sign systems have developed for interpretive reasons
constraint is not form, but form  is a constraint
to quietly make in the face of loss
to be everywhere and nowhere
to know that however carefully and considerately made, all things will be lost
I do not look into your eyes; I look at them
I attend what you see and when you close your eyes
I guess we will lose our sight and our feeling, and the soft sounds we make will also vanish
I have a mild curiousity about animals in early film. 
Beings more or less than the makers.  
what I learned from living near a graft of a graft of the original Bo tree: 
things I have learned: 

don't tell anyone about the voices & visions

Actually, it is completely OK to tell some artist friends about the voices and visions, because either they have them too and/or they understand this is a talent and a tool, not a problem.

There is a joke my husband used to relate.  It started with the voice saying, "Kill your wife..." and the guy says, but I'm not married.  The voice says, "Is this Bob?"  The guy says, no, my name is Stu.  The voice says, "Oh, wait, ok, "Kill your boss...""

There's research that indicates that untrained composers who hear music and learn to transcribe it are hearing echos, that the music isn't wholly original, it is derivative.

There is evidence that many visionaries are migraineurs reporting/depicting their auras.

I get to control mine.  "I'm gonna amp up the bass and vary the beat a little."  Plus, the more you know, the more various the sounds and images become.

Never, ever tell anyone about the voices and visions who doesn't understand them.


a very big machine

I should have requested the metal template they made for me to direct the radiation.  They make one for each person; it has to be forged or something.  They make a jagged pattern in sharpie on your body, do a transfer onto graph paper, and then make the piece of metal.  I'm sure that I paid thousands of dollars for it; I guess it might be radioactive, though.  Or that they melt it down for the next person.

They give you little dot tattoos; I remember when I got mine, and joking with the tech that she would probably make a lot more money doing that for a living.  She agreed, but said she was better at science than drawing, but that the needles or whatever and ink were better quality than other gixmos for making tattoos (total lack of tattoo knowledge).

So the machine has a feature to project a big green target onto the sufferer, and the tattoos are to align everything before the med techs go into another room, very far away and behind foot thick walls of lead, and then turn the machine on.  It is one of those places a woman might work where you are on maternity leave the moment you conceive and get a day off if you're a little late.

They take xrays from different angles, and then zap through the metal template.  The machine moves around you.

Yes, I'm geeky; I read the documentation on the machine.  It was the brand new Aston Martin convertible of machines.  It was a pretty light green color.

A nice woman who gave me her more preferable appointment time when she finished said, why can't they make these tiny dots into hearts, smilies, or something?  I know a lot of women do that after the fact.

It doesn't hurt or anything, not just then.  Everyone's really nice, you get warmed-up blankets, they pipe in music over the intercom, tell you when you can breathe, when it is almost over. Because I was young, curious, not particularly afraid, and often commented on the music selections, they made me feel like I was getting a gold star every morning. "You're wearing lipstick and mascara!" I wore the flame doc martin mary janes my Dad gave me eons ago the first day.  Everyone thought that was hilarious.

They explained things, showed me their computer set up, acts which I find far more soothing than "calming music."  They stopped playing that calming music, and started playing actual, real, music for me.  They did get a little peeved at me for being bored and hopping on a computer to check my e-mail.  "You could be accessing other medical records!"  "But I'm not, and this connection is slow -- why? Call IT."

I suffer every single side effect from everything; I chalk it up to being a poet, rhetorically, in conversation, but this is not who I am.  This treatment temporarily harmed my lung below where the cancer had been.  I needed every single iota of good will I had built up from being cheerful when I went completely crazy.


I did request sound files from MRI and from the MRI companies themselves (very official, I can do that; redirected to another depaertment, hey), nada -- even though all the MRI machines are named things like "Symphony."  My friend Candy Campbell was able to send me the sounds from her MRIs.  She had a nice MRI tech.

reason for the season

Now that it is "season" in Florida, the paramedic and ambulance traffic has picked up, something I first noticed when family vacationing in Boca more than 30 years ago.


I like that holiday where you get to drag trees into the house.  The spring one, where you bring in branches and hang eggs as sort of a nesting indicator; the winter one with big evergreens to which I am allergic.

Last year's holiday seasons were dreadful.  The ones before were bad; heck -- I did my best and it just wasn't good enough.

I hear all these stories about how celebrating holidays is something that's gendered.

(must... think... more)


I like to celebrate holidays.  Holy Days, hook me up with the ones that are celebrations.  Symbolic days?  One of my favorite memories is baking a cake with Bea (we just wanted cake, obviously), and spelling out "Happy September 23rd" in frosting on the top.  (note:  memory dates and details may not be accurate)  

Kmal and I were talking on the phone the other night, and we shared our Jehovah's Witness stories.  You know, the religion that predicted the rapture, oh, a few years back, but "every day is a celebration" and so no holidays are celebrated.  In word processing at a merchant bank where I worked, there was a lovely woman who was a Witness.  She would go out and randomly buy her small son a briefcase, gifts, etc.  That was cool.  We in the department were able to convince her that Asti Spumante was not alcoholic. Every day IS a celebration.  

We lived in a neighborhood adjacent to a Kingdom Hall for a while, so Saturday afternoons were spent being dragged to the door from yard work and politely accepting copies of THE WATCHTOWER.  

Kmal had two nice women wake him from a sound sleep the other week, and he was struck by their questions.  "Do you celebrate every day?" they asked.  D'oh; he was obviously sleeping away an afternoon.  "Are you patient?"  they asked.  Then they gave him some magazines.  

Oh, the clip art!  The magical blend of poor writing and fabulation!

