I missed last week because of the flu. It started out as a sore throat and spots, but it soon became clear that this was more than the usual strep outbreak. By the end of it, I lost my voice and ended up with a ruptured eardrum. That’s because it’s never just a respiratory illness for me. I am currently home fighting what’s left of it with a bottle of antibiotics and a pee pad. But let’s get down to business and the subject at hand.
Almonds are an amazing nut because they are used in so many things. They can be made into paste and baked into cookies. You can use their oil and their extract for many things. They can be made into milk and other food substitutes. I use almonds to replace the coconut that I can’t eat. You could say that almonds become things they were never meant to be.
Almonds make me think of being something you’re not, which makes me think of masks, which makes me think of a time when I was forced into a role I hated. No, I’m not talking about my dad trying to force me to be female and making up all sorts of assumptions based on the body parts I never wanted. I’m talking about the other experience that I had around that same time.
I know several people around my age who are longing to go back to the late 90s. They watch the old shows and remember a time when they were happier. Or at least they think they were happier. In all likelihood, they were just as miserable then as they are now. Nostalgia tends to blot out the misery when you need it the most.
Think about where you were in the late 90s. Were you even alive? If you were, were you an adult or a child? If you were like me, you were hormonal, covered in acne, and in constant pain due to severe depression and lack of self-esteem.
Yeah, you can watch X-Files and wish you were still living in a fantasy your mind has created for you, but I remember there were two seasons beyond the spot where that damn show should have ended and everyone hated them. I remember what it was like to have a face that was property of OPEC and a body that smelled of fish and old soup, no matter how much you showered. But let’s all go back to the late 90s when everything was supposedly so much better. Don’t fool yourself, 40-somethings. It wasn’t!
My biggest memory of that time period was her, the one who will remain nameless. She was the darling of the city of Portland and everyone loved her. She once gave this performance that was so iconic that everyone remembered where they were when it happened, and they are more than happy to share that story with you, no matter how much you don’t want to hear it.
She certainly had me. In fact, she was all I saw. With her manipulative craphole of a performance, she managed to staple a mask over my face and mold me into something she wanted me to be. We were the best of friends and she was always my number one fan… Only she wasn’t. When I look back on our relationship, she was always sabotaging me and leaving me humiliated.
No, I was just another toy to her. She plays with her toys until they break, and I was no exception. When she grew bored with me, she decided to use her minions to get rid of me. I’d finally made it to her inner sanctum and was about to devote my life to her when she sent them after me. They came with vicious rumors, nepotism, and other nasty goodies that made it clear that I wasn’t wanted.
She expected me to be cut down, maybe even to the point of suicide. What she didn’t expect is that I would take her down with me, nor that I would respond with such fury that there was no escaping it. No, that was her job. None of her other victims had ever responded with her own game, yet here I was.
I walked away from her the night of a violent thunderstorm that was one of the worst the local sheriff had ever seen, and he’d been in the area for forty years. No, I’m not saying I caused the storm, but I am saying it definitely demonstrated my anger over her betrayal. I can’t help but feel that she got a little taste of what she left me with when she was hoping to leave me with pain.
It wasn’t the last time I dealt with her, either. When I came back to face her down, she was furious to see that not only was my sabotaging mask gone, I was standing strong. None of her other toys ever came back. They were too far gone to care.
I can remember them clearly. There was the old man who loved her deeply. He spent his whole life in her territory and devoted his whole life to her. In fact, he was so smitten with this image of deceptive beauty that when the experts came to warn him of her games, he refused to believe them. In the end, she grew bored with him and buried him alive.
Then there was the scientist who was one of the ones giving that warning. He became entranced, coming to see her every chance he got. He’d received plenty of warnings, showing up in the wrong place at the right time and just missing her fury and her games. But none of this discouraged him. In the end, he was so intertwined with her energy that he only watched in amazement as she slammed down upon him. They never saw him again.
The games continue to this day, and she’s found more toys to play with until they break. I’ve encountered a young Portland resident online who is so entranced with her that she is all he talks about. He calls others of her kind “boring” and insults anyone who doesn’t worship her the way he does. I know what’s coming for him, and there is nothing I can do about it. So I chose to walk away.
I don’t deal with her anymore. However, the results of her meddling are still felt whenever I venture near her territory. I’m not actually allowed there anymore. Bad things happen when I set foot in that territory, and I can’t help but feel I’m tempting fate. So no more Portland. No more forest. No more mountain. I’m better off without them.
