Tag Archives: California

The Precipice by Matt Carlson

Elledge stood there : once again. On the precipice. The precipice of making a decision. The precipice of what was important in his life. He had looked up, he had looked down; he had looked all around. Had he missed something? Because to make the best possible decision, one had to have the key elements in hand. He knew that. But if part of the equation were the people he cared about – where were they? And if he knew where they were, why were they acting the way that they did? Maybe his ‘carrier-pigeon mentality’ hadn’t been the best method, you know: the returning to the places of life before… To see ‘it’ again and look it straight in the eye  – to talk to it even, just to make sure that they recognized each other. The problem was that no one spoke, or was even available to have an eventual conversation. It was: “I’m so busy. I’ll call you.” The phone calls never came.

Then he remembered an old concept that he had held close to his heart (and head) in his dating days : when you start playing the guessing game in your head about what’s in someone else’s head, that usually means the person is not direct, is complicated,  not a good communicator, or absent because they want to be and or DO NOT WANT TO SHARE in the way that you need them to share. So ‘bye bye baby, bye-bye’ (Madonna song refrain…)

The little brother incident had been an emotional blow. While there, he had known being in their home was a potential ‘bomb’ of sorts,  he hadn’t known what the missing pieces were. Now in retrospect, he understood them. His psychiatrist had pointed out the abandoned Father issues that dominated in that household – that Elledge couldn’t have done anything about it even if he had wanted to. That all potential Father symbols had to be destroyed ! Elledge hadn’t  thought of any of those things – though he had considered the father role he had played – still a child himself- with his little brother many years ago: a poor substitute perhaps, but it had been a loving one.

Arriving in California, he was on a life trip while there – still was in fact though now back in Paris – and the people facing him had been on a completely different roller coaster ride. There was finally no ‘meeting of the minds’ so to speak. For that, there had to be openings in peoples heads, the desire to be open to something new, to have conversations together. Instead, there had been ‘people too busy,’ defensiveness, parody, moodiness and recriminations – games within games. Even lying. There were false smiles and “Awesome!” this and “Awesome !” that; followed up with “Your the boss!” But when a miscommunication happened it was, ” You’re a mother-fucking-liar” and “I’ll never trust you again!” with “Why did you do that?” Elledge was still waiting for an answer from an email in May, a sent birthday card and postcards sent over the summer. But no, he had been killed off. His Father symbol was now dead to them. Back then he’s been told by his little brother, “People in the states don’t answer emails!”

The other brothers and their absences too were confounding to him. But maybe that shouldn’t have been so surprising concerning the past.  Elledge had some gaps in his memory and distance did play a role too – still he was very disappointed. He’d truly wanted to connect with his brothers again and on a close level.  but he supposed, that in order for them to understand the efforts taken to return, one had to have ‘sat upon the subject’ a bit, to mull it over and consider those steps necessary for a trip like that; to care enough about someone else –  your brother – and what that meant to you. And if it meant something then you would do something about it, right? Like jump on a plane and go and see him, or if you were in the same city, run over and see him, right?  If not, you wouldn’t have done any considering at all just, “Oh, he’s coming back?…Why? I hope it works out for him..”(end of story ).

The good side to his visit upon returning to his ‘roots’ had been connecting with his nephews and niece, three of his cousins …and some nice virtual messaging with at least one of his second cousins. And he had made a friend or two, gotten to see his best friend in Washington and her family. There were connections with her family too – that was all very nice….

But still, what to do? Which city would he return to? Or maybe it would  be a new place? New faces? And more importantly the ‘what to do’ with ones life was actually secondary to the ‘why’ we do something…Hmm, maybe it was time to develop that ‘why’ question….

 

 

The Father Ghost of Jane Snitly by Matt Carlson

She had never really considered it. It was something that she’d just decided to do. One day Jane Snitly bought the auburn hair coloring treatment, went home, read the instructions on the box, locked herself up in the bathroom and one hour later it was done. She’d become a redhead at twenty.

On top of it all, she looked good as a redhead. It wasn’t the flashy bright red of some, but more classy, like Katherine Hepburn in the 50’s and 60’s. And so it was, she’d chosen this look seemingly out of the blue – thinking it gave her an aura of the beautiful actress. And yet, even while she looked at herself in the mirror, she couldn’t ignore the pressing images that assaulted her there…

It was a gorgeous Buick of light blue sitting outside on the street under the front yard maple tree  – to keep under the shade. It was a hot summer day in the valley. There’d been a woman sitting in the passenger seat. She was very pretty, quite well dressed and she’d come with her Dad who was now in the house. He was having a conversation with Jane and Jenny’s Mother. The two little blond girls were 9 and 12, Jane was the youngest; Jenny the oldest. The two little girls were intrigued with the woman but didn’t dare speak to her. They’d been playing jacks in the driveway.

