Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007



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When did I get to be the grandmother

They started taking over. Giving directions. Making decisions. Making fun of my driving. They walked slow and waited for me to to go up and down the stairs. They waited on me. It was awful. Not that they did it, but that suddenly it seemed like the natural thing to do. I felt like, well, like an old elephant. Then I realized...I am an old elephant.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

To the Bronx

My virgin drive to the city, in Tony's car with Laur and Zach and Trex. Dinner Friday night at an Irish restaurant. Visit to the new apartment - it is huge and in a nice Irish neighbor. Night at the Ramada Inn with swimming (Okay, so I took a nap). Saturday at Van Cortland Park.

Amy's family was extremely interesting. Both of her sisters have married nice men. Megan and Dan live in Rochester and Megan looks and acts very much like Amy. Amy has buzzed her hair off and she looks terrific. Josh has been calling her his angel and they are talking about getting on "the adoption list" (and having a baby of their own). Sister Ginny and Daniel (yes, they have the same name problem that our family does) are missionaries in Guinea. They have adopted three chidren. Boys 7 and 6 named Elijah and Corbin and baby girl named Simka who is a heartbreaker. (Pictures on Picasa) Ginny and I had a conversation about their life there.

Her parents are pleasant. Dad Bill-2 was quiet, Etta more outgoing. I sat next to them at dinner and across from the great grandfolks. Bill-1 is a retired physician who is delightful with a friendly wife named Marilyn who looks very much like her stepdaughter (Etta). Amy's brother (Bill-3) is single, working on his doctorate in Japan, home for one more week, and is a real treat. Her father's brother - his twin John - came from PA with his wife Roberta. All very friendly and seemingly accepting of our foibles for a family of evangelicals (although we did try to tone it down).

J&A fixed a picnic - abundance of food - and a pinata in the park. Egan was wearing a purple tattoo. The guys all played soccer and frisbee and showed Trex how to hackey. All of them are involved in the church in some way. Josh's friend Jeff (from the Outsiders' tour) broke the pinata after the kids all had a shot at it. It was a perfect day.

We left around 3:30 to get Lauren home to make a frog cake for tomorrow. The drive back went faster, fewer traffic tie ups. Not a bad drive - I didn't like it, but would do it again. The boys slept most of the way. It was 6 when we got home and I did not pick up Eli. It is strange not to have to look out for him before I roll my chair.

I have downloaded a copy of Picasa, the photo program on the recommendation of "uncle" John, who does a newsletter for his church. I have all the photos on there now and it is a better editing program than what I have been using. The photographers were out in abundance. Amy's is a whole family of picture takers and I couldn't stay out of the way. Seeing myself - oh, Lord, I recognized myself. I am the grandmother.

the elephant

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Social Justice Center

In 1977 I looked pretty hot. Slender again after the birth of three children, I had great legs and better curves. I was sitting in the bar of a hotel in New Jersey waiting for my husband. I was chatting with the bartender and trying out a new drink he had recommended that involved amaretto and cream and strawberries. I was wearing a very snappy red and black suit with red pumps (sorry, folks, but it was the 70's). It was mid-afternoon and I was trying to tune out the revelry from a table of six business-types in suits who were ending their day with libations. They kept shooting glances my way. One of them got up and approached me. "Can I buy you a drink?" he asked. Politely, I said no, thank you. He persisted. I continue to refuse. Finally, he made a crude remark about me sitting in bar alone in the middle of the day, implying that I was a working girl. Flustered and furious I got up and left the bar. In my room I cried and stewed for a few minutes until I calmed myself and went back downstairs. Resolutely I approached the table where the men were still whooping it up, and proceded to give them a piece of advice. I am a married woman with three kids, I informed them icily. I am in this bar to meet my husband who is here on a business trip, probably the way you guys are. How many of your wives are home being accosted in a bar right now while you are out of town hitting on other women in a strange city? You are totally out of line, as well as obnoxious. Surprisingly, profuse apologies followed, from all the men and I stalked back to my room feeling proud of myself for not letting the moment pass to speak out.

Last night at the dumb poetry reading at the Social Justice Center, with Tim and Dennis and Obee and Mimi and Tom, I read my Las Vegas poem which mentioned being married by a judge holding a white Bible. The Bible I had in mind was one I had (and read) for many years, with a white leather cover. Following me, some goofy black dude got up to the microphone and in front of the whole crowd, challenged me to read my "white" Bible more because I would find that it was a Bible for black people, too. I was stunned and not sure if he were joking or not. I felt much the same as I did that day in the hotel. After the reading I approached the man. At first I spoke calmly and asked him if he was joking or serious. He was totally serious and resisted my efforts to explain about the cover of the Bible as opposed to the content. As it became obvious that either he wasn't wrapped too tight or was just fixated on this race thing, I chastised him for his mistaken assumptions and his rudeness. We parted without coming to an accord.

