Monday, July 15, 2013

And Pus Pours Out Like Whipping Cream!

I have been told that I was born into this world screaming, and I have not stopped since that day. Over years, doctors have relished in the search to name it, though I have settled on a much more accurate label- just me. My name. I am all that I am, all that I’ve done, all that I will do. Whether as the beast or as the wanderer, everything others would label with a diagnosis is nothing more or less fantastical than the average brain within my skull. I have human DNA, just like you, though perhaps my double helix resembles more closely that of an overstretched rubber band, sometimes snapping backward into its original position, and other times shot in some random direction leaving a sting upon the heart of whomever has the misfortune of standing in its path.

I remember the first time I saw death, my tiny bare feet scuttling in the dirt along an overgrown path far more deep in a wood any wee child should be. I’d read a book once from which I’d learned The Hearse Song, and as I skipped, I sung in little-girl tones about worms playing pinochle, eating my eyes and the jelly between my toes. And then, upon my path, I saw it. Lying on its side, bloated and deformed, its tongue lying in the dirt, eyes wide. Itty Bitty Me was enchanted. And, as would be the natural reflex of any tiny screaming soul, I searched in the brush for the perfect stick. I poked and poked. Lifted its tongue with the stick and watched it flop back into the dirt. I poked at its eyes, but could not bring myself to actually poke them out. It would have required a callous curiosity that I had not developed quite yet. Though even at that age, I had visions of exploding bloated dead bodies, and kept myself from poking too hard for fear of being covered in baby calf guts.

But guts would find me yet. I remember the first time I “helped” my uncle dress a deer. I was fascinated. As my little sisters ran around the backyard making vomit noises, I stayed close. Right at his side as he scooped out its entrails. I watched them land in the bucket below with that wet slapping sound. I remember that sound even now. I counted its ribs. Saw its heart. The lungs. He pointed each organ out to me and told me its name. He then did what any respectable uncle I would eventually come to name my child after would do- He grabbed a handful of guts and tossed them at me. I thought it was hilarious. Laughed so damn hard I probably inhaled a little blood. My sisters continued to feign gastrointestinal upset with their tiny girl barf noises. I just laughed. And laughed. And pretended to run away while he flung guts at me. Yes. Oh yes. Many years later, I would name my youngest child after my Uncle Andy. The man taught me how to tie my shoes for christ’s sake.

As I think and think on it, remembering past flashes of life, both wonderful and terrifying, I believe perhaps I've been desensitized to the extremes of human experience.  Those extremes began for me at such a young age, and as I grew older, my affect toward them flattened into something that would seem to be a nonreaction to other humans.  Simple pleasures do little for me.  I need explosions of passion to even begin to stir my heart.  And cultivating a reaction to bland sorrow is a task not unlike sweeping the kitchen floor.  It requires catastrophic disaster to move me to true empathy. 

I never laugh when a hearse goes by.  Though I will admit, I've uttered "Oh, hurry the fuck up" more than once.  



  1. I really can relate and like this "Simple pleasures do little for me. I need explosions of passion to even begin to stir my heart."

  2. Sounds a little like "Dexter."

    But I can relate. No reason to die without experiencing the extremes.

  3. Most kids are not as fazed by death as adults seem to fear that they are. All the kids in my street knew the location of any dead cat or dog in the neighbourhood and when we were bored we'd go and have a look to see how they were looking.

  4. "And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor"...? No? just me? Ah well.

    I've always wondered why they call it "dressing" a deer when you're in fact un-dressing it. Conundrum.

    They took me crabbing in Baltimore a few weeks back. They were delicately apologetic with me: "We tie the chicken necks to the traps for bait. It's so gross, we know..." Hell, I grew up on farms, people. Chickens killed on a daily basis, and a full-on pig slaughter every fall. Back then, sadly, they didn't use vets to get rid of kitty or doggy litters, either. I won't eat chicken legs anymore, but liver is good in all shapes and sizes, and occasionally I will have a bite of the ol' black pudding.