Too much garlic

Today was a day off, so I read some zines, played with the dog, played with myself, mailed out a few sample copies of the zine, and worked on making some recent entries make sense. Ate too much, and kept my door closed, typewriter clacking, and mind misfiring. I do dearly love a closed door.

Nobody knocks on my door — no friends, and by choice, no family. They're a long ways away and we're not in touch, but I wasn't thinking today about how much I miss 'em. Kinda the opposite.

This is delicate, difficult to say it right, easy to misunderstand. I don't hate my family. I frickin' love each and all of them, but loving them is easier when I'm here and they're there, which is (part of) why I moved away, alone.

I like being in charge of myself, and when my family's around that's a battle. They want me to be something I'm not, someone I haven't been for a long time.

They're always in my business with questions and judgments, and their questions probably make sense, their judgment might be better than mine, but that's irrelevant. I want to live my life without those questions and judgments.

Nobody in my family understands that, and some of them haven't respected that.

Some of them are eccentric, and outspoken, and odd. Sometimes they say things better left unsaid. My family takes some getting used to, and I haven't gotten used to them yet.

It's like garlic bread — delicious if you use the right amount of garlic, but not if you shake it on and keep shaking and shaking. My family is too much garlic.

There were other factors, sure, but it's not merely coincidence that April, a woman I'd dated for five years, dumped me a few days after spending an afternoon with me and my family.

"One day I'll drop by unannounced, just to surprise you, and stay a week or a month…" 

That's what my mom said, when she visited me in San Francisco last summer. She meant it. It's her favorite daydream — to fly down to San Francisco without me knowing she's coming, to be suddenly at my doorstep, then inside my door, to read my zines, see my mess, cry about my porn, pry into my secrets, ask a thousand questions, and judge me a thousand ways.

I'm a man more solitary than most, but even by normal standards, could anyone hear something like that — "One day I'll drop by unannounced, just to surprise you, and stay a week or a month…" — as anything but a threat?

It's a credible threat, so I take it seriously. When I moved in with Pike, in March, I 'forgot' to give Mom my new address. Then came another move, to Berkeley with Judith, and heck if I didn't forget again to file a change-of-address card. Now nobody in the family knows where I live.

They do have an address for me, but it's a mail drop. If Mom flies to California to surprise me, and pops in at that address, she'll meet the middle-aged Asian man who sorts everyone's incoming mail into their boxes, for $12 p/month. Mom might try to sweet-talk my real address out of him, but if she does, my address on file at the mail drop is a vacant lot.

A few months ago, I switched to a new voice mail number for phone messages, but goodness golly, I 'forgot' to tell the family about that, too. I've been very forgetful lately.

So it's been a while since we chatted, but either everyone in the Holland family is getting along just fine, or one or more of them have died, or someone's getting divorced, someone else is getting married. Whatever's up or down with the family, it's news that'll keep until I'm ready to hear it, which might be a while.

Again I'll say it and again I mean it, I love 'em all and wish 'em well. Maybe I'll send a card in six months. Or a year.

♦ ♦ ♦

I've been part of Judith's house here in Berkeley for a month, and it suits me. It's an enormous mess, so I never have to be embarrassed by my own slovenly habits. The neighborhood isn't quite so whitebread as I'd originally thought, and my commute to work is a breeze. Judith is sweet, kind of a friend, and the three other men living here barely know I'm down the hall, and they leave me alone.

That's how I know this place is my home — people leave me alone.

From Pathetic Life #15
Tuesday, August 8, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life
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  1. Having read your modern day adventures with yr family I fully understand why you stayed away so long -- and kept your whereabouts a mystery. I'd have done the same at that age. I had a 'different but the same' situation with my father, but he thankfully died when I was 25, so I let things play out and once he was gone was able to live completely on my own terms. Had he lived much longer, I would've had to take active charge of my life. But he'd been ill in those final years and his end was in sight. -- Arden

    1. Belated condolences, if his death was a sad event. Sorry you had a difficult father. You came out pretty good, though.

      "He thankfully died" sounds like what I'm expecting from my mother. I'll be happy and sad and angry at myself for even a trace of happiness about it.


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