Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Compass Land Ho!

Here's the cover of the Compass Fall/Winter 2010.

Debi at Boggs Printing did a terrific job on the graphics design. I read all the proofs today and emailed them back to her.

Now we've just gotta raise enuf money to print 1,000 copies. I'll give a special appeal at tonite's meeting. Ada is picking me up in 6 minutes.

Remember how worried I was about having too many pages? Turns out it was only 41 pages. 60 is the max. We could've printed more poetry.

Sciatica is very similar to Depression


This is my bed/desk. Everything I need is up here including my feet.

My sciatica is an intense pain in my body. Depression is an intense pain in your being, your psyche. Symptoms:

Loss of pleasure in everything.

Change in appetite. I've lost 9 lbs.

Change in circadian rhythms. I fall asleep at 3 am.

Decrease in activity level. I don't venture outside unless I have to attend a doctor's appt or a bonfire.

Depression almost always gets better at nite. Sciatica never gets better.

And now for the GOOD NEWS!

This morning, for the first time in weeks, I see an improvement. Incremental but still an improvement.

These conditions (sciatica and depression) are always self-limiting - episodic - meaning they'll go away by themselves.

The patient is usually the last one to note improvement but others may say, "I see you're doing more." This is b/c the subjective amount of anguish is still present but mobility arrives first, then the anguish begins to cease.

My rheumatologist called today with the results of my MRI. Essentially nothing has changed since my last attack in 2008. I've made an appt to see my physical therapist Larry Paster RFT in Glenside.

I consider Larry a performance artist. He has a magnetic personality and assigns exercises to all of us. He'll perform his usual wizardry, the last step being having me go on a stationary bike. Reminder: Bring a book to read while on the bike. Scott's gone to the libe to pick up Nine Tailors by mystery writer Dorothy Sayers, recommended by Ethan.

I'm a very independent woman and proud of it. It's important tho to be able to ask people to do favors for you, so I'll put in a call right now to ask Fontaine if she can drive me. She pops me in her backseat where I begin the ride face down but then like the flowers come spring rise up from the dead.

Miracle at Geel, Belgium

Picture of the legendary St. Dymphna, patron saint of the mentally ill. Note the sword. Her mentally ill father beheaded her. Originally from Ireland, she was a Christian and escaped from her mad father, a pagan warlord, and traveled to Geel, Belgium. This was in the 600s. Her father had lost his wife and wanted to marry someone who looked like her. In his madness, he chose his daughter. He finally caught up with her in Geel.

This post is a follow-up to Sunday's post titled Dishonesty in Psychiatry.

I've always felt the best treatment for a person in crisis is Home Treatment. Stay in the home of a kind caring person who will dote on you, feed you, talk to you, comfort you.

Several years ago a woman in our group - 'Yvonne' - was desperately depressed. Her husband had died years ago so she had no one. She didn't like her current psychiatrist so I drove her to someone new at Southampton Psychiatric Associates.

It was a terrible experience. He would not medicate her and wanted to hospitalize her on the spot, something she was vehemently against. There was absolutely no need. She was not suicidal just exhibiting classic signs of depression.

We ended up going back to her original psychiatrist. Sitting in Larry's office, I said, "A depressed person should never be alone in their home. Let me call my mom and see if Yvonne can stay with her. I think they'll like each other."

Sure enuf, mom said it was okay. Larry told me this is what they do in Geel.

It was the winter. I drove Yvonne to her Dresher PA home - she now lives in Ann's Choice assisted living - we packed her bags and moved her into my mother's house.

My mom loves helping people. As with many older people whose active years were spent in the glorious role of homemaker - and why not! - my mom had lost much of her purpose in life, tho she always possessed her customary joie de vie.

She took loving care of Yvonne who blossomed at long last under mom's tender ministrations. They are dear friends to this day. I remember my mom being amazed by all the pills Yvonne took.

This is the way people with mental disorders are treated in Geel, Belgium. Ordinary families take in sick members of their community. After all, they are part of the community, your neighbors, not to be shunned or mocked or shunted off to looney bins on the edge of town. No, for some reason, the goodness of man prevailed in Geel - and still does! - and the mentally ill were not outlaws.

Read more about Geel here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Superb documentary about fallen British soldiers


I simply could not stop watching the documentary "The Fallen" which I found on the website Documentary Heaven.com.

I knew nothing at all about it, except its powerful effect on me.

In this three-hour 2008 film, which you can watch here, every single British soldier, man or woman, killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, was honored.

We all wonder, How would I react if I were the family member of a beloved son or husband who was killed in a war.

I may be wrong, but nearly every person interviewed believes their family member died protecting freedom. What a comfort for them, unlike the Cindy Sheehans of America who lost children and are profoundly against these wars, as are most Americans.

Emails and cellphone calls are exchanged between soldiers and family members far away from the battlefields. One very loving father emailed his daughter how happy he was that at last she'd made a friend - it had been hard for her - and that he couldn't wait to get home and give a huge hug to his wife and daughter.

It was never to be. The man killed himself. We don't know why. This haunts me. Why? Did he despise himself for killing innocent people? Had he seen too much and felt too much and couldn't take it anymore? His daughter, sadly, could not forgive him. His wife blamed the military for not counseling him.

A few women were in denial that it was actually their son that was killed.

Made in 2008, most people still hope, in a corner of their minds, that their son will come walking through that door.

I remember feeling that way when my own father died. I was 34 and he was 59. In the winter, he used to pick me up so I wouldn't have to drive in the snow, but his phone call never came. I am not still waiting, however. After his death I did not laff for five years, such was my grief.

Today I love seeing fathers and daughters together. My own son, Dan, of course, with his Grace Catherine. And the neighbors with their children.

A question I often ask myself is, Is it possible to enjoy life when we live in such a troubled world?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dishonesty in psychiatry


Fortunately in the current issue of our Compass mag we reported on the Scandal of the Star*D study, conducted by none other than the NIMH, concerning the efficacy of antidepressants. Over 4,000 volunteers were used, a goodly number, but less than 100 actually finished up the study.

The NIMH, which utilizes tax-payer money, had a sterling reputation. Now, unfortunately, they would cross swords with the drug industry, who holds NIMH in their thrall, so at all costs the folks at NIMH must protect that industry and lie or distort the truth on Pharma's behalf.

Not to worry. The American public would not hear a word of it. And so-called unbiased scientific American journals would not publish a word of NIMH's misdeeds.

I learned all this a couple minutes ago while listening to maverick psychiatrist Peter Breggin's radio show of Nov. 8. His guest, a clinical psychologist named Pigott (PIE-gott) analyzed the results of the study and published it here in this German journal.

Ed Pigott, who's interested in helping patients deal with their problems, set up a model treatment plan for patients in crisis - whether psychotic or depressed or in the throes of panic disorder.

Within an hour of hearing about a patient's distress, a team from Pigott's center would arrive at the home of the patient where the whole family plus patient would receive on-the-spot counseling. The team, perhaps two social workers or whomever, would speak empathically with family and assure them that that 'this too shall pass,' that the crisis would run its course and then all would be fine.

This is an alternate model to hospitalization which Pigott found was a revolving door. Once hospitalized, your chances were overwhelming that you would return in short order. Don't we know that from our group members.

In fact, a year after intervention from Pigott et al, just about all of the former patients in crisis were doing just fine!

Sadly, tho, managed care stepped in to deny Piggott's team insurance coverage.

Peter Breggin's informative0 website can be found here. I just signed up for his newsletter and his wife Ginger Breggin welcomed me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday's come and gone


Sorry, most acquisitive society on earth, I've come up short once again. I only spent $20 on Black Friday: for my ultrasound.

How much did you spend?

Furthermore, o greediest and fattest society on earth, when I read the Times' Best Books of the Year, I promptly reserved them at my local library.

