Growing up I was never the kind of girly girl my mom wanted me to be in my shiny black party shoes and tights and furly whirly dresses. That was the 1960s, when moms of the 50s dressed their girls like, well, girls.
By the time I was four we lived on a farm and all hope for my being a darling princess was buried under the manure pile for good. How my mom always looked like a million bucks, how her white tennis shoes stayed bright white, I still don't know.
An older brother, a horse-loving sister, and me, grass stained and ripped, patched, then ripped again slacks. I liked being a tomboy. As I grew, I became my brother's little brother, complete with pixie haircut that made me, for at least a year, undistinguishable from a boy. "Hey, cute little brother there," his friends would say, me following behind him the obligatory 20 steps, just so no one would know his kid sister was with him. Those were the days.
He'd dress me up in shoulder pads and a helmet and we'd sucker the neighborhood guys into a football game. We lived in suburbia by then, my dad gone. They'd all be afraid to nail me, Frank's little sister. So he'd toss me the winning pass every time. And I'd catch it every time.
Then they got wise. Me at 7 getting leveled in the front yard by two boys twice my size. Me at 8 getting checked into the boards on the hockey rink. By my own brother. Adults mostly in horror. Me at 10 playing basketball with him on the bed, the hamper our net, socks our ball, my teeth into the bed frame, blood pouring out of my mouth, "I'm telling Mom!" (Did I mention I was a brat too?)
Then my own horse.
There's always something under my fingernails. The smell of Absorbine and pine tar. mmmmmm. Still works.
I cared for makeup only briefly, during my shoplifting days when I thought it was fun to steal. Mostly I liked the packaging. I wore bright blue eye shadow in the 70s with every kind of foundation I could hoist. But it was mostly the game of taking it, not about wearing it to be pretty or feminine, that jazzed me.
It's probably no suprise, then, that today at 40 I had my first manicure. I got a gift certificate from my mother six months ago and decided to use it. Got my nails manicured, got the blonde highlights from three months ago out of my hair, with a new shade of mahogany red. A nice trim. Bangs again. Not bad.
It was fun. Pretending for a couple hours that I care about this stuff. Seeing myself through my mother's eyes. Thinking I looked, for once, "together."
For a while I felt pretty high from it. I grabbed (and paid for) a new coat before I headed home. New coat, clean nails with some pretty polish, and new mahogany hair.
I looked in the car mirror and I saw myself a week from now, hair floppy again, nail polish all cracked and haggard from struggling to get Jenna's jeans on, cleaning the litter box, fussing with the dog bucket.
I don't know how nails work. And I didn't even get fake ones put on. (Hey, guys, THAT'S how they do it! They get fake ones glued on over their regular nails. Gross, huh?)
I can't help it if I'm a 40-year-old kid sister. I'm just me. Never was a girly girl. Never cared for them as friends. I was some kind of mix between tough kid / smart kid / bad kid / good kid. And I guess as an adult, I still roll around among those same rolls--I'd still rather have a pitch fork in a stall than color painted on my head any day.
So, I'll enjoy the fluff for a few days, think how cool it is to not look like myself for a while, but when the gray starts to peek through my hair, and my bangs get long, and the nail polish is all peeled away, I think I'll smile just the same.
At the old me shining through.
December 28, 2002
Growing up I was never the kind of girly girl my mom wanted me to be in my shiny black party shoes and tights and furly whirly dresses. That was the 1960s, when moms of the 50s dressed their girls like, well, girls.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 8:31 PM
Mr. Rogers is on. Jenna and George are playing Trouble after finishing up a game of Checkers. Fathers don't always let daughters win. More fun is the conversation I get to spy in on:
Daddy: Did i tell you about the time I went to Mr. Rogers' neighborhood and I saw all the castles and trollies?
Jenna: Can we go there?
George: He's retired now. He's very old. He doesn't do the show anymore.
Jenna: He doesn't do television? Is that his home on there?
George: Do you still know where he lives?
Jenna: Can I see, please?
George: There's not much left. It's far. Too far. It takes a day or two to get up there.
Jenna: I really want to go.