Blue curling up smoke from the woman’s cigarette went into the tree itself – seemingly dancing with the leaves – and Jane wondered who she was: this silent friend of her Father’s. Jenny felt it too and the girls left long lingering looks in her direction while halfheartedly spinning and catching. Voices were suddenly raised within the house and Jane and Jenny knew what that meant: another argument between their Mother and Father. They’d known something was up as their Father had ordered them to ‘stay outside and play’ upon his arrival and that he’d ‘wanted to speak to their Mother alone.’ Hearing those words had created a stir in their young bellies, but they had no clue as to why.

The wailing coming from within was low at first: a kind of moaning. Was that human? They both wondered while looking simultaneously at the house where their Father was now exiting. He didn’t say anything to them except that he loved them and would talk to them soon.

Jenny being older asked,”Daddy, where are you going? Why is Mamma crying like that?” She asked while chewing on her fingernail. Her Father stopped and seemed to reconsider something. The woman in the car was watching intently.

“Honey, Daddy is going to go and live somewhere else for a while…. but I’ll come back soon and we’ll do something fun, okay?” This was a lie, of course yet he wanted to give them a warm fuzzy of some kind. A lie was better than nothing. And perhaps he’d made himself believe that his words were true. Jenny didn’t say anything and he got into the car and started up the engine.

The wailing from within the house went up a notch and Jane suddenly found herself standing in front of the running engine, standing in front of the car where her Father sat with a strange & beautiful woman. Jane knew what it all meant. He was leaving. Leaving their Mother; leaving them. Leaving with the woman with auburn hair. Her Father stepped out of the car and asked, “What is it Janie?” But a paralysis overtook the little girl and no words would come. “Honey?… Okay, I’ve gotta go now sweetie – move out of the way.” And just like that she did what was asked of her. Her Father drove away. The woman gave her a sad smile and a slight wave of a manicured hand.

“Don’t go Daddy,” she whispered as the car drove out of sight. She’d forgotten to breath for a moment and felt slightly dizzy. Jenny had run inside to see her Mother. Janie stood there for a long time. Watching, waiting, trying to figure out what had just happened. Her tears and the low moaning were suddenly hers. Her Father had left her. Had left her Mom and sister. Only a Father Ghost would remain now….

**** Explanatory Note:

Almost sixty years later, Jane Snitly (her name has been changed to protect her identity) would die of Emphysema at the age of 68. According to a certain psychiatrist, she chose this hair color because unconsciously she chose to be the woman that her Father left with. That means she wanted to be the woman he chose to be with. (To be the woman that her Father loved). At the same time, she also chose to be the Mother that her Father left. The woman scorned and angry. Probably too,  that both of these identities  co-existed subconsciously within.

That being the case,  the two inner personalities or roles were at constant battle with one another; that the Mistress hated the Mother and that the Mother within hated the Mistress…The Father reassures and helps in developing a sense of identity to children in a family. When a Father abandons his children or is absent, the child will constantly search out that Father image – an image that he or she needs in order to construct their identity. The child (and later on adult) will do this subconsciously, of course and unknowingly will set up repetitive failures with people, people that the unconscious mind will perceive as a potential Father image. This is called the Father Ghost. Many of us have a Father Ghost, though we don’t realize it. He hoovers there constantly and is played out within the people around us, especially family members or other potential father-type images. Because it failed with their own father’s, and is an unconscious functioning, it will fail time and time again. No matter if you are a perfect Father figure, the scorned child will find fault with you somehow. Until the child becomes consciously aware of what is happening (and learns to make a conscious effort to change) he or she will continue to destroy potential Father figures. It is something imprinted within and a vicious circle…Some people will find other ways of creating identity with the pathology of the Father Ghost haunting them. Some will choose to work in psychology, health services and even religion…Anything that will give them a strong sense of belonging and reassurance…

*** ‘A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, is one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood. “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home,” he says. “Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”  Fathers have a direct impact on the well-being of their children. It is important for professionals working with fathers— especially in the difficult, emotionally charged arena in which child protective services (CPS) caseworkers operate—to have a working understanding of the literature that addresses this impact.

