Tuesday, December 30, 2003

He Blinded Me With Science
I was an very lucky little girl in that I had a rather spectacular grandfather, Daniel Hanington. He wasn't one of those snuggly Santa grampas, but more elegant, commanding, and gentle. He was a Rear Admiral in the Canadian Navy, but when I knew him he had retired, and spent his time studying ancient history, geography, and science. I can still see him, looking over his glasses, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, always humming in that deep baritone English kind of way, fiddling with the innards of a camera.(He always had a glass of brandy and a smoke in the evenings. During WW2 his ship was sunk in the North Atlantic by a U-boat...they were picked up later by a British ship who gave each survivor a brandy and a smoke as soon as the got on board- so to him- those two things were the sweetest ambrosia ever) One night there was a ferocious thunderstorm that sort of scared me. He picked up a pack of smokes and we went to sit on the porch...as I looked at him silhouetted agaisnt the night sky he explained how lightning worked and how INTERESTING it was. He was completely enchanted by the marvels of the Universe and loved to talk about them. He told us about stars, and ancient Greece, made me practice my french, cooked kippers for breakfast (ugh!), only played cribbage with my sister (which was a good thing), listened to Duran Duran in the afternoon car rides home after school if I listened to classical in the morning, snorted like a champ when he laughed-which was often, and just generally pottered around in the background observing the mysteries of the Universe. While my grandmother liked to make a fuss about us being pretty, my grandfather always made statements about us being smart.
When he got sick and was dying- I went to see him. I couldn't believe this withered man in a hospital gown was Dan. But he perked up and we casually chatted until he plumped up his pillows, sat up, and said in warm tones "Well then, I'm dying...is there anything you'd like to know about my illness?" I shyly told him I wasn't so interested in the illness as much as his feelings on dying. Was he afraid? Regretful? What did he think was next? He told me that he wasn't regretful about anything more actually tremedously grateful for the life he had and his beloved family (who all rallied and were there) and he was ready to go see what was next. Even though he had a religious upbringing he was all about the Science, so I wondered if he thought that when he was dead then that was it. He said he used to think that but now that he was on the doorway he didn't think so...it seemed to him to be logical that there was another stage..he just wasn't sure what it was. Not pearly gates or anything- but rather a dissolving into the Universe...and that sounded pretty great to him. He died with his family around him, gently breathing softer and softer until his nurse quitely came into the room and opened the window "to let the spirit out". When he died- it felt as Laurie Anderson said about the death of her father "It was if a library had burnt down". Yet, it was the most elegant and "right" death I'd ever heard of and his death that way gave us all a profound irreplacable gift.
I don't believe in traditional life after death...but the last thing I got from my grandfather was a birthday card (he died a month later) signed in dark ink with a shaky hand "Love you forever", and I know he does. Even if he's just sparkling molecules floating around in solar winds, somehow I feel as if I have an ally in all the dark places of the world.
You know the world hasn't gone to hell yet when you read stuff like this....

Sunday, December 28, 2003

In the mid nineties I loved this band called Curve...I was really into thier wall of sound electronica/industrial sound and the breathy, slighty venomous vocals of Toni Haliday...The most beautiful goth girl in the world. It complimented my angst ridden relationship drama quite well, but I find I have a hard time listening to it nowadays. Needless to say, just like my Edie phase I had a Curve phase and I worked it. Black hair-check, loads of black eyeliner-check,sculpted black eyebrows-check, chalk white skin-check,wounded vixen expression-check. I actually got to meet Toni Halliday...I went to their concert and the guitarist Debbie had the hots for me, even though I was with a guy- so I got backstage and the bus and hung out til the wee hours. But that's another story.
Slouching Towards Middle Age....
I just turned 34. I find myself rather pleased and slightly startled that I've made it this far...not in any "I thought I'd be dead by 20" kind of way- it's just that I've sort of always been interested in the macabre and therefore keenly aware of how easy it is to get deaded in one way or another. Anyway- here I am and quite happy about it. This year has been possibly the best of my life...for many reasons both material and spiritually...the main thing being that I've come to the conclusion that if I do die before I'm planning (when I'm OLD, OLD,OLD) that I recognize I've had a pretty great run and it'll be ok. And that pretty sums up my years of spiritual search and research, studying Christianity, Buddism, Shamanism, pagan religeons, yearning for a kind thing to believe, that death is not the end, we live on, whatever. I don't believe that...well, I believe when we die we just decompose away- our molecules reforming with other molecules to create other things...you know- "SCIENCE"...but "I" won't continue to exist. So coming to terms with death is a big deal...and I'm not even fully there yet.
I love this world so much...our planet is so marvelous, so beautiful, so profound,despite all it's sorrows,... I don't want to leave here. When I get freaked out about it, or despondent about the state of the world I look at pictures of the Universe...no matter what we do here the stars will still burn, galaxies will still spin, it'll all be alright. The Universe will still exist without us and that is strangely comforting. Or I listen to music, or look at art, and remember that no matter how evil our times seem to be becoming, and they certainly do, that there are majestic under currents of powerful creative energy, of good energy, running through humanity and it will never be denied. Anyone who attempts to squash it always gets overthrown.