Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I did not do the park loop today, however, I did climb up the stairs (two flights) twice with a 25lb box of cat litter each time. Does that count? I climbed other stairs as well. And I did about 3 or 4 minutes of yoga. And I read a paragraph of French. And that was hard.

I saw Kita again.
I am back to having too many books out of the library, but at least some of them are graphic novels. (I decided I needed to read more of them.) I still have The Death of the Heart, lagging on my table weeks after we finished it at book group.

I have tagged a few passages and thought I might as well use this venue as a "commonplace book" ...

"For people who live on expectations, to face up to their realisation is something of an ordeal. Expectations are the most perilous form of dream, and when dreams do realize themselves it is in the waking world: the difference is subtly but often painfully felt."

"...she had had it borne in on her that wherever anyone is they are costing somebody something, and that the cost must be met."

"The autumnal moment, such as occurs in all seasons, the darknening sea with its little commas of foam offered no limits to the loneliness she could feel, even when she was feeling quite resigned."

Cooder in one of her chairs.
"Let's face it—who is ever adequate? We all create situations each other can't live up to, then break our hearts at them because they don't."

"A face at a window for no reason is a face that should have a thumb in its mouth: there is something only-childish about it. Or, if the face is not foolish, it is threatening—blotted white by the darkness inside the room it suggests a malignant indoor power."

"... one kind of loneliness hammers in another..."

"There seemed to be some way she did not know of by which people managed to understand each other."

Emmylou's tail.
"One's nature is to forget, and one ought to go by that. Memory is quite unbearable enough but even so it leaves out quite a lot. It wouldn't let one down as gently, even, as that if it weren't more than half a fake—we remember to suit ourselves. ... believe me: if one didn't let oneself swallow some few lies, I don't know how one would ever carry the past. ... except at its one moment there's never any thing such as a bare fact. Ten minutes later, half an hour later, one's begun to gloze over the fact with a deposit of some sort."


This is Melissa's cat, Kita. Looks cute right?
Maybe it takes some bad choices to be committed to good ones.
— Alice Kaplan, from Tell Me True: Memoir, History, and Writiting a Life

I am all about the choices I've made in life. I really cannot enumerate the number of times (is that the right cliche? enumerate numbers? oxymoronic?) a day I think about what I've done and not done. When you are spending time in true poverty land, you have some fairly poignant moments to examine such things and ask questions.

Well, maybe if you are more of a tenacious survivor, you don't.

In the meantime, it is late. I didn't give in to a bath and a finishing of novel (I did that on the train). I did work. I went to therapy and thence to Louise's for a salon meeting. That was better for my spirits than I would have anticipated, but such is the nature of depression: nothing can get better, I can never feel better, or so you think. Luckily, I have override on that train of thought and ignored it.

I think this is Punkin. She is receiving her orders from outer space.
So, not philosophical, not artistic, but another step in this current commitment. Hopefully, and I use that term loosely, I will wake up to a sunnier day in a better mood and see if I can do some swimming upstream to an eddy of cash, or life meaning, or I will even see a way out of the morass.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Yesterday was more about fighting off a cold than just about anything else. Taking it easier, taking some zinc, taking a nap and getting into bed at an early hour seemed to have warded off the immediate symptons. Now, if I can just remember to stay away from alcohol at the Kids Media Salon meeting tonight. I could still use some sleep, as it was a bit fitful. When I hit the wake-up state, however, that is that.

Mind you, I am not planning on this, but times could become even more challenging. For instance, this morning the skies are utterly grey and dripping. Now that the trees are naked, the dismality fills the eye's sky. When out on the streets, particularly in downtown Manhattan, the faux-cheery Xmas decorations are a constant reminder of the state you are not in. Not cozy. Not in the bosom of your beloveds. Not cavalierly shopping for the very best present for your very best people.

And, for me, of course, there is a more than a drop out outrage at the "babe-ification" of Christmas, sexy Santa girls. C'mon boys! Open those wallets. Does walking the streets really have to be like walking into a toned down version of a strip club? Mind you, I would not be AS annoyed if there were similarly hunky guys and people of color in the photos. But then again, I was in Herald-effing-Square, the belly of the beast, the home home home of Macy's.

Back from editing I do so so so so so want to crawl into a hot bath and finish Julian Barnes' new book, The Sense of an Ending. Not very long. This year's Booker Prize Winner. And, besides being quite nicely written, I am not sure what I think of it.

I liked this though:

"Is the application of logic to the human condition in and of itself self-defeating? What becomes of a chain of argument when the links are made of different metals, each with a separate fragibility?"

