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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

Track 16: Brokedown Palace

Brokedown Palace

Katie Sullivan

 

For the past two months, when my thumb tapped its way to a digital copy of American Beauty, it wavered, and then wandered away. I feared it. I feared the warm, twangy intro of “Box of Rain,” the memory of my father singing it guilelessly out of tune, of realizing it is Father’s Day today and how I don’t want to call him but reluctantly will, of knowing that this album is going to hurt. It hurts before I even start listening.   

But let’s move back. It is 2003. My father and I are driving over 2000 miles from our Illinois suburb to San Diego. I have been accepted to a private liberal arts university that served Orange County’s academically undistinguished nouveau riche. In our cramped Honda Civic, my father has brought along  about 100 painstakingly “burned” CDs in individual jewel cases, each with an ink jet printed label in the same nondescript Times New Roman font. There was Joni Mitchell’s Blue in there, and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. But the one we listened to nonstop, through the blank spaces of the I-80 corridor, was American Beauty by the Grateful Dead. (more…)

Track 2: Flow My Tears

Flow my tears

Claire Miller Skriletz

Flow my tears, fall from your springs…

How nice it must be to be able to cry at the right times, instead of sobbing for no apparent reason when life is going well. Or to be able to cry when someone close dies.

Exiled, forever, let me mourn.

Is self-imposed exile the same as being exiled? Claire pondered this as she considered how her relationships with friends and family had changed since she moved two thousand miles across the country four years earlier. She reminded herself again that no matter how hard it had been, it was the right decision. She had grown tired of her life before; even if life since had been hard emotionally, it was still worth it. The most recent visit to her friends and family had been the most difficult yet – her two closest friends didn’t seem so familiar anymore, despite her efforts to keep in touch. For the first time in their friendship, she and her friend Val had spent several hours together with long, uncomfortable pauses in conversation. (more…)

Monsters

I’ve been thinking about monsters. Not the zombies I usually research and write about, but the language of monsters that lurks in our everyday speech. The rhetoric of horror is so pervasive and so present. It comes to us when we have something to speak that seems unspeakable. It is deployed to justify violence and harm. It is used to vilify and to distance. It appears in moments of trauma. The language of monsters is disastrously unavoidable.

I’ve been thinking about how we create monsters and ultimately about how we destroy them. Creation and destruction tangled together, dependent on one another. Their ubiquity begs for explanation when I have no words to give.

I’ve been thinking about monsters because I also can’t quit thinking about Darren Wilson killing Michael Brown.

Like so many people, I was heartbroken over the grand jury’s decision last week. I was also enraged and frustrated. I keep looking at my children and imagining the suffering of  Brown’s parents and all the parents that fear the same fate for their children. I don’t know their anguish; I can’t really. But, I’m haunted by autopsy sketches, the pain etched into his mother’s face, and the wounded bodies of protesters. I hug my children a bit tighter and hold them more closely. I also realize that their white skin offers them protection that Brown did not have.

I keep coming back to monsters.

In his testimony for the grand jury, Wilson described Brown, “it looks like a demon.” Dexter Thomas notes the dehumanizing language that Wilson employs with both “it” and “demon,” which resonates with a larger history of denying the humanity of African Americans. Thomas describes how the events in Ferguson feel like a bad movie playing out exactly like we feared it would. Spoilers aren’t an issue, if the pattern is the same.

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Sophie

Sophie the dog died last week.  She had surgery to fix her bladder. The surgery had complications. Sophie had to be put to sleep. These are the facts, but as is often the case, the facts leave so much unsaid.

My mother-in-law called my husband to let us know, and he told me. I cried (and I still cry when I think of Sophie). She was not my dog, but she used to be. She was my pet, and then, I had to give her up. She’s lived with my in-laws most of her life. Yet, I raised Sophie from a puppy. I struggle to mourn her loss.  I already gave her up. What right do I have to mourn? How can I not mourn her? What do I say about a dog who used to be a part of my family? What do I owe her memory? I have no good answers (I rarely do).

Instead, I’ll tell you Sophie’s story, the parts that I know. It is the least that I can do.

Sophie as a puppy.
Sophie as a puppy.

Chris and I already had one dog, Hannah, and a mean cat, Belle. We bought a new house with a large backyard, and we worried that Hannah might be lonely. We were both graduate students. We spent many hours at the university away from home.  We thought maybe another dog would be a good companion.

My mom happened to have a new litter of hound-mix puppies, so we decided to pick a puppy for Hannah. I was drawn to an off-white puppy with spots running through her fur. She had  big brown splotch over one eye, which made her look a bit like the Pokey Little Puppy. This puppy was also nervous, which amounted to much pee to be removed from carpet, and rambunctious. We named her, Sophie. The name was my choice because it sounded sweet, and she was.

When we brought her into our home, she promptly peed on the tile.

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