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Loren's House of Cards

Novel By: Lorna Culling
Flash fiction


Loren is me, yes. A fun-house mirror image in a younger form, wilder form, wildest form... He is handsome, coordinated and graceful as a dancer. Being a Piscean, he is brilliant. If inscrutable, totally inscrutable to me. His life careens on a rail, as he obsessively rollerblades at 90 miles a minute, creating havoc wherever he goes... View table of contents...


Chapters:

1

Submitted:Dec 6, 2011    Reads: 12    Comments: 0    Likes: 1   


LOREN'S HOUSE OF CARDS

Prologue

A few well placed stabs in the back have released a singing trapped between my shoulders.

I continue to play solitaire, dealing shuffling, cutting the deck, opening myself to the message of the cards.

I lay the cards out in seven piles of ascending height, only the card on the right revealed as I fill the slots till each pile has a top card. And the situation I'm in is clear.

I play the solitaire with a question, an open question about my life. So, I asked this time about my psychotherapy practice, my one client, and generating more clients.

The cards told me that my client, the Jack of diamonds, would quit, and five minutes after I finished the solemn game, he called. Apologies, a sudden bill took the sail from my wind, the GP doled out anti-depressants and a referral for free NHS counseling sessions, I'll need to cancel my sessions. I miss his lilting Belfast gait through my Wednesday afternoon. But on the other hand, there was some freedom in it. The cards let me see how by taking away, by losing, I could win in the end. And so my disappointment felt a cushion, an opening.

The next Wednesday, instead of him, more stabs arrived: my debit card is rejected twice from the charity shop, and I cringe. God, I've just written a check for my car's miracle resurrection, a bargain at just £189, and now it will bounce. At home, reality hits harder. I transfer to cover my bare bank account, and discover that I have left half of what I'd originally said was my smallest acceptable balance in the building society account that represents all I have left. The bank has politely covered all my checks, and charged me double for the service. With my credit card balances both here and abroad, I am quite bankrupt, bereft, and lonely.

And then I get another phone call: "Dr. Donatello here, from California Sports Medicine and Surgery. I'm calling because I'm very concerned for your son, Loren. I've consulted a colleague and spoken with the practice nurse. We feel that he might be Clinically Depressed, and it's getting in the way of his ankle healing." He'd missed 4 physical therapy appointments, arrived late and with no ride home from his scheduled surgery to remove the pins in the ankle, and actually had no home to go to. Donatello was shocked at the phone call from the hospital where he had me reserve a room at the Hotel Tropicana, and needing to postpone the surgery for the half hour while they located an ambulance to get him there afterwards. The possibility that they keep him in the hospital overnight hadn't been breached, as the insurance just wouldn't pay because a person was homeless, depressed, and bereft.

So, I give notice to my sweet landlady, not much of a gift for her ninetieth birthday, quit my psychoanalysis, sell some stuff at a boot sale down the street, and book a ticket to California. I explain to my boss that I have a family emergency that will take two weeks to sort, and let my mother know that I'll be moving in to the downstairs of her two level flat when I get back.

Loren is homeless, ill, and alone. My 25 year old son, my son-shine, my adoration, is in crisis, and I can't get there fast enough. I've replaced the Belfast gait, with a California limp, brought on by a rollerblading accident, and my abandonment?

He's always been so self-sufficient, that when he moved out at eighteen, it seemed natural that he'd live with his dad for a while, then move on. Our home was in Colorado, and he left me to go to school in California. That first Christmas he was living in the dorm, he didn't realize he'd need to go home for Christmas. He'd bought a car against our (his dad and my) judgement, and he needed to work over Xmas to pay for it, the car payment, the car insurance, his life. He said he needed that car so that he could continue rollerblading, and rollerblading was his life.

When he resisted being kicked out of his room for the break, he was kicked out of school. "Crap school," he said. "Didn't want to go there anyway."

Introduction

Today is my son's 22nd Birthday. Last year he turned 21. Last year I'd been expecting him to move to London, was still expecting that after a couple of postponements. We had the lounge arranged with futon and cupboards, a dresser and desk, so that he could stay comfortably.
This year, now, I've given up the hungry hope of him arriving any minute. I am expecting him to visit in a few weeks, yes, but he'll go back to the place he's now made home: San Francisco.
I'm proud of him really. Now two scholarships later, the girlfriend of three months, 27 and an attorney, the parking tickets successfully converted to community service he's required to do…
Sometimes I think it's the consumtive consuming fear and worry about him that I've dropped. Sometimes it still grabs when I haven't heard from him for ten days or so, and I can't reach him when I call. I imagine the worst, of course.
You have no idea how he tweaks me. I think living on some dangerous edge is just how he wants to live right now. Without car insurance, without drivers licence, with constant mayhem and horror happening to him: getting mugged, thefts, his car damaged, his motorcycle ruined. He lends thing to people and they break them, he goes with someone somewhere and they drive off without him taking all his stuff. He has lost so much stuff, it's like he's allergic to stuff. And yet he still struggles through. And yes, he does land in jail. For "accessory to graffiti" (the current court case, set for jury trial in April- is he an April Fool?) or another time "Rollerblading in a public place" (three days in jail in Brooklyn before they dropped the charge. Yes, it's not a crime) My son, yes he rollerblades. In Line Skates. It is his life, he used to say. Yes, and even if he stops skating he seems addicted to riding on dangerous edges, too fast, and without official permission.
I've been talking with him lately about the possibility of life as an ordinary person, without the mind jolting anxiety that drives him from each moment. I've been suggesting the possibility of relaxing and looking at how things get done properly, and enjoying the doing of mundane tasks, well. This is the change in my life - yes, perhaps I'm growing older, but I'm becoming a human being. I want to train him, as I've trained myself, to protect myself and my things: to lock doors, to buy permits. To follow the rules, to win by the rules, the easy way.
So last year I bought the cards, the gifts were piled, and the "21 Year Old!" centerpiece is still unused. This year: I sang Happy Almost Birthday to him yesterday, I said you'll have to buy your own ticket here, and I'll pay 300 bucks of it, and I hope I'll see him, but I won't hold my breath.
My baby is grown. He's an adult. And I hope I can be one too, and not just tired.

