Saturday, November 29, 2008

black shoes

I have been looking for a pair of black boots or black shoes for five years. I ordered a pair of keens from Zappos, but they don't fit. Same thing last winter. Order-return, Order-return. Today is it. I am tired of looking, tired of deciding and undeciding, packing pairs of shoes around the store for twenty minutes only to set them down, in the wrong place (sin) on the way out the door. I want a pair of dressycasual possibly fur-lined bootshoes that go with levis or sequins not that I own sequins but you never know. I just want to be able to put on my black shoes and dance the blues.

I went to this shoe store in Tualatin called DSW and there were so many choices I couldn't do it. I keep telling myself I'll know it when I see it, but I think I've seen them all. I chose three pair and walked out empty-handed. So, wish me luck. I am indecisive.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I should ask my doctor for a bucket of antidepressants. I think the time has come.
Naw. I hate antidepressants -- feels like wearing a too-tight hat that you can't take off.

So we did the long run, down and back drive-by-Thanksgiving, all the while entertained by Kurt's Infernal Playlist. Let me just say we don't appreciate the same kind of music barely at all. It was a long ride. The day went as days tend to go when they feel completely beyond my control. I don't usually see myself as a control freak, but control freaks rarely do. If you've been keeping up, you'll know we did not go where we usually do which is way way out in the woods for a family style Thanksgiving with a neighborhood of hippies. Everybody brings food and it is friendly and easy and we go for long walks and nearly purchase property it is so lovely there and at some point, someone offers a prayer of gratitude.

Not this time. We were in foggy, dreary Medford in someone else's house. The food was terrible and the company was inconsistent. The women wouldn't put my sweet potatoes in the oven. I hate them.

Oh it was fine. What I want does not exist.

What do I want? I thought you'd never ask. My heart's desire would be to recreate the holidays of my early childhood. I know most people can't say that, but we were pretty whitebread happy. No money, but lots of love and no visible dysfunction. But then my father had the poor timing to die.

The holidays of my late childhood and early adulthood wents something like this:

Thanksgiving: There was a turkey, everybody got drunk and the cops came.
Christmas: There was a tree, everybody got drunk and the cops came.
Baby's first birthday: There was a cake, everybody got drunk and the cops came.

So, during this holiday season, I feel like a stranger in my life. This feeling is very strong just now, and I'm not quite sure how to overcome it. Thus, antidepressants. I seem to be between families -- not in this one, not in that-- and this harsh realization that I have been free-floating, trying to re-create my family using whichever random people were at hand: friends, in laws, outlaws, and finally, my own child who has been hostage to my need for holiday bliss his entire life. But not this year. This year, he declined. Nicely but certainly.

I should have stopped the dinner to say grace. I could have done something to bring some light into the long day, but I didn't.

Today I went to Walgreens and bought a ten dollar Charlie Brown Christmas Tree--an actual replica with one red ball. It is exactly what I am capable of this year. A drive-by Thanksgiving and a No-Frills Christmas. You're invited.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


As we prepare for the feast, as we bake pies, make cookies, make more pies, make yams, which is really only pie filling too, I look at the weather report and there are three special areas highlighted on the map of the northwest that bear mentioning as we consider travel tomorrow: around Puget Sound it will be windy, in the Columbia Gorge there will be wild weather of some magnitude, and in the Southlands, the region of my recent distant past, the land of my upbringing, our destination, there is a stagnant air advisory.

Yes. I'd imagine there is.

So, we're doing Drive By Thanksgiving to the land of stagnation. Home of the primal shrug. On the road at six, home by nine. Husband, wife, two kids and the dog in our shiny little mazda. And pie. Over the river and down I-5 to grandfather's house we go. Only not. One of the nicest things about holidays with my outlaws, the only nice thing in fact, has been the fact that they live off the grid in the midst of a beautiful forest along a deep green creek, with kerosene to light the way and wood fires to warm crisp mornings. But not this year. This year, for the sake of convenience, we are sentenced to dine at a step-daughter's house on the outskirts of Medford. In town. Arrgghh. In the Rogue Valley, one stays out of Medford unless absolutely necessary. One really should.

It'll be Thanksgiving either way. Here or there. Just another day.

I'm happy to have some time away from work. Frankie died. I think I can just say it outright. She's dead, she won't care. Her son won't read this. She was named after Frank James and was every bit as tough. She coulda kicked my ass if she wasn't 90, blind and in a wheelchair. She fired us every day. We'd hide around the corner, come back five minutes later and say we were somebody else. It usually worked. It sounds mean, I know, but it isn't. You do what you've gotta do.

This week was the long dreaded State Licensing Inspection. I passed. It is a relief to have it behind me and to get on with the day to day business of letting people die in peace. I am always so surprised when families, having just moved mom onto the unit, return a couple of weeks later to ask if she's busy doing things. Well, she is. She's busy dying. Its not easy, sitting around waiting for the reaper. I know it sounds awful, but this one new lady (she's so new she's still "the new lady." I haven't even made up a fake name for her yet.) Her husband just died. Just died. He really didn't expect to. I knew him. He was a great guy. He completely expected to take care of her through the end. But he got a get out of jail free card and now I've got her, and her family wonders if she's being social.

No. She's not being social. She's being devastated. She wants to go to heaven now to hang out with Herb for another 63 years. Not to Bingo. Sorry to disappoint.

I don't get mad at them. Not out loud. But these guys... oh man. They really don't see what's going on.

But its going on anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008


My palm is feeling better since my Terrible Fall. It doesn't hurt to type.

