Friday, July 30, 2004

Old Maytags Oooh, hearing the nighthawks callin...

Old Maytags

Oooh, hearing the nighthawks calling. My favorite sound of summer, my favorite sound. Remind me to go on sometime about nighthawks and why I love them so much.

I keep forgetting my password. This happens to me with ATMs as well. Trying to remember that the last two digits are seven years removed from your ex-girlfriend's sister--and she was such a nice girl, the sister, I mean--'s birthyear--well for fuck's sake, what does one expect. Rotten passwords. I have ten or fifteen that I circulate in my head, in the web, and trying to find the right combination of password and user-id often is instructive of how useful a site or service actually is. But, I do remember blogger, don't know how it comes to me, once in a blue moon-Hah! and it is too--posting as I do.

I'm typing because I'm waiting for the washer to start its dance of hysterical suicide. I pet my washer, I do. I stroke it and cajole it and tell it what an interesting, beautiful item it is, with the white enamel, and the crytalesque knob and green, many holed--yes many!--interior. My washer is older than I am. It came with the house. It has bearing difficulties. Thumpa thumpa whack whack kafucking crush and a fire and all. But, no, it hasn't caught fire yet. I wait for the day it can do no more, the day it kisses off and dies. No matter how much I think a new washer--being the one who does all the wash--would be a good idea, I will grieve for this old Maytag. There is a reason. Though it is white, it is almost exactly the same model up with which I grew. My parents, noting the impending eruption of my brother, way back in 1969, bought a washer--and--a dryer. They were avocado green. Fuck off. I happen to love avocado green. But the point for God's sake, it's not the color, it's the model, and it's the same. The same one which lurked resentfully in the basement when Mary and I bought this house. The same one which thumps and crashes through its cycle six or so times a week. The one I'm scared to have Mary approach for fear that her disgust with bring both me and the washer into jellied states of inadequate self-awareness--No, just like that.

Anyway, I was predisposed to love my washer, even though I hate that motherfucker and would replace it in a minute if I win the Powerball. But still, I would grieve. I would grieve for the house in which we lived, for the air I once breathed, for the clean young lungs and the pure white teeth. Of for sure, I'll grieve for everyone who was alive when that was our washer, that Green mat's machine. I'll grieve, seeming like all I ever do. Pilot light demons and unfortunate smells and pegboard silhouettes and tiny windows like doorways to thin limbs with unintentioned malintentions.

Anyway, sitting here waiting for the washer to lose it, so I can run to its rescue. I should make coffee at least, and perhaps I will. This day was spent taping and mudding cracks in a ceiling, for those who really wonder what the hell is going on. It started with a harangue about body image over at Bakerina, and I'm too tired and lazy to provide a link, trusting you to find it.

And a prayer for the fates, the spinners at the wheel. I saw an egret yesterday, not an uncommon occurrence, but with the sun behind and every primary highlighted, a white chalk rubbing of brittle black lace. That bird! For fuck's sake.

Hope everyone has sweet or horny dreams, whichever suits, but no nightmares, no and none and all that.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Old new, Cashew!  Member of Poison Ivy Family, Ana...

Old new, Cashew!  Member of Poison Ivy Family, Anacardiaceae.  Sounds scary, wanting to do what to your heart?


Dish dish and wiki wiki.  Looking for some thing to say, to participate.  Getting guilty feelings for sitting in the corner playing with the dust on the windowsill.  In trouble for that still!  Anyway, yesterday was my later father's birthday.  Went okay, talking with my mother and offering such words as were there, but by bed, looking at pictures and the rough of it.  It is rough.  Fuck.  You lose like this quarter of your compass dial and you think, "East?  East, what happened to East?  It was an important direction, for God's sake.  Everything I thought I was, thought I knew--East had something to do with it.  Then, a friend of mine, Susan, lost her father a few days ago.  Echoing pain and walking in borrowed shoes and prayer offering and things. 

     But still, I promised myself I'd stay somewhat current here.  I like this thing, this blog.  I like the people I meet, and the cream rising from my head is watery tonight.  That's okay.  Poisoned cows. 

