Sunday, July 14, 2013
Family relationships and demolishing buildings condemned for weak structure...
In Irving Stone's novel about Michelangelo Buonoroto "The Agony and the Ecstacy" , Stone makes it clear to the reader that the relationship between Ludovico (Michelangelo's father) and Michelangelo was incredibly unjust. Ludovico had 5 sons, no daughters. His main concern with his sons was that of recovering the prestige of the family name. Michelangelo was the oldest of the sons. He was born with an extreme talent towards illustration that appeared at a very early age. One of Michelangelo's brother's was a thug and became a soldier. Another became an extremely fundamentalist monk. And the other two didn't have any true business or intellectual qualities. Michelangelo may have been the only one born with genious. However, in the mind of Ludovico, the only way a man can gain money and prestige is through business and rental of property. When it was suggested that Michelangelo start an apprenticeship with one of the top fresco mural painters of the Italian Renaissance Domenico Ghirlandaio at the old age of 13, Ludovico and his brother proceeded to beat Michelangelo saying that painters don't bring money and prestige to families. However, when Michelangelo was brought into Lorenzo Medici's sculpture academy and began being given lucrative stipends by Lorenzo, Ludovico was the first person whot appeared infront of Michelangelo asking how much he was paid and when would he hand the money over. It seems to me that Michelangelo earned a ton of money on contracts paid by various Popes, dukes and other aristocratic families... However, his father lived to the age of 90 and continuously asked for money to establish other brother's of Michelangelo or pay debts in business fiascos for buying land... in the name of reestablishing the prestige of the Buonoroti surname... Until Michelangelo's death, he lived with the obsession that someone would carry on the name of his father and recover the prestige. Since he didn't have children for being so immersed in his art (20 hour days until his death at the age of 89), he dedicated his money to the only surviving grandson of his father.
The only way you can get a true sense of the sense that Ludovico felt no love for his son, nor respect for his art, yet saw Michelangelo as a treasure chest would be by reading "The Agony and the Exstacy"... Michelangelo lived within austerity while he sent almost every cent to his father, without explaining how he lived so that his father could have more than he dreamed of having...
No, I can't say that I have lived that experience. My mother wouldn't use her children. That is very clear. However, that doesn't mean that all parents experience and share unconditional love towards their children.
One uses their child for actualizing their unattained dreams, like the pop-football or little-league baseball fathers constantly getting on their sons' cases for supposedly not playing hard or well enough. Or Joey's mother who didn't believe in Joey's love for dancing and insisted that Joey study film to be able to hobknob with the wealthy, powerful and connected, even if that meant that Joey sell her body, which is what it did mean. Or Michelle's father who used her brother as a penis pin cushion... Or the fathers who see their daughters as sexual objects (not different from Michelle's father).
If you read "The Agony and the Exstacy" you will immediately feel outrage towards Ludovico, repeatedly throughout the book and you will feel sadness for Michelangelo. However, it seems that that was part of the culture in Italy at the time. There was a point when Lorenzo Medici or someone else of high cultural rank in Rome told Michelangelo that he had become a certain age (I imagine around 25-years-old) when he no longer was his father's property. But, Michelangelo was convinced about restoring prestige to the family name. And, yes, he knew that his father didn't love him and that he used him. But, Michelangelo saw himself as a valuable tool for being used in the name of the family.
Back to styles of family and interpersonal, inter-blood relationships... There is Anya's Russian family. One day Anya asked me, "why don't you ask your sisters and your mother for financial assistance so you go back to school?" I told her that the asking was totally out of the question. She didn't understand and said, "Look, my parents' money is my money and my money is there's" and she meantioned that the parents of her other Russian family friend paid for her grad school no questions asked... But that was out of the question and I unsuccessfully tried explaining why. It was out of the question to ask of my sisters for financial assistance as I would learn the extremely hard way years later when the asking turned into a war between the whole family and I.
My mother wanted us out of the house and out of her hair as quickly as possible. I'm sorry that I didn't become independent earlier. I'm sorry I didn't truly give her her wish until I left for Mexico at the age of 32.
It's too bad that an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old can't run away and successfully establish themself... It's too bad I wasn't someone else. But there are many people who would claim that they are happy I hadn't become someone else had my father not died, because maybe I would have become totally materialist and ego-centric, possibly shallow. I don't know. I didn't have the fortune of not losing my father...
