Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Unbearable Heaviness of Bearing Pall

I’m sure there were a lot of other thoughts that should have been running through my head at that moment. Thoughts that probably would have been a lot more appropriate. But that’s the thing about thoughts.

They don’t really like to be controlled.

“Don’t drop her. Oh god, please don’t drop her. Please, please, please. Just concentrate. And whatever you do, don’t trip Adam in front of you. He goes down, we all go down. He’s, like, seven-feet tall. Tiny steps. Baby steps. Careful. Don’t drop her. Just don’t drop her.”

There were eight of us. Five strapping young male grandchildren, two of us more solid-looking female grandchildren and one longtime family friend with the broad shoulders of a linebacker. I have no idea what they were thinking at that moment, but judging from the fact I was the only one who seemed confused by our instructions, it was probably something much more dignified.

“I’m worried,” I said to Peter the Linebacker right before.

“You’ll be fine. It’s fairly self-explanatory. We carry her in and then carry her back out,” he said.

“I know, I know. It’s just…I’ve never beared pall before,” I responded with a weak smile.

I knew it was a stupid thing to be worried about. I knew I should be thinking other, deeper thoughts, like how I had just lost one of my heroes. Or that being a pallbearer was actually a great honor. Or even trying to ease my fears by realizing that the seven others beside me wouldn’t let anything happen to the casket or the dignity of the moment should my feet suddenly forget the mechanics of walking forward.

But I couldn’t stop.

A similar thing happened when I first got the news that Grandma had cancer a month before. Of course there was the initial burst of sobbing while sitting cross-legged on my kitchen floor, but shortly after I remember thinking how dirty it looked underneath my stove. It was a place I had never thought to sweep before. The realization that things could happen in my own kitchen without my knowledge or consent was actually mildly shocking. Of all the hundreds of times I had stood in this kitchen, I had never seen it from this vantage point. And then I remember thinking I should really clean it. And then thinking of logistically what would be the best way to go about it since the stove was so low to the ground. And then thinking “Grandma is dying.”

It happened again when we got the news she had died. My mom and brother were inconsolable and I just kind of stood there (oddly enough, in another kitchen) thinking how I didn’t bring clothes for a funeral with me. And then just where the hell was I going to be able to buy appropriate clothes in this small town. And then that it would probably have to be Wal-Mart. And then how much I hated Wal-Mart. And why it was always so crowded. And loud. And then “Grandma is dead.”

It was like my brain wasn’t able to process all this horrifying news and so it dealt with it in small bursts, in-between mundane thoughts of dirty floors and evil corporations that make cheap and poorly tailored clothes and whether or not a casket would fly open should it fall because some idiot forgot how to walk.

So while I was carrying my Grandma to her final resting place, it was just easier to focus on the actual task at hand (or not royally screwing up the actual task at hand) than it was to realize that I was carrying a woman in death who had carried me, both literally and figuratively, throughout my entire life. Or that she had also carried eight children, 16 other grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren despite having the body frame of really, really slim hobbit. Or that when things got really bad toward the end, those same children (and their spouses) and grandchildren (and their spouses) and great-grandchildren were all clamoring to help carry her to the bathroom because she was too weak to walk herself.

Or that the last time I saw her and it took all her remaining strength just to lightly rest her hand in mine, she looked down at one point and said “Oh my, I must be squeezing your hand something awful. I’m so sorry.”

I can think about this now. I am thinking about this now. In-between thoughts of “despite its cheesiness, the show ‘Victorious’ on Nickelodeon is actually quite good.”

Because that’s the thing about thoughts. Sometimes they can’t be controlled because they know our hearts need a break from breaking.

Just a quick note…

…to shamelessly post a link to my latest Weekly Dig column about the joys of learning about big city public urination (shameless link can be found HERE!!!).

Fair warning: This one is PG-13 in content. (With a splash of R for stick figure nudity).

Happy Friday, everyone!

