Friday, June 26, 2009

Okay, Nina, I'm giving it a go here

There's a real towhead. I'm surprised at how much I still look like that kid. That's a portrait of a child that knew way too much. I grew up in a community ruled by women. Some of them smart, but, ruthless, some of them beat down and dumber than dirt. None of them had any education and little opportunities. What they had was an instinct for survival. My mother had sisters. All of the sisters always lived and traveled together with their respective families. We lived many places but, mostly up and down the coastline between California and Oregon. In these places, are lush valleys where gypsies can pick fruit. Sometimes we lived in share cropper shacks, sometimes trailers, even a chicken shed once, sometimes we lived in the cars. Sometimes we'd find an abandoned mansion that held us all under one roof. Free, because it had no plumbing or electric. Those women could make a cozy camp any place. They could make do.
*
Men played a role too, men were deemed necessary by the women. A woman had to have a husband, that's the way it was. A single woman was a sorry and pitiful thing. But, the men in our family were all drunks, drug addicts, gamblers, criminals and worse. Only the women raised children, brought home the bacon and did anything domestic. That went without question, it was an accepted fact. The men's job was to tinker with motors, drive the caravans to the next location and mow any lawns, should we be fortunate enough to find a place with a lawn. Thier job description must have also included getting inebriated on a regular basis and inflicting fear and violence, yet, providing comedy relief when they weren't homicidal. Their behavior also gave the women something to cry about. Drama was a boredom reliever. That, and country music. Oh, things would go alright for a week, maybe a month, but, then life would throw some shit, as it's a might to do, and then, look out. Fights would break out and a woman might have to dye her kid's hair (I guess drunk men can't recognize their offspring with different hair) and take to the road. All the sisters would follow, leading the caravan of beat up vehicles back to Grandma's house in Iowa to hide out and get a divorce once and for all.
*
Then there would come the "makin' up" as which ever daddy had committed the unspeakable acts found his spouse and begged for forgiveness. (Usually it was mine.) There'd be more fights and threats of suicide and drunken brawls complete with gunfire. Usually him, sometimes her. There were kidnappings and fiddle playing. When you broke out a fiddle or a romantic guitar after a week of fighting, things changed. Maybe they were just worn out and needed a rest. Those were known as good times and women forgave, kids were packed up and everybody hit the road again. Sometimes Grandma closed up her house and packed up her Bible and medicinal herbs and joined the gang. Us kids all liked it when that happened because Grandma always had food and she never hit us. She didn't make us work too hard either. The way Grandma figured it, a kid shouldn't put in more than a half a days labor. At least until they reached the ripe old age of 10. With Grandma around, sometimes we stayed in one place long enough to register for school.
*
We got most of our school clothes at the dump. People throw out good things. We also got chickens from the dump. Grandma always had chickens for fresh meat and eggs...and company. It's a little known fact that chickens can be great company. Chickens take 21 days to hatch ( see how I still remember that?) and if the eggs didn't hatch on time, the factories would throw them out. Baby chickens would hatch in the garbage and be running and pecking all over that dump. A good childhood memory is catching boxes of baby chickens with Grandma to take home and raise. You can't do that anymore. Factories pour chemicals all over the eggs now to kill the late hatchers. No more free chickens. I also remember shooting rats at the dump. It was good practice even though I felt sorry for the rats. But, rats could get in the house and they got mean. Everybody had a rat bite story. One time I left the loaded rifle laying out, I knew better, but, I was only seven, anyhow, Dad came home on a bender and got into it with an Uncle over a gambling debt and Dad ended up shooting Uncle in the leg. It wasn't so bad though, it was a wooden leg. I sure enough took a whippin' for that one. Wooden legs are expensive. His wife had to use up half her welfare check the next month to get him another one and I learned my lesson. Kids have to learn things the hard way sometimes.

*****************
Is this the kind of stuff you want to read, Nina? It's dark and weird, but, it is the truth. I don't know if I have a book in me, or if this is just nonsense.

51 comments:

Karla Rosendall said...

Sounds to me like a good read (at your expense)
K

Roxanne said...

Gawd, what a cute child you were! I so remember those dresses made of translucent pastel nylon, layers & layers, lace & collars that were like bibs! LOL...I had them. usually bought for me by my mom at Goodwill or something. They looked new, I didn't know or care. As long it was pretty. Usually for easter, right? A bitch to repair when they would fray a seam. Little girls looked like little girls then. Not mini-me's like they do now. My daughter dressed like this. She's 23. I really think thats maybe the lsat generation to be dressed like this too. It's just not like this anymore. I almost cried when I saw your picture. It really made me go back. Way back. Thank you. I love it. Probably takne with a Kodak Brownie camera! Am I right? No color film either. Black & white only. And I still think it's the best. What a nice stroll down memory lane. You rock girl. You are such an interesting personality.

gardenhoe said...

