Sunday, March 30, 2008
April 30, 1917
My grandmother was born 91 years ago. Her name is Anne Gordon Doring nee Ross. I call her Grangie.
My grandmother is dying. Right now, in Arizona, my mother sits by her side as hospice workers care for Grangie
'round the clock.
She waited for my mother to get to Arizona before she fell silent. The morphine and methadone keep her comfortable enough, but she no longer eats nor speaks. For a few days, she suffered hallucinations. Her facial expressions mimicked those of a woman in labor; a nurse told my mother Grangie
is remembering those pains. My mother says she looks like a dolly, but Grangie
is no longer pliable. It is as though her mind has already escaped, and now we wait for her body to catch up.
Pictures of my grandmother in her youth are refreshing reminders of her fabulous life. She was born into wealth, but she never 'acted' wealthy. She told me of her days in college, spent flitting around to parties, getting sauced, skipping classes, having fun, reading. Oh, she was always reading some wonderful novel or terrific commentary. She traveled extensively. She worked for the wife of the owner of Carson Pierre Scott, so her buying trips would take her to far-off Egypt, the Orient, Paris, Germany, England. Her summers (as well as my mother's and my own) found her at Madeline Island in Lake Superior, where the days were languid and filled with trees and lemonade and long walks along the beach. I remember her wading into that frigid Lake Superior water without batting an eye.
My grandmother was a Daughter of the Revolution. She is a direct descendant of Queen Mary of Scots, as well as a Mayflower descendant. She was a gardener of pear trees and flowers. My grandmother was always an active member of her church, whether it be the Episcopal cathedral in Chicago or the quiet sanctuary in Tucson, Arizona. She adored my grandfather, a formidable and handsome man. When my grandmother met my grandfather, she was engaged to a doctor, but knew immediately that her heart belonged to a poor man with strong character. My grandfather joined the Marines and served in WWII; when he came home, he met his daughter (my mother) for the first time.
She wrote such long letters, filled with bits of her days. She visited the sick weekly. She drank gin martinis and smoked; she never officially quit any of those activities because in her mind, it was still the catchy thing to do. In her younger days, she wore Chanel suits and riding boots. As she aged, she tended toward bright, tent-like dresses and loafers. But style was never of the utmost importance. Cocktail hour, though, was very important. Cocktails and bridge. My word, that woman has been playing bridge since 1925, and until recently, she was still cheating at it. "Oh, did I do that?" she would always ask with a glint in her eye as she surreptitiously
switched cards around or accidentally dropped one in her lap. Grangie
and I always lived far apart. By the time I was born, she and Grandpa had moved to Arizona, but I spent many weeks with them in the summertime. One summer, she and I were alone at the cottage on Madeline Island, and I remember how wonderful it was to be cared for by her. It meant lots of naps and strange food (like duck pate) for breakfast. It meant slow walks to town for ice cream and socializing with the neighbors. It was a pristine summer of sun and joy and many, many books. Grangie
and I are duplicates. My mother laughs at our similarities. On a beautiful day, one could easily find Grangie
and I inside the house with the window open, snoozing, rather than doing anything productive. Grangie
and I are social butterflies and like to be the life of the party, but we aren't concerned about details like cleanliness or fresh napkins. "After all," Grangie
would sniff, "that's what the help is for." Of course, Grangie
hadn't had help for over sixty years when she was retired, but I believe she still thought she had help, and that was what counted.
How can a life be wrapped up in one writing? It cannot. But for her, I wish wish wish I could show the world what an extraordinary life she led, what a kind soul she was, what an elf she could be. I wish I had known her as a young woman; I believe we would have gotten on fabulously.
On Thursday, my mother held the phone to Grangie's
ear while I told her goodbye. She made soft sounds, like she recognized my voice. I would like to think so. I would like her to know that I intend to carry on her legacy of divine class, outstanding humor, and reluctant task-completion. I would like her to know that I believe in reading, and in card games, and in beautiful gardens. I hope she knows that I love my husband with the same verve she loved hers. We are cut from the same cloth, and I am a lucky woman for having such a magnificent lady of a grandmother.
Now, I only have the hope of my grandmother's heaven. I hope it is filled with songs of Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey, of good coffee and better wine, and of endless summer breezes that lift my grandmother's auburn locks and twist them round her bright blue eyes. And her friends. I hope she could be with them and her husband and all of them, chuckling at how wonderful it all is, how absolutely astounding life is. I hope with all my might she can go with a smile and some mirth, and that her beyond is as rich as her life.
