Friday, November 28, 2008

Watch Your Step

This is why I strive to be normal. Like Ethan Allen normal. Anne Taylor, Talbot's, although truly I have never set foot in any of those stores. It's not working for me, this poetry of the norm. For inside my veins pumps blood chunky with glitter. When you prick me, do I not shine?

This is my mother's house. Yes, that is a snakeskin draped on the ceiling, a horn twisting out of the wall. Over there is a thing and a that, a few different huhs? and one very pronounced oh, dear.

This little lady moved in a few years ago. I really can't say if she is dressed for the holiday or if this is her regular attire. She can't really say either.

Oh, that. Yeah. We don't much talk about that.

Dripping candles, dust, dried flowers, curling photos, two turn tables and a microphone. I would not be half surprised to see a wedding cake still on the table. Miss Havisham would be right at home.
Care to watch some tv? I'm afraid the only thing on is a show about a Japanese mask.

To be fair, most of this is Allen's doing. This is where he lives, but my mother's apartment in the city is not much different. Here is Allen with their African Grey Parrot named Huxley. When my mom bought the parrot she said that now my brother and I would get to hear her voice long after she dies. And Huxley does talk in both their voices. He can perfectly mimic the sounds of Allen's wheelchair, the doorbell. He tells the dog to stop barking. Ring ring! goes the phone. Hello? Oh, hi! Mmhm. Yup, okay, ha ha ha ha! For the next 65 years I get to hear my mother's one-sided conversation and the trill of her fake phone laugh.

I agree with this one.

At my mother's house I often find myself thinking about the movie "Being John Malcovich." I liked that movie but if pressed could not really say what it was about. The same goes for my mother's house. Sometimes I leave there confused, repeatedly blinking my eyes to the bright sunshine of the outside.
More. Never less. Not Yes, no, this is the House of More.
My mother's closet. Let's see: this coat with that skirt? The brown sweater with those jeans? But does it clash with the toad mask? Hmmm...

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, the annual holiday of eating with your family and wondering just how the Hell you came to sit in that chair. Happy that. There is no such thing as normal. Because blood flows in many different ways, in chintz and chenille, heavy with dust and thin with regret. Mine just so happens to run ragged with plastic masks, Buddha and the bones of small creatures. This is my family. Welcome.


Oh Brother! said...

I was adopted :)


melissa said...

Trying to tear my eyes away, but I can't. Stop. Looking.

Regardez Moi said...

Oh, thank you for sharing this. It was so fascinating. My mother's house isn't as eclectically decorated but it is JAM PACKED with stuff stuff and more stuff. Doileys, dolls, candles, books, star trek figurines, etc etc.

Oh Brother! said...


No, really :)

Oh Brother! said...

Hmmm... that didn't work :(

(Never mind)

-sheepish brother

Jennifer said...

You know what? That is so fucking awesome, I can't even stand it.

Decorno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Decorno said...

OMG. Jennifer just took the words out of my mouth. I would be fucking bragging all day long if that were my mother's place.

You lucky bitch.


Misplaced Country Girl said...

Wow! I don't even know what to say about that other than Wow!

The Lil Bee said...

I love that your mom has so much personality that it spills over into her surroundings. And onto her daughter (obviously we can see where you get your quirky side)! This is awesome and I'm loving every last bit of it.

Rosalie said...

Oh my. I only got the lucky chance to visit your mom's place once, but I totally remember the cabinet of natural curiosity like madness that gave it that awesome museum of the mind like vibe. Where's the photos of the Jesus bathroom?! That's the best room of the house. Was Andy (sorry, will always be Andy to me) trying to share more photos? Please do!!!

Jules said...

Truth? I'm jealous. I could never live so authentically.

Minxy Mimi said...

Thats right up my alley! I love that kinda stuff and her house looks like it should be in some semi-creepy movie! Its awesome!

Maggie May said...

this is your best post yet. totally brilliantly charming, unique, whimsical and your words slay me- blood flowing with chinz! if you prick me do i not sparkle!

what an awesome family.

MJ said...

I think it's absolutely wonderful!!! I love it. Truly. It's a prop master's heaven! I'm coming up with stickers and a black sharpie pen for christmas and I am going to mark which stuff I want. (You can keep the parrot Susannah) My Rah Rah had a parrot, and as a kid all I can remember is saying was "SHUT UP AL!" (Al was one of my grandma's husbands)

Here's what I want:
The masks.
The crosses.
The Leg that came out of the wall.
The old black and white photos (even tho I already know that none of them are of your family and are your Mother's collection of strangers) :)
The top hat on the mannequin.
The lanterns.
*I'm going to pass on anything that is animal skin or animal shell like with sharp teeth

Andrews is going to die....but sadly he married a woman that like his mother likes this crazy kind of stuff. :)

Miss B. said...

Hey are we related? This looks quite similar to my so called biological mom's house (I swear I am adopted)...Except my mom thinks she's Noah, and needs 2 of everything right next to each other TV's x 2 (yup) Japanese mask? due (that's 2 in Italiano), sofa's in the living room yup. Anyway, Mazel Tov, welcome to the family...Now I must go clean my zen palace..

Anonymous said...

When you prick me, do I not shine?
Who talks like that? You are so pretentious.

Petunia Face said...

Anon @ 7:56pm:
When you prick me do I not shine. Who talks like that? Shakespeare, you ignorant energy sucking asshole. It was a take off on The Merchant of Venice. Take a high school English course and get back to me then.

In the meantime, I'd rather be pretentious than, well, than you.