I've become embedded in a small writing group, a thing I hate but end up pursuing because at least once a month I am comitted to producing something made of words.

I don't do well in groups generally. I don't do well when praise is part of the process. I fold up at phrases such as "you're such a good writer." They paralyze me. I grow cold and my fingers numb with expectation as I hammer out yet another spectacular paragraph (not HERE for chrissake. I mean my real writing, the stuff I worry over, edit, rewrite, rerererewrite. Not this shit. This is blogging, this is the vent that prohibits me from producing anything of substance. I blame my blog. I'll blame anything. Hold still and I'll blame you. Or decorate you. Depends on my mood.) It isn't that I don't think I'm a good writer. I do. I just find praise difficult and not at all the point. Criticise me. Help me out. Whip me. Beat me.

Geez I'm touchy.

Anyway, I'm in this group and we meet and I decided, after a few false starts, to write memoir style, a departure from the thinly-veiled autobiographical fiction I am known for. Fixion. I decide to take asha's advice for the twentyfirst time and write about my work. About Alzheimer's. About dead people.

I think I can I think I can.... Its always like this at first, chugging up the hill, gathering steam for the project, which, after four pages becomes the same fucking book I've been trying to write for ten years. Have, in fact, written. Nearly, in fact, published.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

winter begins

It is coming onto winter now, and this is when they begin to die. One by one the systems begin to fail, the lungs, the heart, the bowels. Something fails. Something that has gone on as long as it could, as long as anyone could expect, longer by far than in prairie times.

I don't know why I think prairie time was that long ago. I'm sure there are still prairies. And prairie time could be a time zone for all I know.

Anyway, we lost one on Saturday morning. Melba came and went without a peep. She carried a babydoll for comfort. What I will always remember about Melva is that her son loved her. He would come and talk to her, and he swore he understood her. She laughed once while we werer playing kazoos, and it was music to all of us. Unlike some who thrash and fight, and for whom death is hard hard work, Melba floated away quickly and quietly, deservedly peaceful.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

dog days

It probably isn't a great idea to take the dog for a walk in the dark. It probably is predictable that he would cross in front of me with his twelve food leather leash, hobble my feet like a salem witch and drop me like a stone. Yep. I shoulda seen it comin'. And yet I didn't. Now, he is laying at my feet like a good dog, my palms wrapped in gauze and tape, shoulders unuseable from the impact. I fell like a child on the playground, splayed like a five year old off the swing set. I just layed there and cried. Didn't even try to get up. My husband, who always thinks he should have been able to prevent these things, said, "When you fall, you fall like a tree." I told him it was because my feet were tied together. "Oh." he said, and helped me up. I was most worried about my new Eddie Bauer turtleneck. A good fitting turtleneck is hard to find.

Shit. So now I am laid up, tore up, sore and pissed. I am so clumsy. I always have been, but the older I get, the more severe the consequences.

So, anyway, back at the election: that was pretty fun. I'll be sure to get involved next time, although some of the zealots at Obama World on Division were a bit much. I'm a political junkie, but not a zealot. I'm happy with the outcome, and hope the whole race hysteria thing subsides in light of all of the other shit there is to do. I appreciate the role of comedians in bringing the election home. It was funny. Palin. Wow. That was one scary fifteen minutes of fame.

Monday, November 03, 2008

be concerned

I am. I feel as though I have clawed my way to the top of a deep dark well, slick walls, few hand-holds, moss and grit beneath my nails, and paint. Fuck painting. That's what I say.

It started innocently enough. I just wanted a nice clean coat of paint. Is that so much to ask? And a democratic president. Really, is it so much? So between stints at the phone bank at Obama's World on Division where Howard Dean was last night in person with all the dem high rollers, I painted. And painted. It is no surprise to me that the word begins with pain. Shit.

Recall that I charged into home despot and chose quickly my three shades of paint. Light olive, darker olive, and brick red. Well, it may sound good, but it looked awful. You may think it sounds awful. Well, you'd be right. You should have told me so. I may have listened to you. So I painted for days, and hated the red. Hated it. Again, I tried to tough it out. "Just live with it," my husband said in the same breath he told me it looked like a clown's kitchen. That snapped it. We know I can't live with it, don't we? I can't stand bad color. I HAD TO fix it.

So I did. My shoulders ache. My back is broken, but there is no red in my kitchen except for the antique metal cherries hanging thing next to the sink. So, now two weeks later, four if you count the bedroom, two months if you count the closet room, I am done painting. Finis. Finit. Fino. Fine.

It just shouldn't matter this much. I feel like I have Matching Disease. Some version of OCD wherein I can't relax until everything is just the right shade of ___________. You pick. I'm tired. And accessorizing, which didn't used to matter at all, is mandatory. I used to furnish my home from a goodwill box in the dark, and paint with old cans of any color mixed together, happy if I could fill the holes in the wall with newspaper, slather bondo over it, and make a real wall. At the end of one of my lives, I painted my corner grey. The corner where I sat all day and all night for five years. I painted as far as I could reach and left it at that. I threw an Indian blanket over the mattress on the floor and called it home. But then again, someone had to come and get me out of there before I died. The good ol' days seem so simple in the rear view mirror.

I'm taking a day off work so I can put the house back together. I hate every knicknack I own, and I own plenty, believe it. So I am in zen mode: black rocks in glass vases, thin reeds in off-white jars. The thought of clutter makes me cringe. I will not live in a clown's kitchen. I will not.

Go Obama! I did what I could.