Category Archives: clowns
As a child I was destined to be a rodeo clown. How else would I use all of my beloved handkerchiefs? plus extra large shoes.
Or I would be a drag racer because Read the rest of this entry
On the Mesa to the so-called North West (the Earth is still not flat despite sick peoples best efforts) of Taos, a mesa whose name I do not know but know is worth knowing, I spent a beautiful hopeful time.
I drank a lot less out there, which meant more than an average person but not so much that I had to steal away to another town in the night trying to outrun my shame.
I looked up all of the time. I looked up into a sky that never ended, stretching for eternity. The sky was so big that my heart would race when I looked up. I would feel nervous without a canopy, but I liked it. So much of so many blues and far away blues.
I stayed with a man who years before had noticed he had been alone on this land for so long that he was loosing his mind. He had a moment of clarity where he recognized this as a state he may not return from, so he signed up to host woofers on a make believe farm. Two girls came out and smoked weed in his sweet spicy one room half buried palace. They shared a cast iron, if it got cold they made love or something like it.
He had found himself having all kinds of company ever since. I was there with a pack of performers making their living giving shows to drunks on sidewalks and in strip clubs, we moonlighted as thieves. We made clothes with pockets so big they could hide thirty paint markers or a gallon of wine.
My van blended into a sea of automobiles, buses, vans, motorcycles, and station wagons all in various stages of rot. The motley crew had one thing in common, each vehicle had at some point been given its current paint job by one or more clowns on one or more drugs whose names I can hardly pronounce.
Mine was stripes and stars but had cleverly avoided being patriotic.
Up the road was another sea of dilapidated old cars. We heard a rumour that the old man who lived in them was using their parts to make a roller coaster. I have been meaning to go back and check.
People out there were pretty isolated old geniuses. The ones that are much less fun to be around than to hear stories of. Besides the man with the roller coaster there were all kinds of people making all kinds of contraptions, spirally vortex crystal whirligigs, mechanisms for extracting ever more potent hallucinogenic properties from exotic plants, and most of all time machines; too many time machines to count. People were always talking about their time machines but never about where they were thinking they would go?
What time did these lonely fools think would be better for them? I was and am so curious about this.
The folks who were not inventors were focused on other kinds of incredible time (not) machines. For instance fire and farting; these two fantastic ones, exist perfectly inside and outside of all time. No matter what someone is watching on T.V. at any given hour in any given condition, their attention will always be drawn if their yard is on fire. In the same way, no matter how flat and sterile and cold the environment everyone giggles if a fart gets loose. People may even find themselves at the same window where they watched the yard burn, letting the smell out.
These were the kinds of important things that these people, who were smart enough and crazy enough that they could have been hired to build weapons of mass destruction, were keeping busy doing. Thank Gods.
I loved it there. My life is what I love today but sometimes there are not enough puppets hanging from rafters hitting me in the forehead while I am frying an egg.
My dog joined a pack of wild dogs and I hardly saw him. Bitches gave birth to puppies that were full grown pack members in a day and a half.
That pack was second in command only to a crew of feral three-year oldes. They were definitely in charge of the people end of that strange place. They ran everywhere naked and wild eyed. They stole food and made everything they could touch into their new best toy. They came in when they were tired, they knew their names and they screamed them as they ran barefoot over bushes that made me cry if they poked me even through a shoe.
I found some scribbling I did about this place a few years ago this morning as I was riffling through old notebooks.
That piece ended something like this:
Why do I think about that place today when I sit down to write about something or somewhere? Why that place of all of the places? I think it is all the looking up. It is such a striking time of looking up because it is sandwiched between times when I was always looking down, so far down that my face could not be told from the sidewalk.
48 hours later
As I balanced on top of a fence thin trail that dropped drastically several hundred feet down to a waterfall that then dropped another couple of hundred feet it dawned on me that this might be why the trail was lovingly named, ‘Dread and Terror’. Skrap had run ahead to where the road widened. Otay was perched on my shoulder, swaying along like a king on a pillow suspended between elephants.
The cage I was carrying was either helping me hold my balance or responsible for throwing it off. I guess that doesn’t matter if the decision has already been made to carry it.
