I couldn't imagine New York after the attacks, and I had to see it for myself, so six months after I hopped on a plane and spent a week in New York. My friend took me for a walk to Ground Zero, and I made it all of 3 minutes before I had to leave. It was still a huge hole in the ground, covered in debris, swarming with workers trying to sort out an unsortable sort of mess. Many of the buildings along our walk were still boarded up, still full of the ashes of things I can't bring myself to fathom.
We sat, my friend and I, on the roof of his apartment building every morning which sat right on the river's edge, the same rooftop he stood on watching smoke billow out of the towers, before he'd gotten on the subway, back off it, and walked into a war zone. The view spanning the the expanse of the Manhattan skyline. Every morning I'd sit there with my coffee and stare, trying to will those towers, those people, our brothers and sisters and nation, back. We took pictures which I intended to share this morning, but I just now realized that I've lost them.
So instead, I'm just going to share these, some photographs of my heart and soul, the greatest gift that Canada every gave me, the most gentle, kind, pure, honest, loving person I've ever had the privilege of loving. Someone who's taught me about life and the world and myself. Someone I've kick-boxed with and read from the Qur'an with. Someone who is the rule, not the exception, to her heritage and her religion. Someone I would trust beyond all others with my life and those of my children. And then I'll state simply that there is a difference between a person's choice and a people's beliefs, and pray that we as a nation are able to remember that when we speak of our fellow countrymen, our fellow humans, our brothers and sisters, be they Christian or Atheist or Flying Spaghetti Monsterers or Muslim.
Updated: God issues press release. Says it much better than I ever could have. Showoff.
It's taken us over 10 months to brave the rough seas of the US healthcare system. We've had insurance, we've just been too scared to use it. The beauty of the Canadian health care system is how simple it is. You never, ever have to worry that you'll walk in to the doctor with a cold and walk out with a diagnosis that will bankrupt you for generations to come. It's easy to get used to that. It's hard to leave it.
But we left it and the kids need physicals for school sports and I need a bi-centennial check-up so we found doctors, booked appointments and went. The kids went first because I am too chicken to go first. They're my litmus test. If it goes well at their appointments, if I can remember how to fill out a tree's worth of paperwork for them, if I don't leave the office a blubbering mess of tears, then I can do it for myself, right?
And it went well at their appointment. Very well, actually. They found a doctor they like, they're in good health and I didn't have a heart attack at the check out desk. So I went for my checkup the next day.
I can't remember the last time I had an annual. I think it may have coincided with the last time someone decided to shove their shoulders out of my delicates. I also think that was the last time anyone saw me undressed in the light of day, and yet I marched into that OBGYN's office prepared to wear a robe that doesn't close, climb up on a table and let some strange man fumble around with me under florescent lights. I was brave, I was determined, and I was completely unprepared to be greeted by the cast of Grease.
Every single member of the staff was dressed in 1950's poodle-bop. I am not a person who is afflicted with too many phobias, but it turns out that having Sandy and Rizzo and Frenchie stick tiny scrub brushes up my coochie is one of them. I sat in the waiting room and realized that you could make a pretty good horror movie with some 1950's costumes and a set up stirrups. Think of how much more terrifying that scene from Se7en would have been if Kenickie had been sitting there under flickering, dirty lights, sobbing, brandishing a razory speculum.
Thank god in heaven that my doctor was dressed up as a doctor. I asked him what the deal was with the horned rimmed glasses and pick jackets everywhere, and he said that every Friday had a costumed theme to add some levity to the office. I told him it wasn't working. He told me he usually didn't work on Fridays, mostly because he completely agreed with me. We scheduled my follow-up appointment for a Tuesday.
I'm praying to god that Tuesdays are Rocky Horror day. Because that at least makes sense.
I was going to apply for a grant to conduct this experiment, but then I saw this:
And they need a grant way more. My friend Kevin's daughter suffers from this autoimmune disorder, as do a lot of kids. A lot of kids suffer and die from it. See, here. Today is the last day to submit a vote to Pepsi Refresh on behalf of Kevin, his daughter, his family and community for a $250K grant to help find a cure. Really, you don't have to do jack, just click vote or text 100850 to 73774.
Today's the last day to vote. You know you want to.
Somewhere in the uncharted backwaters of a city in Delaware, a woman sits, most likely playing Tetris on the internet. The woman, herself, is of very little importance to this story. Inside that woman is a little pink sack, a pocket if you will, and on the wall of that sack, carved in sharpened bits of umbilical cord, reads the following words:
Mr Lady. Out. 3.20.75.
