1. Out of the Void, Into Chaos
It started before I was born.
Then there was the mother,
an enigma, icy cold and stormy.
I have quite a few memories from my first two or three years, mostly of psychic battles and tests of will with the mother. Somehow, by age three, I was attributed with an "over-active imagination." That was around the time I told my mom that I saw a man in my room looking at me when I awoke from a nap.
The mother, intellectually ambitious, placed me in the first grade at age four. She was pregnant with my younger sister at the time, a turning point in her life.
Earlier that summer she talked to me a great deal about what she claimed was her past, her family history . . . and reincarnation and telepathy. My mother seemed intensely devoted to her mother, who died the day my oldest sister was born. According to mother's always remarkable tales, her mother was an extraordinary woman — a Welsh herbalist of ancient lineage, a healer, a seer, a near saint. Her feelings about her father, however, seemed very mixed — a Viking rascal, descended from Leif Erikson and a Native American woman. When she spoke of the men of her family, it was usually about how her father and uncles were much inclined toward drinking, gambling and womanizing. They were all 32° Freemasons and wanted to oversee and control everything in sight. Their god was GAOTU — the Great Architect of the Universe. Together they ran and controlled a small town populated largely by Norwegian Quakers.
Talk of that sort seemed to make her feel proud and happy, and I was pleased that for a few minutes she wasn't controlling or ridiculing me. Indeed, she thought I was the "reincarnation" of someone special from her family. I never learned much about my father's antecedents, and I'm not so certain about the Native American on the maternal side, but my mother's face possessed "ancient" features which seemed to boldly surface as she aged. But heritage is just a part of mother's mystery.
When it was time to start the first grade, mother told me I would be gone for a long time every day, but I could always send her a telepathic message, and she would "hear" it. Then, with much pride, she recited her lengthly resume of psychic and telepathic achievements — something my sisters and I would hear repeatedly over the years. Previsions of the 1928 Stock Market Crash, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the death of FDR, and so on . . . and later, the assassination of JFK.
Mother also spoke of how our behavior and personalities are somehow related to the season of our birth. She never mentioned the word "astrology," but she could give a basic sun sign reading based on the season or month of birth. I recall her saying that my father's friendly, sunny disposition had to do with his summer birth; but my sisters and I were born in November, and that accounted for our moodiness, our sarcasm, our defiance and our spitefulness. When I mentioned that she was also born during the month of November, mother flashed me a cold look and emphasized that she was born during late-November, as if I was supposed to know the difference.
When I finally got into the first grade classroom, I was profoundly disappointed because I thought I was supposed to be entering the wonderful world of knowledge and learning, the revelation of the mysteries of life. Instead, I was bewildered that the other kids couldn't even tell time. I was instantly bored and spent a lot of time staring at girls. Hoping the all-powerful mother could do something to fix it, I complained about how all the other kids didn't even know math. That caused her to claim other mothers didn't "care enough" to teach their children . . . Oddly, after my younger sister was born, mother never once helped me with homework . . . and before I knew it she was calling me a failure.
For some undoubtedly self-serving reason, however, mother made a failed attempt to teach me physics and chemistry at age seven. She explained that we live in a carbon-based world, and that carbon is at the heart of everything — "the carbon atom." She knocked on the table and said, "This is carbon." All I could think of was the atomic bomb and the carbon paper my oldest sister used in her typewriter. That greatly flustered mother, she ridiculed me for not paying attention and seemed gravely disappointed with me. Being a kid, it didn't occurred to me that a seven year-old probably isn't ready for a lesson on the carbon atom.
Read Chapter Two:
Flowers in the Attic? • Hansel and Gretel • Sex Miseducation
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