I hate spending money!

One of the books I reserved - Keith Richards' book "Life" - has 93 other requests before me.

I'm at Scott's now, lying belly down on his bed, hearing an occasional violent whoosh of the wind. It's 30 degrees out. My new heating pad is frying my ass and feels real good.

From the basement comes amazing sounds: groans, like someone is in pain, or is being tortured.

Were we to go down, here's what we would see.

Scott, wearing a huge black belt, about six inches thick, is lying on his bench press doing leg lifts. Then he moves over and lifts dumbbells. He is very strong and has huge muscles. He's also a very kind person.

We talk about many things. What, I wonder, made him 'vent' about Obama today? We were both so excited when he won - we believed he was the vehicle for change - now we see that the Republicans should be ecstatic with his policies - he's merely an extension of the Bush years. Remember how the world hated us during the dark ages of Bush? For sure, they hate us again.

And now our thoughts turn to SEPTA, the transportation system here in Philly. "Regional rail" has brand-new trains from from South Korea. "They're junk," says Scott. "That's what happens when the politicians get involved and you've gotta buy from the lowest bidder."

Each train is sposed to work for 40 years. The new trains have all arrived - 140 of them - and they're so poorly made they can't get any of them up and running yet!

Good ole America, the has-been nation.

What can I do to cheer myself up?

Maybe Willie Nelson will pass me a toke. He just got busted on his tour bus in Texas. The last time I smoked was two years ago when I was 31.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After

Oh no! I'm the laffingstock of the nation. The photo of my beautiful bread fell off my blog and into the ocean. What does my unconscious have to say about that?

Looks good enough to eat but I filled up with leftover turkey - delicious! - stuffing and two pieces of pie from the Giant supermarket which was not too sweet.

More tests this morning to determine if I'm good to go for a kidney transplant. Linda drove me over to the Schilling Campus of Abington Hospital for an ultrasound of forgotten organs, arteries and veins. My technician Karen Fuller was terrific and said we finished up quicker than she'd envisioned. This, despite my asking her numerous questions.

I mean, it was sooooo interesting seeing your innards exposed on the machine. 'What's that?' I'd ask her. 'Your spleen,' she said. 'What's it for?' 'Immune system and red blood cells.'

The noises our innards make! ga-lumph ga-lumph.

Natch, I asked her if she could tell me how things looked inside, and of course she said she couldn't, only the doctor could.

She did tell me, however, my gall bladder was black and filled with bile.

Is that good?

Yes, she said, That's why we tell you not to eat or drink for 6 hours prior, so we can see the bile. BURP!

Spent an inordinate amount of time on the online NY Times. They published their opinions of best books of the year. I was panicking cuz I'm nearly done w/Furious Love, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton's Marriage of the Century.

I'll reserve them online at my library, books like:

LIFE by Keith Richards of the Stolling Rones

A GREAT UNRECORDED HISTORY: A NEW LIFE OF E. M. FORSTER by Wendy Moffat

SIMON WIESENTHAL: THE LIFE AND LEGENDS by Tom Segev.

Great fun reading excerpts online.

Here's a conundrum for you. Once I get on my laptop, why is it so hard to get off? What is the magic spell, the bewitchment that electronic media produces? Books have always been my great love, and I have plenty of time, these sciatic days, to read, but I've gotta de-magnetize myself from the computer.

Thanksgiving 2010 - Hello Spencer!

Home for the holidays. My son/law Ethan Iverson and his developmentally disabled younger brother, Spencer. I'd heard so much about Spencer but meeting him was really a joy. Alert and exquisitely sensitive, he found traveling from his group home in WI very challenging. He was hungry so Sarah made him some buttered noodles. He followed the tenure of our conversations but his speech is difficult to understand. I made the mistake of not allowing him to finish a sentence which always ends with the name of the person he's talking to.

I'd wondered if Spencer was similar to my autistic brother David but David lost the ability to communicate when he was in his early 20s.

Having a developmentally disabled person in your life can be a real blessing, esp. in helping them feel loved and important.

Ethan, Sarah and Spencer would drive to NJ where my huge family celebrated Turkey Day. When we were saying g'bye, I said to Spencer, Please come back sometime.

His head jerked quickly: No, I don't wanna come back, he said in his halting way. Sarah explained to him he wouldn't have to return, I said it to show I liked him.

My little Nefertiti who made loads of good food for the guests.
C'est moi on Dan's sleeping bag, spread out on the living room floor, where I greet guests like an ancient Israelite or Bedouin. Instead of sand, I have plenty of autumn leaves on the carpet. Instead of coffee, which I no longer drink, you can help yourself draw some water from the well, and may also slice yourself a piece of home-made bread. See forthcoming post.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New purpose in life: Relaxing


Carl Yeager, photo of Bell Tower at Whitemarsh Cemetery in Ambler, PA.

Look what I found on Ralph Nader's website: a link to Marine General Smedley Butler (1881-1940) who said:

"I spent 33 years and 4 months in active service as a member of our country's most agile military force--the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from second lieutenant to Major General.

"And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism. I suspected I was part of a racket all the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service."

More from another website:

August 21, 1931, Butler spoke to an American Legion convention in New Britain CT. Looking back, he reflected on his career. His remarks stunned the audience. Few papers dared report even part of the speech:

"I spent 33 years...being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism....

"I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street....

"In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested....I had...a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, promotions....I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents..." (p 118).

I've spent many a happy evening watching videos on my laptop. Frontline, the premiere documentary filmmakers on the planet, had a particular video I was not able to view. So I sent them an email and lo and behold they responded and told me how to view it successfully.

"The Undertaking" is a 60-minute video about Lynch and Sons, undertakers in a small town in Michigan. It will open your eyes about death in America. And the wonderful Lynch family and how they care for the dead from that first phone call until they go out to the cemetery with the family and cover their loved one with dirt.

Watch it here.

Talked to my 88-yr-old mom earlier today. She baked a few things for Turkey Day tomro with the family in NJ. She also told me she's going thru my dad's letters - she's been doing this for 10 yrs - and has a pile of em to share with me.

She gets tired easily (bad legs) so goes upstairs to her bed where she reads all these letters. Mom, I said, from my own bed, I'll curl up next to you and we'll look at them together.

She mentioned a letter she'd found from Jack Weisberg who used to work with my dad at Majestic. A bachelor, he used to come over for dinner a lot, and taught my mom to drive when she was 39. Her first car was a lime-green Ford Fairlane.

I also spent an inordinate amount of time on Facebook, mostly flipping thru Carl Yeager's photos. Am thinking of using the one on top in the Compass.










Compass fini - now what do I do?


by Carl Yeager.

Just emailed the new issue of the Compass to Debi over at Boggs Printing in Hatboro, PA w/the instrux to 'keep it tight' cuz I've got too many pages.

I went over it again today, defying my dietician's warning to eat when I wake up, and mercilessly excised what turned out to be ludicrously overworded articles. So, you see, it was for the best.

Scuse me while I check the online NY Times to see if we've fired on the North Koreans yet.

How's this for injustice: Atlantic City police officers voted to take a pay cut in order to re-hire 17 officers who were downsized for lack of funds to pay them. How bout asking the casinos who are raking in billions to fund them?

I was just on Facebook checking out the photos of master photographer Carl Yeager, who we profiled in a previous Compass. Most people are unaware of this, but FB signed on with a 'social communications group' who monitor your every move. A potential employer can hire this group and have them report on every move you make on FB, plus all of your Chats.

Big Brother is indeed watching you.

I'm in the process of choosing a color photo for the Compass front and back covers. Carl has over 100 photos on FB. Check out the onion on top of this post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Can I finish the Compass before T'giving?

Thanks, Iris, for your lovely post about me. You can read it here.

