Category Archives: Family

Swimming Pool

There are some places we may assume are safe, but no place is absolutely safe. I learned this lesson when I was 16.

I lived with my mother and stepfather in a very large apartment complex. The layout of this complex included about a half dozen, two-story apartment buildings, all surrounding a swimming pool. One might think a swimming pool encircled by all those eyes, ears, and windows, would be a safe place for a dip in the chlorinated water.

Not so.

My mother and stepfather decided to have a pool party. My stepbrother and his wife, and a couple of my stepfather’s friends and their wives, attended this soiree. The festivities began with beer and snacks, inside our tiny apartment’s living room. After the mind-debilitating effects of the poisonous alcohol began working its magic, the revelers debouched from our small habitat and headed for the pool.

It was a cool, overcast day in San Diego, that November afternoon. All the other tenants were snuggled indoors near their wall furnaces. So we had the lukewarm pool to ourselves.

A volleyball net bisected this outdoor natatorium, and one of the tipplers grabbed a volleyball and called for a game. Sure, what the hell, they all shrugged. I joined half of them on the shallow end, while the other half squared off against us on the deep end. I didn’t swim well, so I was glad to be on the side where my feet could touch the concrete.

After a few sets of knocking the ball around, things began to drag. No drunk at a party can stand for that, so somebody livened up the action, and I got one of the shocks of my life. My stepbrother sneaked up behind his dad, grabbed his swimming trunks and yanked them down.

I gasped. My stepfather was a prideful, crosspatch of a man, whose sense of humor did not abide this sort of affront. Especially when he’d been drinking. I expected a harsh backlash that would spell a sudden end to the party. So I got my next shock when he responded with laughter and just pulled his trunks back up, with a grin.

Next thing I knew, everyone was getting pantsed in the water. Except me. I was 16, and very shy about my body. I felt mortified about the prospect of my bare ass being exposed, even if underwater. So I held on tight to my trunks whenever anyone approached, especially from behind. There were a few abortive attempts, but the pranksters soon realized that I meant business, and gave up.

After about a half-hour of this frivolity, the drunks were ready to get out of the pool and go back inside where the beer was. But I opted to remain in the water. I’d been learning to swim, and wanted to practice a few laps.

One of my stepfather’s friends also decided to stay behind.

He was a big, husky man in his early-40s. He trained greyhounds to race at the nearby Agua Caliente racetrack, in Tijuana. And he had lived for awhile in the motel near the border, that my family had managed, until we moved to this apartment complex a few months before. That’s how he had become friends with my stepfather.

He was always friendly to me, but I tried to avoid him. He was a little too friendly, and I’m wary of people like that. And he talked about sex a lot, whenever he was visiting my stepfather. I thought he was a little weird.

But he kept to himself, in the pool, and I was able to swim my laps without much interaction with him. I felt safe there. After all, this was a public place, surrounded by many homes.

I was improving at swimming, and enjoyed getting in a little practice. But finally I tired of this exercise, and headed for the ladder at the deep end. I didn’t notice him swimming up from behind.

Halfway up the ladder, he yanked my swimming trunks down, then threw his arms around my waist. He pulled hard on me, trying to get me off the ladder. I shouted a protest, something like, “Hey, I don’t want to play that game! Let me go!” But this was no game. There was no laughter. He just kept pulling on me.

I felt terrified. I instinctively realized that if I reached down for my swimming trunks, he’d be able to drag me off the ladder and into the deep water. There, I would be helpless for whatever he was planning, which I could only imagine with dread. So instead of reaching for the trunks, I wrapped my arms around the bars of the ladder and held on tight while shouting, “Help!!!”

I cast my gaze desperately about, at all the windows of all those apartment buildings. Surely someone would hear me, peer through their window, and see what was going on. There was no way this creep could get away with this in broad daylight, in such a public place.

But to my dismay, nobody responded to my cries for help. No alarmed faces appeared in windows. It was as if the apartment complex was abandoned. Nobody came to my rescue. I was alone in my struggle against this assailant.

He angrily commanded me to let go, but I held on tight to my one and only savior. The ladder. He was much stronger than me, but when you wrap your arms around the bars of a swimming pool ladder, it probably requires a team of mules and a crowbar to pry you off.

Finally he must have realized I wasn’t going to budge. And that the longer I kept yelling for help, the greater the chance somebody would hear me and catch him in this criminal act. So he released me and swam away.

I instantly pulled my trunks up and scrambled up the ladder. Then I fled, running for the safety of my apartment. Once inside and safe, I headed for my bedroom without saying a word to any of the drunken partiers.

I figured nobody would believe me anyway. Hell, they’d take his side. And I realized he could pass this off as a misunderstanding, arising from an innocent continuation of the pantsing game. I felt no confidence that my mother or stepfather would take me seriously.

I heard him enter the apartment a few minutes later and tell his wife that it was time to go home. I stayed in my bedroom until I was sure they were gone.

He was a smart one. He’d been around my stepfather long enough to realize what an abusive asshole he was. So he must have calculated that I was an easy target. When kids have a bad relationship with their parents, they rarely share their vulnerabilities. An embarrassing thing like an attempted rape is nothing one would want to divulge to a person who has belittled and demeaned them most of their life.

So my stepfather’s friend was safe. I never told on him. This left him free to find new targets and new victims. I regret that, but at the time I felt too afraid to talk about it to anyone. I trusted nobody.

I finally told my sisters about it when I was 53. And they understood, because they had been molested as children also. I was just another member of the club. Though not a full member, like them. Their predators had succeeded, so I was pretty fortunate. They shared some of their experiences, and their stories were much more horrifying than mine. I felt aghast at what some men do to children. And these men were trusted family members.

