Monday, March 20, 2017

March Madness

The Department of Motor Vehicles, Los Angeles. CA 2017


My understanding of what's going on in this country is shrinking, and I find myself opening up articles, reading a few sentences and then sighing in exasperation or grimacing in disgust or taking in breaths to allay anxiety or rolling my eyes heaven-ward in bewilderment.

Are we supposed to understand what's going on?

I hate to say it, but I rely almost exclusively now on acronyms to express myself in this area. WTF?

I remember this quote by the great 18th century satirist, Jonathan Swift:
It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.
and
I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed. 
We're all Gullivers here, methinks.




Sophie went back to school today for the first time in weeks, other than the day I brought her in for her birthday. I don't feel like going over what's been going on because, frankly, I'm so tired of the whole shebang, and I imagine you are, too. Suffice it to say that she's trending better even as we slowly wean her from the hideous benzodiazepine and supplement more aggressively with THC. I'm trending better right along with her because you know where she stops, I begin or where I stop, she begins and it's a fine, fine line. I also got acupuncture from our beloved Dr. Jin.

Yes. THC, baby. The psychoactive stuff that I myself have not partaken of since the halcyon days of college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If I'd had any idea that I'd be administering a pale green gold oily version of it to my seizing and drug-addled daughter thirty-plus years later, I would have smoked more and studied less. Hell, I would have joined in with something more than tolerance when my boyfriend and his housemates watched the Tar Heels play basketball with the sound turned down and the bootleg Grateful Dead tapes turned up.

Anywho.

If you hear Old Racist Alabama Elf-Man Sessions or Old Up Big Pharma's Ass Georgia Cracker Price make any cracks about medical marijuana being a joke, tell them I'm going to beat the crap out of them in my mind. My tiny little mother mind™ knows few boundaries, is exasperated, disgusted, anxious and bewildered and would love a good red neck upon which to project its conflicts. Just a little March Madness.

Speaking of conflicts and the Tar Heels, did ya'll watch that game yesterday? It was a nail-biter that I watched with my sons and Sophie. March Madness for sure. This is a picture of when we had fallen behind Arizona after an early 17-point lead. I have quite effectively brainwashed my sons to be ardent Carolina basketball fans, and they were nervous wrecks.


Here's a video of the action when things got really tense at the end, right before I began to fold the boys' clean socks into balls, a task that I turned over to them when they were about five and seven years old. So many boring white socks I thought I'd go mad, wrote Virginia Woolf. I thought I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack watching the last few minutes of the game and even folded The Brother's laundry and smoked a few cigarettes in between bong hits.*






Between the not smoking too much THC in college, giving Sophie enough THC to help her brain today and parenting my boys to cheer ardently for a team that I love despite not knowing a damn thing about the sport -- well -- I'm going to humble brag here about my parenting skills. I am bewildered, to say the least.















* Just kidding. Virginia Woolf did not write that.





Sunday, March 19, 2017

R Egret



 I went to the most beautiful park in Orange County yesterday, walked around and took bunches of photos. Oliver rode his bike on the trails, disappearing into the grasses. The rain we had last month has turned everything green, and even the weeds and grasses were chest high. I watched that egret above stalk a lizard for a few minutes, its neck swaying in anticipation. I'm not sure it ever got it. R egret is what I felt. For all the moments gone, unaware.


Hawks were screaming in some kind of mating ritual, and a bunch of men on the other side of middle age were flying remote-controlled airplanes in an empty field. Men and their toys, is what I thought.  I prefer the hawk.




I was texting with a couple of friends today and all agreed that our general Sunday blues were even bluer. One friend suggested that it was the change in the weather, the weird onset of spring. Maybe it's the death of Chuck Berry, another friend suggested. Maybe it's just life in general these days, I think we all agreed.  I remembered the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem that I trundle out every April because it speaks so directly to the feeling, particularly that last line. I think I'll post it a little earlier in honor of climate change.

I do love my dark blue friends.

Spring


To what purpose, April, do you return again? 
Beauty is not enough. 
You can no longer quiet me with the redness 
Of little leaves opening stickily. 
I know what I know. 
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe 
The spikes of the crocus. 
The smell of the earth is good. 
It is apparent that there is no death. 
But what does that signify? 
Not only under ground are the brains of men 
Eaten by maggots. 
Life in itself 
Is nothing, 
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs. 
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, 
April 
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. 

Edna St. Vincent Millay



Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Measure of Our Desperation



We've got two choices: resist or cut and run.

Cutting and running is the choice of the privileged and the desperate, so maybe it's more about the measure of our desperation.

Here's a poem:

Girdle

In our teens we all bought girdles
with rubber knobs to hold up our stockings.
We wiggled into them, our “foundations.”
So many things look absurd from a distance
that people still take seriously,
like whether there's a Heaven for pets.

What ever happened to my girdle?
One day I peeled it off for the last time
and all hell broke loose.

Connie Wanek, from Rival Gardens


I cut and pasted the poem here from The Writer's Almanac this morning after reading someone's post on Facebook. 

I bought a copy of Wanek's book and hope she doesn't mind that I've put her poem on my blog. Maybe you'll buy a copy of her book, too. 