This ties in a a more meaningful way than I have time for at the moment with the lecture I attended with Iris last night. It was a talk, hosted by David Brooks, with Daniel Kahneman, Princeton psychologist, Nobel Prize-winner for economics. I admit to not knowing too much about him, but he has out a new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, which relates to the Barnes observation about decision making and logic. If I were a proper essayist instead of a slightly chilly piker in a funky nightgown about to be late for therapy, I would connect the two. Instead, I leave it up to you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Cooder on the ironing board out of harm's way.

Chained to my desk, refining resume, thinking of search terms, trying to redefine meself. Is that like retrofitting? Yikes. Okay, but I did go out for my 20-minute or so walk. I think I have a loop in mind and perhaps that will help with the habit for the time being.

Cooder has been friendlier for some reason. Today's poem quite knocked off my socks. I'm no particular Eliot fan, but this was good and apprehendable. (The rest is at the end of the post.) Mind you, I was more of a bummerness this morning than now. Then again, I am not the first person to be affected by this poem:

Journey of the Magi
T.S. Eliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

It was the first stanza that felt so apropos of the times as well as of my own "cold coming/worst time of the year" situation. One wonders if all is folly and the voices heard were sung by others and not by moi-meme.

I like what the wikipedia says about it:

It picks up Eliot's consistent theme of alienation and a feeling of powerlessness in a world that has changed. In this regard, with a speaker who laments outliving his world, the poem recalls Arnold's Dover Beach, as well as a number of Eliot's own works. Instead of a celebration of the wonders of the journey, the poem is largely a complaint about a journey that was painful and tedious. The speaker says that a voice was always whispering in their ears as they went that "this was all folly".

Yeah that about describes my current situation. Well, I am trying to think about the wonders and not be all about complaints. So, I am going to stretch and go back to work. Almost bed time anyway.

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times when we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities dirty and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kicking the empty wineskins. But there was no information, and so we continued And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory. All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down This set down This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death.


Prospect Park prospect, 11.26.11.
It may well have been noted that I am not writing much these last few days. I am not in personal "end times" mode, but I am quite overwhelmed? stymied? stopped? by, not only my life situation, but the other darkness that is out there. One finds oneself underwater which is under quicksand which lies under a toxic event.

Great colors. Too bad the I couldn't get a better framing.
Distancing oneself from the biochemical depression cycle is all work, all the time. (Does it not seem that all the time should be one word by now, as in although, althetime?) I am once again on an alcohol abstinence policy, as anything contributing to a system of a down is a bad idea. I am working on a schedule that prioritizes a twenty-minute walk in Prospect Park every day. And looking for something beyond the quicksand rather than going closer to the bottom.

But it comes back. I slept happily, or at least comfortably, ensconsed in all the down of my bed, Emmylou quietly dozing near my head, but within a few seconds, the big D was back. I could feel the parted clouds of cozy contentment and then, there it was leaning on my mind and heart. Fortunately, I have mostly trained myself to not address or open up to misery and despair when, for any moment, I am safe and comfortable, and likely to be so for the next little while.

Can't beat Fall colors.

If you aren't prone to clinical, biochemical depression, you might not know or understand how this works. And once you are on that dancefloor, you cannot get off of it and out into another club until that music ends. It is not even as simple as a change of/in situation. A change of venue and some different steps help quite a bit, but it that chemical process has to subside.

Enough with the metaphors. There will be more.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I mean, it's not like I can kick the whole Dark Side to the curb. 
Hell, it is the curb.
- Jeff Nunokawa

Thursday, November 24th

I wonder if scientists will eventually find out that brain chemicals have a radioactivity equivalency. The negativity brain chemicals are both fever or flu-like and have a half life. Once they get a-going, you can only hold on and wait for time and the fever to pass.

All that to say that things were emotionally exhausting and grim yesterday. Today, although it is somewhat early, the sun is out and I have a bit more perspective and calm. And, even more importantly, my problem-solving skills ... and the will to work at a happier resolution to some issues is more present.

So, to work for a bit before I head over to Tim and Missy's for more home cooking. Photos to follow.

Saturday, November 26th

That Nunokawa quote is funny because I did trip over the curb. My whole left hand was achy last night after a hard day's cooking.