I doubt our society will ever be rid of the crime of child molesting. I think it’s been going on for thousands of years, and will likely continue for thousands more. But I believe there are things parents can do to reduce the likelihood of it happening to their little loved ones.

I think one of the best ways is to always maintain a strong level of mutual trust. When it’s clear to family members, friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances that the children of a household feel safe to tell their parents anything, I think those children are far less likely to become targets.

And of course another way, is to never assume that a public place is a safe place.

My Psychic Wife

When we met and fell in love, I had no idea how much my wife had been sought after. But not by Don Juans bearing roses in clenched teeth. No, the people who had stalked her, and who had clamored for a few minutes of her time, were the lovelorn, the desperate, and the distraught.

After we’d been together for awhile, Kay revealed to me that at one time she had worked as a psychic. Not only that, but she’d had such a reputation for accuracy, people would flock to her from miles around to pay for a reading.

I wished I could say that I knew that, but I couldn’t. I’d never been psychic.

She charged $20 for individual readings, and $25 for group readings, and this was back in the 1970s, when the minimum wage was around two bucks an hour. So she made some decent money on the side, exploiting her psychic powers for profit.

But Kay says the work was mentally draining. She’d have to spend the day before a reading, in a meditative state. Visions, and other revelations would come to her at this time, but the deep meditation required for this would leave her feeling exhausted.

But did she really have psychic powers? I’m a skeptic and told her so, right from the start. To my surprise, she said she felt relieved. Now I wouldn’t be hounding her to read my fortune, and to tell me all the terrible things that might be in store for me.

Bushwa! I thought. But then again, who knows? Since I believe nobody can read minds, how am I supposed to get into her mind and know that she can, or cannot, read minds?

Another reason she felt relieved is because she claimed she had turned her preternatural powers off. Kay says that you can get in a mental place where your powers become stronger. But you can also let go of your powers and they will become weaker. One day, Kay decided to allow her powers to weaken and fade away. These days, she says it’s very rare for something psychic to occur to her.

She claims she was born with these powers. When she was a small child, she claims to have had the premonition that her brother would die young. But she kept it a secret, because she didn’t want her mother getting upset. Sure enough, when her brother was 33 years old, he was killed by a drunk driver while jogging by the side of a highway.

In fact, the day she decided to stop being psychic was the day her brother died. She knew it was coming, and she didn’t like knowing such things. But there were other reasons. She had also grown tired of hearing people’s problems, and feeling their pain, and being liked only for her psychic powers, rather than people getting to know her as a person. Especially because it wasn’t just strangers who treated her this way, but also coworkers, friends, and even family. Plus, the Bible says it’s a sin to be psychic, and Kay is superstitious about the Bible.

And then there were those times when she’d read someone’s fortune, and dread telling it. For instance, how do you tell someone who has cancer that they aren’t going make it? Kay hated being the bearer of bad news.

When she was 24, she worked at a nursing home. She kept sensing something about the charge nurse who worked at the home. One day she had all the nerve to walk up to her and tell her that she knew something about her past. That she’d had a baby girl who had died. The nurse felt shocked. It was true, she confessed, and it was something she had not told anyone about, because she didn’t like talking about it.

Kay also told this nurse something else that had been weighing on her mind for several days. She informed the nurse that soon there was going to be a mass killing or mass suicide somewhere in the world, and that a lot of people were going to die. About a week later, the Jonestown Massacre in Guyana occurred.

After this the nurse was so impressed, she started hounding Kay for readings. This left her feeling irritated. Then another nurse began hounding her for a reading. But she refused. She was tired of being pressured to provide psychic services.

But one day she changed her mind. She suddenly got the urge to do a reading for the nurse. So she went to her house and sat in front of her. But then her mind drew a blank. Nothing came. It was an awkward moment, and Kay felt embarrassed.

Then the lady’s daughter walked in, whom Kay had never met before. Kay looked at her, then looked back at her coworker, and warned her, “Don’t let your daughter get into any red sports cars this summer.”

The mother freaked out. It so happened her daughter had a friend who drove a red sports car. She absolutely forbade her daughter from riding in it. And that summer, the daughter’s friend got into a terrible wreck that destroyed the passenger side of the car. Kay’s advice had possibly saved the girl’s life.

When Kay gave an individual reading, only about one or two things about a client would come to her. But her clients would press for more. She could have embellished, like many so-called psychics do, but she chose not to take advantage of her clients.

There were only three main areas of interest for her clients: They wanted to know about their future love life. Or, they were going through a difficult time, and wanted to know how things would turn out. Or, they were distraught over the loss of a loved one, and wanted to hear some news from the departed soul.

In group readings, Kay would ask for a piece of jewelry from every member of the group. She would hold it, rub it, and do readings from what she picked up off the jewelry. Kay could also feel their physical pain, such as back pain, or any other pain they were currently experiencing in their body.

The information she got only applied to the owner of the jewelry, so it wasn’t the way fake psychics work, where they say something aloud that’s vague, and almost guaranteed to apply to at least one person in the group.

One day Kay was shopping, appropriately enough, in K-Mart. An employee walked up and told her that he’d heard of her, and that he didn’t believe she was psychic. He challenged her to prove it to him. Kay had never met him before, and knew nothing about this guy. But she said, “Okay. You can’t wait to get off of work. You have a brother who’s in the military, who is visiting, and he’s at your home right now.” The guy turned pale. He looked like he’d been stricken. He admitted, “You’re right,” and turned around and walked away.

