I’m bereaving the day away at the library and by sleeping late.  The guy from the funeral home in Caldwell was supposed to come by the house at 11 a.m. today so I could sign the papers authorizing cremation and shipment of my mother’s body to Caldwell.  However, the funeral director called me this morning to say that’s been postponed–funeral guy’s son has some health issues and is hospitalized.  So, I’m meeting with the director of the McVay-Perkins Funeral Home tomorrow at 11 a.m.  I’ll sign the paperwork, and he’ll take my mother’s body for cremation in Marietta and interment at Olive Cemetery in Caldwell.  (They seem like nice people, so I’ll put in their Website: http://www.mcvay-perkins.com/ ).  Mr. Perkins, the funeral director, also took down information for the obituary, which should appear in the Columbus, Athens, and Marietta newspapers tomorrow (We didn’t touch base until after the deadline.)  Mother pre-paid all this, so I’ve not had to worry about the nuts and bolts that much.  Steph and I are meeting with Mark Belletini, the senior minister at the Unitarian Church, at 3:30 this afternoon to plan a small memorial service, probably to be held at the church.

My cousin Karen is making a bang-zoom trip in from Virginia for the occasion.  She’ll probably be here on Sunday afternoon.  It’ll be great to see her–I didn’t expect to see her so soon again after her just visiting in the summertime.  The service will probably be a short one; I am not going to ask that Mark sugarcoat or ignore Mother’s illness and sadism.

I am going to be bereaving until Wedesday morning.  I won’t be doing any work at the Laundro tomorrow, since the guy will be coming with the paperwork for Mother’s cremation and burial.  I already had Tuesday scheduled as a vacation day, since I will be taking a civil service exam at Job and Family Services’ office on E. 5th Ave., so I’m making this into a mini-vacation.  (The fact that November already has two paid holidays doesn’t hurt, either!)

Susie will be trick-or-treating tonight with Pat and Tanya’s kids, so I will be on the north side of town for the next few hours.  (I am typing at the Whetstone library, and will be venturing next door to meet Steph at 2.)  My guess is that Susie will have Tootsie Rolls for dinner.

Another Reason Today is Significant

Today is the 70th anniversary of The War of the Worlds broadcast on CBS radio, performed by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air.  Scriptwriter Howard Koch took H.G. Wells’ novel about a Martian invasion in the English countryside, updated it to 1938, and told the story in the form of news bulletins.  In all, about six million people heard the broadcast, and over a million believed it to be real–that the U.S. was being invaded by armies from the planet Mars.

This is a picture of Orson Welles in 1938, the year of the broadcast.  (Yes, that really is Orson Welles!)

This is one of the many recordings of the broadcast I have owned over the years, ever since I first borrowed the two-LP set from the Washington County Public Library at the age of 11.

The Other Shoe Has Fallen

My mother passed away at Riverside Hospital this morning at 6:30, aged 78.  She was brought there from Athens during this weekend because of an obstruction in her lower bowel.  She apparently was too weak for surgery, and, per her living will, didn’t want it anyway.

My feelings are not the orthodox feelings of grief that one usually experiences with the demise of a parent.  My mother subjected me to ongoing psychological and physical abuse during the 11 years that she, my father, and I lived together as a family–with my father being too much of a dishrag to stop any of her extreme physical abuse of me.  She tried numerous times to make amends with me, but her self-justification for why she did what she did rang too hollow.  And you can teach a parrot to say "I’m sorry."

Yes, she was severely mentally ill, but that doesn’t give her a free pass.  I do not fault someone for having the flu, but it does not give them the right to cough in my face.

Yes, my father was a serial adulterer.  Ironic that she ranted and raved about this for 30 years, because she left her first husband in Indiana to marry my dad.

Yes, she was physically and emotionally abused by her parents.  That being the case, and remembering how it felt, how could she ever do it to her own child?  If the temptation even crosses my mind to take a belt to Susie, I will walk out the front door, never to return.

For years, however, I had planned to make the day my mother died a Purim, New Year’s Eve, and Mardi Gras all rolled into one.  And I’m not feeling nearly as jubilant as I expected I would.  I have not shed a tear for her, and my initial reaction right now is frustration because of the logistics of cremation, cleaning out her Athens apartment, etc.  But am I sorry she’s gone?  Far from it.

A conservative estimate is that she has been on the brink of death for over 30 years, so her actual death is almost an anticlimax.  When my cousin Karen called to let me know she may not have much time left, my reaction was "Promises, promises."

When she and my dad split up, what Mother needed most was a therapist/psychiatrist who would have sat her down and told her, "Your husband has divorced you.  He has married another woman.  Your marriage to him is over.  You are not the first person this has happened to, nor will you be the last.  Turn the page!"   She elected, instead, to live the role of the wronged wife the balance of her life, instead of starting afresh and building a new life for herself.  (I am not saying that she "chose her own reality," the way the adherents of The Secret or Sylvia Browne will tell you how six million European Jews in the 1940s should’ve Just Said No, but she had no shortage of choices available as to how to rise from the tragedy.)