So, I suppose the message would be, know what street you are on, and keep your eye on the curb.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Clownpaws. I was out for several hours, as I will be tomorrow. Relative isolation gets Emmylou fairly aggressive, so no one is happy for awhile. Cooder would like to say hello to me in her own quiet amd somewhat stanoffish way. Emmy will have none of that. She chases Cooder, bats at her, and in general behaves quite thuggishly. AND I did not check the food bowl before I left. 'Twas thoroughly empty.

As I was chopping onions for tomorrow's fig cornbread stuffing, Tim kept teasing me about crying, all of my tears. "You ain't seen nothin'," I thought to myself as I continued to chop. I felt as if I cried a good portion of the day. Not that crying is anything particularly new. I am quite spent and wrung out, not very chipper, hopeful, or philosophical.

I suppose you could say that I am at a loss.

The day very nearly got away from me. But another load of laundry was completed. Shopping was done. And my mien was reasonable as Tim and I made pies and planned the rest of tomorrow's meal.

I tried taking a relaxing bath to soothe away some sorrow. Now the bath tub won't drain. And plunging it didn't help either. Am I stuck in a Neil Simon play (I was going to write a bad Neil Simon play but they are all bad).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it.  Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.
Frederick Buechner

I can't speak for possessing any grace myself. But I can speak for the grace and goodness of a few folks who have reached out to support me. I still have no ability to articulate how even apprehending and accepting the good graciousness opens a vulnerability in me. Acts of kindness can stop something, maybe even time, for a few beats. And if vulnerability lends or leads to an opening of the heart or spirit, then the receiver and the giver are equally blessed, united in a gesture of kindness and the gratefulness and deep appreciation of a sweet connectedness. 

A holiness, if you will. The cynics among you can wait for the sarcasm and despair to take over this narrative. 

I am embracing you all in thanksgiving. Thank you for coming along. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


11:20 a.m.

We experience this infinite wonder
by waking up to reality

Bhagavad Gita

This is a tough one right this minute. And damn near laughably funny. I certainly do not see how this obtains in any positive or meaningful way. Reality on 8th Avenue is not very pretty today. Moving forward in any chipper way is a struggle, plain and simple.

Bills. No money. No job. No immediate prospects. Hmm ... sounds as if I am a good and typical American. 

However, I have been trying to push through these dark times. I am not sure "hopeful" is really the right word. What is hard enough right now is to stay open to okayness. Media culture has shared so many stories of life mayhem that the mind goes to devastation and chaos rather than the just holding on. Or the getting by.

I am going to do a load of laundry and see if that helps improve my mood.

On another note, Emmylou throws herself around like discarded clothes. She plonks down 'bout anywhere to sleep and it is often in a less than convenient spot, I have kicked her, inadvertently, of course, as I walk through the house in the dark.

2:17 p.m.

Ride those mood swings! Ride 'em, cowgal. How dark is dark? Closer than anyone wants to be. 

What an interesting mind set or what fortunate brain chemistry to never consider choosing your own exit from this life. As it it a neural path that is not untrodden in my brain, it comes up as option when problems seem unsolvable, untenable, and overwhelming. I don't spend too much nevermind there, though. Think of it as almost turning down a one-way street and then before the slightest bit of discomfit or damage is done, you remember that the street runs the other way, and you just keep driving. Think of it as nearly stepping into something unpleasant with your best pair of shoes.

These days, the suicide of my friend Barbara comes up pretty rapidly when I almost step in it. I think about how she spent so much time planning it. How much her friends miss her. And how they don't understand. When I am close to that darkness, I can recall my impotent frustration and despair about Carl's choice to not deal and the anger, confusion, and loss that Barbara still manifests. And I can look the other way toward possibility. Possibility is not hope.

12:12 a.m.

From where I am writing, Barbara seems to have been sitting pretty pretty. She had left a job as ignomious practices had compromised her pride and sanity. She left money and property to people. She wasn't at the end of her resources, the end of favors and help from friends. She had the wherewithal to organize her departure with most t's crossed and i's dotted. 

Seems to me, without putting the merest judgment on it, that, at a certain point, Barbara put her energy and considerable talents to dying. Energy that might have gone into remaking her life. I am in no way saying that the pain was insurmountable, clearly that was how she felt, what she could see. I am sorry for her choice and even more for her pain.

I'm still fighting my way uphill.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Over coffee this morning, after I calmed down from a painfully inane email received before I got out of bed (lesson: do not read email in bed. Period.), I decided 'twas time to catch up on Penn State and see if the smoke was clearing. I came across this article from a while ago, Good Ol' Boys' Good Ol' Cowardice and this comment quite resonated ...

But the right thing to do is rarely the easy thing.