Sometimes a skeptic would accompany a client to a reading, and would scoff and jeer in the background. Kay always found this funny, because she always shocked these skeptics with her accuracy.

I’m a skeptic, myself. And even as I write this, I too am scoffing and jeering. Yet with a wary mind.

I worry that if what Kay has told me is true, she may secretly harbor psychic powers, even now. That’s a little unnerving. How the hell can I get away with anything?

And so, as I go about my day, I try to think random thoughts to throw her off. I’ve gotten very good at this, and can sometimes get away with being sneaky. Now, what the hell was I doing? Oh yes, I’m writing a post. I’ll admit that I get distracted easily, using this strategy, but it’s worth it.

Kay will never be able to read my mind.


I’ve had five different stepparents. Two I liked and three I didn’t. One of those that I didn’t like, was married and divorced to my mother twice. He raised me through most of my childhood years.

He was abusive. But not very often physical. Mostly it was mental and verbal abuse. My mother, my siblings and I were frequently the targets of his inner, unresolved conflicts and anger.

He also molested my sisters. He lived to the ripe old age of 82, but my mother divorced him for the final time, some 20 years before he died. But the divorce occurred long after her children were raised and the damage to us had been done.

If you are a parent, married to or preparing to marry an abusive person, you might want to be wary of what lies in store for you and your children down the line. I’m not sure what that will be, exactly, but I can relate what happened in my own family.

All of my sisters married and eventually divorced abusive men. One of my sisters developed multiple personalities. Sometimes she goes into fugue states, wandering away from home and reemerging somewhere, a thousand miles away, with no memory of where she’s been or how she got there. Sometimes she’s locked away in mental hospitals for her own protection. She’s neglected her health, and is now a mental and physical wreck.

Another sister had her nose and jaw broken by an abusive husband, requiring major surgery to her face. She emerged from her last divorce with little money, and had to restart her life at the age of 45. She came close to serving time in prison one evening, as she stood over this husband while he slept, holding a baseball bat over his head. But she resisted temptation and divorced him instead. Finally, after three failed marriages, she found a good man.

My brother has been happily married most of his adult life, and has been fairly successful. But before he set out on the strait and narrow, he was doing hard drugs. He joined the Army on his 18th birthday, but had a problem with fighting and going off into drug-induced rampages. On one occasion he trashed the barracks. This led to a court-martial and discharge. He had to work very hard to rebuild his life after the military, but in the end all has turned out well for him.

I too emerged from childhood with a messed up mind. I was depressed, confused, and poorly equipped for survival in this wild world we live in. And that was compounded by poor physical health. I dropped out of college. I failed to notice, or failed to care about, one golden opportunity for success after another. I came close to suicide on several occasions. But eventually I developed the insight needed to turn my life around and build a successful marriage and career.

My mother has ended up an odd old duck. She’s poor, but spends her money like water. Then she begs for more from her children. She has a nervous talking habit that never quits. It drives everyone nuts. She remembers our childhood very differently from the way we remember, and sometimes speaks wistfully of that ex-husband who molested her daughters. We kind of avoid her, and she lives alone.

This is no sob story. I don’t have much to cry about. For the most part, I feel happy and fulfilled, no thanks to my ex-stepfather. This is a warning. Think of your children when deciding who to bring into your life. Abusive spouses come and go, but your children will always be your children. You want them to always love you, don’t you?

The human spirit is very resilient. But it’s most vulnerable during the tender years of youth. Abusive parenting doesn’t toughen children up. It weakens them. But when or if they restrengthen as adults, their strong spirits will never forget what they endured. And they will do their best to avoid any further abuse. Even if that means avoiding those who raised them.

Conclusion: After Birth

This is the final installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu. Hooray, it’s finally over!
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, and read the whole durned thing, click this link.

After Birth

Me, looking for a steep precipice to crawl over.

I lost the ability to escape my fetal body, weeks before I was born. But I did not lose the ability for my spiritual mind to occasionally escape from my fetal brain, and remember the Other Side. These were lucid moments that allowed me to think with clarity, and to clearly understand the thoughts of others nearby.

These lucid moments continued beyond birth and through the first four years of my childhood. But they grew weaker and less frequent the older I got. And by the time I reached four years of age, they had ceased completely.

And so did my memory of them. And that dashed my plan to commit suicide. I’d come up with the plan just hours before I was born, and I would occasionally be able to remember it while lying in my cradle, or crawling about in my playpen. I felt excited about it, and wanted to go through with it, so I could get back to my pals on the Other Side.

I even tried suicide a few times. I tried stuff like, holding my breath, crawling off furniture and dropping to the floor, and putting big things in my mouth that could make me choke to death. But I was too weak, too uncoordinated, or too supervised by my mother to succeed with these attempts.

It wasn’t impossible. There are other infants who have successfully committed suicide. But it’s just very hard to do, and I was never able to pull it off.

Evolution also intervened. Evolution can be a real bastard. It has favored brains that forget the first few years of life. And when you forget the first few years of life, you forget your memories of the Other Side. You also forget any suicide plans you may have made. So when you get big enough and strong enough to do the act, you have no motivation. Nor can you remember to do it.

Forgetting about the Other Side is what keeps the human species alive. If we could remember how we lived before we were conceived and born, we’d want to go back immediately. But we can’t remember. And so, we can never know for sure if an Other Side truly exists.

In fact, we worry that maybe nothing exists after death, and this motivates us to try to stay alive for as long as possible. The annihilation of the soul is a terrible prospect to imagine, and it’s something we try to stave off for as long as possible.

