went back to indiana for my grandma joan's funeral. don't worry. i am not all broken up or anything. it was along time coming. she had been pretty far gone for a while, alzheimer's, chronic seizures. ain't no dignity in slow deaths, it seems.
i left sunday on the megabus. shit was a double decker. totally got the front top seat. crashed out as soon as a it got dark. i had had bizarro encounter on the cta (per usual) on the way. the 151 sheridan was packed as i got on. i muttered "jesus christ" as i negotiated my small bag and backpack onto the bus crowded with wide-eyed teeneages and a lady with puffy hair. she gave me one of those tight smile that looks more like a grimace than a smile like she is bracing herself for something. wtf, man? i am just trying to get on the bus. then she proceeded to keep asking the bus driver architectural questions about the many many skyscrapers we were going by. jesus, lady this isn't a tour bus. then i looked around a little more and i was on a bus with a mission group! they all had matching whereversville baptist mission hoodies on! wtf? what was going on? all i could think about was whether or not they would be on the megabus with me, singing christian campsongs, 100 bottles of pop on the wall or pray the whole time, taking up the front top seat. luckily, they were not. but, rest assured, many other annoying people were.
i got to bloomington and went to angela's. got to see buddies. it was great.
got to see these twins:
then the next day, i got to see these twins:
note: Nicholas is reading a book from a series called "Dinoverse." It is about a group of high schoolers who get turned into dinosaurs and sent back in time by going through what Nick described as a "black hole vortex" in the gym, under the bleachers actually. The tagline is "the teenagers that time forgot." That is fucking ominous. Finally a dinosaur morphing book that really captures the angst of teenage subjectivity. The next one in the series is "Raptor Without a Cause." I requested that the bookreport be forwarded.
On Monday, there was a coffeehour for my grandma at her old people home or "community" as my mom likes to call it. I guess it is, if being locked in ugly apartments inside of a cement block gated in with a bunch of invalids and seniles is a "community." There were alot of first cousins and great aunts there. I think I had to explain my interests at school like forty times. What are they going to ask when I am not in school? Will they have a safe topic to start with? Will I be able to feign some half-valid form of living? Does my great great aunt Maxine know what a blog is? Will she understand the value I get in archiving my interest in dogs in costume and dumb things I have to suffer through daily? Or why I have to take pictures of things like this hologram of the Last Supper that was hanging in the foyer?
I like to think so.
After the catch-up session where I ate alot of carrots and dared my brother to fit as many cucumber slices in his mouth as he could (5), we went back to my mom's house. I hadn't stayed there in three years. Every time I go, I have to reorient myself to it. It is such a weird place. I slept in my old room from when I last lived there in middle school. That side of my family is so weird. This is my new favorite example: in trying to find a movie to watch, I discovered that they own the movie Patch Adams on four formats: vhs, laserdisc, dvd and blueray. wtf? really? is patch adams that good that you need to rebuy it every time a new format is introduced? are you going to do some crazy project where Robin Williams in doctor clown garb is projected on all four walls of a white room? Maybe as a comment on the surreal status of doctors? the relation between humor, horror and healing? No. It's just that Patch Adams is a perfect movie to symbolize what my step-dad sees as good in the world: bland films meant to inspire through their portrayal of selfless care. I guess you can get closer to that selflessness through accumulating it on ever smaller discs. I tried to make a drink out of what was open at the bar. They had no beer at all. And no soda that wasn't diet. I tried to drink a diet rootbeer and vodka while watching The Lonely Guy featuring Steve Martin and Charles Grodin. Well, can I just say the movie gets two more thumbs up than that little concoction. Dude! That movie is good. Charles Grodin is really funny. The dog subplot was LOLfunny (better than plain funny).
The next day my little brothers came in to tell me that it was morning. Thanks, dudes. Can you let me know when we hit noon too? I drank coffee while they showed me the fake science toys they are very excited about. I got to get right up in this face too:
This is my dog, Gwen. She lives with my mom so watching this trot, like hearing her nagging, directive bark is a rare treat.
