Regina, with a name like Regina, no wonder I felt a need to turn myself into her for a while.
I lived a life where I was always in pursuit of the priest, even before I knew what the priest had done to me. If I hadn't had a baby when I was 40 years old I would have never even remembered what Father Horne did to me, because it was only when my daughter was five years old, and me being a mom I’d had to stop using alcohol and drugs, that I empathized with my five year old daughter and remembered what happened to me at age five. This is not an unusual experience. The thousands of clergy sex crime lawsuits in the last twenty years have proved repressed and recovered memories are real. God only knows how many victims there really have been, children raped by Catholic priests in small towns across America. It’s only by shoestrings, angel hair strands, of luck that I lived to be 45 years old to recover a memory like this.
But looking back, I so can see the compulsions and how they played back in my life, almost like clues my own brain was giving me. Like this period I keep wanting to write about now, when I was running Studio Typing Service at 8555 Sunset Boulevard, in the mid-1980s. These were the years I’d come back to L.A. from Houston, after the extremely debilitating experience of being forced off the staff at NASA LBJ Space Center. They got me out before I had completed three years work there, that was in 1981. But I was still living in Clear Lake City, the area of Houston where you find NASA, two years later. It was 1983 by the time I got back to L.A. I stayed with my family first for a few weeks, in San Clemente, and pretended the Ebelings were some kind of institution, but we're not.
So about a month, maybe six weeks, after leaving Houston, I was living at The Tropicana Motel on Santa Monica Boulevard, where The Duke’s had their first restaurant, a rock ‘n roll dive, half my neighbors were gay prostitutes, others in the hotel were their customers. From that famed address and with being a PAO at NASA fresh on my resume I started looking for another job.
Three years and several jobs later I was typing out of my home from this apartment building where I live in West Hollywood. And advertising myself as a freelance publicist, then shirking work. In these years I also developed the fine skills of a barfly. Drinking to blackout was a regular experience for me in the 1980s. People were constantly walking up to me and saying, Hi, Kay, and I would have no memory at all of meeting them, but they must know who I am. I would walk around town looking sober when I was really in a blackout most of the time. It’s a skill I inherited from my dad, and the Irish German ancestors, I guess, being a functioning drunk…
Okay, Regina, even with a name like that, I thought she had some special connection. PING that's one of the “clues,” that compulsion I had from day one to find other people who had this same special “connection” to God that I had. I knew it was inside me, I just didn't know how it got there. So I’d look for these clues.
Regina, a little older than I was, had a quality of groundedness. She had taken her skill of typing fast, invested cash and made it a business. To people born after the 1960s that might not seem like much, but before Gloria Steinem started Ms. Magazine and the 1970s phase of feminism, most women had few opportunities to develop job skills, and secretarial work, typing, for a lot of us that was it. You see it in the 1940s movies, in The Apartment, all those women with Bacherlor’s Degrees working as typists and secretaries, that's about all a woman could aspire to until the generation that was born of the feminists grew up, went to college, and became professionals.
In my case, after Ms. Magazine came out and the changes started, I became a 26 year old college freshman and graduated just as I turned 30.
The 1980s were a transitional time, and once I lost the job at NASA, I was out on the street, trying to get a foot in any door I could, and all that was open to me anymore was clerical work. Oh, I did take one professional journalism job in L.A. in the eighties. Editor in Chief of ASD AMD Trade News, which involved going to Las Vegas and Atlantic City to sell ad space, as well as journalism work, and well- I soon was fired. After having sex with the boss’ son in Atlantic City and letting some of the venders there take a picture of me topless.
I had no boundaries. Then wondered why I would get fired over and over again.