Chapter 1


January 22, 1998, BOULDER WEEKLY, p. 43
'Real Astrology
by Rob Brassy.

'...Virgo (August 23 - Sept 22): At $2 billion per unit, the Air Force's B-2 Stealth Bomber is a prodigious high-tech creation - except of course for its ill-conceived thermoplastic skin, which falls apart in the rain. I bring this up, Virgo, as an example of what to avoid as you put the finishing touches on your own masterpiece. Make damn sure that its beauty and originality are matched by its functionality. Don't send it out in the world until you've double-checked for and corrected any flaws that would defeat its purpose...

'The media love bad news because they think it's more interesting than good news. Is it? Send your interesting good news to Box 150247, San Rafael, Ca 94913 or WWW.real astrology.com/

You can call Rob Brezny, day or night, for your EXPANDED WEEKLY HOROSCOPE: 1-900-903-2500. $1.99 per minute - 18 and over, touch tone phone required - c/s 415- 281-3120.'


I know my mother was loved like the future, as her name was Tamara. Her brother was a victory: Victor. My mother's mother was Vera: truth, but sometimes I have suspicions that her life, her identity as Vera, was a lie.
Let me explain. Dwelling on the past is something my mother taught me not to do, and I was a good student. We lived in the moment, savoring each moment, as if it were the last, loving each other with a desperate passion, the passion of people who know how fleeting and delicate life is. We never took things for granted, every taste every smell was the best we ever tasted or smelled. The present was an intoxicant that numbed the past, kept us drunk with precious moments, great opportunities, amazing coincidences, wonderful people.
The past came up occasionally when I saw therapists or counselors, or in conversations when others talked about their stories, I'd remember things. Usually people would be shocked at my story, and the conversation would end quickly. I began to realize that my life was traumatic, if not to me, to everyone else who talked about it with me. They had no context to understand it, and neither did I.
The past began developing a context during my training as a psychotherapist at the age of 39. In my first semester, we learned how to do geneagrams, and as I struggled to make sense of my own, and listened to the geneagrams of my classmates, I began to understand family dynamics, family secrets, and the generational transmission of values.
My family obviously clung to the value of not dwelling, not inquiring, not questioning the past, endlessly and dramatically celebrating the present. As I called transcontinentally to my Uncle and cousins, whom I'd never before met or corresponded with, they politely refused to explain the inconsistencies in stories, the questions I had went unanswered. After an initial flood of old photos, my letters were unanswered, the phone lines disconnected. I was left with an assignment that I had to complete, based almost completely on my mother's stories, stories that had changed over the years.
As I presented my geneagram to my classmates, the implausibility of it stood out glaringly. The stories I'd never questioned as a child, the folklore my mother had repeatedly drilled into me since babyhood, all sounded nuts as I tried to explain it to my classmates. I looked at the dynamics and made up my own stories to explain them, and they were strange stories as well.
In the summer after my graduation as a psychotherapist, my son and I took a road trip across five states to visit my mom and step-dad. On the way, as my son in-line skated at a local skate-park, I stopped into a bookstore, and found the book about Ana the Impostor, who had fooled so many in her years of pretending to be Anastasia, the lost daughter of the last Russian Czar.
The bones of Anastasia and her little brother Alexi had never been recovered in the mass grave that the rest of the Czar's family was in. Many people had always said that they had survived and escaped the murder that the Russian Revolution had wrought on the Czar. Several people at various times claimed to be the long lost Anastasia, and all had been discredited, in the end.
The romantic vision of my Granny Vera, who I'd not seen since age 3, being the Vera Anastasia, certainly had an appeal. A long and detailed history would be mine, unlike the blank faces I had now. I would be important and famous, as special as I always knew I was. My son would be the direct lineage holder of the Romanov title, something that his princely bearing and attitude would correspond with. All the beautiful jewelry I had never been able to afford, would, if the Russian government would allow, be mine.
It is a little too attractive a fantasy, too easy a solution for my mother's conflicted anti-Semitism. And yet, my life has been in that realm of too fantastic to be plausible so many times- and yet it has been the true story of my life, that such a strange juxtaposition in history would be consistent!
For the fun of it, I checked out library books on the Romanov's- of which there are many- and discovered uncanny resemblances between Vera and Anastasia, between my mother and the other sisters, and my son and I. We look like the Czar's family. Even my little dog looks like Anastasia's little dog!
My mother wants me to quit this nonsense now. Better not to dig in graves, she says. Her anti-Semitic in-laws already have enough venom towards her, they don't need to know of possible Jewish roots, or any other unlikely nonsense. Find a man, she says, get married, settle down. This probing can only lead to more pain- what good can come of it? Of course, she's right. My mother is always right. I just hate it.
In my life right now, I'm very rootless, I don't know who or what I am. As my son is about to be grown, I am divorced, I don't know what religion I am, what nationality, where my home is, what my profession is. I know my name, or at least my first name, but it was just given by my mother, and my last name is in question. I envy my friends with their histories, their photo albums, their reams of relatives; I have none.
I'm an only child, and had only one child myself. The family portrait is three plus my step-dad. As my mother gets older, and my son grows up and away, I realize that soon I will be alone. I guess that terrifies me more than anything.
As I attempt to reveal my family secrets, I may incur furious aspersions about my sanity, and my megalomania…at the very least, my mother will be furious with me. And yet somehow, I need to do this. It needs to be done. I have no doubt that the forces that flow in my veins, that nurtured me from birth, are telling me to pursue this, that God is on my side. I need to claim a history for myself, yes, but for my son as well, and all the generations after.
If it be a history of an aristocratic Jewish family in Lithuania, so be it. If it be the history of a cover-up so dense even I can't possibly penetrate it, so be it. If it be the history of a compassionate Jewish family giving nurture to a refugee princess and her unborn child, so be it. If it be the skeleton of a vengeance so deep that world events have twisted and turned for fifty years around it, so be it. I cannot know now what my search will discover, but I know dim shadows of skeletons from the Israeli revolution from the British to the rise of ugly apartheid in South Africa, to the creation and fall of the League of Nations, all tie in to my family, the family I never knew, created for me by my mother's folklore.
History is a funny thing. If you have one, perhaps it doesn't interest you. If you haven't, you are rare, and at some point in your life you will stop and wonder, perhaps stop and hunger, for that sense of connection between the past and the future. That's where I am. I am 47 years old, I am successful in my work as a child and family specialist, I am financially fairly secure, I am unattached, but for one child, almost grown at 17. I have many good friends, a nice home, a cat and a dog, I don't smoke or drink. I have no bad habits to speak of.
Perhaps a husband would settle me down, allow me to let well enough alone, as my mother would want. A partner would certainly be nice, and now for the first time in a long time, I am actually truly interested in having one. But I don't want a man who would consume my whole life. I don't want someone to distract me from my life's purpose, as I see so many women distracted and floating. I would want a man who wants to know about me as much as I want to know about me. I would want a man who could share my curiosity about these puzzles that have been handed down to me. I want to be loved for who I am, yes, and finding that out should be important to us both.