That doesn’t mean we lose all hope for life after death. Evolution is not all-powerful. The spirit within existed long before we became human, and it remembers. But its memories have a very difficult time overcoming the barrier of the brain, and manifesting to someone occupying a human body.

Still, tiny traces of the spirit’s memories can percolate through. And these tiny traces can leave us with a sense that something exists beyond the grave. But it’s so vague, and so mysterious, that it’s not enough to feel comfortable with suicide.

And so, we lumber on with our lives, gritting our teeth, staving away death for as long as possible, hoping to make it as far as we can into old age, before the inevitable end finally frees us from this mortal coil.

My mother awoke from her anesthesia to see Dr. Senesquez kneeling beside her hospital bed, praying for her recovery. This would be the same doctor who would put me through the horrible torture of circumcision just a few days later. Fuck that son-of-a-bitch for performing such sadistic mutilation!

There he knelt on his old, bony knees, supplicating the Lord Almighty for the health of my mother and me. And we did recover, both of us, to live good, long lives. So maybe a Higher Power answered his prayers. Though I doubt it. It’s not that simple.

If you really want to communicate with the Other Side, look inside. That’s where the Other Side dwells. That’s vague, but I can’t explain the Other Side any better than that.

Now you may wonder how it is that I can remember the Other Side, myself. How is it, you may ask, that I can remember my friends, Scump, Cleeta, and Forchetti? And how can I recall my odyssey to the egg? Or my experiences in the womb? Or my infantile suicide plot?

I know it may seem strange, but it does happen sometimes. Although it’s very, very rare. After we die and we’re released from our human brain, all our spiritual memories flood back to us. This happens to everyone. But on very, very rare occasions, this can happen to people before they die.

Sometimes the brain’s normal pattern of function can be suddenly interrupted. And when this happens, the spirit mind can rush into one’s conscious awareness. Memories of the Other Side flood back, and are trapped in the brain. Yes, yes, sometimes this really does happen. Right? Hmm.

Well, did this happen to me?

No, it did not.

Actually, I’ve been bullshitting. I don’t know if memories from the Other Side can ever come back while we’re alive. In fact, I don’t even know if there really is an Other Side. I hope there is. And I assume there is, because to assume otherwise is damned depressing. But I really don’t know if there is, or what it might be like.

This autobiographical tale is the product of introspection, speculation, and imagination.

It’s also based on truth, though. For instance, I truly was conceived, carried in the womb, and born. And my stages of development in the womb are based upon the actual stages known to medical science.

And sadly, the “cancer” bit is basically true. My mother has been a hypochondriac and drama queen all her life. And other things I revealed about my family life are also based upon truth, sometimes loosely and sometimes closely.

For instance, my dad really did have a mistress. He divorced my mother when I was about one or two, and married his paramour. Later, he cheated on her and married another. And he cheated on her, too. My dad was a skirt-chaser until nearly the day he died. But aside from that he was a wonderful man, and I loved him.

But as for memories of the Other Side, and all the spiritual descriptions of life in the womb, that is all speculation. Who knows, it could be true. Or maybe I’m way off base.

I wrote this to convey an alternative perspective of how we enter this world. The traditional idea is that life begins at conception, or sometime later in gestational development. But the problem I have with traditional ideas is that I think they are often colored by political views that are for or against abortion. They are wishful thinking, rather than reality.

Truth is, nobody knows when life begins. We are all very ignorant on this subject. The best we can do is speculate, as I have done, with this little tale.

I like to assume that life has never begun. And I like to assume it will never end. I assume we have always had life. To me, that is the most comforting of speculations and assumptions.

So whether I’ve written a true tale, or work of fiction, remains to be seen. We cannot know. Not as long as we’re part of the human condition.

We’ll only find out when we leave this life and reach a place where it’s impossible to report back to others. That never-never-land place. That place we long for while we suffer, and dread while all is well. That place lurking within the shadow of our doubts. That place we often stake a claim to, while secretly wondering if it truly exists.

That place that lies far beyond this realm, yet remains just one stopped heartbeat away.

That place we vaguely refer to as the Other Side.

Birth, Part 2: The Miracle

This is the next installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu.
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, click this link.

Part 2:
The Miracle

It was Friday. I was due on Saturday, but doctors don’t like to work on weekends, especially Easter weekend, so my mom was scheduled for a C-section and hysterectomy on Monday morning. She crossed her fingers and legs and hoped I’d wait.

Her mood was up. In fact, she felt a strange, placid peace within, while also having an urge to do some housework. So she went about her day tidying things up, and also preparing my baby bed, and making sure all was in order for the big happenings scheduled for Monday.

What she didn’t know, but may have realized subconsciously, was that this was all part of Mother Nature’s plan as prelude to labor. Just before childbirth, the mother’s pituitary gland releases a hormone called oxytocin. The oxy gets busy stretching the cervix and uterus. And it also causes psychological changes. Mood improves, and a “nesting” desire develops, prompting the mother to busy herself with preparing her shelter for the arrival of her newborn.

About four o’clock in the afternoon, the first hard contraction hit. Now Mom made no mistake about what was happening. She picked up the phone and called my dad at work. “Get home now! I’m having the baby! I need you to take me to the hospital!”

Dad went into panic stage, dropping the phone and rushing out of the machine shop, where he worked, while forgetting to clock out or even say anything to his boss. He gunned the car onto the highway and sped up the winding grade to our home in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas.

It had snowed the day before, and this day, approaching my birthday, was very cold. Patches of black ice remained in the shady spots of the highway. And my dad, speeding along, straightening out curves, hit one of those patches and spun out of control.

His car flew off the grade and plummeted down an embankment. An axle broke. A tire blew out. And the surprised engine chugged to a stop with one final blast of black smoke from the tailpipe.

