The Tupperware of My Enemy Is My Friend…Or at Least My Goodwill Donation

Are you like I have been? Do you invite everyone over? When you move someplace new, do you invite the neighbors in, rather than wait for them to possibly invite you? (Pre-Covid and all that…) Are you the first to say, “Need a place to hold it? We can come to my place!”

I am that person.

Or, I should correct, I have always been.

Some people are cautious, with their time, their privacy, their resources, their personhood.

I have not been very good at any of that, and I have always gone on the assumption that everyone will be open and welcoming, given the chance to be so, so why not be the one to start the ball rolling?

I’m less sure of that now, and I don’t think it is a bad thing. In any case, I’m no longer interested in it.

Don’t bemoan my fate. I’ve not become a hater or anything. I’m just changing my priorities, or, I might even say, having some.

Back-in-the-day, as we old-heads say, the people I was having in were usually people I’d grown up with, and their extended new friends/family. That was almost always fine, because we had a life-long understanding of each other, and we knew that the night was going to end with everyone, drunk or sober, belting out “Born to Run” as loud as possible. (That’s right, as LOUD as possible, not as loudly as possible, for we were from Philly, and we didn’t give a good fuck about grammar.) I never had to specify pot-luck. Everyone knew, and the tables would groan under the weight of the too many dishes everyone (many of them fine Italian cooks) would bring. It was pretty great.

But, as happens, we all moved, followed our partners, our passions, or the sun, and ended up too far away for those parties to happen anymore.

I went forward, assuming that everyone would be similar, that people were people like my people, but that is not the case, and, truly, I was dumb-da-dumb-dumb-stupid to think so.

Still, it’s probably good that I went forward into the world swinging wide the doors to my house. I think that’s where my head and my heart were at the time, and I think it was right for me, and lot’s of good came of it, but, ultimately, whatever came of it, good or bad, really wasn’t what I was looking for.

So what was I looking for? What are you looking for? Do you know?

I think some of that changes as we age, and some of it stays the same, of course, Captain Obvious in the house..

My priorities have shifted. They are much more about my family of three, and much less about everyone else. I have been a care-taker, not with the old-school Philly peeps, but with all who came after, more or less, and that’s who I thought I was, and who I thought I wanted to be, and how I thought I mattered in the world.

It has long been a goal of mine to, in some way, matter in the world. And I think I kept that as a hope, clenched in my hand, and now, I’ve let go of it. Whether or not I matter in the world, whether or not anyone knows I was alive after I am dead, these things no longer matter to me. I matter to me, and being happy and enjoying my life matter to me. When I’m dead, I won’t care if I mattered to you or not. I will care, right before I die, if I’ve enjoyed my life, and spent it with the people who matter to me, and not spent it continually courting the people I kept hoping I would matter to. And why did I hope I would matter to them? I think I thought they were cooler than me. How junior high is that? I’m a dope. I’m cool enough on my own.

As I pack up and get ready to move from where I am to someplace that, in my view, is, for a whole host of reasons, better, I am clearing things out, taking car loads of things, things I no longer need or care about, to Goodwill. Putting furniture out and listing it FREE on Craigslist. Instead of opening the door to the house and beckoning people in, I’m opening the door to the house and shooing things out.

Of all the houses I have owned and the apartments I have rented, this is the one I have loved the most, and been the most comfortable in, and now cannot wait to get away from. I accomplished all I could, and now I want to leave it behind; it is too big; it holds too many people and things; it’s so beyond what I need or want that it is a chore. I want to lighten up, to spend my time walking hand-in-hand with my husband, or hitting the beach or the mall with my daughter, or traveling with both of them, just for fun, and, aside from work, which we all must do, not doing a heck-of-a-fuck else. I’ve said my goodbyes, in the way I want to say them, and seen who I want to see, and soon I’ll be on the road, which I love. I love being on the road. I like the new thing, the next chapter, I just don’t like the holding pattern of transition, and the goodbyes before leaving.

