Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's Like Learning a New Language

Today I was sent to a nursing home to visit my dying uncle, whom I'd never met. Amanda volunteered to come as well, which was nice, since I didn't want to go in the first place. He is my grandma's older brother. They haven't spoken in over 15 years. The only time I'd ever see him was when I was 9 at my granny's funeral. I didn't remember him.

I got up and one of the dogs, Zooey, was constipated and hid in the closet or under the bed all morning. I watched a movie before I noticed. I should have been working. But I watched the movie because I'm currently depressed. More on that later. But I drove her to the vet and got some giant gel caps for her. The other dog, Gizmo, currently has diarrhea and is on his own medication. Hopefully i don't get the two drugs mixed up. No good giving a diarrhetic dog a laxative, or a constipated dog... whatever it is they give diarrhetic dogs.

Afterwards I picked up Amanda and we hunted down this retirement home. It was a nightmare. Like a halfway house between a hospital and hell. Old people wandered about the corridors while nurses chased after them or pushed trays of microwaved dinners to the more sedated patients. This was a nursing home for poor people, which makes it worse. My uncle is poor. He wants my dad to buy his worthless property out in the country just so he can afford some of his medical bills. The poor guy should just die. When Amanda and I got there we knocked on his door, even though it was open, because he was asleep. It took a few rounds of introductions before he finally realized who we were. Though I write that off on just waking up. Because soon afterwards he was conversing reasonably well and asked questions about my life and Amanda's life. His southern accent is so thick only another southerner could possibly understand him. I have friends from other parts of America that I'm certain wouldn't have understood anything he said. He had the type of southern accent my next-door-neighbor growing up had. That Old South mumble. Carolyn (my grandma) doesn't even have an accent. But her brother did.

He looked frail. Like his skin was made of weakened cobwebs. He was as thin as a prisoner of war. And other than the dark splotches all over his body, he was practically translucent. Like a cloudy jellyfish. I'll refrain from more similes. I made small talk with him about how Carolyn wanted to come herself, but couldn't and blah blah blah, while my little sister fidgeted with the baby. My uncle's grandfather fought in the Civil War. Not many people left in the world who have heard a first-hand account of fighting in the Civil War. And here was his great-great-nephew. A healthy, blue-eyed baby boy. The New South.

My week has otherwise been weird. My old best friend James Brown stopped by. 3 years ago, after a lifetime of being a pillar of sanity while his entire family sunk further into drug and alcohol addiction, after watching his Mom smoke crystal meth and his sister go in and out of Rehab, after being the only one with a future, after all of this, James lost his mind finally and became addicted to Heroin. He began attacking everyone that cared about him, sometimes physically. He stole. Lots. From everyone. He was the nicest person in the world, but when he snapped, he went off the deep end. Finally he broke into an old lady's house and got caught, sent to prison, and is now a born-again Christian. Not just a born-again, but you know, one of THOSE people. Yesterday he showed up with an ichthys tattooed on his wrist. And a cross on the other. And a beanie with Matthew 23:19 written on it. He told me about the many miracles he'd witnessed at the Jesus camp they made him go to after prison. And about the saving power of the lord. I'm fine with God, at least I hope I am, but it was freaky, the way he recited this brainwashed mumbo-jumbo at me. He wants to move to Oklahoma because that's "Where it's at!" What exactly he means by this statement eludes me. He's back with his Canadian ex-wife (who is boring in every possible way) and working at Ruby Tuesday's as a cook. At least he's sober. But weird since so many of my formative years were spent with him, hanging out and being chill. Maybe we'd drink, but we tended not to except on special occasions; maybe we'd smoke some pot, but it was never important; typically we just grew up together, in very similar directions. And now he's this other person. I don't see any of him left. It's depressing in a way, but I'm glad I never saw him become the monster that he became. I was in Rome when that happened.

Montgomery is getting to me. Just a mess of corporate chain restaurants and Wal-Marts and oil changing places and fast food and empty lots and nothing has a shred of fucking character. And everyone here seems to be wallowing in this stench, this shit-hole, all with a hint of destitute loneliness; as though everyone is lonely and desperate but pretending on the surface that everything is fine. There is a general sense of paranoia about the place I don't like. And everyone here seems fine with it. I feel like I'm in a David Lynch film. Apart from a few friends, namely Beka, I don't have much faith in it. Beka manages pretty well, but I don't know how. She learned to love a new Montgomery when she came back from college. I never approached it that way. Maybe that's why any prolonged stay here inevitably depresses me. My parents are dog-paddling here. They are some of the only sane people I know. Completely there, I mean. And they want to leave. Phew. I don't know.

I started an account on a different dating site. okcupid. The girls are generally more attractive and the site is free. So yeah. It's more like a myspace for people who are looking for dates. Which means it is super-addictive. I've been in contact with a number of very interesting, very beautiful girls on it. When I get back to Philly. Every girl either went to art school, or is in some grad program. There is a girl from Princeton who is getting her PhD in some study of literature. She looks really cool. Hopefully I don't fuck it up.

I'm listening to Elliot Smith, so you know I must be depressed.

Tomorrow will be better, hopefully.


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