Yours in Fuck Off and Don't Ever Read My Blog Again-edness,
Little Lady Susannah Fauntleroy, of the Marin County Fauntleroys. (Oh, and if you don't catch that reference let me just spell it out for you: that's taken from a children's story written by English-American playwright and author Francis Hodgson Burnett.)

Anonymous said...

There goes Anons, giving us Anons a bad name.
How ironic that you were judged on a quote from a Shakespeare play about prejudice and judgement.

To bait fish withal: if it will feed nothing else,
it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and
hindered me half a million; laughed at my losses,
mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my
bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine
enemies; and what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

Petunia Face said...

Thank you other Anon @ 11:17. Surely all Italian guys named Mussolini aren't facist dictators and now I know for certain that all Anons aren't cotton headed ninny muggin buttholes.

Thouest biggesteth pretenthith blogger thine thouest thither thee,

monkey said...

*big breath*
okay...i came to comment on how fucking awesome this post was for numerous reasons.
however, i got sidetracked by how fucking awesome you are once i read your response to your comments. i kind of have a crush on you now.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Whenever Hollywood wants to imply that a character is a serial-killer, "They" show him living in a home much like this. So, yeah, there's a long, inglorious history of prejudice when it comes to cluttered, quirky living.

just a girl... said...

great post, i think this gives new meaning to ecentric. You could make I spy books out of these rooms. Oh and I love the leg

Judy said... all fairness, my house WAS pretty quirky when I was living there. However, it was a " barely controlled" madness with a modicum of method to the madness (and not so much dust).

For those of you who don't know the crazy/alternative lifestyle I live, let me explain that for the last 6 years, I have worked fulltime (and much more) in SF and will NOT commute from the far reaches of Marin. My wonderful boss started out paying for me to stay 3 nights/week in a near-the-office, incredible Castro Bed and Breakfast where I was soon a member of that warm and very alternative lifestyle "family". I loved it! As Allen became more disabled,required hired caregivers because I could no longer move/lift him, I became more burned out as a caregiver and my work load increased in SF, I began to go home to Fairfax less often than every weekend. Then Allen found a female caregiver who turned out to be a dead-ringer for Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction"-he loved her and could see no faults. I soon realized that she was fixated on Allen and was systematically alienating Allen from everyone-especially me-who was close to him. She destroyed all photos of me and my children and went into a rage when Allen referred to me as his "wife" as just a few examples. She was extremely effective and for a couple of years, Allen became extremely difficult for me to even talk with. We were pretty much estranged due to the caregiver's evil, psycho machinations. I keep in touch daily and paid all the bills but it was a very unpleasant time. I DID come to realize how much I loved and needed my own space and solitude. By then, I had rented a tiny studio apartment near the office. I realized that this was the first time in my life that I had ever had a place of my own, had ever lived alone...and now, though I sometimes get lonely, overall I don't think I could ever again live with someone else. And, yes, my tiny apartment is also a self-contained Cabinet of Curiosities-on a much smaller scale than my former residence. Somehow, wherever I go, my surroundings just evolve into this...suddenly there are mannequins, fake body parts, found art, antique glass eyeballs, plants that take over like the Little Shop of Horrors, and on and on.

The good news is that, after 2 years, the crazy caregiver de-compensatated into someone so psycho that even Allen couldn't take her anymore and after months of trying to sever ties with her and two incidents in which she ran over him and his wheelchair on purpose, she is finally gone...and Allen is back to being the sweet person I know. But, alas, I have filled the hours of my life with work, rest and blissful solitude and now can only tolerate going "home" about one weekend a month. It's also difficult since I no longer have a bedroom there anymore since I found a family from Fiji to live upstairs to be available for Allen.
In my absence, the decor has turned into something that scares even me. So, the pixs you see are the skeleton of my original abode now accelerated to "beyond".It is Allen's intention to cover every surface and he is getting there fast. It is now way beyond my control! When Sus, Bry and Zoey came by Thanksgiving Day, Zoey's eyes were as big as salad plates looking all around at what she decided was one large Pirate Ship/Treasure Chest in one. If Allen's wheelchair didn't get her, his electric hospital bed most certainly did! I'm pretty sure those are memories that Sus will be hearing about many years from now. Good thing she has documentation!

I now have decided that I can manage to go home for the weekend about once a month-that is if there is a surface left for me to sit and sleep. I do so miss Tucker, Huxley and Binky...and, yes, the crazy world that Allen has created for himself. I only wish Sus had gotten more pictures of the many bizzaro items she missed-like the old Microwave door with the latex/vinyl hand-puppet dinosaur melded into it as if it were chewing through the door. Things like that are everywhere. Here's a priome example of our conversations...Many years ago I bought a fairly authentic looking jellyfish made of latex from a Nature Store-I don't know why. Then one day I saw one of those preserve jars with the metal clamp dowm lids and it cried out for the jellyfish. I filled the jar with water, put the jellyfish in and clamped it shut. It was great! This visit home, I was going to see an old friend and wanted to take a gift. I asked Allen if I should take the jellyfish and he sid no, he had another project in mind for it. That's us and that's our house. THIS IS MY LIFE!

Reclaiming Miss Havisham said...

OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD I WANT TO HANG OUT THERE WITH YOUR MOM!!!! I love it. It's perfect. Ethan Allen can SUCK ON IT!!

the girl who knows what the weight of dragging an abandoned one-legged mannequin home through the snow of Chicago

Kwana said...

I think I'm in LOVE!

A Print A Day said...

i love your mom's house! it remind's me of my own! :)


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