Somewhere between Bell's Palsy and death

Dad

Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Septugenarians rule
Today would've been Dad's 70th birthday, so in honor of that, I'm going to post something by someone who wrote about HIS dad and got it right. Thank you, Porny Boy.
Posted by Broad8:47 AM • (0) Trackbacks
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Note to Cat …
Color me flumoxed: A former friend from long ago just sent condolences about Dad. Seriously -- check the comments. Wow. I don't quite know what to say. Well, all right, I kinda do, but ... wow. That's cool. Unexpected, and I'm shocked as hell, but cool. However, she didn't leave me an e-mail to respond, so if y'all will pardon the indulgence for a moment, I'm going to on the off-chance she'll check back.
Posted by Broad4:49 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Monday, June 28, 2004
Wasn’t me
Here I was, all excited about the new sandals I impulse-bought today, and what happens? Their insides are squishy, and they make a farting noise as I walk. Nice.
Posted by Broad7:11 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Since we’re on the subject …
The purse incident isn't the only time I thought Dad came to visit. For awhile after he died, for example, my TV, which has hit-or-miss reception anyway, would get these clearly electrical diagonal lines in it, but the picture would be perfectly clear otherwise, and while that was happening, the light would flicker, or if I was talking to Kaffy, I would get this huge electrical charge through the phone. (She remembers, because I would tell her about it as we were talking.) And sure, it could be coincidence, but my one best friend Laura, who lost her mom a little more than a year before Dad, used to talk about the same types of things happening to her and her sisters. In fact, it was Laura who pointed out that when I was giving my eulogy at Dad's funeral, the lights dimmed considerably. I didn't notice, of course, but I was hysterical at the time. And sometimes, he shows up in my dreams, but it's never a cathartic gesture as happens with some people -- at least not that I can remember, anyway. Maybe that's because we made our peace before he died.

I'm SURE he's around when I'm in the car, because of my idiot driving habits. A couple months after he died, my friend Poppy (not her real name) and I went out for the first time in, like, five years, and the short version? Two or three beers and three or four Flaming Dr Peppers later -- you know, the one where you set a shot of I-forget-what on fire and then drop it into a beer, which makes it taste like Dr Pepper -- I was FUCKED. UP. I mean, as in BAD fucked-up, like it was a miracle that I didn't kill myself/someone else/a telephone pole or tree/get pulled over for DWI. And the only way that could've happened was if Dad was co-piloting. I'm sure of it. But not one to ever miss out on teaching me a lesson in the process, the next day while I was driving Mother to get lunch, I had to pull over on the side of the road from the wave of nausea that coursed through my body, and then explain to Mother why I had to pull over. It was a toss-up as to which one was worse.
Posted by Broad7:56 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Stop talking about me
Again, I haven't been blowing the Dad thing off; what I wanted to do was scan in the picture of Dad for Father's Day on Sunday and post that as my tribute. I don't have a scanner, however, and neither do any of my friends. So anyway, to the dads in the hizzie, happy happy, yo. (Pete, Og, Rock's dad, etc.)

Not sure how y'all feel about the afterlife and God and whatnot, but since I haven't talked about belief system -- or maybe I have and I just can't remember -- I'll tell you: Nonpracticing Catholic who believes in God but doesn't really buy into the whole organized religion thing. I'm also a huge believer in ghosts and spirits. Case in point? The Sunday after Dad died.
Posted by Broad7:57 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Thursday, June 17, 2004
Made it to 200
Thanks to all y'all who've been digging the Dad vignettes; I'm sure he's tickled by the attention, even though he'd never admit it.

Dad was always pretty modest except when it came to his teaching accolades, and teaching at the college level fed into that jones for him really nicely. I'm pretty sure a lot of colleges do it, but we were supposed to fill out evaluation forms at the end of the semester on whether we dug the professor, and it never failed that Dad, who taught at my alma mater for 10 years would come home with 98 percent stellar evaluations and maybe 2 percent neutral ones; if there was a bad evaluation, I don't remember it. The first time he was ever evaluated, he brought the manila envelope home and whipped them all out, reading each one to Mother and me. You couldn't wipe the grin off his face.

