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Maggots, Dreams and Lullabies

Like stations in a relay, Maggots, Dreams and Lullabies is a series of separate yet related vignettes which follow the life of an unnamed woman from childhood to child’s end. It is an intricate tale of the mysterious and powerful forces of love, death and re-birth while reflecting on such contemporary issues as : surrendering to motherhood, high risk pregnancy, breast cancer survival, adoption and re-incarnation. The story alternates between past and present tense. The point of view shifts; sometimes told from the sidelines as a detached third person; sometimes as a scene in a movie; sometimes revealed with the gritty and intimate details of a confessional poet. From Long Island to Italy, from 1959 to 1409, the WOMAN opens a Pandora’s box of absurd characters, surreal landscapes, unthinkable acts, impossible relationships and poignant choices.

OUTLINE : Maggots, Dreams and Lullabies

Personal Stories from the Underbelly
by Aimee Greenberg

Chapter One: A Child’s Conversation in C Minor

Little orphan Annie grows up in Long Island. From the moment her father reveals her adoption, to the death of her adopted MOTHER, the GIRL tells her side of growing up with FATHER and SISTER with child-like candor in a seamless folkloric narrative. She comments on the minutiae of daily life and human behavior like a seasoned adult. We witness her loss of innocence through the death of many small pets, her first experience with the neighborhood bullies and the physical and emotional fragility of her adopted mother. Father re-marries a woman whose sullen and wayward teenage daughter turns into trouble and splits the marriage in two.

Chapter Two: Coming Up Roses in the Hood

The girl grows into puberty. She suffers the slings and arrows of adolescence and unpopularity. She gets beaten up for being Jewish. She gets chosen last in team sports. In Hebrew school, she is chastised for wearing pants and stands up and shouts "Batman." She tries to fit in with the freaks or hippies at high school but finds herself a constant outsider. Her salvation comes in losing herself in drama and CINDY, a fellow loner who pushes the envelope and incites the girl to commit risky and unlawful behavior. At fifteen, the Girl lies about her age and sexual experience and looses her virginity to a twenty-three year old folk singer whom she watches perform at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village.

Chapter Three: Return to Sender

The woman’s (now twenty-five) search for her biological mother is awakened through her relationship with G, an Argentine exile. She feels smothered by G and discouraged by the struggles of the New York theatre world. She begins her search and relocates from New York to Seattle. Within months, she flies back to New York to meet her biological mother at the adoption agency. The reunion unfolds as a dramatic scene from a film in which the woman is stunned by the appearance of her biological father . COLLIE and SAM confess that they have two other daughters, one adopted and one natural. She returns to her adopted father SOL and discovers that her two fathers are second cousins.

Chapter Four: Lost in Loveland

The woman confesses with intimate and poetic detail the nature of her volatile and dependent relationship with L in Seattle.

Chapter Five: Maggots and Pearls

SHE rises from the sea naked with a noose around her neck. She gathers pieces of colored glass by the shore. Ephemeral and ghost like she moves in and out of the islands of glass and lace near the city by the sea. She sits for hours in a cafe and tries to reconstruct a pattern of glass from memory. She travels south to a familiar villa in a street near Piazza Santo Spirito. Inside the villa, she throws the pieces of glass onto the floor as they land in the familiar pattern. She falls asleep and awakens at 4:00 am in the City of Angels to the bell of a clock sounding an earthquake. She feels a lump in her left breast over her heart. The doctor reveals a lump in the pattern of the glass pieces in an x-ray. She wants to keep it, but they convince her to undergo two surgical procedures and radiation. She is confused by the assault on her body. She travels to Russia to dance on the rooftops, but is filled with sadness. She travels to Japan to dance with the spirits in masks and dive with the AMA for pearls. She finds the glass pattern in an oyster, cuts open her breast and places it inside. Years later, after the birth of her child, she receives a package with ashes and a man’s ring bearing a glass stone of the same design.

Chapter Six: Jesus on the Beach or Holy Vista!

The woman is now 37 , married, pregnant and living in rural Vista, North County, San Diego. The road to her home is paved with immigrant auto storefronts and equipment rentals. Her house is sandwiched in-between a family of Christian fanatics and a hack magician. She tries to facilitate a Japanese Butoh Dance class with three female students in an adjacent empty field. The Christian family protests. She is accused of being possessed by the devil. She and her husband rent the house and relocate to Laguna Beach. The renters buy another house. The magician gets evicted and bikers take over. They steal electricity from the abandoned residence. Her husband rents the house to ED, a co-worker and his companion. They allow a friend and his girlfriend to move in. The house is raided by the Sheriff and the companion and friends are arrested for the possession and sale of methamphetamine. Almost one year later, the house is sold to a Realtor for the balance of the loan.