Dad was now stranded and unable to assist my mother.

But if there was anything my mother knew how to do well, it was how to raise an alarm. Because as soon as she hung up the phone with my dad, she called my grandparents. She needed them to come over and babysit my four siblings, while she was at the hospital.

Grandma and Grandpa showed up a half-hour later. Grandma stayed behind to babysit, while Grandpa packed his daughter into their car and headed straight for the hospital.

“I have cancer, and have to have a C-section and hysterectomy,” my mom matter-of-factly informed the emergency room staff.

The hospital contacted her old man Seventh-Day Adventist doctor, who had been preparing for the Sabbath. Dr. Senesquez dropped everything and immediately rushed to the hospital, driving a whole five miles per hour faster than the speed limit. Which was pretty fast for the way this old geezer normally drove.

My mother sat in the emergency room’s waiting room, feeling the contractions gradually increasing in strength and frequency. A little after 6:00 pm, Dr. Senesquez hobbled in and spoke with the staff. He was a little hard of hearing, so everyone had to speak louder than normal. And so everyone in that waiting room, including my mother and my grandfather, overheard this conversation:

Dr. Senesquez: She has cancer, and must have a C-section with hysterectomy. Prepare a room for me. I will do the surgery.

Nurse: Doctor, I looked at her records. She does NOT have cancer. She has a benign tumor.

Dr. Senesquez, after a long pause: Oh yes. It does say that, doesn’t it? (another long pause) I’ve been praying at my bed for this woman, every night. (another long pause) This is a miracle! God has answered my prayers!

Nurse: But doctor, she never did have cancer. See?

Dr. Senesquez: Isn’t that strange? The Lord works in mysterious ways. It seems God has erased all traces of her cancer. Even in the written record. I’ve never seen such a wondrous miracle before, in all my years of practice!

Soon after, Dr. Senesquez appeared in the waiting room and conveyed the miraculous news to my mother.

“No doctor, I DO have cancer. I just know it. I feel it. I still want a hysterectomy.” Nothing, not even a miracle, could push my mother from her belief in cancer.

Her contractions continued to increase. But now that everyone in the hospital except my mother believed she did not have cancer, nobody was in any great hurry. A C-section and hysterectomy still had to be performed, in order to remove the benign tumor. But this surgery was going to be far less complicated, and much more routine, than cancer surgery.

At around ten o’clock, my dad burst through the emergency room doors, breathlessly asking for my mother. A nurse led him to a room, where Mom was being prepared for surgery. Dr. Senesquez was examining her.

He was filled in on what had happened, what was happening, and what was about to happen. And then he turned to Dr. Senesquez and mentioned the “C” word.

“Oh Mr. Gnu, you will be so happy to know that your wife no longer has cancer!” proclaimed the good and saintly doctor. “She is cured! The Lord and strong prayer have worked a miracle.”

Dad was stunned. “How-how do you know this?” he asked.

“It’s in her medical records,” murmered Dr. Senesquez, with a hushed tone of numinous mystery.

At midnight my mother was wheeled into the operating room and, at 12:31 am, two old hands reached into her opened up belly and yanked me into this world.

And that’s when I woke up, kicking and screaming, from a hard slap to my rear end.

Come on back in a few days, or so, for the final installment of The Birth of Tippy Gnu, entitled, Conclusion: After Birth.

Birth, Part 1: The Kick

This is the next installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu.
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, click this link.

Part 1:
The Kick

I slept most of the time, during the weeks approaching my birth. And when I was awake I usually felt groggy and cranky.

I didn’t like confinement. I kicked and pushed against the womb that imprisoned me. Sometimes I could open my eyes and detect a faint glow of light coming through the skin of my mother’s belly. This gave me hope that there was a free world out there that I might one day be able to reach.

My spiritual body could no longer leave my physical body. But once in awhile I’d have lucid moments where memories of the Other Side came back to me, and I could think and plot and plan with clarity. It was as if my spirit was trying to escape, but the only escape it could manage was to separate itself from the primitive functioning of my fetal brain.

When I could think clearly like this, I always wanted to return to the Other Side. And why not? It was such a wonderful place compared to the hardscrabble drudgery of life in the physical realm.

One night, while listening to the muffled sounds of my father snoring, and my mother softly breathing in deep sleep, I hatched a plan. I decided that after I was born I would simply commit suicide. That would be my ticket back to the Other Side.

I knew I’d have to spend a few years on Earth as a human, because babies aren’t strong enough to commit suicide. I’d have to wait until I could move around well, and be able to toddle to the edge of a cliff, or tie a noose, or handle a firearm with dexterity, or something of that order. But I vowed that as soon as I was able, I’d end my human life and get back to where I thought I belonged.

This plan gave me such a jolt of delight, I kicked my mother with glee. It woke her up. And not only that, but it jostled me around in her womb much more than I’d ever been able to jostle myself before.

Somehow, that kick loosened things up in my prison.

My mother got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. I knew this from the sound of her peeing, and the feel of her deflating bladder.

When she stood up from the toilet, I felt my feet slide down from below her ribcage. It was a weird thing, this sliding, like the bottom had momentarily dropped out of the womb. I instinctively tried to push myself back up, but to no avail.

I had already turned a few weeks earlier, so that I was hanging upside-down like a bat. These days my head was smashed down against the bottom of the womb. I was basically standing on my head.

Could it be? I wondered, feeling excited. Could my freedom be coming very soon? Was this bottom going to open up and let me drop out of this prison?

But then I started feeling that old grogginess return. My spirit let go of its latest escape aspirations and settled back into my fetal brain. And I dropped off to sleep.

