Friday, January 30, 2009

Let it be Said

Let it be Said

At times,
shit happens,
rocks roll downhill,
things get stuck
between there
and other hard places,
yet I think, so much so,
the way things go,
and I grab the little joy
that keeps me.

Other times,
fuck despair,
I wish to share,
not my pain but
my desire to grab you,
full in the face,
as we fall forward,
while our hearts sing
and our teeth gnash!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beauty Questions the Diver

I started out this week with the Mama & Papa’s song in my head, “Monday Monday, so good to me, Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be …” But by afternoon this had turned into, “Monday Monday, can't trust that day, Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way. Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be!”

Both Ali and I had come down with some wicked stomach bug which started with dizziness, and nausea and ended us both in bed[s], aching and feverish, chilled and ditzy but unable to sleep. It was a lot like that old Nyquil jingle, we really wanted a “sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy/goofy head, fever, sleep better to feel better medicine,” except, we had no desire to take anything by mouth. Even an aromatherapy candle was beyond our olfactory consumption. ....Reading.... was impossible because our heads were aflame, and listening and/or watching TV was over-stimulating KILL US ..NOW..! But do you think we could sleep?!?!? No!

It felt like morning sickness times a train wreck, after which we were then dragged through a field of ice cube and stick pins, across a bed of hot coals, and then someone put the screws to all our joints, but the screws had dull ends and were being slammed in by an ogre using a brick, and the ogre was also screaming bloody murder inside our heads. And there was this little dog dancing around who wanted us to throw his toys for him. (Wait, that part was real!)

Yeah, so 24-36 hours later, we are fine.

Last night, however, I watched the movie, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” based on the true story of Jean Dominique-Bauby (1952-1997), past editor of Elle magazine. In 1995, Bauby suffered a massive stroke leaving him with “locked-in syndrome,” a condition where his mental faculties were completely intact, but his body was literally frozen. He communicated by blinking his eye, and in doing so “blinked out” his story. And this was with one eye, mind you, because his other eye was weakened by the stroke, and they sewed it shut!

You heard me, SEWED IT SHUT! And yet, he persevered and BLINKED OUT HIS STORY! With the help of a speech therapist, he learned to blink the usual once for “yes,” twice for “no,” but she took it a step further by creating a placard with the alphabet arranged in order of most common French usage. She would then read through the alphabet in quick order and he would blink when she landed on the letter he wanted. This is how he communicated one word, at a time, built one letter at a time, one blink at a time!

Later, he had a transcriptionist of sorts who helped him write/edit his book, which he had to gather in his head every morning prior to seeing her, then dictate to her, etc. etc. He edited in the same way, rapidly blinking where changes need be made, etc. Obviously, some words came rapidly as she was able to recognize them partially built, as in a game of Hangman, the Sunday Crosswords, or for you TV folk, “Wheel of Fortune.” Even so, this was a tedious undertaking for both.

I unfortunately fell asleep before the movie was over, but you can bet I’ll be watching it again. It certainly got me thinking about things, that’s for absolute sure.

While I’m kind of blotto and tired today, I only had a 24-36 hour bug. And even while I’ve experienced the freakishly hellish occurrence of a stroke, my residuals (which I sometimes complain about as “Can’t I just have my old brain (self) back?”) seem minor at this point, mere blips on an EEG, the teeniest of speed bumps.

The “locked in” feeling of my stroke lasted less than a day, due to a quick emergency room team, FlightForLife transport, etc. I was very lucky, to say the very least. I was out of intensive care and home within a week.

I was never “locked in” my head FOREVER!. My “lock in” was a slap on the wrists compared to what this man went through.

Being all Bednobby and Broomsticks-y, practically living on our pillow top mattress the last 24-36 hours, oh my aching … oh, my aching what?!?!?!? What’s to complain about? When I felt better, I got up and had full functioning and could microwave a cup of ramen noodles! All by myself!

Seeing a movie such as the one I mentioned was a humbling experience (and/or if you really want to dive into this scene, try the movie “The Sea Inside” about Javiar Bardem, another remarkable man trapped in his paralyzed body, and yes he also wrote a book!). Believe you/me, I’ve ordered both men’s books on Amazon, toot sweet!

Yeah, it only takes two seconds, and I can do it with all ten fingers on the keyboard instead of blinking my way through it, and/or using a stick held in my mouth!

When the book gets here, I can read it all by myself, propped up, lying down, on a treadmill with green eggs and ham, if I like, without the aid a nurse or personal care attendant! How lucky am I (how lucky are we) in this life?

After I'm done with the book (as if I'm ever truly "done" with any book!), I can alphabetize it, blinking or not, and place it among my other brain heroes on the shelf, May Sarton and Jimmy Breslin to name a few.

