A recovery memoir by Ms. X
The Sewing Needle
We lived in an old Shaker farmhouse. My mother called it a saltbox. It sat on a solid granite foundation. I was the youngest of four children. My father was a published poet. He had his Masters in Education and taught high school French, English and History. My mother was a paralegal secretary. We had a black and white television that received only three channels by way of a spindly antenna on our roof. We were middle class. We were Catholic. Our house had the musty smell of old books and mothballs. The first book I remember my mother reading to me was “The Hobbit” by JRR Tolkien. Books were where I found my refuge. I was reading Poe, Shakespeare and Robert Frost at an early age. The first movie I remember seeing was “Star Wars” during my sixth year. We saw it at the local drive in a mustard yellow station wagon with wood paneling. I remember sitting in the back with the tailgate down curled up in a sleeping bag.
I auditioned for the play “Annie” during my eleventh year. I memorized “The Brook” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. I didn’t get the part. I was in plays. I played a little boy battling a bully in “How to Eat Fried Worms” and I played the detective Marmaduke in “Babes In Toyland.” I can remember a few traumatic experiences from childhood. I have a long thin scar on my right thigh. I think I fell off a granite wall onto some broken glass. Around the same time my sister and I were digging for earthworms in the garden. She accidentally struck me between the eyes with a shovel full of dirt. Then she ran and hid in our cellar. I was left just standing there, blindly wobbling back and forth with a clod of dirt in my eyes. I also stuck a sewing machine needle up my nose and it went down my throat. We watched it travel through my body via X rays until it was expelled.
During my 11th year, my mother’s father died. He had sclerosis from alcoholism. One year later my father entered a retreat in Vermont. They discovered he was alcoholic, bi-polar and mildly schizophrenic. My father lost his teaching position and my mother divorced him. In turn she was excommunicated from the church. We all stopped going. Within a few years she had converted to Judaism. My father would not leave our house and 5 days before Christmas he hit my mother and the police took him to jail. My brother was 18. He protected my mother that night. I had my first drink within the next year with my best east coast friend Brenda,:scotch and apple juice. The first time I was throwing up drunk was during my thirteenth year: Bacardi and Diet Coke. I can’t drink either to this day without gagging. The first time I tried to smoke pot was with Brenda. We stole a plant from my brother’s room and smoked it without drying it out. We had no idea how to smoke pot. I pretended to be high and crashed my bike into a field, just to make her laugh.
Bridge of my nose - shovel in the garden
Right knee - fell off bicycle into bushes
Right knee back - dragged by sister under woodstove
Right thigh - fell off granite wall onto glass
Right big toe - dropped pile of wood on foot
Right wrist - mirror accident after play “French Toast”
Left palm - hand through window at my apartment
Left shin - running on bleaches in cleats
Left cheek - burned with a curling iron
Inside right cheek - dog bite
Middle finger right hand - cigarette
"The sleep of reason
brings forth monsters."