Wind on the Hill
No one can tell me,
Where the wind comes from,
Where the wind goes.
It's flying from somewhere
As fast as it can,
I couldn't keep up with it,
Not if I ran.
But if I stopped holding
The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
For a day and a night.
And then when I found it,
Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
Had been going there too.
So then I could tell them
Where the wind goes...
But where the wind comes from
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I Just Took The Lamest Quiz Ever...
this would be the lamest quiz, ever
...to prove a point.
Feminism died in 1982. It was last seen stumbling around the Agnes Scott
campus in Georgia, wearing a flannel shirt and smelling of Hot Damn! Yes, it was a terrible hangover, thanks to the Andrea Dworkin
chaser to the Gloria Steinhem
I think I'm getting a head cold. Either that, or I have epilepsy. Everything tastes funny and I want to cry all the time.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Hey, DJ, won't you play that song. The one that keeps me dancing. All night long.
I went to a bar last night for the first time in ages. Actually, I went to two bars, but not a pub crawl. The first bar was filled to the gills with over-privileged children and Germans, I thought I had mistakenly crashed a college party (in Munich). The second bar was filled with community college students and old people. The second bar was more my style, thought it claimed it was an Irish bar and did not serve Harp Lager. Bud Light was the toasting ale of the joint. Icky pooh.
Everything was fine until the DJ started playing music. Bobby Brown, y'all. Whitney Houston. Boyz II Men. A terrible time warp had occurred, and the universe started spinning backwards. Some white chick busted out in a Kid 'n' Play move.
And while I was seething with the concept of 80's pop music being played to a generation of individuals too young to remember the actual horror of these songs, I realized something far, far worse: if the DJ had been playing current music, I would have been just as lost.
I'm getting old.
I went home drunk. That was the highlight of the evening. I think I also turned on some Flogging Mollies, just to prove a point. To whom, I can't say. Nonetheless, I have decided on one, very important choice. I am not going to bars anymore unless the venue includes somber chamber music and lots of port wine.
Here are the ingredients for a Dirty Girl Scout:
Mix the vodka, Kahlua and Bailey's and pour over ice. Pour the Creme de Menthe down the center of the glass.
This is the culmination of the evening: sipping a beverage that vaguely resembles green Pepto Bismo. I think it was entirely appropriate.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Just really lame and unfortunate.
Firstly, glamorizing pornography is weak. Porn is boring; it all ends similarly. It's degrading, it's unimaginative, it's exploitative, it can be inhumane, it is certainly amoral, and I don't care how 'liberated' a chick you are, it can't be comfortable.
Secondly, people who wear t-shirts that say 'Porn Star' are sad. Most of those people are not porn stars, but want to be porn stars. Wanting to be a porn star is even worse than being
a porn star. If you are reading this and you want to be a porn star, go down the street, find a drug dealer, ask him for a lethal dose of whatever it is he is selling, and eliminate yourself from the human race. You are useless. Go away.
Most importantly, the people who should wear these shirts are people who look like this:
Because that would almost be ironic.
Almost.**Except for the fact that Karl Rove has managed to fuck us all in the ass, without benefit of a reach-around, and in broad daylight, to the tune of several million dollars of taxpayer money, and (even worse) I could almost guarantee that some of the money probably found its way to a Texas whorehouse or a porno production company because after all, aren't we dealing with the scum of the Earth?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
My husband and I now work at the same facility. He's a property manager. I am not sure what I do, but I've been at it for a year. He has been a property manager for four days.
It's weird. We talk to each other like automatrons at work. 'Hello how are you doing.' 'I am fine and you.' Like we don't know how we are doing. Like he didn't just see me wandering around the bedroom in the old bra and mismatched socks. Like I didn't just yell for him to either eat the lunch I pack for him or go and buy some other food, dammit!
In other news: I hate parking structures. Last night, I drove around one for fifteen minutes. Each time I circled, I wound up at the ticket gate because I missed the five-foot-wide ramp to the next level. I would roll down the window and explain I need to park. The parking guy would look confused before he told me to 'hop the curb and swing left to go back into the structure.' It happened three times. Don't you think he would remember the woman who needed to park?
And wouldn't he want to reach through the window and scratch out her very stupid eyes?
And also: my cat has pushed me off the bed three nights in a row. Does this give me allowance to eat her for dinner?
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I'm typing! On my blog! SHADDUP!
