Oct 31st 2005Pictures
Introspection, hearing loss, and everyday life.
Do you get the Improvements catalog? This catalog is probably the root of all our country’s problems. Really. Just by flipping through the glossy pages, deeply ingrained assumptions are clear. Assumptions they have made about you, the American citizen who did not ask for this catalog to be mailed to you. If you have achieved what you are supposed to do as an American, it is a given that:
1) You are upper middle class with way too much money, and why not burn it making your life even more convenient than it is already? Buy those rubber treads for your outdoor steps! Get a big fancy shower organizer!
2) Suffering is: - getting chilly while you lounge on your outdoor patio!
- exposed ashes in your fireplace!
- no cover for your riding lawnmower!
- pet hair inside your SUV!
- having to use a snowblower on your sidewalk without a heavy duty cab with freeze-resistant super-clear vinyl windows!
3) You are white. Obviously. All the models having their problems solved are white. All the hands operating hose attachments and stocking handy organizers are white.
4) You celebrate Christmas. And you want to spend hundreds on wreathes, lawn decorations and stocking holders over your fireplace. And why not throw in a 7′8″ candy cane archway to “greet your guests with Christmas cheer”? Your guests, naturally, also celebrate Christmas.
I am going to continue to rebel against all that they hold dear at Improvements. I’m going to let my electrical cords show. I’m not going to sort my mail. I’m going to leave my shoes by the door in a big heap!
Steve got his wisdom teeth taken out today. Post-anesthesiac Steve is nearly as funny ashypnotized Steve. I went in and he was all chipmunk-cheeked and groggy, with his eyes closed and a cute, questioning look on his face which he maintained throughout my conversation with the nurse about post-care.
The surgeon stopped by briefly and Steve thanked her and reached out his arms for a big hug. We all laughed and he kept holding out his arms and insisting, so finally she relented and gave him a hug. I’m sure the fact that she is a willowy blonde had NOTHING to do with it. She said goodbye and left. Ten minutes later, Steve started asking about her and wasn’t she going to say goodbye?
The nurse explained that Steve might have some bruising because he has fair skin, to which Steve replied “I’m fair…and I’m hot.” We patted him on the shoulders and agreed that he was hot. Steve then started asking about his teeth “that were in my mouth” and where were they and could he have them. The nurse apologized and said they were already thrown away and he was the first patient ever to ask for his teeth back. Steve was infused with sadness, longing for his teeth that used to be in his mouth.
This was followed by some time spent trying to get Steve to open his eyes and sit up, followed by close calls and near collapses, and wondering in a hurt tone where was the doctor and was she going to say goodbye? and eventually he was on his feet. We propped him up on either side and he shuffled along, taking big elaborate steps whenever there was a transition from tile flooring to carpet.
We made it home and Steve has been asleep ever since. He’s probably dreaming about the surgeon, but hey, I’ve got my orthodontist.
So I have started out with a single idea for my thesis and as I continue to research, the idea has grown and evolved and it has become huge. The more I read, the more connections I make and the more the idea takes on a three dimensional shape. I see it as a big picture, with more thoughts and ideas stemming from a basic structure. The hard part is going to be breaking it down into step by step linear form for a paper. Since I am visualizing it so much, I should draw it before I write it.
So, how many speakers does a man and his hearing-impaired wife need?
Answer: At least eight. Steve, with his love of stereo sound coming from all directions, has wound speaker wire through the walls of the living room and the kitchen and installed the speakers. He also has a set on his computer, and when we build a TV room (oh excuse me, home theatre)in the basement, it will have speakers there too. Actually I think it is very helpful for me too, it seems easier to hear NPR.
I am making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. The first two trays of cookies are cooling, and I took the remainder of the dough and plopped it all on the tray, a mound the size of a man’s fist. I put it in the oven and it will be known as the big cookie.
the phrase: “wild, free for all snake-oil huckstering.”
Oct 18th 2005I Laughed When
I married Steve for his many wonderful qualities and I figured I probably knew them all. One of the unexpected things is discovering other wonderful qualities that I hadn’t noticed or known before, as well as facts like I can stick out my tongue further but he can bend his fingers back further. Those kinds of things take at least seven years to learn. The latest is that he is the most comforting presence I could ask for during mourning and the funeral. Thanks to all of you for your condolences as well.
After that rainy weekend in Maine, we came back home and it rained and rained and it is still raining now. Casper keeps insisting on going outside and then coming back in, then gets so stir crazy he goes back outside, and then he comes back in and this goes on for some time and the end usually involves either drying him off with a towel or yelling at him to stop climbing on the computer.