Chapter 2 The beginning

I've been singing in a choir for a while now- about nine months. And as I tune in with my inner voice, I hear more insistently a call to my history. I prayed for a sign- to let me stop this wondering, or to continue and it came, auspiciously on Christmas eve, the eve of the Winter Solstice with a ritual so delightful I'll remember the tone of it always.
I had two parties I was invited to, that strangely belie the dichotomy of passions and fascinations in my life: one a sophisticated Country Club affair, with an internationally diverse corporate group and one a spiritual gathering at Starhouse, a mountain retreat center where our choir is based and we were scheduled to sing that night.
At the Country Club party, I spoke with an international specialist who told me that Lithuania had it's own language- not Russian. And that I could do research on my family through the internet. At the Starhouse party, at the culmination of a ritual where I and150 other people randomly exchanged our brought gifts, over and over again, until we'd each given and received maybe 25 or 30 different gifts, one at a time, a girl named Anastasia gave me my final gift, the one to take home: an ornately painted Russian egg shaped box with a poem inside.
Here's the poem:
An egg &
a tree-
The tree that
grows the
magic egg,
which grows
a magic tree.
Blessings
to you.

I love serendipity, the seemingly coincidental occurrences of life. In the sacred texts coincidence is said to be part of a grander design. I love to feel that these serendipitous occurrences are signals and evidence of my life's involvement with other conscious beings: some angel watching over me, some God managing the chaos. I don't feel so alone when I feel in touch with this grander design, this universal being.
I took the egg/poem home, and felt it as the first marker on my Journey.

My mother's first language was Russian. Though she was born in Lithuania and her parents spoke several languages, they primarily spoke Russian at home. Vera had trained as a doctor at Moscow University, where she met my grandfather, Abraham. He was studying economics and political science, and had been an officer in the Russian Army.
My grandfather Abraham was awarded a medal by the Czar for being the most brilliant student of his time, most unusual because he was a Jew, and the Czar was very anti-Semitic. My grandfather was the one who created the League of Nations, first in documents, still in Russia, in the possession of the Communists. Then later he advised General Smuts of South Africa in the actual implementation of his plan, secretly of course, so that history books give General Smuts the credit. English histories say General Smuts designed the League of Nations with then US President Woodrow Wilson's help, while American histories say it was Woodrow Wilson with General Smuts' help. I say: who knows? Maybe it is as the Russians say (my mother says), that they have documents proving that they were the original creators of the concept. My mother says that my grandfather wrote those documents while he was in Russia. History is a funny thing the way it changes depending on who's doing the telling...
My grandmother was also an opera singer, a coloratura soprano, singing in Moscow, the prima donna, the star. In South Africa, she would make up her own medicines ordering them direct from the chemist. Herbal remedies were what she used- the study of Medicine in pre-1917 Moscow was herbal medicine, according to my mom.
My uncle Victor, I have never met. But we talked on the phone once, and he used to send gifts. He sent me a Kruger Rand back in 1971 when it was worth about $500. I lost it shortly after, stupidly taking it to a Magician's Private Club, ready to show off to my friends. The disappearing trick was complete, just like the rest of my history, there for a minute, then it disappears.
Victor and Tamara both inherited my grandmother's beautiful voice. Victor was a Cantor for many years in a Jewish synagogue, and I imagine him sometimes, singing forth his spiritual passion to the awed congregation.
Victor was ten years older than my mother, born in 1916 or 14? He was very handsome, according to my mother, but something was wrong with him: he wasn't very bright.
As my mother describes the family dynamic, she was the adored one, her father spent great amounts of special time with her, talking, loving, confiding. It was to her only on his deathbed that he confided that he had been secretly advising General Smuts for many years. He confided how he had advised Smuts to support the Blacks keeping their own separate culture, uplifting their culture with separate schools and universities, village style housing. The apartheid developed from this plan to maintain cultural integrity turned horribly on its side. I think my grandfather would have been turning over in his grave.
My grandfather treated my mother like his firstborn child. With adoration that poor Victor must have envied. I have a theory that Victor was not his child, that he adopted Victor, that Victor was the child of a rape.
Vera the story goes had a very traumatic escape from the Bolsheviks, where she was buried alive for a time, and witnessed unspeakable horrors from which she never recovered. My mother talks about my grandmother being sick- a Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome perhaps. She was extremely highly strung and screamed at my grandfather all the time, "for no reason". My mother and my grandfather used to commiserate about how she was 'sick'…
Abraham died when my mother was fourteen years old. Once she told me he died of liver disease, once she said something else. Anyway, they were penniless when he died, and Tamara had to quit her schooling and support the family with teaching ballet. Which she did very well. She was a prima ballerina, and renowned Eisteddfod Medal winner, in top standing with the Royal Academy in South Africa. She became renowned for her amazing choreography. As she wore her hair piled high on her head, and commanded her students adoration, no one knew she was a teenager herself.