I was editing the Compass, making great progress, when suddenly the new Microsoft program on my computer began printing everything in two columns. That's the bad thing about my new computer. You touch something and boom - all sorts of strange things happen.

I went downstairs and pulled out my receipt. I was 5 days too late to return my new Acer laptop. Darn!

Scott and I are gonna have T'giving together. He bought a 6-lb turkey at the Giant, asparagus, stuffing mix and apple pie w/ice cream. He's gotta catch the 7:30 pm train to go to work on Thursday so can't spend it with his family in NJ.

The great fear when working on the Compass is that I won't have enuf articles. Well guess what. I have too many! I can't go over 60 pages, says Mark Amos, owner of Bux-Mont Office Supply who's my printer. As you may remember, I work upstairs on my bed. I didn't have Mark's phone no., so I looked it up on the internet.

What's a gal to do? For starters, I mercilessly cut down a couple of terribly lengthy articles. I thought about not publishing one of my poems but then thought, What if this is the last Compass? They need something to remember me by.

Iris, who wrote the aforementioned post, had a brother who died during a kidney transplant operation of a coronary. Coincidentally, Sarah called me this morning and said she thinks we should get a second opinion at Johns Hopkins.

Good idea, I said. Maybe we can just mail our reports down there w/o going. I told her I knew a woman who, at age 80, was the oldest transplant they ever did. She had been rejected by Philly hospitals so she and hubby Irv went down there. She only lived two years tho. The deceased donor had died from cancer - which apparently had not meta'd to the kidney - but then Judy too was found to have cancer all over her body.

Why? Was it the immunosuppresent drugs? No matter, she's a goner.

But cheer up, Dear Reader. There are so many things to be thankful for. I'm gonna sign off now but I want you to think of five wonderful things to be thankful for. What a nice idea for a holiday.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Bangbangbangbang!



All told I was inside the slammer for 25 minutes. I held a black squeeze-bulb in my hand if I wanted to get out. I told the two techs - George from Injah and Song from China - that I'd be fine but that I may start singing if things got harry.

My first song was Taps. Day is Done.

Next was the Jimi Hendrix version of Star-Spangled Banner. I was embarrassed cuz I couldn't reach the high notes.

Neither could I hear the music I'd brought which was playing soto voce thru the headphones: Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert.

Lay on your back and let your arms draw a circle over your head. That's how much room you have in the machine.

I closed my eyes and opened them. I looked out toward my feet but couldn't see much.

Remember the kidnap victim a long time ago who was put in an underground coffin while they ransomed for her life? That was one of my many many thoughts. I honestly tried to think of something pleasant, like swimming in the pool at the Regency Watson at the shore but - clang ca ca clang clang clang CLANGCLANG CLANG - it often sounded like music and I thought about Aaron Copeland.

The mind is never still.

I pretended the MRI was curing my sciatica tho it ached badly. I pretended I was having chemotherapy to zap some hidden tumor.

After every round, the tech would speak to me, telling me, A five-minute round is coming up. Except I couldn't hear him!

I forgot all about Keith Jarrett when suddenly I heard this terrific soft music in the background...and then I remembered.

I did not fear the MRI. I did not worry about it. Too busy working on the Compass and sending out nasty emails saying things like:

Please don't send me email forwards that are 'canned wisdom.'

or

I delete all email forwards. I'm a busy person.

Rude. Inconsiderate. C'est moi.

Let's see. My last email forward was a NY Times slide show of Cher to a friend who dresses as a woman for his company's Xmas party. He's a radiologist.

Not to mention this satirical column by Ralph Nader on the most disappointing president in modern times.

My last thoughts were What am I gonna eat when Fontaine drives me home?

Mom's delicious chicken dunked in Hellmann's mayo, her pea soup and huge green grapes.

I ate everything face down on my bed while talking on the phone.

BTW, the cost of the MRI was $80. I was heard to mutter, What do I have insurance for? And why are corporate profits higher than ever this quarter when the rest of us are poorer than ever?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fine Weather for Our Annual Bonfire


The moon was full when Ada and Rich picked me up and drove to Tamanend Park in Southampton, PA.

None of us took any chances. Ada, whose hair looked shiny and beautiful, wore long underwear, Rich had on a snug hat, and I was dressed in layers.

We actually peeled when we got there.

I sat or lay belly down on a sleeping bag the whole time.

The hot dogs smelled delicious but I couldn't have any - too much sodium - but I enjoy watching people wolf them down with mustard and relish.

Here's Helen, flanked by Noam and Mike, who with husband Larry organized the shebang:


Here's Laura whose dream is to travel to India. I told her I just finished the book Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany to England and later married an Indian architect). It tells the tale of a spoiled British woman and her husband who are dispatched to India, he to work as a civil servant, and she to occupy herself on their large estate. She elopes w/a minor Indian prince and gets pregnant with his child. Within the storyline, it portrays a picture of teeming India.

Nice to see you, boys. Mike, head of Mike's Hikes, is in the middle. Noam and Jim are drinking hot cider or hot chocolate. Larry Kirschner, co-host, and getter of wood for the fireplace, is on extreme left.

Helen and Larry always stay until the last piece of wood is burned. Last year, I stayed w/them until around 2 a.m. When I got home, Scott came out of his house. He was terrified that something awful had happened to me cuz I told him I'd be home around midnite.

Always good to see newcomers at the Bonfire like husband and wife Rachel and Brandon.

Linda brought a delicious cranberry-pomegranate pie she made. She also read two of her poems. I asked for one of em to put in the Compass. Afterward she told us about a mutual friend of ours whom I'll call Becky who excels in offending people esp. Linda. She knows she can get away with it, I told Linda. Stand up for yourself.
Elena warmed up at the fire. She was eating one of Ada's brownies which are rich as fudge.

We toasted marshmallows for S'mores, which was the highlight of my night. How many people on Death Row choose S'mores for their last meal?

The food is always great at our Bonfires. Lenny brought hummus and pita bread so that was my protein. I asked him if he liked my poem The Vigil I sent him. He works at an oil refinery and I said, Oh, I wrote a poem that takes place in an oil refinery. It's about a poor old alcoholic who's a security guard at a refinery and watches the meteor showers one August night.

Larry, who's a professional videographer, brought his camera and we took a group shot. Any idea what'll be on the cover of the Compass? Lenny didn't wanna be in it. Stigma of course. That's not his real name.

Here's Linda's poem.


AUTUMN’S EULOGY

by Linda

At this time she dyes her leaves in various reds and oranges
Tries to get that still youthful look
Even though her leaves fall from her branches
Wither away in the cold air
She knows she’s dying
Won’t accept the truth
She loses her energy quicker
Snuffs out the day’s candle quicker and quicker
Wraps herself up in black night’s cloak
She shivers against the quickening cold
We all gather around each other
Comfort ourselves at her approaching funeral
Bow our heads low for her chillier winds
Blows it on the backs of our necks
Rakes whisper prayers for her impending death
Nighttime fireplaces give off pagan smoke
Beseech gods to spare her
With their burnt wood incense
Outside bonfires remember her
As how she lived before her death
In our black final rites.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Toy had special purpose for me

Grace looking at Bubby's new toy for her. What they don't know is that I orig'ly bought it and the Busy Box when I went off lithium. Believe it or not, I couldn't think straight when I went off the drug. So, to teach myself, I bought infant toys and 'played' with them, watching the cause and effect properties and reprogramming my brain. Stroke victims are probly rehabbed in a similar way.

Dan came over and fixed my troubled computer. Now I have absolutely no excuse for not emailing the entire Compass on Monday or Tuesday. Still haven't decided on a cover or which one of my poems to include in the KaleidoScope.


Father and Daughter. Oops. The correct photo isn't showing up on here. Weird. Anyway, it seemed like Grace was turning her head to hear her mom talk. She's very attuned to her mom's voice.

