New Year’s passed. Iowa primary’s passed. The Iowans must be feeling the way most of us did earlier in the week--what the long build-up led to is now over, and everything’s gotta get cleaned up, and all the guests are leaving--and most folks didn’t really get what they wanted or expected! :-D
It’s weird, though. It’s like, now the election’s all serious and stuff. Now it’s *time*. Especially since Huckabee won for the Republicans. I’m so thrilled that Obama won, but so scared that either he won’t keep his momentum or Huckabee *will* keep his. Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post said that Obama’s win says we’re growing up as a country and becoming more tolerant and stuff. But then there’s Huckabee’s win, which says the regressive bigot vote can’t be counted out yet. So. We’ll see.
I know I took a while between posts. Well, I kind of had to. I came home to two extremely unpleasant discoveries the Saturday after Christmas-we had bedbugs, and my aunt died. The funeral was held on New Years’ Eve, and I still feel sort of bad that I wasn’t there. They worked fast! She was my father’s sister, and we weren’t close. None of my father’s three siblings liked my mother (too Northern, too educated, too quite a few things), and I was my paternal grandfather’s favorite. When my granddaddy died, I was basically cut off. So I mourn not so much my aunt as the fact that we can never have a chance to get closer. But her husband liked my mom, and her oldest daughter and I were pretty close when we were kids, and I know how important it is to have a listening ear. I’ve been on the phone a lot.
She’d been sick for a very long time, with heart problems and arthritis that invaded her entire body, and when she entered the hospital three months ago, she was told that this time she had almost no chance of surviving. She and her husband didn’t want to accept that-none of that “quality not quantity of life” stuff for them! They refused hospice care and tried every heroic measure. But they needed that, at least psychologically. My father’s family is stubborn, and they take the word “no” as a challenge. My uncle is at least satisfied that everything that could be done was done. Forty-seven years they were married! I can’t hear that Kenny Chesney song “Don’t Blink” now, the line about how “your better half of fifty years is there in bed, and you’re praying God takes you instead,” without thinking of them.
My other aunt, my father’s other sister, talked about how her sister would join my father and her parents and her grandson who died as a baby in heaven, was probably having a wonderful time with them right now. I don’t agree with any of it. I figure I’ll just be surprised by the afterworld, if there is one. I would want hospice care if I got to be in my aunt’s state (and L’Ailee would want me to give that to her.) But if you think I’m going to try talking either my newly widowed uncle or my newly sisterless aunt out of the things that are giving them a measure of comfort, think again. There’s almost no wrong way to get through this kind of situation, is how I see it.
My maternal great-aunt lost her husband, a quiet Russian man who got along amazingly well with my quiet Russian wife, a couple Christmases ago. I’ve been on the phone with her, too. After leaving behind my mother’s frenzied approach to the holidays, and, well, Christianity, I came to like the entire Winter Solstice season. Coming to NYC helped me to understand why it’s important to so many people, too. In Florida, there’s not much reason to feel like the light’s never coming back--hell, we’re just happy to have a bit of a reprieve from ol’ Sol Invictus! In places where winter asserts herself more, however, you kind of need a reminder. So I had made my peace, and had allowed myself to actually enjoy it. I’m getting to where I don’t enjoy it so much again. It’s becoming much too greedy a time for my family.
Bedbugs! Our cats were scratching, and the nice teenage boy who fed them (and also helped us put up and take down decorations for a fee) bought them all flea collars with his own money. Of course we had to repay him-that was so sweet. It wasn’t fleas, though. I washed them all in the tub, which none of us enjoyed, and then we had to take them to the vet in shifts. And then they needed prescriptions. We have eight, all darling, all opposed to medication. So now we’re officially broke for a few weeks. We probably won’t be able to do much for Valentine’s Day. It could be so much worse, I *know*, but we really do love Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Day, and it looks like the bedbugs will kind of ruin both.
All the exterminators were booked up, ‘cause it was New Year’s week and our neighborhood was totally iiiiin-fested. So we had to do something while we waited for my landlady’s preferred exterminator. Our time went as well as our money, as I tried employing all the folk techniques I know. Vinegar and lemon and lots of Borax all over the house, house cleaned from rooftop to basement floor, all the pet bedding replaced, tons of sheets and clothes dry-cleaned, tons of cushion covers and spare sheets washed. Can’t wait for the water bill--that’ll be even more good news. We had to cover *everything* in plastic, too. Sleep? As the NYC stereotype says, fuggedaboudit! At least our landlady and her sons say we did well, so we won’t have any trouble from them, and they’re paying for the exterminator. He seems to have done his job yesterday, too, and he'll be back to finish up on Monday, when L'Ailee has off. We may stop feeling the phantom itch brought on by the power of suggestion--at least, that’s what we *hope* it is--eventually.
It’s not just us, of course. There are bedbugs all over NYC! (Someone tell the Board of Health this is a *real* crisis, unlike someone's decision to eat a damn donut.) I read there were even bedbugs in Broadway theaters. This prompted me to think up a movie idea, since the writers are still on strike. We’ve had successful movies about bees who bring lawsuits and rats who want to be chefs, so maybe the world is ready for...Bedbug on Broadway! A plucky young bedbug that’s been cuted up by the magic of animation, a sassy single mother with a dream, decides that she’s destined to be a star. She hitches a ride on a seat upholsterer’s truck, arrives at a Broadway theater, and raises her eggs, and everyone wonders who the amazing, if rather faint, singer is. She courageously climbs up an actress’ dress and sings into a clip-on microphone to announce her presence. Hilarity ensues. I spun the scenario for L’Ailee as we scrubbed our bedroom baseboards, and she threw a still-wrapped disposable sponge at me. Everyone’s a critic.
Sinead O’Connor sang a very lovely song for the Water Horse soundtrack, one of those hopelessly sweet and sad ones that she writes so well, called “Back Where U Belong.” Hear the whole thing and watch a promotional video here.
An ESPN.com writer helpfully suggested New Years’ resolutions for the top 35 drivers. It’s always more fun to make resolutions for others than for yourself, isn’t it? :-) Hilarious if you’re a NASCAR fan.
Life is not a movie, and electro-shock therapy is not like in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
There’s a new book out, The Great Funk, about whether anything good at all was made in the Seventies aside from the babies. (1974 here!) I have to get it. This review/essay presents an interesting argument; basically, that out of the primordial ooze of the 1970s, all the conflicts, problems, and solutions we face today evolved.
When one of my maternal aunts suggested that L’Ailee and I take a look at her Joel Osteen book, Become a Better You, at Christmas, we weren’t impressed. It read to us like a fundagelical version of the Secret (which made L’Ailee throw up in her mouth a little and me go off on a rant in the bookstore), and neither of us could tolerate more than a scan. Well, I didn’t see the half of it. Chris Lehmann of Slate ably gives it the skewering it deserves. Terrific sentence: “Lakewood [Church] and Osteen seem to keep God so preoccupied it’s a wonder He can ever find the time to stock His fridge or whip out His wallet.”
Is Mike Huckabee going to rock and roll hell?
Weird, wild stuff…scientists are breeding animals that glow in the dark, studying kangaroo farts, and making robotic snot. Here’s why. I cringed at the idea of eating kangaroo meat to save the environment, ‘cause I think kangaroos are so damn cute. But I don’t live in Australia around lots and lots of what are basically big hopping deer, so I can’t really judge.
Finally, wipe your keyboards off with rubbing alcohol tonight!!!!