30 December 2013

0 finding shelby foote

so you know how i love cemeteries? well, that wasn't always the case. apparently, when i was little, my parents took me to elmwood and i pitched an ABSOLUTE FIT. i remember this vaguely. the only proof is my parents word and a lone photograph where i look deceptively happy to be standing on a monument to the confederate dead. 

looking back, i think this may have been around the time when i thought the man in the ruffled blouse was going to slit my wrists while i slept. or maybe it was after the christmas carol. two things i'm slowly coming to think were maybe both tied up in my conflation of jessica's death with the holocaust and the subsequent concern that everyone else i knew would one day be taken away. in other words, this was hands down the most ideal time to be going to a graveyard and tromping amongst the dead. 

obviously things have changed. obviously i've swung wholly the other way. now i not only enjoy graveyards but actively seek them out. on my vacations. 

this is, to some extent, both a southern thing and a family thing. we are country, after all. 

and so this week i pitched an equally absolute fit to go back to elmwood, making a sweeping declaration that this was the one thing i would absolutely die if we did not do. 

being my family, we made An Occasion of it and first went to a fancy brunch. then, much as we used to snuggle into the van to go see starry nights, we snuggled into the van, drove to the ghetto, and went to the greatest graveyard in memphis. 

we were going with the larger mission of seeing shelby foote's grave. something that it seemed would be so easy to find. and maybe it would've been were the cemetery office open, were there any maps, were there any streets with names. alas, no. 

and so we hit up google, which informed us that the illustrious mister foote had been buried beneath a magnolia tree on a hill amongst the confederate dead beside the forrest family. 


because, um... no. 

how do i know that? because my parents and i spent an hour and a half peering beneath the various magnolias on the hills amongst the confederate dead. and, though we haphazardly came upon the grave of someone my father had worked with in the late 80s, we couldn't find shelby foote. 

and then, as we drove down the final boulevard, up a gentle incline entirely devoid of trees- magnolia or otherwise- the name forrest leapt out at me at precisely the moment that my father saw the small black marker that was nearly entirely obscured by a christmas wreath and which read 'shelby dade foote', at which point- for different reasons- we let out an identical, entirely unintelligible, cry of 'UUUUUHHHHMHHMMRRR!!!' 

the resulting eaton family whoop that went up in that car was nearly deafening. debo turned around to give me a high-five. 

and for the record, for anyone pulled over in elmwood cemetery reading this, shelby foote is not buried under a magnolia on a hill amongst the confederate dead. he's buried two hills over from the stained glass people, just off one of the skinny roads in the center, caddy-corner to the forrest family, next to his wife. 

27 December 2013

0 all the stockings were hung

burvil slept until 11 on christmas morning.

because she'd been kept up by the sound of traffic the night before when she slept in the barracks with all us girls, she wound up spending christmas eve on the sofa in the living room and slept like the dead.

'the kids can't get to their stockings,' giggled debo, 'because their grandmother's sleeping under the christmas tree!'

we all tried our darnedest and completely failed not to make a racket, eating breakfast at a whisper in the room next to where she slumbered. then the whole family, save gran, went back up to the barracks and sat and giggled and chatted and read for whole hours on end, waiting for her to wake up.

knowing that when she did, she'd likely kill us all for letting her sleep so long.

as it was, when she finally awoke, the refrain for the day was, 'i'm mad at all of you!' because we'd let her get the sleep she needed. because she suspected we'd had enormous fun without her. (it's a family-wide phenomenon: this irrational fear that the time of everyone's life will be had in one's absence.)

during breakfast, as we sat speaking in hushed tones- shhhhhhhhing my father repeatedly because his level of general excitement is the antithesis of quiet- a horrible thought had occurred to me. what if burvil is dead? it was a horrible thought i'd felt absolutely dreadful having even had.

only later would it be discovered that we had each and every one of us been stricken by that thought and we had each and every one of us, independently, at various points throughout the morning, gone in to verify that burvil was truly sleeping. she was, in fact, alive.

25 December 2013

0 rats

on christmas eve, we sat around a bonfire smoking cigars arguing about state's rights. this is officially the most southern my family has been.

0 merry merry

16 December 2013

0 yes, laurie

2 FJ: NYT obituary smack-down: joan fontaine v. peter o’toole edition

Olivia de Havilland & Joan Fontaine
the thing about sexism is that it’s so often subversive, so woven into the culture that you can can just be all like ‘oh no, that’s not sexism, it’s just a difference in talents/skills/blahblahblah/whatev, and that’s why that person is written about that way.’ 
so one way of looking at the vast difference between the obituaries of joan fontaine andpeter o’toole, both of whom died this weekend, is to say that peter o’toole’s was the more important career. which, were i more familiar with the films of either, i would try to make a convincing case for at this point, because i’d prefer not to have to confront how deeply messed up are the ways that we write about women’s lives within american culture, but alas… NAW. so let’s take a look. Continue reading 

13 December 2013

0 and while we're still here... it is also the anniversary of this

31 OCTOBER 2011

lit up


in december of 2004, burvil fell and broke her hip. four days later, we spent a night together in the north mississippi medical center tupelo hospital during which both of us believed she was going to die.

