I’m one of those people who doesn’t remember a lot of my childhood. There are good reasons why. While some memories are pure magic – picnics in my gramma front yard in Carmichael, friends who were always by my side, doing well in school and incredible teachers who saw me for who I was – others are awful. There’s a reason they call it “the past”.
I’ve spent that last two months trying to get moving on a book. I wrote a huge chunk for a different book ages ago, but going back to it I realized there’s so much I didn’t say. It was fine for what it was, it was almost like a bridge in music that helps make the transition from one phrase to another, a mention that paced the real story of how I used a sperm donor to have my daughter. For a few years I did NaNoWriMo every November and managed to produce five manuscripts – none of them about the murder except for the interlude in my donor book.
So as I hunkered after DeAngelo was caught and started going back to the bad old days, it’s been difficult. My dad and I didn’t get along. He didn’t like me. He very well might have loved me, but he didn’t like me and that was demonstrated over and over by his actions. According to my mom, the early years were good. When I was a toddler and before my brother Jay was born, dad and I got on great. I was adorable and precocious (can you imagine?) and the center of their universe. Then Jay arrived and things changed. I apparently noticed and began acting out. That was it. I became the problem. My dad, who never really appreciated women as equals, relegated me to a second class citizen.
As I got older, it got worse. There were good moments. It wasn’t all trash. But man, there were a lot of shitty moments.
Writing about the crime.
I don’t want to write about the murders. They’ve been covered again and again. I just read one account – today on the ProBoards – that I find so disturbing. It’s just someone’s theory but it’s based on aggregated knowledge of stories that have taken on a life of their own. So, you say, Jen write what is true! Here’s the thing, it’s hard to know what is really true. Different folks have told stories that are based on what my dad or Charlene wanted people to believe. Charlene being an interior designer is one example. She wasn’t an interior designer. I’m sure she helped someone decorate their house at some point, but for everyone out there who’s been trained in interior design, calling her an interior designer is an insult.
I know this isn’t the thing for me. I’m pretty damn rational but listening to people go on about Charlene’s beauty, Lyman and Charlene’s “love” for one another, and the other ways my dad and stepmom have been romanticized is gross. This sentence gets to the root of the insanity, “Charlene and Lyman Robert Smith were a high-class married couple living in Ventura, California.” They were not a high-class couple. They weren’t “beautiful people” or whatever McNamara parroted. They were flawed, desperate, ambitious people who didn’t always do the right thing and left damage in their wake. They were both masters at creating illusion.
And in spite of all that, we loved them.
Instead, I’m going to keep blogging.
I’ll share stories I remember. I’ll try and shine some light on the nonsense and tell you the story of real people who messed up. I’ll talk about strange things that happened as a result of the crime and how my life was affected. I’ll answer your questions and keep following the trial. I’ll provide insight when I have them and debate the issues as they come up. But I can’t go back to that time and write a coherent book about all this. Hey – maybe I’ll even get my other books done and published. They are way more interesting.
If you like this blog, subscribe via email. It’s a brain-dead way to get the latest updates. The email subscription form is in the upper right corner. I’ll commit to at least one story per week. I’ll shoot for Sundays. Tomorrow I’ll tell you about being a suspect. Not my best moment but kind of ballsy now that I look back on it. Later this week, we also head back to court to “check-in” on DeAngelo. I’ll have an update on that as well.
Thank you for being a reader. It’s been wonderful support.