Chapter 3 Questions:

1. My mother's brother Victor was twenty four. Why didn't he step in to support his mother and fourteen year old sister? Instead, she stopped her schooling, and worked full time, creating a school of sixty students, using three different accompanists on the piano, as well as performing herself as Prima Ballerina.. Dance was obviously her passion and her talent as well, but to stop the schooling of this intelligent child, given the values of a Jewish family, seems not to add up. She says: He was newly married, to a young Jewish girl, Rebecca, and had moved to the Transvaal to open a Hardware store, backed by her father's money. I guess that the Transvaal would be like death to a young ballerina, so perhaps his invitations to have them move there were unwelcome to my mother. She was not close at all with this brother ten years her senior, and looked down on him. No warm feelings towards him at all, just animosity.
2. Why was Victor, the first born son, so peripheral to his father? Why was my mother her father's favorite and confidant? He seemed to treat Victor as a stepson, and hence my theory that he actually was not Abraham's child. I remember seeing a photo of my Uncle Victor long ago, and he radiated handsomeness, dark glinting eyes like my grandfather. No one would have known.I'm sure?
3. Why did my grandfather Abraham really spend days away from the family, with no ostensible explanation, incurring the wrath and ire of a "crazy" wife. Was it really to be doing the most important job in the land, advising the prime minister of their country? Was it really he who had written the templates and created the model for the league of nations, which Smuts brought to Woodrow Wilson of America, finding a sympathetic sponsor to bring the idea to fruition. Even their idea of giving Wilson credit for the conception didn't help the people of the United States ratify so radical an initiative for peace. My mother claims that my father could not trust anyone, including his wife Vera to know the work he was involved in, and yet he told only my mother, on his deathbed. If this were a true story, why did General Smuts allow my grandfather to die and live, penniless. Is Smuts such a despicable ogre that he would force a fourteen year old to become a school dropout, to work.
My mother says that Smuts made sure to have a spy on her, having his cousin become one of her accompanists. Perhaps he pulled strings in the background to make her school survive and thrive, perhaps it wasn't all intense work and brilliant and renowned talent, as my mother said. She however claims he was heartless: she never went to him, she kept the secret as her father had made her promise. He was only concerned for himself, to make sure she didn't know the secret of her father's role with him, so that he himself could keep all the credit for history, as he has.

4. Why would a man on his deathbed possibly tell lies to his fourteen-year-old daughter who he adored? Is it possible that he wanted to imbue her with hope and inspiration: a desperate attempt to seed a legacy of inspiration for peace, which he has indeed become for my mother, and perhaps the rest of us. There is this dedication to the work of Peace, which has been like mother's milk to me, which I have handed to my son, as best I can, and as I understand it.
Is it possible that he was having affairs with women, or a woman, and hiding it from them all. Is it possible that "crazy" Vera screamed and pulled her hair out rightly as a wife would, with a husband off philandering and not providing but a Spartan life for his family. Is it possible that a daughter would deny the despicable truth and the father deny the despicable truth, to preserve what?
My grandfather's explanation let them all off the hook: himself, his wife and his heartbroken daughter. All could die with honor, the wife for not knowing better, could be cared for as an invalid, the daughter could cherish an unblemished and indeed glorified memory.
5. Could he have been telling the truth? My mother claims there is a manuscript in Russia which he wrote as the first conception for the League of Nations, as a doctoral student in political science at Moscow University. Russian claims of documents proving their origination of the League concept could be followed up… Perhaps my grandfather was indeed the author, and that was why General Smuts sponsored his family to move from Lithuania in 1931. They then must have had a correspondence spanning the decade since the League in 1920, between Lithuania and South Africa? How would my grandfather have made the first connection? Why did he wait so long to leave Lithuania and go to South Africa at all? We had no family there, it was on the eve of a depression, but before it, and World War II had not yet broken. And yet the family scattered: some to Paris, and eventually Israel. Those who stayed in Lithuania all died in the horrors of World War II.












Chapter 4 The Love Connection

"…the essential thing about living organisms is that they are self-regulating systems.
Unlike non-living things, they can maintain or repair their own structures in case of threat or damage. To take two familiar physiological examples, we have ways of restoring damaged tissue if we cut a finger, and we have ways of keeping body temperature steady within narrow limits, even when the temperature around us varies widely.
"Thus living things try to achieve a kind of stability of organization in the face of danger. When they quite fail to do this, they die. Since they all die in the end, perfect adaptation is never attained: some new threat may always come along and prove defeating. However, it is clear that the wider the range of events that an animal can cope with, the better its chances. Some animals are very well adapted to a particular limited environment but are not flexible. They cannot change their behavior when the environment changes. Human beings, however, have an outstanding capacity for flexible responsive change."
- Margaret Donaldson Childrens Minds, Fontana Paperbacks, 1983, [/131. quoting Piaget's theory of intellectual development)

