Friday, November 16, 2018

It's just impossible

Seizure days. ESES days. How do we get through them? Still, I have no idea. Still. Still! What would it look like to get through them? Is there some sort of chant for it, a manifestation? How does Buddhism work when your daughter has a bad seizure day?  It's just impossible, my friend Jody once said about her own situation, and I think about that often. It's just impossible. I think about Paloma and Calvin and Michael and Robert and Zaki and Charlotte and FlyBoy and Sophia and William and Emily and -- well -- all of them. It's impossible.

Listen. We had Dr. Bonni Goldstein on the Who Lives Like This?! podcast this week! She educates everyone about the endocannabinoid system and how cannabis medicine can right the balance for so many disorders. She talks about caregiving for caregivers, but her advice is really for anyone who wants to learn about how imbalances in the endocannabinoid system can manifest as disease or insomnia or anxiety or depression, etc. She has advice and suggestions. Check it out here. You can listen right from the blog post or from iTunes directly.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

for your eyes only

I need to get back to writing a little bit here every day. It was a good exercise and occasionally I'd type out some really good stuff. Thoughts and musings or what passes for thoughts in my beleaguered mind these days. And nights. I went to see Dr. Jin today. I have mornings when I'm taking care of Sophie and feel tears in the back of my throat that I swallow. A sea. So I went to Dr. Jin and she tried, again, to stick a needle in that fleshy space between the thumb and forefinger, but I knew and then she knew that I knew what was going to happen and that is pain, and it's a weird pain that I just don't can't take. So she didn't stick the needle there. After she finished with the needles she turned on the Chinese music and shut the door behind her, and I swear it's the same music that they played in the Chinese restaurant where I worked for a brief time in Carrboro, North Carolina. I was the host and seated the few customers we got in dark booths and I've written this before, but there was a Chinese waiter named Jackson who was in love with my young college self and he was always somehow behind me whispering in low tones under that Chinese music. One day he came in with a perm and I noted the perm and he said for your eyes only which I believe was a Bond film of the era. I still remember Jackson and the bags of food that the cook in the back dumped in woks and stirred around and I wonder what happened to all of it. I think about Jackson every time I lie on Dr. Jin's table with needles between my eyes my breasts and down somewhere on my feet and that Chinese restaurant music plays. I'm the hostess, still, and he's at my back, whispering in my ear and there's something so relaxing about letting it all go or come, these memories of darkness and men and food and the way light falls in a late-afternoon booth. It's not nostalgia but a meditation and after a while the Chinese music tape clicks off, Dr. Jin comes in and takes out all the needles and tells me to take these pills for my sadness and she does this for me, she says, and I love her.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Riding with Min After Baez Sang Dylan

Joan Baez, Royce Hall, UCLA
November 2018

I know that's a bad photo of Joan, but I had to take it quickly, when she first came out or risk the wrath of my fellow concert goers. I like that her head is blurred out in light because that's what listening to her sing did to my soul. Blurred it out into light. I went into the concert so heavy-hearted, the fires, the air, the animals, the earth, the dead and charred land, the piles of dead children, again. It's not too much, it's just so, so awful. Joan sang and sang, though, in what was supposed to be her last Los Angeles appearance. She sang her own stuff and Bob Dylan and Tom Waits and John Prine and Woody Guthrie and Stephen Foster and Pete Seeger, and when she sang Zoe Mulford's The President Sang Amazing Grace, I cried. Because, really, it seems like another life these days, doesn't it? I'd never heard Baez in real life, had sort of fallen in love with my first real love to her music and was amazed that while her voice had deepened, it was still strong if not capable of hitting the super high notes of old. To tell you the truth, I don't know if I ever really appreciated those super high notes, anyway. When she sang Diamonds and Rust, I was twenty years old again and all moony over anyone who had a love affair with Bob Dylan and wove that love and anguish and romance into such words. Oh, boy.

