Tuesday, April 12, 2011
There were nineteen of us borne to our mother and father. There we were in a Sears and Roebuck home built in the center of Saskatchewan. We piled on each other and yelled and scrapped the whole way through. When my mother couldn't have children anymore after the stillbirth, I was 24 and not a nickel to my name. I begged that old man for 100 acres and damned if he didn't deny me. He said he couldn't afford to take the loss but that was a lie. He spat that lie at me in his thick German. George and I looked at the books one night when my father was asleep. He had the pennies to set us up, George and me. All we wanted were wives and land to farm. But he wouldn't give us that. He wanted us to live and die on his farm without pay, without the company of women, without a chance in the world to stand on our own feet.
When mother adopted the little one off the orphan train and set her to work washing floors and beating rugs, I knew some of my pennies went down the hungry maw of the ingrate. And when my sisters were married off, I know my pennies were packed into their marriage trunks along with all the frippery of weddings. And that bastard still didn't give me my land.
When I went to church, I prayed to God and the Holy Mother to kill him. I imagined him trampled to death beneath the oxen pulling the plow. I saw him keeling into the soil and getting wrapped up in the short roots of wheat and suffocating. I saw myself with an axe...
The winters are so terribly long and dark. Nothing moves for fear of getting colder. The sky gets wider and paler. Look far enough and watch the earth curve to the sides. The land goes dull. Winter is a hard time.
Mother assuaged the little ones with stories of Alsace. She sung German and French songs. But when she started to smile and lose herself in the past, Father would curse her and remind her of the hellish Lutherans. Wars of kings. I cared little for history.
George and I taught ourselves English by reading catalogs and an English Bible. We spoke well enough to trade at the general store. Soon, Father entrusted us with the negotiations, but never the books. George wasn't strong in the maths, but I knew my way with numbers. I knew Father was hiding money.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Brother Gil died of fever. His last view was from the bedroom window, looking over the hills. He was twelve. He burnt up and cooled off in one evening. He didn't make a sound. Our mother gathered him in her arms in the morning when the cock crowed. We buried him on a Sunday. The mound of fresh dirt looked like a promise. I helped our father dig the grave. We took special care to make it just so. Brother Gil had a nice box in which to lay; he liked right angles.
Our mother’s face sunk onto her teeth. She blessed the Sunday meal with a flat voice and went to bed after one piece of cornbread. Our father kept silent except for the clicking of his chewing teeth. Afterwards, he lit a pipe and kept the fire stoked. He stayed rocking in the glider and made the floorboards creak.
I wiped the table down, watching the crumbs travel in the grooves of the wood. I shook my foot this way and that. Dust shot out from around the legs of the table. It didn’t seem right that Brother Gil was dead and dust could do whatever it pleased. I let loose a tear but sucked my lip over my bottom teeth. I sucked my lip so hard it bled a little.
In town, people nodded to us knowingly. Most of them looked hungry. Some of the women wore clothes that draped their bony arms. Winter came hard and fast. Two of our cows wandered into a blizzard. We didn’t find them for two weeks. When we did, they were slick and bloated. Our father said it was a blessing we could not smell them--the cold air kept the flesh from stinking. John from the next farmstead came and helped our father drag the carcasses into the wood. The ground was frozen.
In the middle of winter, four farmhouses were set on fire. John said one of them was likely an accident. The other three were the work of incendiaries. I felt sorry for people who were so cold they would set their house on fire. But our father said it wasn’t to stay warm, but to get a new start.
Our mother kept mostly silent that winter. She said a blessing every night. Her eyes wandered toward the horizon during the day.
In January, John came down and sat with our father in front of the fire. He drank whiskey straight from a glinting flash. He sang a few songs. His voice was like rustling wheat. John had walked from Canada to set a farm up in the territory. He told our father the land was worse than what he had heard in Calgary. He told our father it was too damned much to farm it. He also told our father he was thinking about a mail order bride from Germany. Our father said it was a bad idea. Then, John looked at me for a long time. I felt ashamed but curious.
My hands shook the rest of the winter.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Then we got a bill from our insurance, which indicates that two ultrasounds and a magnetic imaging test actually comes to a total of 1.5 million dollars, and we have to pay about half of that based on our insurance policy. Now, of course, we are completely and wholly to blame for this deductible because I refused to join the 'Quit-the-Nic' program to receive better benefits. Yes, that's right, the insurance company grabbed my ovaries by my fallopian tubes and told me that in order to get decent insurance, I had to quit smoking because people who smoke are obviously not worthy enough of fair pricing. And I did go on several rants over the phone about how insurance companies should not legislate lifestyles because, after all, they don't cover jackshit anyway and if I do get lung cancer, it can't be correlated to JUST smoking, it could have to do with eating lead or breathing in methane and when I mentioned this to the insurance agent, she told me that Blue Cross does not cover alternative medicine for cancer.