So many people are throwing around their desire to flee the Disunited States of Amerikkka, Inc., and I get it. I'm a person who rarely feels sick to her stomach in the literal sense of the word and have probably actually vomited only about five times in my entire life, but I've felt more nauseous and fearful over the last few months than I have in the 53 years previous that I've lived on the planet. I wouldn't mind living in a small space along the coast of Costa Rica despite the bugs. I'd move to New Zealand, but traveling that far in a plane with Sophie might be worse than taking the fallout of a nuclear bomb from North Korea. 

You'll have to forgive my dark, tasteless humor if you're new here. 

Anyhoo.*

The thing is, I can't shake my privilege. What about all those who won't be able to cut and run? Are we as desperate as those people who travel thousands of miles through deserts and over barbed wire with only the clothes they're wearing? I'm not. This is as much our country as the fuckers who are ruling it right now. I'm going to have to remain fierce and resist the bullshit, even if the resistance amounts to nothing. If I take the measure of my desperation, I immediately plunge back into the many moments of watching Sophie seize and suffer, of watching my sense of control slip away, vomited up in some intense instant and then flushed down with water, my own face clammy against the cool of the bathroom floor. And still. Do you understand what I'm saying? I'm going to have to remain fierce and resist the bullshit. In this moment, this now, that ends the moments before and begins the moments after and on. 

It all sounds dramatic, maybe too dramatic. Peeling it off and letting all hell break loose sounds better.


#resist













*For those who are new, I hate this word and use it sparingly and in jest.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Suprasternal



The birds are singing me back this morning to last year and an apartment filled with slanted light, their song on air through plastic blinds, the drift, a breeze and quiet. I found a Buddha necklace curled in a little box on my dresser, pulled it out and remembered it falling apart, worn by water and too many knots, but I loved it so. The chain is fabric and beaded and fell apart in my hands even now, leaving the medal with its tiny notched saint sitting cross-legged in my palm. I threaded a pink ribbon through it and tied it around my neck. He (she) sits slant in the shallow hollow between clavicles, the suprasternal notch. That sounds like the moon or a star, a hand at my throat, smooth dark places that take touch. I sing words, let go notch. Aster a flower, the n celestial, something with wings, sound in body, shadow and light.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Desert Jewels





I stood and looked to the east and took that picture as the sun rose on Sunday morning near the Salton Sea. I shouted hallelujah in my mind and looked to the west where the moon was going down.





The birds were truly like a chorus, and I whispered hallelujah in my mind. My troubled mind so heavy along with my heart over Sophie's struggles. The photographer of birds who holds my heavy heart with such light hands.

Day after day I think of you as soon as I wake up. Someone has put cries of birds on the air like jewels.
Ann Carson, from Short Talks



I hope you can play that video because it's sublime. I also posted it on Instagram where you can find me at elizabettaa.

I went with C to see the desert bloom, supposedly over-the-top-once-in-a-decade because of the unusual amount of rain we had this winter. The desert didn't disappoint, even though about a million people were doing the same thing. The ground was covered in a carpet of yellows and purples and whites. I took pictures with the fancy lens, but I haven't uploaded them, yet, so here are some from my iPhone.











We met dear Yolie and Tearful in the desert where they're living the boondocking life. It's like a dream both to meet them and see what they're doing. They are a couple with whom I connected many many years ago on the world wide webs. Now we've met in person, and it was an intense collision. We already knew one another. I held onto both of them for a good long time, absorbed their goodness and strength.





These internet friendships are the real thing, people.




This morning I read about the trauma that Syrian children have suffered, have absorbed, will suffer. I read about the people of the Sudan, of Yemen and other countries -- the starving bloated face of a child, the warning that displacement, famine, warfare will bring on the greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945. I looked at the smug faces and read the words of those who rule the plutocracy that is the Disunited States of Amerikkkaa. I felt the dread of what is to come even as I heard my own daughter's sigh into seizure over the baby monitor. I rushed into her again and again and again and all the years of agains. Suffering. The world is so vast, the suffering so enormous, I texted a friend, our efforts to stem it so paltry. If I am charged to care for Sophie and suffer in doing it, I will try to do it with strength and love.

I repeated that over and over and over today.

Perspective as Higher Power, my friend Chris said. Yes. The ongoingness of it all.





Friday, March 10, 2017

Dragon Prayer



I'm really slacking off here on the old a moon, worn as if it had been a shell.  I don't even know where to start. Do I even need to start or start back? Sophie turned 22 years old on the 8th, and there was a bit of celebrating,



but Sophie isn't doing so well.