Those good evalautions saved his ass, too, once. The first year he taught, I was the editor-in-chief of the college paper and hung out with my news editor, who was younger and at the time basically idolized me. (Now she hates me and bashes me to mutual acquaintances, which I really don't get, but whatever.) Well, she was always gazzed that, because I was technically considered "staff," I had a staff pass that allowed me to park in premium staff parking. So at one point, she'd sprained her ankle or something, and she asked me to get Dad's staff pass, and she'd pay for it if he would go get another one saying he lost his first one. And all was well until she got busted and admitted to one school cop who turned into a huge dick that she had it. He turned Dad in, and Dad had to go in front of the Arts & Sciences Dean to plead his case. Armed with his excellent evaluations, he went in there, and the Dean was impressed.

Oh, oh, oh, even more impressive? Every year, the school holds an essay contest in freshman composition, which is what Dad taught. In 1988, I won the Fall competition. In the 1998-99 school year? All the winners? Were Dad's students.
Posted by Broad6:51 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Took him out to the ballgame
Three years ago today, it was Father's Day, and Dad and I spent together what would be the last good time he would have.
Posted by Broad6:47 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Monday, June 14, 2004
Nerves sufficiently pinched
It's a big, sexy ... 2001 Mazda 626, yo. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know we thought it was going to be the Camry, but Mother and I took the 626 for a test drive, and not only was it pretty sweet, but it's just a better-looking car. It really does look like a Mercedes, so I'm feeling pretty damn hot, even if it IS stupid white and tan. I can't wait until Hooks downstairs sees it. Up your ass, Hooks! Heh.

Of course, I'm not even going to go into the nightmare that was getting the damn car, except to say that I'm 34 years-old, and MOTHER HAD TO CO-SIGN THE FREAKIN' LOAN -- whimper -- and that the sales associate, although incredibly hot and really very sweet, was DUMBER THAN CRAP, and what should've taken an hour-ish ended up taking FOUR HOURS TO GET DONE AND BRING THE CAR HOME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. (bangs head on desk) And of course, Mother trying to tell him about Dad's death, because, you know, he cares and shit. Oh, and not to mention the fact that I gave up the Snowball, which is making me sad.

Speaking of Dad, their wedding anniversary is today; they would've been married 41 years. And to think he didn't kill her. But you know that episode of "ER" when Greene's mother breaks her leg and is diagnosed with dementia? I cried watching it last night, because the familial rapport between Greene and his parents? So, SO real and so, SO well acted. The awkwardness, the frustration, the secrets, the everything. Sure, Dad's and my relationship wasn't nearly as contentious as the two Greene men, but ... it gives me chills just thinking about it. Well done.
Posted by Broad9:59 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Driving me to purchase
Damn Mother and her powers of suggestion: Ever since the great car wreck of last week, she's been pushing the idea of me getting a new used ride. Problem is, I don't think I can afford taking on a car payment right now, and really? My car still has a lot of life left in it, not to mention the fact that, although I don't LOVE it like I did Corolla #1, I'm still rather attached to the Snowball; it's still pretty good-looking, and there haven't been any awful repairs with which to deal yet. But ever since she said we'd work something out if I got a new ride, I can't help but thinking about the possibilities, even though I shouldn't. Bah.
Posted by Broad7:25 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Comedy in the midst of chaos
It's times like this I wish I had a tape recorder, because then I could transcribe a la Sars the conversation I just had with Mer, my crazy friend in Brooklyn. From waiting for her psycho friend to move out of her crib to faking an orgasm, the comedy never stops.

She and I also agreed that the weekend she came out here was probably the most surreal event on the face of the planet; Dad died the night she arrived.
Posted by Broad7:53 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Tuesday, June 08, 2004
The muse
I've mentioned it before, but I lived with my parents until I was 28, mostly because of Mother's out-of-control depression, but partly because my parents fell on really hard times after Dad left teaching, and I thought they needed me around. (There was only one of me, so it's not like I was THAT much of a drain on the household. At least, I'd like to think not.) One of the things they needed was my car; I drove a '90 Corolla (yeah, there's a pattern) and it was the only safe vehicle among the three of us. I was working in Chicago at the time, so Dad would drop me off at the South Shore Station in Hammond in the morning, and then we would alternate taking cabs home so he could use my car on the days he had teaching gigs. (He would leave my car at the station when it was his turn to cab it.)