George: It's not my favorite place. It's in the hills. It always drove me crazy driving up and down those mountains.
Jenna: It's going to be FUN going up there! I LIKE going up and down the hills! Wee wee wee wee wee!!!!
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:58 AM
i've been adding to my blogroll by leaps and bounds. I don't even know. Maybe I'm going for the longest hand-made blogroll record. No blogrolling.com for me. These blogs are hand picked. This is love. This is reading and absorbing and copying and pasting and alphebetizing badly and little brackets and close-slashes and pushing publish. No shortcuts. jumping, grabing, linking. That's what blogrolls are madeof.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:51 AM
I thought we were having a blog party tonight.
Gary's jumping in and out of my comment boxes all day, pretending to be me. Farrago's site's down then up. We're all chatting up a storm. Then it gets quiet. HEY YOU PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, WAKE UP!
I'm here. No one else is around. Sheesh. I'm going to sleep.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 1:29 AM
December 27, 2002
This one's not mine. Though it could be, at another time, another place, by another hand. It's Emily Dickinson's:
After great pain, a formal feeling comes
After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round--
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--
This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow--
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 10:54 PM
Well, Gary started it. He's apparently at work behind the scenes making something out this web fridge project - Here's Gary's Fridge, just before being eaten by its own trifle.
Farrago jumped in - Here's that catlover's Fridge.
And here's the Fishwrap's nicely appointed Fridge.
I can only add this. Our fridge is not nearly as neat and organized as these. I would not let any of you look inside. Just you wait, Gary, until Cameron is five and you have to hide everything good and adult on the top shelf, and her smeary hands decorate the empty shelves, until you give up and put everything in the freezer. You'll see.
The only other comment I have is that bloggers seem to use lots of condiments. There is as much to sprinkle and drink as to eat. That must mean something.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:48 PM
man, if I didn't have to work for a living, if I could retire at 40, I would spend all of my spare time--when not traveling to warm spots with oceans--doing this. As if you couldn't tell, I've been off work this week, and most of next too, and some the week after (hopefully heading to Florida for a few days).
It's so nice to blog without feeling distracted, without a hand on your shoulder, without knowing you have to catch up on the more important matter of a dayjob no matter how long that takes. So it's been a relief. To just be blogging. Blogging and being. Playing and writing. Well, and trying to shake this ear infection I have. And the nervous twitch I'm re-developing. I've got meds for the ear now. Not sure what's needed for this eye twitch. Maybe less blogging.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 8:53 PM
So Jenna, by virtue of her five-year-old stamina, and with help from her father's gaming prowess, wins 1400 points at Dave and Busters two nights ago. She picks this great Coca-Cola soccer ball--like a real soccer ball--as one of her prizes. She's been having, pardon the pun, a ball with this ball. She tells me this about it:
I know what's inside of this ball, mom.
Oh you do?
Toink? What's Toink?
You know, Toink. Feathers and fluff and small paper. That's what's inside, filling the ball up.
So that's Toink--feathers and fluff and papers?
Yep. That's Toink. It's inside this ball.
Toink--Your word of the day. Courtesy of the babyblogger.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 8:41 PM
I was okay with this chapter--admiring the process--really, one I experienced, though differently, until it got to the part where the mother shared with her young daughter, right after the child's father's death, that she would look for a new husband and a new daddy for the child. She shared with her the "dating" process. What's up with that?
I think of how I would have felt if my mother said that to me. You know? Your daddy dies and I'll find another one. Men -- fathers/husbands -- are replacable. Is it my stunted emotional growth that makes me cringe at this? My mother remained single for six years. Didn't date much initially. Certainly didn't tell me about it. Some mothers never remarry. Fine if they do, but is this something you share with the child before you know as a woman in which direction you're going? I don't know.
I also didn't dig the stressed finality of the child's father's death. No, he's not coming home, but is he with us? This mother makes it pretty clear that no, he's not. I wouldn't say that to my child. I'd say he's in me and he's in you and he's all around us. But not like before. When I heard the "he's in heaven" angle at six, I didn't buy it. It didn't mean anything to my daily existence. But to say he's gone, he's in a box in the ground and he's not coming back, wow. Process that one, will you?
