Giving Thanks

November 27, 2014 § 3 Comments

photo 1 (14)

I’m thankful that my husband and cats are always excited when I wake up in the morning. I’m thankful that my mother wasn’t hurt badly when she tripped over a cement divider in the supermarket parking lot. I’m thankful that I no longer need to use a typewriter and carbon paper. I’m thankful that Charles is doing the dishes. I’m thankful that Fitzroy has woken up and is shaking his furry head to get rid of the ends of dreams. I’m thankful that I have indoor plumbing. I’m thankful that my clients pay their bills. I’m thankful that I can see pictures of beloved children on Facebook. I’m thankful for bitter greens, ripe pears, French cheese, and walnuts. I’m thankful that there is still winter. I’m thankful I don’t live in Buffalo, though, as a child, I always wanted it to snow up to the roof, just because. I’m thankful that my husband is incredibly cute at 72. I’m thankful that my cousins Roberta and Kate are so kind to my mother, and that my cousin Faxy works to save animals. I’m thankful that my sister’s health issues are better now and that my brother is happy with his vibrant poet laughing woman. I’m thankful that when Fitzroy stares at me, he reminds me of my grandmother. I’m thankful for the English language and its thousands of world-creating writers. I’m thankful for certain evenings I will never forget— the sun throwing rosy light over my bed and bare skin and promises like fireworks. And certain other nights in New Hampshire, Virginia, California, New York, in cars, bed, fields and forest. I’m thankful for James Taylor, Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra and George Gershwin. I’m thankful that I knew Jesus, if only for a week in my teens after taking LSD. I’m thankful to history for having my back, and death for making sure nothing lasts forever. I’m thankful for Africa, the ocean, the Internet, and crickets. I am thankful that I have written books, painted pictures, made jewelry, love, money and peace. I am thankful that it wasn’t worse.

Quaker Meeting, The Sixties

BY ROBIN BECKER

Seeing my friend’s son in his broad-brimmed hat
and suspenders, I think of the Quakers
who lectured us on nonviolent social action
every week when I was a child. In the classrooms
we listened to those who would not take up arms,
who objected, who had accepted alternative
service in distant work camps and showed
slides of hospitals they helped to build.
On Wednesdays, in Meeting for Worship,
when someone rose to speak,
all the energy in the room
flew inside her mouth, empowering her to tell
what she had seen on her brief
encounter with the divine: sometimes, a parable,
a riddle, a kindness. The fall that we were seventeen,
we scuffed our loafers on the gravelly path
from the Meetinghouse, while maple and elm
leaves sailed around our shoulders
like tiny envelopes, our futures sealed inside.
Despite the war in Vietnam, I felt safer
than I ever would again. Perhaps
those aged, protective trees had cast a spell
on us, or maybe the nonviolent Quaker God
had set up a kingdom right there—
suburban Philadelphia. Looking back, I see how
good deeds and thoughts climbed with us to the attic
room for Latin, descended to the gym for sports,
where we hung from the praiseworthy scaffolds
of righteous behavior. We prepared to leave
for college, armed with the language of the American
Friends and the memories of Thanksgiving
dinners we’d cooked for the unfortunates:
borrowing our parents’ cars to drive
downtown to the drop-off point, racing back
to play our last field hockey match. Grim center forwards
shook hands before the whistle, the half-backs’
knee-pads strapped on tight; one varsity team vanquished another.

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California Boys

August 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Daniel

Jack the boy, Jack the poodle

Jaden at my mother’s house

I had a blissfully crowded time in California seeing a lot of family, including three of my five (step) grandsons, all amazing, beautiful, talkative and smart.

After showing me his fantastic Lego creations, Whitney’s son Daniel climbed the plum tree at my request—seeing a child in a tree is one of life’s sweeter pleasures—then ran around the yard among the fallen fruit, asking to be tickled, and giggling as only children under eight can do. At bedtime, he climbed in my bed, burrowing under the covers like an oversized cat and had to be dragged out by his feet. Okay, I chose to drag him out by his feet. Dragging children around by their feet is one of my favorite activities. I used to do it with my stepchildren on the grass. I think Matthew liked it best.