I’d like to give you a first-hand account of everything that happened after this. But unfortunately I slept through much of it. And when I was awake, I was in my fetal brain, and not able to comprehend what was going on, in the clear, knowing manner of a spirit mind.

But after I was born and things calmed down, I was able to relax in a reverie that sometimes overtakes newborns. And during these occasions my spirit would sometimes detach from my infant brain, and once again function with clarity. And that’s when I’d overhear adults talking to each other, and I’d actually be able to comprehend what they were communicating.

What follows reflects what I overheard them saying about my last days in the womb:

The day after I dropped in the womb was the day I was born. It happened during the small hours of the morning. My mother had already had four children before me, so she well sensed what was going on. She knew, after I dropped, that childbirth was imminent.

She conveyed her suspicions to my father after he woke up. But she was experiencing no painful contractions, no breaking of water, nor any other signs that my emergence into the world was approaching. So my father shrugged it off and advised her to call the doctor if anything changed. Then he shuttled himself off to work.

Come on back in a few days, or so, for the next installment of The Birth of Tippy Gnu, entitled, Birth, Part 2: The Miracle.

The Third Trimester

This is the next installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu.
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, click this link.

The Third Trimester

Within a few weeks after the sleeping and physical waking episodes began, I merged into the third trimester.

I was growing frustrated, because I was missing out on more and more of the family show. Sleep, and the job of physical being was encroaching into my spiritual awake times. And I wanted to be awake, because I was very much interested in how long my mother could keep up the charade of having cancer, and of heroically risking her life to save mine.

She was fortunate in that her Seventh-Day Adventist doctor was very old, and getting a little senile. This dotard doctor failed to review the report from the oncologist. Instead he took my mother’s word for it, when she gave him her own report from her oncology visit.

I felt glad to be awake during that particular medical trip.

“Oh,” said my mother to Dr. Senesquez, “the doctor advised me to have an abortion. But I refused. I think that if God wills it, I can survive, and so can my baby. I’m putting myself into God’s hands.”

Dr. Senesquez smiled with such an angelic look of admiration that I had a hard time not feeling proud of my mother. The doctor was a religious man, and very much against abortion, except when a mother’s life was in danger. But even then he felt some moral compunctions, and wondered if even this might be a sin. So when faced with such a brave woman willing to risk her life to avoid violating the Sixth Commandment, he felt appreciation.

“Then I will pray for you,” the doctor promised, with his feeble, shaky voice.

Having fooled her obstetrician, it was easy enough to keep the rest of the family in the dark. And so my Munchausen mom kept the spotlight of sympathy and attention upon her, as her pregnancy progressed.

I really wanted to watch the unfolding drama, but I kept getting sleepier and sleepier. And my navel watching time kept getting shorter and shorter, and less and less frequent. I got to where I was sleeping almost all the time. And when awake, I was usually physically awake, stuck inside the dark tomb of the womb.

My last perch on my mother’s navel took place at around eight months. She was a big ol’ balloon by this time, so I got a good view of up, down, and straight out, from her pooched out bellybutton. Just the same, it wasn’t exactly a wonderful view. She was sitting on the toilet taking a big crap.

And that about summed everything up for me. I was about to enter a shitty realm of existence. It was time for me to mentally steel myself for the experience of crap everywhere I turned. The game of life on Earth isn’t easy. For every great hand you’re dealt, you get about nine or ten shit hands.

On Earth you’re constantly wading through swamplands of diarrhea, bullshit, and all other things execrable and stercoraceous. Sometimes through great effort and luck you may find a small patch of dry ground. But then you’re constipated.

No matter what, there’s a big, shitty price to pay for being human.

But maybe my attitude was shitty also. It’s just that when I compared the Other Side with This Side, the contrast was so stark I wanted nothing to do with This Side. You might say I was obsessing with the past, rather than trying to make the best of the present. And maybe that’s why I was becoming human. I had a lot of lessons to learn.

I peered dismally at Mom’s panties, resting on her feet, and made one final wish for the Other Side. And then for the last time, I felt a pull and was whooshed back into her womb, there to sleep and fidget about until birth.

Come on back in a few days, or so, for the next installment of The Birth of Tippy Gnu, entitled, Birth, Part 1: The Kick.

The Second Trimester, Part 3: Slumber

This is the next installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu.
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, click this link.

The Second Trimester,
Part 3:


At 20 weeks in, I began to feel a strange grogginess. It only happened once in awhile, but it would cloud my mind and I’d go into kind of a trance state. At first these trance states lasted just a few minutes. But as the days and weeks progressed, they extended themselves longer and longer. It felt weird, but also kind of pleasant, to go into these states of mind.

One day my mother was 24 weeks pregnant and on the phone with her mother. My grandma. She was proudly proclaiming how worried she was that she might lose her baby, but had no worry for herself. And I was thinking, Yeah, yeah, what a farce, or something along those lines.

She was standing next to a window, and I was looking out the pane from in front of her belly button. I was admiring the beauty of the blue skies, and wishing I could soar through them once again. Soar out, out, and away. Off into space. Off to far distant galaxies. And straight into the long, dark tunnel of a black hole, which would crush me into nothingness and portal me back to the Other Side.

And then I felt the dreaded tugging sensation again. I hadn’t felt it in a long time, but when it came on I instantly recognized it. I knew I was going into the womb deeper, and that this might be my last glimpse of the world outside my mom’s navel.

And sure enough, I was suddenly sucked inside my mother’s body, and all turned to black. I was now in a black hole, but this was a different kind of black hole. It was no portal to the Other Side. It had an exit tunnel, but that tunnel was designed to take me to live, human birth.