Or, will I place them haphazardly on the shelf among any one of the authors who may or may not have a dented brain or psyche.

Think about it. Whatever we are going through on any given day (given, as hello?!?!?!? it’s a gift!!!!), it starts in our head and leaks into our hearts, and also works on the reverse.

That’s my lesson on the circulatory system … brain-to-heart or heart-to-brain, full circle!

So, what I’m saying is, I hope everyone is well. I know all kinds of “bugs” are flying around this season, yeah the financial picture is bad and people are scared (but please don’t shoot yourself and/or your family), and some of us are too fat, and others of us supposedly are too thin, or … or maybe, on the inside, we’re all okay.

As Jean Dominique-Bauby tells us, pity parties have their place, but then you must “decide[d] to stop pitying myself. Other than my eye, two things aren't paralyzed, my imagination and my memory.”

Yeah, so I had a tummy ache. Big Whoop!

I now get to go back to work, with all ten fingers, sitting upright and feeling extremely grateful for my lot!

And I leave you with this poem. I wrote it years and years ago, before what happened to me, and prior to coming to know these stories, and a many others. It has whole new meaning to me now, which is another great part of living and being and persevering … if you kick around long enough, things begin to make sense again (that circle I was talking about ... heart-to-head, head-to-heart and back again!):

Beauty Questions the Diver

Is it true that beauty
is only skin deep?
I ask you, diving man,
how can this be so?

Poised and ready
staring down the wave
and swell of the ocean,
what lies beneath?

What's it like
to cut surface water
your body preforming
the switch of blade?

Does it seem to you
an assault at first,
your bubbling breath,
a festering wound?

In response, tell me
does all the ocean
heal up around you?
Does the beauty lie deep?

(Written 99 or 2000, or earlier?!?!?, later published in the Adagio Verse Quarterly in 2003 )

Keep on “kicking” everyone! A kick in the ass, can get the heart started again, and there you are back to that amazing brain-to-heart or heart-to-brain, the circle of an extraordinary life, depending on how you look at it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Independence Day

Independence Day

Mourning, morning,
sleeping, now waking,
gaping, aching, naked,
dreamt I found you
in the night,
fell into your heart,
and left my poetry there
before I left to start the day.

Chilly July 4th,
55 degrees greets me,
pulling on cut-offs,
frayed at the edges,
tennis shoes, no socks,
ripping the worn quilt
from the bottom of the bed,
yet another, independence day.

Blanket and a 6-pack,
bungied to the bike rack,
alone again, naturally,
I plunk my worn seat
on the curb in town,
watching the pagan fleet,
tattered veterans, rusting heaps,
clowns throwing suckers.

This independent day,
I wished to wake with you,
cold summer morning,
loud any day morning,
warm morning,
trash day morning,
holiday or mundane Monday,
with or without storm warnings.

But night comes calling,
my ass is back on the quilt,
fireworks everywhere,
and my friend’s husband
tries to play footsie
while his wife and child
watch the sky
and I die inside.

Before the finale,
I rise and roll the bed
I’ve been lying in,
right my bike,
and wheel it through
a crowd to which I feel
I do not belong,
this independence day.

..this one came from somewhere, far off, that's for sure. some notes and bits, scrapped from something i intended to write. mostly, i think it's about my bike. there were a lot of years, when i was very emotionally and spiritually attached to my bike. it got me in, around, under and through a lot of bull crap-ed-ness, that’s for sure. ....

"biking in the moonlight," print by alfred gockel ( ... and i'm telling you, there is nothing, absolutely nothing close to biking in the moonlight!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Widow's Peak

Widow’s Peak

I have known my share of widows in this life,
and I fear, although not greatly so,
the same such fate, and yet embrace it,
because oh what widows I have seen,
the lovers who have lost it true,
only to go it alone, in the long run,
in this crazy life where everyone else
hits the ground, slap-happy-silly
alongside their own misfit boy toy.
And these widows watched,
not overcome by loss,
but bathed by an unseen love,
a true and honored affection,
a respect for what was
still live in their hearts,
up and onward going,
long days into lone nights,
and I rarely saw their tears,
unless decorating the stories
of what was had and still held,
yet I wonder after them,
or am I crying out for me,
why not more time,
why close seconds,
or too late at best
why not forever?
Mrs. Gustav Mahler, Widow of Composer, Raptly Listening to His "Resurrection Symphony" ..........Artist: Alfred Eisenstaedt

Monday, January 5, 2009

Meat Thermometers and Junk Drawers

Yesterday evening while preparing our last hurray holiday feast, I opened up the big flat drawer in the kitchen ... come on, we all have one, and it's called the "kitchen junk drawer," and I gasped, "I can't believe, we don't have a meat thermometer! Notice I said "we" so that it was like all of us were messed up over this, and not just me.

