Saturday, July 30, 2016

one same heartbeat

one same heartbeat by Nic Askew

Each of us stand seemingly
alone, as we cry out
for evidence
that we belong.

And as we cry out silently
through the actions
of our eery day,
we step further from our own sight.

Further frm the experience of
our one same heartbeaet.

but in the flicker of a
single moment we might'
remember that
there are not
separate lives.

eat only stars for dinner

A poet may eat bread for his breakfast, and bread and flesh for his dinner, but for his supper he must eat stars only.
     - Ralph Waldo Emerson The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson as excerpted in The Journey Itself Is Home, Content Only Edition

Friday, July 29, 2016

a blurry blink

I've been wicked depressed for months, for so long that it seems like forever. Day after day, I can barely drag myself around my apartment to tend to my most basic needs. I don't think I've showered in two weeks. I am going to shower tomorrow because I am meeting a friend at a nearby art museum. And I do make it out to buy food. Today I went to Trader Joe's, although I forgot to buy the item that lead me to go. That happens when I am depressed. I don't really care about anything so what the fuck difference does it make if I forget to buy food. One tiny benefit is that I am eating less and wasting no food. When one only ventures out for food when one has no food, that means one has eaten everything. The only food I don't touch is my earthquake food, which is skimpy. I have some cannisters of protein powder that have some soy. I generally avoid soy but in the event of a major quake, I can subsist on protein with a little soy for awhile.  I have some canned goods. I don't pay attention to their expiration dates, the way people who take earthquake preparedness more seriously than I do. I'll eat expired cans of bad food. I have a can of Trader Joe's pinto beans. I actually bought two cans of these beans foolishly imagining they would be similar to pinto beans like I make or buy at Mexi restaurants. The shit pinto beans sold by TJ's are so bad I will never buy another can of any brand of pinto beans:  they taste like chemicals. I don't recognize any flavor in the one can I opened in my silly delusion that they might be tasty. I had hesitated to buy them, for real. I chatted with a TJ employee and he assured me they were tasty. I guess many folks are so used to eating chemical laden food that they don't know what real bean taste like.  Also for earthquake stash purposes, I have lots of dried pinto beans and other beans. I will need to be able to heat water so I should get a camp cook stove thing. I need a few camping items which serve as backpack camping and earthquake survival, eh? But that requires organization, effort, planning. I can't beam myself to REI to buy a flashlight or something to eat water without electricity. They do make such implements, yes? Who cares?  So today I made it to Trader Joe's to buy some mushroom pasta thing. I generally don't eat gluten and this is cheap shit gluten cause TJ's sells a pound or so of mushroom ravioli pasta, frozen, for about three bucks. It has to be really bad food but it is tasty and it matches my depression perfectly. Anyway, no crappy gluten for me before my trip next week cause I forgot to buy some of the crappy frozen pasta and I won't be going back to TJ's before my trip. Well, if I see my homeless friend who likes kefir tomorrow, at the farmers market, I will go to TJ's to get his kefir. I always offer him some fresh fruit. Vegies don't seem to register on his radar but he has occasionally accepted fresh fruit from me. Mostly all he wants is the kefir, which he usually downs in a couple gups. A quart of rich, thick, starch-laden, colon-cramping dairy and carbs. I feel it would be indelicate to point out to him that the kefir is gonna stop him up, to ask him what roughage does he eat to compensate for the kefir. But all I actually say is "Would you like a basket of cherries?" or grapes. And he always says no, I'm good.

My whole being kinda cries as I watch this sweet yet vulnerable homeless man gulp down kefir. He must be feeling some trust with me. At first, when he let me buy him kefir, he would put it in his cart. Now he tears it open and gulps most of it in three or four big slurps. That man is hungry. That man is a Fisher King. I am a  Fisher King.  I won't claim I am more wounded, for I have this apartment but I hope no one feelsas much emotional pain as I am currently experirencing.

I dare to suggest that I know what someone who has had severe burns on all of their body feels like only my soul is burned. I am on fire with emotional pain and numbly depressed at the same time. hard to grasp how I can be in excrutiating emotional pain and numb but I am.

And huge chunks of time pass when I have been, I guess, unconscious. What am I doing? I just looked up. It is 7:30 p.m. and I feel like I just woke up for the day about an hour ago.

I went out. ran into a friend, visited with her, visited with a neighbor in the building who is a grand new great grandma. I handed in a key and security fob for this building that I found in the laundry room, talked to the property manager. so I did stuff today. But right now it seems like the day has been a blink, a blurry blink.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

tragedy befell

Well, it was 'only' a money tragedy. It's actually been a long, long, LONG, time since I had a, for me, large, unexpected expense. I am very careful with my money, virtually never run out, unless hacked. And I have been hacked, but banks refund stolen hacked funds.

Yesterday, I went out to a club in Oakland to hear some storytelling. Along the way, who knows where, my apartment key fell off my keychain. I retraced my steps in Berkeley, from home to BART but that key could have fallen off on who-knows-which BART car, in the BART stations in Oakland or in Berkeley, in the nightclub, in the restroom.

I had attached my keychain to a loop on my dayback, a practice I have fallen into later and will never do again. Going forward, my keys and security fob to get into my building, will go INSIDE whichever bag I am using.

Without the fob, I can usually get a neighbor to let me up the elevator but without a key, I can't get in.

At first, I phoned a friend and asked if I could spend the night. This friend jumped in the car and came to my rescue. By the time the friend arrived, however, I had remembered my insulin was in my apartment. I only have skipped my nighttime basal insulin once, doing so from curiosity, to see what would happen if my body did not have its life-saving insulin. I was sick for two days, even after I resumed insulin use. I could not keep anything down, not even water, and I barfed those two days.  It reminded me of the happy bliss of being pregnant. I was blissful while pregnant, eager to meet my baby, but I dry heaved and/or barfed up just about anything I put inside my body the entire pregnant.

When I was in labor, having been hospitalized three separate times, one for ten whole days, to be fed intravenously so my babys brain would get nutrition because I was not keeping anything nutrition-like in, I asked the nurse for the enemis cup. The enemis cup, or container, is what the hospital called a curved plastic bowl designed to be held while a person lays prone in bed and has to barf. You are expected to barf sidewise from mouth to the curved 'bowl' wrapped near your mouth.

the L&D nurse said "Oh, you won't need that, not now" and I said "You wanna bet?"

I was right and she was wrong. I vomited right through my labor. Once my beautiful daughter was born, the 8 months of vomiting and dry heaving ended. I am the only mom I know who lost over 30 pounds while pregnant.  I'm fat these days but I was not fat when I got pregnant. That weight loss was very noticeable.

Say, I wonder if my vomiting pregnancy influenced my daughter's eating disorder.  I'll never know.

So I called the locksmith back, agreed to pay the extortionate $160 for a two minute walk from his place to my place and the minute it took him to unlocked my door. Today I bought five new keys, placed one in each of the two bags I use when out and about, one to replace the lost one and two to give to two friends, with red keyrings on them with my name taped onto the ring.

When my friend arrived, for I was unable to reach him before he left to save me, I explained that I was going to spend what is a huge sum of money for me to get my insulin. Then I asked if I could get in the car and cry with company.

