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Posts Tagged ‘father’

(I have been away from wordpress for long enough that there are some changes that I strongly dislike. I can’t, for instance, figure out how to get rid of the “bullets” on the following list so that I can customize my post. I hate the way these look and you know I’m particular about aesthetics. CRAP on the interwebs and wordpress. Bastards.)

  • a glut of coats in the mudroom
  • a frenzy of pajama-buying ensued
  • a strange numbness crept across her loins
  • the arugula waited flavorlessly in the produce drawer of the stainless steel, 3-door fridge, its California Fresh! package beckoning to the unsuspecting Frances Marie Mince-Morrison-McMurphy
  • a tinkly toy piano
  • “someone is always on someone else’s shit list around here,” said mother
  • an unresolved fight followed them around the house for weeks, hiding in kitchen cupboards and creeping into bedroom corners; vague, threatening, powerful

*

My dad used to steam the stamps off of envelopes. I have the feeling that I have written about this here before.

I have a vague memory of a bathroom with a sink near the bottom of a flight of basement steps. If the stamps did not have a proper postmark and were thus reusable, my dad would bring the envelopes down and steam off the stamps so they could be used again. Back then it cost about 5¢ for a first-class letter to be sent in the mails (as they say in Britain). Until now, as I write this, it was one of my surest memories, embedded. I remember the stamps, my father, the idea of the steam. But now I think I am filling in the blanks about the details. Maybe it is a neighbor’s basement with a tinkly toy piano and mounds of games and toys we never had. Toys piled high on a ping-pong table.

I never had one of those little tinkly pianos. I never had an Easy-Bake Oven. We did not have the game Yatzee or Operation. We did not have a ping-pong table. My brother never had GI Joes.

I perceived these toys as so foreign and mysterious that I was afraid of them. Alternately, I coveted some of them, like the Easy Bake Oven. Other families knew things I was not privy to. I was deprived of small bits of the commercial American culture of my day. I attribute this to my parents being from Europe and for valuing toys that were more creative or educational or simply made of wood. Their sense of frugality. No gluts in our house, not much extra—only what was needed. I did not grow up with deprivation, but sometimes I experienced my lack of “normal” American toys as if I was deprived. 

I hated GI Joes. They had scratchy beards. Their limbs would twist and turn in ways Barbie’s thankfully never did.

My father had blond hair and never had a beard. Not like GI Joe who was bearded, uniformed, and war-like. Eww. So maybe Freud was right: all men, including GI Joes, were gauged against my image of my father. 

look, this guy is doing yoga, naked to boot, which probably gets one extra good-karma points:

*

Judge other humans ye who enter my blog…judge away if they be pricks and douches….

  • one can’t pull off use of the word oevre in speech without sounding like a douche. Maybe you can get away with it in writing and admittedly, I use this word on occasion in speech; but I’m no douche, so maybe one can pull it off. I heard an interview with an overly-intellectual man on NPR and he used the word oevre and he sounded like an over-educated prick.

Perhaps we’ll meet again, ye who enter here.

Happy New Year! Ring it in, bring it on, get up in this hizzy!!!

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My dad used to have a sign taped on the front of one of his tall, metal filing cabinets that said

Due to lack of interest, tomorrow has been cancelled

I guess he thought it was funny. The other sign was this and when I asked my mom about it once she said this is how he truly felt about his life. I don’t quite believe it, but he probably felt this way somewhat and he must have thought it was funny, too.

When my life is over
And my time has come to pass,
I hope they bury me upside-down,
So the world may kiss my ass

My dad was an atheist, but I can tell you that when he was dying of cancer, he told me that God got the aging and dying thing wrong—too much pain. God was something he referred to as a matter of course. It was a concept that we all grew up with, maybe him especially, having been a kid in a kosher household and all. When I’d talk to him about his childhood and religion and whether or not he believed in God, he would say he was an atheist, but he would tear up. I thought that meant he really did believe in God. It was a bit confusing, but also I was in awe. It was like God was right there with us when he talked about Hungary and his bar mitzvah and his mother and father, all his friends running around being bad young boys, his younger brother, his older sisters, the lumber business his father and uncle ran. When he ate pork at the age of 13 because he was curious and he didn’t believe the stuff he was taught anyway. He talked about the dishes and the milk and the meat and why. Having been brought up without religion, I listened with intent. Like if it made enough sense, I would understand something. He had his stories and I had the pictures from them. I loved my dad so much.

Remember, you keepers of the truth, I want a banjo played at my funeral. I know there will be Shape Note singing, so that’s not a thing anyone needs to remember.