Jackette of all Trades…ish

This may seem an odd pronouncement, but the thing is, I’m proud of the fact that my husband and I have never had a typical cookiecutter married relationship. Gender roles? Pffft. Schmender roles.

Every nice, artsy, semi-classy thing we own, for example, was picked out by my husband. And every time we move it is he who jumps into the role of interior decorator (which is an incredibly good thing considering that if I were in charge, our house would still have bean bag chairs and a coffee table composed of pizza boxes, beer cans and duct tape). He’s also the one that remembers we have a dog who likes to be fed fairly regularly and ensures that our fridge contains more than possibly expired ketchup and definitely expired brie.

Meanwhile, I am the one in charge of the finances and various important papers, the heavy duty meat cookin’ (steak, ribs, and on one adventurous yet ill-advised holiday, turducken), most of the in-house alcohol consumption as well as master and commander of the remote control.

But no matter how hard you try to fight it, there will always be times when you slide into those traditional wife/husband roles. For instance, due to my schedule (or lack thereof) I do the bulk of the housecleaning (or at least my version of housecleaning, which is “wipe the crumbs on the floor and let the dog and/or stealthier rodents take care of the rest”). I also make sure we occasionally eat something green in-between our steady diet of cheeseburgers and Twix.  Meanwhile, my husband is the mighty bug hunter in the family, the IT technician and the “Go Check Out That Weird Noise Somewhere In The House At 4 a.m.” person.

And that’s why this past Monday was such a triumphant day for me. Not just because I did not one, not two, but three stereotypical things my husband usually takes of, but also because they were things I never, EVER thought I could accomplish on my own.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #1: I put together a piece of equipment.

For as far back as I can remember this week, it has been my heart’s desire to own a record player. This is despite the fact we have a CD/radio/iPod player in pretty much every room of our house already (two, in fact, currently in the kitchen). But for some reason, I fell in love with the idea of coming home, making a martini (mixed with a splash of something fruity since my taste buds associate the straight up version with what I imagine liquid from your pancreas tastes like) and putting on a record while my husband spontaneously grabs me for an impromptu slow-dance.*

So, we finally broke down and bought one (mainly because the two records we had already bought prematurely reminded us how pathetically faux hipster we were). And then with him off at his real job, it fell to me to set it up.

Now, mind you, this thing is technologically obsolete. I have a key ring that makes fart sounds that is more advanced than this thing. And yet, the five-step instruction manual baffled me (especially the one that said to gently slide off the white thingermajig from the needle but upon closer inspection, the white thingermajig looked to be a vital part of the entire machine’s structural integrity).

After 45 minutes, I was about to call it a day and just let my husband deal with it when he got home. But then I thought “No! I can do this! I will do this! My grandma could operate one of these things and she was confused by modern soup cans with the easy-open lid! I AM NOT PATHETIC!”

And then BOOM. I finally had it working. For the most part. I’m sure the fact that everything sounds off-key is how it’s supposed to sound.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #2: I took down a wasp.

It’s a well-known fact that I am the world’s biggest arach– you know what? I have such a phobia that I can’t even type out the word (due to the totally-definitely-absolutely not irrational fear the very word itself will sprout eight legs and jump straight off the page onto my face where it will proceed to eat my eyeballs off). And due to this totally-definitely-absolutely not irrational fear, Ryan has turned into a master bug warrior, tracking and killing them with a Sparta-like ferocity (most likely to avoid the whole embarrassing “chasing my wife down the street screaming ‘It’s OK, babe! I killed it! Come back!'” scenario that has happened repeatedly during our courtship).

So it was with great surprise (and no shortage of amusement) to discover that my husband has a similar fear of bees. And wasps. And hornets. And bumblebees. If it buzzes, he suddenly turns into a white ninja, moving faster than the naked eye can see (occasionally accompanied by what can only be described as a “girly-man scream”). So when I noticed that one of the wasps who stalks Ryan out on our back porch had somehow weaseled his way into the house, I knew I had to step up.