I cry regularly but virtually never while sitting with someone who cares about me. That cry felt pretty good.

And once I was back in my home, that felt really good.

I have not bought any new clothes in 7 years, since I moved to Berkeley. I have been saving for months to buy a new dress. I used to buy one new dress every summer. I am taking a long trip out of the country in August and I was watching my shekels accumulate to buy a new dress.

No new dress for me.

It is fascinating to have seen how the lock guy let me in. He never touched my locks.  He brought some long, thin metal strips that he slid under the door and ran those strips back and forth under the door and, presto, the locks unlocked. there must be some magnetization in the doors and locks.

He said my building is super secure, that it is almost impossible for someone to break into my locked front door.

I thought the lock guy was cute. I had a surprising urge to ask him to have dinner with me sometime. I didn't but the fact that I had such a thought reflects a shift in me. Whats up?!

And he gave me a $15 break on the price, which also felt good.

Thank goodness I had one back up door key. The locksmith said he could not make keys for me. If I had not had a back up key, I could not have locked my door and would have had to pay property management a fat fee for a new one.

Sigh. I had been looking forward to shopping for a new dress. And wearing a new dress on my travels.

At least I had the money to cover the locksmith.

two train wrecks, glass heart

When my long-ago ex and I were newly separated, people often offered sympathy.  I was unhappy that I had to deal with an expensive custody challenge but I never, not for one instant, doubted that he and I should part ways.

I used to thank people for their show of concern and then assure them that I was doing fine.  Such well-meaning friends and family seemed to need more from me so I sometimes added "He and I were two train wrecks looking for a track."

I seem to only be attracted to train wrecks. I want to change this.

I met a dating coach yesterday. I had never heard of that field. I am not considering a dating coach. Just mentioning it. The dating coach also mentioned she is very expensive. For real?  People pay good money for a dating coach?

I don't need a dating coach. I need surgery. I need to have my glass heart replaced with a flesh and blood one.

Monday, July 18, 2016

the unlovable within ourselves

my super power

My main super power, for I do have other super powers, is my ability to completely forgive and forget.

This super power was forged in an unhappy childhood.  While still a child, once I experienced grievous harm from my parents, I developed a gruff exterior but under that gruffness, I had already forgiven them. It was not until my late-twenties, maybe my early-thirties, that I learned to really let go of the past.

Now when someone I care about, perhaps unwittingly causes me harm, it flows over me like water flows over a riverbed. Flows over me and the pain washes away.

I am reminded, as I write, of the time I used grown-up fingernail clippers to clip my baby's fingers and toes. I had special scissors for trimming baby fingernails, and toenails. The baby scissors were flate on one side, to keep the scissors from inadvertently pinching the baby's tender skin. One time, weeks before my baby's father and I separated, during a miserable evening at home, he had noticed her fingernails needed trimming and he ordered me to take care of it. Note, he did not ever consider tending to her need. Now I know he was recording everything, hoping to, as he came to put it, develpiong evidence to prove I was unfit. I didn't know his loud, angry demand that I trim the baby's nails was being recorded but my being, now, in 2016, tenses up as I remember that evening, remember the tension I felt.  One never knew where his anger might go.

So I rushed upstairs, from the family room, and bathed the baby. I had a slanted sponge bed for the tub, in which to bath her. I could run water up to the two inch sponge, warm water, and play with her and bath her.  I believe I chose to bath her when he ordered the nail clipping so I could get away from him, be alone with her in the main bathroom.

I was very tense, on edge. I couldn't find the flat-sided scissors so, worried about my husband's anger, which sometimes resulted in physical violence, I used the adult nail clippers.

And I pinched a teeny tiny bit of skin on one of her teeny tiny fingers. She cried a little bit but not long, leading me to conclude there are not a lot of nerve endings near fingernails. She bled what seemed a profuse amount.   With her hand in the warm bathwater, it jst kept bleeding. I was afraid to take her out of the tub, dry her off and dress her, because then her father would inspect her trimmed nails. I felt such tension, such panic, over a trivial childhood injury.

I didn't actually do anything but sooth my baby, begin to drain the tub, dry her off, dress her but I waited in the bathroom until she stopped bleeding.

He had heared her crying and came up, pounding on the door. I had hoped he would never see the blood but he did see the tail end of that small cut, the end of the bleeding.

She was all smiles, cooing and giggles, having all-but-instantly forgotten the cut as soon as the pinch stopped hurting. She didn't even seem to notice the blood, which seemed to profuse to me. I was so fearful that he might see the blood and blame me, hurt me.

So I was happily surprised when he came in, began to criticize me but then her gurgling delight overcame him. He said "Look, she has already forgotten about it. She's not hurt and she doesn't seem to realize she is still bleeding a bit." He was able to enjoy her easy joy.

What a relief.

Babies come with the super power to let things go so I likely came with that super power. Then I lost it. Now I have found it again.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Children of Men

Alfonso Cuaron's new film, new in 2007, Children of Men, is excellent. I am going to talk about it so if you don't want to know what happens before you see it yourself, stop reading now. This blog post was originally published when the film came out. This review focusses on one aspect of the film but the film has been in my thoughts of late because I think the world portrayed in the film is unfolding, a world of perpetual war, fear and loathing of refugees, environental destruction that results in endless masses of humans moving around the planet hoping to find a place they can be alive.  I fear such a world is coming

The movie is set in a dystopian 2027. As the movie opens, we learn that the youngest human being in the world has just been killed, which is how we learn that women can no longer have babies. This means that as the film opens, we are looking at a world where the human race is thought to be extinct, that no more new humans will be born. This is a very interesting scenario to think about even if there were lots of logic holes in it that don't interest me.

The hero of the film used to be a change activist but he has given up. He initially resists his call to renew his quest to make a better world but, in the end, this is, after all, a movie, he agrees to help. He agrees to help even before he fully understands the task he has been entrusted to carry out, which is to save a young woman who is eight months' pregnant.

It's a great movie. There are plenty of reviews all over the internet. I want to talk about the moment in the movie that most haunts me.

The revolution begins just as the pregnant young woman goes into labor. Even though she is in labor and even though the birth of her child will be a fantastic miracle for no new humans have been born in eighteen years, people are fighting over her, wishing to control that baby. People, well, men, are literally fighting over her and all around her, dragging her through sprays of gunfire, pulling her into buildings that are being actively bombed. At first, the baby is kept hidden. It is not easy to hide a crying newborn. Gradually, she can't hide the wailing baby.

As people become aware that there is a baby, there are many beautiful moments of hushed reverence for the new life. All humans had truly believed the race was extinct, that no new humans would be born.  The fighting men call for a ceasefire because there is a baby. Angry crowds of people grow silent, stop fighting and part to let the mother and infant pass safely. These are holy, reverent moments. As she moves through the fighting, there are repeated calls for the fighting men to stop shooting. As she moves, gunfire ceases. There is a fantastic silence with the faces of soldiers radiating love for the miracle that is passing before them. "Stop shooting, stop shooting," one soldier after another calls out. The movie viewer can see in the faces of each soldier memories of loving babies and other humans. It is such a hopeful interlude. One begins to expect the sight of a baby to bring about a ceasefire.

