Writing 101

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The Serial Killer, Pt 1 – Writing 101, Day 4

Published June 5, 2014 by Liz Ault

Today, write about a loss. The twist, make it the first in a three part series.

She went by the name “mom”. She had been married for 3 years and no babies had happened. Lots of stories of the different fertility measures used in the early 1950’s. So with no babies in sight, and an uncle who had just been ordained a priest, Dan and Bette had been moved to the front of the class. I was “gifted” to them on the 6th of December 1955. I was 6 months and 3 days old. It took a year in that state for adoption to become final. This is what I looked like before that happened:

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A year after I was placed with this family, my next brother was also placed with “us”. Then the UNTHINKABLE happened. Mom had two kids under 2 and she was throwing up every day. Catholic Charities called her to say they had baby #3 on the way. Mom said, I have my boy and girl and this is all too much. No thank you.

Turns out she was pregnant (betting you guessed that). She was sick for months. If I’d been a little older, I may have found pleasure in this.  Mom’s next door neighbor and dear friend told her why she was vomiting all the time. That would be my sister. The first “blood” child. For my mom, all bets were off. It became US vs. THEM. US were her kids, THEM were the adoptees.

I was too young at this point to be of much use around the house – that came later, and not much later. Three months after my sister arrived, mom was expecting again. She wasn’t happy with dad.

But by the time my brother (#4 kid) was born, I had been introduced to that infamous closet.

I was always told I was a very sad child. I showed little emotion. Not surprised. I was born to a single mother in 1955. Her mother had just had a lobotomy, and she snuck off to have me. She didn’t sign relinquishment papers until I was 10 days old. That blew my mind. No matter what my imagination did, these adoptions were sealed. To find out against all odds she held me over and over was overwhelming. But abandonment was a feeling that pulled at me for most of my life.

Catholic adoptions at the time were the most secretive.

Before I hit 5 years of age, I knew how to change diapers, feed a bottle, scrub toilets, rinse out soiled cloth diapers in the toilet, and use a toothbrush to clean the tile around the toilet.

The US vs THEM was now fully in force. By this time it was the turning point and a chance at a “normal” childhood was lost.

 

Music, Youth and Coping; 101 day 3 – Commit to a Writing Practice

Published June 4, 2014 by Liz Ault

Write for 15 minutes…

Precious and Few by Climax

December 8 1972 driving from home to a high school basketball game on a Friday night. All afternoon had waited to find out if there were any survivors of United flight 553. We had found out about 6 pm that my dad had swapped his seat on the United flight for a seat on the company plane with a co-worker. It was one of the longest afternoons of my young life at that point. This song played on the radio and I let the tears flow. My dad’s co-worker was one of the casualties of that flight. Can’t tell you what the score was on the game, or who won it. At mid game I rushed to a pay phone (they were big phones that hung on the wall and you fed them money) and placed a call home. My dad answered, I cried. That song still reminds me of that day and how close I came to losing him.

I am Woman by Helen Reddy

Fresh off the biggest break up of my life before or since, I yelled out this song every time I heard it. Figured if I yelled it loud enough or sung it strong enough, I would come to believe it. I was 21 then, 59 now. Just thinking of this song and letting my mind roll back so many years, I made a great discovery. I AM WOMAN and I survived (but that is another song). Looking back I realize more clearly than ever that I have always been stronger than I thought I was. Thank goodness!

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor

Since “I will Survive” entered my brain stratosphere, and I’m not supposed to over-think, it had to make it my third song today. It was a theme song throughout my mid-twenties. So much to overcome and it was/is such a catchy tune.

Realizing that music hasn’t been such a defining thing for me as time went on. It was the thing that helped me to cope from early grade school until I married. Then life kicked into even higher gear, and I wasn’t around radios, etc. to hear the latest music. As my kids grew up I heard their music and watched them enjoy it or use it to cope. On the beat rolls on…..

Timer dinged.

 

The Closet – Writing 101, Day Two

Published June 4, 2014 by Liz Ault

Slowly opening the door. The house is old enough that no doors open quietly any longer. If I open it very slowly I can minimize the sound. Wow, just opened it. In my mind I’m taking a huge cleansing breath as I walk in. There is the smell of the plastic bags on the “off season” clothes that are stored here. The dust even from a closed closet is deep in my nostrils. The sense of smell has always been strong for me, but not here. Here it is about light vs. darkness.

Fall 1960 I was placed in this narrow “room” for the first time. I realize that when we are children, sometimes things seem bigger or smaller than we recall as adults. This bedroom was over the garage, so one of the largest. On the east was a closet that ran the length of the bedroom. It was quite narrow. Maybe 2-3 feet wide, but very, very long.

My first visit to that space was my mother placing me in the 1960 equivalent of a time out. She forgot where she put me. I learned to like the smell of the plastic on the clothes and the stair that led to the next part of the closet. Even the dusty smell was a comfort. SHE FORGOT where she put her 5 year old oldest child!

It was totally black. It was an inside wall, so the only light was a single bulb with a chain and string attached. I was too short to pull the string and light up the closet. I’ve said it already, but had to remind myself again.

The darkness became my friend. When I heard the words, “you are adopted and thank God not my genes that caused you to be xyz.” When my dad wasn’t home, mom would dig her fingernails into my upper arm, so it would be covered by my uniform blouse. That part isn’t for today, it’s for later.

My first reaction to this assignment was to talk about a beach in Australia when I was 25. Then I smelled the lilac trees. Then I thought about my 59th birthday and my mostest quietest place ever – that closet where she first tried to silence me.

Stream of Consciousness; 101 day 1

Published June 2, 2014 by Liz Ault

I’ve spent at least twenty minutes staring at this computer. Went out and mowed the back yard. Came back and stared at the computer. Smelled dog poop. Dang it’s on my shoe. Got up to clean shoe. Sat back down, stared some more. Guess I’ll get a popsicle – note to self, that was the last popsicle.

I’m working on the 39th of 48 crocheted squares. When those are done I have to do the edging on each square before assembling. I hate doing the edging. Oh, well.

What have I gotten myself in to? Well, not exactly gotten in to, since I didn’t pay for the pleasure/pain. Quitting is allowed.

Today is the last day before a new year. Mind is all over the place. What have I done this past year? What have I not done that I wanted to do? Sometimes I feel like I’ve sat still and watched a life move along. But on reflection there are some things, big things, that have been accomplished, yet so many things that lay on the sidelines. There are 355 days before it’s the end of another decade.

The sun is missing. The sky and air look green. Every so often the branches blow in the breeze, then suddenly all is perfectly still. The house feels like early evening instead of not yet noon. The dogs are both sleeping soundly, unaware that their human parent is struggling to write anything at all. Judge Mathas is playing in the background. He caught another person in a lie.

My timer is almost ready to ring. Twenty minutes is almost done. Then I can sit here until tomorrow and wait to see what the day 2 assignment will be. Or, I could actually do something with the rest of my day. May as well stay put, the noon news will be on shortly! Whew.