28 November 2011

Monday after Thanksgiving...

It was eleven years ago today that I last saw my dad. Sunday after Thanksgiving, back in 2000, I received the phone call that my dad was in the hospital. His illness, multiple sclerosis, had seemingly taken the last turn. They didn't expect him to leave the hospital, alive. My family informed me that if I wanted to see him, now was the time. So, on that Monday, my mom and I packed up the car and drove down to Georgia to see him in the hospital. And I can still remember all the details of the day...the music we listened to in the car on the way down, the way he looked when I saw him from the door of the hospital room, and the conversation we had. Now, I don't intend to get into all of this here, as I've written about in the past in my old zines and the like. The day after I visited, he seemed to show incredible improvement. He left the hospital. I planned to visit him for Christmas. It would be an exactly one week before I received the phone call that he had died, on December 2, 2000.

Honestly, I haven't a clue why or what I wanted to write about it in this post. I suppose I wanted to share this picture of him. I wanted to share the memory of him with you. I wanted to share the fact that on this Monday, I always spend some time thinking of him, remembering that day in the hospital-- all the forgiveness, acceptance, and picking of the pieces that it entailed. Or perhaps that every loss entails. I wanted to share that every year on this day, I listen to The Good Life's Album, "Novena On A Noctourne," because this was the album my mom and I listened to on repeat for the entire four hour drive down and four hour drive back. Maybe, I just wanted to take a cliched moment to remember what it feels like to lose people we love and care about. Like I said, I'm not really sure.

But I do know that I miss him tonight. I can't help but wonder what he might be like if he was still alive or what we might talk about if I had called him on his 53rd birthday back in early November. But because he loved music so, I'm just going to post this song and remember how I promised him I'd buy him a stereo for Christmas.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, the older of my two younger brothers said to me, "How do some people just not like music? How can they just say, 'No, I don't listen to music.'" I suppose the things I remember the most about my dad are his plaid shirts, his cowboys boots, his Wrangler jeans, his love of Miller Lite, and well, his intense love of music. I don't think there was a single moment we were together that we didn't listen to music.

So, here you go, a song to pass the time, a song to remember with...

"I can feel a winter coming we're frozen in our stares,
and we know there's a world outside
of these insults and injuries
maybe we're just too, afraid to be one.
The autumn sets a golden exit the winter is waxing
that cold sun will shed no more warmth into our living rooms,
where we dream our dreams, where we wait for sleep.
Maybe we'll wake up with golden wings,
and fly over a city screaming, take me take me!" -The Good Life

13 November 2011

Another indication of....

As some of you may be aware, Carly and I take a bi-annual retreat to the mountains of Tennessee. We pack the car full of books, journal articles, our computers, iPods, tasks...right next to, wine (lots of wine), food, several pairs of pajamas, and a bathing suit. We drive about an hour and half east of Nashville to Center Hill Lake, where we spend three to four days/nights, being more productive than we generally ever are at home. And by more productive, we cast a wide net. We are productive not only with our work, but also with meals (hell, I think this is the only time in my entire year that I eat three meals a day), laughter, and our own particular style of restoration. Every trip comes with its own challenges, either those that follow us from Nashville that we come here to shed or those that we find while here at Center Hill. But regardless, when we make it to our last night (and final supper), I ALWAYS feel restored. I don't know if it is the incredibly infectious laugh of Carly or if it is the putting my phone in "Airplane Mode" for a majority of the trip or rather if it is the sound of the wind that moves through the trees, but this time, the trip came at the absolute perfect time for me.

See, I've been in another one of my classic funks lately. In a trite and cliche way, a la Carrie in her Mexi-coma, I wondered to myself, "Will I ever laugh again?" The world felt heavy. I felt the effort of "having to force a smile." Yes, I'm trafficking in obscure references and lyrics here, but regardless, I haven't been myself for the last month. Unfortunately, it has led to unfortunate consequences in many of my personal relationships, but alas, I knew, one day soon, I'd pull myself out. It always just takes me some time. Yes, Jay, I do, in fact, get dark sometimes. Yes, Joel, the clouds were in my head, right between my eyes. A few days before our trip, I started to feel a turning point. And then, the night before our trip, Carly invited me to join her for the Straight No Chaser show at The Ryman. I went, because, well, when your friend calls you and tells you that have a free ticket for a show, you go. Because, well, I understand what it is like to always have a free ticket...or rather, a plus one to share.

As the show started, I started laughing uncontrollably. And yes, I knew then, I would laugh again. When something was really, really, really funny...like me attending the Straight No Chaser show-- and even getting a little tipsy while there. And so, the trip began, after a brief detour at the Culture workshop on Friday morning. So, let it begin....

Here is an account of some of the top moments of the trip:

1. The symbolic beginning with a goodbye and the purchase of a helluva lot of wine.

2. A not-so-symbolic near-death experience, where Carly says to me as we barrel down a mountain in her car, "I don't have any brakes. Seriously." (Don't worry folks, while this traumatic experience stayed with us for hours, we learned the car shut off, it acted like it had no gas, but apparently, it was just "playing possum." Wish us luck tomorrow on the journey home).

