In 1990, my therapist at the time had suggested that in order to work out my aggression, i sit down and write my life story. She said that with my writing capabilities would prove to be sufficient in the case. Armed with a old (pre-1970s style) manual typewriter, a lot of cigarettes, I sat down in the apartment my father and I lived in Toronto and wrote. Within 18 hours, I had completed over 30 pages of script, styled in a Q&A format of an interview. However, the introduction was a bit pompous (I had of course written my fifth book at that point 😉 but no matter, I had a task and I completed it. Since I’m prone to insomnia (mind spins like a damn SCSI harddrive), I was wired on cigarettes and diet coke when I handed her the thick bundle of sheets in a folder. She gasped when she saw it and commented how I -should- be a writer as a career choice. The chronicles of my childhood have turned up missing. Important key elements are gone and never to be found again. This is an attempt to resurrect my life so that I can look back and remember what the fuck happened to me. this will be long, so you have been warned.
I was born on June 12, 1972 (which makes me a Gemini) in Toronto, Ontario. My parents were the most unlikely pair you would ever meet. My mother was 29 and my father was 45 at the time of my birth. My mother, supposedly, had met my father had met him in a bar in Windsor (Ont) and was commuting from Port Huron to Windsor to be with him.
My mother is almost romantic in her own history. Oldest of seven children, she took the brunt of the responsibility of rearing and raising her younger siblings. My grandfather was typical German: uneducated, alcoholic and almost cerebral in his hatred for other ethnicities. My grandmother was college educated and had given up her nursing career to raise her rugrats. My mother, being the oldest, was the queen of martyrdom. She sacrificed and gave to her younger siblings so that they could leave the life that their parents never had.
Stories have filtered down through the years talking about my grandfathers many exploits (running a turkey farm, eating lard and bread sandwiches, his life as a brick layer). There was talk of his beating and raping my grandmother while my mother was growing up, but with both of my grandparents dead, I never did find out the true story.
My mother in her own respect, is a smart woman. However, she will be the first to tell you that her intelligence is not on par with mine or even my sports addicted brother. Always ambitious enough to improve her own life (and her siblings), my mother went to nursing school and eventually became a nurse. It was after moving back to PH (obviously, to take care of said children) that she finally got some sort of social life.
My mother was beautiful in her own right (she should be, I look like her). Pictures through the years show her tall (5’11 at her peak), brown haired and big brown eyes. I never could understand why she never caught a beau at an earlier age — she has never talked to me (or anyone) about other love interests other than my father and mens after him. The first 28 years of her life, is a void to me, one that she has never bothered to fill in the gaps.
My father Edison (named so after the inventor, Thomas Edison), was born in Montreal, Quebec on May 22, 1927. Youngest of 5 (or 7 or 12, I can never really remember), he too (like my grandfather) dropped out of school young (the fifth grade) and worked in many fields throughout his life. My mother tells me that I may (or may not) have older siblings, as my father was a rake when he was young. before his engagement and marriage to my mother, he was engaged between 3-5 times (again, the stories shift). At the time of their meeting, and through the course of my life, my father has worked as a boiler engineer in Toronto.
So here we have two unlikely people, most presumably lonely, meeting and falling in love in a bar. I’m not sure how long the engagement lasted, but they were married in July of 1971. My mother became a Canadian citizen and moved to Toronto and worked as a nurse. In August of ’71, I was conceived and entered the world 10 months later.
I was born on the hottest day of the year, 6-12-72. I weighed in at 11lbs and 7ozs and was a total of 24 inches in length. I had such a head full of black hair, that my day old picture shows this fat baby with a ribbon sticking out of her head. All the clothing my relatives (both sides) had purchased for me was too small, so everything was taken back and 1 year old clothing was purchased. I was nominated (and won) the biggest baby award at the hospital for the year of 1972.
I was born a month late. My mother admonishes me by saying that if I would have stayed in any longer, she herself would have forced me out. As it is natural for first borns to be somewhat premature or somewhat late, my entrance to the world as expected. However, my mother soothed herself with gallons of ice cream a day, which explains the cravings I get when I’m on the rag.
I obviously do not have the cognitive ability to remember my birth NOR my babyhood. The only stories I hear (and often) are ones likes:
- At my birthing, a German nurse was waiting on my mother. She, whom had given up everything for her brothers and sisters, had gotten braces on her teeth while she was still pregnant with me. Upon inspection, the German nurse asked my mother: “Vot are zose things on your teeth!” My mother, in pain and wondering why this woman is questioning her dental care, carefully explained what braces were.