So, during this last adventure, here in this big house, I may have had more people in then I have ever had over before, and I have been asked to visit less of those people in their homes than ever before. I ran into a lot of takers. Not that they are, in fact, my enemies (as the title implies…). They just never were true friends. They were just people who were happy to be invited someplace. I gave them something to do that cost them little-to-no effort. They gave me a feeling of purpose, I guess. Occasionally those people, willing or under duress, brought things to the house, and, sometimes, accidentally left them here, and some of those things are serving dishes or plastic-wear (hence the title of this post), or odd little gifts that were stand-ins for time spent together caring about each other, and no matter what it was, it really has no meaning or love behind its presence here, and it all gotta go.

And so too must my attention, care, concern, and friendship. In the words of Roy Orbison, “It’s over; it’s over; it’s over.”

If I sound angry, that is only the limits of the written word. I’m not at all angry. I’m relieved. I never fit here, and the lack of true friendship was only part of the lack of a good fit. But it took me about 3 years to see it, which is 3 too many, and 3 I’ll never get back. For those lost years I am a little dissatisfied with myself, but, I grew me during that time, and I grew my marriage, and I grew my child, who is really a formed person unto herself, and did not fall apart, but thrived, during the pandemic, and of who I am so very fond of and proud to know. I want to give her better soil to grow in than they have here. And I am exploring my heart’s desires, and reaching for what I want, and I am wholly focused on it.

Time, if the pandemic taught us anything, is not limitless. Maybe it is for a virus, or the universe, but for poor frail humans it is very much a trip that comes to an end. And, maybe the second thing I feel I learned is that when, where, and how that end happens is not in our control. So, up until that ending comes and knocks at your door, you had better be spending all the time you can afford to (meaning all your away from work time) doing things that will make you miss you, when you are gone. And to hell with everything else. I’m certainly going to try to do it, and I’m going to be very imperfect at it, and it’s about damn time I shifted my focus from out-there, and on you or you or you, or that guy, to in here, and on me and we three.

With love to Wes Anderson, for teaching me all I ever needed to learn:

INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT WHAT THE K-12 SCHOOL IS TEACHING YOUR KIDS, WORRY ABOUT WHAT IT ISN’T

It is a cold October afternoon in 1977. I have just drained the fat off of ground beef that I have browned in a frying pan. I carefully dump it into the casserole dish on top of the cooked and drained elbow macaroni, add in shredded cheddar cheese, a bag of frozen cut green beans, and Mrs. Capcovick’s special sauce. I stir gently, cover the dish with foil, and slide it into a 375 degree oven. In 40 minutes, when my father and brother are home from work, it will be ready for my father, older brother, younger sister, and me to eat for dinner. My mother is already at her job at the Bell Tell switchboard, and will not be home until 1am. My sister is home from school and playing in the living room. I am watching her while I cook. I am 12 years old.

That memory, and that yummy casserole that my family ate many times, was brought to me by my 6th grade home-ec class.

Are you worried that your children are being taught about things they should NOT be taught about in school?

Give it a rest.

Are you worried that your kids will find out that the US was once full of white people who owned slaves, like founding fathers Jefferson and Washington? They already know.

Are you worried that your kids will find out that white racism did terrible things to Black people, and, far too often, still does? They already know this.

Are you worried that your kids, if they are white, will feel badly that white people are sometimes awful to other people because of racism? I am a white person, and I feel badly about this, and I share with my non-white daughter often how ashamed I am of these behaviors, and how imperfect I am at my own reckoning with race. She still loves me, and it’s not bad, feeling bad, and owning that, as a white person, I have a duty to do better. No, I never lynched anyone, and I don’t think anyone in my either immigrant or coal-miner ancestry did either, but I do know that, sometimes, as poor and uneducated as they were, they felt superior due to being white, and said and believed racist things. And for this, I carry shame and sadness, but I still get through my day in a successful way. The fact that I am a product of white people and share the history of racism has not ruined my life. Seriously, all kids know this anyway. Hello, YouTube. If you’re making a mountain out of this molehill you’re both waisting your time, and teaching your kids the wrong thing:

“We don’t look at hard stuff in our pasts (and present) because it makes us feel bad.”

