Tag Archives: Favorite People

This heat is so oppressive

Good thing I was invited to a birthday party serving ice cream cake. We all gathered at my parents’ house to watch two brothers and a grandmother blow out the candles in 100-degree weather. My sister’s dog was all like, “I’m from the mountains. I can’t deal with this heat index. Someone shave my long, furry legs.” And my little brother was like, “A fleece jacket is not a very seasonal birthday present,” and we were like, “It’s a bathing suit. It will go with your swimming jeans.” And I was like, “Family parties are fun and all, but I wonder if I received any important Facebook messages in the past two hours.” And my dad wrapped a Ziplock bag of jelly beans in fancy paper and was like, “Happy birthday, Mom.”

An ode to her amputated leg

The truncated calf springs upward

as if summoned by the ceiling.

Mom said it’s like a teenage erection,

bounding from the hospital gown–

a body part under

no one’s control.

So grandma’s got a stump now.

And she can’t harness or subdue it

like the horse she once cantered,

her two legs gripping the girth,

her two legs holding her steady

high in the stirrups.

Now she sits in a sterilized chair

with one lonely foot on the floor

and one knee poking out,

capped in fresh bandage.

And she thinks I can come for lunch

even though it’s 11:30 in the morning

and I live 500 miles away.

“We’ve got lots to eat. Just come on.”


I’m not sure she knows her leg is missing.

The calf was rotten, and wrapped in gauze.

But she wonders why no one’s changed her bandage.

In her head she still nurses the old wound.

“Sheila’s late,” she says. “Where is that cute surgeon?”

It’s the rehab guy, prepping her for the prosthesis.

“I’m going to need new shoes,” she says.

“No, you’re not,” says my mother. “You are going to need half as many shoes.”

“I don’t understand,” says my grandmother.

“You are missing a leg.”

Three babies have slipped down that leg, into the world.

Three babies have stood at that foot and listened.


When my grandfather died, we found an envelope marked “pornography” in his handwriting.

Photos of my grandmother’s naked legs in a bathtub.

He is not here to see this, or to lie beside the blank in their bed.

One leg to last until she dies.

Legs aren’t resurrected.

Legs are left in the operating room, their expired wounds gaping at the orderlies. And then out with the trash.

My grandmother’s stallion leg. Her narrow foot that only fit into special-order shoes.

And then her stump pops towards the wall and everyone screams.

She is different now, with her halfway limb. She weighs two pounds less.

It was a skinny leg.


On Monday I found myself grieving. I woke up and knew her leg was gone. I went to bed and missed her leg. Was it incinerated? Recycled?

Where will she put her stocking?

The blood reaches the knee and wonders where to go next.


I miss my calf, my shin. I miss my five little toes. I will never paint my toenails again. I will never feel another sandal on this foot. I will never be scratched on the ankle by Mama Cat or the rosebush. I will never tweeze another splinter from this sole.


My mother sat on the hospital bed where the leg would have been. My grandmother shrieked and jerked her stump into the air.


I’m in mourning for a leg. A skin and bones leg that leaned against a metal walker for six months. An emaciated leg I pushed in a wheelchair from the car to the clinic. A shadow of a leg that held its infection for a year. I changed the bandages. I saw the blood come and go.

On Monday I stayed in bed for a leg. I knew it was gone when I woke up. Then I couldn’t move from the waist down. Someone I loved was lopsided. Someone I loved could capsize on the floor when walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She might forget about the empty space. How long does it take to know your amputation? Someone must sit there to remind her: “You only have one leg left.”

I miss your leg. Even though some people have said goodbye to much more, I miss the part of your body that we knew, that we lost.

Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and how it relates to my own life

Makes me miss my people before they’re gone.

Makes we want to document more moments like this:

The bbf and I kick a blue rubber ball around the yard after his long day at work and my colossal afternoon nap. I collapse on the grass. “I’m exhausted from all this soccer,” I say. “I think I’m coming down with something.”

The bbf throws the ball at my head. “I think you have the trust fund flu.”

Going to my baby brother’s lacrosse game today

He is the most adorable jock ever. And he better score a lot of goals to compensate for my leaving the internet for 12 hours. You hear me, bro? I want flashy, violent goal scoring. Like a video game. None of this sissy stuff. And it’s raining, so there better be hot chocolate at the tailgate.

Another short and sweet post about arm wrestling

I give you the best multimedia feature about arm wrestling the Daily Progress has ever done.

New website idea

I think there should be a website devoted to online content that moms find funny. Then they can stop forwarding said content to their children.

A friend who chased foxes

I once had a friend who chased foxes on horseback. I met her at a makeup counter at the mall. I sat on her high stool and she pressed the thin skin around my eye sockets, rubbing shimmer across my lids. The most skittish strangers trusted her with the lining of their lashes. When you were in her hands, you closed your eyes and let go. She smelled like lavender. On the first day I met her, I spent $100 on credit and decided she should marry into my family.

She was young and in love with so many things. She especially loved horses and the stray dogs she was always picking up from the side of the road. She used to be a professional snowboarder, and when she rode the lift, her dogs would run up the mountain beneath her chair.