Okay. Regina. Her name, her demeanor, plus in the weeks I got to know her, she had just met this woman, a fundamentalist Christian from Japan. One night as I helped Regina close the shop, she described how she had felt so lost, like her life had no meaning, then she spent an evening with Pastor Yaya and this guy Ronald. Regina said they were watching an evangelical preacher on TV and she was sitting on the floor. Pastor Yaya and Ronald egged Regina on, “guided” her, and before long she was on the floor, rolling around on the carpet, speaking tongues. When the experience was over, she knew she was a new person, reborn. Now Ronald had moved in with Regina and she started staying after the shop was closed to run off flyers about Pastor Yaya and their ministry on this Kodak copier that Regina had just gone way into debt to purchase for the business.
I was still adopting other persons’ persona at this time in my life.
Before the recovered memory, a thing I used to do all the time was to totally adopt the persona of another person. I’d meet someone and really like the way they dealt with life, and I’d just… become them. I could just take on their feelings, attitudes, it was more than an impersonation, it was me actually adopting other persons’ personalities. Now as a 60 plus year old woman, I realize what I was doing was my own personal PTSD. One of the ways I avoided ever looking at what happened to me was to become another person, and most of the time of my life between age 5 and age 45 I was adopting persona.
It made me a dynamite actress by the way.
So I had taken to adopting Regina’s persona and I'm sure she noticed it, and she probably thought it was part of this rebirthing experience she was having, that a person who was starting to talk act and dress exactly like her was now willing to take over managing her business. So Regina out of the blue offered me the job of managing Studio Typing because she wanted to go do the Work of the Lord now full time with Pastor Yaya and Ronald.
I never did see the picture from the Atlantic City tradeshow, but I'm pretty sure the sudden change in the way I was being treated at ASD AMD Trade News started directly after we came back from the trade show in Atlantic City. It was another case where they never fired me, they just made conditions on the job so bad for me, I had no choice but to quit, same thing that happened at NASA.
So there I was at the counter of Studio Typing Service at 8555 Sunset Boulevard, now that I was manager, it was me who got to take care of the celebrity clients. However, during the time I was going through scripts with the writer-customers, I was able to let what was left of functioning Kay show through, even if it was only in explaining screenplay format and the reasons for putting the pages together in the way that we did.
Since managing this business meant coming in around 7:30 AM and leaving way after dinner hours, the job played in with the Speedy part of my PTSD:
By filling every hour with business, I had no time to look back on the pain of NASA or to wonder why it happened, even to wonder what happened.
Instead my mouth would grin back on the right side, making a half mouth grin, the exact expression that Regina always displayed when she went over scripts with customers. I’d combine Regina’s counter skills with my intelligence as a one-time NASA news representative, as I explained to the actors how we could keep their resumes updated every time they get a new job. Or defining the purpose of a hyphen in screenplay format, versus a dash, that's when the NASA PAO personality bubbled up, as I’d give this directive on punctuation as much importance as I’d give an answer to a reporter in the Houston newsroom in earlier years.
Always recombining personalities, never really being myself, as a way to avoid looking at who I was and how I got that way.
Until I had a baby and she turned five years old.
Truth is in the 1980s I never brought up my job at NASA, except when Columbia blew up. The astronaut, Judith Resnick who was among the seven who died on Columbia, I used to adopt her personality all the time in the years I was working at LBJ Space Center.
Adopting Resnick's persona didn't help.
Strangest thing is, I never
Stopped to look at what happened at NASA.
I just drank a lot and got jobs that involved 12-14 hour days. Never started to talk about NASA again until I was going to alcoholics anonymous meetings in Eureka, California, in 1992. In the weeks and days before the recovered memory started to come in, when I’d been clean and sober for two years, just before the recovered memory experience, I started obsessing on NASA. What happened there? Why did I lose that job?
Regina rolled around on the carpet in front of the TV set and handed her business over to me, but even as manager, I could not stop the people from Pastor Yaya's Church from showing up after business hours to run off things on the Kodak super copying machine.
In fact, the Yaya's used up so much of our assets that Studio Typing Service soon folded. Pastor Yaya took Ronald and moved on, Regina went back to typing from home, and I found out about the ASD AMD Editor In Chief job from a guy in a bar on Santa Monica Boulevard.