As of now, her body is still at Riverside Hospital.  The immediate step is getting it from there and to a funeral director for cremation, with eventual burial in the family plot at Caldwell, Ohio’s Olive Cemetery.

We’ll see what happens.

(If she ever had a memorial service, Mother said she wanted "Worthy is the Lamb That Was Slain," from Handel’s Messiah to be played.  The song I chose below for today’s music would be much more appropriate.  Play this song and pay close attention to the lyrics.)

One of Those Domestic Crises Yesterday…

Steph had a slight setback yesterday, both physically and emotionally, so I took a mental-health day and stayed home with her.  Late in the afternoon, when the weather got grayer and the drizzle started falling, Steph went to the Coumadin clinic and to have tea with her friend Anne, and Susie and I planned to go to the Franklinton library.  As Steph was waiting for Anne to pick her up, she noticed that Emery, our new (not so new now) German shepherd-chow mix, was not in the yard at the end of his tie-out chain.  Nor was he in the house.

Susie totally flipped.  How Emery managed to escape is still a mystery.  We have a waist-high fence surrounding our front yard, but we don’t think Emery is athletic enough to have jumped it.  The three of us began calling, and I went on foot in a several-block radius around our place, all to no avail and with Susie getting more and more emotionally fragile with each passing second.  Steph left when Anne picked her up, but I think she asked Anne to drive through the neighborhood at a slow pace, so she could keep her eyes out for the dog.

About a block and a half away, I saw Emery in a yard on S. Yale with three or four other dogs.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of running toward him, which led him to believe I was chasing him and he took off in the other direction.  (I was afraid he would panic and keep running, all the way into Sullivant Ave., where he would be hit by a car.  Sullivant is quite a busy street, and this was the hour when people were starting to come home from work.)

Some kids were a big help.  They all began calling and being friendly to Emery, so that it confused him enough I could come closer.  I finally reached out and grabbed him by the collar, and was able to hold him until someone on S. Yale loaned me a leash.

Susie was ecstatic to see that I had caught Emery, and she ran home and got his leash.  She took him home and I returned the leash I had borrowed.

Now the question is what to do about a tie-out chain.  We bought this one at Family Dollar, and we don’t know if it was weak enough for Emery to break, or if someone had reached over the fence and let him loose out of revenge for our calling Animal Control about the many strays we see in the neighborhood.

I spent the lunch hour today with my fellow union stewards debating the Hatch Act.

Steph and Susie have their respective choir practices tonight, so I’m typing this like mad before I head up to the Unitarian Church to meet them.

While the Missing Links Focus on Football…

…I worked at the Laundro today, arriving just before my shift started at 7:30 a.m.  It was a manageable day, mostly.  One couple, when I had an hour left in my shift, dropped off 40 lbs. of laundry that they wanted done by tomorrow.  I left it for the kid who relieved me–he’s delighted to have something to do to make the time pass faster.  I’m still trying to puzzle out the bizarre record-keeping system that comes with this job.  At first I thought it would be a blessing that the most high-tech office device is an old Texas Instruments calculator, but the form to track incoming and outgoing cash is sheer madness.

Ohio State plays Penn State tonight, the first night game in three years.  That meant that southbound buses on High St. were full of people who are already partying, even when kickoff is at least an hour after the sun sets.  It seemed that everywhere I passed between Hudson and the Convention Center, you could see a tailgate party in progress, and people were already in advanced stages of drunkenness.  The police are treating this like it was Michigan weekend.

Sullivant Library is closed on the dates of home football games, which shows where the university’s priorities really are.  I thought this was an institution of higher education, not a football franchise that has the authority to grant degrees.  Why should people be deprived of a quiet sanctuary for study in order to serve the needs of those less evolved than they are–i.e., sports fans?

Steph and Susie are with one of Susie’s godmothers, a belated birthday celebration for Susie.  I’m stopping in here to check E-mail and post a blog entry, then it’s off to Aldi to buy some groceries.  (Steph texted me two screens’ worth of groceries to buy while I was at the Laundro.)  Just wanted to catch my breath in between times, post in here, etc.

Perfect Night for a Hallowe’en Party

That’s where Susie and I will be once the Whetstone Library (where I am now blogging) closes in less than 30 minutes.  Susie met me downtown after work and we bussed up here.  I Twittered a few times, but their Website was so damn slow.  (I had to stop typing and wait for the machine to catch up to me, which, back in the days of yore, was the mark of a good Linotypist.)

