JUNE 19, 2009 12:51AM

Happy Belated Birthday, Grandma

Rate: 11 Flag

Grandma
Margaret, circa 1945


Melissa: One thing I realize is so great about OS is I’m getting to do so much more reading now. I get to read because I have to read.

Michael: If that’s what’s happening, I’m delighted.

     (later)

     See, I picture the lone writer hunched over a computer—

Melissa: You mean the demon stereotype put there by the media?

     (E) What did you say, “the lone hmmm-hmm”?

Michael: (E) “Lone writer.”

Melissa: (E) Oh, when I heard “lone writer,” I heard “lone rider.

     (E1) Arrff! I can’t remember the fecking smarts switch—

Michael: (H) That makes you sound like you’re barking. Arf! Arff!

     (H) What did you actually say?

Melissa: (G) (typing)

Michael: (G) This is meta-meta, love, right now you’re meta-metaing. Avoid this unless it’s really indicative of something, or—

Melissa: (G) Uh-oh.

Michael: (G) What?

Melissa: (G) Well, that means we’re going to have to start introducing the new system before we introduce the post in which we determine it. Namely, the fabled art post. Not fabled, um—

Michael: (G) Promised art post.

Melissa: (G) Right!

     (G1) I don’t think we ever actually needed to employ the sub-sub-system we hinted at here.

Michael: (G1) You mean the numbers and letters?

Melissa: (G1) Yeah. The scientific notation variation. For sub-subs.

     (I) You know what’s funny?

Michael: (I) Michael?

     (M) You know what I say when you ask, “You know what’s funny?”

Melissa: (M) What?

Michael: (M) Exactly. I asked, “What?” Look at line 42, love. Your mistake. You say, “You know what’s funny?” And you have me saying, “Michael?”

Melissa: (M) Hahaha.

     (M) So now we have to change “Michael?” to “What?” Darn it.

Michael: (M1) You’re gonna have to get rid of all that if you do.

Melissa: (M1) You’re right. So let’s just leave it.

(earlier)

Michael: (K) I’m afraid you’re not gonna let us speak anymore without a way of recording it. And I bet you’re recording that, aren’t you? Or figuring out a way to record it.

Melissa: (K) (tapping on phone)

     (J) I wish I could be recording what I was saying just now, but I can’t remember what it was. Feck. I should never take my hands off the keyboard.

Michael: (calling from kitchen)

     Which would you prefer, a potato fork or a spoon?

Melissa: A real spoon?

Michael: Yes, is that what you want?

Melissa: For a tamale?

Michael: Your choice is either a potato fork or a spoon.

Melissa: (F) This is great when I’m laughing while reading it backwards.

Michael: (F) Reading what backwards?

Melissa: (F) The lines.

     (F) I’m reading upwards as I’m going back and adding our name prefixes.

Michael: (F) I see, you’re reading the lines in reverse order.

Melissa: (F) Right. And then inserting this in forward order. Help.

Michael: (F) What’re you saying? That’s normal, love. It’s like saying, “What is that thing above the subtext, they don’t talk about that.” You mean like when you’re inserting things in forward order? You mean writing? You write characters in forward order, you write words in forward order, you write sentences and paragraphs in forward order. I think that’s called writing.

Melissa: (F) But I’m talking about when I’m going up backwards through the text—I’ve thrown the editor into reverse as I’m adding the “Michael:”s and “Melissa:”s.

Michael: (F1) You gotta get rid of the little emphases before them.

Melissa: (F1) I’ll deal with that later.

Michael: (F1.1) Oh, good. . . . No, this is meta meta. Don’t do it!

Melissa: (F1.1) Okay, that’s it. Here we go. What the hell was that letter?

Michael: (F1.1) Haha.

     There are no more real forks. Only potato forks or plastic ones.

Melissa: And you checked the dishwasher?

Michael: This is what I’m looking in right now. I’m looking in both dishwasher and drawer simultaneously.

Melissa: (typing)

Michael: Well, love, your food’s getting cold.

Melissa: Sorry!

