Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Reading the book-- finishing the book- and seeing the play was, as I anticipated, very rough. I love Molly so much. I understood that she was not interested in sharing her emotions. I get the fact that for as much as I knew her, I didn't really know her at all. I had so many lunches with her, attended so many Final Friday parties at her house, even sat with her through chemo and still, Molly was, in the end, incredibly private.
And yet, I have memories. I remember first encountering her, when I was a waitress at Magnolia back in '92 and she a regular patron. One time, she spilled her iced tea and the waitstaff joked among ourselves, "Molly Ivins can't spill that, can she?" But whenever she came in, we always left her alone-- an unspoken policy we had, one extended to all celebs. Another night, she was in supping with her aging mom. I pointed them out to a host, Lindsey, who was from Australia.. He was a journalism student and beside himself at the news. Later, I went by to check on Moll and her mother and-- noting that their plates had been cleared, which was unheard of at the Mag but which Lindsey had done in an effort to approach them-- I got into a conversation with them. Molly said she had just been talking to her mom about how apparently no one recognized her (this was at the height of her fame). I assured her we most certainly did, but that it was our policy to leave the famous in peace.
Years later, at the invitation of my then-roomate Genevieve, who'd known Molly since she (Gen) was a child, I began attending Moll's Final Friday Parties. I must've gone to 80 of these gatherings over the years, parties that always included a session dedicated to reading poetry and offering commentary. How well I remember one night, when the crowd demanded I read, and I demurred, claiming I'd brought nothing with me to share. Molly excused herself momentarily, and returned with a copy of the unbound manuscript for my first book, which my publisher had submitted seeking a blurb from her. She insisted I read from it. I was floored.
So many other memories rush in, prompted by the endless tales of generosity detailed in her bio. Literally, as she was dying, Molly had her assistant Betsy call me to send to her the requisite materials to secure a nomination by Molly for me to be accepted as a member of the Texas Institute of Letters. As if Molly had all the time in the world to endeavor to such trite tasks.
I remember her inviting my son over to help decorate her Christmas tree. So fond was she of children, and os fond were they of her, that long after my son grew weary of attending other events with me, he and his friends always so eagerly looked forward to Final Friday. and piled in the car to join me. When Molly was in the hospital for the final time, just days from dying, Henry and his friend Marcio, who'd been to so many of those parties, were adamant about going to tell her goodbye. I hesitated-- it is such torture to see someone on the final throes of cancer-- but eventually brought them along. They brought Molly a blueberry milkshake. I watched two boys that day, then 16, transformed by the sight of this once vibrant woman ruined by her disease. On the elevator down they were different people, forever changed by the farewell.
I have so many other memories of Molly. and reading the bio just reinforces for me how too busy she was and how, nevertheless, she always made time for lunch with me, to tell me her stories. Oh, her stories. I remember so many of them at Final Fridays. I remember having lunch with her, not long after surgery-- Molly always picked up the check which wasn't just nice but necessary, considering how broke I was. One time at a very chi-chi Ladies Who Lunch place, it dawned on her that her wallet was mostly empty. At the hospital they'd insisted she empty it of all but a twenty dollar bill. We scraped together what we had to cover lunch, including a very large pile of nickels and dimes from the bottom of my purse. The young and humorless waitress, upon retrieving that little leatherette thingy they use to present the bill and collect payment, said-- noting the nickels spilling out-- "Do you need change?"
Moll and I giggled, one of us announcing. "Oh no, KEEP the change!"
So many more stories rush in, but I will end with just one more. After Molly's memorial, we all gathered at Scholz's Beer Garden, one of her favorite places in the world. I was so wracked with grief, so doubled over in the pain of it, that a TV news reporter approached me-- you know how they're always looking for the most dramatic angle, the most distraught quote? Noting my distress, they figured I'd be good for a quote. For the first time in my life, I eschewed a microphone, and felt gratitude that my "date"-- Sarah, who'd been to so many Moll lunches with me-- chased them away. But I did get up at the open mike and I think this is the story I told:
One of the times I took Molly for chemo, I was sitting in the back, beside her, as chemicals were shot through her shunt. Most folks had visitors who had to wait in the waiting room but Molly was different, a celeb, who was allowed to bring someone with her. I figured my job was to just hang out quietly, to feed her maybe, to mostly just BE there for her. At some point, a medical personnel came by-- a nurse? a doctor? I wasn't sure. Before I could get my bearings and realize what was going on, this woman said, "Molly, I was at your signing the other night. I love your work! Could I get you to sign a few books?
