I was born in the basement of a welfare hospital in San Francisco 10 years to the day after Christian Slater. My mom tells me I was a special baby and got to leave the hospital early. She said that's what happens to mothers and children when they can't pay the bill.
Unfortunately, DNA tests hadn't been invented yet so my mother had no way of knowing exactly who my father was. She finally narrowed it down to a married Irish actor whom she had been having an affair with prior to her pregnancy. Later on, she said my father was probably more likely to be a furnace repairman named Jim Brown who smoked her out with a Thai stick before asking if they could take a shower together. Either way, it doesn't matter because my mother said that men -- especially my father -- are stupid and useless anyway. She said this twelve times a day without fail during my formative years, so luckily I never had a chance to develop any of those stupid man traits that occur naturally in other men.
I spent my childhood in Northern California surrounded by my loving and supportive family. When we were living on the mound overlooking the freeways of Daly City my grandmother used to come over and help clean mildew of the living room walls. Then, when my mother first developed her fascination with cats, my aunt used to bring her all sorts of cool things like cat coffee mugs and signs for the front door that said, "Beware of Cat," and extra boxes and towels to bury the dead ones in. After we moved to Sebastopol, and my mother started working at home, the visits with my family became less frequent. But, whether I was scraping cat hair of my clothes, accidentally sitting down in a puddle of cat pee, or watching the fur fly as my mother ran around the house at three in the morning screaming and clenching her fists while threatening to kill herself, I always knew my family was with me.
I didn't have many friends when I was growing up because mother was too smart for that. She could see through each and every one of my potential "friends" and would do whatever it took to drive them away. And for good reason! My mother told me people are stupid, they rarely speak proper English, and that they should all just learn to leave her alone. She must have been right because every single one of her budding friendships always ended in a huge argument.
My mother had been married for a year and a half to a man who beat her. This all happened six years before I was born. People wondered why my mother had to mention it every single day of my childhood and every time they saw her--even if it was only for a minute in the parking lot at Safeway during a pouring rainstorm. I think the answer was obvious! Hadn't these people ever heard of venting? Obviously they didn't pay attention to anyone but themselves because had they shown an interest in my mother's problems (even the ones that occurred a decade before) they would have heard her vent about it every single day of her life at least twice an hour and for about 20 minutes a session. Now that's what I call a strong female! Who says there are no good roles for women in Hollywood? Hello?! Write a movie about my mom, sign Susan Sarandon or Faye Dunaway to play her, and watch the Academy Awards come flying towards you like the dishes my mother used to hurl at the kitchen floor when I was a child.
Unfortunately, the domestic bliss got rocky when I went through puberty and started developing a sex drive, my own mind, and interests that didn't revolve around who had dealt her an injustice that week. I didn't realize it then, but I was being horrendously selfish and spiteful, just like every single other teenager in the world. In fact, I was so awful that my poor mother had to tell me about it every day of my life, and remind me of the great debt I owed her for raising me and putting up with me. Even in the face of adversity she displayed such grace!
After a phase where all I did was play Nintendo games, listen to "Ministry," and watch horror movies, I was lucky to have a mother who spoke to me at all! Even though I never got in trouble with the cops, drank, did drugs, stole anything, or impregnated anyone, I was still the worst teenager who ever lived and my poor mother is scarred for life. I may have to live with the guilt and burdon for the rest of my life, but my mother had to live with a teenager who stopped getting excited when she suggested they go to Walgreens together!
Reluctantly, I ended up moving out of my mother's house. I didn't want to go. I pleaded and begged, "Please, mother, please let me stay and live with you! You're so mellow and supportive! I admire your ability to roll with the punches and let go of anger and resentment." She just smiled, placed her hand on my shoulder, and began to give me a bit of that heartfelt, motherly advice that mothers love to give, "I want you out of my house, I wish you were never born! You're the reason I have no friends! You're just like everyone else! You're trying to get me! Why won't you, and everyone else, just learn to leave me the fuck alone?!" I could tell she was getting choked up when I thought I saw--just for a second--a little teardrop roll down her cheek right before she started smashing vases and sobbing uncontrollably while crying, "I need something to break! I want to break something!" It was a picture-perfect, cinematic good-bye that most people only get to see in movies.
Even now in my adult life I sometimes see something that reminds me of home (an abused dog tied up in someone's backyard howling in despair, a woman verbally attacking her children, someone shrieking and clenching his or her teeth) and I get all misty eyed. I will never forget my childhood, no matter how hard I try.