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6:16 PM - Fri 11.6.15
I (Don't) Remember Mama

I (Don't) Remember Mama

I've been thinking about writing a lot this week, which suggests I want to...but then avoiding it, which suggests I don't.

That happens a lot - which usually means 1) I'm depressed, 2) there's so much going on in my head, "sorting it out" here seems too daunting, or 3) both.


Got back in town around noon Monday (Though waiting in baggage claim, then waiting for my shuttle, meant actually getting home sometime around 2-2:30).

The trip to VA was great fun - Though the need to get up in the middle of the night to fly there, then do the same thing to fly back, was part of what made it feel like "I wasn't there long enough" (I don't know if I needed a whole week to feel "satisfied", but an extra day might have been nice - the ratio of somewhat-unpleasant travel time to pleasant vacation time was "off", in my mind).

I said in my last entry that Gregg had wanted to take me out on his boat on Sunday, but the weather had other plans? Well, things cleared up enough that the two of us did end up going out on his boat, and that was really nice (Interesting note - Gregg lives on a man-made lake, and Tony has a man-made pond on his property. I think that means I'm going to have to end up by the ocean out here in order to keep the brotherly "water theme" going. But I already see the flaw in my plan - Far as I know, the Pacific Ocean wasn't "man-made").

Like Tony, Gregg is a Christian (We didn't go to church Sunday morning, like I did with Tony's family, but we did listen to Pastor John Hagee on TV - when I was clearly not impressed, because me and the pastor don't exactly agree regarding the pressing political issues of the day, it became a running joke for Gregg that, happily, I'd still have access to Hagee's preaching when I got back home).

Gregg did "witness" to me some while I was there (Particularly on Sunday, while we were on the boat, then when we got home), and amused me hugely by saying (more than once), in a sage tone-of-voice, "I don't think you're as much of an atheist as you think you are".

While I didn't have a big problem with it (In part because Gregg wasn't being a dick about it), I also wasn't too hesitant about expressing my own views on the matter of Christianity (In short, even if I'm really not "as much of an atheist as I think I am" - an extremely debatable premise - I'll never be a Christian, because the story makes absolutely no sense, and "Yahweh" is, along with many of his followers, kind of an asshole...though I wasn't that blunt about it to Gregg. At least I don't think I was).

Sat 11/7/15 (4:27 pm)

Was thinking after my trip how "I don't like travel" - Being in a new place is fun, but "getting there" feels tiring and arduous (even preparing to go feels stressful) - but I quickly realized that it's not that "I don't like travel" as much as "I don't like travelling as a poor person".

Like many other aspects of my life, everything I found objectionable about my recent experience would have been changed by an injection of money (If it didn't matter how much the ticket cost, I could have left any time I wanted. And the flight would have felt "like part of the vacation" if I could have afforded first-class - as it stood, Gregg sprung for the bulk of my ticket, btw, which I was very grateful for - and I wouldn't have worried so much about packing/forgetting something if I didn't have to think about paying for checked bags).

(Feel like I need to clarify - I rode on American Airlines this time out, economy, and it actually wasn't bad. Yes, my experience with business class for the Shameless shoot was pretty great, but AA economy wasn't bad...certainly a damned site better than Spirit, the last time I went back to Lansing, which was bad enough to feel kind-of degrading.)

But if "getting there" was so-so, "being there" was very nice. It was lovely meeting Gregg and Kelly - and their friends - and it felt good to "get away" (I didn't realize how much I "needed a break" until Sunday night, when it hit me, pretty hard, that I didn't really want to go back to LA the next day...or the next month, for that matter).

I think I said in here that this would be the 2nd time for each of us "meeting a brother for the first time".

But while technically true - I visited Tony and his family three years ago, while Craig (My only full sibling) lived with Gregg's family for a time - Craig (Who Mom called "Kelly", which was his middle name) only lived with Gregg's family a short time when Gregg was a toddler, and Gregg doesn't really remember him.

Memories were a big deal to me on Tuesday, during therapy - The good doctor has kind of been waiting for me to get upset, and I finally obliged him.

Thinking about Gregg and Tony, and how they are both more put-together adults than I am, with homes and careers and families and such (I think I referred to them as "real men" during the session), I was pondering why that was the case.

And the biggest thing I could think of that they had in common growing up (that I didn't) were their loving moms, whom they both speak well of.

(Their fathers, meanwhile, sucked pretty bad, though at least Tony's Dad apparently limited his abuse of my mother to the verbal, while Gregg's Dad - my Dad, though I feel like I should put "Dad" in quotes - once smashed a glass beer stein on the floor so forcefully that a piece of shrapnel hit his mother in the leg, leading to a trip to the emergency room and stitches.)