I took a Lyft home, and when I got into the car, my driver, Min, acted super flustered as he'd had a time getting through the after-concert crowds in the street. I reassured him that it was no big deal and then he asked me how to get out of the campus and then he asked me what kind of concert I'd been to. It was Joan Baez, I said. And he asked, Who's she? And I said, She's been around for a long time, was famous in the sixties and seventies as a protest singer. Min asked me to find a song of hers to play for him in the car, and while I tried to pull one up, he asked, So what kind of things did she protest? And I said, She protested against the war and for immigrants and everything when she was young and now she's pretty much doing the same thing because of Trump. Min said, Why does she protest Trump? I know it's not good to talk about politics, but I love Trump! I think he's doing a good job! And I stopped looking for a YouTube video for Min to hear and said I can't stand Trump. Min asked why? and I said because he's a piece of shit. Bless Min's heart. We talked a bit more. Min is Korean and lives in Koreatown. I learned that he loves Trump because he's sticking it to the Chinese. Min conceded that the POSPOTUS does say controversial things but insisted his attitude toward China made him a great president. I said anyone who is so deeply racist and misogynistic, as well as ill-tempered could never get my respect. Min asked What sort of racist things has he said? I told him a few things and then said Honestly, Min, do you think he cares that you're Korean? He probably despises you for being Korean. Min clung to the anti-Chinese stuff and I sat pissed in the back seat because that light emanating from Joan Baez was leaking out of the car. I thought about jumping out at a light and then thought better of it. Min had on a large checked button-down shirt, just the kind I dislike, and I didn't know what to make of him, to tell you the truth. When I got home, I told Oliver and Carl about him. Carl rolled his eyes and Oliver said, Min sounds like a dumbass.

Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner's face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin'
But I'll know my song well before I start singin'
And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard
It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Awake People Be Awake

Woolsey Fire Lit, early afternoon

A Ritual to Read To Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dike.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

William Stafford

Woolsey Fire Lit, early afternoon
photographer: Carl Jackson

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Gun Rage

inside jacket of Rebecca Traister's book Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger

I'm enraged this morning, waking to the news that a 28 year old ex-Marine with "possible PTSD" opened fire on a group of college kids in a popular bar and grill in Thousand Oaks, a suburb of Los Angeles. He killed twelve people, including a sheriff and then himself. Many people are injured, and there's a been a call for blood donations. I don't know what to do with my anger this morning and will use this space to express it.

My rage is not directed toward the obvious target but rather toward those who persist in believing in their right to bear arms, in their right to use violence to protect themselves from the boogeyman lurking in their neighborhoods, in their right to be "good people" with guns, in their right to collect guns and place them in special locked boxes or cases, in their right to use them for "sport," in their clamor for their own "liberty." I believe that justifying owning and using guns like the Glock this man used in this point in time, November of 2018, is outrageous, that those who do are complicit in perpetuating the myth of safety in arms and the myth that owning a gun confers liberty. I believe that these people are complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of people a year in our country. I am enraged enough to believe that these people -- men AND women --  are equally as complicit as the gun men (because, let's face it, it's MEN who do this shit) because they contribute to the myth of violence being the answer to conflict. I believe that every single person who owns guns -- for sport, for pleasure, for safety -- because they can, should acknowledge their complicity and step up and do something about it.

Me, I'm going to donate some of my blood -- boiling at this point.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Life FEELS Good

I get at least twenty requests a day asking me to promote a book or a product or a service on my blog. I delete nearly all of them. I was just about to press delete on reviewing the movie LIFE FEELS GOOD when the words cerebral palsy jumped out. Then I saw that it's a Polish movie, and I love Polish movies, so I clicked the trailer, and -- well -- I'm happy to review and promote it.

LIFE FEELS GOOD is a film by Maciej Pieprzyca and is described as "heartbreaking and humorous," two adjectives that I highly relate to and find resonant. Dawid Ogrodnik plays Mateusz, a man with cerebral palsy who wants to be understood by his family and friends. It's based on a true story and has been nominated for eight Polish film awards, winning for Best Leading Actor, Best Screenplay and an Audience Award. It's distributed by Under the Milky Way and will be available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, XBox Microsoft and other VOD platforms.

I will be viewing it soon and will post a review, but don't you think it looks amazing? It's going to be released tomorrow, November 6th. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Weed the People and Wednesday Afternoon Thoughts

I'm cranky today.

Does the sun ask itself, "Am I good? Am I worthwhile? Is there enough of me?" No, it burns and it shines. Does the sun ask itself, "What does the moon think of me? How does Mars feel about me today?" No, it burns, it shines. Does the sun ask itself, "Am I as big as suns in other galaxies?" No, it burns, it shines.