Chris’s sons Jaden and Jack visited at my mother’s house with my daughter-in-law Lolita. (She’s my ex-daughter-in-law, to be precise, but I was invited to the wedding, not the divorce.) Jack did approximately 17,000 backflips and somersaults and joyously ran the length of the park my mother’s yard abuts; Jaden made a horror movie on his ipad.

The horror theme was my idea, my mother’s house being a perfect setting. Not that it looks scary as a whole—it looks magical, whimsical, comfortable or just weird, depending on your point of view—but parts of it are horror-worthy and Jaden found them easily. He took footage of her blank-faced dolls, the fake skeleton above the living room door, the clay feet protruding from under the secretary.

“Great Grandmother’s House” Jaden was going to call it, but that had too many letters for the imovie template. “Great Granny’s House?” he asked. “Great Fanny’s House,” Jack said in delight—he loves my mother’s first name, though I don’t believe he knows its more embarrassing connotations. He likes it because he’s never heard it before. And he announced that next time he visits her, he’s staying two weeks. I suspect my mother would gladly host the boys forever.

**

I returned to chaos. My two cats and Charles’ cat are not adjusting well to their blended family. Lola and Mouchette hiss whenever they meet, and Lola likes to stalk Mouchette, then launch into a high-speed attack. Snarls, yowls and squeaks, humans shouting. Lola and Fitzroy have a more complex relationship, kissing and fighting by turns. Fitzroy is naturally aggressive, being a sexually unsatisfied male (even neutered animals can be unsatisfied), so he doesn’t mind the abuse, and Lola, like all of us, is doubtless enraptured by his charms: his snowy chest, his striped amber pelt, his golden eyes, squared off strawberry nose, furry chin, Martian ears, sharp white teeth….

Princess Mouse Velvet mostly stays in my room, though Lola sidles in for combat and as a result spends time in a cage. (Charles decides when to cage her. I’m not good with jail.) This morning began with a three-way fight, crashes and meows, ferocious beasts racing across my body. I asked Charles if this life was as hard as having four children under six. He said it was harder. He’s the cat cop, cat warden, cat anger-management counselor. I just console the innocent, forgive the guilty, make sure there’s enough food in the house and make dinner.

Home

My father had a steel comb with which he would comb our hair.

After a bath the cold metal soothing against my scalp, his hand cupping
my chin.

My mother had a red pullover with a little yellow duck embroidered
on it and a pendant made from a gold Victoria coronation coin.

Which later, when we first moved to Buffalo, would be stolen from
the house.

The Sunn’i Muslims have a story in which the angels cast a dark mark
out of Prophet Mohammad’s heart, thus making him pure, though the
Shi’a reject this story, believing in his absolute innocence from birth.

Telling the famous Story of the Blanket in which the Prophet covers
himself with a Yemeni blanket for his afternoon rest. Joined under
the blanket first by his son-in-law Ali, then each of his grandchildren
Hassan and Hussain and finally by his daughter Bibi Fatima.

In Heaven Gabriel asks God about the five under the blanket and
God says, those are the five people whom I loved the most out of all
creation, and I made everything in the heavens and the earth for
their sake.

Gabriel, speaker on God’s behalf, whisperer to Prophets, asks God, can
I go down and be the sixth among them.

And God says, go down there and ask them. If they consent you may go
under the blanket and be the sixth among them.

Creation for the sake of Gabriel is retroactively granted when the group
under the blanket admits him to their company.

Is that me at the edge of the blanket asking to be allowed inside.

Asking the 800 hadith be canceled, all history re-ordered.

In Hyderabad I prayed every part of the day, climbed a thousand steps
to the site of Maula Ali’s pilgrimage.

I wanted to be those stairs, the hunger I felt, the river inside.

I learned to pronounce my daily prayers from transliterated English
in a book called “Know Your Islam,” dark blue with gold calligraphed
writing that made the English appear as if it were Arabic complete with
marks above and below the letters.

I didn’t learn the Arabic script until years later and never learned the
language itself.

God’s true language: Hebrew. Latin. Arabic. Sanskrit.

As if utterance fit into the requirements of the human mouth.

I learned how to find the new moon by looking for the circular absence
of stars.

