A year later, and June is still rainy. I’m back in Jersey City. I’m still gainfully unemployed or almost kind of self employed, (half full in social circles, half empty to qualify me for state aid.) But, I can look back on the last year and know that I followed my passion, my dreams.I was documenting one of the greatest metal bands in Cuba, indeed, one of the greatest metal bands in the world. I was infused in heavy metal, I was making a documentary. I made several mistakes; foolish, immature mistakes. I didn’t have the best back up system filming and as a result, paid heavily for restoring data. I was selfish at times, unorganized at others, possibly dishonest for a second or two. I probably could have managed my money better, organized my files more professionally, but, to my credit, I did not break the ocean. I didn’t ruin the world for years to come because of my corporate greed. I didn’t single handedly wipe out entire species, and I feel in this light, in this perspective, not only should I cut myself a little slack, but, I have earned some kind of entitlement to remind everyone of exactly how incredible I am.
I am striving to find one good thing, one thing that will alleviate anxiety and anger over the BP catastrophe.
I left my sister’s in New Jersey for Cuba, July 5th, 2009, and returned to her house March 25th, 2010 to document hardcore Cuban band Escape. For those of you about to run through the months and count on your fingers like I just did, it’s 9 months. Enough to have a baby. If, with the intention of creating life or oops!, you fuck someone in July, you could very well have an Aries baby. And this is my baby. The filming, the documenting, the staying awake all night, the drinking obscene amounts of vodka, the smoking with reckless disregard for my lungs, the relentless drinking of coffee, the open embrace of all my vices; my tone deaf life as a rock star was my pregnancy. And now I’m raising the baby. The brain damaged, chemically dependent baby.
Exactly as I would respond to an actual newborn of my own, I arrived in New Jersey with the hard drive wrapped in a blanket willing to give it to the first stranger who showed slight interest. Here, take this, I offered. Sell it on the black market. Somewhere, there is a narrative arc, punctuated by touching moments. I was ready to escape Escape.
Many of my friends have human babies. Some babies are brand new and some have lost their novelty. At either stage, watching my men friends with their children makes me understand the extent to which my own father neglected me and my siblings. Not in a way where I feel sorry for myself, clearly it’s nice to see where my penchant for making the worst possible choices in men comes from, but realizing how much I missed out on is liberating.
I watch my friends be fathers and I’m thinking how well adjusted I would be if I grew up with kindness and encouragement from a male figure. Granted, my family reads like the table of contents for a self help book, but now I see, without all that coddling and parenting, I’m a nice person anyway. And so is my mother. And so are my brother and my sister. In spite of someone, on the lowest rung of the evolutionary ladder who contributed to our genetic make up, we all got the good genes. And none of us went on the break the ocean. None of us decided, this underwater oil rig isn’t really safe, but since it will cost too much money to fix, we’ll risk it. We’ll risk the ocean. Dick Cheney’s heart has failed us all.
My father tried to contact me once, maybe 12 years after he left. He sent an email. Not a card with a check in it. A penniless email. I want reparations.
“It’s so crazy how we don’t talk,” he wrote. “You should really get to know your sister.” Once he didn’t feel like raising or financially supporting our family, he just went and made a new one.
I didn’t respond. I didn’t care. Or I didn’t care until now. Now, now that I realize how great it would be to have a father, (and I am still looking if anyone is interested) how great it would have been at the age of 5,6, 7 etc? But, I’m not still angry. What can you do?
Dick Cheney and Tony Hayward should not get a new tie today. No child should thumb around a piece of clay before putting it in the kiln uncertain of it’s outcome as an ash tray or turtle shell on their behalf. Dick Cheney’s daughter should donate money to this year’s Lillith Fair or better yet, Green Peace. These fathers should be shunned, not only this weekend, but at the 4th of July picnic festivities as well. Their wives should not excuse them for their neglect of all the children in the world by breaking the ocean and ruining the economy for hundreds of thousands of families.
Growing up without a father, like if your dad is dead and he’s just not there, is the mathematical equivalent of zero. In the face of growing up with the mathematical equivalent of negative, not only doesn’t he pull his weight as dad, but he makes it more difficult for you, it’s inspiring how kind my mother and sister and brother are. And, well, I guess me. And I don’t think this resilience, this triumph of the human spirit, is particular to my family, but I think it’s a human quality most of the time.
And maybe, collectively, in the face of this negative infinity paternal neglectful oil catastrophic disaster, we are going to, not rise up, I almost typed rise up but that would have been too Marie Claire Cheney, come together? Overcome? Maybe we are going to do something that is not selfish and ugly, but together, and it will move humanity forward, even though we won’t be able to eat crawfish ever again.
For my part on Father’s day, I’ll tend to my baby. I’ll go through files, deleting what detracts from the story and organizing what moves the narrative. I’ll rework my grant application so baby can eat. I’ll play the role of both parents, editor and producer, lovingly, unsparingly, selflessly just like my mother did for the three of us all our lives.