Yeah, don’t teach your kids that. TEACH YOUR KIDS TO DO HARD THINGS. Give them strength and resilience.

AND, give them Mrs. Capcovick.

In 1977, in my middle school, I had math, and science, and English, and social studies, just like my daughter has now. I also had art, and music, and choir, and band could be in there too, and home-ec, and French (or Spanish), and woodshop, and typing, and CPR and first aid, and metal shop, and the dreaded gym class, and guitar lessons, and square dancing, and mechanical drawing, and sewing, and photography, and theater arts, and we also still had recess, and I know there were probably other courses throughout my junior high school experience that I cannot remember. In 1977, between the overlap from when my mom dropped off my little sister with me and went to work, and when my dad and brother came home from work, I made dinner. And often it was Mrs. Capcovicks’ casserole, which I learned in her class in 6th grade. She also taught me to make fettuccine with Alfredo sauce with bacon and peas.

My daughter, in the Cape Henlopen School District in Delaware has math, language arts, social studies, science, band (or choir… kids have to choose 1, and only 1) and, of the 4 quarters in the year, first quarter, gym, second quarter, art, third quarter, health, and fourth quarter, keyboarding. Yup, that’s it.

That is all she is doing.

My daughter is missing out on learning real life skills, like cooking, and having a peek at other things she may have an interest in or aptitude for. All they are doing in the Cape Henlopen School District is teaching the bare minimum to get kids through the standardized tests, and the only after school enrichment they offer is various sports teams.

As a parent, this IS something you should be concerned about.

First of all, these classes that my school district is not teaching are usually hands-on, fun, and engaging. These are nice breaks from the “sit in your chair and think” academic classes. Secondly, these classes offer windows into a world of career possibilities that kids won’t even know about unless they are exposed to them. With a second language you could become an interpreter. With typing you could become a court stenographer. With woodshop you could go into construction. With mechanical drawing: architecture. With sewing: fashion design.

Why aren’t our schools offering these other classes anymore? Have you asked your school district this question?

I also remember, for you parents worried about sex ed, that Mr. Baine, I wanna say, I think it was Baine, taught sex ed. He was super cute and fit, and I had a crush on him, and I remember what he told us about male anatomy. He stood there, with his trim body straight, and put his hands together as if in prayer, and turned that point of the hands down to the floor, and he said, “The penis hangs there like a loaf of Wonder Bread, just hangs there. Unless it is excited.” I was mortified. There were boys in the room too. Mr. Baine said the word penis, and compared it to Wonder Bread. And that is absolutely all I remember about sex ed. Of course, by the time I got into his class, I already knew all about sex, because my mom told me in second grade when I asked. I knew, from second grade on, all about sex, and I never was a pregnant or promiscuous teen. Imagine that.

Wonder Bread, People. Imagine that!

Seriously though, is your school district just getting by, or is it really teaching your kids all about the world, and not just about the basic 4 topics? Ask, and get involved in that. That is something that actually matters. That is something that your kids are losing out on. If you don’t demand it, you will never get it.

Stop shutting down education, and ask for more. Your kids are worth it.

Forward Through Grief

I am one of those annoying people who always has advice, and who is always thinking about how to proceed with life.

When we lose people, places, things, etc., the challenge is moving forward. Sometimes it can feel disrespectful to move forward, as if we are not giving enough notice to grief, and what is gone. Also, though, I have noticed that it sometimes feels, when I am in grief, like I am a rock in a stream. I am still, and grieving, but everything, including the thing being grieved, is whipping past me in the current, and it becomes my choice, I often feel, to decide whether to stay behind, and if so, how long, or whether or not to move forward.