Such knowledge will help make the case for why the most effective CPS case plans will involve fathers. This chapter lays out the connection between fathers and child outcomes, including cognitive ability, educational achievement, psychological well-being, and social behavior. The chapter also underscores the impact of the father and mother’s relationship on the well-being of their children….

THE IMPACT OF THE MOTHER-FATHER RELATIONSHIP ON CHILD OUTCOMES One of the most important influences a father can have on his child is indirect—fathers influence their children in large part through the quality of their relationship with the mother of their children. A father who has a good relationship with the mother of their children is more likely to be involved and to spend time with their children and to have children who are psychologically and emotionally healthier. Similarly, a mother who feels affirmed by her children’s father and who enjoys the benefits of a happy relationship is more likely to be a better mother. Indeed, the quality of the relationship affects the parenting behavior of both parents. They are more responsive, affectionate, and confident with their infants; more self-controlled in dealing with defiant toddlers; and better confidants for teenagers seeking advice and emotional support. One of the most important benefits of a positive relationship between mother and father, and a benefit directly related to the objectives of the CPS caseworker, is the behavior it models for children.

Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict within the relationship in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have boys who understand how they are to treat women and who The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children are less likely to act in an aggressive fashion toward females. Girls with involved, respectful fathers see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships. In contrast, research has shown that husbands who display anger, show contempt for, or who stonewall their wives (i.e., “the silent treatment”) are more likely to have children who are anxious, withdrawn, or antisocial.

THE IMPACT OF FATHERS ON COGNITIVE ABILITY AND EDUCATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. A number of studies suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing, and playful with their infants have children with higher IQ’s, as well as better linguistic and cognitive capacities.Toddlers with involved fathers go on to start school with higher levels of academic readiness. They are more patient and can handle the stresses and frustrations associated with schooling more readily than children with less involved fathers.

The influence of a father’s involvement on academic achievement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. For instance, a 2001 U.S. Department of Education study found that highly involved biological fathers had children who were 43 percent more likely than other children to earn mostly As and 33 percent less likely than other children to repeat a grade.

THE IMPACT OF FATHERS ON PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AND SOCIAL BEHAVIOR Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers. These children also are less likely to get in trouble at home, school, or in the neighborhood.13 Infants who receive high levels of affection from their fathers (e.g., babies whose fathers respond quickly to their cries and who The Link Between Marriage and Fatherhood Caring, involved fathers exist outside of marriage. They are more likely, however, to be found in the context of marriage. There are numerous reasons for this, not the least of which being the legal and social norms associated with marriage that connect a father to the family unit. That may also explain, in part, why research consistently shows that the married mother-and-father family is a better environment for raising children than the cohabitating (living together) mother-and-father family.

It is interesting to note that, contrary to stereotypes about low-income, unmarried parents, a significant majority—more than 8 in 10—of urban, low-income fathers and mothers are in a romantic relationship when their children are born.

Most of these couples expect that they will get married. One study found that more than 80 percent expected they would get married or live together. However, only 11 percent of these couples had actually married a year later.

Why they do not marry is an interesting question open to conjecture. However, as Dr. Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has pointed out, it may be because these couples receive very little encouragement to marry from the health and social services professionals with whom they come in contact.

Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-being play together) are more securely attached; that is, they can explore their environment comfortably when a parent is nearby and can readily accept comfort from their parent after a brief separation. A number of studies suggest they also are more sociable and popular with other children throughout early childhood.

The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers spend a much higher percentage of their one-on-one interaction with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior. Roughhousing with dad, for example, can teach children how to deal with aggressive impulses and physical contact without losing control of their emotions.19 Generally speaking, fathers also tend to promote independence and an orientation to the outside world. Fathers often push achievement while mothers stress nurturing, both of which are important to healthy development. As a result, children who grow up with involved fathers are more comfortable exploring the world around them and more likely to exhibit self control and pro-social behavior.

One study of school-aged children found that children with good relationships with their fathers were less likely to experience depression, to exhibit disruptive behavior, or to lie and were more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior. This same study found that boys with involved fathers had fewer school behavior problems and that girls had stronger self esteem.

