Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Sometimes I can see red buds on the Christmas cactus
beginning to open and know tomorrow's the day
when the entire world changes

Sometimes I hear
rain on sidewalk roof running down gutter
and feel everything's inside a giant washing machine on a binge

Sometimes I think about something I've always hated to think about,
and when I do, it seems less scary so I wonder where the scary part went,
but then I don't care

Sometimes a wad of sorrow rolls up to get me,
but then I blow my nose good,
because I can.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Return Cubicle
I'm moving next week to a new cubicle with an available wall that will allow me to stretch out away from my usual daily cramp. IT has been notified about the forthcoming move as has the telecommunications department of one person. I get to make new labels for my file folders, a fitting exercise for an approaching end-of-year turn.

Today was the Christmas Party on the seventh floor, a cozy game hen for each person with aluminum foil tubs of macaroni and cheese, collards, rolls, salad, and peach cobbler with ice-cream. Today also was the day I discovered that the Lemon Drop Cafe is a medical marijuana club, upstairs a bakery with a case of frosted three layer cakes from Santa Cruz.

To get to the basement a person has to show a medical card for admission. I wonder what the conversations are like, but this was early in the morning probably before the marijuana rush, after I did a quick grocery shopping and dropped off the perishables at home before heading to the cubicle, soon to be changed, ordered a coffee that came with a chocolate swirl stick, maybe to make up for its lack of a cover, which I managed to balance along San Pablo to Franklin Street without too many spills.

Sunday, November 23, 2003


Passenger Svetlana Minchiker said she was talking on her cell phone as the blast went off — a bang that left her so disoriented she thought at first the phone had exploded. "At first I did not see anything except my hands," she said, holding up one hand still stained red. A trickle of dried blood marked her left cheek. -- Report of a suicide bombing in Jerusalem

We bleed into each other's cell phones in the supermarket, at the ticket office, in the toilet stall, on the bus I hear your life is following me your whole family and friends waiting for you to come home in an hour about all the people you're trying to escape the ones you never want to lose I hear about the heart attacks and the nervous breakdowns what he really should of done instead of opening his big mouth I know where you'd like to go if you could get an extra day off and still waiting to buy tickets for the 9pm show while you went shopping at a real steal with discount coupons you clipped from a newspaper the lines in front of the register tell me to remember to hold the date while you take two blue pills and how you stayed up all night like a wheel balanced on its rim sheer chrome shining a bus deadheading its way to the division yard for repairs, and I'm feeling you I'm feeling you right now

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

A new mattress was delivered to my house yesterday; the old one hauled off to the compressor. My friend's care package finally arrived with an assortment of sweaters, skirts, and jewelry. Whale-watching on the horizon, a visit to New York a possibility. Attending to AC Transit schedule changes on the Web site. Want to get more sleep. Want to do more writing. November is slipping away.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Restoring Wetlands

A Great Egret,
regal in its plumage,
pokes through mud

the way I restore
the wetlands of my soul,
levee by levee.
Laptop Gypsy Lament
Will you bootleg my heart
and sell it for next to nothing
down by the waterfront

while I go around town
carrying the original,
beating a message
I don't get?

I thought you and I,
so many years ago,
were going to harness
wildness in our art,

make it sing
the way a twig still vibrates
with the song of a sparrow.

Online Dating Service
Of all the men online,
I love James113 the most,
him with his green eyes
staring right through me.

But no matter how many times
I look at his profile,
he never answers e-mail.
Tell me, what can I do?

It sounds like we have
so many mutual interests.
He watches the same

television programs,
even has a scar
like I do.

You think I'm a fool
to bookmark his picture?
I will have no other
on my desktop.

When the moon dangles
like a charm bracelet
between two hills,

my love will call to me
in the dance of my dreams.

Friday, October 31, 2003

In Time With the Music
A single melody keeps playing in my head, time after time, by Miles Davis. Miles in my head, I recently succumbed to a promotion by the Jazz Heritage Society and ordered six new CDs. It’s time to sharpen my jazz chops.

My daughter is gone for two nights with scheduled check-in points along the way. She’s attending co-ed parties in the outer regions of Lafayette. We had our first real discussion about being intimate. She says she’s curious, but not ready. She left the house last night wearing a belt that my father made in the hospital before he died. She is the first person to wear that belt of loops. She found it in the back of my closet.

My boundaries will hold. Lawrence is back home. I’ve withdrawn from the circle. I pray that without a foil for his inability to take care of himself (me), he learns how to make decisions that embrace life. I go into the world on this Halloween day as Neo from the Matrix dressed in robes of red, black, and green.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Something to say when your daughter asks,
“Why can’t our family be like everyone else’s?”