I was now completely entrapped within the body of the growing fetus. I was now a brain-body-mind, equipped with wetware for thinking, nerves for feeling, and muscle and tissue for physical functioning. I was now completely human. At least some of the time.

A pregnancy lasts 40 weeks, from the end of the last menstrual period to birth. So at 24 weeks I had only 16 weeks of imprisonment remaining. But my God, how confining! There I was, stuck in this small, dark space, isolated from the outside world.

I could hear the rhythmic beating of my mother’s heart, and the borborygmus of her bowels. And I could even hear noises from outside her belly, although muffled.

I could feel the warmth of her body. And I could feel her movements, whenever she walked, stood, or sat down. But I couldn’t see anything. I was completely blind in the dark cocoon of her womb.

And I was mostly immobile. But I noticed that with some effort I could slightly move a finger, leg, or toe, and twitch or kick a little. That was the only freedom I had, and believe me I worked hard at exercising it. To just wriggle around a little felt empowering. Freedom is everything to any living being, and we will avail ourselves of every opportunity, now matter how tiny, to live free.

The grogginess became far stronger, just as soon as I was tugged completely into the womb. It often took me away to the Other Side, where once again I was Spunjee, frolicking with my friends Scump, Cleeta, and Forchetti. And then it would lift and I’d realize I’d only been in some sort of fantasy fog. A dream, actually. For the grogginess was a transitional state of mind that carried me into a new experience for me, known as sleep and dreams.

At first I only slept a few hours a day. And then I’d wake up and my head would pop back out of my mother’s belly, and I was a spirit again, with a navel’s eye view of the world.

But other times I’d wake up and be stuck inside the belly. It felt different during these occasions. I felt heavy, rather than light. And it was only during these occasions that I could, with great effort, make physical movement, such as wiggle a finger or kick a leg.

These were my physical waking times, when I was a physical being rather than a spiritual being. So I was alternating between the two kinds of beings, sometimes being spiritual and other times being physical.

I slept more and more. I dreamt of the Other Side. I dreamt of This Side. And often I dreamt of nothing at all. All this sleeping and dreaming helped make my incarceration more tolerable. I was spiritually awake more often than not, and I was physically awake for only about an hour or two per day. During these physically awake times I would try out my twitching, wriggling, and kicking.

While physically awake I would grow increasingly claustrophobic. But before I could reach a panic stage, the groggy fog would mercifully overtake me, and off I’d go to slumber land.

Come on back in a few days, or so, for the next installment of The Birth of Tippy Gnu, entitled, The Third Trimester.

The Second Trimester, Part 2: The Lie

This is the next installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu.
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, click this link.

The Second Trimester,
Part 2:
The Lie

Early on in the second trimester I saw my family jewels form. And that’s when I knew I was going to be a boy. If I survived. But this made no difference to me. I had no preference for gender, because I knew how crazy life is for all humans.

Each sex has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it’s no more better to be a boy than a girl. No matter what gender you sport between your legs, it’s what you carry between your ears that really matters. I hoped that I would be born with a brain smart enough to cut through the craziness of life, and avoid at least some of the misery that so many humans put themselves through.

As the fetus that would house me developed, my supernatural powers deteriorated. I could hover about 5 feet above my mother’s belly until late in the fourth month. Then I felt myself drawn in by that damnable tail, closer and closer to her womb. I struggled against the pull, but to no avail.

One day the fetus kicked a little. And with that tiny little movement my spirit was sucked halfway into the fetal body. Now the best I could do for freedom of movement was to poke my head outside the womb and observe what was going on directly in front of my mother.

I could still read minds, and I still retained my fond memories of the Other Side. But I couldn’t roam more than a foot away from my mother’s belly button. From that vantage, I observed my family. I observed the house I might soon live in, if the doctors had their way. And I observed X-ray machines, and medical probes, and people in white uniforms who put on a good show of caring and kindness toward the owner of my womb. And I felt my mother absorb all that attention like a rising starlet with newfound fame. I heard her heart pound with joy.

Mom got the cancer diagnosis at 15 weeks. At 18 weeks, she saw an oncologist. She sat on the examining table while I poked my head out and watched this specialist. The oncologist seemed immersed in thought, while studying some papers at a desk. After about a minute he looked up, adjusted his glasses, and solemnly announced, “Mrs. Morabundus, this diagnosis is extremely serious. There’s a good chance that you won’t survive if you don’t have an abortion and complete hysterectomy, immediately. And I’m hoping even now that it’s not too late.”

“Mrs. Morabundus?” my mom asked aloud, and I to myself.

The doctor quickly looked back at his papers and studied them for a few seconds, while presssing his finger on the top line of a page. “Yes,” he asserted, “Blanche Moribundus. It says right here. You are Blanche Moribundus, aren’t you?”

My mother furrowed her eyebrows. “Nooo. I’m Savanna Gnu. Savanna Green Gnu.”

The doctor now furrowed his own eyebrows. He returned to the paperwork. He shuffled it about. He examined various pages. He muttered words like, “Hmm,” “Wow,” and “Oh dear.” Then he mumbled, “Excuse me for a minute,” and he picked up all the paperwork and walked out of the office.

For about 10 minutes we heard muffled yelling and scoldings from another room. It sounded exciting, and I so wished I could fly over and watch the action, but my head could travel no further than my mom’s damned bellybutton.

