a few things

i thought i might tell you

about not not wanting to write.

11 December 2015 by elizabeth

It’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s just that I like being cheerful when I write, and I am basically the least cheerful person on the planet right now. A combination of this cold that will not go away and relatedly an ear that is still not working and nine different projects at work that are all happening at the same time and none of them are interesting to me or challenging-in-a-good-way or anything that I would like to be spending 14 hours a day doing but still have to spend 14 hours a day doing including probably a lot of Saturday and Sunday which is seriously cutting into my card-writing plans and the fact that it is going to be seventy-fucking-two degrees tomorrow HAVE NOT PUT ME IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT, DAMMIT.

So that’s why I’m not writing. Everything is draining. Anything I have to tell you is stupid stuff, like how I ran out of butter like a week ago which never happens and I keep forgetting to buy any because seriously, who runs out of butter? Or depressing stuff, like a theater friend’s boyfriend’s parents getting killed in a car accident this week and how I can’t think about it too much because that is truly my worst nightmare. Or boring work stuff, like how my division chair is stepping down in January when I thought he was going to be stepping down in July and the guy who is replacing him is someone I have worked well with in the past but I can already see that him running the joint is going to be very tricky, and I don’t really want to think about looking for a new job yet or I don’t know maybe ever.

However, one week from tomorrow is my birthday, and very early that morning I will get on a train and go meet Melissa in New York, and there we will try to get Hamilton tickets on Saturday afternoon, and then we are going to different shows on Saturday night because she is seeing Spring Awakening which is lovely but, again, not the cheeriest musical in the world, and it’s my birthday, so I am seeing Something Rotten, and then on Sunday we will try to get Hamilton tickets again and if not we will pass the time doing the things we do in New York City, which include eating and the Union Square Holiday Market.

 

IMG_2873-2

(That was us at the Union Square Holiday Market in 2004. I’m sorry but we totally do still look the same. WE DO. Shut up.)


I write this while listening to:

Maybe This Christmas

There’s no link because fitting with the theme of this entry, apparently this CD does not exist as is in iTunes, there’s now a compliation of some of the songs from this and Maybe This Christmas Too as A Winter’s Night Vol. 2 (what Vol. 1 was, I have no idea.) Anyway, it’s kind of a cranky Christmas CD, which I don’t listen to so much anymore because it brings about a weird nostaliga about the navel-gazing angst of my thirties. But some of the songs are quiet and hopeful, too.


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about the show that put a social worker inside a horse.

08 December 2015 by elizabeth

Season 3 of Hannibal came out on DVD today! There’s some fine holiday fun.

I honestly do not know what is with me and this show. I’m not a particular Thomas Harris fan. Silence of the Lambs scared the shit out of me in college, just like everyone else. I read the book “Hannibal” in law school and didn’t like it that much. I’ve never read any of the other books, or seen any of the other movies.

I’m also not into blood and guts and gore. I don’t like horror, generally, as a genre. I watched the first season of The Walking Dead and gave up on it because I was tired of people covered in guts all the time.

But this show. This show had some of the most revolting things I’ve ever seen (that writers’ room must have been hilarious) but I was completely sucked in from the beginning. The acting from everyone, regulars and guest stars (Eddie Izzard! Raul Esparza!), was exceptional. It was beautifully filmed. The relationship between Hannibal and Will was so fucked up and yet, weirdly, understandable. I loved how they presented Season 2 – the first thing you see in the season opener is a fight from the season finale, which created this weird tension because you knew at least a little bit about where you were headed. When the season finale did air, I had to watch it more than once (or possibly more than twice), even though it was really nothing but people bleeding all over everything. The Red Dragon stuff in Season 3 took some getting used to – I liked my Hannibal with more actual Hannibal – but once I was in it, I was in it, and the finale just wrecked me.

I’m still, months later, all kinds of bitter about the cancellation. I saw an interview with Bryan Fuller before it was cancelled where he mapped out the whole six-season arc through the storylines that exist already (although I think they were still haggling over the rights to the character of Clarice), and it would have been some fantastic television.

