Category Archives: adolescence
When I was 15 I ran off to Hawaii. It was the farthest away I could get without a passport, which there was no way of attaining without parental consent. I had forged paper work saying I was emancipated after working extremely odd jobs (the kind reserved for people who were not legal members of the work force) until I had money for a ticket. No one can get emancipated in Washington at 15 but by the time anyone noticed I was no longer on the continent.
I came back sooner then I expected. Read the rest of this entry
I wrote this on the evening of March 20th four years ago when I got off work at Quality Burrito in downtown Olympia. It’s rare because a line in it tells me what day it was written and almost none of my writing is dated. When I find the few notebooks that have survived, they could be from anytime and often they were from many. I would write a few pages in a book then leave it in an attic or basement or tent, travel around several states and then, if I happened to come across it again, pick it up and repeat. Read the rest of this entry
Her name was Leslie. We were catholic schoolgirls. We hung out every moment we could. We stood by each other when we wore reindeer sweaters in the church choir. We stood in line together before for her first and my only confession. Read the rest of this entry
Two cars up from me on a train headed to California there are two teenage girls travelling alone. I saw them in Portland chain smoking down to the last millisecond of the stop. When the train started again I was in the throws of Rhiannon Argo’s “Girls I’ve Run Away With.”
In Salem I looked up from the last paragraph with tears in my eyes. Salem, which funny enough, Read the rest of this entry
Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.
I spent plenty of time in parking lots, frustrated like the seeds pushing from underneath them.
I didn’t know that we were all struggling together, our foreheads pressed against the backside of the asphalt.
I was 13 or 14 and just barely out of the house. I was visiting my grandparents on my Dad’s side. I was taking my niece, who was my brothers’ baby, to meet them for the first time.
I was on the floor in the front room with her while my Dad and his wife sat looking on in the company of my Grandma and Grandpa.
That floor was lovely; I grew up on it sometimes. And those laps, the laps of my Grandma and Grandpa, I grew up on them too. Read the rest of this entry
I am glad I didn’t really know the details.
All I knew was that by some miracle I got to skip the first two periods of my 8th grade day and get picked up by the most beautiful girl in the world and go be in the Sleater-Kinneys’ first music video.
Read the rest of this entry
We were drinking in the bathrooms at the pier. This was in the years when they were still unlocked all of the time. Now most of the supposedly public bathrooms in this town are locked most of the time. Still they show up on lists printed by businesses to prove that there are plenty of pooping options for houseless people without them worrying about it. Those same lists are used to try to throw the book at people that are caught pooping where they can when they can. Read the rest of this entry
When I left home I was 14 years old. When I was 15 an arrangement was reached whereby my Dad would send 300 dollars of child support that was court ordered to my mom and then, most months, she would send it to me.
I moved into a room up on the eastside of Olympia at 16 after trying to secretly move to British Columbia. My secret mission was publicly foiled by Read the rest of this entry
Things I Have Never Done Sober:
- Driven a bus
- Fucked someone else’s spouse
- Wondered where I was and found out I was in Georgia
- Slept in a mud puddle
- Had people put money in my hat so that I would stop pretending to play guitar
- Lost my pants
- Chased someone I loved out of my town
- Been in a high speed chase
- Been strip searched by border patrol
- Drove a three quarter ton van the wrong way down a one way
- Played how many punks can you fit in a bath tub
- Sustained a concussion
- Thought stars were space ships because I forgot the Earth rotates
- Been shot at by minute men
- Had a crowd cry at my supposed comedy routine
- Been knocked out
- Been choked out
- Forgotten someones name in the time it took to sleep with them
- Microwaved a frozen beer
- Drank a microwaved aluminum can of previously frozen beer
- Been in a van where a dog was being jerked off by a man
- Made corn dogs
- Gotten Engaged
- Had a grandparent die
- Puked in someone else’s mouth
- Eaten a light bulb
- Been Married
- Set my own head on fire
- Believed that scabies could be cured by good thoughts
- Fallen in a hole any taller than me
- Meditated with a bag of top ramen
- Peed the pants of another
What have you never done sober?
