The Dr. Seuss Scavenger Hunt; WELCOME!

This is an unfinished, not ready for publishing, total mess that I stuck aside back spring when the hunt appeared to finally be coming to fruition, apparently setting it to auto-publish last week. How could I have known then——You freak of nature mother, why did you bury my Umbilical Cord ?

Why did my mother bury my umbilical cord?

I wasn’t sure, but I had an idea. And I knew I had to get to New Mexico to find out.

And I knew that that was just the first step in this freak show version of a game my dead mother was sending me on. And I have to admit, I was curious, but also pissed.

But now, 10 years later, I’ve got to say, Mom, it’s been worth it. And now that I see the big picture, it’s too beautiful to be angry.

But this is ten years, and those ten years encompass far more than one story.

Those ten years were planting the seeds. And they were long years. And there was so many times I didn’t think I’d see the end and even more times that I didn’t care. I certainly didn’t realize that getting to the finish of this oddball Odyssey my mother sent me on would mean the realization that it wasn’t her story, or my story, but a much bigger story, and a much lovelier story. Most importantly, what she always knew and what I just found out was that the finale she concocted was the greatest magic trick of all.

When she left the note that said: “EAT ME” as her finale, to be found in a Dr. Suess book after her death I knew I was fucked.

It was so planned out – this dramatic scene designed to go off within a month after her death – the time we had to clear the apartment out.

And the Dr. Seuss book from 1990, with a personal inscription to me, signed just months before his death, the perfectly preserved Dr. Seuss obituary inside it – which she had hidden away for over a decade, clearly showing that her intention when she got the book and managed to acquire the inscription from Dr. Seuss she meant for me to have it after she died.

And an invitation.


An invitation that was a clear sign of a twisted mind attempting to tempt another twisted mind into playing a twisted game.

A summons.

A very deliberate one.

She had had this trick up her sleeve a long, long while. And as crafty as she is, and to go all out like this in the presentation, there was no doubt in my mind that whatever she had in store would be one hell of an odyssey.*

And that’s what the book says, too. I realize the book is a cliché now. It wasn’t then.

There are two more points:

  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass had special meaning for my mother and me. The day before she died she made me promise to “read Huck Finn every year, and read Alice every decade.”
  • Moreover, my mother and I had an interesting history involving eating pieces of paper to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem.

So I took the bait. I bit, so to say.

I mean I ate the paper. It said “EAT ME” and so I did. Stuck it in my mouth, chewed it, and swallowed the bitch.

Hell, maybe mom had found some LSD and had left it as a surprise inheritance. The message might have been one huge hit of blotter acid, for all I knew. I wasn’t taking that chance.

There was no downside, is what I’m saying. If you think I’m going to chance missing an acid trip because I don’t want to swallow paper, you’ve got the wrong girl. I wade through cow manure up to my knees holding a bucket of water so I can “wash” the first shit-caked shroom I find to eat on the spot.

Cow shit. For real.

You think I’m not eating the EAT ME message?

Unfortunately, the invitation was free of any added mind altering substance. It was, itself, the mind-altering substance. It fucked my mind up better than anything I’ve actually ingested, and it still hasn’t worn off.

I never imagined that when I finally got the joke, it would actually be this good.

All I know for sure is that it was one long, cold winter and now, finally,

it is Harvest Time

So, below is the fictionalized version, but you have to start where I did:

the buried umbilical cord.

  • I was not pregnant.
  • Dad didn’t jump off a fire escape a month before Mom died, he had a Heart Attack.
  • The James Avery Silver Sunflower pendant was very, very real, but my mother gave it to me when Ethan’s little Umbilical Cord stump fell off.


  • What fell from that bookcase was the hidden, signed Dr. Seuss book.

“Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”

Inside, just a month before he died, Dr. Seuss had written to me:

Dear Serene,

Always remember that life is a great balancing act.

Dr. Seuss

Tucked inside the book was a perfectly trimmed and preserved copy of The New York Times obituary for Dr. Seuss.

And a tiny note from Mom that said:


And I knew it had begun.

We’ll talk about that later. For now, this isn’t a bad place to start. It’s where I had to start.

I’ll un-fictionalize it as we go, but the whole Buried Belly-Button Brain Teaser is all too real. Remember, ATN, how I had to go to Ghost Ranch?

This was why.

I had to start burying stuff.

A few nights before she died my Mother told me a very confusing tale. I called Tony crying. I said “she was mean to me.”

That was a lie. I didn’t know what the hell to say. I was quite confused myself and it would be awhile before I could even begin to piece together Mom’s Scavenger Hunt, because I was a bit locked up at first.

So, yeah, here you go. Mom was right that it would probably take 10 years to get to the end of this and then back around to the beginning, again. I couldn’t imagine it at the start, and if I would have been able to, I don’t think I could have sustained it.

But I have. I’m shocked.

So, I guess the only thing to say now is:


*When this all began I had no idea who Joseph Campbell was, only knew myth through my mom’s many children’s books she occasionally forced on me, but which, at the time, I mostly considered annoyances. And, although this is perhaps the worst sin any sort of writer can confess to, I only half-skimmed Homer’s Odyssey in my High School Latin class. In sum: I was nowhere near prepared for this journey.

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