Day 1413: in which Bob writes home.

"Dear Mom, I took 3 rides on these things across San Fran. today. Wooden seats. ALCATRAZ IS IN BACKGROUND. Love, Bob"
Postmarked: San Francisco, California, May 22, 11 PM, 1959.
Postage: 3 cents Liberty - In God We Trust purple-colored stamp
Addressed to: Mrs. Ivy R. Brown
From: Robert Allen Brown

Day 1100: in which Bob predates hipsters.

Another fine specimen of a Bob box.
This Pabst Blue Ribbon box recently found its way to me from my stepmother's basement. Its contents are mysterious: loose diodes and transistors, carefully wrapped in socks and rubber bands, several books on Calculus, a slide rule, and a half dozen of empty pill bottles with their labels ripped off.

Ingrained in my memory, this solidly-constructed box has carried varying possessions of Bob's since the 1970s!

Day 1099: in which a good box is hard to find.

Between 1974, when I was born, and 1992, when I graduated from high school, I lived in, at least, 20 different houses.

Though we resided, for the most part, in Columbia County, so that I could remain in the same school through graduation, continuity where it counts being of importance to my father, we often relocated to different rentals in the area.

Whenever we moved into a new house, Bob would initially discuss decorating the house but it rarely moved past the theoretical. The boxes containing our belongings would often double as our furniture. Several stacked Xerox boxes would become the TV stand. Bed sheets tacked up would become our curtains, if there were curtains hung at all. Bob had dreams of me sewing curtains out of burlap, a material he found both sturdy and practical, but my ambition to sew was low, so they never came to fruition.

XEROX boxes worked the best.
Xerox boxes worked the best, and easy to come by, at the Internal Revenue Service offices in Albany, where my father worked as a tax auditor. Rectangularly shaped, easy to manage in size, and tidily stackable, the Xerox boxes followed us, one house to another, carrying with us only the necessary. Even when we weren't moving, Bob would often bring home these empty Xerox boxes, and stack them up, for when he was in need of a box, or a new dresser...

We were always ready to move.

Day 999. in which, no, actually.

"I like the way Indians dress. They had weird underwear," Lil stated, as she stood there in her own.

"Well. They couldn't just go online and shop for underwear; they had to make their own underwear out of the materials they had."

What? A time before the Internets...?

Lili's eyes were open wide.

"But who were the Indians?"

"Well, the Indians were the people living here when Christopher Columbus 'discovered' America. They were actually the first ones here."

"No, actually, the Indian weren't here first; the dinosaurs were."

Day 937. in which the closet is still occupied.

Bob in September 2009.
My father, who suffers from the late-stages of early-onset Alzheimer's, has not been able to live with me for some time. Simple tasks I once took for granted - like eating, walking, talking - have become real challenges. A man who less than two years ago walked all the way from Kingston to Bloomington, albeit unintentionally, is no longer able to stand unassisted. Only five years ago, he had still regularly rode his bicycle over the New York border from his home in Cambridge, New York to West Arlington, Vermont, which only stopped after he had misplaced several bicycles.

Even though Bob's no longer living with me, his presence persists. 

Throughout the house, objects seem stranded. His wallet, once full of business cards and cash sits empty and discarded on the top of a shelf in the kitchen, its contents lost and the shell dismissed long ago.

Bob's wardrobe.
At the end of an upstairs hallway, next to the room where my father slept, is a closet which I rarely open. When I open the door, I'm faced with its contents which flood my own memory of images of the Bob I grew up with, a Bob that worked Monday through Friday, 9 to 5, week after week, month after month, year after year, in his button-down shirts, ties, and dress pants. There they are, each shirt hanging on its own hanger, each tie neatly matched with its shirt. I wonder of the last time Bob put each shirt on a hanger. He couldn't have known it'd be the last, that his entire wardrobe would prematurely be hanging in the closet of his daughter's house.

There are dress pants which I know he'll never wear again.

Despite this realization, I cannot pack up his clothes.

Day 935. in which there are NO SEX PISTOLS at the High Museum of Art!

