This began as a post about my father’s change from “Communist sympathizer to progressive to staunch Reaganite. My Mom, sister and I believe that he would have begun to change back during Bill’s impeachment. Might have shocked some sense into him Then Karl Rove was absolved of all charges, and as “they” love to say: “he must have been guilty of something,” or more. Then The Supeme Court….
I in no way mean to imply or infer that my father was “toxic.” He was multi-layered and I am that much richer for it. Our lives changed with the times. The problems that I had were physically caused though difficult to discern. My father tried harder than any 20 fathers would have. Help was hard to find. He unknowingly excaberated them, but he hurt more than I did when he realized that.
I often wonder what it was like to be a parent in the 60’s and 70’s and have absolutely no knowledge of drugs or the fast evoving My parents didn’t even really like music, and my life revolved it. They liked Carly Simon, Simon & Garfunkle, and Arlo Gurthrie, and that was about it.
They appeared sophisticated, I guess, and were truly to become early model YUPPIES, but somebody forgot to give them the guidebook to how to treat a rebellious daughter. My Dad did have friends who were “mod” and I think knew much, but weren’t going to let him know, I hope.
We tend to put the mores of today, and our new found wisdom, whatever that it is, on people of earlier decades. We tend to judge without thinking about all sides. I refuse to ever be a person to whom the world is all about me, without trying to understand the other people involved.
Saturday, July 19, 1969 was a momentous day for Ted Kennedy who would soon learn that his chances of becoming president were nil. The astronauts would land and walk on the moon the nest day. It was my nineteenth birthday.
While I wasn’t living at home, it was strongly suggested that I spend the weekend at the parental manse. Strongly suggested did equal a direct order. My parents understood that I would rather spend Saturday night with my on again, off again college boyfriend. He stood me up. Later I would learn that there were reasons, but then….I couldn’t care less about the moonwalk. I spent the night and all the next day sulking. My father and I had basically communicated through my mother for the prior four years. It was easier that way. Since the house was on four levels, I would stay on the top, my Mom in the kitchen, and my Dad on the third level in his red burlap wallpapered study. One of us would scream to my mother who would scream to the other. We did talk on family vacations and dinners out, and sometimes even enjoyed each other. We hadn’t gone out to dinner the night before because I had a date, and we couldn’t go out that night because we had to watch the moonwalk.
My Dad constantly told me how great it was that I was rebelling against him because otherwise I would take it out against society. Took some of the fun away to be parental approved. I still managed to find new and different ways to anger him. Most of the time I wasn’t trying. He loved to hear the sound of his own voice.
Shortly after the astronauts landed my Dad ordered me into his study:
“You, you, you used to care. You used to be passionate about causes, every cause. Now all you do is think about boys and those God damn freaks you hang with. God knows what drugs you do…I don’t care what you care about, but you have to care about something. This, this is the biggest thing that has happened in your lifetime and you won’t even watch it.”
I always had known that astronauts were going to walk on the moon one day. I was never going to turn nineteen again, probably never date again, and my life was over. My heart was broken and my father expected me to care about a moonwalk.
But he had never stopped me from protesting, aside from the Chicago Convention, and I knew even then most parents of barely eighteen year old daughters would try to do that. I broke most rules but I wouldn’t even think about breaking that one. I tried arguing. Usually worked but for the rest of my parents life, my Mom would talk about the horrible things that might have happened to me if I had gone to The Chicago Convention. While both my parents were the anxious family, my Mom never dwelled on the past.
My Dad gave me books by Upton Sinclair, Henry George, and many others that have influenced me throughout my life. He cared that I believe in something bigger than myself, could defend my reasoning, and argue the other side. He cared about my being able to argue the ethical implications of anything I chose to do.
My Dad believed that there were two honorable and sometimes necessary lies: sex and age. He was madly and passionately in love with my Mom. They met as teenagers and their love affair lasted until death. My sister would want to die when they made-out in public. It always made me smile. My Mom said that when I was a baby I would clap when they would kiss.
My Dad was a CPA and he had client/friends who spent enough time in Alimony Jail for me to think it a special place where men want to play poker away from the prying eyes of their current wives, when I was a child. No my dad didn’t tell me that. Did let me believe it. My Mom tried to tell me the truth, but I was a daddy’s girl.
I grew up and my Dad and I had lunch or dinner together at least once a week. Restaurants were neutral territory. My dad got angry a lot and would scream. I was the person closest to him, and damn it, I should have been perfect. I was smart and pretty, with a collection of the world’s most beautiful girlfriends.
