"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff

Friday, July 29, 2011

His Perfect Ending

Where do I place him? The bed, the chair? Shall I center him like a television that we all gather around? Should I frame him in the hallway, where we will be sure and brush against him in the narrow passage? Do I hide him in the spare room so my denial can bake itself into a cheese lasagna on the kitchen counter?

What should I wear...his favorite dress, my naked skin? God how I hate my naked skin. God how he loves it. So for him, for me, this last vision....what? Naked. Clothed. Shit, I should have started that diet...been a lasting vision in one of those negligees that show everything instead of this saggy ass frump. Bermuda shorts and a low v-neck. Yeah. I guess. Shit.

How do I touch him? His face. Do I cup his sweet face? Do I hold his hand? Why does that seem so patronizing? Should I place his hand on my breast, pass my beats across the divide of dying? Should I lay against his side with our hearts together, his slowing, mine racing inevitably towards panic? Can he feel that? Should I show it,? Should I make a pretense at calm? Fuck calm. I can't hold my tears. He knows I can't. Why do I try? Why can't I shut up my mind and just sit with this, let it be it's own thing, watch it like a movie played out in super grain 8mm. Silent.

Do I call the children in? How do I share this? I don't want to share this. I have to pee. What if that's the moment? They say loved ones wait until you're out of the room. That's what they say. Right? What if he dies as I wipe? It's too common...too common a moment for death. I won't pee. I'll hold it. I'll pee right here in these fucking bermuda shorts. I'll void myself into the space he'll leave and maybe it won't seem so empty.

Oh hell! I can't control this. There is no way to set this stage and perfect this ending. Look at him! He's just watching me like I'm a fly buzzing around the room. "Land. Land. Land." He's amused. Doesn't even look sad. He looks amused. It's his death. Sheesh! Just ask.

"What do you want, babe....?"

(Our friend Matt W is home dying. One day...three...maybe four. I know nothing of these last moments for them. I just imagine. This is how my mind works itself into a state, whether it be over death, or a choice between brown or cream plates. Racing. I wish it would stop. Will I be buzzing around your death or able to just be still in it? I am wondering, and I'm sad.)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Good Death

There is no single best kind of death. A good death is one that is "appropriate" for that 'being'. It is a death in which the hand of the way of dying slips easily into the glove of the act itself. It is in character, ego-syntonic. It, the death, fits the 'dying'. It is a death that one might choose if it were realistically possible for one to choose one's own death. - Edwin Shneidman, A Commonsense Book of Death

I thought he was dead. I reached down, wanting to touch him, wanting to feel the delicacy I saw. But my gentle stroke brought an arch to his body and my error was realized. Not dead, but passing over. Surely now I could hear him gasp...labor in these last moments. He was on his back, dying like a turtle...like a slow, heavy turtle. This was no good death. To die on the doorstep of an ugly building on an ugly swath of cement, could not be a good death. To be grounded in the path of footfalls, people who come and go and rarely look anywhere but into the screens of their cell phones...could not be a good death.

I thought of burial, perhaps to honor him. I wanted to honor this dragonfly for Marion. I reached down, but saw movement again and I was afraid. I have never been comfortable keeping watch with the dying. There is a choreography to it that I have not learned. I am even less comfortable with the dead. I remember my husband touching his dead father's hand...holding it. I could not. I remember his mother, and my sister in laws who dressed her embalmed body, and set her hair...loving in it...but I could not. The shell of a person frightens me. They are no longer of it, nor can I be. Not yet.

I got a piece of paper and gently turned him over onto the page. His leg scritched against it momentarily, as if to write, perhaps an epitaph. Burial now seemed a ludicrous idea. Carrying him carefully against the shield of my body, concerned the breeze would send him free falling, I preserved his pristine wings and unmarked body.  I found a shaded section of the parking lot with foliage he could decay into with dignity. I left him, coward that I am, to die there in the arms of a flower. But I think he prefered it, having been at home with her all his life.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's Not Her

She wears her face like a patch
the stitches unraveling
weaving into the haphazard disarray of hair
around the eyes, especially, the seams have torn
and the stuffing of insanity seems to dwarf the blue
irises ticking back and forth with shuddering apprehension

it is her face
only it isn't

in an arc she shuffles
an invisible tether to her front door
that reaches to mine    no further
she will not enter anymore
presuming nefarious intent, or some other untruth
yet to her...it is stark raving certainty
hidden cameras are watching

behind her sewn on eyes
cockled with fear
my neighbor is in there...somewhere

her paranoia is warranted
'cuz sure as shit, someone took her away
and we are all watching
her face

only it isn't

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Alive in Almanor

I heard footsteps.
That small yet distinctive sound of carpet pile
crushed under human weight.

