I Wanted to Believe
"Assimilate My Purse," Maximumrocknroll, February 2008
My father's logic
My father fought with logic, that's what he called it: logic. I was the son who was his wife no. The son who was his. No. I couldn't. No.
Before logic, maybe even before language I was his. I mean of course before language -- that's how it works, silly that's what kids are babies are babies are his. I was his baby, baby -- he never called me baby he. Me. My. Baby?
I couldn't be a baby I could only be his.
So before I was his wife I was his. That's the way it works. Hands twisting neck around there were no words for these words. Ouch. See? It didn't work. I wanted anything. I wanted anything but his hands twisting neck around hands twisting hands twisting me. I wanted the end.
I earned his trust because he knew how to break me. Is it hard to break a child? A challenge? A challenge to break your child, make your child, make your child you. Remember: I memorized all the names of his wines, wines in the wine room a burlap sack, me. No, first I memorized all the names of the cheeses, I liked all the cheeses especially port wine cheddar with the orange and red swirling around and Jarlsberg with the holes like a mouse had started for me. I didn't like brie until later, when they said kids weren't supposed to like brie it was too expensive.
Remember: I did all those math problems, all those math problems until he couldn't give me any more I was too good at math I was too good. He stopped playing chess when I started winning. I was getting good at logic, this was when I was earning his trust he made me. Remember: first I was his baby and then I was his wife, he sat me down and told me about the college savings accounts, don't tell Mom she doesn't know she'll want to spend it.
My parents were liberal, they lived in a liberal relationship where everything was shared. My father said: Karin, did you take $20 out of my wallet? Karin, did you take money out of my wallet? Karin? My father said: Karin, I'm taking the Visa card away.
I was good with logic, I found the business card where he counted his money and I mimicked his handwriting. It was okay if he noticed too, he already knew it was Karin, Karin with whom he shared. Shared everything. Do you see how I was his wife?
We argued about the sofa, the new sofa for the family room -- he wanted brown leather, I thought brown leather was tacky, suburban. I wanted black, black leather was European. I told him it would go better, there was already too much brown in the room with the knotted pine walls, knotted pine wasn't sophisticated but the black leather with square edges, that would solve the problem. I was artistic, but not as artistic as his mother, the artist. My father asked her: she suggested brown, brown was the right color for the room with the track lighting and the TV. I shifted tactics, made sure that at least we got the more expensive one.
With the refrigerator I switched gears. I knew we needed the larger one with sleek lines and an ice maker, I’d always wanted an ice maker like at richer people's houses. But I didn't say this, I needed to work with his logic -- I said: you want an ice maker, remember you said you wanted an ice maker? We got the refrigerator, top-of-the-line. This was the last of the good times with him, before a tongue sandwich at the Star Deli -- that's what he always got, exaggerating the expressions on his face like he was eating his own. This was our time together, Boys Night Out or no that was Thursday this was Sunday -- Boys Day Shopping for the Refrigerator? I got matzoh ball soup, and corned beef that I stuffed into napkins when he turned to the side.
This was the beginning of the end, you know how marriages work.
I wanted to believe
Sometimes I want everything to feel like catharsis, anything else is just body turning against. I want that lift to the sky or down low where I can hold me holding me. Still, I'm always tempted to write: do you know what I mean?
I know what you mean. Sometimes I write it anyway.
It's when things suddenly open I'm finally stillness except the way I can think. The new homeopathic remedy I'm taking relates to a hypersensitivity to scents, yes even you in the hallway. Sometimes homeopathy first works in reverse -- sleep worse, hypersensitivity more hyper, don't say anything about the panic in bed not the childhood I'm going to die he's going to kill me but a newer realm that's closer to the moment, I mean the moment now. That today I won't get to that place, that place where I can function.
Sometimes it takes this long, and when I'm finally there it's a revelation. Even if I just burned my sprouts, what was I thinking -- sprouts don't take that long to sauté, especially not in the small frying pan that wasn't made for that sort of thing, I mean it wasn't made for that sort of thing without oil. I didn't want to take out the wok that won't even tell you what it's made of because it's patented, I mean it has some name that's just a brand I didn't notice when I got it I was just excited that it wasn't too heavy. But it's bulky, that's kind of like heavy. Even the small frying pan is too heavy, maybe I need a smaller wok made of this new material that will give me cancer if. If I don't use it right. If I use it.
The way you look it up on dictionary.com, and the first thing that appears is colon hydrotherapy. You tried that once, it didn't work because you needed to relax, but that was the problem in the first place. That you needed to relax.
Need is so much different than an opening, except. Once you were a model for prostate exams, doesn't that sound glamorous? It was at Bastyr University, a naturopathic college, you thought it paid well and sounded easy enough. But what could be worse than lying there while they stuck their fingers inside, everything was anatomy. You were trying not to sweat so much, why the nerves?
You ended up getting this inflammation in your asshole like a balloon except it hurt so much, balloons don't hurt. They wanted to do surgery, you said no. A dictionary of feeling. Look it up again: no.
You didn't know, it took a while to realize oh, right, I want to relax but I can't. Right: my father splitting me open, in my body it's still. The doctor’s table. Psychiatrists like my father don't use tables, they use a bed. They call it a couch. Close your eyes and tell me what you're thinking.
No, that was for his patients. Sometimes I would listen through the heating grates, he had an office downstairs. Downstairs where everything happened except everything happened except. There were other rooms, downstairs. I wanted to know what was happening, not to his patients -- sometimes he yelled, I knew that. I wanted to know what was happening, happening to me. I knew what was happening except. Sometimes I couldn't believe there was so much pain so much pain I.
I wanted to believe in butterflies. I wanted to believe in mice. I wanted to believe in bunny rabbits, in daffodils, in moss, in baby birds even if their mothers left them. I wanted to believe in the tooth fairy, in goldfish delivered in plastic bags full of water please don’t pop. Pretty please. I wanted to believe in salad dressing, in cookies, in the Olympics, in blankets, in Coke, in lobsters if you set them free in a pond with the goldfish. I wanted to believe that if you kept digging in the sand then eventually you'd get to China. I wanted to believe that sand crabs could survive a tidal wave. I wanted to believe in pink peppermint ice cream with the red candy inside. I wanted to believe you could cut a worm in half and then there were two worms.