Have no idea what that meant, but men including my Dad were always bringing that up. Then as now I had more male friends both gay and straight. The hetero male friend thing confused both my parents. I, in general, confused my father. He might have introduced me to writers and artists but I wasn’t supposed to be one of them. Nor was I supposed to fall in love with the men I chose. Once I told him that he had turned me into a star f–ker, and that he should have never introduced me to a world that he didn’t want me to be part of. “Yes,” he agreed, “but you weren’t supposed to fall in love with musicians.”
My Dad had a special talent for saying things that made perfect sense until you really thought about it. I picked incredible, almost but never seriously almost, famous ones. Well one, but it wasn’t something that my parents had to know about. The rock stars in my Dad’s world were more the “Papa was a…” type.
My dad played high stakes poker which I had no interest in, and was an investor. That did interest me, so our weekly lunches or dinners were filled with market talk. He would quiz me in the middle of the fanciest or cheapest restaurants. I was always anxious at the beginning of the meal and would begin to relax toward coffee, for me, when I realized that I had passed the quiz. Though everything about me was up for inspection. Sometimes felt like a horse before sale.
I loved my dad and he loved me and many times we did talk about the world and real issues. But I never knew when it was safe to or not. We also talked taxes. I was a paralegal. He taught me enough so that a large corporation offered me a job as a tax researcher after I passed the initial tax knowledge test and the interviews.
Talking about taxes and the market was a hell of a lot more fun than talking about his beloved Reagan, or my sex life. Yes when I was in between boyfriends he would ask. He was for me having one. The first time I decided to declare a moratorium on dating, or in my case falling in passion, he asked the “L” question.
We were stuck on the 59th Street Bridge for two hours and my Dad had no patience. Somehow his anger at being stuck came out in the form of the question. I wish I could say I proudly…but I’m totally hetero, and was even more grossed out. This was my father, and the question was so beyond boundaries I feared that he had suffered a stroke. He had even said that he just wanted to see me in a secure relationship.
It was the 80’s. I had never heard of a father asking a daughter that question and implying that it was okay. He probably had suffered a mini stroke on the Bridge because while my father wasn’t homophobic he did believe that sex should be an act between a man and a woman. Perhaps he genuinely wanted me to be happy. He was under the mistaken impression that I was shy. Though even he knew that I was never shy about announcing my relationships. Zachary and I moved in together two days after we met. Zachary was the one he wanted to pay me to live with and not marry. Yet when things went bad, he blamed me. I had a history….
My Dad argued as a lifestyle. If it hadn’t affected me so much I would have considered it to be one of his many hobbies. At first we thought that he argued for the War in Viet Nam because we didn’t know anybody who was for it. It took us years to accept his political conversion. He registered as an Independent; couldn’t get himself to register as a Republican though we lived in Nassau County where it might have have gotten us an incredible nearly free cabana at a beach club.
My father didn’t like most Republicans, and hated the beach. Though I never really knew that until I was in my 30’s, and my sister didn’t know until I told her. My sister and I, emphasis on the “I”, loved it so we went often.
Shortly before he died in 1991, he told me that the world was changing too fast for him. Communications were going to be key. He was sad because he didn’t know computers and refused to learn as he was scared that he would become obsessed.
“Nothing obsessive about computers,” I said. I used computer programs all the time; I really believed that. The first official blog was still six years into the future.
The thought of my father unleashed on political blogs is beyond my imagination. My parents had been asked to leave “husbands night” at my mother’s favorite club because of his reactionary politics. I would have had to spend a lot time denying that we were related. Yet he would have charmed people in ways that I could never.
My Dad would have seen the negative comments that have been left on my blog and gone ballistic.
No, he wouldn’t have been able to understand Moralizing-Faux-Bible-Humping-Preachers (TomB’s expression, I added the Faux) and the beyond sick comments they still leave on my personal blog. I have learned to delete, and or ignore.
My father would want to know what gives anybody the right to tell another person that her life lacks purpose or values? He truly wouldn’t have understood why people felt that they had the right to judge another human being. Especially me, his older and now perfect daughter.
I would have been embarrassed and asked him to cool it.
He wouldn’t have understood. For a brilliant man, he was rather dense. I would have had to explain how for the first time in American history the Constitution and The Bill of Rights are threatened. We have already lost much of The Fourth Amendment.
I am part of the approximately eighteen percent of American citizens who aren’t Christian. I have every right to tell any story I desire on my blog without threat from the blog morality squad, sanctimonious self-serious, self-involved assholes.