this was my first brush with true disaster. having watched at least three documentaries on titanic, i felt fully prepared. on my way to the hospital, i raided the christmas aisle of the grocery store for festive things, as i did not yet know there is nothing more depressing than the sight of sad people in santa hats.

burvil fell on a tuesday. december 13th. she was standing on a stool pulling christmas decorations from a cabinet when she fell.

my grandfather wondered how long she lay there.

he and i sat at an empty orange table in the hospital cafeteria- the jello cup i bought with my own money stood abandoned between us- thinking of how this woman we've known for forever, this 75-year-old woman who had never before been broken, pulled herself across the unmopped kitchen floor and called him on the phone.

burvil fell on tuesday, december 13th. the day joe turned 74.

when we returned to her room, i encouraged everyone to leave. i swore i'd everything under control. when they departed, i stood at the door of room 204, waving, as though i had been accorded a tremendous honor i was grateful to be accepting on tv.

by the time they return in the morning, i will have worked everything out. the sanitized version of what happened that night. i will know how the story is to be told and that the punchline is: "burvil said 'porno'!"

i will know there are things my parents must never know.

i've failed to mention that this was the year my father discovered he could stuff christmas lights in wine bottles and make pretty.

the lights in the bottles were a fairly simple thing, but evidently no one had seen anything like it at the time. upon entering burvil's room, every nurse asked, HOW did you do THAT? like it was a christmas miracle rather than a simple matter of coaxing a string of standard fairy lights down a bottleneck.

the bottle of lights sat on a plastic chair by the bathroom. an object of such glory that, in a room with very limited furniture, it warranted the last available place to sit down.

i don't know when i started saving bottles. somewhere in the mess of disasters and people i love being hospitalized in late 2009, i suddenly found i could not throw them away. i needed them.

the bottle of lights is what i remember about that night in the hospital when my grandmother and i both believed she was going to die.

during the four hours she was gone- in the middle of the night when they'd finally taken her away for the test for which we waited all afternoon- i sat in her hospital room. alone. in the dark. with the light.

0 while we're here...

1 ouch, my heart.

1 it's official!

the The Books Gary Eaton Has Been Dispatched to the Library To Check Out So I Can Read Them Over the Holidays Whilst At Home List has been finalized...

wilton barnhardt- lookaway, lookaway
greg baxter- the apartment
jill lepore- book of ages
michelle orange- this is running for your life
tracy thompson- the new mind of the south

with the last minute addition of five days at memorial, which- thank god for some serendipitous 'i really really loved that article in the new york times magazine back in 2009 and wonder if it has become a book yet' thinking- eked its way onto the list in the final hour. (and if you've not read the original article from 2009, YA'LL... get on that because it is AMAZE.)

11 December 2013

0 amazingly deep things said in the seminar last night about narrative in video games

'failure feels most weighty when you fail against your own plans.'

'deny the reader the pleasure of understanding everything.'

'games give us license to engage in a conflict that would otherwise be awkward or rude.'

also the fact that there was once a chandelier crisis in the USSR...

'The tonnage norms particularly piqued Khrushchev's peasant common sense…His choice complaint...had to do with a Moscow chandelier factory: the more tons of chandeliers the plant produced, the more workers earned in bonuses. The chandeliers grew heavier and heavier, until they started pulling ceilings down. They fulfilled the plan, admitted Khrushchev angrily, “but who needs this plan? To whom does it give light?”' 
- Time Magazine article “Borrowing from the Capitalists,” 12 February 1965

(A shatterlier is a chandelier in the moment when it's falling. - Aleksei Kruchenykh)

10 December 2013

0 FJ: a deep reading of the daily mail’s article on the love life and engagement of sabrina guinness (emotions via britney)

so sabrina guinness is largely famous in my world for being one of the inappropriate girlfriends of prince charles in the immortal amazing made-for-television classicCHARLES & CAMILLA: WHATEVER LOVE MEANS, which you all should’ve watched because, omg, it is totally the greatest movie our time. (for reals. do not be deterred by the brevity of its wikipedia page.)
she’s also famous outside of this movie for having been one of the inappropriate girlfriends of prince charles, having tried to sit in a chair at balmoral only reserved for the ass of the ghost of victoria, and having dated a rolling stone.  Continue reading 

09 December 2013

0 The Day

like one day out of every six months, i have a day where i accomplish All of the Things. and i think, this is how my life could be if i really applied myself. if i were an achiever. if i weren't a total laze-about. 

but i am a total laze-about. i am not an achiever. i do not apply myself.

and so this day only happens every six months.

the downside of this is that it takes me SO LONG to accomplish things.

the upside is that when that day- that day that occurs once every six months- occurs, i really fucking appreciate it. like, i throw a mental parade and everything and boast to everyone that i have not only had a day, but The Day, and six months worth of it to boot. because it really really feels like i've done something. because i accomplished more than three things (today, for instance, it was the intro, the laundry, and paying off my library fines... ACCOMPLISHMENTS ALL AROUND!).

i boast about The Day because it feels really really good that it has happened. and because i know it'll be another six months before i do it again.