Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

grandma writes some more

I grew up with my grandmother in the house. she is in her (early!) nineties, stays up til 2 am, sleeps til 11 am, argues with my mom like its a sport, and collects coins. to that end, mom has $40 dedicated to the bank, purely in quarters, to feed this habit.

what they did, see, is took that $40 over to the bank and had it changed out. so they’ve always got about $40 worth of quarters at home and grandma goes through all of them with a magnifying glass and picks out the ones with the hard-to-find states and territories — your American Samoas, Northern Mariana Islands, your Guams. she is making nine or ten complete sets, one each for all of her kids and grandkids, and that means a coin each from both the Philadelphia and Denver mints.

so they go through a lot of quarters. they take back the duds to the bank, and come back with $40 — or $39.50, or whatever — worth of new ones. and if I come across a Guam quarter with a little ‘D’ on it that shows it’s from the Denver mint, I put in an envelope and mail it out to her.

but I digress (man, can I digress with the best of them). coin collection is only one of her hobbies. grandma writes a lot. and for years now she’s been writing what’s best described as a personal history, with each chapter dedicated to a different subject — a job she had, an important event like a death or birth or wedding, or a biography of a relative. she writes all of these out in cursive longhand, and my mom then types it up, and then sends these chapters to me to edit “because you’re an editor, right?” so I get to read them as they come in. they are packed with dates and memories, some specific and some vague, and a lot of them are loaded with her personal opinion. because grandma airs her grievances.

so while it’s not necessarily a comprehensive record of her entire life — there are a lot of gray areas and uncompleted memories, and huge time swaths of time get glossed over — I find that these chapters make for fascinating reading. maybe this is because her history is a big part of my history, and so I can understand that casual readers aren’t gonna find this stuff nearly as interesting as I do. but grandma has a distinctive voice that comes through in these things: they read like grandma, they sound like grandma. and they will be here post-grandma. and I think it’s pretty awesome that she’s doing this, so that I can have an idea of what it was like to grow up in a dirt-poor immigrant community in a Midwest industrial boomtown in the 20th century. if you’ve got an older relative, you should encourage them to do this. or at least stick a mic and a tape recorder in front of them for an afternoon.

I wonder if this is where I got it from, this writing bug. from grandma. maybe it’s genetic.


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babysitting is tough

really. I spent about six hours yesterday evening in sole charge of two small children, and that shit was exhausting. I’ve used this analogy a few times before, but watching my baby niece is like a unending, low-impact wrestling match with a fifteen-lb. sack of potatoes that will not stop moving goddamnit, jesus why won’t you stop.

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grandma wrote a letter

grandma wrote a letter to the local newspaper in Indiana, and it got published. it is muy bien:

I was shocked and disappointed to learn Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels was recently appointed to lead Purdue University. His tenure as governor has proven disastrous for our public schools in Indiana.

Now to see him leading such a great university makes no sense to me. After learning that Daniels personally appointed eight of the 10 Purdue University trustees, I realize how he attained this prestigious post. What a shrewd move that was.

Let’s pray that Daniels will not continue his destruction of education at Purdue University.

– Mary Drozda, Valparaiso

bike accident

it’s been a helluva week. I think everybody within two or three hundred miles of DC would agree to that. so hot!

on Friday night I rode my bike into a parked car about a block away from my apartment. I’ve been riding my dad’s old Trek around and leaning out over the handles, mean mugging, and it was dark out and I was sweaty, and when I reached for a racing support and managed to miss it my weight sent me over the front and the tire went the wrong way and bang: there’s my head going into a Volkswagen’s door at about 15 mph. this left me with a cut on the ribs and a smaller one on the temple. always wear a helmet, kids.

you’d think that running yourself unimpeded into a parked car would be a humiliating experience, but I can say, honestly, that it’s not. at least not in the moment — I wasn’t thinking about how much of an asshole I must have looked like as I picked myself off the street. but in fairness and in hindsight, I must have looked like a huge one.

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punk rock turned me into a romantic

I was at a bar with friends late on Saturday night, and it had a jukebox.

oh man, I love jukeboxes.

if I have five bucks, and you are a jukebox, my money is yours. but this particular jukebox was … a tough out. it had high walls. dared its challengers. loaded with stuff I hadn’t heard before.

I’d be interested to hear the thirty-second spiel from the bartender as to why the music machine was full of albums not easily accessible. I think I know the answer, and it’s what I would have done, too, had I that kind of terrible authority: they have stocked it with the shit they want to listen to. there is no party in the USA. the Pharmacy Bar is running a despotism. this is their prerogative.

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