Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Journal Entry #2 -- September 15, 1975

I should have been writing in here much more often, but I guess I put it off too much. I do have something to write about now thought -- my room.

I finally got it back -- after almost three months of seeing Kevin and Bob run up and down the steps. When Jeremy was here things weren't so bad except when I got to thinking about not sleeping in my bed right after Jeremy. But now that is all over. My room and I are reunited.

Some people may think that I am foolish to feel so strongly about a bedroom, but I have very strong ties with the room itself. Sure, everything in it holds a special meaning, but the very nails were put in with a sort of love that not much else suprasses. My father worked very hard one summer to try to finish building this part of the attice for me while I was visiting my grandmother in Wisconsin. I hold a special feeling for this room as I don't have, and most likely ever will for any other for the rest of my life.

When I was around 16 my father finished off the attic of our mid-19th century bungalow. My brother was getting older and need a place to sleep other than an alcove in the living room. He would have my bedroom and I would get part of the attic.

I was excited about this, but terrified of the attic itself. I told myself that it would be ok - it would no longer look like an attic - which had no floors, just fluffy yellow insulation between support beams. I'm not sure how mom and dad stored things up there without floorboards. It was amazing that they lived in that house for 11 years and didn't seem to need the storage an entire story would provide. I guess they couldn't afford it - either in time nor money.

My first night in that room was the only time I was afraid up there. I remember being terrified and when my nose began to bleed (probably from breathing sawdust) I was too afraid to go downstairs to deal with it, so I just bled all over the sheets.

My cousin Bob lived with us for a few years after getting in trouble. My dad insisted he finish high school if he lived with us. I'm not sure where he slept before Jeremy's visit -- perhaps he and Kevin got my room right away. At first I felt magnanimous about the situation, but after he and I had a number of altercations, I quit being so noble and longed for my room -- I must have put up a fuss, because I got the room back. I am unsure where Bob and Kevin ended up sleeping after I got my room back because I don't think the basement bedroom was complete at this point.

I was wrong about feeling so attached to a room, because I feel the same about my office (which incidently is in the attic of our house).

Knoxville: Summer of 1915 -- Writing

This essay brings back the pleasure of being allowed to play outside after dark. Mother would grant me the honor at different times -- perhaps if I had eaten my dinner well that night or if I cleaned my room. Devin would say, before dinner, "I'll see you after dinner. I knew I wouldn't see her. But sometimes I would be able to. I remember once -- when my mom and dad and aunt and uncle were sitting in the backyard and aoo of us kids were running all around catching lightning bugs.

I can feel the excitement even now of catching a lightening bug. I'd see him blink on and off across the lawn and I'd run to where he was, hoping to see him again. There he was -- I'd be close enough now to see him without his light -- a black speck with transparent wings vibrating at his sides. I'd sneak up and encase him in the hollow made from my cupped hands. There I'd feel him trying to escape, tickling my palms with his wings. I'd run to an empty peanut butter jar and open it with one hand while the other held my precious catch. There he'd drop -- to the bottom of the jar -- I'd quickly replace the cover and turn it. Then I'd examine the catch and sometimes shake the jar to make him light up.

My brother had a different technique. His first steps were similar to my own, but when he caught the lightening bug he wouldn't keep it captured in a jar, but whip it to the sidewalk and step on it, knowing that this was the secret to making "rings". I never liked to watch that, but it was an obsession to my brother and other boys.

While I don't recall reading Knoxville: Summer of 1915, which a Google search tells me is a "short prose piece by James Agee", I do remember catching fireflies. I don't think my brother really threw fireflies on the sidewalk though. My mother told me that she used to do that, so I think I incorporated it into my story and used my brother instead of my mom as the offender. Good thing my memoir was never featured on Oprah.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Dump Ground -- Writing #1

I remember Mountain Street. I was there during the first five years of my life. One especially memorable place was the little pink room I slept in. I think the kitchen was on the other side. One time I was playing with Mike G. under the window at a little wooden table with matching chairs (one of which my mother threw across the room on a later date, breaking the back). We had two little cans of Play-Doh and were making "cookies". Mike, being two years my junior, at one of the "cookies". I screamed at him, bringing both our mothers into my room. I think his mother held him upside down to make him spit out the Play-Doh. I screamed until my Play-Doh was out of his mouth -- I didn't care if he was poisoned, I just wanted my Play-Doh back.

Another memory of the old house is my portable phonograph. I had lots of records from The Mickey Mouse Club and Walt Disney movies such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. I also had a long playing record on which, among others, were the songs The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly and Wish Upon a Star -- My mother sat on it. It was my favorite one, too.