This seems to be true even in the microlevels of one's own life. The right thing is sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle. The subtle times have been the ones to extra-vex me ("extra-vex" has a nice ring...).  When your main goal is immediate comfort and survival, you cannot rely on what you usually do. That thinking that there is a cushion or a resource can get you into more trouble. Did I or did I not use those two traveller's checks that have been in my drawer for 15 years? Gone. Okay then. Def con??? 

And if not def con or misery, then what? Time for some multi-lateral thinking.

Okay, I am not sure.

But okay, I am okay.

My hand is turning black and blue where I fell on it. Hella-swollen, too. But I am okey-dokey. JV and I are going to watch Barry Lyndon

And for those of you keeping score on such matters, I have reconsidered my Emmylou anxiety and have a different approach to my frustration (her behavior and needs are just what they are ...). This morning and throughout the day, I have played with her more pro-actively and it seems to have calmed her down some. Plus, thanks to LS-T, I bought a new small toy and some new treats. 

I apologize for not editing the html here and making the typeface all purty. The html is a mess. Not my fault.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Everything worth having requires a sacrifice, that's true. And then once you get it, it changes. And then you change. Nothing you can do about that.
— Rosanne Cash, Bodies of Water

I am not so sure about this. Of course, at this point, I am not very sure about anything at all. Well, a few things. I have some sweet support from places I least expected it ... this would be a shout-out for LS-T out there in Hawaii who struggles on her own, but shared with me. And my niece Karen for the new sheets. Just sayin', these things help a lot, even if they don't solve the bigger problem.

I am thinking about sacrifice and what it will take to get down to the bone of a better life. Being poor does require quite a bit of management and ingenuity. It may be that life requires it, but when you are comfortable, it is quite easy to "not sweat the small stuff". When resources are slim, there is no "small stuff." Existence is juggling an unpleasant puzzle.

But maybe I am at a better life? Just add meat and money? Some honey wouldn't hurt either. I do like working from/at home, writing, blogging, snorkeling and snarking around the internet. As that Francis Bacon quote intimated the other day, when you are a discoverer, it can be difficult to keep hope and the spirit of adventure alive.

I don't know where the day went. My finger feels like hell. I need to play a bit with Emmylou before I call it.


With the money crunch getting louder, maybe to snap and pop stages... or should that be pop and snap? ... keeping any sort of cheer or positive spin is ever more challenging.

I came home from book group, unable to find a Tuesday parking spot, truthfully not an unusual occurence for a Thursday evening, but grouchier than ever. I came upstairs and began to write:

Remember that old Donovan song, Happiness Runs? Today, crabiness runs. I should have warned folks to put on a hazmat suit before they approached me.

I decided just to call it a night.

Today, I headed out to move said car and did a full body plant on the sidewalk. My left foot didn't clear the kerb. Result: lacerations and sprained fingers. Hard to type. Good news: no broken bones, glasses, or iPhone. The remaining pair of wearable jeans that I currently own did not get damaged. I remembered to relax and roll with it. See how much positive spin I am trying to apply.

I'll admit it is damn difficult to stay out of bed. I am not going to place désespoir quite yet, but I can hear the music from that cafe (Nick Cave?). I am having a tough time not crying and crying. Other than maybe making me feel a bit better, however, I don't think it will help. Deep breaths.

But it is bad enough that I am considering getting rid of Emmylou. She has too much energy and needs too much attention for me and Cooder. Another kitten or young cat might be a solution, but I cannot afford the two I have. Is getting rid of her like suicide, a long-term solution to a short-term problem. I am afraid that I will lose my temper with her unexpectedly clawing my ass or attacking Cooder and actually hurt her. 

Breathe deeply.  

Keep calm and carry on.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I had a couple of ideas for posts today, but now that the writing time is come, I just don't feel that philosophical. I haven't so much as opened my front door today. It's grey and rainy out there and just a little bit chilly in here, too, hence the moth-eaten cashmere sweaters (my specialty) and wool socks.

I don't really think I am on the verge of a system of a down, but I am not ebullient today. I woke up relatively early and have been hard at it most of the day, hard at it being snorkeling and diving around the internets. Tiring, really. Too bad I am not getting really paid for it (well, something for some of it). I poked around other blogging platforms and signed up for a few. I need to learn more, but after awhile my brain is tired and says "no more." I really wanted to go upstairs, chill with Tupie, and watch Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead, but I resisted.

