Shifting the Sun by Diana Der-Hovanessian

When your father dies, say the Irish,
you lose your umbrella against bad weather.
May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh,
you sink a foot deeper into the earth.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Canadians,
you run out of excuses.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the French,
you become your own father.
May you stand up in his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians,
he comes back as the thunder.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,
he takes your childhood with him.
May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the English,
you join his club you vowed you wouldn’t.
May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,
your sun shifts forever.
And you walk in his light.

“Shifting the Sun” by Diana Der-Hovanessian, from Selected Poems. © Sheep Meadow Press, 1994.

I have been looking for this for 2 months. Finally found it today. A friend sent it to me via FB messenger right after my dad died. I thought I had stashed it somewhere easy to find. That as pretty silly of me.

It will probably make you cry a little. It made me tear up, again. But, it helps my heart, too.

Tomorrow is my parents 56th wedding anniversary.

_____________________

Ded said “Garrison Keillor read that on The Writer’s Almanac the day before my dad died. I was alone in the office in the very early morning, which was a good thing, because I knew my dad was dying, and I ended up sobbing. I also knew it was a gift, and I worked to find a copy of it (this was 1996, before you could find anything on the interwebs) to be read at his funeral. On the first anniversary of my dad’s death, Garrison Keillor read it on The Writer’s Almanac again. Since then I have always shared it with friends when their dad’s pass, and it was read at the funeral of my children’s father. It means a great deal to me; I’m glad it means a great deal to you too.”

dna

Portrait of a marriage

P1030292

This is gorgeous, rich, lovely mousse. It is made from avocados and organic cocoa. You know. Healthy stuff. 🙂

One of us skims from the top, slivers, slices, layer by layer. And the plastic protector is stretched across the top without risking the loss of any of the tasty, tasty treat.

The other one eats in from the edge and covers the part that is being saved for tomorrow (because it is very rich and luscious) with plastic wrap that is tucked in, blanket-like, around the little mound of delight.

This is us.

Names

My friend has a son who is 10. I have been in a room with him. But, we haven’t actually been introduced other than “This is my friend, Kitty.” directed to his grandmother, who was in the room at the same time. I have no clue what he is expected to call me. It will be interesting to see if he ever actually calls me by name.

When I was growing up, I had an Aunt Nel and Uncle Carl who weren’t actually related. But, they have known me since I was a year old and are still good friends of my mother. I, also, had Mr. Jim, Mr. George and Miss Esther, who were friends of my grandparents. Also, no actual genetic connection. But, close enough not to require the formality of last names.

An African-American friend once told me that her parents taught her never to Miss This or Mr. That to anyone because it was a slave time holdover. And I can see that. But, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the names we used for the older family friends. I told Diane about Miss Esther and Aunt Nel and she said “Hm. That’s interesting. I’ll keep it in mind when I hear those used in the future.”

My sister works in a daycare. The children there call all the teachers Miss Firstname. So, my sister is Miss Amanda to her 3 and 4 year olds. I’m not sure why the school chooses to do that. It is surely no more difficult to say than Miz Whoever.

Because I am called “Kitty” (birth certificate says “Katherine”), I get the extra silliness of Miss Kitty. If you are of a certain age in America, you watched Gunsmoke on TV. Miss Kitty was the madam working at the saloon in Dodge City. Even the director of my department at work adds that superlative to my name. And that feels odd. “Miss Kitty” from someone under the age of 20 would fit my family’s traditions. But, from people my own age or older, it is just peculiar.

RiverRun 2017

Additional addendum:  I’m very excited! We are going to see a bunch of movies at the RiverRun Film Festival in Winston-Salem. We have tickets for 8 feature films and 2 shorts collections. And our AirBnB hostess has given us tickets to the gala Friday night. Hotcha!

Thursday 3/30

Lost in Paris “Fiona visits Paris for the first time to assist her myopic Aunt Martha. Catastrophes ensue, mainly involving Dom, a homeless man who has yet to have an emotion or thought he was afraid of expressing.”