Alas. I think I moaned on Twitter about how all the shows I love either get cancelled or only put out episodes every two years.

At least we are living in the future, where cancellation doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. I didn’t rewatch Season 3 at all after it aired, so I’m queueing it up for that sleepy lull between Christmas and New Year’s. Good times.

A couple of murder husbands (and Bedelia Scully) want to invite you for dinner.

 


I wrote this while listening to…

Frostbitten (EP) by Ivy Levan

I love Ivy Levan so much. This “Carol of the Bells” is badass. (Her other EP, “Introducing the Dame,” is fucking brilliant, please go listen to it.) 

 


 

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about December traditions, which are important.

07 December 2015 by elizabeth

So, I made it five Holidailies in a row before I missed a day. I think it’s funny that the one day I didn’t write was Sunday, when I lazed around at home all day, but it’s probably because I lazed around at home all day that I couldn’t think of anything to write about unless it was whining about still feeling sick. (I’m still feeling sick. It’s so freaking annoying.)

Here are some things that have to happen every December:

  1. In addition to all the various animated specials and classic holiday films, at some point I will watch the following five movies: Little Women (1994), Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Love Actually. I love them all unabashedly and make apologies for nothing.
  2. Relatedly, the 1981 hardback Illustrated Junior Library edition of Little Women, inscribed “To Liz, on your 10th birthday, Love Mom”, is rarely out of arm’s reach the whole month. Some years I re-read it start to finish, some years I just read random chapters, and if my house ever goes up in flames, this book is what I’ll be going back in for.
  3. Another important book: Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book. This is the basically the best Christmas book ever, full of classic short stories, poems, carol sheet music, even recipes, and of course, Rockwell art. There is always some time spent reading aloud from this book. (A perennial favorite: the Ogden Nash poem “The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus.”)
  4. I make (and eat) gallons of Chex Mix. I only ever make Chex Mix in December, but I make it pretty constantly throughout the month. Seven ingredients: Rice Chex, Corn Chex, peanuts, pretzels, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoned salt. I used to measure everything very carefully but now I just eyeball all of it and it comes out fine.
  5. Either on my birthday or the next time I see my mother after my birthday, I make her tell me the story of my birth. From having contractions in the middle of the night and waking up my dad to tell him they really needed to decide on a boy’s name, to my dad stopping on the way home from the hospital to buy me a toy giraffe so I’d have a Christmas present (I wasn’t due until January), to my brother dealing with my existence by bouncing on the bed and asking for his apple juice in a baby bottle.
  6. We make the same cookies every year. Grandmother Wineland’s sugar cookies (my great-grandmother), which include the typical 1930’s instruction “flour to consistency” and the recipe makes about 800 so by the end of the day your arms are ready to fall off from all the rolling out and you’re baking the scraps instead of rerolling to cut them into trees or angels or whatever. Chocolate chip, the standard Toll House recipe except with shortening substituted for half the butter. Peanut butter balls, which are peanut butter and powdered sugar and rice krispies rolled together and covered in melted chocolate. (There used to be butterscotch lace cookies, but they were my brother’s favorite, he’d stack three on top of each other and eat them all together, and my mom can’t make them anymore.)
  7. The Pope and egg nog. We are not Catholic but we started doing this sometime in the mid-90’s, staying up to watch the tape-delayed Midnight Mass and drinking egg nog out of wine glasses. One year the Harrisburg station decided not to air it – they showed some car race instead – and the paper December 26th reported a record number of phone calls complaining about it. One of them was ours.
  8. One thing that does NOT happen is that the presents do not go under the tree until the morning of December 25th. One year my parents put them out ahead of time and I made them take them all away. (Like, this was not when I was 12. This was when I was 35.) Santa doesn’t show up early! Seriously, WTF.

 


I wrote this while listening to…

A Family Christmas by The Piano Guys

I have realized that I’m basically a terrible music reviewer, because I can’t think of different ways to say this album is really great. But: this album is really great.


 

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about Saturday.