     Uh—spoon. If it’s real.

Michael: It is.

Melissa: Thank you, sweetie!

Michael: Welcome.

     Are you cold at all, sweetie?

Melissa: No.

Michael: Okay.

     I think you’re going overboard, sweetie.

     (P) Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie!

     (L) And there’s a problem up there. That’s why it’s flagging it.

     (L) See, you have two ampersands.

Melissa: (L) Wow, purple is bad.

Michael: (L) Yep.

Melissa: (L) Okay, I wanna finish now, so let’s try not to say anything else!

(earlier)

Michael: I know about storytelling. I know the story’s not about the person who came in 27th. But I know that there’s a 27th, and a 26th, and a 28th, and the one we’re given as an example is the freak, the abnormality.

Melissa: Yeah! I wanna hear a story about the person who came in 27th! That’s exactly the person who interests me. I’m bored by the person who comes in first. They’re all over the place, in the media, anyway. But not the ordinary. The ordinary are precious in terms of media presence, which makes their presence in something like home documentaries so much more the precious.

     (S) Precious, precious, precious!

Michael: (Q) What do you mean by “the ordinary are precious in terms of media presence”?

Melissa: (Q) By “precious”, I mean “rare”.

Michael: (Q) It seems like a strange way of putting it. Using “precious” to really mean those neglected by the media.

Melissa: (Q) Not just neglected—I do find ordinary people far more compelling than celebrities, so that’s why I was using the term “precious.“

Michael: In many cases, these examples the media gives us are actually quite dull. Their lives are so prearranged for them. It’s the people who wake up every day with no guarantee of love from anyone, and they just go out there and they make their art, and they hope some kind soul will be moved enough to even thank them for it and maybe even help try to support them, and of course, because they’re 27th, we’ll never hear of them, we’ll never know about them, they’ll remain anonymous. But the thing is, that person’s life had value, worth, meaning. I can’t say the same thing about people who have so embroiled themselves in the world system that they can’t even see the human being in the other person anymore, they just see a contact or a target audience or a good guy or a bad guy.

Melissa: Whoa, I was suddenly feeling like the keyboard was an extension of my fingers, and I was actually grooving to the conversation as I was typing it. I was feeling at one with the keyboard, so I could completely focus on the rhythm of your dialogue.

Michael: That’s great. It’s as though the keyboard for you has now become an instrument you play, rather than just a tool that you enter text with—

Melissa: Yes, except unfortunately, I start to feel my tendonitis kicking in—

Michael: Yes, and this is the thing I worry about the most. If it would save your wrists to go to taping and transcribing, we would definitely do that. I just—of the couple of tapes that we’ve made—

Melissa: You mean, digital recordings?

Michael: Sorry, did I say—oh jeez, help.

Melissa: It’s not necessarily the transcribing as we speak, although that certainly puts a strain on it. It’s also the crappy position I’m always sitting in while typing.

Michael: (sings)

     Money-I-o

     Money-I-a—

Melissa: “Money, I a”?

Michael: Mm-hmm.

     (sings)

     Money I owe

     Money-iy-ay

     Avalanche and roadblocks

     I was a snowball in hell

Melissa: (A) After “Money I owe, Money-iy-ay,” what was the third one?

Michael: (A) Melissa, this is just a They Might Be Giants song.

Melissa: (A) You’ve heard this recently?

Michael: (A) Yeah, I hear it a lot.

Melissa: (A) Really? I haven’t heard it. Where have you heard it?

Michael: (A) I heard it in a movie.

     (A) (looks up lyrics)

     (A) Okay, wanna hear ’em all?

Melissa: (A) What movie is it?

Michael: (A) I’m not telling you yet.

     (A) Wanna hear the lyrics?

     (A) (reads lyrics)

     (A1) What do you have between “avalanche”—?

Melissa: (A1) “Avalanche and roadblocks?”

Michael: (A1) It’s “or roadblock.”

Melissa: (A1) “Avalanche or roadblocks?”

Michael: (A1) No, just singular, “roadblock.”

