Friday, July 28, 2006

July 27, 2006

So now I'm going to learn how to write a script. I wrote a short story and sent it to another writer. I asked him if he thought it could be developed into a screenplay and he was enthusiastic about doing just that. Imagine. I think, however, that there are quite a few writers who think they have a story that would make a good film. The only reason I am serious about following through on this one is because I've written many short stories, and this is the only one I've ever imagined as a screenplay. It's a gut thing. My friend sent me many scripts to read, and I've ordered software. One thing that has amazed me my entire life is how generous artists are. Good ones, not phonies. The good artists, in whatever field, want to share what they know. They will take time out of their day or night to dig up just what someone wants to know. I think that's a truly wonderful, dare I say spiritual, thing. Money, if it comes along, is always a help, but I haven't offered anyone a penny since I started writing, apart from workshops, books, and software I've bought, and I've gotten help whenever I've asked. Help with my writing projects. And, and, I give help away. Gladly. Quite a thing. Could it be spiritual?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

May 11, 2006

We had a gathering at our home today to mark my mother's death. From the first knock on the door, the first guest, my tears finally began to flow. I had been numb. After months of being with her day and night, yes, sleeping in her room, it struck me as terribly unreal that she was gone. But when people came to pay their respects, I understood. The house was beautiful with flowers, I shined the silver, and there were crystal and gemstone colored glass dishes full of food. Neighbors came, friends, my brothers business contacts, and so many people from Hospice found the time to come by. My Dad made a lovely speech and I read a piece I'd written for my Mom on her 82 birthday, two years ago. The guests have been gone for hours now, and my tears have stopped again, but I understand they will come back. My eyes will fill; I am not a dry-eyed monster. I loved her so much, and know I will miss her, but until today, I couldn't cry. I'm grateful that a party like so many Mom prepared for anxiously, and enjoyed wonderfully, happened today in her beautiful house, and some of my tears were released at last.

Monday, May 08, 2006



Wear your grief like soft silk;
a shimmering air-light cloak
against your skin, barely felt.
But, when the transparent
blue dusk and the north star shines alone,
perception loosens, solitude releases,
wear the purple velvet of queens and kings.
Let it drag against limbs and feel the heaviness
rounding your shoulders until you reach
full stop and must wait for the velvet to journey
through brocade, damask, satin, lace.
It will again become
weightless silk and
return to the blessed, fine
binding you can carry on with.

Nonnie Augustine
May 7, 2006

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I care as much about Anna Nicole Smith winning her case with the U.S. Supreme Court as I do about dryer lint. My mother will probably die before dawn. The process of dying from congestive heart failure is a long drawn-out business. In her case it started with her heart attack in 2001. For the next two years she still left the house, even drove, but she has been house-bound since 2003 and bed-bound since September of 2005. I have been her full-time caregiver, which is not as noble of me as it may sound, because my own life came to a crashing full-stop when I left my husband and my home in Maryland a year ago. Taking charge of my mother's care was the next best thing I could do. I had no home, no money, and was badly wounded. Mom and my Dad had a home to offer me and needed help as almost all people in their eighties come to need help. I have some money now, because our marital home has been sold, but their physical problems and my emotional troubles have proved to be a good match. While the Web, CNN, and the "real" and tabloid papers have been giving us eyefuls of Anna Nicole, slim and sexy in dark glasses as she struts her stuff in and out of court, my Mother is gasping for breath, her hands are turning blue, and all I can do is administer eye-drops of morphine so that the business of her heart stopping is as quiet for her as possible. She was the best that she could be her whole life. Born in 1922, child of a flapper and a World War I veteran, she had four younger siblings. My grandmother knew all the songs and nursery rhymes any girl could want their "Nonnie" to know, but I gather as a parent she was content to let her oldest daughter take care of the other children. My grandfather became a politician, with some success, but the thirties hit the family hard and they barely kept their household going during the Depression years. In 1942, my Mom and Dad married, in 1943 he went to the European front, and soon after my mother gave birth to my brother. When Dad got back, they had another son, me, and my younger brother. By 1955 we were all born, and she was a full-tilt, wonderful mother, except when unreasonable fears, clinical depression, and fatigue got the better of her and everyone would have to wait until Mom was herself again. Those waits sometimes seemed long, but she always came back to us before her clinical depressions caused severe, or even fatal, damage. She turned 84 a month ago. She and my Dad have been married a couple of months shy of sixty four years. She never had anyone but my father. She was never a stripper. She didn't sell herself to a billionaire, or make a fool of herself on television, or spent a lot of time getting manicures or shopping for clothes. She never did anything that put her on T.V., or got her a hearing in front of the Supreme Court. But when a holiday came around, whether we had money or not, no one in the neighborhood could touch our home for warmth, food, trimmed trees or Easter baskets, and heart-felt celebration. The least I can do is stay up with her until the sun rises.