When Abraham took Isaac up into the thicket his son did not know
where he was being led.

When his father bound him and took up the knife he was shocked.

And said, “Father, where is the ram?”

Though from Abraham’s perspective he was asked by God to sacrifice
his son and proved his love by taking up the knife.

Thinking to himself perhaps, Oh Ismail, Ismail, do I cut or do I burn.

I learned God’s true language is only silence and breath.

Fourth son of a fourth son, my father was afflicted as a child and
as was the custom in those days a new name was selected for him to
protect his health.

Still the feeling of his rough hand, gently cupping my cheek, dipping the
steel comb in water to comb my hair flat.

My hair was kept so short, combed flat when wet. I never knew my hair
was wavy until I was nearly twenty-two and never went outside with wet
and uncombed hair until I was twenty-eight.

At which point I realized my hair was curly.

My father’s hands have fortune-lines in them cut deeply and dramatic.

The day I left his house for the last time I asked him if I could hold his
hand before I left.

There are two different ways of going about this.

If you have known this for years why didn’t you ask for help, he
asked me.

Each time I left home, including the last time, my mother would hold a
Quran up for me to walk under. Once under, one would turn and kiss
the book.

There is no place in the Quran which requires acts of homosexuality to
be punishable by lashings and death.

Hadith or scripture. Scripture or rupture.

Should I travel out from under the blanket.

Comfort from a verse which also recurs: “Surely there are signs in this
for those of you who would reflect.”

Or the one hundred and four books of God. Of which only four are
known—Qur’an, Injeel, Tavrat, Zubuur.

There are a hundred others—Bhagavad-Gita, Lotus Sutra, Song of
Myself, the Gospel of Magdalene, Popul Vuh, the book of Black Buffalo
Woman—somewhere unrevealed as such.

Dear mother in the sky you could unbuckle the book and erase all the
annotations.

What I always remember about my childhood is my mother whispering
to me, telling me secrets, ideas, suggestions.

She named me when I moved in her while she was reading a calligraphy
of the Imam’s names. My name: translated my whole life for me as
Patience.

In India we climbed the steps of the Maula Ali mountain to the top,
thirsting for what.

My mother had stayed behind in the house, unable to go on pilgrimage.
She had told me the reason why.

Being in a state considered unacceptable for prayers or pilgrimages.

I asked if she would want more children and she told me the name she
would give a new son.

I always attribute the fact that they did not, though my eldest sister’s first
son was given the same name she whispered to me that afternoon, to my
telling of her secret to my sisters when we were climbing the stairs.

It is the one betrayal of her—perhaps meaningless—that I have never
forgiven myself.

There are secrets it is still hard to tell, betrayals hard to make.

You hope like anything that though others consider you unclean God
will still welcome you.

My name is Kazim. Which means patience. I know how to wait.

Kazim Ali

My Mother’s House has Many Rooms

August 24, 2012 § 2 Comments

Library with Poodle

I retire for a rest and computer drift in my not-large bedroom at my mother’s house in Lompoc, California. There are two single beds with carved head and footboards, once in my grandmother’s guestroom in Texas, with their original pale peach silk and lace spreads. I never slept in them visiting my grandmother—there was a less fancy room for children—but my mother slept there and I remember admiring the contrast of dark wood and pale coverlets as we talked while she dressed for dinner. I luxuriated in the hour that it took her for make-up, hair, clothing…my father was dead by then…I was both clingy and detached…

Single beds were what married couples on television used, and they still retain a whiff of the original mystery: what was the meaning of that separation, each adult in their childish pajamas needing their own private craft into dreams? I learned the answer probably as soon as I framed the question but even then it didn’t make sense. It wasn’t as if TV would ever show people having sex.

On the dresser facing me, under the cloudy & scarred gilt-framed oval mirror, in which it is just possible to apply lipstick, are a Santa Claus figurine, a Christmas tree coaster, a lamp in the shape of a tree with a twiggy bird’s nest—in which my mother has put three tiny egg-shaped stones—a pair of china showgirls doing their hair, and a photograph of my grandmother in her 30’s, wearing a flower on her bosom, a light-colored dress and short pale gloves with rolled cuffs. She’s not a beauty but she has a face you want to keep looking at: wide, calm, her features not bold but large, promising a person with secrets, kindness, sense and sensibility. I wish she’d lived longer. She took me to Mame when I was 12, and taught me to play Gin.

