Teal Gardner



John Messina, Fisherman's Son, 1972

Psychological studies of the family have long shown that the total pain produced (and endured) by members of the Original Domestic Unit (O.D.U.) during their tenure as both “nuclear family” and “under one roof” can become unconsciously lodged in the minds and bodies of members, influencing their behavior long after the coop has been flown. The following article seeks to build on this concept, starting with the understanding that pain can become lodged, can saturate, stain, and change the physical composition of matter that is exposed to it. This brief paper looks at the home place, house, or lodging as the site of highest pain concentration produced by filial sources.

The Home-Place, House, or Lodging

Popularly understood as an architectural system of domestic rooms that contain our indoor activities, the home-place is taken here as a series of nooks that hoard the very painful stuff of filial experience. To investigate the quality of these nooks, and to drive home an understanding of their properties, a list describing well-known regions of the home-place will follow.

The Corridor

It is the wrong place. If someone is caught in the Corridor, this usually means a transgression has occurred. Sentencing is pronounced in the Corridor between the Master Bedroom and the Child’s Bedroom Door, and produces a trajectory of consequences that stick to the child (a.k.a. “Witness”), even as it transforms into a thing capable of producing witnesses itself. Carpeting in the Corridor is more prone to quickening and saturation than that found elsewhere in the home. Once the house is emptied of the O.D.U. the Corridor becomes haunted and gives off a sound that is reminiscent of a slowed-down fracture (bone). Floods of anger in the Corridor require sandbagging, accomplished by the lengthening of the body along the wall, wrapped in clothing. Sometimes the flood is not contained, resulting in a structural warp, which breaks through as a smell.

The Carpet

A deep and comforting matter that rashes backs during floor sex/fighting. The fiber count of the Carpet in this particular region is very high. It is as if everyone on Earth were standing side by side in Texas. They would all fit, but it would be close. The Carpet can be cut, it has been cut in some places with kitchen shears. Occasional fits of crying have brought tears to Carpet-level, but in this house such bursts are rare. Internal carpeting gathers and stores much tear-matter in humans incapable of bursts. Clouds of tears sometimes cause drift, and jobs are lost. Children have muttered into this carpet incredibly strong spells, which the carpet envelopes in pockets, or “Tension Envelopes.” The Carpet is made of softened plastic. Beneath the carpet is the Prairie.

The Kitchen

The following recipe is a traditional house food that you can make in your apartment.

Your original house arrives as aroma during the baking of this food.

For this reason, caution must be exercised if painful exposure to members of the Original Domestic Unit has recently occurred. The smell can kill you with memory pain.

Poached Bread
  • Serves: 1
  • Preparation time: 1 day
  • Requirements: You must be in a Kitchen. The Kitchen may not be yours. The Kitchen must have a heat source that expels flame. The floor must be arranged between walls, and the trash, compost, and recycling receptacles must be emptied of matter. Set the room mode by increasing the fundamental resonance to above 200 hz. Your own clattering will contribute to this. Light must be pouring in. Hands. A prepared chair. Heated bricks. Stick.
    Note: If you have recently seen your brother, you’ve surely stolen a cloth item from his bag, which should be used in the preparation of this bread. If you have not seen your brother, or have seen him but have not stolen from him, a sock will do.
    Add the following to a large bowl or box, blurring continuously with the hand or stick:

    1. The stolen cloth item or sock
    2. 1.5 C bed dust
    3. 1 C ground corn
    4. 1 blur (movement over the bowl or box)
    5. Enough boiled water to cover it
    When the hand/stick becomes rigid within the mixture, remove the mass from the box to a prepared station that is free of litter and images. Treat the mass to a conversation. You might remind it that it is in the process of becoming. Remember, the kitchen can hear you, and the appliances are taking a prehistoric kind of note, and may begin to rustle quietly. Gaston Bachelard’s observation that the house is “no longer aware of the storms of the outside universe” can be modified here, by punching the mass while thinking of the universe. Beat the mass with the universe. Remind it that it is becoming.

