Sunday, March 22, 2009

Carla and I went to the Vintage Expo to look for my wedding dress and we found it! A pink cocktail frock—when I say pink, I mean old rose/blush/coral color—fitted through the top and with a skirt that goes out. Beautiful old-fashioned detail, lace V-neck, revealing some cleavage but not too much, some heavy brocaded embroidery, an overlay of –I think it’s netting. I don’t know the words to describe all the details. It’s feminine and pretty and a little bit fancy, but not over-the-top. I hope my five-year-old nieces, both high femmes who adore a children’s heroine called Fancy Nancy, will like it. I won’t be swathed in yards of white satin or anything. And the dress is inexpensive enough so that if I change my mind, I haven’t broken the bank or anything. Now I just want to lose ten pounds—it fits as is, but it would be easier to squeeze into and out of if I were a little thinner.

The expo was fun—booths and booths of vintage clothes, some of them very beautiful, some dowdy. There were wool jackets with real fur collars, cowboy and cowgirl boots with stencils and engravings in different colors, and outrageous hats. I tried on one that was as big as a platter with peacock feathers, ribbons, and fabric flowers all over it.

“This looks like something Minnie Pearl would wear,” I said to Carla. She looked dubious.

“Minnie Pearl would take one look at that thing and say ‘No, it’s too much, even for me.’”

I really did love that hat. If it hadn’t cost $225.00 I would have been tempted to buy it.

There were some very interestingly and eccentrically dressed people at the expo. We got a sense of a sub-culture of people who live for the precious objects of the past.

Carla got a beautiful black crocheted sweater. Then she convinced me to by this Joan Crawford-esque ball gown that really is too tight—a long full French blue skirt with a black lace overlay, and a black velvet top. Stunning. If I move the button over on the chest to give the girls more breathing room, and if I buy a wide black velvet belt at Joanne’s to cover the gap between the skirt and my stomach, it might almost work.

It was fun to be on a normal date with Carla. I say “normal” but of course nothing is. She tires more easily these days; the three hour trip was a marathon expenditure of energy for her. I told her several times I would understand completely if she wanted to back out, but she didn’t, and I was glad for her company and her sharp eye and even sharper opinions, to wit: “Honey you’re too old to wear something dowdy.” Said with total love. The ALS is always there, the wheelchair and the handicapped accessible bathroom that isn’t really accessible because the stall is so small she had to do a 100-point turn just to get into and out of it. But we were focused on fashion and wedding stuff and girl talk. It was just an outing and it was also a small miracle.

The wedding is coming together without too much angst. I think it’s because both C and I are not agonizing about the decisions. Neither of us really care about all the stuff you’re supposed to have or do. We just want simplicity, quality, and intimacy. No need to interview every caterer in the Bay Area, or listen to every band, or try on every dress.

Meanwhile, I finished the second draft of the empathy essay and I’m now ready to do the third one. It’s an interesting journey this essay—it’s really challenging, it takes me so many places, including pockets of unhealed anger and resistance. I’d rather work those things out in draft form than publish them unedited.

C is finishing up work on the in-law even as I type this. He’s done a prodigious amount of work, and today we bought a shower curtain and some other last-minute odds and ends.

Yesterday, five cops were shot a few miles from where we live. Four of them died. It was the worst single day for police murders in California history. Today the city is still in shock. We see officers riding by in their patrol cars looking grim. I asked C if we could drive by the site after our hike. We did and saw a few cops putting flowers in plastic buckets at a makeshift shrine on the desolate block where the firefight happened. There were some American flags there, also in a plastic bucket, and a skeleton TV crew filming the whole sad little scene.

C asked if I wanted to visit the site “out of compassion” for the cops, and I said no, it wouldn’t do the policemen a damn bit of good whether we went there or not. I just wanted to bear witness.

I think our love affair with the HBO show “The Wire” influenced my response to the shootings. “The Wire” is such an intimate portrayal of the police subculture; the cops’ brotherhood with each other, their jokes and profanity, their drinking, their despair and loyalty and street-smarts and vulnerability. We are both caught up in the characters’ lives and loves and drinking problems.

Our street has a strong police presence; it’s not unusual to see cruisers with their lights flashing, making busts on street corners or pulling people over for passing the stop signs and also, I’m sure, checking for drugs. What happened thirty blocks away could just as easily have happened here. In all the talk that follows a drama like this, I hope gun control will become a focus. If that parolee had been armed only with a knife, he might have been able to do some damage, but he never would have been able to kill four people in just a few minutes.


David Shearer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Shearer said...


It's a joy to read about your wedding preparations because, I have a 20 yr. old daughter planning her own wedding. You and C provide a contrast for me. You seem so much more realistic. I've tried talking to my daughter about what she is getting into but it's no use. She hears only what she wants to hear and disregards the rest. So, I try to be content with being supportive. Anyway, best of luck to the two of you!

It's is heartening to hear that you are making headway with your essay on empathy. I hope to read it someday. I thought that I might try to do the same with some of my own darker feelings.

Thank you for expressing your feelings of compassion toward the Oakland PD Officers that were killed. I know that it can be very difficult feel openly toward police (unless you happen to be one of them) but beneath the uniform and the command presence, and all the mental bullshit that goes with the job, they can be just as caring, compassionate and loving as everyone else in the community. They are also just as frustrated, flawed, and disillusioned as the rest of us.

Gun control may be a small part of the problem/answer. But the larger issue is why a parolee would feel the need to do what he did in this situation. I don't know much at all about this case yet. But his actions seemed totally out of proportion to circumstances. What the hell happened?

The beauty of the HBO series "The Wire" was in the portrayal of human frailty, and strength.

David S. Shearer

Alison said...

Mazel Tov on your daughter is getting married! Yes, it's a different process at fifty than at twenty--twenty seems very young to me. I think there should be a kind of "junior marriage" available for people under thirty, that would dissolve easily into a no-fault parting-of-the-ways after seven years--or a renewal of vows into a more final adult marriage, if that's what the couple decides to do. (That being said there's no guarantees for any of us.)

I'm grateful to be able to do it a second time in a relaxed manner--I'm also more than grateful that my father is around to see it and be part of it with us.


Anonymous said...

It's only where and when guns are available that such tragedies occur.
The US people pay the heavy price of their own history.
I wish you could get rid of that custom and mentality. Weapons are not to defend us but to kill.
Violence is our common curse.
Alison knows better... love is the way.