Sunday, September 30, 2007

Now This Is Yours

Lito picked up my dad’s ashes from the crematorium and the death certificates arrived. I’ve managed Budget and have held shares in the corporation for over twenty years but my dad always reigned supreme over the film itself and I confess that I probably couldn’t make a successful hot cement splice if my life depended on it and I am timid about rewinds and projectors and stuff. I seldom close up the office but Friday I sent everyone home and conducted the closing procedure by myself and every light switch and deadbolt I touched came with a weird jab in the heart that said, bittersweetly, "Now this is yours."

Yo La Tengo plays tonight at the Hollywood Bowl with M Ward and Bright Eyes. I am vaguely familiar with the music of the other acts but splurged at Amoeba this week in order to further familiarize myself before the concert. I’m iffy on the M Ward but open to more listening but I’m thinking the Bright Eyes may have been bad investment. Actually Bright Eyes is one person. Connor Oberst. Just like Badly Drawn Boy (Damon Gough) and Nine Inch Nails (do not admit it if you do not know this name) and while I admire some music of the later two, this one man as a band thing seems a stupid affectation. Bright Eyes has that sort of doe eyed Jackson Brown quality but skinnier and his voice is both pouty and petulant. Songs are sort of musically interesting and maybe tonight, with the philharmonic that will be even more evident but on record he’s got a voice I sort of want to slap.

I also fell victim to a Jackson Browne best of collection during my bereavement trip to Amoeba and without even looking at the linear notes I knew in my gut that the first chords I would hear when the cd clicked in would be of Doctor My Eyes, and yes, it did sound sweet. But so very impossibly young. I listened to the first of the two disc set and found a number of the songs embarrassing and some of the memories of who I was when they were the most meaningful to me a bit embarrassing too. And a bit sad.

I strive to be in nowness but my father’s death is such a slap back to the past and not only to who we were, father and daughter, but who I was. There is a pull back and also, a horrifying kick in the ass about the future. I ran up a muddy hill carrying a medicine ball in Griffith Park this morning. The grass has been aerated , a sea of uniform clots of dirt resembling dog turds. I finished this exercise and if there had been the life in me I would have sobbed. It hurt. I hurt. My dad was eighty-nine when he died and I wonder how, when he ran the movie of his life in his head if he would have been embarrassed by himself at fifty. Will I live to be eighty-nine? My Welsh bitch trainer seems to think there’s hope for me. If this is the case, I can’t help but be curious about how the movie of myself, at fifty, my Jubilee year, will go over in 2046.. "Oh, I certainly did go on a lot about myself on that silly blog thing back in my waning days of menstruation." The regrets and embarrassments on my horizon are certainly different than ones my dad is now at peace from. Dad is at peace with all his follies and I am alive here and fifty and perhaps making a fool of myself but there was more than a transfer of physical goods to me when my dad swam off. If I can honor this legacy maybe I’ll look back on myself at age 50 one day and think that I wasn’t that much of an asshole after all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One Week Out

The boys just walked me through the film aisles and tried to fill me in on their progress with our never ending inventory process and I realized on yet another level how much I already miss and will continue to miss my dad. What a fraud I am and how ill prepared I am to preserve his legacy. How lucky I am that God seems to have set in place a crew of folks to help me steer closer to doing tribute to my pop and his gift.

Yesterday I went up to the Stadium to try to sweet talk some tickets for the final Dodger game on Sunday which happens to be Spud’s 12th birthday. Those of you who follow this blog will remember that Spuds has not only had a birthday fall on Yom Kippur but last year his father projectile vomited at the entrance gate to Disneyland on his birthday, which I hope is his bad birthday topper for life. This year, due to the Grandpa dying situation, I am particularly committed to making a sweet celebration. I entered the stadium office and walked right into Tommy Lasorda and Jamie McCourt (the owner of the team) and immediately, upon seeing white haired twinkly eyed Tommy, burst into tears and started nattering on like a total fool about my little one having just lost his grandpa right before his birthday. My husband would have puked again at THIS performance. Nevertheless, Tommy said to tell Spuds (who just two weeks ago cheered himself hoarse at Tommy’s 80th birthday celebration) that he’d always have another Grandpa and he wrote Spuds a note and sent a picture and some other Dodger swag. And we got the tickets to the game on Sunday too.