In contrast to classical views of romantic love, which attribute its source to external forces, modern psychologies of love locate its origin in the human mink…. love is viewed as a single energy that is directed to outside persons or to the self, depending upon need and motivation. Although it is a singular phenomenon, its distinctive forms are represented as stages. However, since the experience of romantic love seems to us to be stimulated by an outside source, namely the loved one, the ancients' belief in the external origins of love can be understood as the objectification of our inner sensations. Now, however, we understand that the external person has no power to activate such passions, but instead is endowed by the unconscious with attributes that appear to give him or her that power. The passions are self-activated by the association of an internal need-gratifying image with the character makeup of the loved other."
-Harville Hendricks, PhD, Getting The Love You Want: A Guide For Couples
,, Harper and Row, New York, 1988 p.286


My earliest memories are of my mother's love beaming and enveloping me in warmth and the deepest sense of security. As I look back, I feel the presence of my history and heritage encased in her smile. The way she gritted her teeth with love, the sweet nothings she whispered to me as she rocked and stared into my eyes. Was it Yiddish she gurgled or was it Russian? Sometimes I think I can see all the other faces reflected in her eyes, sometimes I get confused and see stories and fantasies, television shows, operas, ballets, Gerber baby food commercials. My mind's eye is hopelessly overcrowded with images and personalities, people and conversations, nothing is original, nothing mine, nothing true... it's all imagination.

In the midst of the spoilt riches of Beverley Hills, Judy Hilton asked, "Where on earth did you get that dress from?" and I lied - a gift. It was a hand me down like everything I ever had, a tasteless cheap imitation of pretty, as the only child on welfare at El Rodeo Elementary School.
It was there I reinvented myself. Though Judy Hilton never saw it, I remember consciously deciding: THIS LIFE IS OVER. I made a new one: mom moved us to Pacific Palisades and Paul Revere Junior High, and I moved myself into a personhood. I picked a lonely hearts club of friends, and invited them to our beachside one bedroom. We ate the birthday candles on my cake, and I lied to be a year older than I was: No longer the skinny twelve year old, I skipped thirteen, and became 14, then 15, my friends around me, tanned bikinis on the beach. And boys. Yes. Danny Feld and Craig White and Bill Turner and Jim Schector. Amir El Senoussi and his tanned brothers, loved me, left me, and broke my heart.
I'm so proud of you Lo. You brought Amir to his knees, just two years ago, dying to marry you, incapable though he was, after the alcoholic porn star coke life he nearly drowned in. He was a near resurrection, and you nearly lost yourself again to him, but you didn't - you turned him down.
So who turned him down? Was it the politically correct earth mother who made herbal soap from zero to half a million dollars Beyond Soap a year? Was it the grumpy peri menopausal shrew, unsure of his love of poetry and his taste in anything that others hadn't pre-ordained "cool"? Was it that I didn't think he really knew me, knew the artist of my personality, the creature of wit and conversation, intellect and confusion, that I aspire to: the Zen koan of who I am - he couldn't answer but to say: "you need me, you love what I can give, adore me and I will husband you."
I know a piece of me so wanted to have all that. The piece that never got to be thirteen.


July 18, 1998: Rocky Mountain News. At the bottom of page 3A-
Headline:
Czar, family laid to rest in Russia
by Maura Reynolds, Associated Press
St/. Petersburg, Russia - Russia's first president buried Russia's last emperor Friday in a ceremony that many hoped would reach across eight decades to help the country make peace with its past.
'We want to expiate the sins of our ancestors,' President Boris Yeltsin said, standing amid incense and gold near the coffins of the slain Czar Nicholas II and his family. 'Guilty are those who committed this heinous crime, and those who have been justifying it for decades - all of us.'
Yeltsin's strong words echoed through St.Peter and Paul Cathedral, filled with gold robed priests and black suited descendants of the exiled Romanov dynasty who held thin candles during a service they had awaited for many years....
The burial came 80 years to the day after Nicholas II, his family and four attendants were gunned down by Bolshevik zealots.
'We must finish this century, which has become the century of blood and lawlessness for Russia, with repentance and reconciliation.' Yeltsin said.

One column to the left:
'Inside story: Identity Snatchers Multiplying.
Victims suffer the loss of credit and reputation

by Gil Klein, Media General News Service

Washington - Mari Frank, an attorney in California, said she didn't have a clue what had happened when the bank of New York in Delaware called her in 1996 and asked why she hadn't made a payment on her $11,000 credit card balance.
She didn't have a Bank of New York credit card.
It turned out she had been the victim of one of the fastest growing crimes of the decade: identity theft.....'

In a box in the middle of the Czar story, just under the headline in 8 pt. Bold:
Inside- Church leader doubts bodies are those of Russian royalty/ p.36

At the top of the page, covering three columns, the biggest headline:
'War crimes court accord reached'
'US dissents, but 100 countries OK means to prosecute tyrants
'by Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times.
'Rome - Leaving the United States behind, more than 100 countries Friday achieved a 50 year goal by agreeing on the fundamentals for an international court to prosecute war criminals and tyrants....


P. 38 Rocky Mountain News, July 18, 1998

The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church Refuses to Attend Service for Czar's Family's Funeral.
Because the Holy Father upholds the church's official position, he did not attend the services he contended were over another family's bones. The church's official position since 1917 has been that the Czar and his family escaped somehow, and that the bones discovered in Ekaterinberg were not authenticated, despite DNA evidence that the bones had a 99% chance of belonging to the Czar Nicolas and his family. The bones of two of the Czar's children were not found: the Princess Anastasia and her brother, Prince Alexi.
Numerous people claimed over the years to be Anastasia, but all were discovered to be impostors.
{This is paraphrased} {get exact words}


09/09/98 10:24 PM

History is a funny thing. If you have one, perhaps it doesn't interest you. If you haven't, you are rare, and at some point in your life you will stop and wonder, perhaps stop and hunger, for that sense of connection between the past and the future. That's where I am. I am 47 years old, I am successful in my work as a child and family specialist, I am financially fairly secure, I am unattached, but for one child, almost grown at 17. I have many good friends, a nice home, a cat and a dog, I don't smoke or drink. I have no bad habits to speak of.
Perhaps a husband would settle me down, allow me to let well enough alone, as my mother would want. A partner would certainly be nice, and now for the first time in a long time, I am actually truly interested in having one. But I don't want a man who would consume my whole life. I don't want someone to distract me from my life's purpose, as I see so many women distracted and floating. I would want a man who wants to know about me as much as I want to know about me. I would want a man who could share my curiosity about these puzzles that have been handed down to me. I want to be loved for who I am, yes, and finding that out should be important to us both.

