Tag Archives: birthday

Memory Is A Scream

toy-boat
Granddaddy Came Through
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MY FIRST MEMORY IS OF BEING on my back in a hospital bed. Never one to rely on the shoddy recall powers of certain family members who seemed to lack the same zing I had for remembering where I put my yesterdays, very early in life I displayed a precocious curiosity for the push and pull of life's levers and diligently stocked my own memory bank with notes and exercises geared to maximize my potential—so I am rather sure, as sure as a consistent list checker can be that my very first memories from the time I first started thing about first memories were burned into this organ when I am a mere two years and months old during this first of eight surgeries I have undergone to date.

Actually, there are two strong memories that have chided me over the years from that two-week summer stint at Brunswick General Hospital where I had my left testes surgically dropped from inside my groin to the exterior scrotum sack, a process most boys experience within the first month or so after birth, naturally, without surgery, but my two danglers were apparently somewhat reluctant to show themselves. The condition, which also affects male fertility, is called cryptochidism.

Granddaddy was alone with me and he had a brand new toy boat, blue in color, just like he had promised, and I recall quite vividly us walking the few steps hand in hand to the private bath inside my room, filling the tub with water, and floating the boat and me on the wave of magnificent play time antics only Spud Woodward was capable of generating.
This is 1957. I am basking in my own private room. Brunswick General is not a military facility, so I remain at a loss to explain both the private room and my seclusion in a civilian medical institution. Perhaps my grandparents are footing the bill. My own daddy is hardly a thrifty man. In fact, he is well on his way, even taxing gregarious United States Navy standards to their vanishing point a few years down the road, in putting the word "drunk" into the phrase—drunken sailor. But that's of no concern here. I wouldn't be expected to sort out all these details at my age. Responsibility beyond my years did roar in upon me rather early as childhood dynamics tend to go, but not this early, at least not that I recollect. That would come later—with the siblings.

My problem, a traumatic hit so startling as to abruptly sear its passage into my memory, so that I can reflect upon it in my mind's eye just like it was yesterday, is being left alone for the first time in my suddenly quite conscious life. I am an only child at the time. My mother would birth seven children in seven and a half years, and must have been pregnant with my first brother even then, as I was secretly being prepared to undergo the scalpel in anticipation of growing a pair. But for this strategic moment in the life of a child, I am still the oscillating focus of attention for a small army of adoring adults and doting teenage girls, including my mother's own three much younger sisters who would spoil me with "favorite nephew" affection for the rest of their lives.

The toddler is lying in a hospital bed staring up at young mommy and daddy, 22 and 21 years of age, respectively...

They are telling me they have to leave, but that they will be back the next morning. Yes, as a precocious two-year old, nearing three probably, I understand their English but I feel only the compulsion to reject it. I do not wish to be left alone, and I'm not about to let them slip out of that large beige-walled room without a fuss. It was not totally dark outside yet, but within the room, the light was disappearing. Commencing to scream, I continue to wail without conscience until I am told that my granddaddy would be there to visit me in a couple of days and was bringing me the toy boat he had promised. But, as mem'ry serves, nothing would stop my bellicose screeching, stretching no doubt the tissue of my young pink lungs to the bursting point until after they had left my line of vision.

hospital-boat
My Hospital Boat
I had done my job. I had let them know how much I cared about them. Or else I had let them know how little I appreciated being abandoned to a strange place all alone and terrified. There wasn't even a smiling winsome nurse around to help guide me towards the light of an inexplicable future. I seemed to sense that I was simply too young to be left alone. Didn't they know that at least one of them could have slept in the room, in that chair over there in the corner, keeping me company, until the fear and trepidation of being abandoned by Nyx, the primordial goddess of night, had passed? Apparently not. Or else this young couple perhaps still in love with each other, or perhaps the party life, had better things to do. Free night off without the snotty-nosed kid. I could only imagine.

But sure enough, an undetermined number of days later, Granddaddy popped in by himself, and I basked in his bombastic personality. Granddaddy was alone with me and he had a brand new toy boat, blue in color, just like he had promised, and I recall quite vividly us walking the few steps hand in hand to the private bath inside my room, filling the tub with water, and floating the boat and me on the wave of magnificent play time antics only Spud Woodward was capable of generating.

It seems odd that this second memory—as keen as the first one days earlier, which was probably a fragment from the evening before the surgery— is not associated with pain of any sort except abandonment, a problem I still suffer in many ways some fifty years later.

My fourth and fifth years were ripe for pneumonic pickings, most of a more pedestrian nature, but we'll leave those for another day.

