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Posts Tagged ‘daughters’

At Seventeen~Part One

December of 1973 was a turning point in my life.  I was seventeen.

At seventeen I should have been having fun.  I should have been carefree.  Instead, at seventeen I was worrying about my mother. At seventeen I was concerned with school and my future but also with my mother’s future.  She cried a lot.  She missed my father.  She hated him.  She loved him.  She was confused about her life and what would happen to it.  She was also enjoying her life for the first time in a long time.  She was finally alone, without my father, for the first time since she married him at age sixteen.  My sisters and I included her when we went places, like weddings and dances.  We were having fun, too.  My father was always very strict and never allowed us to go any place.  We couldn’t date.  We couldn’t leave the house without some kind of supervision.  My father had left months before for what was to be a two week trip and had not returned.  Without him, my mother was a lot less strict.  She let us go places and a lot of the times, she went with us.  During those times that she went with us, she was distracted and less sad and it made us, her four daughters, glad that she was not crying.

When Mr. Flanagan, my counselor called me in to tell me about tryouts for the Junior Miss Pageant. I considered it for just a few minutes, before putting it out of my mind.  But, my sister knew.  She was in the first year Journalism class which met at the same time and in the same room as the fourth year Journalism and Newspaper staff room.  I was on the Tribune staff and my sister knew I had been called to the office for the pageant information.  That night my mother asked me about the pageant because my sister had told her.  I told her if I wanted to do it, there was an application to fill out and then I would have to show up at a meeting for information and an interview the following Saturday.  She surprised me when she said I could go.  I had not even thought of filling out the application.  So when she said that she wanted me to do it, I filled out the application and my mom signed it.

After making it through three rounds of pre-selection, I was officially one of twenty contestants for the pageant and I started to dream.  That month was filled with rehearsals, public appearances, including the Thanksgiving parade through the streets of downtown San Jose.  I was also working part time at Sears, after school and some weekends.  Luckily, I had committed to the pageant before committing to Sears so when they hired me, I told them up front that I was in the pageant and would need to work around pageant rehearsals.  They agreed.  My month was very hectic but it was a happy hectic.

Finally, the night of the pageant arrived and so did my father.  He had finally made it home with no idea of what was going on with the pageant.  From the moment he drove in the driveway, he was angry.  When he found out about the pageant that night and me being in it, he became even angrier.  He didn’t want me to go.  My mother and I explained all about the pageant.  My mother assured him it was very decent and nothing to be ashamed of.  We told him it was too late to cancel.  Tickets had been sold and we had friends and relatives coming.  My teachers and counselor from school would be there.  I had to show up.  We pleaded with him to let me go.

Two hours later we were on our way and he was seething.  He was so mad at me that he began to back out of the driveway before I was completely inside of the car. I asked him to wait as I pulled my formal length gown inside the car and shut the door.  He cursed at me.

He was angrier than I had seen him in a long time.  I knew he would not like the idea of me being in the pageant but somehow I had not imagined this anger.  He was swearing and he rarely did that in front of us.  He swore in Spanish.  He swore in English.  His driving was reckless, which in itself was nothing new but he was different that night.  He was intentionally driving dangerously and it scared us all.

We were late.  The Civic Auditorium was just a short drive but we had left late and I had already been nervous because of the pageant.  Now I was not only nervous but terrified that we would have an accident before we even got there and it would be all my fault.  His constant barrage of cursing had me fighting tears.  My mother was upset.  She sat stiffly but I could sense that inside she was crying, too.  This was supposed to be an enchanting night for me and instead it had turned into a nightmare.

Then he said it.  He had called me all kinds of names but then he finally said it.  He called me a whore.  He said I looked like a puta in my dress and makeup.  I couldn’t answer.  I couldn’t tell him that I had to have extra makeup so it would show in the audience.  I would be under stage lights and I had to have that extra makeup.  I was shaking and trying to figure out what would happen when I got to the Civic.  I was already late and I knew I would have to wash off my face and start all over with my makeup.  I didn’t want him to see me sitting behind him like a small heap in the corner of the back seat.  I was glad for the darkness of the December night.  I wished he had not gotten back when he did.  I wished he had not ever come back.

