Guess Who’s Back …

I got a comment on my last post that read: You’re back and pro-f-ing-lific! Don’t know whats gotten into you but, I love it.

I was totally thrilled to see that at least one of my billions of adoring fans was still reading my stuff. You know, I feel like I’m coming back and I’m glad that someone else noticed. As far as the “what’s gotten into me” part, the honest truth of the matter is that Mom died and I can finally post here freely without worrying about what she’s going to think.

While she was still alive and had Internet service, Mom was literally obsessed with my blog and according to reports from my sister and niece, there was a time when it was practically all she could talk or think about. Of course, she was the not so elegant star in several posts, so one could understand her being consumed with thoughts about what I might write next. The thing is, as soon as I found out she was on constant stand by waiting for my next posting, I stopped writing about her or anyone else in the family.

Her obsession, however, continued.

Apparently she read the posts about herself over and over, and even though years passed and I removed all family-related postings from Southern Discomforts and she and I hashed the entire incident out time after time (once we began speaking again after a 2-year hiatus), she just could not stop obsessing about the fact that I had written about her … or let go of her anger about what I wrote.

Knowing she was out there, waiting for me to post something unsavory (but true, god dammit) about her was one thing. I could totally avoid writing about that stuff. But, when I found out that her obsession had spread from focusing on posts about her and the family to every thing I ever wrote, I froze up. I had a tiny Mom in my head constantly scrutinizing every word I tried to write, every story I wanted to tell, and effectively shutting me down from creating much more than the occasional “Why I Love Brooklyn” post and even then, I hated the idea that she was there waiting for it to show up.

In spite of the fact that I’ve obviously got no problem sharing my stories with the billions of potential readers who could stumble across my little domain at any time, I had a huge problem with my Mom reading my online journal. As a kid, she would dig through my room on a regular basis and read any and every thing she could find – diaries, notes from friends, cards – and would then punish me for things she’d discover in them.

We had an ongoing fight for years about whether she was justified in stripping me of all privacy (my words, obviously) and she never gave up her, “I’m your mother. I can do whatever I want,” stance. So, when I heard about how engrossed she had become in my writing once again, I just couldn’t separate her reading my published work on the blog from her violating my privacy by reading my diaries as a kid.

Now, believe me, I see how fucked up this is and how much it sucks that I pretty much waited for my mom to die before allowing myself to write freely and honestly again. It’s obviously not how I would have chosen it to go down, and it certainly wasn’t planned, but facts is facts and the honest truth of this particular matter is that some of my best material comes from my worst experiences.

Prepare yourselves for greatness.

God Bless You

The first thing Erica and I noticed about our potential new neighborhood when looking at our current apartment for the first time was the fact that directly across the street is a specialty cheese shop directly adjacent to a wine/liquor store. If the next shop had contained an Italian butcher, I would have agreed to buy the place before I ever saw it.

As you can guess, I visit the wine store a lot. We did a lot of cheese in the beginning, but fancy cheese is as expensive as it is delicious, so we cut back. The wine however …

I love my wine store. They have a wine club card that is divided into four sections: $10, $15, $20, $30. Each time you buy a bottle of wine you get a hole in the appropriate box according to the cost of your wine selection. Know what happens when you buy twelve bottles? You get a 13th bottle — the value of the average price of the prior 12 — for 99 cents. This is a great thing. Although, it gives Erica ammo when screaming at me during some of my less pleasant moments when I’ve had too much to drink. “How many 99 cent bottles have you gotten since we’ve been here?” I usually answer something like, “Four.” (This is a huge lie. We’ve lived here since November. Four 99 cent bottles = only 48 bottles of wine (+ 4 of the 99 cent bottles = 52) consumed here in the past eight months. As if.)

The point is, I’m a frequent visitor of Slope Cellars. So frequent that whenever I walk Chulo past it, he tries to go in whether that is our destination or not. And it’s not like they give out treats or anything. He just assumes.

My drinking and my Pavlovian dog are not the point of this story. The point is my neighborhood.

Erica and I live on the southern end of Park Slope, Brooklyn. It’s a fantastic place to live. We’ve got great shopping — for example, the aforementioned cheese and wine shops. There are great brunch places, cute clothing stores, an Italian specialty store within walking distance, and a women’s shelter. We are also on the edge of a lower income neighborhood. These things all make for a fascinating array of people on the sidewalks.

Usually in New York you can watch people from afar — just walk by, make mental notes, move on without even making eye contact. Of course, being me, I haven’t ever been able to execute that very well. People talk to me all the time. It’s always been that way. I must look like a tour director. Or like I’m friendly. I blame this, like most other things, on growing up in Fitzgerald.

In Fitzgerald (and most of rural South Georgia) when you pass people you greet them. Every single one of them. If you’re driving and you pass another car, you greet them. You know, that left elbow out the window of your dually truck, steering with your right wrist, simultaneous raise of right index finger and nod of your head greeting. Once a college friend of mine was driving home with me and as we were crossing the Florida/Georgia line I pointed at the first car I saw. “Watch that car. The driver’s gonna wave at us.” He, being from South Florida, looked at me in disbelief. “No fucking way.”

