Three Degrees Beyond Reality: Dad’s Book Self-Published (Father’s Day 2017)

Last year, I tried to write a funny Father’s Day message. It didn’t work. It just wasn’t my best writing. Our air conditioner had broken, and it was before we’d gotten extra window units for the house. It was before we had wicker patio furniture, before the second bed in the spare bedroom, before the washer and dryer. Before we’d discovered the local pool, or had a flat screen tv, or Netflix. Our lives were less rich.

It was about 90 degrees inside, and I didn’t want to be inside at all, and wasn’t feeling well. This Father’s Day weekend by contrast was exquisite. The local pool, gourmet food, and the series finale of Marvel’s Daredevil. Sitting now at the 7th and Fig plaza, near the gym, which itsself has gone through years of a rough renovation followed by a facelift and the recent addition of incrediby comfortable patio furniture, though I can’t connect to WiFi.

I’ve been thinking all week about what I was going to say. What can I say that I haven’t said before? Today I was telling Dad about Daredevil from Marvel. “If they ever do Blue Beetle, let me know.” He didn’t remember Iron Fist (thought he might, who knows?) or the Punisher (maybe Marty had it in the 80’s and he’d borrowed Marty’s comics) but he remembered the Blue Beetle, a cop with a second uniform, skin tight, like a beetle. And then he said he had to mow the kitchen grass, which put me in a panic (is Dad losing his verbal acuity?) and I called Mom, and she said, that’s what he calls it. The grass you can see from the kitchen window. A little odd, but he’s still driving to the Temple three hours across state lines, though he had to go to the doctor this week. They said he was dehydrated, and deficient in Vitamin D; problems that I have had myself. Dad has been prescribed (was it 250 mg? 500 mg?) Vitamin D; my blood work came back last month, and my doctor put me on 1,000 mg. a day. “Is he drinking enough water?” I asked Mom. “But don’t let him drink too much.” I’m worried least he become delerious from too much water. “You can lose your sodium potassium balance, and become disoriented.” I have to remind my mother that I was once hospitalized from drinking too much water. She asks how much I drank, I don’t remember, I was a starving art student, and drinking water to fill up. She assures me Dad is fine, kitchen grass notwithstanding.

My conversations with Dad can be anywhere from two minutes to sometimes, as much as thirty or forty. I remember hearing on NPR yesterday about a father who lived downstairs from his daughter, and would call, and not say anything, but if the line was busy, would walk down to the first floor of the apartment, and hit the buzzer, instead of walking up the stairs.

So, there are weirder father-daughter relationships out there. The music at the plaza is awful, and makes it hard to be eloquent.

I think the first memory of my father is when we lived at the house on Raymond Road. There are photos of me before then, platinum haired, feeding goats at the San Diego zoo or sitting in drawers after removing the pots and pans, but I don’t remember much about Southern California. I remember the house on Raymond Road, where we lived when I was three and a half all the way to my first year in kindergarten. I remember that Dad told me not to be afraid of Daddy Long Legs, because they were “good spiders” who ate other bugs. I remember the lilies of the valley that popped up in the spring under the lilac bush, and the white hydrangeas in the front of the house, as well as peonies. I called them snowball bushes and ant flowers; the former, for obvious reasons, and the latter because they were crawling in carpenter ants. And I remember going to the store one day, it was the grocery store I believe, at least, we weren’t there for toys. And I saw a plastic vanity set, with a little comb, and little mirror, like it had been made for a doll. And I wanted it, and begged for it, and Dad said no, but either I put it in the cart anyway or he snuck it in the cart, I’m not sure. I just remember he looked surprised when it appeared on the conveyor belt, and that I pouted, and he looked at me, and couldn’t say no. Dad’s diaries from that time say that the wind was blowing hard one evening and I said the trees were dancing. I was fixated on dancing. Wanted to be a ballerina. Dad still keeps diaries, or journals, I am not sure the difference. He likes fancy notebooks, the kind that looks like leather or has some type of engraving on it, and nice paper, and good pens. Not insanely expensive pens, or outrageously ornate notebooks, but not spiral bound like the kind you use in school and cheap ballpoints, either.

I have a teacup rose that I bought rose food for this weekend, which I hope helps. The flowers are tiny and bright red. The varietal is Daddy’s Little Girl. She hasn’t been in bloom for months. I bought her last year, when the first, tiniest one of the feral kittens died, the little girl we named Teacup, as a remembrance. And the bush bloomed and bloomed and bloomed, from May to January or February, and then stopped. And I don’t know if I was supposed to prune it differently, or should have fertilized earlier, but I hope to see it bloom again.

I also got my iPhone screen fixed on Friday, finally, after breaking it while visiting Marty at Memorial High School, where he was building a theatre set, in December. Reminding me of all the broken phones somewhere on my shelves, which are in cell phone limbo, neither active nor en route to a recycler. I save them because they have messages from Dad that I never deleted, going back years, and the thought of throwing them away or selling them or wiping the data clean means letting go of the possibility of retrieving the messages one day.

