I miss my cat. :(
I miss my cat. :(
We've been putting so much effort and energy into getting the apartment liveable that it's taken up all of our time. I played Morrowind for maybe 30 minutes last night and it was GENIUS. A long chat with the Always Wise Hairdresser confirmed that I have a serious fun drought happening, and immediate measures must be taken. It could be dancing, it could be gaming, it could be just about anything that could be described as frivolous and/or frolicking.
There's a piece we did yesterday that we've done before, an arrangement of Lucille Clifton's poem Sisters. It never fails to affect me on a personal level. I sing her lines about "me and you be greasing our legs/ touching up our edges" and I see Geli and me putting on makeup and doing our hair, trying on different versions of femininity before we found our own true expressions of it. I sing the line about "me and you come running high down Purdy street" and I remember the feeling of being intoxicated, not only on alcohol but on the glimmering knife-edge of uncertainty every day held as a teenager. Finally, I sing the lines "me and you got 35 years / got babies now / be loving ourselves" and I see Geli's face. I see the girl I clowned with, fought with, cried with, dreamed with. But I also see the woman she's grown into; smart, funny, loving, proud. And I know that when she looks at me, she sees the same thing. We find in each other a reflection of ourselves; who we were, who we are, who we may yet become. And through loving that reflection we eventually learn to love ourselves. More amazing still, is that by teaching me this lesson I feel that Ms. Clifton has shown me the reflection of her that lives in me, and of me in her. It is the reflection that, if we look for it, we can find in all women, all humanity.
It's one poem, one song, but I've learned so much from it.
I'll miss having him around, as he is the most well-adjusted person I've ever met; he gets along well with his parents, handles stress in a level-headed fashion, and is a genial fellow. Now you'd think this would mean that someone like me would be unable to have a conversation with someone like him; luckily, he also possesses a quick and odd wit that makes him delightful company. His observations on women are a constant source of amusement for me. Take this recent nugget of wisdom:
"When someone tells you I'm not good enough for you, you should believe them. Don't try to dissuade them or protest, because given enough time they will prove it to you. Instead say, You know, maybe you're right. Call me when you think otherwise. And walk away."
Ah well. That's enough for now.
Saturday was a slug day, and that evening I went out with the boys. There was beer, a wee bit of karaoke, some foosball, and lots of talk about women's asses. Good night. As I promised the missus, I had no whiskey (only beer) and was home at a reasonable hour.
Sunday we had the practice session for wafflelips' interview. I had no idea what was happening; it may as well have been conducted in Latin. I think I faked it all right, though. It seemed to be productive.
Rehearsal on Sunday was a bust. I usually count on choir practice to energize me for the coming week; lately it's been nothing but an energy drain. I was already dog tired, and by the end I was completely zonked. Had to get out and go home to my girl. She and I curled up on the couch and were vegetables for the night. Necessary.
Today I want nothing more than to be sitting in living room, wearing sweats, eating junk food, and playing Knights of the Old Republic all day. Dude, I swear that one Jedi is hitting on me. She totally wants me. Oh yeah.
My dad is so stubborn and dense sometimes. Oy.
Things have been pretty hectic in our household for the last few months, as some of you know. My mom gave us a scare a month ago; heart palpitations that woke her in the middle of the night and sent her to the ER. I've been approached with a job offer at a startup company on the other side of the country, but nothing has been decided. It's the Christmas season and my family and friends in Ohio are sending waves of "we miss you" across the internet, tugging on my sentiments. All in all, my emotions have taken more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. It's no surprise to me that I woke the other morning remembering a person and a place that gave me great comfort as a child. It wasn't my Mamaw; she was a delicate, tender person, but I only saw her twice a year at most. It wasn't my evil Grandma either. I always felt like an intruder in her home and crept around trying to make as little noise as possible. The person I miss, whose comfort I crave the most, was the lady across the street.
Gertrude Deszi and her husband Gustav lived across the street from my family for roughly twenty-five years. Both were first generation Hungarian-Americans, with one important difference. Gus' family was Catholic, while Gert's was Jewish. Neither of them ever spoke about it, but I gather from their silence that their marriage was a bit of a scandal for both families. I can only image how difficult things were for them, but I think that having experienced my own family's harsh disapproval of my relationship with wafflelips I can relate a little.
