Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Birdman, Illusions, Hope and I'm NOT 65!

There is always hope...

I’ve written more than once my reluctance to engage with convenience store cashiers, particularly at Rite-Aid. I don’t know if part of their job requirement is to engage, but I don’t like it.  This particular encounter was about MY need to engage. With a kid. Tides are changing.

Last night I was feeling friendly, open, had just seen Birdman with a close friend and we were all over the map in multiple conversations about life, ourselves, movies, kids, work, the world,  the meaning of life, technology, kosher gummy bears, the dangers of pork fat, preservatives and toxic friends. 

This is how we talk, lots of subjects overlapping but after 20 years we have rhythms and circles and understand exactly the other. If we hit on a particular subject of interest, we’ll stay there for a while, exhaust it, then move on. We were stuck on the kosher gummy thing.

KOSHER ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

Riley is my only friend I have this relationship with, that is, we both think so fast and are somehow on the same wave, our entire universe can be jammed into 30 minutes at Rite Aid.

Meanwhile, here I was at the checkout by myself with a young girl, perhaps 17. Riley had run off to grab another item, which I had predicted. The “I’m only running in for one thing!” girl.

Me: Oh, she always forgets something. But she has a mind like a steel trap. So smart, always thinking ahead.  Such a smart girl.

The checkout girl was grappling with the 20 pages of coupons Riley gave her.

Me: Can you believe this? I don’t know how she does it. Somehow finds, saves, then compartmentalizes coupons for the proper store on items that are already inexpensive. Where does she find the time?? What, with a huge job, runs her own company!  She’s raising an amazing son, travels the world, helps others, oversees the construction on her home, is kind, lovely and adorable and yet organizes coupons. See, this is why she has money and I don’t.

I toss my sponges and a Hershey’s bar onto the counter.

Checkout girl: Wow, you really raised her well. You must be so proud. 

Me: Excuse me?

Checkout girl: Your daughter. You raised her so well.
Me: You think I’m her mother?

She looked at me as though to confirm.

Checkout girl: Well, yeah. My mom brags about me too.

Of course I had to dig deeper because I love self-abuse.

Me: How old do you think I am?

Now, we all know this is basically a trick question and you get what you deserve, but I thought she might say 49… at the high end. She was already delusional.

Checkout girl:  Um… 65?

Me:  65? Are you serious? I look 65? Do you keep a gun under the counter?

Blank stare. This is what I think 65 looks like. ^^^^

This is what 65 looks like being fabulous.  Still, I feel I look at least 20 years younger than Susan. Seriously! This girl should get fired.

This is me on a sloppy day. I was in heels and pearls for cripes sake! I've gotten to where I'm okay with aging. I'm doing it gracefully. I take pride in that.

Riley comes rushing up, her long hair flowing all over the place, gorgeous face, all legs, then shoving tons of items she “forget” onto the counter.

She even looks like this girl ^^^ In fact it might be her.

Riley: Sorry, I couldn't find the toxic free paper towels. We need to stop at Trader Joes.
Me: Okay, get this. The cashier thinks I’m your mother.
Riley:  What?
Me: Because I raised you so well miss coupon collector.

You’d think the check out girl would show a little humiliation, maybe slight embarrassment, but no. Not even, “I’m not good with ages.”

Like I give any shits.   ^^^

I grabbed my sponges and chocolate.

“Just get me home so I can scrub the house and shame eat. Can you help me to the car, honey.”

We were laughing too hard to strip it all down but Riley, who truly does look 20, needed to try and shore me up.

Riley: It’s the hair. She didn’t even see my face.  We’re the same age!

Me: Who cares? She saw mine. 65? My mother doesn’t look 65 god rest her soul.

By now we are hysterical with laughter throwing perfume free toilet paper into the car. I gasped.

Me: What the hell is that?

I didn’t realize our windows were open.

Riley: Oh Jesus.

Basically Sasquatch was pacing in front of the car, wearing only tight underpants, his giant balls spilling out on either side.

