Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ice Cream for Aunt Alice

Every summer for the last fifteen years or so, my mother and her younger sister, Grandma Hip, rent a cottage in or near Charlestown, RI, near a beach. My mom's (and now my aunt's) good friend Bethie completes the trio that hang out at the cottage, spending mornings and evenings at the beach, "going on a toot" as they call a drive around the area, sharing the crossword in the Providence Journal, buying corn, tomatoes, and pies at the farm stands all around, stopping for ice cream along the way.

All kinds of people come down to the cottage during the three weeks they're ensconced there. My cousins come and go in waves, some overnight, some just for the day, and Grandpa Hip and his youngest (the youngest of all of us cousins) spend their days off down there. Grandma Hip's brother-in-law and his wife and their children and grandchildren usually get a place nearby. My mom's older brother, UD, used to go for days at a time starting political discussions just to get a rise out of everyone. My Aunt Alice would go as well, though she was the only one who never went to the beach. Everyone in the family really enjoys the water, and synchronized swimming, which Mom and Grandma Hip did in high school, has become one of our favorite water pasttimes, buffeted by the waves. But Aunt Alice rarely even came to the beach. She probably enjoyed being the cottage by herself.

I was there in 2002, and one night Grandma Hip, Bethie, Mom, aunt Alice, and I went to a big Italian restaurant for dinner. I introduced Grandma Hip to the Appletini that night, and we had a long leisurely meal with cocktails and appetizers. After the server had taken our empty dinner plates away, she came back to ask if we would like dessert. The rest of us ordered off the menu, but Aunt Alice demurred. The server asked, "Are you sure?" Mom said, "Maybe they have ice cream, Alice." The server said that they did indeed have ice cream, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and strawberry. Aunt Alice, a small woman, looked up at the server and said, "May I have a dish of vanilla ice cream please, with some hot fudge sauce if you have it?"

Aunt Alice passed away a couple weeks ago, and though it was expected and my mom was with her, it's been hard. The evening of the day we learned she'd passed away, No, KT, and I met at Fenton's Creamery. It seemed like to eat ice cream would be the best way to honor her memory, and it was.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Big Brown Eyes

The summer after college I worked as a day camp counselor at the SF Jewish Community Center. I had about a dozen seven and eight year olds in my charge from 930am until 330pm every weekday, with a two-night overnight in the middle week of each session. I worked with a Junior Counselor and a Counselor in Training, whom I supervised/trained. I designed half-hour activity sessions, planned around activity level, travel time, and scheduling around other counselors' equipment desires ("If we can have the parachute in the 10am "thirty", we go to swimming and then you can have it at 1030"). I also taught swimming. I wrote reports on each camper each week, and performance reviews for the JC and CIT at the end of each session. I was also the Hokey Pokey Queen and could lead the whole camp in it for hours: "Put your right thumb in, put your right thumb out..."

I was seventeen and "earned" $100 a week for my efforts. I had almost no idea what I was doing.

My JC was a 15 year old going into her junior year. The Moon was the very savvy daughter of artists who tolerated no bullshit. She had huge brown eyes that would look deeply into your heart if you weren't telling the truth, or, more specifically, the whole truth. Besides working together, we hung out during our precious away-from-camp hours. When The Moon spent the night at my house that summer, she insisted on sleeping in the bed and not on the floor in a sleeping bag, and it became a "Who's more stubborn?" thing. We both wound up sleeping in my bed, which at the time I thought was the weirdest thing.

When I came home for winter break my first year at college, The Moon had won tickets on the radio to a Buddy Guy "early" show at The Fillmore for New Year's Eve and she invited me to go with her. I didn't know who Buddy Guy was, but I liked the blues in a general sort of way, I'd never been to The Fillmore, and it sounded much better than watching TV at home.

I really enjoyed the music. We wound attending both the 9pm and the 11pm shows because partway through the show we had tickets for, there was some problem with the electricity onstage and Buddy Guy couldn't play. It was worked out with the venue that everyone at the early show could stay for the late show. What I remember the most from that night happened in the lobby while they were trying to fix the electricity. The Moon and I were looking around and a man started talking to me. I had just turned 18 three months before, and The Moon was probably 16. Of course he was older than we were (we were probably among the youngest people at the show), and when he asked how old I was, I said, "Almost nineteen." My judgment to respond this way was, of course, due to the fact that I was still basically 17.

The Moon turned her big eyes on me, blinked once, and said, "You just turned 18."

I don't remember being mad at her for doing this. I remember thinking, and still think now, that The Moon was saving me from my own poor judgment. Even though I haven't seen The Moon since that time, whenever I tell a half-truth or lie by omission, especially when I doubt my judgment about why I'm doing so, I always think of The Moon's big brown eyes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Long Association with Geeks and Nerds

Fortunately, almost everyone at my high school was a geek or nerd.

The guy on my right was in the club because he was my friend. I was in the club because of a crush on the guy on my left.

Monday, February 16, 2009

How I Know He's The Right One

Zirpu: I knew I would never tell my mom about the time I almost got arrested [as a teenager].

Samatakah: You almost got arrested?!

Zirpu: We were playing D&D...

I totally would have dug him in high school. Totally.

Long Time No See

I had planned to start writing more stories about my growing up and being (or becoming) an adult. I hadn't planned to write nothing for four weeks, but life absolutely got in the way.

The last three weeks have been absolutely crammed full of unpleasant family and personal events, which ultimately wound up with me totally melting down on Thursday with JR, even though by then all events had resolved into happy endings in the natural progression of things. I think I just had been moving through with my head down and when it was over flipped out in retrospect.

I did something different this time, which was ask for help. And I got it! It's not surprising that I got it, so I recommend asking for needed help when it's needed and not after after the fact. Friendship is a two-way street, they say, and I really needed quite a few people to come down that street and pick me up. Which they did. Yay for them!

Anyway, hopefully back to our regularly scheduled programming.