Thursday, July 30, 2009

This week's treasures......

I've never seen my mother's wedding dress. So when I opened an old trunk this week and poked through some royal blue tissue paper.....I was shocked to discover it.

It's beautiful....ivory silk.....with delicate embroidery.....and satin roses. The dress has no label... it was custom made for my mom. She must have looked both sexy and angelic in it. The silk hugging her small body....the ivory making her glow like an angel in a holy card.

As I folded the dress back into the trunk....I felt a quick stab to the heart....I asked my mom about her dress when I was engaged.......but my mom simply said, "Well, you won't fit into it," and that was that. I've seen a thousand pictures of myself in photo albums this week....I was simply an average sized girl...but my mom was always angry that I wasn't short and petite like she she could share some of her treasured outfits and perhaps even her wedding gown.
For will go into an archival box with tissue....until some family member ...some very small family member may need it.

It was issued in 1944....and one look at the handle made me realize this wasn't an ordinary knife...but something dad was issued during the war. Sturdy....rugged after all these years....unlike the wedding knife fits like a glove in my hand.

This nativity set was my version of Xmas action figures. I gasped when I opened a box marked "casseroles" and found it under a bunch of old crispy newspapers. Every December I begged my parents to bring out the nativity set early in December.
I always told them it was because I wanted to set up the manger....but I actually adored playing with all the figures....camels...cows...sheep....a friendly dog, angels ....and a baby in a straw manager. For thirty days....I invented stories....and had my manager friends followed the script...traveling far distances over my grandmother's living room sofa and her cocktail table. And boy did you have to be a creative story teller....a kneeling carrying sheep on their shoulders....somber looking angels and a couple of funky gazed guys carrying presents. Oh I wish I would have written those short adventure stories down!

This album cover was so cool....I chucked it into the "take back home" box....I don't care what kind of music the album has....the picture is so cool.....that's all I need.

I was a dancing fool as a kid.....tap and ballet. I was never much of a ballerina....not swan-like enough...and my dance teacher leveled with me at an early way in hell would I ever make it professionally. Oh she said I had some talent....but I was too short. "You have to be at least 5'8"".....and have long legs. I would stare at my legs and wish them to grow ..but they didn't.....and I ended my ballet career pretty early in life.....but I continued to tap dance because all that pounding around in loud heels was fun.......and you just needed a nice.... shuffle ball change......which my stuffy little 5'4" legs could handle quite nicely.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My dad's basement

I'm back in Chicago and going through my father's basement and crawl space.
It's like Neverland......with all sorts of man toys and interesting machines....

Here's a few of the things I found today...........

A milkshake maker. Nope..we never owned a restaurant and as far as I can remember dad never this was I found the stainless steel milkshake containers.

Bing Crosby.....Mitch Miller.....Big Band music....some 78's.... some standard vinyl

Oh ho....I don't think these are politically correct but I remember they were filled with peanuts or pretzels on my dad's bar when I was little.

Oh this made me laugh...the infamous Burt Reynolds posing natural for the a Cosmo girl insert.
It says "Yours Truly".....could my dad somehow have gotten it autographed...???

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A pleasant surprise......

God bless laptops.

Just before I headed home from Chicago....I checked my email and found an offer.

Would I consider chairing the literary festival for our city?

I've been involved with our city's literary festival since it first began 5 years ago. I've had a lot of fun and met dozen and dozens of great authors....from the uber famous like Garrison Keillor to the quiet poets of my state.

I was so flattered I was even asked to consider this....but I didn't know what to do....I'm knee deep in working on my parent's estate...and going crazy.....but I know logically every month more and more things get settled and eventually their house and possessions will be settled too.

So I said yes....and today, my first day of work, sent out schmoozy emails. My job as chair is centered around schmoozing and being a talking head.....which is probably all I could handle right now.

I laughed hard when I thought of updating my facebook page. Since I'm currently unemployed and working in on two community projects......does that make me a "community organizer"?

Oh my gosh....I could be running for President in a few years.....move over Hillary....I'm stretching my wings.

Now you'all plan to come down to my city next spring in 2010....

whoooeeee what a party we're going to much fun and so much smarts all rolled up in one event.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Decider is going Crazy.......

Yesterday I was convinced I was either going crazy or was going to have my first ever panic attack.

