Thursday, March 14, 2013

Emergency Room TV

Here is what. Beth's mother, staying with us, revealed a surprising high blood pressure. She does cardio and lifts weights, and usually maintains good bp, so this was cause to visit the emergency room (Emerson hospital, where I was born). They didn't keep Beth's mother, and gave a course of action.

I went with Beth to take Norma there. I kept to the waiting room, when she finally got called, in a fit of discretion. My last trip to the emergency room, I had been bit mildly on the butt by one of three dogs. The only concern was rabies, tra la tra la. While waiting, I watched loathsome 700 Club then or some such, the fare on the tv. Pat Baboone hawked gold as investment, which reminded me of Jesus in his fit of pique.

Yesterday, the offering was first of all Katie. It's that Couric lady, boiled down to iconic 1st name. Larry King, I swear to god, reported how he tried to put the moves on the young Katie, impress her with his suspenders. The current Katie seems ageless. Perky smile to the end.

I had a book with me so wasn't attending carefully. One segment concerned a website that brings women together on the Internet. Sort of feminist but really it's just more accommodated enterprise. Not so much feminist as those who benefited from feminism. The site will still have the same yuck as anything else on the net. I mean, the show is geared to the feminists who watch television at 4 in the afternoon.

Another segment seemed about the same thing, tho I don't remember its specifics. All squeezed into a segment, with noise and commercials between segments. Television. Katie is good at the three minute interview, I just don't get the three minute interview. Especially as it could as likely be with a half life semi-celeb or the Prime Minister of Somewhere Important. All boiled down, neat.

Next came Ellen, another first name basis. Her sitcom was drab but she's a pleasant enough entertainment entity. She started the show with a stand up routine just as shitty as Jay Leno's, a disturbing lack of effort. Apparently it is free amphetamines for the studio audience because they were jacked to the nth. I guess I could seem exciting with a claque like that.

One of the lame jokes concerned the recent near miss asteroid. A few minutes later a pretend asteroid was sent down a cable to surprise no one. It was like elementary school.

The main bit of the show concerned a woman who had been on previously. Just an ordinary person like who watches Ellen daily. She was on earlier to explain how she does stuff for everybody. I mean, so I infer. As a reward for this generosity, Ellen sent a camera crew to the woman's workplace, a beauty parlour I think.

The woman was suitably animated, which apparently makes her funny. Ellen meanwhile stares at a monitor as if she were looking at Dick Tracy's 2-way wrist television. A grinning minion was onsite at the beauty parlour, ready to scream as needed.

First there was a need to seem surprised that a camera crew was at the beauty parlour and Ellen had deigned to communicate thru the airwaves. THEN a male stripper appeared, but he and his pecs were largely ignored. Finally Ellen presented the woman with fifty thousand cash money. The minion had a briefcase she was supposed to open but had to go off camera to undo the stuck latch.

Ellen's show has the annoying habit of showing both upcoming and passed bits from the day's show. I thought they were already done with that but the woman had to do thru her screaming surprise, joined by the grinning minion. This stuff accounted for several segments thru out the show.

In a quieter moment, Ellen interviewed Josh Duhamel. I'm sorry, I don't know who he is. I've heard his name but can attach it to nothing. Standard stuff, helped by Ellen's mild flakiness.

He's either married to or girlfriended by an additional celeb, I don't remember who. After references to Valentine's Day—the show was a bit dated (1973 was my guess)—Ellen presented him with “sexy” heart-shaped underwear. It was a de rigueur sort of gesture that no one wanted to play with. Josh did put them on but didn't let it bloom into a bit. However, later in the interview, he said, “I hate to admit it but I have a heart on”. That seemed pretty good but then I realized that he just read it off a cue card. Oh of course, this is television.

Gosh I forgot that after Ellen's perfunctory stand up, she announced it was time to dance. Her band—a guy on a keyboard—started in on something lively. The crowd went crazy, many moneymakers were shook. Ellen glided around to some other music in a distracted way, like she wanted us to know she had ADHD.

Josh got another segment, wherein he and Ellen asked a studio member questions. A bag of green goo from Nickleodeon hung over her head. After sufficient wrong answers, the bag would fall on her head. Her final question was what is the third planet from the sun. Cue the hilarity.

Bethany Frankel I'd heard of. Darn it, I never saw Real Housewives of Anywhere, but I know she started and sold Skinny Girl margarita. So there's that. She wasn't interesting. She has a show that supposedly shows off her business acumen. Someone who has been mentored by Bethany on that show came on to sing Bethany's praises. The mentored has developed a product, to wit: dolls that attach to cameras so that children will smile when their picture is taken. That seems like a curious nothing but then I never sold a margarita mix to Jim Beam for millions.

The local news followed. It's been a while since I watched the local news. Many of the same people, only older. This one has a face lift, that one looks all crinkly. At least it was the A-Team. The bench players tend to do that frowny face to show concern for those folks whose house burned down. Updates on new pope deliberation.

Entertainment Tonight followed but I won't try to detail that mess. However there was one Kim Kardashian story I cannot pass by. Since Kim's youth is fleeting, or fleeing, she has upped the ante, beauty regimen-wise. The latest trick from the heroes of cosmetic surgery is oh my god injections of one's own blood. This entails oh my god jabbing needles in the face to get the blood, then centrifuging the platelets out—I was a little too shocked to wholly get the science—and then oh my god the face is jabbed again. And that was Kim's blood bespattered mug right there. My god!