The voicemails, like the scripts, or the books, are done and not done. More years ago than I care to recall my partner came across a film funder looking for animated. I had told him about the Miss Mousie stories my father told me as a little girl. Miss Mousie, who lived under the brambleberry bush, had one door for every day of the week and carried porcupine quills to defend the defenseless against C-A-T-S. My dad turned the story into a trilogy, and the funder turned out to be some kind of escrow scam if I remember correctly. Then we took it a few places, not too many, over the years, but the script is still in limbo. And then there was the book. Three Degrees Beyond Reality (click link to buy a copy!). In 2015, at Christmas, I told Dad I would help him self publish a collection of short stories. It ended up taking until last Christmas before the book was free of glitches. I kept screwing up. Page numbers off, the table of contents, one thing after another. And it all took me forever. And ever. So the first couple books were printed in 2017, and I wanted to do a press release, and that’s taken forever too. Even writing the Father’s Day message; usually I get it up ON Father’s Day. Looks like it will be late in the evening this year, if not, tomorrow morning. Maybe I think if I leave things in limbo, he will live forever. But no one does. Then again, maybe Dad will be the first. Even if Dad lives, as he plans, to 102 before being shot by a jealous husband in a case of mistaken identity, I will only be 60 years old. Much too young and tender to face the world without Dad, but I guess that’s the whole cycle of life thing that does no good to buck up against.

Between last Father’s Day, and this, my older brother almost died. I don’t remember which internal organ. I just remember my father is the one who found him on the basement floor, doubled over in agony, and the way I understand it, if Dad hadn’t been there I might be short one family member. Dad’s the kind of guy that will scrape you off the bathroom floor even though he’s eighty plus years old and it’s some ungodly hour of the morning and everyone else would have slept through it. Don’t expect him to toot his own horn though, unless it’s part of some colorful story. He would tell a story for the sake of a good story, but not for the sake of tooting his own horn. He was optimistic, too, that Marty would take better care of himself after that incident. “Maybe this is the Lord’s way of sending a blessing in disguise.” Marty was in pain in the hospital, and the doctor had some suggestions which he’s at least half taken to heart. It’s the other half I’m worried about. I’m a Cancer. I worry. About the ones I love, that I will fail them, that being the only one in my family who lives in California while they all live near each other in Wisconsin, because I wanted to make something of myself, was stupid and a waste of time. Because even though I love the ocean, the mountains, the movies, the city—at times I get so homesick it’s like being an iceberg floating out in the middle of nowhere, when you should be up in the Arctic stuck in a big mass capping the North Pole, and you’re just drifing, and melting away, bit by bit.

Or maybe that’s a bit melodramatic. But I’m -2 years old, and the stardom I imagined, hasn’t materialized. Bruce doesn’t like when I say, I’m old and I’m fat. He has to drag me to red carpet events now, even though at least I haven’t had the recent embarrassment of showing up and not making the wires. It seems childish to pout about not getting what 10,000 other show up wanting every month, not realizing, if you’re not a millionaire or related to somebody already famous, your chances are slim. I know how bad some people have it. Like Daryl, the panhandler who sits at the corner three levels up (from where I am now). I’d been giving him money for years when I asked how he became homeless. He witnessed his mother’s murder as a child, and ran away, and has been living on the street ever since. He has the intellectual and emotional development of a ten year old, trapped in a fifty year old man’s body. So for me, things are not completely awful, things are pretty darn good. Sure, even without some grandiose success, things could be better, but seem to be on path of getting better rather than worse.

Earlier this year, I participated in a Fitness Challenge. The winner would make a couple thousand dollars. I lost 18.8 pounds in 12 weeks, some of which I have regained, but it was not enough for a cash prize. The winners who got cash prizes lost a couple more pounds. Maybe they used steroids (LOL) or maybe they didn’t have day jobs, IDK. I had two competing ideas about what I was going to do with the prize money. One idea was invest in a booth at a women’s convention and boost my Sunrider business. That would have been for Mom as much as me. The other idea was a trip to Ireland, with Dad. He’s never been there, and neither have I.

If I could take Dad to Ireland, and Scottland (not sure actually if we’re Scottish or Irish or Scotts-Irish; it’s been a long time—at least 400 years—since John McCue killed the British noblemen who came to take his land, then crossed the Atlantic and dropped the “Mc” in the ocean) I imagine we would have the most fun we’ve ever had together. I imagine everywhere we went, he would wear his leprechaun outfit, even though he only wears it now on St. Patrick’s Day. And even though he doesn’t drink, I imagine us in a pub, surrounded by strangers, competing to tell the biggest whopper of a story. Of course, when it came Dad’s turn, the whole pub would grow quiet, spellbound. And when he was done, they’d declare he’d been kissed by the blarney stone, that he was the King of the Leprechauns, returned to his mythical home.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

One of these days I will do a site upgrade. The design, I know, needs work. (Editor’s note: Site updated to WordPress theme in 2018.)

Love,

-Pumpkin

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