Wednesday, August 24, 2016


For all of the pain and the disconcerting weirdness I feel in the midst of, slight beams of clarity or direction or some such are reaching me. I am not quite sure if I am articulate enough to even write sensical sentences.

For such a very long time I have felt stuck and dull, if not nearly dead on some levels. Today, everything felt scary, insecure, and intense. My own emotions, on a variety of topics, engulf me in tears. But you know, not so much despair, as I often am. Maybe that will come back, but I am more inclined to ... well not action, but 

That was maybe Saturday night. Or maybe Sunday. My ability to write a sentence was seriously impaired, and not by alcohol or anything.

Being off medication is quite a wild ride. There is nothing for anyone to really see; it is all internal roar and calm. There is a practice to it, too, which is always useful: get alone, calm down, ride it out, breathe it out shake it out, sleep it out.

But here’s one of the good side effects. After dropping Janet at church on Sunday, I spontaneously decided to take a walk at the bike path in uptown Whittier. I have been considering a walk or a bike ride since I got here. I had my hat in the car and walked for 45 minutes.

Not that I have been a Tasmanian devil of productivity, but I do get off the carousel of reasons not to do some things. (Does this mean I am on the Carousel of Progress? Be careful with that link there.)  I sorted through some of Carl's papers and some of Mom's as well. I entered the garage and realized there is no good reason to keep Walter's copy of The Sniper's Handbook (except that it is on a shelf too high to easily reach). So, while it might be better if I had a plan instead of random search and destroy, I can see the progress (watch out there).

Swimming is a challenge. I stop at the end of every lap not because I am tired or out of breath but I have to summon up the will to get back to the other end. 48 lengths sure seems like a lot. Once in awhile the beauty of propelling oneself through water kicks in and there are moments of enjoyment. The best part of swimming is getting out and watching the under-two-year olds having their first lessons with their parents. Another one of those moments I am started to tears. Maybe it is the innocence and hope and joy of those early years of the parent-child relationship.

I have been less angry with Janet, but not necessarily less irritated. I think my tone is somewhat kinder. Today I succeeded in getting her to go to her first yoga class in 18 months. She enjoyed it and intends to go again next week. I am trying to find her some dance classes or something to go to. There’s a square dance class starting in two weeks we could try out. I am not sure how she thinks she is going to dance as she uses a cane, but there have been stranger miracles.

I am up past my curfew again but I feel a bit better. Thank you.


I walk
into what light
there is

not enough blindness
or clear sight
of what is to come

yet I see
the water
the single boat
the man standing

he is not someone I know

this is another place
what light there is
spreads like a net
over nothing

what is to come
has come to this

this is the mirror
in which pain is asleep
this is the country
nobody visits

— Mark Strand, Selected Poems, Knopf, 1995

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Let us begin with a moment of thanks that our friends Debee and John are back in Wrightwood after having been evacuated because of fires. 

International Black Cat Appreciation Day contestant, Mr. Merle Black.

Although I rail and jeer at bliss ninnies, I subscribe to some amount of alternative/positive thinking practices. At the right time and in proper doses, some of this advice does help, does help me change directions, get more positive, and all that kind of stuff that it promises it will do. I subscribe to a couple of mailing lists and FB feeds that pique my interest. I do read them, think about them, and sometimes even act on parts of them. For instance, one suggestion was to write down the good things or experiences as you go through the year, and put that paper in the jar. At the end of the year, you can review and perhaps jog your memory about the good things and not spend all of your time remembering that it was just another fucked year in the series called your life. 

Facile, superficial, ungrounded, unfounded, irresponsible. That's what this article is. There is no practicality, no helpful suggestions for how to do this. This kind of wishful thinking bullshit is what gives bliss ninnyism the bad name it so richly deserves. This kind of advice is dangerous fantasy, probably no less than the malignant and insidious than the kind of message the Tea Party/extreme capitalists / Trump followers propound. Simple click bait that is the same as it ever was so why do I get exercised.

I guess there is some anger and frustration there at the way it has all turned out.