Because the truth is there really is no everyone else,
only the two of us washing through the sieve of each day,
making sure we come out of it in one piece,

and beside, why think either one of us
come close to being like everyone else
when we’ve always been so much who we are,

you with your loud mouth and smart answers,
and me acting like I know what's best for everyone
when I've never chosen that for myself.

But the truth is, even though I've tried,
I could never be like everyone else.
My look-a-like never bore the slightest resemblance.

Plus, who knows, I might settle down
for a long sleep in a goose down bed,
turn out the lights, and never snap out of it,

not hear the speaker system,
with its volume cranked up to sky-high,
telling me to get out quick

unless I wanted to totally forget myself,
my deck of cards and pearl earrings
on the vacant lot of my origins,

pull a steel-toed boot way over my damp head.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

I Cry Your Tears
Fire and fog on the morning commute, a car crash against the side wall with a police officer looking beneath the vehicle that was smoking from its hood and slowing down the usual sluggish morning crawl to a slower crawl, which sped up once drivers got an eyeful, until we hit a low bank of fog around Grand Avenue, which plopped over the Grand Lake Theater like a bowl of lumpy oatmeal. News of Faith Fancher's funeral service at Church of St. Leo the Great, a woman who went through life clearing a path with her heart. My friend Pele, in a rehabilitation center in Petaluma, is recovering from pneumonia dreaming of her prints and paintings. Lawrence is returning to his house tomorrow with insulin to inject. And I find myself slowly refilling the red balloon of my new life, sailing above the Mormon Temple over the hills again away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Some kind of ice sculpture I've gotten myself into, which needs to be shattered with a pick-ax. What the heck is a pickax? According to bartleby.com:

A pick, especially with one end of the head pointed and the other end with a chisel edge for cutting through roots, with a certain etymology from Middle English picax, alteration (influenced by ax, ax) of picas, from Old French picois (from pic, pick) and from Medieval Latin pcsa, both probably from Latin picus, woodpecker

but it's also listed on the net as a college and as a Mesopotamian creation myth.

Either way, I need one.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Free Falling
I can take a breath after a marketing meeting where we actually agreed on a specific direction regarding the listserve; my strategy was to continue to add to a report until the accumulated information became its own best decision-maker, plus cold medicine served from my diagonal cube mate that helped me step out of a fog. Then on to San Francisco to do passenger counts on the east and westbound NL line at the TransBay terminal.

This last year I've been in goal-oriented mode, driven by the requirements of planning my daughter's bat mitzvah and then quickly shifting to separating from Lawrence; I'd almost checked off the next item on my agenda, the divorce, as if I were a rocket hurtling through space, going through three stages of flight.

But with Lawrence's hospitalization, I realize I'm not in control; probably never was, a sensation that has no gravitational pull, free falling.

My plans for moving on have dropped through the ozone. I cannot proceed with my to do list while Lawrence is so vulnerable, regardless of the quality of our life together. There is something I need to find out, something I don't know.

There is nothing for me to do anymore. My God, how can serve you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

In a Wonton
Advertisements mining our souls to be consumers as I'm drawn back into the vortex of Kaiser Permanente Post-Acute Care Center. Noam Chomsky explains what's behind more blasts in Gaza. Tiger bites and gay guys with straight eyes. Indigeneous People's Day where crumpled tissues in the shape of Calla Lilies dot my desk.

I bought soccer shoes for my daughter with red cleats at SportsMart as a casserole of turkey wings cooked for several hours on a raft of cabbage and bacon.

Lawrence Livermore Laboratory was named after a jock who liked running around in circles. Everything will or won't ever happen.

I'm a wonton wrapper on the kitchen countertop of time.

Fill me with surprise.

A sweet potato is a member of the morning glory family.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

At Yom Kippur services, the community surrounded the cantor as she can-opened a rivulet of sound, and we all poured out.

I must trust that my life will happen without my own worried direction.

Fronting On Water
Floating on a raft of asparagus lashed together with scallions. Someone's been busy in the kitchen tonight, but I could care less for sauce than to be wearing boots on my feet. I'm walking on water, and it's not just me nibbling at the stalks. No siree. Almost everyone from around these parts knows where the asparagus raft comes from; one eases down the river just about every 100 years the way some baseball teams win at the play-offs. And I just happened to stumble along.

Friday, October 03, 2003

A Search Party Was Arranged
I stood at the edge of Children's Fairyland waiting for my walking partner to arrive. A white woman approached and asked if I were "Carol." She also was waiting for someone that she didn't know. Later, I saw an African-American woman with braids tentatively approach her, and they walked away together.

