Sylvia her grandmother Ruth and Kwan-Yin


Sylvia her grandmother Ruth and Kwan-Yin?Silkie Greene used to be Sylvia Greenburg. Her name could have been changed because of marriage or divorce , but, she didn’t give up that secret right away. She claimed to have changed her name while growing up in the foster care system of the State of Oregon. She didn’t even try to sustain this part of her story for very long. She had altered her identity, at least once, and now, she was beginning to peel off the outside skin of herself, and reveal bits of who she really was. She was sitting with me, in that cafe on the corner of Delsey and Baldwin. In Bellingham. Washington State. Almost in Canada. The Hamster, remember that place? With the steamed up windows all winter? Next to the used record store? Yeah, that place. They had really good coffee and they were open late. It was December, 1969.?I had met Silkie Greene, a few weeks before, in a music theory class at the community college. She was a strange one. I don’t think she ever stopped talking once she got started, but there was something about her. Her doing all the talking made things easy for me. I liked her. I wanted to be with her. I was walking the line between hope and crazy a lot in those days, and Silkie reen fit right in..?When I got to the cafe, she was sitting by that big front window. From the street, I could see her red curls against the steamed up window glass. In fact, that was all I could see.?” Okay,this might seem weird, Tom, but you already know me a little. right? I like to tell stories. I tell sex stories for sex, because that is so much fun, but this is not to make you horny. If we are going to get to that place, we’ll get there, don’t worry. I never shut up. This one is about my crazy grandmother…. A non- practicing Jew, atheist, socialist, a communist, Trotsky-ist, early feminist and free love advocate? She was in trouble for all the good things, Tom. She went to jail around World War 1 for agitating to get women the vote. The U.S. government busted her and wanted to deport her back to Russia. She was born in Bialystok, which was sometimes Russia, sometimes Poland, sometimes the Ukraine. Her parents were revolutionaries who had to get out of Russia in a hurry around the turn of the century over some plan to kill the Czar. They all had forged papers. They got some for her, too, that said she was born in Brooklyn. Later on, this was the thing that kept her from being deported. One result was that she never knew quite how old she was. Another was, though she knew her parents first names, and especially their pet names for each other, she wasn’t too sure what her real family name was because it had changed so often. When she grew up, she used “Howard”. Ruth Howard. She said it could be a Jewish name, but it didn’t have to be, and that was fine by her. Just like the Three Stooges, all of them Jewish boys named “Howard”. She said:?”I always thought they needed a smart-ass Jewish girl like me in there to keep those guys organized.”?”You’re related to the Three Stooges?”?Well, almost,, but not really. My grandmother had so many names and identities- nobody knows who she is really related to. That’s the way it is for lot of Jews and Jewish families in her generation, Tom. She kicked her first husband out because he joined the U.S. army in World War One. She thought the rulers who put that thing on, that killed so many millions of people, were really, really, evil, and the system of economic exploitation that they used was more evil still, and she wasn’t the sort of person to ever shut up if she thought something was wrong. She was really something, Tom, she was like me and mom, full of energy and opinions and she never shut up either. I thought she was the most magical being on the planet.”?”Once, when I was seven or eight, she took me with her to a Mexican store in east Los Angeles. The store was full of Catholic Mexican stuff that was completely beyond my understanding. She said something like:?”All this stuff for a male god who hates women, but Sylvia, I want to show you something. Remember, I talked to you about the sacred power of women that has nothing to do with men?”?”Well, I did, but her talks were always so far over the head of a seven year old. I loved that about her. She didn’t care that I was a little k**, didn’t treat me like one, either.”?”She held up a votive candle with the standard image of The Virgin of Guadalupe on it. I know you know what it looks like if you have ever been anywhere where there are more than fifteen people from Mexico.?”Look at this for a while, Sylvia,” she said,” Squinch up your eyes…don’t be in a hurry….”