There’s a narrow, dark red oriental rug under the one window with its amaryllis curtains (a color I came across today looking online at dresses I can’t afford) and a small sheepskin rug between the beds that the poodle likes to sleep on. A vase on the night table brims with yesterday’s lush garden roses; a cream and sepia painting of a bride on the far wall (my sister painted it in high school and wishes it would disappear) perfectly mimics the wistfulness of the antique bedclothes. Several more paintings, drawings and photographs by friends and family adorn the walls, as well as framed, faded 19th century flower prints—those languid sexual shapes, frills and bells….Since I left New York I’ve been assailed by desire, though assailed is the wrong word: a soft pummeling, a reminded of skin and kiss, of possibility. It hardly even makes me sad anymore (though I dreamed last night that I was masturbating while my mother retrieved from my head—from a distance—souls I’d saved from the Devil. Charles was there too, vacuuming his grandmother’s oriental rug.) But back to the real bedroom—a three-tiered table holds a couple of dolls and painted china cats, and other curios; a striped hatbox rests on the closet shelf, a stuffed pink pig lies on the floor…

The room opens into a dim and spacious bathroom, which in turn leads to the library, the most in-use room of the house (during waking hours when there are no visitors). I don’t use it because something about it makes me want to go to sleep, and regardless of the fact that my mother spends so much time there, I fear that if I fall asleep in that sun-faded red leather chair, I’ll never be found. There are too many books, and few of them are new. Some were new when I was a child; some were bought in recent years: the set of Dickens and other classics that my mother originally read in other editions. There are histories of Greece, Rome, The British isles (pre-Christian), The United States; books on magic and mythology; lots of fiction and poetry; art books and dictionaries.

Random titles: The Bedside Book of Beasts, The Subtle Knife, Obama’s Wars, The Passion Artist, Bloomsday, Kontiki. Flowers of Evil, The Last Place on Earth, The Travels of Marco Polo, a Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Herzog. Other than books there are more family photographs, mostly recent; various shawls (my mother gets cold); a little desk covered with papers; a map of the Arctic Circle and one of North Carolina shipwrecks. My mother reads for hours every day and the poodle watches her. He knows she’s escaping to far realms without him—moors and glens, wind-whipped seas, battlegrounds, Victorian drawing rooms. He would also like adventures, and so perhaps he and I—no, I hear my brother’s voice, “Let’s go see what Margaret’s doing.”

I go with them on errands: returning a ladder to friends (an older lady who resembles a large, hesitant, tangerine-pink grasshopper) then stopping by the bank and CVS, where we buy paper towels, some household fixit, and two bottles of red wine. I can’t get over that: the greeting cards, the feminine necessaries, bandaids, booze. No reason why not. It’s just so West Coast.

Home to tea and my bed again, my twilight burrow. You’d like it too.