This definitely resounded with me - becoming allergic to loss - can I take sudafed for this? "Children who experience early loss may overreact to future losses much like the body responds to an allergen. The strength of the reaction is probably influenced by a child's temperament, previous life experiences, and the quality of the surviving parent's support."
Anyway, it's interesting reading, even if I don't agree with all the approaches or conclusions.
I wonder if there's been a book done in the words of both young children and grown children who've lost parents? That's a project I'd enjoy. Jonathon, you in?
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 10:05 AM
the posts I like the best are the ones that remind me of something I forgot I ever knew. They put words in my brain. Like Jonathon does.
"If it were up to me I would have a quiet 30 min meditation and throw some ashes out. I would laugh. I would wonder about the influence that is to be played out based on that person's life. I would make little bets about what would change."
I would make little bets about what would change. Wow. Wow. Yes. Looking back who would have known. Everything changed direction just then. And, is that so bad?
"My frustration shouts out when we don't allow those people to have present influence. It kills the person all over again. Only, no murder is proclaimed. It seems ok to kill someone who is already dead. It isn't."
That is double death, isn't it? At my house we didn't talk about his death. We didn't talk about his life. We just missed him and didn't talk about it. I perceived it too painful for my mother to mention his name, to utter the word "dad". It didn't roll off my tongue anymore as soon as he was gone. I didn't know what killed him until I was in my 20s. The only things I know about him now are the parts of me that don't feel like her.
That's the thing when your dad leaves you so early.
Jonathon mentions Halley's post about her dad's presence. I wish I felt my dad around me, wish I could access the parts of me that remember touching him, hearing him. The parts of me that knew him. By the time I was seven, adults would ask me, "Do you remember your father?" I told myself then not to ever ask a kid with a dead parent that question. Of course you remember them. You remember everything about them. They're still there in many ways. You hear them all day long in your head. You've only been alive seven years and six of those were spent with this person in your life every day all day. Do I remember him? I used to want to punch people who would ask me that.
A funny thing happens on your way to adulthood. Suddenly you've been alive longer without them than with them. Suddenly you wake up and remember very little. That sucks more than anything. I think what Jonathon says is right on--families kill the dead over and over again by keeping them so dead.
Jonathon's post is worth studying. I can't wait to see where he takes it. Perhaps onto God and theology -- he says this is a big part of what he's doing here. I want to hear more. I can't quite pinpoint where he hangs out in these areas. What makes him tick. So I'll let him take this back. In that direction. For now.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:00 AM
December 26, 2002
Now that everyone in the entire blog universe has comments except him, and him, and her, I am having a whole new level of fun just hopping around blogs off of blogs off of blogs--the ones I wouldn't otherwise find my way to--and chatting up a storm in the comment boxes. It's like taking going on vacation from my own blog. Hopping on over to Europe and down to Florida and over to California.
I love blogging today.
But I'd love it more if I had my blogpalm.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:34 PM
In 2003, can someone give me a handheld device geared to blogging? I want all the cool little blogging-related apps and a quick browser and maybe a little resident help tutorial on all the HTML codes I could ever want, and a really easy way to type my posts in wherever I am?
Maybe I'd want email too. But not necessarily. I don't want it to be complicated or mixed with extraneous MS Office crap or anything. I just want it to be small enough to fit in my purse, to be called something like blogpalm or another cool name that identifies me as someone who's so cool I blog. And I want it to be a cool color. Or colors.
It could have those icons on the sidebar where I can one-click my favorite blogs to read.
Will it let me save my posts until I connect later?
I want something small to take with me so I can blog anywhere and not be distracted by palm-pilot-like excess capability. I just want to be able to have a browser window for surfing the web, reading blogs, and a browser window to post in, and some blogging-related apps, and a way to preview my posts before publishing so I can see what my post will look like once I connect, later, if I'm not connected while I'm writing.
I will pay up to $499 for my new blogpalm.