Yeah, see, I don't know if I should tell these things or not. Maybe I should pass it off as fiction and avoid the heat. Or maybe I should forget the whole thing. Nina and Nadine started this!!

gardenhoe said...

Yes, Roxeanne. It was Easter and it was taken with a Brownie box. I remember there was a basket of fuzzy dump chickens too. I got to keep them.

gardenhoe said...

I also remember I had a skinned up nose. I got into a fight with a boy cousin, he tried to take my dump chickens. He didn't get 'em.

Anonymous said...

what happened to the chickens when they got big? I have many questions.... sb

Nina said...

This is IT Pat. Mix this with your natual and yes, sometimes dark humor and I'm certain you will find a home with a publishing house and an agent who will read it and sign for a percentage. No cost up front.

Do you know how to go about seeking a publisher and agent? Most of the info can be researched through Google.

Also, how did you become such a proficient writer, not just the stories but the the mechanics you use to convey? Your spelling is solid as is punctuation but your syntax, tone and flow is well above average. If you haven't been formally educated in the various fields of writing then you are one of the most gifted instinctual writers I've ever seen...

gardenhoe said...

Many chickens, many places. Some were pets, some were food. Gowd, I hated butchering day. When you chop their heads off they still run around. Eww, it was horrible.

gardenhoe said...

Nina, I know nothing about writing. I like to read. I could write all day, but, I don't know what to do with it. Or even if anyone would want to read it. That piece was off the top of my head (a strange dark place).

Anonymous said...

My Grandpa owned a bakery and a cookie factory. I lived next door to the place and had complete authority there from the time I was 5 all the way to High School.

Days filled with fresh cookies and bread baked that morning (every morning). Now the only time I get cake is when my kids spit-up-on-me.

Maureen said...

Pat, I love your stories. I read your blog every day but don't usually have time to post due to the nature of my work. I read a lot of books, I don't consider myself any kind of literary genius, but I know a good, interesting story when I see one.
For what it's worth, in my opinion,you have what it takes to write a great book.

Pat said...

Thank you. I am always amazed that people read what I write.

Bayou Jane said...

Through the years you have grown and learned and expanded your mind in ways most people will never know. The saying "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger" seems to be talking straight to you. (By the way, I'm not a big fan of that saying---it seems to uncaring.) You're like the Energizer Bunny---you just keep on going. And you are a teacher to us. Boy! I thought I had it rough! But I must admit, I did like the trips to the garbage dump. To me it was like searching for hidden treasure!
You talk about your Aunt Ruth. Was she with ya'll? What was she like?

Sometimes talking about our past helps us with the present. At least that is the shcpeel that those in the business dish out.

To me, you are a magic act. There's a whole lot more behind the scene than what we see.

Bayou Jane said...

I forgot to ask--do you keep up with any of your cousins?

Pat said...

My mom and I just had a huge fight. She won't leave me alone today, not even for 30 minutes. She had someone coming over to move my furniture. WTF? Leave my house alone. I know she's old and goofy, but, god damn, wtf is she up to now? See? She's a fuckin' book. A book of my nervous breakdown.

Pat said...

Bayou Jane, yes, we all live within a block of each other. Still. They all drive me nuts. I have a couple of cousins I can still relate and talk to. The rest of the family is insane, but, I still have to deal with them usually on a daily basis.

Bayou Jane said...

What reason does your mom give for wanting to move your funiture? Had you mentioned it at any time?

If not, I have to admit that IS a strange thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is very, very good. Kinda reminds me of Jean Shepherds accounts of himself growing up. The picture is really cute, could be Lissa with blonde hair. Looks just like her. Have a good weekend everyone!

Pat said...

I just got a couch. I decided to keep the old one too. She decided I don't need it and don't have room for it. She considers herself the matriarch of our side of the clan. Therefore, the couch will go.

The reason I have two couches is because, a few months ago I came home from work and my couch was gone. She had it hauled off because she didn't like it. This shit goes on all the time.

Pat said...

Thanks anon, Liss looks like her dad and he looked like me. I think.

shmedelle said...

There were kidnappings and fiddle playing.
-----------
Love that sentence. You need to write a book of short stories and get it published.

shmedelle said...

And, oh, yes! Very cute kid.

shmedelle said...

If you get as famous as, Sedaris, will you still remember us? LOL

shmedelle said...