In addition, numerous studies have found that children who live with their fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior. In short, fathers have a powerful and positive impact upon the development and health of children. A caseworker who understands the important contributions fathers make to their children’s development and how to effectively involve fathers in the case planning process will find additional and valuable allies in the mission to create a permanent and safe environment for children.’

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/fatherhood.pdf

FRESNO TIMES (N° 8) by Matthew Carlson

Fresno Times N° 8

Piddy and Diddy by Matthew Carlson

Piddy and Diddy were a match made in Heaven and Hell. Piddy was 20 and Diddy was 40. Piddy was an almost perfect look alike of Barbara Streisand, except she had long dark black hair, almost blue. Her tits were better than Barbara’s too (large, round and uplifted naturally) and her nose shorter. She hated it when people told her “Oh my, you look just like Barbara Steisand!” Mostly because of the nose issue; she had always been sensitive about her nose. She liked to listen to Barabara sing however. Piddy was like a race horse, moving fast and furious. She was a business woman too (taught by her millionaire Dad) and didn’t take any crap from anyone, including her heavy drinking husband. She knew how to bust his balls (she’d practised on her own Father over the years, & he was even taller than Diddy)…

Diddy was too tall; a big guy of 6 feet four and a half inches, with long slender legs & a pot belly. You could have fit a couple of babies in there, to be honest. His graying hair was plastered backwards partially hiding his bald spot in the back, long greying with black sideburns from a not so long ago Clint Eastwood era. Cowboy boots, cowboy neckties, lizard and alligator belts of like a zillion different colors hung or sat in his closet. He loved country music (Buck Owens and The Buckeroos, Johnny Cash. His favorite song was ‘Ring Of Fire’ and he had a sweet spot for Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynne – they both had great tits too). Eight track tapes oozed out of his glovebox and from under the car seats, filling up the big tired LARGE sized 4X4 four Cherokee jeep. An ex-drinker and a ‘trying to be’ ex-skirt chaser, Diddy was a little bit famous in the mountains where he lived with his new young wife Piddy.

They had met when she was working at Savemart in the Tower District in Fresno. She was quick with her hands, fast with her words and managed everyone, client and fellow employees with ease and assurance. When Diddy first came to her cash register, there was an immediate attraction.

“Well, you are a big strapping man,” she said after he had already complemented her on her cleavage.

“Yes, I am sweetheart and a nice one too,” he smiled his Marlboro smile and gazed at her intently.

“That remains to be seen”, she responded with just enough vinager so he’d know she was not easy, but interested.

“In that case, can I buy you dinner? That way you could see for yourself…” And then with a suave turn of the head he added “You sure are a pretty thing”.

She laughed with a bit of mockery in her eyes. She had heard all the lines before so knew exactle how to handle men. But this older bull had her intrigued and she was aroused.

“That depends,” she said.

“On what?”

“If you have a gold card or not,” she half snickered, but was serious.

He pulled out his wallet and a string of credit cards unfolded in their plastic happy spaces. All gold.

“Well, I guess it’s a date” she said. “I get off at seven”. She smiled her sexy Barbara Streisand smile….

FRESNO TIMES (Chapter 5) : Kirk and Sparrow : A Teenage Love Story

teenagersinlove

After blond bomb shell Candy Happyseasons had let him down big time, Kirk quickly found solace in the arms of his one true love, Sparrow Mackerel. She had thick, long dark blond hair with that special ‘I don’t know what’ mystery about her. It drove all of the boys into a frenzy. Through Kirk’s eyes she seemed to float around like a living angel; she was beautiful and perfect. Candy became a forgotten memory and he was so jazzed that it hadn’t worked out, otherwise he wouldn’t have known true love with Sparrow. On top of being beautiful, her family was perfect too. Exactly what he didn’t have; he wished often that it WAS his family, aside from Sparrow that is, he didn’t want her as a sister! The Mackerel family was Italian, and Sparrow had two hot sisters too. Everything felt so right with them, like finding that missing puzzle piece you didn’t know existed until you saw it lying on the floor in the bathroom while you were taking a crap reading yesterday’s sport’s page.

High school was going to be terrific, his teeth were straight (after years of a bucked tooth fixer-upper neck brace) and his muscles had grown, he was popular and now he had Sparrow!) Life was good. With his Mom and brothers they had just moved to another new place. But this new house was really nice, he even got his own private bedroom with bathroom back behind the garage. Fifteen and feeling totally free. This was the good life, finally…

They had met their last year of junior high school, checking each other out from afar, mutual friends bringing them in closer contact. That day outside the cafeteria, when she had gotten knocked over accidently was the open door to something new between them.