There is a brilliant chapter in the brilliant book, The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien, that covers this very point. The chapter, “Speaking of Courage,” illustrates quite clearly how a soldier, home from war, and in grief, is not only passed-by by life, everyone around him that he used to be in step with has moved forward in life, and his time in the war made him behind them, but his grief keeps him behind. He is grieving the loss of a fellow soldier, and feeling responsible for it, and he cannot let go. War, of course, is a shit-show, and none of the foot soldiers are really responsible for what happens after they find themselves in the meat grinder of war, but that lack of control almost makes them hold on to their position as the rock in the stream when they return, and they stay where they are, hoping for a way to affect a situation that they had no control over, and that, for them, is over. For myself, when a pet dies, like my cat Jones, see prior post, I often feel myself asking what might have happened differently to cause a different outcome. I think this double whammy of grief, and trying to control the out-of-control, keeps us still in the water, cemented, while everything alive and good rushes past us.

And, so, we must first (and here is the annoying advice part) tell ourselves that we are allowed to pick our feet up out of the riverbed. We are allowed to recline onto the water, and let the current move us forward until we can start paddling and directing our flow again. The first step to heal is to allow ourselves to move. It’s not disloyal, or shirking our duty, or unkind. There are so many living things around us, still needing and wanting us in our lives, that to stay still is the selfish part as it helps no one.

But how the fuck do you get yourself to loose your grip on the pain of grief, the pain of being out-of-control?

One thing that always helps me is to watch a funny movie, like really funny, can’t help but laugh even a little. Or my favorite movie, which is all about releasing grip, The Darjeeling Limited. That one always helps, even though it’s not funny.

Another tried and true way for me to become alive again is to create. When we lose something, and we respond by creating, we gain something. Maybe it is not as wonderful or large or etc. as what we lost, but it is creation in a space that is left bereft. We begin, in a small way, to fill the void.

So, today, I created my lunch. Homemade hummus (which makes it almost impossible to eat store bought), is what I have created today. My hummus has chick peas (garbanzo beans) in it, and also olive oil, and lemon juice, and tahini, and garlic, and cumin (I love cumin!). To serve my hummus I like to add some chickpeas on top, and some drizzled olive oil, and some ground salt, and… this to me is the genius part, some hand-chopped pistachios. You could make this with any bean of your choice almost (maybe pintos would be too soft), and any spice, and any nut or seed. It would probably be great covered in sesame, or served with little pickles maybe! I ate mine with some tortillas that I laid in a hot cast-iron pan for a minute to stiffen up.

I look out the window at the white tulips atop Jones, and I feel so sad, and I miss him. I told one of the other cats last night as we looked out the window that Jones was on the wrong side of the glass. And he is. But, he had a bad disease that I couldn’t fix, and it broke my heart to let him go. And isn’t that the best we all can hope for, that we break someone’s heart a little when we have to be let go?

But I cannot stop and be a rock in the stream. There are other people and pets I am supposed to be loving, and they deserve me too. I need to start moving in the water again. And creating, even a fancy lunch, is a good way to start.

Today’s Blog Post Is Brought To You By The Letter T

HA! I took this snap, just to see what I’m looking like these days while I tutor… and there it was… Tina Belcher, TUK shoes, and Tom (Robbins). Three Ts. Coincidence? Probably, she typed, with a wry expression on her face.

Lots been going on lately, not all good, but all different.

We said goodbye last week, to Baby Jones, or Jones, or Pinstripe Jones, as he was originally named.

