This painting is called, cool, funky, frazzled orange cat. I identify with him or her.
Wow, O'Hare is snowed in. Eight inches of snow expected. I wanna go to Chicago. I miss snow. I know I'm lucky I don't have to deal with it in the morning when I need to go to work, or when I need to do the marketing, or go to the doctor, or shovel out the driveway, or worry about the heat, but it's so beautiful. I love the movie, The Ice Storm, the weather was such a powerful important element in that.
Man, tonight's Coast to Coast or whatever it's called these days, is boring the heck out of me. Drone drone drone crop circles, drone drone drone, how do we decipher, blah blah blah. I'm still glad it's on though. I want to believe in some of these things so badly. I can't help but think that someday some ninety-five year old guy in a rest home is going to hold a news conference and prove to the world that he was the guy who made all the crop circles. (One of the drags about writing is that you can't really do accents, I would like to do a shaky old guy accent for you here, oh well.)
I just woke up form a dream. I dreamt that I was supposed to bring the wedding cake to a friend's wedding and I was late and forgot to order it. I'm in this market that has a bakery section and sneak behind the counter and am trying to assemble a cake and find a plate to serve it on and decorations to put on it. There is a French chef here and I'm trying to fool him into thinking that I'm a pastry chef. What does this mean? I'm a cake, sugary, soft, creamy, delicious and forbidden? Hmmmm. I'm a wedding cake, an important part of a celebration, something people want and look forward to? I'm too tired to take this seriously. I'll just be a cake for now, so I'm a cake, whatever. A big Jerry Springer, talk to the hand, whaaaat-evah.
I have a few stories for you; the other day I went to do marketing at Pavilions near my house. There was a homeless gentleman waiting by the entry gate. He was dressed all in black, trying to look good despite his situation. I stopped, rolled down my window and gave him a few dollars. He extended his hand and said, "Hi I'm Nick." I know that just treating someone with respect, as an equal, is sometimes just as important to them as getting money, so I shook his hand and introduced myself. He said, "I'm unattached. I'm single and free. I was wondering if you'd like to do lunch sometime." It was so funny, the way he said it, so properly, so Hollywoody, that I was startled. Just the disparity between his circumstances and being asked to lunch seemed pretty funny to me. I admired his nerve. I chickened out though and told him that I'm married. I couldn't exactly say, "Uh you're a scary homeless guy and I don't know you." I didn't want to hurt his feelings but I didn't want to subject myself to someone's insanity because I can sometimes be too vulnerable, too boundryless. I admire Ana for doing it, and Lord knows I've done it myself enough times to have some credit in heaven, but not then, and not with Mr. Flirt With Anyone. Man, my self-esteem is scraping it's knuckles on the sidewalk. The other day I was at the mall, and I got excited when the automated trash can said, "Thank you." I swear I was standing there laughing, imagining it would ask me out next.
We went over to my Mother's house tonight to decorate her Christmas tree. She was on her best behavior. She still made all of the overly personal invasively hurtful comments she tends to make about my weight and clothing, but she wasn't agitated and mean spirited. I was grateful, but I didn't like her asking if I thought her scale would go high enough to weigh me. I don't weigh myself, it's too dispiriting. I learned not to identify with the numbers a long time ago. It would freak me out too much to learn that I weighed as much as some boxer or Gerard Depardieu. I had to learn that I could stand up to doctors and say, "No, I'm here for a hangnail, I don't want to be weighed for that." She also told me that she hated my dress, that it looked horrible and should be thrown away. She kept looking at me and mouthing, "Throw it away, throw it away." Lordy.
My father is ninety. He spends most of his life in a hospital bed in my old bedroom. Rosa gets him up and puts him in a wheelchair so he can be a part of things, but he slips down in the chair and needs to be propped and tied up. It's sooo sad. We aren't sure what he has. He has hydrocephalus and some form of dementia, but it isn't traditional. Unlike traditional alzheimers, he still recognizes us, but he continues to degenerate. It's sad to me that his old friends, his good old friends, can't make themselves come visit because it scares them so much. They don't want to face their mortality.