Not that I have $499 to pay. I'd prefer to pay $99-$299. But I'd save up for it if it were $499.
Now, someone leave me a comment about how this already exists, and please include a link to a site where I can buy it.
As always and as if I had money,
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 2:46 PM
Jonathon answers my call bravely, in an answer song that resonates with me. The wandering around inside of yourself wondering why you didn't feel worse than you did.
The me at six pretending to be grieving on the school bus, looking out the window, distant, hearing other kids say, "Her dad died. Wow." Me, not really sad that day. Me, glad for the attention I had to share while he was sick. His was focused on me, and then later on breathing, while pancreatic cancer ate him from the inside out, the pain, I understand, unbearable. So, once he was gone and I knew he was gone, well, then, what does a kid do? You get on the bus and you go to school just like you did while he was well, while he was dying, just like always. But you get more attention.
At first I liked it. The hugs from the teachers. Then it embarrassed me. Then it tortured me. Then I began hiding. From the cancer. From the spotlight.
I know Jonathon, the aftermath. When family members swoop in and take your dead parent's stuff, when people can't look you in the eye because it mirrors their worst fears, when they say, "I'm sorry," and you're thinking, sorry for what? Stop saying your sorry. You can't fix anything, and don't be sorry for me. Be sorry for you, you gutless spineless weasel here to steal my father's 1953 Fender Bass, and you, you lowlife here to steal my father's VW Bus, and you, you scumbag, come to get the upright bass. You sorry motherfuckers. Don't be sorry for me. Be sorry for your sorry lives.
I hate the words I'm Sorry. They batter me. They batter me because they are the first expressions I received from adults in my world who let me down. They let me down by letting him die. They let me down by pretending to care. They let me down by pretending it would all be alright. It wouldn't be alright. It would never be alright again.
I hate watching parents in the playground, their sons whacking one another in the stomach, "Tell Billy you're sorry." "Sorry, Billy." Turn around, he wacks Billy again. Sorry means you won't let it happen again. And you can't ever not let it happen again. So stop saying it. Do it.
I'm sorry doesn't cut it with me.
Shut up and prove it.
And if you can't act, let me have my pain. Or let me go play.
Jonathon knows how it is when things bother you: "I hated that. All worrying what people thought. All wanting not to hurt someone's feelings. All caring about it," he says.
Oh, fuck, I'm the one without a dad. Everyone wonders. Their parents feel bad, ask me to father-daughter dinner dances. Please, the attention I wanted at six, I don't want anymore. Guilt? It sucks being uncomfortable over something you didn't do. It sucks being embarrassed about something you didn't cause. It sucks feeling bad for people who feel bad for you.
So you start to change.
You get an edge.
And you kick yourself when you realize you've left yourself vulnerable, so you don't anymore. And then you kiss yourself when you realize you've left yourself vulnerable, so you do it again. And then you learn that you don't care. It is freeing.
To not care, to not have nerve endings on your outsides anymore; it's freeing.
Even if it is all different tomorrow.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 12:36 PM
December 25, 2002
December 24, 2002
December 23, 2002
I want to scream. I want to scream, Tom!, we're here! we're not on the way to Florida for vacation yet! Call me back!
I am failing at my first attempt at proxyblogging.
You see, Tom asked me to proxyblog while he and Wendy were busy having a baby. Needless to say I was honored. Too many words need to go here. Can't fit them all in right now. Next paragraph:
In the mean time, Wendy camped out at the hospital on Sunday with little action in the dilation area. Tom sent news that they'd probably come home for a few days and try again on Thursday. I emailed Tom yesterday letting him know that we might head out to Florida this week for vacation. But I wasn't specific. I didn't mean TODAY! I meant, you know, in a few days.
Problem is, I keep MISSING Tom's calls and emails. So now he thinks we're on the road to Florida when in fact we're here in Atlanta on pins and needles because of this news from Florida!!!
Blogsprog number 3 is on his way, ladies and gentlemen. I remain in a confused state, wishing Tom had a cellphone and I had his number. Along with blessings of a speedy delivery and health for baby and mom, I send a wish that Tom gives me one more chance to live up to the proxyblogging he deserves. Tom, I promise I'll pick up the phone. Call back. I don't think we'll sleep so great tonight here in Atlanta on our bed of pins and needles!!!