Last night was Himself’s big panel discussion about book reviewing for IWOSC and while I snickered inside that a man who couldn’t change a tire if there were a gun pointed at his head touted his working class background, he was erudite and witty and poised and after his stellar performance a lady thrust a pair of jumbo knockers at him while she begged him to review her book.

Aisles of films. Tommy Lasorda. Budding writers and boobs. Feeling God and knowing the power of sadness and of comfort.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Drool Love

I went to visit Grandma at Chez Alzheimer’s this weekend and was informed that all scissors, including nail clippers, had been removed from her room. I was late for Grandpa’s service but we called today for additional details.

Grandma’s boyfriend, Dr. Charles, has a daughter Linda who calls all the shots, and apparently with an iron fist. Dr. Charles is a bit portly and at Linda’s insistence, his lunch ration is fat free cottage cheese and sugar free canned peaches. Every single day. It was also at Linda’s behest that I was called into the director’s office to be informed that the family would bear no responsibility whatsoever should my petite mother be crushed by the ample and apparently not entirely impaired Dr. Charles. I will add that this is a Mormon family. The Mormons on The Big Love have lots of fun and sex but apparently either due to her faith or some other inspiration, Linda seems quite adamant that there be no fun or sex for her dad.

It seems Doctor Charles was complaining about Linda calling him too frequently. Mysteriously, the telephone line in his room was cut. This happened three times until it occurred to someone to conduct a little raid on room 263.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Deathbed Confidential

My pop stabilized on life support and for about a week we went from living by the hour to living by the day. Now we are, since yesterday afternoon, living by the minute. For how many more minutes now will I have a living father? It is a finite number.

I am doing, as everyone tells me, extraordinarily well. This means not being too hard on myself for writing down the incorrect time for a meeting at Leo’s new school and arriving one hour late. A similar screw up on my part caused Spuds to miss another basketball game. I have watched a lot of t.v. I stopped at 7 11 and bought a big pack of Good ‘N Plenty on the way to Cedars to consult in a private meditation room with a young Russian doctor (referred to by Aliki as "even more foreign than I am.") about whether upon the (inevitable) failing of his heart we want them to try to shock it back. We do not.

I was afraid that there might be tension between us. Aliki clings to him desperately. I am so afraid of pain. I thought we might disagree at some point. I donned my yellow paper scrubs and rubber gloves yesterday and entered the mechanical chamber of my father. I had seen him last on Thursday and he was pink and peaceful. The condition was different yesterday and I looked at him and I looked over at Aliki and we both nodded. The meeting with the doctor was heart breaking but also in a way one of the most beautiful experiences of my life because Aliki and were able to enter the room without having said a word to each other and we said in unison, to the doctor, "He’s tired." With that, we both know, with all certainty, that the death of my father is imminent and inevitable.

On Monday, we were called in yet again to meet with a whole team of doctors, the palliative crew discreetly on-call until we were prepared for them to waltz in, doe eyed and compassionately. My father was failing rapidly. It was suggested that his pacemaker be deactivated, after which his blood pressure medication be discontinued.. His legs had grown gangrenous and would require amputation even if there was the most remote hope of him ever surviving off of life support.

My father always had a short fuse with projectors and cameras and typewriters or just about any mechanical object he came into contact with. He never used a computer but spoke of them hatefully on a daily basis. The young resident who was charged to deprogram the pacemaker couldn’t get the software to cooperate and he spent what seemed an inordinate time on the phone with tech support to essentially facilitate pulling the plug on my pop. I could hear in my head the old man raging about god damned computers and technology and why is this taking so fucking long. The expectation was that he cease to function within about an hour after being logged off of the pacemaker program but he stayed with us about another 8, winning the bonus of the 9-18 rather than 9-17 date of death. I sat there with him all night. I felt horribly guilty for being so idle in his presence. I worked a bit on a crossword puzzle but it was, even in his absent state, difficult to be with my dad, the hardest working guy who ever lived, and not be doing something gainful. I took over Aliki’s little chair and dozed a bit while she stretched out a bit in the meditation room while the doctor watched the heart rate fade on the monitor.