NOTE: After a nice close friend saw this post originally she reminded me of two stories (someday you may read them) and as a result of this reminder I have had to delete peeing my pants and parking related accidents from the ‘ never done sober list’ Thank You.
Not a traditional uncle, this man was the roommate of a person I first fell in love with when I was in my early teens. He insisted I call him Uncle and he would give me incredible (for better or worse) advice when he found the sweet spot between grumpy and passed out.
I had been up all morning crying while my metal head love snored upstairs. I wanted love and the guitar player wanted sex and though the years would prove that these two things are not mutually exclusive, they sure seemed to be that morning. Uncle Cranston came home smelling awful, grabbed a beer and sat on the sunken couch across from mine.
I would learn later that he had woken up early that morning to go to a job interview at the mall. He was still drunk from the night before. He felt a troubling rumble as he was getting off the bus in front of the mall and as he took the last step onto the sidewalk he shat himself.
He cleaned up as best he could in the public bathrooms and went to the interview, late and still covered in shit. When I heard him recount the story later he thought he had not gotten the job because he was overqualified.
He sipped his beer and looked at my puffy wet red face. “Oh little Neotni, tell Uncle Cranston what’s the matter.”
I poured out my sob story, how I was in love with everybody but no one was in love with me and how I never had friends in the daytime only lovers at night and how the man had me down because I was a minor and how nothing would ever be okay never ever. Really I was crying because I felt so alone. I felt like everyone was judging me for not being a good grown up but no one would bother to teach me how to do that. It was a set up and my poor heart failed a lot and broke a lotter.
He stopped me at some point, “Hold on now, hold on there. Let Uncle Cranston tell you something about problems. Do you know where problems are kept Neotni?”
I didn’t know what he meant.
“I will tell you where problems are kept! They are kept in brain cells. Do you know what alcohol kills Neotni? Brain cells. The reason I am so happy is because I am proactive! If I have a problem, I drink diligently until I kill the brain cells that contain the problem. And that is just the kind of go-getter action you are going to need to take if you want to feel better.”
He passed me a beer at ten a.m. that Monday morning and I set about applying myself.
Bailey would be 10 this year. She would have had one green eye and one blue eye if her eyes would have developed. I know because I saw them and sometimes I still see them.
I did not know her dads legal first name until we were in the prep room together at the clinic and the nurse asked. It was the only time I laughed that day. He did not look like his name. But she would have looked just like a Bailey.
One week earlier we had been walking out of a new seasons in North East Portland. There was a sandwich board outside of a clinic that shared the complex. It said that there were free pregnancy tests happening right there. It hadn’t occurred to me until that moment that I might be pregnant. He was surprised when I told him I was going to go up and get one for the hell of it. I told him I would meet him back at the clown mansion where we were building bicycles for our great escape.
He went away and I took a long walk up to the second floor waiting room. When they handed me the paper to fill out there was a box for whether I wanted to be pregnant or not. That way, if I was, they could tell me in a somber or congratulatory way depending on my expectation.
They told me I was pregnant in a somber way. I scheduled the abortion for one week out. I didn’t even pause to consider. I asked how much it cost. I asked if they knew how I could get funding because three hundred dollars may as well have been one million.
The next week I rode my new bicycle in and out of DSHS offices all over Portland begging the state of Oregon to give me a emergency health care coverage. If I had wanted to get a physical or my teeth fixed I would have been shit out of luck, but the state was more than willing to terminate the pregnancy of a 17 year old houseless girl. Its just good business.
He wanted to come to those appointments but I would not let him. He was technically committing statutory rape and I was scared to have him anywhere near the shaming workers I encountered. The last thing I needed was for him to be arrested on charges that were not dependent on an accusation.
