Oodles and Pickles

It’s not hard for me to ramble on just about anything.
I can tell you in great detail how I improperly wore tampons by shoving them in my cootch only halfway or used to drink myself to sleep by 9PM on Friday nights (not before documenting it on camera). I can wax poetic about all the dudes whose asses I’ve seen and explain how I used to go after men who most likely ate paint chips as a child.

Those things I don’t mind talking about.

However, there is one topic that I rarely discuss. It’s a subject so dear to me, I have difficulty mustering the words to describe how I feel. Even now, I can’t find the words to convey how I can’t find the words about how I feel towards my family. The emotions are just so big that any attempt at description will involve endless adjectives and run on sentences.

Since coming to the conclusion that I will not be making it home this summer for the first time in six years, I’ve been dwelling on the fact that the people I love are getting old. I’m getting old. Time is not slowing down, and as my parents round out their 50’s and I travel further away from my childhood, I’m finding it progressively difficult to come to terms with the…yeah, this is a bitch to write! Never mind.
Anyways, I’ve felt the urge to talk about them, to try an gain some objectivity from the roles they play as my mother, father, and grandmother.

Brenda Yale, my mother, the runner up to Prom Queen, the lady with no middle name, was born in Cortland, NY. A town with less than twenty thousand people smack dead in the middle of the state (we have a pole somewhere legitimizing this). She still lives in the same 800 square foot home that she grew up in; the house she inherited at 24 year-old after her father dropped dead of a stroke. From 18 to 48 years of age, she worked at her mother’s clothing store on Main Street. She was beautiful and lean and perfect. Everyone thought she was a snob, never realizing how much confidence she lacked in herself. She thought she made all the right decisions for a young woman born in 1950- go to a two year school, work at the family business, stay in your home town, own a home, marry a handsome man, and have a child. Of course you can try to do it right. The husband left, the business closed, the child grew up, and having a two year degree at 58 years old in a small town doesn’t offer much. She’s an artist who has never shown her work, she’s a lover who hasn’t been loved in over twenty years , she’s a world traveler who has never left her home continent. She is a woman who has reserved every ounce of her heart to me and for that, I am grateful.

Karl Modery, my father, the free spirit, the man of 1,000 lives, was born in Preble, NY, a one-cow-town near Cortland. Quoted as saying that his father was worse that George McFly before Marty changed the course of history, he acted out as a child in search of attention and affection from his parents. Out of fear of tarnishing his golden image with me (too late, Pop), he will not divulge what happened between the years 1970-1975 or B.B. (before Brenda) I know that he was a doorman at Radio City Music Hall, dropped out of Berklee College of Music, hung out with Frank Zappa twice, and wore platform shoes though he was 6’3″. A trait I inherited from my father, a personality quirk that my mother blatantly points out the negative ramifications of, is the fear of becoming bored, of life becoming stagnant. Because of this, my father has had every job under the moon, has had over 35 cars, has had over 15 pet dogs, been married twice, and has lived in six different states. His most consistent careers have been that of a musician, model, and actor. His child-like wonderment of the world is magnificent and detrimental at the same time.

Nan Yale McCormick, my grandmother, was born in…wait, I’m not sure where the hell she was born. I believe she was born in Endicott, NY. A comparable emotional void of a city to Scranton, PA. As a teenager she lived with her Orthodox Jewish grandmother in South Bend, Indiana and quickly decided she hated being a Jew. She moved back to central New York where she landed a job as a saleswoman/merchandiser/buyer for a thriving woman’s apparel store called Leonards’. Being the sassy lady she is, she walked into the bank, took out a loan, and proposed she buy the business from the crotchety one legged owner. He obliged. From that day on, my grandmother ran one of the most successful independent women’s apparel stores in central NY. She and her daughter would make buying trips to the city and hold fashion shows in our hometown. Though my grandmother was one tough cookie, she was a complete idiot when it came to men. Her first husband (my grandfather) was 13 years her senior and enjoyed watching “The Smothers Brothers” more than conversing with her. After she dumped his ass (during a time when women didn’t dump asses), she married a CIA agent/colonel with a bad rug and an even worse wandering eye. She dumped his ass as well, but politely (and moronically) decided not to ask for anything in the divorce. Currently she has been seeing Lionel, a huge nudge, whom she began dating after falling and breaking her arm in the building he owned and suing him. She is 82 years-old and goes to the gym five days a week. The classiest and most dignified woman I know, I often fear that she has never fully experienced passion.

That’s it.
That is my entire family.
The axis of my world.
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  • Reply Tocalabocina March 31, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Beautifully done. Reading it, I feel your concern about the women in your world. Your desire that they experience the lives and the love and the satisfaction that you want for them. All too familiar; I know exactly how that feels.

  • Reply Hipstercrite March 31, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    @Tocalabocina- I don't know about you, but when I was a child, I took them for granted. They were my Mom and Grandma and that's it. Now as I get older, I see them as women. I compare myself to them. I hope that they've been happy.

  • Reply Johana Hill March 31, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I love your Nan!! She should write a book. Sounds like her life is pretty exciting!

    Anyway, I think you've done a beautiful job of writing about your parents. I can feel the love just by reading this post.

    You're blessed, girl!

    P.S: Your dad is sexy! ;p

  • Reply Tocalabocina March 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I recently, and accidentally, came across a letter, written by my mother at the crux of a heartbreak that I'm probably still too young to fully understand. I wept for an hour after reading it. It is such a painful realization, the one in which the people who we grew up thinking exisited solely for us, become real souls with thier own real lives.

  • Reply Christine Macdonald March 31, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    I remember when I was in my 20's and starting to have the same thoughts. I moved away (off the island) at 27 and it was only when I started visiting my mom every other year or so that I realized… she's aging… f*ck, so am I!