Jones was a very sweet boy. He loved chasing the laser more than anything else, and he liked treats (Temptations) and wet food, and tuna. The funny thing about Jones, he always had his cuddle moments with me, but otherwise he kept to himself, and, just like Rosie, about two weeks before we could see he was sick, he started getting more friendly and cuddly with the other two humans I live with. He is the kitten I stole from a little girl while at the SPCA. Yes, I did that. We were in the kitten cage… she and her mom and me and one other person, and they released about 30 kittens that had just become eligible for adoption into the cage. It was like being in the glass case full of dollar bills from that old TV game show… you know what I mean. There he was, Jones, the striped boy I wanted. I tried to grab him, but he was like lightening around the cage and then, like that, the little girl somehow nabbed him. “I’m sorry; he’s mine,” I said, and took him and turned and walked out of the cage, while she and her mother stared at me with their mouths open. And just last week Jones died, too young, and with a very aggressive form of cancer. Am I sorry I stole him from a little girl? Nope. I’d take a short-lived Jones any day over no Jones at all. He was a very sweet young man. Sorry little girl. But, you’re in your teens now, and probably glad your cat is still alive. And I’m glad that Jones had us to live with in his short life. It is my feeling, having had a few feral cats now as pets (and Jones definitely was the son of a feral cat, and a bit uncivilized himself) that feral cats just don’t get the lifespan of non-feral cats. They have a charm all their own, and they certainly need us more, but they’re going to break your heart sooner than their more domestic brothers and sisters. I think the outdoor life is just hard, down to the cells and the bones.

At one point we had five cats here. And in the last three years, one went back to my mother (she had asked us to take two of her cats, and one, Henry, just never got comfortable around our dog, though our dog basically ignores the cats, so Henry went back to my mother who, after she gave us her two cats, went and got another one! So now Henry is with her, and her other cat, Joey, and is happy.), and Rosie, the feral tortie darling I rescued from a school parking lot that was wedged between I-95 and 295, succumbed to cancer (in her nose, and not treatable) in 2020, and Jones left us this year. It’s curious, because I was so worried about how Jones was going to take traveling when we move next month (in other news, we’re moving), and he always loved Rosie best of all; they often snuggled, and I have felt he’s missed her, and now he’s right next to her, together forever. I would have rather had Jones with me, but maybe he had other ideas about who he wanted to be with. I do think, having had five, that there is a limit to how many you can give good attention to if you have more than one cat per person. I know that we loved Henry, but it seemed like there was always someone else trying to get rubs first, and then add his fear of dogs in… it’s tough to give enough to all. And our dog is a fellow who doesn’t like to share his mom!

I was going to continue… but maybe that’s enough for today. Jones deserves his time, and so does my grief, which feels deep, as it always does when I lose a furry baby. It is down in there, burrowing away into my heart, and it won’t stay quiet for some time to come.

Oh, Baby Jones, Baby Jones, how I miss you. You had the softest most luxurious fur I ever felt, even softer than your long-haired brother. You had a sweet and gentle personality, and you were a big boy; you looked like a mountain lion until the day, oddly enough, you didn’t; you seemed to have gotten smaller overnight, and we should have known that it was not our perceptive abilities that had declined, but your physical ones. I love you, and you’ll always be so special to me, and I hope your journey was easy across the rainbow bridge to find your darling Rosie. Give her a kiss and a cuddle from us.

FREE (& virtual) INDIE AUTHOR EVENT:


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Join us online for a conversation with William F. Crandell, award-winning author of Let’s Say Jack Kennedy Killed the Girl, Book 1 in The Jack Griffin Detective Series.

In this hard-boiled adventure we find a young senator Kennedy’s personal and political future at risk when he’s set up to take the fall for a ghastly murder. Working against time, bureaucratic red tape, his own personal demons, and individuals who want him out of the way, Detective Jack Griffin must identify the real killer, assuming he survives long enough.