I had a good talk with an old boyfriend of my Mother's the other day. He was handsome beneath all of his smokers wrinkles, that craggy sunworn face. He told me that the Mormon temple used to be the old Harold Lloyd estate and that my father's fraternity used to rent the farm house that once stood on the bog grassy hill where the enormous temple stands today. There is also a sacred Indian spring there which is sort of kept secret from the public. If it weren't for this small Tonga Indian spring foundation, I would never have known it. It amazes me how time erases and changes things. I remember Los Angeles the way it used to be, so many old buildings and places that are no longer here, or have been built over. My parents, who were both born here and are in their eighty-four and ninety, respectively, remember this city so differently. Mom remembers riding horses down Sunset to the beach, and of course The Red Cars and the original Angel's Flight. I like watching Huel Howser and the other man who has a show about old LA. I love the beautiful old Victorian houses that were left to rot in some of the scarier neighborhoods. People have started moving back, taking off the bars, painting over the graffiti, and restoring them
I think I may have told you this already but I can't remember anything these days so I'll say it again. Mom's friend told me that their fraternity was known for having been in big trouble with the National Fraternity Association, or whoever governs those kinds of groups, for having been the most brutal when it came to hazing. Mom told me about hearing that you would have to swallow an oyster with a string tied around it so that they could pull it back up. Does anyone remember that movie with Pamela Sue Martin, that came out before Animal House and was about hazing and back alley abortion in the sixties? I remember everyone was really curious about fraternities and sororities at that time and I asked my father about his frat and he got really defensive. Mom's friend who had known my father said that he thought my dad was at school when a freshman died because of a hazing. He said he thought maybe he drowned. They used to dunk their recruits in ice water baths and hold them under until they thought they would drown. I think that kind of stuff is so brutal and horrible. Funny goofy prank stuff and old traditions that bond people together are good but when kids are really in danger, are terrified or harmed, that's just evil. Imagine being a parent and hearing that your beloved precious child has died in a hazing incident. Oh man, I'd want to kill people.
I try to understand what my father is saying. I seem to be the only one in the family who can decipher what he might mean. God it's sad. Mom just talks about him in the third person right in front of him, as if he isn't there, but I'm always mindful of the possibility of his being aware yet trapped inside his misfiring body. Kind of like talking to a friend in a coma. You can't tell if they hear anything you're saying but you think it might help. He seemed to like watching us put the ornaments up and smiled a little. Then he heard the sound of a little bell Rosa was hanging and said, "Piano." I always get excited when he speaks so I asked Rosa to show him the bell. She came over and held it in front of him, but when she came up to him, because she's the one who feeds him on the weekends, he opened his mouth and stuck out his tongue like a little baby bird. It was so sad. She tried to explain to him that she was just showing him something but no matter what she said, if she got close to his face, he'd open his mouth. Then because he thought she was teasing him with some sort of food he said, "Cruel."
Oh man, so, so sad. My poor proud father the businessman, the athlete. The man who hit holes in one and who was scratch, (a zero handicap) and club champion at seventy. The guy everyone loved, the quirky, loyal, compassionate curmudgeon, with the wry sense of humor. The man who bought a gun and planned on blowing himself away in a hotel room in another state, near the cemetery where his parents were buried. The only father I've ever known, who tried but never knew what to make of me. He called me once from the hospital, in the midst of a major paranoid delusional anxiety attack and told me that he thought I was the only person who took him seriously, who would believe him that the revolution was coming, and he needed me to come and get him. He could hear them plotting in the hallways and assembling outside his window. I did my best and kept him company until he calmed down. How do you keep depression at bay when you spend a lifetime watching your parents stave off death? With theatre, music, writing, books, cats, movies, children, friends and a profound love for nature, I guess. Maybe with wedding cake.
I read about a very sick little girl who kept herself going in the hospital by looking at travel brochures. The Make A Wish foundation sent her with her family to Tahiti on the very same ship, on the very same trip that we took last Spring. I remind myself how lucky I am when I think that of anything in the world this little girl could wish for, she picked a trip I had already been on.