Melissa: (A1) “I was a snowball in hell?”

(later)

Melissa: So I realize the story of the 27th person ties in perfectly with this ordinary strand that came up in Newton’s post. That whole synchronicity exchange about the ordinary.

Michael: Don’t you recognize it?

Melissa: No . . . kind of.

Michael: I actually know why you don’t know. It’s from Haiku Tunnel—it’s ’cuz you fell asleep the last two times we tried watching it.

Melissa: Oh, right! I can’t seem to stay awake for movies anymore.

(later)

Michael: That’s an interesting idea, though, someone psychoanalyzing what we’re writing. Because this is—

Melissa: (B) Do you remember what you said there? “Because this is so—”?

Michael: (B) “Because this is so close to the conversation.”

     The makeup’s on, and we’re wearing nicer clothes is all, but it’s pretty real.

Melissa: We don’t even have makeup on.

Michael: Well, nonono. What I’m referring to is the pieces that we write—they’re cleaned up a little bit, there are certain parts that may lead off but not go anywhere, those are . . . parts . . .

Melissa: (C) I realize how well our new system works now.

     (C) The best thing about it . . . oh wait. Never mind.

     (C) I thought we could actually skip applying it while I’m transcribing, because it’s determined by the structural logic of the conversation. In other words, we could come back later and apply the meta-lettering retroactively, simply based on dissecting the logic structure. But then I realized, that’s still only part of the equation. The other part is representing time moving forward in the conversation, so we do have to letter as we go, since we’re also recording the chronology of the strands.

     (C) So I’d better go back and “(A)” those earlier ones before I forget.

Michael: These Exacto scissors are frightening. The only scissors I’ve felt this sharp are haircutting scissors.

     (N) Help. You’ve even got the Exacto stuff? What won’t you not put in?

Melissa: (T) You’ve got a double negative there.

Michael: (T) I ain’t got no double negative there!

     (sings)

     Bedewee, bedewee

     Mwaaa! (sound of something dropping)

Melissa: (D) This is the post.

     (D) Aren’t you gonna ask what post?

Michael: (D) I know what post you mean.

     (D) You mean your grandma’s memorial post?

Melissa: (D) No, not memorial!

Michael: (D) Oh, what is it? Sorry! Your grandma’s birthday post.

Melissa: (D) Right! Happy birthday, grandma. Here’s the preview for the documentary we made for you, but you didn’t get to watch :-(

Michael: (D1) What did you say?

Melissa: (D1) Something sad.

Michael: (D1) Well, can you repeat it?

Melissa: (D1) I don’t know.

Michael: (D1) Do I have to turn on screen sharing?

Melissa: (D1) Are you on?

Michael: (D1) Yes.

     (D1) Can you turn on line #s?

     (D1) (broken) Maybe that line needs a sad face.

Melissa: (D1) We missed June 17. We missed her birthday.

Michael: (O) I know! We’re posting it late in honor of your grandma, because she was a procrastinator, too.

Melissa: (R) Happy belated birthday, Grandma.



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Hi, on the run and so I did not view your clip as yet, but belated happy birthday to your gran.

And you left me with this truism today:

In many cases, these examples the media gives us are actually quite dull. Their lives are so prearranged for them. It’s the people who wake up every day with no guarantee of love from anyone, and they just go out there and they make their art, and they hope some kind soul will be moved enough to even thank them for it and maybe even help try to support them, and of course, because they’re 27th, we’ll never hear of them, we’ll never know about them, they’ll remain anonymous. But the thing is, that person’s life had value, worth, meaning. I can’t say the same thing about people who have so embroiled themselves in the world system that they can’t even see the human being in the other person anymore, they just see a contact or a target audience or a good guy or a bad guy.

Thank goodness for Salon.
Crap - I wanted to watch the preview, but can't watch it in .mov - stupid computer . . .

Anyway, we used to call those who came in 27th the "also rans." Whenever they did a story in our local newspaper about a track meet, they'd list the "winners" and then name the other team participants thusly: "Bill Smith, John Henry, and Gary Jones also ran." We also called bench-warmers "the Bills," but that's a whole 'nother story having nothing to do with the football team.
I must need to update some software - I only get the audio.