Then the mother and child are past the space of battle. Almost instantly, the same men who had just moments before been silent, reverent beacons of love for the miracle of the baby resume their fighting without missing a beat.

Stop shooting, let the miracle pass, then let's get back to the fight. Instantly, the baby is forgotten, the miracle set aside. Rat-a-tat gunfire continues.

The resumption of the battle after such a miracle was the most interesting moment in the movie for me.

"I wouldn't have messed with you"

I met a former heroin addict, she's in recovery. She mentioned her history using heroin after I shared a story about waiting for a bus in the Oakland neighborhood we were in today. I had waited alone a couple weeks ago, for a bus, just a block away. Two men came up to me, separately, their tall bodies 'waving', which gave me the impression they were very high on serious drugs. These men each warned me about standing in that area alone, warned me that the area was full of drug addicts. But they were somewhat cordial. My new acquaintance said "I used to be addicted to heroin. Heroin addicts don't mess with someone like you. We just met, I know, but I get that you are powerful, not easily afraid, and you don't take much shit." She went on. "I would never have messed with you when I was a heroin addict.If those guys were heroin addicts, they wouldn't have messed with you. They were probably sincerely concerned for your wellbeing. They probably felt safe with you because, like me, they picked up on your power."

I like this gal, also a writer.

true love

True Love by Wislawa Szymborska
True love. Is it normal
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in a world of their own?

Placed on the same pedestal for no good reason,
drawn randomly from millions but convinced
it had to happen this way – in reward for what?
For nothing.
The light descends from nowhere.
Why on these two and not on others?
Doesn’t this outrage justice? Yes it does.
Doesn’t it disrupt our painstakingly erected principles,
and cast the moral from the peak? Yes on both accounts.

Look at the happy couple.
Couldn’t they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends’ sake?
Listen to them laughing – it’s an insult.
The language they use – deceptively clear.
And their little celebrations, rituals,
the elaborate mutual routines –
it’s obviously a plot behind the human race’s back!

It’s hard even to guess how far things might go
if people start to follow their example.
What could religion and poetry count on?
What would be remembered? What renounced?
Who’d want to stay within bounds?

True love. Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life’s highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn’t populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.

Let the people who never find true love
keep saying that there’s no such thing.

Their faith will make it easier for them to live and die.

laps under the sun

I am dizzy with happiness. I am going to pay careful attention to the light during my daily swims so, hopefully, I will someday be able to describe how beautiful it is to glide through the water with sunlight shimmering all around me. The light filled me, from the toes of my flapping feet to the tips of my outstretched hands, and every fibre of my being in between. This light is with me still.

Today was the first time I swam laps in a long while. I thought it would take a few weeks to grow fit enough to swim fifty lengths of the pool. Instead, I felt like a former self, like someone already fit. It was no effort to swim at all.

Since my health crisis in May, I have become a dedicated walker. Each day, I have been increasingly aware that I felt ever more fit. I have been mindful of my lungs, which were clogged with blood clots on May 5th, but as I have walked, sometimes many miles each day, I have become aware that my body was changing, feeling good, something it has not done in a few years. It feels so good to feel good (physically, anyway).

This morning, I had no breathlessness at all in the pool. My fitness from all my walking.

I can scarcely wait to get in the pool tomorrow.

I get to want what I want

I might not get what I want but, as I told my daughter a thousand times as I raised her, we create our lives by wanting what we want, not what we think we can have.

Friday, July 15, 2016

having a tantrum

I am having a big tantrum, angry at the gods and tricksters who appear to have a stranglehold on my life. I know it is wrong to be this angry. . . or is it?

My first shrink, from long ago and oh so far away, had to work me over good to get me to admit I was angry about anything. "No, no," I demurred, when he suggested that I seemed to be angry at my then-husband who liked to smack me around and who really was very mean to me. "I am not angry at all."

"Feelings," my old shrink said, "are just there. Nobody really knows where they come from. They just show up. Lots of people think it is wrong to be angry but anger is jsut one more feeling. Anger is just as acceptable as joy. We feel what we feel. What we do about how we feel is a choice we humans have to make. But feelings, they just show up. They just are. There are no right or wrong feelings."

This was a crafty approach to take. It took my doctor many sessions to get me to admit that I was angry about anything. Now, I am in touch with my anger. I don't want to hurt others but, wild like a wild black bear with a paw clenched in a painful steel trap, I stumble into my pain and thrash, risking harm to bystanders, innocent or otherwise.

Feelings arise and then they pass. Rising and passing away.

Rising and passing away.

I feel anger. It will pass. Here it comes again. Now it has passed. Rising and passing away.

there is a man

there is a man
just outside
playing with his son
the two of them are beautiful
lolling in the light
the little one clings to his dad
watching as folk pass
the father dotes so happily
upon his little boy
I long to take them both home
to watch them love each other
I don't know who is cuter
the father or the other
Both of them are plump, you see
and positively yum
How kind of them
How gracious
to share their love with me
just outside this window
dappled in the sun

happiness makes me happy

happiness makes me happy
This is true for one and all
happiness is so fine, so good
so right, so blue, so tall

joy now there's another thing
to make you want to sing
joy is also very fine
so easily it clings
to every single moment
to the all of everything

do not be too greedy
but do not be too good
take your fill with prudence
trust it if you could
be happy
as happy as you can

stop and kiss a baby
stop and kiss yourself
spread joy all around you
pretend you are an elf
pretend you are a wizard
pretend you are a fairy
incant joy and happiness
let this be your wish

pretend you have the power
to be happy all the time
see joy in every moment
you will soon feel fine
pretend you live in heaven
and heaven is your home

if I were more charming

if I were more charming
if I could just do cute
more people would love me
animals to boot
I need more than I'm getting
I'm as greedy as a pig
I want everyone to love me
To cherish me and dig
everything about me
all that isn't fine
all that isn't caring
all that isn't kind
if more people loved me
I'd have a happy mind

I deserve my daughter
I deserve to have her back
the word should reach her stony heart
and she come back to me
I can't say I won't hurt her
I can't say I won't cry
But i will love love love her
until the day I die
come back to me
my little one
how I love you so
I'd come for you
you know I would
just say the word
and I will go

I had to dig this morning

I had to dig for every single stroke of the last ten laps this morning. Yes, that means I had to dig, dig, dig for twenty lengths. The only thing that kept me going was I promised myself I could announce my achievement here on the blog. I'm still counting laps instead of thinking of poetry. It'll take a few more weeks to get beyond the counting, to just feel the workout.

Hurray for me. Twenty five laps.

It was cold. It was raining. I couldn't do the crawl because moving my arms out of the water froze me. So glub, glub, glub, I slowly breaststroked my twenty five laps.

I thought I would feel exalted afterwards but I don't. I feel like I'm still in the pool, digging out one more lap.

The weather is chilling down and I don't have the right clothes. My old winter coats are too much. I have shopped, as much as I could stand, trying to find the right thing. It is tricky. I am limited to large-size selections. There must be a lot less fat people in California because the selections that fit me seem even narrower than usual. I hate shopping at any time but especially when I am unfamiliar with the area. I don't exactly know where to look and I have such a low threshold of tolerance for malls. Do the retail buyers in San Francisco think fat women don't get cold? I can't find a jacket.