Right now I'm attracted to two men: one is a deep and wonderful teacher, loving and gentle, kind and thoughtful, spontaneous and artistic, mature - yes, he's 65. But ageless, virile, handsome. The other is a man I know less- he's kind and loving, passionate and wise, strangely intimately entwined in my heart, my loins, perhaps my soul- I don't know. I dream of kissing him and being held by him, of his sweet strong body, of him inside of me. But he is not in love with me, he says. He is not feeling that he wants a relationship with me. He lives 1200 miles away, and the effort to bridge the gap is not in him. It is untenable. Hot dreams of him will cool I expect, and I will be left with a sweet supportive love affair in letters with the other man, who also lives 1200 miles away. This man is hungry for my writing, for my stories. He is lonely and alone, and if he were here, I'd marry him ( I'd have married him ten years ago, if he'd have let me have my way.) He got "distracted" he says. Another woman, and vague incompletions with me that neither of us knew how to bridge. It's easier for him to be passionate with me 1200 miles away, with no threat to his independence, I suppose.
The other man, my dream lover, finds it harder to be passionate from 1200 miles. He becomes bored with talking about ourselves. He gets tired of phones. He is too involved in his life to want to write to me. Well, we'll see. I just sent him a letter- my first. Perhaps he'll respond, perhaps not. I invited him to come here, and he did not accept my invitation- or perhaps he just postponed it. He is turned off by how much I want what I want: him, his body, his presence, here. He says I need to drop my attachment to my fantasy of a relationship that isn't there. No relationship can develop when there is this huge expectation in the space. No ability to see and get to know a person when you're so trapped in your projections of who you need them to be. I know that. I am sweetly attached to my attachment though willing to drop it, given the opportunity to be in the moment. But given the choice, I'd rather have my desire than nothing at all. I know that my pursuing him turns him off. It makes it impossible for him to feel that he can be powerful here when I'm so intent on getting what I want. And he, being pursued, will just run. No chase. Just gone. Oh well.
I've done this so many times in my life: My sun passion burns through your misting waterfall in love. The water steams to my touch, disappears into the earth. I parch through the earth, sucking at the seeds of life: nothing grows. Even my passion sets. A sad repetition of so many doomed love affairs: I chase the tears, afraid of my own, but what you resist, persists: nothing but tears, my own, persists. I am hopeless that he will ever find me lovable, be interested to pursue this pool of tears, to love this bottomless pit of pain that is me.
But David, the other man: he can love me. He knows my horrible stories, he matches them with horrible stories of his own: he is not shocked or traumatized by my stories. He can live with my pain, he can love my pain. I adore him for it. He applauds my writing this novella, exploring this family of mine, this fantasy family of possibility. He is interested. I am so lucky to have him in my life. To have him back again, after ten years of no contact. A miracle really. I prayed for spiritual support, and he wrote me a letter "out of the blue". And I happened to be planning a trip to his end of the country. Serendipity. Coincidence? Is there such a thing?
And yet if the other man would but whisper that he loves me, that he wants to be with me, I would give up everything to go to him. That is what I wrote in my journal. I never told him that, not like that. Perhaps I should. Perhaps not. It is probably wrong for me to be so willing to give up my life here for him. I moved to Marin once for a man, and it was a horrible cruel mistake. I still miss my house in Santa Monica. If I moved to Marin, it would be to be near him, not to live with him just yet. And I'd miss my dog and cat, my friends here, my house, the lake, the nearness of my son. I picture myself loving the life I could jump into with him: West Marin, a choir, daughters, a small community, the ocean, nearness to my other dear friends.
Silly to fantasize when the man won't write probably, and I won't call again, and the thing is over. I will find a man here to have an affair with. Yes. And I'll have David as my spiritual mentor, my secret love, my soul twin, my friend.

Chapter 5

LONDON THREE YEARS LATER: 28 September 2001

I am now living in London, a place I lived in my early childhood, barely remembered, fond foggy memories, and yet now I feel I'm home. London is not just England, it is the world. I am here to attend school ostensibly, to get a degree in psychoanalytic developmental psychology- hopefully a clinical training to work with children, a doctorate. I have been in London eleven days now. The logistics of living seem to be set up beautifully, although I'm hopeful that my mother and son will join me in January and I'll need to shop for larger digs.

My mother is divorcing my stepfather, who celebrates his seventieth birthday today. She is convinced of his having become a traitor to her and her life's work. I am confused, but her paranoia seems to be growing daily, and I just hope she can remain out of a mental hospital in time to move here. When she moves here, I don't know how it will all work out, but I will take care of her, and will love to, till the end. Perhaps she will think I'm old enough to hear some of the truth about the past, some of the secrets. Perhaps there are no secrets.

My dog and cat have relocated. I miss them terribly, and hope at least Bapster can join us here eventually. He is in the meantime, living with a wonderful American Indian family on the Cochiti Pueblo Indian Reservation in New Mexico. I have learned wonderful things from watching this family and their love and commitment to each other, their wider family, and the children of the reservation. There is no question for them of caring for their elders. It is an honor, a piece that they share together, living together or far apart and visiting often. The past is alive for them in the present. Their culture infuses their lives, their spirituality is shared by all generations, their celebrations are alive. They are Catholic, and yet their Indian spirituality and feasts are the center of their lives. They are Catholic, because of respect for their great grandfathers, who gave them the way to survive as the White Man came.