Gus was a paratrooper in World War II. There was a photograph of him in their living room; young and dashing in his uniform. He was captured and spent time in a German POW camp. He was treated poorly, to say the least. When he returned, the left side of his face hung slack, all muscle control lost. The dashing young man in the photograph was gone forever. His speech was badly slurred afterwards, and I think he was self-conscious about talking to people. He spent many hours in his garden tending his flowers. When Gus got older and sicker, it was I who'd tend the flowers. I'd cross the street to mow his lawn, rake the leaves, shovel the snow from his driveway. I didn't really mind. I feigned teenage apathy, but truth be told I was happy to help them.
They never had children. I think it was because they were unable, not because they were unwilling. Gert took my mother under her wing readily enough. I imagine them early on, my young mother with an infant daughter living hundreds of miles from her mother and sisters. Her husband working long hours, leaving her home alone. And I wonder if she and Gert found some sort of comfort in each other, a surrogate mother daughter relationship to fill the void in their lives.They certainly acted that way. I can still hear Gert calling after my mother, reminding her to "put your babushka on Mave, the wind is cold and you know how sensitive your ears are." Now that I think of it, Gert was the only person I can recall mothering my mother.
If she mothered my mom, then she grandmothered us kids. I spent many afternoons at her house. First we'd cross the street; look left, right, then left again. Cross the street and walk up the drive, around the corner of the red brick house to the door at the back. Enter the warm kitchen to see Gert sitting at her kitchen table, watching Let's Make a Deal or Mike Douglas on the tiny black and white television. Maybe Tom Jones was on the variety show; how she loved Tom Jones, would cackle and fan herself with the paper when he performed. Gert would come to me, give me a squeeze. Then she'd lean down and pinch my cheeks. "Would you look at those cheeks?" she'd exclaim. "I could just eat 'em up." I found the routine slightly unnerving but Mom never looked worried. I came to the conclusion that it was just a weird quirk of Gert's.
Mom would sit to her right, I would sit across the table. Gert would go to the counter, open the pink box from Hough bakery and let me have one or two cookies. If Mom said it was okay, she'd even let me have some Coca-Cola in one of the Cleveland Browns glasses that was small enough for my hands, cheap enough not to worry if it slipped from my hand. I was too little to realize this. They seemed rare and precious to me, so I would carefully place the glass on the placemat and hand it back to her when I was finished, proud that I could be trusted with such treasures. While I ate the cookies, she and Mom would talk. Gert would consult the folded paper at her side, glance through her magnifying glass at the lottery numbers. Then she'd replace it next to the pack of Lucky Strikes unfiltered cigarettes that sat on the table to her left.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was a junior in high school. She didn't last very long afterwards. Mom visited her in the hospital constantly. I was reluctant to go, but Mom was unrelenting. "You need to go see her." I went. I didn't recognize Gert; on morphine, barely conscious. I didn't recognize Gus either, sitting trembling by her bedside. I didn't recognize what it meant when Gert gasped for air, then went silent. Mom and Gus did. Gus broke down sobbing while Mom called for the nurse. I stood at the foot of the bed, staring up at Gert, waiting for her to breathe again, to laugh, to talk, to advise my mother. But she was gone.
It took me a while to understand why I mourned for her so. My grandmothers both passed away when I was in college, and while it saddened me their passing never broke my heart. I thought of them occasionally but I never yearned for them like I yearn for that red brick house, that warm kitchen. But one day I was telling a friend a story about her; when I finished my friend smiled and said "She sounds like my bubbe." And there I had my answer; I couldn't call her my grandmother but I wouldn't refer to her as the lady across the street, either. She was my bubbe. It seems a reasonable compromise.
Happy New Year, Gert. Te hiánzik nekem.
Well, in my family they're about stressing over the preparation and diverting energy into making five times as much food as necessary. They're about everyone yelling at each other until the meal is over and they can find a place to sneak off. They're about praising family bonds then never making any attempt to connect on anything but the most base level. They're about feeling alone and like a stranger in a house full of people wiith the same surname.
Growing up, I never understood the point of Thanksgiving; after I stopped focusing on getting a bunch of loot for Christmas I realized I didn't understand it either. Everybody talked about family togetherness and spending time together during the holidays. I thought that was a load of bull. In my experience, it certainly was.
It wasn't until recently, when I found a new family of people that I really do connect with that I understood why people travel halfway across the country just to spend time during the holidays. I would travel anywhere to be with these people; I can't say the same for my siblings.
Tonight, two very dear friends will be arriving from Tucson. We'll spend the holiday together, reconnect, talk, eat, and enjoy each other's company. On Thursday I will be very thankful for them and for their love and support.
I get it now.