Maureen said...
Pat, I love your stories. I read your blog every day but don't usually have time to post due to the nature of my work. I read a lot of books, I don't consider myself any kind of literary genius, but I know a good, interesting story when I see one.
For what it's worth, in my opinion,you have what it takes to write a great book.

-------------------
I just went ahead and posted my comment before I read what others had written. My gut reaction was that she needs to be published and reach a larger audience, and sure enough, someone else had that reaction. Pat, you need to figure out how to publish a book.......Pronto! You aren't getting any younger.

Casey J. said...

I love to see old pic of you. You do still look just like that.

Kathy said...

Pat - have you ever read the book The Glass Castle, your upbrining sounds very similar. I loved that book because although the author had a wretched and sometimes heartbreaking childhood, she told her story with the same raw honesty I see in your writing. Much like you, she didn't write her story to invoke sympathy or place blame, it was just a matter of fact account of where she came from. It's one of those books that just stays with you. An honestly, I enjoy your blog whether it's celebrity crap, garden musings or whatever.

Miss Muffet said...

Just write; change the names, fictionalize it if you need but write. You have a story to tell and some day when Lissa is old enough, she will want to know about her family history. My mom has passed away and she was the one who knew all the stories; I taped some of them but not enough. I wish I knew more. But your story is more than family history; it's about becoming a strong woman and you do have a way with words!

crabbie said...

I liked the celeb ripping better.

Tricia said...

So, when you do publish your book, can we all get first edition signed copies??
Loved it!

frimmy said...

That was a very good read. It had a good flow and the topic was amusing at times and always compelling. Structured and well written but unpretentious. It was conversational, like we were chatting with coffee and our feet tucked up under us. Throw in (or out) a sofa or two and you have a lot of material for a great book. I really liked it. Just my opinion.

Maureen said...

Yes, The Glass Castle was a fantastic book! This blog of Pat's is truly reminiscent of that book!

misstiajournal said...

you should keep writing about your life....once a week or so or whenever the mood strikes you, go down memory lane and write something...i liked reading that!! i'd like to read more!!!

re: publishing, if that interested you, you could even self-publish...there are programs that will do up a book even from blog entries! but sometimes writing for publication changes your tone or you TRY to write for an audience and a lot of times that stifles people's words...

when you write from the heart, the words are pure and you put people THERE and they can see things as you did....

coffeebean said...

You do know how to write. Your stories are fascinating and take you right into the plot. And you were a cutie!

Anonymous said...

I am quite happy you quit DD to dedicate your time on Lamb's Quarter Garden -- your blooming garden and your family. It is quite obviously your element. Do I love reading about your unusual and crazy life? Yes, I do (although I am pretty sure it is not that unusual for many more people who have no access to a computer). Do I think you write something that could be published and read by many(by me, amongst many others)? Yes. I love reading about your life, your mother, your environment, Eric and Casey and, of course, Lissa. I think you are a strong, fantastic, gutsy woman who did not let upbringing, hardships, statistics define who you are as a person. Thank you for sharing this with us - I can only imagine how strange and hard it must feel to send that "out there". Just remember to not "yield under pressure" if you do not chose to share something personal about you. Love you. Melissa

Pat said...

Thanks. I think I'll keep it up from time to time. I don't think I care about a book. I think I just want to tell someone some things. I listen to people all the time (not complaining), I think I want someone to listen to me..on here. And yes, it is hard because it's personal. And because I don't get personal much, not in real life. I am more of a listener and an observer.

Anonymous said...

VERY well written, great flow, and it left me wanting to know more. I'd guess that you have more stories in you than would fit in a book!

Keep writing? Absolutely

Publish? Only if you don't mind criticism and a ton of work. Finding a good publisher and agent is time consuming and sometimes a struggle, but so worth it when you've got a good one.

If you'd rather not deal with agents and publishers why not start a second blog and write there? I think you'll quickly have loyal readers wanting more. You'll get your words out and people can read about your fascinating and interesting life.

You're a talented writer with a story to tell. I'll buy your book!

Anonymous said...

i wrote you a few weeks ago saying you deserved a wider audience and should write a book!! yes!! i am a picky picky reader, and you have been one of my favorite authors since you began LambsQuarter. real writing tells the painful truth..and that's what makes it good.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good read so far, slightly reminds me of my own. Yet we had different players. I had an abortionist grandmother that performed her deeds right in the downstairs bathroom. I was 7 when I saw the first "corpse", lots more creepy shit...yet I dont have the finesse to write all that crap down.
Take care Patricia :)

with3love

Corina said...

i think it's amazing. so heartbreaking, but interesting. Have you read 'Mad Girls In Love' by Michael Lee West? Your stories remind me a lot of that book - humorous but tragic at the same time. Add me onto the list of us encouraging you to write a book - YOU HAVE SOMETHING. Share it. :)

Nina said...