The World Trade Center exploded seventeen days ago. The Western World is being challenged in a way we've never felt so directly before. We have gotten the message of hatred, and many people have suffered unimaginably. What a strange time this is. The US President is a man who was not elected to his post, but appointed. He is bought and paid for by defense and oil interests. I fear for the world with this man, a puppet of White Men. I hope it is time for the White Man to go, somehow. But of course, how this can happen without a bloody mess we cannot imagine.

My latest love is my first meditation teacher, from thirty some odd years ago, Louis. The other two men drifted out of my life, with some struggle, but for the best. Dear David had a stroke and with his new lack of mobility and weakness, retired to the country for rest and rehab, well earned. I did not follow. The other man is now living with a lovely young woman, an eco-therapist, and shares his prodigious family with her

And now Francis and I have ended a sweetly sexual dalliance it seems. He from his ashram in North Carolina, was instructed two days prior to the Trade Center (and Pentagon) attacks, to go into focused meditation retreat, to stop the dalliances, to remember who he is, what he is about. To stop relationships that have no place in a monk's life. He continued some bits of supportive phone messages to help me navigate safely to London: I had been scheduled to be in New York that day, near the Trade Center in Manhattan, so my re-routing took some ingenuity. This computer that I type on is through his connection, and I'm grateful for the support he's been in the past several weeks. I will get to love him, but never see him it seems. He will get to meditate transcendentally, in an effort to bring a golden age of consciousness to our tortured world. I of course think he's got it all wrong, that I am the hope of the world, and his best service to humanity would be to service my loins and my soul, to love me physically and bodily right here right now. To support my work in the world.

I am about to enter a four day a week psychoanalysis with a real psychoanalyst, as part of the school program requirement. I am both terrified and excited. I have managed to keep real relationships pretty far away so far- thousands of miles apart. I hope I can navigate some touching and close relationships with men, with some of this psychoanalytic support, but perhaps that will have to wait. God, I don't know if I can wait. I am so lonely here. I want to change my life and have a man in my life, I am ready now.

I guess what I want is a community, a sangha, a family, to belong to someone or something. I do feel that I'm getting close, but this is so hard. England feels right, this school feels right. My new home feels right. I guess I must be patient.

21st of January, 2003

Without my glasses, in my jumble sale shirt, thirsty, sleepy,. Neck sore, I scan my body to find myself here. I am moving house tomorrow morning at 8:30am. In the midst of moving, I find stillness.

Really the anxiety is tiredness locked in my shoulders. Tired from Thinking about Moving Huge Huge Overwhelming things.

My life right now is so unbelievable that if I wrote the truth of how it is, you'd think I'd made it up. I always think this about my life. Somehow the puzzle pieces fit a bit too smoothly. Really That - THIS is a CELEBRATION For me , not impending doom. I have so many positive changes happening in just the perfect kind of dream come true becoming mode. AT LAST, I'm saying, I'm almost home, just a little bit more gargantuan effort, just a little more, pushing, pulling, and listening. Just a little more waking in the middle of the night with the perfect aha to make it all work.
But the other side is: How can it work? Another gargantuan impossibility looms.

The flat I'm in the midst of buying for my mum or a tenant perhaps, needs two doors, a wall of glass and a glass deck, as well as plastering, a refurbished bathroom (one is just fine), and a new (old rusty reclaimed) half bathtub fitted. My words can't communicatehow my stomach churns thinking of my mother rejecting the roughness of the inside of this warehouse of a flat, a "live-work" unit, that definitely needs work. Tonight it's sinking in that I just can't have it the way I want it. (I overheard the solicitor say "She thinks she can snap her fingers and things happen!" - Oh horror, I find somewhere inside he's right, I do. But then, perhaps one should expect that people do what they say they will, she snarls! "Oh you're very optimistic" the seller's agent said today. Why shouldn't I be? I said. What could possibly happen?" - Of course, I know the horror stories.

Today I asked my mother to help me pack. I'm so sick of looking at my trash, I want to throw it all away. Just stick it all in boxes and burn it. Of course, I won't.

She, of course, was "busy". I'll just have to do it myself and make the mess of it I always do, She said. Oh. Well, actually most of the gargantuan tasks I've overwhelmed myself with in a continual basis for the last forty years, have really worked out quite well, Thank you, not much thanks to you.

I realize sadly how much of a safe companion that nagging can be. Why does my mother hate me so much?

I would have liked someone to help me pack today- Yes- But I suppose, it is best I do it alone. The chaos is quite overwhelming. To be able to operate in chaos is quite an art: To keep focused on the most important task while slowly in some origami folding of items from corners falling into folds, the peacock emerges.

In the midst of moving

I found stillness.

It's nice being here, and remembering

that which is important.

Keeping it, Resting it, Holding it,

Giving that space to be.

I lately have been using my anxiety to deal myself, first shuffling well, and cutting often several times, a hand of solitaire. I let the cards speak to me, and they always seem to: too many Jacks! Why is the Queen of Hearts disappeared? The cards that hide tell me about my life too, what I'm holding back, perhaps where I should look next. But somehow out of these hopeless chaos cards, I always manage to pull off winning . The final solution when all is revealed is my prayer: Aces at the top, and the meek shall inherit the earth, tiny cards next; Then the four rows of diversity chains, linked red to black to red to black, with the four kings on top, followed by Queens and Jacks, tens,nines and down the numbers go, all cards facing up, showing themselves and their perfect order, to everything it's place, and to every place everything. Hearts are love of course, Clubs are belonging, diamonds are riches, and spades are working tools…Everything we need, at different times, in different quantities.