Riley: Is that a girl?
Me: No, Riley. It has a dick. I need to get a picture and Instagram him.
Riley:  Hurry! 

I’m scrambling for my camera, then realized he was staring at us, our windows were down. Was I really just going to take a picture of a nearly naked mentally ill man? What was wrong with me?  We had just seen Birdman.  We were about to become the very people the film illuminates, forget reality, forget human emotion, but get the picture and make it go viral. 

Me:  Let’s go, this is crazy.
She was staring at her phone.
Riley:  Look at this, he's still in line!
Me: It’s a big deal, great actually. People wait for hours.
She had been keeping track of her son who was waiting for the over-the-top scary Hayride in Griffith Park.

As parents our children are now little red dots on our smartphones, we know where they are at all times. Soon we will be able to hear their conversations.

I had stopped counting birthdays after I turned 40, so oddly if you ask me my age; I just grab a number from the air.

Me: Why 65? Why not say, 80!
Riley: You know kids, They think everyone is old.
Me: That is true. My girls (11) think my son (25) is an old man.  I wonder if she thought I looked GOOD for 65.
Riley: You look amazing. Stop it.
Me: We’re so much more than our faces. Yet, wouldn’t it be great if there really was a fountain of youth? I’d be bathing in that business.

Riley: There’s one in Rome. I found them all.
Me: Unicorns. Ever notice how they are all water based? We are water? Theoretically we could just take a bath. I’d rather get a blood transfusion. I should drink more coconut water.
Riley: Do you think he died or flew?
Me: That’s the entire point of the movie, our interpretation.  He already flew into the sun. One of the recurring themes. He’s free. Finally. He says fuck you to the Birdman monster then controls his own fate. To me he integrated and ended it himself.
Riley: I want to believe he flew away to maybe a tropical island. I mean his daughter smiles and looks up.
Me: For me, they finally bonded; she was smiling because he was at peace. Why look at a crumpled, bloody body when she knows his spirit is soaring?

Riley: Yes but I want to believe he is off at some topical island, free that way.

Me: He'd drown himself. Anyway, this expands the point, that is if he flew away to someplace real, we as a society are being taken over by a viral reality, so soon there be no such thing as reality. May as well enjoy this one.  

Of course we are now both checking our cell phones.
Since age seven, I too have a  Birdman voice that enjoys reminding me I’m a loser, no talent, worthless, fat, ugly cow that has nothing to offer so really, why try.  

But you do.

One of the things I love about Riley is her honesty, and how she doesn’t give up. We are similar this way.  The self-doubt, the anxiety over our kids, and the impossibility of it all, then we end up laughing. The conclusion is we are humans in an insane world looking for good.  And if someone tells me I look 65, and I see a hairy fat man in his stained underpants smiling at me with a toothless grin, while contemplating the 25 layers of brilliance that is Birdman, I will call that a good day.

I finally arrive home, and settle into my comfy bed, channel flipped until Prisoners, a movie I love so much I can recite all the dialogue. I fall asleep eating my chocolate bar, so I’m guessing today I probably look 67.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on brilliant Birdman, Michael Keaton, self-doubt, aging, life, humor, parenting, friendship, laughter, mirages and hope.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tweens Reaction to George Clooney's Wedding.

I haven't written here in a bit because I can't keep up with my life, oh who am I kidding, I'm usually dancing barefoot, being all Patti Smith like.

When I'm not doing this:

Sometimes there are moments so funny and precious they need to be documented. It's also possible no one will care, as in, you had to be there, or thanks but I have my own kids lady.

As my girls get older, like most kids, they become people with their own thoughts, senses of humor, ideas, plans, and so on.  They grow up.

Because they are 11-year old twin girls, we often talk about the media, how women are portrayed and the endless hurricane of objectification that is thrown their way; by that I mean walking by a new stand or listening to song lyrics on any given day. Booty booty booty.

They just love this station called Hits One, which is basically the same Iggy/Taylor/Katy/Demi/ Meghan song over and over and over and over--- there are more, but they can't really understand the fast/garbled rap lyrics, just love that beat.

