Monday, November 22, 2010

My Brother the Texan

Hello sweet ones. Another Monday and another antsy day. (It doesn’t help that I took my klonopin an hour and a half later than I should have. Word to the wise: Never be late taking your tranquilizer. This is not helpful behavior.) I think crazy raging hormones are making it much more difficult to breathe. There is actually a logical medical reason that this might be so. But I swear to this fucking god, I stub my toe, it’s more difficult to breathe. The cat looks at me funny and again, breathing is more labored. (Okay, those last two are completely untrue, but they might as well be. I have no clue why I feel different from one day to the next. Yes, it sucks.)

Since I never leave our lovely apartment, (no, I’m not being sarcastic; it’s very nice here.) Thanksgiving has to be here. But no one has the energy or the inclination to put the damned thing together. So I suggested ordering in Indian food. Years and years ago, we went to Mitali West for Thanksgiving, They gave us, on the house, a turkey curry. We were the only ones there. Having Indian again was my suggestion. It’s horrible depressing to order in all the shit that your mother and grandmother made and receive for an exorbitant amount of money not Thanksgiving dinner, but an incredible simulation. Forget everyone’s Thanksgiving favorites and instead we’ll stuff ourselves with bhujia, garlic naan, tandoori mixed grills out the wazoo, malai murgh tikka, biryani and whatever the hell else suits our fancy. I think this will be a major success. Hey, I have nothing to celebrate. For me, the scales have still not tilted to life. Because my life stinks. Even with the greatest husband in the world. And a pretty damned good mother and brother.

Today I received a call from my brother Eric. This is my brother in Texas. From whom I’m estranged. I picked up the phone by accident. (Could have knocked me over with a feather…) “Hi.” “Hi.” “How are you?” “I’m shitty. I’m always shitty.” (Which is true.) Then I just started talking about Ulysses S. Grant. (I just finished a revisionist bio after reading his memoirs. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.) Unlike a friend of mine back in high school who always found someone to pine over in whatever band we were listening to no matter what. She never said, “You know what? I like the tunes, but these guys are really vile.” No she always found someone. Yes, I had my rock and roll loves, but they really were few and far between. I’ve found as I age, the fall-in-love-with-the-unattainable gene has been turned on. And it’s powerful. Historical figures make me hot. (Even though they're quite dead.) They make me sweat. Right now, I love, love, love Ulysses S. Grant. And no, I’m not in love, because they’re sexy. No. And I’m not in love with him, because he was the greatest general of the nineteenth century. (Though that’s more than enough to seal the deal.) He was just a great guy. (All the scuttlebutt regarding Grant is a load of bullshit.) If Lincoln had lived, between the two of them, this country would be a radically different place. They both would have forced the South to let the freedmen vote. (And a shameless supreme court began gutting Grant’s laws for true equality and for the next quarter century culminating with Plessy vs. Ferguson (separate but equal.)) Wild fact: the last fair election until 1968 was 1872. So when anyone says the civil war ended 155 years ago. Laugh in his or her face and inform the person of the latter.

I love Ulysses S. Grant.

And I will always have a soft spot for Charles II. (He loved women. Not just fucking them either though he loved that too. He loved their company, their conversation. He loved their minds. Though pulchritudinous wasn’t a deal breaker...) He was, most important, a perfect mensch to take the throne after the death of Cromwell. Charles II wasn’t out for blood, retribution, and civil war. He got the people behind him and had a productive, peaceful reign. Long overdue. Cromwell and his dudes beheaded his father, Charles I; Charles II had what to be angry about. But he looked beyond personal vendettas and did his job awfully well. (He’ll always be my honey.)

What does this have to do with anything? I suppose that if the passions of Franny are evidence of nerdlyness. (Which I think I might be accused of if someone had the guts to say to me, “Yo, back in high school, you were one fucking nerd. And reading this nonsense, you still are.”) But though I haven’t heard it, I’m sure if I had any label at all (the other being, “Huh? Who?), that was it. I love that this stuff turns me the fuck on. It lights me up like a Christmas tree, and I’m just a measly Jew. And anything that can brighten my day, gimme. Nerd my ass.

My friend Audrey dropped off a book she really enjoyed called The Ghost Map a non-fiction book about a cholera epidemic that hits London mid-nineteenth century. It’s wonderful. I called Audge up to tell how much I loved her for knowing me inside and out and how she knew that this book would make me happy.

Today started off really lousy. I felt under the weather. Chip was working his ass off. I missed him. And I was struggling to exercise and couldn’t breathe. I get a call from my brother who in so many ways I don’t recognize anymore, but I knew he’d be just as excited as I was about President Grant. This is what my life with my brother had always been. He was usually (he’s eight and a half years older) the one getting me excited about something cool- like astronomy. We had a kids’ book (The Big Book of Stars) that gave thumbnails of the big names: Copernicus, Newton, Tycho, Kepler among other cool stuff…Who introduced me to the book? And here I was waxing poetic about Grant. This was soooo comfortable. So right. Can we get passed the last twenty years of weirdness? Good God he was my best friend from day one. My first word was his name- not mama or dada.

(My brother Doug is totally digging the Grant stuff. The cholera epidemic, not so much.)

And yes, it was I who stole the soft-covered book Pioneer Germ Fighters in fifth or sixth grade. Because, I knew. I knew. That no one would ever love that book more than I. It needed my love, and I gave it. I don’t know how many times I read the damned thing. But I betcha that book would have sat gathering dust if I hadn’t taken it. I didn’t do much taking of what wasn’t mine, but this book needed me. And I needed it.

Eric will be in January 8. I’ll see him.

1 comment:

  1. That's great news re Eric. I am very happy for you both.