Finally the doctor returned. He bowed his head in shame. His hands trembled. He collected his thoughts. Then he looked up directly into my mom’s eyes. “Mrs. Gnu,” his voice shook, “I’m afraid there’s been a terrible mistake. But-but not-not for you. This is good news for you! Our lab mixed up the medical records and it turns out you do not have cancer after all. Your tumor is benign. It should be removed when you give birth, but at present it poses no danger to you or your fetus.”

My mom was stunned. Her eyes widened, and she sat silent for about 15 seconds. This was another one of the longest periods of silence I’d ever witnessed her go through, except when sleeping.

Mom didn’t like this news, and she resisted. After that quarter minute, she opened her mouth and began arguing with the medico. But he held firmly to the facts presented in her corrected medical records. Finally she got up and left, feeling disheartened and frustrated. What would she tell everyone who had been giving her so much love and sympathy? How could she deal with no longer being the focus of everyone’s attention? It seemed her three weeks of fame was over.

I too, felt disheartened and frustrated. Now it seemed there was no way I could avoid birth. The Other Side seemed further away from me now, than at any other point thus far in this ordeal.

Then my mom did something incredible. She hid this “good” news from her family. She continued on as if the cancer diagnosis was still valid, and let everyone believe she was still waging a heroic battle to save her baby against all odds.

I was the only one who knew it was a lie. But what could I do? I couldn’t communicate with anyone. I was stuck in her belly as a passive observer, my ethereal head protruding out, watching, listening, and reading minds to some extent. But I had no power to make others read my mind.

I noticed that the further along my fetus body developed, the weaker my metaphysical powers grew. But my memory of the Other Side remained strong. I longed to return, but knew it was impossible. I didn’t want to live in a world so cold and complicated that a person might want to lie in order to be loved. I longed for simpler times, where psychic communication prevented deception, and where beings could not play games and trick each other so easily.

Come on back in a few days, or so, for the next installment of The Birth of Tippy Gnu, entitled, The Second Trimester, Part 3: Slumber.

The Second Trimester, Part 1: The Aborted Abortion

This is the next installment of my autobiography, The Birth of Tippy Gnu.
To read the previous installment, click this link.
To start at the beginning, click this link.

The Second Trimester,
Part 1:
The Aborted Abortion

I had given up all hope for returning to the Other Side. And then a miracle happened.

Mom went in for a routine X-ray, to see how I was doing. The next day, she was called back to visit her obstetrician immediately.

He was a very old dude. A Seventh-Day Adventist. Religious people . . . they’re a real trip. They have all these notions about the Other Side that are laughable. They’ve got no idea. They once knew, but on This Side they’ve forgotten, and have made up all sorts of hilarious gobbledy-goop about it. My Other Side pals and I used to joke about it all the time.

But anyway, this doc was very old, so he was going to find out for himself about the Other Side, very soon. He had a grave look on his wizened face, that he employed to transfix my mother’s eyes and hold her hypnotic. He droned in a slow, steady, extremely serious monotone, “We found a very large tumor on your ovary. It might be cancer. If it is, your life is in danger.”

He scheduled my mom for a biopsy. After that bit of surgery, that I watched with interest from a short distance, she went in for another consultation.

“It’s cancer.” he solemnly proclaimed, with his aged, crackling voice.

My wide-eyed mother fell dead silent for one of the few times of her life. Finally, “Cancer? Are you sure?”

“Yes, we’re very sure,” the doctor continued. “And it’s very advanced. Your life is in danger. You must have surgery immediately to remove everything. It’s more than a full debulking. You need a complete hysterectomy as soon as possible.”

“A full deb . . . deb . . .”

“Everything has to go!” old man doctor interrupted, while waving a bony arm. “Including the fetus.”

Holy shit! A thrill shot through my cosmic aura, and I lit up like Manhattan at midnight. I was going to be aborted! I could go back to the Other Side after all!

My mother’s reaction was different. She closed her eyes. She took a deep breath. And I read her mind. She felt elated! A hint of a smile curled one side of her lips. She then opened her eyes and addressed her doctor.

“No,” she slowly and firmly iterated with conviction. “I will not abort my baby. I don’t believe in abortion. I’m keeping it, and I’ll have to trust in God’s will.”

Goddamnit! I had a religious fanatic on my hands, who wasn’t going to allow me to escape! I was really pissed off. I wanted to shout at this woman that there is no God. But really there is. Kind of. It’s just not the sort of God conceived by the mortal clowns on Earth. What people think of God is as laughable as what people think of the Other Side.

Then it occurred to me that religion had little to do with my mom’s decision. When I read her thoughts, and read her heart, I detected that she felt delighted at the grim news her doctor gave her. And when I read deeper, I figured out why she felt so elated. She perceived herself as unworthy of love. But with a cancer diagnosis, she could now command sympathy, and get attention from family, friends, and medical professionals. She was about to enter center stage of a great medical drama, and be the star of the show.

She would be the heroine, struggling bravely to save her unborn child. Trying to beat the odds. Garnering sympathy from all quarters. Held up to the attention of the world as someone lovable and respectable.

She didn’t give a damn about her fictional God, or me. This was all about her. My mother wanted love. And so because of her selfishness, I wouldn’t be aborted.

Well shit, this was going to get ugly. I still hadn’t given up hope for escaping from her womb, but now it appeared that she would have to die before the escape could be effected. And if they took me by C-section, my escape might be prevented, even if she did die.

But there was nothing I could do. I was completely at the mercy of modern medicine and the cancer slowly devouring my mother’s body. I could boo and hiss at her doctors, while cheering on the tumor, but my role was relegated to that of spectator.

Come on back in a few days, or so, for the next installment of The Birth of Tippy Gnu, entitled, The Second Trimester, Part 2: The Lie.

« Older Entries