They request I turn the music down when certain lyrics come on, which I think is admirable, but then I wonder and start in on a "teachable moment."

"Mom, just drive. We get it. Trust us." And I do. They really dislike the sexualization of young girls and want no part of it. I believe this is also why they create their own worlds, full of art, magic, music, fun, and kid stuff.

Last night, we were flipping through the People George Clooney wedding pictures.The reason we had this magazine is because they both asked, WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?!

I love George Clooney and I'm sure Amal is wonderful, so this is not  meant to be mean. It's more of how kids see the media. 

1) They don't care about celebrities.
2) There is a pushback against this quest to be perfect. Kids know what people look like. They know when they are being sold. My kids immediate reaction is to reject anything that smells of fakery/sales/lies/snake oil/etc.  
3) We talk a lot about this fake and sexualized society. Here is one article with good tips. 

What intrigued them about the People cover was they had never seen this couple before, it's typically the same visual rolodex-- Kardashians, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, most recently they saw Ariana Grande on a cover and were shocked. They stopped listening to her. Ariana said: "I want people to listen to my music, not look at me and judge." Okay.

Like many of their musical faves, suddenly the person is put into the gloss, sexed-up make-over machine. Sooner or later. From Miley Cyrus to Selena Gomez to well, everyone. So then they have to find a new artist. They are holding out hope for Lorde, Kate Davis, Mille Pye, Bridgett Mendler. I've written a lot about this and completely disagree with artists who say this is all in good fun. BULLSHITE Blurred Lines.

Back to People Mag, when they opened up the pages, they were taken aback to where they needed a reality check. Is this real????

Audrey: Oh god! Who is that? Is she a giraffe? Look at her neck.  Evelyn look at her neck, it's huge.

Eve: Wow, she could literally eat from a Palm tree. And her bones. Are those actual bones?

They kept flipping through the pictures, fascinated. They don't understand why women in the media want to be so thin.

A: It's like she needs to show it off.  Why isn't she hiding it? Who photoshopped this mess?

E: It's a swan thing. I read that. Plus he fits right inside.
A: Who is he? Is she a Kardashian?

I explained who Clooney was, the good things he has done and a bit about Amal. Well...

E: Of course. Amal! Amal the Camel.
A: No the Llama. Amal the Llama neck Amal.
E: Yeah, that's make more sense.

E: I don't get it. Does everyone put their wedding in magazines now? Plus hi, her entire face if fake.
A: Look!  She's stretching it again! Like, here's my giraffe neck again. In case you missed it.

E: Why is her sister fake jumping on the bed?
A: OH, look at my neck! Isn't it wonderful?

A: Wow! Her mom has the same neck.
E:  Maybe it's just inherited. Like your mole.
A:  I don't have a mole.

A:  That is the most random cake ever. It's a condo.
E:  My arrows are so much better. Cleaner. I could bake that cake. We should do a cake off.
A:  I'm never getting married, but if I ever need a cake, it will look like Venom.

A: This is all so photoshopped. Look, it's a cutout of them on some boat on a river. But no otters. Derp.

E:  Look at my amazing neck!!

A: Why is she pointing to her head?
E: This is just so derpy! What is this dress?

E:  Is that wind or is it like a bell dress?
A: She is definitely not all about that bass.

I let them vent for a while, I had never heard them talk like this before. They really are kind, would never make these types of comments amount people, but I honestly think they were thrown into some other dimension. Maybe it was the heat. Who knows?

Me: Guys, stop, okay. I actually think she's really pretty and he's handsome. And this society likes to see famous people get married and be lavish.

A: What?
E: You're just old, Mom.

Then to A:

E: Let's go play Hulk.

What's happening is the "look at me I'm so awesome!" and "I'm so sexy" is being lost on much of the upcoming generation, and actually anyone under 30, at least in my circles, so who exactly is perpetuating this superficial sadness? I am guessing older people, the generation on it's way out. And thank goodness.  How refreshing will it be to evaluate people as they are, not what they media-invent.