Oh, there was also a news story in which someone had interviewed Matt Lauer. Apparently Matt did not put the skids on Ann Curry's Today hosting gig, says this guy speaking for Matt. I just want to know why Matt is important. I get Katie to the degree that she's lively. I guess Matt's good looking, and sort of a comfortable presence, but I am yawning as I write this. For god's sake, why Larry King, for that matter? Why Bethany? Help!

And all the while, the hospital. A police officer asked if I was Eddie (I wasn't). A grandmother and young granddaughter waited while mother was attended to. The girl went immediately to a busy board, on which was a telephone. She would call Andrew inviting him to come by, then go to grandmother and tell her Andrew was coming by. She called someone else to invite them to come by to see Andrew, who was coming by. Etc. This went on.

The television put forth many hyperventilated announcements concerning the 1/2” of rain we would get thru the night. None of the rivers that might flood flooded.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Laboured Musings on my Father’s Death

Eight years ago today my father celebrated his 94th birthday. Tho he had been bedridden for two months and was in serious decline, he really did celebrate. The entire family came by that day to see dad. This gave Beth and me a chance to go out, a brief respite from care duty. While out we confirmed to each other that we could no longer care for dad at home.

We tried. He required 24 hour care. Even with a hired caregiver, Beth and I were swamped. And how was it all affecting Erin?

When I entered the room, I found people making the best of dad's best. Dad had perked up as he hadn't in two months. He was alert and responsive, even if he didn't speak. And he even ate ice cream and cake. He really hadn't eaten or drank anything in weeks but now he was enjoying ice cream. He was shockingly perky, as if belying the effort of Allen and Beth.

Dad went into the hospital with pneumonia, which he'd had before. As a patient, he was stoic. He didn't complain much, accepted the eternal annoyances of hospital care. At some point, he confided to Beth (not me) that this was his last. It didn't seem like it except that he had stopped eating and drinking. The hospital sent him to rehab after a few days. He didn't improve. I don't remember the details but at some point there was a meeting with the rehab people and the social worker with the result that dad would be brought home.

An oxygen system was brought in, and round the clock caregivers were hired (one per shift). I remember one wild night with a blizzard and shift change. It was like a hallucination for me, trying to rest with brouhaha all around. Beth or I had to help the caregivers because there were things that a single caregiver could not do alone.

My father became surprisingly combative at this time. I was helping to turn him over and he wailed at me, “Why are you doing this to me?” It was all too much.

His 94th birthday then. I entered the room with this family of mine, carrying a burden of betrayal. It felt cruel that I now had to announce that we could no longer take care of dad. And on his birthday, and at a time when he showed a boost. I burst into tears as I did so. No one argued the point but no one thanked us for the effort.

The next morning, I waited for the ambulance to take dad back to the rehab, which now would be hospice care. Beth took Erin to homeschool class and some normalcy. I had to watch as the ambulance drivers put dad on the gurney and lifted it into the ambulance. My brothers, their wives, their children were elsewhere, anywhere else, I presume.

We visited him at the rehab but he was clearly going down. He didn't want anyone around.

On his ninth day back at rehab, Beth and I visited him. After a while, Beth left me alone with him. His breathing was terrible. I was prepared to stay with him till he passed. I spoke to him. He was awake but not responsive. He didn't seem to want me there. He gestured unhappily. I decided to leave.

My mother died when no one was around. The family kept a pretty thorough attendance but she seemed to wait until she was alone to die. It was this thought that let me leave dad. I stepped from the room and again burst into tears. The attending nurse hugged me.

When I got home, I called my brothers and let them know that dad didn't have long. An hour or so later, one of my brothers called to say dad was dead. None of my brothers were able to get there in time. I took and still take satisfaction, I'm sorry to say, that they did not get to see him one last time. The day was, it seemed fitting, the last day of winter.

I write on a chilly day that nonetheless feels like spring. Red polls are chirping and investing themselves at the birdfeeder. I miss dad. I don't really miss my family—those brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews, and nieces—except as a kind of unsatisfying invention of family loyalty and love. They complained about how we cared for dad, and this, and that. Burdened those who were doing the work.

Both my parents just wanted a family. They wanted to see their children and their wives and their grandchildren. Lives of busyness made visits rarer and rarer. The nucleus disintegrated. Little else remains but ill will.

I've seen one brother since dad died, at a funeral of someone we both knew. I have heard from none of the others, nor have I tried to get in touch with anyone. The three brothers, the three wives, the six nephews and nieces. Petty things occurred and petty things grew.

Eight years later, I see the boundaries that I assumed didn't exist. We weren't really that close. We tried, in honour of our parents, but we were too ready merely to delude ourselves. And I want to write about this but I don't want to complain. I know we all have our stories. I'd like to step across the boundary.

I'm a little envious of those at the AWP groupgrope, just down the road. Arcane subjects to share in Publish or Die Land. It seems a closed system. The panels would interest me, but would they help me? I'm still talking my father's death, and disappointment with my family. I'm trying to find a language in between the anger and sadness, and better than either. Poetry is no good if it lacks intensive spring.