Hi--I submitted this piece under my own name, but I want to explain that this isn't quite fair, because, well, two weekends ago I went to Minneapolis and hung out with my best friend from high school, and she told me all about how she's been doing a lot of channeling, which sounded interesting, so she gave me some exercises to do, and I've been playing around with it, and then earlier this week, I woke up screaming, and grabbed a piece of paper, and this is what I wrote. I guess it's more accurate to say that this was written by Carolyn Space Jacobson on behalf of those who couldn't write it themselves. OH, and all of the spelling errors are mine, but if I mispronounce any of the words, it's their fault, because this is what I heard:
Oh, I can't believe the guilt that I carry with me all the time. The things I've done, the people I've hurt, I mean the "me"s that I've hurt. I believe that I started out as a whole human being, but I've been tossing off parts of me as I go. Losing the pieces of myself. Like my parents' 5th anniversary, which was when I began to lose my mother. My parents celebrated their fifth anniversary by having a----sorry. Lost my place----nicer-than-usual dinner, with wine, a luxury, given that Dad was at his first teaching job and Mom was still a graduate student. And Dad, as a young husband and father, directed his toast to his two little children: "Girls, five years ago today, I married the most beautiful woman in the world." And I, at four years old, responded, "What happened, Daddy, did she die?"
God. Why is that funny? No, that's part of the script. Right there. "God, Why is that funny?
And then when I was seven, I lost her wedding ring. And we never found it again, even though I spent days searching our yard where I did the doomed cartwheel while wearing the ring I had nicked from her back pocket. And she was really really nice about it, but I thought it was the end of the world.
And even at this young age, my critical faculties were heightened enough to know that there was a connection between this event and the story my father had often told me. The story of the Golden Pebble. The now-dreaded story of the golden pebble, in which the little protagonist who HAD MY FIRST NAME willfully takes the golden pebble from her parents' dresser drawer and loses it in the pond, which----sorry, lost my place----for some reason means that the whole family has to move, except that she finds the golden pebble at the last moment, so they can stay. Except when we had to move shortly after I lost the ring, I never did find it at the 11th hour, although I did try, and stayed outside very late the night before the moving truck came, until it got very very dark, looking for it, and we had to move two whole days in a car away from every person I had ever talked to in my entire life.
And this is when I stopped being able to throw anything away. Until now, when I can throw things away, but only if I write the thing down on a piece of paper first, but never never relying on computer files to keep this information, ----sorry, lost my place----because when I was in 8th grade, I had a computer journal, and then accidentally reinitialized the disk and lost it all.
What's gone and what's past help should be past grief. Shakespeare's a clever bloke, but clearly he never lost his mother's wedding ring.
Jane Austen lost lots of things, and the nice people who restored her house to the way it looked when she lived in it found them all for her and put them on a little shelf. The display card reads: "Objects found during the restoration of the Austen house" and they include broken buttons, and pieces of china, and little twisted bits of metal, and lots of what looked like dust. And I thought, here must be a marvelous women, if even her dust is worth preserving, and it reminded me of how even my broken china was worth saving when I was young, and I would sneak the pieces out of the garbage, and started the collection in my closet of heavy brown paper bags filled with all the plates and mugs I had ever broken, and also of how I insisted in kindergarten on taking home my empty milk carton every day (white milk, not chocolate, because I was allergic). And we kept them on the back porch, and I could go and visit them when I thought I was losing track of who I was.
And then when I was six, I was in the playground when it suddenly hit me that other people thought, too. And from there it was just a small leap to the idea that other people felt, too, just like I did, which meant that I had to start worrying about them. Looking out for their feelings as well as my own, and after that there was no more time for milk cartons.
But, God, I lost my train of thought, because this started out being about my mother, who has always been very nice to me despite my trespasses against her. She's a very nice woman. I mean, she did give birth to me. Or at least that's what she tells me when she wakes me up early on my birthday, even if I'm far enough away that she has to wake me with a phone call, to tell me about the pain she went through. And she wouldn't lie to me. I mean, I've lied to her. Hundreds of times, but I'm the child in this relationship, the lying child in the relationship, and not the adult, the honest adult. In this relationship. Where was this going?
Oh, fuck, I don't want to read that.
Oh, but wait. I was going to talk about the people I lost, which is hard to talk about, because I've sat so long with that piece of paper with their names on it, and with a pen in my hand, too, that I've completely doodled all over their names, and some of them you can hardly see. Most of them are people who have forgotten all about me by now. Most of them never know I lost them, it was so one-sided. And sometimes my grandmother shows up in my dreams as her 1950s self, with her hair all curled and tells me it's going to be ok, while others just visit in real life and have no fucking idea that their words are like words from the dead to me----Oh, I've lost my place----No, really.
And I think wouldn't it be easier to go back to the milk carton system, so that my identity could sustain itself on those slightly-smelly hollow cardboard objects, and I could leave all this flesh and blood out of it.
You know, when we moved, my mother must have thrown away all those cartons, and I never once missed them. I was just fine without them. Really. It's like they wanted to be left behind, so what's it to me? I am just fine without them.
Oh, well, I've moved on. As you can tell. But then I moved back, which is why I'm here at No Shame after all, because no matter how hard I keep throwing myself away, the people who do the restoration work dig the broken buttons out of the cracks and put them on the shelf with the dust, which some people would argue is really my best work, my finest moments.
"Help Me! I'm Losing My Head!!!" debuted November 22, 1996.