It’s a perfect night because it is cold, gray, and rainy outside.  In a different section of the fifth floor from my cubicle, the view to the southeast always looks dusky and gray, even at high noon.  This is because the windows there are so filthy that the sunlight is heavily filtered.  Every day I look out those windows and, before I catch myself, think it’s going to storm.

My old friend in Washington State received the microcassette letter I sent him.  After my dad died in 2000, my stepmother sent me boxes and boxes of the taped letters I sent him, both from Cincinnati and from Columbus.  (I used standard-sized tapes then, and often spoke on one side and put an album, or an excerpt of an audiobook, on the B side.)  The same thing happened when my uncle died in Maine.  His son mailed me a batch of the taped letters I had sent him.

I was listening to one of the tapes I sent my dad from Cincinnati in the spring of ’94.  I had talked about coming off the graveyard shift as a mail sorter at the main post office, and remembering that the Friends of the Library were having their big (ginormous, as a co-worker loves to say) sale on Fountain Square.  It was payday, so I loitered around downtown until my bank opened, cashed my check, and headed straight to Fountain Square.  I would pay rent and buy food with what money was left, if any.

One of the records I bought was by Enoch Light and the Light Brigade.  Enoch Light was the patron saint of Muzak, and part of a godhead he shared with Paul Mauriat and Phillip Glass.  (I bought the record because James A. Michener had written of him in The Drifters, which is my favorite of his novels.)  I taped the album on the B side of the letter I sent Dad that weekend.  When I told him the album song titles, I remember saying, "Now, the tape will run out in the middle of ‘The Hawaiian Wedding Song,’ and I do apologize for that."

I’m sure that broke my dad’s heart.

Only Tuesday, Already Dragging

Steph and Susie are at their choir practices at the Unitarian Church, and I’m at the Franklinton Library typing this.  (After the library closes, it’s off to Kroger to buy meat for Wednesday and Thursday nights’ dinners.)  I’ll be truthful–I’m not really in the mood to be writing, but this is when I need to be doing it, especially with NaNoWriMo slated to begin less than two weeks from now.  I may actually gain some writing momentum by then if I remember to keep up with the blog and the diary.  (The best analogy I can think of, and it’s not a wonderful one, is leaving a faucet running slightly at all times in the winter to keep the pipes from freezing.)

Much as I loathe the man, I was quite impressed that Ronald Reagan was able to write in his diary every day, except for when he was recovering from being shot.  

I won’t buy the hardcover version, except from a library discard sale or an independent bookseller on ABE, but I guess he was proof that people still keep handwritten diaries.

I typed a specialists’ report by a psychologist, and did mostly Statements of Fact the rest of the day.  I was quite happy about doing the latter, because it meant I could play music while I worked.  I have to play it at a volume audible only in my cubicle, but I went through an impressive variety of music–Neil Young, the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan, Bob Dylan, and Boston.  I played a little of my "Nathan" disk as well.

The"Nathan" disk originated at the late, lamented (at least by me) Beekman’s Bagels on North High Street, just south of 15th.  I was in there on an extended Saturday afternoon, drinking Diet Pepsi by the quart, piddling away at another manuscript on a different laptop (an IBM ThinkPad, which has also gone to the Great Database in the Sky), and enjoying the array of music playing, which included Johnny Cash followed by Tom Jones followed by Elvis (both Elvii, Costello and Presley), and also featuring John Coltrane’s cover of "My Favorite Things."  I complimented the mix to Nathan, the kid working behind the counter, and asked him if he’d burn me a copy if I brought in a blank disk.  When it played (it was an MP3, so it ran for several hours) out, he ejected it, wrote his name ("Nathan") and the date (in ’03) and said, "My gift."  There are several tracks that were never labelled, so it’s like Cracker Jack when I play it, a surprise in every package.  I was amused that one of the cuts was Erika Eigen singing "I Want to Marry a Lighthouse Keeper," from A Clockwork Orange.

I took a 30-minute break from work in mid-morning because I had to go to the bank.  It was interesting how just a half hour out walking around reinvigorated me.  I went down to the nurse’s office after lunch and bummed an antihistamine, because I’ve been sneezing like someone’s sprinkled pepper under my nose, and had to drink Diet Pepsi all afternoon to keep from nodding off.  Just hope I don’t crash for the night during Special Victims Unit.  (Ellen Burstyn played Elliot Stabler’s mother in last week’s episode.  She’s had plenty of experience playing mothers of demon-possessed children since The Exorcist, I suppose.)

One of Susie’s birthday presents was a fixed male dog, a German shepherd and chow mix named Emory.  Emory is feeling more at home, although there is a lot of bad blood between him and our tabby cat, David.  (Emory is eight, so he’s outgrown many of the habits that made Susie’s other dogs less desirable.)  The best thing to do when no bipeds are in the house is to leave Emory closed in Susie’s bedroom with a bowl of water.  It keeps him from going nuts.