Forgive Me The Old-Fashioned Romanticist's Tone Of This

moon
Moon Over Deveraux
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Dear Skip and Char...

The struggle is clear. Measuring the number and identity of words can hardly suffice to adequately communicate our growing appreciation in learning the ever maddening geometries of kindness. Your spirited grace and warming hospitality as hosts are of course no surprise, but you must be made aware of the keen lift your holiday gathering inspired in our lives. The absolute highlight of my year, trumpets Gabriel. Certain timely conversations carried among beautiful barely named strangers can mask no appeal to clichéd rhythms and roles. Please accept our vigilant thanks. Your energies healed the lame, for it cannot be ignored that the week prior and week following your event, this dancing behemoth was forced to bed with an ailing back of pinched nerves and no man's land.

Charmed. The cold dark Deveraux night lamped in splendid triumph weathering on the misty heels of Paris. It is written. We will cherish and never diminish December 9, 2000, nor unlearn
the spirit Bafalis. Forgive the old-fashioned romantic's tone of this note, but Char, you should have a birthday more often...

Best wishes to both of you plus Josh,

Gabriel Thy

Friendship Wars, Frontlines, and Full-Moon Felonies

clues
No Clues, No Bruise
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Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 04:00:08
From: Timothy S. Shipman

I can only... guess, after my comments of the other night regarding not having furnished Steve with my home e-mail address, that you, prior to that night, not being aware as to my dilemma regarding, enabling or getting dragged under by one Steve Taylor, must have furnished him with it inadvertently. I'm not attempting to place blame; rather I dislike the unexplained; it bothers me. As you may have concluded, I've received two e-mails from him in the past two days.

I can't be sure as yet, but I don't think I've e-mailed him since the home e-mail has been installed. Either from home or work. So I'll be checking my work e-mail logs tomorrow to see if I can get to the root of this. Any enlightenment you might shed would be appreciated.

Thanks to you and Sue for Sunday afternoon and evening, again!

Tim

Nope, no clues, no bruise from over here. I haven't emailed him in weeks, and haven't mentioned you at all in ages to him, so I'm not sure how he got it either, Tim, except we might have mentioned Earthlink over the phone that night, and like Jack, Steve is a resourceful fellow with something that appeals to his own sense of espionage and personal cleverness, and if Steve is anything, he's web savvy, at least on the surf. And yes, it was great having you here. Thanks again for everything. We got an offer on the house from that Kevin and Marcia Rader-Rhodenbaugh couple that swept through here Sunday, about five grand lower than we are willing to accept, so we chipped away a little from our listing price, and counteroffered. That other house we wanted on Connecticut Avenue is gone. Poof!

The Sue and Gabriel show may finally wind up on the street without a place to live yet.

The mortgage banker recommended by the Virginia realtor has stalled, or is a heavy procrastinator in giving us a nod or anything at all, so we may have to look elsewhere in saddling up with our own new mortgage services, and that next step is crucial. Anywaze, yeah, I miss Steve, but he's a jackass, worse than me it seems in terms of the friendship wars. If he would just grow up and try to be there for "his" friends once in a while rather than always needing somebody to be there for him, then he'd be a great person to know, but nobody can expect Steve to step outside his own calendar, so otherwise, yikes, let me out the door, splat, before this thing goes terminal...

GT

Once Upon A Jewish Girl

jewish-girl
Once Upon A Jewish Girl
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Date: Sat Oct 11, 1997 9:42:21 AM

Hey Laura, although I had no problem opening with the previous two graphics you sent me, this most recent one, SKELETONS.BMP would not parse for Adobe Photoshop 4.0. Do you have any other more cooperative save options available to you?

Today is Sue's birthday. Mine was two weeks ago. Our 12th wedding anniversary fell two weeks prior on the 13th, so this is truly our most favorite time of the year, and despite not being raised a Jew, I certainly give a nod to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, at least in passing. We are driving to southern Maryland to a bayside crabhouse with friends this afternoon. Tomorrow we are having a small backyard gathering to roast a few birds. If you and Gary are interested in metroing into DC, we live a mere block from the Stadium-Armory metro station in the pink house at 109 Eighteenth Street, SE. We'd love to see you guys.