Andrea Dworkin

What's really bugging me of late are the people who claim that moderation is the ticket out of the clusterfuck that we find ourselves. Other words and expressions and phrases are coming to the middle, reaching across the aisle, being respectful, both sides are guilty. Etc. I cry bullshit. I agree that heinous people are everywhere, but people aren't building Maxine Waters' inspired bombs and sending them to Republican leaders. Yes, a Republican congressman was shot at a baseball game, but I and the many "liberals" I know deplore gun violence whether it's directed toward people on the left or people on the right. People on the right, though, cling to their "right" to "bear arms," to "protect their families."  I have zero interest in tolerating this mindset or even respecting it. I maintain that anti-Semitic and racist violence, while always present, is increasing due to right-wing/Republican/Trumpian rhetoric. I see idiots from my high school class arguing with some of the smartest people in my high school class about how fantastic Trump is doing, how the economy is booming. I have no interest in understanding their views anymore. I can barely talk to members of my own family who support the POSPOTUS or who still call themselves Republicans, much less any person not in my family who espouses these views or who supports the Republican party and their president.

I told you I was cranky.

It's not about me, though, is it? It's about all of us or the rest of us. We've got to vote the Republicans out.

Other thoughts: I'm reading Rebecca Traister's new book on women's anger. It's called Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger. Here's a bit that I just read:

Now, I was worried and consumed with anxiety about what’s happening nationally, but in terms of my own general health, having had the opportunity to write, think, and take seriously not just my own anger, but other women’s anger, was the most salutary experience I’ve ever had in my life. I slept better, I ate better, I wanted to exercise. I was clear-headed. So I am very much in favor of the expression of rage, and getting to a world in which the expression of rage can just be a regular part of the full human range of emotions and thoughts that women have.

However, I am also aware of the fact that that experience was very much the product of a very particular circumstance. I was being paid to do that. That’s not possible for a lot of women who do get punished, right? They get called hysterical, they get taken less seriously. They pay tolls in their personal relationships. So I don’t want to exhort anybody, like, “Go and be your mad self.” If you’re in a position where you can, please do, because we do need to hear from more women who are angry and able to be angry without fear that being angry is going to result in a materially damaging repercussion for them. However, the thing you can do, if you are not in a position to express your anger yourself, is to take the anger of other women seriously, because that’s the part we have to change, not just individual behavior—what we have to change is the way that the world receives women’s anger. That’s about the broader reality that it’s not taken seriously, it’s not considered valid, it’s considered often disqualifying. And the way we can contribute to that individually is by asking women, “Why are you angry, what makes you angry?” and then listening to their responses. This goes especially, I think, for white women and women of privilege. We need to all practice taking women’s anger and women’s rage more seriously, being curious about it, being interested in it. And considering what it’s telling us about the world, about ourselves, about inequality. 

I'm holding one of my literary food salons on Friday night to discuss this book. I've got a wonderful group of women coming, and I plan to make a feast for them and facilitate a great discussion about women and anger. No men signed up this time. I changed the name of the salon from Books & Bakes to Eat Your Words. What do you think?

And, finally, last night I attended the Los Angeles premiere of a new documentary produced by Ricki Lake and featuring the stories of families with children who've used cannabis medicine to treat vicious cancers. My beloved Dr. Bonni Goldstein plays a prominent part of the documentary, as well as some other significant doctors and researchers in the world. It's called Weed the People, and I highly recommend it. Reader, being on the frontline of this revolution is just -- wild.

Keep on burning. Keep on shining.

Monday, October 29, 2018

A Poem for the Times

Ai Wei Wei, "Spouts"
from Life Cycle*

Good Bones

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.
Maggie Smith

"Spouts piles together thousands of antique teapot spouts dating as far back as the Song dynasty (960-1279). Following Ai's practice of repetition and multiplication, Spouts can be seen as a mass of mouths, a metaphor for the widespread yearning for freedom of speech despite its continuing restriction throughout many societies."

Monday, October 22, 2018

Where is Jesus?

I haven't written in this space in more than a week, and the last thing I wrote was just fluff, just superficial bullshit, just aggravating minor bad luck goofy stuff that's a mask, all resolved now. I'm walking around doing laundry, taking care of Sophie, exchanging texts with my favorite sacrilegious caregiver friend, feeling solidarity and shedding tears with and for another caregiver friend, Christy Shake, whose most recent post might have ripped my heart out of my body but instead provoked its beating a little harder a little faster. We are ALIVE. I love you, Christy. Who is Calvin and who is Sophie?Who are we without these cares? Must we define ourselves by care? Who are we at all?