Friday 3/31

Little Wing “Little Wing tells the story of 12-year-old Varpu (Linnea Skog), who’s quickly growing to adulthood, and about her mother (Paula Vesala), who doesn’t want to grow up.”

I Am Cuba.  “This sprawling vision of Cuba from 1964 was poorly received upon release and largely forgotten until the 1990s, when directors like Martin Scorsese pushed for its restoration. Alternatingly dreamlike and neo-realist, I Am Cuba attempts to characterize the Cuban revolution and the suffering of its citizens through an anthology of four varied vignettes.”

Our AirBnB hostess has given us tickets to the Gala.

Saturday 4/1

Pushing Dead, “When a struggling writer, HIV positive for 20+ years, accidentally deposits a $100 birthday check, he is dropped from his health plan for earning too much.”

Documentary Shorts 1

Strange Weather. “A poignant, lyrical drama about a mother (Holly Hunter), who, in an effort to deal with the grief over the death of her son, travels the back roads of the deep south to settle a score.”

Sunday 4/2

Cuban Shorts

Sacred. “Møre than 40 filmmakers travelled the globe to witness religious celebrations and interview people from all sorts of background.”

Thursday 4/6

First Lady of the Revolution  “the remarkable story of Henrietta Boggs, a Southern belle who takes a life-altering journey through marriage, civil war and audacious democratic reforms to become the First Lady of Costa Rica.”

Frantz. “In the aftermath of WWI, a young German who grieves the death of her fiancé in France meets a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiancé’s grave to lay flowers.”

My son will be house/cat sitting on the weekend.

Addendum 4/3:

After seeing I am Cuba and the Cuban shorts, Chuck was intrigued by the other films in the Cuban series.  So, he’s going back while I’m working on Saturday, 4/8 to see Memories of Underdevelopment and, since he’ll be there anyway,  Purple Dreams.

Additional Addendum 4/17:

We both got sick and neither of us returned to see the Thursday or Saturday films.

Lalochezia

Lalochezia lal·o·che·zi·a (lāl’ō-kē’zē-ə) n. Emotional relief gained by using indecent or vulgar language.

One day, I was at my parents house and needed to store some kind of food. (I’ve forgotten what.) I had a container and was sitting on the floor going through all the lids that had accumulated in the cabinet trying to find the one that fit. And, as is my habit when I’m doing something that’s frustrating me, I was swearing to myself. A kind of sotto voce “shit, damn, hell, fuck, hell, shit, damn, damn, damn, shit fuck, hell…”

My father came in the kitchen, heard me and started laughing. I said, “What? It’s funny that I’m sitting on the floor look for a lid for this damn bowl?”

He said “No. I came in your room one time when you were about 4 years old and you were looking something in your toy box. And you were talking to yourself saying ‘shoot, durn, shoot, durn, heck, shoot, heck.’ It’s funny how somethings don’t change even though the language is more mature.”


I work in a medical lab and our work space is called a bench (even though it is a long table). And the benches in my department are about 3 or 4 feet apart. It is possible to be facing someone else while you are minding your own business doing your own work in your own space. Also, there are days that are a little stressful and my lalochezia kicks in to help me deal with it.

One day, my manager called me in to tell me that another employee had complained about my language. I asserted that I had not been swearing at my coworker. I had simply been doing my work and talking to myself as I did. “Also,” I said, “if she has never heard those words, how does she know what they mean? And if she does know what they mean, clearly she has heard them before and I haven’t been giving her an accidental education.” I thought about it a minute and said “And another thing. If we were that close to each other that she could hear me, why did she need to come complain to you? Why didn’t she just day ‘Kitty! Shut up! You’re bugging me.’? I probably would have.”

Sometimes, I add an extra “fuck” to my conversations at work when she’s around, now.

Artichokes

When I was 14 or 15, a frequent habit in my family was to go to church on Sunday and then have our big meal, usually in the dining room instead or the breakfast nook off the kitchen. It wasn’t always a huge feast that my mother had spent hours over, just the biggest meal that was getting fixed that day. It could very well be chicken salad and pimento cheese with choices of bread or crackers and some chips.

