Saturday, June 29, 2013
Maybe not all small towns, but at least the one I grew up in: When a funeral procession is driving down the road, be it highway or country road, the other vehicles pull over to the side of the road to pay their respects. Well, most of them do. I found this very comforting when my dad died, and had forgotten about it until today when I saw it happen again for Hubert's funeral.
Friday, June 28, 2013
She's 90, But She Can Drink
After Hubert's visitation this evening, my mom, sister, and I went to a Mexican restaurant. We ordered a strawberry margarita and three straws. Usually these drinks are super-weak. This one burned all the way down. Mom thinks mild salsa is too hot and burns her tongue, so imagine my surprise when she made way more than her third of this hellfire drink disappear. We made her use all three straws at once and got a great photo op. She said, "All you girls do is make a fool of me." Just as the police took her away.
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Tomorrow we go to Indiana for the funeral of Hubert, a man who was in the same nursing home as Dad. My mom became very close with his wife, Louise. Both women were absolutely self-sacrificing about being at the nursing home, feeding their husbands, grooming them, watching over them, mostly ignoring their own health, and being astounding examples for everyone around them. Louise's husband was in that place for 4 years and 4 months. Twice as long as Dad. He was blind, had Parkinson's and suffered mightily. God willing, he is happy now, and whole. Louise will not know what to do with herself. Neither did Mom. First, I hope she can rest.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Switched gears a little bit today. Instead of doing any work on the book, I revised a poem and did some organizing of the poems I'm thinking of sending out. Massively exciting stuff, right? But there's a deadline for a contest coming up, and it's a journal I love. AND in the results of last year's contest at the same journal, I had a poem in the top 20 (out of 6500) and that was a huge boost. It got published and I'm doing a reading in August. So you'd think, after a shot of validation like that, I'd have hunkered down and sent out more work. No. I didn't. Not even one. This is what I'm worst at. I have all this writing and it sits here idling away in my computer. I spent time today setting apart the poems that have already been published (from 1996-now) ((only 1 published since 2007 when I stopped submitting because I'm a moron)) and am ready to get at it again. I'm trying to carve my life into the life of a writer, one habit at a time. I'm almost 54. I sometimes feel too old for it to matter anymore. But I'll feel way better at 74 (if I get there) if I've thrown more time at the writing back here in the 50s. God knows I have enough regrets in my life. I want to, as much as possible, avoid creating more. Now there's a writing project: listing all my regrets. Shut the front door.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Got together today with my very good friend "S." She's someone I can talk to about pretty much EVERYTHING. We met at a Chinese restaurant that had exactly zero other customers from 12:45 to 3:30. It was as though we were Elvis and had asked to have the entire place shut down so we could have a private lunch. The only other human in the room was the little son of the owners, maybe 8 years old. He sat on the floor reading a book and smiling. I can't imagine this place will stay in business much longer, and I'm always a little leery about eating the food at a struggling establishment like this one. Like, I wonder how old the chicken was. Regardless of the geriatric poultry, we laughed our gourds off, as usual. This was the kind of lunch with a friend that I go home exhausted from. In a good way. Like the worn-out-ness of a good swim. I forget sometimes how amazing it is to really talk to a good friend. I don't do it that much, being the hermit I am.
Monday, June 24, 2013
I Did Not Earn the Three Hours of TV I Watched Tonight
Because I only worked on my book for 2.5 hours today. I suck at sitting still and just doing the work. Granted, this is high-voltage emotional territory that I'm returning to, but seriously, what territory isn't high-voltage for a woman in her early 50s? We're apt to laugh-cry at anything from junk mail to squirrels that hesitate in the street as though they're about to do jazz hands. Or kill someone. Same thing.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
I Had a Really Good Excuse for Not Writing Today
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Inches Forward on the Book, But Without the Grace of the Graceful Inchworm
I worked on a section that I was not feeling connected to at all. Ground away at it for awhile, then moved on to the pile of snippets on various snippets of paper I'd collected. As I started writing them down in one notebook, I got hugely panicked and overwhelmed. This is a regular occurrence with this project. It usually involves crying and frustration and stomping around the house in a dither. I'm not sure exactly what a dither is, but I'm sure that's what I've been stomping in. Today, as I was feeling the weight of a project that just might be too big and too involved for me, Scott started throwing out another idea for my approach, and my voice completely disappeared. It was actually pretty amazing. My vocal cords froze and I could not even whisper. I've been getting like this for a couple years. My voice shuts down in extreme panic, but never like this. One of the things freaking me out was the idea that I would not finish at least the first draft of this book THIS summer. It's like my whole body rejected that possibility, and registered its vote via my vocal cords. So, no matter how confusing this 50,000-piece jigsaw puzzle becomes, I have to put the next piece on the card table and stare at it until it shows me where it's supposed to go.
