Friday, February 25, 2011

My Grandpa's Stories

I am blessed with family. It is rare for someone my age (25!) to have both sets of grandparents still around. However, on my last visit to my Grandma and Grandpa, I was unsettled by how diminished my Grandpa looked. Watching some of the fantastic movies that have come out this year (Barney's Version, Another Year) led me to think hard about my mortality, and with that the realization that my grandparents won't be around forever. I have become accustomed to the fact that they are always there, and always have been. Perhaps not in the same shape as when I was a kid, (I still miss Grandma Enns' wareniki) but simply there.

I am not sure why this last visit affected me so much. My Grandparents are old. They have been married almost seventy years, have four children, eighteen grandchildren (not counting wives and husbands) and countless great grandchildren. They have led full, interesting lives; the stuff stories are made of and have been made of. It shouldn't come as a surprise to me that my Grandparents are aging, but it has.

When I got home from brunch I tried to put into words how it felt to see my Grandpa in the state he is now, but the story sounded too much like poetry (or as some may say too much like CanLit). For the past couple of years, in order to stop my poetry writing from stagnating, I have decided to play with form. I cut up the story I attempted to write about my Grandpa, put it into a bag, shook it up and dropped it onto the floor. The lines of the poem became where the pieces fell, with a bit of tweaking of words so it makes sense. Dada poetry. Here it is:

My Disappearing Grandpa

His secret is that he is more than a human being
but the fact is that when I hug him
he feels more like a lesson on anatomy.
(that is the spine...)

And when he tries to speak
urging his mouth to form words
they tell us that my Grandpa's kidneys are failing him.
(the tailbone is located there...)

To me, however, he's just my Grandpa
and I wonder what the failing kidneys would think
if they were in my place.

I watch him. Coaxing the thought in his head to reach his mouth
He can barely lift his skeletal arms
but he still eats three muffins and I wonder how he stays so thin.
(those are the shoulder blades...)

Two pieces of ham and egg soufflé later he hesitates.
I want to tell him that I miss his stories but I'm failing him because
if he were to hug me goodbye, it's connotation would be dying.
And what scares me the most is.
(those are his rib bones...)

My aunt has brought us brunch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hello Again Jimi

"All I'm going to do is just go on and do what I feel" - Jimi Hendrix

I have one memory of Jimi Hendrix. I was ten years old and trekking with my family in Nepal. Now that may sound pretty rad already without throwing Jimi Hendrix into the mix but yes folks, believe it or not, it does get better. This particular day we ended up at a lodge called the Jimi Hendrix Hotel. Calling this place a lodge is a bit of a stretch for the received accommodations but this was Nepal and in Nepal anything goes. My sister and I climbed up the rickety stairs and entered our even more rickety room. This particular room consisted of two beds, (once again for lack of a better word), a side table and a pair of the dirtiest, [once upon a time] white pair of pants; the type that soul searching hippies favor purchasing from Thamel (tourist district in Kathmandu that consists of shops, bars and guest houses). These pants weren't just randomly splayed on the floor as a forgotten souvenir by some lazy tourist but were tacked to the wall with a signature on them. The signature belonged to Jimi Hendrix.

At the time I had no idea who Jimi Hendrix was. Surrounding those pants were the scrawled messages of hundreds of fans. I remember reading the messages, questioning what the word "cock" meant or wondering how come "cum" was spelt wrong (even back in the day I was a precocious speller). I remember wishing I could write on my pants without receiving hell from my mother. I remember thinking this is more than just a room.

This was my first experience with feeling connected to someone or something famous. And even though I had no idea who Jimi Hendrix was just being in that room was somehow enough to sense greatness, achievement and, although I didn't realize it at the time, failure and hardship.

I came upon the quote at the beginning of this post eating the world's best nachos with some friends at Foundations. So far removed from my first memory of Jimi Hendrix it brought about a rush of emotion and, alas, a rush of uncertainty. To do what one feels. To go on and just do what I feel. Can I trust what I feel? Could I trust what I felt that day? An innocent ten year old with no idea of a world beyond the haven she had built for herself in a remote part of the world? I have spent my adult life making decisions based on feeling, based on idealistic notions about how my life is supposed to turn out. I have had success but I have also had bitter failure. How do I go on doing what I feel when every time I think I have it figured out, that this is the direction my life is supposed to take, everything changes? I doubt what I feel daily and yet here I am still making choices and failing to be sure of anything that I choose to do and still thinking "what if?"

I wish I could return to the Jimi Hendrix Hotel. Stay in that same room, look at those pants and hope that inspiration hits me (and this time understand the innuendo). Perhaps, however, just being there would be enough. Enough to learn to trust in the twenty five year old me that is not so far removed from the ten year old me after all.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Begrudging Blogger

After spending three days in Victoria last week watching the first season of Californication I have come to this conclusion: my blog will never be as cool as Hank Moody's. I have come to face the facts, my life is hardly a blogger's dream. A twenty something that is constantly bemoaning the fact that she isn't writing yet isn't really doing something about it? Cliche. A middle aged writer who is constantly bemoaning the fact that he isn't writing yet is living it up with sex, drugs and rock and roll? And lots of it? Hilarious. Poignant. Depressing. Worthy of our attention. Granted the latter may be conditional and the rock and roll part non-existent (as this is no longer the sixties), but there is something to be said for the fact that this television show is a hit.

As viewers we should hate Hank Moody if for no other reason than he hates us. He is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with our society: the drugs, the laziness, the lack of respect for humanity in general and the sex coming from every direction. I am not naive I know that many people would disagree that there is anything wrong with the list (or parts of it) I have just laid down, but there is something to be said for living a life in which these certain pitfalls can be avoided. So why don't we hate him? Why is he so entertaining to watch? Because it is a life that one cannot get away with living? Or, at least, not for very long? Are we just bored? Using television as an escape from the rules and regulations that we impose upon ourselves?

In his first blog post to Hell-A Magazine Moody is raw as hell. He is witty, stimulated, and dirty to the core. It is fantastic. I only wish that I could write in such an I-don't-give-a-fuck-what-you-think-of-me kind of way, and he isn't even a real dude. I continue to drink his antics in and don't even bat an eye when he buys a Porsche, despite the fact that he hasn't written a book in seven years, and doesn't even wince when it is stolen at gunpoint.

I do not watch a lot of television but this is one show that I will continue to follow, at least until internet data usage charges slow me down.