Saturday, December 31, 2011

Party time.


Earlier this year, my brother called to tell me that my dad had died. I was packing up my office. Our whole company was moving. It was a weird day. Everything was in boxes.

I rarely spoke to my brother. Hadn't spoken to my dad since I was 18. It was strange, this notification. It was like suddenly having two awkward reunions at once. First with my brother, and then with my dad, now dead.


Two strange feelings came over me. The first was that I didn't really have a right to feel bad since my dad and I were both winning (losing) an epic grudge match. The second was this: I stood in an empty elevator bay, waiting for it to take me to a meeting and I was suddenly overcome with the urge to have a kid. Biology is a strange motherfucker. I don't want kids, but something in my legs and stomach and brain and fidgety wrists and arms knew in that moment that this shit is real. This is really your life. It was my life. And I was suddenly, right now, a half-orphan. People were leaving me. A reunion I kept meaning to get to was never going to happen. And for some reason my body's response to the failures of my family history was this: START OVER. Make your own people.

Then in October my mom had a stroke. That's a long story. But I remember a few things. She spent 5 days in the hospital. I remember wearing the same outfit all those days (I had come to see her for the day... did not expect to stay in Portland overnight, much less 7 days). I remember a woman in the ICU waiting room who looked at me and asked, "How long have you been here?" and at that point I think I was only on day two. I joked, "Why... do I smell?" She replied, "A little." So that was awesome.

Later that night at the hospital I remembered that I had a full bottle of vodka in the trunk of my car. It was intended for consumption at a Jewish women's retreat the weekend prior but I had forgotten it. I went to the hospital cafeteria. It was about midnight. I asked for a big cup of ice. I bundled up, walked to my car in the huge hospital parking garage, popped the trunk, and mixed up a giant vodka soda in that flimsy blue paper Pepsi cup. I got in the car, turned it on, plugged in the iPhone, and cranked Frank Sinatra to full volume and proceeded to drink my face off. I was tailgating at the intensive care unit. It all seemed appropriate given the situation.

After my dad died, but before mom's stroke, my dog got cancer. The vet had to amputate a few toes. This was followed by radiation therapy. This was a real treat. Three days a week, for five weeks, driving to Edmonds, which depresses me, because any town smaller than Seattle or Portland depresses me. (This is the kind of asshole I have become.) My dog, being a dog, liked the trip there. I was trying to reason with him, like, "You shouldn't be so excited, man. You have CANCER. And I have to leave work early to drive in this rush-hour traffic because you get your treatment at a human facility, which means they can only radiate your shit after hours because they are running the cancer-curing equivalent of a back-alley abortion clinic, cash payments and everything..." But you can't reason with dogs in cars. They are too excited. Because the dog is in a car. And that's happiness for a dog.

2011 was sort of a piece of shit. I'm just gonna say it. I found a funny party hat with cellophane fringe in the basement and I wore it while mopping the floor tonight. I'm staying in for New Year's Eve. With less than two hours until 2012, I'm sure as hell not taking any chances by going out. I need to make it to next year in one piece. It can only go up from here.