Why People Hate Holidays

People hate the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas because it forces them to be with their families of origin. Take my family for example. I love my father's side of the family. They are a sprawling, outrageous bunch. Every single one of them can tell a story. And will, whether you ask or not. Being with that side of my family is like being in a Woody Allen movie. My mother's side of the family is very buttoned down. More like being in a Phillip Roth novel. Undercurrents. Witty, but genteel, reparte. I love being with them, too. There is nothing I like better than being with these people. Either side of the family. Of course, it took about 10 years of heavy therapy for me to be able to embrace them so uncritically.
I do. I miss them terribly. I didn't enjoy the show when it first came out because I was living on the New Mexico/Texas border and too many of my husband's students looked and acted like Beavis and Butthead. But then one night I saw the show where Butthead is sitting in class, bouncing his pencil on his desk by dropping it eraser end first and catching it as it rebounds. Then he missed, and the pencil stuck in his eye and he just laughed and said "Cool. It really does happen." I can't tell you why that struck me so funny, except that I have probably spent hours bouncing pencils off of desks during meetings and classes and what not. But of all the pithy and profound things B&B ever said, the one thing that resonates more and more as I get older is this: "Wow. This sucks in ways that things have never sucked before." Like when my friend Gary died of colon cancer. Or when my friend's brother died. Or her other brother died. Or the Homeland Security Department was signed into law, with the evil Admiral Pointdexter in charge of legal wiretapping of all citizens. Or even the making of the president in the last "election". Yep, as the 21st century grinds along, things are starting to suck in ways that they have never sucked before.

The Church of Rock & Roll

I took communion on Saturday night with a few friends... few thousand friends. It was the High Holy Day of the Church of Rock & Roll, and we were there to see the Highest of the High Priests: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. My husband has endured our religious difference with amazing tolerance for the past 12 years, and allowed me to drag him to previous tours. Bruce & the NOT the E Street Band Him: That was a good show. Me: No, it was a good rock and roll show, but it was a lousy Bruce show. Bruce solo on the Ghost of Tom Joad Tour Him: That was an OK show. Me: That was a good Bruce solo accoustic show, but it wasn't a BRUCE show. The Reunion Tour of 2000 Him (day 1 of 2 shows): How come everybody knows all the words to all the songs? How do they know when to put their hands in the air like that? Me: (Screaming in unison with a few thousand others) IT AIN'T NO SIN TO BE GLAD YOU'RE ALIVE!!! Him (day 2 of 2): OOOOOhhhh, I think I get it. Me: OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHmigod, they're playing Thunder Road. The Rising Barnstorm Tour Him (somewhere in the intro to the second song): BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN KICKS MAJOR ROCK AND ROLL ASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Me: Well, duh. You finally got it. And he does. He finally gets it. He'll never get it about BOB, but that's OK. So here's the set list from Saturday night in Miami... The Rising Lonesome Day Promised Land The Fuse Candy's Room Empty Sky You're Missing Waiting on a Sunny Day Out in the Street Worlds Apart Badlands She's The One Mary's Place (and yes, this is the barn burner live that I thought it would be when I heard the cd. Damn. Damn) Then Bono (yes THAT Bono) and Dave Stewart (from the Eurythmics) came out and joined in on Because The Night For You (with Bruce solo on the piano) Into the Fire (First Encore) So Young & In Love Glory Days If I Should Fall Behind (a duet with the great, great Dion -- Dion and the Belmonts, not Celine Dion) Born To Run (Second Encore) My City in Ruins Born in the USA (back to being something of a rocker, not the high lonesome sound of recent years, performed on a 12 string steel) Land of Hopes and Dreams Dancing in the Dark and if the freaking Miami crowd had arrived on time, instead of late or 10 minutes to curtain, the show would have started on time and we could have had three encores, OK? As it was, it was the cure I needed for these days of loathing and fear.

Beat Poetry

I've been reading my surrogate daughter's blog with scary regularity, ever since she started one (Bad Teenage Poetry). I am sooo proud of this girl/woman. Her writing is heart felt and crisp. She went off to college in August and has been feeling her way along, joining a wrestling club, feeding the hungry at the Krinsha Temple... But she all of a sudden hit the zone. She's quoting the beats and reading at poetry jams. Dancing mad at midnight to the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Finding her new family. And I'm watching it all with my breath held, as the chrysalis thins and the magnificent wings start to show. What an unfurling this promises to be.
So my best friend's brother died in my hospital this morning. He had leukemia, had tried chemo in prep for bone marrow transplant, and instead of getting 10 good months extra, he crashed. Got about 10 good days. As if that doesn't just suck the big Lebowski, here's the part I really don't get. He had a DNR. He had a living will that said no machines, no drastic measures. For the past 10 days he's been in a coma: tubes, machines, pumps and drips. Because his wife couldn't accept it and wouldn't admit that Jimmy had made his choice about how to die. Can you get any more selfish than this? I'm not ready, so I'm going to control your end. Promise me, when it comes to it, give me a major bolus of morphine and let me shuffle off this mortal coil. I am not so attached to life that I fear the next passage. I AM affraid of dragging it out. When my grandmother died, she went at home. We all came around to say goodbye. I let her hold her diamond ring, one last time. Even put it on her tiny little bird-like finger. The weight spun it around. Then it wouldn't come off. "Ha Ha, Gramma, you can't take it with you. Dammit, give it back, you gave it to me!" And the nurse is looking at me like I'm nuts, but the ring would not BUDGE off her finger. Hey. The nurses here all tell stories about folks in comas can hear you. Tell stories about how the one guy woke up and said they remember hearing what the nurses were saying over their bodies.... more or less. So who's to say Gramma wasn't giving me the hose, one last time for old time's sake. What's that old joke? When I die, I want to go like my grandfather, peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like his passengers.

My fingers are numb from

My fingers are numb from the cold. The truly sad thing is, I'm sitting in an office in Miami. It's the freaking air conditioner set to meat locker that has me in a sweater and polar fleece sox over my brogues. Red ones, for those of you who keep track of my shoes. With neon green sox. Here's a rhetorical question: why do my coworkers insist on saying things to me like: "You need to tell your boss to do..." or "You need to make your boss do ..." Hey! If he's my boss, then, by definition, I'm not the one doing the telling what to do. Get it? See, crap runs downhill. I'm downhill. From everyone it seems, some days.

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