The refrigerator is getting emptier. I even resisted going out to buy a beer or a Mash. I really am as exhausted, maybe more so, than if I had spent a whole day at the office. I did take 90 minutes or so to warm up with a bath and then a nap, but I am beyond the beyond. I have this dim sense that some other part of my brain is working on things which the more conscious me is not aware ... wait ... was that oxymoronic?

Really. Sleep now.


Everything worth having requires a sacrifice, that's true. And then once you get it, it changes. And then you change. Nothing you can do about that.
— Rosanne Cash, Bodies of Water

I am not so sure about this. Of course, at this point, I am not very sure about anything at all. Well, a few things. I have some sweet support from places I least expected it ... this would be a shout-out for LS-T out there in Hawaii who struggles on her own, but shared with me. And my niece Karen for the new sheets. Just sayin', these things help a lot, even if they don't solve the bigger problem.

I am thinking about sacrifice and what it will take to get down to the bone of a better life. Being poor does require quite a bit of management and ingenuity. It may be that life requires it, but when you are comfortable, it is quite easy to "not sweat the small stuff". When resources are slim, there is no "small stuff." Existence is juggling an unpleasant puzzle.

But maybe I am at a better life? Just add meat and money? Some honey wouldn't hurt either. I do like working from/at home, writing, blogging, snorkeling and snarking around the internet. As that Francis Bacon quote intimated the other day, when you are a discoverer, it can be difficult to keep hope and the spirit of adventure alive.

I don't know where the day went. My finger feels like hell. I need to play a bit with Emmylou before I call it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and development. 

My old superior/friend Lawrence Wilkinson has this as the persistent quote on his site, (Roughly) Daily, which I do recommend for a quick dose of the curious, interesting, and stimulating. 

And I would that I had remembered that quote more directly and precisely as it is something I do and practice as much as I can. It is amazing how that can provide perspective. Greater compassion, understanding, and neutrality grow out of that perspective. 

Although it might be counter-intuitive, I have, in the rare moments of non-outrage, wondered how this Sandusky fellow, and the people around him, came to be so inhumane and predatory (if the allegations prove to be true). I cower and sit in awe at the powers of denial that now manifest. It is hard to imagine how ALL OF THOSE allegations could be false, as Sandusky seems to be saying. (I will admit that I cannot listen to his interview yet. I need to make time to collapse or take a sleeping pill afterwards.)

Heaval ... is up these days. I have not gotten entirely up to date on Occupy Wall Street, but I imagine there will be time. So emotional these days. But I am generally coming around to Sunny Side Up. I got a small small small gig today. I saw an old friend. I cleaned out the litter box. See, progress!

Monday, November 14, 2011


They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
- Sir Francis Bacon

(Plus thanks to whoever posted that quote.)

True enough that as you are in the middle of a change or a process, it can be damn difficult to know where you are and how it will all turn out. 

KarHu and I speak often about our work processes, our creative processes. She's been thinking and working on her memoir/history, I think, since her father disappeared in the early 1960s. It is hard for her to see that much progress  has been made and she considers, at least  verbalizes, giving up. 

Dreams and goals and creative demands can be stern and not comforting task masters. I do not say anything new here. The timing of when to perservere, when to regroup, break, abandon hope, or renew efforts are not marked, much less clearly. 

I say nothing new here, but I think I feel it anew. Breathe. Move. Breathe. Move. Steps of varying sizes. And above all, don't latch on to the negative and ride ride ride. There's more negative wherever THAT came from. And maybe you can find a positive for balance.

I have mentioned that one find books all over the place in Brooklyn. Here is the haul from my Sunday walk. And I didn't even pick up all that interested me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Fresh mozzarella on whole wheat sourdough on vintage Fiesta.

Sometimes, I stay hunkered down at my desk, only walking through the rest of the apartment for running water, not stopping to live in the rest of space. I don't pay too much attention to my belongings, the objects I am electing to live with. Since Debee cleaned off my dining room table, i am trying to spend more time in this room. There is far more sunlight in the morning, and it tends to be quieter as well (unless the people on 12th are out barking their beagle). 

I mention this because I have a little stack on books on my table for knitting. I have lots of crafts books and, although I rarely get around to making anything, I do love to look through them and think about what I might do. I am trying to figure out next steps. I have never been much of a planner for myself, only when I am paid to do it for others.

Cooking has been one of my favorite pasttimes in the past ... I can't really afford much these days so I don't look for things to create. Having Emmylou constantly directly underfoot also dissuades me from spending much time in the kitchen. But, to move back to my topic, I pulled out a bunch of cookbooks last evening to see what I could come up with for spaghetti with clam sauce ... And I did ever so enjoy paging through and reading Marcella Hazan. ... And remembering what how much I enjoyed thinking about cooking.