    Now at 41, it's still a little unnerving, but it's also something you grow to accept.

    Great post, girlie.

  • Reply Adria March 31, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    It is amazing when you reach the point where you're no longer embarrassed by your "quirky" family, but really amazed to be a part of something like that. So many stories!! I loved this!

  • Reply The Dave March 31, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    man, if I had been alive back then, I would totally be your daddy!

  • Reply April March 31, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    How good of you. I have yet to come to terms with my family, but hope to some day. It's nice that you know so much about your parents.

    (On a sort-of side note, my dad's from Cortland! And he's rounding out his 50s as well. Your mom and my dad probably went to school together. How random! My grandfather was the head of the athletic department at Cortland State, which is totally off-topic, but makes me proud!)

  • Reply Metallo Bianco Jewelry March 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    That was great. You wrote about each of them beautifully! I too have a hard time talking about…well you know…la, la, la, la, la. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Reply Angie March 31, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Well said. Makes me want to meet them!

  • Reply WILDasaMINK March 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    I've been away from your blog for too long, and I come back just in time. This is a beautiful post; I love it! I think you must have a million stories abotu yoru family,and they must have a million more stories in addition to that. I think you're a colorful character and from this I see where it comes from. I also like you like 20x more now that I read your grandmother spent her teen years in Indiana (woot-woot! I'm from Indiana, so anyone that even remotely knows about it is immediately put on the top of my list).
    Anyway, thank you for sharing this, your mom and grandmother are gorgeous people and we should all hope to be at least half way as cool as them when we get older.
    Now, try to go visit them at some point this year–I struggle with the same feelings of everyone getting older in my family and I don't get home enough to see them. It's a bit depressing because I start to think how I'm going to regret not being there when one of them kicks the bucket.

  • Reply PoMo March 31, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    i love the old photos of ur mother and grandmother. total BABES!

  • Reply Apryl March 31, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Those were the coolest biographies of your family, and I wish I was adopted by them.

    NO wonder you are so tragically cool 😉

  • Reply Amanda March 31, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    I'm such a sap… this post kind of made me cry. Ok, not kind of. And I wondered who that hot lady on the boat was when she was your blog header, I thought that was maybe a picture of you!

  • Reply Maria Elise March 31, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    This is so tender and personal…thx for sharing.

  • Reply bard March 31, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    I love this post for too many reasons to list. But, suffice it to say, I love it.

  • Reply Heidi March 31, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Lovely Lauren. Very well done.. I want to say something profound… but all I can say is .. Fuck, your family, especially the women, your mother and grandmother …must be sooooo proud of you. Thanks for sharing this… it's a real invitation in, and I'm grateful.

  • Reply KeLLy aNN March 31, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Family history paints such a wonderful picture in my swirly mind.
    You do such a great job of describing things it's like watching a movie.

    It really nails the Heart to realize that at some point our loved ones hurt, or maybe didn't quite get what they wanted.

  • Reply T!nK March 31, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    If I had to sum up your family in just one word, that word would be…


    or amazeballs.

  • Reply Jill March 31, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Your dad worked at Radio City?! Siiick. I want to be a rockette lol. Your gram looks so cool workin' out!
    I know what you mean…I like to talk about everything, but it's hard to talk about my family and issues I've had in the past w/ them.
    It is weird because we always see our family through our relationship to them. LIke we see our mom as mom, not always as a woman with her own life. As I grow up I've begun to understand my mother and grandmother a lot more and all that they've been through.

  • Reply Jill March 31, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    (I'm posting this here to be sure you see it even though I wrote the same thing on your coming of age post 🙂 It's in regards to that post).

    Greatest. blog. post. ever.
    I'm so serious! This was the first post of yours that I ever read!!! After I started reading it I remembered…it's how I found you on 20SB!!
    My mom never told me about tamps either. As embarrassing as it is, I never used them until just this year…and I'm 23. Don't judge! haha I was just so nervous and I had no idea how to. Life is easier with them. I'm a dancer, so just imagine leotards, tights and pads = not a good combo! You are so brave, I thought about writing a similar post but lost the nerve.


  • Reply Langley March 31, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    Brilliant! Families are fucked up.

    We've all got something like it in our families. Amazed at the strong NY connection though. 'Supose my family have a massive England connection.

  • Reply ANNA MOLLY♥ April 1, 2010 at 1:29 am

    i loved that:)
    i really know how you feel about the people you love growing old and all, its on my mind way too much lately.
    your family sounds lovely, and so interesting! i bet they never run out of stories:)

  • Reply W.A.H. April 1, 2010 at 2:16 am

    i very much like that your grandma is a 82 year old women that is more fit than i.
    your words about family are brilliant. i now want to discover the unknown of my own family

  • Reply kellywanhainen April 1, 2010 at 4:13 am

    wow. i've completely decided that you need to write a book. i have a feeling you have even more amazing stories than you're letting the blog world in on. and if i may say so, your family (yourself included) is gorgeous.

  • Reply Mike H. Miller April 1, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Lovely! One quick note–I remember your mom's amazing political posters from our successful 2nd grade student council campaign… I think that might count as an art exhibit from a certain perspective. They definitely hung on the walls and they definitely made an impact on their target audience…

  • Reply Benny Paul April 1, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    It must have taken kilos of sanity to write that. It was super coherent and didn't seem to have any fear, and I think that's rare when people write about their families.

  • Reply Krystal April 1, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    this was a truly beautiful post

  • Reply Benny April 2, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    And I realized I've been to Cortland. And that my friend Justin Tracy is from there, too.
    I also remember there being an awesome cassette tape store there. I drove through the town in a blue '89 Volvo and bought a tape of Rod Stewart's Gasoline Alley. It was definitely one of the hippest things I've ever done.

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