Friday, June 21, 2013
Tomorrow I Must Work on the Book, Because July is Coming
And when July arrives, the days really do begin to dissolve like a marshmallow in acid. I haven't written any new sections of the book in about a week. Three days of that was spent in Indiana with my mom. Tomorrow is the day I must grind away at this keyboard. I plan to do that part of the day and go through my pile of little notes I've written down here and there, on napkins, bits of paper, the back of fortune cookie messages. They were all things I wanted to include in the book, so I need to wrangle those like the shy parakeets they've become, waiting in the canvas bag where I've stuck them. I'll report back tomorrow as to whether or not I got this done. And whether or not anyone is reading this doesn't matter, since reporting back to myself is the most terrible thing. Or good thing. More often, terrible.
Thursday, June 20, 2013
Today was my mom's "Hair Day." Every Thursday afternoon for the last 50-some years. Since I was here on Hair Day Eve, I brushed her 'do out for her. The deal is, I get to make sport of her. Among the deluxe hairstyles I provided: the severely swooped to the side "Marlene Dietrich" and the undeniably perfect "Mad Scientist." This was perhaps the best work of my life.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
One of My Problems is That I Want My Mom to Live Forever
There's a part of me that I can't even translate, wordless and elusive. An out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye glimpse of an understanding. Inside that is an earnest feeling that I don't think it's fair that I should ever have to lose my mom, because my dad was taken. Not only is it selfish for many reasons (especially the fact that she wants to reunite with my dad, and everyone who loves her also wants that for her someday), but it's something that has creeped up on me recently. A tapping on the shoulder. Do mid-life emotions regress to childhood? It's late. Good night.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
My Sister's Garden Finally Got a Big Gulp
I'm visiting my mom for a few days in Indiana. This evening my sister came over and made dinner. An Asian-y chicken over rice, with a side dish of apple salad. I can't gag down anything with mayo in it, so as is our family ritual, when my sister offered me some apple salad and I politely refused, saying (for the billionth time to my mom and sister) "I don't like mayonnaise," it was concluded that I am an asshole. Yet, as is also the family ritual, they are NOT assholes if they don't like foods like I like (shrimp, crab, Spicy Nacho Doritos, etc.). After we ate (and argued about how taste is a personal thing and there is no right or wrong ((my opinion)) and which one of us was simply wrong about their personal taste ((their opinion)) we went out to the front porch and sat in Mom's glider for an hour. It eventually got around to raining and my sister was thrilled for her garden. So am I, since I glom onto her gardening skills and eat her home-grown tomatoes and corn all summer. We were squeezed into that glider and made dumb jokes and commented on the birds and watched it rain and then watched it stop.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Summer Evening Routine
I eat a pint of fresh raspberries, watch junkie TV (at the moment it's a season of "Nip/Tuck") and then I get around to Chobani Pomegranate yogurt. Serious addiction to that stuff. When I first started eating it, the cups looked huge. I felt as though I was eating an entire meal. Now that my habit has gotten out of hand, the yogurt cup looks like a thimble. I have to pace myself. My craving for this food has gone to the top of the list, tied with chocolate. But the yogurt is more dangerous, since I keep it in the house constantly. What may be more dangerous, or at least more odd, is that I'm writing about my yogurt eating habit on a blog no one reads. Still, there's something about the dailiness of this that feels productive.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
It still feels like a little punch in the gut when I see a display for Father's Day cards. Not a hit that takes my breath away. More like a split second that is instantaneously filled with "Oh, did I get one yet?" and "Oh. Dad's gone." I know a lot of people go through this. It helps to know that. I'm very blessed to have had my dad around for as long as I did. I have regrets. They are 99% about not having gotten to know him better. I've thought about writing a list of what I would ask him if I could have him back, but I don't think I could stand the making of the list.