Their childhoods were not exactly idyllic, but all along, they had at least one parent in their life who provided some degree of love and security.

So I started talking about Mrs DeHaven, who I lived with for about eight years (After being put into the foster-care system at about a year old).

I don't remember exactly what I said, but the gist of it was "She was the only mother I ever had...and I don't remember her".

And it made me cry.


Sun 11/8/15 (5:20 pm)

I've often thought about memory - in particular, how people remember their childhoods.

I've read a lot of autobiographies, and I've always been amazed when people seem to remember their childhoods in minute detail, because I definitely do not.

My memories of childhood are, at best, just a handful of disconnected anecdotes, and since I've gotten older - and come to understand the fluidity/malleability of memory - I've often wondered if those anecdotes bear any resemblance to what really happened (Which is one reason it was cool getting my foster-care "case file" some years back, and seeing some of the things I remember actually made it into "the official record").

So all I really have left of Mrs DeHaven (aka "Mom") are a few memories of things that maybe/probably happened, though - case file aside - there's no one to ask and no way to be sure.

I have no memory of "who she was" as a person - what she liked, disliked, what her interests were, her basic temperament, her weird habits, anything - or how she was with me (Was she kind? Was she strict? Did she play with me? Did we do anything together? I don't remember).

I've said often she was my "Mother" - cause if not her, then who? - but I don't have real, visceral memory of her as my mother.

She's really more of an "intellectual concept" at this point than anything.

...and my mind just jumped from this to someone I work with recently expressing that I was sort of "lucky" to not have parents (As she deals with the inevitable decline and death of her elderly Mom and Dad).

It's certainly not the first time I've heard that - Even thought it myself last weekend, as Gregg recounted what he remembered of our Father - but the idea that I'm "lucky" because I'm not going to experience the decline and death of my parents?

Well...yes and no.

On the one hand, I'm going to get to skip an experience that is deeply sad and life-altering (I imagine the entire world changes for people when their parents - whatever the nature of the relationship - are gone).

And who wouldn't mind skipping serious grief and loss (or even more complicated, upsetting feelings, if the relationship was fraught with difficulties)?

On the other hand, I'm going to miss an experience that is deeply sad and life-altering, skipping over a life experience that changes one's view of the world and one's place in it...that almost every adult goes through.

(My biological mother is going to die, clearly - and "Dad" died sometime in the 90s - but just as clearly, since I have zero memories of her, it won't register as "losing a parent" in any normal sense, because that ship sailed before I was a year old.)

It's a deeply human experience...that I will never have. Most of you will, if you haven't already, but if you tell me about it, I'll express my condolences - because I know that's what one does, and I intellectually understand it's a sad occasion - but I won't really know what you're going through.

It's one of the things that makes me feel not-quite-human, which is how I've felt all my life really (There's a reason I used to joke about "being created in a laboratory", or about "my rocket-ship crash-landing in West Virginia").

Though in more recent years, the "Jim-As-Alien" feeling has subsided somewhat, replaced by a "Jim-Is-Trapped-In-Amber-And-Getting-Nowhere" motif (Getting nowhere but, annoyingly enough, still continuing to age).

For a long time, when I was younger, I knew things didn't seem "right", that I was not "right" somehow, but I assumed I wasn't always going to feel that way, that - somehow - "things were going to work out".

They didn't.

And now it's too late.


(9:20 pm)

I've got things I have to do - clean my CPAP stuff (I'm started to get a little lax about it), and prepare for tomorrow's reading - but I don't want to do those things.

I want to do this.

When I got off the plane this past Monday, I had a message from the casting office on Shameless.

I returned the call while I was still at the airport - He was calling to tell me about an upcoming scene on the show, to check and see if I would be game for doing it.

In other words, looks like I'm getting what the Vodaphone commercial ultimately didn't provide me - the chance to do a deeply embarrassing scene I really don't want to do, but that I will do because I'm an actor, it's in the script, and that's my job.

So I know already, on the day in question, I will have to tell myself, "They gave you the option to opt out. It's your choice that you're doing this, Olivier...!".

(I'll spare you the details, because...well, just because. I'll just say that what I'll be doing on the day in question would constitute a nightmare for many of you.)

It's a profoundly strange position to be in - "I want to put myself through this...because I really don't want to put myself through this" - but here I am.

But now I have to put myself through finding some books to read tomorrow, and cleaning my CPAP stuff (Which reminds me - I need to make an appointment to see my Doctor, and discuss why the CPAP hasn't made any fucking difference in my sleep).


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