Fish-Eye Lens

General ruminations on stuff.


Big news here is the birth of my great-niece Ellery Hope Cootware on July 11 around 7:30-ish in the evening.  6 lbs, 1 oz, a button of a thing and utterly gorgeous.  That’s big praise from me.  I’m not one of those women who says “Every baby is beautiful” because, you know, they aren’t.  They may all be miracles, but some babies are just sort of homely when they’re born.  At any rate, Ellie truly is a miracle.  Her parents (my nephew Joshua and his wife Nichole — two of the world’s niftier people) have been trying for ten years to have a child.  A few years back, they had a son, my nephew Quinn, but The Mighty Quinn was born 4-5 months too early and he died.  A child’s death is a devastating occurrence.  We’ve had our share of them in this family, but it’s never something you grow “used” to.  At any rate, Josh and Nichole have been trying ever since to have a child.  Several round of IVF were unsuccessful, but finally little Miss Ellery decided to hang on for the long ride.  She kept it hair-raising right until the time she popped out — with the umbilical cord wrapped twice around her neck!  Thankfully, all is well.  She is healthy and beautiful, dark-haired and dusky-skinned, with enormous young/ancient eyes that look right through you.  At less than 24 hours old, she was already holding her head up for a look around.  Oh, yeah.  This kid is going to be a power to contend with and I am mightily, MIGHTILY grateful for it.


To the bitchy waitress last night at Bravo! Bravo! in Mystic, CT — we enjoyed our meal despite your crap attitude and you did not earn the tip my generous husband gave you, but he thought someone ought to do SOMETHING nice for you.  Never had a waitress that refused to meet our eyes, or acted insulted when we asked to hear the specials or inquire about the cost of the wine.  (Apparently those who dine out in CT should be above such things.  Well, excuse us, we’re not made of money.)  Under different circumstances, we’d have “voted with our feet” and walked away, but there’s was a special reason for our wanting to dine there.  (Our first time, mind you; also our last.)  Back when my husband decided, as he puts it, to jump out of a perfectly good airplane by quitting full-time work and going back to school, he found employment as a waiter.  One of his jobs was (you guess it) at Bravo! Bravo!  He lasted three weeks before they canned him, but no worries, because he found a great gig across town at The Seaman’s Inne.  But, see, hubby got a promotion yesterday and it did him good to eat where he once waitered and be able to see how far he’s come.


Which leads, of course, to congrats to my beloved husband on his promotion.  He works his butt off and it’s nice to see that people recognize his efforts.


Being a woman, I am no stranger to discrimination.  You see it all the time, even in these so-called “enlightened” years.  Likewise, I saw my share back when I worked as a secretary because EVERYONE knows that a woman wouldn’t choose that job unless she was STOOPID, right?  (WAY wrong, but you’ll never convince some people of that.)  I was a good secretary and I was fortunate to have one or two bosses who recognized it and acknowledged that my talents kept things rattling smoothly along rather than getting bogged down.  Also had the other types of boss, the ones whose mouths wouldn’t melt better, who treated me like an idiot while they attempted to rape and pillage every skill I possess.

I also faced down discrimination years ago when I dated my first serious boyfriend.  He was Jewish.  His parents were not pleased that he’d chosen to date and later (*gasp!*) LIVE with a shiksa.  I was allowed to come to their home and “observe” Passover, but was not considered a “participant.”  (That’s how his mother explained it to me.)  They would have family gatherings, invite me, and never speak to me.  I made a luncheon/shopping date once with his mother.  What a horror-show.  We couldn’t wait to get away from each other.  (This is the same woman who had a temper tantrum one day while house cleaning and broke two wine glasses on purpose.)  His maternal grandmother (who I liked, initially, and who seemed to like me) told his mother, “Relax.  Let him screw the shiksa.  It’s not like he’s going to marry her.” (Comment conveyed by boyfriend, who got it straight from his mother.) Said boyfriend didn’t have the balls to defend me or stand up to his family (one of the many reasons we’re no longer together — I won’t even mention the verbal abuse from him that cropped up later.  Oh, wait!  I just did.)

I’ve also survived the severe look-down-the-nose from monied Old Lymers dismayed by what they viewed as my lack of pedigree.  Whatever.  Go back far enough, folks, we’re all mutts.  And all related.  I’ll try to live that down if you will.

Anyway, as I said, I’m no stranger to discrimination.  But damned if I didn’t have the legs swept out from under me recently by a group of people with whom I considered myself on friendly terms; southerners who could not help but make derogatory remarks about my being a “Yankee” and a “northerner” and such.  How things were done better in the South.  The tea was sweeter, the crabs were fresher.  We don’t know how to do this-n-that right (you name it, they were better).  At first, I took it all for a joke. (I knew these people, right?  They couldn’t possible MEAN it.)