Did you notice how she crosses her legs when she walks? She is very elegant.
Then we had to go to the church to hear have a slow breakfast of cold, dry bagels and listen to people talk about God and my grandmother. I found the source of the pamphlet I had discovered earlier in my mom's kitchen.
What i would like explained is why this baby is totally flashing the light of God.
The service was at an Episcopal church. I hadn't been to a church service since my little brothers were baptized seven years ago. I didn't know what to do at all. I was totally weirded out by everyone repeating everything the main dude (i dunno what he was called. let's go with minister) was saying. I didn't take communion and kept having to ask my little sister Jaguar when to stand up. Everyone held it together pretty well during the service. My grandpa Les, my middle-namesake, has alzheimers as well and had no clue what was happening. It was really weird to watch.
After the service ended, we were supposed to drive to Bloomington to bury my grandma's ashes. It was sleeting superbad. When I walked outside, there was a soaking wet, shaking beagal wandering around the parking lot. The reality of what was going on, how upset my mom was was setting in. I stuck my hand out to the dog and it came running over. Lukas has requested that I carry his bag of salvaged donut holes to the car for him so I began feeding the dog a few glazed chunks. Her name was Lucy and she was older, skiddish and very sweet. She kept trying to lick my face from too far away and getting tonguefulls of wet snowflakes. I looked at her tags and called the number listed under her name. When the lady answered I told her where I was and that I had found a dog named Lucy and described her. She told me that she didn't own a dog like that. I didn't know what to say. "You don't? REALLY?" This was supposed to be a good act, a kind act. A call that should be answered with a sense of relief and excitement at getting this sweet pup home. The lady on the other seemed confused and then told me that her son used to have a dog named "Lucy" but that he gave it away. The last she had heard it was at the Brown County Humane Society -which is four counties away from where we were. I was crouched down, holding her, giving her donuts and scratching her behind the ears, phone cocked between my shoulder and mouth. Everyone else had piled in the cars , and I was holding up the funeral procession because there was this lost dog. The minister walked by me. I asked him if there was anyone left inside the church, another clergy or adminstrator who could look after the dog until animal control came, which was the best plan. He said no and that it looked like it would be fine. The dude just talked for like ten straight minutes about being a good samaritan and he couldn't be bothered to make any arrangement for a dog in wet, below freezing weather? Need I remind him what his precious god spelled backward is? I called 411 to get the animal control number. We had to leave before they could come because we couldn't be late for meeting the funeral rep.
I felt like crying in the car. I smelled strongly of wet dog. Sitting in that car full of mourning and wet dog.
We got to the chapel in the cemetary and everything suddenly felt more intense, more tragic. It was just the close family now. My mom was starting to cry. The minister said a few words and invited us to pay our last respects. My mom went up first. Then, unprompted, my littlest brother, Nicholas, went up to the small box and placed his hand on it. He stood there for a minute, his eye focused on his hand. He waited and then said "goodbye." I absolutely lost it. Not because I was upset about my grandmother, but because I was overwhelmed with how much I love my little brother, with how much is at stake with that. I started bawling, then my sister sitting next to me started bawling. Like dominos, all of our composure fell. I don't know what everyone else was crying about. Maybe Luke or Jaguar or Scott were really grieving Joan. I think I was actually terrified for a moment about what these people I try so hard to keep at bay can mean. I think I was crying for taking for granted how lucky I to have so many people that I care for that has nothing to do with blood or any other independent ties. There are alot of people in this world I am lucky enough to be invested in. Sometimes, like watching a ten year old deal bravely with death, that is overwhelming.
When I got home, I drank mate with my dad and laid around before heading back into Indy for another bus ride. Single-decker. With a guy snoring so loud I couldn't sleep. During this ride, I thought sporadically about the way to approximate the things that matter most to me, in the face to terrifying political climates, death of loved ones, the shrinking feeling of being in the middle of huge projects and ideas. I think it is contained within the phrase "tiniest p politics." I listened to the White Magic's "childhood song" and watched this nasty sleet fall as the bus inched along. I want to say there is no way of getting over death, just ways of living.