In between appointments I sat shocked, drinking beers and being melancholy while confused clowns offered condolences for a situation that I hadn’t told anyone about. I guess he was talking while I was away.
The beers made me feel sick. The offices made me feel sick. We had a lot of unprotected sex that week because what was there to lose? I needed him to still want me when this was all over.
The morning of the appointment we walked together to the same building I had taken the test in. I picked so much lavender on the way. I put piece after piece in my hair until nothing but flowers was visible.
When I arrived I found out that my temporary coverage from the state had not come through. The nurse was worried as she explained that they could only give abortions until 11 am because of funding or legalities or some such thing. My appointment was at 10:30, the money would not be there by then.
I begged her to help me find another way. I watched my friends pull up in the funny Cadillac we were all given by a sketchball who swore it was his but didn’t know the person on the title. There was no key to that car, you had to start it under the hood. Once we were pulled over on the freeway and we spent an hour convincing the cop it was our car only to have to get out and start it that way. At that point he was over it and just let us drive away.
I saw them in the parking lot. My best friend was in the drivers seat. She was waiting to take me home, out of the city, back to the woods. I wanted to get in that car.
The people at the clinic called all around and got me a spot at a downtown place for three hours from then. She called the state of Oregon and Oregon promised the papers would be in order by then.
I hardly ever showered but I suddenly felt self-conscious. So we went to a different friends house and I cleaned my body, then I put back on my dirty clothes.
The place downtown was much worse. It was on the eighth floor of a skyscraper. I was given five minutes of free counseling to make sure if I killed myself later no one would be liable. Then I found out his first name. I understood why he had changed it. Then I was in the room.
The clinic had a name with ‘womens’ in it and everyone I met who worked there was a woman until the doctor who administered the abortions came in. Of all the places to have your only male employee…why there? He was nice enough, but still.
There was a nurse in the room in charge of the laughing gas. I told her I didn’t want it but after he started the pump she tried to wrestle it onto my face. I had to hold the lower half of my body completely still while I fought to keep the mask off with my top half.
I was successful. I felt everything. They put me in a bed in a shared recovery room. The bed was by a big window overlooking downtown. “We put you by the window,” the nurse said, “because you seem like the outdoors type.” I don’t think I thanked her.
The room was filled with the sobs of one particular woman who was telling her mother how scared she was that her husband would find out. I was told to lie there for an hour but 5 minutes later he told me that the my best friend was in the waiting room and the Cadillac was downstairs. I told him to go to the car with her. I went to the bathroom, pulled out the gauze and left down the back stairs.
I slept in our beautiful little hobbit hole a few hours later. It still smelled like skunk from an incident a few weeks earlier, the smell was familiar and comforting. He was gentle when he held me that night. It was nice. That was not so common those days.
I was awake first.
I was peeing.
I didn’t feel that different and wondered if that meant they had not got it all.
I heard a noise and saw the big white trucks and the bulldozer. Oh no. The forest service was raiding. I had heard that this happened but I had never seen it and now I was the one who saw it coming first. I woke him up and made a mad dash to every ones camp.
We started stashing gear and running all around. There was a lot to do. We had gotten pretty complacent in the quiet of the previous year. This had not happened in a long time. We heard the crashing of every blockade coming down all along the road. They were getting closer and closer. He tried to get me to stop running. There was a hemorrhaging risk with that much movement so soon.
I would go and hide and sit but I couldn’t stay still. My friends needed me and whenever I slowed down I started to think and when I thought I saw one blue eye and one green eye and I wished I lived in a world where I could have been a supported young mother and and and…. I could not sit still. My brain that morning was more dangerous than the potential of a hemorrhage.
I didn’t hemorrhage and eventually the nightmare day was over. It was dark. No one was in jail. Nothing of consequence had been taken except our peace of mind.