What's all that crap on the couch? Ruthie, don't you ever clean up?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Compass nearly done / Poem: Upon the Occasion of Yet Another Movie about You

Who else but little Grace Catherine Deming?

The great writer IB Singer wrote that demons haunted him whenever he wrote, losing, for example, pages and pages of text.

My demons? My email doesn't work. In order to check my emails I've gotta go on Comcast.net, reading their ludicrous headlines, and remembering my computer-generated passcodes.

A newcomer to ND called me today. By any chance, I asked him (he was very smart, an engineer), are you good with email problems?

This good man is gonna look into it for me and may swing by over the weekend.

Sister Ellen stopped by with provisions Mom made. Can't wait to eat something different. It takes a community to take c/o Ruthie.

The worst! I'm gonna get an MRI for the lumbar spine on Monday. Claustrobia! Judy Kroll suggested I bring my own CDs. Thank you Jude! Will do. Coltrane's A Love Supreme and some Bad Plus.

On my blogroll, for those of you who don't know who the below poem is about, you can click on Goldberg Varations - fini - on the right.



UPON THE OCCASION OF YET ANOTHER MOVIE ABOUT YOU

I prefer the slower Goldberg
Better to suck substance
Like eating a peach outside among
the trees
I brought you to Goddard
Your Apollonian torso
coursing a dozen times
across the front cover
call it love, if you like,
studied Bach with Ray
played his harpsichord like the toy piano
little fingers played as a child
so many ways to make music
even when we talk
you know where music began? my
grad school teacher announced from the top
floor classroom?
The sound we hear while
tinkling into the potty.
Let me play for you now.
A woman in her sixties
Settling her freckled hands
On the laptop
That counts, I assure you,
Look how easily I press the keys
And play a Prelude and Fugue
Like I did in a rented piano studio in
San Francisco with you at my side
Dead at fifty, your mittens and scarves
Aching for your touch in the cold
Toronto winters
I kiss your headstone and
Trace my fingers in the grooves:
Glenn M Gould:
La Magnifique.

BTW, my teacher was Ray McIntyre who, according to the Internet, now lives in California. I'm gonna order his Couperin and Rameau pieces on Amazon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Artists are the conscience of the world / Poem: Water

Chilean-born Sebastian Errazuriz paints his installation at his Brooklyn studio of American soldiers who committed suicide in 2009, twice as many as soldiers killed in Iraq that same year.


We Americans must be blasted with the truth since we've blanked the wars from our consciousness.

Forget reading myself to sleep. I've discovered DocumentaryHeaven.com. Watched the great zen master Alan Watts last night and meditated with him. Prior to that I attended a couple lectures given by British ethologist and atheist Richard Dawkins. And here is Dawkins' refutation of the Creationist Theory of the universe.

Don't tell the professor I was heard to mutter God take this pain away tho I've long since given up that silly notion.

WATER

Is that the train?
The five-forty-four
Pulling into willow grove
Against the night sky?
I listen thoughtfully to its music
And then
In what will be the
loveliest part of the day
I pour the water from the yellow pitcher
Into a clear glass
Cool from standing for hours
And absorbing the oneness
Of my room and everything in it
The heating pad, books, the laptop
The apple core wrapped in a napkin,
The newly fallen stinkbug
I shall pour myself another:
Delight too quickly gone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lunch at Maggio's / Poem: Ode to Wesley

Did you see Barbra Streisand, 68, and Robert Redford,73,on Oprah? Streisand said that when she used to perform she would see people in the expensive seats and if it seemed like they weren't paying attention she would get very upset and that's why she stopped performing.

Ada's Outing went to see Cairnwood, the multi-floored home of John and Gertrude Pitcairn and their 9 children. Gertrude died young of appendicitis. Whew! Hopefully she didn't die from sciatica. She took a long time deciding whether or not to marry John b/c in the Swedenborgian religion, marriage continues into eternity so you certainly don't wanna make a mistake.

I didn't learn this from the tour b/c I stayed home, but Rich picked me up so I could meet everyone at Maggio's for lunch. As usual, the food wasn't very good. But it was nice to get out of the house and watch the view from the backseat where I was writhing in pain.

Mon dieu! Be sure to check my daughter Sarah's blog post of today. She mentions dear ole mum. Plus the perfect gift for Xmas.

While I was holding on with Comcast, Rodney from Grenada was fixing my bill w/an overcharge of $200, I told him that my friends and I are having a bonfire on Saturday nite. I asked him what he and his friends do for fun on Granada.

He did not say, Try not to get attacked again by the US as happened in 1983.

ODE TO WESLEY

I.

For just a moment
I thought Wesley had returned.

I left all truth behind.
I could not help it.
I needed to escape.
Escape from this world where
Black clouds over China
Portend a quicker death of cities
Than ever we thought.

Oh Wesley.

So I let myself go.
I stared at the little white dog
So like Wesley
My old companion who sat at
The window and watched me
Pull in the drive.

His ashes sit atop the dining room shelf
They do not bark or wag
Companion of my
Three times removed old age.

You see, I took a leap.
I'd had too much of the world.
I could not bear the disappointments.

So when she walked the white dog
Across the street, dead autumn leaves
Parting at their approach
I waited at the front door
For her to bring Wesley home.

II

Wesley was never mine.
He was theirs.
The Kiernans across the street.
I appropriate things.
I make them mine:
The garbage truck
The postman
The far-off locomotive
The entire sky
For Wesley.

Surcease from pain s'il vous plait?


The more one suffers, the more, I believe, has one a sense for the comic. Søren Kierkegaard

I read this quite appropriate quote on one of my favorite blogs - The Morning After - by Terry Teachout, drama critic for the WSJ.

Since this morning was my appt to see if I could get surcease from pain from my sciatica the quote is perfect.

I spent a goodly portion of my appt literally cackling with laughter. Fontaine from our group drove me to Rheumatology Associates in Willow Grove and I limped up the ramp and into the office, the Office of Pain and walkers and wheelchairs.

I was first interviewed by Joan Rooney who entered everything into her laptop. Then she asked me to get up on the table for an examination.

Dyou have a degree? I asked her.

That was probly our 144th cackle together.

The doc's name was Mark Lopatin. I think. He tested my reflexes which he said were good. And tested my strength, you know, he holds your leg and tells you to push against his arm.

Good, he said.

You wanna Indian wrestle? I asked him.

No, he said, I might lose.

Joan howled in the background.

The big thing to come out of the appt is that I've now got a huge heating pad all across my tush. Fontaine was kind enuf to drive to the nearby Walmart to buy it for me. I lay in the back seat of the car writhing with pain.

More cackling as I sip my hot chocolate which tastes astoundingly fake. How come I never noticed before?

Guess what? I'm missing my second New Directions meeting tonite. Too much pain to endure in one day.

But you know what? I can think and I can concentrate. I used to collect quotes. Doris Lessing said something about If you have the ability to concentrate, the whole world is yours.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Leafman Cometh /Poem: The Blue Glass


Shhh! If you listen, you can hear them. They're on neighboring Sleighride having passed my house while the carpet man was measuring my living room.

I vant a new carpet for my birfday, said the spoiled teenager Ruthie stomping her foot on her old beige wall-to-wall. Ouch! that hurt, she said, forgeting she has sciatica.

The neighbors were out full force raking the leaves into the street. Nancy, across the street was being helped by handsome Patrick. His boys were getting off the bus. Pat's dad lanky white-haired Gene met the boys at the corner bus stop.

Oh no! I forgot to meet Dan at the busstop. Oops, I forgot he's 34.

I sat on the couch watching their busy lives, wanting to be with them.

As the only consolation I can think of, I'll re-read my poem The Blue Glass, and so may you.

THE BLUE GLASS

One morning I woke up with that feeling of “ugh”:
I haven’t written a good poem in nearly a month.