I had a mini nervous breakdown this week, too, which involved some early morning throwing of the Virgin Mary Oracle and other desperate drama, and that was partly because the Republif*^ks are dismantling our healthcare and partly because I went into the wormhole of Trying to Figure Things Out and have decided that Sophie is suffering from benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.  Strangely -- or not --  figuring something out (meaning your intuition is confirmed/affirmed backed by research and science) means an incredible release from fear into calm. The two reasons for my mini nervous breakdown are intricately entwined and can be summed up in three words: Medical Industrial Complex. Normally, I'd explicate, but the rant would be epic and, to tell you the truth, I don't feel like wasting my anger on the screen, and I'm better now, calmer. I'm also too busy fighting with CVS drugstore and Anthem Blue Shield to switch the benzo from tablet to liquid so that I can begin the process of weaning again (I can take away tinier amounts if it's liquid). I think the struggle is similar to Ben Carson going from neurosurgery to housing and development, all while comparing slavery to immigration -- oh, Bless his Neurosurgeon heart. 

You're going to need a pre-auth because this is a narcotic, the earnest pharmacist told me for, perhaps, the five millionth time since Sophie has been on this drug for nine years (the drug should apparently not be taken for more than a few weeks but, hey, let's give it to babies with epilepsy!) I'm also administering a new protocol of THC to help mitigate the horrendous effects of the syndrome and gathering information from the wonderful Dr. Bonni and from my friends in the know because The People in Charge don't know jacksh*^t about marijuana. Speaking of those in the know, the Ass Hole Care Act (AHCA) as proposed by the Chief AH Eddie Munster will be devastating to those with disabilities in particular and not much better for everyone else. It'll be awesome for insurance companies, though, and medical device manufacturers and, I guess, for those yokels out there who think the government has been coming between them and their doctor with the Affordable Care Act (yokels, insurance companies call the shots, not the government but hey, big business, free markets, the glories of unfettered capitalism!)

Oops. I said I wasn't going to rant.

Maybe I should quote a little Jesus.

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25:45)


Bikkhu Boddhi says,  "if we are to close the gap between ideal and actuality—between the envisaged aim of striving and the lived experience of our everyday lives—it is necessary for us to pay greater heed to the task of repetition. "

I think of myself at present as a dragon coming out of a cave. There's vision and hope in the fire coming out of my mouth, and there's also my tail, its scales the glitter of the past, replicated over and over. The blast of fire. Drag. Swish.





Saturday, March 4, 2017

Four Things and a Quote

Pacific Ocean, The Port of Los Angeles, Snow-topped Mountains

He slid further down as it reached his shoulders, in a kind of nirvana not based on freedom from desires but on attainment.
James Salter, from his novel All That Is 


 I.

It was a rough week because of Sophie and isn't it usually about Sophie and while I've written here in (on) air for years about these days, these rough days, I came up for it (air) today lying on my back rocking with the boat my face to the sun. The word rock. The word lull. The boat rocks and lulls me, the expanse of gray, a bit of blue. Once we'd passed the lighthouse, the slick seals on the buoys, the drone of the motor and the wind in my face, my hair whipped, I'm whipped, god but I'm always so damn whipped. I held the hand of the man that I love, he gives to me (air) and the whales do that thing with air, the word blow, and we stand there (in air) and wait for the rise of it, the arch of gray over gray (a bit of blue) before it slips back under, last the tail. The word fluke. 



II.

Two men in a donut shop drinking coffee and eating crullers. You know what war is? the older white one asked the younger black one. The other man knew it wasn't a question for him to answer. He waited. It's the failure of imagination, the man answered.



III.

I read this somewhere and wrote it down, without attribution. I'm sorry for that. Birding is a way of heightened, finely tuned seeing.


IV.

Labels. I pulled into a crowded gas station at sunset tonight in San Pedro, made room for a man leaving. Your lights! I said. Thank you, baby, he said. He was bald. He was black. The woman at the tank next to me was cleaning garbage out of her car. She wore a head scarf. She was Muslim. A man walked up to her and remarked on her scarf. Insulted her. He was bald. He was Hispanic. I said Knock it off. He looked at me, cocked his head and walked away.  She nodded her head, got into her car and drove away. I have long dark hair. I am white.






Wednesday, March 1, 2017

This Side of the Grave



We've got to keep writing and making art.

I'm really trying to hold on to hope. Heaney's The Cure at Troy has sustained me for decades, and this morning I'm typing out the part I love right here, by memory:

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise up
And hope and history rhyme.








I feel not a little despair.

Did you see the thin lips of the men who canvassed the crowd, pushed through ahead of him last night as he walked in and then, again, walked out?

Struck last night during the presidential address by a memory of working with women who had been abused by their husbands, by the ways abusers show recalcitrance, how the cycle continues. His dark imposition on the world. The two behind him. I cried during his convention speech and cried again during the inaugural one. Last night I watched the widow turn her face up to the sky as he droned on and the glamorous daughter looked on and all the people cried. No tears from me. I choked on bile. I thought about the great war machine that all presidents turn on, the tyranny of the ultimate sacrifice, of valuing soldiers' lives more than those they kill. Samsara, illusion, delusion. Maya, the illusion or appearance of the phenomenal world.

This morning I see that the attorney general will not be supporting those states who have legalized marijuana, that he will, indeed, be marshaling forces to come down hard. He's got federal law to enforce and federal law pre-empts state law. I'm going to persist in believing in miracles and cures and healing wells even as prisons continue to fill and children die and the sheep are driven over the cliff.

I'm going swimming today, may a further shore be reachable.



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