It seemed off,
like a dinner bell at sunrise,
but I easily relegated it to my imagination....
until I heard it again....closer.
And again.
My ears now tuned to the frequency
and my heart beating a path away from the intrusion.

I heard the intake of air, a breath, not mine
and following it
my own gasp
as I wrestled covers and fought the lamp.

I saw no one, yet wide awake
noticed the window
more precisely, the view... 

It was 5:20 AM and the moon was brilliantly large, like the rising sun...
as bright as...seemingly,
and I began to wonder,
who woke me for such splendor?

It was not to be wasted.
I found a coat, size 10
in whose world, I cannot imagine
for it dwarfed me, though the temperature made fashion

And my feet, Converse baring
cold, yet free
hit the pedals of my bike
basket full of cameras

The mist, the lake, the mystery.
I saw no one, yet wide awake.

A parting shot
though as all leavings go
a cycle of emotion
around the inevitable funeral
digging the plotted field in preparation for burial
which gave birth to this...most glorious relic

And exhausting myself with it
a rusty school girl crush, expended in film,
I took my ardor
to a cratered lake
emerald as any jewel

Hiking beyond limits
up towards high contrast
to the Aspens
instruments of the wind
glittering in the sun against the envy of pine

Even fallen, their beauty
assuaged my weary limbs
forehead to stump
I pulled from it the remaining color
once life
now art

only to have it returned
from the fingers of a child
a color wicked with whimsy
as should color be
upon the skin of us
having been wakened
and so fully alive.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Farm Update

I was in the mountains over the weekend without Internet and I couldn't get back to all the comments, however, your support is sweet! You guys rocked the support....seriously! Someone offered to let me work on their Facebook farm, which was neglected and near death. Cute!

An update and point of clarification:

I VOLUNTEERED at the farm. It is not a paying gig...but something I want to do, and have done since we started the thing five years ago. I do their marketing, newsletter, and work at the farm on Saturday mornings. I still have my full time job, and two side jobs.

I did talk to the owner face to face on Thursday. Prayed on the way over that I would be humble, because I was pretty much in my mad place by then. She was unable to tell me specifically what I had not done well or when. I spoke very specifically about how hurt I was and how I thought someone took my speed and efficiency as a sign that I wanted to be done and gone quickly, or that I was not being meticulous in my work. I spoke to that assumption and how it was incorrect. I am task oriented, but it doesn't mean I don't care or that I'm not doing a good job. 

She was willing to see the points I was making and apologized. Came down to it really being my negativity that made her think I didn't want to be there. She assumed I would be relieved at being released from packing duty. I know my black rain cloud can get on people's nerves. I told her just to slap me upside the head with it. I'm not that delicate. She said she would in the future. When we left, the plan was to have Farmer Bob contact me when he had extra work in the fields to do. I've never made any secret of the fact that I would rather be working in the dirt than in the "kitchen" with the women. I'll be more conscious of my attitude. She won't make assumptions. All relationships have ups and downs. All relationships require work. We have a little work to do, and we both want to.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


"People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened. My store is closing this week. I own a store, did I ever tell you that? It's a lovely store, and in a week it'll be something really depressing, like a Baby Gap. Soon, it'll be just a memory. In fact, someone, some foolish person, will probably think it's a tribute to this city, the way it keeps changing on you, the way you can never count on it, or something. I know because that's the sort of thing I'm always saying. But the truth is... I'm heartbroken. I feel as if a part of me has died, and my mother has died all over again, and no one can ever make it right."

(Kathleen Kelly - You've Got mail)

This is one of my most quoted movies besides The Sandlot and Steel Magnolias! I am thinking of this quote today, as well as one other...

Joe Fox: "It wasn't... personal."

Kathleen Kelly: "What is that supposed to mean? I am so sick of that. All that means is that it wasn't personal to you. But it was personal to me. It's 'personal' to a lot of people. And what's so wrong with being personal, anyway?"

Joe Fox: "Uh, nothing."

Kathleen Kelly: "Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal."