I remember when Archie, our cocker spaniel couldn't climb the basement stairs. We took him to the vet and he never came out. Later my father explained that Archie had broken his back and the vet put him to sleep. I waited a long time for Archie to wake up, but I learned, too soon, that when a pet is put to sleep they don't ever wake up.

This was written for my English class in my freshman year of college. While I do not recall reading The Dump Ground, I remember writing the final draft of my own memories and reading it aloud to the class. Several girls cried at the end and a few said I was a good writer. I also remember everything mentioned in the story except for the record my mom sat on. I guess I got over it.

September 4, 1975 -- Journal::Entry 1

I guess we are supposed to write in our journals. I don't know. That seems to be what I am usually thinking around here -- "I don't know". I don't know what is going on in my other classes. Either my mind is muddled or the teachers don't speak clearly. Sometimes I wonder what I am doing here. But of course -- I can't "teach little kiddies" (as Dan said yesterday) without college. I could be married and in England right now if I weren't here, but I am and I guess I'd best make the best of it.

I dropped tennis today. It may have been a stupid move but I did it. I can't stand not knowing anyone in my group -- no one seems to want to be my partner. I didn't think I was that repulsive. I wonder what my mother will say when I tell her. I don't have to tell her I guess. But she'd find out sooner or later. It's not as if she is paying for college or anything like that.

I don't recall feeling so confused or depressed about junior college, however I do recall dropping tennis and feeling guilty about it.

It is a shame I didn't go to a 4-year school right away. I seemed to still be under my parents' control in college. My comment on them not paying for it was true. I received financial help from the Illinois State Scholarship Commission which meant my tuition was paid for. If I'd gone to a 4-year college and lived there, tuition and room & board would have been paid for.

To this day I don't know if my parents didn't understand this or if they were too proud to take that much money from the state. My guidance counselor was disappointed that I didn't even attempt to go to Illinois State University.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Chapter 2 Writing 3

No Date

Wow! A great film. I felt close to Jeremy when I saw this because he saw it last year when he was here. The little boy was so cute. He really loved that balloon. I remember when I was young I used to cry if my balloon popped. I once accidentally broke my brother's and cried. One other time I was riding in the back seat of my dad's truck and was holding onto three balloons -- two on sticks and one that floated (which was red, incidentally). The red balloon escaped my hand and "ran away". I screamed and my father thought I was in pain or something.

I really was happy to see that film. I've heard so much about it. The balloon was so red and round, it must have been an expensive one. It's strange that the people wouldn't understand this kid's feelings for his balloon.

I always thought of balloons as being sort of companions -- of course mine never stayed around when I left unless they were in the house. Hey! What if when that balloon of mine left me, it was going to find some kid who had just had his killed? Nice thought huh? I wonder if the young mind of a child works like psychologists think adults do. I mean perhaps when my balloon broke I was realizing that my life is so "short"? Naw, can't be.

All through the film I was worried the balloon was going to break. It looked so fragile, well actually it looked much more hearty than any other balloon I've ever seen, but the way that kid pulled it around -- I was sure it would break.

He didn't seem to mourn his lost, broken balloon too much -- when the others came he just dropped the remains of his old friend to get his new friends. But that seems the way a child's mind works. It flits from one thing to another with out stopping at one too long (look at me saying that in this paper). I am really happy to have seen the film. I am seriously considering buying the book, for I saw it at a bookstore.

I liked Clown better though.

I recall writing this entry clearly. I also remember seeing The Red Balloon for the first time. It stuck with me so long that I ended up getting the VHS for my children as well as getting the book I'd mentioned in the entry.

Of course it is on YouTube: The Red Balloon Part 1 (I'm sure you can find the rest of it on YouTube yourself.)

I've not the film in years, but thought this amusing:
The Revenge of the Red Balloon.

Clown was a film about a young boy searching for his dog in the streets of Paris. I wish I could find that to see again. An Internet check shows that it was directed by Richard Balducci in 1968 and is eligible for upload at World Cat. And a further search shows that several libraries have a copy.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Chapter 2 Writing 1

It's hard to get started. I'm sitting in the dining room, alone except for Cinder. The sun has decided to come out today -- the rest of the weekend was cloudy. Sort of an English Summer Day. I miss Jeremy. I was writing to him last night when Karen called me to come over for Kasey's birthday party. Oh, Kasey was so excited. She kept on saying, "Want some cake Dona?" She cried when she had to go to bed. I met her mamas and papas too, last night. I was a little nervous when I got home because Carol and I talked of spirits yesterday afternoon. I hate ghost stories but at the same time I like them. I don't know why that is. As much as I enjoy being alone -- to read or write -- I don't think I could ever live all alone in an apartment or something.

