Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Christmas Story - Part 2

In spite of the Alzheimer's, Grandma still comes across pretty well - in the short term, at least. Her memory's never been great so the occasional glitch in recall is expected.

Two or three minutes into our conversation, however, the little gaps started to add up and pretty soon they became big enough to drive a truck through.

And she knows the gears are slipping.
And there's definitely anxiety.

So there I was trying to ease her mind, pleasantly distract her, and how would I normally do this?
Why, chit-chat, of course!*
But after about twenty minutes of that, Uncle Bob showed up and things got a little better.

We went out to lunch (T.G.I. Friday's!) and with Bob there to organically fill in the blanks, the previously sputtering conversation - now interspersed between the slurping of soup and chomping of burgers - steadily grew a head of steam and soon began chugging away under it's own power.

I don't think I've ever been more happy to exchange banal detail in my entire life.**

After lunch, Bob went back to work and I drove Grandma back to the Manor,*** where I walked her to her room and kissed her good bye.

It wasn't the last time I'll kiss her good bye, I'm pretty certain of that. But as to the circumstances of our next meeting - who knows?

Both Mom and Grandma have always had this thing about kissing family members on the mouth, which grosses some people out.

I don't think I've never minded less.

*Just try "catching up" sometime with a loved one who has little to no recall. This can make for hours of fun for the whole family!
**And my disdain for social constraint, while still in evidence, has greatly dimished! If it works for the japanese...
**Who come up with these effing names? I mean, "manor" and "estates"? REALLY?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Christmas Story - Part 1

Went to Chi-town for the Holidays.

Okay, Dekalb, for you purists - but it's really, really close to Chicago.

Had a pleasant but uneventful visit with Buzz - the patron saint of Huntley Park, the tin foil hat,* and, coincidentally, my father.

As he would say, everything's pretty much, "'bout the same":
Same relationship.
Same fixer-upper house.**
Same hardware store.***
For my Grandma, on the other hand, not so much.

She's now in the early stages of Alzheimer's and was recently moved into an assisted living facility. Accordingly, New Year's Eve day, I borrowed dad's car and drove down to Peoria to have lunch with her and my Uncle Bob.

When I arrived at such-and-such Manor, Grandma was waiting for me in the lobby.

"Grandma, how'd you know I'd be here? I'm over an hour early."

"Oh, honey, I just popped out a moment ago to check!"

Turns out she'd been there most of the morning, waiting.

*Thinking conspiracy? Just ask my dad. Utilizing the mystical powers of the internet your worst fears will be confirmed!
**Affectionately and ironically termed the "Palatial Estates".
***Where order is wrought out of chaos, one small carded item at time.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010


I was on the throne in the upstairs bathroom when Schroedinger the cat slipped in, looking for something to do.

He jumped onto the glass-topped vanity and tried to jump higher, onto some shelves, but the glass was too slick and his legs shot out from under him as he leapt.

He biffed it pretty good, then fixed his eyes on me and yeoweled.

"What?" I responded, "I didn't do it."

Then he abruptly looked up and trotted out, as if tracking an insect or something, which I didn't see.

"Ghost?" I wondered.

These places were just built in '04, but replaced an old warehouse in one of the oldest parts of town - our Chinatown,* dating back almost a hundred years - and who knows? Maybe there was a sweat shop or something here.

But in spite of the paranormal possibility, I figured it was probably the sub-audible muddlings of our upstairs neighbor that'd distracted Schroedinger.

And living here is kinda like that.

You don't exactly hear the neighbors so much as sense them in your bones; the pinging of their steps as they walk on adjacent metal staircases, the occasional muffled thud from above, and the shush of air from just outside the window, marking the passage of some vague personage.

We rustle like wasps in the individual cells of a hive, feel each other, breath the same air, yet avert eyes when outside these paper thin walls.

It's both intimate and strange.

*There's a chinese restaraunt just around the corner, "Chop Suey" or something, that's been around a hundred years. Tastes like cafeteria food but the bluehairs love it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I dreamt last night I was in a grocery store and the butcher, a short chubby black man, was trying to "save" me.

"Have you taken Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" he asked with a gleam in his eye.

Polite but firm, I deflected the question, and told him his proselytizing was having a contrary effect.

Now, even though it was a dream, I have that urge to go back and revise what I said, make a snappy comment.

Cate Blanchett comes to mind, channeling a surly young Bob Dylan:

"Look Man... how can I answer that question when you have the nerve to ask me?!"
After feeling like I'd hit a creative wall, I'm liking more of the pics I've taken lately.

Having a little time off doesn't hurt.

And looking at other stuff.

Take Todd Hido and Julian Roumagnac; they're sorta at opposite ends of the spectrum - Todd's more 'lo-fi' and JR more produced - but they've each helped rekindle something in me.

Or maybe I've just been lucky. Rain in the desert, for instance, seems to shoot itself.

Either way, I'll take what I can get.

This may be my favorite picture of all time.

At least of one I've taken.


Hard to say.

But it doesn't seem like something I'd take, exactly.

There's a certain flow...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010