I sort of knew Soren. We'd met through an online dating service. Several weeks before, we'd had breakfast followed by a short hike around a shopping center. We'd almost went to a concert in San Francisco, but it turned out to be the same weekend that Lawrence had been hospitalized. I had to cancel with apologies. Mostly I knew that Soren seemed to be a sweet and supportive man. I'm not sure how you get to trust people except by spending time with them, and seeing how they bounce around on life's trampoline.

I waited, but he was a no show. Something must've happened. For a moment, I considered walking around the Lake by myself, but I couldn't manage it. I knew I was disappointed. After a week of visiting Lawrence in the ICU, I had anticipated some stab at normalcy. For a second moment, I considered going to the supermarket and bringing home food, but I couldn't manage that either.

I got in my car. Yesterday, I'd taken it to the Automotive House in downtown Oakland for a tune-up, a different garage and mechanic than my usual one of the past 10 years. The car was running well. I drove toward home. I wanted to have a search party with news bulletins and music.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Frankenstein's Wife
I've come back from the hospital.
You're getting feisty, wanting nurses
to remove restraints from your wrists.

You want to get up from the bed, go to the bathroom.
You and the catheter are one. I show you the bag.

Your energy is beginning to jump across the bed rails.
I watch lightening strike.

I can't stay away and let you go through this alone.
You called me back. You knew I'd come.

I was just beginning to start my own life.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Lucky Room 305
It’s a joke I repeat as if you could hear me beneath the heavy sedation you’re on, with a dialysis machine doing the work of two kidneys, gathering all the blood in you and sending it back. Lucky Room 305, the same room I was in five years ago in my prolonged ICU stay while you stood on the other side of the bed coaxing me back to life.

The doctors say you drink too much alcohol and have compromised your vital organs: Liver, kidneys, pancreas. For years, you have been telling yourself the story of how a bottle of wine before bed helped you to relax.

I suppose the wine did, with sleep apnea and everything else you’ve been contending with, while the bottles collected outside the recycling bin in obscene quantities. I’m not even mad at you any more. I just marvel at the granite quality of your denial.

Still when I look at you, shoulders and upper torso half-exposed beneath the hospital gown, I almost want to press my chest against yours, and for one instant feel your arms surround me, and hear you say how everything will be fine But it’s really not Lucky Room 305. At least, not that way.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Votives of Love
Cascading morning glories
edge along a telephone wire.

A few vines swing from the big-top,
reaching upward without a safety net,

Cars drive with dinner
written on their windshields,

which is when I hear
the shofar echoing inside my heart,

as Lawrence’s blood pumps
through the tubes of a dialysis machine.

The touch of Torah is soft,
but it’s only the cover that my fingers caress.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Call it Fascination
Yesterday, I removed a story from the corporate Web site. I was informed that it was not for public consumption. After all, you don't always want people to know about your business. That would be gossip.

But what I found puzzling in my role as Web information dispenser, was why people were not supposed to know about this event. It was scheduled to occur along a planned route in more than 10 cities at carefully timed intervals where a great flurry of politicians would be present to congratulate each other and their aides in making a commitment to a new kind of public transportation, complete with Dixie Land Band and the passing out of souvenirs and trophies.

The graphics department also had been asked to develop a piece that by the time it went to press with its blessings from staff, became more of a booklet than an invitation.

So maybe you can see where I made the mistake of assuming that the public would want to know about this happening. Who else, if not they, were the politicians actually going to address?

If I were cynical, of course I'd suggest that politicians only talk to people when they are due to be re-elected, but I'm not (that) cynical.

However, it does seems odd that the agency is going out of its way to create events at no small expense with cries of "hire a consultant," precisely to allow our representatives not talk to people.

Maybe this concerns me a bit more because such shredded information is getting members of the public in these pre-recall election days about California and just about everything else.

Having said that, my dilemma was such: what do you do if you throw a big party and don't want anyone else to come?

Call it a media event. Tell the Web master to delete it from the news box.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Chez Henry's
Once I get within coffee distance of Henry's Gallery Cafe on Franklin and 17th Street in downtown Oakland, I know my day has begun.

Henry's is one of those many coffee and lunch shops serving food to workers streaming from a utility company located across the street, in addition to AC Transit, the bus company; not to mention Kaiser Hospital, and a myriad of lawyers, designers, architects, construction and postal workers going to offices tucked in along the diagonals.

