It’s raining.

It wasn’t raining yesterday.  It was sunny and nice.

My parents were going out to dinner with granddaughter and new husband; a twisted tale there.

I didn’t have to prepare dinner.

I thought I could get an afternoon away; a coupon for an cheap OCB lunch, some quiet and sunshine.

And I needed it.

A long, long day trip in the car to Brockton, where I was hauled as the caretaker, cramped up in the seat behind my mother, who needs her chair pushed all the way back.  My mother admitted, when my sister’s friend asked about my life outside caretaking, that they “keep me too busy to have a life.”

A mothers day with no calls from other siblings.

A trip with my father to the oncologist, who pointedly asked me twice how I was doing, and not wanting to go there, that other than my ankle, I haven’t seen a doctor in over 15 years.

A trip to gastroenterology with my mother — “Are you in the medical profession,” the clinician asked me, “or is all you know from her?” — followed by the drama of my mother calling out directions during rush hour.”

And this is all beyond “Impossible Hope,” beyond the stress of losing lobby day, of being up everyday for taking breakfast up to my mother, working any impulse tours, making dinner, and then bedtime snacks, fourteen hours on call, day after day after day after day after day, with only a few hours out to do their marketing.

Yesterday, I thought I could get a few hours away.  And I needed it.  I needed it badly.

But when there was water on the floor of the laundry room, 15 feet from the bed I sleep in, just past my father’s desk in this room, I knew I was screwed.

At least once a year the pipe to the street backs up.  And what follows is my father’s festival of sewage, his aspergers fueled bout of shit.

This may include rusty metal snakes, demands to mold soap plungers in no time, pulsing bladders and industrial hoses, all, of course, covered with sewage.  Anyone who handles these devices is covered with sewage too, like me.

The rules of the drama are clear.  My father blathers on and we do what he says, hours of shit dancing.

Last time we rented a powered 100″ snake.  He had his foot on the switch when the snake wasn’t coiling back into its cage, and no matter how many times I shouted off, he wouldn’t lift his foot, so it uncoiled onto the floor, and we had to haul the sewage covered metal out onto the grass I hadn’t been able to cut while I waited for new brushes for the electric mower — he assured me that he thought he could fix it, so I could fix it, even if he didn’t know how — and in that tangled grass we worked for an hour to recoil the huge spring.

The first thing I had to do, while my father watched, was to pull my work clothes, my dresses and skirts and jackets, from the hanging rod next to the sewer pipe.  My father watched with his usual stare as I dumped the hanging clothes into a pile covering what was left of the window near the bed, dumping them like so much shit, rude and distasteful.

This year it was the hose, but when that looked too easy, he decided to call the $100 to clear any drain guy from the yellow pages.

I went upstairs to get a break, knowing that it wasn’t worth it to really clean the sewage off of me.   I dumped some tuna in a bowl to make a sandwich, maybe making up for my missed lunch, my missed peace, but my mother had other plans.

My mother fancied a chocolate milkshake.  So shit covered me had to get out the blender, ice cream and milk to indulge her whim, then wash all the parts and put them away again, all the while singing “kill me” songs.  I got back to my sandwich just as the phone rang.  The plumber was here.

Sandwich abandoned, break broken, once more.


The plumber was clear: the sewage pipe was broken.  And probably for some time.

“When did you first have problems?” I asked my father.

“Oh, maybe two years after the house was built,” he answered.

Fifteen years of this shit.

My mother, who had slept in the living room last night, locking down the first floor including the kitchen while she slept in, needed to change for her outing.

But she wouldn’t tell me what clothes she wanted, even as she confirmed the dinner for 5:30 PM, around an hour past the wait.  She needed to go upstairs and wrap and dress and then have me roll her out and load her up.

I was shot.  I did what I usually do when the pain and fustration get so bad I can barely function: I hit myself in the head, hard, over and over again.

My sister, remember, threatened to have me removed from this house as a danger to my parents.

But we spoke later, after she got the two phone messages I had left.

She offered to go out, since she had finished her day and the meetings with potential studio partners.

But I wanted to watch TV and die.

She wanted to figure out what could be done to help me, but the best she could come up with was bringing in dinner once a week, or maybe once every two weeks.

It was an old plan, and I still couldn’t imagine how a few scheduled hours would ever give me space to be with myself and make connections, how to squeeze any part of a life into an arbitrary and routine hole.

She spoke of how my mother had no boundaries when she was a kid, how my sisters life was taken.  Even compliments from my sisters childhood friend went ignored, because my mother only cares that she has been failed.  If only people had done what she told them to do when she told them, it would all be fine, but now she can never be happy.  My mother doesn’t respect her time and her power, so she can’t respect others, still responding to expectations as a rude, willful and petulant child who just is angry at having to come on time to a dinner made for her, rather than being gracious and grateful for what she has.

My sister is in a job that is also consuming, with people demanding more of her than she has to give, not respecting her life, as her health & growth is irrelevant to the point of making money this week, this day, this hour.

All I hoped for was an afternoon away; a coupon for an cheap OCB lunch, some quiet and sunshine.

And even that tiny hope was demolished.

How can I dare hope for anything bigger?

Tomorrow rain, and a trip out to the stores, tommorow or the day after; I can just stay on hold for her whims, pulling to get answers and feeling the derision and dismissal of my work as cook and plumber, gardener and nurse, cleaner and carrier, all this and more.

My sister, I suspect, still sees my trans as a kind of optional thing, identifying me as brother plus.

I, of course, see my trans as essential, and my role here as mother, which is the only way I can do it.  But it is mother to those who are dying, not those who are growing, and mother to those who see me as freak.  Mothers day is always tough for me, hidden and damaged, transparent and ubiquitous, invisible and required.

Every day, I know myself as a woman, but those around me just know me in their stilted context, whatever that is.  My repeated mantra is simple: “It’s OK, I know you want to hurt me.”

I told my sister to save herself, that we both shouldn’t be dragged down and destroyed by this crap.  She still has a chance to make a life, to claim her own possibilities.

I told her to save herself.  I am already gone, my best years lost and destroyed, my heath decaying, my hope shattered.

I’ll just clean up more shit, literal and figurative, sleeping with the shit on the floor and my precious work clothes treated as a pile of shit.


2 thoughts on “Shit”

  1. It’s all shit, I told myself once.

    My shit brown eyes, shit brown hair, shit brown life. Grades that make me look like I’m defective. A pile of things wanted and never had. Emotional chasms between myself and the world I live in.

    Maybe it is shit. But flowers grow in shit eventually, Callan.


  2. i think i’ve said this before – and in fact i was going to amplify this via email but i decided to just put it out here – but your entries about your experiences with your parents astonish me with their honesty, and i wish that they were more widely read.

    there’s an enduring myth that erases the personality and needs of the caretaker, as if people were truly “selfless” at anything they do.

    and the damage of that myth is that if you don’t buy into it, if you don’t act as if it were true, if you assert or reveal anything but saintly forbearance then you’re a bad person, mean and stingy and cruel.

    the caregiver is not allowed to feel, not allowed to hurt, not allowed to cry at anything but the invalid’s woeful circumstance.

    it’s a hideous lie, and a weapon of guilt and shame with which to beat the caregiver into submission – or if the caregiver is not easily guilted or shamed (as in your case), then a means to blame and condemn and shun, as has been done to you.

    it’s filthy and horrible and i can’t believe that you’re left in that position.

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