But, one Sunday when we came home, she got stirring around in the kitchen and shooed me out when I came to help. I didn’t argue. I didn’t get let off that hook very often.

After a while she called us into the dining room, where there was nothing on the table except napkins, some silverware and glasses of tea. She was clearly pleased without herself as she told us to sit down and whisked into the kitchen.

She came back with salad plates holding steamed artichokes. And she brought little dishes of melted lemon butter.

We were baffled. She sat down and showed us how to gently pull the leaves off and scrape the tasty bits off with our teeth. My sisters and I had a blast dipping in the butter. My parents seemed to think it was fun to enjoy their artichokes and to watch us having a big time. Eventually, we got down to the choke. She showed us how to scrape off the fuzzy part and cut the heart into bite sized pieces to eat the best of the artichoke.

When we had all finished, she whisked the plates and artichoke debris off the table and banged around in the kitchen for a couple of minutes. Then she brought in bowls of Campbell’s soup and a plate of peanut butter and honey or jelly sandwiches (which was a fairly usual lunch for us).

I looked at my soup and said,”I’m not complaining about the meal. Soup and sandwiches is great. But, it’s kind of anticlimactic after the artichokes.”

She almost looked sheepish and said, “I rarely see fresh artichokes at the grocery and when I do they usually only have 2 or 3. The other day they had 5! One for each of us. So, I got ’em. And if you ever find yourselves faced with one, you’ll know what to do with it.”

So, that’s my mother.

Talking about Porn

I think artistic nudes are about form and light.

I think erotica aims to titillate. Where you draw the pornography line has to do with your own head. For me, it is determined by consent. And erotica that doesn’t have the consent of all participants crosses that line into unacceptable. That includes putting up your own photo of yourself being erotic where I will see it without warning me that you are going to show me your sexuality.

If you say “There is erotica here” I can choose to participate or not. If you put up a photo of you slipping your hand into your panties or your dick slipping into your willing partner without a warning, you have become a pornographer because my participation was without my own volition.

And work no longer has anything to do with “NSFW.” That has become code for “there may be nakedness here.”

Nevermore 2017

My friend, Meg, came up from South Carolina to go to Nevermore with me.  I think she had a good time.  I was disappointed.

The computer system crashed Friday so we were unable to buy the ticket package (buy 8, get 2 free).  I asked to for punch cards (their usual deal is buy 4, get 1 free) and was told those aren’t offered for film festivals.  There was a line behind me and I didn’t feel like having a public fit.

We saw 3 shorts collections and 2 feature length films (Gehenna – Where Death Lives and  2307: Winter’s Dream).   They were entertaining by not particularly memorable.

I think the general manager who had been a moving force behind the festival has moved on.  There were no skulls, plastic rats or other creepy decorations.  There were no “what to do in case of zombie attack” signs in the rest rooms. The juried awards were posted before the festival even started. The volunteers were still handing out ballots, though.

I hope they have regrouped next year.

Cake!

This photo was taken to mark my second birthday. My father had turned 24 the previous April and there was chocolate cake.

little kitty

I have always loved chocolate cake. And I decided that I wanted a piece of that birthday cake. So, I pushed a chair over to the kitchen counter and cut myself a slice.

I don’t remember where I got the knife. What I remember is standing on that chair eating the slice of cake that I was holding in my left hand and holding the knife with my right hand. My mother walked passed the kitchen door and didn’t register me standing there for a second. I suspect that the horrified expression on her face when she backed up to look in the kitchen is what welded it to my mind. As I recall, she swooped in to pick me up and relieve me of the knife while I diligently chomped away.

About 50 years later, she asserted that children have no memories of any time before they are 3. I asked her how old I was when that happened. She said, “You couldn’t possibly remember that. You were only about a year and a half old!” I said, “You never told me that story in my life. I even remember the dress I was wearing. It was a baby blue dress you had smocked.”

Her jaw dropped. She said,”I guess you do remember.”