Monthly Archives: November 2010

Returning

I’m easing back into work this week.  Stayed home yesterday, but am back in the office today.

It’s weird.  Not exactly hard or sad, just weird.

I’m bad at accepting condolences from people.  I don’t know how to respond when they say they’re sorry.  I revert back to age 12 and get kind of angry, like why are you sorry?  You didn’t do this.  You had no control over this.  I remember feeling exactly the sam way at my grandmother’s memorial service. 

It’s not a rational response, so I keep a lid on it.  Other irrational responses include an overwhelming sense of resentment an anger whenever I see grumpy old people out and about.  I want them to get a better attitude or swap some time with my dad.  They should not be wasting their time when his got cut short.  Like I said, not rational.  I am keeping a lid on that one as well.

This is my dad’s official obituary.  We’ll be throwing a party for him in April.  He left 3 cds of country western music to be played at this party.  Nearly every song has the word beer in the title or references the act of drinking.  Not that this is hard to do when working with the country western catalog, I still think it shows a solid and impressive level of dedication on his part.

It goes without saying, although I am saying it anyhow, that I miss him a lot.

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Some memories and sorrow

When I was a kid, my father would come up to me and say, ‘Hey, come here, I’ve got a secret for you.’  So I would crawl into his lap or he would kneel down to my level, I would put my ear up to his mouth and he would whisper ‘I love you.’ And I would whisper it back.  I’m not 100% positive that this is what’s happening in the picture to the left but I’m about 85-90% positive.

My dad died yesterday.  This is one of those facts I will never get used to.  I practice thinking it so I can start believing it.  Run it through my brain while pouring a drink in the kitchen.  Change my shirt, remind myself.  Wind a ball of yarn, end up crying.  I’m still practicing writing it down.  To see the basic statement of it in black and white, to write it down myself, is a challenge.

The last time my dad was able to speak to me, speak being a loose term since he wasn’t able to actually talk, but he was able to mouth words and write things down for us, he was looped on morphine and Atavan and a variety of other medications.  He was in a deeply sappy mood, despite the ventilator and the tracheostomy tube.  He was holding Mom’s hand and looking at her like a teenager in the first blush of new love.  He kept mouthing the words ‘I love you,’ to her over and over.  When he turned his head and saw me on the other side of the bed, he looked surprised, but happy, and he told me he loved me too.

In the 90s I stole a t-shirt from him.  A navy blue PBS t-shirt for channel 56 WTVS in Detroit.  I think I started out borrowing it because all my clothes were in the wash but I ended up keeping it.  I always took it back with me whenever I went home.  He would say, ‘Hey, I had a t-shirt just like that!’ And I would say, ‘Really, I got this one at the Valu Village in Highland Park.  What a coincidence!’ And he would look at me suspiciously.

I’m wearing that shirt now.  It’s gotten so thin that i can’t really wear it in public unless it’s appropriately layered.  It’s still my favorite though.   I’m glad I stole it.

There isn’t enough time in the world for me to tell you everything about my dad.  There is no possible way to tell you what a pain in the ass he could be, how it drove me crazy that every time we ate out we had to wait for him to finish flirting with the waitresses before we could order a damn pizza, that it was best to leave him alone while he packed the trunk for vacation and you probably shouldn’t talk to him until you were at least 30 miles from home, too.  And that despite being such a pain, he was also the funniest, sweetest best dad in the world.  When he found me in the hospital after Jeremy and I had been in a car accident 2 Thanksgivings ago he just held my hand and let me cry and when I asked him to find Jeremy for me, he did it without question and let me know everything was okay.  He told horrible jokes and mispronounced everything on purpose, he bought me Nancy Drew books every time he went away on a work trip.  He could never remember my birthday, even though it was only 14 days after his, like wise, he was completely unable to remember how old I was.  He said.  He may have just been trying to annoy me.

He’s in the QRP Hall of Fame, which is, in case you were not as familiar as the rest of us with the inner workings of the HAM radio world, a pretty big fucking deal.  He got a standing ovation when they announced this at Dayton, Mom says he even cried a little.  I don’t care how cool your dad is, chances are he’s not in a Hall of Fame which means my dad is cooler.

He died of respiratory failure after getting pneumonia after having surgery on an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm they found years ago.  The initial surgery went well.  But the pneumonia turned into something called ARDS (they think, they’re still trying to confirm exactly what went wrong) and they had to put him on a ventilator and he was in a hospital for the last 5 weeks.  When he was allowed to be awake he was in turns, hilarious, sappy and angry.  We joked that most people probably think of him as being laid back and mellow, but this is all a front.  My father was a tremendously impatient man.  He liked to be in charge and he liked it when things were done his way.  Whenever the nurses asked if they could give him a shot or take his blood for a sample, he would shake his head no.  He did a lot of eye rolling in that miserable hospital bed, and he wrote us a lot of notes.  He used morse code and basic hand gestures as well, to let us know what he wanted.

