Sunday, April 7, 2013


I shouldn't be writing at this hour. I should be going to bed. I'm tired. Aren't you tired? Mike is brushing his teeth. Nick is asleep after staying up an extra hour to watch 'Kung Fu Hustle.' It's a strange, but funny movie.

It was a quiet weekend. We were busier yesterday, but today, Mike and I napped this afternoon while Nick watched television. It was cold and raining heavily so we napped. I heard some kind of commentary about what ancient people used to do in a heavy rain, find shelter, hunker down, get some rest. So, it's in our genes to sleep when it's cold and rainy. We didn't go for a walk. We didn't go anywhere. Well, Mike ran to the store while Nick and I made dinner.

We ate shish kebab. It's such simple, ancient food, but I love it. The mistake I make every time is to cut up too much of everything. I peeled two sweet potatoes when one would do. The whole onion was the only thing we finished. One steak, not two, would have been sufficient. With a couple of small white potatoes, a small sweet potato, one steak, one onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, and a small zucchini, we would have been good to go, more than good. Nick and I chopped up too much food and we had about twice as much food as we needed. They'll be nice leftovers for my salads though. None of it will go to waste. I tell you that the sweet potato was great with barbecue sauce. Neither of the others tried it, but I loved it. It was probably all the sugar. My sense of taste doesn't care what combinations I use for sugar any more. I crave sugar the way a smoker craves his next cigarette.

Do I? I'm not actually sure. I have never smoked enough to crave it. Not really.

Want to know something funny, though? Promise you won't tell Nick?

I like the smell of cigarette smoke. It reminds me of both my grandpas and one grandma. My parents didn't smoke. No, they lectured me heavily not to ever start. See, even in the sixties, people knew that smoking cigarettes killed you.

I was one of those lucky kids to have a relationship with all four grandparents. Okay, one grandpa died with I was fourteen, but I had a close relationship with him. I can still hear his voice as he sat at the dining table and told my grandma, every breakfast and every lunch, "Get me some coffee, Margie. I like it black!" She would pour oily coffee out of a pot into his cup along with whatever coffee grounds that came with it. I tasted that shit once. Just once.

And on my mother's side, the grandma that smoked was certifiably crazy. She was kind of sweet, but she was pretty far out on the neurotic rope. Still, I loved my grandma. She was the only one who ever let me eat Fruit Loops. She never stopped talking either. I guess I had to get it from somewhere. She never admitted that she smoked, but when you'd go into the bathroom after she left it, it would be thick with the smell of air freshener and cigarette smoke. Who did she think she was fooling? Deluded and crazy. I'll probably never tell you about just how she was crazy, so don't even bother asking. You only need to know that she was sweet and broken and neurotic. She was also addicted to sugar the way I am. I remember watching her spoon grape jelly onto bread as her hands shook with hunger.

Oh, I come by my sugar addiction honestly. My dad's grandma was diabetic too, so it was on both sides of my family. My only grandparent that didn't smoke told me that I was most like Grandpa's mom. Rita was her name. Grandma said I looked like her, acted like her, and even sang like her. And we both had problems with sugar.

Do you believe in reincarnation?

If there is reincarnation, I am not an Egyptian queen. I am my own great grandmother, circled back on herself, holding onto traits I've inherited from her, genes intact. Sometimes I feel the curve of karma wrapping from her life into mine as well. She was a battered wife. I find myself being almost militant with Nick that no one in my home, not even the cat, even feel as though they are going to get hit. When Grandma told me about her, I felt as though the pieces finally fit together, my grandpa's contrarian nature, my dad's bad temper, my brother's inherited anger, and my own defensiveness.

I've read that it takes four generations to right a wrong. Who's culture said that?

I can't remember.

But I can feel these lives unfolding out from the abuse lashed out on that one woman. When Grandma told me, it was as if things, even in my own life, suddenly made sense.

Generations continue to feel the reflected waves of that evil, though they've died down, at least in my family. You can never be sure what's happening in anyone else's house but your own, can you?

So maybe it isn't reincarnation, but genetics and psychology. Who really knows?

Still, I'd bet that in the next fifty years or so, science will discover things that seemed an impossibility right now. I won't be surprised if they discover something that we all thought was hooha. I'll like that. I'd like if reincarnation were true.

In the meantime, I am my great grandmother's child. What is left of her is me, my brother, my sister. I got the biggest share of her and somehow I'm comfortable with that. It's not always easy handling karma that was handed down to through the generations, but I'm giving it a good shot. I hope she could appreciate that.

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. it seems like typical UK weather...I never knew why I felt like pulling a duvet over my head and go to sleep on days grey and rainy ( now the trouble is , almost all the days seem to be grey and rainy here for last year and so) I feel guilty like hell, still can't help feeling wonder I can't accomplish much, except for the addition of some extra pounds on my tummy...
    Longing for some sunshine!

    1. I know what you mean, but my dog usually helps me with that. After I get out for a walk on any seriously yucky day, I usually feel better even when my Goretex and my jeans below its hem are soaked.