?While I was looking at the image, my grandmother said this, or something close to it:?”Women are very inconvenient to Christianity and to almost all other major religions. Women are ONLY convenient as FOLLOWERS of the men who wrote books like the Bible (and who re-write them tuzla escort over and over again) TO SUIT THEIR OWN NEEDS. Jesus would not have liked the Bible; nor would he have liked the rich men (popes and cardinals, etc.) who rule Rome and other supposedly “sacred” religious centers of the world. The only beings most men recognize as sacred now are other MALES: male gods, male spirits, male priests. Men have banished all female divinities from religion, and they have banished the priestesses, too. But the truth of the equality and power of women will not be repressed. Mother Mary, Kuan Yin, Isis, Aphrodite, Helen, Ishtar, Saint Theresa and Our Lady of Guadalupe are just a few of the female deities we pray to or honor some way in the face of the women-haters. The Great Mother, in her role as Mother Nature and in her other forms, is as powerful in the world today as she was 8,000 years ago.”?”Sylvia, listen to me, nobody else will tell you this. You will never hear it in school. During the matriarchy, when women ran things, partnership was the way of the world. Women did not dominate men–the goals were peace and harmony with other humans and with all of nature. This was before dominance, hierarchy and v******e became “normal.”?I kept listening to her, trying to make sense out of what she was saying. Then I saw something in the image on the candle:?”It’s a woman, Ruth, it’s a woman! (My grandmother made me call her by her first name. I’m surprised now that she didn’t make me call her “Comrade.”) It’s her lady parts, just like you showed me in the book. It’s a woman’s lady parts! Here’s her lips and here’s her clitoris and here is her vagina!”?I probably said that a little too loudly for being in the middle of a store full of religious icons, but I was really excited…Ruth hugged me. She held up the glass jar that held the candle.?”That’s right, k**do, ain’t no flies on you! Somebody, somewhere, slipped that in there, past the men, to remind us of the sacred beauty of women and where we all come from. Virgin? Ha! I should say not. Men get very nervous about our womanly parts that have to do with creating and sustaining life, Sylvia…Whoever decided that covering our breasts was a good idea? Not a woman! “?We left the store. I was feeling quite grown-up and pround of myself and I was really loving this time with Ruth. ??•?•Ruth picked up another votive candle. It had a large , obviously angelic woman with huge wings on it. She was bending over two c***dren. I had never seen anything quite like it before.?•”Why did they always make angels women, Sylvia? That’s a real question, honey. I’m not sure. I know that there must have been men angels , too, but all I ever see are these beings with hips and butts and boobies,like us. You saw the woman in the Virgin of Guadelupe candle, but this one is different. The Catholics have these beings called “Guardian Angels”” See here, these two little k**s are about to fall off a cliff and Mrs. Angel here is pulling them back. I wasn’t raised that way, but I think the Angel’s job is to look out for you, to keep you from getting in more trouble than you can handle. “?•I stood there silently in my mary janes, trying to stay with her. I was a bright little girl, but she didn’t really care if she was going way over my head or not. That vexed me and also made it so special to be with her.?•”Here’s the thing, Sylvia. So much of religion is about being punished for stuff people do all the time. They will try to tell you that touching that little happy place between your legs is bad , but that’s a big fat lie. Everything I understand about these kind of angels is that they don’t give a hoot if you’ve been bad or good, or where you touch yourself, or who you kiss or later in your life, who you make love with. It ain’t their job. All they do is look out for you. I don’t think they even care if you believe in them or not. They are my favorite part of religion.”?” I’m sorry that Jesus got hung on the cross, but I feel that way for anybody who is mistreated. The Nazi’s would have not only killed him but all his family and friends and their families and friends, too. That isn’t a made-up story, It really happened and not so long ago, either. The story is that he died on this cross thing and people say that the Jews killed him though He was a Jew himself. Like you, like me, and your mom and dad and Rachel, too. That never made any sense to me at all. Three days later, the story goes, He came back. He came back and hung around with his earthly pals for a while, and then went right up to heaven, body and all. So was he dead or not? Just like uncle Myron. When he died in Sicily in World War 2, he was dead. We were all sad because we loved him and you know, if you’re dead, it means you ain’t gonna be around the table any more. You are never coming back, not ever. So I don’t get the Jesus story. I wish he had decided to tuzla escort bayan be a guardian angel himself, but instead HE sits up in heaven with G-d, and, really, I’m not sure what he does now. I think he was a brave man who took a stand against injustice, got the wrong folks mad at him, and got killed for it. I’m sorry to say that that kind of stuff happens all the time. I’m not going to be around that much longer myself, Sylvia. Someday you will grow old and die too, just like everything else that grows and lives on this planet.”