In the midst of moving

I find stillness.

11-2-2003 What have you been waiting for?

I celebrate the end of today: my first day at my new job, after my first morning run on the Heath 3 blocks from new shared flat where the sweet landlady had my two rooms, still half filled with unpacked boxes, vacuumed, by her cleaning lady, also named Natasha. The phone call with my mother this evening, settled comfortably in her new lovely house, grateful (at last) for the huge delivery from Sainsburys that arrived today: "You must take some home with you," she smiled. The message from the boyfriend, who had called this morning at 9 to wish me luck on my first day of my new job. This new honest boyfriend having come clean on the little fantasy affairs he'd been having, the jealousies, the games he played in his head. And I, not hating him yet, saying "This is a good beginning to a conversation, which I'd like to continue." I've been waiting for this honesty from him.

What have I been waiting for? Today the fullfruition is that I'm here, writing at last, sitting in my writing group café with pen in hand, inspired, writing.

I've been writing in my head for years- a book in the last week, hungering to sit and finish it. To help create the structures that have meaning: The story of my dresser and its transformation, the rebirth of my desk, hanging up the shell pictures that were made years ago in Florida. To tell you how much it meant to me when my mother trooped her first guests up the stairs to see the stairwell gallery of my artwork for once, not hers.

I guess I thought I was waiting for my mother to be grateful or satisfied with me. I now know that will never happen in the way I'd pictured. I've been trying all these years to make her happy, and truly that is impossible. But I am certainly treasuring these moments of gratefulness and satisfaction.

And I can treasure that I have created a place for myself to actually be, work, and grow, here in Hampstead Northwest London. And that there are souls who can sit and wait with me, who can even wait for me, me arriving late, but still welcomed.

The layer underneath: Dog tired, tense in my shoulders. Still unsure of revealing too much or not enough, embarrassed at the things that went roughly: my writing group payment check (lost again!), the drapes fiasco/manipulation with my old landlord (having the secretary call in the nick of time as we were moving, to say: yes, take the drapes and mirrors, all of them, for £60, not the £100 I'd offered, and then calling back by mobile so that I missed the call, but the message came ringing in at 3 AM from the ghostly vodaphone gremlin: "It was a mistake, the landlord doesn't want to sell the drapes"). The Passport Agency call from the British Embassy in Washington DC, that they need my marriage certificate. And the Social Security Agency, also required my marriage certificate or my British Passport, to get a national insurance number… My god isn't the divorce certificate enough! Now the landlord is trying to charge me £1000 or more, and my dog tired shoulders are tense and sore. "Nothings easy in England. They make you work for it," the black lady at the Social Security Office said.

Anxiety eating away at my truth now.

I am reassured thinking of Loren and his successes yesterday: awarded two scholarship grants from his school and with the dean of the school on the phone with his father, finally persuading him to pay the difference. And the gallery opening last night- my son's second gallery exhibition, I must call to find how it went…

Chapter 6- 28 March 2003 "We talk knowledgeably about 'Freudian Slips"

, analyze our dreams, and look for ways in which the unconscious might be influencing our daily behaviour. Even so, most of us vastly underestimate the scope of the unconscious mind. There is an analogy that might give a better appreciation for its pervasive influence. In the daytime , we can't see the stars. We talk as if they 'come out' at night, even though they are there all the time. We also underestimate the sheer number of stars. We look up at the sky, see a smattering o dim stars, and assume that's all there is. When we travel far away from city lights, we see a sky strewn with stars and are overwhelmed by the brilliance of the heavens. But it is only when we study astronomy that we learn the whole truth: the hundreds of thousands of stars that we see are on a clear, moonless night in the country are only a fraction of the starts in the universe, and many of the points of light that we assume to be stars are in fact entire galaxies. So it is with the unconscious mind: the orderly, logical thoughts of our conscious mind are but a thin veil over the unconscious, which is active and functioning at all times."

  • Harville Hendricks, Getting the Love you Want: AGuide For Couples, etc. p.8-9

Daily Dharma

26 March 2003

Thynn Thynn, Living Meditation, Living Insight

It's impossible to take note of your mind all of the time. You would tie yourself up in knots and run off the road. Instead of going to an extreme, begin by concentrating on one particular emotion in yourself. Choose the emotion that bothers you the most, or the one that is most prominent in you....

For many people, anger is a good starting point because it is easily noticed and dissolves faster than most other emotions. Once you begin to watch your anger, you will make an interesting discovery. You will find that as soon as you know you are angry, your anger will melt away by itself. It is very important that you watch without like or dislikes. The more you are able to look at your own anger without making judgments, without being critical, the more easily the anger will dissipate.

ALL DAILY DHARMA QUOTES ARE FROM EVERYDAY MIND.
TO ORDER EVERYDAY MIND CLICK HERE.

Today is my son's 22nd Birthday. Last year he turned 21. Last year I'd been expecting him to move to London, was still expecting that after a couple of postponements. We had the lounge arranged with futon and cupboards, a dresser and desk, so that he could stay comfortably.

This year, now, I've given up the hungry hope of him arriving any minute. I am expecting him to visit in a few weeks, yes, but he'll go back to the place he's now made home: San Francisco.

I'm proud of him really. Now two scholarships later, the girlfriend of three months, 27 and an attorney, the parking tickets successfully converted to community service he's required to do…

Sometimes I think it's the consumtive consuming fear and worry about him that I've dropped. Sometimes it still grabs when I haven't heard from him for ten days or so, and I can't reach him when I call. I imagine the worst, of course.

You have no idea how he tweaks me. I think living on some dangerous edge is just how he wants to live right now. Without car insurance, without drivers license, with constant mayhem and horror happening to him: getting mugged, thefts, his car damaged, his motorcycle ruined.&n





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