Archives for posts with tag: e.c.

Apropos of nothing (let’s deftly avoid how I’ve neglected this little blog for over a month) I found this email when I was searching for an email from a friend about Italy.

from: e cavouras
to: Krissa , Luiz
date: Sun, May 25, 2008 at 6:26 AM
subject: sucess at last

Titiu and luiz
after two (count them 2) 4 kl trecks and 5 bridges* got me a sim card so you can call us. Phone # is
xxxxxxxxx. This Number is valid while we are in Italy.

we love you.
mom&dad

PS Lui
Will send email to Max but dont know if silvana will see email before monday if she works so maybe you call and pass the info.
PS 2 we are 6 hours ahead of NY and 7 hours ahaed of houston and Chicago

* bridges mean steps up and down. Also venice is perfwect for NYorkers who live in 4 step walk ups

I love every little word of this email. I love the joke at the end about New Yorkers. I love how dedicated dad was to finding a SIM card so that we could call him on their Big European Vacation. I love the typos, man-oh-man how I love the typos. My dad was actually quite exacting when it counted, but emails from him were always this weird amalgam of LOL-speak and telegram-like staccato communiques. Once, I forwarded a particularly choice example to Stuart, laughing, and Stuart responded that emails this bad were usually ended with “Sent from my Blackberry”.

I also love how with the hindsight of history, I know Venice wasn’t the highlight of their trip. Mom got sick with a bronchial infection and found Venice too touristy by half. But Dad still trecked (sic!) up and down a bunch of bridges to find a SIM card because that was what he did. He identified what needed doing, and did it. When he would visit us in New York, there was always a hodgepodge selection of things we needed coming with him. A new filter for our sink. New sponges. “Here, a new cordless phone, why is your house such a death trap for cordless phones?” He was at once incredibly proud of me and also constantly finding ways he could help me with things he lovingly joked I was incapable of handling. I’m more than capable of figuring tricks and tips out in Excel, but sometimes I would come across something I wanted a spreadsheet to do and I’d just email him and ask him for help. He’d always spend two hours crafting me the exact document I needed.

Anyway, this email made me happy. I mean, it also made me sad, because the label “dada” in my gmail account is populated with a finite number of digital objects, each so incredibly mundane, except what did I expect? Was every email supposed to wax rhapsodic about the short time we have on this earth, and how much he loved me? No. Instead I have a folder full of reminders about tax software, links to inexpensive camera gadgets, suggestions on where to buy hardware I needed for some harebrained home renovation project, emails from abroad with temporary phone numbers, cryptic text speak, jokes about my dog, and Excel spreadsheets designed from scratch to improve my life, or just one day in it.

Here’s another one, just because it’s a perfect example of my archive (and no, I didn’t forget any of these things):

from: evangelos cavouras
to: Krissa Corbett Cavouras
date: Sun, Nov 18, 2007 at 10:15 PM
subject: dont forget

to pack
a) my camera
b) swiss knife
c) electrick screwdriver
d) red box with drill bits/screwdrivers
e) stainless suare cake pan

love u
dd

 

Love u, too, dd.

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(Oh, isn’t that wishful thinking.)

I was clicking back through my posts sort of mindlessly checking whether I use categories or tags when I had that moment that Snoopy has, where he’s wandered into the tall grass and he tries to play it cool, so cool, but he really wants to turn tail and run like a squawking chicken back to safety. I had stumbled upon my own grief.

And damn my blood for knowing how to write it, too, because I remember the way the sentences translated into the real world. I remember hating Fridays. I remember eating clementines. I remember how easily I remembered so many details from Dad’s last few weeks, remembered them like they were needlepointed to the insides of my eyelids.

It’s weird how the last ten months have changed me. I’ve been slowly but perceptively recovering in the ways you can recover (I don’t hate Fridays anymore) and also learning to recognize the swathes that are just permanently altered. I’ve been in therapy, which is just great – people, it’s great, you should try it – but it’s always surprising to me that it’s not always about my dad. It’s always surprising that the rest of my personality has withstood the gale force winds that blew.