Did you ever get that homejob you were aiming for? My web design/Internet consulting business is finally taking off. High hopes for a real income may finally be paying off the piper, and that piper is me. My own two sites have not grown much since we last chatted as I've been so busy with business concerns. We've moved the studio down to the basement and have taken on a tenant for the other upstairs bedroom, formerly known as the Computer Room. I've known Peter for a decade, so while he's no stranger, we are finally able to stand each other's company after years of feigned consternation at the mere reputation of the other. He is currently looking for a job after leaving American University after six years of work towards his BA in Literature. Meanwhile he's putting in time at the Mac trying to prove himself worthy of support staff status should the business truly take off.

So that's our story. I know this is short notice, but I do hope you guys can put aside any possible fears I've encountered in most suburbanites of the "city" and drop on by to see us. If not, we'll catch you down the road. Take it easy.

Peace, bones, and battlescars,

Gabriel

Early Riser

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Originally published on October 11, 1996

Today's Sue's 47th birthday. She's still asleep. I ache all over with a variety of old age outa shape self-abuse seasonal change ailments. Sinus. Pinched nerves. Left earbuzz half death and in a state of perpetual ringing caused at the Zodiac Mindwarp show in London [in '92]. Brain tumors. Colon cancer. The works.

Richard is leaving today on his way to Philadelphia to visit an old friend berfore returning to Georgia. It's been a rather enjoyable three days, but I think we've gone as far as we can go. He'll be seventy in February, has a classical art fetish, and knows little about the 20th century other than what he can remember from yesterday's news, although he has recently redeveloped his fondness for the Beatles. He gave us a nude he painted. The model is a Southern Baptist virgin schoolteacher he likes to tell for the laugh, although he actually paints from pictures in magazines or photographs he has taken. In this case, the former method was used. His style is impressionistic much in the fashion of Renoir, whose works the two of us took in at the Phillips Collection earlier this week.

I'm rather peeved that my fancy monitor hasn't arrived yet. If it doesn't show today, Apple's three week delivery projection will have been proved bogus. Meanwhile, the 8500 just sits on the table unattached. Of course, I recall your PC sat in the box for quite some time before you developed the right combination of enough interest, nerve, and need to string it all together...

Appreciated your last letter as usual. Everybody's beginning to stir, so I 'll sign off and join them...

Love and other short whiffs of similar stench,

Gabriel

As If 2 Were 3, Reading Like A Banshee (Do Banshees Read?)

Master of Banshees
Master of Banshees
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Date: Thu Sep 26, 1996 6:49:37 PM

Built up into nothing short of some kind of Greek or Latin classicist of the short line, Bukowski farts to Mozart and Bach, and takes his toast butter side down, unless he's in a jam where the first movement is the quick jump he's been waiting for to launch his assault on an adversary or tart, so to finish up with this friendly exercise in mastiff-taunting wordslurp, I point to another fine stroke of congeniality from the just side of the near postal toastmaster of LA himself:

"Good Times? There were never good times. There were bad times and times not as bad. People like to talk about the Brotherhood of Man. Two types: those who have nothing and would like a Brotherhood because they THINK that would bring them something; and those who have everything (materially) and speak of the Brotherhood of Man as NOW because they think it's working for them at the moment..."

It's amazing how closely Bukowski almost to the word mimics the vibrant Henry Miller prospective. Of course Miller writes circles around CB. Bukowski begrudgingly even admitted this in a letter to Miller's son (he calls him Larry in the letters, but I think his name was Tony) who had written praising him for reinstating his belief in the literary scheme as the best writer around. Bukowski told him to look over his shoulder at the old man if he wanted to see the greatest writer alive.

Anywaze, you now have plenty of fodder from which to launch a Landry war on words. Today is my 41st bird day. My weeklong depression is kaput, but my week shot to hell, having done little other than soak up the sofa reading like a banshee (do banshees read?) but what a good read it was. By the way. That Guy Kawasaki book is not at all what I expected. Rather than a book about the Macintosh way (which was the title of an early book he authored) this book is about business in general, interesting enough, but I put it down about half way to engage in other reading. I do plan to finish it, but I am now wondering if you would find it relevant. My Power Mac is on a 2-3 week backorder, so I've put my excitement on hold while Sue is peeing her panties with anticipation. My web building has stalled due to earlier mentioned technical difficulties, but a week off has strengthened my resolve.

Iusually hide during a holiday, but tonight I am feeling a strong urge to fly off the handle, and will probably go grab a few beers out the refrigerator to read my day's mail which I postponed from my usual first thing until the last thing today for some odd reason. Oh I know. I read something else. And didn't want to get bogged down into letterwriting until this afternoon. All things considered I've have a pretty good bird day already. Now to check me mail, and pop a Black Label. Until next time,

GT