In the morning, Henry always stands behind a glass countertop wherein lay the breakfast jewels of the hour: all manner of buttery pastry, danish, croissant, and muffin tempt office workers together with a steaming cup of coffee self-served from a row of coffee cannisters. Henry always knows what I'll get, which is a cup of coffee with some variety of bran muffin. So far I like carrot the best, crunchy with chunks of pineapple and carrot.

The place reminds me of storefronts I grew up with in New York City whose food often supplemented my non-existent lunch and dinner, always run by close-knit families who took pride in operating a clean place with decent food, and were sure to know the regulars.

"Did Zach come in already this morning?" inquires one guy of Henry.

"Yes," he says. "Already got his Diet Snapple." And they both laugh.

Both men know that Zach will never deviate from his morning diet, and take some comfort in that fact.

I am content in knowing that something about me, too, is predictable, and that Henry, a man with a ready smile and supple hands, understands what it is.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Cubist View with Narrative
Three children, one looking like Lawrence when he was younger, resentful of his mother; the other two, the flip side without a father.

I don't understand how he cannot see this, recognize how our children swim in the same hurt.

A single bird chirps outside my window, still dark with morning. Moyshe Segal's goats prance along Leona Canyon; everywhere fierce and distorted life.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Write to Me
By copying a bunch of code into my my header and blogger lines, I've succeeded in allowing other people to write comments into this online space. Now I need to understand how to send out invitations to the party via something called an RSS feed or syndication.

Earlier in the day, I wanted to fly under water like a bird so I went to the local pool and caught a few rays before everyone returned from their Saturday errands. The pool was empty, at least for a half an hour.

I surrendered myself to this medium of chance, dove into the pool and high-tailed myself to the five foot side like a bird moving through air, never coming up once.

A Native American friend once told me to imagine how strong a salmon can be moving inside its own element, which is the only way to understand water, he said.

But what if the element is not water, but an electronic one, like the Web? How do we begin know it when it is always changing just like Heraclitus' river, which we can never step into twice?

Yet there is this recognizable structure, this community, a streambed of email and writing and servers pinging and singing their bits and bytes, Xs and Os lining up in packets, those chromosomes of our communication.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Taking What I Can From Coincidence
Okay, so here I am with the melancholy of tides rolling inside my fog, amphetamines, and pearls. Early occult memory systems still take me back to fields outside Budapest where a man talks to me in a language that isn't Hungarian, some Middle Eastern dialect that I half understand. I don't know what's in the other half and I sort of have a feeling I need to because he's taking me to a place that's filled with horses and the smell of fire and my mother always told me not to go with strangers, but I never listened anyhow, so why start now? Besides, there's nothing to do except listen to my borrowed Bob Dylan box set or turn on the tube and watch cable.

It turns out this guy is a good friend of a friend of mine, and he's staying in Pest for a few days, here to attend a horse developer's conference that's being paid for by his current employer, (he didn't say who that was or maybe that's the half I didn't get), and said he'd like me, of all people, to help him pick out a horse.

"What do I know about horses?"

He laughed, "Good joke, Ginny. We all know you've been riding horses since you were three years old."

All the people standing around the fire begin to laugh, and I guess I feel pretty good that for some reason I see so many gold teeth, which reflect the fire and make it even brighter.

Is that a coincidence, or what?
Sharp Cheddar
Mid-week and how did I get here, a deep breath between Monday and Wednesday, and I'm thinking about what I need to do once I get to work this morning. For now, I've taken care of an emergency shopping refilling the house with bottles of water, sliced turkey for sandwiches, and a block of sharp cheddar to use in the fixings for dinner this evening. The rush of daily requirements like a wave wash over my head.

The secret, older kids told me at the beach when I was younger, is to dive right into the wave.

My water metaphors toggle between ocean and river as I'm about to go over the Class 6 rapid of a mediated divorce. I want to be sure to wear a life jacket and to have a spare in the trunk of my car.

The river runs into the ocean. One of these days I'll be on a raft to somewhere. But on the other hand, I'm not looking to be rescued.

Yesterday Lawrence called about some business between us that turned into a slightly elongated conversation shape-shifting into our different issues. It's curious to me how love can become a travesty of itself, or maybe we become more complex and our sensibility grows into a fuller palette.

I never wanted to change Lawrence. I always thought that love was its own motivation to change. Now I understand that our ability to change has nothing to do with another person, no matter how much we love them.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Raising the Cup to My Lips
There are always bits that catch my ear on the ride to work in the morning, especially on KPFA, today something about the space inside the cup which renders it useful. Otherwise, why would we bother? And to think of it, the cup has more than a utilitarian purpose, because sure, where would I be in the morning without my cup of coffee, or on those particularly hot days as the summer closes down to a scorch here in the Bay Area, where would I find myself without an icy glass for a beer?