3. A far less symbolic spider cricket in the shower of our cabin. Yes, a spider cricket. I think we all know how I feel about these. We sprayed it with bug spray, until Carly screamed, "But he isn't dying!" and I grabbed a broom to put the now drenched spider cricket out of his misery. Carly disposed of him. I couldn't get that close, even post-mortem.

4. Carly's insanely wonderful chicken with verde salsa and our first dinner a la Mexican (to pay tribute to our Miraculous Miercoles weekly dates).

5. Lots and lots of wine accompanied by a viewing of Happy Thank You More Please (in the complete darkness, so when we both started bawling, it would be in the dark.) And then, an analysis of the movie. Wait, this might be as complicated (and simple) as the Swidler vs. Alexander issue...

6. My recognition that I am my mother's daughter, when it was merely 50 degrees outside and I was decked out in a winter coat, winter hat, and scarf just to go outside for a few moments.

7. The chainsaw/leaf blower incident.

8. A discussion of internet dating sites, particularly describing the perfect attributes in which to outline on my profile. While I try to find a crafty way to convey our discussion that lacks a certain amount of crudeness...I think I'll stick with an equation--- age x whiskey= no measurable difference from pre-test to post-test.

9. The hot tub fiasco. The fact it would only heat up 1 degree every 30 minutes. The decision to spend an hour talking in the hot tub, which basically was a warm tub during the sunset, while drinking a beer. It was quite delightful, despite the bugs, the leaves, and the lukewarm temperature.

10. Sunday, November 13th should always be celebrated as "the day Carly killed a scorpion." No, I'm not kidding. In the basement here, there was a scorpion. It stopped me in my tracks. I have never seen a scorpion. And while I was fascinated by the significance of a scorpion crossing my path, when its little tail pulled back ready to sting me, I couldn't move. Luckily, Carly came to my rescue. She dropped the bag of trash on it. And then after we had injured the scorpion, I used a stick to push it down the driveway. I hope I don't see that mother tomorrow. Better yet was when Carly revealed to me that her original image of what might be in the basement when I screamed, "Holy shit there is a scorpion!" was more the size of a lobster than the size of a quarter that she discovered. Yes, sometimes, we switch up our gender roles in interesting ways.

11. Given my dissatisfaction with the hot tub, I took the world's hottest bath, complete with a glass of wine and a guidebook of Wales.

12. Carly saying to me, "Okay, Lucifer. It's like 100 degrees in here."

13. Having lunch on the screened-in back porch, in some beautiful fall weather.

14. Grilling out steaks for my first time on a grill, accompanied by grilled corn and baked potatoes...all of which I successfully caught on fire while grilling.

15. Our final supper tonight, while listening to the mix we have prepared that follows in 8track.com form.

16. The crematorium (pictures to follow).

While these are 16 of my favorite highlights from the trip....there is no substitute for the laughter and conversations that we had. This weekend was a transition. Today, I sat out on the front porch of our cabin, listening to the sounds of the wind moving through the trees and leaves, and I smiled. That's it. I smiled, without effort, for the first time in several weeks.

And with that, we've prepared you an 8-track mix to convey some of what we brought into this weekend, our experiences over the weekend, and what we plan to leave the weekend with...here you go.

My contributions:

1. Doomed Love Affair-- Ezra Furman & The Harpoons

Apparently this song was recorded at the same time as the last album. I fucking love it. And I think it is rather perfect that it was released at this precise time. I needed to transition from Wild Rosemarie to Doomed Love Affair. Thank you fellas.

2. You'd Rather Run--Jay May

We discovered JayMay while watching Happy Thank You More Please. "And it's not that I hate you, I never loved you enough to hate you. To get even or mad so as not to seem sad, just seems ungrateful. 'Cause really, I am thankful I'm sad. Maybe we're the same unabashed and unashamed. Then again, I don't know where you came from..."

3. Stuck In A Moment You Can't Get Out Of- U2

Today, I decided to listen to All Song's Considered radio. This came on. It fit. My song to myself. It was Sunday. It was the day to pick it all up and start again.

4. Blue Skies Again-- Jessica Lea Mayfield

Yep, today, I looked over and the tree next to me looked to be far more colorful than it had merely two days before...and I realized, the sky looked blue again. Finally. Finally. Finally.

Carly's contributions:

1. Tainted Love-- Straight No Chaser

The song that began it all, meaningful to us both.

2. Helplessness Blues-- Fleet Foxes

The musical version of white girl problems.

3. Awake My Soul-- Mumford & Sons

This one is everything, my whole weekend. Letting go, loving freely, living honestly. "My weakness I feel I must finally show...Lend me your eyes, I can change what you see...In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die, where you invest your love, you invest your life."

4. Reach Out I'll Be There-- The Four Tops

This was from our discussion of Happy Thank You More Please and what it means to go out and "get yourself loved." And how we decided this doesn't always mean from a man, but rather can be from friends. So, this one is symbolic of our own relationship...and these beautiful weekends in the mountains.

Pictures, of yellow leaves, wine bottles, and dinners to arrive shortly.

Katherine and Carly