She told me that some foxes seemed to enjoy the hunt. If the hound dogs lost their scent, the foxes would come out of their hiding places to taunt them and prolong the chase. I admit that I didn’t believe her at the time. What kind of animal would laugh in the face of death, just for the thrill of the hunt? But now when I imagine her galloping across the countryside, always grinning behind the fox, behind the dogs, behind her horse’s bucking head, I can see that she too was being chased. A heavy fate was following her as well, but it never fazed her. She kept running, kept laughing, kept teasing the bitter wind that tailed her like a baying hound. And I like to think that maybe when that hound caught up to her, she wasn’t sad or angry like the rest of us; she just took it in stride like the fox who enjoyed his run but knows his time is up.

Amy Saulter’s memorial was yesterday afternoon. She died after a long illness that still remains a mystery. She was in a coma in the neurological ICU for five months, during which time her hair was cut short, she endured over three hundred thousand medical tests, and her parents had to touch her with rubber gloves.

But that’s the sad part of the story. The happy part is that Amy’s life blessed so many of us, if all too briefly, and that her energy will always be fixed somewhere in our thoughts, and that she was a sly and ecstatic sport in this foxhunt life that will one day catch up to us all.

Conversation on a walk with my grandfather yesterday

Grandfather: I have always been impressed with my mother’s managerial skills. Not only did she parent ten children, but she also managed a full household staff.

Me: I know! When I read older English novels, I’m reminded of those extra responsibilities of the family matriarch. Like right now I’m reading Middlemarch by George Eliot. . .

Grandfather: I’m reading Middlemarch too!

Later, walking up a steep hill. . .

Grandfather: I rode one of the first geared bikes 190 miles from Yale to visit a girlfriend at Bennington. Later she wrote me a Dear John letter, telling me she was becoming a Sacred Heart nun.

Me: A boy once drove 200 miles to see me in a car with a driver’s side window smashed in by the burglar who stole his car stereo the night before. There was burglar blood and window glass all over the seat and he arrived in a rainstorm. Later he told me he was gay.

It’s Noelle’s birthday today

I didn’t get her a present this year, because I’d have to send it to Barcelona and I am lazy. I also feel like I have a five-year grace period because of a priceless gift I gave her once. In 2003, when we were roommates in the capital city, I told her that I would clean her filthy bedroom for her birthday. I planned on doing a quick vacuum, a superficial scrub, and a light dusting, but she had other ideas. That December 17th morning she presented me with a three-page, typed agenda called the “Wistar Birthday Maid Cleaning List.” I saved the list as a permanent record of how wonderful I am and how high-maintenance Noelle is. When I look back on it now, I am glad that item #8 under the “Noelle’s Bedroom” heading – “Handwash undies and pirate top then hang dry” – is not crossed off. Here is the abbreviated cleaning list:

-Use the vacuum hose to get all the corners on the ceiling and in my bathroom to get any cobwebs, look thoroughly, use the hose to clean my yellow sofa taking off the pillows and getting in the cracks

-Dust everything with blue dusting cloths

-Fold and put away all clothing (Skirts get hung up, pants in bottom dresser drawer, long sleeve tops are hung up, short sleeve and tank are put in middle dresser drawer color coordinated, undies and bras in that soft hanging thing, coats and jackets in the closet)

-Get all mold off the shower

-Use bleach to clean the mold off the ceiling gently

-Clean toilet plunger and brush. Sanitize with bleach

-Vacuum the blue and orange sofa in the living room under the cushions to get out nastiness

-You’ll be responsible for sweeping living room and dining room after birthday party

-Clean out my toaster oven

-Responsible for mopping kitchen after party

I read the list, then I changed out of my sexy maid outfit and into my biohazard suit. I did my best to complete her tasks while she shouted further instructions to me while obsessively checking her MySpace account. I am the hero of this story, by the way.

I love you, Noelle, and I’m thrilled that you have a Spanish maid now so your friends don’t have to do your housework anymore. But you know I would still clean your pipes and your gutters anytime. Happy birthday, princesa!

Self-absorbed party wrap-up

I try to be charming at parties, and yet I always end up dry humping someone by the bar or threatening to steal a girl’s baby. I lose people’s jackets, I feed hyper kids too many cookies, and if certain friends haven’t arrived by a certain hour, I make angry, drunken phone calls demanding their presence. But the important thing is that I have a good time. I always manage to have a good time. I am glad that the party ended when it did though, because otherwise I might have proposed mooning cars or playing the fainting game and I would have weirded out my last remaining friends. I didn’t go to many parties in high school and college was no disco, so I think I am still stuck in that middle school party place, where you want everyone to overeat popcorn and candy, gossip about celebrity haircuts, take forbidden drags of cigarettes, and make a public nuisance. And then it’s one in the morning and your guests are bloated, drunk, or pregnant, and they all want to go home. I, on the other hand, want to keep hanging out and play Truth or Dare or Ouija Board, but instead I put all my Pepsi and vodka-induced energy into washing the party dishes and sweeping the floor while the bbf passes out watching The Goonies, and then I kiss him on the cheek and I can pretend we’re playing house in the 1980s.

Thanks to everyone who came to our party! If you didn’t get an invitation I promise it was an oversight or I think you smell bad.