Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Family, not rulers or bottles

I drank from my sister's teat.

I arrived at my parents house, ready to celebrate Christmas 2006. But really more ready to die. I had gone on a hike a few days before and ended up covered in poison oak rashes. Oozing, pussing, terminally itchy rashes. Merry Christmas to me.
The whole family gathered around the family room table where we were playing Mexican dominoes. My cousin Brian thoughtfully offered to get me some eggnog (if I didn't move, I itched less).
My sisters wanted some too so they followed him to the kitchen. He pulled out a container of my sisters breast milk. He laughed and said it looked just like egg nog.
They came back to the table and he handed me my glass. I noticed suspiciously that all three watched me as I drank the deliciously thick and creamy, perfectly off-white nog. I asked him if he put something in my cup. He looked earnestly at me and said he didn't. I was weary but I believed him. I tasted the egg nog--it was a teensy bit off. I stole peripheral glances at my sisters, they didn't bat an eye. If something was in my cup, there was no way my 13 year old sister could keep her composure. Plus, I could always tell when Brian was lying, and he wasn't.
Still, every once in awhile (in between annihilating everyone in Mexican dominoes) I would comment on how it tasted different. I laid my last domino down and in show of victory I chugged the rest of my eggnog and slammed the glass down in triumph.
laughter erupted from my cousin and sisters.
"You just drank breast milk!"
I think I gagged involuntarily first. Then I stuck my finger down my throat. I didn't want to believe them, but I knew this time they were telling the truth. I knew I had just drank a glass full of my sisters breast milk. I was horrified, mad, disgusted. It seemed a bizaare combination of cannibalism, incest, homosexuality, and child molestation. And yet, through all of that, I could see the genius of the joke. If it wasn't played on me, it would have been brilliant. So skillfully and patiently executed.
I tried unsuccessfully to burp myself so that I could 'spit-up'. It seemed so easy 25 years ago, to vomit sweet white chunks like tiny tapioca balls on the shoulder of my mother, the only woman whose breast milk I should have ingested.
I didn't fully recover from the hideous barbarity that took place the previous night until the next morning. I realized I had slept through the night without waking up every 15 minutes to scratch the weeping and spreading rash. I looked at my hands and lifted my shirt up. My poison oak was gone. My sisters breast milk was a magic elixir of instant healing.
She always called it liquid gold and I thought she could be right.... I could farm her! It'd be simple! I'd make millions selling little bottle of it. I bet it cures all sorts of diseases! It works for opiate addicts. I'll hook her up to a machine two times a day, feed her nice whole grains, organic food, lots of water, pillows, I mean I wouldn't be running a sweatshop or anything. Boob farm. Once people realized what this breast elixir could do for adult nutrition and health, there would be no stopping the farming and exploitaion of nursing mothers.
Who would have thought an industry would ever be trail blazed by the heroine addicts? Nice work junkies. Nice work.

Friday, December 12, 2008

almost road-kill

I was driving down Sunset blvd in a brand new car pretending I was rich. It was a brand new Lincoln Navigator so I use the term "car" loosely. I guess it was more closely related to a shiny army tank. It was an environmental nightmare, but I was wearing my "think green!" T-shirt so I thought it cancelled each other out.
I was bulldozing down Sunset blvd in a brand new tank pretending I was rich. But actually I was taking the kids I tutor to tennis lessons. Turning onto Sepulveda following the parking lot of smoggy cars along the 405 with my "think green!" T-shirt slowly burning its scarlet logo into my guilty chest, I came up with a rhyming game to distract us. I would say a word and we would go around in a circle rhyming with it, no proper nouns, and no repeats. Peter was five years old so he was given a five made-up words allowance. Although Jeff hated this rule.
We were on round 4, rhyming with "cake" when I turned off of Sepulveda towards the tennis courts. Peter had just run out of his fifth made-up word so they were arguing over the word "shlake" when an enormous deer bolted out from the side of the road right in front of the car. I slammed on the brakes not knowing if this lumbering tank of a car could stop in time. It seemed to take forever to slow down. I kept thinking "I'm going to kill a deer in L.A. I am going to hit a deer in the streets of Los Angeles". The cars behind me were screeching and squealing, wrenching their cars left and right to avoid a pile up. Finally our tank halted and we slammed into the backs of our seats as this immense creature stopped right in front of the windshield. He turned his massive, handsome head. His nostrils flared, he lifted his antlers, four tiers high, gloatingly. We sat frozen, in awe of his beauty and power. This majestic beast from some mythical forest had entered our dirty, traffic ridden city and he seemed to stop time with his serene aristocracy.
He blinked once and ran straight up the hill disappearing in seconds. We rode the rest of the way in silence.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


There is a beautiful worship song that goes, "I surrender all..." C-sharp, D-sharp, A minor... and it sounds beautiful. And I like singing it because it makes me feel like a good sacrificial Christian. It lets me believe that giving your free will and everything you have worked for in your life over to a God you can't see seem easy, nice and peaceful. Almost a calming experience. But I think that the actual act of surrender is far less joyful.
When you surrender, its the last option. Its the only thing left to do after a long and difficult battle that you are losing. Its when you are in the middle of a battle, and you take inventory and you discover that you are clearly losing, with no hope and the best option, the BEST option is to give up. To give yourself up completely to the mercy of -not just an arbitrary person- but the very thing you were fighting. To wholeheartedly throw your arms up and collapse in a wet heap at the feet of your adversary and let him now become your benefactor.
To surrender all. And maybe some people can sing it gaily through bright shining faces, and good for them. But I think it's most genuinely said through gritted teeth.
I surrender. fine. I lost. I can't do this anymore. I give up. you won. I am defeated. I surrender.