Thank you for "Soothing and Awful" - it was very cozy.

Also, I failed to mention earlier how much I enjoyed Melissa's ordinary essay. (I loved how the "O" moved down the page, I loved how the typography hinted at a sphere, I loved this: "There’s something about the word “ordinary” — its roundness, its dull, muted edges, its earthiness — that emanates wholeness for me."
The essay was elegant and eloquent. And there was Salinger! And Hopkins! And what I believe about what's sacred. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

I've been wondering about the letters, the letters in parentheses, wondering if we'll get to "Z", wondering if this isn't some grandmeta of "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog." 26 letters in the alphabet....the 27th person...help! help! the vortex!
@Newton:

Newton: Thank goodness for Salon.

m&m: Amen! And for people like you.

@Owl_Says_Who:

Owl_Says_Who: Crap - I wanted to watch the preview, but can't watch it in .mov - stupid computer . . .

Michael: Oh no! We do have a YouTube version (which looks like crap) here.

Owl_Says_Who: Anyway, we used to call those who came in 27th the "also rans."

Melissa: We love this phrase! This will immediately get added to the meta-lexicon.
Thanks for the YouTube link - I didn't think it looked like crap at all, as the content looks/sounds quite wonderful. Melissa, are you one of the people on screen?

Excellent on the "also rans" - it's a surprisingly useful phrase!
I'm blown away by your genius. grandma looks so happy on the beach sitting amongst the driftwood; a contrast to the frenetic conversation. I'm just honored that I'm able to view both. Rated!
@consonantsandvowels:

consonantsandvowels: I must need to update some software - I only get the audio.

Michael: It’s not your fault, consonantsandvowels. It’s probably the way we have it exported.

Melissa: That’s odd how you can actually hear the audio, though. Hope the YouTube link in our response to Owl_Says_Who does the trick for you.

consonantsandvowels: Thank you for "Soothing and Awful" - it was very cozy.

Melissa: Hahaha.

consonantsandvowels: Also, I failed to mention earlier how much I enjoyed Melissa's ordinary essay. (I loved how the "O" moved down the page, I loved how the typography hinted at a sphere, I loved this: "There’s something about the word “ordinary” — its roundness, its dull, muted edges, its earthiness — that emanates wholeness for me."
The essay was elegant and eloquent. And there was Salinger! And Hopkins! And what I believe about what's sacred. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

Melissa: And thank you for sharing your beautiful response, consonantsandvowels. It’s always a relief when something you wrote a dozen years ago still holds up to later readings.

Michael: Is it really a “relief”, or is it a “satisfaction”?

Melissa: Both, I suppose.

consonantsandvowels: I've been wondering about the letters, the letters in parentheses, wondering if we'll get to "Z", wondering if this isn't some grandmeta of "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog."

Melissa: Pangram!

Michael: Parenthetical Analytical Neurotic Garrulous Recursive Academic Metaness!

consonantsandvowels: 26 letters in the alphabet....the 27th person...

Melissa: Oh, wow. We hadn’t even realized!

Michael: Don’t forget 42.

consonantsandvowels: help! help! the vortex!

Melissa: (!)

Michael: What’s that supposed to be?

Melissa: The vortex.

Michael: This is the vortex: ((((metaness))))
@Owl_Says_Who:

Owl_Says_Who: Thanks for the YouTube link - I didn't think it looked like crap at all, as the content looks/sounds quite wonderful.

Michael: So glad it worked!

Owl_Says_Who: Melissa, are you one of the people on screen?

Melissa: Not on the screen, but behind the screen. Or the lens, rather.

@Mr. Mustard:

Mr. Mustard: grandma looks so happy on the beach sitting amongst the driftwood;

m&m: Yes, she was happy. Very.