Only yesterday
I called and invited myself over.
Slipped on my black clogs
and walked out the front door
to the wild cheering of
birds – a woodpecker going at it -
o, succulent insects! I love you so -
a dog barking
at some
real or imagined threat
to his master.

the wind was rising
as I crossed Cowbell,
you couldn’t see it,
only its emissaries
the northwesters
and southeasters
blowing my hair and
light spring jacket
as I walked up the hill that was
the Kiernans’ front yard

As I stood awaiting entry I turned around
and looked at our street from
their point of view.
The Kiernan slant. Could be the name
of a magazine.

Neil’s garden, across the street,
a horticulture student at Ambler, who
in a greenhouse far away
devises hybrids of daylilies,
Neil was a wonder, a man with
a red pick-up, but his
day lilies? Whoa, back to the labor’atory with ya, Neil.
The colors are dismal.
Not on the ROY P VIG spectrum,
as we know it,
though don’t you really wonder madly
about the colors our poor eyes can’t see?

A quick glance at my own house
tucked in among the others
lovely, yellow, flowerless in March,
the little kitchen
they’d put on sticking out like
a shoebox of marvelous windows,
you should see how lovely it looks at night when you
round the bend in the darkness and the
kitchen is all lit up with Dan in there
heating up his processed food in the microwave

Hello! said Patrick opening the screen.
You knew them from afar.
And went into their house the first time.
A thrill. Almost as good
as sex. Perhaps even better. I couldn’t jog
my mind to remember what that was like.
(Vague remembrances of some rapture
and ultimate security. Of captured belonging.
Once I said to someone,
It feels like I will never die.)

The living room was on the left.
They let me sit anywhere I liked.
I chose a big leather chair with studs.
You had to lean way back
it felt like I was falling backward
like Alice

Wow, I said laughing, this is some
chair. Sue came in with the baby
and placed him, in the way that
mothers have, in a special rocking cradle.

I went over to say hello and see
what he thought of me.
He lifted a see-through eyebrow
and blew bubbles from his fat little lips.

If you were looking for the Dalai Lama
you need look no further.

Babies, I told them. I love them.

I didn’t say I’d
have another in a minute, the wife might get
suspicious and think I was after Patrick.

“Can I get you something?
Orange juice? Coca-Cola? Iced Tea?”
“Water is my favorite,” I said.
“A glass of cold water, please.”

It was one of those deep blue glasses
she brought me, blue like
old-time medicine bottles.
“A blue glass!” I said in wonder
stretching out my hand.
It was heavy. A very deep
blue. With octagonal lips.

What manner of people were the Kiernans
the People of the Blue Glass.
People who knew the meaning of things.
I’d never drunk from a blue glass before,

and as I was drinking I looked down the glass
with my nose inside
drinking and looking at the same time.
Good as sex. Possibly better.

I stayed for an hour.
Couldn’t pick up any clues whether they wanted
me to stay or go.
We’d just met and I was waiting for them
to kick me out.

I stood up to go and we went over to the living room window.
So they were into windows too.
It had panes like mine did. Once, I took the panes out
just for fun
and couldn’t stand the way the world looked without panes
Panes gave focus and security, they sharpened Charley’s house
and allowed the dogwoods to take on immense importance.

“I write poems about my neighbors,” I said.
I thought it best not to tell Patrick I’d written
seven about him and his little white dog, Wesley.
Played it safe and told him I’d
written more poems about Charley
than any man I’d ever met.

Sue was on the couch with her legs
curled up. “Why would you write
about Charley?”
She was coming out of her shell.
I thought a moment. We all discussed our
impressions of Charley. To Patrick,
Charley was an old man always
outside clipping his bushes. Patrick would
come upon him and try to start a conversation.
But Charley was stone deaf without his
hearing aids. “I just gave up,” said Patrick.

“Now you’re going to write about us,” said
Sue with certainty.
“No, no,” I laughed. “You’re far too normal.”
“Too boring,” she and Patrick said together
like a singing duet.
“Yes! Aren’t normal people boring?” we agreed.

“Actually,” I said with narrowed eyes
gazing down Cowbell
speaking in the kind of voice
you use when you’re alone and
think no one’s listening,
actually, I said peering out the window
at all the houses and lawns and trees
and flowers ready to burst into bloom:
not a one of them’s a bore.

Surcease of pain? / Poem: A Sunday Drive


I do I do I do have an appt to see the back doctor. Tomorrow. Problem is, ladies and gentleman, my delicate teetering-on-the-edge kidneys may not be able to handle a shot. We shall see.

During my sciatica I've watched innumerable movies including the Clint Eastwood film A Perfect World. During the film one of the characters mentioned "a Sunday drive."

Ah, I said to myself. That'll be my next poem. Just read it to my friend Carolyn who gave it her approval.

A SUNDAY DRIVE

I see a man in a wheelchair
As I pull in the drive
Sitting on the patio in the sun
Geraniums oblivious
Blanket covering bony knees
Strap him in the front seat
kiss his stubbled cheek
note his newly bald head
I’ve never said I love you and
Wonder if the words will come out
As I back down the drive
He no longer speaks
Is leaving the world bit by bit
Chagrin Falls is too far I tell him
Eight hours away and I can’t read maps
But Pennsylvania has nice views too
We’ll go to the lake
Water, they say, is healing
Where are his eyes?
We pass the blue water tower I
Always look for
Does Dad see it?
My friend Ilga lived nearby I say
We worked together at the newspaper
She was the most successful ad seller
The paper had
Once I read dad an article I wrote
On Bullock’s Junk Yard in Warrington
A bore, pronounced dad, who was neither
Tactful nor dishonest
What you look for when going to the lake
Is what you look for at the movies
The first moment Elizabeth Taylor takes the stage
Only this time it’s the blue of Lake Galena
Blue like Dan’s eyes

It’s a blue lake today
Not gray or muddy brown
The sun has cast it thus
We pull in and I cantilever Dad
Into his wheelchair
The only thing that distinguishes him
From a dead man
Is his eyes which alight on me like
I'm a quenching glass of water

I push him along the sidewalk
Easily
Gracefully
Then begin to run
Perhaps the blue heron will be out today
Or the eagle guarding his chicks in his nest
We take the pier
The water shivers below
Gently like tossing a basketball
Into the net
I push the wheelchair
Over the edge and watch him sink
His bald pate the last thing I see
The last memory I have of the man who
Was my father for all of thirty-four years
The man who taught his little Ruthie to type
When I was only eight years old
A Jewish Marine who loved his Bernice
And fathered six children
Walking slowly back to the car
I remember our life together
Quickly
As if I too have drowned with the man
And then buckle him back in his seat
And drive home.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Freda made me promise....


About eight years ago I got a call from a stranger named Freda Samuels. "My husband and I would like to meet you," she said. "Come for dinner."

I'd written an article for the local paper on - what else? - bipolar disorder and that's how she and I became friends.

On the eve of their trip to China a few years ago, her husband Bernie had a slight pain in his chest. Gas, he told his wife.

She took him to the doctor and it was not gas. It was the start of what would've been a major heart attack. He had major surgery.

"He would've been dead," she said, "while we were flying to China. Bashert!" she said, the Yiddish word for fate.

Just promised her last nite I'll go to a rheumatologist for my sciatica.

I'M SICK OF LYING IN BED ALL DAY LONG!

Bob Gordon turned me onto a free online documentary series called Documentary Heaven.

Great name, n'est-ce pas?

Took me forever to decide what docs to watch. Started to watch one about a psychopath, a man who killed his brother just for the fun of it, but I didn't like the idea of his manipulating me and everyone else, so I shut it off. Psychopaths are master manipulators.

Watched a fascinating film about the rise of Vladimir Putin. Vladimir the Terrible they should call him, a truly awful dictator who has set Russia back to the days of Stalin, his idol. Kill everyone who opposes you. Or lock them up.