- She had also spent quite some time on choosing a name for me — settling on Maureen, but in a burst of energy, when asked by the same German nurse “Vot are you going to name this child?” had shouted “Lisa Marie”. I lived a whole five months as an infant in Toronto. On November 1, 1972 (All Saints Day), my grandmother had died in her sleep at the age of 61. Furious with the lack of respect and love my father was giving her, tired of his drinking and probably just plain fed up with living in Toronto, my mother packed us up and moved us back to Port Huron.Since obviously the marriage couldn’t be annulled (what was i? Immaculate conception?), divorce between a Canadian and an American citizen takes years. While my mother had left my father in 1972, the divorce was not final until 75-76. I remember brief flashes of visiting my mother’s lawyer and being plied with candy. But other than that, I don’t remember much about the settlement other than my father was to pay support and had visitation rights every other weekend.I only saw him less than a few dozen times in the first 13 years of my life and he never paid support.
Port Huron Michigan is a sleepy little burb about 45 miles north of Detroit. A population that never really grows beyond 40,000 people, it’s most famous thing is the big sail boat race: Port Huron to Mackinaw. When I had last really visited the “city” in 1996, they still had carnival week preceding the race in July.
Port Huron is your average Midwest town. Two high schools, a few middle schools, beautiful beaches surrounding a side of Lake St. Clair, etc ad nauseam. To put it in a better perspective, in the early 1990’s a mall was built on the north side of town. It was such a big to-do, that a few of my aunts had called me SPECIFICALLY to tell me about it. um, yeah.
My mother and I were living with my grandfather (who was in and out of the mental institution) and a few of her siblings in a 100 year old farmhouse in the middle of PH known as bat haven. Want to guess why it was called bat haven? because from June-September every year there was an influx of those lovely little creatures taking over the sky. And without fail, every summer I would be sitting up late at night, watching some b-movie to here the “flipthflipthflipth” of wings above my head. I would go running and screaming up the stairs to my mommy (with a blanket over my head), who would then tell me to be quiet and hit the hay.
I remember being enchanted with where we lived. The house had 6 bedrooms, two living rooms, dining room, two baths, and a kitchen. 14 foot ceilings, big L-shaped porch, a barn with a hayloft was our garage (and yes, this is in the city) with a decent sized backyard completed the ensemble. The original house was the main living room and three upstairs bedrooms, however it was renovated twice, giving us the additional bedrooms, bathroom, dining room and kitchen. We had an authentic Michigan basement and a 100 year old fire place.
I loved our house, especially during the holidays. My family would purchase 12 foot Christmas trees, that were so heavy that we had to tie the top to a drapery rod. I could _lie_ underneath the tree and smell the fresh pine for hours. My aunt Roberta would fill up my stocking with candies and toys and one particular Christmas had gotten me a 6′ foot poster of Shawn Cassidy. *meow*
While this sounds almost Rockwellian, it wasn’t. One aunt was in and out of the mental institution. My grandfather, in a drunken stage, had hit and killed a man in the mid-60s. That, combined with aggression, depression and my grandmothers death, he too was in and out of the loony bin. Another aunt, Jackie, made old-maids seem pure. Roberta, who was born when my grandmother was 45, was in and out of the hospital due to her being extremely sickly. It was never ending! Conferences would be made to see what to about the condition of “Jack” my grandfather. his loud obnoxious behavior, swindling people, embarrassing the family and other things made almost monthly meetings at our place.
He was uncontrollable, loud mouth and self-destructive. He would get into nursing homes, only to be kicked out for his behavior. One weekend, he burned 12 CORDS of wood in our fireplace. In another, he painted ALL the rooms in the house. We took in some of his cronies, who had degenerated along his same lines, and they were almost as flippant as he.
Life wasn’t that bad for us. I had shown precociousness at an early age. At the age of nine months, I was sitting on the floor playing with a PlaySkool toy that was half chalk board/magnetic board. Propped on my fat rump, I was watching Sesame Street on our 27 inch Zenith. My mother was folding laundry when she looked down and saw that I had put the alphabet correctly in order on the magnetic board. Thinking I was only following the stupid muppets on tv, she turned the tv off and dumped the letters onto the floor. I did it again. And again. And again.
What followed was a series of testing that my mother took me to up until I had entered kindergarten. Special schools testing for IQ, hearing, eye sight, and everything in between. I had scored so high, that they were pressuring her to put me in Montessori schools and start kindergarten -early-. Other testing later on would attempt to push my mother to put me in special schools for the gifted, skip grades and the like.
When I was 3, I had a grand mal seizure and pronounced epileptic. I was in and out of Children’s Hospital until I was 12.