?•She hugged me close to her. Nobody had ever spoken to me like this.?•” I don’t believe in anything like heaven or hell. I’m pretty sure that when I die, I’ll just go back to the place I was before I was born, you know. But if I did have have a shot a another existence, I’d like to be a guardian angel. I hope I can can be one and still be the atheist I’ve been all my life.”?•My grandmother was laughing but there were tears in her eyes too. ?•So between my mom and my grandmother, and a few of my aunts on my mom’s side, I had a better understanding of feminism than most girls do and some women ever do, still, when I crossed into puberty, I was so horny, no, horny isn’t the right word, exactly. I didn’t wait around to get that way. I was already doing sex things with my sister Rachel., and then we were doing more of it.”C’mon sugar” she said.” As long as we are here and talking about sex and women’s bodies, I’m going to take you to another part of town . But listen, Syl, listen to me now. You can’t tell your mom or your pop or any of your friends or teachers about this , do you understand? I’m going to show you some things that women have to do to get by in this world. You are just seven, and this is about sex-as-a business stuff. You will never ever get this in school. Never. There are women here who work in the sex business, and they have a pretty hard life, but most of the women I’ve talked to about sex work say that it is better than working in the fields or picking melons all day. If they are working in the fields, they don’t have to deal with the indignity of being sex workers, pimps, disease and the antics of drunk , sometimes crazy men. Whoring pays better than lots of other crap jobs that women do. A lot of men have this idea that whores are just the lowest of the low, Sylvia, and anything they do to them or with them is okay. …whores, if you will. But what these women do is dangerous and unsafe as anything could possibly be. I’m not going to take you where any woman is actually having sex or anything like that, but I thought you might like to meet a few of these women and girls. Some of them are not a lot older than you, Sylvia. This is going to seem a little strange, honey, but just stick with me and you’ll be fine. I know some of these older women. “?Did Ruth Howard have any idea what demons she was setting loose in my brain??So we got in a cab. It was wintertime, and kind of Los Angeles warm and drizzily. I was tired and sleepy and done with all this confusing information for one day. The point is, Tom, that my grand-mother didn’t take me to a whore-house. I was tired and cranky and I wanted to go home. I had this picture now in my head of this girl doing all these sex things (the ones I kind of knew about) , and it really upset me, freaked me right out. If I had said I wanted to go down to “Boy’s Town” with her, I’m sure she would have gladly been my mentor and escort through the whole afternoon and into the evening. ??One day, when I was about thirteen, Ruth Howard came into my room. She never knocked so I guess I was lucky that she didn’t find me with my hand in my pants or Rachel, butt naked, on top of me.?She was carrying a book and a black ribbon and an orange plastic flower she found somewhere.?”You weren’t masturbating, were you?’ ?”No, Ruth, I wasn’t, but please knock, okay?…Jesus…”?My mom told me Ruth was getting a little dingy.?”It’s okay if you do that, Sylvia, I do it a lot..”.?”I know, Ruth, you told me before…”?”It’s really healthy, you know…”?”Ruth. I wack off so much I think I’ve got a sprained wrist from it, okay? “?”Okay, sorry, I forgot I talked to you about that.”?”Ruth, you told me all about that and the directions for my puss when I was seven…”?” Okay, okay…get your clothes off, honey, I want to show you something..”?Ruth was weird and getting weirder . I wasn’t quite sure what she was up to today.?”Don’t look at me so funny, Sylvia, just take off your clothes…”?I only had my jammy top and shorts on, so I stood up and took them off. She had a picture with her of a naked woman on a bed, with a Black woman in a dress standing next to her. “?”This is a painting by a man named Manet. It’s called “Olympia.” I think that Olympia looks like you, hon.”?I wasn’t interested in her crazy project, whatever it was.?I didn’t know what she was talking about till much escort tuzla later. Except for my boobs, which, even when I was thirteen, were enormous compared to Manet’s model, I did look a lot like her. Later in my life, when I was singing at a club. I would sometimes go out of my way to emphasize that “Olympia ” look, just to startle people.?”You really have enlarged breasts for such a girl, Sylvia, may I touch?'”No!”