Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Every time I reach into the cabinet for a ramekin, I have to twist my arm around the spiky remains of my Cruzcampo glass. I imagine, vividly, each time, the glass slicing into my wrist and I can almost imagine the warm flushed feeling I'd get when I would start bleeding. I feel dizzy and then think it's time I threw out the shards of the glass. I'm not going to glue it together, it's just garbage. Just throw it out, Katie, I think. But it's still in the cabinet.

It's a remnant from our trip to Spain and France, maybe my favorite thing I brought back with me, and that's saying something considering the pilgrimage I made to E. Dehillerin in Paris. The glass was from a hotel bar, the pool a vanishing edge over the side of the Mediterranean. Partner and I had spent the day on the beach, tucked up next to a rocky edge, swimming in the clear blue sea. No one spoke English. Our friends opted for the pool, and we all met up on the patio before heading toward home. We had a few drinks and as I sat gazing out over the picturesque bay we were on, something at the next table caught my eye: a little beer glass, the word "Cruzcampo" raised on the side and a fat man drinking a beer. Both the words and the man were silhouettes of raised glass. Subtle. And the shape of the glass seemed unduly elegant for just a little lager, and suddenly I wanted this glass. I wanted to drink beer out of this glass at home on hot days, my hair piled on top of my head and my feet bare on warm bricks. This glass needed to be mine. I complained that I didn't get a glass like that one. I tried ordering a Cruzcampo to see if I'd get the glass too. I didn't. Just before we left, Partner reached out and snatched the glass, slipping it into our beach tote. I mollycoddled that glass all the way through Paris and back the United States.

Whenever I was in a slightly bad mood or felt I wanted a simple thing to cheer me up, I'd take out that glass and pour a lager into it. I never ever put the glass in the dishwasher, preferring to wash it by hand. When we moved, I put it in the same box as the ceramic plaque with Cricket's hand and footprints at three months of age. I have no idea why the glass meant so much to me; maybe it symbolized some European aesthetic I long for in my life, or the dream of living there again some day. Who knows, but I didn't drink out of the glass everyday, preferring to save it for times when I felt I needed a treat.

When Partner was gone in Africa, one night after Cricket was in bed, I took out the glass and had a beer. I left the glass at the side of the sink. I worked the next day and when I came home that night, I noticed that super nanny had cleaned up, placing the glass into the dishwasher. I took it out, washed it by hand, and left it on the drainboard to dry. The next day I worked again and the ensuing night was a hectic as usual. I wanted to spend time with Cricket; we bathed, read stories, and I put him to bed. When I came out of his bedroom, I headed to the kitchen, and that's when I noticed the shards of the glass, placed on the counter.

I wanted to call super nanny and ask what happened, but my sensible side said, "What happened? It broke, that's what happened." I didn't want to make SN feel bad about the glass, as I was sure she already did. Why else save the shards? I kept the glass on the counter for a few days, and finally put it up into the cabinet to get it out of the way. And there it sits.

Every few weeks, I do a search on eBay and Google for "Cruzcampo glasses. I sometimes get returns that bring up small goblets, a printed "Cruzcampo" on the side. Although... even if I ever found the same glass again, it wouldn't be the same glass. In some bastardized version of Benjamin's aura, I know that every other glass would be a replica, a poor stand in. As if the glass itself was the work of art, and everything else the mechanical reproduction.
I can name a dozen or so objects that have some almost ritualistic meaning to me. I have found myself looking at certain things in my house over the past few months and wondering about their meaning. Is a meaning unattached to my life or meaning that captures something else? Pictures, invitations, old papers, books. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write about my Cruzcampo glass. Perhaps writing about it will free me to throw it out. After all, the memory is not attached to the glass. The memory is intact regardless.
Perhaps there's no larger meaning than the meaning of that moment. Maybe there's nothing left to say.

Friday, September 04, 2009


At six am, I can hear my baby rumbling and finally he calls out, "Mommy! I'm afraid! Come hold me." The mommy, it propels me and I'm there, holding him, stroking his hair and he's folded into me completely. Fifteen minutes later I ask him, "Are you okay now" I'm otay, he says. "Can you go back to sleep for a couple hours?" Yeah, he sits up, put me in my bed.

I won't go back to sleep. Instead I'll return to bed and think about the day laid out before us. Later this afternoon we'll be attending the state fair, slated to be the last one. We'll look at sculptures made out of butter, marvel at animal husbandry, maybe Cricket will milk a cow. We will watch pigs race, and amble along the midway. My father has requested specifically to spend this time with my child. I hope it's not the last year for the state fair. I hope we do this year after year after year.

My windows are open, and soon I can hear the wisps of piano from across the street. My neighbor is up too, but his windows are dark. He's playing passionately, full, and complete with melancholy; minor chords and spinning riffs. I know his wife died this past winter and I imagine him up with all his sorrow, his stocking feet on the pedals, filling his house with emotion. I lie very still in bed to try to catch the chords.

Later this week my dad will be having surgery; I'm almost positive that everything will be fine. Odds are with us, but this is something new in my life. I'm used to seeing my father in a certain manner. I called him last week and asked if he'd be intubated for the surgery. I watch my own patients get intubated. It always seems so violent to me in a practiced way. I picture my dad, lying on an OR table, knocked out and someone manipulating his jaw, applying crich pressure. "I imagine I will be," he says to me. I know it's standard. I was intubated for my surgery, my future sister-in-law just intubated for her surgery, but it still springs instant tears to my eyes. I'm too visual. I think about him lying in a PACU alone. I pray the nurses are good. I think about my dad all night with my own patients and I'm extra gentle, arranging sheets around my people, rubbing their heads before I leave the room. I whisper to my vented patients, tell them they are doing so good. I put their hands in my own and squeeze, remind them through their sedation haze there are people watching them. Me. I'm watching.

I'm just losing a version of my dad, but it's okay. I think about him in the summer at our swim club, on the diving board. Everyone loved when my dad would dive, me especially, my heart I'm sure beaming out of my chest, swelled with pride. He'd step, one, two, three, bounce up, his hands high above his head, so high he'd bounce and then back down, and up again before he was over the water: in pike positions, in somersaults, once, twice, two and half times. Sometimes he'd throw his body backwards and flip around, his hands breaking the water, his feet pointed following in a narrow splash. On the high dive, it was even more impressive. Sometimes he walk to the end of the board, balance on toes, stretching his arms out to his side. The sun always bright. Me either waiting my turn behind him, my arms on the ladder waiting to climb up after him, or sitting on the side of the diving well. My dad, that's my dad that can do that. There's something you need to abandon to dive like that, something I never could do. Not like him.

There is loss sometimes before there is even loss. Maybe this won't be the last year for the state fair after all, maybe some miracle will happen and we'll all be back next year. For now, I'll let the continuum take me; it's the oldest continuously running state fair in the US and I'll be there with my dad and my child. I'll be watching them, whispering again my own hopes about the day: I hope he takes him on rides, holds his hand, points out the blue ribbons. We'll drown out the hint of any melancholy with music from calliope and we'll all be, in the words of my Cricket, otay.