From Self’s Story “Picture” (in Her 2005 Collection, MAYOR OF THE ROSES)

This is a story about self’s parents.  It was in Mayor of the Roses, her second collection, published by Miami University Press:

The woman leaning forward is self’s mother.

She’s leaning forward, as if to kiss him.  There’s a mark on his cheek; perhaps she’s done it already.  They are both smiling.

These were my parents in Manila, circa 1956.  They were happy:  they had always been happy.  The happiness of their marriage was like a reproach.

I didn’t think he looked that ugly, but I hear a voice saying, over and over, La unica problema es que no es guapo. It’s a woman speaking, her voice is thick with fury.  It was probably my grandmother.  This, at least, was what my mother led me to believe.

*     *     *     *     *

I am collecting old pictures now.  I don’t know what this tells me about this stage of my life.

Here’s a picture self drew when she was about five.  Who is that woman and why did self draw her wearing a green kimono?  Who knows.  Dearest Mum had the picture framed.

The 5-Year-Old Artist

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

More About Bob Costas and Penn State

The cover article of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated is on Penn State.  As well it should be.  The words on the cover say it all:  THE FAILURE AND SHAME OF PENN STATE.

Today, self happened to be watching TV when a man who was introduced as the lawyer for some of the victims at Penn State came on the air.  Self immediately stopped what she was doing (Probably, dusting.  Or something) to listen.  The lawyer said that some of the victims were coming forward.  And he described their feelings in three words:  despair, xxxx (Sorry, self’s hearing is very imperfect), and rage.

And self was most struck by the first word:  despair.

Self found it interesting that the lawyer picked that word.  It’s not something that readily pops to mind:  despair.  It’s such a tragic emotion.  A person who despairs has almost no hope.

But the lawyer said something else, another word which self is kicking herself for not remembering (Self looked it up:  the word was “confusion”), and then the last thing he said was rage.

Or was it fury?

Fury or rage.  Either way, that’s a whole cauldron of emotions, right there.  Can you imagine the internal struggle to keep a lid on,  what each of the victims goes through just so they can go on to live a semblance of normal lives?

Self is trying to recall the last line of Janet Lewis’ magisterial The Wife of Martin Guerre:  After the trial at which it was proven that the man she had thought was her husband was really an impostor, the wife of Martin Guerre walks out of history and disappears into a personal and terrible tragedy.  The last line of the Lewis novel went something like:  “When the heart is exhausted by such extremes of love and hate, the body does not long endure.”

And now, back to the Bob Costas interview.  When the news of the scandal first broke, Paterno had already decided to retire at the conclusion of the season, and he asked the Penn State Board of Trustees to allow him to coach the last four games.  News reports were sort of on the fence, but the next morning, self bought a paper and read:  Penn State Fires Paterno.  That was a moment.  For good measure, the Board also fired the long-time Penn State president, Graham Spanier.  You know they had to.

The next moment was the Bob Costas phone interview of Sandusky.  Remarkably, the interview was apparently done “on the fly.”  Turns out that Costas was only supposed to interview Sandusky’s lawyer (aka the Stupidest Lawyer in the World), and it was the lawyer who suggested that Costas get Sandusky on the phone.  And Costas had to think fast.  But by golly, was that a nimble interview, or what?  It was also pure theater.  All we could hear was Sandusky’s voice on the telephone, and the camera zoomed in for a tight close-up of the only face we could look at:  Costas’.  And he never flinched, not once.  Though required by professionalism to be almost expressionless, self is sure he felt something as Sandusky stumbled out with lie after lie.  Didn’t Sandusky at one point take almost 17 seconds to deny one of Costas’ accusations?  Costas was the conduit for the disgust every single viewer was feeling.  His questions were extremely direct, and encapsulated what all of us feel towards Sandusky.

The charges were made public by a blonde woman in a fancy suit: Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly.  The grand jury report was, according to Sports Illustrated, “23 pages of stomach-twisting detail.”

And what about those Penn State students who expressed outrage at Joe Paterno’s firing, and held a noisy demonstration blocks from the campus, holding up signs that said, WE LOVE JOEPA?  (Reminds self of the townspeople who threw stones at the policemen who came to arrest the Mayor of Calauan for the rape and murder of Eileen Sarmenta)  One day, self thinks, you students will have sons of your own, and let’s just hope you will become more empathetic to the plight of Sandusky’s victims.

Here’s a wondrous sentence: “Like Russian nesting dolls, there are levels of isolation within Penn State, the innermost of which is the football team, which has separate facilities from the rest of the athletic programs and a lavish training facility all its own.”

Mike McQueary, in 2002, witnessed Sandusky assaulting a child.  He passed on the information to Paterno, who passed it on to the athletic director, who passed it to another Penn State official, who ultimately informed university president Graham Spanier.  “Except that as the account moved along the chain of command, the allegation apparently shed severity with each retelling.  By the time it reached Spanier, it was merely behavior that, as Spanier testified, “made a member of Curley’s staff uncomfortable.”  What self can’t get over is that Mike McQueary, according to the SI article, made eye contact, not only with Sandusky, but with the victim.  What, self shudders, was in that boy’s look?  Undoubtedly, despair.  And McQueary kept quiet, for nine long years.  He probably would have gone on for another nine — heck, maybe even 20 years —  without ever telling, until he finally had to.

The Sports Illustrated article was co-written by L. Jon Werthem and David Epstein.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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