We decided that this was actually a great gig; just knock on doors, ask "do you celebrate every day?", "are you patient?" and hand out old National Geographics, Scientific Americans, or something.  


bad day that could have been an important day

So I'm late for my appointment in the a.m., but we're triple-agreed on the evening plan:  beach, dinner, sleep. My doctor forgives me for being late, and after that I spend a fun afternoon giggling with a dear friend in a pool cabana in an Hollywood hotel.  I'm running a little late to get to the beach, but just as I realize I have to shower and change, my surgeon calls me.  "Bad biopsy," she says.  Ultrasound appointment tomorrow to confirm the mass.  My first thought is, "ok, beach, dinner, sleep is the correct response" to this news.

He is frustrated by traffic; he has had a bad day; plans change.   He went to his happy place, a brew pub that, having visited previously, I knew offered no adult beverages I could drink and no food.  Dinner:  somewhere the hipsters he hates live.  The Vietnamese noodle shop nearby that has some vegan dishes and will not have unacceptable fellow consumers?  No.  Even the smell of fish is nauseating to him.  I anticipate a lot of whining.  Then, a baseball game, except that, while I like to see one game a year:   home opener, box seats, or neighborhood bus extravaganza, I really don't like baseball, I've experienced some stadium parking meltdowns in the past and he was annoyed by traffic already, and there is no food at the stadium either one of us can eat.  This was a TRIPLE-AGREED BEACH ROMANTIC PLAN AND I HAD RECEIVED AWFUL NEWS.

When I showed up at the brew pub and got some water, he was on his laptop re-booking his flight and looking for an airport-adjacent hotel nowhere near the beach.  I started answering e-mails and receiving sympathetic calls from my friends, and he took away my phone.  I actually sat there drinking water while he worked on his computer for a few minutes.  He loudly asks the brewery staff if they have anything I can drink.  I had been there before!  And then he gets another pint of beer.  As my cellphone battery lay dying... I grabbed it and ran to the bathroom and called some friends.  Full of moral support, I walked back to the table and picked up my purse and keys.

Two hours later, the fight finished.

a slammingly beautiful day

We walk out in the morning to a coffee shop, our orders are in sync by now, and the most beautiful barrista knows what we want; well, what he wants now that he's changed his order, realizes I want the same thing, but with less ice.  We say, "hey" to to the laptop-surfing dudes, and they clear the window table with view and sunshine next to the bookcase with Time-Life Encyclopedia of the Paranormal in it.  We have a typically morning-coffee loopy conversation, "what do you think about spontaneous combustion?  Look."

I go to my appointment -- not only great news, but I have been a lesson about how to do follow-on biopsies finding pre-cancer in breast cancer survivors.  I make the doctor's office print out the poetry manuscript I've been working.  I buy a bottle of champagne of a sort that has special meaning to us, but it is warm.   I interrupt his work to put it in the fridge, say "it is a celebration", then get lost.  I return at five, it is still sunny, and he says, "I'm going to get the rest of dinner."  While we generally cook together well, this is our secondmost exceptional meal (runner up is wild salmon poached in white wine with dill, broccoli rabe).  "Unusually yummy, what sort of meat was that?" we asked each other.  Thin-sliced rib eye (treated as skirt steak by me), we discovered, after I rifled through the trash.  And we finished the champagne as the sun set.

everything in my closet and all my shoes

I would do my hair, put on makeup, and wear a different pair of shoes each day.  I gave the med techs renovation advice; I complemented the ladies who did need to be accompanied on their beaded slippers; I bought stuff women were selling to raise money for their childrens’ schools.  I brought milk in, so I could have it in my coffee, instead of that weird powdered stuff.  There was a nice man who came in an ambulance every morning.  I would share The New York Times. 

I didn’t need a ride to radiation, which was what everyone wanted to do for me, drive me;  I needed peace and understanding that for the rest of the day, when everything would seem to me to be “deal off” or “where’s the party?” I would talk to the people who came to radiation with their friends & lovers to feel better about themselves.  “I’ve lost 20 pounds following  her cancer diet,” and “doesn’t she look great?”  Or I would ask the questions, carefully.

Driving there, I would pull back the sunroof on the car which smelled bad from hauling stuff (only BMW registered as a hauler at the Eagle Rock dump!).  It was sunny, being Southern California, and I accumulated mardi gras beads on my rear view mirror:   one with a parrot on it, from Dad, and some from when Dad and I visited New Orleans; one from the vet who helped us rescue cats; some left over from 17 years before, when we had been to New Orleans.

There was a Leonardo de Vinci coffee table book in the inner waiting room; my husband had written a play about him, and so I had done all of the research alongside him, out of curiosity.  I think I took notes on the book. 

I didn’t need casseroles I couldn’t eat (note to self:  accept food for husband), or yoga, or some crazy herbalist telling me what to do.  I accepted and respectfully tried all sorts of strange advice given to me by well-meaning friends.  I confronted the big machine every morning.  It is called death. 


I didn’t know that real people, people who care – we say care “body, mind, and soul” but to me those are not separable entities  -- you know, people who go to sleep with you at night and wake up with you in the morning – wouldn’t have minded the evil drain for the lymph and blood after the surgery and kept getting clogged.  Not that my husband wasn’t open to that, but how do you say, “I don’t need your help with this, but, see?”  if your relationship is so screwed that he sleeps on the couch watching security cameras and you know your best bet is putting a game face on, and he says, “oh, all this vomiting and your loopiness is from the pain meds – you’re on pain meds, aren’t you?”

Still he asks:  won’t you go out and adjust the cameras and the lights?  These plants are dying; can you water them?  Plenty of people with cancer have jobs.