     I'm retyping, or trying to save some things from my last computer I never got around to moving.  The old comp is up in a closet, and there were many files I wanted to save, but I was out of town, in D.C. and there's too damn many things with people and asking for things, so...I did print out, at one point, a fair amount of random notes.  Not unlike this present, inked in the flesh moment.  Typing lines tonight, lines and lines and lines and falling alseep in the cathode glow.  But, I'll type something here, and I promise not to edit.  Let's be maudlin and visit the past together, eh and eh, oh.


I went down to Mictlan today.  I am getting desperate.  Bridges singing my name song and the lines seem to follow a trail of bubbles down under, under the rock and the coontail and the duckweed.  The rotting pondcabbage, what will it taste like?  Last moments, differential plant diagnosis by taste.

     But, I went down to Mictlan.  This god, this Aztec god of a death not mine, seems more approachable than mine, sometimes.  But Mictlantechutli, typically, wasn't home.  In the hard packed earth walk leading to their home I scraped plaintain from the ground with my toes.  They call this weed, "White Man's Footsteps," and that is as apt a name as has ever been given.  Of course, it is a mouthful and no one calls it that.  Everyone calls it Plantain.  Some people, under duress, to distinguish it from many other less offensive plants, will call it Plantago major.  I called it nothing that day, but scrubbed it instead, from the rusty earth with my white toe.  Fibrous roots catching sun like an inadequate toupee.  The seeds yield a powerful laxative, I'm told.  You almost certainly have consumed it, if laxatives are your thing.  Not mine, not mine thank god Dear and yet.

     In my toes, clutching a pineapple weed, came a moment, a moment of breath and dust and time forgetting to chime.  Here was a woman walking the path.  Not a relative of the Aztec God of Death I was sure.  Here was a woman unclad, or never clad, but wearing the most interesting beating light.  Here were her young breasts, not large, not egregious, but held up none the less by thousands of fluttering wings.  Butterflies.  Monarchs and viceroys beating orange dust into black covered pink nipple kisses making impossible to think, and painted ladies doing their best to do just that.  Swallowtails trailing sweet breaths to her belly.

     I never noticed what she wore below the navel, as the wings tickled the entired world and me, inside, despite.  I thought, "Jesus, this is something.  This is something wonderful.  How nasty a bra, how profane."

     I thought we had met, perhaps.  There was that sense of familiarity.  These eyes I had swum before, so I asked.

     "Do they tickle?  The butterflies?"

     "Yes," she said simply. 

     "Oh," I said.

     "It's after urea they come.  The salts.  They taste with their feet, you know."  She smiled, the wrinkle and the nose and the eyelight.  "But they eat with their mouths."  Serious.

     "Oh," I said.  "Jesus.  It's beautiful."

     She smiled, and it was.  Beautiful.

     "Jesus would have liked the butterflies," she said.  "If he had thought of them."

     I said, "Oh.  Oh!"


So I went home to talk to the cat.  The cat doesn't need a bra and never talks about Jesus. 

     "I like to eat butterflies," she offered.  "When I can catch them."

     Nodding, I.

     "Like paper candy, tearing in my teeth."

     I fell asleep, depressed, on the couch, cat staring.  I dreamed of her, not her, but of the cat, with yellow swallowtail scales in her whiskers, her tongue in vibrant summber hues.  Painting her fur with tongue while she groomed.  I slept and the cat was transformed.  When I woke she sat in the trap of the window.

     "Well, can you taste through your feet now?"  I asked her.

     She blinked crumbled jade and uncoiled her tongue.  As pink and antiseptic and mammalian as it ever was.

     Hiding tears with my forearm.  The cat shifted her weight inelegantly on fur elbows.  She stared through the wire screen, stalking her dreams in sympathy.


Don't really remember when, exactly, I wrote that.  It was a dream I had of my Mary, before we were together.  Different cat.  God only knows how she is.  Still think of those butterflies, and the skin.  Anyway, best to all.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Titles and titles and piss on it What is this,...

Titles and titles and piss on it

What is this, what is this, a nose hair?  Scratching my head and climbing the walls.  How many years go by before you learn the lessons you were learning when you weren't learning anything?  Christ.

