Tuesday, November 29, 2011

what's in a name

Years ago, late one night and most likely aided by a glass or two of wine, Nathan and I got into an odd and lilting conversation about baby names. We both wanted "William." I argued that as the firstborn child, I should get dibs on the name. Nathan, ever the logical one, argued that which ever of us had a son first should get the name.

Eventually, in our intoxicated and intoxicating sentimentality, we decided that maybe we could both lay claim to the name, and that it wouldn't be the end of the world for two cousins to answer to Bill.

I remember the conversation feeling very abstract, in that particular way that conversations about not entirely impossible but definitely far-off and hard-to-imagine things feel.

Nathan called me in early September to tell me that Shanna is pregnant, and that come next April they will be parents.

I was surprised at how sad I felt at first, upon getting this phone call.  I got off the phone that night and sobbed myself to sleep, which seemed such a shameful and horrible way to greet such lovely news that I've tried not to think about it too much.

Cousin Eric sent me a couple old pictures last week, from a sailing trip on his parents' boat that happened a quarter of a century ago. I wasn't expecting these pictures, and had to catch my breath after opening his email. And it struck me then, in that moment of not being able to breathe, where this initial sadness had come from.

I am so very happy for Nathan, adored baby-brother-mine, and his lovely Shanna and their impending parenthood, and I am so very happy at the thought of being aunt to their child. But also there is the realization that our father will never know this child, will never be known by this child, and will never watch his own child become a father -- something I know he would have watched with boundless joy.

And so I find myself crying for them: for these two wonderful and beautiful men and the loss of an experience that they should have shared, had things gone a little differently with the world.

I imagine, if Nathan and Shanna should have a son, that he will be impish and curly-haired and glowing, as his father and grandfather have been before him, and that perhaps he will carry with him his grandpa's exuberant grin if not his grandpa's name.

Monday, November 28, 2011

november music (fragments)

Jill and Evan and I went to Brooklyn Bowl last week to see Mike Doughty. They were surprised, I think, at how middle-aged he is, or how similar all of his songs are, or something. They are not wrong in this assessment (as Jill so concisely put it, after hearing some of his old stuff, "I guess weird dissipates with age?"). Weirdness also dissipates, sometimes, with being sober, and with being content, and maybe with being happy, and I still can't help but love him, even if half his songs sound like they might be the intro to Circles. (Here is some old Mike, and here is a some new(er) Mike, and here is an actual music video off his latest record!)

I recently discovered this little gem (and am apparently one of the last people on the planet to do so, given its YouTube views), and pretty much want to listen to it all the time:

Nathan recently sent me a mix (by which I mean, in this amazing modern age, that he sent me a URL and I went to said URL and downloaded a zipfile, then unzipped said zipfile and imported it into my itunes -- with Evan's tutelage because I am technologically phobic and sadly ill-informed). One particular song, this weird and gorgeous thing, is currently my commuting music of choice. I put my headphones on, turn up the volume, and stare aggressively out the train windows (preferably the front-most window, out of which one can stare at the oncoming tracks, and which is closest to the door most convenient for my subway stop).

I am slowly putting together a birthday mix for a recently reconnected old friend.  I find myself wanting to somehow capture in it the twelve years of our silence, but I've been working at narrowing things down.  Just because these new-fangled technologies don't have the built-in limitations of TDK cassette tapes doesn't necessarily mean anyone wants three hours of your favorite tunes, after all.  Some of the things that aren't making the cut: Singuila's Mektoubi, from my French/African hiphop phase; Tricky's take on the Cure (mostly because the studio version isn't nearly as creepy or as gorgeous as this); a nearly 20-minute long live recording of Built to Spill's Broken Chairs, because though it captures a certain early-20s angst, who wants to hear twenty minutes of someone else's rage, elegantly and heartbreakingly jagged as it might be?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

'someone i loved once...'

The Uses of Sorrow
(In my sleep, I dreamed this poem.)

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

(Mary Oliver)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

loss, and growing out of it (a partial chronology)

Little Yehuda, one of the neighborhood kids I regularly watched over when I was lifeguarding back in high school, asked me once if I was more like my mother or more like my father.  I, trying to make light of it instead of sobbing, told him I'd inherited my mom's good looks and my dad's bad memory. He thought about this for a minute and then said, all serious-like, "Well that's okay, then." When I asked him what he meant, he replied, "Maybe you'll forget he died."

Two years ago I was complaining about all the spam clogging up my inbox reminding me to get the perfect Father's Day gift. A friend who had lost her mother when she was a teenager said that Mother's Day is a lot easier for her now that she herself has children, but acknowledged that I (what with being of the female persuasion and having nary a chance of becoming a father) would never have the opportunity to re-appropriate Father's Day in similar fashion, and that this was sad.

Now that I am thirty-five, people are no longer so shocked to learn that my father is dead.  I take strange comfort in this, and in the fact that I can almost always say without tears, "It was a really long time ago."

I was having dinner recently with a friend who lost her brother some years back, and I found myself explaining this to her: the double-edged relief that I've felt these last few years about finally being old enough for my cohorts to have also begun losing parents, for my own loss to have become less shocking.

It occurred to me even as I spoke that this generational relief, this growing in to an age where such a loss is normal, would still be a long time coming for her, and will never come to parents who have lost their children. It seems odd to feel lucky about the way one loses someone dear, but in so many ways, I was. Lucky, I think, that it happened so quickly. Lucky that the chronology at least was right, even if several decades too soon. Lucky that this loss, having happened so early, has finally receded into being merely one facet, if still and always a huge facet, of who I am now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

yarnish & etsyish things

It must have been the fact that it snowed this past Saturday here in New York, several inches in the city and much more than that elsewhere, that got me to thinking about winter and putting together this winter Etsy collection (which has some lovely stuff in it if I do say so myself -- there are just so many talented craftfolk in the world!).

More personally, here are some of my more recent additions to Etsy:

A new hats & scarves section in my shop

 And this gigantic bright pink shawl!