All this to say, I am remembering the "other rooms" of myself. I've squatted, in a couple senses of the word, into worrying about jobs and money, and spending all my time in front of my desktop computer in a room without enough light and air. It is time to widen my perspective, even within my usual confines, enjoy what I do have and who I am, while I solve the mystery of what is next.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


11:27 pm — I considered going back upstairs to try to watch the rest of last week's The Walking Dead or get caught up on Boardwalk Empire. I watched some of Walking Dead, but, even though zombies don't scare me, it was too gross and creepy and did nothing to improve my already squirrelly mood. Perhaps, thought I, I could finish that book of poetry by Doriane Laux that I have had for six months. Or write my blog. The zombie show does give me nightmares and I feel lousy enough.

I have yet to pinpoint why, but sexual abuse of children wrecks me utterly. I get fairly wound up about sexual harrassment, rape, and even the pervasive sexist culture around us. But it is the sexual abuse of children that makes me consider lying down in the middle of 8th Avenue and seeing what hits me. I already feel mowed down.

Saturday morning I have therapy and this Saturday morning I woke up early enough to drink plenty of coffee and read the news. There were some excellent, insightful postings on the Penn State Crime Spree. I posted them on my FB page, made a few comments and headed out the door.

As is my current wont, I pulled out some early Grateful Dead cds, American Beauty (70) and Skullfuck (71). I think I inherited them both from Carl. I have no idea what I was looking for, but I played a few songs on American Beauty a few times and then, just before I parked, cranked up Bertha from Skullfuck. I cannot say exactly where I was roaming through my memories and emotions, but I am trying to find or understand something.

It was quite bracing this morning and I had only brought along my cotton MTV hoodie. K was ever so slightly late. I started yammering before I even had my shoes off. I know my monologue meandered around the Dead, being a Dead Head, and what ultimately cause me to renounce them. (A long story, too long for tonight.)

Ultimately, we talked about my reaction to the Penn State Crime Spree. I cry often about it. Not full on crying breakdowns, more that I am moved or started to tears by particular phrases in articles. The vulnerability I feel lately, and perhaps the propensity for quick tears may be precipitated by being unmedicated ... living bareback at the moment because I cannot afford meds. Penn State is not the only thing that moves me easily.

All of this rambling to say that the more I spoke about Sandusky, et al., the sadder I became. And I am trying to understand why this is so emotionally devastating to me. I wonder if I had been sexually abused, molested, something? and do not remember, although I keep looking.

K suggested that perhaps it was the power relationship and the powerlessness that so upsets me. Not to mention an inhumanity to human suffering along the lines of Nazi Germans.

All I know is that something was touched. I had a difficult time driving home as I was in a very spacey, a particularly emotionally spacey place I refer to as my "fugue" state (and certainly not so defined by the DSM-IV). I could not concentrate on much of anything. I was nearly uncommunicative. And, although I had woken up this morning, full of energy and ideas, they were gone. I just took to bed for a long sleep.

This week has been a long, slog. There have been several emotional/relationship confrontations in the past 7 to 10 days. Others with whom I am quite close are having very difficult times or dealing with strange or sad news. I mean Fedora Dorato died. Lots going on. I felt like Alice being dragged along by the Red Queen and not getting anywhere.

That said, I am going to take it on faith that tomorrow will be another day.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I did some work today.
I did not spend the entirety of the day hating on the Penn State Crime Spree.

This is not say that the day was easy or pleasant or relaxing.
This is to say that progress was made.
Progress made is life ground gained, and although we are not proposing wholesale imperialism, 'tis good to have a feeling on the plus side of the balance sheet.
If that is how you are keeping score.

I have a cough that just might require breaking out the neti pot again.
I had a glass or two of red wine and feel far more compromised mentally than I would think I should feel.
I am consuming all those strange items in my cupboard that tend to linger.
I have not been very far out of the hosue today.

A continuing bummerness of New York steam heat is the toll it takes on your body. Dehydrating all around.

Today it was very cold in the apartment as the heat, wisely, was turned off during the day.
Emmylou is a good kitteh, but I dearly miss Miep.
Times are that I cannot comprehend that she is not here.

My cough would clear up some if I could do a headstand.
Alas, notwithstanding my New Year's Resolution. I cannot.

SamJo, here I come.
And so to bed ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Note to self: Put down the blame thrower and take some action.