Dennis challenged me about the encounter, accusing me of having an anger issue. He was right that I was angry, but it was not uncontrolled. It was a matter of confronting injustice, which Dennis, I thought, would be sympathetic to. If we do not confront racism (or abusive parents or obnoxious salesmen or whatever) and attempt to defend what is right and true, then we are not fulfilling our responsibilites as citizens of the world. I used to be a non-confrontational person. I avoided the unpleasant and swallowed a lot of stuff I should have spoken out about. No more. I was angry and I made the effort, despite my innate aversion to it, to go to the root of the problem and make it right. I did the right thing.

Not a Racist

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

101 State Street

We are celebrating Joshua's wedding this weekend.

I married his father on a sunny May day in 1966 in a church that was not mine, or his. I was pregnant and wore a yellow dress with a white bibbed front that hung loose around the small round of my middle. I never did get very heavy with that pregnancy. I was hardly any bigger when my daughter was born at the end of August.

My friend Dolly was my maid of honor and her boyfriend Gary stood up with David, who looked like a mile of bad road. Three parents and all our sisters were there. My one sister was a chubby little 12-year-old with knock-knees and the seven-year-old pale and skinny and waiflike. The few photos that survived show us all looking hesitant and and a little confused. I was not yet nineteen and David was 21.

It was pretty much of a gamble. I probably married the wrong guy, but then, my other choices were not much better and I thought, of course, that I loved him. We "honeymooned" at the Villa Capri on Central Avenue, and I escorted the drunken groom a few blocks to our apartment on State Street. A railroad flat, three rooms one behind the other with two tall front windows looking on a row of un-rehabbed brownstones on the old Albany street not far from Washington Park.

What a country girl I was, frightened out of my skin by the appearance of a monstrous bug on the bedroom floor the first week we lived there. I spent the whole night in my Aunt Ethel's platform rocker in the living room with my feet in my lap to keep them off the floor. When David got home from his night shift at the Watervliet Arsenal, he introduced it to me as a cockroach. They were also in the bathtub. I insisted we pack up and move by the next weekend.

We moved in with his mother on Homestead Street and my dear Aunt Ethel bought us a car. What a car it was. A 1961 white Thunderbird convertible with red interior. When the baby was only a few weeks old, David racked up the beautiful car on the train tracks underneath the Dunn Memorial Bridge. He arrived home walking, reeking of alcohol, with a ragged hole in his elbow.

He almost missed the baby being born. We were in the old Hopper's Bar on the end of Johnston Road with his mother and a transient boyfriend. I was not feeling well -with good reason as it turned out- and not up to the regular Friday night bar hopping he refused to miss, so he left with his friend Wayne Barden. The baby was not due for almost another month. The transient boyfriend drove me back to Homestead Street finally and left me in the care of David's sister Linda.
As was usually the case, Vi's phone had been turned off, so when my pains got bad, Linda got nervous and walked about a mile to a pay phone, called her mother at the bar, and the transient boyfriend had the privilege of driving me to the hospital. They located my husband just in time for the birth.

I had a perfect tiny girl that David wanted to name after my sister. She weighed six pounds and had a head full of curls.

Josh has married a soulmate I think. She has a child of her own and he and Egan seem to adore each other. He is a good dad. He didn't invite his father to the wedding.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Zach is back

...and he is in love with California. He is packing his life up to move it out there. I am feeling my losses. Lady Bird Johnson died this week. I never liked her. Paul Salisbury also died this week. The little fireplug. Tom and I visited Cathy after our pottery lesson today. She has admitted to not doing well and that is a blow. Dwight and Shanna and the kids are with her. That is good. Baby J is working with cousin Will. I have not heard from Elaine. Another worry. I need to call Deb. My biopsy was fine. My neck is still ugly. Eli got a haircut on Tony's porch today. Tony swept the dog hair off the grass. I fell asleep on his couch. We are invited for breakfast. I saw many of my parents peers at the lib concert this week. Still going strong. Andrea sent a photo of the babes. I don't know if I should answer.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

My back is burning.

Someone might be putting out a lit cigarette on the skin next to my spine. Yet, I sit here at my computer, in the position which causes me the most pain. Hedy says it is arthritis in my neck, but I doubt her. The pain is so strong that I can hardly work sometimes.

Eli has moved again to lay at my feet. Always moving as I do. To the couch. To the bathroom. To the bed. I am braless in a spotty tie-dyed t-shirt. I have stitches in my leg from the biopsy. My hair is wild. I have iced and heated my neck according to Mary's instruction.

I have canceled my Sushi date. My reluctant Sushi date. I hate Sushi. I have checked my email again and again. The mail never comes. I am tired of doing my laundry. I would rather sleep on top of the sheets. With the cat hair. Chinny is on the back of the couch. Fat and fluffy. There are never enough hours. To paint to read to sleep to brush the dog. Eli is checking the window. Nobody comes. Casey comes. She comes for Lauren. Then Tracy. With a sad story. Zach calls his mother. Lauren cries. Cars go up and down and in and out. Tom did not come with the video.

I am on the periphery of the world. Tony is on his porch. The pizza man is coming. I am the keeper of the money. I am the keeper of the porch.

Looking out