I need the perfect jacket to don when I leave the pool. I have a gorgeous new, navy, felt hat that perfectly covers my wet hair. But I am shivering as I write. I can't figure out the right clothing combo.

NOTE: I have asked my local Starbucks to stop selling lemon scones but, thus far, they have declined to honor my request. How I curse myself for having tasted one last week! When will my craving cease?!

There is a bright side to my lemon scone mistake. The young people at Starbucks know me now and they teasingly entice me to have another. "Do you want a lemon scone today?" they say. "Yes, I want one," I laugh back, "but I am not going to have one." Then the nice young adults cheer my willpower. It's not as good as a lemon scone but it is nice.

there is no sun without shadow

Sisyphus and his stone were on my mind as I awoke this morning.

I have been focussed on managing my diabetes without going on insulin for a few years. This is a small struggle that, ultimately, nobody else cares about but me. It has taken a long time to exercise good control over my food choices. I take several medications to encourage my body to produce more insulin and to use the insulin it produces more effectively. I've been walking daily for the past two years and now I've added a daily lap swim. It's a boring story but it is the universal story, to face each day with yesterday's challenges still before me.

Diabetes is not my only health struggle. I don't know what came first, the diabetes or the thyroid problems or the blood clot. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. The arthritis. All of these problems are knitted together. My metabolic system is out of whack.

My pancreas does not do what it is supposed to do. My thyroid is throwing off too much thyroid hormone which, I am told, puts me at risk for heart attack. A stroke could leave me paralyzed. Like many people sliding past middle age, I have begun to see a bleak old age where I might not even be able to walk if I don't lose a lot of weight, if I don't get the blood sugars under control. Diabetes can lead to blindness and limb amputations.

I got serious about self care about three years ago. I began to eat with a rigid control that still amazes me. I worked with a nutritionist and I ate the way she told me to. I really chased the grail of managing my blood sugar without taking insulin. What is wrong with insulin? Most people, once they go on insulin, gain weight for the rest of their lives. After a year of careful eating without an attendant weight loss, I signed up for weight loss surgery. My insurance required that I work see a doctor once a month for a year, to go on seeing the nutritionist and to demonstrate that I could change my diet. I did that for a year. The surgery got scheduled. Then the surgery got cancelled. On and on.

The details of my quest don't matter. Everyone knows what it is like to be Sisyphus. Sisyphus angered the gods and was condemned to roll the same stone up the same mountain everyday for eternity. At the end of each day, the stone would roll back down Sisyphus' mountain. Each new day, Sisyphus began with the same task before him: rolling the same stone up the same mountain. It is said that the gods believed that there was no fate worse than futile, hopeless labor.

Let me digress for a moment. Why are all the protagonists in Greek mythology male? Why do females always have bit parts? Why couldn't the gods have condemned Sisyphena to futile, hopeless labor?!

Is it futile, hopeless labor for Sisyphus to roll his stone day after day, even as he knows that he will be doing the same thing tomorrow? This morning, as I awoke, I recalled that yesterday my doctor put me on insulin. For years, I have done everything right. I was told that losing weight would be the best way to avoid insulin. Well, dammit, I've lost sixty five pounds. I half starve myself each day.

It's such a little thing. Someone is probably getting blown up in Iraq today. People are being starved and slaughtered in the Sudan. People are still homeless after Hurricane Katrina. Some people were told yesterday that they have a terminal illness. My stupid, Sisyphean efforts don't amount to a hill of beans.

But they do.

Yesterday, I railed in anger. I have done everything I could to manage my health but still it slips away from me. When I left my doctor's office, I told myself that I could go on an eating binge and have all the carbohydrates that I wanted. Even with permission to splurge, I couldn't think of anything I wanted to eat that I should not eat. I went to bed last night promising myself that I could eat whatever I want today. I was full of self-pity, telling myself that all my efforts at self care were futile and hopeless labor.

I awoke this morning and my mind went straight to the fact that I am still fat, I still have diabetes, I am still alone, I still have to eat carefully and now I have to inject myself with insulin each day and people on insulin gain weight and now I will be fat forever. Woe is me.

That's when I remembered my old friend, Sisyphus. I have long identified with Sisyphus. I imagined him turning back down his mountain each day, knowing he would find his stone waiting for him the next day and then the day after that. It does not matter that the stone rolls back down the mountainside every day. What matters is that Sisyphus rolls it back up. His efforts may be futile but the gods could not take away his hope.

"There is no sun without shadow and it is essential to know the night." Albert Camus on Sisyphus.

"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart." Albert Camus on Sisyphus.

"The rock is still rolling." Albert Camus on Sisyphus.

My pancreas is not producing enough insulin. Or, maybe, my pancreas is producing enough insulin but my damaged metabolic system has lost the ablity to use the insulin properly. All kinds of things are a little off in my body. I can do everything 'right' and still I will age, my body will dissipate, I will grow older. I cannot escape the dissipative nature of the universe. I can choose, in each moment, to live in hope.

My rock is still rolling, I thought as I lay in bed this morning. That was when I got up. Happy once more.

apple computer hell

Has anyone else noticed that customer service from Apple is growing almost nonexistent?

I just spent, literally, 150 minutes on hold with various Apple service reps, lost in a Kafka-esque maze.

After ninety minutes, I tried the old crying chick bit -- and it worked. I got a service rep to take pity on me and he promised to stick with me until my issue was resolved. I felt like a damsel in distress.

And then he gave me a fifty dollar credit with Apple. Hmmm. . . . Can I buy iTunes? I have never downloaded a song. I always load my iPod from CD's I get for free from the library or from friends.

And then DHL called and said they put my iPod on the late-delivery run and I will have it this evening.

In the olden days, I would have been spewing expletives and no one would have helped me because I was being so unpleasant.

My mother was right: you do get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. It pisses me off, though, that being a weepy, passive female got me what being a reasonable, assertive female could not. I feel both manipulative and angry.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

heartbreak is unpreventable

is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight.
Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is an indication of our sincerity: in a love relationship, in a life’s work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self. Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete’s quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.
Heartbreak is how we mature; yet we use the word heartbreak as if it only occurs when things have gone wrong: an unrequited love, a shattered dream, a child lost before their time. Heartbreak, we hope, is something we hope we can avoid; something to guard against, a chasm to be carefully looked for and then walked around; the hope is to find a way to place our feet where the elemental forces of life will keep us in the manner to which we want to be accustomed and which will keep us from the losses that all other human beings have experienced without exception since the beginning of conscious time. But heartbreak may be the very essence of being human, of being on the journey from here to there, and of coming to care deeply for what we find along the way.
…If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and even perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, to see it as its own reward. Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is a deeper introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something or someone who has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the last letting go.
CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment
and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
© 2015 David Whyte: Now Available

in lust and love, I come

When I am in lust
I can achieve orgasm
Without being touched
Without the object of my lust present
Without touching myself

It has to be very intense lust
When I feel it
And I have only felt it once
I have to move
I rock myself
I roll myself
I need not touch
If its really great, I squirt
My whole being focuses
On my clit
On my sex
On my rising response
To my rocking, rolling, loving, longing

I rock,I roll, I come
I am in love when I can have this kind of sex

No lube required
This is all mind
All mine

Thoughts of the object
Of my desires
Are needed
I love him
I want him
I rock
I roll
I get hot
I feel great
And I come hard
I come happy and sated
It’s great sex
Maybe its great
Because in my imagination
He loves me back,
Wants me back.

