I made this site because I believe women in geek culture deserve a space. And while every woman has different feelings about motherhood and their own mothers, I never realized how much liberation I could find in the sheer act of creating this space. This virtual spot means a great deal, even if it’ll never be perfect and it gets attacked a few hundred times per day (sometimes randomly, occasionally not).
Elevating women who create art and providing a meaningful, safe space for expression is important. But beyond a need to be heard and a desire to accommodate even more marginalized voices hoping for the same, what does it all mean? How much does a woman need to achieve before her piece of virtual real estate becomes an accomplishment or a legacy?
I feel the presence of time, and investing it in a cloud-based property can be terrifying (and reassuring) when you have chronic illnesses or have faced a continual series of losses.
Eventually, night comes. The toughest part is when my head hits the pillow and the day’s work is done. Many of my loved ones are several states away; my dog’s already snoring. It’s time to know that the earth is quiet and sleep must come, and worst of all, that this world exists and moves on without my grandmother in it.
This Samhain and Halloween, I chose to explore my loss and remembered her.
Tonight I started crying because I left food in a pan in the sink. It didn’t smell bad and it wasn’t soup, but somehow it smelled like radio stew. I still have no idea what that is, and I didn’t really like it, but I ate it because my grandmother made it for me.
And that made me remember everything about her and the place we could always go to eat because my dad always had something (or someone) more important.
Me, Grammy, and Aunt Mindy
I remember being really young helping Grammy in the kitchen in my grandparents’ old house before they had a it remodeled – before they even had a microwave. She would tell me “the best part of you is Irish.” That might sound like something really awful to tell a kid who’s also the descendent of Italian and German immigrants, but over the years I learned that what she meant by that was to treat people with compassion, stand up for yourself without exception, follow your heart, invest in experiences, and never forget where you come from.
She also tried to explain God and the crucifix but I never really saw that the same way; I think I didn’t understand because unlike Grammy, I didn’t have a person-to-person connection with faith or heritage on that level. I remember her telling me to go to bed in Irish and I remember Grampy counting the days in German but I didn’t even realize these things were different until I learned scraps of those languages in college and after.
My mom and aunts and uncles and grandparents always had me on the lookout for the Jersey Devil. They said the elves were watching to make sure I was being good and as for the leprechauns – I don’t know why they were supposed to be watching me, but they did.
I was lucky to have my grandmother in my life for thirty-five years.
A lot of people don’t even get any one person in their life for that long in any capacity, but I got a second mom who could smooth things over when I wasn’t on the best terms with my first.
Who I am is so profoundly shaped by who she was and the different music and movies she took me to see: from traveling step dance shows to all the mainstream movies in the theater (even if I was under recommended age). Thanks to Gram, I had sips of wine when I was little and Bailey’s as a teenager. Thanks to her, the first time I got buzzed was in a 500 year old castle with people from all over the world.
I was eighteen then, and it was pretty clear that I was especially good at language and lackluster in other areas. She told me the locals pissed on the Blarney Stone but said it was important that I kiss it anyway, especially since I was a writer. So I did, and since I still write things and make a living out of language, I guess it worked. She came to all the recitals and read all my poetry, so the least I could do was climb haphazardly up dangerously smooth castle stairs and trust a really old guy (was he the castle’s original custodian?!) to hold onto me while I dangled precariously over the man-made precipice to kiss an oft-urinated-upon stone.
Kings get Cashel and bards get gab, and surely I’m no king.
I miss Grammy a lot, and losing her is just one of many events that made this year difficult. But instead of completely losing it over how my hands don’t work well enough to re-open the wine bottle to pour myself a glass, I remember that the whiskey has a twist-off cap and I make the best out of an unfair situation. Beyond my swollen hands and keen interest in historical fiction, it’s in my reactions to situations like this that I feel humbled enough to be a little bit like her.
Grammy and Family
Some areas of my life just aren’t going to work out. And while it doesn’t look like I’ll ever be able to be a mom, how many people get to say they were lucky enough to have two?