So that was the first thing I put on my "to do list" for the week, because I am nothing without my "lists," and the one for Monday started out "get a meat thermometer," even though, up until that point, in all these years, not having one has never really bothered me.

Now, the meal ....well, it came out fine
even though I freaked out over whether what I did with the precooked smoked turkey would ultimately be safe. You can eat it cold, you can microwave the thing, you can put it on your grill, you can have it with green eggs and ham, you can shove it your oven, or you can do as I chose, which was to use my roaster, two hours for the 16-pound bird, and then there's that final instruction, "jam the meat thermometer into the thickest portion and and make sure it's whatever la-de-da temperature so you don't kill your entire family."

Well, that bothered me last night, because I don't use a meat thermometer ever, and also because I've been paranoid lately about a lot of things, off my tree in a couple of respects, a bit over-anxious in spots, and somewhat going out of my mind. I mean, really, the last thing I wanted to do was kill my family.

The inside of my head the last two weeks or so, if you took a picture of it, has been a bit scattered, not unlike my kitchen junk drawer, because I was weaning off a "brain med" as I like to call them. Now, believe it or not, I was brave (and/or stupid) enough to attempt this over the holidays, because it seemed like a good time to undergo the whole exercise.

Really, though, I was looking forward to the whole process and this really was the perfect time for it, work and otherwise. The fact that my family is on board with all my heady concerns, that also made the process a whole lot easier, since they are very supportive. And, if nothing else, I have beenentertaining to say the least, especially last week and weekend, when I was clumsy at best, made all kinds of Freudian slips while searching my skull for what I reallly meant to say, and eventually took Benadryl and slept a lot, which was one way my physician told me I could get around some of the shitty effects of weaning off. On my worst days, I said it was a lot like having morning sickness only between my ears, like my brain was nauseated at best.

Yesterday, when I finished making dinner and was cleaning up, I looked out over our open concept home and said to Mark and Ali, "Well, this really has been a wonderful two weeks. I think I should be going now. I'm sure whoever they are, my real family misses me."

Really, we couldn't have gotten through this all if someone had stole my sense of humor. At least that always works no matter how my skull shorts out.

I had an appointment today with my doc, had a buttload of lab work, and no imaging studies (I just showed her the kitchen drawer picture), and now I, and a team of physicians, are working on a new "cocktail" of sorts for my dented brain pan.

It's long overdue, since I've been making due with a medication that wasn't really working, but I'm so stubborn, I just figured I could work around it, which I have been doing for quite some time, which is "insane" as my doctor put it. She actually said something like, "Get off your martyr hobby horse, and let's find something that works."

My doctor has a great sense of humor too.

So, today was very much that official "back to work" kind of Monday, because even though I could have worked this weekend any any number of client projects, I did not work for four straight days! Odd for me, I know, but seemed prudent to goof off and rest up for the ultimate next steps.

I'm very much looking forward to the New Year and all the new stops and starts that come with being resolute, and also sometimes going, oh, fuck it already, and today at Walgreens while picking up various new prescription bottles, I stopped off in their kitchen aisle and bought a meat thermometer!!!!! ... and now we'll see if I ever actually use it, or if I keep cooking by the seat of my pants.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

... untitled ... dot, dot, dot ...

Careful …
...where you step. might fall. could spill.
...what you wish for.
...or somebody will get hurt.

Easy …
…as pie.
…as one, two, three.
…if you don't force it.
…does it?!!?
…if you try.
…except when it isn't.

Tried …
…and tried again.
…and couldn't do it.
…and cried.
…and true.
…and then gave up.

Never …
…give up.
…say never.
…let them see you sweat.
…in a million years.
...been kissed, not really.

Going …
…going, gone.
…to pieces.
…up and down.

Gone …
…down under.
…none to soon.
…with the wind.
…and done it now.
…not a moment to soon.


... yeah, so ... the first days of the new year, merited starting a new notebook. ... and I've got that careful-easy-tried-never-going-gone kind of feeling and/or a peaceful, easy Eagle-esque feeling; can't tell yet.

... it's the very last end of the holiday weekends. i've set out a crockpot full of tiny meatballs and little weiners, and everyone is passing by, on their way from the laundry room, or back from the garage or, in my case up and out of my office, in order to grab at the little delights, and maybe some leftover slaw, fresh apples, or the last Christmas truffle, a glass of milk, a can of beer or a glass of wine.

last night, we feasted on red, green and yellow stuffed peppers.

later, i'm warming a smoked turkey and pairing it with yellow and zuch squash bake with yummy chunks of three kinds of bread and cheese.