I love this kind of weather, but at the same time I was hoping for one day of good weather so I could go hiking during the fall peak. No such luck though, and the leaves are falling and the river is becoming more clearly seen through the trees. This doesn’t stop the tourists from coming up and standing around by the side of the roads taking pictures of the rain, not to mention making driving to Maine via the White Mountains a torturous 45-mile-an-hour affair. However, with all the time indoors I did finally finish the first coat of paint in the kitchen.
We went out last night with our neighbors up the road and made new friends. We saw a ridiculous and awful movie- The Fog- with Tom Welling in LL Bean turtleneck sweaters and a lot of low lying cloud cover.
I have been lacking in energy of late and it has been a learning experience. I think creativity is one of the important ways to process and unlock your own energy- instead of being dependent on external structure and feedback like work and school (as well as filling free time with housework, distractions and plans) to drive your energy. Many people keep their lives busy so that they avoid this state and a whole life can be spent this way. Our culture in particular encourages this way of living. I have an unusual block of time and an unusual opportunity. I want to process in new creative ways, in order to get a handle on self-criticism, blocked feelings, and blocked energy. It is only at times like this that they become most apparent, the unresolved pieces that lie beneath a busy or structured life.
When I think of Grandpa, I see him sitting at the kitchen table, cracking walnuts open. He would be talking about his latest readings, such as the history of Benedict Arnold, or our family genealogy, or rebuilding the church. He would whistle his Ss as he talks and from time to time shrug one shoulder involuntarily.
Next I see him riding on the lawnmower, upkeeping the farm that he loved. He tends to the trees that he planted when each grandchild was born. I see him in the garden among the rows of plants. Somewhere in the orchard are little boards and platforms in certain trees that he built for his grandchildren to climb on. One day, he trapped a pesky raccoon in a box, and took me out with him in his truck to release the raccoon into the woods.
I see in my mind’s eye the pictures our family has of him in our scrapbooks, pictures of him holding me as a baby and bathing me in the kitchen sink. There are pictures of him by the big kitchen window where all the light comes in, and those of him grinning wryly at me as I put down a winning hand in Crazy 8s.
As I child, I loved going into his den and taking a butterscotch candy out of the glass jar. I wouldn’t have been able to say then what Grandpa did for a living, but I knew that it involved books and papers and leadership, not to mention very big desks.
I remember my distress when I heard that Grandpa had lost part of his thumb in a woodchipper. Then it became a part of him, Grandpa with one smaller, smoothed over thumb.
Another time, as kids, my brothers and I made a videotape of us hanging upside down, with eyes and a nose drawn on our chins. In this manner, we lip sang to “I heard it through the Grapevine”. We sent it to Grandma and Grandpa. We heard that when Grandpa saw it, he laughed until he cried. I wish I could have seen that!
One time our family arrived for a visit. Grandpa hugged me at the door. A little while later we were all in the kitchen. I had a big smile on my face because I was excited to be at the farm, and Grandpa reached out and unexpectedly gave me another hug. The first hug was a standard family greeting that said “hello” but the second hug said “I love you”.
Once as a teenager I had a detailed, possibly significant dream that I wrote down. Grandpa read it and wrote me his own thoughts and feelings about my dream and what it might symbolize. Not only was the exchange meaningful, but it hinted at parts of Grandpa’s personality that he often kept tucked away. However, when it did emerge, it was treasured by members of his family. When I was in college, Grandpa sometimes read my papers.
I see Grandpa sitting at the head of the dining room table at mealtimes. I see him sitting there as we play boardgames or card games, cracking jokes and reacting when he was winning or losing. When I was a child, Crazy 8s was “our game”. When we gathered at Aunt Susan’s for his 80th birthday, his vigorous hooting and hollering during Catchphrase had me in stitches.
I am grateful that I was able to see Grandpa a few weeks before he died, at Jordan’s wedding. He seemed to be having a great time, taking pictures, talking with everyone, joking with the wedding photographer. Even into his 80s Grandpa had that full head of hair. He must have been the envy of older men everywhere.
Sometimes we all believe that there will always be time enough to connect with those that we love, and that there will always be time enough to get to know the tucked away parts of them. Even though I ran out of time, I treasure my memories of him to be enough.
Oct 6th 2005Family
We signed up for cow power. It’s a great concept. You should have your house running on cow poop too!
I finally tried out Kingdom of Loathing, one of Steve’s favorite games. Therefore the following conversation made complete sense-
Me: So I went to see the Toot Oriole and I got chewed gum on a string and I made meat paste and put the Mighty Bjorn action figure back together. Oh, and I fought knob goblins and undead macaroni.
Steve: What’s your name?
Me: SalsaLips. What’s yours?