My support group has gone hiking at the Schuylkill Nature Center, followed by lunch at Bruno's in Chestnut Hill. Last time I was at Bruno's I had macaroni and cheese.

I'll be eating that after my kidney transplant. Cheese is out for me now. No dairy. It contains phosphorus.

Can you imagine a life without cheese? It can be done.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Remembering my psychopathic clients

As we know, at least two things are true.

If you have eggs in the house, you won't go hungry.

And if you've got a computer, you won't be bored.

I've just spent some time learning about sociopaths. Bob Gordon, PhD, who we interviewed in last year's Compass has a terrific website you can go to here.

I clicked on his YouTube videos and reaquainted myself with them.

When I worked as a therapist at the now-defunct Bristol-Bensalem Human Services I had a number of psychopaths - now known as antisocial personalities - for clients.

Rathan seeing them as individual clients, I put them into groups I ran.

These people weren't very successful cuz they all got caught early in their careers. They're probably still out there breaking the law. As Bob Gordon says, they promise to change but never do.

One guy, who was a pedophile, couldn't be in a group cuz he had a day job, so I saw him after work. He smelled awful so I told him that the next time he came in he should wear deodorant.

He did. He looked real sharp. I saw him one other time and then he never came back again.

I reported him to his probation officer who never got back to me. Too many people on his caseload, I suppose.

Those were the days! Judy Diaz in the next room. Greg Perri down the hall. Linda Cleighton at the front desk. Two hour lunch hours, many spent walking thru Resurrection Cemetery where Simon had a brother buried under a rock, and a pair of working kidneys.

Finished Editor's Corner


The toughest part of the Compass is the Editor's Corner. I worked on it for about a week, then emailed it to Sarah for her opinion. 'Powerful but dark' is what she said.

When she was in town on Thursday we talked about my potential kidney transplant while we were still at Einstein Hospital. Sarah had been there all day and had seen various incompetencies which she recounted on her blog.

Mom, what would you like to eat after your transplant?

As you know, I'm a strict diet - low protein, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium.

Don't mind my salivating now, Pavlov, as I write my list - CAPS indicate forbidden food

mashed POTATOES with garlic

spaghetti sauce with TOMATOES

sliced fresh MANGO

homemade WHOLE WHEAT bread

ORANGE slices

BANANANANANAS

carton of YOGURT w/crunch topping

But it's mostly the spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce I'm looking f/w to.

We asked Radi Zaki (photo in previous post) about the lifespan of the kidney donor. Swedish studies, he said, show they live longer than their non-donor counterparts. I asked why. B/c they are selected for their good health. Not everyone passes muster. Only the truly fit are eligible to donate.

The last transplant done at Einstein by my team - Radi and Stalin - was a liver transplant.

Sarah asked if they were tempted to eat it.

They laffed and said they'd lose their jobs if they did. No Hannibal Lechters they.

Sarah suggested I eat lots of liver and kidney to cure my conditions - 'like curing like' - homeopathy, which is a crock.

Scott and I watched the 1953 movie Ivanhoe last nite, the largest grossing film of that year, and starring Robert Taylor (my dad's favorite actor) and Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca the Jewess. Great film! Made by MGM, it was a joint US-Great Britain production, a strategy pioneered by the newly deceased Dino deLaurentiis to increase film revenues.

Gee, I wish there were one person who read this blog overseas. Raise your hand if that's you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Post-Einstein Appointment

Cleveland's Wade Park

It's always a sobering experience driving down to Einstein Hospital here in Philadelphia and focusing on one topic only: my failing kidneys.

As I near the total shut-off of these vital organs, I contemplate my demise. Fear? Not really. I think of death as simply a very long sleep. I'm comforted that my kids and their families will be inhabiting the earth - and also that millions of other wonderful people who love life and appreciate life - especially one's first college years, which I so much enjoyed - will be alive and contributing to our planet.

What's to fear?

I spent hours last nite watching several Frontline documentaries. I particularly enjoyed learning about how we got into the war in Iraq, the intense power struggle that went on in the Bush White House and how Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld prevailed with their carefully woven web of lies as the might of America destroyed this once cradle of civilization.

But look! Here comes the sun over Charley's house. It's 7:45 a.m. I'm gonna listen to A Love Supreme by John Coltrane and start my new library book - Heat and Dust - by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala - A German Jewish woman who married an Indian architect - and became the screenwriter for the Merchant-Ivory movies.

Her book is fiction. Already on page 5, she has a wonderful line I'd like to quote for you:

And through it all I've learned one thing: you can't live in India without Christ Jesus. If he's not with you every single moment of the day and night and you praying to Him with all your might and main - if that's not there, then you become like that poor young man with the monkey taking lice out of your hair. Because you see, dear, nothing human means anything here. Not a thing, she said, with the contempt of any Hindu or Buddhist for all this world might have to offer.

Seize the day while your kidneys work!

And be sure to read my daughter Sarah's tragicomic post about our day at Einstein.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Einstein day or You mean, it's only 8 pm?

What a long day! This is transplant surgeon Radi Zaki, MD. The man is young, 42, according to the Internet, and graduated from Cairo University.

The other surgeon, Stalin Campos, 46, from El Salvador, poked his head in the door. I asked him when he performed his last transplant.

Sunday nite, he said.

Is the patient still alive? I asked.

Yes, he said, knocking on the door frame.

This is Paige Lockwood, RN, nurse coordinator, a really great gal who calls everyone 'sweetie.'

Sarah came in early in the morning for tests as a possible donor.

Dan drove me to Einstein. He brought a book in case he got bored: Dive in with Python, a programming language.

I promised Scott I would watch Frontline tonite, the show about the forced confessions to a rape and murder. He wants my opinion about the suspects. One of them is from nearby Warminster, PA.

I'll watch it on my new laptop. I have two weeks to decide whether or not to return it. I like it. Scott's got my old Dell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I swear I was working when the phone rang....

Judy Kroll. Note Carl Yeager's Pink Tulip I bought at his show at Moss Rehab in Elkins Park, PA.

Indeed I was listening to Brahms' Symphony No. 1 on WRTI-FM and working on the difficult Editor's Corner and Judy Kroll was calling me.

I'm on your street, she said, calling from her carmine-red mini-van.

Which house is it?

Yellow house, I said from my bed, where I was tapping away on my new Acer.

Oh, I see it, she said. I'm there!

Sure enough, larger-than-life Judy Kroll pulled up and parked out front.

You look great, Judy, I said, limping out to meet her. You lost weight!

Judy is a champion bike rider and got her husband and 9-yo son Max involved in riding. The man who inspired her to ride recently died which shook her up. He was only 47. On account of that, she's making out her Bucket List.

I have only one thing on my list - a desire to visit The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, near the border of New York.

I told Judy that bar none my favorite years were when I was a stay-home mom taking care of Sarah and Dan. I did this in Giddings, TX; Austin, TX; and then Huntingdon Valley, PA, and Upper Moreland PA.

Judy agreed. "Max gets me," she said of her son. On her Blackberry she showed me a short video of his playing a Beatles tune, w/o looking at the music.

Judy has more chutzpah than any woman I know. And that's good! In August, she and her family visited the Rock n Roll Museum in Cleveland. I only saw the outside of it but hopefully I'll go back.

She mentioned Cedar Point in Sandusky OH.

Cedar Poin
t! I said. You mean it's still there! It was an amusement park we went to as kids.

In August, Judy, Barry and Max went to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Here they are at the very bottom with the brown muddy Colorado River.

Take me there someone, take me there.

A quick procrastinary maneuver and then a'Compassin

This, the blog, is the procrastination.

