Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Jackson

So, when I find myself affected by a celebrity death, my thoughts often turn to a particular Gerard Manley Hopkins poem because I am deep in a way that is not at all pretentious or annoying and is also entirely original:
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.*
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Did you read that or just skip ahead? I bet you just skipped ahead. Don't even. I know how you are. Allow me to summarize: Hopkins is laying down the hard and heavy truth that most of the time that we mourn, it's our own short stint on this planet we're mourning, it's our imminent death we have on the brain:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret (i.e., your own sorry hide) you mourn for.
Years and years ago, I started making the joke that in my Michael Jackson world it was always 1985. There was no Michael Jackson for me after that. It was just too goddamn sad. So, if this is my Michael Jackson reality, why was I thrown for such a loop that he died today? 1985 Michael Jackson is as he ever was.

You following me here? I'm not really mourning the death of Michael Jackson at all.

(Ah, but he used to be so good, didn't he?)

Anyway, I recently read this article about the two Our Towns that were showing in Chicago. It had never hit me that Our Town was two plays: one about the brevity of life, the certainty of its end. The other is about how awesome it is that we get to be alive at all.

(Thornton Wilder and Gerard Manley Hopkins and Michael Jackson. And I can STILL make it all about me. August company I keep, huh?)

I'll leave this blogpost sad about Michael Jackson (sadder, I think, for the sadness of his life than for the soon-ness of his death). But also glad that I got to be here when it was all new, that we get to have that music for like always and finally that I get to be alive at all (I may have let this video go on a little longer than I should have... pardons for the self-indulgence):

*Look just a quick poetry lesson - read these fivelines aloud. The way they scan kills me. This is such a great poem:
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.*

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cops at Bars

Those of you who know me (which is, you know, both of you), know that I spent my 20s as bartender. I worked the day shift and was often the only staff member there. My only security were my afternoon regulars: a cabal of flabby, middle-aged functionally alcoholic government employees. I'll wait a minute while you do the calculus necessary to figure out that level of uselessness.

Sigh. That was mean. But I'm short one gallbladder and, as such, have fewer places to store bile. I'm letting it out.

Given my history, you can imagine that this might upset me a bit.

I know that cops do dangerous, unheralded work for not much money and even less thanks. And we owe a debt of gratitude to people who do this work. I get that. I really do.

That said, there's nothing scarier than having that cop who loves being the biggest and the baddest getting hammered at your bar. When that cop gets drunk, he is the scariest motherfucker in town. He's not scary because he's bigger and stronger than you. He's scary because no matter how wasted he is, he's got the power and he's got the control. And he's wasted.

There's an article up at the Chicago Reader about how the kind of probation Abbate got is not unusual for aggravated battery. We all have the capacity to lose ourselves, right? We all have the capacity to let that ugly something inside us rear up and strike out.

The problem is, when a person with a lot of power lets it out, the consequences are a lot more serious. That judge failed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Last Hospital BlogPost

In summary - pancreatitis gone, gallbladder coming out at some point today and tomorrow I go home after they give me some breakfast. Breakfast. Pancakes. Excuse me while I clean the drool up off the keyboard.

Onto more exciting topics: TV grew boring, there's only so much facebooking a gal can do in one day, and the awesome book Jessica sent me proved too mentally taxing for my starved, drug-addled brain. So, I downloaded the Kindle for iPhone app and got one of the Charlaine Harris southern vampire books. These books are what my family would have deemed "good trash." God, the heights of literary snobbery we Rhems can reach too!

But I come to blog neither on Charlaine Harris nor my own snobby literary traditions. Instead, just wanted to offer the following opinion:

I love this app! Love reading books on my iPhone. Within seconds, it became a perfectly natural way to read. I can curl up on the bed or in a chair and read on the iPhone way more easily than I could with a bulky novel.

I think that electronic and print books will exist side by side for a while. Mostly because bookstores are such wonderful places. That said, I bet this rigid insistence that paper is THE ONLY way to read a book will eventually fall by the wayside.

Go on, give it a try. Reading, after all, isn't about the physical trappings of the device on which the words are conveyed. And, isn't it nice to think that no trees had to die to bring you the novel you're enjoying?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Am Not (repeat) NOT Falling Apart at Forty

Blogging from the hospital bed. I feel so techno-age Camille. (cough cough).