But I’m also still so easily shocked into earlier states. I have this little problem where I wince when I meet the eyes of the very old or infirm. I feel like a grade A asshole but it hurts somehow, somewhere that isn’t all that healed actually, to see rheumy eyes and papery skin or watch a hand tremble on the subway. I want to fling myself against a window like a heart-thumping little bird to get out, away, out. It’s jarring how completely sub-conscious this reaction is. Sorry, old people. I’m usually not this weird.

Also I hate the sight of those auto-hand-sanitizers.

Grief is weird.

The thing I’m left with is so much more universal than what I had before. What I had before (amongst many other blessings) was this brilliantly unique relationship with this utterly brilliant human being that just happened to be my father, and happened to like me a lot, with whom I happened to have a ton of personality in common. What I have now is grief, plain and simple, dressing on the side. It’s not even wild grief with unresolved crunchy bits and fugue states. It’s manageable, but it has robbed me of something. I am a girl who has lost her father. Look around – there are a ton of us! You might even be one! Do you know what was better? Having a father.

So that’s where I am. Simultaneously marveling at the efficiency of my psychic organs, which always seem to know what I need when I need it (now: stay busy! now: pamper yourself! now: sad movie for release valve! I am a well-oiled machine!) and frustrated with my loss, with the misplacement of this unique and brilliant relationship. Like it was my fault!

We are these mighty creatures, I guess, if we don’t spend too much time staring at the little holes in the fabric of our superhero capes.

In two weeks, we will board a plane to Santa Fe for five days of vacation. We’ll do what we do best on vacation – I will obsessively read the travel guide and poll everyone I know for the best restaurants. Stuart will effortlessly learn the orientation of the city and navigate the transit options, and he’ll know when I’m twenty minutes exactly from full-bore hangry. For as much as I love the day-to-day of our lives together, I relish the chance to travel somewhere new with Stuart. Our best complementary attributes engage.

But I’m burying the lede. The day we travel westward is my thirtieth birthday. On August 31st, I’ll pass from my twenties into my thirties. Let’s take a moment here, shall we? Let’s eulogize this properly now.

My twenties were the least wild of all possible twenties. I remember a few truly debauched and distraught moments: having to stop for French fries at a diner on my way home from the Russian Samovar because I was too drunk to find the subway. A few ill-advised romantic choices, usually thanks to the Internet. Being sad but dry-eyed in the Port Authority watching a particularly fragile piece of my heart leave town.

But I remember some miracles, too. My first apartment, full of lazy brunches with the wittiest, most uproarious friends you can imagine. The feeling of looking out over the city from my 42nd story office window at 22 tender years of age, fearless and gutsy and happy. Knowing I hadn’t figured it out yet, but knowing I’d found the place and the people that would get me there in style.

And the best: finding Stuart.

And the worst: losing Dad.

I’m not particularly worried about neck cream and creaking bones and the loss of the excuse to shake my ass in clubs. I didn’t spend much of my earliest adulthood doing that anyway; I was too busy talking to these fascinating people I know and learning New York City like the back of my hand.

I will miss nothing about the last ten years except the person who made it so much better. But I gave him a 4.0 average in grad school and the sight of me happy, married, and his daughter through and through.

My thirties will bring me new facets of family – first, with Mom finding herself new paths in the world, and then, hopefully, new layers of family between Stuart and me and some unnamed zygotes (one day).

My thirties will bring a new career, one that I could not be more excited about. I am surprised it took me so long to realize that although writing is my first love, my great tool, that it is not my best-suited career. I am bloody thrilled to be joining the ranks of the world’s organizers, disseminators, knowledge finders and suppliers. Librarianship suits me like bespoke. I hope some day (perhaps I will be saying this as I go into my forties) to pass on the skills I’m learning and will learn, to get my PhD, and to do research and educate future librarians. Let’s get squee-ish for a second here: HOW COOL IS THAT?