But they did.

I figured out pretty quickly that what  most pissed them off was their southern child’s northern paramour, so that made all us northerners fair game.  Good thing they didn’t bring their shot guns.

But it was sad.  They embarrassed and saddened their child.  They turned what should have been an occasion for celebration into a freakin’ wake.  I’m not saying, repeat NOT SAYING, that northerners would have done better.  (Fat chance.)  Just that these folks should have.  There was no place for that sort of nonsense.  I was under the impression that the Civil War was over.  Guess not.  By the end of the day, husband and I were thinking of changing our names to Mason and Dixon.


We’re thinking of putting the house on the market.  Moving again.  Lord.  We hate moving, but our bucolic little neighborhood has grown up and become not quite so bucolic as it once was.  And it’s too bad, because we like our little house.  We’ve done a lot of work in fourteen years.  When we moved in, it was a dark little cave of a place, done up in brown carpeting, brown wallpaper, brown furniture.  The countertops were over 40 years old (and looked it).  The wall oven shorted out more often than it worked.  The drop-in cook top had been used by Methuselah.  The walls were nicked and cratered where a canister vacuum had repeatedly crashed into them.  Paint and beadboard have done a lot.  A little can go a long way when you’re trying to give a house a face lift.  New floors came over the years, each room painted (and repainted, and repainted).  Cabinets refinished.  (Imagine my joy in finding hardwood floors under that godawful carpet.)

The yard is terrific; almost an acre of grass, trees, berry bushes, asparagus plants, perennial flower beds.  It’s nice.  Birds come here, and the occasional opossum or deer or raccoon.  We even had a big old coyote December before last.

But it’s time to go, providing we can find a buyer.  Still….there’s a part of us that will remain with this lovely old place.  We will not depart without regrets.  My step-kids grew up here, as did a handful of dearly beloved former Coast Guard cadets.  Lots of good memories.  I’ll carry those with me. (The bad memories can stay here.  I’ll bury them before I go, so they don’t bother the new owners.)


There are times when each of us utterly SUCKS at being a parent.  We try not to beat ourselves up about it, although we do.  We’re so pleased when we’re golden, when we strike the nail just right, do the right thing, and so tough on ourselves when we don’t.  I never had kids of my own, but I helped parent my step-kids.  Did some good things.  Did some rotten ones.  I’ve apologized for the rotten ones and been forgiven by two of the three kids, so I guess my odds are better than average.  I’m proud of the kids, proud that they’re adults and out on their own, forging their lives in whichever direction they are led.

So what is it with parents who can’t let go?

I know this guy.  I won’t give any distinguishing facts because some of you would know at once who I mean.  He’s a nice guy.  Upstanding.  Honorable.  Hard worker.  Honest.  Fair.  Sensitive.  Has a big heart.  And his mother is certain she knows best for his life.  My Lord, the man’s almost 30 and she’s still trying to tell him what to do, how to live his life.  Because he’s a good son and loves his mother and doesn’t want to hurt her feelings or appear disrespectful in any way, she’s driving him crazy.  He has (I think) an idea of where he’d like his life to go.  It doesn’t entirely jive with Mother Bear’s view of how his life should go and, man alive, the woman is on the warpath.  Let me tell you, no one knows how to deal passive-aggressive manipulative bs like this broad.

All the rest of us can do watch and wring our hands.  He has to find this road himself, but I have to wonder — if he spends his life checking in with his mother, letting her set the course of his life, what’s he going to do when one-day mother is gone?


Those of you who traveled with me last year as I dealt with the loss of my dear old dog Tucker will not be surprised to hear that I’ve been dreaming about him a lot as the anniversary of his death approaches.  Had a dream the other night where we had given him away and I was begging my husband to let me go get him so we could take him back.  Ah, if only it were that easy.  I’d take that old man back in a hot New York minute.

I want another dog, but I can’t get one until we live someplace safer.  The road is too busy now to support it and there’s no point in putting up a fence if we’re going to move.  Still….I feel that loneliness around my heart.  I hear Tucker now and then, think I feel his presence, expect to turn around and see him there, that particular light in his eyes, the way he would wink at me, tongue lolling.  I’d like to think I’ll get over missing him, but I’m not sure I will, even when the new dog comes.  It’s been 17 years since my cat Gil died.  There have been five cats since, and though I loved each and every one of them, I still miss the Gilly-Girl.  Some animals just stay with you, I guess.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in babies, children, Coast Guard, Connecticut, Discrimination, Dogs, Essays, Independent Writers, Melissa Crandall, moving, Mystic, parenting, pet death, Pets, self-publishing, Women, Writer, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fish-Eye Lens

  1. Brittany says:

    Animals always stay with you. Six years later, I still turn the corner, even now that we have Maddigan, and expect to see my canine big brother snoring in a sunbeam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s