So, this started a loooooong time ago. In the Meg timeline, this started before I found Pindar. And I feel like I've been with Pindar since dinosaurs roamed the earth (quick science note: people and dinosaurs never cohabited the earth. I make this point since we seem to be smack in the middle of the Glorious Stupid People Revolution). Basically, when I eat too much (which usually happens after drinking too much) I get this really painful sensation in my belly. This lasts about 12 hours and then I'm better.

Since it was something I brought on myself what with the overeating, I always figured that there was no need for medical intervention.

Then several months ago, I had an attack which came with lots of throwing up and, well, agony. I soldiered through what I self-diagnosed as food poisoning. Last weekend, I had another one. After two days of intense pain, I realized it was time to stop self-diagnosing and Don took me to the hospital.

Where I've been since. I'm on Day 4 of hospitalization, with an expectation of going home on Friday.

Here's the skinny: much like your great uncle Reuben, my gallbladder is chockablock full of stones. These attacks/episodes I have are when a stone gets loose, starts knocking around my digestion system in a frenzy of malicious petulance. Typically, my body dispatches the stone in some form. But this time, there's one that's taken up residence in my common bile duct and there it sits gleefully fucking with me and my ability to process food. This afternoon, the little fucker gets taken out. Thursday, the whole poorly functioning, malevolent, stoney gallbladder goes.

Some thoughts:

It's much easier to scare an intern than you'd think. Speak sharply to them and then they'll be afraid of you. The problem with scaring interns is that then they avoid you like the plague. And, really, they're just young folks learning a job. But when they tell you after a full 24 hours of no eating and THIRTEEEN hours after a 2:30 am MRI that no one's looked at the MRI yet because (and I quote) "I guess they're really busy", it's kind of hard to tame the wrath.

The PCT (Primary Care Technicians) and RNs here at Evanston have been really great. They come in and chat and give you drugs and pat your head when you cry (because, really, I am SUCH a giant girl's blouse and have been crying and crying and crying).

The medical doctor I have is kind of meh. He told me that there was no way they'd take out my gallbladder while I was here and then was sort of defensive about it when he turned out to be wrong. Also, he forgot to let me eat one night. I could have had BROTH, dammit, and he didn't update my order. So instead I had ice chips. I wanted the BROTH.

The surgeons have swooped in heroically and told me they'd remove my gallbladder on Thursday. I was awoken this morning by one Dr. Ujiki who I found very sexy. Not because he was all that sexy, but, guys, I would have found Dick Cheney sexy if he said he was going to relieve me of this troublesome bitch of a gallbladder. Well, that may be overstating it a bit. But you get the idea.

I've had so many friends who have been ROCK STARS through this. The Bielkes, the Kingsubrys, the Anyahs, Gillly Boo! Taking Laney for days and nights. This is the downside of living with no family nearby: no one you can impose upon without feeling guilty. But people have been so great about helping with Laney and I am so grateful to them.

Since Friday, I have consumed 10 saltines, two bowls of vegetable broth, two cups of lemon ice, one cup of cherry ice, some apple juice and some cranberry juice. I bet I've still somehow managed to gain weight.

That said, it's heartening to know that once I get up out of this bitch, I will never have another one of those episodes again

Thanks for all the kind wishes. I'm going back to Ghostbusters because, as you know, busting makes me feel good.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Stay With Me... It's Not Nearly As Sappy as You Think It's Going to Be

I read this article in, I think, Salon a few years back in which a man recounts a moment standing on the street with his six or seven year old daughter waiting for a light to change. She slips her hand into his as they stand there and it hits him that this might be the last time she slips her hand in his in that way that little kids do.

I've had that story a lot on my mind as we approach a milestone with Laney. She's finishing up kindergarten next week, leaving the teacher and class she's been in for three years. And it strikes me again and again that she's growing up so fast.

I'm not much of a hand holder. I blame my short fingers. Instead, these days I can't hold her enough. She jumps up in my arms and I relish the way she feels, her legs wrapped around me, her perfect little bottom on my arms, her face crannied right in my shoulder. I love it. I love it and I relish it because I know the time when I'll be able to walk around with an armful of Laney is short and coming swift to an end.