I like this song my kid turned me on to last year. The video is goofy and makes no sense. What’s the narrative here exactly? Nonetheless, 13 million hits don’t lie.

the fiddle and the banjo. Like the song Roseville Fair which I used to sing to my kids as a lullaby.

Rock me momma.

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love love love

All my life growing up, my father wrote letters to me.

I, too, was a great writer of letters from a very young age. I still have many of the correspondences from many of my friends. Some of the bundles of letters are fat; others thin with only a few letters or cards. Sometimes, only one letter from someone in high school or a person I met on a trip. Some curious person I don’t remember. Some friend of my parents who took to me when I was still a young girl. My inquisitive nature. My blue eyes. My youth.

My father would write to me a few times a week when I was away at summer camp. He wrote to me frequently when I was in college. He would write on a legal pad, often the yellow ones, sometimes white, always the 14″ pages, not the 11″. Or just a single piece of white typing paper enclosed in an envelope, business-size. Always one piece of paper, always a hand-scribbled bunch of words. His script was horrible, I think because he was a native Hungarian and the language was so different. He also had terrible eyesight, like all of the Glatters, as I understand it. He also must have studied Hebrew from a very young age. I can only theorize that he was confused. Handwriting is undoubtedly one of the most difficult coordinations we learn as children, so who really knows what the hell the reason.

He was a righty—my whole family is.

My father would enclose a piece of paper that had the following words:

Dearest Kath Kath,

XO

Love Love Love

Dad

I have not pulled the letters out at the time of this blog post, so perhaps I am embellishing. I will look at them soon, though. The box of letters is on my living room floor where much junk has been relocated in preparation for having new carpet installed at one end of the house. Once the carpet is in, we will reorganize a bunch of junked-up rooms and I will take some time to pull out some old letters.

Sometimes I like to sign my letters the way my father did for my own daughters or for others who I love in my life.

Love Love Love

or

love love love

Today I need to forgive myself for something I wrote on my blog Facebook* a little bit ago. I think of the way my father signed those letters. I do not think humans can give unconditional love to each other, no way, and my father’s love for me was no exception. But sometimes, if we are lucky, someone who is responsible for us gets it right.

Look what I found when I searched google images for legal yellow pad.

What a great idea. I am not writing much poetry lately (you may have noticed), but it’s refreshing to see how many different ways people approach the desire to write poems. I am heartened.

Love Love Love

XO

twinkly

*late-breaking anal-retentive/accuracy-nut update

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a beautiful sunset at Coronado Beach 11/10/12

Back from California which feels good. To run on one’s own neighborhood’s sidewalk, to hike in one’s familiar woods, to cook one’s own food, to eat one’s own mother’s famous spaghetti sauce, to sleep in one’s own bed, to see one’s own children in the flesh.

It is my father’s birthday today. He would have been a whopping 91 years old. Yeesh. What does that make me? Still a girl who lost her father too young is what.

I liked La Jolla, somewhat, especially the ocean and the pretty architecture and being able to ride bikes around and the beautiful plants, flowers, and trees and the birds one doesn’t find in the Eastern US and the art outside the museum and the food, some of the food anyway. I loved our B and B and Margaret, the innkeeper and chef. I liked some of the food in San Diego. I did not like Coronado, but I did like the pretty beach. It was so windy, the sand whipped at our feet and the stainless steel public toilet made our ass skin very cold.

Who says ass skin? Nobody, nobody but me. Try it, though. It is not as easy as it seems. It is practically a tongue twister. And I’ll stop right there lest you get ideas and think of any double-entendres.

Long ago, I thought I would chronicle my travels, no matter how humble and close-to-home, by taking photos of myself in the facilities (the “loo” in other words) of places I visited. Probably due to my restless nature, I did not stick with the plan, though on occasion, I do remember to take a picture (if I’m lucky enough to have remembered my camera).

I do not have a photo of the stainless steel toilets from the public restrooms at either La Jolla or Coronado, but when I searched google images, I found a lot of photos of fancy, $1200 stainless steel toilets, presumably for the asses of Romney-type voters (Koch, Bush, Rove, but let’s watch those double-entendres, plz).

We had the pleasure of yet more friends coming to visit us from further north in California, this time a couple who we already know. You may recall we met Ms. Coldiron for the first time earlier in the week.

We went to a little park just a block from the sea and we sat on a bench and we sang songs to a guitar and a banjo. It had been a long, long time. Seven years maybe, gasp.