Thirty minutes later, I had finally managed to trap him between the back door and the screen door and then using an ingenious tactic I came up with myself, I opened the door a crack with one arm and used a Swiffer in the other to coax him back out into the wild.

Fifteen minutes after that, it finally worked. And our world was once again safe.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #3: I fixed the Internet.

OK, technically all I did was unplug the thing-y on the wireless thing-y, wait 30 seconds and plug it back in, but still, it worked and I thought of it myself before resorting to calling Ryan at work, who would have inevitably told me “Did you try unplugging it and plugging it back in?” anyway.

So, tonight, when he comes home, I think I’m going to put on a record, hand him a martini, his slippers and a pipe (wait…do we have a pipe?) whilst wearing an apron and cooking meat. 1. Because he probably deserves it, what with all the actually working as opposed to sitting around pretending to write for eight hours like some people. And 2. Because deep down, I know that I am a mighty Wasp Conqueror/Putter-Together-er of Outdated Technology/Troubleshooter.

Hear me roar!

*This has yet to actually happen.

When real life attacks…

Well, I’m back. It’s been a hellish two weeks out in the real world that ended with the funeral of a beloved family member, but now I’m ready to retreat back into my virtual life where the biggest emotional incident is when someone I barely know un-friends me for cursing too much in my status updates.

I’m sure at some point in the near future, I’ll write more about what happened, but for now I am emotionally drained and physically bloated (thanks to way too much little old lady church food). So, for now, please enjoy this re-run column I wrote when I got bored one day at work a few years ago and created new state mottos for this lovely country of ours.

Mary Ahlers
1928-2012

                                          Aprill’s List of New State Mottos:

Texas: Come for the Ungodly-Sized Bugs, Stay for the Debilitating Heat

Arizona: Yup. Just as Racist as You Imagined

Florida: Housing the majority of senior citizens so the rest of you can get to work on time since 1967.

Delaware: Bet you ten dollars you can’t pick out our state on a map.

Illinois: At least we have Chicago.

Idaho: No, You ‘Da Ho

Kansas: Flatter than your 12-year-old sister

North Dakota: The “North” State

South Dakota: The “South” State

Rhode Island: Officially neither a road nor an island.

Ohio: Screw you, Michigan.

Kentucky: Over one million people, only 15 last names.

Nevada: Prostitution is legal…need we say more?

Georgia: We should already be on your minds.

Michigan: Suck it, Ohio

West Virginia: The Alabama of the East

Utah: Former Day Saints need not apply

Arkansas: Yeah, we’re not really known for anything

California: For sale

North and South Carolina: The “Mary Kate and Ashley” of the U.S.

Washington: Remember when we were cool? Grunge? Kurt Cobain? Starbucks? Anyone?

Missouri: Motto Currently Under Reconstruction

Colorado: Come for the mountains, stay for the snotty rich kids on school break.

Alabama: Not as redneck as Kentucky, ya’ll

Louisiana: Mosquitos big enough to rape your dog

Iowa: We heart vowels!

New Hampshire: Like Old Hampshire, only newer

New York: Like we care about a motto

Connecticut: We’re pretty much just one giant suburb for New York

Virginia: No presumptuous directional prefix required

Alaska: Sorry about Sarah Palin

Hawaii: If you enjoy swimming, take a ride on our interstates

Maine: We have crabs!

Massachusetts: The Traffic Jam State

Mississippi: The Educashun State

Maryland: The Other OTHER “M” State

Nebraska: CORN RULES!

Montana: Ask us about our state motto contest!

Wyoming: Wy not?

New Jersey: The Reality TV State

Pennsylvania: It’s not really always sunny

Tennessee: Rivaling Mississippi in misspellings since 1867

Vermont: Name two of our cities, we dare you

Wisconsin: We’re actually OK with global warming

Oregon: Like California, only crappier

New Mexico: Aliens!? Wha…? Don’t be ridiculous.

Oklahoma: We hate that fucking musical too