I was corresponding with a friend who is in a tough situation. I was about to write that to him when I recall that it applies equally to me ... so we will see if tomorrow can be more productive than was yesterday.  Stay tuned for updates!

Lucinda Williams shared an article that about her writing. You can check it out here.

"Lucinda Williams learned an important lesson from her poet father, Miller Williams: Never censor yourself."

That just resonated again with my contretemps with R. While I subscribe to moderating oneself, perhaps, why should I censor my experience?  In the situation with my father, I did nothing to cause the abuse, inadvertent as it might have been.

And why should I shut the fuck up?
He's welcome to not listen.
He's not welcome to silence me.
He is welcome to question me.
He is not welcome to judge me.


I am a bit testy. I have to remember my compassion and that each meat suit is a difficult fit for each wearer. Some like it to be a tight smooth fit and to look like the past. Some of us like it to be a bit loose and stretch it in different ways. But, kids, too tight can ruin your circulation, maybe permanently.

Much of the rest of the day has been taken up with grief and astonishment at the Penn State U crime spree and cover up. The many dimensions of this make it difficult for me to wrap my little brain around it. Or perhaps I am dumbstruck with the magnitude and power of denial. I just cannot understand for a NANO-SECOND HOW SOMEONE COULD SEE A TEN-YEAR OLD GETTING ANALLY RAPED IN THE SHOWER AND NOT STOP IT. I cannot compute that. I do think my impusle would have been TO MURDER THE PERP. Hear me. MURDER. 

Okay, I'll give the guy a minute to be shocked. But what? He gave Sandusky HIS PRIVACY??? Jeez. Guess it part of the code to make sure you don't interrupt someone BEFORE THEY COME. 

This from a very difficult article on The Daily Beast site:

(Note: we need to stop the daintiness and describe the alleged offenses for what they truly are in the vernacular to somehow try to capture the monstrousness. Not anal intercourse or oral sex, which sounds clinical, but butt-f--king and blowjobs and cock-grabbing and pants-groping and other assorted acts that the 67-year-old Sandusky allegedly inflicted on eight minor victims over a 15-year span, according to the 23-page grand-jury report, and resulted in 40 counts of serial sex abuse of minors.)
I think the answer to the question of inaction is simple. It wasn’t a matter of university officials and football staffers in Happy Valley not wanting to deal with it (which they didn’t), or not following up (which they didn’t), or having better things to do like attending Friday-night football pep rallies. There is no great conspiracy theory at work.
What happened, or more accurately did not happen, goes to the core of evil that major college sports programs in this country have become, equivalent to Mafia families in which the code of omertà rules and coaches and staff always close ranks around their own, even if it means letting someone who was first accused of inappropriate sexual conduct in 1998 continue to roam.
The horror of it all, both in terms of what Sandusky allegedly did and what Penn State officials did not, can be summed up by a single sound.
It is a “rhythmic, slapping” sound, according to page 6 of the grand-jury report. It is heard by a 28-year-old football graduate assistant named Mike McQueary in the locker room of the Lasch Football Building on the Penn State Campus at 9:30 on the Friday night of March 1, 2002.
 Need I add that today was singularly unproductive. 

It does make me wonder why this levels me even beyond what the church did. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


... The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made, ...
— Robert Frost, Mending Wall

By the belly of Cosmo ...
Right. The gaps or wounds in our lives that even our close friends do not really know are within us, much less the stories of how they got there. One of my regular commenters revealed something to me recently that so startled and dismayed me ...

Wow. Dismay hardly covers it. And I am too ... well ... dismayed to find another word.

I have been mostly at this desk all the live-long day (Emmy is sharing the chair and picking at my jeans for some reason ... which is at least making me laugh). I spent a fair amount of time trying to troubleshoot some minor IT problems and they still aren't fixed. Sigh. It's just frustrating. I suppose it would be frustrating even if I knew more.

Yeah, and today I felt the stress of no money, no job more than other days. I did not even go outside today. Likely a little more moving around will do something to improve my mood. That's probably a better use of my time than pondering the mysteries of why Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead has chosen  Yosemite Sam as his style model.

Am I right or what? I guess that will long be one of life's eternal questions. If anyone has any information or even amusing conjectures, I am all ears. I mean, he was by far the cutest dude in the Dead. Looks as if he still has most of his hair. Has an okay chin and all. Is it just the tired-of-shaving thing?