Molly nodded and I was mortified. Wasn't it my job, as chemo sitter, to shelter her from this very thing? As the nurse/doctor scurried off to get her books for signing, I-- feeling like a failure and also appalled at the request-- turned to Molly and said, "You are so much more gracious than I would be. I can't believe you agreed!"
She then flashed me her enormous smile, and in her exaggerated Texas accent assured me, "I ALWAYS have time to sign!"
I so miss Miss Molly. I miss her enthusiasm. I miss her dedication to friends. She was a mentor to me in more ways than I can possibly list. I am humbled by her life and by her death. I am humbled that she took the time to care for me-- at all, but most especially in the light of her pressing illness and her fame.
Friday, January 28, 2011
So our beloved Rebound, who more than makes up with cuteness what she lacks in intellect, has a way of falling prey to more physical challenges than the other dogs. So yeah, she's mentally and physically challenged. And it's even possible that sometimes one thing leads to another, though it can be chicken-and-egg to try to figure it out. Example-- she might decide she wants to hop up on the futon. (I mean, as much as she is able to "decide" anything.) Being a Boston, she can do a vertical leap of maybe 3 feet, straight up, except she never remembers this. One option for futon conquering is the very simple Plan A-- stand in front of the futon couch and hop up. Super easy. Plan B, her preferred choice 99% of the time, is to go around to the arm of the couch-frame and attempt to clear it. At which point she smashes her head, falls back, and then repeats this, usually getting it right on the second or third try.
Well, okay then-- is the head banging further depleting her "intelligence"? Or is her "intelligence" the reason she keeps banging her head? I have no idea.
Other health matters have nothing to do with the ways she chooses to conduct herself. For example, I must take the blame for the heart worm she suffered this summer. She wasn't on preventative. She tested positive. This necessitated $1000 of painful shots and also the need to keep her almost perfectly still for two months. I bought her the best crate money could buy, and boarded her at a great facility when I went to Israel. And her Uncle Big Red visited her there everyday. Still, I felt like shit. And she ballooned up, doubling her weight due to the steroids. Then, when she was allowed to walk again, I took her out and her little pads had gotten so soft that they blistered. Poor Rebound!
All that was behind us for many months, and things were exotically calm over here. Then, the other night, I noticed a very bad ass smell coming from Rebound. Not as in she's a Bad Ass. As in, her butt really stank. I tried to ignore it. But it was bad. I mentioned this to a friend who had brought her adopted dog back from the edge of death. "Anal glands," she said. "You need to express her anal glands."
I'd heard of this before and instantly blocked the idea, the way I've tried to block certain traumatic childhood events. But oh, the stink. So I used my medical assistant, Google, sucked in my breath, and started surfing for YouTube help on how to attempt this intervention at home. (Since my office job ended, we're back to cutting corners over here as much as possible.) I found a perfectly nice video, watched closely, wondered if the dog in the video was actually taxidermied (he stood so still-- I would never stand like that if someone grabbed the 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock periphery of my sphincter and pushed in and up and squeezed).
Then I loaded little Rebound into the bathtub, a place for which she holds much suspicion. I positioned my paper towel, did a quick "time check" around her asshole, got my fingers in there at precisely 25 til 5 (or was it 25 past 7?)---and puuuuush and squeeeze-- and fully expected a major Hershey squirt to sail past the paper towel and right into my new bionic eye. But when I looked at the paper towel, it was clean. (Okay not "clean" as in you could eat off of it, and it did smell a little, but it was absent of butt juice.)
I figured I was doing it wrong. For her part, Rebound just seemed a little confused and a little excited, like she wasn't sure what this new game was but maybe it wasn't a bad thing. I released her from her bathtub prison and sent her on her way.
Later, in the bedroom, as I decided some sheet changing was in order to clear out the residual smells from the night before, I spotted them. Two perfect little brown parentheses on my formerly pristine white pillow case. Had I not watched the anal gland expression video, I might never have suspected it, but with my knew knowledge I quickly understood-- before I'd even gotten to the task REBOUND HAD EXPRESSED HERSELF! Forget about that dog that knows 1200 words. My dog knows how to express her own anal glands.