But we were talking about almonds, weren’t we? Or was it late 90s nostalgia? Is it a forties thing to want to go back to your teens and early twenties? It seems like it’s people my age and slightly older who are doing it. They want to remember when Friends was on and they didn’t have kids or worries. But they did, they’ve just forgotten.
I suppose I should thank her for the favor she did without ever meaning to. I will never be nostalgic for the late 90s because this is when she ruled over me like a puppet master. When I wasn’t under her control, I was subject to the ridicule of Dad, who was just as big a manipulator and equally as nasty. Only difference was that he wasn’t as smart, so I saw around him.
I believe in karma. It comes for you someday, whether it be good or bad. In the case of Dad, whom I have spoken of long enough, it ate him alive. The day he died, he weighed over 400 pounds, everything he touched was covered in brown slime, and he smelled of rotten pickles. The man was a disgusting shadow of his former self, and he deserved it.
Karma came for her, too, but in much more painful ways. I won’t go into detail here, just know she was hurting and I listened to her screams in silence. No, I didn’t take pleasure in her suffering, but I wasn’t going to stand up and help her, either. I simply watched.
I don’t forgive. I don’t forget. Those who say that we should have never suffered with the kind of abuse that was heaped upon me by her. Their biggest experience with wrongdoing is someone stealing a candy bar from their pantry. You never hear an abuse victim forgive or forget. I honestly believe that it’s impossible once you cross a certain line.
But we were talking about almonds, weren’t we? It’s funny where the brain travels when you let it off the rails and let it run on its own. Almonds are one of my favorite nuts, and they spark all sorts of weird thoughts in my head.
There was the time many years ago, when I was four years old and got a gum machine for Christmas. It was one of those little ones that you put pennies in to get a gumball. Well, I decided to fill it with almonds, which ended up jamming up the whole machine.
Mom got mad at me and told me that if I ever did it again, she’d take the machine away from me. Well, nothing came of it for many months. One day, however, Mom came to get a gumball and the machine dispensed a stray almond leftover from the incident. I remember being upset because I was afraid I was going to get in trouble.
Mom wasn’t always abusive, certainly not like Dad, but she had her moments. She would explode much like she who will remain nameless, and the aftermath was horrific. I remember being relieved when this didn’t happen and Mom just thought it was funny. It was a big relief, but it was also baffling.
This was the first sign that Mom was recovering from the divorce, which left her depressed and hopeless. She started going out with friends and going to club meetings with the Science Fiction Club. We spent three happy years after that.
No, the years were never perfect. We lived in a one-parent household, which didn’t always worked out with school activities designed by people who grew up in the 1950s. Bullies roamed the neighborhood and the adults were oblivious to their actions. There was this strange obsession among the parents with nakedness and how “dirty” it was.
But despite these weird things, we were happy. We had Dr. Demento and Monty Python every Friday night. We watched bad sci-fi movies with the Science Fiction Club on weekends. We saw Haley’s Comet through a telescope, traveled in a stagecoach at a state park, and barked at sea lions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. For all you 40-somethings headed for the late 90s, please drop me off in the mid-80s on your way. That’s when I was happy “back then.”
Dad ruined that. He needed someone to use up, so he convinced Mom that her kids were messed up and it was because we only had one parent. And she was stupid enough to believe him. I honestly think she was looking for something she could never have, which was evidenced by her letter to him a couple years later where she was trying to get him to fall in love again.
That man never loved you, Mom. Love does stupid shit to people, and those around them are left as the casualties. Whether it is some hopeless romantic trying to get back together with an abuser or one of those couples that is so devoted to each other that they can’t see anything around them, the bombs drop and people are hurt. Anyone ever wonder why I’m aromantic?
There are two ways you’re going to get punched around me. One is to say that there is someone out there for everyone and everyone falls in love. The other is to tell me that one-parent households are unhealthy. Both were proven wrong to me.
Almonds. We were talking about almonds. Well, I guess we were never talking about almonds, they were just a tool to get my brain moving to write this blog post. The lesson I have to leave you with? Yeah, don’t be something you’re not. You could get burned.
That’s what the manipulators look for, the people who don’t know who they are and are vulnerable to the puppet strings. Dad did it to Mom. The one who will remain nameless did it to me. Know who and what you are, be proud of that person, and don’t let anyone tell you that you’re something else. That’s the only advice I can give.