William F. Crandell returned home from the Vietnam War with a taste for adventure, a skeptic’s eye, and a hundred thousand stories. Awarded a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for his private detective novel, Let’s Say Jack Kennedy Killed the Girl, Crandell has published short stories, book reviews, scholarly articles, journalism, state and federal reports, political analyses, and congressional testimony that he presented in Washington hearings. An Ohio native, Crandell received all his degrees at Ohio State University, completing his doctorate in American History with a study of the interaction of McCarthyism and Republican politics. Bill is a former DC speech writer for Veteran’s Affairs.
Click below to register for the Zoom link:

TALK WITH BILL CRANDELL

POEM WITH ME

Whenever possible I have a little fun with my creative writing classes with Magnetic Poetry.

This past semester, while cleaning up from our play-day, I found some nice word combos, and isn’t that the point of Magnetic Poetry?

So, c’mon, poem with me…

Comment with your creation!

No, you don’t have to use them in that order…. 😉

POEM WITH ME

Whenever possible I have a little fun with my creative writing classes with Magnetic Poetry.

This semester, while cleaning up from our play-day, I found some nice word combos, and isn’t that the point of Magnetic Poetry?

So, c’mon, poem with me…

Comment with your creation!

No, you don’t have to use them in that order…. 😉

UGH. BUT WOULD I DO IT AGAIN? YES.

Got my booster Friday.

I chose Pfizer this time because my second Moderna made me have a pretty miserable 24 hours. That’s probably an exaggeration. It was probably more like 18 hours. 18 hours of freezing, and shaking, and pain…. whenever I get any kind of flu or even cold, it always hits me so hard right where I already have pain, thumb joints, finger joints, hips, arches. It’s really not very good. Last time (Moderna second dose), I hit the bathtub, trying to get warm and sooth the joints, so many times over the course of those 18 hours that I used up all the hot water.

IMHO if you are a woman with menstrual cramps, or a human with arthritis, a shower just ain’t gonna cut it. You need a tub to soak in.

But what luxury do I have to be able to get in the bathtub a million times in one night? To both have a bathtub that is mine, and private, and clean, and to have all that water at my disposal, that is privilege. My mind boggles when I think of all the people around the world who are also getting these vaccines, but are unable to sooth the after-effects.

And here’s the thing: in those places, they’re getting the vaccines as soon as they can, and they may not even have access to them yet. They may not have a government that can buy them, over and over again, from the manufacturers. And they are expensive. Very well-educated people have to develop them, in many cases (and probably so with the Covid vaccines) working overtime to get them done fast. And, doing them fast, on overtime, does not mean doing them poorly. Scientists have been making flu vaccine since the 1930s. Covid is a flu. Scientists know how to make flu vaccines. So, yes, they can do it quickly without it genetically mutating you. If they wanted a vaccine that would genetically mutate you, that would take probably another hundred years, People. We’re not at the point where CRISPER can be done in a shot. So, think of the salaries of those very well-educated people, who went to college for a long and expensive time and did a LOT (beyond your imagination) of homework. Those people are, and have earned the right to be, expensive. And I don’t want the cheap folks working on this; do you? The ones with their AA from your local community college? Yes, that development is expensive. Then packaging and shipping it is expensive. Keeping it cold is expensive. Paying the pharmacies to house it, and give shots to the zillion people who show up: expensive. And our government can afford all of that. It can foot the bill for every single person here. We are lucky.

To not realize when you have privilege is common, and easy. It’s hard to see that you’re lucky to have a bathtub, especially if you have always had one. It’s had to think that you should feel lucky to be able to get a shot, especially if you don’t like shots, if you think anything is possible (like they can genetically modify you through the shot), if you believe some spiritual belief can protect you from the shot, if you think “I have never gotten the flu, so I’m not going to get this.” No one can tell you with certainty that you will get Covid if you don’t get the shot. That is 100% true. And it is also 100% true that the large majority of infections since the shots have been in place have been in unvaccinated people. And some of us, who have chemo or otherwise poor immunity, are catching it, even after vaccination, from an unvaccinated person.

What would you do if you infected someone, and he or she died? Or ended up with the long-haul Covid? Or even ended up for a time on a ventilator, from which recovery is not easy? What would you do?