Mr. Mustard: I'm just honored that I'm able to view both. Rated!

m&m: And we’re honored by your response.
Addendum: We decided to go ahead and embed the YouTube video directly. Those of you with generous bandwidth allowances are welcome to view the higher-resolution, 185-mb version here. There’s also a smaller (but still sharper than YouTube) 18-mb one here. Enjoy!

m&m
Love your blog - it is different and fresh, would come back next weekend when am free for "me-time". in the meanwhile belated birthday greetings go out for your lovely grandma and a grateful thank you for adding me to your reading list.
#1) Potato fork? Really? Made of potato or for eating one?

#2) 27th place, where I felt I have been for so much of my life. But now it feels like a lovely place because you recognized it.

#3) watched the video, love your grandma and the way she giggles just a little after she finishes speaking. You are working on a full length version of this? Happy belated bday grandma, where ever you are.
It took a while, but I did eventually get to it. I enjoyed it a lot in a very strange way. There was this soothing calm that came over me while watching it. Weird. Does your gran have that effect, or is ti just the way you complied it? either way... And I like your world, it's beautiful.
I'm also curious about the potato forks :) Happy belated B-day to your Grandma!
@Rolling:

Michael: Delighted to see you here, Rolling!

Melissa: I am still savoring those lines from “The Little Boy”. Rain flooding the garden. Fishing rods!

Michael: Yes, please don’t neglect your “me-time.” And we would be honored if you actually felt like spending your me-time reading metaness!

Melissa: Thank you for the birthday greetings. I know my grandma would have appreciated them deeply.


@mamoore:

mamoore: #1) Potato fork? Really? Made of potato or for eating one?

Michael: It really is a fork made out of potatoes. I couldn’t believe it either.

Melissa: Yes, biodegradable and all that good stuff.

Michael: It’s a little bit soft, so you can take your fingernail and kind of scratch away at it. But we’ve had the potato forks that we have now for how long, love? A year?

Melissa: Yeah, but enough about the potato forks.

Michael: We still have to answer Julie about potato forks.

Melissa: Potato forks, potato forks, potato forks!

mamoore: #2) 27th place, where I felt I have been for so much of my life. But now it feels like a lovely place because you recognized it.

Michael: All of us are really 27th. It’s unfortunate we 27ths are made to feel inadequate by the freaks of nature paraded before us day in and day out.

Melissa: I’d much rather celebrate the person practicing quiet kindnesses. Like you!

Michael: Yes!

mamoore: #3) watched the video, love your grandma and the way she giggles just a little after she finishes speaking.

Melissa: That always makes me laugh, too.

Michael: Yes. Laughter came very easily to her.

Melissa: And once she started laughing, everyone else did, too. She brightened the lives of all who knew her.

mamoore: You are working on a full length version of this?

Michael: Worked on, actually. It’s already done. Just a few minor sound problems we hope to clean up.

Melissa: Yeah, but it’s a little more complicated than that, since our hard drive failed three days after burning the master copy. So we have a couple of months’ worth of work to redo first.

Michael: We’ll see.

Melissa: Yes, it’ll go much faster this time around, if we can find the time to begin with!

mamoore: Happy belated bday grandma

Melissa: Thank you, mamoore.

mamoore: where ever you are.

Michael: I’d try heaven.


@Newton:

Newton: It took a while, but I did eventually get to it.

Michael: Glad you did!

Newton: I enjoyed it a lot in a very strange way.

Michael: That’s a very intriguing way of putting it.

Newton: There was this soothing calm that came over me while watching it. Weird. Does your gran have that effect, or is ti just the way you complied it?

Melissa: I suspect that has something to do with Michael’s exquisite score.

Michael: Why do you have to come out and say that? Get rid of the word “exquisite”. Get rid of the word “Michael”.

Melissa: Hey. It’s my line. I can say what I want to say. And if I didn’t say that, it wouldn’t be me.

Michael: Okay, but see, I don’t totally agree, anyway. I think it has a lot to do with how it was edited.

Melissa: It’s a convergence of all of those factors, and more. But fundamentally, I think the music is what produces that strange, soothing calm Newton’s talking about.

Newton: either way... And I like your world, it's beautiful.

m&m: Thank you, Newton.