Oh well, there'll be days like this, even if Momma didn't say. And I can take some trazadone, a hot bath, be asleep by midnight, and ready for a better day tomorrow. (Emmy gets very upset when I take a bath.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Continuing on with Tell Me True: Memoir, History, and Writing a Life,

… the truth telling of memoir comes at a price. For the project of memoir—a lone voice telling its tale—can rouse sleeping dogs that others would rather let lie. The tale told can, for example, conflict with the narratives of power; and power can be not too happy about that.”
—Annette Koback, Whose War? from above.

My perusal of earlier posts reminded me of the rift with R this past summer. That and that we were close enough to be in regular(ish) contact, so I miss him and wonder how he is. I wonder further what, in my ruminations about my father’s affection for and consumption of porn might have triggered such vociferation from him.

I know that it was not only R’s objection to the discussion but his frustration with my life, what I “get away with” in terms of life style on no money, and other miscreancies, but something went off inside him. His condescending, faux-authoritarian, out-of-hand and inappropriate attitude toward me made “infuriate” a weak word for describing my response. What is the vocabulary intersection of infuriate, vociferate, livid and hysteria? (I admit it. I rarely call up and scream ‘fuck you’ repeatedly … and he did make me so angry that I did stand on my stoop screaming into my mobile.) I forgot to add his judgmental tone …

... we all perceive events—public and private—through the double prism of of culture and personal experience, and it resonates in the multiple echo chambers of memory.
—Helen Epstein, Coming to Memoir as a Journalist, from Tell Me True: Memoir, History, and Writing a Life

Yes, well, I am not sure what cultural and personal events in R's past are causing or caused any of this. Upon reflection, I realized that, even after a couple of decades of being friends, I knew almost nothing about R's childhood, parents, or any of the other dear detail ephemera that mortar up the emotions and understanding in close friendships. 

Meanwhile, I thought this fellow on the train had an interestingly shaped head. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


 Cosmo slept in today. Both Louise and i were wondering about him. While Louise was on a conference call, I found him sleeping the day away.

Louise made bread.

We took a walk. I didn't take many pictures. Here are the dead tomatoes (cousin Dan reminds that these are tomatillos not tomatoes)  from the garden ...

Per usual, we came up with a couple of new ideas, did some work, and worked on our comparative cinema project of Jane Eyre. I am fairly, well, I don't like the word obsessed, with adaptations of literary works. Jane Eyre has been made a hellabuncha times in the last 20 years: Jane Eyre/IMDB. One might think that none of the filmmakers had read the book as each seemed more based on the conventions of previous versions than the actual text. And the original is quite different. 

Caveat emptor, Jane Eyre watchers! Get thee to a library.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


The wish to lead out one’s lover must be a tribal feeling; the wish to be seen as loved is part of one’s self-respect.
Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart

I’m on the Metro North train, Hudson line, headed up to Rhinebeck for an evening and a day of work with Louise. I came up with a couple more half-ideas today. I have my back to the river, … that seems as if I am missing an opportunity.

That Bowen observation is interesting. I have wondered about love and being seen. The feeling of being met in your heart and soul and intellect is something beyond rare, incomparable, to be sure.

And while we are on the subject, what is beyond rare on the continuum of quality and cosmic-iticy?
Which reminds me of one of the nicknames I had during my (long) period of being a Dead Head. There is a particular contingent that still refers to me as “Cosmic” or “Cosmic Sally” … I had thoroughly forgotten about all of those personas. There are many more, Sally Sometimes being the most notorious.

Well, as long as I am just digressing up a storm, I might as well cop to my ruminations of the past few days about the Grateful Dead. I think I was doing some research for the music/record business project and somehow discovered that there had been a second release of Dead music from their 1972 tour, perhaps the apex of their creativity. I managed to get my hands on it and then began a spate of music conversations about the merits and sublimities of the Dead. (Also, for anyone sensitive to harmony and tone, the sublimities of the Dead is likely not a possible concept.)

As I confessed to SC in a inebriated email (writing version of drunk dialing?), the Dead meant something to me, for me, about me that I am utterly loathe to admit or discuss in my adult life. But when I hear the music from their best periods, I am utterly touched and moved. Perhaps that music is too redolent of my young and innocent self for any mature, cynical denial. Notes heard before, yet still shot through with expectation, hope, and wonder. I was quite shaped by my obsession with the band, not unlike many others. But I never did the "tour" thing, only saw them a lot in California. And by the late 1970's, I had moved on to The Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, and The Sex Pistols.

I wonder, if, when I reread this, I will see a connection with the Elizabeth Bowen quote.

Cosmo by firelight.