Where is Jesus?

Shouldn't he have shown up by now and cleared the tables in Washington, D.C., kicked them over and thrown those who claim to believe in him out on their privileged, hypocritical, stupid, vision-less asses? Shouldn't that POSPOTUS be punished by now, disgraced and bound in a public stockade?  Why is that man from Georgia so hell-bent on power that he's denying suffrage to tens of thousands of people? Is he afraid of the black woman that he is running against? Why are Georgians not ashamed? Are they punch (or should I say beer) drunk on power? I am ashamed that I pass countless homeless persons on every single corner of this great city. I pass them by. Why have the Koch brothers spent so much money on propaganda against climate change? What are these sacrosanct values that conservative peoples espouse? Why do so many people bear arms? The man in the park in Sedona last week, pushing his mother in a wheelchair to an overlook, the rushing water below, the sky blue above, a large gun strapped to his thigh. Did he feel safer? Freer? He made me sick. Why exactly is the POSPOTUS administration now going to "erase" transgendered people? Define humanity by their genitals at birth? Who will be next?

Will we have to fight? Parents against their grown children. Cousins estranged. Friendships severed. And anger, so much anger, and it won't be squelched.

No stranger to the catastrophizing that comes with great stress (I step over a curb and imagine my body flung by passing traffic, the descent into the red rock canyon surely must be swift), I am yet dazed, struck dumb, bewildered.

I am furious.

“I have been beaten, my skull fractured, and arrested more than forty times so that each and every person has the right to register and vote. Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Get out there and vote like you’ve never voted before.”
—Congressman John Lewis

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A Series of Irritating Events from the First World

So far, during the last three days, while they are hardly calamitous events (but, rather, what we might call "first-world" problems), these things have happened:

  1. TSA stole a $100 bill out of my bag. Police recovered and impounded it, but it's already cost me $16 to get a notarized letter authorizing the Phoenix Airport Police to ship it back to me. The numerous phone calls that I made to get this information are too boring to enumerate, but when I finally got everything in order, the letter notarized and attempted to fax, it was not working. I spent some time this morning with the Phoenix Recovered Property department, again too boring to enumerate, and was finally told that the fax did work and that I should try again.  
  2. A package from Anthropologie was delivered to my address yesterday, empty. It was one of those plastic envelopes, and after picking it up and thinking, Man this is a weightless dress!, I realized that the envelope had been cleanly slit and the contents removed. I ran down the sidewalk and caught the postwoman who exclaimed that she, too, had wondered why the package was so weightless. She called her supervisor who told me to call the Postmaster General. I did so, and they told me that it looked like the package began its journey to my house at 10 oz but that the last weight recorded was 0 oz, so obviously something happened along the way and an investigation would commence. I called Anthropologie and explained the situation, and they agreed to send me another dress. I am now waiting for the Post Office to continue their investigation. Stay tuned.
  3. My OB/GYN ordered a colonoscopy kit for me that is evidently a whole lot easier than going through the regular thing. If I pass this home kit thingy, I don't have to get a colonoscopy for another five years. I called the company this morning to ask why it hadn't come yet as I was informed two weeks ago that it had been delivered. The person at the company checked and told me that it had been delivered but to the wrong address. Instead of South My Street Name, it was delivered to North My Street Name. So someone on North My Street Name has a colonoscopy home kit with instructions on how to provide a stool sample. The company is sending me another one. 
  4. I sent my manuscript to the editor last week, and it has not arrived. I put the tracking number for the parcel in the USPS website, and it said that it had not been received. Apparently, my manuscript is floating around somewhere in between Los Angeles and San Francisco. I will cancel the check that accompanied the manuscript and resend tomorrow, if it doesn't show up at the editor's place by then.
So, what next? Throw it my way. Give it to me.

Oh, here's something amusing. I received an inquiry today from an online job site that I've been using in an attempt to get freelance writing gigs. The notice stated that I was an excellent match for the following position:

We produce gay romance novels based in contemporary settings and in supernatural/paranormal worlds that encompass shifters, such as werewolves, vampires, dragons, and many more mythical creatures. Our characters fight through relationship woes and celebrate swells of passion in situations ranging from love triangles to forbidden desire, tribal rivalries, mpreg, and ancient or secret worlds clashing with the new. Adventure, mystery, crime, comedy, and drama are no strangers to our romance stories.

