My last Medium: check ya later, hooligans

Allison Gruber
9 min readMar 29, 2022

I am sitting on my couch drinking hot cocoa I made with almond milk in a little tiny crockpot my aunt gave me during my visit to her home this weekend. I am drinking the almond-milk hot cocoa from a cup that belonged to my grandmother, and it is not a fancy cup but a very pragmatic cup with a yellow stripe on the inner lip of the mug, and it makes me remember her and hours of turning coffee cups around her kitchen table, and these memories make me smile. And I am comfortably tired from driving to Iowa and back.

This was a quick, quiet visit.

I had not been to Iowa since 2019, when I flew out from Arizona to attend my grandmother’s funeral. Since then, my Uncle Al, who also lived in Iowa has died. During the visit, my aunt showed me a piece of writing, maybe the only anyone has, that my Uncle Al had written. A deer/hunting metaphor several pages long. I could hear his voice in every sentence, though he’d sanitized the writing of his trademark “fucks.” Reading it, in my mind, I added the “fuck” “fuckin’” and “fuckers,” and I heard him again. And that’s what’s magical about the written word. And that’s why thoughts should be free. My thoughts will be free. No more paywall bullshit. I will find a way, reader. (Unless it’s a book — books take a lot of work. Even books with typos and clunky lines. Buy my book. Or you could buy my other book. )

I’ve been writing over on Medium for a while, and now I am done writing on Medium. I hate that readers have to pay for my stupid shit. I never saw any of your money, and that’s bullshit. Now my stupid shit on the internet is going to be free. And if you’ve stumbled into this forest of thoughts by chance, a little about me:

Until a month ago, I was a public school teacher. English. Before that, I was a low-level English professor. I’ve written and published a couple books. You can find them here and here. They are about my mistakes and my successes in my American life. I have lived in Illinois, Wisconsin, and then Arizona. I have been dealing with cancer bullshit since I was 34. I moved to Arizona when I was in my late thirties and stayed for damn near a decade, then came back to my home-of-origin because my wife left me.

I hope everyone has always known it’s okay to laugh. I often laugh at the state-of-things, too. Like the way that paragraph ends is so darkly hilarious — cest magnifique, Gruber!

I was so happy that day.

I am a gay. A lesbian, if you want to get nitpicky. I don’t want to get nitpicky. I’m just a cranky Gen Xer wondering what the actual fuck just happened to her entire-motherfucking-American capital-fucking-L-Life.

The world is on fire. I don’t care what you say about me, so long as you never confuse me for a straight person, I will be fine with whatever you assume about my gender/sexual identity. Not that there’s anything wrong with being straight. I’m just not that way. I do not speak for the LGBTQ community; I only speak for myself.

I try, these days, not to traffic in identity politics. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I am very tired and I also have cancer. So I am very cognizant of how I spend my precious time, and I usually don’t want to spend it on agonizing over my sexuality (I’m older now, my dudes — I’ve seen some shit. I’m tired.) or pontificating pronouns (I’m tired). My philosophy is this: I want people to be free and happy. I want people to suffer less and love more. Complain less and care more. I want human beings to have the lives that make them feel happy, and keep them away from suffering, and well-equipped to deal with the primordial suffering that will always befall us because that is life.

Buddhist. I am a Buddhist. While I’ve been borrowing bits and pieces of the practice for many years, only recently did I say “Lord Gautama Buddha, take the wheel.” Or rather “Lord Buddha, show me how to steer this life because it seems I’ve been making way too many left turns at this point and I think surely I am lost.”

And this, of course, is generally how people come to a spiritual practice later in life. I’m not old, per se. I am 45. I don’t care if you know my age because I know all I’ve had to endure and fight through to get to 45, and I’m fuckin’ proud I’ve made it this damn long. Not young, not old. Definitely not middle aged, given my health priors . . .

My cancer is incurable. This means whatever it means to you. I know I will probably die of this, and I hope not soon. I try not to feel sorry for myself, and sometimes I do. Most days, still, I feel quite well. What’s my secret? pills, chemo, cannabis, my dog Abe, rock n’ roll, rap, scented candles, all sorts of hippie shit, the good coffee, plants, books, Buddhism, and not drinking alcohol.

Me and alcohol had a “thing.” The relationship was toxic from the get. I do not care if you hang out with alcohol, I just don’t fuck with her anymore. She can be super fun, she’s got a lot of great qualities, and she tried to kill me on a number of occasions, and once almost did, but if you guys are friends, that’s totally cool.

No seriously. You can drink. I’m pro-drinking, so long as it doesn’t drag you into the darkness, the way it did me.

That is a picture of me and my Grandma Jean the first time I had breast cancer, way back circa 2010. She was hilarious. I also think I am sometimes hilarious, but I do spend a great deal of time alone these days so who the fuck knows.

