Friday, July 01, 2005

What I Do Best

Blogging is bad for me. I tend to avoid all my other writing, rather enjoying the short attention span format of the blog. I’d hoped for more – more stories, perhaps a workshop or two, attention to a novel of mine…not happening. Not sure why. Perhaps the blog feeds into my laziness. Perhaps I’m not a writer and never will be. Perhaps I should stick to what I do best…which is…


My grandmother fell a few weeks ago, resulting in a brief stay at a convalescent hospital. Her age showed – all 88 years. She told me during one of my visits there, “The food is delicious.” I knew then that things were much worse for her than I was willing to accept because food at a hospital is never “delicious.” When she got home and we were sitting in her den, she said to me, “You know your mother moved very high up in the police department,” a completely erroneous statement. She insisted she was talking about my mother. She said several times, “Your mother did that.” I finally corrected her, telling her that she wasn’t talking about my mother but about her sister and she said, “Oh that’s right.” I visited her again yesterday, after a week of avoiding her, and as she directed me to a couple of sardine cans for lunch, she told me, “Your brother ate a whole can of smoked oysters – you know, at your house. Your mother and father only let us have one oyster, but B, he ate a whole can!” More folding of time and place in that she was referring to something that took place in the 1970’s, when my brother, sister and I were kids.

The incidents have shaken me. I’m reminded of my mother’s neurological illness that killed her, I’m reminded that once again I am at the end of a life and I don’t know this person’s history, this loved one’s past – I don’t know the details, the technicalities. I haven’t learned everything there is to know and because of that I will never be able to pass on to my children their own history. I’m again left with the frustrating question of, “What is this all about?” All that energy a person gives, all their thoughts, their words, their worries…what is it all for and where the hell does all of it go?

I’m not ready for her to start slipping away – I’d hoped for the transition to be smoother, less traumatic, I’m not sure it will be. As always, I find myself grabbing hold of the relationship with a kind of desperation, fear. I’m sunk with worry and that worry spreads elsewhere, coloring my vision of everything around me, focusing all my attention to the negative and away from the positive.

The positive sits just beyond me, tapping her foot and crossing her arms...indignant…the perfect weather, sitting on the patio with my book in my lap while M plays with her Barbie dolls in the pools, the feel of her sweet, wet cheeks against mine when she comes to me, to show me the leaf she fished out of the pool. Summer fruits – the berries, the cherries, the peaches, the nectarines, watermelon, and the plums. The sense of no obligation to anyone. The “rest of the summer.” A late dinner on the patio. A bike ride after dinner at dusk, near eight o’clock. The idea of a trip to the mountains, a museum, the Aquarium, a boat tour to Catalina Island, a July 4 extravaganza, new books on my nightstand. A late night movie with D because the babysitter’s home from college and she’s got the kids. Walking across a parking lot at midnight and not needing a sweater.

The positive…the possibility, the plans for summer, enjoying a breeze that cools the room, a breeze that only lasts a moment or two.


Lori said...

I hear ya on worrying, bud. I'm a champion worrier myself.

Sorry to hear about your must be so hard on you and your family. I know how terrible it is to see a loved one on that downhill slide, where you just know that it's not something they'll recover from. I guess all you can do is cherish the time left, even though it's so hard to deal with.

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your grandmom.

hokkaidoabbey said...

I wonder if your other writing would increase or decrease if you stopped blogging. I have a feeling I might work on my novel a bit more if I blogged less, but there are times when blogging scaffolds my more serious attempts at fiction. Balance.

I'm sorry about your grandmother. Mine is about the same age, and is still very active, but it's hard not to think about the decline that could begin any time. Take care of yourself.

Adriana Bliss said...

Thank you, Lori and hokkaidoabbey, I appreciate it. Perhaps the hard part of this is that she's been so active. Only recently have I even begun at all to see her as "old." She's always looked the same to me. The hardest part will be the transition from home-owner to assisted-living. Leaving her home of 35 years will be very difficult for her and my grandfather (who's not doing so well either).

Lori, a little chuckle on the worrying...I knew you and I became best buds for a reason. :)

On the writing, you're right, it's a matter of balance. Just like everything else in life: all should be taken in moderation.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Adriana, you've tricked yourself into writing a really fine post by complaining about blogging. There's so much here I identify with: watching a beloved relative decline in old age; focusing too much on life's negative side; and the tragic sense of generations slipping away with their real histories, their intimate stories, forever lost. I love the image of the positive tapping her foot and crossing her arms, and then your list of brief but precious summer pleasures. I too wonder if blogging is bad for me (blogging too much, anyway, so I've been slowing down lately), but when I read something like this, I can't believe that's the case.

Adriana Bliss said...

Thank you, Richard, you've eased my mind a bit. I suppose the bad part is if I want to write fiction. I think the trouble is the "post" is easy writing. Fiction is harder, require much more thought. I find that I'll not do the hard work, choosing the easier route.

You've said it well: the tragic sense of generations slipping away with their real histories, their intimate stories, forever lost.

I'm really bothered by this idea - all that energy, all the time worrying and working...all gone in an instant. Where does it go? To what purpose? My atheism flickers at this question - I cannot believe the sheer amount of energy we spend in living and thinking simply goes away.

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