In the hopes of meditating on my grandfather's passing in the ways that I do, I have acquired a most amazing set of things: about 150 hand written letters written to my grandfather from other people while he was in the army, between 1944 and 1946. They're amazing to read, and I'm going to do something like a collage with them. You'll see when it's done, I promise.
It's strange--I think that hidden in our families are all the stories we love to read or hear about--you just have to look in the right place. There are all these amazing pictures of my grandparents and their friends partying, and doing lude things, and being beautiful, and I find it completely confusing. I learned that my great grandfather worked on science fiction films, and was one of the original distributors of the home video camera for Sony, and had visited Taiwan many times. In addition, he wrote poems and short stories, like my grandmother's brother, and my Aunt. My grandmother paints. I am interested in all of these things to some extent, but most people I know do not do them. Who are the people that I am descended from, and why are we all strangely similar in one way or another? Clearly, family is more complicated than I realize. I think the most painful thing about spending the time with my grandmother, aside from the fact that she was sad, was the fact that I felt as though there was an entire history that had been lost. Looking through the photo albums, I knew that I never could have asked my grandfather enough questions to satisfy my curiosity about who he was and where he was from. This was depressing at the same time as it was a relief. I am always struck with the strange feeling that I do not quite know my family, even the ones I am supposed to be closest to. I wonder if this doesn't have more to do with me than it has to do with them.
I may go to Bali soon! Details at the eleventh hour.
I have the following items to present to you today:
--A large set of phantasmagortastic photos which alert photographer Sophie Goldstein took while we were both hangin' in Taiwan, and going to Taroko gorge n stuff! This is just a few of MANY things you can see when you come and visit me. Yes, those signs with cute characters are posted all around my school. And yes, that is me doing a handstand with a motorcycle helmet on. And YES, for the final time, yes, that is me looking utterly presidential in my English Village stationary store clerk outfit.
--A fascinating article which alert reader Jonna Cohen has sent in. Clearly, there is hope for the world if people
--A link to a trailer for Kick-Ass, a movie I am wicked excited about, though in retrospect it probably will have been embarrassing to admit it. The comic it's based on was too ridiculous not to love, though it was a nightmare in terms of racial and ethnic stereotypes. Oh, the youth of today. I love you.
--Your Chinese character of the FRIGGIN' DAY:
Okay, I may need an etymology check for this one. But I'm going to try and present it in the correct way:
The lines on the left represent fire. The right looks like a bottle for holding liquid. HINT: The bottle contains the fire.
ALCOHOL. Pronounced jiu (third tone, that's the dip in the middle).
--The poem I read at the memorial service for my grandfather...people said they liked it, and they wanted to read it again, so here it is (looking for feedback):
As we live,
And our shelves, you know the ones,
the ones which we make a museum
of our selves,
are stuffed with us.
Here is a series of figurines of fat elves,
a plate that is really more of an art piece,
a small, ornate box we don't keep anything in.
No, we just like
the way it looks.
Oh, and look at this
here is a small painting we liked,
yes, there is something about the way that man
is picking his nose in the background
that made us reach into our hearts
and pull out enough to buy it.
LOOK! Here are a series of tickets to shows we saw
and enjoy recalling
here is a local news clipping, framed, in which we are mentioned in passing
here is the picture of an uncle
in a nightmare of a sweater
waving from a famous place he visited.
Looks like it might have been
Minneapolis? No, it couldn't be, there are no pyramids there.
Anyway, here is a photo album, a clock that was a gift, a rifle from the war which now seems silly, an unfashionable pair of glasses, an urn, a book that is of no interest but has an alluring cover, more newspaper clipplings, and more photographs, yes, always more photographs.
Only now that we are looking at it, there is someone
in the photograph whose voice
we can't remember.
Which is a shame, because they spoke
like a box of music.
but never mind, here is an advertisement for a dance
from thirty years ago
that we never went to
because we never left the house together.
The date went so well we just sat on the couch
thinking happily that we might never get tired of kissing.
Though just now, we can't remember the color
of that person's hair, or skin, or eyes
or the nice things they said to us when we were getting sleepy.
They could really have been anyone, now.
We are the silk that sticks so much
together...but gravity is always getting stronger
and so much friction between the memories
they all begin to feel alike.
They melt into each other,
until we only know what we already know.
Memories become generic, unsharp.
If we are lucky,
as we grow, and we always grow
all these things are destroyed in a beautiful storm.
we forget to take our medication and smash them.
the window is broken by someone's God in a wind
or a burglar with a brick, or we trip
and our elbow catches the edge of a long object, like a golf club,
to the floor.
We get to start again.
When we remember someone
we look at their shelves.
we wonder who the people in their photographs are,
and why they collected so many little statues of fat elves, they're really even kind of creepy.
And then, maybe,
suddenly, we think we realize
After all, this does happen
in a kind of sequential order.
But I warn you that this is
almost certainly not the point.
We may be gone already. We may come back.
We may look at the moon one night and become stuck in between,
neither alive nor bored to death. Think too much about death
and you end
wondering what's happening
to all the food in the refrigerator.
Is it time to buy more already?
If the humous is gone, why are there so many crackers?
Didn't we pay this electric bill last week?
Should I shave?
The answers are yes and no, yes and no, hello and goodbye,
a thousand whats and no why.
I met a foreigner. She said
that in order to meditate,
we need only remember enough to make us happy.
Don't dwell, she said, just get in, get happy
and get out.
That means no fat elves, no books with alluring covers, no favorite paintings.
So I think of the three things
my grandfather gave me last:
a haircut and a ride to the airport,
and the little something extra
he always gave us.
So, when I ask to be,
I am alone on the curb
at the airport.
Though I keep waving,
I see the silver sedan
pull away. I feel a new breeze
at the back of my neck,
and the smile of a warm
in my pocket.
Then, I am