Sure enough. We got the one-fingered, “How-do-ya-do?” We got it from that car and ever other car, truck and tractor (I’m not kidding) that we passed, all the way to Lobingier Avenue.

What I’m saying is that friendliness is in my breeding. And, then I got a dog. Walking a dog in the city is like a neon sign for people to approach you. Dogs are worse than babies. Most of the time you’re approached by other people walking dogs. Which I don’t mind. It’s kind of nice to chat with the people and I get to meet the puppies which I adore. However, I also have this other group who love to approach me.

It’s the elderly, sometimes drunk, always with a story about a dead pet AND a thick foreign accent that reduces me to nodding and smiling or frowning as I think is appropriate. In our last neighborhood it was the ridiculously short Italian woman who was at least 80 and wandered around in her house dress and her slippers. One day I was walking Chulo and she came up to pet him. Then she starts with her story.

In broken English with occasional phrases in Italian, she tells me how she had a dog just like Chulo who she loved and who was all she had in the world and then he got sick and died. And then she started crying. I was so caught off guard and stunned that I still can’t find words to respond to her. I just kind of stared at her with my, “that is so sad” face on while she wiped tears with one hand and was petting Chulo, who was in my arms, with the other. It was awful. It’s still awful.

Then. Two days ago I’m walking Chulo past the shelter and this old Spanish man approaches me. He’s got a tall-boy Budweiser can in a bag with a straw that he’s trying to hide behind his back as he comes up. From the glaze in his eyes, it wasn’t his first Bud of the day.

You know. I have dog. Jack Russell terrier. You know this dog?

(Assuming he’s asking if I’m familiar with the breed) Yes (Then I unintentionally flash the smile that implies, “Yes. I love those dogs. Please go on.”)

I have this dog. He best friend. (Gesturing toward Chulo, the fluffy white boy dog.) She you best friend, yes?

Yeah.

My dog. He die. I have him twelve year and he die. You know what? I no get another dog. Because I am old. I die, no one to take care of dog.

And he starts crying.

Well, today, I was in the liquor store buying wine for Kristin who is Chulo/housesitting for us while we’re in Nevis next week. While I was checking out at one register, there was a 70ish year old man at the other register who was buying a pint of bourbon and as the clerk was handing him his change, he also handed over a plastic cup so that the man didn’t have to drink out of the brown paper bag. I noticed, bought my wine and went home.

I grabbed Chulo and went out for the walk around the armory, and as we’re rounding the women’s shelter, there he is. Mr. Dead Jack Russell/brown bag Budweiser. And he’s having a conversation with Mr. Bourbon in a plastic cup. And as Chulo and I pass, Mr. Brown Bag Bud, obviously not realizing we had bonded over dog ownership just two days ago, stops me.

You see this dog?

Yes.

There is another dog. Just like her. Over at twelve street. Just like her, but blind. This dog she walk by door and cat, he …

Here he pauses because he can’t remember the word and he just waves his claw in the air and makes a woosh sound, indicating that the cat scratched the dogs eyes out.

Now she blind. No see nothing. And he walk around and I try to see him and he no see me. He walk around good. Sometime hit wall, but not always.

During this whole story Mr. Bourbon in a cup is watching me with what I perceive as a, “Sorry he won’t shut up,” look.

So, I tell Bud in a Bag that I was sorry to hear about the dog and that I’m glad he gets around okay for the most part and I start to leave and tell the men to enjoy their evening and Mr. Bourbon says, “Thank you honey.” And I smile, thinking he means that he appreciates me taking the time to listen to his drunk friend tell his blind dog story. Then he adds, “God bless you honey.”

Now, I grew up in the Southern Baptist church and I have been “God blessed” millions of times. This was not that kind of
“God bless.” And as I was walking away, Mr. Bourbon confirmed this.

“You look real good.”

Pretend I’m in Mexico.


Hi people. I fell down again. Honest to Smoking Baby, I fell down. Again.

This is my knee:I was walking home from my Al-Anon meeting and I stepped on one of those plastic folder things you put in a Trapper Keeper. It was just like the skating incident but slalom. A nice boy poked his head out of the bodega door to ask, “Lady. Are you okay?” (Fucker. It was like when I went back to Italy and the waiter called me Signora instead of Signorina.) The three kids behind me giggled for about three blocks. Not the point of the story. Just thought you’d like to know.

So. I get home tonight (with my broken head, ass and knee, in order of altitude) and I’m in a pensive mood. A and V left today after a four day visit. We spent almost the entire time not speaking about Mom, except for E’s occasional slip up about something crazy Mom did or how we had a wacko family or something. Something about V makes you forget that she’s a kid. She’s acts as if she’s much more mature emotionally than she is and you start to talk around her as if she’s an adult. Then there are times when you’re talking to her about how crazy things have been lately and she’ll break your heart with, “Oh, I’m so used to it by now. I’ve seen it all.”