Aliki caressed and kissed my father’s ravaged body while he died and after he died. She described again and again her intimate and loving care of him. We were told that after death, the patient’s family could remain with the body with four hours until it was removed to the morgue. It was four a.m. We had been up all night. For several nights. The room wasn’t smelling really great. I asked if we HAD to stay for four hours at which point someone rushed in with some forms to be signed and said we could leave at any time. I presumed that Aliki was as desperate for fresh air as I was and I walked her to her car and watched her drive off. I went home, rested for an hour and then began making a large number of phone calls. Aliki turned the car around as soon as I was out of sight, returned to Cedars and stayed with my dad’s body until they literally locked her out of the morgue.

She is doing fine now. Well, you know. On paper, I guess I’m doing fine too. The last few months have been hard on her physically and her hair needs some emergency tlc and I hope she burns the housecoat and lumberman’s jacket she has taken as her hospital uniform, along with the sparkly kitty totebag. It is amazing that some guard at Cedars hadn’t kindly intervened and had her transferred to a shelter. She has been assigned to make herself beautiful for Grandpa’s service, and although the challenge is a daunting one, she is up to it. My wacko crazy making stepmother, selfless giver of the strongest purest love I have ever witnessed is the closest I will ever come to having a parent again. Sad and blessed.

She has shown me (although maybe it’s still a bit creepy) the culmination of a beautiful and intimate marriage. Both of them often drove me out of my mind but they sure did teach me how to be married and what it is actually possible to aspire to. I see clearly my bond to my father and know that we loved each other with all our might and that we have each made the other a better person. We got the father-daughter thing right in the end, after years and years of getting it beautifully wrong. Cool beans. But the best, was what I learned about marriage, as I watched one of thirty years duration come to its physical end.

The worst is the sadness. I had a dad for over fifty years and now I don’t.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Al Drebin

January 16, 1918 --September 18, 2007

Memorial Service-Sunday, Sept. 23, Noon

Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park

5711 Monte Vista Street

(Two blocks west of Figueroa between Avenue 57 and Avenue 58)

A gathering for friends and family will take place immediately after the service at the home of Broderick and Gwen Miller.
Small contributions to Temple Beth Israel or the Hadassah Organization will be appreciated in lieu of flowers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Saddest Sadness So Far

My dad died this morning at about 3:30. Aliki and I were with him. It was peaceful. Our family and friends have been extraordinary.
We are sad and blessed to feel so much love.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Birthday of the World Blow By Blow

