The more a daughter knows the details of her father’s life… the stronger the daughter.
by Paul Haeder / July 2nd, 2021
Balance. Inside out, outside in. From science driven diving, environmental warrior in the 1970s — in AZ, in Mexico, in the Sea of Cortez — to small-town daily newspaperman: Tucson, Bisbee, Wilcox, Sierra Vista, and all these small towns in several rural counties south, on the borderline. El Paso, New Mexico, Mexico, Central America.
Teacher, social worker, mescal-guzzler, photographer, aspiring failed novelist, always moving, always moving on, always distracted.
She’s seen me buoyant and busted. She’s heard me wax poetic and polemic. She’s admired me and feared me. She’s understood me and debated me. She’s heard me embrace her and argue with her.
There is no handbook, no guideposts for being a father . . . or to flip the script: there are no guiderails or throttle governors to learn how to be a daughter of a character like me!
her chin lifts
air of Chihuahua
sink into corner
clouds on wall
painted by Mario
beer in hand
the world his home
her room, sanctuary
daughter is innocence
odors of cumin
green giant chiles
thunderbird on mountain
one day a woman
alone at night
sounds of city
harsh, tumbling humanity
trapped, concrete prisons
she tastes poblano
eagle out there
wings of hope
— Paul Haeder, 7/2/2021
I was in Spokane, helping my amazing daughter get her small business going.
Lots of tough days with her father, me, always on the air, in print, hurly burly, angry at the world, alone writing, man lost of tribe, lone wolf, perfectionists, over college educated. Always flapping his lips.
She asked me, “Are you really proud of me, dad? I didn’t finish college? I am not this politically engaged and active person in Spokane. I am not the daughter you wanted, right.”
Shit, now that takes a 64-year-old know-it-all, big blustery dude like me down a few notches.
The reality is of course I am proud of her. Of course I am not disappointed about lack of a college matriculation. Of course I am not expecting in 2021 that college means much.
It is the father issue, for sure. Divorce. Other things in my daughter’s life that not only cemented her spirit into what we call CPTSD: complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Those are her stories to tell, though my daughter is self-actualized, open, and articulate about her struggles.
“Come to Dust”
Spirit, rehearse the journeys of the body
that are to come, the motions
of the matter that held you.
Rise up in the smoke of palo santo.
Fall to the earth in the falling rain.
Sink in, sink down to the farthest roots.
Mount slowly in the rising sap
to the branches, the crown, the leaf-tips.
Come down to earth as leaves in autumn
to lie in the patient rot of winter.
Rise again in spring’s green fountains.
Drift in sunlight with the sacred pollen
to fall in blessing.
All earth’s dust
has been life, held soul, is holy.
She is in Spokane, since age six, and alas, at 25 she’s feeling everything I lamented about and wrote about: small town now traffic snarled; pigs/cops hassling homeless; unchecked building (growth); water issues; broken down buildings; homes and rents out the roof; Californians (other big monied folk) swooping into town and the country buying up stuff, and hiking rents.
I was there, June 30, at a 112 degrees, 101 degrees in the dark of night at 1 am. Planned rolling blackouts by the electrical service, Avista. Roads cracking and buckling. Fireworks stands.
The show is over, with unfettered casino-predatory-disaster-zombie-parasitic capitalism.
Shit, how does a guy like me help a gal like her, 25, 500 miles away (I drove the 2006 van, which I have kept up, worked on it myself, called a sucker for having a rig with 230,000 original miles on it).
I wrote a poem for her, well, many in fact — Philosophy of a new-birthed esthetician/aesthetician
She’s also an amazing photographer, and she was my photographer for my magazine column — she did this starting at age 16!
Here, some photos of hers with one of my poems — Dystopia Blues – Who Will Write a Song about Ice Caps Melting When All Music Dies?
She’s an on-her-knees kind of photographer, but also right there, with a heart of empathy, for what Eduardo’s poem belies — “the nobodies”. Others call them/us — useless breathers, useless breeders and useless eaters. Makenna is there, in their spaces, and her own heart is so drawn into that unknowable force that makes some people “empaths.”
Fleas dream of buying themselves a dog, and nobodies dream of escaping
poverty: that one magical day good luck will suddenly rain down on
them—will rain down in buckets. But good luck doesn’t rain down
yesterday, today, tomorrow, or ever. Good luck doesn’t even fall in a
fine drizzle, no matter how hard the nobodies summon it, even if their
left hand is tickling, or if they begin the new day with their right
foot, or start the new year with a change of brooms.