Directly above that, if you were to look, you'd also see this:
E.C. was here. Born to raise hell 7.8.73
No, Eric Clapton is not my brother. This clown is. We'll call him Gnilleps, okay?
First-born child to the nightmarish debacle that was the reproductive team of Mr Lady's parents, my brother is 20 months my senior, stands about a foot taller than I do, has red hair, play video games, has attended more college than he ever did public school, and is a big fat copy-cat.
I have 3 kids. Guess who also has 3 kids? My husband is 35. Guess who just had to go and turn 35 today? Whatever, hosehead.
Sometimes when my kids achieve ludicrous speed, The Donor will ask me, "Where do they get that from? YOU? Gnilleps?" And I honestly don't know. I don't remember much about him growing up. We kind of lived in, well, a warzone? It was every man for himself. Sibling bonds were not forged. I do remember than when we weren't pitted against each other in a battle to the death, I totally looked up to him. Even when he:
- Duct taped us to the bed while we slept, and duct taped out mouths shut so no one would hear us scream
- Rolled us up in blankets and then shoved us down the wooden staircase
- Hid Playboys in the attic, and laced the entrance to the attic with Sudafed, knowing we'd find them and think they were Red Hot Candies and eat them all
- Tried to build a bomb practice chemistry in the kitchen
- Dropped our brother on his head so hard he had seizures for a few years after (honestly, I did the same thing to our sister. Eveies.)
- Attempted to talk me into jumping out of the 2nd story bedroom window
- Shattered my 4 year old right arm in the process
- Convinced me to take the wrap for drinking all the cherry juice, which doesn't sound like a big deal to you, but I know and he knows....
You know, normal older brother stuff. Here's the deal; my older brother is the smartest human, by far, I have ever met and he was, as a child, a lot like The Brain. Guess who was his Pinky? He was seriously less than challenged growing up and he just made the best of it.
My favorite memory of my brother, one of my only memories of him actually, is one night when he was in his room, and I mine, and we realized that the phone jack in the wall in between our rooms had never been wired, and that once we took the jack cover off we could totally talk to each other all super-secret-like through that hole in the wall. We sat up all night gabbing through it. I couldn't fathom a guess as to what we talked about, but I remember that we did it. I had never felt so special in my whole life.
That's the thing with my brother. He's a clown. He's outrageous. He dyes his hair pink occasionally. But, when he wants to, he can make you feel like One Million Bucks. He's genuine, he's unique, he is unabashedly unafraid, and he is true to who he his.
We never had that relationship where we say I love you and I miss you and stuff. We never really had any relationship, truth be told, but that wasn't our fault and now that I am all grown up and I can choose for myself? Yeah, I choose him to be my big brother. I love that guy, man. He's an amazing uncle, a bang up husband, a fabulous dad. He's smart and funny and I am so proud of him, watching him grow from a fucked up little kid into a man you'd want to will your children to. He rose above, yo. Better than I could have ever hoped to, for sure.
So, Gnilleps, happy 35th birthday, you old fuck. Your bottle of Geritol and your Bing Crosby albums are in the post. Because I love you.
Today is also the birthday of someone else quite important to me, and I'm just not going into that, but I am going to tell you a joke the kids' godfather once told me, and my willingness to repeating it , especially today, is quite possibly the reason I'm going to hell.
Jethro was walking home from workin' all day in the coal-mines, and stopped into the local pub, just like he did every night on his way home. Dingy, dusty, he saddled up to the bar and ordered his drink, the same drink he ordered every day. And then he smiled a wide, dirty, toothless grin the likes of which the bartender had never seen on his face before. "My oh lordy, Jethro," Clarabell said, "you sure do have a big ol' grin on your face today! What's got you so happy?"
Jethro sighed. "Clarabell, I doesn't even know wheres to start. Last night, oh lordy, last night!" He took a deep breath and continued. "Last night I was walkin' home from here, just like I does every night, and I crossed over the train tracks, just like I does every night, 'cause you know, I live just over there, on the other side of the tracks. But when I stepped over those tracks, I looked down and lord almighty, what did I see? I saw a girl. TIED to the tracks! You know, like in those movin' pictures!"
Clarabell's eyes grew wide. "What did you do, Jethro?"
"Well, what could I do? I untied her, of course! I brought her back to my shack with me, and I poured us both a drink. I was so nervous! I tried to talk to her, but, well, I just couldn't helps myself, and...well...errr...long story short? We ended up DOING IT all night long! We did it on the couch, and on the kitchen counter, all over my shack! It was the most amazing night of my life!"
Clarabell smiled for her old friend. "Jethro," she said, "that's great! I is so happy for you! What is her name? Is she pretty?"
"I don't know," confessed Jethro, "I never did find her head."