I went to my bootcamp exercise program instead of to Erev Rosh Hashanah services, after which Spuds and I watched the Dodger Game. Himself is working today and I have been working too much of this birthday of the world but I am waiting for the kids to get ready for shul. I write this morning, pre communal prayer, feeling angry and frustrated and maligned. Yesterday I honked and screamed at a older Latina lady in a beater car who was (stupidly, but still...) blocking my way on a narrow street when we were late for school. Last night, I came home and fired my contractor, a friend for over 20 years, when it occurred to me irrefutably that my best interests had been overlooked negligently a number of times. Thus, I spent this morning scrambling to get someone in to finish the job. My husband thinks I acted rashly. Perhaps I did. Perhaps I will regret it and my current stress aggravated my sense of betrayal and I will return from temple with a more open heart for my contractor, whose long neglect and miscalculation regarding my kitchen was due in part to preparation of a project for Burning Man. I am open to forgiveness and yearn to feel awash with it and will pray and suspect indeed I will forgive my contractor, but whether I will able to trust him to complete work my family so desperately needs done is another question.
Other ties hang in the balance of being severed or left to fade away this Rosh Hashannah. I am hurt and broken but I have lived this last year more with love than any other of my life. I am still weak.
I am now returned from the tiny Temple Beth Israel, where Himself and I have attended holiday services for 16 seasons. Most of the congregants I knew when we first joined, who attended Leo’s bris, are dead now. I still remember their customary seats. The elegant Ida Waller who held baby Leo and kept a calendar to occupy him with pictures next to her Siddur. The opera loving Guttenstein Brothers who knew every page number and ark opening by heart. The Simonoffs. The Kramers. The Weisses. The synagogue soldiers on. We are far less active than we were and we are missed.
I went into Shul expecting some sort of epiphany, some message of peace and I read over and over Hannah’s prayer of thanks to God for making her fertile as I sat there with Leo and Niall who followed some Hebrew and didn’t squirm and made a dashing ark opening. Beth Israel is such a tiny congregation that it depends on itinerant Rabbis for the high holidays. Rabbi Feldman, wheezing and portly seemed much more like someone’s dad than the charismatic pulpit rabbis larger and better off synagogues demand. His sermon wasn’t polished but it was sweet and the boys and I sat stonefaced for a bit, and then I started alternately sobbing and cracking up, pressing my fist tight against my lips to conceal it.
The Rabbi reminded us how Sarah was concerned that her beloved son Isaac’s half brother, Ishmael was a troublemaker and a bad influence. He pointed out how in so many families there is one son that fulfils and exceeds parental expectations gracefully and another son, who is seen as a proverbial troublemaker, the diamond in the rough detained in the principal/s office, at which point all three of us could no longer contain our laughter. The Rabbi knows, and I am reminded, that we must love our children whoever and wherever they are. Sometimes it is more challenging to love someone who is bad assed and irascible but sitting there with the two guys, I am reminded of my challenge to love them patiently, and how also, with the remodeling and critical care Grandpas, it’s been a while since I’ve caught my breath and focused on how much I do love my boys and how much I want them to feel that from me. I have exhausted myself lately transporting them and keeping them fed and clothed and purportedly educated but afer our laugh at Temple, I just wanted to be with them. I am the fierce matriarch. We will have a kitchen. I will run the family business. I will chill with my kids.
Richard has done some phone magic and it seems we have a long list of candidates to competently (if not as quickly as we’d like) finish the kichen. We met with a nice floor contractor today and then, mother and sons went off to the hilarious and stupid and amazing ballet of gore and violence that is Shoot "em Up and we all three laughed almost as hard as we did in temple.
On the way home from the movie Aliki called from Cedars and was feeling downcast and lonely and I agreed to join her. Leo held my arm gently while I wept and drove and insisted that even though he is not allowed, even scrubbed and gloved, to enter the hospital room, on accompanying me, telling me I needed his support. He joined me and we looked through the window at the old guy and forced Aliki to join us across the street for a Rosh Hashanah dinner of matzoh ball soup at Jerry’s Deli. Leo made us both laugh. He came home and beat up Spuds. Isaac. Ishmael. And whatever civilizations that may spring from them. Where will God lead us?
I am weak. We all are. I feel a bit stronger.
L’Shanah Tovah

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


We have a complicated carpool but the lady who has put herself in charge is dedicated and I like talking to her on the phone and because we haven’t met, our chats have the liberating quality of phone sex, without the sex part. There is a school picnic on Saturday so I’ll be able to attach a face to the voice, although I am a bit intimidated, as her phone message indicates she teaches Pilates, Alexander Technique and something called Trauma Recovery, which might be another of those new agey Mount Washington crackpot things, or my destiny or probably something that just IS that I (now that I do yoga!) can be open minded about. I do wonder if I’ll be able to speak to her so freely after we breathe the same air.

Aliki is thrilled as, according to her, the old guy is “eating and pooping” which intimates he is ordering matzah balls from the Jerry’s across the street from Cedars and retiring to the commode with the Variety, but unfortunately, the old man’s bodily functions are all being performed by tubes and machines and two doctors reminded me this week how grim the prognosis is. I commanded them to respect Aliki’s fervent hope and prayer while bearing in mind, that like me, my Pop has always been a huge wuss about pain. As he is oxymoronically “stable on life support” Aliki and I perhaps have different expectations, but we are working together and harmoniously and out of love for my dad.