@Julie:

Julie: I'm also curious about the potato forks :)

Michael: (impersonating Charlton Heston) Potato fork is . . . potatoes!

Melissa: Hahaha. If you do want to know more about potato forks, though, see our response to mamoore above.

Julie: Happy belated B-day to your Grandma!

m&m: Thank you, Julie. She would’ve been 84 on Wednesday.
Now I remember the potato utensils! We used some at a ski resort in Colorado a few years ago. My son brought them back to his 3rd grade class and they set them in a glass of water on the window sill to see how long they would last. I think by the end of the school year they were still going strong. I'll have to ask him...

What do you do w/your documentaries once they are done? I mean, how do people get to see them?

I think that should have been "wherever"...not "where ever"...I get nervous about my poor spelling and use of commas...but I'll vote for heaven. Hi grandma!
Congratulations! -- Your newest post broke the record: 15 comments!

The article was very good, as usual, but my galactic hunch-decoder indicates that the popularity was thanks to the nice grandma photo and video.

The decoder also recommends that to for boosting the comment-level you must use paintings with cats,

This one is good, it will bring in 30-40 comments easily:
http://www.juliehansonart.com/show-image/68277/Julie-Hanson/Three-Cats.jpg

But if you really want to break the sound barrier, then this:
http://www.karenfincannon.com/harryhat.jpg
"Wow, that's a story." I love how the guitar and piano sounds have the quality of a metronome that the other music weaves above and under. I loved all the ant stories--something so small, making so many stories, so many journeys, so many connections. Such a beautifully ordinary day -- with attendant grace.

Your grandmother has such a sweet voice, and a calm curiosity that seems ready to be delighted.
@mamoore:

Thanks for the report on the longevity of potato utensils!

“What do you do w/your documentaries once they are done? I mean, how do people get to see them?”

We’ll let you know when we actually finish one to the point where we’re ready to release it :-) If you’re really anxious to see more, however, we have been sharing our pre-release master of Finding Their Way Home with a very few select friends. Those interested in receiving a copy of that can PM us for more details.

“I think that should have been "wherever"...not "where ever"...I get nervous about my poor spelling and use of commas...”

Not to fret, mamoore. We actually made a mistake ourselves (gasp) in a comment on a recent micalpeace post. Two, actually! But as soon as we got done pointing out the first in an addendum, we noticed the second one. Decided it was better not to call attention to the missing “to” since we doubt anyone else will actually notice (until now, anyway ;-)

“but I'll vote for heaven. Hi grandma!”

:-)

m&m
@GalaxyMan:

“Congratulations! -- Your newest post broke the record: 15 comments!”

Actually, we think “If I Say It in a Weird Voice, That Means It Doesn’t Go In” still holds the record on that one, but who knows. Does that throw a monkey wrench in your hunch-decoder’s analysis?

“The decoder also recommends that to for boosting the comment-level you must use paintings with cats:”

Oh, perhaps you missed it? We did have a painting of a cat in this post. Didn’t work.

scary cat painting no. 1
scary cat painting no. 2

These are terrifying specimens! No popularity surge is worth that debasement. But thanks anyway for the tips :-)

m&m
@consonantsandvowels:

Thank you, consonantsandvowels, for your as-ever poetic and profound response. I (Melissa), too, love how the music becomes another character in the story, carrying the conversations in and out of eddying moods like a powerful, yet invisible providence.

“I loved all the ant stories--something so small, making so many stories, so many journeys, so many connections. Such a beautifully ordinary day -- with attendant grace.”

This entire documentary unfolded spontaneously one afternoon when we visited my grandma and uncle Bobby, while my mom happened to be visiting at the same time. We had just gotten a videocamera, and I (Melissa) brought it along for fun. I didn’t even tell my family it was a videocamera—I let them think it was a still camera so they would be totally at ease. My mom eventually figured it out, but by then, she had become acclimated, so the deception seems to have succeeded in achieving a greater authenticity. We had no idea how significant the footage actually was until we watched it a few days later.