There were horse prints and bicycle tracks even where the trail dropped off completely and we had to leap to pick it up again. My hat is off to you if you have ever left tracks like that on trails that dreadful or terrifying.
Otay slept the days away, waking to shift around my torso as it suited him. By night he scurried around that silly cage filled with leaves, fir bows, and a handful of morsels from the big zip lock bag I had filled before we left the ranch. We didn’t know it but Otay would never again see that place.
It was only a few weeks of me lugging that foolish cage around. Hiking, hitching, busking, begging always carrying a cage that only got used for a few hours every night. I just didn’t know Otay well enough to trust him to stay close while I was sleeping.
Through Eugene, Portland and Olympia we traveled and then I abandoned the cage. He stayed on me along highways, in grocery stores, at punk shows. In Olympia we stayed in rooms with my extended family of the heart. We would shut the door and Otay would rage.
Little water bottles were duct taped to the bottoms of walls for him and food dishes were kept at the end of sunken mattresses on the floor. Cat pee covered towels were shoved under doors to keep him in and other rats (not the kind that lived on a human) out.
From the time that Otay crawled up out of my collar, the first night I had him, his favorite place to be besides asleep, was my mouth. He loved to drink from it no matter what other sources of water were available to him. He loved my spittle whether it was flavored like cheap wine or cheaper smokes. We developed a lion tamer show where I was the lion and Otay the tamer. The finale was him sticking his whole head, which was growing like a weed, in my mouth.
For a while at first I thought Otay might be sickly because he slept all day. I laughed hard when I learned that rats are nocturnal, that made an awful lot of sense being as how he was very energetic and thirsty in the night.
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 the federal government implemented a program during the last Great Depression to raise the price of beef by slaughtering half the cattle of every rancher in New Mexico, they did not anticipate the wisdom of everyday people. Those everyday people, including my great grandparents and my great great grandparents, knew for a fact that while you could count on a cow to feed and clothe your children and neighbors, you could not count on the promise of an increase in the price of beef to do the same.
Government officials came to the gate of my great great grandfathers ranch with the paint they intended to use to mark their choice of the cows to be killed. They met two gentlemen who had been warned by their neighbors about the unappreciated company. One was the owner of that ranch and my grandmas’ grandpa William; the other was his son in law, my grandmas’ dad.
They held their guns, not pointed but in plain sight, and calmly explained the situation to their ignorant visitors. These two men, from whom I descend, informed the guests that they had no problem with the government coming through the gate provided it was by falling through it.
The officials were not apparently obliged to consent to that particular arrangement and took their leave. No one on that ranch saw them or their paint again. All the cattle lived on until they laid down, not to increase a national profit, but to feed those who had tended them…
When he yelled at her in front of that stupid ska show, so close to her that his breathe blew her bangs away from her face, he did not notice the scrawny pink haired barely pubescent punk behind her. He did not notice that is, until I puffed up and stepped between them, trying to defend her.
His veins popped and his fists clenched, I was deflated. The power of my sneak attack was short lived. I wondered if we should run before he swung, but then the most beautiful thing happened. She, who had stood in the line of his nasty vodka scented insults for months, came alive in a never before seen way. She scared him, screaming so close to his face that every hair on his head ran away and he is bald to this day…
When I sat pleasantly drunk on the clown bus listening to a moonlight trumpet serenade with my grease paint smeared but not forgotten, I could not have imagined that anyone in the neighborhood was not in love with the night. But there was a man, half a block away, whose pulse was increasing, his pupils were dialating with every brass note. He hated clowns and fun and music but most of all he hated to miss an opportunity to punch someone.
I met him at the bus door and walked around the front with him. I mistook him for a reasonable man who was reasonably irritated and he mistook me for a freak that needed my teeth knocked out. Half way through the first sentence of my admission that we had been a little loud for a school night, his fist caught me so hard in the chin that I flew into the bike rack on the front of the bus. I started to stand up. But just as my oversized shoe souls reconnected with the pavement and my mouth opened to catch my sentence where I had left it, he hit me again so hard that this time bells rang and I was out.
Ten clowns ran off the bus and right into his worst nightmare. He, never having had violence fail to solve a problem before, ran scared into the night with them on his heels. The one who stayed behind was the trumpet player and his song brought me back into the beautiful night.