When we were singing in the little park, freezing our buns off, a little wedding was going on. Sometimes I sang a little bit loud, what one might describe as enthusiastically, I think, and when we all realized a wedding going on (because we weren’t quite sure at first), we tried to be a little quieter. The amazing thing is that the wedding people never asked us to stop. It was all so groovy, but it didn’t really feel hippy groovy or California groovy like you’d think, but it was groovy nonetheless.

The song I most remember grooving to was this one. We sounded pretty good, but I think Susan and George’s fingers must have been about frozen. Amen.

Here is a photo of the handle in the bathroom on the Star of India at the Maritime Museum in San Diego

Of course it is not me peeing, but it is what I was looking at as I sat. The ship originally did not have modern toilets as it was an old ship, but even these “modern” pieces of hardware are more beautiful and solid than most of what one finds nowadays.

One thinks of other things one can describe as solid brass.

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Ever since I can remember, I have loved the taste of coconut.

My dad would buy a coconut and I remember a couple of different ways of trying to get it open.

One was with a nail and a hammer. I remember drinking the milk with a straw.

The other was smashing the coconut on the sidewalk with great force; naturally, this would waste most of the liquid inside. But what fun! I don’t have many memories from when I was a little girl, but some of the ones with my dad are really good.

I loved eating the hard flesh of the coconut, even the papery brown part. So exotic, yet sweet, mild, and comforting.

Of course I loved shredded coconut as well and this is likely because it was sweetened with that powdery coating of sugar.

I know coconut is a deal-breaker for a lot of people. You love it or hate it. Like raisins. Or olives. Or cilantro. Sweet potatoes. Squash. Brains. Heart. Tongue. Cheek. Okay, so it’s starting to sound like sex and aren’t food and sex what it’s all about?

You know the greatest granola in the world, right? If you’ve been paying attention for any length of time around here, you know it is my granola.

For quite some time, I’ve switched away from canola oil. I’ve tried sunflower, safflower, and grapeseed oils. Recently, I bought some jars of coconut oil, mostly because I found it CHEAP at TJ Maxx and I used to use it ALL THE TIME when I did a lot of massage.

So I bought it to slather on myself after a shower or bath (is that TMI? TF Bad).

Back in 1987, when I was a massage student in Akron, Ohio, I did many hours of adjunct training in Neuromuscular Therapy with Paul St. John.

Studying this form of massage, which is a deep-tissue therapy based largely on Janet Travell’s work, is what, in part, made me a great massage therapist. I became all thumbs. And fingertips. And elbows (more acquired tastes, like brains and cheeks and hearts and tongues). You might not think it, but I used to be excessively strong in my hands. Always folks think men are the ones who give the deepest and best massages, but I’ve never experienced massages as focused and excellent and DEEP as [some] from [some] women. Just sayin’.

We were encouraged to use coconut oil by Paul St. John. I’ll tell you why. It is solid at room temperature. It melts on contact with the body. It is easy to control how much you use. When you do deep tissue work, in the style that I was taught, you want to stay very, very specific on the places in the muscles or tendons or ligaments that need attention. You don’t want to slide all over the place (like lomi lomi or something fer chrissakes!).

Last night, when I made my 20-cup batch of granola, I realized, quite late, that I was out of any oil but olive oil. Well, you can’t use olive oil for your granola, no way, no how. So I made it with some of the unopened coconut oil from one of the jars I’d stocked up on. People, this batch of granola is the BOMB. YES YES YES.

When I was in Kauai, I was treated to a traditional hula performance by a mother and daughter. Apparently, the dances that tend to be performed for the mainland tourists are not true, traditional hula. Historically, the women were topless, just like the men (though our mother and daughter were clothed on top). The dance has far more depth of meaning than appears on the surface with a lot of complexity to the movements of the hips, arms, legs, feet, and hands (maybe nowadays there is more emphasis on the real thing?). But what, white people from the mainland couldn’t handle a native peoples’ traditional dance? Imagine that. Almost like an entire portion of the populace voting against their own interests. But I digress….

I have this photo in my card collection and I love it. I can see it in my mind sometimes. Lots of thoughts come to me. Her pride. Her beautiful poise. The sense I have of her uncompromising posture. You know what I see? DON’T FUCK WITH ME.

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My father died on this date in 1985. This is not news. I’ve mentioned it before, even last year on this day I think.

Don’t worry, this is not a poem, just some scribbles….hopefully I won’t be removing it soon.

