Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Praise of Memory before mojo gets ripped off...

No no, not that mojo! Another one also known as a gizmo. The truth is that I’m a cyborg. I’m powered by a pacemaker. I need to plug another gizmo up my nose when I sleep (a.k.a. a c-pap machine) and I have to sleep with a dental guard lest I destroy my equipment –because you know, cyborgs just don’t know their own strength!

So this Son of an Electrician has noticed that my pacemaker’s battery is running low, and He has decided in His infinite sparky wisdom that tomorrow is the day it will be taken out and replaced with a brand new mojogizmo.

Now us mere humans have been thinking of alternate solutions. Rich, my very clever mechanically inclined and environmental conscious dude, has come up with the suggestion of having a solar panel installed on top of my head so that the mojogizmo could be continually powered.

But wait! We live in a rainy part of the country. So I suggested a supplemental energy producing device such as a cranking system put through each of my ears. These crank handles could also double as environmental friendly hearing aids.....

So I’m wondering, should I put these suggestions to the Electrician before he starts on the magical procedure?

I’m running out of steam here (a catastrophe, as any cyborg will tell you) –so all I got to say, is that, yes memory is good a lot of the time and so is the memory that is history, etc etc. Buuuuut (grinding noises at this point and a slowing down of speech) I’mmmm beginning to “think” that the Great Electrician has already pulled out most of my rams and even my hard drive ‘cause I can’t remember how I was going to make the case for memory, or even what it is.....

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

In Praise of Amnesia

I woke up this morning and a beautiful rant was ranting in my head. It was as melodious as a Schuyler piece and as dainty as any of Smag’s posts...

But now I can’t remember it..... so don’t expect any stream of consciousness à la James Joyce here....

It was about amnesia, if I remember right and if it’s not too PC to remember what happened a couple of hours ago?

Oh yes, remembering is now PC:

Support our troops, yes! Remember our veterans, forget it!

Concerned about soldiers injuries? Anyone with a bit of will power can overcome losing a limb or two. As for PTSD, why, the whole notion is so ridiculously PC! Just forget it, I mean get over PTSD by forgetting since it’s a disease of remembering, right?

I vaguely remember (I must do something about that nasty habit, perhaps there’s an amnesia pill I could take?) that previously PTSD used to be called “shell shock” and before they had shells, it used to be called “a soldier’s heart” and, like we do now, they did use the terms to explain other traumas. So, gasp! even Medieval Europeans indulged in PCness!

And then of course there’s the PTSD of the civilians at the receiving end of bombs, land mines, bayonets, swords, fire, salt spread on their fields etc etc etc. But it’s even more PC to remember that....

My rant might have been triggered by the righteous notion that studying sociology is now PC. Yeah, get all the social sciences and particularly history out of higher ed! (I can’t remember why it’s called “higher education” anyway, so I must be making progress on the road to amnesia)

Or it might have been triggered last Sunday while watching 60minutes. I was filled with admiration upon hearing that Messy’s favorite person had forgotten (never known?) not only two world wars (such ancient history, who needs it!) but even the Korean war. Of course our ground breaking “you bet ya” amnesiac could have asked somebody of the generation immediately preceding hers about it, for instance a veteran of the Korean war? Or she could have read a book or two, but luckily she’s above such vulgar PCness, and so were whatever college and high school that gave her degrees. (The one thing someone should have told her is to not pick on the hired help. My stepfather was the scion of a long lined noble Belgian family and he explained to me the true meaning of “noblesse oblige”. It means you treat the hired help courteously otherwise they might spit, or even pee, in your soup. These days gasp! they might even write a book and give interviews). But maybe Wailin' Palin didn’t remember who was who and what was what during the campaign. Good for her for showing us the way to righteous amnesia...

There was more to the rant. I’m one of those people who sometimes wakes up in the morning and bemoans the burning of the library in Alexandria –was it in the fourth century? And what about the two weeks long burning of books by Whaling Palin’s Christian ancestors missionaries in Meso-America (yes these Heathens also put their Satan inspired writings in book form and it took the rest of us centuries to realize that these people did have writing and to decipher the handful of books that had been hidden away or were secretly written after the Spanish invasion –but, what am I saying? Just forget it!). Some PC people bemoan all that loss of human knowledge, but we know better! Down with PC, up with Amnesia!