from A Woman of a Distant Land

1
In this country, we do not bury the dead. We enclose them like dolls in glass cases and decorate our houses with them.
People, especially the cultivated ones from old families, live surrounded by multitudes of dignified dead. Our living rooms and parlors, even our dining rooms and our bedrooms, are filled with our ancestors in glass cases. When the rooms become too full, we use the cases for furniture.
On top of where my twenty-five-year-old great-grandmother lies, beautiful and buried in flowers, we line up the evening soup bowls.
2
We do not sing in chorus. When four people gather, we weave together four different melodies. This is what we call a relationship. Such encounters are always a sort of entanglement. When these entanglements come loose, we scatter in four directions, sometimes with relief, sometimes at wit’s end.
3
I wrote that we scatter in four directions, but I did not mean that we merely return home, scattering from one another like rays of light radiating from a single source.
When there is no more need to be together, we scatter in four different directions, but none of us ever breaks the horizon with our tread.
Because people are afraid at the thought of their feet leaving the earth, we turn around one step before reaching the horizon. After thirty years, those faces we wished to see never again enter our fields of vision.
4
In this country, everyone fears midday. In the daytime, the dead are too dead. Bathed in the sharp view of the sun, our skin crawls, and we shudder.
When the nights, vast and deaf, vast and blind, descend with size great enough to fill the distances between us, we remove our corsets and breathe with relief. When we lie down to sleep at the bottom of the darkness, we are nearly as content as the corpses around us.
5
The sight of fresh new leaves scares us. Who is to say that those small buds raising their faces upon the branches are not our own nipples? Who is to say that the soft, double blades of grass stretching from the wet earth are not the slightly parted lips of a boy?
6
In the springtime, when green begins to invade our world, there is no place for us to take refuge outside, and so we hide in the deepest, darkest recesses of our houses. Sometimes we crane our necks from where we hide between our dead brothers, and we gaze at the green hemisphere swelling before our eyes. We are troubled by many fevers; we live with thermometers tucked under our arms.
Do you know what it means to be a woman, especially to be a woman in this country, during the spring?
When I was fifteen, becoming a woman frightened me. When I was eighteen, being a woman struck me as loathsome. Now, how old am I? I have become too much of a woman. I can no longer return to being human; that age is gone forever. My head is small, my neck long, and my hair terribly heavy.

Tada Chimako, translated by Jeffrey Angles.

Born in 1930 in Kita-Kyūshū City, Fukuoka, Japan, Tada Chimako spent most of her youth in Tokyo, during the tumultuous years of the second World War. Tada authored over 15 books of poetry in Japanese and was also a prominent translator of French literature. Her work frequently referenced Greek, Latin, Chinese, and Japanese classical literature, and concerned itself with the psychology of women in both mythology and the modern world. She also published several books of essays on cultural theory, ancient thought, and mythology.—From Poets.org

California on my Mind

August 21, 2012 § 3 Comments

My mother and Grandmother and an unknown girl

I’m at my mother’s house in California, in that calm before dinner preparations get serious. My desire for a walk in the chaparral was stymied by a 7-year plague of caterpillars: if you walk under any tree, they descend upon you in great numbers. Oddly, no one considers this a free source of fresh protein but rather a creepy-crawly reason to stay on the suburban street, which of course has no sidewalks and boasts lots of neighbor flower bushes that the silly poodle likes to make use of. (He’s not silly because of his excretory instincts, but just because he is. He’s a good dog, Jack.)

This afternoon, Mom showed me old photographs of herself as a little girl in 1930’s Memphis, Houston and West Texas, posing with Joe, Zipper and other long gone but not forgotten pooches. And then her school friends, all vivid with girlish spirit; and the picture above, my mother and her mother. She’s so beautiful. She doesn’t think so.

Dinner: just-picked zucchini roasted with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and garlic; a salad of romaine lettuce, strawberries, cucumbers, mint and parmesan; sourdough bread and various soft cheeses; cherries Jubilee over dark chocolate ice cream. Local white wine.

Roses outside the door, a warm breeze (my mother calls it a chilly wind), quiet, three of us at the table. Mom, Johnny, me. I only think this for a week or so a year, but when I do it’s very strong: all you really need is family, a house, flowers and the past… like those South American novels I read in my youth…locked up against time…

Love & work are so full of disappointment and betrayal. People tell me: write about it, write about it. I don’t want to write about the last 3 or 11 years. There’s too much I don’t understand. I want to write about my 20’s, which maybe I don’t understand either but somehow that doesn’t matter so much. All the anger and shame and whatever else has dissipated. There’s only the crayon-color of love (you love those you remember) and the odd stories.

It’s the present that makes you crazy. When you think something is over and it isn’t. When you think something will last and it doesn’t. It’s no mistake those sentences sound alike. The present is sludge, deafening noise and desperation. But not here, not now.

True Love

In silence the heart raves. It utters words
Meaningless, that never had
A meaning. I was ten, skinny, red-headed,

Freckled. In a big black Buick,
Driven by a big grown boy, with a necktie, she sat
In front of the drugstore, sipping something

Through a straw. There is nothing like
Beauty. It stops your heart. It
Thickens your blood. It stops your breath. It

Makes you feel dirty. You need a hot bath.
I leaned against a telephone pole, and watched.
I thought I would die if she saw me.