Saturday, June 15, 2013
On Not Being a Mother
Everyone who knows me well knows that I've never wanted to be one. Kids interest me very little. Unless you count college kids, and I find them pretty interesting, which is good, since I have to spend huge chunks of time with them 8 months out of the year. But little kids, not very much. I do get moments, though, of sadness that I didn't have kids. Those moments never happened until I met Scott. We were both 46 when we met, and had we been 36, we might have chosen to try to be parents together. My niece had a baby today. You've never seen a girl who wanted a baby so much. She miscarried on the first try, and this one, Brooke, got to come into the world. I'm thrilled for my niece and like to watch her soak up every speck of this. I'm almost 54 now, and hormones make the no-kids sadness more, what, neon-lit maybe. It really is as though women are biologically meant to have kids, and when we reach the age of no longer being able to get pregnant, it hits us right in the same place it hit cave women who were "barren." I'll go now, and scratch out some more drawings on the wall of the cave.
Friday, June 14, 2013
I've Never Heard Screaming Like I Heard in Walmart Today
A boy kid, about 3 years old. His mother (I assume), nicely dressed, pushing the shopping cart he was sitting in. A girl, about 6, following along. People were coming from all over the store to see what the bloody good night was going on. I can't adequately describe the screams. They were about one second long, constant, 15 or 20 in a row. Then started up again. The sound was like a mixture of a Homer Simpson scream and that nasally alarm that goes off inside a submarine (a submarine in the movies) when it's taking on water. The mother was completely ignoring him, perhaps to prove a point, perhaps because she despises his father so much that this was recreation for her. I could tell that I wasn't the only one who was itching to get my hands on this kid. And the mother. Yes, I'm a judgmental human being, especially when the screaming never stops. And the creepy part was the look on this boy's face. He'd fake-cry and then look at her, and, getting no reaction, would start up the hell-machine again. That is some serious manipulation effort right there. I bought my mini-pads and potato chips and ran out the front door like the place was on fire.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
A Particular Kind of Loneliness
The kind you feel when you've made a mistake, hurt a friend, and now they can't stand the sight of you. Even after you apologize, and even though they know you've agonized all the way down to your bone marrow for months. People have to get over betrayal in their own time. The mistake that you made may have been a relatively small one that knocked over a single domino that led to lots of other things falling down, ending in great pain for your friend. Your love for them only makes your pain and remorse twist and squirm all the more. There is nothing you can do to hurry the healing. You can pray. In fact, you can pray all you want. But then you still have to just wait. Your only choice is to find a peaceful way to be inside the pain. That's hard.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Challenge of a Schedule
About 3 years ago, I started working on a book about my dad. This summer, I'm determined to finish it. I keep reading this stuff that says I should treat my writing like a real job. Get up, get dressed, show up, be on time, be disciplined. That's not working for me. I get up late, slide into my day in slow motion, and start writing around 2:30. That gives me three hours before Scott gets home from work. A guy I used to know (he was my pastor) who is a best-selling author has had lung cancer for several years. He's now working with the capacity of one half of one lung. And he STILL writes 6-8 hours a day. How can anyone have an excuse if he's doing this? It's been so long since I've blogged that I can barely figure out how to post stuff. Bear with me. Nobody's reading this anymore, so I'll just Candy it up for awhile. Candy, you've got 40,000 words done. Keep at it. Finish this book. You don't know exactly why you're writing it, but do it anyhow. Get it off your back.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I Don't Know...I Just Feel Like Coming Back
So I really got the wind knocked out of me when my dad died. I only managed five posts after that, and then I crawled away for a couple of years. I doubt anyone is going to be reading this, so I'll write it to myself. Dear Candy, Your dad would've been 95 today. It's a harder day of missing him than all the other days of missing him. It doesn't stop. It never will. But speaking of your dad (yet again), you know what he was good at? Enjoying life. Dancing with your mom and joking around and good god did the man enjoy his pie. Enjoy your life more, Candy. Stop worrying so much. Write some stuff. And take the keys and stick 'em in the ignition of this blog, just to see if it starts.