But Michael just got on the phone and talked turkey to some chick and got the bill reduced to $20. Which is great. It just proves that not only are insurance companies biased against smokers and drinkers and drug-users, insurance companies are also sexist.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
See there? It's all a-tilt and hangs almost straight.
I try it on in the afternoon, when the sun is highest, and the breeze through the windows does not penetrate the knit. I know it will be warm about my arms and back come fall, but the shrug seems oppressive, now. I'm lumpy in the mirror, this lopsided face of mine staring back and taking in the tomato color of yarn. I'm colorless in this bright poppy. Sanguinity has never been a feature of which I can boast.
I pull on the edges a bit, trying to straighten them out. Knitting holds memory well, though, and the stitches refuse to budge, though I've dampened the hem and yanked and pulled. Ah, me. The past cannot be erased. What's done is done, what's made cannot go unmade unless I destroy the garment in its entirety.
Even then, the yarn remembers the bumps and purls. It would take many washings for the cotton to relax. By then, the cotton would be little more than a shredded bit of fiber, lying like a pool of blood at my feet. So, unraveling is right out.
Instead, I take the shrug off and fold it. It will live in my closet until the time is right to bring it out and wear it (one time) in the fall, at an anonymous place where no one knows I knit, and I can say: "A friend made it for me; it's an amateur attempt--see how badly the sleeves are set in?"
But then, it occurs to me. Because of my scoliosis, my shoulders are uneven. I don the sweater again. Wait...yes, it's true. On my crooked frame, the sweater sits evenly. The bottom edges are aligned, as are the sleeves. Upon closer inspection, I see I have no problem with the shrug itself. It's the wearer of the garment of whom I am critical.
So I shrug. So be it. I'm a crooked person, off kilter and tempo. My shrug is just right for me; I was knitting it correctly the whole time. I was making it for myself. And as I balance upon my slanted hips and quirky knees, I think for just a moment, if the world was righted on its axis, I would be standing straight, and everything else would just fall over in a heap.
I do believe I'll wear this sad little thing, and be proud of it. My bent hands crafted it, and though it be awry, it be a-right for me.
Monday, July 21, 2008
See, the instructor was telling me to "squeeze the trigger--be gentle with it--like a baby--just squeeze it--" and I'm squinting at my sights and I'm trying to see my target and I'm just hovering on that trigger, nudging it back little by little and then BANG, the gun goes off.
The barrel jerks upward.
A hot shell flies down my shirt, burning my breast. Adrenaline rushes at the sound and the smell of the gun smoke and I am scared, I mean, fucking TERRIFIED of that sound still ringing in my ears, even with the orange headphones hugging my ears.
Shooting a gun, even at a paper target, is a violent act.
Owning a gun, whether it's a right, or a defense, or hunting paraphernalia, or a tactical sport, is engaging in violence. Teaching children how to safely handle firearms is teaching them about violence. If a gun lesson to a child does not begin with words like, "This is a machine designed to kill," then the lesson is incomplete.
Before I shot a gun, I had never heard live fire before. The only bits of gunfire I had heard was on television. But on a firing range, the guns are very loud. The firing line is covered in spent shells. And there is a row of people with their fingers on the triggers. BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM! The air is acrid and smoky. Some people have multiple weapons; they are shooting Desert Eagles and Glocks and AR15's.
A month earlier, a young man shot off his calf muscle at the same range as I. He didn't pull his finger out of the trigger guard. Sure, one would think that's obvious...get your finger off the trigger, get your finger off the trigger, don't do a GODDAMN THING with your finger in that trigger...but it's not always easy to remember. Sometimes, one forgets.
Sometimes, a person isn't always sure of where the muzzle of his weapon is. Two lanes down, I see a guy shoot at a target and then wave at his teacher with his gun. "C'mere! Lookit what I did!" You almost shot someone dead, is what you did.
After my first shot, I quit crying. I just started shaking.
After one clip, my shooting was so terrible, the instructor asked me to stop for the day and go home.
Two months later, I finally qualified with a Glock 17. I could go out in the field as a probation officer and not need any other officer to accompany me.
I was a state certified officer with a weapon. I had a badge and a gun and handcuffs. I had a bullet-proof vest and a can of mace. I did my job for four years, supervising an average of 150 active adult felons. I went to their homes, at night, with no radio. I found that a smile, and a warm voice, could put these people at ease even though I was in their home, going through their belongings, sitting next to their children.