But there are also so many young girls and boys that get seduced and spend all of their time and money trying to emulate these people, finding ways to call them role models. Yet I remain optimistic the tides will turn.  I explained many celebs do these photo layouts, earn money, then pass it onto charitable causes, but...

E:  Why not just give the money to the charity directly?

I had nothing. So I suggested the money spent on the wedding provided employment for many people. But they had tuned me out. And honestly, how the hell would I know their reasoning?

They disappeared into their room and blasted music.

The girls love Meghan Trainor's song All About That Bass because she knows everyone actually has a pulse, is real and this has to stop. (Though I'm not so sure about this "boys like junk in the trunk thing.) My kids want it to stop. A lot of kids do. But mostly they don't notice.. yet when they do, they are simply flabbergasted.

So fear not parents, kids are way more savvy than you might think. But they need out help.

Rhonda Talbot weighing in on daughters, media, photoshopping, celebrities, George Clooney, weddings, fake world.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

How Are We Alive? (A short story written by my mother, rediscovered after her death.)

Hello my friends, have been busy with work, kids, the eternal quest for summer activities, sensible vacations, etc.

I came across something my mother wrote in 1976, which I vaguely remember. This was published in the Detroit News, then quickly forgotten. Mom must have pulled it back out, reworked, and published again in a Washington State Lit Journal just before she passed away. She was an artist of many avenues, writing being one. She died before finishing her 2nd dissertation and sadly I have very little of her work.

Here is an excerpt of The Joy of Six, the only time I said yes to a "guest" blogger. (Pictures added by me.)

Mom a few years after we hit the road.^^
The Joy of Six

Of the daily challenges presented to a single mother of many children, none equal the energy expended in the perpetual search for money. A woman can either work two or three jobs at minimum wage or try to sell her body for a slightly higher scale of pay.  With the relatively sexless body of a nine-year old boy, I could not imagine anyone buying it. Since I lacked promiscuity, education, a base of salient skills, and had six children under ten, I began to realize I was nothing more than a target.  This particular target set out a few decades ago to find a job, become educated, and raise those kids alone. 

In a strange set of circumstances, due I am sure, to my physically overstressed, and deliriously stretched-out mentality I began to recognize the presence of more than just my own brood.  

There began to appear on a daily basis, metaphysical personifications with actual personalities distinguishable by their behavior. In spite of my intensified attention to their detailed intervention into my life, I found it strangely satisfying to attribute their unusual activities to that of my children. As such, I began to refer to them as "The Bodies"-- Nobody, Everybody, Somebody, and Anybody. 

While learning their names and idiosyncratic proclivities, I discovered my favorite among the strangely non-physical beings temporarily inhabiting my home. Nobody. Nobody loved vegetables.  Nobody completed assigned homework, and Nobody followed my organizational chart. Nobody was polite and cheerful and Nobody washed dishes. Nobody picked their clothes up from the floor and Nobody claimed ownership of the jeans thrown there. Nobody did everything.

In spite of my reasonable and pleasant nature, I was surprised by the specious presence of Somebody who lost my cashmere sweater, misplaced my opal ring, removed the covers and Down pillows from my bed, and in fact was a suspect in the loss of my favorite champagne flute, an elegant piece of crystal stem-ware I especially loved. 

I often envisioned a world in which I might own two of them, and regularly hid money in a sacrificial sugar bowl, hoping to find a duplicate. The bowl, the money, and the flute were simply missing. The rhetoric went something like this: 

"Somebody broke my champagne flute, ravished my sugar bowl, and absconded with $3.42!"  True, I was somewhat hysterical, and may have been screaming, however I demanded an immediate resolution. My eldest countered with her inherited ideological preference for non-biased accusations: 

"Why blame Somebody when it could have been Anybody?"  Daughters two and three agreed, arguing for the defense, insisting that Everybody had access to the cupboard, and Nobody may have actually been the culprit. 