Postcard of High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia.
The year was 1988! My father drove us from Kinderhook, New York to Atlanta, Georgia in his Isuzu Trooper, which lacked both an air conditioner and a radio, for our vacation in which I recall as an ungodly hot summer.

It was the summer before my freshman year in high school and the last thing I wanted to do was to ride with my father in a hot car across the country. He wouldn't let me use my Sony Walkman! He wanted a fully functioning co-pilot: awake, alert, and counting mile markers along the Interstate!

In the back of the Trooper was Bob's mini-cooler stocked with Bob-delicacies: aerosol cheese, crackers, and soda, lest we become overcome by hunger on the road!

We stopped at many rest stops, collecting bundles of tourist brochures and maps. We had quite a collection, which I would peruse through every evening, back in our motel, plotting out the next day. I was in charge of finding coupon deals for the next Econo Lodge down the line. This was the summer I learned it was "eee-con-o" (as in economy) and not "ek-a-no" --- after my father had let me continue the mispronunciation for awhile.

We safely arrived in Atlanta without my father strangling me, though I suspect it may have crossed his mind more than once.I sulked most of the trip, riddled with teen angst of the worst kind.

Out of all the tourist pamphlets I had selected, I decided the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia was the one place I wanted to visit in Atlanta. I had never been to an art museum and I thought it far more impressive than looking at steam engines in Chattanooga (which I had done, begrudgingly) or hanging out at the bar near our motel (which I had also done, begrudingly).

On the morning we left on the MARTA from I remember not where we stayed, my father didn't blink an eye at my attire. It was a bright yellow t-shirt but he paid no attention to the scribble-scrabble scrawled on the front of it. It was a t-shirt, which was acceptable attire for a teenager. It didn't help Bob that I tried to never directly face him and obfuscated the front of my t-shirt as much as possible. If I could make it all the way to the museum, what could he do about it, then?

Of course, I wanted everyone else to see it, aside from my father. By pulling this shirt over my head, I was instantly transformed into cool!

Ah, but as we approached the High Museum, it all went down.
"What does your shirt say...? What the hell are the 'Sex Pistols'...?! You can't wear that shirt to the High Museum of Art! Or ever!"

Bob immediately unbuttoned his own dress shirt and insisted I cover myself in it as he marched me back to the MARTA --- so that he could bring me back to the motel --- so that I could change my t-shirt. 

You can trust that I never wore this shirt again.

Day 922. in which I survived.

The @Amtrak conductor announced we’re about to arrive at our “final destination.” What could he know..?

Day 921. in which my boss retires and we go for crabcakes.

"Warm beer, cold food"
And they were good.

Day 918. in which the sweetest post-apocalyptic picture is drawn.

Art by Lil, Age 5.
Lil: "Their world got killed so they're looking for another world."
Me: "They look fairly happy for having just lost their world."
Lil: "They're on their way to their mother, who has blankets and food..."

Day 905. in which we hope to die close to garbage day.

The Christmas tree was picked up from the curb by Sanitation Department today. Liam watched intently from the living room window.
“Momma, when we die, do we go in the garbage truck?”

Day 648. in which I find a place I can afford to live in Upstate New York.

 Authentic + Affordable!

How can I deny this authentic Upstate experience?

At last, I found a place I can afford to live! I can't afford to buy a real home because I'm in publishing.

 This cozy camper is one-of-a-kind! Located beneath the shade of a weeping willow tree, she stays cool all spring, right up to summer!

Conveniently located next door to all amenities*, I'm ready to pack it up and move on in!

An outdoor refrigeration unit is located conveniently next to exit!** I'll keep my food cold all winter without the unnecessary expense of electric. Hear that, Niagara Mohawk? ConEd! Central Hudson! Down with the lot of you!

A little duct tape will cover up the holes on the windows and doors. Once we get the padlock off the door, it's otherwise in ready to move-in condition.*** You really must see it to believe it!

I'll have a housewarming as soon as I'm settled.

*2 miles from a public restroom at a full-service gas station.
**Everything as-is condition.
***Following extermination of rodents and slithering creatures.