I can’t be in the hospital room for but a few minutes because it feels like I’m standing there awkwardly in yellow paper scrubs and rubber gloves hovering over what USED to be my dad. Yes, I will feel like an asshole (his surviving this long is already a miracle to the doctors and Aliki’s prayers are potent and awesome) if Grandpa is dancing at Spud’s Bar Mitzvah next year. But I would also feel like an asshole if I were unprepared for what seems, for all practical purposes, a huge change on the horizon, and one I, de facto leader of the family and the family enterprise, need to be prepared for. Aliki makes excuses for my glaring absence at the hospital and speaks appreciatively of my obligations. She is there with him 24 hours a day. My father, it appears, is dying. The truth is, I have no obligations more urgent than being present for his passing. If I could talk with him, or if he could hear or understand me, I would climb the 7 flights of the Saperstein Critical Care Unit on bloody knees to be by his side. I am too weak though for the current vigil and there, with the hum and pumping of the machines it is hard for me to think anything but corpse and I am desperate to flee. Aliki understands this but gently spares me the humiliation of my pathetic weakness by referring to my “obligations.”

During the time when there are no obligations, real or perceived by Aliki, I’ve been eating wasabi almonds in bed and watching a lot of HBO shows. Himself and I, watched the first episode of the new dirty show Tell Me that You Love Me (two sex acts-missionary position, one with testicles visible from a not particularly attractive position, one pretty graphic hand job and Jane Alexander sporting a shit eating grin after having obviously, but not graphically, given head). Not bad for 52 minutes. The therapy sessions themselves seems a bit off base to me but the sex looked like real sex, and more to the point, I was touched by the distress of the struggling couples and blown away by the way, in 52 short minutes, the universal desperation to connect and feel loved came through with a sort of Spartan elegance.

Summer ends in a few days. Diana had her last chemo last week. We wrote regularly all summer but I haven’t laid eyes on her since May. I get a flutter when I see a note from her in my mailbox. She is stalwart and funny and strong and bitchy and dead on and very easy to write to. In the final throes of sick making chemo, she reached out to me with kind words about my dad, when others, seemingly less afflicted, have been mysteriously and heart-breakingly silent. I am looking forward to a time when Diana feels well and strong enough to share air and lunch but am nervous and giddy about stepping out of the confessional and into the clear light of Silverlake to embrace my real friend.

Letters from Drjlmurphy in my inbox also warm my heart. I do not sleep well these days and the condition of the house is such that there’s no place to really be but our bedroom or the kid’s, so I can’t slip off to read during bouts of insomnia. Last night, it became too much and I found myself bereft and sobbing in the middle of the night. My husband wrapped me in his arms and his love until I drifted into a peaceful sleep. Aliki has hired people to help care for my dad and planned elaborate meals for when he comes home. God bless her.

L’Shanah Tovah.

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Husband is Top Notch.

I have been brought low, screaming at my own dining table over barbecued beef and I am not loving anyone very well at all I'm afraid. Nevertheless it was just announced that Yo La Tengo is opening for Bright Eyes and I got tickets. AND:

IWOSC General Meeting
The Art of Book and Theater
Reviews, hosted by Digby Diehl
Monday, September 24
7:30 to 9 p.m.
Veterans Memorial Building
4117 Overland (at Culver Boulevard in Culver City)
Free Parking
A top-notch panel of book and theater reviewers
moderated by Digby Diehl demystifies the steps
involved in critiquing a work of literature or theater:
what they look for, what matters, and what qualities
make literature and theater resonate with the public. In
addition, who is it that decides which books are
reviewed and which plays are seen? Panelists include
Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Erika Schickel,
Amazon reviewer Dr. John L. Murphy, Daily Variety
theater critic Hoyt Hilsman, literary fiction reviewer
Edward St. John, nationally syndicated radio host
Michael Dresser, and award-winning author and
critique Amy Wilentz.
Digby Diehl
The Moderator:
DIGBY DIEHL is one of the most trusted and
successful literary collaborators in America. He is the
founding editor of the Los Angeles Times Book
Review, and was the first online book reviewer for
Prodigy. Over his distinguished career, he's been a
literary and entertainment critic for numerous
broadcast outlets. His book credits include many
entertainment autobiographies, including the New
York Times bestseller Million Dollar Mermaid, actress
Esther Williams's life story, and Natalie Cole's Angel
on My Shoulder, a Los Angeles Times No. 1 bestseller.
He also penned the novel Soapsuds with actress
Finola Hughes. Diehl has moderated IWOSC
"Conversations" with Mariette Hartley and Sandra
Tsing Loh.
The Panel:
AMY WILENTZ divides her time between being a
critic and an author. Her criticism and stories have
appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles
Times, Time magazine, The New Republic, Mother
Jones, Harper’s, Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel &
Leisure, The San Francisco Chronicle, More, The
Village Voice, The London Review of Books, and many
other publications. She is the author of The Rainy
Season: Haiti Since Duvalier (1989), Martyrs' Crossing
(2000), and I Feel Earthquakes More Often Than They
Happen: Coming to California in the Age of
Schwarzenegger (2006). She is the winner of the
Whiting Writers Award, the PEN Martha Albrand Non-
Fiction Award, and the American Academy of Arts and
Letters Rosenthal Award, and also a 1990 nominee for
the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the
former Jerusalem correspondent of The New Yorker
and a long-time contributing editor at The Nation. She
teaches in the Literary Journalism program at the
University of California at Irvine.
ERIKA SCHICKEL is a regular book critic and
occasional opinion page contributor for the Los
Angeles Times. Her reviews can also be seen in the
Chicago Tribune and Bust magazine. She writes
features for LA Weekly, LA City Beat, and In addition, her work has appeared
online at,,, and she is a featured "Native
Intelligence" contributor on She is
the author of You're Not the Boss of Me: Adventures of
a Modern Mom, which is currently being developed as
a television series.
Raised in New York City, Schickel, the daughter of
noted film critic and author Richard Schickel, now
makes her home in Los Angeles, where she divides
her time between being a writer, a mom, and sometimes
actress. Her website is
DR. JOHN L. MURPHY, a full-time professor of
Humanities at DeVry University in Long Beach, is one
of the most prolific book and music critics to appear
on He was ranked a “Top 1000”
Amazon reviewer as of September 2006 and has
logged upwards of 730 reviews. With a specialty in
Irish literature, folk, and rock music, Murphy’s reviews
can also be found in scholarly works such as The Irish
Book Review, Irish Literary Supplement, and New
Hibernia Review. More than three dozen of his articles
and reviews can be found online at The Blanket, and
at, a digital magazine of world music.
HOYT HILSMAN is an award-winning screenwriter,
playwright, and journalist. Hilsman has also been a
regular theater and television critic for Daily Variety.
He’s written screenplays for a number of studios and
television networks, including Disney, Sony, New Line,
ABC, NBC, and CBS. His stage plays have been
produced in theaters around the country and abroad,
and have won numerous awards. His television script,
"Foggy Bottom," based on his childhood in
Washington, was honored at the 2005 Slamdance
Festival. In addition, he is a past President of the Los
Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and a judge of the PEN
West Literary Awards.
While EDWARD ST. JOHN has made a career out
of cataloging music and other information at various
academic institutions such as Smith College, Loyola
Marymount University, and Loyola Law School, he’s
led a parallel life as a literary critic. He began reviewing
literary fiction for the Library Journal in the mid-1980s.
Additionally, he’s added Dow Jones, Salem Press,
and Magill’s Literary Annual to his repertoire during
the ‘90s.
MICHAEL DRESSER is a nationally syndicated
talk radio host whose author-centric programs are
heard from California to New York, and also
abroad. On an average day, his radio show features
eight authors. He has utilized his 25 years of
experience and knowledge to create a media training
and communications program on his show that
gives writers the ability to bring their message home
with confidence, clarity, and the relevance needed to
intrigue the buying public, regardless of subject
matter. According to Dresser, “if you sell the sizzle your
book sales will skyrocket.” Visit Dresser's website at
IWOSC members - FREE; non-members - $15.
space is still available) is noon, Monday, September
24. Call (877) 799-7483 or e-mail 