Trying to write a paper tonight.  Not due, exactly.  Due to other students, by "8 o'clock Thursday."  Bothers me that I didn't have something complete for them.  These people are not without absurdly busy-ing other committments, kids and jobs and things, but they all produced wonderful papers well before eight.  I offer, meaning no disrespect to their efforts, god help me, a three quarters, if that, finished rough as coarse sand in a bikini draft at eight--and then my e-mail didn't want any loving from Word!  Well, fuck them both.  Or rather, fuck word and fuck windows.  Actually, I don't know who was responsible.  Fuck us all.  Anyway, it's only a draft, right?  Yes, but it's the question of respect that makes me sick.  The other folks all have really nice products ready to go.  I want to applaud them--none of them know I blog, so I can applaud with immunity--and to applaud the teacher.  This is a class I'm taking to fulfill graduation requirements only, as is everyone else in there, but, but but, the teacher is great.  A surprise.  A consistent, great planning, passionate, honest teacher--in an entry level class no one takes except to fulfill requirements!  If anyone deserves respect, such a one does, and I--I with the not so great, and last minute draft.  Yeah, fuck it.  The final will be much better, it's already at work in my head.  And that's my problem.  I write shit out in some ethereal hyperspace and am lucky if the ink dries before St. Peter weighs my nuts, you know?  We'll see.  I feel like such an ass, but it's not the end of the world.

How's this for navel gazing within academics.  A paper on the efficacy of lavender, when inhaled, for reducing anxiety:

On March 19, 2004, my dad died, a few months shy of his sixty-eighth birthday.  Until a few years ago, he was as healthy as anyone wants, as happy as he wanted to be, of course, he was also a prodigous smoker.  Cancer is a mean trick, I do not wish it on anyone.  I spent much of the last year traveling or living in Washington, D.C., to be close, to help out.  Anyone who has loved someone with cancer knows helplessness.  The desire to do something, anything, to heal, to encourage, to comfort, finally to kill pain.  Larry gamely underwent absurd numbers of tests and treatments.  His original “sentence” was for two weeks.  Two years later he had reason to think he could keep going.  Unfortunately, there are times when no matter how positive you are, no matter how strong you are, life just makes you its bitch.  The last month of my dad’s life was surreal.  The details are irrelevant to the subject at hand—which, believe it or not, is about to be revealed—but in the last few months cancer affected my dad’s mental capacity in a negative and progressive way.  He was unable to reason, even to recognize common things, or use speech effectively.  However, he was clearly aware of these defects, and of their progressive nature.  He was aware that his life had come to the one place he wanted to avoid—incontinent, demented, painful weakness—but with incoherence making it impossible to communicate a desire to continue treatment, or to cease it.  One animal to another, fear is very plain.  We do not need language to know when a cat is scared, when a dog is scared, when a cornered raccoon is afraid and unpredictable.  We recognize fear, and when we see it in those we love, who does not wish to alleviate it?  Larry was very anxious.  In his case, our doctors presented the options, drugs, or nothing.  Valium and morphine—both with lots of unpleasant side effects such as constipation, disassociation, nightmares, addiction and withdrawls—or, nothing?  Well….

