susan jennings

It's genetic (part 4)

My new boyfriend, Jason, a self-described "straight edge punk rock skater vegetarian socialist," was a frequent customer at the record store where I worked. He had dreadlocks and didn't shave; at 16, three years my junior, he only had peachy facial fuzz anyway. He was a poet and political activist, and sang and played guitar in a punk band. He was tall, intelligent, charming, and a complete crack-up; but was, admittedly, a little goofy, lurching around in front of the counter telling strings of hilarious and improbable stories. His young age came as a bit of a shock to me at first, but in light of his wit and intelligence, it didn't seem like a deterrent to dating him. His poetry focused on

It's genetic (part 3)

For the last two years I had been driving a small, ten-year-old, pumpkin-yellow Datsun King Cab pickup truck, which I called Fido because it was such a doggy-looking thing. About a year earlier, Fido had been rear-ended by another pickup truck when fast-moving traffic had suddenly come to a stop in front of me. The impact threw my body backwards, belted into the bucket seat; and the weight and perpetual motion ripped out the front bolts holding the seat to the floor. My head flew back and broke through the rear window, my skull denting the bottom edge of the steel window frame. The impact also pushed my truck into the back of the car in front of me. My neck and back were injured moderately,

It's genetic (part 2)

During my first year of college when I was eighteen, I went to live with my Grama Geri. Grampa Bill had died four years before, and ever since then Grama lived alone in her big four-bedroom ranch-style house, with its vaulted living room ceiling, chandeliered dining room, and golden shag carpeting. A widow for four years, Grama now had a boyfriend whose name was Bill, just like my Grampa's. He was a multimillionaire, and came from Texas. I liked it when Bill came over, because whenever my Grama left the room, he'd gesture to me, and slip money into my palm. I'd smile with glee and shower him with hugs and pecks on the cheek, and he'd say, "Shhh, don't tell your mother," meaning my grandmothe

It's genetic (part 1)

Like most people, through much of my childhood I had two sets of grandparents whom I adored. One by one, they drifted off into the ether, as the elderly do eventually; and now I have none. But as I grew up, I realized how all four of my grandparents were extraordinary people in different ways, some more obvious than others: Grama Mary, my soul mate, showed me the worlds of art and mythology which I cherish still. Her house was full of dragons, carved and painted and documented in books. She was a research librarian at UCLA, and even though she had five kids of her own she was always adopting some foreign student to join the family for Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner. Grampa Fred, the rocket

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