Which leads me to tonight. I was lying in bed with Laney, arms and legs all intertwined, having that yummy sleepytime conversation. I was waxing nostalgic about trips I took to Florida when I was a kid; describing the Heath Bar Milkshakes my mother made and how we'd put on my father's tee shirts when we got sun burnt. I was reverentially swimming in metaphor and subtext about the dearness and the fleetingness of childhood. At which point, we had the following exchange:

Me: [blathering on nostalgically about my childhood trips]
Laney: Mommy?
Me: Yes, my darling girl
Laney: You know what I like?
Me: What?
Laney: I like it when my nails aren't trimmed when it's hot out to put my nails on my neck when it's sweaty and kind of flick the sweat.

She. Kills. Me. I think she may be the funniest five year old in Chicago.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Two Entirely Unrelated Posts. In One!

Post One:

Before I left work today, I made a stop in the ladies' to adjust my makeup and noticed that I was wearing two different earrings. Not two slightly different earrings. Two radically different earrings. Different lengths, different colors, different. All day I walked around like that.

A couple of days ago, during intermission for the Goodman's Rock and Roll (which, by the way, was reaaaaalllllyyyyyy good), I discovered that I had a streak of purple eye shadow (no doubt picked up on the bottom of my purse) running straight down the bridge of my nose.

Sigh. There are women out there who put makeup on their faces where it's meant to be, and it stays there all day. There are women who manage to consume food without getting any on their person. There are women who wear matching shoes, socks, and earrings every day. I suspect these women may even match their bra to their panties. I, on the other hand, am usually sporting some foreign substance on my person of which I am entirely and embarrassingly unaware. And my hair probably looks stupid. And I probably have a bra strap showing. I'm starting to think that the efforts I put forth trying to make a nice appearance are pointless. I'm starting to think that shaving my head and walking around in a bathrobe all day is that way to go. I think I could make that look work for me. I'll keep hard candy in my pockets for the kids. And get more cats.

Post Two:

Once I got home, I decided to engage in another exercise in futility and worked out. I put on an old episode of Star Trek while I was doing that. Y'all know I love Star Trek with the kind of intense fondness normally reserved for aged grandparents and beloved childhood pets. During the penultimate scene of the episode (which was, if you're keeping score, The Hunted), Picard, Data, Worf and Troi are listening bemusedly while an increasingly desperate government official repeats "It was the will of the people!" And Troi looks at them like they're nuts. Or, more to the point, like they're weak, wimpy, morally suspect and wrong.

You know, Star Trek was so corny and pie-eyed. Which is why I love it. I'm partial to corny and pie-eyed myself . But also, they sometimes tackled stuff that we could stand to think about from time to time.

Because, as I've mentioned before, it's not the sole duty of government to do the will of the people; it's also supposed to protect the rights of the minority. And we (by "we," I mean "conservative fuckwits") forget that all the time. They need is to get that look from Troi:

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dancing on the Rooftops

When I was maybe three or four
The Fuller Brush man would knock at the door
He'd always tell me "Boy you're gonna miss the fun!
Time you're old enough, the honkey tonks will all be gone."


And they danced on the rooftops
Let their hearts run wild
Such a sight to the eyes of a child

-James McMurtry, Fuller Brush Man

I get this song on my mind from time to time...

Whenever I smell perfume, bourbon, and cigarettes, I feel like exciting things are about to happen. I had these good looking parents and sometimes they'd go out. And when they did, they got all gussied up and smelled of bourbon, perfume and cigarettes. They smelled like a good night out. I didn't have any idea of what, exactly, a good night out was, but I REALLY looked forward to the day when I got to have one.

To this day, that smell just kills me.

Time I was old enough, the honkey tonks were not, in fact, all gone. I worked at one (sort of). I had a good old time. It wasn't like I imagined, exactly, it wasn't particularly glamorous. But, don't kid yourself, I danced on my share of rooftops. I let my heart run wild.

These days I have a husband who works nights, a small child, a mortgage, blah blah blah. So I don't get out that much. But, from time to time, I do. And I still love it. I still love putting on makeup and jewelry. I love the cocktails and the conversation. Frankly, I enjoy being a grown up.

Don't you?

Do you know James McMurtry? He's in my pantheon of people who write the SHIT out of a song. Here's one of my faves: