Archive for January, 2017

  1. Play Solitaire.
  2. Spend an hour trying to find the oil burning lamp and oil.
  3. Spend another hour trying to light it.
  4. Worry if maybe oil lamps put off carbon monoxide and might kill you.
  5. Wonder how long it would take someone to find your body.
  6. Sing through every song you have memorized.
  7. Make up the lyrics to every song you know the chorus to.
  8. Work on your awards speeches.
  9. Work on your Ellen interview.
  10. Play through everything you know on the piano.
  11. Work out how you’re going to cover the hole burned in the piano from an overturned candle.
  12. Thank the lord you were able to put out the sheet music fire.
  13. Stand at the front door looking out at the other apartments, vaguely suspicious that yours is the only one without electricity.
  14. Look at yourself in the mirror and thing how much more attractive you are by candlelight.
  15. Realize you’ve got to find something to do before you lose your mind.
  16. Two words: shadow puppets
  17. Try to play your clarinet.
  18. Spend half an hour finding your damn Red Cross backpack with all the emergency supplies that you ordered in 2001 when the government said you needed to prepare for a terrorist attack. Stupid terrorists will never get me now. I have a flashlight, a battery powered radio and some power bars. And a plastic poncho. Suck it, Isis.
  19. Wonder if it’s possible to eat yourself in the event of a food shortage.
  20. Convince yourself you’re NOT too old for Josh Groban. Not if your love is true.
  21. Quiz yourself over geography.
  22. Translate the lyrics of Nat King Cole songs into French.
  23. Look at your checkbook to see if you have the funds for a brush up French class.
  24. Pine for stuff.
  25. Have a panic attack.
  26. Try to sleep.
  27. Dream that you have a baby but you misplace him and can’t remember where you left him, only to find out a year later that your mother gave him to a muslim village to raise for a while and that he was fathered by a gay man you knew in college but you can’t find the guy’s number to tell him he has a child and you still can’t think of a name for the child even though he’s two years old already.
  28. Cry.

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My dad’s oldest brother, my Uncle Melvin, died. He was 77. It honestly never occurred to me that either or my dad could die, so it came as a kind of a shock to me. He died of cancer, like so many people I have known lately, which really pisses me off. At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, if I ever find out Someone has known how to cure cancer for years and they just kept it under wraps for the money, my parents are going to end up on a news program apologizing to Someone’s family for raising a murderer. I understand that sounds mentally unstable but that’s what happens when you are, for all intents and purposes, a shut in.  Let me be a lesson to you.

Of course when I found out that he had cancer, the first thing I said to my mom was, “is it because he lived with second hand smoke for so long? Is that it?” Because I desperately don’t want the big C running in the family. So whenever I find out that someone I’m related to has it, I immediately start Encyclopedia Browning for a perfectly reasonable explanation that has nothing to do with genetics. “Now, she lived close to a power grid for years, didn’t she?” “I’ll bet it was all that asbestos he inhaled doing construction work in the 70s.” “Hey, he was a physicist wasn’t he? You think he ever handled plutonium?” I do, in fact, have an uncle who was a physicist for Dow and now has cancer. But I think he worked on non stick pans or something.

[Note to self:  google cancer causing agents in non stick cookware.]

Uncle Melvin’s funeral was very nice and dignified, I think he would have liked it. He was buried in a suit, which was weird because honest to god I don’t think I ever saw him in anything other than overalls and a trucker hat with the name of a local mechanic shop on it. He was a mechanic, a really good one. And did a little farming. On the video photo montage they do at all visitations now, the family chose the “farm” theme. You pick a theme like golf or farming or something that had meaning to the deceased and then they use stock footage as backgrounds and filler between the photos. Uncle Melvin only farmed the few acres behind his house, it was not a big operation or anything. More of a hobby.  But of course the footage features these giant threshers in wheat fields and silos and mountain ranges. The only problem with this concept is that it confuses the hell out of the old folks at the funeral home. They think it’s all real footage provided by the family. And we just kind of went with it. I stood watching it for a few moments with my cousin Roy, Uncle Melvin’s son. When footage of what looked like the middle of Montana came up, Roy said, “hey remember when we had that plantation in the Sierra Madres?” I wonder if the funeral home offers a “sinner” theme with footage of like theater stages, orgies and people snorting coke.

Roy also sounds *exactly* like his father. So he’d pitched the idea of having a small speaker in the casket so he could stand somewhere with a microphone, and when people approached the casket he could say, in his father’s voice, “well whaddya say there, buddy?” or “you sonofabitch, won’t be comin’ over unannounced any more, will ya?”   Roy had a heart attack two weeks before his father died and had a stint put in an artery.  He explained that it looks like a little spring and he was trying to find something that looked similar so he could put it in his mouth and then open his mouth to speak and have it fall out so he could yell, “OH GOD!  MY STINT!” Fambly.

There was the traditional KFC in the hospitality room as well as a lot…. people a LOT of pimento cheese (all good) and chicken salad. And some cupcakes which had experienced some kind of extreme trauma during transport. Disappointing lack of a casserole of any kind but the Church of Christ ladies fed us after the funeral which MORE than made up for that. Bitches can cook. But the most interesting thing to me about this particular family funeral is that for the first time it really struck me just how good my mother is, and to some extent my dad, at working a visitation. I mean, she was working. That. Room. I think she spoke to every single person there. Got their names. Got their stories. Gave the pertinent information. Which allowed my dad, who has never been one for small talk, to stand there and let her do all the work. Which I guess in times like this is kind of her job.  And y’all, she is GOOD. I just stood to the side and watched for a while, picking up on things she would say to keep the conversation going. Now, my mom can talk a hole in a wall but I wondered how she and my dad had become so very talented at working these things, until I realized that this is one of their hobbies. Visitations. They’ve been to at least 8,000 of them. Partly because my dad has been doing genealogy work for the family for 50 years and feels like he has to go to everyone’s death party, and partly because they’re getting to the age now that their people are starting to die off in alarming numbers. But their training appears to be paying off. If there were an elderly Olympics, my parents would be gold medalists in Funerals. Here are some other Geriatric Olympic sports.


*Funerals and Visitation

*Physical Therapy


*Going to the Y



*Rides in the Country (my parents would also be contenders in this one)

*AM Radio Stations

*Family Reunions (and this one. I think they go to four a year)

*Rescuing Offspring from Financial Ruin


*Eating Out Really Early and Only at Cracker Barrel (No lie for my mother’s 70th birthday we ate at Cracker Barrel for “dinner.” At 3PM.)

What was I talking about? Oh yes, Uncle Melvin’s funeral. Well it was a simple graveside affair on what turned out to be a really lovely day. The preacher, for being Church of Christ, did a really good job and actually talked about the man we’d lost instead of just preaching a sermon. I always get nervous when preachers speak at funerals. I’ve seen them forget the name of the deceased and the Awkward is excrutiating. When it was over we strolled over and had a look at my parent’s future condo. They like to stop over and visit their plot every time they’re at the cemetery. They have two extra plots next to it but I’m hoping that when my time comes I will be lying in state in the Washington Cathedral for a few days before being enshrined somewhere like Lenin.

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