... and more wine.

i'm held up in my office today, writing, sending out thank yous and pictures from the holidays, cleaning up client files, billing, writing ... letting the day play out, did i say writing!?!??! yeah, so i did.

monday, it all begins again, and i want to be ready, for whatever that means.

art print: beetthoven, pink book by Andy Warhol

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Silence ... places, everyone ...

Silent Scream

I hate, with a hate,
beyond hate--
this bewitching hour.
It un-becomes me,
always catching me,
falling, stalling,
in a rare moment,
when I am most—
me, the all of me,
not caring if I please,
offend, defend or even
care the very least bit
what anyone thinks,
beyond this, the moment,
the space between,
where I might thrive,
catch me if you can,
and, oh, I wish you would,
but the bewitching hour,
has arrived, all too soon,
everyone please,
back to your respected places,
the bell tolls, quickly now,
everyone, snap, snap—
directed here, directed there,
places everyone, lines memorized,
everyone in and out of themselves,
present and accounted for,
landing in, their respective roles,
and I am wholly unable
to respond to this madness,
because inside myself,
I am screaming for a cigarette!

artwork: happy hour by stefano ferreri

Friday, January 2, 2009

Leap Year

Leap Year

You dialed,
way before I was drunk,
asking me to reflect upon
New Year’s eve, 1999,
how we toasted the
millennium again
and again,
flat screens broadcasting,
all across the world,
champagne flowing,
in our downtown pub.

Our midnight,
the mayor rang
the bell and
you tell me how,
I was never
so beautiful,
the fireworks
melting the sky,
temps well below zero,
your arms around
my thin waist.

You recall,
I wore a silly,
flimsy coat,
staring up at you,
eyes like pools,
kissing you,
as the bell tolled,
and you understood
my love for you,
your best friend ever –
ever past that night.

I remember too,
though this feels
like the first time,
I’ve heard you say it,
and I wonder,
why tell me now,
nearly a decade later,
in a time where I’d
prefer to leap forward,
rather than being held,
steadfast to memory.

Why call this eve,
right as I’m pulling
that same flimsy coat,
over bony shoulders,
well-meaning, hell-raising
friends calling me out,
rattling my rib cage,
where the heart lies,
and you chose now
to remind me,
how cold it is tonight.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What it is and What it Isn't

Christmas isn't a season. It's a feeling. Edna Ferber

And I'm still feelin' it, so blogging has run rather thin of late.

To the left, present and accounted for, or should I say, my presents (theeeeeeeee gifts) in my life, from one of the many gatherings this year, this one occurring this past Sunday:

Let's start at the top left of the pic, near the lightswitch, in the white sweater, we have Rebekah Lynn, 23, Bekah-Boo!; moving counterclockwise on my lap in the red Christmas sweater, Ruth Madora, just turned 7 my eldest grandgirl; on the floor in the pink sweater, Scarlet Rae, who just turned 6, second grandgirl, and the other night I watched "The Piano," and oh, my gosh, I've seen the movie before, but long before there was a Rae-Rae, and the little actress in that movie might have been Rae-Rae!!!! (spooky cool); Rae is sitting on my youngest daughter's lap, and that would be Alice Jean, 15, the only kid left at home, our goof, our creative soul, our goof!!!!!, and above her on her older sister's lap is Lilith Skye, who just turned 4 yesterday (don't get me started, because three is such a fantastic age, it was sad to see them all pass past the three-year old stage! Really, seriously, enormously wonderful to watch the grandgirls go from tod-hood to little girlhood, after having watched my own girls)and she is sitting on my oldest daughter's lap, her mommy and mommy to all the little girls, my eldest daughter, Carol Anne, 25, yeah, 26 years ago, this May!!! That's when the whole big family circle started!!!

Amazing ...
and then if you look smack dab in the middle of the pic of all these amazing girls, and some gone women, there's the matriarch, the goofy lady in the red sweater, that's me, and I couldn't be more blessed!

Seriously, pinch me why don't you, because this is just damn dreamy!

This picture especially was wonderful because we wanted a shot of all of us, just like we try for every year, and instead of posing us all which takes forever because our numbers are in the up-climb, I threw the camera at Mark. At that time, only Alice and I were on the "big couch" and then it was "pile on Mom," and Mark snapped pictures the entire time, and out of it we got the most amazing shots, this being our favorite.

Like I said, all present and acounted for. All gifts, supreme. Forever, I beam.

Hope everyone had a great, happy, glorious yummy holiday yet, and it ain't over until it's over, I will tell you that!

Peace out.