For those looking for some actual information from this site, my parents and Rosie and Baxter (the dogs), made it back to Lake Jackson this evening to find the house is intact, all windows and trees accounted for (even the tree my dad was hoping would blow down because he doesn’t want to pay to have it cut down is still up). Looks like most of the town is ok, although still lacking electricity. Here’s hoping everyone else returns home to equally good fortune.
Christmas time comes around and my family cuts loose. There’s a food, drink and significant plunges into credit card debt due to totally-exorbitant and highly-detailed Christmas lists. Christmas Eve has big food items on deck, including Beef Wellington also known as steak donuts or bow-tie beef depending on whether you ask me or my sister.
We were into our third round of wine getting said dinner ready, when we got the call—that my godmother Kris hadn’t shown up for dinner with friends, and was she ok?
Kris was technically my godmother, but she’d been around since I was wee. One of those surrogate aunts you read bout in books that I was lucky enough to actually have. She was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer when I was maybe 12, and was in remission for a long damn time. She never really talked about it, at least not to me, and I imagine if they get the internet in the afterlife, she’ll be upset with me for writing about it at all. But it happened and I hope she can forgive me.
In 2007, while I was dealing with the great-domestic-realignment, her health was also on a bit of downslide again. At thanksgiving though, she seemed ok and we had a great meal, and some great conversations and one of the last things she said to me was, “I’m going to get better, Wade-O, I’m going to beat this thing.”
As my parents rushed over to Kris’s house on Christmas Eve, to see what was going on Kendra and I put away the food and sat and waited (we also almost inadvertently killed my moms dog, but that’s a story for later). Twenty minutes later, the helicopter roared over our house and ten minutes after that, again the thunder of rotors. Lifeflight, the local air-ambulance. Such weird thing to think of someone you love thundering over your head at 150mph. We went to Houston that night, and tried to sing Christmas carols on the way, as I attempted to find some moderation in my driving between getting to the hospital before the helicopter and freaking out my mother. We celebrated Christmas the next day in typical Treichler fashion, with presents being opened all day, and multiple toasts with enough food to feed an aircraft carrier, because we needed it after the year our family had, and we felt that Kris, in her ever reticent manner about her illness, wouldn’t have wanted us to make a fuss.
Kris left us a few weeks later.
Fast forward six months—I’m sitting at my computer at work, signing up for the Lance Armstrong Livestrong Ride this October, a quite frankly, I’m pissed as hell. I don’t understand many things about this world, one of them being why the hell haven’t we beaten this god damned disease yet? We can land on the moon, we can build a global communications network, we can crack the atom but we can’t cure cancer? More than anything though I’m mad that I don’t get to spend Christmas with Kris this year.
So this year in the Livestrong Ride, I’m not riding for the cause, for cancer-funding legislation, or any grand philosophical ideals. I’m riding for Kris, and I hope she doesn’t mind (although she probably wouldn’t like all the attention). Hopefully, some of you kids can pitch a little money to the cause. Maybe it’ll help somebody get one more Christmas with their godmother.
I’ll be putting up a permanent link in the side bar later this week, but for now, click here.
Update: I have to say I’m a bit stunned – I didn’t expect to make my fundraising goals in one day. Thanks so much to everyone who pitched in, it means an incredible amount to me. Your generosity is awesome.
Death is the starlit strip between the companionship of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow.
– Mark Twain
Funerals are a weird thing. I’ve decided that my heirs, if I have any, or barring that any friends that I might still have, will be required by my last will and testament to construct a trebuchet or catapult like-device out of whatever available materials they might happen upon in the inevitable-post-apocalyptic-era (which could very well start tomorrow), test fire said siege engine, then hurl the lovely crockery urn that contains my ashes onto some great abyss, canyon or cliff. Something with a good view and nice weather. Some place where my particulate matter has space to roam. After this I expect people to drink copiously. And maybe burn the catapult, because that would just be cool.
Ridiculous? Of course. But that’s the point. Greet the afterlife with the same gusto with which you lived your life. The Irish got it right with the wake tradition. Mourn the passing, but celebrate their life.
We used to be known as hippie-wade. I don’t think its all the way justified, but I do recycle, buy organic peanut butter and vote a left-leaning ticket (the peanut butter in particular making me the pinko-commie of my particular crowd).
Recently though, hippie-wade has had a few blows to the self image. First I moved to Clarksville, leaving the mother-womb of all things hippy, south Austin. Then there was the Blackberry. Then I got the Wagon detailed. Then the 40″ HD-TV appeared in my living room. Then I amazed all my friends by not only eating meat, but being able to grill it with a marginal amount of skill.
Thus the image has suffered. So when I’m at the grocery store, presented with a plethora of options in the sanitary tissue (toilet paper) department, I see a brand offering naturally-whitened, no-bleach, fully recycled paper. Very eco-friendly. Very hippie wade. I throw it in the cart, thinking how bad could it be ?
If anyone is looking, you’ll find hippie-wade’s corpse in the dumpster out behind my apartment, along with 15.95 rolls of Eco-friendly toilet-paper.
What’s better than drinking too much at high altitude and singing Robert Earl Keen Songs around a campfire ?
When it’s your family doing the drinking and the singing.