Self-involved? How can you be when you say that I am? Look at yourselves. Do I come to your blogs to tell you how sick you are? Hell no.
People come to my blog because I have a funny name and a reputation, and think they can drum up business for their blogs and satisfy their inflated egos.
I tell the stories that I do because I enjoy writing them and others enjoy reading them. Don’t believe that I have written one explicit sex scene nor do most of my stories have to do with sexual relationships.
Many people think that I harp on this too much. Most bloggers haven’t been told that they should have been an abortion since they believe in it so much. A horrible thing to say to anybody but I was adopted and have always known that I could have easily been “an abortion.” I have never regreted having one, but I have at times wondered why I could so easily have had one. It wasn’t an easy decision, but once I made it, I knew it was the only sane decision.
Most bloggers haven’t been asked not once but too many times what type of mental illness do they have as somebody has a theory that certain types of mental illness go along with far leftist politics.
There were many more comments in that ilk. Tried to put it into perspective. Tried to tell myself that blogging is not real life. But I kept wondering what there was about me in particular that made people behave so vehemently. Other than my name, religion, city, and the subjects that I write about.
My diad was a very very critical person. He only wanted me to be perfect. Late in life he realized the damage that he had done. I can get one hundred compliments and one nasty remark and that’s what I will fixate on. I understand that my Dad was merely mortal. Yes I said he wouldn’t have been able to understand moralizing Bible-Humping…yet he was so critical of me. He was my father. He loved me. He cared about me, and he usually respected boundaries
He apologized several months before he died, but the damage was done and all the therapy, all the med’s in the world won’t make me feel that I have succeeded unless I do everything perfectly. I know I can’t. Blogging feeds the need for praise. Maybe it also feeds my need to be criticized. Most people enjoy getting publicity. I know I should be enjoying the moment. Inside I cringe. Though I know how hard and long I have worked, I never feel I deserving enough. I’m not looking for pity or empathetic remarks. Merely stating some truths.
And none of it was really his fault. I had some problems that he would have done anything to be able to fix. He was self-critical, and I was the closest thing to him. He saw himself when he looked at me. I always knew that.
What the people who leave the “shallow” “self-absorbed,” etc. comments don’t understand is that in repeatedly writing my truths on different levels in different ways about different events, I not only get to understand myself much better and am thus able to take things to different levels, but I can help other people. Often I can simply entertain. They view blogs as political, fluff or religious and fail to understand that real life complexities are important to write about.
Real life is messy. Sometimes I have to make the same mistake many different ways to learn from it. So did my father. I had forgiven him long before he apologized because I understood that he was who he was. Complex, funny, bright, argumentative, a mass of neurosises, the life of a party except if he had a drink when he would fall asleep, loud, quiet, a gentleman. The Times called him middle aged when he starred in an early MTV commercial. He was over 70 and over the moon. Didn’t believe me when I told him it played rock videos 24/7, and I then reminded him he had always preached “never believe anything you read in The Times.
I continue to blog because I love to write. I continue to be political despite my wish not to be because it’s in my blood so to speak. I finally learned how to hit the delete key and just go on.
Why am I bringing this up at a time like this? And on Father’s Day? Last week brought major set-backs for Democrats and all people of reason. It also unleashed the radical right blog censors.
I almost would have loved to have seen my Dad unleashed among the radical right. Though we weren’t really talking when I was sixteen, my Dad saved my poetry. He saved my letters home and all my reports–including one made out of black construction paper shaped liked a mushroom cloud, and TS Elliot’s This is the way the world ends inside. When I was thirteen I thought that to be very clever. So did my dad who turned 50 that year.
I know how much my Dad loved me. Here’s a link to the story he wrote when I was adopted–and no he didn’t find fault with me because I was the adopted child but rather because I was the one who looked like him, thought like him, and was just so almost perfect.
Father and daughter relationships are special. Just enjoy your daughters for who they are at that second. When my dad was able to do that we had the most amazing relationship.
This new America, the triad of Bush/Cheney/Rove, they’re not the Republicans my dad loved. Hell, when I begin thinking Nixon would be an improvement…..There’s nothing that I can say that hasn’t been said already and better. Oh right and Rumsfeld.
I hope that every father in Iraq is able to speak to their families today. I hope that every Troop can. More than anything I hope that they are safe and home soon. About six month ago Steve O did “What’s the face of 2,000” More than 2500 now. More than 2500 needless deaths to satisfy insatiable egos.
Does Ann Coulter have a father? Because she could only be the spawn of Satan, and that’s giving him too much credit.
Crossposted at BIO