How could I exist in the same world with that brightness?
Two years later she smiled at me. She
Named my name. I thought I would wake up dead.

Her grown brothers walked with the bent-knee
Swagger of horsemen. They were slick-faced.
Told jokes in the barbershop. Did no work.

Their father was what is called a drunkard.
Whatever he was he stayed on the third floor
Of the big white farmhouse under the maples for twenty-five years.

He never came down. They brought everything up to him.
I did not know what a mortgage was.
His wife was a good, Christian woman, and prayed.

When the daughter got married, the old man came down wearing
An old tail coat, the pleated shirt yellowing.
The sons propped him. I saw the wedding. There were

Engraved invitations, it was so fashionable. I thought
I would cry. I lay in bed that night
And wondered if she would cry when something was done to her.

The mortgage was foreclosed. That last word was whispered.
She never came back. The family
Sort of drifted off. Nobody wears shiny boots like that now.

But I know she is beautiful forever, and lives
In a beautiful house, far away.
She called my name once. I didn’t even know she knew it.

-Robert Penn Warren

Twas the Day Before the Day Before Christmas

December 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

My brother, Jimmy, 1964

Last night I got some wonderful books as gifts from Lisa, including the poems of Tennessee Williams and an anthology of poems by Christian mystics. “Such love does/the sky now pour/ that whenever I stand in a field/I have to wring out the light/ when I get/ home.” St. Francis of Assisi.

There’s a lot of light outside, but I stay in here where it’s warm, and feel the light of my mood, which is: Cats asleep on my unmade bed/Scent the air/ Like James Joyce writing of his Nora/ I love their little farts.

That’s not intended as a poem. It’s just the way words bounce when you’ve been reading poetry, when love glitters through the mind, stopping here and there at this or that person and animal and memory and book, but mostly moving on its way like water.

I’m lucky. I had wonderful Christmases when I was young, and so whatever anxieties attend the holiday now, they’re never anything like what other people report—people whose parents got drunk and smashed their presents; people whose relatives fought bitterly at Christmas dinner. My father had plenty of rage in him, but on Christmas mornings he was too tired from putting toys together until 3 a.m. to be angry, and seemed, anyway, chastened by the joy around him. I remember him on those days as a little fragile, a little embarrassed to receive gifts, perhaps stunned by the unfamiliar company of all four of his children in the daytime. This was a man who spent his weekend days mostly in bed, reading and drinking beer.

Christmas and children were my mother’s bailiwick, and she did Christmas like an impresario. The house was decorated everywhere, the tree was enormous and covered in ornaments of all kinds—fragile glass icicles; metal birds with feathered tails, and spring-clamps to fasten them to the branches; stars and angels, the Styrofoam and sequin balls she taught us to make—and Santa’s gifts weren’t wrapped because why would Santa bother with wrapping paper? It just didn’t seem to her like a Santa kind of thing. She wanted us to see the trains and dolls, the blocks and stuffed animals all at once, in their full splendor. So she arranged them: four tableaux around the tree. Separating the quadrants were the wrapped presents from relatives, the books that were our parents’ ostensible gifts to us, and the badly wrapped items we gave each other. Sibling gifts did not receive a lot of thought, most of the time. A Bic pen was acceptable.

But the Christmas before he died, when he was not quite fourteen, my older brother Jimmy gave my sister and me each our own copy of the new Beatles ’65. The munificence of that amazed me. The cost, for one thing, but also the understanding that I wouldn’t want to have to ask to listen to her record; how much it mattered to me to have my own gleaming black vinyl disk with those adored voices on it, the Capitol records logo, the dust jacket…

And then he died two months later and I listened to “Baby’s in Black” all the time. How lucky we are to not know the future.

Christmas Ballad

Sing a song of Christmas!

Empty pockets here;

Windows broken, garments thin,

Stove all black and drear.

Noses blue and frosty,

Fingers pinched and red,

Little hungry children

Going supperless to bed.

Sing a song of Christmas—

Tears are falling fast;

Empty is the baby’s chair

Since t’was Christmas last.