Monica (from Friends tv show)

Monica by Hera Lindsay Bird, New Zealand poet and awesome
Monica Geller off popular sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S
Is one of the worst characters in the history of television
She makes me want to wash my hands with hand sanitizer
She makes me want to stand in an abandoned Ukrainian parking lot
And scream her name at a bunch of dead crows
Nobody liked her, except for Chandler
He married her, and that brings me to my second point
What kind of a name for a show was F.R.I.E.N.D.S
When two of them were related
And the rest of them just fucked for ten seasons?
Maybe their fucking was secondary to their friendship
Or they all had enough emotional equilibrium
To be able to maintain a constant state of mutual-respect
Despite the fucking
Or conspicuous nonfucking
That was occurring in their lives
But I have to say
It just doesn’t seem emotionally realistic
Especially considering that
They were not the most self-aware of people
And to be able to maintain a friendship
Through the various complications of heterosexual monogamy
Is enormously difficult
Especially when you take into consideration
What cunts they all were

I fell in love with a friend once
And we liked to congratulate each other what good friends we were
And how it was great that we could be such good friends, and still fuck
Until we stopped fucking
And then we weren’t such good friends anymore

I had a dream the other night
About this friend, and how we were walking
Through sunlight, many years ago
Dragged up from the vaults, like
Old military propaganda
You know the kind; young women leaving a factory
Arm in arm, while their fiancées
Are being handsomely shot to death in Prague
And even though this friend doesn’t love me anymore
And I don’t love them
At least, not in a romantic sense
The memory of what it had been like not to want
To strap concrete blocks to my head
And drown myself in a public fountain rather than spend another day
With them not talking to me
Came back, and I remembered the world
For a moment, as it had been
When we had just met, and love seemed possible
And neither of us resented the other one
And it made me sad
Not just because things ended badly
But more broadly
Because my sadness had less to do with the emotional specifics of that situation
And more to do with the transitory nature of romantic love
Which is becoming relevant to me once again
Because I just met someone new
And this dream reminded me
That, although I believe that there are ways that love can endure
It’s just that statistically, or
Based on personal experience
It’s unlikely that things are going to go well for long
There is such a narrow window
For happiness in this life
And if the past is anything to go by
Everything is about to go slowly but inevitably wrong
In a non-confrontational, but ultimately disappointing way

Monica Geller from popular sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S
Was the favourite character of the Uber driver
Who drove me home the other day
And is the main reason for this poem
Because I remember thinking Monica???
Maybe he doesn’t remember who she is
Because when I asked him specifically
Which character he liked best off F.R.I.E.N.D.S
He said ‘the woman’
And when I listed their names for him
Phoebe, Rachel and Monica
He said Monica
But he said it with a kind of question mark at the end
Like……. Monica?
Which led me to believe
Either, he was ashamed of liking her
Or he didn’t know who he was talking about
And had got her confused with one of the other
Less objectively terrible characters.
I think the driver meant to say Phoebe
Because Phoebe is everyone’s favourite
She once stabbed a police officer
She once gave birth to her brother’s triplets
She doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about her
Monica gives a shit what everyone thinks about her
Monica’s parents didn’t treat her very well
And that’s probably where a lot of her underlying insecurities come from
That have since manifested themselves in controlling
And manipulative behaviour
It’s not that I think Monica is unredeemable
I can recognize that her personality has been shaped
By a desire to succeed
And that even when she did succeed, it was never enough
Particularly for her mother, who made her feel like her dreams were stupid
And a waste of time
And that kind of constant belittlement can do fucked up things to a person
So maybe, getting really upset when people don’t use coasters
Is an understandable, or at least comparatively sane response
To the psychic baggage
Of your parents never having believed in you
Often I look at the world
And I am dumbfounded that anyone can function at all
Given the kind of violence that
So many people have inherited from the past
But that’s still no excuse to throw
A dinner plate at your friends, during a quiet game of Pictionary
And even if that was an isolated incident
And she was able to move on from it
It still doesn’t make me want to watch her on TV
I am falling in love and I don’t know what to do about it
Throw me in a haunted wheelbarrow and set me on fire
And don’t even get me started on Ross

Keats is Dead so Fuck me From Behind


Keats is Dead so Fuck me From Behind
Keats is dead so fuck me from behind
Slowly and with carnal purpose
Some black midwinter afternoon
While all the children are walking home from school
Peel my stockings down with your teeth
Coleridge is dead and Auden too
Of laughing in an overcoat
Shelley died at sea and his heart wouldn’t burn
and Wordsworth……………………………………………..
They never found his body
His widow mad with grief, hammering nails into an empty meadow
Byron, Whitman, our dog crushed by the garage door
Finger me slowly
In the snowscape of your childhood
Our dead floating just below the surface of the earth
Bend me over like a substitute teacher
and pump me full of shivering arrows
O emotional vulnerability
Bosnian folk-song, birds in the chimney
Tell me what you love when you think I’m not listening
Wallace Stevens’s mother is calling him in for dinner
But he’s not coming, he’s dead too, he died sixty years ago
And nobody cared at his funeral
Life is real
And the days burn off like leopard print
Nobody, not even the dead can tell me what to do
Eat my pussy from behind
Bill Manhire’s not getting any younger

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Eid Mubarak . . a bit late

A few days ago, riding down the elevator in my apartment building, a family of Muslims got on the elevator a couple floors below mine. A couple adult women, an adult male, young girl, and young male that could have been an adult or teen.

I noted, instantly, that they all seemed very dressed up. I had never seen them before. Maybe they just moved in or maybe they were visiting another Muslim family, for several households in my building are Muslim.  I nearly commented on how dressed up the whole group seemed to me but I settled for saying, as warmly as I could infuse in my voice, "Good morning."

The adult male, obviously in charge, solemnly said "Good morning" in response. The women remained silent on the short ride down to the lobby.

I intuited that the male would not leave the elevator until I had, until all the women had left. I tried to hold myself back, just an instant, in case the man wanted to leave with his family but, as I had sensed, he deferred to my gender, bowing to me to indicate I exit ahead of him.

As I reflect, they must live here because they went into the building's parking garage. Only people who live here can park in the residents' parking garage (extra fee for the great convenience!).

On that short elevator ride, I experienced a range of cognitive dissonance. I sensed that the family was dressed up for a special occasion. Since only the man had greeted me aloud, and everyone else kept their eyes downcast to the floor, I had remained silent. I wanted to ask them if they were going somewhere special, but I didn't want to appear noisy or to violate, perhaps, a cultural norm of theirs.    I know so little about Muslim culture, and have no idea where this particular family is from. I know culture varies in each country that is Muslim. I'm not a total lunkhead but I am not well informed about Middle East culture, Muslim culture or Muslim holidays.

I did know that  Eid Mubarak took place some day this past week. I knew it while I rode down that elevator with my Muslim neighbors.