The “plot” is as ordinary as it gets. We take a walk on the beach, converse in the garden, and enjoy a meal prepared by Bobby. Doesn't sound that exciting on the surface, but a number of powerful themes emerged in our conversations—particularly tying stories about insects into themes of family, aging, home, mutability, and friendship. Basically, it’s like spending an afternoon with an eccentric family of artists, writers, and a slightly mad scientist/cook.

“Your grandmother has such a sweet voice, and a calm curiosity that seems ready to be delighted.”

What a touchingly accurate description of her spirit. There’s so much about her we didn’t get to share in this piece but hope to eventually in one form or another. That calm curiosity led her—despite an almost crippling timidity—to be chosen as the first woman electrician at the Western Pipe & Steel shipyard in California during WWII. She was working in a more traditional secretarial role, but unlike the other women who sat around chatting on their breaks, my grandma was busy teaching herself about the wiring and how the ships were put together. Her talent was recognized, and she paved the way for a growing group of women to take on formerly male roles in the shipyard. She helped build the USCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279) icebreaker. My grandma remembered how, after the ship was completed, she and the other women were so heartbroken when they were prevented from going on the maiden voyage. “No women!” they were told, even though it was primarily women who had built the ship.

Another story we love about my grandma is how, after the Vietnam War ended, she decided to place her name in a hat at work (INS). Whoever’s name was pulled from the hat would get to go to Wake Island to help Vietnamese refugees during their transition. She was shocked when it was actually her name that got picked—as well as thrilled and then instantly terrified. She asked herself, “What did I do this for?!” She had to leave that very same day—and she was a single mother raising three children on her own! Fortunately, my mom was old enough to handle the family while my grandma went off on her Eastern adventures, which I think lasted eight or nine months.

We are still amazed at her bravery, which is funny because she always considered herself terribly shy and even airheaded. But that’s only because her three older brothers were all scientific geniuses, each becoming engineers of some sort and winning medals for inventing new technology during WWII. She didn’t recognize that her gifts for language, art, and other forms of creativity were equally valid. She adored her brothers so much and spent all of her time playing with them, tomboy that she was.

So much more to tell, but most of the historical bits will have to wait for a separate documentary, which right now is just in the raw interview state. So many projects, so little time . . .

m&m
Dear m&m,

I feel really silly that I overlooked the cat in your previous post and also the high number of comments to earlier posts.

Even more disturbing is the apparent miscommunication of the very essence in my message. This was NOT supposed to be a criticism of how you write, but rather an observation how audiences often prefer looking at images of cute cats to any kind of reading at all.

I promise that in the future I will rely less on my (seemingly nonexistent) mastery in interplanetary humor while remaining your devoted reader :-)
No need to feel silly whatsoever—it appears it’s not your humor, but ours that failed during the intergalactic transmissions. We hadn’t taken your first comment as criticism at all. We were just responding back with some kindly banter.

“rather an observation how audiences often prefer looking at images of cute cats to any kind of reading at all.”

Not to fret, it appears we are all in agreement on this, as well as other matters.

“I promise that in the future I will rely less on my (seemingly nonexistent) mastery in interplanetary humor while remaining your devoted reader :-)”

Please don’t—or please don’t not. We like your sense of humor—and your devoted readership :-)

m&m
I love, love, love how this makes my brain go all spider-webby. I have to multi-task at work, but I must like it more than I thought if I enjoy myself so much on your blog. (Oh yeah - the cafe doesn't close until midnight, it turns out. Woo!)
keenoctopus: I love, love, love how this makes my brain go all spider-webby.

m&m: Wonder if you’ve read this post yet? You may be getting meta-prescient.

keenoctopus: I have to multi-task at work, but I must like it more than I thought if I enjoy myself so much on your blog.

m&m: Maybe metaness should be a prescription for prohibiting dementia? You’re the pharm-tech, so you could help dispense it!

keenoctopus: (Oh yeah - the cafe doesn't close until midnight, it turns out. Woo!)

m&m: We’re honored you chose to spend your grace café time with us.