Archive for family

Big Love and Milk

Posted in family, film with tags , , , , on January 25, 2009 by darcyarts

Frank and I went out to Prime 11 Cinema Friday to see Milk.

Of the the five movies that have been nominated for academy awards Milk is the one I really wanted to see.

I love Leonardo Di Caprio so I was all ready for Revolutionary Road, too, but the Academy has failed to acknowledge Leo and that bums me out.

I guess I’ll still see the film. I am a cinema lover and I deeply appreciate Prime 11’s great feat in simultaneously bringing four academy award nominees to screens in Shasta County.

I love good movies and I love Gus Van Sant and Milk covers familiar territory. Frank and I left San Francisco and took our Santa Barbara break just days before the assasinations.

Things looked pretty good. The boys were styled very realistically, no fright wigs. Sean Pean did a great job as Harvey Milk even though it is impossible to recreate the shining soul power of special people.

Nobody will ever be able to capture the true essence of Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Buckley or Dizzie Gillespie. 

I loved the tangle of relationships in the film. It brought back so many memories. And they mentioned the Stud.

Writer, Dustin Lance Black, should receive an award for having the best name since Diablo Cody. I admire Black’s work.

He made this season of Big Love very compelling. I love all the actors on that show and find it really entertaining.

The series deals with themes of love, faithfulness, the purpose and meaning of marriage, suburban living, selflessness, etc. and we see these things through the lens of alternate belief systems.

It’s all the more interesting to know that it is the brain child of two creatively endowed gay men, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, and Dustin Lance Black came along for the ride.



Posted in family, socialization with tags , , on December 6, 2008 by darcyarts


Back on the patio. You can see it’s screened in.

Joe and Alberta never had children. They slept in separate rooms. I don’t know what that meant for them. Uncle Joe was much older than Alberta.

Her nickname was Babytot. That’s what my grandmother, Kathleen, called her. They were very close.

Kathleen and Harry are my father’s parents.

Family gatherings are strange. How did we, the above group, come together?

My Uncle Joe, being a pastry chef and Italian, grew up in a culture where people gathered around the dinner table and ate long leisurely meals.

One thing I enjoyed about being at Alberta and Joe’s, in addition to the food, were the aromas of things that we didn’t have in our home. There was the smell of old fashioned soap made of lard and lye. There was the smell of panetone when Christmas was near. There was the smell of baked beans. I loved them. I haver never tasted anything like them. They were kind of sweet but not like the things you can buy in cans. They were baked until they were dry and had a unique flavor that even now I can’t identify.

There were half gallons of ice cream in the freezer. Alberta would unfold the tabs on the square paper container and just slice off an inch thick slice and put it on a plate. No bowls. No scooping. It made sense.

There were pine nuts, chicken, cakes. Everybody seemed fairly relaxed. It seemed like real family. Not forced, although Kathleen never got along with Gertrude. Usually Gertrude stayed home.

My dad and uncle are incarcerated or in the process of getting that way at this time. My mother, age 21, was finding out she had cancer of some reproductive organ and I believe giving birth to another sister I never knew.

I had been sick with tuberculous for a spell sometime between my first and second year of life. When I was ready to be released from the hospital, ready to leave behind the weekly chest xrays, the shots and the solitude. I could not be around other children for a while so my grandparents came and took me to live with them.

I was told that I would talk to no one for six months after I left the hospital and moved to my grandparents house.

Something broke the dam of silence and I became quite chatty, they said.



This is a picture of my great-grandmother, Marie, my mother Terry, my grandmother Kathleen, my sister Colleen and I. This must have been after I was let out of the hospital. Was it before my sister was given up and then reclaimed by my grandparents? There is no date on the picture but I’m younger than in the picture above. My mother and Colleen must have been visiting me. There is no one left who knows. 

My mother visited my grandparents house just before she died. I was seven. She seemed like a stranger. Not very interested in me at all.

I can’t blame her. She was ripped off, sick and soon to be dead at 27.

My father had been a friend of her brother’s. She had been a teenage girl in a convent when he first met her.