Later that week

I went to bed in a sad way, not wanting to wake up. My dreams were weird (but included a Japanese sex toy that made you come in about 30 seconds. Sorry. No more details, so I won't be taking it to market.). The weirder part was about Cooder. For part of the dream, she was alive but ailing. I heard her purring, she comforted me, I got to run my hands through her thick fur. Then, whilst I was off somewhere with Miyako and some of her friends in a city, Cooder died. No one wanted to tell me. I tried to get her body back to hold her one last time. I miss her.

And still later.

A bit of a ride, these last few days, some of it quite rough. Although I know it can be dangerous, I think the changes in brain chemistry might be shaking me out of some mental habits and perspectives. I have a bit more energy or initiative to change something anything some things. 

No, it is not at all comfortable. Yes, there have been quite a few torrents of tears. But this does not seem, on the whole, a negative thing. I have not touched down in the "we gotta get out of this place" place as much as the "jeebus this hurts let's get out of here now" place. 

And let me take a shout-out moment to the stalwart pals who listened to my tears with tenderness, compassion, kindness, and no advice or palliatives.

There are lots of corners of denial and/or set thinking that needed an airing and a change of perspective. I cried again about the events, some of with a big and unconscious assist from me, that led me to lose my job, my home, any sense of purpose or really any joy in most anything (save for books, cats, tv, and music ... and some of you, of course). 

Gonna get into it, babe
Down where it's tangled and dark
Way on into it, baby
Down where your fears are parked
Gonna tell the truth about it, babe

Honey, that's the hardest part
Bonnie Raitt, Tangled and Dark

(The whole song is rather about getting into a new relationship, but I guess that could apply to a new relationship with yourself?)


We expect rain
to animate this
creek: these rocks
to harbor gurgles,
these pebbles to
creep downstream
a little, those leaves
to circle in the
eddy, the stains
of gloss and wet.
The bed is ready
but no rain yet.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, Grove Press, 2010

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Another day, another cat spit-up on the floor to clean up. That’s the wisdom around this place.

Another day, another cat spat to break up.

Another day, another purslane plant, or fifty, to pull.

Another day, another occasion to be nauseated by Donald Trump.

And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it's goin' no one knows
And so it goes and so it goes
And so it goes and so it goes
But where it's goin' no one knows

Oh, sometime later ... like days ... but now it is the evening of August 7th. I have been reading a lot this weekend and not getting enough done. But you have heard that from me before.  

There is a difference between solitude and loneliness, she thought, and wondered what it was.

She should have spent more time with her own mother. She should have moved in with her mother to take care of her, she saw that now. So what if her mother’s apartment had been an L-shaped studio? So what if her mother kept it at 102 degrees and could not stand the smell of any food cooking except white rice, and so what if she talked and talked and talked and lived in the past? Now that Joy was older, she understood her mother. It was cold, that was why the heat in the apartment was turned up so high. Her mother’s ceaseless talking was an activity, a way for her to be alive. As for living in the past, the past was all that was real.
   Cathleen Schine, They May Not Mean To, But They Do

Of course, in the middle of that moment of copying and feeling affectionate towards Janet she came in to the room and a spat followed. Yes, I see the irony. I am trying.

16 August 2016

I have been musing on why I have neither been posting nor writing. I think about writing, and not just this blog, every day, off and on, all day. There's a zone or a mindset that I must be resistant to these days, although my heart leans so in this direction.

Hot. Everywhere. Not just here. The heat is a challenge to productivity and good humor. 

The good humor may be further challenged by a reduction in medication. I am taking a break from the daily dosage although I do plan to return to it in the Fall. Being off of anti-depressants is interesting. So many things pierce me deeply and I find myself starting to tears quite often. I go through internal tides of high and low with greater frequency. I can see how this can be dangerous to me, given my suspicions about the value of (my) life and the awful absurdities of modern times. That said, it is both refreshing and painful to be what is au naturel for me.

I am going to make myself unpopular out there by saying that summer is my least favorite season. (I want to say I hate it, really.)  I disliked it less in the East where I know that the weather is currently dog's mouth hell. It's no picnic, no matter what the marketers tell us.