05 December 2015 by elizabeth

Nine things that happened today:

1. Well into week three of being generally sick and now there’s a fun sore throat that showed up just in the past couple of days, I went to the urgent care place on the off chance that there was something more than the world’s worst headcold going on. The nurse practitioner who came in to see me noticed my KU sweatshirt and said she grew up in Kansas City, and we had that conversation and she graduated from a neighboring high school in the same district, and then she said there’s nothing wrong with me except the world’s worst headcold and to get a neti pot and drink plenty of fluids. (I got the neti pot. The less said about that the better. Ugh.)

2. I met a friend from the play I did in the spring for coffee and baked goods while her daughter was at an acting lesson in my neighborhood.

3. I went into Old Town to buy some yarn and ended up paying back all the good parking karma I have ever received in my entire life. I circled block after block for almost a half an hour, and every few minutes I’d see a car pulling into a space that wasn’t there a minute ago, or I’d see one pull out of a space I’d just passed, and I can’t believe that I didn’t give up but eventually it became a war of attrition with the parking gods, until I finally found a space. (Part of this problem is that Old Town recently went from 2 to 3 hour street parking, which is great 11 months out of the year but sucks on Saturdays in December, especially today, when there were about five different holiday events happening.)

4. I bought some yarn. Well, I say “some.” (My yarn store gives you 10% off everything the whole month of your birthday once you have reached the highest level of their customer loyalty program. I do a lot of stocking up in December.)

5. I changed in to pajamas at 2pm.

6. I finished Season 3 of Buffy.

7. I decided to take a break from Buffy and watch this British show called London Spy which is super creepy and I’m not really sure I’m following the plot that well but it stars Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent and they’re just astonishing actors.

8. I had some tea. I started drinking mint tea at work while I’ve been sick, and now I’m having mint tea at home. I have never been a tea drinker. I have probably had more cups of tea in the last three weeks than I have had ever until the last three weeks. Mint, with honey. It’s soothing. Which you tea drinkers probably already knew.

9. I did that texting thing where you end up having two separate but overlapping conversations at once, and it was a little bizarre because one of them was about my brother and the other was about Jamie Dornan’s ass. (Fifty Shades of Grey has started on airing on HBO. If you find yourself watching it, feel free to text me while doing so. This has now happened with two friends in the last week and it’s been highly entertaining.)


I wrote this while listening to…

Snow Globe by Erasure

If you think it’s weird that Erasure made a Christmas album, you’re right. And the album is weird, but most of it is a good weird. “Gaudete” is amazing. “The Christmas Song” will give you a headache.

 


 

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about art, my legit piece of actual art.

04 December 2015 by elizabeth

So it’s only Day Four and I already feel like I’ve run out of stuff to talk about. (On the grand scheme of things, my life is not that interesting, and for right now that is okay, but it doesn’t make for good Holidaily writing.)

Anyway, I was sitting here on the couch, staring at the thing I see when I sit on the couch, trying to think of something to write about. And I decided to write about what I’m staring at.

It’s this.

(Go ahead and click on it a couple of times to see it in full detail. I tried to take a photo of my print, but the light’s weird and it comes out yellowy beigy and this is just way better.)

I bought this in September of 2014. I can’t remember how I first found it; I imagine it was linked on social media somewhere, and when I saw it, and it took my breath away. It just so happens that the day before I had had my annual review, and received a nice raise, and I decided to reward myself, and lo, I owned actual legitimate art.

It’s amazing. Each name is lettered in roughly the location in London where that character lived or worked. There’s Sherlock, and Harry, and Bridget, and Adrian Mole and Eliza Doolittle and the Woman in White and my beloved Frank Doel at 84 Charing Cross Road. There are characters from the 18th century to the 21st, children’s books and young adult, everything from Dickens to Wodehouse to Neil Gaiman to Sophie Kinsella, for crying out loud. The artist has taken some liberties – like, Aphra Behn is in there, and she was a real person, and there are a couple of Doctor Who references, which is not exactly literature – but who cares? My reading list exploded from looking up all the characters I hadn’t heard of before, and I’m still not sure that I’ve taken note of every single one that’s in it.

It’s basically the best thing I could have ever found to stare at from my couch.