As soon as they had all entered the parking garage and the door closed, just as I exited the lobby door to the street, I remembered:  Eid Mubarak. I could have said, wished
 I had said "Eid Mubarak".

polishing my gem self

Exquisite  gem stones are usually found embedded in non-gem rock formations. The stones removed from the rock and, often, polished to bring out their beauty, their true nature.

Life feels, to me, and in this moment, like the work of polishing the rough gem that I am into the beautifully polished, shimmering gem that I am. I could imagine myself as a diamond and I want to shine like a very high quality diamond. My ex gave me a very beautiful diamond engagement ring. A few weeks before we separated, that diamond disappeared in the house. The disappearance, which I belief was theft by my then-husband, worked out for me:  I collected on it with our homeowner's insurance, after we separated when I was a single mom adjusting to my sudden need to support myself and my baby.  I believe he and his family just couldn't stand the idea of me getting to keep that big, beautiful and very very white diamond, even though, um, it was mine.

I was painting one evening. He was seated in the room where I was painting, holding our infant. Suddenly he told me "Take off your rings."  I never removed them so if he was going to steal them, he had to get them off my finger.  "No," I said, "This water based paint or any paint will not hurt a diamong or the gold metal of the ring. I don't need to take off my rings." He insisted. He even told me where to put them, to be sure they were not lost.

Now our living room was covered in paper and plastic to protect the furniture and carpet, so it was a little chaotic. He directed me to place my rings stop our china cabinet. Atop that china cabinet, there was a shelf and the shelf was lined with decoratively cut wooden designs. Until I put my rings up there, I had never looked on top of our china cabinet.  I used the stepladder to get up there, it was that high.

Then I forgot about my rings for a day or two, then realized I didn't have them on. I became fearful to tell my husband I could not find my rings. He had an abusive temper. And he had, of late, been going on and on about how valuable my rings were, how lucky I was to have been given such beautiful diamonds. My ring did not just have one large diamond, but that large diamond was surrounded by thirteen, full-cut smaller diamonds. It was not entirely my style but it was a beautiful, and valuable piece of jewelry. It was actually two rings, with some of the smaller diamonds on a separate ring to be the wedding ring.  The ring looked incomplete before we married, before I could wear the wedding ring that completely the ring of diamonds about the big one.

I waited a couple weeks to tell him. I so dread his anger. I got to the point where I was surprised he had not mentioned my missing diamonds, my missing rings, because before he had ordered me to place them on that china cabinet, he had been talking about my wonderful rings quite a bit.

When I finally worked up the nerve to tell him, after I had gone through everything we owned multiple times, with a fine-tooth comb scrutiny, he calmly said "Oh well, it's gone."

We were also at the awful end of our marriage.  I was strategizing, unbeknownst to him, with my lawyer, therapist, friends and family, on which choices I should make to get out with my baby. It as a miserable time. I think my misery prevented me from taking note of his surprising calm.

It wasn't until a couple years later that I realized my rings had not fallen off that sheltered top of the china cabinet. Those wings would have had to fly to fall. The top of that china cabinet was lined with several inches of trim. Besides, nothing went on atop that china cabinet.

He had ordered me to remove them, to protect them from water-based paint, so he could steal them. He, his mom and sisters, I can hear them now, all these years later, must have clacked on and on about how I didn't deserve 'his' rings.

He was furious when his lawyer informed him that only I was entitled to the insurance proceeds. aint that a killer?  He stole my rings and then he wanted in on the insurance.  Being legally separated, thank goodness, he could not unload his anger over that insurance settlement onto me. I can hear my long-ago divorce lawyer, who is deceased, chortling. Dick, my divorce lawyer, always chortled. Over the phone, I heard his smiles as he chortled about Frank's nerve, trying to get part of my insurance settlement for my lost rings.

Back to polishing the self, polishing the stone that is me.

I believe I need to be in a committed relationship to do some of the growing I need to do in this life. I have not been ready for such work, but I believe I am ready now. So maybe this man will appear on the scene?!

I am getting shinier and shinier, more and more polished in my capacity to love kindly, compassionately and with empathy but I need the abrasion of another being, as a stone polisher uses sand to abrade a stone to achieve its most polished, shiny self.

I'm tired of being alone on my life path.

I felt a little crazy in the weeks I tried to find that ring, find my diamonds. I went over putting the rings atop that very safe space on stop of the china cabinet in my mind. I ruminating endlessly on how the rings could have fallen, somehow, and gotten lost in the paper and plastic I had used while I painted. I guess it says something about my integrity that it did not occur to me that perhaps the only other person in the house capable of touching things on top of that china cabinet might have removed those rings.  No wonder he was calm when I reported my rings as lost.

Oh, I remember. I didn't tell him until we were going to a company party. He was proud that he had given his wife such a large diamond. When we socialized with other couples, he often commented on my rings, making mention of how my diamonds reflected well on him, showed him to be a great guy, a prosperous man.  I had put off telling him as long as I could but when we were dressing to go to some company party with his coworkers, I assumed he'd notice the missing rings. I assumed he'd be angry that I would not be wearing those rings at the party. but he was perfectly calm, even eerily supportive, tut-tutting that he was sure the rings would turn up, sure I had not been negligent. Gosh, in hindsight, I am amazed that I did not consider he had taken my rings until a couple years later.

Of course he took them.

My main diamond was rated VVSI, for very very slight inclusion. People often stopped me to remark on how bright and clear my diamond was, and to remark on its size.  I enjoyed that attention, for I believed the ring represented my husband's love. I've never been much into things. I had actually asked him to buy me a different gemstone, something we would have chosen together. I did not want to get a diamond, which seemed patriarchal. He was a conventional man, appalled at the idea of buying me a big blue sapphire, which was what I wanted.

I am a big blue shimmering sapphire. I am polishing my sapphire self, becoming more and more clearly loving. I await my man to join me. We both need someone else to get to the nooks and crannies of ourselves that await healing attention.

I'm jealous

"Jealous" by a group called Labrinth.

I'm jealous of the rain
That falls upon your skin
It's closer than my hands have been
I'm jealous of the rain
I'm jealous of the wind
That ripples through your clothes
It's closer than your shadow
Oh, I'm jealous of the wind, 'cause

I wished you the best of
All this world could give
And I told you when you left me
There's nothing to forgive
But I always thought you'd come back, tell me
All you found was heartbreak and misery
It's hard for me to say,
I'm jealous of the way
You're happy without me

I'm jealous of the nights
That I don't spend with you
I'm wondering who you lay next to
Oh, I'm jealous of the nights
I'm jealous of the love
Love that wasn't here
Gone for someone else to share
Oh, I'm jealous of the love, 'cause

I wished you the best of
All this world could give
And I told you when you left me
There's nothing to forgive
But I always thought you'd come back, tell me
All you found was heartbreak and misery
It's hard for me to say,
I'm jealous of the way
You're happy without me

As I sink in the sand
Watch you slip through my hands
Oh, as I die here another day
'Cause all I do is cry behind this smile

I wished you the best of all this world could give
And I told you when you left me
There's nothing to forgive
But I always thought you'd come back, tell me
All you found was heartbreak and misery
It's hard for me to say,
I'm jealous of the way
You're happy without me

It's hard for me to say,
I'm jealous of the way
You're happy without me

Gallup Walmart, day after Xmas 1999

My sister lived in Gallup, NM for just one year. My daughter and I visited sis and her daughter for Xmas that year. My sis, a single mom, underpaid school teacher at the time, did not have some basic kitchen tools, which I learned as we hacked together our Christmas dinner without, for example, a good cutting knife. This was in 1999.  We stayed through that New Year's, being family.

