Pretty Little Girl

A day in the life….

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

The Southern Paradigm

“Here at the Mississippian’s southernmost point of native soil, one had to recall what inland Mississippi was like, how people in its small town (or even in larger towns like Meridian and Jackson and Columbus) related inward to family life, kinfolks, old friendships and hatred. How hospitably newcomers were welcomed but how slowly accepted. Once I heard this remark: ‘The H—–‘s haven’t lived here but for thirty years, but look how everybody likes them!’ In talk of the outside world, not much was to be accepted, nothing could be trusted to be ‘like us’. There were Yankees ‘up there’. “

Elizabeth Spencer’s account of small town life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Very much like most areas of the South. Litlle ole’ Pensacola or even Cahaba Heights. It was all the same. People knew each others’ stories and family history. There were no secrets in these towns. Every event involved one or more members of the town and one or more had a story about the event—no matter what it was. Pretty soon a story somewhere in between the variations would be accepted as common knowledge. We were all open books.

As crazy as it sounds today, it was refreshing. It kept people aware of their reputation, standing not only their own but their families. What kept you from acting a fool was the story to be told the next day. Today, we all keep our doors and mouths shut. The skeletons are all buried as deep as possible unless they are big enough to be drug out in a scandal someday. People can’t be gauged by their appearance or their activities as they are hidden under facades. Progress?  I don’t know about that.

PS Check out my blog for justice…..Conjuringjustice.com or Conjuringjusticeblog.com

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The Gulf Coast

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I have been reading short stories by Southern writers. I came across a story by Elizabeth Spencer, “The Gulf Coast”.

“The first visit I made to this spot was during the summer of 1951. Already it seemed part of my own personal geography. Everyone had been to Ship Island. Picnics were talked of, summer days recalled.

On the first time for me, I walked ahead of friends (a man I went with, two friends of his) straight south, taking the walk through the dunes. Then, cresting, I saw before me what I’d come for without knowing it: the true Gulf, no horizon to curb its expanse, spread but infinite and free, restless with tossing whitecaps, rushing in to foam up the beach, retreating, returning, roaring. Out there, I thought, astonished, is Mexico, the Caribbean, South America. We are leaning outward to them. Everybody back on land, all along the coast, feels the presence, whether they consciously know it or not. What was it but distance, the leaning outward, the opening toward far-off, unlikely worlds? The beyond.”

To me, this embodies all the things I felt at Pensacola Beach. Being alone just after the dawning of the day, I used to go to Fort Pickens to lay out in the sand of a desolate and peaceful landscape. I could here cars passing behind me on occasion, not true traffic of any sort. No one as far as the eye could see. The bliss and freedom represented being in the company of divinity. Those days, in my late youth, were priceless and in describable. It was my church. It was my point to access God without interruption.

This was Daddy must feel when he goes fishing. The peace. The centering effect of being in the presence of all living things but no humans to spoil it. No noise to taint it. My mother would say, “come hell or high water, on Sunday, your Daddy was on the river.” Why on Earth, wouldn’t he be? It is serene.

Dear Lord, Thank You!

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Out of chaos comes stability. Out of ugly comes beauty. Out of hate comes unabounding love. I have to look at the parts of the circumstances around my family at the time of my birth. It all comes pass in a fluid form of harmony. While everything was falling to waste, my mother’s health, my parents’ marriage, my brother’s reality, out comes a baby that unites everything. It is remarkable really.

Then you have my dad alone with a child that is not his and a newborn baby that is also not his, trying to work and balance time with everyone including my mother in the hospital. He was overwhelmed as he’d never ever handled a newborn before. He couldn’t stay up all night and go to work. Nor could John. There was no allowing of my grandmother Josephine to help, because she was a damn drunk with a husband who was possibly a sex offender. Nor could he ask his mother Georgia, for she didn’t like the circumstance that had befallen her son. So what do you do? He’d been close to the Warren family 2 doors down who had a daughter Patti who was 2 years younger than John. From what I understand, JoAnn, the mother and wife of the Warren family, would make him a plate of food at night after work while my mother had been gone. She’d help him out with John so that Daddy had some help. Quite kind of her in the circumstances.

Now he had a newborn trying to navigate the same situation. Whether she volunteered or he asked her, she took the newborn to her home and kept her there and Daddy would visit. She kept me for the next 8 weeks because my Daddy was afraid he’d “break” me and he was just overwhelmed by the entire situation. But out of that chaos, he and JoAnn where the first people on this planet that bonded with me.

When I was almost 3 mos. old, my mother came home and in the Liz fashion swept in to get “her baby”. She had little to do with JoAnn Warren after that. It seems to me that jealousy set in. She played the doting Mother for the first few years of my life. She was the normal mom. It wasn’t until I was 4 or 5 that she and JoAnn made some sort of peace. They became best friends. My dad was always closer to the Warrens and I assumed it was because Bill or (Uncle Bill) as I called him was his buddy. But I know now that wasn’t the case. The dynamic of seeing JoAnn and my Dad talk about me was unusual and I was not able to put words to it until I was older and knew the situation of my birth.

Throughout my life, my mother took a freefall. She went from “Carol Brady” to “Joan Crawford”. She blamed my Dad for his part in her descent. She was a walking zombie. She was drinking, popping pills. She’d gone back to work at Harry Alexiou’s “Gold Nugget” Restaurant. She shifted over to the his brother, Johnny Alexiou’s restaurant ,the “Brass Rail”, which to everyone threw up a red flag.

Johnny was reckless and lived on a level that was not as stable as his older brother Harry. Self-destruction was his middle name. His reputation could be inferred to be wild. I say that because of people’s reactions when she told them she was going to work for Johnny. Everyone lowered their brow and asked the same question, “Liz, are you sure?”. My mother’s answer was that he was “not the same”. Even as a young child, I knew what that meant.

From that time, JoAnn was my babysitter, my emergency contact. She was my rock. My mother tried to balance it by leaving with my grandmother on the weekends but her lack of parenting skills was infamous. Had I been a bad kid, I could have gotten away with anything? I would sit on the hill infront of her Southside Apartment. I would then barricade myself in her bedroom while she sat in her recliner drinking beer. Was the indifference because of me and where I might have come from? Maybe because she seemed to be different in the pictures of my cousins, Curt and Anna when she visited California. She didn’t seem ambivalent to them. I thought it was because Jim was my dad and the tension between the 2 of them was palpable. But now I know it may have been the fact, I was possible her dead husband’s daughter. How do you get passed that?

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