Wrathfully the north wind

Wails across the snow;

Is there not a little grave

Frozen down below?

Sing a song of Christmas!

Thanks to God on high

For the tender hearts abounding

With His charity!

Gifts for all the needy,

For the sad hearts, love

And a little angel smiling

In sweet Heaven above.

–Unknown

Insomnamania

December 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

Well, I like my new habit of writing fast and not re-reading, except that I make so many typos. Sorry. My typing gets worse every year. I think my mother has cast a spell to keep her young; the devil neglected to tell her he was taking the juice from me. But I’m used to falling apart. I might even be getting used to terror, although so far I’ve only tested that thesis at home. I’m dreading Christmas because my brother will want to talk seriously and often about my mother’s finances and mine are so much worse it makes me feel like I’m on a planet with double earth gravity and I’ve eaten something funny and am getting hives. (This just from the phone calls.) But I don’t want to make him worry about me too. Not yet. He keeps talking about how we’ll end up living in our mother’s house and I’m beginning to think he half means it. When I was 11 and first lived in New York I was so lonely, I longed for my siblings’ company but their doors were closed, and I had to barge in and Johnny got locks and now this idea of us living together in the maternal home is awakening an idea–sort of like an Anne Tyler novel–of aging oddballs riding out the storm, one foot in the womb, one foot in the grave. Nice image, isn’t it? It’s hard to keep your balance in that situation, the womb all slippery and the grave 6 feet under.

Philip told me tonight his boss has told him they’re firing his # 2 person ( a man he recruited, respects, likes, who has worked very hard ) at the end of January and the fellow and his wife are spending big bucks trying to get her pregnant. Knowing the ax is falling on this guy, unable to stop it, unable to give warning. Philip kept saying, “I want to shoot myself.” He has other reasons for that sentiment, but still. I had to stroke his warm hand that always reminds me of a gingerbread man puffed up from the oven.

Why the fuck can’t I go to bed earlier so I will have more sunlight? And why, now that I’m asking unanswerable questions, do I always feel, returning home, that there will be an animal waiting for me when I haven’t had a pet in 25 years?

Wacked

December 16, 2008 § Leave a comment

One of those days where I had to do everything twice. Wrapped up the wrong necklace, got a brain tickle and remembered in time, opened it, realized I also had to re-string it, wrote up the new description for it and rewrapped it, forgetting to restring it so I had to unwrap it a third time…this is when I start wanting to run around and bite my tail like a dog withdrawing from Prozac. Then I lost files on my computer. Not anything of importance, just more grunt work. And was overcome by a wave of CFS, yes I still have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the disease everyone loves to disbelieve in, after 24 years. Self pity smells like pine sap, don’t you think? A little Christmasy. I like it when it’s late and all my potential readers are asleep; I don’t feel self-conscious anymore but like one of the pre-dead.

My niece and I keep having a conversation about whether sentient robots would be a good thing. She says not because they’d be slaves. But I want one as a companion. Smarter than a cat, not as crazy as me. Is that too weird? Not quite Dr. Spock, but…Oh, I don’t know. I get lonely here in this decaying mousetrap of an apartment, but remember living with someone, how difficult that was. I love Charles so much more cleanly and sweetly now. If only I could figure out how to do that in regard to myself.

My friend Andree’s brother died and it’s made me very sad. For her, for him, for the old pain of brother-loss. She’s lost two. I can’t bear the idea of losing my siblings. Yet even so, feeling more family love than ever, sometimes I look at my nieces and think it’s been like a sadistic science experiment bringing them into our family. At first they were just Davis’s children…but now, as adults, they’re part of all of us, heirs to a past they’ll never understand (I’m not going to divulge all the bits I haven’t spilled yet), and of course going far beyond us but still…

I have to buy a Spiderman sleeping bag for Daniel because I’m not going to write a story. I need something for William. Hannah and Myles are taken care of —Shea stadium mementos, pretty clothes, great books. Jaden and Jack get books because I’m not sure they get read to enough and I haven’t seen them in so long…barely know them.

I’ll have another Christmas in late January for all my girlfriends. We’ll need it then.

Myles, William, Hannah

Myles, William, Hannah

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