The nobodies: nobody’s children, owners of nothing. The nobodies: the
no ones, the nobodied, running like rabbits, dying through life,
screwed every which way.
Who are not, but could be.
Who don’t speak languages, but dialects.
Who don’t have religions, but superstitions.
Who don’t create art, but handicrafts.
Who don’t have culture, but folklore.
Who are not human beings, but human resources.
Who do not have faces, but arms.
Who do not have names, but numbers.
Who do not appear in the history of the world, but in the police
blotter of the local paper.
The nobodies, who are not worth the bullet that kills them.”
― Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America
She’s stayed in Spokane and has enveloped herself in that part of the Inland Pacific Northwest, because of the fairy like worlds in the woods and in mountains and valleys:
The ecosystems — running water, lakes, mists, the dews, soggy soils — those are the victims of climate heating, bulldozers, human incursions. So, combine this formula after formula:
- bigger than life father
- mother an English teacher
- father on the radio, in the news, making it and writing it
- dad with full-throttle on boats, kayaks, motorcycles, diving, hiking
- a childhood with lots of leeway
- exposure to street life, and Spokane has a reputation of having tough lives on the street, and violence
- being a vegan and self-styled, she was bullied at k8-12
- mother hits the air to move to Australia
- father raising a pubescent girl while on his own, dating
- always railing against the systems of oppression father, well, not always a good bedside manner raising his only child
- father moving away — Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Oregon Coast!
I look back, and of course, this is not the life I envisioned, the relationship with a child I was banking on. I wasn’t even thinking of children. I cycled through relationships, and that includes four marriages. I am not prudish or Puritan about this at all, but the ramifications are huge. Hell, I am trained on ACES:
I’ve worked with youth for more than a decade as a social services provider. I have worked with adults who are coming out of prisons, are homeless, are facing addictions, and are poor. I know the epigentics of how even bodies (DNA) change under cortisol loads. I am there, understanding why some old guy with no teeth who just went off the wagon again, using meth, is bawling and apologizing. Old guy at 73, one of my clients when I worked with homeless vets. At 73, sliding into Meth in Portland. Everything goes to shit because he goes MIA for days.
I know these men and women, and they have a boatload of influences in their lives. They did not wake up one day, at age 14 or 21, say, “Man, I can’t wait to have all my teeth rot out of my head. I can’t wait to have collapsed veins, psychosis, COPD, the shakes, uncontrolled bowels, living in a box at the back of a warehouse, with a police rap sheet that is 30 pages long.”
My daughter has kept one good thing her old man instilled — “When you see that person on the street, all greasy and broken down, cardboard sign in hands, and shaky, and, wanting to drink or shoot up, with blathering and blathering as his or her SOP, remember, that person once was a baby. And even if it was a nurse in the delivery room, that old homeless adult once had at least a person in his or her life who swaddled him or her and loved. Unconditional love.
It is tough being Makenna since her old man is always out there, putting it all out there for everyone to see, hear, read, view. She’s seen her old man locked up for various things, seen her old man sacked for various reasons, seen her old man broken by this or that slight coming at him from the bureaucrats. She’s seen her old man heart-broken. She’s seen her old man not exactly the ideal of a good All-American Father.
Yet, she has stuck with me. She has held my hand and warmed my cold heart. These are valuable in a time of Covid, post-Covid, Transhuman Dystopia, Unbalanced-Unbalancing world. But she is also one of the world’s vulnerable ones — heart on sleeve, deeply tied to humanity, absolutely through and through in constant ire against the authorities, the systems of oppression, the overlords and the mean as cuss cops/pigs/DA’s/judges/CEOs/Captains of Industry/Colonels of death!
During those last hours I was in Spokane — all that heat the real new normal for most of USA — I was being interviewed by Andy, Kenny and Eduardo for their podcast, “What’s Left.” I was in her pad, and alas, while she was getting an ultrasound for excruciating side aches, I was doing the interview.
The closer I look at the Zoom recording, the more fidgety and disjointed I am now after so many decades of railing, screaming to be heard. I’ll post that interview once Andy and his fellows rap it up. But am I Howard Beale?
All I know is that first, you’ve got to get mad.
You’ve gotta say, “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!”
So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out and yell,
“I’m as mad as hell,
and I’m not going to take this anymore!!”
— Network (1976)