Grandmother

GloriaBaseballmom.jpg

This is my grandma Gloria in a photoshoot for the Daily Breeze newspaper in Redondo. A Little League story. She was born in South Central LA in 1922 as Gladys Esther Tremain, but later changed her name to Gloria and added the ‘e’ to Tremaine, a Cornish, French-given name meaning ‘Three Hands.’ She altered many things, apparently she even fibbed about her age to slice a few years. I like to imagine her reshaping reality in all sorts of little ways, in an LA still pouring its concrete. An LA that too was reimagining its vision of the future. I see her driving a rectangle along the Esplanade, a car like a boat, wearing cat-eye sunglasses, feeding her pet tarantula, skinny-dipping in Big Bear, eating eclairs my grandpa brought for her office breaks in Malaga Cove, taking the ferry to Catalina, spiraling around the kitchen in big skirts, calling in her boys for dinner, collecting deliveries of fresh Wonder Bread at the door. Her nephew drove that polka-dotted van all his life. Wonder what they’d think about my sourdough-eating ass. I never met her, she died in 1974 of ovarian cancer. My dad and uncle were just teenagers. But her forward outlook remains. I think about her all the time—especially when I see my cousin Amber—and like to imagine, as she would’ve, that we are very close.

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A story about my maternal line ~~~ This is my great grandmother Martha Gayer. My mother’s mother’s mother. She died in 2008 at the age of 99, but I didn’t know she was alive at the time or when she died. I was never introduced to her. She lived alone in a psych ward in Iowa, estranged from most of the family. My grandmother hasn’t said much about her or anything to me. All I was told is that she was mad. /// Martha’s mother, Alvina Tanck, migrated alone from Dägeling to Iowa in 1907 in her 20s. Alvina was born from the rape of her mother—the rapist: her mother’s brother-in-law, one of my grandfathers— and deemed ‘illegitimate’ from birth. The farm in Iowa was her fresh start. She had nine children, including Martha. /// I wish I met her. But I can kinda see her smirk on my face.

You don’t understand music: you hear it. So hear me with your whole body. When you come to read me you will ask why I don’t keep to painting and my exhibitions, since I write so rough and disorderly. It’s because now I feel the need for words—and what I’m writing is new to me because until now my true word has never been touched. The word is my fourth dimension… My unbalanced words are the wealth of my silence. I write in acrobatics and pirouettes in the air—I write because I so deeply want to speak. Though writing only gives me the full measure of silence. And if I say ‘I’ it’s because I dare not say ‘you,’ or ‘we’ or ‘one.’ I’m forced to the humility of personalizing myself belittling myself but I am the are-you… I am before, I am almost, I am never. And all of this I won when I stopped loving you… And every thing that occurs to me I note to pin it down. For I want to feel in my hands the quivering and lively nerve of the now and may that nerve resist me like a restless vein. And may it rebel, that nerve of life, and may it contort and throb. And may sapphires, amethysts and emeralds spill into the dark eroticism of abundant life: because in my darkness quakes at last the great topaz, word that has its own light…

Am I one of the weak? a weak woman possessed by incessant and mad rhythm? if I were solid and strong would I even have heard the rhythm? I find no answer: I am.”

-Clarice Lispector
Água Viva

Sigh, it’s benign

Notebook entry on October 2, 2018

9:10 am, waiting room. People rushing, apologizing for minutes. The parking lot was full. “I’d like to make an appointment.” “How about next month?” Holding time to cram us in. This mole is new and dark in the middle of my chest. From a pale pore to an odd shape. An island, collecting the sun of my life. Forming near my heart. Doctor, please see me.