     Before he had become too debilitated, Larry had regularly driven himself from our home in the center of D.C. out to a holistic massage center in the suburbs.  At a certain point, when he began chemotherapy, they refused treatment, but they did give him a vial of the massage oil, a blend, primarily lavender.  For the last two weeks of his life, confused and panicked, one of the only ways Larry could calm down enough to fall asleep was if I suggested he deeply inhale holding the bottle of oil under his nose.  He indicated it was both pleasant and relaxing, that it made him feel calm.  Yes, it was transitory—in contrast to the Valium which knocked him out for hours—but he was able to be present.  When you only have a couple weeks left with your loved ones, being present matters—one hopes it matters at other times as well.  My mother and my brother were somewhat skeptical of the aroma treatment—combined with hopefully soothing speech and, at times, a straight lavender massage of incredibly dry legs—but no one as sleep deprived as we wanted to argue with results.     Despite the circumstances, and the following weeks and funeral planning and paper shredding and catch as can grieving, I wondered about that oil.  I wonder still what was happening inside that poor man’s head, if some chemical signal was affecting the neural pathways governing anxiety and sleep.  Did it really help him?  Was the aroma of lavender truly effective to calm him, or was it only the attention, the soothing words?  That is really the question then, does a treatment help?  Does it have side effects?  Are you being misled, poisoned, sold on false promises, or scholarly unease in admitting impotence?  Those are the sorts of questions one asks regularly while undergoing treatment for cancer.  How you hope something works!  How you grasp at studies and clinical trials, how you argue with doctors and insurance companies over efficacy of some barely studied regimine.  Compared to studying treatments for cancer, the use of lavender to effect anxiety seems a simple subject.  One finds the research to be inconsistent, contradictory, confusing, and colored by desire and economics.  But what about average healthy people?  If I’m feeling anxious, can a whiff of lavender help me get through a test, a job interview?  Can it help tire the hamster in the wheel of worries which gets going every night as I go to bed?

No, don't worry.  There are about twenty journal articles scattered around me know, actually relevant to the subject.  It's just that I care about writing...and I care about research...but writing about research--how, once you find the answer, are you supposed to care enough to argue persuasively your findings?  I could just tell everyone in the class that, yes, lavender is probably effective at reducing anxiety, but that the effects will vary depending on your condition and your duration of exposure.  That's fucking it!  That's it about anything.  The rest of it is arguing about the color of dog shit, as my father used to say.  Brown...or is it, taupe!?!

Who knows, who knows.

Treading water, as usual.  Inch and a half long jalapeno.  Excited.  Once, with rows of peppers, now with one plant, and it's even more exciting.  Good lord, it's still quite the daylight here in St. Paul, and a family of six racoons, mother and children just foamed between my garage and the neighbor's fence, to ghost across her yard and down the bluff.  What are they doing out at this hour?

Friday, July 16, 2004

Nasturtiums and Watermelons   Hmm, it's been a...

Nasturtiums and Watermelons


Hmm, it's been almost two months since I last updated.  I suppose an explanation should be in order, especially for those kind enough to have been checking in or commenting, but...what story isn't long and the telling of which too exhausting?  Fate seems to be stalking people I love.  Combine that with summer, with remodeling, with school with balancing on a delicate thread of happiness and forward progress--sometimes even if thoughts are there, where's the energy to get them out?  Besides, the problem with a public blog is that it's public.  Not being anonymous, there're lots of things I realize I can't share here, something I never considered when I started this.  One starts a little blog thinking no one will ever read it.  Suddenly, everybody knows your business and you think damn, I should have worn a mask to this party.  Anyway....


Looking out this window at nasturtiums.  Profligate, cheerful, silly, wild and rank in a harmless way.  I love nasturtiums, through the summer.  Only come the first touch of frost and a slimy, ropy mess to  wrap around rakes and choke compost piles, but at least that is some time off.


My mother's birthday today, not that she'll read this but happy birthday to her.  We talked recently about the slightly poisonous mix of love and memory.  All of our birthdays are in July and August.  My brother's the day before my father's.  How do you celebrate without sadness.  Modern life, sitcom society and the absence of the sacred.  Our people really need myths, need some framework for ancestors and gods to make reality bearable if not comprehensible. 


Mary wanting a dog.  We think and wonder about mutts and breeds and query the clawless cat, wishing a dog would just knock at the door and present itself as dogs have in the past.  How do you approach fate and who will take the blame?  I am starting to think that a life intentionally lived is just the hardest damn thing.


There are very bright yellow flowers on Mary's watermelons.  Given the lateness of the season, perhaps we won't be eating of these plants, but the flowers are welcome and the vines seems sure they will take over the world.  Half assed attempt to throw some vegetables in the ground this year.  We have so many things we need to do to this house, that many things are just nudges in the right direction.  A pot of geraniums here, a pepper plant there.  I think Mary will definitely have peppers and tomatoes, maybe miniature pumpkins--enough for me at any rate.  Perfectionism sucks.


I really should take some pictures.  Just making a stab here to stay open.  Get in the habit of babbling again.