Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Two interesting things that make NY living a lot easier

1. Trader Joe's is not that crowded at 9 pm.
2. You can buy one=week old New Yorkers at the kiosk in the 14th Street A, C, E station for $2.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Last night I arrived home to find a letter in my mailbox from my mother, mailed on February 9. This was strange since she passed away last summer. The strangeness increased when I opened the letter find a Valentine signed by her and my father. "You are our Valentine" was written in her inimitable handwriting.

At the same time, it seemed like the most normal thing in the world to receive a letter from her, like something I had been waiting for but never doubted would come. My Mom passed away while I was out of the country scrambling to get home. The fact that I missed her death left me for months with the feeling that it hadn't really happened, and that somehow, if I could just get back into the other place, the place where I didn't go on vacation knowing she was sick, that she would be alive, and everything would be as it was. Realizing "yes this actually has happened" and adjusting to all the changes that emerged from it was something of a process. Getting a card that, if everything hadn't changed and if she were alive, plausibly could have been sent by my parents six weeks ago, probably didn't help with this.

Close examination of the envelope revealed that it had been mailed on February 9, 2009 or six months before her death, and had spent over thirteen months in delivery between North Carolina and New York. (The only apparent reason for the delay was the fact that she addressed it to apartment H3 instead of 3H.)

There is a scene in Almodovar's movie, Volver where one of the character opens the trunk of her car to find her deceased mother stowed away there and prepared to come home and live with her. I saw that scene on cable shortly after my mother passed and liked the idea of a ghost who shows up because she needs a place to live. For this reason, the movie's end, in which all supernatural elements are rationally explained, disappointed me.

The idea that a loved one is communicating with you from wherever they are now is comforting and seductive. Of course there is a rational explanation for the card and its delay. (It was most likely forgotten in a mail bin that was recently found.) I can't help but indulge in the wistful idea that I am accessible to my mom and that she was trying to remind me of her. As Meghan O'Rourke said in a recent article on grieving that ran in the New Yorker, grief has been explained less as bereavement and more as searching:

"In the nineteen-seventies, Colin Murray Parkes, a British psychiatrist and a pioneer in bereavement research, argued that the dominant element of grief was a restless “searching.” The heightened physical arousal, anger, and sadness of grief resemble the anxiety that children suffer when they’re separated from their mothers. Parkes, drawing on work by John Bowlby, an early theorist of how human beings form attachments, noted that in both cases—acute grief and children’s separation anxiety—we feel alarm because we no longer have a support system we relied on. Parkes speculated that we continue to “search” illogically (and in great distress) for a loved one after a death. After failing again and again to find the lost person, we slowly create a new “assumptive world,” in the therapist’s jargon, the old one having been invalidated by death. Searching, or yearning, crops up in nearly all the contemporary investigations of grief."

This idea of yearning, was one of the most comforting things I read during my mourning process.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Most. Resourceful. Girfriend. Ever.

Jane and I are going to Mexico this summer. I was saying how cool it would be to see Julieta Venegas if she were playing while we were there. And that it would be even cooler if she ever played in a show in New York to see it. And she got all ambitious and figure out that Julieta Venegas is playing at Latin Quarter in New York on April 22. And so we are going.

Mad props.