Friday, June 8, 2018


I had a massage last night in a weird little Thai parlor in Koreatown. The place is on the second floor of an ugly strip mall, right above the Very Very Rice Cake Studio and just past a pool hall. The pool hall is always open and reeks of smoke. The lights are bright, even in the middle of the afternoon, and the place is filled with Korean men. I like to watch them when I walk by, watch them chalking their cue sticks, watch them line up the balls on the green velvet. I played pool sometimes back in college, back when you could bend over the table and be certain someone was looking at you, at your ass, in that way. 

These days, just to get through them, I fantasize about running away, being another person. A
famous designer, Kate Spade, my age, died by suicide this week. She hung herself on her bedroom
doorknob. I thought about this off and on, all day yesterday. Then this morning I woke to read that beloved Anthony Bourdain had hung himself, too. I met him once in New York when I worked on the line of a famous restaurant. Life as a line cook in New York City in the early nineties was exactly how he described it. Today I don't know what to think, but I know how to feel, and I feel sad. Utterly sad. The whys and the hows and the rest of it. All the stuff about connection and love and staying kind. 

I don’t ever fantasize about killing myself, but I do wish I could disappear. Walk away, start over, be free. I’m aware that this is ridiculous, that if I were to end up somewhere in, let’s say, New Zealand, I’d rue what I’d done. I’m not trying to minimize Kate Spade's despair. Or Anthony Bourdain's. It’d be obscene to say that I relate. 

Outside the massage parlor is a little plastic stool. On top is a paper plate that has an orange, a cookie and a small glass of water with a flower in it. I thought maybe someone had left their snack there, but Carl said that it was an offering. Cool, I thought, and I automatically felt more peaceful. We walked in, got settled into the blue lounge chairs, put our feet into the plastic buckets of warm water that two women placed in front of us. I took off my glasses and closed my eyes. Despite the strip mall, the place is peaceful. The massage therapists are all Asian, both male and female, but they range in age. One time I was pummeled by an ancient crone who seemed to know all my secret places. There’s a place on my arm, the part that sags, that I know is soft because my Italian grandmother's was as well, that place where I ran my hand as a child just to feel it sway, and when the Thai masseuse touches mine, I can feel my throat back up with tears.

It was a grueling week with Sophie. She had wisdom teeth surgery last Friday which
triggered an unbelievable number of seizures. She can’t talk or express herself or tell me if she’s
in pain, but she can seize. One night she had more than seven of them, in a row, and it’s one of
my secrets that while most people would have taken her to the hospital or at least called the
neurologist, I toughed it out. It’s a secret because it sounds crazy, maybe even irresponsible.
Caretakers of children with seizure disorders have these kinds of secrets. Sometimes we count
only on ourselves.

There’s something about massage, like acupuncture, that gets me going. I have a routine when I
go – what I’m going to think and whom I’ll think about, in a certain order. If I were writing an
essay, I’d title it Dreaming About Sex During Acupuncture. My mind just goes there. The doctor has no idea that after she finishes putting all the needles in, asks me whether I want music and puts it on, walks away and shuts the door behind her, I’ll lie very still on the table and start thinking about my past. I lie very still because when I move, the needles hurt. Actually, the needles don’t hurt, but whatever they’re doing hurts. Actually, it doesn’t hurt as much as it feels uncomfortable. I'd edit the whole paragraph to just that last sentence, but somehow the progression is necessary. I try not to move once the needles are in because I feel like I'm impeding the flow.

That's what's so hard about all of it. Seeking help. Being still. Feeling. Not impeding the flow.

to be continued



  1. I'm sorry it was a rough week with Sophie. I'm still in shock about Anthony. He helped me escape my world many times. :(

  2. I hope Sophia recovers from her tooth trauma very soon.
    Kate was your age; Anthony was mine. RIP, fellow Fire Monkey.

  3. I've always known that the best guitar players don't play the most notes. They simply play the right notes.
    That's how you write.
    I feel so privileged to be able to read the words you choose. They are always right.

