Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mental Case Jane

It is Mental Case Jane's mother's birthday--
this is sort of like tax day and some sort of Chinese earthquake
all rolled up into one big ball of whee.

Mental Case Jane puts down her paint brushes, puts on her boots, and drives her 1998 hunk of shit up to the drug store.
The cards say
"For a mother who is also my best friend..."
"Thank you for always being there for me..."
Mental Case Jane can't find one that doesn't lie its head off,
but sits cross legged in the greeting card aisle braying like a donkey at the preposterous sentiments,
tears of merriment rolling down her cheeks as if she were at the circus watching the clowns' fire wagon routine.

"Mom, being your daughter is like..."
...like death by a thousand cuts, thinks Mental Case Jane,
but she was raised to observe conventions and so she keeps searching.
However, she is distressing other customers by moaning like a cow caught in a fence,
and finally a clean cut young man wearing a name tag asks her to leave.

Back home, Mental Case Jane goes back to her paints. 
Her long black hair and the bow of her eyeglasses are speckled and streaked
with saffron,
magenta,
and indigo smears
from adjusting and swiping at them with her hand as she works.
When she was five, she drew her mother a birthday card.
Astigmatic, near-sighted Jane, with the lines going all over the place,
and the "I love you" scrunched mostly up at the right border,
received instruction and art criticism from her mother, who laughed and asked,
"Is that the best you can do?" then walked away.

Mental Case Jane resolved never to make crappy art again,
and became a master, a creative angel of whom thousands are jealous.
"The bitch just drops a brush on the ground and it bounces up and makes masterpieces by accident," carps an admirer.
Her mother, distracted and barely paying attention, asks "Oh,
are you still doing that?"

Mental Case Jane has filled a thousand canvases;
she has slept with dozens of older women, searching with both
for something to plug her leaking heart.
It is Mental Case Jane's mother's birthday--
Jane is sober,
talented,
self-sustaining,
and buried under a ton of rubble like a Chinaman,
calling.
______

14 comments:

Sioux said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
hedgewitch said...

Frankly, birthdays and holidays for me, are for other people, and I have learned to unplug myself from the unrealistic expectations we're brought up to cherish regarding how the interactions they bring are some sort of symbol of our own worth. Wanting what you painfully and repeatedly have learned you can't have is a thankless, endless, reward-less task, and life is too short. Better to paint in your real colors, and care for those who actually can care back, if you happen to be lucky enough to run across them. So I hope Jane keeps painting, and doesn't worry about doing better, because she already does more than a thousand 'perfect' daughters to give back to her world the things that really matter.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh, kiddo, I so know. I LOVE "great big ball of whee". And the braying like a donkey and moaning like a cow over all the pretty sentiments. Horrible, how devastating a mother's response is on a child's tender heart. As always, you tell it like no one else can. You are a star in my sky. Keep shining.

TexWisGirl said...

it is amazing the damage a parent can do...

Far Beyond The Ridge said...

My thoughts are all over the place on this one, so look out!
1st, i loved crazy jane for sitting cross legged n braying, then i disliked her for even trying to go on with convention. And now i'm suspicious of her motives for doing things i find naturally beautiful.
I'm not even sure i'm happy she struck pay dirt in the paint fields.
I'm not sure what i want for crazy jane, but can't help but love her.
Maybe i just want her to paint an ugly card and scribble fuck you in the corner.
Then fly away, fly away from it all.
~rick

Shadow said...

...and so the scarring begins.

Kerry O'Connor said...

You know how to really dig through the shite of relationships, and do not hesitate to throw what you find our way. I hope you always remain this uncompromising!

Mama Zen said...

Nobody and nobody buries Jane.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Funny and poignant. I know how Jane feels, kind of. Glad she found paint and can make all kinds of worlds as an alternative to the one she was given.

Great job, La Shay.

Cloudia said...

" The cards say
"For a mother who is also my best friend..."
"Thank you for always being there for me..."
Mental Case Jane can't find one that doesn't lie its head off,
but sits cross legged in the greeting card aisle braying like a donkey at the preposterous sentiments, "


You & me!


Aloha from Honolulu,

Comfort Spiral
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HermanTurnip said...

"Mental Case Jane can't find one that doesn't lie its head off"

I wrote a short story about a guy who would print out his own custom greeting cards with terrible but truthful facts in them and serendipitously place them in Hallmark stores. Will have to resurrect that character again. I really liked him...

nene said...

I echo Sherry's comments about how a mother's smallest reaction can imprint on a childs heart.

Most impactful is the absence of a mothers presence in anyway.

The search lasts a lifetime in any place in spite of cold and darkness

I have searched in those caverns of darkness

Your artful articulation of this is heartfelt in me

Graccias mi amiga

Daryl said...

hedgewitch said it perfectly ..

Lolamouse said...

Keep digging out of that rubble, MCJ! As a daughter and as a mother, I know how a thoughtless word can sting. I only hope that my apologies (and there have been many) to my own daughter will mitigate the crazies somewhat.