"Nobody?" I was stunned. "How could it be Nobody?!" 

It was obvious to me that Somebody took these things because they were in fact gone, and perhaps had broken my one and only remnant of another, more promising life. For reasons beyond my control, the children blamed Anybody and Everybody, an outrageous accusation, however, I could imagine such an act of agrestic behavior by unscrupulous persons such as those referred to by my children. 

Since Everybody hung out at the mall, stayed out past midnight,  smoked cigarettes, talked incessantly on the telephone, and our home became a dance hall to all their friends, I could easily be swayed. There were, in fact, dozens of their pilfering pals whose fingerprints were wiped away daily. 

The miscreant might just be Anybody, a mysteriously vague personification, not entirely trustworthy. At the end of the investigation, Nobody claimed responsibility. 

Since Nobody confessed and with the evidence removed, we concluded that Nobody should be punished, however, when Nobody is liable, nothing gets done. When I confronted them, my children assured me that I was biased against Everybody, their favorite of the strangely iconoclastic representational bodies residing in our home. 

"Since, as you say, Everybody always behaves badly," daughter's two and three proclaimed, "and Anybody could be guilty as charged, Somebody might consider your conclusions slightly confusing". 

The clarity of my argument took a mercurial drop as my children turned it against me and I seemed to have lost another battle. Nobody seemed interested in the issues, and with Nobody as an ally, Everybody seemed to be satisfied. 

When our dog produced eight puppies, Nobody came to my aid and Everybody hid behind Anybody with an alibi. 

In a moment of unforeseen frustration, I ran screaming through the house in an unprofessional, albeit succinct, non-prejudicial rant.

"I'm throwing all of these blue jeans into the garbage!"  I stated further that, "Persons owning these jeans and those who knew the gender of that dog must be held liable for their actions."

Emboldened, I added, "People must ultimately be held responsible for their actions." 

Unbelievably, daughters, four and five engaged in a strategy that included youth and innocence as a viable defense against sexual knowledge.

Everybody said, 'It's your fault since we didn't know this stuff."

Everybody claimed a significant victory. As for the jeans, Nobody claimed them and I laundered them in silence. 

The dog, apparently a female, was named Gretchen as my children seemed to think she was a "Dutch Brady Terrier," a previously undiscovered breed, and bestowed upon her a fabricated pedigree. 

Gretchen, a dog with neurotic tendencies, was terrified by the presence of the children and slowly but surely, and unbeknownst to me, deposited all eight of her offspring under my bed. 

Also unbeknownst to me was that I was allergic to puppy dander. Everybody blamed my extreme bronchial distress to the fact that I worked in a bar eight hours a night, and spent eight hours a day in a "sick" office building. 

Somebody suggested I stay home, clean house and make cookies, an excellent, but thoroughly impractical solution. After much discussion, Everybody concluded we must remove the animals. Anybody could see the logic of it and although Nobody objected, the eldest daughter was sent out on her bicycle with a small lunch, a whicker basket, and eight "for-free" dogs. 

I was miraculously "cured," returned to work, and food was on the table again. 

When daughter number five began bizarre episodes of limping, and doctors suggested to me that her behavior was a production of symptoms associated with a psychoneurosis motivated by my neglect of her, I wondered if this child was emulating her sister who had also lost her ability to walk for a period of time. I pulled that one around in a red wagon because she said, "I can't walk anymore." 

That child was often found napping on the sidewalk by neighbors, who actually believed her and considered me an unfit parent. 

There was also a cat. When the cat ran into a speeding car, I was in a hospital attempting to manage the operation of daughter number four, a child who required screws in her thigh. 

The apparent theory for her slipping epiphysis was associated with a congenital factor however under sedation this child admitted to stomping aluminum cans into a kind of "shoe-heel," and stomped on them daily for fun. 

The doctor who performed the operation lost his son on the eve of the procedure due to a broken neck achieved while performing on a trampoline.  I had no money to pay the doctor and the doctor did not bill me. 

