41) The Book Report

August 12, 2006

On Friday afternoon my friend Carol at Work asked about Thursday’s dialysis; saying, “Were you canoodled?” and I am thinking ‘canoodled’ is an appropriate alternative word for cannulate.

Morning: I finished Fluke yesterday evening. There was some serendipity in the finishing. The main character is taken into a living organism 650 feet deep in the southern ocean off the coast of Chile and describes the interior similarly to my description of the inside of my right kidney in Post # 38 (August). His description is more writerly: “…a vibrant red chamber that was pulsing with light and glistening with moisture as the walls appeared to breathe. Now this looked like a living thing -- the inside of a living thing.” Of course, as I was reading along, I was thinking of the comparison with my interior kidney views, adding some of the visuals to my own visual characterizations.

El Milagro: Matt canoodled me today. All of the regulars are here today; the woman who cries “Help”, the Hollywood lady, etc. I am reading my dad’s new book, John & Kay. My dad is an 83 year old somewhat cantankerous retired military officer who has published two books for our family. The new book, written over the last three** years, is about his recollections of his “chronological” life story from his childhood years through his retirement. Much of it tracks his military career during the occupation of Germany after WW II, his post-war military assignments related to guided missile and RADAR development, and the connected, noteworthy events in our family history. As I read his recollections, I am amazed at my dad’s memory for dates, places, and events. I wonder, did he make notes throughout his life, or does he just have an amazingly organized file cabinet?

Also, as I read the book, it jogs my memory of various scenes, conversations and stories told by my mom, and I am even learning a few things about my parents’ lives that I didn’t formerly know. And, as I read along, there are times I wonder about the story behind the story. The details are there but I want to know what they were thinking and feeling about the events in their lives? What was the experience like? What music was playing when they were driving from Detroit to Lawrence? I want the scene developed to include the mood and the hyperbole. It seems that in my father’s generation (The Greatest Generation) the 'story' was about “just the facts Ma’am”; we went here and then there and then there. This happened and then that happened. It was a historic generation and chronological dates and places were the important milestones. In my generation, the 'story' became all about the experience. Rock and roll, the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and Woodstock were experiences. The dates became less important. When was 'Kent State'? We don't know the exact date but we all know the words to the CSN&Y song "Ohio". The Beatles’ songs are timeless (actually many of the R&R songs from the late 50’s through the 70’s have become timeless; only the music historians know when they were recorded, but every generation since knows the songs… like “summertime blues”). In the Experience Generation (also known as the psychedelic generation) how events were connected, or how people changed in response to their experience was the measure of time. So, as I read my dad’s book, from within my generation, I am trying to read between the lines to find out what the experience of occupying a foreign country was, and what was the experience of his early marriage, and what did they think (their beliefs) about parenting? And then, in the middle of it all, there are places where he does discuss a bit more about his experience, mostly saying the event was "important", "sad", or "happy". Liz points out to me that perhaps my dad purposefully wrote this history without including events or story lines that were disagreeable.

We’ve gone through a few more generations and now my father’s oldest grandkids are in what they call Generation Y.* Gen Y is the wired generation and it functions on information bits (multiple modern media choices). Both Gen X and Gen Y live in the present and generally have little interest in slowly developing stories or histories. In my experience, having three of them as children, they have no interest in old movies that have slowly developing story lines. They get bored and leave to play computer games or communicate with their peers online or via cell phone. They want action and fast moving drama and they want it NOW. They are used to multi-tasking, so they may skip over uninteresting data to find exactly what they are looking for. I believe that the Greatest Generation looks aghast at the Experience Generation as we look aghast at Generation Why. I am proud that my dad published a book about our family and maybe it is now up to me to write one for the family from my generations world view. That’s the way I see it.

Notes: In at 72.3 Kg. and out at 71.4 Kg.
* Wikepedia (2006) “Generation Y” retrieved online August 11th from
**"It was three years, not six years." Corrected 9/5/06, based on a phone call from my Dad; who asked where I got the figure of 6 years. I replied that I just figured he started this book after he finished the first one. Now the post is correct.

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