GOOD GIRL REBOUND!
Now, about getting laid. The day after this miraculous feat, Uncle Ross showed up, still jet lagged from his trip to New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii. He came bearing a fresh lei from Hawaii, and if you've never whiffed one of those floral garlands up close, let me tell you they are PUNGENT. I quickly bedecked Rebound in this glorious gift leaving at least one end of her smelling much, much better.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
A couple of weeks ago Henry called with the awesome news that he'd been hired as a drummer in the band Air Waves, which is fronted by the amazing Nicole Schneit. Nicole is a kick ass songwriter and she has a gorgeous groovy voice. Her previous drummer was working for a number of other bands and so when there came an opening, Hen auditioned and got the gig to tour with the band to support their new CD Dungeon Dots which is getting great reviews in Indie Rock Land.
Their tour-- West Coast, East Coast and Canada-- started last week in Austin, at Emo's. Good lord I hadn't been in Emo's in a very long time. I actually remember when it opened-- hell I remember before it opened, when I waited on Dave the manager about a week before SXSW 1992, and he told me he was "opening a club in time for SXSW" and I thought, "Yeah, and the monkeys are gonna fly out of my ass and bring your pancakes to you." But Dave wasn't shitting and he did it, and the rest as we know, is history. Holy crap have I been drunk in that bar. No more, of course. So it was interesting to be the sober old lady at the show last week, hoping Air Waves would wrap their set by midnight because, you know, I need my beauty sleep.
I have so loved watching Henry grow into himself as a musician. Back in the day I used to organize Teen Rock events at Stubb's, Emo's, and any other venue that would have us. He was in the band Max & Henry for ages and they even released a CD. He sometimes plays in Horses with Horns and Best Fwends. But right now, the focus is 100% Air Waves. I'm posting the tour schedule below. If you have friends in any of these places, please do tell them to get their asses out and check out the band. And if you can't see them live, please buy a CD or Vinyl LP. Thanks.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
I ran away for a few days to Lake Austin Spa. If you have never been here, let me tell you-- it is SO worth the trip. Even if you don't stay overnight, you can spend a long day unwinding.
This was my birthday treat to me-- to run away to a beautiful place where every single detail is tended to, the meals are incredible, and if you want to just wear a bathrobe the entire time, that is more than okay.
I'm fortunate enough to teach out here sometimes, so I actually get to visit the property a few times each year. It is gorgeous regardless of season. Right now the lake is way down (due to purposeful human action-- Dam Humans!) which has brought in all sorts of birds, including seagulls that prefer fresh water to salty. I LOVE SEAGULLS. There is this tree with red berries that is so eye-poppingly brilliant I stood staring at it for a long time. Yesterday I took a class in breathing which sounds silly but then...
well let's just say it wasn't.
I do hope you get to visit here sometime. I have been so happy, holed up in a warm room, away from the chill, toiling away at writing I really wanted to work on after several weeks of hustling to knock out some work stuff that kept me from what I most hoped to focus on.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I've had a request to post the Kick Ass Award winners, and so I shall. The catch is, I don't have links to all these folks, or even descriptions. So winners (and/or presenters) perhaps you can post info in the comments about the programs you do so folks can find you.
Monday, January 10, 2011
American Foundation for Equal Rights, by making a wedding pillow. I will now explain. In February, I will have my Bat Mitzvah for which I am required to do a service project. When I first heard that gay marriage was illegal, I was nine. I was simply appalled. I don’t know how old I was when I learned about gay and lesbian relationships but it was never something to hide in my family. My sister is straight, I am straight, my parents are straight, but that never has and never will matter. So when my Bat Mitzvah rolled around and I had met still more gay and lesbian people, I began to think about what I could do for them.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
This week for my Austinist column I was talking about how bowled over I am on a regular basis by the endless amazing art offerings in our fine town. One of the best jobs I ever had, before it went away (boo) was the gig I had for JetBlue writing about all the great things there are to do here. Well, just because the job went away doesn't mean the cool stuff has stopped happening. Nor has my enthusiasm for recommending this cool stuff waned.
Monday, January 3, 2011