I used to never spend time alone because I was a public school teacher. And I loved being a public school teacher, even though it wasn’t what I thought I loved being until I was one. Dig?

More specifically, I loved being a high school English teacher. Of all the iterations of “Educator” (and there have been many for me), my favorite version of Educator Me was the High-School-English-Teacher version.

Sometimes, because that part of my life had to end so abruptly, when I think about High-School-English-Teacher-Me, my breath catches in my throat and the tears come, and I feel staggeringly sad because I miss that, and some days I’m not so certain I can do that again: run around with kids and be a public school teacher, I mean.

I can totally teach again, I just think the crazy public school years are behind me. I don’t know for certain. I have my hunches. I have been wrong before.

And I am a little fragile right now. Gotta be honest. Hard to be honest because sometimes honesty fucking sucks. Sometimes honesty hurts like hell. As Lizzo so aptly put it, “Truth hurts.”

I am a little fragile, and I am also stronger than I have ever been. Not perhaps physically (I never was though, like, a great athlete or anything), but in other ways. And sometimes, I am also strong physically for a person going through a physical-and-emotional human experience.

My Medium essays generally have ended with “Be good, hooligans” and this will be no different, but first I’d like to write a little about the origin of my using the term “hooligan”:

When I was a little girl, attending Catholic school, there was a rotund little nun who used to affectionately (and not-so-affectionately depending on our general conduct) sometimes call us children “hooligans.” And even in the 1980s, it seemed like a very old fashioned, very Irish Catholic word/term.

And one day, when I was teaching in Tucson, downstairs-and-masked with the middle schoolers, it just came rolling out of my mouth, affectionately, as I led a group of my kids on a walk to the park. “Let’s go, hooligans!” I said. And they seemed to like it or think it was odd and on the drive home from work that day, I thought about the fact that I had said this, that it had come tumbling out of my memory and my mouth, and I smiled thinking of that old nun, thinking of myself when I was the age of my students, and I was a little squirrelly, desperately shy, a little out-of-place, a little spacey, and I could get up to mischief — though quiet, I was no saint.

And I loved the word “hooligan,” that day, because to me it was all about the personal connotations. And for me, the personal connotations of “hooligan” were “human, loveable, and flawed because human.”
So I kept using the term. And I think that old nun meant well.

Will I start another blog? Not sure yet, but I can assure you it will be about things I feel able to and interested in discussing — just like this one. Topics may include, for example, Will Smith assaulting Chris Rock at the Oscars’ last night. I have a thought on this, as does the American public. I did not watch the Oscars, though I have (and have un-ironically enjoyed them) watched in past years. And I do not like to watch television with people anymore. Maybe someday, when it’s safe, I’ll go catch a movie with you, but I ain’t sitting around the television when in the holy company of my people. Unless, you know, it’s absolutely necessary because it’s night time and I’m couch surfing on your couch or you’re couch surfing on mine. Could happen. Especially the former.

Anyway, I caught what happened at The Oscars because I do follow social media. I am a social media person. I enjoy it. I know it is bad for me sometimes, and sometimes it is also good for me. This is virtually the way with all fucking things, and I wish I understood this twenty fucking years ago so I would have more financial resources like Will Smith who, apparently now, because of his status as a Financially Wealthy American can actually assault a performer on stage and the show. just. fucking. goes. on.

And I don’t want to live in that America. An America where the rich swill champagne and laugh and go on as though nothing outside of even the most SECULAR FUCKING MORALISM (shout out — literal, proverbial — to my early Medium followers), nothing at all, has been transgressed; I don’t want to live in that America, and no, I’m not “moving.”

Does the American Right still say this? They used to say it for decades, and worse? “If ya don’t like it, then just go to another country. sEe hOw ya like it tHeRe!” It’s like saying, “If ya don’t like the condition of the planet, then just go live in space. SEe hOW yA LIke iT there!”

Ugh. Reader, the American people . . .

And there’s not a whole hell of a lot I can do about an America where we are fine with Rich Americans slapping people with impunity, but I can write about what I see, and what I saw was Rich Americans chasing violence with booze-and-good-cheer. The uber-rich in this country have lost their ever-loving-fucking-minds. And that is scary to me, and it should be scary to you.

And I will continue to write, reader.
Just not here anymore. (And yes, smart readers, I will be mining the gold out of these posts. Thanks to Past Me, 99% of these posts are in A Google Doc!)

Eat the rich, or don’t,
just be good, hooligans.

if you do other internet:
Allison T Gruber (on FB)
@Gruberin America (Twitter)
My other FB & my Insta are largely “private” unless you don’t seem like a totally random weird. More like, you know, a vaguely familiar kind of weird. Be a little familiar, and I’ll accept your request, fellow weirdo.

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