Upon our arrival back home, we placed the crutches for my daughter at the bottom of the stairs. The cat, with a broken leg, and also wearing a cast, sat quietly next to the rather large barrier, a sentinel perhaps. 

Visiting children came with their mothers and were amazed by the size of the crutches Tutu was given. She was a rare "Chocolate-Point" Siamese that no doubt was expensive in the past, but had fallen on hard times, landing on our doorstep and scooped up for play by daughter number five who dressed her in frilly doll's clothing and pushed her around in a broken stroller banging recklessly into the furnishings. 

Tutu disappeared the same day as Gretchen, her eight puppies, and a few turtles the kids collected from various streams.

Daughter number five then introduced a Great Dane to our family; a dog so large I thought it must be a horse.  I noticed it while painting the kitchen ceiling tomato soup red, a color that would work quite nicely with the yellow shag rug I had partly destroyed when attempting to create kinetic sculpture, ending in an explosive experiment. 

I snipped the "shag" down with manicure scissors believing that I might manufacture a kind of "short shag," or "golf-link-like, grassy carpet.”

The tomato-soup ceiling was almost a success but had a lumpy appearance, the result of the hardened acrylic thrown by the blast. While drying, pieces of pasta flung previously slipped a bit and created a bas-relief effect, creating an Art Deco over-all arrangement, an interesting almost sunburst look, useful perhaps in Xanadu. 

One of my jobs involved the completion of 8"x10" detailed ink renderings with copy, of fashions shown in local boutiques.  I hung the to-be-drawn clothing from the tomato-soup ceiling and often spent many sleepless nights engaged in the project.

While working off-premises, Somebody removed the expensive dresses leaving me with nothing to render and nothing to return. I was sued of course, but with no tactile resources, Nobody collected, reassuring me that of course Nobody would stand by me. 

In the meantime my children were adamant the Great Dane should live with us, an absurd notion given there was no money for food. Happily, that animal left through the back door a few days after he was dragged through the front.  

I began to look at these creatures as welcomed accidents, distractions to our otherwise impossible living situation. I liked them and remained positive in spite of the negative behavior I attributed to them. I also liked blaming them for unruly behavior as this would buffer further rage toward my children's own unruly behavior. 

With the Great Dane gone and no further incoming pests, real issues could no longer be ignored. 

“Everybody uses drugs. If anyone tells you different, they’re lying.”

This was an ongoing, circulator argument until daughter number one removed herself from the pharmaceutical infatuation. Nobody told her to quit and Nobody was amazed.

Because my children were collectively against anything I advocated, I used whatever measures were available to me to police their behavior, including constant juvenile hall threats.

Everybody was angry, no one was speaking then Somebody threw a basketball against a dining room canvas; strange behavior I found both interesting and annoying. 

A commissioned painting requires a specific result, unlike creative adventures, which allow for spontaneous reactions, say serendipity. In the unlikely event of a sponsor spending money on a painting created absent that sponsor's particular investment in the ideation, most artists are unpaid. That Somebody could enhance my work with this basketball is no more unrealistic than my own expectations. 

The big sale of the painting provided an unexpected opportunity to move three thousand miles from the strange and often misunderstood neighborhood in which we lived.  The patron, also the person I promised to marry, offered us an opportunity. Since we were about to be evicted, few decisions were made in less time. 

Not only did I sell every piece of furniture not nailed to the floor, I sold furnishings actually nailed to the floor, including every appliance and all the bathroom fixtures.

With an array of checks from an astounding number of accommodating neighbors, I found an agent of Cadillac who was happy to pay me to drive across the country in their slick, boat-like car, upon which I balanced two beautiful bicycles.

The experience will live forever in the minds of my children and I doubt anyone could ever reproduce such an event. I awakened my children at 3:00 am to see an extraordinary circumstance. In Salt Lake City, the sky created an umbrella of falling stars surrounding the available space with a spectacular show produced by the lack of artificial lights.  Pure magic, something my children would never again witness. 