Sorry. Is that too sullen a thought? I had a friend tell me recently that my blog was too heavy for him. (But without the hip verbiage.) I can’t help it. And I don’t think of my stories as sullen or morose. It’s just what’s going on.

Anyway, I came home tonight after my meeting and I asked E for a night alone. I assured her that it was only because I just needed to process some stuff on my own and I took off. (It’s my first time ever asking for some space in the five years we’ve been together. I am learning so much!)

“Pretend I’m in Mexico. I’ll see you later.”
“Okay! I’ll watch the L Word.”

I do have to admit, I was disappointed in her lack of disapointment.

Anyway. I grabbed a bottle of wine, my laptop and I headed for the loft. I’m at the end of this seven-engine train of family shit and I’m tired. I have gotten through the intervention and the sister visit. I just left an eye opening Al-Anon meeting and I wanna just be alone. With all of you.

You know. I’m writing down all of this stuff you’re reading, and I recognize that when I post here, I’m not making a journal entry. I truly know that I’m writing for an audience (of millions), but there’s still this sense of anonymity that comes from the fact that instead of speaking, I am typing. And it is more anonymous than physically writing because you hit save or send and it’s over. There’s nothing tangible left over to prove it ever happened. And there’s something about that that allows me to write freely about things I would usually never broadcast. Especially considering the fact that there are already members of my family reading on a regular basis, and as soon as that Oprah deal comes through (Oprah, can you hear me? Oprah, can you feel me in the night?), Mom will find out (if not earlier) and there’s a part of me that is terrified of that. But there’s also a part of me that feels that, as Dr. Drew said on Celebrity Rehab, “You are only as sick as your secrets.” And, my people, I am tired of being sick. When I was in Georgia for the latest drama, I opened to my Mom up about things I’ve never confronted her on … and in front of her brother.
It rocked.

Mom later told me, “I remember what you said in the hospital. I can’t believe you would talk to me like that. And in front of B. I am so embarassed.” I, enlightened Princess that I am, replied, “I am sorry that I hurt your feelings, but that doesn’t mean what I said wasn’t true.”

Right on, Princess.

People, I am taking care of myself these days. And, to be honest, it’s a fucking chore. Not only do I have a lot of family baggage to deal with, I am unpracticed at self-love … however. Watch out! I’m on a crash-course and it’s only a matter of time before I’m writing (and performing) cheers for myself.

So, thanks for reading. And, to those friends of mine who are only finding out what’s happening to me through the blog although you’ve called and written, I’m sorry. I’m a little overwhelmed right now but am working it out. I’ll holla at ya when I’ll be more fun to talk to. (Or when I get the cheers ready … Guh-oooohhh PRINCESS!)

Fitzgerald Found Me.

The following blog post was originally posted on www.HRHandthePrincess.blogspot.com.
Written by The Princess

It’s happened. I’ve been found out by my family.

I recently received a comment on my “How It Happens” post from a mysterious Misty B.

My first thought was, “Yay! Another reader who isn’t guilted into it by just knowing me or HRH.”
Then I read her comments and she made these cryptic allusions to my hometown, Fitzgerald. She called it FishWorld — a nickname only used by locals. In my day it was FishBarrel. I think it was probably started by some Northerner who got lost taking an exit off of I-75 and stopped at the Suwanee Swifty to ask for directions.

Lost Yankee: Could you tell me where I am?
Fitzgeraldian: Fuhitzgeerald
LY: Fish Barrel?
F: Fitzgurald
LY: Fish World?

Anyway.

So, I get this comment from Misty B who is obviously from Fitzgerald and I freak a little. In my hometown not only does everyone know everyone else, they know everyone who has ever lived in Fitzgerald and are usually related to most of them. I immediately edited every blog in which I wrote about my family, changing names to initials and deleting photos, and I went back to my email. Misty B is my cousin. She used to be Misty F which is what caused the confusion. I learned this because I had an email from her.

She briefly caught me up on life through some small talk then this:

Anyways I also wanted to tell you that I have read your blogs…And I think you and mama should talk…you both have some of the same opinions about your mamas…haha….and also I read this…

tell my mother that she is in control of her life and that her current situation is the result of decisions she made for her life. I discuss my life openly regarding my domestic partner, Erica, the new home we’re buying, the fact that my family is so separate from my life because Mom doesn’t want me to be out to them.

And I just wanted to let you know that seriously…..I am cool with this…I love you…to me you have always been my cool favorite cousin…that I never get to see…..Your life is your life….whatever you choose and whom ever you choose to spend your life with is your choice..I think it’s great… oh.. mama knows too…she is cool with it too…. she says we all need to meet sometime and hang out…And what happens on the internet….stays on the internet…haha.. Well just wanted to tell you that….write back don’t be a stranger…

And, next to my birthday message from the Universe, this is the best email I’ve ever received.