Send a basket of fruit? Send thoughts and prayers? How would you apologize for that?

So, I have to say, that this time, given a choice, I chose Pfizer, because everyone I know who got Pfizer (and in the spring we got what we could get, right?) did not get sick from the vaccine, #1 or #2. So, for my #3 (booster) I signed us up for Pfizer. And Friday I was fine. And yesterday I woke up in flu-agony again. Arm hurt. Arthritis hurt like a MF. Nausea. Arrrgh! Whole day gone. And at around 8 last night I gave up and popped an Advil PM to sleep it off. Which, pretty much, I did. Arthritis is still a little touchy, but I am through the worst of it.

I cannot imagine if my daughter got this, and I could not do anything to make her feel better. I mean, if this is a small taste of what the actual illness feels like, geez. I cannot imagine. We are so lucky because she went back into the classroom this year at age 12, old enough to be vaccinated. If she had not been, would we have sent her? IDK. Dad works from home, so we could have kept her home, but it would not have been the best for her brain, but, a brain is no good in a ravaged body, so we might have kept her home. It’s not forever, right? It’s temporary. But, we’re lucky. She was vaccinated when she went back to school. I was vaccinated when I went back to school. Dad was vaccinated when she and I went back to school, so he was protected from us. My students are protected from me. And, because I teach at college, I have no idea if I am protected from them. I just found out that some guy who I always have to tell to put his mask on went home with Covid. So, there you are. Not everyone cares about each other, or is telling the truth about their status. Why should anyone care about me? I’m just the teacher. I’m there to care about them. Why should they care about the student right next to them? This is their education, not that person’s. That person is on his/her own.

Have the 80s come back?

So, yes, out of this whole year I have had 2-3 miserable days of pain and suffering due to getting the vaccine. And I would do it again, though I hope the booster turns out to be enough, and it could, if the hold-outs would get vaccinated. But, the more the rest of us are vaccinated, the more the peer pressure will make them dig in and refuse, just to prove they can.

They are so privileged, because they live in a place where the vaccine is free, and there is plenty of it, and enough of us are vaccinated to help them be a little safer. The whole world does not have that luxury.

So yes, I had a rotten weekend. And I’d do it again, for my husband, for my daughter, and for you.

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

When’s the last time you visited my page?

Check me out!

An even better question is, “When is the last time you updated your own page?”

Are you a published writer? You gotta link your page to your blog, and keep it updated. Go in every so often and change your photo, etc. I always find it strange when I meet a writer who looks nothing like his/her photo because the photo is so old. Get rid of your HS yearbook photo and update it. Listen, you may have a wrinkle or two you didn’t have before, but your true fans wanna see you. The real you. Sometimes, if you look at your page as if you don’t know you, it can give you a boost, seeing all you’ve done, or it can give you some juice, seeing, “I can do more!”

Update yourself. 🙂

DEAD PEOPLE SHOULD NOT VISIT

Do you know the words to the Pink Panther theme song by the great Henri Mancini?

The words are, “Dead aunt, dead aunt, dead aunt dead aunt dead aunt dead aunt dead auuuuunt de-eh-eh-ed aunt.” And so on.

At exactly 3:08 pm yesterday I heard my dead aunt say my name.

My dead aunt, when she was alive, had a habit, throughout her life, that I was not fond of. She was a practitioner, nay, even a master, of the pop-in.

She was my mother’s older sister, significantly older, so she seemed to feel she had the right to do certain things, one of which was to pop-in.

And, as my mother never kept her door locked, and never would have turned her sister away anyway, my aunt could always pop-in.