Come on Baby Matrullo. The blogworld is waiting to welcome you.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 9:38 PM
You know those little icons that Meg at Mandarin Design makes? I love them. See her "Blogs We Are Reading Today" area if you don't know what I'm talking about.
and are good examples.
How'd I get one? I begged poor Meg to make me a little square since she'd had George's face up there for a while. And she did. Meg is nice. And talented. And she knows begging when she hears it. I love what she does for us with the Mandarin site. (Although, I think George has become a tad obsessive since Meg showed us how to change font size and color.)
HERE'S MY POINT IN ALL OF THIS. My point is about Meg's square icons. I like them. No, I really like them. I want to be able to put these little icon buttons in my browser toolbar. I want squares for the top 20 blogs I visit everyday, and I want them on my tool bar or down above my status window so no matter where I travel, my favorites are a click away. I want to blog hop without going back to my blogroll or some like-minded blogroll to remember who I wanted to visit next. I will pay $10 to the first person who makes this easy to do.
I am getting old and can't remember things.
I love technology.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 2:20 AM
December 22, 2002
Jonathon says I said something radical the other day, with my, "and what if I don't care?" option in my list of ways I could feel if one of my blogging friends perceived that another blogging friend slammed them, and if the other blogging friend perceived that they were slammed by the first blogging friend first, and I didn't defend either one of them. Jonathon, of course, says it in a way that's more organized and enticing:
"I dig Sessum for that. So very freaking true. Right and Wrong. Words that have contained zero meaning for to long. Well, they have been spoken to long. We are on the verge. The verge of freeing the big-big thing. The big thing that says we get to question those sacred no-nos. Not just question but throw them out. The things that make no sense. The junk that Bush says or Gore. The thing the fundamentalist pushes or that the liberal endorces. We are moving to flip out at tolerance calling for something deeper. Engaging eye-to-eye conversation. Me listening. You pouring. No converting you. That blew up the towers."
Fascinating read on what I was getting at. Just what I was looking for. Jonathon emailed me and asked for more. He said this:
"Damn. I mean DAMN. YOU HAVE to go on about this. More. Feed me. Stick the needle in. I don’t care what it costs. Push it."
It can cost a lot. It is a risk to drop the drape and show who you are--that you're not anyone's reflection, you're not a version of someone else, you're not even yourself most days. You don't know yourself when she stumbles in at 2 a.m., you don't know what you believe, sometimes you do, but days go by and you're not sure. You're not sure if believing in anything is even worth it.
The lines between love and hate, between loyalty and empire toppling are blurred. You can build a mountain on Monday and rip it down on Wednesday. You don't know how you built it or why you decided it had to go. It is passion sometimes without direction, unleashed, looking for a reason, looking for someone else out there to receive you, and if the wake of your voice pulls someone else under on it's way, then what's wrong with not caring about that?
What's wrong with setting a fire and watching it burn?
Some days I care. Some days I will roll your motherfucking soul over if you don't see it the way I see it.
Some days I want you to love me. Pretend if you have to. Bring me into the fold, welcome me into the cult, where do I sign, how do I pledge? Forevermore I'm yours.
Some days I love you unconditionally, I wonder how I lived a day without you in my life, can't live in the realworld anymore, moving to the compound in the woods so we can all cook together, read together, blog together, live together.
Some days I don't care if you live or die. I don't care about you, or you, or you. I only care about me.
Some days I don't care about me.
And what does it matter? When the music comes on and we're all listening and jamming, I'm your girl. I'm the one that'll keep it in the pocket. I'm here to hear you. To power your groove.
I wonder if you're there to hear me?
I know what it means to be real. This is who I am. I'm not who you need me to be. I'm done sweating and toiling for that. If you don't like me, I'll live. If I don't like you, I'll leave.
Does that work for you?
Take it away, Jonathon.
Posted by Jeneane Sessum at 11:34 PM