One week after that we got on our bicycles and headed west to the coast. Then we headed south. We were beginning a bike trip that would last three months. I didn’t menstruate after the abortion for a very long time but I remember when I did. It was Mendocino and it was so painful.
I had a cramp tincture sitting on a window ledge next to me but when I went to grab it, it fell and shattered. We got free sandwiches and rode our bikes to an abandoned house that had been overrun will feral lemurs who used to be hippy pets but now lived and bred and flourished in their palace.
Those sandwiches were really good. There was cranberry sauce on mine. A lemur stole the second half of it while I slept in the driftwood gazebo that was on the cliff edge over the ocean. It was raining hard and the roof had a huge hole in the center. It was an intentional hole. Strange way to build a gazebo in such a rainy place. We laughed at how we may as well have been sleeping out, for as wet as we were getting, but the donut roof offered a nice illusion of shelter.
I was in pain. His comforting embraces had ended again and he told me to stop complaining. Didn’t I know that his back hurt? I wasn’t the only one who had pain you know.
Everyone I tried to talk to wanted to make an embryo either a disease with no spirit or a fully developed human. Everyone had an agenda. But Bailey was real and I knew her and I missed her and I wanted her and I couldn’t keep her. All of the things are true. I needed a lot of support that was not available. I needed someone to say that I was allowed to make a decision and to have that decision be the right one and to still have it break my heart.
My heart was broken. It still is a little bit.
When I was 13 my world was changing. I was touched by a divine insight. I knew rather suddenly that the world of my parents and teachers was make believe, that all of my dreams would come true but not if I stayed, barely surviving the daily brutality of lonesome hallways and violent rooms.
Somehow, though I had never seen it done, I knew I could just go. I knew I could just stop everything. I knew I couldn’t say no but I could run from what I would have said no to.
After my first leap of faith, out of clean sheets and into dirty streets, I was handed out of a police station into my Dads car and out of my Dads car onto my sisters’ couch.
The year before, when I had still lived with my mom, my toe had ached every night. It was the big toe on my left foot. Every night it would ache so badly it woke me up.
In the daytime it never hurt.
I knew something magical had to be occurring.
It was the year in the South Puget Sound when it rained for 93 days straight. A constant drip, sometimes a drizzle, sometimes a downpour, but it never quit completely in those months.
I finally figured that my toe was weather predicting. Every night it hurt and every day it was still raining.
When the spring came and the rain stopped, I made my break for it. I was on a lot of adrenaline, a couple of drugs, and a lot of Wow! What was that? Wow! Where am I? Wow! Who is that? I don’t think I noticed my toe hurting, which fit my theory.
No rain? Well than, no aching weather predicting toe.
It was on my sisters’ couch some months later that the pain came back. But it was summer and there was no rain, I did not understand. The pain persisted, now into the days and my toe started to change. It grew and turned purple and green and excreted the foulest smelling liquid any part of my body ever has. It made the couch I lived on reek the same way. One drop of the stuff and you would have to replace the carpet or just set fire to the car.
My brother came over one day as I was being told I would have to go to the doctor. I was still convinced this was a spiritual problem. He sat me down with a cigarette on the front porch and said, “Look kid. This toe of yours is a lot like the punk rock life style. It is smelly. It is pustulent. And sooner or later it is going to need a lot of therapy.”
As it turned out the bone in my toe had got fed up like the rest of me. We were both tired of living in the constraint we were given. I had run off. My toe bone, however, had started to grow. It was growing and growing at an incredible rate, pushing up my toenail and stretching everything around it. It would not have stopped until it made it out of my foot.
Doctors removed a full half-inch of new bone. I was a minor so they didn’t have to listen to me when I told them I wanted to keep it. It is in a jar somewhere getting taken to all kinds of conferences for doctors who specialize in osteochlondromas because no one had ever seen one grow like that, or that fast, or that big. If, in your many travels, you come across my toebone in a jar, please grab it for me.
Still kinda seems like a spiritual problem.