We’re looking for a talented M/M (gay) romance writer, that from the first sentence to the last, can keep readers engaged and craving more!


☻ Be a native English-speaking writer with excellent comprehension and execution of English grammar.

☻ Be dedicated to writing character-driven books focusing on the development of romantic attraction between the main characters. You have the creative freedom to flesh out the details within our guidelines.

☻ Be an enthusiastic and thorough researcher.

☻ Lastly, be original. We run books through PlagScan and Copyscape. 

 What do you think? Should I apply? I am nothing if not an enthusiastic and thorough researcher.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

My Response to The NY Times Epilepsy Story

So many people sent me the recent — let’s call it crowd-sourcing — article detailing a young girl’s hideous epilepsy story and asking for the public’s help, that I’ve lost count. That we live in a period where literally everything is a reality show makes me ill. Crowd-sourcing medicine? Give me a break. This is my response to the parents via the New York Times and the f’d-up medical business community that pretends to Science:

Don’t cut out your child’s brain until you’ve tried cannabis medicine. “Fixing” your child is the hardest, most fruitless journey you will embark upon. The opposite of that is not acceptance. There is healing in the legion of people who know your suffering. Healing and curing are entirely different things.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Making Art, Making Cake, Making Love

Let the sunshine in
Photographer: Carl Jackson 

I'm excited to tell you that I have three pieces in the Michigan Quarterly Review. It's a special themed issue titled "Caregiving." I'm in pretty darn august company, including Suzanne Edison and Heather Kirn Lanier. The review has categorized my work as "poetry," but between you and me, they are really prose poems or fragments that appear in my larger manuscript.  You can order a paper copy or download a PDF for $10. There's some amazing stuff in there, and let's hear it for supporting the work and art of caregivers. I recently sent about 180 pages to an editor. I have about 3/4 of the first draft revised and am determined to get the last quarter done by the end of the month. The publication in Michigan Quarterly Review is such an honor —I've probably sent out ten things over the last couple of years and have had all rejections, so this gives me that extra kick in the ass that I need.

Maybe I'll have a book published before I turn eighty but probably not before the Disunited States turns from plutocracy to autocracy.

I guess we have to just keep doing the work. Making art, making cake, making love.

In other news, my fellow co-host and friend Jason Lehmbeck and I had the most profound discussion with two women on the Who Lives Like This?! podcast. Jennifer Siedman and Blyth Taylor Lord spoke to us about their own families and lives, about palliative care, bereavement and the remarkable organization Courageous Parents Network.  Even if you aren't a caregiver, you must listen to it. I beg you to listen to it. Please share the link, too. Remember: we're making art, making cake, making love.

Here's the link.

What are you up to, Reader?

MQR 57|4 Fall 2018

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Dandelion Wishes

So, yeah. Now we have not one but TWO misogynists sitting on the Supreme Court and ONE misogynistic sexual predator directing the whole shebang along with 51 sycophants in the Senate, minus one woman from Alaska.

How very charming for us, no?

I've got family members who support Trump and Kavanaugh. We can barely talk at all now, and I don't know what to do about this. I welcome all tips.

You should read this:

Somewhere on the wide spectrum between adolescent teasing and the smiling white men in the lynching photographs are the Trump supporters whose community is built by rejoicing in the anguish of those they see as unlike them, who have found in their shared cruelty an answer to the loneliness and atomization of modern life.

Still angry, moving on.

Sophie is currently getting her second round of IVIG infusions. She had two hellacious weeks after the first (probably unrelated) and has been perking up in the last week. I haven't given an update because I'm generally so stressed out about her and me and all the usual crap that I just don't want to exacerbate it by -- well -- sharing it. It's too much, Reader. Way, way too much.

I'm not going to be teaching the senior citizens any more because the company that hired me thought I'd be willing to drive all over southern California to do so. When I say drive all over, I mean ALL OVER. Like there might be mornings where I'd be driving three hours for a one hour class. On top of all of that is Sophie and her erratic schedule and life. Her care IS my job. Sigh. I will miss that crabby woman, though, and the soft-spoken woman who worked in the cotton fields of Texas. I need work. Freelance work. Suggestions welcome.

Saint Mirtha cut Sophie's hair really short, and she looks a bit like a dandelion. I close my eyes and make a wish and blow.


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