good without show.  It sounds simple on paper but it's the type of people they write books like The Grapes of Wrath about.  I'm not the only person who believes my grandfather is the pinnacle of good men.  There are still well-respected men in my town who seek his advice and is one of the reasons my life choices are so shameful for me.

After he returned from the Korean War, he was reunited with my grandmother who is a piece of steel in her own right.  Meaner than a bear with babies she could come up with one sentence that would make any man question his gender.  I'm talking about a woman who had no problem making you kid cry in a restaurant.  She was strong for her own reasons and is as lovely a woman as you could meet.  She came from a moderate family of three sisters, born to a mother I don't remember and a father I also came to respect immensely.  Her father helped start the union at G.M. where he retired and I loved him very much.  I loved how fucking tough he was.  He was tough in a scary gangster of the 40's kind of way.  There are stories that I hear whispers of now and again that solidify this idea, but like any whisper you never get the whole meaning as that's what hushed voices are for.  I loved the fact that this great Hemingway-like man would hold me and give me butterscotch candies.  It was like he was a great unmeltable glacier.  I have old pictures of him wearing his sharp gangster-cut suits and felted fedora hats, stocky-built and straight-razor gaze.  I always wanted to be a split between my grandfather and him.  His bent boxer nose was the most worldly thing I think I ever saw.  We lost him not too long ago, along with my grandmother's sisters.  In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, "and that was that."

So, through him my grandmother was no nonsense, sometimes cruel, but unwavering.  I can't explain the complexities of this woman, I wouldn't even try, but I can see why my grandfather always held an unmovable love for her.  She was never one to compromise and neither was my grandfather.  They married and had two kids, my mother first, followed by my uncle an couple years later.  My grandfather left the farm but we were never far from it.  I have great memories of spending whole afternoons picking up rocks out of the field in return for rides on an old swayback horse everyone loved named Dawn and salty homemade ice cream.  I know it sounds too romantic to be true, but there it is.  I have some good memories.

My grandfather took a job at the Sheriff's Department, but at the time it paid so little that he had to supplement his income by working with a tow truck company part time.  He got to police an accident, then clean up the fucking mess.  He worked hard and kept his gun belt on the back of a kitchen chair.  He worked and he raised his children as well as any man could.

My mother has told me that they daughter of a cop is either really good or really bad, I won't say which she was but suffice it to say she didn't end up wearing a habit.  So, as Harry Chapin would sing you, she was raised up in the usual way.  She received a diploma and married my father shotgun style.  It lasted for two or three years and I don't know enough of the history to relate it here but I guess we all know what happened.  Sometimes people marry for the wrong reasons and nobody's really to blame.  Not really.

We moved in with my grandparents and that's when I started being what I am I guess.  While my mother was sleeping I put a whole jar of Vaseline in her hair, which she always kept long.  If you're not hip, Vaseline does not come out of hair.  As punishment for this act my mother still shows people pictures of me wearing superman undies.

I want to stop and say that this recollection of my early childhood may not be 100% accurate as  I don't remember a whole shit ton of it.  I'm writing from accounts told to me for the most part.  I don't really remember too much from 2nd to 6th grade in any kind of linear fashion.  Also I have only been sending out first drafts because I hate to write longhand, so if this becomes a little jumpy well, sorry and fuck you very much.

Anyways, like a lot of women do, my mother got remarried when she got pregnant again.  I was three and the man she married was a pretty good guy, not counting the fact that he had a perm.  I had a brother and things were good for a while.  My brother's dad and family accepted me as their own.  I called him dad and my mother divorced him because he was too nice.  As she put it, she couldn't see herself with a man who wouldn't say no.  She claimed she would say she was going out and he would say okay and stay with us kids.  A weak spine doth a weak man make?  I don't fucking know but to me, it reeks of a woman who wants out of something.  I don't know for sure.  I don't remember the breakup at all.  I remember visiting him every other weekend for a few years but as I became more destructive my brother's dad distanced himself further.  We don't speak but my brother has a fairly good relationship with him.

I remember we used to visit him out at this old farm house he rented with another guy and there were some fun times.  The house was built up on a hill that to me, at that age, seemed like a mountain.  My bike would go so fucking fast down the dirt driveway I'd get speed wobbles and wipe out, tumbling over and over and wincing from peroxide as my brothers dad pulled gravel out of my knees.