Pat,
Reading all these replies you can easily see how you've already harnessed a base of readers.

This is the, "magic" of a successful writer!

Most of the work you need to do in finding an agent and publisher can be accomplished on-line now. Even submitting work is commonly done electronically now.

Back in the day, you had to make multiple hard copies of work and snd send it out through snail mail. Then wait for weeks for the rejection slips to roll in. Now we have much greater and speedier access to all parties and info involved in putting work out there.

Unless you just want to make a few copies as gifts, I'd avoid self publishing and vanity presses as those YOU pay for. I think you can easily find a market that pays YOU!!!

Rebecca Wells, who did, "Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" took her Southern, Catholic upbringing and rolled it into a fortune. You can research her on her website, Ya-Ya's, it's still up and running and flourishing I think.

Sue Monk Kidd, and her,
"Secret Life of Bees" spoke of a harder path in life and again it lead her into a brilliant career.

You might want to start researching some authors who specialize in this genre. Pay attention to who published them. Go on-line and visit the authors sites and visit the publishers sites. You can access their writer's guidelines.

Get a copy of," Writer's Market" This is packed with info on publishing.(Probably find it in library) Agents, publishers, guidelines and even some solid how-to advice. Tons of books are available that eaplain the process. Many of those book could be found in your local library.

Start out slow and easy. Take in bits and pieces of info. I think your books could probably write themselves and the work of getting published ,if taken in small enough bites wouldn't be such a task.

If you can sit and write all day and love to do it, you could write volumes. That is the hardest part for most writers. Stay true to YOUR words and never worry about the audience. You want to share these experiences. People are hungry to share them with you. It could work! Why not make a few bucks from all these experiences.

I'm about as psychic as a dirty coffee mug, but I have strong gut feelings and my gut is saying that I could well be typing a post to a writing star just waiting to shine.

I will refrain from prompting anymore. I hate pushy people who harp on stuff until I suffer a brain bleed. But I just had to try and get you thinking along these lines.

The title that struck me for this piecs was, "The Estrogen Caravan"

I am having a blast just imagining how far this could go!!

Nina said...

You can tell from that last post, chuck full of every typo know to humans, that I'm running on one cup of coffee and no lights on as I type. I need to learn the art of proofreading BEFORE I hit submit!!
It struck me as a hoot, that someone who could screw up a simple post with that many F-ups was offering hints on how to get into professional writing!
Listen to me anyway!! I'm no writer myself but By Jesus I know talent when I see it!! roflmao...

Anonymous said...

write a book!!!! you are a natural writer. You have the ability to see through b/s and tell it like it really is.

Laurajean said...

Pat, you definately have a book in you !! I would not only buy it but come to one of your book signings, maybe you can even buy a Mr.Gray of your own.

Heidi said...

I can be very fickle and get easily bored reading blogs. Not yours! Not at all. I laugh. I cry.
If you can make me and others feel that way..you truly have a gift.

I like what you are doing now. The garden, the crotchity bitches, Lissa, and your life stories.
Kudos to you Pat.

Pat said...

This is all very cool. Thank you.

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

Okay, now you have to write a book. It would be better than any book I could write about my life.


BTW your photo is soooo cute! :)

Jen said...

It reminds me of The Glass Castle. Bestseller. Great quote at the beginning something like having a crazy childhood makes an interesting adult. So true and it sells!

Heidi said...

Jen, If that were true, maybe I should write a book..LOL

If you are strong enough to survive a hell on earth as a child, you can survive just about anything.


So you go ahead Pat. You let it all hang out. You know you have a steady band of followers.

Nadine said...

Pat, as always, that was excellent... and YUP that is what I meant when I said you had a book in you.
I don't know if some of you know that Pat is actually an accomplished artist and has a degree in education, hence the great spelling and use of vocabulary. She is way too modest to mention that on here.
I have known this woman for years and EVERYTHING she writes is like this... entertaining, full of emotion, descritive etc. So lets keep bugging her about compiling her stories/essays/thoughts and sending it out to a few publishers and just wait and let things happen.
hugsssssssssssssssssssss

gardenhoe said...

I can't spell for shit, there's spell check on here. "The Estrogen Caravan" LMAO at that one. And it wasn't always Hell on Earth..childhood always has good parts. Children are resiliant. And Naseem, your story is amazing. If everyone knew what I know about you, their eyes would pop out. It's scary to reveal those things, I know. 'Tis your secret to keep or share. Nadine, you have always been my cheerleader. It's meant a lot over the years. My pretty blond Heidi Klum cheerleader with an advanced education and adorable German accent in several languages.