?”Okay, okay, don’t get so touchy. I want to tie this black ribbon around your neck with a little bow in it. Hold still…okay? Put this flower behind your ear. Let me clip it in…there..”?”Ruth, this is weird…”?”Just do it.”?”Ruth. I’m about to call mom…what are you doing ? You can’t touch me or do sex with me, Ruth..”?”Oh, you cute little rascal! Look at those big boobies! Who wouldn’t want to jump on you! Don’t be silly, if I was the kind of grandmother who wanted sex with you, I would have started a long time ago, Sylvia, though I think that somebody who isn’t me might feel that way.. Did you know I liked to have sex with men and women, back when I was having it?.”?”Does mom know that?”?”Oh sure, I always told her the truth…”?”Ruth, sometimes I think I might be that way too…a little….”?”Well, a little or a lot, we all have that part to ourselves, and all I learned in eighty-eight years is just to accept who I am. I have had many nice lovers, men and women in my life, and I’m feeling really lucky for that. I wouldn’t lay in bed with a man I didn’t care about for years and years while he jumped on me, wiggled his bottom, made his little squirt, and then rolled over and went to sleep..”.?”Ruth…”?”… Well that’s the way it was and how it still is for millions of women, honey. Not me. I knew what an orgasm was before most women in my generation even knew the word…”?”Grandma…”?”So are you having them now?”What??” Orgasms, Sylvia, can you make yourself come?””Ruth, that is so personal. I never talk to anybody about that…”?”Well, you must talk to Rachel about it because she told me…”?Oh my god, oh my god, of course Rachel knew, we had been in each other’s pants and no pants at all, since we were about six. Rachel loved Ruth more than any other being on the planet except for mom and dad and me…there is nothing Rachel wouldn’t say to her, and nothing, I thought that Ruth Howard wouldn’t say to anybody.?So I now I knew that Ruth knew about all of my adventures, especially about me and Rachel. I don’t think the old woman gave a hoot. She thought my developing sex life, which I thought so wild and debauched, was rather cute and endearing.?Okay, put your other hand over your coochie.”?”Ruth!’?”Just cover it, okay, sweetheart, nice and ladylike. Lay your hands gently in your lap, is all I want.”?”Look at me now. not that dopey smile, try to look like Olympia here, just a flat expression with your eyes on me..”?I liked the way the woman in the painting looked. She had her clothes off, but she still had this look on her face like nobody had better mess with her. I had seen some pictures of naked women in “Playboy”, but they never looked like her. She was short, like me, and I liked that, too.?Years later, I found the photographs she made. I remember her telling my mom about “Manet” and Olympia”. By that time, I wanted boys, I wanted girls and by the time I was f******n, I wasn’t staying home and wishing and hoping about it. I was giving boys blow-jobs, I was having sex with Rachel or any other girl who wanted to play. I never could get this to make sense with the feminist stuff I had learned at an early age, it confused me, and later, when I discovered that I liked, and sometimes, needed to be abused and humiliated as part of sex, I couldn’t make sense of that at all. I had always hoped I would be able to talk to my grandmother about it, nothing fazed her, but by the time I needed to talk to her about the serious stuff, she was gone into what they now call Alzheimer’s. I loved and trusted my mom, but I couldn’t find a way to bring all this twisted, crazy stuff about my personality up with her. I just knew what I wanted, so I followed that path as well as I could, without telling the whole world about it, but since I was raised to never shut up about anything, that became a problem for me, too. I was ostracized at school, and that hurt. I was called lots of names, Tom. I even got in a fist fight once. Still, I thought that being myself would have been what Ruth Howard wanted me to be. I held on to that thought. I collected opera records, had voice and piano lessons, rode my bike, memorized musical scores, worked out with my speed bag, ( I’ll tell you about that later). I met the great diva Joan Sutherland and lots of other famous singers (’cause of my dad) and had sex with my sister every chance I could get. And others, if she wasn’t around. I wasn’t very happy with myself at age thirteen but who is? Who is, Tom?”?Ruth Howard would have said: “That is the lonely path of an artist, revolutionary and warrior.”?”At least that is what I told myself.”?”I was thinking to myself: “I’m related to Larry, Curly and Moe? What next?”

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