Oops, I better stop while I’m behind. There’s no telling what I will advocate forgetting next if I keep this up.

However, here’s a poem I wrote about remembering. Like all poems it echoes other poems, this one is conversing with/ inspired by Dylan Thomas’ “And Death Shall Have no Dominion”. Unlike mine, there’s a lot of green and hope (not to mention genius!) in that Dylan Thomas poem which is probably readily available on line (reading a whole book is soooo pc, don't ya think!):

Death’s Dominion (poem)

But now death’s dominion is green
darkly through the blind television screen
a glaucus city spins
gripping ground and sky
its minarets wailing
prayer strings of human voices
against the rockets’s screeching din

The green night city
spins down the black hole
of my heart’s memory
it remembers the hungry flames
hiding beneath that green smoke
it remembers brother and sister
clinging eyes shut for dear life
but nonetheless seeing
the exploding fountain of blood
where once a second long ago
stood a reassuring smile


But now death’s dominion is white
oh so blinding grinding white
sands and skies and one scream
the world pulverized
into shards of white
a silent breach spilling out
from the man the boy’s body
leaving his crimson mark
on the desert of his exile

The white desert
spins down the black hole
of my heart’s memory
it remembers
his mother waiting on another continent
dread suddenly stabbing at her fear
of the cannibal flags’ hunger
their striped drapes slurping up
plane loads delivered
in the dawn’s early light


Oh death’s dominion is singular
for we can only die
one by one

(Poem copyright 2004 by Catherine Tihanyi)

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Neighborhood

Ooops this is an older post in a new dress.... didn't realize the date would change.

(A poem, gasp! And about my very own neighborhood even! It might be dangerous reading)

Michelangelo of Golden Valley Parkway (poem)

Ethnography of Golden Valley Parkway?
no no it has to be a poem because
I cant really do all those interviews
what with the guarded stares
growling dogs
probable guns
toothy rabbits
attack roosters
clucking hens
crunchy egg shells besides
some don’t speak English
and some think I don’t speak English
on Golden Valley Parkway

Way back when
there was a forest
in the good ole US of A
at the foot of fast asleep
mighty volcano ski resort
a corner of forest turned into woods
into a country club o my
roads cut through trees
crisscrossed into small lots
for campers and others
little big vacational
vehicles and cute houses mostly Canadians
visitors of modest means
on GoldenValley Parkway

We are not talking
of a stately avenue
just one road curving on itself
cul-de-sacs left and right
country club no more
visitors gone
mobile homes looking like stick houses
stick houses looking like mobile homes
and shacks looking like themselves
side by side
smattering of medium and big houses
small mansions even
no trace of urban planning
no right wrong side of tracks
no tracks
haphazard arrivals
newly minted property owners
and some dirt poor renters
housing too dear in town
but not here
in the American dreamland
on Golden Valley Parkway.

Waves of people from town
and Alaska California
Ukraine Russia a scatter
of American flags support our loggers
landscaped flowers on side up front
cars trucks refrigerators washing machines
in rusted tormented chunks
trampolines basketball hoops
dogs and cats and chicken coops
old man walking with pet goat
meth lab sheriff down the block
cornered by six cop cars
even once homeland security
soldiers with guns at ready
on Golden Valley Parkway

Still tall pines green
belts and vacant lots
shrubbery and forts
gaggle of children playing huddling
under the crisscross of electric wires
and here yes here on a wire
on either side of dead appliances
a pair of sneakers dangling by shoelaces
bleached and washed bright by rain and sun
recording forever
the gesture the throw perfect
heart of creation
on Golden Valley Parkway

Way way back when
there was a marble mountain
and in its tortured stones
Michelangelo found a David
catapult on his shoulder
ready for the perfect throw
smashing an invisible giant’s grip
to smithereens
and here
I found the hidden Michelangelo
brightly dangling on a wire
his shoes forever flying
over tortured rust and flowers
pine trees and trampolines
children in their dreamings
on Golden Valley Parkway

Poem copyright 2008 by Catherine Tihanyi
(imagine, a copyrighted poem! Now who would steal such a thing!
I’m more concerned that somebody would locate Golden Valley Parkway and steal the magic shoes in the dead of night)

The Enormous Pot of Potatoes, the Fireman and the Psycho.