So the day after Xmas, I headed to the only place in town that sold kitchen stuff, Walmart. I do not generally patronize Walmart but when in Gallup.  Stock in chain stores in poorer communities is different than stock in more middle class communities. I had known this before I spent Christmas and New Year's in Gallup, NM. I was surprised, even so, by the junk kitchenwares on offer.

I was also surprised that basic kitchenwares were all but sold out, suggesting that many Navajos (the largest Navajo reservation begins just outside Gallup and spans into Arizona) had bought things for their Christmas dinner. Walmart, as Walmart stores often do, had come into the market, wiped out local vendors and became the only store for most of life's basic needs. And then they stocked that store with junk products.

Still, I scooped up what I could for my sister's kitchen. A cheap frying pan (with teflon, I believe), a  not-well-made stirring spoon. Knives were sold out. Pots were sold out. What I wanted was to shop in the kind of store I was accustomed to, a middle class store with quality, but not very high end, kitchen wares.

Then, having gathered up the few choices I had made to buy for my sister and got in line, there was a very long line. Lots of Xmas gift returns and post-Xmas sales had the store packed. People were lined up in one single line, waited for a cashier to beckon them over. And it looked like all the people all around me were Navajos. My white college age daughter and I stuck out.

Yet one of the cashiers, and most of them appeared to be Navajo, called out to me even though I was deep in that long line and said "You, white lady, I can check you out here." That whole long line of Native Americans looked at me, then looked at the cashier, then looked around at themselves and those around them. And I did the same looking.

I shooked my head, waived a thank you. The cashier offered again to take me next, as if she thought I might not have heard her offer of white privilege and I said "No thanks. I'm good." I wanted the moment to be as small as possible. I had a sense that to the Native Americans, such moments of overt white privilege were so common that most expected me to partake of the offer to privilege me. I had no sense that I had scored any points with anyone but myself.

We took a side trip to Santa Fe, overnighting in a motel. On that trip, I bought my sister a few more kitchen supplies. A stock pot!

who speaks for the people?

I have read, but I do not have an authoritative citation for this info, that Native Americans are also killed by cops with sad regularity in this country and these murders get virtually no attention. If the media does not report, "we" cannot know.

Some friends of mine, award winning journalists, founded a nonprofit about fifteen years ago called Journalism That Matters. They founded it to repair/heal the decline of journalism. They make progress but, like most cultural shifts, it moves slowly.

So much in this world needs healing. Yesterday I listened to a speaker flown in from MN to talk about his great work in local community. He started out as an engineer, then decided that field was dysfunctional. He got a grad degree in planning and eventually decided that field was also dysfunction. He has many thoughtful proposals regarding how to heal these professions and he is doing his best to generate positive change. As I listened, I was distracted by my thoughts about the need to redo the legal profession.

Today I read that there are too many Latinos killed by cops with regularity and these murders also do not get reported.

The media, these days, is only accountable to shareholder profit. Who speaks for the people?

I am assuming it is self-evident that our policing systems need healing, our justice system needs healing, our racism needs healing.

I kept thinking "gee, nearly every societal system we have seems to be broken except for the hungry-hungry-capitalist-corporation and its inalienable right to profit above people and planet.

I would like to go to a conference about all that is going right. Surely some things are going right?

Saturday, July 09, 2016


I am surrounded, partially, by a lot of twenty- and thirty-something men. They all seem so beautiful and attractive to me. Not necessarilysexually attractive, although I confess I have thought, today, "Oh, now I see why older men can end up with younger women. Young is lovely."

When I was twenty and thirty something, I was so wounded that I did not notice men at all.  Sigh.

Nowadays, no men notice me 'that way', as in asking me out on a date. Although, having said that last bit, one evening last week, three men hit on me, asked for my number. Two of them told me they were drug addicts. They were beautiful and beautifully high, so warm and happy.  The other guy seemed like he was not high solely due to financing but that could have been my imagination.

None of them called but that might be because I did not give them my actual phone number.

the only thing that matters

fear you face, danger you flee

and don't confuse fear with danger. . . . physical threat is the danger you flee, not emotional fear

sooth with this Wendell Berry poem

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief.  I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Friday, July 08, 2016

don't allow myself to be too optimistic

To think that billions of years of evolution, plants, animals, earth and that man would, out of sheer foolishness, destroy it all . . . .  We don't know if there is any similar life experiment in the galaxies yet we treat our home and one another with a callous disregard for life, our own, others, animals, supersensible beings, the planet and, who knows, outer space.

This seems like a huge stretch but how do we know allow the earth to collapse will not spin the whole galaxy out of control?  We don't know.

If we would reflect more . . .

world hangs by a thin thread

"The world hangs by a thin thread, and that thread is the psyche of man.... Nowadays, we are not threatened by elemental catastrophes.... WE are the great danger. The psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the psyche? And so it is demonstrated in our day what the power of the psyche is, how important it is to know something about it. But we know nothing." (From "A Matter of Heart")
[Note: when Jung says here, "Nowadays we are not threatened by elemental catastrophes...." he means that the greatest threats facing us are all human-caused (e.g., in his time, nuclear war; and now additionally climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, and other environmental catastrophes), and thus that the greatest threats facing us are at their root problems of HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY.]

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

bread bags money

bread bags stuffed with money

wadded crumpled

bank would not take crumpled so they ironed

$400 in tea pot

$400 rubberbanded in old bandaid tin

Volo ut sis: I want you to be

"This mere existence, that is, all that which is mysteriously given to us at birth and which includes the shape of our bodies and the talents of our minds, can be adequately dealt with only by the unpredictable hazards of friendship and sympathy, or by the great and incalculable grace of love, which says with Augustine, "Volo ut sis (I want you to be)", without being able to give any particular reason for such supreme and unsurpassable affirmation."
~~ Hannah Arendt

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


When you meet Elijah and get to cradle him in your arms, remember he has recently crossed the threshold from the cosmos/heaven/out-there where all is pure love. Cradle that bundle of joy (it is an old saying for a reason) as the holy being he is, that we all are, and about which babies remind us!

I am reminded of a snippet of a poem my mother read to all her six children. Even as I aged, I would hang around to listen when she read this to her babies:
Where Did You Come From Baby Dear?

by George MacDonald

Where did you come from, baby dear?
Out of the everywhere into here.

Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.

What makes the light in them sparkle and spin?
Some of the starry spikes left in.

Where did you get that little tear?
I found it waiting when I got here.

What makes your forehead so smooth and high?
A soft hand stroked it as I went by.

What makes your cheek like a warm white rose?
I saw something better than anyone knows.

Whence that three-cornered smile of bliss?
Three angels gave me at once a kiss.

Where did you get this pearly ear?
God spoke, and it came out to hear.

Where did you get those arms and hands?
Love made itself into hooks and bands.