He never treated her right. He was a mean, self-absorbed ass. It’s the truth. Some people are creeps.

She had a twin brother named Chuck, Charles. Their last name is Bourbon. All the many brothers and sisters (16) were named for kings and queens. James, Charles, George, etc. My mother’s name was Margaret but she took the name Teresa in the convent and she was Terry afterward.

Chuck came to visit my sister Colleen and I  a couple of times after my mother died. He was cool. He hated my dad.

I can’t blame him, either.

He often visted Terry’s grave. She was buried under a beautiful tree in a memorial park in Glendora. She chose the spot before she died.

I met up with my uncle again. I was a young woman living and working in Santa Barbara. Chuck came into the coffee shop where I worked the graveyard shift.  In the wee hours of the morning I poured coffee for a good looking man 20 years older than me. he looked up at me and said “Do you know who I am.”

I looked at him, looked in his eyes. I felt his energy.

“You’re Chuck. My uncle,” I said, a little surprised that I remembered after all that time. But I did. He was familiar and had a face like the mother I must have buried deep in my mind, deep in some far away corner of my heart.

Pink Roses, Peaches and Food

Posted in family, socialization with tags , , on December 4, 2008 by darcyarts

albertasThe woman sitting in the center of this photograph from 1955 or 1956 is named Alberta. She’s sitting beside the woman standing. That’s Kathleen, my grandmother. Kathleen was a fashion plate. She is wearing cat-eye glasses. They may have had rhinestones set in them.

I am the youngest member of this luncheon party.

Clockwise from the curious, wiggly, little-child me,  is my beloved greatgrandma, Marie. Next to her is my grandfather, Harry. Beside Harry, the person connected to the black shoulder, the nose and one side of an eyeglass is his mother, Gertrude. Then Alberta, Kathleen, Harry’s red-headed wife and then Bob, Gertrude’s husband.

The person taking the picture is Alberta’s husband Joe, or Guisepi. He was a pastry chef who worked at Hollywood Park racetrack or was it Santa Anita?. Back in the day they must have had a full kitchen, restaurant or food service.

Alberta was a big woman, very kind, and stoic. She’d experienced alot of pain. You can see it on her face. Once, on a Christmas Eve, before I knew her, she was hit by a drunk driver as she crossed the street. That was in Chicago, I imagine, where she and Joe and Marie, her sister lived. They’d gone up state from Peoria to the big city.

Alberta spent years recovering but afterwards always walked with a strange gait. She wore lovely heavy ladies shoes that looked like they were well made sometime in the ’40s. She had a funny laugh. One of those that when it got started kept going like a car that wheezes and jumps and won’t quite shut off. She grew orangey-pink roses in her back yard, the one above, in Lakewood, California. She had a peach tree, too.

I would wander in her little back yard drinking in all the colors and textures and scents of the sweet fruit and flowers. Somehow the memory of the soft rose petals and the soft fuzz on the peaches is melded with the memory of Alberta’s perfumed and powdered, lightly rouged cheeks.

I see that my sister is not yet with us. Colleen, was born a year and a half after me. It must have been very close to the time that my grandparents fetched her from where ever she was being kept after my mother gave her up.

More later. Off to do errands.

Photographic Memory

Posted in dreams, socialization, writing with tags , , , , , on November 24, 2008 by darcyarts

melivingroommirrorThis past year I have been conjuring familial/historical recollections based around a series of photographs. I’ve exhausted nearly all the photos that remained in my possession.

Don’t I look like a muppeteer?

I recently proposed a joint project to my daughter, Jessica. She’s in possession of the leopard print box that contains our family photo collection. I asked her to choose small batches of photos, things that she is curious about and I will tell her the stories behind them.

The first batch arrived Friday.

I’ll start with this photo on the bumpy paper that reflects light. Brian is holding his University of Iowa notebook. That is where we lived, Iowa City. Their father and I were attending the University and we started out in the barely livable cinder block student family housing. We shared the small two bedroom place with an epic number of cockroaches. It was kinda grewsome, not the cushiest environment.

jessicabrianuofiowahousing Here, we see a two-or-three year-old Miss Jessica and her brother Brian.  He would be six or seven years old. They are both cutting up for the camera.

