Friday, November 17, 2006

A little more about my family.

I sent my mother the link to my grandfather's enlistment record online. I explained to her that Dad was unsure about the truth of both the age and marital status discrepancies. I thought she would find it interesting, as I did. I received the following email in response:

Hi Jess,
I know for a fact that Me-Mom and Pop-Pop didn't get married till he got back from the service, (Uncle Jimmy was almost 2) which is why there are no wedding photos. It was a shameful thing back then, and I discovered it the summer we visited Uncle Eddy and Aunt Betty in California (Aunt Betty told me -- ) Me-Mom never spoke of it to me, and I'm not sure if Aunt Grace even knows...your Dad didn't till I told him...years later...
So...tough news to be getting, eh?
I think that's when Uncle Jimmy and your grandfather had their falling out when he 'had' to get married, and Mom-Mom told him the family secret...but it's still pretty closeted...
I don't know who knows and who doesn't know...yikes!
Love you, we'll talk soon...face to face, no less!!!

This news isn't tough to get. What's tough to get is why I haven't heard this before. My grandparents are dead, and we live in a time and place in which this is not shameful as much as it is a frequent occurrence (especially in my family). I don't understand why this has been kept from me.

I had confronted my father with this and his answer was ambiguous. I'm an open-minded adult who can keep mum.

I think I'll dig around Aunt Theresa's basement soon.

And I really wish they had taken pictures.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Baby REALLY got back.

The highlight of Tuesday's outing to the People's Republik was actually the walk to the Central T station afterward. As Josh, Emma, Rob, and I walked down Mass Ave., an older homeless man walked into our path, arms outstretched as if greeting old friends.

" I kissss...the sky..."

We passed him, smiling.

"I like...big...butts and I can...not...lie..."

We laughed. A lot. Especially after I checked my bag and noticed that it covered my ass completely.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

About my family...

Every family has its fuzzy bits of history that can't be explained.

Mine is no exception. My mother's mother was born fresh off the boat in Charlestown, the child of an Irish immigrant whose name was Eileen (like my mother) Finnegan. Or was it Houlihan? I couldn't tell you. My great-grandfather, who abandoned Eileen within months of finding she was pregnant, was a Greek immigrant whose name was Paul. My grandmother was given up for adoption, and lived like Cinderella with an idiot adopted brother. It's been said that Eileen had written to her daughter over the years after moving to the midwest, and that Ms. Hatch, my grandmother's caregiver, had burned the letters to shield her from what pain they might cause.

It's all a mystery to me - heard in snippets from my mother and aunts. I'm used to that grey area in my family's history.

On my father's side, the only remotely interesting story is that my great-grandmother was on this national watch list in Ireland because she was in love with a British soldier at an inopportune time, and was therefore a ticking time bomb of treason in the eyes of the Irish Republic.

At least, I thought so, until I tried to locate my father's father's military records. The only Army enlistment for James T. Mullen of Philadelphia was a man born in 1920, a private who was single and had no dependants.
I knew Me-Mom and Pop-Pop married before he enlisted because they were expecting Uncle Jimmy at the time. And Pop-Pop was Catholic to the letter. And I thought he was born in '21, but I'd have to check with Dad. And he was a sergeant, too - not that he was when he enlisted...

I called my dad.

"Dad, it's not that important, but when was Pop-Pop born?"
"Um...I don't know."
"Da-ad! You were born in '48, I know that, so when was Pop-Pop born?"
"Well, nobody really knows..."

What? I then explained the record I found in the National Archives.

"You know, that's probably him."
"But he wasn't single -"
"We, uh...we don't know that, actually..."

I think I just opened a big door that had been bolted for years. I am excited and confused.

But mostly excited.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bill Cosby - Dentists

This is what I've been watching all weekend - really, all my life - made so much better by my fear of dentists.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

We all need to make our lives more interesting.

Today at work is dedicated to placing book orders for the winter quarter. I've been calling publishers all over the country, and the process is usually boring - a form dialogue that has artificial inflections to make it sound like it's two people talking rather than two machines.

Then I called Blackwell, in Vermont. I told the man on the phone that my name was Jessica, that I was calling from the Northeastern University Bookstore, and that I would like to place an order for a book.

"You would, would you," he said.
"And you require my assistance to accomplish this nefarious deed."
I laughed. "Yes, I do."
"I just found that word in the dictionary, and now I'm using it all the time."

Now, I do that, too. Every morning I check Merriam-Webster's word of the day, which I have on my Google home page. Yesterday's word was rhadamanthine.

"I see."
"It's a good word," I said, hoping I could place my order and hang up soon.
"Well, I've always been a sucker for a pretty voice, so I'll help you. But if we get caught, I'm squealin'."

I placed my order, and he went through the motions of explaining shipping options.

"So you're down in Massachusetts. Heck, I could drive that down there and be back in time for dinner!"

When I told Sarah about the odd man, she said she didn't realize Blackwell employees could drink on the job.