Feet, whence did you come, you darling things?
From the same box as the cherubs' wings.

How did they all just come to be you?
God thought about me, and so I grew.

But how did you come to us, you dear?
God thought about you, and so I am here.

now me talking: I'm betting Elijah has dark brown eyesWhen you meet Elijah and get to cradle him in your arms, remember he has recently crossed the threshold from the cosmos/heaven/out-there where all is pure love. Cradle that bundle of joy (it is an old saying for a reason) as the holy being he is, that we all are, and about which babies remind us!

a strong woman is indestructible

“I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart. I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
John Steinbeck - East of Eden


and this is just about how I respond to babies:  I feel an immediate, powerful connection to their essence of love and joy. I never smelled a dirty diaper, never once lost patience with any baby I have tended and I have tended three younger siblings plus my daughter.  I do this thing where I love the people I love past whatever behavior or work or whatever they might require of me.  I never once, not once, felt anything but joy when a baby cried in need. I would move to the crying baby as if drawn by a super power. And I was, the superpower of love.
Once, when Katie was about six, my best friend and her female life partner took in a few men near the end of their lives, to give them hospice care. Minneapolis did not yet have a hospice for men with AIDS and this was back when most people did not know how AIDS was transmitted so many men who died in the early AIDS waves were abandoned by family and friends.
MN has great social services and paid for 24/7 private care attendants. All of Joni and Cary's friends did the training (mostly we were taught how to lift people) and then we got paid, paid pretty well, by the state to tend to the men (one man at a time, and only a few for the hospice finally opened).
Their last hospice care was for a man named Keith who, we were told, had been a prominent leader in Minneapolis' large gay community. Mpls has always been a bit of a mecca for gays in the Midwest, something not many people from elsewhere knew, I suppose. We were told Keith had more friends than anyone we could imagine and caring for him would be easier than the other men we had cared for because his friends would be around all the time.
When Keith began living with Joni and Cary, no one ever visited him. No one called. He was very sick, near the very end, suffering greatly. And he was a pain in the ass about it, angry, understandably, about his suffering but kinda taking it out on his caregivers. And I was the main one.
I spent one whole, cold, wintry day with Keith that culminated in a blizzard.  Keith actually said to me, mid-norning, "You know, it is really boring having you here. I don't usually find straights very interesting."  I choked down any response. He was like that all day.

Joni picked up Katie from her aftercare program that day and brought her to Joni's home, to save me time in the snow storm. Keith had run out of morphine and his doctor had phoned in a prescription.  Joni, who was often selfish but when she knew I was getting paid, she freely made demands upon me, said she'd keep Katie if I would go out and get the morphine.  Leaving my daughter, in need of her dinner and time with her mother, I headed out into the snow storm.
So I drove to the pharmacy in the neighborhood, just a few blocks away. The pharmacist very empathically, regretfully, told me that the prescription could not be ordered over the phone, that he needed a written script. So then I found out that I needed to drive to a suburban hospital, at rush house, in heavy snowing conditions to get the handwritten script. I was able to get the morphine filled at the hospital.
When I entered Joni's front door, she and Keith were sitting close to the going fire talking, my daughter on the floor with a game. I burst in exclaiming "Wait until you hear what I had to go through. . . ." and before I could finish, Keith cut in and said "I was just having the first civilized, intelligent conversation I had had all day with Joni and you rudely interrupted us."
Suppressing tears, I got my daughter bundled up and left quickly, to go home, feed us and warm up.
The very next day, I had to take Keith to the same hospital for some reason.  I warmed up the car before he got out of the house. He noted that it had been considerate of me to warm up my car. I did it because he was always freezing in the house. And, in spite of his dour demeanor with me (he always enjoyed Katie, welcoming a child's lightness, I think . . .) he thanked me. And then he said "Joni said I was wrong to speak to you as I did last night. You had done me a big favor, your own evening and your child's dinner was put off for me and then I yelled at you when you came in the door. I apologize."
I was able, effortlessly, to accept his apology because, along the way, I had come to love Keith around his angry, dour, near-constant complaining. I had come to love him as I have always loved those I love. It's like in Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, where he wrote "in a marriage of true minds, one loves around the impediments". I extrapolate, that's not precise quote.
So we get to the hospital and the staff informs me that I have to take care of Keith, that no one on staff that day was willing to touch him. And then they kept Keith and I waiting a long while in a room with glass walls, as if the medical personnel were fearful of catching his illness.
Suddenly, Keith crapped his pants, a mess all the way down his sweatpants.  I helped him in to the shower, pulled off his sweatpants, then underpants and, as gently as i could, for he was covered with sores (karposi's syndrome), I cleaned him, using the shower as lightly as i could. Keith stood in that shower cringing with shame, saying over and over "I am so sorry you have to do this, I am so ashamed that I dirtied myself, you must be disgusted right now."
And I was instantly grateful he had said that because I was able to say "Oh no, please, I don't mind cleaning you, not at all. This is no different to me than the thousands of dirty diapers I have changed in my life, for Katie and for my brothers and sister. I don't even smell your shit, Keith."
He was silent awhile, and then he quietly said, as I was putting on the fresh sweatpants I had demanded from the hospital staff, "you really mean what you just said, didn't you?" He was crying.
I felt such love for him, someone I didn't really know, and someone who had been consistently unpleasant towards me. So I told him I felt love for him and that I was genuinely honored that I was able to help him, that he had been dealt a tough hand in life and I was grateful that I could help him at all. And then I told him that I was planning to tithe to him 10% of my paychecks for caring for him, because he had no money. Joni and Cary got his disability check and they needed to spend it on all kinds of stuff.
I never ended up giving Keith any money.  A few days later, Cary insisted he be moved elsewhere. He was also being a pain in the ass to her and she is agoraphobic and was not about to put up with abuse, even from a dying man.  I never got a paycheck before Keith moved on. Just a week or two later, the first aids hospice in Mpls opened and Keith was their first resident. He did not live long.

A few days later after that doctor visit in that glass room to protect everyone else, but not me, from AIDS,  Keith had some kind of physical issues. His doctor urged us to take him to the ER. I was nominated for the task, with Joni and Cary taking care of Katie once more. This was late at night.

I took Keith to the ER but then I went back to get my kid. While I was picking up Katie, the hospital called and said Keith could come home. The ER doc said "He is going to have many situations like this and you don't need to bring him to the ER. This is his illness." Well, we were not trained nurses either. I had just started down the steps with my daughter but I went back up to put her back in the house so I could pick up Keith. But Cary said "I can't believe you are going to get him. Leave him there. We can't give him what he needs. Leave him there so he is safe until another situation can be found for him."

I felt terrible abandoning a very sick, alone-in-the-world man in the hospital but my three story walk up apartment was not an option. Cary also said "I know Joni is crazy but I thought you, Tree, had some sense. Don't you dare bring him back."

I had no fear of getting AIDS from Keith, even though I had not yet heard that AIDS was only transmitted by exchanging body fluids. And I had my daughter around him.  I was sure, instinctively, that I was in no danger of catching what he had.

I think Keith was, in part surprised by my willingness to clean him up because many feared touching him at all, much less his feces. I wore gloves when I cleaned him up, but that was for cleanliness, not fear.