It was Christmas morning 1992. The sun had been up for a full 10 minutes. I peered through the archway leading into the living room and gazed at the beautiful, shiny, colorfull boxes and bags under the tree. I knew I wasn’t to enter the lving room until my parent got out of bed.
Then the phone rang. It was my chance to bend this rule. In my socks, I walked quickly across the cold, stone floor. The presents’ pull of my vision a constant temptation. I stepped up onto the ledge into the kitchen and picked up the phone: “Hello”
“Hello, ma’am. This is Sheriff Jordan Schmidt. Is Mr. Force available?”
Being confused as a woman when speaking to strangers on the phone was a common inconvenience of my 8-year-old life. I told the sheriff with a sigh, “Hang on.”
I opened my parents’ bedroom door and my father rolled over to see me. “Dad, there is a sheriff on the phone.”
Dad picked up the phone by their bed and I listened by the door. After Dad spent a few moments on the phone, I knew by his tone we would not be opening presents right away. I returned to my bedroom and waited. Mom came in a few moments later and explained Grandma had had an accident.
As Grandpa explained it to the adults in my world, he had awoken in the middle of the night to find Grandma’s side of the bed empty. He didn’t realize something was amiss until the next morning.
My aunt expressed the perspective that his story was “complete bullshit”. Apparently, two hunters had found Grandma’s body in the wooded area near our house. There was much conversation in the following days regarding Grandma’s money. This man, my grandfather, was not my biological grandfather. My father’s father had died when I was very young. But I trusted Grandpa. He had never mislead me in the past. One afternoon, outside the courthouse where my father and his two sisters waged a court case against my grandfather, Grandpa told me he knew we all knew the story was a lie. The truth was, he told me, as they made their walk back from our house Christmas-eve, Grandma was run over by a reindeer.
My younger sister, Samantha, was 18 when she received her first inappropriate message from a man on Facebook. We lived in Anaheim, CA with our mother. Our father had left us when she was an infant. Perhaps this was why she sought out the attention of older men. Mom spent most of her time with her lips attached to the end of a bottle. I wasn’t always there for her, either. She was rather popular in school. Her body began maturing early. Of course this brought on all kinds of male attention. By the time she was 18, I was 23. But as early as freshman year, I spent most of my time at the ice rink. I didn’t want to be home. There was no reason for me to go home. As my aspirations for that “C” on my hockey jersey grew, so did my understanding that I needed to protect my sister. One evening, during practice, a teammate lost his shit. He threw down his stick and raced to the edge of the rink, where he pulled his sister’s boyfriend out onto the ice and gave him a good thrashing. It became clear to me my sister was not the only one with problems with men. After a heated conversation in the locker room, we decided to do something about this kind of behavior. Those men who were disrespectful to women would wake to find themselves tied to the goal posts of our ice rink. Dick pics would be met with duck pucks.
As I entered adolescence, I developed a strong angst for the people of my world. By the time I reached the age of 20, I had become apathetic, bored as means of pacifying the rage. My parents had just divorced. I was helping my father move into his new apartment in Phoenix, AZ when I began showing signs of a brain tumor. When the doctor delivered the diagnosis, I responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!”. This was different. It was new. It was something to break up the monotony. Then, I didn’t die. It was almost a disappointment. Would I return to that life for which I had grown such hate? No. It was up to me to make it a better one. My experience of a lack of love in the world meant I needed to do what I could to put more into it.
A clever cacophony of chaos
Municipal monarchs mostly man-made
The village hums electric
A canopy of innovation
A parade of clay gears tick
Water spins clean vibration
And we ride the wave as a part of us
Our mother, our sun, we all are one
Fire and smells of food cooking
We feel the grains of surplus sift through our fingers, knowing they can easily be reclaimed