My thirties will bring me more clarity about friendships and relationships. The lessons learned by fire for the past decade – be honest, be kind, don’t apologize too much, work hard for the people you love, be loyal, forgive – are already solidifying into canon. This feels good.

I have learned a lot about myself through the eyes of those who love me. I have figured out many of my best and worst impulses. I’ve learned to be proud of what I’m capable of, and I’m working on being at peace with my flaws. My thirties can hopefully be a time to focus more outward.

So Santa Fe will be a celebration and a page-turning. I will keep doing what I am doing because although life is not as perfect as it was before my dad died, it’s still pretty damn good and that’s okay.

I would love to hear you, blog friends, tell me about turning thirty. I’ll take it all to heart; there’s nothing I love more than research. Best thing? Worst thing? Most unexpected change? Thing you miss most from your twenties? Let’s hear it.

I’m starting to notice this pattern. Fridays are impossible. Something
about the amount of wind my sails can hold, I don’t know, only gets me
until Thursday night at 10pm. Then I wake up on Friday and I know the
only thing I have to do is go to work. Compared to the rest of my week
where it’s usually work-school, or other-work/work, or school-school
… you’d think Fridays would be a breeze. But my little sail refuses
to lift. It’s waterlogged. I wake up and all I fantasize about, roughly, with violent
intent, is staying under the covers until Monday.

So I get up late and put on clothes – usually clothes I look crappy in, because somehow by Friday I can no longer be bothered to bother – and I usually forget or can’t be bothered with breakfast. I give the dog a terrible walk, poor dog, and I go to work. And I’m usually pretty productive, if I can forget how tired and waterlogged I am. But all I can think is, it’s not really Friday. I’ve got class on Saturday morning, surely that defies the very Fridayness of a Friday. All this non-Friday is going to be the end of me.

What is there that is sunny: well, there’s been some sun this week, for one. (Look at my tattered rags of repartee, reduced to scraps of weather.) On an unexpectedly beautiful walk on Thursday morning, I curved around to the sweeping harbor views of Sunset Park to find just the mildest hint of mild on the wind, a lack perhaps of cold more than a breath of warmth. I was gulping it in, giddy with the idea that Spring is coming, and surely this great inky black spider weaving its little dirgy ditty in my chest will be banished when Spring comes.

Maybe all I need is a cookie.

This morning something occurred to me, as I fought the impulse to stay home instead of dragging my weary bag of bones to yet another Saturday class (it’s never as bad when I get here as I imagine it’s going to be) … it occurred to me that it would have been enough to proceed with work, just work, under this stupid inky umbrella of grief. Work would have been plenty. But school, well, there are moments when I just don’t feel tough enough to do any justice to school.

Who am I kidding! There are moments when I don’t feel tough enough to peel a banana. For the first time in my adult life I am a delicate fucking snowflake. I suppose if I had been someone already given to a fair amount of hand-wringing and hyperbole, all this grief would be a practiced flourish, perhaps? As it is, all I can do is look back on the happy, centered and rational person I feel quite sure I was through November 18, 2009, and miss the stuffing out of her. I particularly miss her when I find myself throwing tantrums over what kind of taco I ordered, or crying because the train is late, or snapping at Nano because he isn’t walking fast enough. Honestly! Who is this drama queen! And by drama queen, I mean me.

I have a song (I’ve become someone with a song!) that I put on my iPod when I’m really just tired of pushing past the stupid feelings I’m feeling all over the place, and just want to stand in place (last night it was in the middle of Union Square Park) and just feel the damn feelings already. It’s the Rolling Creekdippers’ cover of Gram Parson’s In my Hour of Darkness. It even has a dramatic title! But I suppose it reminds me that even though I don’t believe, I can still plead with the Universe to cut me some slack already. And by Universe, I mean me.

Then there was an old man,
kind and wise with age
he read me just like a book
and never missed a page.
Oh, I loved him like my father
and I loved him like my friend.
And I knew his time would surely come
but I did not know just when.

In my hour of darkness,
in my time of need,
O lord grant me vision,
O lord grant me speed.