Monday, July 11, 2011

Blind Sided

I got fired from my farm today. I opened my e-mail with my face straight to it...no fear...and without caution received a right hook so pointed it may have well been a bullet. You know this moment?...when your skin goes hot and nerves fire a heated buzz. A hive of confusion. A physical WTF! Blood rushes places that never seemed to know blood, yet now smart with being alive. I've never been fired from anything in my life, especially anything I volunteered for. But fired I am. I got an e-mail. After five years, I got an e-mail from my friend, and farm owner, saying things were more efficient without me on Saturdays, thank you very much, and I can pick up my crop share at the health food store along with everyone else. She said she could tell that packing the crates was not my "cup of tea" and that I just really didn't want to be there. (Have you read my posts about the farm? I am confused.)

I called her...asked her what was going on. She said I wasn't doing a good job. I said I didn't understand. She said that when Bob has to tell me three times to clean the crates, well that I must just not care. I was cleaning the crates as best I could with a jet spray hose and a round brush that had a hard time getting in the corners. I was cleaning them the regular way when Bob told me to make sure to clean all sides because they were really dirty. So I did. I had a system. Because I am fast, does not mean I am inefficient. I am a pretty fastidious person. I cleaned onions for an hour...was concerned it was taking me too long.

None-the-less, I told her I was sorry for whatever I had not done well, that if she'd give me another chance I would do it right. She said I complained about cleaning the carrots, that I didn't want to do it. Well, no one wants to do it. It's a shitty job and takes a long time. I said, "I complain about most things. When have you ever known me to be content in anything?" I told her..."I won't be me. I won't complain at all. Just give me another chance."  She said she didn't think she was comfortable with that. I said, "Let's just try it another Saturday. If you are uncomfortable I won't come back." She said she would really need to think about that.

We've been friends for over ten years. Last week I asked her if she thought I was different on my medication, that I was afraid I was getting too talkative, perhaps manically energized. She said she didn't think so, and that she, of all people, would of course tell me. And now I'm fired. And I really don't understand. I apologized....for exactly what, I'm still not sure. But I humbled myself and did it because I love my farm. I have backed it and promoted it, and worked it since it's birth. And now I have done something irreconcilable. I am beyond sad. My body is running out of fluid for tears and my lips are chapped. If you have tears to lend, I could use them.

A huge part of me is dead. And perhaps a friendship with it. I have somehow horribly offended. I wish someone would tell me straight, so I could fix it. But there ain't always a fix, is there? Even I know that.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sharing Death

Sacramento Historical Cemetery

My brother is calling me.

But he doesn't call. He doesn't ask me to visit. He isn't one to keep in touch. But he wants something. And I know what it is. He knows that I lived something, and he wants to know how to live it too...live through it. But I didn't live it. I died. Sure as self, I laid waste to my own being and parted ways.

How does one share death? Death seems singular. You travel alone.

All of a sudden he is chatty, and excited...as if I have the answer to his unanswered pain. I might have said that I did. I might have alluded to the fact I could help. I want to. It is my nature. I might have lied. I won't know until we sit cross legged on the battered carpet, once beige, now faded to an awful pink. I won't know until his smile breaks off and pieces of him fall to the carpet like Lego bricks. I won't know until we two-arm sweep those pieces...the way he did with his dinner, cutlery, and condiments, drawing them to himself, his two year old self, into himself. "All mine", he would say. "All mine." It was funny then.


She sits beside me in a television studio.

"People want to solve. People want to help. They would say, 'Have you tried this, have you tried that.' Of course we had. In all that trying we grew further and further apart. And so we gave up one dream and decided to start living."

Amen sister!

And so a book is born. Through it she wants to solve. She wants to help. She did not live through it. She died. Sure as self, she laid waste to her own child and parted ways.

I see her living now. I've never seen such a glow come from death.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Plot Full

My air does catch, like a hiccup expelled long
too long
and lungs forget they have hollow spaces
which can be mindfully filled

but even when I will not....

forcefully then
there comes breath
and I scrunch my face
open mouthed in silent protest

Father, you should have let me go!

God can roll His eyes...
and does

I spent a good 30 minutes walking an old historical cemetery today. I thought of death. I thought of this poem. This was written awhile ago regarding a panic attack. If you have them, then you know this feeling of not being able to get enough air. I have considered ceasing air all together...giving it up like tobacco, or a bad hair color. It's never really a suicide thing....just a tired thing, perhaps an impatient thing. I'm often ready to be done.  I am actually feeling happy today. I can't wait to get back to that cemetery though once the weather turns appropriately gloomy :)