Jessica is standing on a chair and seems to be remembering when her little body had other powers. You can see it in her eyes.

As a small child it seemed as if she was a little disappointed to find herself back in the world and hindered from doing her full thing by having to spend time in a child’s body.

She wasn’t interested in television. Loved to climb, to dress up and be a tad theatrical on occasion, but in a self-possessed, stealth, two-year-old way.

The housing was creepy but the kids had lots of other kids to play with and a little playground right outside their door. Despite the massive snowfall which seemed to come in October and leave in May, they were out there playing. In the summer the weather could turn horribly hot and extremely humid.

Brian loved being physical, running, jumping but he loved the social interactions, too. Brian made friends with everyone who seemed to really need a friend. He was kind and fair and a deep thinker even then. He and I had great discussions about the nature of the spiritual world in the kitchen of the apartment here.

Jessica asked about the playhouse opened on the bench behind her in this photo. It came from the Goodwill on the main street which, looking at a map was probably Iowa Street. All the toys at this Goodwill, no matter what size, shape, or weight, cost 25 cents. We eventually had a roomful of them.

Here is a photo I’m adding. It was taken in our bedroom in Iowa City.  I liked to adorn Jessica with headresses when she was a little bitty thing. This is actually a rolled up yellow T-shirt. Perhaps I must have been responding to some part of her personality or a vague memory of her past life as a royal. Or maybe I’m just trying to match her to the Keith Richards photo, or recalling my fave Keith look: him in a Bedouin type headdress.


Over the next couple of years Jessica  would insist on wearing dresses. She did not like pants or overalls or any practical, long lasting play clothes. She wanted frilly, girly things. 

When I was a child I detested being dressed up like a doll. My granny loved to buy outfits and we had to wear them on every special occasion. I felt naked with my legs exposed. I wanted pants.

At that time girls had to wear dresses or skirts to school. Convention, conformity are linked in my mind with dresses and skirts. I will get tarted up in my own fashion.

Jessica has managed her own fashion sense very well, too.

She’s a cool dresser.



How did we end up in Iowa City?

I had finished a year and a half at Fullerton Junior College with a 3.8 GPA. I had planned to attend U. C. Berkeley and was admitted provisionally. I was required to get a C in all my classes.  I was on my fourth straight math class. Everything after Intro to Algebra seemed like the most intense gibberish. I got a “D” in Statistics.

I was also accepted at U. C. Irvine but my then-husband Doug had already quit his job and did not want to stay in Orange County. I wanted to be a writer. I hated math. I was impulsive and impractical. So, off we went to the University of Iowa.

We were spending lots of borrowed money to go to school and we were very poor. We were sell-your-blood poor and Doug got pissed when I went the first time and was too anemic to have my blood drawn. Such a romantic period.

I’m being sarcastic. It might have been a good experience if my partner had been up to the task but he resented our move from Seattle where we lived prior to Fullerton. Junior college was much cheaper in California than in Washington state. It may not have been the best idea to pull up stakes but I wanted an education.

Still, I had embarked on this journey and I worked very hard juggling all my responsibilities. 

I wanted to stuff myself with knowlege that would allow me to write and create interesting things. I had dreamed that I would be able to breeze right into the U of Iowa writing program. It was for graduates, so that was dumb, but after a semester in the Department of English, I found my way to Communications and studied film with the best teacher in the world Steve Wurtzler.

Wurtzler is an amazing teacher! The best I’ve ever had. If anyone reading this is considering going to college and you have a strong desire to learn about the world through film, and from a man who is passionate about it, please consider Georgetown University. Wurtzler has won numerous teaching awards. He’s created nine film classes in their English department. You will never regret it. He gives you the most wonderful political and sociological context for everything you learn. He’s organized, sincere and allows you great creative freedom.

He was the first person to love my writing.

 And just think at Georgetown, you’ll be close to Obama, too.

Man, I want to go back to school.