Irene sat next to me and gave me a Kleenex.  No one said a word.  I could feel them sitting stiffly.  Gilda was sniffling.  There were lots of silent tears inside that car.  I tried to look at my mother.  She was shaking but she wouldn’t ever challenge him.  What he said to me, his cold, belittling words hovered over us inside the car.  Why didn’t Mom defend me?  Why did she always let him get away with beating us and calling us names?  Tonight had been the worst.  I was the good daughter.  I was the respectful daughter. I was the smart daughter.  I was the daughter that caused no problems and yet, tonight he treated me like this.  What had I done?  It would not be for months and months that I would discover or be allowed to discover why he behaved so cruelly on that night.

We got to the Civic and I asked him to drop me off before parking so I could run and check in.  Without uttering a word he pulled over to the curb.  I got out of the car and as I turned to close the door, I glimpsed my sisters’ faces and my mother’s.  They knew how I felt.  Their faces wished me luck, their voices remained silent.

I checked in and the woman in charge, Ginny, helped me with my makeup and told me not to think about anything that had happened.  I hadn’t told her what my father had said or that he had been angry.  I was embarrassed and so I told no one, but she could see that something was wrong.   She told me to think only of the show ahead of me that evening.

I don’t remember much of what happened that night but in my mind I have a clear memory of having to instantly put on a big, fake smile as I walked through the curtain at the rear of the auditorium.   I joined the procession of girls sauntering down the aisle to the tune of “The Girl From Ipanema” and as I walked I held a single red rose and the stinging memory of the drive earlier that evening.

That night was the beginning of the end of my life at home.  I knew then that I had to get out.  The coming weeks would only strengthen that need.  Two weeks after the night of the Junior Miss Pageant, my escape route emerged.

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My Nanowrimo novel writing was interrupted yesterday.  I am at 41,103 words and have to finish by Sunday.  I wanted to finish by Tuesday night.  It was a goal I had set for myself.  However, on Sunday morning my daughter called and said she wanted to come visit me.  I was very pleased that she was coming.  I spent the day cleaning and doing laundry and getting the guest room and guest bathroom ready for her.  She will be here through Tuesday evening.

Today we went all over town.  We left early because she wanted to go out for coffee.  I thought we were coming back here after that.  We didn’t.  We went from coffee to breakfast to antique stores, Powell’s Books, and walking around taking pictures.  She had made an appointment at the Admissions Office at a college she is interested in so we went across town to the 3 pm appointment.  While she was in with the lady in Admissions, I sat and waited for her in the cafe.  I had left without anything to write on because we were coming right back.  So as I sat, I looked for ad pages with a lot of white space in a local weekly free magazine.  When I found the pages, I pulled them out and used them to pick up writing on my Nanowrimo novel.  I haven’t typed it up yet but I think I probably wrote about six or seven hundred words.  With luck, I can type it up later tonight, (we’re going out to dinner shortly) and add a bit to it.  I’d be happy if I could get to 42,000 words by the time I turned out the light tonight.

Oh well, I have til Sunday.  I don’t have my daughter here all the time.  I think when I put her on the plane tomorrow, I will wish she was staying a lot longer.

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My daughter, Tina, was born in a Rat year according to the Chinese lunar cycle. According to some things I have read on Rat people, perhaps Tina’s charm, passion, and charisma is due to the characteristics of her Chinese zodiac sign. I’d rather like to think it’s because of me and what I’ve taught her but perhaps it’s also due to the influences of the lunar calendar. So the beginning of this post begins with a pass at the Chinese New Year, today being the start of the Year of the Rat.

I really should be discussing my son, Tony, not my daughter. Today is Tony’s 26th birthday! He’s anything but a rat. He was actually born in the Chinese lunar year ruled by the Dog and some of the characteristics he shares with other Dogs include loyalty, patience, intelligence, and straight forwardness. (more…)

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So what do two teen girls do when they travel across the country?
Killer Trash
They found vintage shops to check out.
This one is in Fells Point in Baltimore.
They bought enough “vintage” shoes and clothes at a number of shops so that we had to go buy a suitcase to pack everything in!

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[This is another story that shows how Mother Nature steps in to slow us down. This happened about three years ago.]

Susie was doubled over crossing her legs in that “I gotta go pee!” dance and inhaling shrieks of laughter. Not sure whether to be mad at her for laughing at me or join her in her obvious enjoyment of the moment, I paused long enough for her to be able to mutter, “I’m not laughing at you,” then as she squirmed for the bathroom, she added, “Mommie, really I’m not. Wait. Wait,” and she closed the bathroom door. Minutes later, she came out of the bathroom, took one look at me and started convulsing with laughter once again. “I’m not, really mommy, I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at the situation!” That’s when I couldn’t hold it in any longer and we both writhed with laughter. (more…)

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