Wow! I made it to the big time! I’m in The Fly! Thank you, thank you for this honor!

I don’t have much to say about this week's letters to Prudie that hasn't been said by much abler advisors than me. So I’ll get back to reminiscing --as befits my senior predicament.

So in this episode, I’ve moved from the place on Maple Street (the pants’ thief neighborhood) and am now living in a cute little rented house on C Street.

I’m not sure where to begin this story. Well, even though he’s marginal, I’ll start with the neighbor across my yard. His living room was always dark but he had no curtains or blinds so we could see him at his window constantly rocking in, you guessed it, a rocking chair. He didn’t seem to leave his house at regular intervals like the rest of us working stiffs did. My boyfriend opined that the guy was the psycho in Hitchcock’s “Psycho”.

One day a dear friend asked me to help with her daughter’s wedding by taking charge of the potato salad for the outdoor festivities. I promised to deliver a turkey roaster filled with my very popular (if I may say so myself....) potato salad. So I took out my trusted enormous cooking pot (at least three times the size of a standard stock pot –how I came into possession of that huge pot is a story all by itself), filled it with twenty pounds of potatoes, submerged them, and put it on the stove to boil.

Now this was a pretty old electric stove. After the potatoes had boiled for about ten minutes, a sort of bolt of lightening about a foot high came out of the burner. I rushed and turned that burner off, but lo and behold, the lightening popped up on another burner that was turned off and then another. It was going in circles following the rings of each burner.

I frantically looked for a plug at the back of the stove but couldn’t find any. It seemed to have been directly connected to the wall.

So I called 911.

I did tell the 911 operator that it was just a little thing. An out of control stove but I didn’t know how to turn it off. Perhaps if someone happened to be available and in the neighborhood he/she might help me?

So next thing, I heard sirens coming closer and closer to my house. I took a peak and what did I see? There was a huge fire truck in front of my door and two other huge fire trucks blocking access to my block and, gasp, all the neighbors were out watching (except for the psycho who was busy rocking). And then, as if I wasn’t embarrassed enough, the fire squad came out of the fire truck and I gasped as I realized that their leader was a guy who used to be in grad school with me. I had vaguely heard through the grapevine that he had put his MA in anthropology to good use by becoming a fireman, but of course I had forgotten it till that moment. He immediately greeted me by my name (probably figured out I had put my MA in anthropology to good use by wasting the fire dept.’s time).

So all the squad trooped in my kitchen where the stove was still doing its strange flashing but the firemen seemed more impressed by what was on the stove as they all, to a man, commented on how big that pot of potatoes was.

They also asked me where the electrical plugs were. Ooops! I hadn’t even thought of them but I cleverly said I didn’t known, had just moved to that house (a lie!), did look for them (a lie!) but couldn’t find them. One fireman went out to the yard and did find them on the outside wall hidden by a bush –so my lies took on some desperately needed credibility. The youngest fireman took me aside and gave me a standard spiel that I shouldn’t be embarrassed because they would rather be called for a trivial thing than not be called for a big thing... I saw the squad to the door and all the neighbors minus the psycho were still there along with the fire trucks at each corner.

After they all left,I went back in and my youngest daughter (still in high school at the time) and myself contemplated the enormous pot of potatoes. Well, I couldn’t let my friend down, right? These potatoes had to be cooked! So my daughter and I each took the pot by a handle, crossed the yard, and knocked at the presumed psycho’s door. He did indeed let us finish boiling the potatoes on his stove, he was a bit strange but didn’t wield a knife (of course we were not foolhardy enough to ask if we could take a shower in his house....) . The potato salad was made in time for the wedding and the happy couple is still living happily ever after....

The landlord replaced the old white stove with another, even older, stove, this one in bright turquoise –but it didn’t do anything strange the rest of the time we lived there....