And so, when I had another annual review a couple of months ago, I went back to Dex’s store, and, not being made of stone, ordered a second print. I haven’t had this one framed yet, but when I do, it’s going in my office:

Be still my heart.

(P.S.: Artfinder is amazing. Someday I will buy something other than this artist, and it will probably be through Artfinder. Browse around if you have a few minutes.)



I wrote this while listening to…

Libera: The Christmas Album

Who doesn’t love a good children’s choir? I really like this album because (1) you can hear them really well (as opposed to other cathedral choir recordings where you also hear all the empty air) and (2) the arrangements are lovely, different enough to be interesting without making the traditional melodies unrecognizable. The choir is from St. Philip’s in Norbury, a little bit south of Hercule Poirot.


 

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about downtime, lately.

03 December 2015 by elizabeth

A short one tonight, as I am still feeling under the weather. I’m in week three of a cold, complete with an ear that’s completely closed off and a lovely sore throat that just came on today. Last night I didn’t get to sleep until 3am so I was basically a zombie all day. It’ll be an early night.

Let us default to a roundup of watching/listening/reading:

Watching: First of all, I’m in the middle of a Buffy rewatch. It’s been several years since the last time I went through this one, and that time I still didn’t get all the way through it. There are episodes of Season 7 I still haven’t seen, because of a severe aversion to the Slayerettes. We’ll see what happens this time. Right now I’m in Season 3, and there’s so much late 90’s nostalgia going on, back when everyone was surfing the ‘net, and wigging out about stuff.

Also, Jessica Jones, River, and Master of None, randomly on Sunday nights. My friend Michelle and I have had a Sunday night food-and-wine-and-TV tradition for years now, maybe predating Game of Thrones but I think that’s what cemented it. We find other stuff to watch in between GoT seasons and are working our way through all three of these right now. Everything is on Netflix.

(A note for Netflix people: This is where I implore you to watch an Australian show called Rake. When you search for it, it might have Greg Kinnear’s picture in the avatar from the American remake, but it’s the Australian version with Richard Roxburgh and it’s brilliant.)

Listening: Now it’s Christmas music, but since September 25th up until basically last weekend, it was all Hamilton, all the time. When I was visiting Melissa in July, she told me of a hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton, and I responded with “Whaaaaaat?” almost exactly in the manner of Thomas Jefferson in this musical. I don’t know what to say about it that hasn’t already been said a million times. It’s every superlative and so layered and nuanced that you can listen to it every day for two months and learn something new every day for two months.

Reading: Unsurprisingly: Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. I’m switching back and forth between the actual book and the audiobook. My dad actually listened to it years ago, all 39 hours of it, and was totally sucked in. (My mother feels like she read it because he couldn’t stop telling her about it.) It is a captivating story, and very captivatingly written, and it’s all making me feel like a bad feminist because I kind of don’t want him to get taken off the $10 bill like he’s supposed to be in a few years. Let’s put a woman on the $20! Screw Andrew Jackson.

And with that, I bid you good night.

 


I wrote this while listening to…

The Christmas Song, by Nat King Cole.

I mean, it’s a classic.

 

 


 

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about things getting easier, or not.

02 December 2015 by elizabeth

(I am not writing about the news. I just… can’t.)

It’s Wednesday night, and I am sitting here sweaty and tired. I have just worked out.

Bleargh.

One thing I have learned in the nearly 44 years I have spent being me is that I hate exercise. There has never been a time in the whole of my life where I have done it voluntarily with any sort of regularity beyond, say, three months. Even then, when I have done it, I have hated it. As soon as I’d start whatever exercise I happened to be doing that particular day, my thoughts would be consumed with variations on the theme of “How much longer do I have to do this before I can stop?”

But things happen when you reach certain ages, like the age I am now, where you are not yet old but are no longer young, and you have to be a grown-up about the body you have and do what you need to do to keep it alive and working for as long as you can. Given that I have weighed more than I should for most if not all of my adulthood, I’ve been very lucky in the entire lack of physical health problems to this point. My cholesterol is fine, my blood sugar is fine, all of my internal organs behave as they are supposed to. The only time I have ever spent a night in a hospital was a result of being born.