When I mention not wanting to go back in time and then I contradict myself and go back in time rehashing memories and injustices, it isn't without conscience, concern and afterthought.
No, I wasn't born perfect and I wasn't super human within childhood circumstances most of you haven't experienced nor understand and that I wouldn't wish for your children. It may sound as if I am complaining or whining because I rehash. But, I do it also for my own understanding.
The last time my mother visited us 1.5 years ago, we organized real well their vacation. However, as always happens, someone puts their foot in their mouth. The first event was during our drive from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta. My mother told me a recent family history that could highly prejudice people against Bruce and possibly the both of them and may have gotten Bruce into deep hot water... Truthfully, the subject shouldn't have been brought up. I would have been better off left out of that history because I wasn't there at the time experiencing the family fiasco. But, the topic spiralled into the conflict between my Aunt Esta and I 5 years earlier when I sent a letter to all the family members asking them for small loans so Margarita and I could establish our own professional bakery. I said that the recipes were there, as was the system, as was the incredible client response. What was lacking was the money for financing a bakery placed in an upper-middle-class section of Xalapa or in a bigger wealthier city in the center of the country. Many people were amazed by the difference of my recipes and quality and style and repeatedly asked where they could locate us. When I told them, "here where we are standing in the street with our tables...", they scoffed at us and never returned. And we were never able to develop prestige, raise the prices to the levels of the quality of our cupcakes and, in the end I became ill from over-work and poor diet and incredible stress caused by selling cupcakes within the negative environment the envious and racist street venders...
My Aunt Esta immediately responded to my petition accusing me of being a leech upon the family, although I had explained that I would return every cent to whoever lends us money. I wondered "out loud" what caused her immediate explosion. What was it about me or my image in her mind that she could have been so nasty? I responded that for years people were asking me when Margarita and I would visit them in New York/New Jersey/Arizona... I repeatedly explained our economic situation and what Margarita needs for obtaining a visa for entering the U.S.: $7000 USD in the bank, a business and property in her name, credit cards... I wished that they would understand that and stop asking me questions it seemed they expressed just to appear supportive. No one was visiting us. They just wanted to know when we would come and participate in the family gatherings. As I just said, it would have been fine if they understood my response and stopped repeating the questions. However, they continued repeating the same questions that became hurtful and offensive to me because they weren't understanding just how hard we were working just to pull ourselves up from our bootstraps. I would have loved to be able to come back to the U.S. with Margarita as a success story. But first we must succeed here.
So I wrote the letter and my Aunt Esta told me that I was a leech and the rest of the people ignored it. So, I became angry and fed up with the incredibly hypocritical and dysfunctional family and told them so. And I received responses and responded in kind.
But, my mother continued insisting upon visiting us once every 18 months... And she continued with her typical behavior and we always got into arguments. But this time around, it was Bruce who shocked us out-of-the-blue and did something totally irrationally out of characteristic on his part returning to Guadalajara from Puerto Vallarta. And, with that, I decided it truly was not worth the while maintaining a relationship with people who react to a non-existent person in their mind and project that reaction upon me.
I can't adequately explain what happened with Bruce, since it was very intense and absurd and I don't remember exactly what was the political subject matter. However, it was like being attacked by Rush Limbaugh. As I said earlier, it was uncharacteristic of Bruce. But, for some reason he wanted to put me in that position. And even my mother explained to him that it was way out in left field. At one point he claimed that he was only playing "devils advocate", which was a lie, because it went on for too long, was too violent and hurtful, and he never actually relaxed. And why play devils advocate on a subject matter that he promulgates? Why waste so much time and energy during a 5 day visit once ever 18 months? Why intentionally create so much tension? And I was driving the whole time. But, it was like my Aunt Esta asking me when we would be visiting her and in the next letter calling me a leech when I had asked everyone to talk within the family and pool for a loan.
Just to make it clear, as I said to Anya about my sisters back in 2000, I NEVER asked anything of my aunts and uncles and cousins and sisters. Yes, I was a burden upon my mother in the late 90s. But, I never asked anything of anyone else until the war began and I asked for support and understanding and... well... didn't receive any of that. So, what can you do?
You erase people who don't truly understand what they are doing or thinking or what you have lived or what you live and who cannot truly be emotionally supportive and constructive for possibly reconstructing a faulty relationship. Or maybe those relationships were so poorly constructed, we should just demolish the building that houses their illusions, forget about the past, and start from scratch.