This usually meant that whatever was happening at home, from cooking dinner to eating dinner, from hanging laundry on the line, to playing a game as a family, to being about to leave to go to a movie, or to the beach for a week, whatever it was, it had to stop, immediately, and wait until my aunt decided the pop-in was over. And, frequently, my aunt showed up to complain about her very emotionally cruel husband, or just to be vague and ask all of us a lot of questions to try to make some conversation as she was bored, her husband was cruel, and her kids had gotten the hell out of there as soon as they could, so she was lonely, and alone. I knew it, and I loved her, but geez, she had bad timing. As an example, she refused to come to the baby shower my friends threw me for adopting Sophie; she didn’t cotton to the whole adopting from another race and country thing, but she didn’t mind showing up just when we were about to leave (I was home from CA and staying with my mom) and making us all an hour late. We were literally on the front step when she pulled up, and my mother, who had the only car at the time, turned around and marched back into the house and sat down, clutching her keys so that we knew we were not escaping without her. My aunt slowly lumbered out of her car, up the drive, and into the house, and I had to make everyone tea and get out cookies. My aunt spent the hour or so dropping little hints about the adoption not being a good idea, was generally unencouraging and moody, and, I think, handed me a 50 dollar bill before she sighed a long sigh and left. Boy, was it fun driving to that shower with my mother after that (as my mother always thought her sister knew best because she was older, and she had married very rich), because now my mother was also in opposition to the adoption plan, and anxious about being so very late to a shower where my father’s girlfriend was also going to be, and where they all had been kindly and awkwardly waiting for us for over an hour by the time we arrived. My other aunt, my mom’s best friend, showed up and was a lot of fun. Here’s to dearly departed Aunt Peg, who I enjoyed enough to almost be willing to see while she is dead.

I want to pause here and say that we all have a birth-family, and a childhood family, and they may or may not be the same family, but when you get your very own, grown-up family (GUF), that you put together out of your chosen combination of spouse, kids, friends, pets, etc., your GUF should come first, people.

OMGosh. Do I really need to write that?

Yes. I do.

“I’m so sorry; we’re just headed out the door. I will call you_______” when I’m not headed to the movies with my kids for the last showing of (movie) that if we don’t leave now we will miss. SERIOUSLY.

When my aunt popped in she would open the front door, stick in her head, and say, “Dianne?” emphasis on ANNE, with a slightly louder-than-usual, slightly aggrieved-sounding voice.

That is what I heard yesterday, just when I had finished my long to-do of household chores, and, very hungry, was going to make a sandwich. I heard what sounded like the front door swooshing (my front door, not the one in the house where my aunt used to visit my mom), and my name, said in the same way (I am, unhappily, named after my mother.), “Di-ANNE?”

The chills.

Lets face it, there are people I knew who are dead who I would love to see again for one last chat, except that, for all of them, universally, they’d be dead.

Dearly departed please don’t visit.

Dead people should stay dead and not visit.

No one has ever accused me of having a spiritual side. I do not believe in an afterlife, or a divine whatsit, or prayer, or past lives, or karma, or karma-chameleon, or zen, or chanting, or whatever. Nope. That dog don’t hunt in my worldview.

And so I knew that it was not my aunt yesterday, but just a trick of the milieu of house noises + hunger.

I do not believe my dead aunt was suddenly thinking of me, or that she died, years ago now, at exactly that moment, or that she wants to tell me she’s glad I got the child, or still recommends against getting the child, or that I should call my mother, or that she’s hanging out with my brother and he’s okay, or that the money she always meant to give me is hidden in the samovar, or whatever. And, in truth, for those who espouse such thoughts about their own lives, it sounds to me not unlike a tropical fruit that people have been known to slip on.

The sound I heard sounded like my aunt, but, of course (do I need to write “of course?”), it was not my aunt. But it did once again reaffirm for me that, no, no, no: dead people should not visit, and, in my view, it’s the thought of them being able to visit that makes horror so horrifying. And not because they’d be zombies or ghosts, but simply because they’d be back. And dead, and probably smell.

Dead aunt, dead aunt, dead aunt, dead aunt, dead aunt, dead- I think Mancini must have felt the same way as me.