Tomro I have an important Kidney appointment. I'll meet the whole Einstein Hospital team - Dr Arraya, the nephrologist (we have no idea how to spell this word), plus the head of the Transplant Program, Radi Zaki, MD. Hopefully he's an MD and not a quack.And I'll see my beloved Paige Lockwood, nurse coordinator.

So, I finished the Jane Fonda autobiography: My Life So Far, written in 2005. Excellent! Yes, I know she was just on Oprah. Jane Fonda is an absolutely wonderful and honest woman. Sometimes I check her blog which is off to your Right.

Because of her involvement with Vietnam, it reminded me that many years ago I wrote a newspaper article about the artist Minh Hang who hailed from Vietnam. The story was so good I got it in the Inquirer.

I'd gone to a local art gallery and stood transfixed in front of some charcoal drawings done by a teenager named Minh Hang. The gallery owner put me in touch with him and I drove over to the Main Line where he had been 'adopted' by a Jewish family. He was completing art school.

While I was interviewing Minh, I began to get psychotic. I'd already been diagnosed with manic depression, and for some reason, my psychosis was breaking thru.

Knowing me, I undoubtedly had my pills with me and took some Haldol to stop the psychosis.

I did manage to write a beautiful article. When I showed it to Minh, he said, It's so simple. You didn't use any big words.

Sure, it was just the story of a young man's life and coming of age.

After reading the Fonda book, I googled Minh Hang and found him. He's living in Georgia and still creating art. Find him here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Surprise phone call! - Hello Haraan!


I was upstairs in bed a'Compassing when the phone rang.

It was none other than Roberto Hernando Cartagena, former husband of my sister Donna, and father of Melissa and Nikki, two of the most sublimely beautiful women, inside and out, you've ever met.

Sunday nite was Melissa's 40th birthday party held in some Manhattan pad. Herman, as we've always called him, had been talking on the rooftop after the party, and my daughter Sarah told him about my kidney problems.

Herman was very concerned and wanted me to try all sorts of alternative treatments, but I explained to him, the only thing that will help me is getting a new kidney.

Herman is originally from Ecuador. He and his family are educators, having worked in NYC schools. Daughter Nikki followed in his footsteps as a teacher. Melissa missed that calling and shocked us all when she announced many years ago she wanted to be a dentist. And is.

Last year Scott drove us all to Long Island for her wedding where Sarah officiated as minister. I can still see it in my mind's eye.

Since I'm still not driving, Scott drove me to the AT and T store to buy a new charger. This handsome young man - Haraan - sold it to me. His name is a combo of some important people in his life.

View of life from the backseat where I rode on my belly. First time I ever looked at the roof of my car. It looked soft as lambs' wool but when I touched it, it was PLASTIC. Oh, you know these Mercedes.

Scott and I watched a terrific movie - A Perfect World, directed by Clint Eastwood in 1993, and starring Kevin Costner as an escaped con and beautiful gutsy Laura Dern as a criminologist. Eastwood didn't want a role in the film but Costner prevailed on him so he played a lawman out to get Costner.

Riveting film with good characterization. Costner took a 7-yo boy hostage who was played extremely well by TJ Lowther. There's nothing worse than a poor child actor, but TJ was excellent.

Quick, can you name some other child actors? Brandon de Wilde, soft-voiced Margaret O'Brien, Liz Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Jackie Cooper. Whew! The mind works sometimes.

Scott only slept thru bits n pieces of i=the film, as he's constantly catching up on his sleep. Maybe after he retires in 10 years, he'll be able to sleep a week straight without looking at his watch and saying, Somebody's gotta go to work around here.

Here we go a'Compassing

Took the phone off hook last nite and worked on the Compass for a couple hours.

My wonderful trusty boyfriend carried my new laptop upstairs so I could work on it in bed, with a little soft music on the rad.

You know, when I used to suffer from manic-depression, I couldn't appreciate music when I'd get depressed. Anhedonia. (Loss of pleasure.) However, with sciatic pain, one is in a constant state of anhedonia.

Pleasure is returning however.

My eyes are delighted by the fall colors.

My ears are delighted by music on the classical station.

My palate is delighted by the taste of breakfast - scrambled eggs, toasted Anadama bread, and sliced green apple.

I require huge hugs from Scott. The power of touch.

Haven't seen Grace Catherine in over a week. O my heart!

Okay, it's upstairs now for me, gotta go a'Compassing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ethiopian man finishes first, wife roots for him back home / Poem: Sciatica


By the time I came limping home with my new Acer laptop, the race was finished! The female winner was also an African, a woman from Kenya, who'd taken a five-year-break from running.

Only problem with my new laptop is I don't have Internet access. Scott and I can't figger out how to set it up. Dan will be over next week. He and his family went to a Farmer's Market in Elkins Park - I think the Weinsteins go there, right Stephen? - and they bought lots of meat - pork, beef and lamb.

Did you know that when man began eating meat hundreds of thousands of years ago their brains soared in size. Don't forget, animal-hunting was also a cooperative endeavor with plenty of planning involved.

Similar to the Marathon. It finished up in Central Park.

A very long time ago, then-boyfriend Paul and I went to a free concert in Central Park...Leonard Bernstein performed Rite of Spring. I think. Don't quote me. I haven't eaten meat since Saturday when I forgot I wasn't sposed to eat meat and after buying the Acer, Scott and I stopped into Slack's Hoagies and I ordered a mealball hoagie.

It was delicious. I finished all but two bites so Scott fed it to the backyard fox.



Although my leg is still killing me - no. 7 on the 10 scale - I decided I was up for making a bread. This is called an Anadama and is from my old Joy of Cooking.

This kidney-healthy bread is made with white flour, cornmeal, an egg, and honey. It's rising in the oven now with a wet towel across the top.

Two loaves of Anadama Bread

Nothing like bread and butter. Because of the egg I added, the bread has a soft cakelike texture. Delicious!

While abed with sciatica I watched loads of cooking shows. I particularly like Mary Ann Esposito and will order her autographed book online. Lydia is also good but a bit too pompous and bossy for me. Lead them gently, Lydia.

Hmm, wonder whatever happened to Lydia Lewis former head of the DBSA. I did a phone interview with her for the Compass but never published it b/c she'd been fired.

Ya know what she said to me on the phone? "I'm not used to answering personal questions."

Ask me anything? Bra size? I don't wear one. Took it off at age 19.



I love this photo of my messy kitchen table. Note the Starbucks cup which holds my hot chocolate.



Took this picture of my backyard just for you. Took it from my backporch. Still have a full maple of green leaves.

Wrote this poem several years ago about another attack of sciatica. Remind me to do my exercises later on.

And to read the instructions on how to use this laptop.

SCIATICA

Everything is shut down,
A purple curtain has been drawn
across the place I lie.
Books stacked on the floor
cannot be opened or even
acknowledged as friends.

The ring of the phone goes unanswered
The tump of the mailbox
is merely a sound,
a cqll to which I cannot reply.

For I am lying on the couch,
my new home,
The covers are puylled up to my eyes,
as if peace and softness
can vanquish the misery inside.

One day the leg is mine,
bending, obeying,
the next day it's a freak,
not leg so much as
folded-up ironing board,
hot with pain,
begging to be carried
or laid down to rest,
its sizzling miles of track
crackling at unexpected moments.

Just the two of us,
Pain and I,
lying side by side
under the covers,
an indecent pair,
A tireless lover
who won't leave my side.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

I'm following the NYC Marathon, are you?

Perhaps it's b/c I can barely walk, perhaps it's b/c running feels so great on one's legs and feet with the wind flowing toward your face, I shall be watching New York's Marathon via the NY Times tomorrow.

And what, Dear Reader, will you be doing?

Look how organized they. This is the ING-New York Marathon's website.