There was an old bull that was kept in a small pen out back.  My brother and I would dare each other to go in but neither of us ever did.  My brother's dad and his roommate used to throw parties out there and I remember once being scared shitless watching a biker almost get trampled.  They were all standing around drinking beer and talking about how much pussy the other was or wasn't getting when this huge biker who was friends with my step dad's roommate claimed he could knock the bull out.  At the time I didn't think it was impossible.  This biker looked to be the size of the great Hacksaw Jim Duggan.  I don't remember whose colors he was wearing but I remember he frightened me.  I remember his beard stank like cigarettes and beer when he leaned over to tell me dirty jokes I didn't get but laughed at anyway.  I believed him when he said he could knock the bull out.  Everybody laughed until he started to climb the fence, I don't remember anyone laughing then.  The bull didn't move when he approached.  It just looked at him with that dumb bored face all cows have.  He stood in front of it obviously drunk and punched it so hard I swear I saw one of the bulls eyes go wonky but I could be making that up.  What I'm not making up is the fact that I've never seen a 300+ pound drunk biker run so fast in my life.  The bull, obviously pissed he'd been punched for no reason, charged - kick-starting the biker with a head butt and chasing him over the fence.  It terrified me and all the men laughed and stunk.  For a long time drunk men scared me and, to a certain extent, they still do.  It's the rheumy eyes that look like they're on the verge of tears, revealing men at their most scared vulnerability.  When I get around a group of drunk men I'm apprehensive.  Drunk men have something to prove, I'm no exception.  Most times proving ones self hurts and all the time it proves nothing.

Good times never last, though.  I started having a tough time in school.  Acting out a being a general pain in the ass.  I'm not sure what started this, I don't remember, but I do know I was a terrible student.  I wasn't dumb, I've always tested well, but I've always had a tough time with any kind of authority.  I would openly defy my teachers to the extent that I pissed of a 2nd grade teacher so bad he either quit or got fired.  I don't remember which.  I do remember after being a perfect shit he threw me into the chalk board.  I had a new teacher after that.

Things went that way for a while I guess.  I know I had to start going to therapy then and was forced to have to do so in my teens.  I hate therapists with a passion - these pretentious pricks.  To this day I wont suffer one and will actively fuck with one to the extent that they reconsider their career choice.  There is nothing so damagingly egotistical than a person who claims to know how ones mind works based on an hours worth of information he or she receives weekly, and then has the balls to make major life changing decisions for a person based on this.  I'm not sure how these people sleep.  I don't believe the human psyche is an exact science by any means.  Disorders can be understood once they have been found and the symptoms recorded.  They can write papers which claim to understand how these disorders came about, some may even be accurate to an extent.  But for a confused child who isn't sure what's wrong, or how to express it even if he did, to be constantly prodded by a person who, ultimately, could give a fuck is criminal.  This quack who tries to glean the mysteries of an eight year old's mind an hour at a time, claiming to know what's good for that child, writing notes that will be forgotten as soon as the next child comes in is akin to pedophaelia.  State and county-paid child psychologists are the takers of innocence.  If you weren't fucked up before you entered the office give it a couple weeks and you will be.  You'll receive a nice little disorder that makes a difference to the grooming of your new little disordered life.  Now you need special attention.  Now you're a "problem child" that will be watched.  Being watched can make a person paranoid.  Even if it's untrue, being told as a child that you have one disorder or another can create one.  I firmly believe this.  I know that sounded like a crazy, biased rant and it is.

Except for Hobo.  It's the exceptions that prove the rule.  In my early teens I had an ex-biker therapist named Hobo I was ordered to see by the state.  He was the exception.  He listened and that was it, then gave me no bullshit answers to my questions.  It took a long time for us to get to that point and once we did, the state decided my therapy time was concluded.  The state doesn't care about helping you as much as it cares about it's funding.  The state receives a certain amount to do a certain amount.  I was ordered by the state to see this therapist for x amount of weeks and they will only pay for this therapist for those x amount of weeks.  Whether you are making progress or not is irrelevant.  Once your mandated weeks are up, you're out.  This is one of the reasons it enraged me so much.  I understood this from the beginning so I made no attempt to open up to any therapist.  Then, once I did it it backfired on me and left more than a bitter taste in my mouth.  Some of you probably have an idea what it costs to be in therapy.  For me, once the state discontinued to pay for me to keep seeing Hobo we couldn't continue to pay for it ourselves.  This vicious state-funded circle has created many criminals I think.  I don't doubt it one bit.  Therapy didn't work for me because I'm not content to blurt out my problems to some bobble headed shrink only to have it blow up in my face and never receive any answers.  I won't waste your time with my dislike for child therapists.  I haven't ever sat and tried to think it out and the first draft of a paper going straight to the public probably isn't the forum.  I'm going to call it and say this is enough for now.  In the next post I will share my exciting upbringing in a particular little trailer park in the woods.  So here I show you both sides of my hands.  New deck.  Prison still sucks. - Ryan Martin

1 comment:

  1. "My father was a fuck up, so why can't I be a fuck up?"

    HEY! lol