Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dementia blogging the last (for now)

--Some residents of Arden Courts destroy their memory boxes, rip out the photos of themselves. Hence the box with fluffy dogs in it; another box containing only parts of the old photographs, airplanes from the Air & Space Museum, tiny grandchildren gazing up. Oblique boxes. "This is my room," A says to me, pointing at her box, its old photograph of her. Does the box remind her of her past, or only of her door, which is located next to it? Direction divorced from history. Walmart means to build a box store next to The Wilderness battlefield. Each of its shelves will be a monument to forgetting, its tenor and its vehicle.

--"I assumed she was always quiet, polite," the caregivers tell me. I say she told funny stories, loved to talk. I recognize the looks in their faces. This is who she is, and has always been. This is who she is now, because I remember her this way. Her loss of my memory is my memory of her, long enough that she has become the woman in the rocking chair, not the woman of her stories.

--My neighbor to LA was in his 20s, wore an NFL jacket, a Dodgers cap, had a thin goatee and spoke into his cell phone in Spanish. I asked if he liked the Dodgers. He asked what I thought of the Redskins' coach. I said I didn't know. He talked about the Wizards, the Caps, the Raiders, the Cowboys. And then: his grandmother dropped dead at 50 in front of the television in El Salvador. She thought too much; it killed her. (He made a signal with his hand of a mind churning.) Half her family killed by rebels, husband, children, grandparents. Her daughter, his mother, age 47, multiple surgeries. She wants to build a house in Salvador and live there by herself. "Crazy idea," he tells her. He fixed air conditioners for a while, worked in restaurants, pubs, had his Cowboy's shirt stolen by Redskins fans. Wife in L.A., he wants to move back. Her dog died of cancer and she couldn't let go. She wanted to be alone after the dog died. "That's what I don't like about pets," he says. "They die."


Back to the working world now, a graduate workshop in poetry and an undergraduate workshop in poetry, if it makes. We'll need more students to keep our courses now that the budget is in perpetual crisis. The governor almost makes deals, then turns them back. Repeatedly. So we'll begin this year with more furlough Fridays for the young ones, and the threat of a pay cut from the UH administration, a grievance by our union. A facebook friend posts the status line, "Myth of Syllabus." Mine can be found here. Scholarship may have a privacy attached, but teaching is all theft. Theft and variations.

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