8/6/12 anniversary

wanted to be quiet today

counting something on my fingers
the hollow wind that rings
along a cement corridor

when I was looking for the word wind
I lost track of another word
it was on the tip of my mind

pre-frontal cortex
gray matter
does gray matter?

serving up the need
for shutting down

my mother is unraveling
the small bones
27 per hand

I still want to be preserved in salt
camphor to mask my scent

 

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In 1983, I was a sophomore living in the dorms at Kent State University.

Some time that year, we got the diagnosis that my father had colon cancer. Now that I come to write about it, I realize I don’t have many details. He had surgery to remove part of the colon and when they opened him up, they found that the cancer had metastasized to the liver.

My parents were living in Sylvania, Ohio at the time.

Some time in 1984 or ’85. Our good family friends in Southfield, Michigan, lent me a giant, dark-green Ford so that I could commute back and forth from Kent to Toledo while my father was dying. I spent the summer drunk, screwing a number of non-boyfriends, dancing to reggae bands upstairs at Mother’s Junction (above Ray’s), and going to see the Numbers Band at JB’s down.

I can’t remember what job I held. I do remember the heart-wrenching misery of driving to Toledo every Friday night and returning every Sunday. The long dark road, I-80, where deer/car collisions were a regular occurrence and the tail-end of the Appalachian range flattened completely by the time you’d reach Northwest Ohio. Some damn ugly land. I remember how everything in me screamed not to go. If I didn’t go home, would he not die?

Richfield, Ohio, Kita Lyons’ property. I had written in my book that this is July 13, 1985, 2 days shy of my 23rd birthday. One of the necklaces I’m wearing belonged to my Tante Nelli, but she died in May 1986. I wonder if she gave me some jewelry earlier than I remember.

My father died in August 1985.

I decided to make my pilgrimage the following year. My mother bought me a used, silver Toyota Corolla/Tercel, a model that they made for only a short time. I think it cost 4 thousand bucks. I have no memory of how many miles it had on it. I do remember going to someone’s house to check out the car, how their driveway looked, dark black asphalt. I would pay my mother back from my aunt’s estate when I received that money. My father’s only living sister, Nelli Landau. She died 9 months after him. I know it was a broken heart, for she loved my father and had no husband or children of her own.

I decided first to drive east. I would be staying mostly in youth hostels, but also had a few connections to stay with people I’d never met. Friends of friends. I miss that spirit. I miss it.

I am not sure any more all of the places I stopped. Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where I stayed in a governor’s mansion because my friend’s friends were the caretakers. The wife was a New England blue blood, going back several generations. She was a fiber artist, had a studio set up in the house.

They steamed mussels we picked up fresh from a little fish shack in town. I’d never eaten mussels before. I learned what a Widow’s Walk is. I toured the rose arbor in the back yard. The wife’s name was Sydney. This is how people name their children in New England.

One night, we drove past oceanfront mansions, stopped on the damp ocean beach, got high, and watched the sunset.

I next stopped in Cherryville, Maine, the famed place of an annual blueberry harvest which gathers hippies, loafers, stoners, and other back-to-nature types for seasonal farm work. Now I realize that there must be real migrant workers who go there, not just the educated white children of middle class families.

The hostel was really an old hippie commune. My first of so many things, again. I used an ATM machine in the quaint town. I got poison ivy (sumac?) on my legs. I stood in a circle with a couple dozen other people, stoned, holding hands, swaying, singing om om om. I learned what a Clivus is and determined that some day I would have one.

Maine, Bar Harbor, a little boat trip around some of the islands where I saw seals and puffins. The first time I heard the word shoal. Acadia where I walked on some barnacled rocks for a few hours, did nothing else, and left. I met a guy at the youth hostel. I remember eating a meal, walking around the town. Saying Bah Haba like the locals over and over, laughing, tschoke shops, lobster everything everywhere. I gave him a ride to the Greyhound station in Boston. A kiss in the rain. I didn’t even like him, but he was friendly. Dark hair, not too tall.

One very clear memory is of driving on the interstate in Massachusetts and the giant granite rocks on either side, with their trees and lichen, roots, gray and yellow stains. I think of it still when we go to Boston on I-90. I remember.

I started this post thinking about every car I’ve ever owned because my 2000 Toyota mini-van is up near 160K miles and creaky.

Let’s call this Installment One of Old Girl, the story of the first half of my cross-country trip after the death of my father.

♦ ♦ ♦

Hey, I’m not saying I like this, but I went to see them live a lot back in the day. The first video is kinda shaky to start, still good to see them looking good and playing after all these years.

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