Gotta Run Here

The library will be open for another 20 minutes, and I’ve checked my backlog of E-mail, but I cannot neglect this blog any further.  I am (for the most part) enjoying the Laundro job.  I had my best workout in weeks on Thursday night, when the bus passed by the Laundro’s front door as I was still (with the help of Charlie my young co-worker) going through the closing drill.  It would be an hour before the next one, so I walked south on High St. to campus, did a quick look-see of my mail and The Marietta Times at Sullivant Hall on the OSU campus, and then caught the last southbound bus.

We had an impromptu yard sale yesterday, netted a whopping $13.  The great part is getting rid of books we’ve already (or will never) read, DVDs we’ve never watched, etc.  Susie was mature enough to part with the toys that, though she loves them very much, she has outgrown.

They’re starting to turn off the lights, so I’ll close up the laptop and begin to head home with Susie (Steph’s at Women’s Chorus practice now).

The Moonlighter

This is a three-day weekend–Columbus Day–for those of us who serve state and Federal government.  You’d never convince me that this has been a holiday, ’cause I’ve been working, just not at the Industrial Commission since Friday afternoon.

The important news to relay is that I now hold a second job.  I am working Thursday afternoons-evenings and Saturday mornings-afternoons at a coin laundry in Clintonville, right there on High Street by Olentangy Village.  The pay is far from phenomenal, but the elderly couple who own the laundry (he’s a retired technician for Maytag) are wonderful people; the wife and I hit it off on the phone almost from the first "Hello?"  I went for training this morning, and it’ll be easier than I expected; pen and paper still reign at this place, so no spreadsheets or computerized time clocks, etc.  I punched in at 8:58 and out just a little after 12 noon.  Katie, my trainer (a manager) walked me through the basics of accepting dry cleaning and writing up tickets, where to punch in and out, which machines are the most recalcitrant, etc.

And we need whatever extra money I can bring in–there is that, y’know.

The laundry has Wi-Fi, so once I understand the job a little better and don’t have to look in the employee handbook about how to deal with different tasks, there’s a chance I’ll be making more frequent entries in here.

Susie had a slumber party Saturday night, belatedly celebrating her 11th birthday.  Five girls came for the party, three slept over until mid-morning yesterday.  The last one was barely out the door Sunday morning before I made sure Susie was in the shower, so I could get her to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to audition for Beauty and the Beast.  It will be this year’s production from the hospital’s Pleasure Guild, and the show will be in early March at the Palace Theatre.  Susie sang 16 bars from a song from Return of the Glass Slipper.  She’ll know by the 22nd whether she’s made it into the cast.

For more information about the show, go to http://www.pleasureguild.org.  Those of you in Columbus will find it well worth seeing.

I’m at the main library, killing time before a shrink appointment way out east.  This is the first time I’ve gone since before Steph went to Cleveland for the surgery.

Susie Turns 11, I’m Recovered

This will be one of my bang-zoom entries; I’m going to a workshop on memoir-writing at Thurber House in just under 30 minutes.  (I’m writing at the main library.)  I just hope the class isn’t taught by James Frey.

I went to the urgent care at Mount Carmel West and the twice-daily Naproxen they prescribed seems to be doing the trick.  Not only is the pain gone, but the meds seem to be doing more than masking the symptoms.  I’m still not trying anything reckless or foolhardy when it comes to lifting or physical exertion.  I am just glad I found a working alternative to the Darvocet I was bumming from Steph–it aggravated my depression to the point where I was feeling suicidal.

On Sunday I went to The Oval at OSU to see Bruce Springsteen give a free concert.  Steph and Susie were planning to go when they thought Obama would be in attendance, but lost interest when I told them it would only be The Boss.  (Just to make sure, I checked with the Columbus Police and the OSU security guards–they would have had long powwows with the Secret Service if Obama himself was going to be there.)  The concert was quite good, and I’m glad I went.  I was close enough to the stage that I didn’t have to rely on the two Jumbotrons to see Springsteen.  Excellent renditions of "Thunder Road" and "The Promised Land" made me wish this concert would be released commercially.  Luke Perry was working the crowd, but I didn’t see him.  (One of my deep dark secrets is that I was a fan of Beverly Hills 90210 when it was on in the early ’90s.  I’d tape it and then watch it in the morning when I got home from my graveyard-shift job at the Cincinnati post office.)

Susie turned 11 yesterday, and she’s already received her big present–a German shepherd-chow mix named Emory, aged eight.  His honeymoon (with me) is over.  This occurred when he relieved himself (Number one and two) on my office floor.  I need to add Love My Carpet to the shopping list when I get paid Friday.  Susie baked her own cake and we had it for dessert last night.

Steph and Susie are at their respective choir practices at the Unitarian Church tonight.  My guess is that I’ll be home ahead of them.