Today is your birthday, and it was hard to imagine how much fun I would have had with you turning seventy, and how incredibly, impossibly young that now seems, for a man who used to joke that every day above ground was a bonus.

We went to La Villa for pizza tonight, with some of the friends that I’ve found the most comforting these past few months, some of the friends who know that any minute I’m smiling is bonus. We should by rights have gone to Di Fara – I still remember how absurdly proud I was that you loved Dom’s pizza even though you waited an hour for it, how you bragged to other people that you’d waited an hour for the best pizza you’d ever had, how you got excited when Di Fara’s was mentioned on Food Network because you’d been there! – but I was in class until eight thirty and La Villa was as close as I could get, buddy. We ate there, just in November, just the four of us, and I remembered the sight of your smiling bespectacled face across the table.

When we got home I stayed up after Stuart had gone to bed and finished the amazing novel L gave me. I sat in the big armchair Mom bought when we lived in Houston, the one you called the thousand dollar chair, as if you couldn’t believe a chair could cost that much, and read the last thirty pages in less than an hour. It reminded me of coming downstairs some mornings, when you still worked, and finding you reading. You used to wake up early, crazy early, just to have a few hours to yourself every day. Mostly, you read. Such a man of sacrifice, and yet when given the time to indulge, you read. It might be my favorite thing about you, my favorite thing I got from you, of all the beautiful and intricate and subtle things I inherited.

And now it’s almost midnight and it will no longer be your birthday and I’m a little grateful because I never quite know what to do with milestones, but also a little sad, because as much as it’d be so pretty to think so, I don’t believe in an afterlife where you’re reading this but I do believe that in writing to you, I’m honoring you the best this life knows how.

Happy birthday, buddy. I miss you so.

Predictably, I stopped writing here as soon as the semester started. This is because I am busier than I have ever been. Serving as Graduate Assistant to one of my favorite professors has been a godsend, if only because I am too busy Tuesday through Thursday to spend much time feeling sorry for myself. I am dressing like a grown-up and going in to work and impressing the pants off my professors and all I can think is, this is what I was supposed to be doing. I was supposed to be this busy, this studious, this excited about school. So my dad wasn’t supposed to die in the middle of it, fair enough, but at least I am doing what I was supposed to do.

Only, the sad thing is, all I can do is what I was already doing. I feel crippled, hobbled, when I think about doing anything – passing any landmark of time – that will be the first thing my dad doesn’t know I’m doing. The big slam of the bell will signal that this was the first time I made a decision without him and for all the strength I thought I had, I don’t have enough yet for that.

I have just enough strength, it seems, to recognize that tomorrow is his birthday so I should go out to dinner with my closest friends at his favorite pizzeria and be grateful that I’m still his daughter and I still love pizza. I also have just enough strength – but only just – to know that I’ll get stronger.

I saw a friend last night who’s already ridden this particular carnival ride and she asked how it was going and I said, I don’t know, it’s going whether I want it to or not, and she said, sucks, doesn’t it, and I said yeah, would not recommend, would not purchase from again, and we started laughing and I realized, this is funny only because it sucks so much harder than you could ever imagine it sucking. And at least it doesn’t always suck alone.

Sitting in the dark theater watching a movie helped. Sea salted caramels and emails from friends and shopping for groceries helped. But I’m still swinging wildly between relief that I’m back home and life will proceed whether I will it to or not, and wishing I was sitting with my arms around my knees on a beach somewhere, giving full rein to my grief. Too bad I live in New York and it’s January and there are no beaches with the requisite warmth around.

I bought sweet clementines yesterday and the first one brought me joy, which is funny since my dad and I loved sharing a box of clementines you’d think it’d make me cry (it made Stuart cry a little) but I thought to myself, I’m eating this delicious sweet thing! It’s not even one-eye! There’s no crying in here. I thought about how I sang him the song in the hospice, as he slept, and how I fumbled past all the deathiness of the last two verses. The clementines are still sweet, the sweetest box I’ve bought in years. Is meaning found, or created?

There’s no shortcut. It wouldn’t do any justice if there was. So through it, it is.