of the North.
[Exhibit: one college blue book, 16 lined pages. Written on cover are the
words "Sue T., Exercise 3A, May 26, 2000" in longhand. Interior transcribed
I hate these exercises. "Tell the Goddess
who you are! Tell Her why you came
Jeez, She knows. She doesn't need me to write it down in a blue book for a
bunch of strangers to read. But I'll do it anyway. It'll help me, I know
I was born Zuzanna Franciszka Tyszkiewicz on April 17, 1976 at 7:07 am. I
know, I might as well have had a "Kick Me" sign tattooed on my forehead at
birth. Gratefully, my parents, Charles and Dora, only gave me the
traditional Polish names to make my grandparents happy.
So, yeah, I'm a Chicago Polack, what's it to you? It's one of the richest
cultures in all the United States. There's New York Eastern European Jews,
Boston Irish, and Chicago Poles. I think the heavy (and I mean, *heavy*)
exposure to my ancestry as a kid eventually put me in place to study
anthropology, but that's a story for another time.
I grew up in Naperville, Illinois, outside Chicago, where my family had fled
after the South Side was overrun by, well, insert racial slur for
African-Americans here. My older siblings (all 5 of them, I'm the baby)
hated moving, but since I was 2 when we did, I couldn't complain. The
suburbs were my home. My dad still went back into the city every day because
he's been a Chicago police officer for 30 years. When he came back from
Vietnam he had 6 kids with his sweetheart in rapid succession.
The day Pope John Paul II became Pontiff in 1978 is my first crystal-clear
childhood memory. Granma (that's my mom's mom) spent weeks in her bedroom
(they came to live with us early on) before John Paul One died. When she
came out, the proverbial smoke went up from St. Peter's and voilą, a son of
Poland was the Vicar of Christ. Always thought that was a little fishy.
Granma went into the hospital one day back in 1987 with chest pains. Turned
out to be lung cancer. It took her a long time to die, but she did She
whispered something to me in Polish when she passed, a long sentence that I,
with the little knowledge I had of Polish at the time, couldn't even begin
to translate. I got my first period right after we put her in the ground
three days later.
We were close. She was old-country and despaired to see my short hair and
skinned knees. But we had something that she and my mother never had. Some
sort of connection. I miss her almost every day.
The rest of my childhood? Well, I was the baby. And a tomboy on top of it.
With four brothers I couldn't help it. My older sister, Hanna, didn't suffer
like I did. She was girly, and had dates, and by the time I was in junior
high, I knew something was different about me. I mean, I didn't hate boys. I
hung around with lots of them. But I didn't like them the way they were
starting to want to be liked. That became real clear real quick.
Oh yeah, something else about my childhood. My dad was a domineering
bastard. Sure, you're thinking, typical. How else would she end up a Slut
for the Goddess without being some sort of damaged daddy's girl. Well, I'll
say this much. He never laid a hand on me in anger or any other warped
emotion, except once. And the day that happened changed my life... for the
The whole family went to Comiskey for a Sox game. Now, you know, you grow up
on the South Side, you're a Sox fan for life. It's in the by-laws. Fuck, my
Dad didn't even call it Comiskey, he called it "Sox Park," like the real
South Siders do. We all went into town (probably seven of us, since Mattie
was off at Iowa at that point). Anyway, who can remember, I did something to
piss off my dad. That's the funny thing; it was this huge event, and I can't
even remember how it started. Maybe I dropped his Old Style when he handed
it to me to hold. Maybe I lost my ticket. It's a blank now. Anyway, he got
angry and he hit me. In front of God and everyone at the ballpark. I cried,
I remember. And that night, I took an old beaten-up Cubs cap out of the
basement where it was sitting, mildewed, probably from the people who owned
the house before us, and put it on my head. I've worn that cap ever since.
And every day my dad saw it, I think he knew.
High school. Let me tell you something. Kids these days (I know they're only
nine or ten years younger than me, but still), kids these days have
everything in high school. Safe zones. LGBT clubs. Same-sex prom dates. When
I was in high school, I was closeted. Deep. Because I knew if *They* knew,
it'd be all over for me. I went to a public high school, because by the time
little Sue went to high school, there wasn't enough money to send a sixth
Tyszkiewiecz to Catholic school. My grades were great, but even the
scholarships weren't full rides.
Anyway, it would've been worse at Catholic school. My Confirmation classes
were bad enough. I chose Magdalena as my Confirmation name. I'd researched
Mary Magdalene for my class; she was a whore, but she was Jesus' favorite
disciple. I got some snickers in class for that revelation, and Sister shot
""me"" the dirty look, not the smirking boys in the class. But she's a saint!