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

God and Serotonins

Fuck if I know. My pop, still pretty much completely on life support, has stabilized. At least there hasn’t been a new crisis since the weekend but I still really wonder what stabilized on complete life support means. Nevertheless, Aliki is determined to take him home and I feel sheepish for assuming since the onset of this hospitalization that the outcome would be different. My role in the family, what with running the business and all, makes for a tacit understanding that I should indeed be prepared to handle any eventuality. I am honored by that trust.

I use “payroll” as shorthand for all the shit that should be running smoothly under my watchful eye. I have not lost sight of my obligations. I have received sweet calls and e-mails from loved ones and these bolster me and I presume the senders understand my desire to be sad and quiet in the little cracks of time when I am briefly free from the yoke of responsible adulthood. There is a family predisposition to suck the life from the room to become the center of attention and I am consciously trying to not let the current circumstances become my personal circus. I am feeling your love but am not sweeping under the rug my profound sadness by aggressively eliciting it.

I did receive an e-mail reminder of how fucked up I appear to be. Some of it was valid, perhaps. I did not read carefully as the shock of the timing led me to file it away, but my skimming revealed much disapproval of my current coping strategies. Not that I don’t question them myself every day of my life. But still. Perhaps I am unrealistic about love and too dependent on medical marijuana and am a lousy writer. Jackson Browne begged, “Don’t confront me with my failures. I have not forgotten them." My plea for total honesty and tough love was a sincere one and the gentle love coming to me through the ether and the phone lines and naked in the dark is comforting. Tough love, (and I do not doubt the love part) has been filed away for later reflection but, and Spuds would be proud, I suspect, for once, it isn’t all about me.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Life By the Hour

My stepmother Aliki is breaking my heart. She can't leave my dad's side and has slept for days scrunched up in a little chair in his tiny intensive care room. Last night she finally went home for a bit because she was sick but then she called me and said she couldn't bear being in the house alone. I held John so close. We breathe the same, our skin feels the same (neutrogena) and I remembered how lonely I was when he was just gone for a few weeks, even though there's lots of other stuff in my life. Aliki has fully committed the last thirty five years of her life to doting on my father. Her empty condo must be terrifying. She is still full of hope and while he is on complete life support, I have done nothing to disabuse her of this. There will be plenty of time for that. My visits are brief. I have other obligations. The real truth is, I cannot bear to see my father this way and I leave her there alone in prayer for hours at a time.

My dad is in the new Saperstein Critical Care Buiding. A whole huge wing emblazoned with "critical care" seems so very harsh. Maybe "the building that’s a teensy bit worse than the other one" would be more gentle. The cliche of callow young medical residents rings true there though. The girl resident phoned me at 3:00 a.m. to tell me that while she had bad news, she would first, the exalted medical school graduate, condescend to tell lowly, baccalaureate plus scant graduate credit, me, that my dad is a "really great guy." I failed to see the relevance of this and wondered if she had found my dad to be a real asshole, would she have pulled the plug or just lumbered on with him but trying much less hard.

It was with this same young Dr. Harrington (who called us, of course, by our first names) who came into today to discuss "do not resuscitate orders". Aliki shut down completely, standing catatonic with the mention of this (or anything else that intimates he won’t be returning to lie next to her in the night). I could not help but sense, the young Dr. Harrington, who undoubtedly worked very hard to be where she is, was enjoying the unusual lack of supervision she must have, on this, the last holiday weekend of the summer, and was getting damp panties from the power she felt while holding forth to us mere frail mortals, one of us now curled in a miserable chair and the other stretched out beside a loving healthy husband, writing in my blog.