Back by mediocre demand, I thought I'd give this tired old hag another go of it. It's probably going to be a half-hearted attempt, but some heart is better than none. I've been suffering from a sort of malaise known as 'work' and 'life', and it totally gets in the way of being cynical and depressed and rigidly fatalistic. In fact, I think I've actually gotten cheerful about mucking through life like a pig in a box. Fan-fucking-tastic. I've become my worst nightmare. Oh, goody, the doom is starting to come back.
At my last knitting group, the topic of time-travel came about. I think it had to do with someone having to frog an entire project and saying something like: "Oh my holy Jesus I wish I had never started this thing." Anyway, we started to conceptualize time-travel, and query each other of where we would go, what we would do, who we would be and/or meet. The answers varied widely. Some people wanted to re-visit times in their own histories. Others wanted to galavant with Newton and calculus (these people are obviously on the fringe of society, and we accept them as they are). Someone mentioned the Age of Reason, and we discussed the many merits of corsets and physics. Obviously, we are a highly cerebral and intellectual group.
While I was marinating on the concept of reason and its age, it dawned on me: I know exactly where I would go in time and what I would do. I would go to any pest-ridden, garbage-infested, overcrowded mush of a town in Europe during the Black Death. I would absolutely be one of those weirdos who hauled corpses to mass graves. Why? Because of the word buboes.
Buboes are exactly what the world needs. Not hobos, not hubris, but buboes. Nasty little pus-filled sacs developing in unmentionable areas of the body. Lymph nodes gone awry. Tactless purple noodles of mortality, screaming out to all the world: "I'm ugly, and I'm going to wipe out humanity." That's amazing.
It's absolutely beautiful and perplexing that infected fleas managed to wipe out all of the problems in Western Europe during the Middle Ages. What those fleas also managed to do was wipe out a whole hell of a lot of really dumb people. These are the same dumb people who flung pooh out of windows onto the heads of other unsuspecting dumb people. This is not a group of people we needed around. Mostly, they were city-dwellers, and we don't need those around today. Think about New Yorkers. Got the image? Exactly my point. Unnecessary creatures; when given the opportunity, the cab driver from Brooklyn would be more than happy to throw pooh off of his balcony of his overpriced apartment onto the head of meter maid.
Now, I admit: I've been on 'world disaster' kick ever since watching old episodes of 'Jericho', and maybe (just maybe) I should actually be a victim of a world disaster for watching the show--the obvious plot-twists, the scientific oblivion, the transparent acting--technically, I should be drawn and quartered for even considering the merits of this show, but I digress. Three weeks ago, I was memorizing facts about nuclear fallout, thyroid cancer, hydrocephalus, and Chernobyl. Then, I read up on atomic bombs and Hiroshima/Nagasaki. After that stint, I pored over pictures of people suffering from smallpox (ew...and very cool...). Somewhere along the line, I watched five episodes of Ultimate Fighting on some man channel. I'm telling you, this stuff is fascinating.
We watch the world die slowly every day; why, thanks to this concept of flushing old medicine down the toilet, I've probably ingested toxic amounts of Viagra. But I'll look beyond myself: people in India live amongst heaps of computer parts. Commercial hog farms are poisoning small towns in Virginia, and tigers are escaping from zoos. Bozos are running corporations and criminals are running countries. China is finally realizing that girls are actually an important variable in reproduction rates, and the Baby Boomers are now feeling sorry for Gen Xers who will never receive social security checks. These same Baby Boomers are retiring and using their SSI checks for trips to Vegas. In short, we're dying of our very own commercial, guilty, hybrid plague.
I think I know what this fascination really is all about: I want to watch us implode from buboes or die with pockmarks. I don't think it's fair that after all the damage we do to the earth and to one another, we get to die in tidy hospital beds with tubes running all around. I don't really want to be cremated or buried in a pretty coffin--I think I belong in a great, big decaying heap of gross stuff, because honestly, that's what I've amounted to in life. My waste, my unguided consumption, has teetered this planet right up to extinction. Why shouldn't I embrace oblivion in the same manner as my silly, ridiculously stupid ancestors? Why shouldn't pooh be flung right down upon my goofy head, and why can't we smell the shit we've immersed ourselves in?
So, the next time you see a very graphic rendering of the bubonic plague (or MRSA or necrotizing fasciitis or a car accident victim), take a moment to appreciate the visceral nature of mortality. We are part and parcel of every problem and every solution--ever. We are the victims of tiny bacteriae, and the creators of horrendous wars. Don't shy away from the blood and guts of it all. It is what makes us so dastardly stupid and disarmingly loveable.