    Rest the mass for 2 hours on the prepared chair. During this time you must button your shirt to the collar and sing for your father and mother. Remember them with all of your body and fibers. DO NOT SING TO THE MASS. Sing to your parents.

    After you are hoarse and the 2 hours have elapsed, fill the box with boiled water, making sure that it is still steaming. Carefully remove the mass to the box, where it should turn slowly in the water, converting into bread. This process can take up to 8 hours. Heated bricks must be added at the appropriate time to keep the water at a steady steam. Water can be added to counteract evaporation. The smell may become intolerable. If the aroma of the bread poaching does begin to approach the threshold of what you can take, distract yourself. The aroma is fully pain, and is capable of embalming.

    Once the bread has bathed and swollen, turn it out onto the chair, using your hands as tongs. Lift it into the air above your head, completing a hoist that emulates the success-hoist performed by ecstatic parents with their swaddled progeny and winners with their trophies. Lay it on a table and roast it in the air overnight. You can leave the Kitchen in the morning, when the bread has hardened completely.

The Bedroom Door (Child’s)

It has been marked with stickers. If the child has inhabited the room behind the door for a duration of more than 10 years, the door will be saturated and should be removed. The door will be heavy, and may require members of the O.D.U. to wrestle it forth. Should there be a child’s drawing on the door, this drawing must be surveyed, and if the image is of a house, it will be especially interesting. “Motionless houses” are drawn by children who have been hidden in closets. The door, although not motionless (for it is hinged to move), receives the psychic output from the child within the room, and ossifies accordingly. Motionless children will not represent doorknobs in their drawings of houses. The closed door contains the gesture of closing, and appears as partial dead bone. A completely ossified door will shatter when touched.

The Master Bedroom

You have entered the Master Bedroom. You scuttle forth, hunched low, sniffing the bedskirt, grey hands searching the space under the bed. You extract a vessel, a container. A fantastically thick wooden box with a combo lock. You hide in the walk-in, behind the dresses, panting, cables of stress-sweat unfurling from behind your bangs. Everyone’s future self clutching their genitals in their parents' closet. Trying the combination on the box. Trying on the wedding dress from the marriage ceremony. Trying on the socks. Trying out the back massager/vibrator. Finding the gun. Falling asleep in the closet. Outside, the Master Bedroom is full of noise. The down pillows retain the wooden grunt of your father’s sex efforts and your mother’s wick-thin sigh. The staccato of hammer strikes are affixed to the walls, along with framed photos, you know the faces, you knew the faces. You knew that they were there. You wash your hands in the sink on your dad’s side of the bathroom. You have a hard-on/you are wet. You clean the puke off of the toilet seat. You fart loudly. You weigh yourself. You are 7, 10, 18, 29 years old. You remember reading the word “douche” in the cabinet under the sink. You grab a catalog to read while you shit. You always read while you shit. You take a bath and think about venison stew. A low hum comes from the interstate. The scream of the lamp smashing a wall holds its constant pitch of violence. You hide in the closet until they come back, and when they don’t, you walk out through the door of the bedroom, still clutching the box.

The Basement

The Basement is divided into six layers, going from shallowest to deepest:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Formal Pain
  3. Worship
  4. Rope
  5. Visitors
  6. China

When a mother fractures the Den with Yoga, she is rolling the frustrations out of her skin, making bread of her body, working into Corpse Pose. Spiritually leaving the house. The Child/Witness appears, worried. The mother/dough/corpse, although live, rests inert and the Witness begins to rash. The basement has stairs, and the Witness is drawn down, into the lower volume of the house, a movement which gains her access to Basement Layer 1, Avoidance. The air in the Basement is cold and damp, which calms the rashed shins and forearms and face of the Witness. In later years, when the Witness has sized to her maximum, she may practice Yoga in the Den, releasing a dermal condition into the air, which infects her Witness, driving that small-bodied individual into The Basement. She may discover that her mother was once a Witness by viewing photographic representations, lodged in the Master Bedroom, or archived in Basement Layer 2.

