Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Here I was this morning, rummaging around on the internet. Oh! Look at the picture of this cat; he's sitting in a recliner and he's apparently unraveled an electric blue sweater someone had knitted. The sweater appears to have been the size of Missouri from all the yarn strewn around. The caption reads, "Yeah, I didn't know I could knit, either." Ho ho ha ha. High hilarity indeed. I just love shit like that.

And so it goes. Linda Ellerbee used to say that when she signed off each episode after the excellent show NBC News Overnight she co-anchored with Lloyd Dobbins. This was an experimental new show that was on after David Letterman around 2 am-ish, on NBC back during the Piltdown Man era, whenever that was. All I remember is that it was summer and I was between semesters in school. It was a bit more in-depth and off the wall. Of course, it lasted about 4 minutes and was whisked off to TV Heaven, where Good Shows Go To Disappear.

So, while I was traipsing around the internet this morning I ran across a fascinating article regarding Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy. I happen to be a Batman fanatic. I'm not going to get into the horror in Aurora. Journeyman wordsmith that I am, I cannot get close to describing what I feel at all. Complex feelings, especially ones on this horrific a scale take me a long time to process and define, if I ever am able to. I like to be able to clarify and this I just can't sorry. It's sufficient enough for me to say it's on a par with JFK, MLK Jr., Challenger, 9/11,  and all the other "where were you's when it happened?" It's that indelible.

Language is a funny thing and once again, the language has transported me somewhere I hadn't anticipated on being. I wanted to talk about the beauty of language. I was reminded of it when I was reading the article, in today's The Daily Beast, regarding the Nolan Batman films. The author Richard Rushfield praises Christopher Nolan's cinematic trilogy, while explaining that the fanboy approach of donning a mask and wading into violence doesn't exorcise the demons, but rather, may invite them in. All pretty and florid enough and I'm paraphrasing a bit here. I like playing with verbiage. Always have. Anyway, that wasn't the phrase that tickled me. Farther on in the article, this jumped out at me:

“and orphan boys can romp in a great big mansion, unafraid.”

No matter how much I tried to concentrate on the rest of the article and it's a fine one, I kept looking back up: “and orphan boys can romp in a great big mansion, unafraid.” I can see, carefree boys, once hungry, shoeless, circa 1930s, which is when I always picture these nameless kids in Batman: “and orphan boys can romp in a great big mansion, unafraid.” They are having the times they should have had, before they lost their parents.

My father lost his father at age 11, during the Depression. I think he sublimated most of his feelings and memories. He was my primary parent for a number of years, as my mother worked several jobs as he finished school and she also worked nights for many years, so I got to know him better than anyone. In retrospect, like everything else, I'm better at knowing what he was about than I knew him face to face.

My father was like a big kid. I do not remember him talking about his young life. He had two sisters who were several years older and he lived on a farm as a youngster, but he must have felt a lack. I'm probably grabbing at a straw that has been stretched from here to Jupiter but I bet my Daddy was a frightened little boy at the tail end of that Depression. He never said anything about it, but we carry echoes and feelings from our parents' pasts. I feel some loss, even though I never was without a parent, and it resonates in a way that it doesn't to me if I substitute "girl" for "boy." "And orphan girls can romp in a great big mansion, unafraid.”  Hell, they'd probably eat me alive. I cannot put my finger on it and I have no one to ask. So, in my Mary Confuse-a-Story way, I just make shit up. Or do I?

My father's mother was a wonderful woman, a stout Wallace, born in 1890, died in 1985, remembered Kitty Hawk and marveled at Man walking on the moon and felt bad about the Challenger, but she was very, very pragmatic and had no time for children's fears or vapors. They were crofters and I remember her killing a chicken on Sundays for dinner. When we visited, I think we had electricity, but there was no running water and we had to use chamber pots. What an adventure. What a pain, my mother said.

When we moved to California in 1962, I didn't see Daddy's Ma again until I returned to Ann Arbor in 1979. She was tough. She still lived near the upper peninsula of Michigan in Indian River to be near my Aunts, Mary and Shirley; she didn't care for California. She thought it was too "bright and fast." I think my father thought so, too. Anyway, this is probably my worst all over post ever, from a writerly point of view. I just can't seem to get it organized. But you know what? This whole thing has been a crap shoot from the beginning. I'm not going to stress. I'm still embryonic and I have a long way to go before I start thinking about Pulitzers or Peabodys. Yeah, I know; I'm delusional. So, while I know this isn't my best effort and I apologize, I know it's probably not the bottom of the worst slush pile you've ever read.
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