They say you took the diaper money to buy guitar strings–
we say it’s a lie!
They say you threw the keys down the mountain–
we say it’s a lie!
They say you ate Burger King sausage one day after becoming a vegetarian–
we say it’s a lie!
The man, the myth, the Papster!!!
Happy birthday, Dad. I love you.
Tonight, I have the good fortune of organizing an event to celebrate blue peninsula. This powerful and poignant book written by Madge McKeithen chronicles the years after McKeithen’s son, Ike, is diagnosed with a chronic, debilitating and undiagnosed disease. Fed up with the butterflies and affirmations of “how to grieve books,” McKeithen turns to poetry (Dickinson and Doty; O’Hara and Rich), and with each poem and meditation in the book, we are so glad she did. Read the New York Times article: here.
In one passage called “In The Details,” McKeithen quotes George MacDonald: “The merest trifles,” he writes, “sometimes rivet the attention in deepest misery.” McKeithen goes on to explore our need for details and her satisfaction with the fact that they can “be chosen and edited.” She ends the section with this paragraph which, all morning (in between my cravings for dried apricots) I have read over and over:
I can hold details and know they are there, let go and know they once were. The way my grandmother’s Buick smelled of clove chewing gum, the Richie Rich funny books they bought us in Southern Pines–my missing her takes some of its shape from the shape she occupied when she was here. I start a list of the things that Ike enjoys–a way to see the present moment as specifically as I have been chronicling the decline. Today, I make plans to take him to a basket ball game at his brother’s college. I send him dried apricots for Valentine’s Day.
The book’s subtitle is essential words for a life of loss and change, and I truly recommend it to anyone whose life has ever felt dominated by those two things. Buy it: here.
Yesterday, my dad called. Hey sis. Hey Pappy. What’s going on? He tells me he just bought a hybrid. Groovy, I say. And, he says, I’ve decided to become a vegetarian. (This from a man who’s been known to eat meatballs the size of small planets.)
Wow, I say. You know they don’t eat meat, right?
Yea, yea. I’m going fresh. Fresh vegetables, fresh fruits. I’ll live forever.
Great, I say. What’s for lunch?
Oh, I just swung into Wendy’s, got a salad and a small chili. It’s real good if you just pour the chili right on top.
Uhm, dad, chili?
Well, it doesn’t have that much meat in it. Just a smidge.
Ah…the smidge. Gets you every time.
Those of you familiar with my obsession with syntax, may remember that I fell in love with the semicolon (not pictured here) in the winter of 1995; the wind blew; I was living in Oxford, walking for miles, developing what I’d come to realize were “corns” on my pinky toes, and then, in one poorly heated bar or another, someone said how about a semicolon; a what? I asked; a semicolon; hmm…I pictured that archaic symbol knowing it could do me no good; it allows you, he said (he was an Ivy Leaguer and thus spoke with great authority), to hold more than one thing in your mind at a time; like what? I asked, and we ordered another beer.
My father, having been through eighth grade at least three times, is a great proponent of the easily diagrammed simple sentence; my mother is more adept at sewing lacerations than stringing words together; my brother collects roadkill! I didn’t even know I had it in me to use a semicolon; reader, I did. Last week, a student said to me, I wish I could be as passionate about anything as you are about the semicolon. I may have blushed; surely, this far into the semester my one crowning passion isn’t the semicolon; thank you, I said.
And now, looky: here. My old college love sent me this link. Yes, the semicolon is alive; it is thriving; from deep in the underbelly of New York City to the mountains of Mexico that pretty little piece of syntax is rearing its pretty little dot of a head. Come on; try it; you’ll love it; once you start you can’t stop; you’ll be shoveling the snow wondering when you can use one next; maybe between this and that, you’ll say; maybe between that and this, and oh, who in their right mind wants the finality of a period?
Yesterday, I took a photograph of a beatdown A-frame church. The sky in Joplin has been impossibly gray, and out in front of the church was a “For Sale” sign. The image itself seems the picture of bleak.
I had wanted to download it.