So. Recognizing that I’m probably now pushing my luck along as far as my health is concerned, and also recognizing that I will never, not ever, exercise unless someone shows up at my door and tells me I have to, last February I hired an in-home trainer.

(Although technically, she’s not an in-home trainer now. She was, for three sessions, until my downstairs neighbor knocked on my door and let me know, very nicely and politely, that this was not working for him, so now she’s an in-the-condo-association-fitness-center trainer, which is way better anyway and I have no idea why I didn’t think of that in the first place.)

Her name is Lauren and she is 25 and a very nice person. She is not a hard-ass, which is great, because I do not think I would respond well to a hard-ass. Which is not to say that she doesn’t push me, or ever lets me off the hook. If we are doing 20 dead-bug crunches (she swears that’s what they’re called), and I stop after 12 and believe in my heart that I am dying, she will sit there and say “Whenever you’re ready” and wait for me to do the last 8. I like that she is cheerful and encouraging and high-fives me when I don’t actually die from the dead-bug crunches.

We generally do three rounds of four different strength exercises, then a few minutes of high-intensity cardio, then three rounds of four new strength excerises, then a few minutes of cardio, and then maybe one more round of all of that and then our hour is up.

My confession is that I’ve been doing this twice a week since February, and the honest truth is that I still pretty much hate it. I like Lauren, the hour goes by pretty quickly, and I’ve definitely made progress in terms of my strength and stamina. I am bench pressing things like a boss now, and ten burpees don’t leave me gasping for air. But whatever it is that makes people look forward to exercising, to feel like they need to do it, has not happened to me. I wish it would, because maybe then I’d actually do it outside of the two hours a week I pay someone to make me. I wish I looked forward to Monday and Wednesday nights, but mostly I just can’t wait for them to be over.

I will say this, though. If a lawyer pisses me off on a Monday or Wednesday, I’ll text Lauren and ask her to bring her boxing mitts, and I punch it out. That, I do like.

 


I wrote this while listening to…

A Very Special Christmas

In case you were worried that all of these were going to be highbrow, I freaking love this album in all its glorious late-80’s cheese. Truth, Sting’s “Gabriel’s Message” is one of my favorite holiday songs of all time. Alison Moyet’s “Coventry Carol” is beautiful, and the Eurythmics’ “Winter Wonderland” is a classic now, and Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” is genius. I imagine Bob Seger emoting his way through “Little Drummer Boy” was not meant to be funny but it really is. And then there’s Bruce and U2 and Bon Jovi and Whitney Houston, and Madonna’s “Santa Baby” which everyone hates but me. I have a couple others in the series – I think they went up to 5? – but this one is special.


 

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about December.

01 December 2015 by elizabeth

(Hello? Is this thing on?)

(Wow, this is way more intimidating than I thought it would be. I’m so out of practice.)

Introductions? Some people are starting with introductions. I can’t imagine that anyone will be reading this who doesn’t already know me, but hi, I’m Elizabeth. I live in Alexandria, Virginia, I’m a lawyer who works at a law firm except not as a lawyer, I wrote online from 1998 to 2004, I knit like a crazy person, I act in community theater from time to time, parts of my heart live in New York City and London and Paris, I’m nuts about British television, I am a super-late-blooming science nerd, and I love the month of December.

This is the part where I make people go crazy by saying that I love winter, but I love winter. I just do. I love that it gets dark early. I love bundling up. I love steaming mugs of coffee or hot chocolate or whatever that you wrap your hands around. I think snow makes everything beautiful.

My birthday is December 19th, and it’s the best birthday. Last year for my birthday weekend I took a solo trip to Montréal, where the temperature ranged from 28 degrees down to 7. I loved every minute of it.

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And I do love Christmas, despite having lost my religion years ago. I love the cheesy traditional animated holiday specials. I love my own cheesy traditions, like the five movies I watch every December, and my annual re-reading of Little Women (sometimes the whole thing, sometimes just the best parts). I love my little tree, and the story in every ornament, and I love the lights on a timer, so they’re on when I come downstairs in the morning and when I get home from work at night. I love greeting cards, both sending and receiving, especially ones that have handwriting in them somewhere. (The handwriting ones, I cherish.) And, yes, confession, I absolutely love the music. There are years when I am ready for Christmas music before Thanksgiving.