Chapter Seven: Paul

The year her daughter is born, her best friend and first love dies. The phone call from a friend in Florence on one early October morning unravels memories of a twenty-five year platonic friendship with PAUL; set against a back story of PAOLO OF MILAN and SISTER ANGELA of Florence. The year is 1409. Sister Angela is running through the tunnel to meet Paolo on the other side. Paolo is a soldier turned artist commissioned by the Monastery San Marco to paint the lives of the Saints on the walls of the monastery. Sister Angela is a learned devotee of the lives of the Saints. They meet in the cell where Paolo is studying the walls to paint St. Sebastian. He places his hand on the place where he feels the buried heart of the Saint and blood pours forth. The witnessing of this miracle binds them from this day forth. Angela becomes a host for the voices and re-enactment of the live of Saint Sebastian. They begin an illicit love affair which continues for a year. DONATELLA is poor a mute woman who lives at the convent. She drowned her baby in the Arno and was sentenced to death, but by the graces of Paolo, her life was spared. As a self-imposed penance, she carries water up and down the hill, with a noose and a drawing pad around her neck on which she re-creates the drama of the drowning. One night she catches Paolo and Angela making love and begins to draw the scene. The lovers are found out. Sister Angela is running through the tunnel to meet Paolo. The lovers move towards an embrace when Paolo, like Sebastian is shot through his torso and arms with arrows. Pinned like Jesus, Angela watches him die. Sister Angela is led through the street naked by a noose around her neck and stoned to death.

The story returns to present day. She recalls Paul’s mother VIRGINIA, who is mad, brilliant and obsessed with Paul. She remains a strong factor in keeping their relationship platonic. Paul’s Italian girlfriend CREDENZA becomes mad and obsessed with Paul’s possessions. Devastated by being denied his sperm after death, she creates a museum of his Rome apartment, with his toothbrush and razor in the bathroom and jacket hanging on the coat rack. She returns to home and visits Paul’s parents, Virginia and GEORGE. They are old and ill and, as usual, antagonistic. Paul’s brother has a baby girl who, exactly one year after Paul’s death dies from a heart condition. She speculates that Paul was trying to trying to reincarnate through the baby. She vows that she will have another baby. It will be a boy. She will call him Paolo.

Chapter Eight: Through the Water Lily

She takes us on a intimate journey of pregnancy, childbirth, post-partum and motherhood in the first year of life. She becomes pregnant unexpectedly, only three weeks after marriage. A large fibroid threatens her pregnancy. She is haunted by the memory and condition of her adopted mother who was infertile due to multiple fibroid surgeries. She dreams about a Down Syndrome girl calling her into her world. She fantasizes an escape from the inevitable. She is, at times frozen with the fear of breast cancer recurrence, as a result of and during her pregnancy. She is ten days overdue and reluctantly schedules an induction. On the night before the scheduled induction, she goes into labor. Her daughter is born after 22 hours of labor; five hours of excruciating back labor. Breastfeeding is challenging. Lily spikes a high fever three days after birth. They return to the hospital. In the ER, the nurses have difficulty drawing Lily’s blood. Her urine is collected. It is very cloudy. She is admitted into Pediatrics for five days for further testing and intravenous antibiotics. Mother starts to crack under the weight of spinal taps, x-rays, dyes, post-partum and no breast milk. After five days, they return home. The breastfeeding battle resumes with a SNS and a couple of ounces from the right breast. The mother battles with the forces of rootedness and rootlessness. She tears the baby from her breast at six months to facilitate a dance workshop in Europe. She pumps her milk for ten days, but in the end, looses all but one 1/2 an ounce. She is tormented by guilt for leaving her baby. She returns home and watches Lily grow. She wrestles with attachment and feeling smothered by 24/7 dependency. She fears dying young like her mother and leaving her child motherless. She dreams of abandoning her child. She dreams of rescuing her child. She strolls Lily up to the park to see the goats and sheep. The baby sheep are bleating for their mothers. Lily echoes their cries. She reassures her: "I’m here Lily. I’m here."