I pulled my weapon twice, and I regret each time I did, because that meant in my mind, I was ready to kill another individual. Kill a person. Take a person's life. Keep him from living. Keep his heart from beating. Keep his brain from functioning.
I don't argue with people who own guns. It's still a Constitutional right. It will probably remain a right for a long time. Gun laws and gun control and rules and legislation don't stop people from shooting guns. None of that stuff will make a difference in America's love affair with weapons. Sadly, criminals will always be able to buy guns legally from private dealers or illegally from street dealers.
I just remember the fear my gun invoked inside of me. I just remember being aware of it all the time ("There's a gun in my closet. There's a gun in my cabinet drawer. There's a gun on top of my refrigerator.")
And I remember the relief of handing my gun back when I was fired. I remember crying then, too. It's over, I thought.
I'll never have to fire this thing again.
And my face broke out into a smile.
Friday, July 18, 2008
I was so geared up to see The Dark Knight at our local IMAX theater. It would appear that even in the tumultuous economy of the metro-Detroit area, folks just love their Batman. Apparently, folks are out in droves going to see this movie. The last place I want to be is knuckle-deep in popcorn grease while three hundred adolescents fart their way through two and a half hours of film. Christian Bale deserves better. So do I.
Therefore, we will dine at the illustrious Applebee's so that I can benefit from their Weight Watcher's menu. Then, we shall return home for knitting and The Savages. Tomorrow, I will see The Batman.
Meanwhile: (Not VERY safe for work, completely offensive, all my gay friends hate me, etc.) Please see the following video.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Everything that gets me upset gets everyone else upset, too, and half the time, lots of other people have written about being upset in the same way I would describe my upsetness, so that's out. Yes, Bush is bad. Yes, I am voting for Obama. Yes, I am disturbed how racist many voters are. Yes, teenage vampire whores are causing our children to suffer from ADD and PTSD and OCD and Asperger's. Meh. Whatever.
Here's the raw deal, I think. I've lost all my creativity to humdrum living. It's no one's fault but my own. I work myself into exhaustion, save just enough energy to knit, and the rest of my waking hours are spent wishing for the weekend to come and get me the hell up out of this rut. I need a break, man. Or a great big fat doobie.
Also, this article depresses me, despite my 9 pound weight loss. I think I'm just going to be fat forever, dammit.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The other night, I watched the movie Children of Men. After watching the movie, I went home and put my head in the microwave. Never had I watched something so cliche and so gruesome. It disturbed me greatly. I didn't want to, but I borrowed the book from a friend and read it in a day.
While P.D. James is eloquent and well-written (in a very British way), she becomes so Victorian in her writing that one loses momentum. But the pages do get to turning as the reader waits (hopes! prays!) something interesting is going to happen. And interesting things do happen, eventually. Some people die, some other people have things happen to them, and in the end, some people get their just desserts. So, okay, for a read on the weekend, have a go at this book.
But here's where I get disappointed. The pretense of the book is phenomenal. I love it. There are many places James could have gone with this book--it could have wound up as the next Lord of the Flies or Fahrenheit 451 or something else prolific and astounding and thought-provoking. But it doesn't. The punch doesn't follow through to the cheekbone. I'm waiting for the "WHAM" and all I get is the "whiz".
I had this same problem with the movie "Jumpers". I know, tragically awful movie. But just think of what it COULD have been. This is the problem I have with this book. I recommend the book for a car ride or a really boring Sunday. But I would not try to replace Miss Austen with it.
I have also decided that reviewing books is not my forte. I'll stick to mindless blather.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
I am eating my Dannon yogurt sprinkled with a one-point cardboard cake from WW, and I am NOT TRACKING IT.
Nope. It does not even exist, and it shan't appear on my hips. It is a MEASLY five points, and while I have exhausted all of my extra points for the week (and I'm several days away from weigh-in), I will not begrudge myself coffee yogurt. After all, I did not have a second glass of wine or my obligatory Sunday Bloody Mary.
I just finished eating my sub par dessert, and now I feel absolutely wretched. Here's to another week of not being able to curb my appetite.
Additionally, some advice: If you are suffering from sciatica, it is sagely suggested you stay far away from bicycles and their seats. Ow.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I work four ten hour days. That means I do not work on Fridays. I know, it rules.
Here is the part that does NOT rule: leaving the house at 6:30 am.
At that time of the day, I do not have the wherewithal, the chutzpah, the *verve* to make coffee. So, I go to Starfucker's.
At 6:30 in the morning, there is rarely a line at Starfucker's drive through, because everyone else is sane and still in bed. There is just me, groggily staring over my steering wheel, hoping to coordinate my feet and my hands at the same time.
And every morning, I show up at the drive-through, and the same lady asks me for my order. Every morning, I look UP AT THE CAMERA and tell her exactly what I want, and that order never changes. And EVERY SINGLE MORNING, she asks me for my name.