So, yeah. I’m all in with December. And now there’s this, this writing thing, which I am going to try heartily. And speaking of music, and of trying to write every day, I decided I need a thing, a hook, something I can write about even when I have nothing to write about, so what the hell, it’ll be Christmas music. Thanks for reading! I’ll see you tomorrow.


I wrote this while listening to…

 December, by George Winston.

It’s tradition, listening to this album for the first time every year on December 1st. I then listen to it all month long, but particularly today. It’s been playing the entire time I’ve been writing this. It’s winter in music. Every note is perfect.

 


 

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about writing again.

29 November 2015 by elizabeth

Holidailies! Ack. But I want to write more, and December is always good navel-gazing time, and when a few of us gathered in Chicago a couple of weeks ago I remembered how this medium brought so many amazing people into my life back in the day, people who it’s clear now will be lifelong friends. And then Kymm said we should all start writing again, and Kymm is often full of good ideas, and so here I am.

I’ve tried to revive an online journal (can we still call it that?) in fits and starts since I stopped writing Abeyance in 2004. None of them really took hold. I’ve never officially signed up at Holidailies before, so here’s hoping that accountability will help. I honestly do want to do this again.

(There are two posts below that I wrote in 2013, shortly after my brother died. The most recent fits-and-starts time. I’m sorry now that I didn’t keep writing back then, but I’m very glad now that nothing that tragic is prompting this particular attempt.)

Anyway, let’s do this! I’ll be back on Tuesday. Thank you for reading!

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about the committal.

13 October 2013 by elizabeth

* * * *

when I am older than these small goddamned hills
and there’s no reason for my mind to be still
oh, how I’ll feel like a beautiful child
such a beautiful child again

when I have finally found my room filled with toys
be banging on my crib excited by noise
how I’ll feel, oh how I’ll feel
oh, how I’ll feel like a beautiful child
such a beautiful child again
such a beautiful child, such a beautiful child again

and when there’s nothing to gain
or bring me pain
or pin the blame on you or myself

and when they finally fall
these wailing walls and burning crosses
God’s twilight and all
how I’ll feel, oh, how I’ll feel
oh, how I’ll feel like a beautiful child
such a beautiful child again

when I am older than these small goddamned hills

* * * * *

david (600x800)

* * * * *

Three weeks after he died, we returned to Hilton Head. My dad had started to clean out his condo while David was still in the hospital, so he went down a week or so early to finish it and work with the realtors to get it on the market. My mom came to DC for a few days, and then we flew down together on a Friday morning.

We had decided that we would hire a boat to take the four of us, my family and Adriana, out into Calibogue Sound, off the coast of Hilton Head, and scatter his ashes. As it turns out, there are containers made especially for this. They’ll float on the surface for five or ten minutes, then sink, and eventually, the container disintegrates and the ashes are released. My father had met with the funeral home people, who gave him a catalog of containers.

(Throughout all of this, you have to find some things funny, I think, or you would go completely crazy. This catalog was one of them. We picked one with a beach scene because what else were we going to pick, not knowing at the time how appropriate the one with the American flag would have been.)

The thing is, though, I wanted a place I could go back to, one particular spot, since there wasn’t going to be a gravesite. If my parents are okay with it, I’m going to scatter them from the island too (even if they don’t go back while they’re alive), and it would be nice for me if all of that could happen somewhere where I didn’t have to rent a boat.

So the funeral home gave us two containers. There’s no way to talk about this without sounding ridiculous, so: most of him went into one of the biodegradable, temporarily floating things with the beach scene on it. Then there was a little bit of him in a white plastic rectangular box that looked like it came from the Container Store.

Well, okay. Again, you have to find some things funny.

* * * *

We went to dinner Friday night, and then to the harbor. My dad had found a local boat captain who did just this sort of thing all the time, and around 8:30pm, we clambered onboard a catamaran and headed out into the sound.

