Sunday, January 27, 2008

"G"ood Night

Tonight night I had the old pleasure of tucking Gannet in. It's been almost 9 months since I worked with him last, but as I said his favorite words and made his favorite sounds, he covered his face with joy. These word and sounds are routine, always the same, always provoking a delightful, mechanical happiness. It's only great elation that causes him to bury away his eyes, blind with laughter. His long fingers - scarred from biting himself, calloused from tapping, prying, banging, and caressing every surface - press hard over his eyes and nose. Laughter bursts from his mouth, flinging itself outward on strings of spittle. The sound is crow-raccous but his posture is strangely delicate. His body is almost always in fits and shivers but at these moments he sits upright and very still, hiding away in his happiness.

As I bent down to whisper goodnight he pulled me close and held fast till his cheek, crinkled from smiling, and his blue, twitching eye filled my vision. His face was wet with dribble, cool and slightly repulsive against my own, bu there we sat. He cooed gently while my view of his eye blurred from proximity as well as tears. When he proclaims his love in this manner he pulls me close to his world - the blur, twitch, bristle, spit, grip of it. At these times I miss him so much I can't stand it.

Goodnight little man.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dogged at the Pony Show

Good gracious and gollly-liscious!! We are now the most popular girls in 3rd grade 'cause we saw “My Little Pony Live! The World’s Largest Tea Party!” (at the invite of Peyton Marshall and Pauls Toutonghi)

We began at the theatre bar preparing questions should there be a Q & A with the ponies. My primary concerns were:

1. Do My Little Ponies shit gumdrops?
2. Was it culturally insensitive to ask the ponies if they were made by exploited workers in China or if they contained lead paint?

The event started on a ferocious note - we were still finding our seats when the ponies hit the stage. Imagine climbing past rows of little girls in princess outfits, with faces like hissing, snarling cats, shouting, “I CAN'T SEE THE PONIES!”

And there was so much and so little to see – pastel pony suits, glitter rainbows, cardboard balloons, a dragon doing hip hop rapping and scratching, dancing lady bugs, and a giant, pink inflated tea pot with a suggestively curved, puckered spout that released white clouds into the air. The show was shrill and insistent, yet, somehow, horribly soft. I felt I was on cheap ecstasy, listening to 33 rpm show tune records played at 45, all the while being pelted with Marshmallow Peeps.The frightening thing is how happy this made me!

Most of the girls were enthralled, singing along, waving paper tea cups, with eyes as big a saucers taking every prance and sparkle on the stage. Some were overwhelmed and were carried out laughing like lunatics and shaking in their velvet gowns and tiaras like epileptic aristocracy. The woman next to me had her hands full and decided to leave at intermission. Her husband, she said, was at a strip club. “I get ponies, he gets beaver, un –uh, show’s over.”

My fun ended abruptly as well when the usher came forward and kneeled in front of my seat. Her hair was done in crisp wings and she smelled like Avon. “Do you have children here?” she asked, “Because taking pictures of children in the theatre is making some parents nervous.” Her face was polite and inscrutable.

After that the entire crowd seemed dark eyed and hostile. I wondered which ones thought I was a sex offender. I decided that if anyone confronted me I would say I was taking photos for a website memorial to my departed little girl who died in a tragic pony accident. “Katy loved her little ponies! She just loved them!”

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas Lights - Wayfaring Stranger

As I walked home tonight with the decorated houses so bright against the dark Portland streets, I remembered a Christmas eve in SF years ago, when a friend called to tell me a friend of his had committed suicide. Before his death this man made a circle of Christmas lights on his kitchen floor. He’d then taken his collection of vintage stuffed animals and campy dolls and set them around the circle where I imagine they sat glowing, as if in some faery ring or some enchanted tea party. He then fixed a rope to the exposed heavy pipes that ran along the ceiling and hanged himself within in his magic circle.

The call ended and I couldn’t stay home dwelling on this image so I walked down to the Mission district. The Victorian houses above Dolores Park were vibrantly trimmed - every antique, wedding cake detail sparkling with icicle lights – white – blue- gleaming spectrums. Bright Christmas trees stood in bay windows, boughs draped with red ribbon and tiny bulbs. I thought of Dickens, of Scrooge standing unseen and unheard at the fine party, of the spirit of Marley revealing that the air of London on Christmas Eve was thicker with lost souls than with snow or soot. I wound down into the Mission where cheap statues of Jesus, Mary, and all the saints waited patiently and compassionately in closed shop windows.

I ended up in some basement club, lit only by ropes of blue lights. On the dim stage, a woman sang old hymns in a high, sweet voice. During Wayfaring Stranger, I closed my eyes and imagined the river Jordan - one bank of blood and muscle– one bank of bright gold – dark water between. As the words came “ Beauteous fields lie just before me…” I pictured thousands of fragile lights on a dark rolling landscape - streetlights - Christmas lights – candles – “…Where God’s redeemed their vigil’s keep.”