Layer 2, Formal Pain, is comprised of inhabitants that include (pet) rodents, (pet) reptiles, (pet) arachnids, sucking sounds, oil pools, The Sump Pump, clothes piles, molds, archived memory matter, shoes that can no longer be worn, and sports gear. These animals/articles have a survival rate that can exceed that of the O.D.U. They are best accessed at a quickened pace, with gloves on. Fathers/Mans will often stir Layer 2. The inhabitants of Layer 2 can be put on eBay, or can die off due to neglect (starvation).

It is possible to advance to Layer 3 (Worship) without passing through Layer 2, because of the extreme focus required to enter Layer 3. One must lower oneself down on a kind of dumbwaiter that sinks through the first two Layers. Layer 3 sometimes blocks exit, causing insanity. The youngest Witnesses will be immune to this effect. The mother may disappear.

Layer 4 is a slick, heavy rope that is coiled on the floor.

Layer 5, Visitors, can come in through Layer 6, China. This is where the Witnesses of one house meet with Witnesses from other houses, near or not near. Sometimes toxic levels of understanding are released into the air; these can be evacuated through The Sump Pump (active in Layer 2). Visitors smoke pot, and will occasionally instruct in gravity-bong assembly, using bathwater to displace the pot smoke. Witnesses, when reporting to the mother after such a workshop, notice her very clean, very straight and large teeth, as if for the first time.

Level 6, China, is the future.

The Bathroom

The first shame is in the prominence of vulnerability of body in the Bathroom. Organs grind together there, almost surfacing, the liver and spleen cresting like whales. Others may witness your struggle to engage your own body in sex. Your mother’s pubic hair, your brother’s, your father’s scent, are all held aloft by the vapors that issue from the shower. Your own flatulence, followed by masturbation on the toilet. These materials and clouds become airborne and sticky, adhering to the bottoms of the feet, the unreachable part of the back, the armpits. When leaving the bathroom, individuals must carefully sweep the body clear of such matter (with a brush), or, if preferred, achieve a velocity of movement almost always associated with “running,” where wind assists in the removal of the hairs and smells of others.

If the Bathroom features a window, the mother will become languid before it, and dreamily suggest (to herself) that the family go camping in the summer. The window will fog with her warm and moist nearness, and she will sing or weep softly. The window has a propensity for recalling these events, which can be forcibly extracted from the glass by breaking it, a process that will release all such stored-up events in a single shatter.

The beams in the Bathroom ceiling absorb the thoughts pouring off of the bodies of individuals who enjoy any length of tenure in this room; these thoughts co-mingle with those of the rest of the O.D.U. Sections of the wooden ceiling beams can be cut away with delicate saws, the squares of wood can be packed into the gums of members, leeching an unspoken fraternity into the sensitive mouth flesh. Chewing of the wooden “tabs” is not recommended; as with slow-release medication, the uptake into the bloodstream of the thought-sweat of others has a rather dizzying effect, and can entail, among other things, traffic accidents at high speed.


Den is closest to basement in tone. It is more personal, however, and, slung low as it is within the architecture, it leads members to place their bodies near to one another, in seated positions inside of the soft clamp of the couch. Nearness is achieved. Decorative pillows are provided for smothering, gliding, or propping. The mother and father have for sure fornicated here, with the screen on mute, the burning gas turned on. There may be area rugs lying over the carpeting, and fathers and brothers are often seen diving forth here, exerting themselves physically with one another before the large screen.

The strongest intentional lessons of the filial experience may be lodged here, but the strength and wording of these impressions makes them highly prone to travel. Stealth versions of Den can crop up in Car, Corridor, Kitchen, Driveway, Basement (all layers), and Child’s Bedroom. The most verbose members of the O.D.U. will select Den for their locutions, extolling the virtues of the neighbor-wife, who has carried and birthed six children, but whose body is still as tight as ligament.

Den can sense trouble, and prepares itself for it by leaving out the bottle of Scotch that provided momentum and a sense of conviction to the discussions of the previous night. Violences are routed into the wall coverings and bookshelves, with large books being especially porous. They carry it all in them as if waterlogged. The walls themselves have a vacuum function, which clears air that is heavy with language and violence blur. Wall vacuum is operated mainly through a version of speech, “love,” that cannot be located in some houses.

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