Friday, March 17, 2006

March 16, 2006

My mail, e-mail, and phone calls go from the ridiculous to the sublime. Apologies for the cliché, but I can’t resist its perfect applicability:
In my mailbox today yet another catalogue of boob jobs in bikinis and an invitation to explore the grandeur of Europe on Queens I or II.  I am no more likely to buy a minute leopard-skin thong bikini and its transparent cover-up, (oxymoron, that, isn't it?) than I am to embark on a cruise on which I can expect to experience a personal sense of ease and well-being due in no small part to a phenomenal staff whose sole motive is to ensure my complete comfort at all times. This same staff will also present me with award-winning delicacies presented with a flourish, grace, and intimate knowledge that is the ultimate in civility.

I hope that marketing geniuses afoot today waste recycled paper on us. An aging hippie like me would not relax among the privileged diners in tuxedos (silver-haired) and designer dresses, (always blond) even were she to win a state lottery. I did win an English football lottery apparently, but I didn't play fairly, looked up their address with Mapquest. I replied to them asking why their offices were in a discount clothing store. They told me they were in an annex to that building, but the jig was up, (it's cliché day) and our correspondence ended.

Does anyone buy from the telemarketers? I don’t know anyone who does. I know pitifully few people here in Florida, so I'll just ask you. Do you even know anyone who knows anyone who buys from them? Of course not! They are to a man and woman loathed. People have been trying to squelch them since the day they began calling us at home and yes, I lived long enough to remember a time before. Don’t they know everything about us these days? Isn’t that the going theory? Do they just plague us willy-nilly? Is it to stir discontent? What do all those courses colleges offer in marketing teach?  Certainly the students don’t pick up any useful information about selling to me.

Why does a middle-aged woman who is not fat, but not bikini material either get catalogues trying to sell her plunging flimsies and snob-appeal cruises when she has a by-pass scar between her breasts and collects cruising-prohibitive disability checks? Things weren’t any more luxurious for me when I worked—I had the bad economic sense to choose modern dance, then special education and never did get much past paying what I think of as Everyman bills. That’s not right is it? The homeless and the families in refugee camps don’t pay mortgages, rent, telephone, dry-cleaning bills do they? So I suppose I’m wrong in thinking of them as Everyman bills. Damn. Duh.

However, I have spent these moments of whining distracted from my mother's sick room. I've vented about silly complaints with the world and moved off from my seriousness, sadness, helplessness. Mom is sleeping and seems to be comfortable so I've been tripping over some shoelaces, some foibles of modern life and gotten time off from thinking about death. Our watchdog minds, our tenacious grips, our stubborn souls come through for us just in time, just enough for the necessary lift, until we level. At least, that's our hope, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My mother was white tonight. The palor of her skin was the color of her hair, her head laying on a mountain of white pillows. When she collapsed into bed she couldn't move, and I wasn't strong enough to make her more comfortable. My brother had to help. She whispered to me that I looked sad. I suppose I did. Failure to thrive is a horrible way to die. Slow weakening until every word, ever gesture takes such effort. I don't want her to decline any further and be conscious of her helplessness. I would rather see her go in her sleep tonight than spend another day losing senses, muscle tone, appetite. It's hard for her to imagine life outside her bedroom now, and I suppose it is making perfect sense that I share her confinement. As much as I appreciate her, love her, am baffled by her, I know I need time out of the house. They all say that, you know. Care-givers need respite. What if the day I pay someone to sit in the blue leather recliner at the foot of her bed, she decides to leave. She may want to go when I'm not there— spare her only daughter the moment of her death. But I want to be there. So I procrastinate about getting help. One week blends into the next week of waiting. The days go quickly though. They are quick with stangeness. I'm tired, and I fantasize about the places I'll visit when she's gone...but for tonight, I'll be here. At 3 or 4 tomorrow morning, when her sleeping pills wear off—I'll be here. I believe the soul lives. And in this life and whatever's next, we need and will need each other.