She was the first witness of the Resurrection! They couldn't deny me that.
I got through high school with excellent grades. Didn't have one kiss of
anyone of either sex, though. College, though... college was different.
Freshman year at Northwestern I joined every possible gay-oriented club. And
wow, did I get militant. I was a little Valerie Solanis out there. I was out
to everyone, well, everyone except my family. When I came home for Christmas
and summer, I took the rainbow triangle off my backpack and was good
As college went on, my rage just kept boiling over. It wrecked more than one
relationship, let me tell you. And I'll admit it, I was abusive a couple of
times. Nothing physical, mind you, but man... those poor girls. Forget that.
I've forgiven myself of those years. And I did it with the help of the
Ah, I guess you were wondering when She'd come into it. I graduated and
didn't know what to do with my life. My degree, obviously, since I went to
Northwestern, was in Communications, Radio and TV to be precise, and I
drifted around several internships in Chicago. Got my own place in Evanston
and worked at a couple of different radio stations. Then I got a job at
Chicago's flagship, the Tribune Company. WGN-TV. I worked in News and got to
know a girl named Andrea. We got to talking over lunch breaks first, and
then we'd go out to dinner a couple of times. I wasn't scamming, it's just
that when she'd talk, or, more accurately, after she'd talk, I'd see all
these things I didn't notice before. I'd go into my pocket for change for
the bus and I'd see seven nickels all with the same date. I'd see seagulls
in the air over the Lake circling in the same pattern. I'd listen to songs
on the radio and just weep uncontrollably because it was me in those songs.
And Goddess knows, I didn't cry in those days in and after college. I'd
break stuff instead.
It was all too much to take, and I knew Andrea was the cause. I don't know
how, I just did. And while this is all going on, I'm going to Barnes & Noble
every week after getting paid and buying all sorts of books on anthropology
and sociology, two subjects I'd loved at Northwestern. I saw all these
similarities in world cultures. What a small tribe in the Amazon did to
organize their society was the same as what we college queers did in our own
micro-society. Ostracization, favoritism. Banishing the bisexuals, embracing
the lesbian soap opera and ritualizing social contact and hooking up. I saw
similarities everywhere, and I just wanted to study them. That was the day I
downloaded a admission form to University of Chicago's Ph.D. anthro program.
And it was also the day I finally gave in and went to Andrea's weekend
"seminar" out in Palatine.
Oh, I expected New Age bullshit, no question. All that hinting around that
Andrea'd done at work, and I expected either a big "sharing feelings"
circle-jerk or me being hooked up to an e-meter. With any luck, I'd come
home alive and unprogrammed. But when I got there, it was a chintzy little
porn production office. I mean, just silicone tits everywhere. So now I'm
thinking, they need some chubby college-age dyke for some fetish movie and
Andrea thinks I'm getting paid just little enough at 'GN to go through with
That's when they led me into the room.
You remember _1984_, Room 101? That's what it was like. From Friday night to
Sunday morning I stayed in there. And while I don't remember much of it,
much like that afternoon at Comiskey with my dad, I know I was subjected to
the very worst that humanity has to offer. Degradation after degradation. I
tried to crawl out a few times. The words "Basic Perinatal Matrix 3
through my memory as I try to recall it. But when I came out, I was just
different. I was free. Free of the anger towards my family and my self, free
of the shame over my sexuality, and free of the psychic pain I'd borne for
years. The equivalent of 20 years of therapy in three days. And free. Not
bad. But I had one small debt to pay.
A conference with Daphnee was the final step. She said that what I'd been
through was an experimental and new form of healing the Sect had been using
for a few months and that Andrea thought I was a prime candidate. They also
explained what the Goddess and her worship was all about. Here I was, a
prospective anthro student, and they wanted me to be part of their little
microculture. What could I do? I saw what power the Goddess had. I had
watched the tape at the beginning of my time in the Room. It triggered it
all in me. I had the power now.
Like I said in Daphnee's little film, I fuck the Goddess. But it's with
reverence and love. I've outgrown and shed my anger towards everyone around
me. I can love, finally. I can choose. I came out to my parents last year
and nothing happened. Dad didn't even bat an eyelash. In fact, their
reactions were a little... muted, to say the least. They just sat there,
blinking, while I explained the last six years of my hidden life to them. I
think the Goddess reached into their brains and flipped a switch like She
did in mine.
I smile a lot more now. I can drink without getting drunk, I can fuck
without getting angry or despondent. I can enjoy a spring day like a normal
person might, without thinking about the darkness around me. So, yeah.
That's how I came to the Goddess. And that's who I am.
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