My mother’s father, Samuel Joseph Cawley, died three days before I was born and was buried in a paupers grave in Van Nys, California, alone and still drunk so the embalmer had it easy. My mother went into labor etherized and alone, and, hearing “ it’s a girl”, sighed into her peignoir and turned her back on it all: the dead first boy, the second, another boy, then two girls and then me. A brood mare. She struck a match for her L&M and flicked the ashes in the nightstand drawer it’s white metal smooth and cold. Loyal to her. She slammed it shut when she heard my grandfather’s voice in the hallway. The most important post birth attendant. Bearer of the name and the cash envelope labeled “Olive”. He always wanted her to be free of his son.Telling my father to be kind to her, grandfather gave her money. He said it was so she could leave but really it was so she would stay.
This year I find the Academy awards to be so moving that I am constantly in tears. As a matter of fact, I can’t believe I have the capacity to cry for so many hours. There’s so many things that people have said that have been so hopeful to me that I can’t believe and feel like there may be a good tomorrow. Thank God. God bless all of them.
Let’s talk about war. It’s so cold here that the moon withdrew itself last night. The fur on people’s dogs stopped shedding for the day. I heard the word “honor” in connection with the memorial I saw from the second world war and I thought why is it honorable to be in a war or to create a war? Why is it considered honorable to be a hero when you kill people. Or why is it considered honorable to be a hero when you’re a leader and you decide to kill even more people? I am going to write this in the simplest way I possibly can. I don’t see any heroism in war. I think this concept should end But what really frightens me is that I think it’s a basic part of human nature. It seems to me it all boils down to the territorial imperative. Even if the territorial imperative is 1 inch of space somewhere. I’m not a historian and ,in fact, I hated history because I hate precision in any form. I am an artist and a creative person so I don’t like squares, I like circles. I don’t like wars. I don’t like it when leaders stamp their foot and turn on their heel and walk away and send in their giant killing machines.
One of my heroes was a young woman who on her own counted the civilian victims of war in Afghanistan and Irac. Her name was Marla Ruzicka and Senator Patrick Leahy passed a bill in her honor stating that civilian victims of war would now be counted. Why in her honor? Because she was killed before she was 30 by a car bomb.
I had met her in New York one warm night at a friends reception for the Ploughshares Fund. Her blonde hair fell around her face in a kind of charmingly messy mop and she was wearing a tank top and some old pair of jeans and we spent 20 minutes talking about what she did. It was so inspiring to me and a few weeks later when I read on the front page of the Times that she had been killed my heart broke for her. I couldn’t stop crying. In my mind I kept seeing that wonderful, youthful face with her wide smile and a great soft glow about her. She was my hero and always will be.
It’s time for the world to wake up and realize who the real heroes are. It’s not the territorial imperative and the machines of war that are the brave things. It’s a single person who will dare stand up and make a point and risk their life doing so.
Kissed in a restaurant
I met you in a restaurant outside and I wore a coat the color of dried blood and when I saw you I knew I had already known you. Sometimes when that happens there’s no denying it. I love this restaurant. All the waiters know my name and they think I’m a lovely lady. But that night when I met you and I was so close to your eyes while we were eating I just felt like I was on a roller coaster and I could shoot down that track right down into your soul. I couldn’t help it when you kissed me there even though I knew Megan, the maître d’, could see the whole thing. I don’t think she could see the depth of it all and may be that’s why I let myself be carried away by a pyre of woodchucks laughing as only they do at my willingness to be carried away. You and I were meant to have a dance. I don’t remember being carried away before but I do remember dreaming about it. There’s something magic that happens when you meet a person and everything about you and that person is the same size. And I’m not talking about our bodies because our bodies are really meaningless but I am talking about something I don’t have to talk about. Self! you think to yourself what in the world is going on? It’s like diving into a pool at night and you have no idea how deep the deep end is but you keep your fingers crossed and go for the gold.But in the end you know you can take care of yourself and that’s the most important thing there is. I’m always tempted to really look into abandonment because I think that’s the real issue in life. It’s like Dr. Dolittle in the push me pull you. Everyone wants to feel safe and in control but if everyone wants that then it’s never gonna happen. Somebody has to just dig in their heels and make a statement. That’s it.
I live alone, people think, but in fact my house has so many inhabitants I have to be careful when moving through it. There are many men lurking about in my closets and bedroom all of whom seem angry and hungry. They steal things from me like small bottles of Vodka from airplanes I’ve never been on and buttons. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. The kitchen contains some younger ones with damp, slightly curled hair who cook gravy. I like these younger ones better. I happen to hate gravy unless it’s on turkey which is tasteless without it. Why in the world is turkey so very white? So many things are. I walk slowly through the detritus of my life so as not to stumble over hillocks of bodies and chirping young friends who think I am hopeful so I am. To them. I need young friends. The doors are always unlocked and flowers wander in and out flagrantly fragrancing the hours. The hallways, always making memories, melt into the cracks and settlings of bones and earthquake reinforcement. The flowers are welcoming like the chorus in a Greek play as they understand suffering and wilting. People ask, don’t I want an elevator but why would I? Life goes fast enough as it is. I can wander in an elevated state up and down and sideways into the dining room where the chairs are always filled with brilliance and I can sit with the thoughts of so many nights, so much laughter, the best wine, and no gravy. I always end out in the dining room now but often all the chairs are already filled.
A fox crossed my yard today sweeping my path with his tail
I was watching him so he stopped and did a
“There is nothing more at the neighbors”
He said “ So don’t keep looking out the
To be honest the other night I pretended I didn’t mind this man was a Trump supporter because he was so handsome and I couldn’t take my eyes off of his mostly craggy face. At 80 his arms did not look too bad either. Though I could not see them, I could see their outline through the crisp blue check of his shirt. It was all I could do to keep myself from reaching across the table and stroking them. “Will it bother you if I tell you I am a Trump supporter?” he asked, as we sat down at a local restaurant meeting for the first time at the suggestion of a friend.
I do not think I even heard his question as I was mesmerized by his arms and found them around me, holding me closely, gently kneading me like brioche dough, though I could still see them attached to his shoulders. I wasn’t tempted to walk away particularly not without those arms. That’s what shows me just how desperate I’ve become for male companionship.
It might also be that I drank a half glass of wine before walking down to the restaurant to calm my nerves. My nerves need a lot of calming these days. I am monitoring my wine intake. I must or I might just get to drinking first thing in the am before toothpaste. Once I saw my husband grab a half-finished Scotch from the night before’s party and swallow it right down. I always liked his style. For years I remembered that drink with deep admiration and knew I was not up to it.
Well, I am now. I like this Trump supporting man. I like his obvious masculinity, his low testosterone filled voice, and his arms. I think I will take him home and keep him. He could live happily in the freezer.
From time to time I could partially defrost him and have dinner with him quickly before his brain unthawed.