The night was perfect, beautiful, warm, clear, a thousand stars in the sky. It took about an hour for us to get where we wanted to go, and the captain chatted casually with us, letting us know who lived in all the houses we passed, who owned the other boats on the water that night, how he ended up doing this for a living. We learned about catamarans, and everyone had a turn steering it, and he brought us to a calm and quiet spot, and cut the motor.

I went first.

I have loved that song up there, “Beautiful Child”, by Rufus Wainwright, for as long as it’s been out. Before, I just liked it in the abstract, really. The music is gorgeous, loud and full of a strange joy, and the words, to me, represent an ideal of eternity. I’m firmly agnostic, tending toward atheist on my more cynical days, but I like what this song has to say about the possibilities of our end of days.

But the first time it came up in my musical rotation after my brother’s death, it punched me in the solar plexus and I couldn’t catch my breath. Now I can’t listen to it without sobbing. I think about my brother’s unquiet mind, a torment, and what he did to try to soothe it. The pain he must have been in, all the time. The shame and guilt he piled on to his own shoulders, especially in the last however many months, when he was drinking again and couldn’t allow himself to tell anyone.

And all of that is over. It’s over, and he can bang on his crib all he wants now.

He was indeed a beautiful child, and I like to think that he is again. I read the lyrics out loud first — “Um, there’s some swearing at the beginning and end, sorry” — and then played it from my phone through bluetooth speakers. (Thank you, 21st century.)

Then my mom read a poem that a friend had sent her, “God’s Garden”, and while I confess I would ordinarily roll my eyes at cliched funeral poetry, I have to admit it was lovely and appropriate. My favorite part:

He saw the road was getting rough, and hills were hard to climb,
And so He closed your weary eyes, and whispered “Peace be thine.”

Finally, my dad read a letter he had written to their son, my brother, Adriana’s husband, a goodbye full of love and tears, and with that, we put him in the water.

* * * * *

The next morning, I went to the beach, carrying my plastic box containing a plastic bag containing a small amount of what used to be my brother. It was early in the day, but it was August, so there were already a few people milling about. I walked a couple hundred yards down from the beach’s entrance to try for a little bit of privacy, but people were going to see me, and I decided I was okay with that.

I looked out at the ocean, and had one of those moments where I couldn’t think of anything because I was too busy worrying about what I was supposed to be thinking about. If I’m honest, there aren’t a lot of fond childhood memories; the sentiment my brother is expressing to the camera in that photo of us is essentially how he treated me until we got to college.

So I thought about college, which was also tricky because he was drunk a lot in college, but so is everyone so I decided it was fine. Without planning it, we ended up registering for the same French class my very first semester, which was secretly nice for me, I liked being able to see him two days a week (at least when we both went to class) and usually we’d have lunch together afterwards. Over the next two years, he lent me money when I needed it, got me alcohol when I wanted it, and bought us floor tickets when the B-52’s came to town. When he (finally) graduated and moved to Hilton Head, I missed him more than I’m sure I ever told him.

I think he might be surprised at how much I miss him now.

I stood in the water, and dumped the ashes some at a time into each wave that rolled up, and watched them float back out, and didn’t think of anything in particular, just held love in my heart.

Peace be thine. And, really, all of ours.

* * * * *

That container is sitting in my upstairs hall closet because I don’t know what to do with it.

I’m totally serious. It’s plastic, so I couldn’t leave it in the water. There was a trash can on the beach as I was making my way back, but that didn’t seem right. Neither did the trash can in the condo where we were staying. So I put it in my suitcase.

I can’t bury it anywhere, or burn it. And it’s not like I can rinse it out and store Q-Tips in it.

One of my cousins, the one I am closest to and who is very funny, laughed at me about this. “Let’s be honest, you know if this was the other way around, David would have dropped that thing in the trash can at the beach without a second thought.” Which is true.

It’s very weird, because I don’t consider myself terribly sentimental, but tossing this particular container into a Hefty bag on top of leftover pasta just seems so undignified. So, for now, until I figure something out, it will sit in my hall closet.

(Next to a very dignified flat iron.)

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