My nerves felt like marching ants head felt fuzzy.....and every cell in my body was irritated. I wanted to stop working.....wanted to get in the car and go home....wanted to do anything but sift piece by piece through my parent's things. Every item I looked at or touched seemed to increase the anxiety and irritation.

I actually set the timer on my will work thirty minutes before retreating from all this stuff. So I would work thirty minutes then run outside or sit down and watch TV for a few minutes then set the timer and tackle the next section or box.

I am no slouch.....I can work hard and work for many hours....but the volume of my parent's stuff is defeating me.

My son is up here this time with me.....and I noticed he's not affected. He basically does what I tell him....moves boxes....detrashes....carries things around .....and doesn't seemed overwhelmed at all. So why do I feel like a giant sandpaper is filing me down?

My hub nailed it down on the phone....."You're the decider....the only decider."


No matter if I'm working solo or with a family member.....I'm the decider....I'm the only child...the only survivor of my I'm the one who home....donate.

I am the decider for every fork, video tape, magazine, hat, coat, bowl, rubber band, and bottle of dish detergent.

Everything.....and in house brimming......overflowing.....stuffed with things......making 10,000 decisions a day on everything....every short circuiting me.

And....there's not much relief........everything must be decided upon by September 1st....that's the deadline for when the estate sale people take over.....that's the day everything must be decided by......there's part of me....that wants to walk out tomorrow and lock and door and relate to the sales people....take all of it.....I'm finished with the stuff......but in boxes and odd corners....there are piece of my parents and grandparents and great grandparents....that I feel obliged to discover and touch and decide.

Last clergyman told me that you lose different aspects of yourself when your family dies or leaves.....when you lose a child you lose your future.....when you lose a husband, lover, significant lose the present.....and when you lose your lose the past.

If parts of my parents and my grandparents and my great grandparents go forward into the future and into my children's life.....then I've got to look in the boxes...and touch everything...........and be the decider. There is no way out.

It is one hell of a job.

Boxes already decided upon.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Never confuse a Merkin with a Gherkin......

It's good to have smart friends.....people you can always learn from.

My friend smart.... a renowned university recently granted her the privilege of placing a PhD in back of her name.

She wrote an email to me a couple days ago and made a joke which involved the word "merkin."

Hmmmm....I said....not getting the joke.......perhaps there's a typo here....perhaps her fingers slipped ......I bet she meant to type "gherkin" not "merkin."

gherkins relaxing.

So for the hell of it.....I googled merkin.....with low expectations.


Knowledge base expanded.

There are merkins in the world..........or I should say there are merkins attached to people in the world.

Merkins are pubic hair wigs.

They've been around since 1450....and were initially used by prostitutes to hide runny oozy syphilis sores from their customers. ( I'll pause now for the obligatory shiver of disgust.)

Then men thought merkins might be fun....especially transgendered men....and they applied them above and over (?) their male organ to look sleek and girly.

Merkin wearing is quite simple...... shave......(very close) .... apply some adhesive....(not Elmer's glue) and can hide....accentuate.....or titillate.

As you might expect.....Walmart doesn't carry merkins (and if they did ....would they keep them in the hat section?)....but there are merkin websites where you can order a pre-made wig or design your own. Merkindworld is a fun place to browse...complete with a short but excellent history of pubic wigs.

I was also intrigued with Wikipedia's discussion of the merkin....I didn't know merkins are a Hollywood stand-by.

In Hollywood film-making, merkins are currently used in films where they are worn by actors and actresses to prevent inadvertent exposure of the genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes. If no merkin were worn, it would be necessary to restrict the shot to exclude the genital area; with the merkin in place brief flashes of the crotch can be used if necessary. The presence of the merkin protects the actor from inadvertently performing 'full-frontal' nudity – some contracts specifically require that nipples and genitals be covered in some way – which can help ensure that the film achieves a less restrictive MPAA rating.[7] A merkin is also used if the actor has less pubic hair than required for the role, as in the case of Kate Winslet in the film The Reader.

I am, at this point, ashamed to admit I moved The Reader to the #1 spot in my Netflex queue.

Why does an actress need a forest? When is a bush not enough?

You may think.....well all of this is silly.....but Merkinworld......relayed an interesting concept. Merkins can be fun and sensuous.