On the days that I didn't have him rushing around like a maniac so I wouldn't miss my train, we of course would talk, and one time, he suggested he and I write a book together. He envisioned it as a coming-of-age story not unlike A Separate Peace or Death Be Not Proud, but involving the service and the Gulf War, or something like that. We never got around to it for whatever reason, but one thing was for sure, and that was he had much more faith in my writing ability than I did.
Posted by Broad7:38 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Monday, June 07, 2004
Dad’s still around
No, I didn't forget about my dad entries over the weekend; I just wasn't feeling him, and I wasn't ready to get into the ugly stuff surrounding his death, because it's coming, and soon.

But here's something: Dad lives with me now, his ashes residing on top of the entertainment center/bookcase. Mother wasn't ready to bring him home with her, so I said he can hang out with me until such time that I can get up to the Boundary Waters of Canada to release him. Mother, however, wants me to put a little of his ashes by her parents graves, which I absolutely refuse. I mean, what if I end up putting his head there, or another body part he might need in the ether?
Posted by Broad7:58 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Friday, June 04, 2004
While we’re on sex …
Dad had an interesting way of handling the whole virginity issue with me: by not handling it at all, yet not ignoring me at the same time. I was a freshman -- it was June 1985, so I was still one at the time -- and I was all freaked out because my best friend at the time had just lost hers to the degenerate she was dating, and her parents found out about it. (How, I don't remember, but I know they did.) And so we (meaning the family) and I were at one of my cousin's high school graduations, and as Dad and I were standing in the driveway admiring my other cousin's new Trans-Am (Hey! I said it was the '80s), I started talking to him about my friend's dilemma in typical high school drama mode. He listened to me, and then I hit him with it:

"Dad, how old were you when you lost your virginity?"

Yeah, the thought of me asking Dad about anything sexual completely squicks me out now -- I didn't even see the man naked until he was on his deathbed, for Chrissake, not once in my then 31 years of life -- but for some reason, it was important that he tell me. And before I go on, I need to point out here that Mother was a virgin when she got married at 27, and believe me, there's no question that she was.

Anyway, so I ask him, and he looked at me and told me it was none of my business. He wasn't shitty about it or anything, but that was that. It kind of makes me wonder now if he wasn't a virgin when they got married, and he told Mother he was, or if he was just that kind of squirrelly about talking sex with me.
Posted by Broad7:11 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Thursday, June 03, 2004
The drive behind my delinquency
As a high school teacher, Dad was always much more lenient than Mother ever was, although I'm sure most Gestapo were more lenient than she was when I was a teen. Because of that, there was never a unified front in our house, and mostly, it was Dad acquiescing to Mother's insane demands -- not the best of situations for a kid to grow up in, but no worse than 100 million other peoples', I'm sure. At any rate, that didn't stop Dad from conspiring to keep me under the radar, if only just to spite her. Like, when I was in lurve with my 21 year-old boyfriend, he covered for me, even though it was clearly not the wisest choice.

Especially cool was that Dad was the type of person you could tell anything to after the fact, and as long as you weren't hurt or hurt anyone else, he wouldn't get all apeshit on you -- like when I was 19 and dating my college boyfriend, who Mother HATED because she found out I was nailing him.
Posted by Broad7:04 PM • (0) Trackbacks
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
Reading was fundamental
Being a composition teacher, Dad liked to pick quotes off signs and post them up on the board for his students to ponder. They could be anywhere, of course, but a lot of times, they came off church signs. Not that he was particularly religious; in fact, one time, I was downstairs in his bathroom looking in his underneath the sink for things to read (that's where he stashed his stuff), and there was a book by L. Ron Hubbard. That shocked the hell out of me, thinking Dad could possibly buy into Scientology, especially since he was so fascinated by the Hyles Baptist people and what a fucked-up deal THAT is.

He never censored anything I read, really. I was reading Steven King novels by the time I was in sixth grade -- hell, I asked him for his copy of The Exorcist, and he gave it to me without complaint. And the John Powers trilogy -- The Last Catholic in America, Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? and The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God? Required reading. In later years, though, he got all up into those Jean Auel books, a passion which I didn't get.

There were SOME limits to what he wanted me reading; after all, he DID throw away the porn novel I stashed under the love seat in the living room (as well as my next-door neighbor's porn novel she let me borrow). Never said a word about it, but once the carpet was cleaned? Gone.
Posted by Broad6:44 PM • (0) Trackbacks
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It is the job of a good person to be honest. To be self-aware. To deliberately explore the fault lines of your character and try desperately to not inflict suffering in this strange, ghost-ridden world of worked and fabricated objects. Sometimes the jobs of writer and good person coincide. But more often they don’t. There are way more writers in the world than there are good people.

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