The trip to California was a bit of an illusion; something an intelligent person would refer to as a fantasy, however, in 1976, all things seemed possible, including a home for my children.

Nobody led the way and ended our traveling at the northern-most corners of a place in Marin County. Somebody found a place to stay and Everybody loved it. The really strange part of the process began the following day. Nobody was able to cash the deposited checks, a rather positive experience since all of the purchases including the rent were based on that transaction, however, the checks could not be verified.

Since the bank was incapable of turning the deposits into cash, the account was in effect frozen, an operational, and strange effect of the deposited checks by persons who wrote them to me for the sale of items that did not all belong to me.

It was becoming increasing clear that I was about to become a criminal. Of what nature was unclear, but I suspected Nobody would come to my aid and in the end I would require the assistance of Somebody or in fact Anybody with a legal background. 

Further still, making the three thousand mile trek seemed to cool the professed ardor of my intended, and he simply disappeared leaving me free to wander for which I was grateful. 

Finding a home for the clan proved to be a challenge.  The home I chose to rent did not allow children, so I lied and said I had none. We moved in, all seven of us, along with our metaphysical recreations, three pillows and a coffee pot. The rent would of course become an issue due to the freeze on the account, and I was forced to sell the bicycles, my last hat trick.

In the meantime I found a waitress position, which allowed me to steal food and toilet paper. Nobody objected, and I continued to become a felon, a career objective that Somebody considered difficult to comprehend, and a course of action perceived by Anybody as unwise.

While slicing turkey one day I recognized the fact that Everybody was open to criminal behavior, and Nobody would protect them from prosecution. With my first paycheck I reimbursed my employer and begged to be forgiven.  Nobody was, as usual, there for me and I was fired. 

My landlord, an unwilling participant in an ongoing lawsuit against him for allowing children to live in that complex, caved under the pressure and forced me to leave. By the time I returned home on Christmas Eve, the children were all sitting outside on the grass, the eldest held the coffee pot and a string of tree lights. 

If Somebody had an idea Nobody was discussing it and if Everybody thought we were beaten by this we looked to Anybody with a solution.

I decided to hide the children once again and find a home, this time with no money at all, a delicate task, but not entirely impossible. The kids and I were gathered at a gas station when it occurred to me that the bank might finally have released the checks written for the stuff I sold. And there it was, $3000.00.

After renting a room at Howard Johnson for showers, clean sheets, and television, we snuggled into a discussion of room service. Somebody suggested that Everybody would benefit from a walk to the nearest fast-food joint, an option Nobody found satisfactory. In the end, the desire to eat actual food out-weighed all practical other-oriented solutions. 

Whatever happiness may be derived while raising children, the joy of feeding them trumps all others; the prospect of not feeding them is in fact the most deleterious. 

Sitting in the booth of a fancy restaurant with a serious claim to the best seafood in the world, my darlings ordered hamburgers with cheese. 

"We don't like fish," they proclaimed," especially fish with bones." 

Somebody suggested lobster, a fact Everybody agreed upon and Anybody could see that was the best choice. Nobody, once again came to my aid. 

"Lobster it is," I declared, and lobster it was for our re-entry into the world of normalcy. 

Albeit dinner blew a magnificent hole in our funds it also produced a significant burst of energy and emotional well-being. We found a very simple home; a small, fishy cottage, the kind some might describe as "shack-like", available however to mothers with children. 

By padding my resume with outrageous lies, I found a job, bought a car, and joined other working moms dropping their kids off at the school bus stop.

In the end, it was a simple project; a task devoted to the ordinary notion of keeping many children alive; an idea developed while skirting them through negotiations with an atypical parent and the evolution of an association with unrealistic and entirely imaginative personalities, all willing to support their creative endeavors, specific ideations, and loving pursuits. Through a prism of four decades past, I cannot see how it was done, but can only recall the joy of raising six children on my own.


Rhonda Talbot on a fictional version of how I was raised for a short time; told through the eyes of my mother. Her full version here.. 

Joy of Six