On a cheerier, more positive note, looking up from my desk and seeing a Japanese eggplant a-brewing along with cherry tomatoes, basil and the corn that needs planting is a far better view than it had been. 

If only this were true:


Action creates
a taste
for itself.
Meaning: once
you've swept
the shelves
of spoons
and plates
you kept
for guests,
it gets harder
not to also
simplify the larder,
not to dismiss
rooms, not to
divest yourself
of all the chairs
but one, not
to test what
singleness can bear,
once you've begun.

— Kay Ryan, The Best of It: New and Selected Poems, Grove Press, 2010

The cats are all reasonably well, although Ariel is beginning to get that kidney-failure coat that old cats sport. Butterscotch is doing fine, even being more affectionate with me. She does try to kill Oona several times a day and we have to lock her up in one room overnight lest horrendous cat fight cries wake us (me in particular). 

Oona is filthy most of the time, being a white cat in a garden. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Another June 12 start …

You never know if it is going to look better or worse in the morning. This morning, it was better. And part of the better were the very sweet and connected notes I received in response to the blog that I wasn’t even going to post. And from as far away as Japan, where I didn’t even know anyone was reading anything (of mine).

And imagine being vaguely cheery after discovering that Janet has thrown away or misplaced the much-needed screen to the French press, leaving you with less than stellar coffee. In other positive developments, Janet found the energy to clean the kitchen last night and then moved on to the bathroom! So those two constant tasks are off my immediate list. And she is back on antihistamines and topical cortisone, so she is feeling somewhat better.

I spoke to both of my brothers last night about her worsening memory. I would that I could get her to understand that exercise, both mental and physical, help a good deal. I did get her to agree to do some reading and make a personal phone call today, so we shall see how this goes.

June 13

Yesterday, Vera Paris brought me a "prize," as cats do, for the first time.

Yes, it is an unexploded firecracker. I think she picked it out of a neighbor's yard where she occasionally treks. She was all ready to take it apart. Very proud of herself.

Ups and downs, that's what we can all expect. Janet has been low key and spacier, but she does rally every once in a way, usually at my behest, to do some cleaning, as I mentioned. We only have two days of allergy testing left and she can go back on steroids and get her rash cleared up. She hasn't wanted to go to her Senior Lunches or church, which accounts for part of her vacancy. The stimulation is critical at this point.

Mr. Merle Black just came in through the window (not the bathroom). I think he heard Janet in the kitchen opening cat food cans.

My focus is on incremental change. To that end, I reorganized my dresser drawers. This caused some greater cleaning of the surfaces, dresser, chair, bed. Maybe more organization and cleaning tomorrow, but the ever-needy garden calls as well. I had a surfeit of vegetables today. I just don't feel like cooking, which is not good, given all the work it takes to grow them. But those damn spider mites take advantage in this hot weather.

I got in two swims this week and have only half-mile to hit my weekly goal of two miles. I can feel that I am stronger. Endurance and exhaustion are not what get me out the pool, it is boredom. (And I was really hungry today.) However, I need to augment swimming with taking Janet for walks. I have let her be as I know she doesn't feel very well right now, but she is markedly better when she has been for a stroll.

AND I went to hear some music last night, even though I couldn't find anyone to come along. It was quite good. Y'all who like "country-ish" and "Americana" should check out Parker Millsap (Heaven Sent is wonderful). He brought along the guitar teacher he started with at age 9 (he's 23 now), Travis Linville. Great mellow crowd.

Yesterday was a good one for the thrift store as well as I found some new things for my mom and did not buy any knick-knacks (some great vintage Italian mohair/alpaca wool for knitting, though). I found a couple of good books (I know, I know), one of which was a book of poetry by Kay Ryan. So here goes


Intention doesn't sweeten.
It should be picked young
and eaten. Sometimes only hours
separate the cotyledon
from the wooden plant.
Then if you want to eat it,
you can't.


What's the use
of something
as unstable
and diffuse as hope—
the almost-twin
of making do,
the isotope
of going on:
what isn't it
the envelope
just before
it isn't:
the always tabled
righting of the present