Tag Archives: Surviving

Improvisation and Coffee Tables

I Think It's Dried Out

I could make a coffee table out of a piece of driftwood. I could turn old, discarded pallets into a headboard. I could sew fabric remnants into a dress. People say I have talent. That I’m creative and good at the things I do. But, I could do so much more. The things I make would be far better if I could just afford the materials that go into them.

“I could make that necklace…but, I don’t have $10.00 to buy the supplies.”

“I could make that felt phone case in 15 minutes…but, it would take sewing supplies that I can’t afford.”

“I could make that…”

“But, I don’t have…But, I can’t afford…But, I would need…But, I can’t get…I can’t get…I can’t…I can’t…I can’t…”

I try to improvise and make my own tools. Sometimes, it works, but most of the time it doesn’t. It’s frustrating, defeating, and embarrassing. I work for hours, only to have the project fall apart. So, I put away my shitty tools, clean up whatever mess I made, wash the glue off my fingers, and wait for the disappointment to go away.

I think about giving it all up. Never picking up a paintbrush, a needle, or a hot glue gun again. But, I keep trying because it’s the only thing I can do. I work until I get it done, until I get it right. And, if I can’t do it without some random, expensive thing, I file the project away in my mind and I wait. I know I’ll make my pallet headboard. I‘ll make that felt phone case. I’ll make that damn bracelet someday.

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Roaches Make Strange Bedfellows

Rusted and RuinedMy mom tried to kill herself, and was consequently deemed an unfit parent. Children services took my brother and me away and introduced us to the wonderful horrors of foster care. Luckily, our grandparents decided to take custody of us shortly thereafter, but forms and proceedings had to happen before they could take us “home,” so we were stuck in the system.

Children services decided to put us both into a group home for boys. They knew the situation was temporary, so they gave in when we begged them not to separate us. That’s how I, a girl, ended up sleeping on a couch in a group home for boys. They only let me stay there because I promised not to go upstairs where the the boys slept. I stayed downstairs, where the bathroom had no shower or bathtub, and I went without a shower for a week. But, all this was fine by me because my brother said the roaches were worse up there.

It was hard to imagine an infestation larger than the one downstairs. Roaches where everywhere. I hardly slept the entire time I was in that house. I knew the roaches would crawl all over me the second I drifted off to sleep. When the house was dark, they crawled out from their hiding places, frolicking on the counters and cabinets, tables and chairs, walls and ceilings, curtains and rugs.

I fought the urge to burn my clothes and tear off my skin every morning. I knew, I just knew the filthy creatures laid eggs under my skin while I slept. The disgusting things had crawled in my mouth while I snored. They went into my ears, ate the wax, then shit it back out. The dirt of their little bodies covered every part of me, but I couldn’t take a shower because it was upstairs with the boys’ rooms. I washed myself in the bathroom sink downstairs as well as I could, but I didn’t feel clean again until after I had taken four or five showers at my grandparent’s house.

People seem to think that foster homes are safe and clean. They think that the places are regularly inspected, the foster parents thoroughly checked. They think the system works, that it protects children. They’re wrong.

Hell, Roads, and Intentions

Building Fences

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, there wasn’t as much awareness about domestic violence as there is now. Back then, people thought what they did was discipline, not abuse. They repeated behaviors they witnessed when they were children. If a woman talks back, hit her. If your kids don’t behave, hit them. Throw in some anger issues and you get someone like my dad. He’s a good person, but his behavior wasn’t so good.

I don’t blame him for the past. I know what it’s like to make terrible mistakes, and I certainly know what it’s like to lose control of your emotions. Some may call me a fool for forgiving him, but there is nothing to even forgive. He became the person that his genetics and environment made him, and he did what he thought he was supposed to do.

If he thought what he did was wrong, he wouldn’t have done it. There was no glee in our fear and pain. He didn’t take pleasure in what he did. He did what he thought was best for all of us. Unfortunately for everyone, his thoughts were warped by his own traumas.