Some highlights I gleaned for you:

Breakfast will be offered until it runs out:

tea

Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water (yes, I'll have that but in a glass bottle if you still make em, I think the formula has something to do with sand)

Gatorade Prime and Endurance Formula - mmmm, I like lemon

bagels - I get mine at Manhattan Bagel, just cream cheese and scallion, please, Ilya

PowerBars - too dry

Dunkin' Donuts - my favorite coffee tho I stopped drinkin it

WAVE STARTS:

To alleviate congestion of releasing 45,000 runners all at once, runners will be released in "waves" of 15,000 each, depending on their recorded times.

Disabled racers will run first.

Start-up times for Racers are:

9:40 a.m. - 10:10 a.m. - and 10:40 a.m.

DISCARDING CLOTHES:

They advise you wear extra layers of "disposable clothing" which you discard at the start of the race into the marked bins. These clothes will be distributed to the needy.

My friend Rich Fleisher ran the marathon for several years with his son Aaron. Rich stills runs daily but he and Ada are visiting Aaron, wife Anissa and their year-old son Alec Reid in DC this weekend to celebrate Alec's first birthday!

When I was first diagnosed with manic-depression back in 1984, I was a runner. After I was put on lithium my anxiety levels soared so I would run to alleviate the anxiety. Now the only time I'm anxious is right now - I've gotta finish this blog by 9 o'clock so I can watch a GREAT MOVIE on Channel 12: Howards' End, a Merchant-Ivory film.

I have no idea what time it is cuz half my clocks are set for Fall Time.

Guess what?

I'VE EMBRACED FACEBOOK!

Never say never.

I've taken a Leadership Role. And, guess what? I don't care if anyone follows me. I've just gotta play my conscience.

Saw this outstanding video on Edison Pena, the Chilean miner who ran in the mines during his forced captivity, attaching extra leg weights onto himself. Go Edison!

His name reminds me of my transplant surgeon's - Stalin Campos. They name you after your heroes.

I also favorited my new computer - the Acer, made in Taiwan. The billionaire who started the company in 1976 Stan Shih, born in 1944, retired in 2004 and does charity work.

Unfortunately the computer wasn't ready until an hour ago and Scott had already left to be with some friends. He went to pick up four pizzas at Grant and the Boulevard, a famous place, can't remember the name, and he'll bring it to his friend Mike's in Abington where he'll meet Paul Bongart, a friend from childhood. Bongart is active on Facebook but I don't spy on anybody othan Grace Catherine Deming, my grandbaby.

Did I tell you I got rid of Comcast cuz the price kept spiraling just like my age. Scott will install an antenna in my attic so I can get reception. When I used to get manic, I thought dead babies were up in the attic. That's pretty gruesome. I never was no nun.

So all those marathoners are psyching themselves up tonight. And you know what? It's snowing in Cleveland.

Called Aunt Selma who said, You're a nice girl, Ruthie.

You, too, Selma, I said. Her daughter Linda is in Buffalo at the engagement party of her son Adam and his girl Molly.

I call Selma every day that Linda is gone.

Can't wait till I can walk again!

View Edison Pena, the Chilean runner here.

And now....I'm outa here. I forgot I'm wearing my watch. I've got 13 minutes to make it to Scott's including my snacks of grapes and hard-boiled egg w/mayo.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Pain abating, I buy a new laptop at Staples

Sad to say I just read one of the best articles ever on Barack Obama, written by the son of the famed Keynesian economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Read what fils has to say. Read it and weep.

You sure you wanna go? asked Scott.

I was sitting on the couch panting in pain.

Gimme my goddamn cane, I said.

Off we went to Staples with me on my belly in the back seat.

Scott opened the car door and I crawled out. Right in front of me entering the doors was a man on permanent crutches.

I stopped off at a display of tiny computers. I had examined them all online in the dark of the nite. Some people do porn online, some people gamble, some do speed dating unbeknowst to their partners, but I tingle my neurotransmitters by viewing laptops and dreaming they're mine.

What kind of a goddamn person am I anyway? A person who loves things more than people?

Earlier I'd called Staples and spoken to Fallon. Asked her some questions. Ah, here she was now...beautiful Fallon, named after a character in Dallas.

She sets me straight rightaway. These are 'notebooks,' she says, ascertaining that I wanna do real work on them. Notebooks, she says, are like cellphones. WTF! EEK! HELP! Smelling salts please! More lithium. Knock me out.

Fallon escorts Scott and me around the corner where a long row of computers are set up for test drives. My favorite is an expensive white Sony, beautiful design. "We just started carrying the Sony," she says. "I personally haven't sold any."

We move to the Acer computer. "People are afraid of them," she says, "b/c they've never heard of them. I like them. They're a good value and are fast and have good memories."

The price is better than the HP and the Toshiba.

I ask if I can use the phone to call my son.

"Dial 9," she says.

He has no idea who's calling him at work.

"Dan," I say. "This is mom. I'm at Staples buying a new computer."

"Mom, I gotta go," he says.

"Okay," I say and hang up. I'll call him later to check and make sure I'm doing the right thing. Indeed he gives me the go-ahead and says maybe he and his family will stop in on Sunday. BOY is he ever busy!



Fallon asks if I want a chair.

I'll stand, I say. My leg has become a separate creature. A wild out of control animal that follows me wherever I go.

Go away, I wanna shout. Get the hell out of here.

It doesn't work like that.

I'll tell you what I'd like to do. I'd like to lower myself into a foaming hot tub and have the jets massage that wild animal and give him some peace.

Instead, I'll drink some fabulous hot chocolate. Did I tell you I'm drinking again? Hold on, lemme go downstairs and boil some water. It'll just take a sec.

Yum! Hits the spot. I know, I know. You're running into the kitchen to fix your own hot chocolate. OR, stop on by. I'll be happy to limp on downstairs, I'm wearing my fave tie-die pants I bought for $5 the last time we were at Ocean City. Am also wearing one of my wonderful warm woolen sweaters I bought at Impact Thrift in Hatboro, the old Santerian's Department Store that my kids HATED. Wonder if there's a Wiki article on that. Remind me to check later.

I got this horrible email earlier today I wanna share with you as the leader of your bipolar/depression support group. It was so awful I BCC'd it to Ada and Margie.

Hello Ms.Deming,
Goodmorning, my name is XXX and I am a PsyD student at Immaculata University. I am also a psychotherapist at Central Montgomery Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center in Norristown. I am presently working on my dissertation and the study is on suicide. I am seeking participants for my interview and soliciting your help.

I was given your name by Tony Salvatore. I am requesting that I place a flyer in your building to recruit individuals. Please let me know if this is a possibility. I can be reached at XXXXX I will be able to give you more information and answer any other questions you might have. Thank you most kindly. Have a good day XXXX

My reply:
XXXX, this is a very serious and sensitive subject.
Placing an anonymous brochure about suicide at our support group is, to me,
an amazingly insensitive thing to do.
Please find someone else to help you

The real reason I bought a new laptop is simple.

We're got a Compass magazine coming out. A real good issue. My old Dell laptop, which I'm on right now, is impossibly slow. In three years it's seemed to have aged 50 years.

Scott will get this computer and I'll get the Acer. Click here and you'll see the new one. See the low low price? It's like buying a new car. All the important parts are optional. From the low low price I wound up paying something like $800. Scott and I brought a 10 percent coupon in.

I knew w/o even looking at it the coupon would be no good. Sure enuf, when Fallon studied it she read the important words. "excluding computer purchases."

Does anybody ever win?

I'm talking to you!

Does anybody ever come out ahead?

Answer me, if you know the answer.

As for me, I'm finishing my hot chocolate, then taking a quick dip in the hot tub and afterward, going to Scott's for some movie-watching in bed. Today we watched Destry Rides Again with Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, an excellent shoot-em-up. Her English was quite good.

Iris, so glad you liked Wade in the Water Dry. We've both gotta continue to write more poems.