This move has been an interesting one. A lot of firsts. First time with professional movers, a kick-ass concept where you pay people and they come and haul your boxes up to your new apartment for you, saving you gallons of gas (at $3/per that’s not to be scoffed at) and massive amounts of pain in suffering (specifically in the regions of Lumbars 3 through 5). This is also the first time i’ve owned a couch (on which my ass is currently firmly planted), a gaming console (oh great and powerful xbox, we do worship you), and a TV that’s almost as pretty as SOME of the art on my walls.
All that was pretty cool and the new apartment is pretty awesome as well. Living in Clarkesville is kind of like living in Italy (steep hills included) except with Texans and Mexican food (I would argue that most Austinites and most Italians are probably cut from the same cloth, but that’s for another posting).
No, the most shocking ‘first’ of this move was the storage unit. I’ve never actually rented one of these before, so it was little stunning to actually sit down and crunch the numbers (hang in here, We’re doing math). My 5′ x 5′ storage unit runs me approximately $2.72/per square foot, per month – more than twice what my apartment costs me. Put another way, if I paid the same in rent for what I pay for a cinder block locker on the outskirts of town, I’d be writing a $2000+ check each month.
Although. One most also consider the amenities. Oversized elevators, access codes, security camera’s massive gates, stark minimalist decorating, energy-efficient (green) lighting, interior exposed brick ? Not to mention free auto-billing for your rent ? Come-on people, you can’t find this kind of thing in a condo, for the price.
Sadly, as part of your renter’s contract (I signed less paper to get my car by the way) with Public Storage, I had to agree not to raise small animals or children (no kidding) in my 5′ x 5′ slice of cinderblock heaven. One would assume that one or both of of those labels also applies to me in some manner. So, it looks like we’ll be sticking in my 1940’s era apartment, with cool bistro, coffee shop and local grocery store in walking distance.
A better deal in the long run. This is a good place. Quiet streets, with vibrant life to them. Pedestrian life (I can go entire twenty-four hour periods without using my car). Two-prong (no ground) electrical outlets, scarce parking, pink-tiled bathrooms and interesting plumbing noises. That old building smell – a weird cross between a laundry mat and a wood shop, the detritus of decades of life, captured within four walls, suspended in the air. Old trees, views of downtown, and 5 minutes from whole foods by bike. Hell, I even saw a rat the other day (how’s that for character). This is a good place.
As old Bob said, everything is going to be alright.
My dad has told me this story about non-persons. A nonperson is someone who you work with for years. Late nights, long and difficult projects, tight deadlines. All these bring you closer, but go towards breeding the nonperson. One day someone shows up at their door with nonperson-creating-paperwork. Suddenly your coworker, who’s worked so stupidly hard trying to prove their worth ceases to exist. They disappear into the ether of the layoff, never to be seen again, their existence erased more credibly the the witness protection program could ever begin to contemplate. Pooof. Gone.
Why do we tolerate this? Mortgages, car payments, gas bills and the like. At least that’s my theory for the short term. Why have we tolerated this for the long term ? For the past 300 years or so ? Who knows.
Topics for consideration this week so far:
The Neal Gaiman’s Events-Are-Cowards Theory
Funerals, Why We Have Them
The Heaping-crock-of-shit That is The Health Care System in This Country
These topics, the fact that I even considered them appropriate, prove to me that I’m a fairly substandard writer. The one that needs to be addressed here is simple and difficult at the same time: someone is gone from the world and we miss them. The fact that I don’t want to embellish proves I’m a bit of coward when it comes to self-exploration.
I went to a memorial service this weekend for a friend. A friend who left us too soon. As funerals go, this was a good one. We raised a glass, shared a memory and lent a hand or a shoulder to those who needed it. But as deaths go it was too damn soon. I’ve spent the time since avoiding this infernal machine, knowing that I should try to put something down about all this, thinking about what I could possibly pen/type to do this justice.
Three days, an hour of bad reality television, a good run and a glass of wine or three later, I’ve still got nothing. The languages are different, My fingers can’t pass the emotion to the screen, know matter how hard I try. Does not translate, output errors abound. Humor, travel, politics, design – these i can handle. Grief is another thing entirely.
So i go run again, I go to they gym and all that’s kicking around in my head is stupid bullshit topics, that say nothing to the storm of the past week. More horribly flawed output, nothing close to capturing the gravity of the times.
And so I’m sitting in my backyard now waiting for something to dislodge, ready to chunk this thing in the damn garden when this song comes on.
Ambulance Ltd. – The Ocean
It’s a cover of an old Velvet Underground song. There’s no significance behind this, no logic. I hadn’t listened to music with Jerry in 15 years, I don’t know if he’d even like it (in fact i doubt it), but it makes me think of him. We each find our solace in different ways: God, Meditation, Music, you name it. It may not be the same way for us each time…one method may supersede the other on the next fixed game that life hurls our direction. These stupid little letters on a screen didn’t cut it for me this time. A cover song set on repeat…who would have thought that would help me think of a friend finding peace.
As long as it moves you forward, with good memories of the past. There’s bar in Red River called the Motherlode Saloon. Two years ago Jerry and i sat at a table in the back sipping Lonestar, artfully avoiding getting dragged onto the dance floor, into the flurry of professional two-steppers. He watched the crowd with a trademarked smirk that we all remember fondly. A good time, a good night. A good memory. A push forward.