Rage Against the Mama

When I was a kid, I used to dislike Rage Against the Machine. I didn’t get them. I thought they were just angry Beastie Boys.

Now I know, if you listen to the lyrics, not only do you hear a good tune, you get a history lesson. They all have degrees. Tom Morello graduated from Harvard Law, I think.

They’re one big one that I wish I’d appreciated more when I was at UNH. I can’t think of any others, right offhand. College is where I got into the music I still listen to. Well, college and the second half of high school, I guess.

I didn’t mess around in high school. I figured I’d buckle down and get the good grades, then live a little in college.

I was a nerd in high school. One time Kelly the blonde cheerleader was trying to convince some fellow nerd to do Senior Skip day, and told him, “Even Katey and Leah are skipping.”

“What’s that supposed to mean, Kelly?” We asked her.

“Oh, nothing.”

Yeah, okay.

But, in fairness to Kelly, I did not want to skip, and probably wouldn’t have, if my nerdy friends hadn’t done it, just to try (and epically fail) to fit into the mainstream at the zero hour.

We got punished for it, too. All the skippers had to come in to school half a day on prom night.

All so I could spend an afternoon alone-ish on Kevin Norris’ couch. Doing absolutely nothing. There was God knows what at that party. But I abstained. ‘Course, I don’t think I was offered anything, either.

I was a good kid in high school. A little boring, but a mom’s dream come true. I mean I didn’t do anything. No sex, drugs, alcohol. I was an everything virgin.

My mom put the fear of God in me at an early age, that’s why.

Drugs were evil. Alcohol was addictive and the disease was hereditary. My grandmother chain smoked cigarettes and died a painful death, although I think it was ovarian cancer. And if you’re going to have premarital sex, please wait until you’re at least 18.

My mother was unwell, but her advice wasn’t wrong. I think I recognized that, even at that age.

I’m thinking about all this again because of my brother. I’m so worried about him.

I’m thinking about all this again because I’m gearing up to start educating Desmond about the dangers of drugs. I asked S when I should start talking to him about it. She said now. He’s going into middle school next year. She has a point.

I just can’t believe it’s already time for this. Was it really 10 years ago he lay in his pack and play in his tiny premie onesie, all eyelash? Tears now.

I love my kids to the ends of the universe. If anything ever happened, I just can’t even go there.

How do I do it so that he will actually listen to me? How do I not lecture?

Evan has a teenager, I wonder how he handled this.

I wonder if his son looks like him.

Desmond doesn’t look like me, according to everyone else. He looks like Derek.

Aislyn looks like me sometimes, though. Even I can see it in her face from time to time. Her smile.

They both have my eyes in different shades. Three different shades of blue between us.

But I digress. I think soon I will have to tell him everything: my mother, her own experimentation with drugs as a teen, her mental illness: schizophrenia, her tragic demise at a young age, my mental illness: depression, anxiety. My brother and his problems. My aunt’s alcoholism.

Heavy, heavy stuff.

My older brother, Erik, is right. He said those heavier drugs are like opening a flood gate. You can recover and be clean and sober for years, but once that gate is first open, it’s really hard to close.

How did I get from Rage to this? Jeez.

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