The wearing of a pubic wig is a sensory experience. The wig can allow the wearer a certain "jouissance" as it is made of a fibre/hair that has been selected by the wearer, and it is worn on an erogenous zone to attract and excite a partner.


What a delicious word.

The word becomes relevant to cultural and literary studies through its usage by the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to signify the condition or bliss, arrival, merging with the other, which can be associated with orgasm but also the obtention of any particularly desired object or condition - for the explorer, arriving at the North Pole perhaps.

Oh my....orgasm....bliss......poles.....

Is it hot in here or what?


His and Her Merkins


Sunday, July 05, 2009

A change of plans



Back home again.....after a very difficult week in Chicago

Probably the hardest week I've had.... since my parents died in April

I talked to an estate liquidator and made plans to empty their house.

Since their death.....I've been sorting and packing and hauling and giving things away

But it hasn't made a dent in the total amount of goods in their house.

The first two nights I was back in thier house ....I'd wake up disoriented and afraid.....I could feel their stuff creeping closer and closer to me......surrounding me in my small bed.....getting ready to jump and pounce and consume me for years and years.

Friends...acquaintances....neighbors....who have seen the beautiful and new and vintage things in my parents' house tell me I could make a killing on EBay....and Craig's List....."Oh just put an ad out and people will swarm for that item"......and they would.....except.....we are not talking about a few items....but thousands.....from 78 vinyl albums to plain old knives and forks.

I could sell objects for the next decade...even for the rest of my life.

For example, I found a dozen vintage straight razors....the sharp razor blades that men used in the 20's and 30's after they soaped their faces. I could save one or two...but the others.....I'd need to research the types and prices of the razors......list the razors on a website ....conduct the sales....ship them out...follow up on payments and keep an accounting for taxes.

It would take hours and hours of work... it could be a source of pleasure to distribute them.....and of course I would generate income.....but the problem is.....I have a three story house full of items....from freezers to razors to hat pins.

Even if I glued myself to my computer chair and sold items continuously would take years....and where do I store all of these items as I remodel and sell their house?

I paced the house for the first two nights....wondering how one person could possibly manage the accumulated goods of two people over 84 years.

And then I realized ....I couldn't manage it.....and I had to answer a basic question......what is more valuable to me?

My time/life or money?

If I sell their items slowly and conscientiously.....I could profit more....make more money on the items they have saved and collected......but it would .....literally.......take years of my life.

Time or money?

I decided my time and life was more valuable....and I really didn't like selling things.

So I called a couple people...and had a business woman come over and survey the house. Normally an estate sale may run a day ...sometimes two....she told me this was definitely a three day sale.

She was kind and reassuring woman who had lots of experience dealing with estates.......although the items would be carried off by strangers.......she reminded me they would find new homes.... with collectors who would cherish their new treasures and regular folks who would incorporate the utensils and brooms and storage bins in their life.

I knew this was the right decision.....for my parent's things as well as for me....but now...each item I touched....each glance at a painting or chair which would not go home with me.....made me cry.

I cried in the bathroom when I touched the towels....I cried in the living room when I stroked the grandfather's clock.....I cried in the basement... and in the crawl space....where my dad had stored hundreds of boxes. I'd look at the boxes....the crates....the mysterious items wrapped in tons of plastic and I would lay down on the carpet and sob.

"Dad Dad Dad....why did you save all this stuff???

Did you want me to keep it? Or can I sell it?"


But he didn't answer me......

and all I have for guidance.....are snippets of conversations ....."Oh I'm saving this old radio 'cause someday I bet you could get a good price"

Did you mean I could sell these things ? Did you mean you were expecting this would it okay Dad to do this?

The estate woman...suggested a two month time line....she told me to check every box and recheck every closet....and ask myself keep or sell? Touch everything.....Make it an active decision so years later I won't wonder what was in that old red box or wonder if there was anything hidden in dad's closet.

So I finished some projects and decided to come week I'll take my son up for a week....and then later in the month..... I'll return to Chicago and nurse their stuff for two or three or four weeks...whatever it takes to touch and look and smile and cry at all the items my parents have used and saved in their lives.

I can't imagine walking into the house after the sale.....and seeing all their things gone.....I simply can't imagine how it will feel to know the organ is gone or the funky silver cocktail table...or the singing cowboy music box....does not exist in my life anymore as part of their life....

I simply can't it will open the door to their house....and find it empty.