“Are you okay?” Kirk asked  as he helped her up from the cement floor.

“Oh, I’m okay,” she replied while brushing off her pants and then rearranging her perfect long thick hair. “That guy is such a brute,” she smiled up at Kirk and immediately the chemistry took hold. The initial current from afar suddenly was magnified by a simple touch and her eyes looking into his. He was sure he was gonna get a boner, so forced himself to imagine her on the throne taking a poo so as to thwart oncoming ‘boner mania’. At his age, it had a mind of its’ own. More than once just before recess he had to stay put while everyone else practically ran out of the classroom.

“Oh ummm, I just need to check if I have something in my desk” he would say when questioned why he was still sitting in his chair. And then when he was forced to get out, he would walk bent over and then drop something on the floor, hoping the blood flow would go back to wherever it came from while pretending to slowly pick up whatever decoy he had dropped.

Boldness overtook him and he asked Sparrow, “You wanna sit together for lunch?” He was surprised by his assertiveness, but pleased as she responded by saying yes.

It was the begining of their  love story…Sharing cold macaroni and cheese (she loved it) and they ate it together with their fingers, as she had forgotten a fork and sucking down soda with the same straw. Life was great.

Fresno Times Chapter One By Matthew Carlson

joanie and kids#1

Fresno Times                   Chapter One                   By Matthew Carlson

2036 or 3636 or 3036 Maple street…  I cannot remember the exact address, but it was on Maple Street and there was the number 36 somewhere on that mailbox, which was sitting on a metal pole of some kind, a horse shoe form with a flat bottom, its’ little door that creaked when you opened it. The mail man would put up the little red flag on the side when he had left mail. The flag was made of metal too.

The mail box sat in a claimed garden area, fenced off  by a small wall of red bricks surrounding it. Inside, there were lots of rose bushes,  lots of Four o’ Clocks too with  small reddish-pink flowers that were very pretty and would always close their blossoms at around four.  That’s where the name came from, Four o’ Clocks.  Of course, as a child I wondered how the flowers could tell time like that…

The house itself was yellow when we arrived; it became olive green with brown edges afterwards, though I have no memory of painting it. How did that happen? Who painted it? It must have been us, three boys with our divorced Mother. But I can only remember painting the bathroom and learning how to stain the cabinet furniture with a sponge. The bathroom was a unique one, with two doors, one from the hallway for us and then one door which was direct from Mom’s master bedroom. She even had a dressing room that led to the bathroom. I remember that bathroom so well, have no idea why. There was nothing special about it, there was a shower and a separate bathtub, it was I suppose a kind of ‘communal  hub’ in those days, where the family crissed and crossed with our many activities: showers, baths, brushing teeth, hair, going potty, peeing;  Mom putting on her face, spraying hair spray,  and as kids do too (like their parents) lots of looking at ourselves in the mirror; checking out teeth and pimples, hair styles, clothes that we wore and so on. It was also a library, for reading: our favorite comic books never far from reach: Superman, Batman, The Avengers, Casper The Friendly Ghost to name a few.

Mom worked every day of the week, so when she would come home, her arms would be full of groceries in paper bags. If we didn’t get up off our butts and help her, there would be hell to pay! Star Trek would have to wait, or Lost in Space. Too, our weekly chores had to have been finished beforehand. The schedule was on a wall in the kitchen and it was divided up into 3 specific tasks: kitchen, living room and bathroom. Each of us was responsible for one of the three tasks and for a period of one week. Then it would change. If you were cleaning the kitchen one week, then the next week, you would clean either the bathroom and then the living room. Keeping our bedrooms clean was an individual obligation.  Merk was the only one who was incapable of washing a spoon so that it was clean and had no notion of how to keep his room tidy either. His regular occurrences of spilling milk at the dinner table were often explained that “so and so had dropped him on his head when he was a baby”. Thinking about that statement now, I realize that that was certainly a comment coming from my Dad in ‘all his splendor’, probably saying that my Mother had dropped him when he was a baby and of course saying that in mixed company so that he could reap the rewards of his provocative ways…. “Oh I did not Hurb!” from Mom.

Of course, how that worked psychologically on Merk, I have no idea. I’m sure that his absences or distractions during mealtime were more likely that he was growing so fast, or perhaps thinking about sex, or maybe both.