I had a good enough time this weekend being on my own but I am almost ready for my family to get back here. I think cinder wants Franz too. She's been biting me today -- for attention I suppose. The wind is blowing outside now and I hear an airplane. I wish I was on that plane on my way to England. I have not gone outside yet today. I got up late and remembered my homework. I should also answer the letters that have built up from Jeremy's visit. I can't think of anything else to write -- that's how my letters always end, my way out I suppose. Well the timer has gone off -- 10 minutes is over.

I think this must have been an English assignment for college. I didn't date it, although on the front of this journal it says the first entry was September 1975. Mom, Dad and Kevin (and Franz the daschund) must have gone to Wisconsin for the weekend. Or something. I was just 19.

Chapter 2 Writing 2

I've just changed the kitty litter and put my contacts in. I also fixed myself a ham sandwich from Kasey's party and a large glass of 7Up®. I am waiting for 1:00 to roll around so I can see Lord Peter Wimsey which I missed last night because I was talking to Mike and Karen.

I'm looking forward to Upstairs Downstairs to start again. I was so excited when Hudson and Mr. Bellemy were on Dick Cavett Saturday night. I really jumped up and down. Why do I get so emotional? I get so angry or excited that I must show others how I feel by jumping or hitting or screaming. I guess I'm not grown up enough or something.

My that sandwich looks good. Cinder thinks so too. She has now plopped herself down on the table -- she knows that she oughtn't do that, but I guess she also knows that I won't hit her like Daddy does.

I'm not sure I'm really liking college. The amount of homework stunned me. I have to get a job so I will have even less time in which to do my homework. I want to get good grades too.

I wonder how much grades really count when one gets a job. College is different than high school. I can't pinpoint the difference, but I know it's there. More freedom perhaps.

Here I am trying to dry my hair in the five o'clock sun of a September evening. There are apples on the gound all around my lawn chair. I should have picked them up this weekend -- Daddy once told me that if the apples weren't picked up he'd cut down Charlie.

The leaves of the giant cottonwood in our back door neighbor's yard is making pretty patterns on the backside of our house. As the leaves blow in the wind the patterns change like a kaleidescope. Cinder's been let outside -- she doesn't get out much -- it seems like whenever she is let out she goes in heat -- that must be a coincidence thought. She is now chasing an imaginary mouse, creeping up like a panther. She looks like a miniature replica of a black panther. Nothing is coming to my mind. I don't know when my ten minutes will be up since I don't have a watch on, but I'll stop at the end of this page.

I wish I'd stop twisting my hair. It is such a childish habit. But I should be glad I'm not into an "adult" habit such as smoking or drinking. I was really surprised that Carol smoked. I wonder why I have such an aversion to smoke. It's not the people. I like the people but the smoke bothers me so much. I remember my mother, when she would smoke and I would complain she would get angry. My father still does with cigars.

Jeremy was so thoughtful to stop for me. Actually he did himself a favor by quitting.

What an awful experience -- I had just gotten into bed to do my last 10 minute writing and I saw a brown tiny object on my bed cover. I looked closer and saw it was an ant. I picked him up and aw that he was very close to being dead -- his legs were all crunched up in an M or W. His antennae were moving very slightly though. I didn't want him to just be thrown on the floor. A house is no place for an ant so I went to the window with him on my finger, meaning to throw him out and let him die where he belonged with nature. Well by the time I got to the window he had gone. He's somewhere between the bed and the window. Poor tiny creature. I wonder if his wife and kids know that he is dead. I wonder if ants have a widow fund.

Once, a few weeks ago, I was walking home from the store and I saw a mangy brown dog that looked homeless. I hoped he wouldn't come near me because I have a terrific fear of rabies. Anyway, on the way home I looked over my shoulder and saw that this dog was following me. Something white was coming from his mouth which I later reasoned was spit since it was a hot day and he and he had been running. I didn't think so I said, "Go home!" and he gave me a very sad look and ran off in the opposite direction. Afterwards I felt awful. I didn't even have a kind word for a stray dog. I do believe that his eyes will haunt me for a long time.

Just lots of memories - my obsession with all British programs, Dick Cavett, my apple tree - that I named Charlie. Twice my father came across as a brute - hitting cats and threating to cut down my tree (which he did after I moved out). Then there was Cinder, my black cat and constant companion, all the way through my teens and into my thirties. I actually remember the dead ant and the stray dog. Probably because I wrote about them.

It is obvious I was trying to impress an English teacher -- this doesn't really sound like my voice.