Monday, January 10, 2011

Like Hell You Can Sew With Yarn

I can’t do a backstitch with yarn! You try it. That’s one motherfucking achievement if you can swing that. I would even lie prostrate at your feet saying over and over and over again, “I am not worthy; I am not worthy’ By the way, did you know I’m not worthy?” Embroidery thread. Piece of cake. Regular thread, c’mon now. In my sleep I can make a backstitch.

As you can tell by the above, I find sewing soothing. I mentioned the two doll-making kits my mother bought for me in 1972. But she didn’t realize that these were not kits for the faint of heart. Am I actually saying that these kits have remained untouched for thirty-nine years? Can it be? That I left everything in each box untouched, and took them both pristine boxes with me when the Lipmans left the ‘burbs for good? I did. They were so sweet. Like that book I stole from my fifth or sixth grade classroom. Pioneer Germ Fighters because I knew, knew, that no one would love that book more than I.

As I mentioned before, I still have that book too even though I’ve rather outgrown it.

Last night, I saw my brother for the second time since becoming ill. Ah! I don’t remember when I’d seen him, but I did see him once post ARDS and asked him the $64,000 question, “Why didn’t you come?” He never came the whole time I was in the hospital. Chip, Mom, and Doug came every goddamned day. Perhaps Eric could have, if nothing else, provided solace to his brother. (As far as I know, there’s no bad blood between those two.) A reminder of the highlights of my hospital stay: eight weeks in a medically-induced coma on a vent plus another five weeks in the ICU. Looking like a camp victim at a staggering 85 pounds.

People who get such a severe case of ARDS and wind up with crazy-damaged lungs plus bronchiectasis. I love to say bronchiectasis. It just trips off the tongue like ”babbling brook.” (Bronchiectasis is the twisting of now-no-longer useful lung tubing; they’re twisted and hence, fucked up forever and always.) Basically, I have a mélange of tissue that in another form would be happy, healthy lungs. And the word bronchiectasis is pleasing to my ear, because when I hear it or say it, I have a vivid picture etched in my mind of the happy Sinclair Brontosaurus. Yeah, yeah, I know the fossilized beast had been named prior to Sinclair incorporating that cute, smiling Brontosaurus into its public imagery. Except know one knew about it. Not then. I would’ve kept it mum. An Apatosaurus just doesn’t fly. Then the crack Sinclair marketing team would have to fire their agency, and who the hell knows what they’d come up with. The Brontosaurus would kick any other Sinclair mascot’s ass. Like a Sinclair version of the Philly Phanatic. Show that and this is the best you’ll get: “We must have new boards by Friday of we’ll fire your ass.” Oops, that’s my other life talking. Madmen, Take 2.

FYI, no, even back in the day did most admen did not have booze in their offices. (Except, perhaps the big shots.) Anyone who needed to imbibe got drunk off his ass at lunch, and there was always the bar downstairs if you needed, “new surroundings to work on that tough pitch.” Two Gibsons, please.)

Some changes I’ve never understood. “Honey, let’s fill the tank at Esso.” Does honey really care to go to Exxon? For me, the name Exxon evokes the military-industrial complex Ike warned us about. Exxon frightens me. Esso was so tranquil, so soothing. Exxon wants to crack your head open with a hammer. But that’s just me.

Which brings me back to my brother. He is still my sweet, gentle brother on the outside. But after spending the past thirty plus years with his impossible, controlling harridan of a wife, he is filled with more rage than I can imagine. I’m sure as hell not going to go there. What’s the point? If he had made any move in that direction, I would have made him feel it was okay to speak freely. (For real. We were best friends growing up. We grokked each other like no one else did or could. He knows. He remembers though it was an awfully long time ago.) But he didn’t speak about what had become, no exaggeration, a family debacle.

He wanted to see me. He wanted to make sure I knew that he now understood what I’ve been living with and how horrible it must be. He didn’t get it for a long time. And he didn’t need any words to tell me this. I think he also threw in a pinch or two of contrition into our wordless conversation. That was nice. My brother hurts himself more than I ever could, and none us want him to hurt at all. That’s why it’s been so damned difficult watching him become more and more wretched and see that he actually believes he deserves the terrible life he’s made for himself. Now that was a choice he made. No one made it for him. I wasn’t the best-equipped person at promoting myself in those dreadful mid-eighties. I got knocked down. I made tons of mistakes. But I didn’t repeat most of them.

Dinner was more than pleasant. We ordered in a ton of Indian food. (Eric’s all-time favorite, and one of ours too.) When he kissed me good night he asked if that were okay. I nodded. “Of course, you silly brother!” (The latter was not spoken. It was a thought balloon.) My mother is so happy that Eric and I are no longer estranged. Eric, I think, is relieved that I didn’t have a cow at any time during the evening,

But after they left, I was still a ball of pent-up energy. What the fuck was I going to do with it? Remember I said it was not fucking possible to make a backstitch with yarn. Not for me. So I got the brilliant idea of taking regular thread. (In the exact same fire engine-red as the yarn, to neaten up the smile- mainly pulling the yarn stitches tighter with the thread in the back where no one will (thank god) ever see. I worked on that doll’s mouth (for that was what required the fucking backstitch.) One stupid “U,” concave up. I worked on it until it earned my satisfaction. That was at was 3:40 a.m. (Did I have energy to burn or what.)

I am in the middle of a bio of Lindbergh. Absolutely fascinating. Before that, David Remnick’s Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. What a fantastic, yummy book! It’s a rare thing to savor something that good. The last book of the Edmund Morris’ Teddy Roosevelt trilogy is out! I can’t help it. I am such a non-fiction girl…(FYI, From now on, the Lindburgh bio or the Remnick are not ever to be used in the same sentence as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.)

I’m here writing this post tonight, because the Lindburgh baby was just kidnapped. I’m not strong enough to get through it tonight. It was time for a break, write a post, and sew the doll pieces together using a nice little blanket stitch. Sewn with thread.

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