First of all, there's no one else with whom to confuse me. I'm the only one in line. Second of all, you have a monitor in which you can see my face. Thirdly, if this is some corporate attempt at getting to know me, she SUCKS, because I am there EVERY MORNING, and if she doesn't know my name by now, then clearly she cannot be trusted to make one (1!) grande bold coffee with two shots of espresso, two creams, and one Splenda.
So: here has been the recent dialog:
Me: I'll have a grande bold coffee with two shots espresso, two creams, and one Splenda.
SF's Employee: Will that be all?
Me (Eye-rolling): YES.
SF's Employee: And can I have your name?
Of late, I've been on a communist kick. Monday, I was Frida. Tuesday, I was Castro. Wednesday found me as Che G., and Thursday, I was Lenin.
She never laughs. She never acknowledges my strange names. In fact the one time she guffawed at my name is when I said "Fritz."
Why don't I just start giving my name out as "Grande Bold Coffee"?
Can we agree on some basic concepts, please?
For example, can we agree that Americans eat too much? Is that really up for debate? Don't we live in a culture of face-stuffers? Face-stuffers who love fast food and bacon? Isn't that, like, totally apparent to every single person with five brain cells?
And don't we, as a nation, use up resources five times as fast as everyone else? Don't we suck up natural resources and fossil fuels and hardwoods like a mega-consuming caterpillar working on its metamorphisis into the Titanic?
Look. The calories I consume each day could probably sustain a pachyderm for a week. I'll admit it. I have an eating problem. I enjoy eating, and it's really easy for me to eat. If I'm too lazy to haul my big ass over to the grocery store, there's myriad opportunities to feast in other places. Like 7-11 or all these damn Coney Island joints; in a mile radius around my home, there are six--SIX--diners in which I can order one four-egg sausage and cheese omelette with a side of hashbrowns and toast. And every weekend, I eat at one of those establishments.
And here we are, a nation of overwieght people with poor self-esteem, eating ourselves right into a food crisis. We eat and then feel guilty about it, and then we go buy clothing to fit our big butts. And then, we feel worse, so we drive our big cars over to our big supercenters where we buy diet food in bulk and when we're all done eating warmed-up cardboard, we poop in mega-toilets.
I didn't think this was, like, news. Apparently, not everyone agrees with me.
Over at Slate, this uber-hip news/commentary blog thingy (I don't know, I just found out about it yesterday), some scrotal sac has condemned the movie Wall-E because it equivocates laziness with fat people and the end of the world. He claims that people who are fat are innocent bystanders in their self-destruction. It's all controlled by genetics! Just because we're fat doesn't mean we're guilty of massive consumption! Fat people aren't to blame! Wall-E mocks fat people! "The new Pixar movie goes out of its way to equate obesity with environmental collapse!"
Um, actually, it talks about people being so lazy, they don't notice all the garbage they are creating until one day, when it's obvious that the trash ain't going away. But because they're so lazy, they decide to go into space and litter up there. And then people get used to sitting around and letting other little robot things do stuff for them, so folks don't really have a need to walk or move heavy objects and then....dum dum dum...humans get fat.
I'm sorry, I thought this was an animated film. Seems pretty true to life to me, yeah?
Do we really have the time to convince ourselves that we are not to blame for the state we're in? Can we ignore our failing bodies and lack of health precautions, blaming big bones and bad genes? Or shouldn't we take some action now, and stop consuming so much, and start taking longer walks, and eat really good, really yummy, really healthy food?
We cannot afford to make excuses for the way we live, and the destruction we're wreaking on our land? And if one stupid, silly animated movie makes us think about the future, then how can it be a bad thing?
One of those Fatties
Location: Detroit Rock City!
Where the weak are killed and eaten
Click here to find out
Teach me, Arachnae
A Woman for All Seasons
Somewhere in Middle America
Super Uber MILF
Death Wore A Feathered Mullet
Miss Kendra's Golden State
Corley's Blue Texas
Sysm's Systemic Statements
A Dude and His Dogs in Detroit
My husband might sue me for HIPPA violations.
Upon Finishing A Shrug
Well, that's Poopy
We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started And know the place for the first time. Through the unknown, unremembered gate When the last of earth left to discover Is that which was the beginning; At the source of the longest river The voice of the hidden waterfall And the children in the apple-tree Not known, because not looked for But heard, half-heard, in the stillness Between two waves of the sea. Quick now, here, now, alwaysâ A condition of complete simplicity (Costing not less than everything) And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well When the tongues of flame are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire And the fire and the rose are one. -T.S. Eliot "Little Gidding"