  4. I was saddened to hear what a tough week it was with Sophie. I send you good thoughts all the time...don't think there is much effect but wish you well. I get wanting to disappear but not suicide. A break. Just a break from what is. As for thinking... all I do is feel today...tears fill my eyes as I work alone in my office. "living on nerves and feelings"....

  5. I know you know I am always available to help, to listen, to just love. Needing help is hard. Relying on yourself is hard and yet it isn’t, it’s comfortable. It’s what we know. I am sorry Sophie has hurt so much this week. Her fragile being is taxed with “wisdom” tooth removal when it is just not fair. It’s just not fair that you endure what you do and yet you do with mother love and fierce strength. I’m glad you write your truth here and I hope you always will speak about your life. You teach and remind us that love is all that really matters.

  6. OMG I hadn't heard about dear Anthony hanging himself too! Suicide is so misunderstood, by the time you get to that place the desperation measure is so extreme nobody could know... I survived an attempt once and people just didn't know what to say, what to do, afterwards. Mine was due to extreme Caregiver burnout and hopelessness... but everyone's situation as to why they feel Death would be the only way 'out' of misery they just cannot stand anymore is deeply personal. I think suicide prevention is a conversation Society needs to have so that not so many victims feel there is nowhere to turn, or feels the shame if they survive an attempt and the judgment that surely comes. I would never in a million years have thought I'd ever come to that place myself, so anyone is subject to it, whether they realize it or not. I've learned never to say I'd never do something, until it's you then you just never really know in actuality, that's why it's insidious. I'm glad you had the Massage, you've been thru a lot, continuously, and that's a great burden upon any Soul. The Offerings bring me Peace too and I like to see them in Cultures that Practice it... we Practice it in our way and always have an Altar in the Home. Hopefully Sophie is recovering well from her ordeal, the Dentist is always a dread for me, The Man has to go next week and with his Brain Injury it's tough sometimes to prepare him for necessities like that too. Virtual Hugs.

  7. This has been an odd, difficult week, even without the added complications of wisdom teeth removal! Kudos for taking the time out for your massage. Somehow that image of the paper plate with the modest food offering is very calming.

  8. Hugs to you dear friend. Your words, as always, so beautiful for such unbeautiful times. On top of all the other sadnesses this week, we are comforting a friend who just lost his adult daughter to her severe seizure disorder, while his wife is gravely ill. Your words bring me comfort.

  9. Depression is a dangers disease that doesn't discriminate. It scares the hell out of me.

    Poor Sophie, to be dragged through seizure after seizure, unable to do anything other than be carried along by the electrical storm. She's a strong young woman. I imagine she gets that from her mama:)

    Sending hugs and good thoughts.

  10. I love this post, even though so much of it is about things that are hard. Still, you are so present for all of it, even as you dream of escape. You hold the twoness of life better than anyone I know. I learn so much from you. And somehow, I knew you had known Anthony Bourdain. I think people were surprised by how deeply his death affected them. Someone wrote his show was one of the few that tried to teach Americans not to be scared of other people. His influence was larger than he knew.

  11. Thank you for your offerings - all of them. I love that your writing is like this; that sometimes we get to walk by a pool hall full of old men chalking their cue sticks before we make it to the lobby and slide our feet in to a bucket of warm water. We get to see it all, the sublime and the dusty corners. And I totally understand what you mean about not going to the hospital with Sophie. I get that 'toughing it out' mentality after years of relying on yourself. I've said it before and I'll say it over and over again - you are a wonder. Love you. Hugs to Sophie. I'm sorry the wisdom teeth needed to come out, but she acquired her wisdom in a much more profound way. XOXO

  12. This world. I feel numb when I hear about suicides. The desperation. The hopelessness. Yes. This world.

    I hope Sophie is doing better today. Wisdom teeth surgery is awful but especially awful for your mermiad.



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