Monday, September 17, 2007

September 18 letter

Old, deaf, blind, toothless Alice.

Howdy, howdy, howdy...

The first and best news is that my Mom is home. She sounds great, she seems very happy. She's got Brenda and Patience and my sister-in-law Liz looking in in her, and physical therapists coming to the house, and after a long ARGUMENT (Mom hates their food) I think she'll agree to have Meals on Wheels. Even if she feeds the stuff to her cats, it's another person dropping in every day to make sure she's OK.

It's hard to get an accurate picture from so far away. Mom, and the women who take care of her, all say everything is going as well as can be expected, but my brothers are all flipped out because she seems so weak and they're worried she'll get hurt. I think some of this is because of men's innate feeling they are supposed to be able to fix everything--but some things related to getting older can't be fixed. Meanwhile, my mother is pleased to be back in her place, and hopeful that things are going to get better (for instance, she expects she'll get better at navigating with her new wheeled walker). Her state of mind is very good. Give her a call--her number is (517) 655-2609.

When I last wrote, I had just contacted my old college friend, Moncef Majbri, and we had made plans to meet. Susan and Gagik and I went into the City and met him at the subway station. We walked to his house to meet his wife, Monia, also from Tunisia, and I was completely enraptured by his children, twins Amin and Insaaf, who attend a special school at the United Nations. (I love it when you ask a kid what their favorite thing in life is, and they say, "School!") We had a nice cake, then Moncef drove us into Manhattan to show Susan and Gagik some things they hadn't yet seen, like Ground Zero and some shopping areas. I had a great time on the drive, getting a French lesson and a history of New York City from Moncef's kids. I have a great deal of affection for Moncef, who has always been such a sweet-natured, decent, good guy. It was so nice to find out that he ended up so happy, and with such a lovely family!

By a fluke, Moncef happens to live in the same neighborhood where Gagik's father Stephan lived before the incident that sent him to prison. So we walked to the apartment building where Stephan used to live, and a super actually let us into the building's courtyard. I don't know whether it was helpful to Gagik or not. The whole experience of going to the places his father had gone seemed to add to his emotional strain at times. (Susan has just called me to let me know that they had received approval to have Gagik's father's body exhumed, that it had been done today, and that his remains would be flown to California very soon!) I hope once they have him buried in the Armenian cemetery in Fresno, Gagik will finally feel he has done right by his father, and find some peace. I can't imagine going through what Gagik has gone through in the past few years.

Anyway, we ended our visit with the Majbri family with a lovely meal at their favorite local Greek restaurant. The night was beautiful, and it was great to be with old friends. I only wish Robert had been with us! (And Abbas Panjvani! And Ziyad Sha'ar! And Muhsin Akkas! And Patty Finale!) I hope the Majbris will soon take us up on our invitation to visit us. But they'll have to wait a bit, because this weekend, friends Mark and Deb will be here from Michigan.

The job search slogs on. I actually was offered a temporary job selling Hallowe'en costumes, but Robert talked me out of it, because the hours I would be working are exactly the hours I need to be available in case someone decides they want to interview me. I would be working a 40-hour week, and it would take me two-and-a-half weeks just to come up with my monthly car payment. I don't know why it didn't occur to me, but a friend told me I would be STUPID (thank you, Linda Bierniak--sometimes I need to be hit in the head with a sledgehammer) not to apply for unemployment compensation. Because so much of my income while I was working came in the form of a big Christmas bonus, I am eligible to receive almost my usual weekly pay while I look for work. DUH! So I applied. Not a nibble, yet, on any job application. (Sigh.)

So now I am home, scouring the Internet and buying lots of newspapers, looking for my new dream job. In the meantime, I have plenty of time to work on the cat shelter's biggest fund-raiser of the year, the annual goods and services auction, which takes place on November 10. I am co-coordinator. If anybody wants to donate something to be auctioned off, let me know! I hear works of art go for big bucks. My pal Dee Weis donated a gorgeous cat quilt.

Speaking of cats, every day I strain to hear the flutter of the wings of the angel of death--and every day I don't hear them. 21-year-old Alice has lately been soaking her bedding with urine when she sleeps (which is almost all the time). She doesn't seem to be in any pain, and doesn't seem to be very interested in food. According to the websites, these are the signs an old cat is on the way out. Right now she's asleep on the front porch, on a wing chair that we used to have in our parlor and haven't yet bothered to haul out to the curb on junk day.

I think I will be less traumatized when Alice finally dies than I was when my favorites, Claw'dya and Kahuna, died, but it is still hard to say goodbye to a friend who has been with me every day for 21 years. Alice has no teeth and is blind and deaf, but still has a pretty, sleek coat. She can't find the litter box anymore, but she can still jump up onto the washing machine, where her bed is. I took the picture of her at the top of this post, in her "traveling bed" on the sofa (on top of a sheet of plastic! I'm no fool!). Isn't she a pretty girl? I am concerned about her, but as I've been expecting her to die for about seven years now, ever since she got lead poisoning from drinking from the furnace boiler run-off bucket, all I can tell you is, I'm not holding my breath. I think I am going to be extra nice to her, in any case, with lots of extra hugs and pets and ear scratches.

What else? I just got a call from a headhunter who called to say there was no way in hell she could ever place me in a job. So I guess that means I need you all to keep sending me good thoughts! Write soon (to!

F (and R)

More pictures!~

At dinner in Queens, with Gagik, Susan, Monia, Moncef, Amin and Insaaf. A fun evening!

This is a photo of me with Moncef and family.

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