Monday, March 13, 2006

So-Tony's on the floor bleeding. Uncle June is hiding in his closet, having thrown the gun under the bed, Christopher's AA sponsor is a grade A forger, Carmella has a new Porshe, the Feds had a new guy, but he killed himself-and the usual suspects hover about. I don't think going 21 months without a new episode has hurt anything. Except Tony's weight has gone up to 280. I doubt he'll die from this wound, but I bet all hell will break loose with the Captains and various Made guys. A good hour of distraction. My mother's leaving us, and today was dicey. I don't know if she can leave us much more completely than she has-but I guess there's more, because she's still breathing. Barely. I'm doing what I can, but I don't think that's much. I wonder if I should keep her sedated? Maybe she isn't supposed to be? Who knows these things at this point? Not me.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

You know what they say about how hard it is to care for a dying parent? Care-giver groups, counseling, and hospice all make a point about the family member needing to get away, get out, not spend all their time in the sick room. I suppose they are right. But I'm ignoring them. I don't want to be at the movies when my mother needs me. I don't want to be shopping, or in my case window-shopping, and leaving her to the care of a stranger who will help her get on and off the commode. She is so quiet now I miss the way she needed me every two minutes a week ago and I couldn't get anything done. What did I want to do that was so important to me I'd get irritated? I can't remember now. Last night she tried to put her robe on while I was out of her room, and she fell. She looked so sad. No broken bones, but how terribly sad to find yourself unable to put your own housecoat on without help. I'm her only daughter, so I'm the one she can ask for help with "private" things. She and my Dad have been married for 63 years, almost 64, but they never shared the bathroom I guess. He couldn't help anyway. He can hardly walk. My brother and I got her settled on the bed she so rarely leaves. When we were out of her earshot (doesn't have to be far for that) I asked him, "How do you know it (helplessness, weakness)is going to get that bad until it gets that bad? Until you are there?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

There is no reason why I should receive a catalogue of babes in bikinis. But for the last few months, I have. Printed on less than grade A glossy paper, are page after page of young women in revealing bathing suits, sportswear, even a dress or two, all with low-cut necklines, each outfit designed to showcase the model's boob job. These women are young, lithe, sun-tanned, long-legged, wear size 4 on the bottom and must need at least a twelve on top to present themselves in public legally.
See, I don't get this. I have yet to meet a man who has admitted to preferring big fake breasts, over the old-fashioned flesh variety. Maybe plastic surgeons are the silent partners in various swimsuit enterprises.The breasts on these models all look exactly alike! They are round, large, and have a good three inch spread between them, even when the model is obviously dressed in a garment that pushes them up, and tries but fails to push them together. Are these carbon copy chests required equipment for these modeling gigs?
I haven't done much research. I don't know, for instance, what, if indeed any, effect they have on breast-feeding. Does the milk get a saline flavor?  What happens to them in ten or fifteen years? What happens if a woman wearing these breasts gains a lot of weight? Anything? A while ago I saw a beach brochure with different models, same chests, except that one teenaged brunette had before and after pictures. She had the distinction of being on both the front and back cover of this tourist-trapping bit of photojournalism. On the front cover she wore a yellow bikini barely covering breasts obviously designed by the same plastic guy who'd enhanced all the other girls, and on the back cover she wore a bright orange bikini that showed off her slender figure, and yes, you got it, her original, not terribly round or bouncy but certainly real looking size 34 B's. I wonder if anyone else noticed? Just me? Okay. I'll move on. Fixations, eh?