He was only 67 years old which was entirely too young.  Mom told me yesterday that somehow she had decided she would have him till he was at least 73, she cam to this conclusion based on the age his parents were when they died.  She had it worked out.  And while 73 still sounds too young to me I would give you all my money and probably my cat too if you could work out a way for him to still be alive for 6 extra years.

His name is Henry.  Everyone called him Hank unless he was in trouble.  Then he was Henry.  People here are always amazed that I have a dad named Hank.  They ask if he’s a cowboy.  He was born on April 5th, 1943 and he died surrounded by family and friends (who might as well be family) on November 13th, 2010.

 

I miss him tremendously.

 

 

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Midwestern Gothic

If this gallery business works, these are some pictures of a dilapidated schoolhouse that I took while driving from Attica to Port Huron one day.  The schoolhouse is between Imlay City and Capac on Old 21.  It was a really grey and humid day when I stopped to take these pictures and I briefly considered going in through the back entrance but it was swarming with bees.  I’m not much of a photographer but I’m glad I took the time to take these pictures.  I had driven by the building once already and knew this might be my last chance to get these while I was still in the US.

I had forgotten how stark the scenery in this part of Michigan gets.  The building is in the middle of a massive field which had just been plowed.  Like most farmland in the area it’s ringed by a thin line of trees.  As you drive down Old 21 on very windy days it sometimes feels like your car is going to be blown off the road.

Sometimes when I am drunk and feeling verbose about Writing and being a Writer I will spout off about the idea of my Writing as being Midwestern Gothic, and even though there are (thus far) absolutely no crumbling old schoolhouses in any of my writing, this is the sort of thing I am thinking about when I am talking a load of shit about words.

It’s all in the idea of the thing not necessarily the literal interpretation, okay?

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Filed under america, book? what book?, travel

Unsurprising

The doctors in Detroit remain baffled by my father. They haven’t been able to figure out exactly what’s wrong with him.  They had scheduled a lung biopsy for Monday but he spiked a fever so they held off.  They gave him a blood transfusion (freudian typo: blood confusion) and changed his ventilator settings.  maybe today they’ll go forward with the biopsy.  Who knows?  Right now it feels like they’re just trying to rule out every potential illness in the hopes that they might hit on what’s actually wrong with him.

It’s all pretty frustrating.  To say the least.

Life in London is largely normal except for my new predilection towards crying while watching soap operas (although apparently Hollyoaks made lots of people cry yesterday SO IT’S NOT JUST ME OKAY??), actually we can probably expand that to my new prediliction towards crying at just about anything that involves emotions, which is most definitely atypical for me.  I think I have cried at 5-6 films and tv shows ever in my life before this week and at least half of those we Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and that’s not my fault, that’s emotional manipulation of the highest order.

Happily,  Oliver seems to remember who I am now and he is  content with the return to our old cuddling schedule.  Jeremy also remembers who I am, but I prefer not to discus our cuddling schedule, it would be vulgar.

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Bad Acoustics

I always forget about Koko.  I forget that it is a bad venue.  I forget that the acoustics there are total crap and that they make even the best bands sound muddled and lousy.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  I’ll tell you where I’m going, I’m going to a disappointed place because the Yann Tiersen show was not nearly as good as the last time I saw him.

I can only blame the venue so much for this though, given that the last time I saw him was at the Butlins in Minehead in a space that smelled of hotdogs, old cigarettes and stale spilled beer.  He didn’t have a full band with him so there was no saw player, which might sound like a nitpicky thing to complain about, but seriously, it’s not the same recorded.  And his newer music was a lot more guitar based and I prefer the lusher more heavily orchestrated stuff.

So yeah, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good either. 

In other news, the doctors are now saying that my father may not have ARDS at all, seeing as he is not responding normally to treatment (he just HAS to be weird doesn’t he?) and they are pursuing other possibilities, one of which is a specific type of pneumonia caused by a fungus found in bat droppings. This is apparently not so far-fetched seeing as he has traveled to South America a few times in the last 3 years and had to clean bat leavings off the siding of my parents’ house in the last couple years.  So, yeah, guano may be the root cause of this whole ordeal.    Hopefully there will be news regarding this later today.

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Here are some good things

I’m going to see Yann Tiersen at KOKO tonight.  I last saw him at ATP ages ago and am really looking forward to this show.

The new Cee Lo Green album is streaming for free on NPR’s music site.

My bed is the most comfortable bed in the world.

After a short period that involved scratching and angry meows, Oliver remembers who I am and we resumed outr intensive evening cuddle schedule.

Jeremy took me out for a curry last night.  We rode his recently repaired Vespa.

Four weeks of separation did make our hearts grow fonder rather than fungus

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And across the ocean again

I have been back in London for about 3 hours now.  No sorry, 4 hours, with some change.

Even though I did sleep on the plane I am still tired as hell.   But I am in the office for another hour, drinking as much coffee as I can and catching up on news and queries.

It was hard to leave yesterday.  Dad is still not well and he will not be well for a while.  He is, however, in the best place possible for him to heal and recover.  Still.

I don’t really have words for it.  Not yet, not right now. 

I fully intend to return to the typical frivolity and pointlessness of this blog very shortly.  If only to distract myself.

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