A cup or glass serves a particular purpose while it still retains its own integrity: a beautiful glaze, a porcelin shimmer, an ingenious handle. The cup has the ability to exist on several planes, and it is precisely that multipurposefulness which endows it with beauty. Archeologists have been digging up all sorts of vessels from civilizations for years. Wherever we go, we fill and drain our cups.

...a space, an emptiness, the ability to contain something which renders it useful...

With my excursions into online dating, I think the experience that I find so refreshing while at the same time, terrifically scary, is an openness, a certain vulnerability, admitting to the world of dating subscribers that "I'm here, available, and I'm actively looking." Leaving behind a certain subterfuge and a pretense that we are not attracted to certain individuals as we move through the world, and what's more, to even upload photographs with tender notes such as, "I've lost weight since this picture was taken," or "I'm an attractive woman who wants a loving man."

People having the openness to disclose, to reveal the space inside the cup where our lives flow together.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

El Na Refa Na La (God please heal her)
Chanting is a voice where the wild iris blooms in the forest.

Preparing for the Days of Awe, tonight I listened to Sufi and Jewish chanting at the Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center. Performing were: Taneen Sufi Music Ensemble, Musa Dieng Kala; a Senegalese Sufi Singer, and Ya Elah; a Jewish Spiritual Music Ensemble. This is what happened.

One small candle lit with hope and love was passed around the room, lighting up everything without the benefit of electricity. Heat began to radiate from the auditorium. Everyone in Berkeley's gourmet ghetto, just a block away on Shattuck Avenue, for a moment looked up from their dinners and said, "Say, what's happening at the Community Center?" A few even walked over after they'd had dessert and coffee. They were the curious ones.

The chanting kept getting louder and more focused, not just inside the performers but for the audience as well, cranking up the light in the room with each repetition of a chant, until suddenly the smell of soup cooking in the kitchen across the hall for intermission, threw some people off.

But that was a good thing, too, because just then one woman sitting in the last row of the audience holding a large shopping bag, her head wrapped in purple scarves, got up from her chair and shouted, "Let's have a chant-in!"

And then she described how each time zone could start chanting Kol HaN'shama / La Ilaha Il'Allah ( All souls sing praises to God! / There is nothing except the Divine, or whatever else they fancied, but she advised to keep it simple), until the lights in the next zone clicked in and so forth until the entire world had repeated the same thing millions of times, and everyone had heard everyone else's voice traveling over the oceans.

She said then the world and its people would see what happened.

Friday, September 12, 2003

To the Man in Black
I hear the water sprinklers go on every half hour from about 9:30pm to 11pm every night. When I first moved into the complex returning to my origins as an apartment dweller, I was alarmed by the hissing, thinking it sounded like a busted radiator but couldn't be, until I remembered this is California, not the Bronx, and the sound I was hearing was that of water sprinklers. Now I anticipate the sprinklers bursting on the scene and speaking in wet tongues together, an evening ritual that soaks the ground to the consistency and smell of green tea leaves, while I sit in my bed or by the computer listening to crickets and the sound of people still gathered in the pool from across the street.

Those are condominiums. These are apartments.

Once we all started out the same, but nature and the housing market have differentiated us in this suburban corner of Oakland although we are living only a half mile from the freeway. It's part Darwinian; other part supply and demand.

Whenever I walk along Leona Canyon, I discover rabbits, garter snakes, and minions of birds that disappear inside the shelter of glossy California Bay trees.

The moon is almost full tonight, slightly waning over the Canyon. It surprises me how quickly this has become home. I'm unaware of my old house when I pass its exit on the freeway where for more than 20 years I heard ambulances arrive around the corner from Highland Hospital.

Johnny Cash died last night. He's finally escaped from Folsom Prison.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

On this second anniversary of 9/11 the news day begins with children at Ground Zero who are reading off a litany of names belonging to those who died in the conflagration: "I miss you." "We remember you."

And as much as I grieve with them, I dislike propping up these children on television to carry a political message, using their tears to justify a so-called war on terrorism. I, too, cry for those who were killed, but I mostly cry for my country. I cry for how this administration is blatantly trashing our heritage and how The Homeland People now want to color code the kind of airplane trip we take so they can better protect us.

A spate of ACLU meetings please erupt everywhere.

I cry that we allow our politicians to dismember our country on prime time TV, every night the evening news becomes our spectator sport.

"So what'll ya have tonight?

"Salmon? Free-range chicken? Another 87 more million dollars to plow into depleted uranium weapons?"

But I'm also glad to cry today, instead of two years ago when Lawrence, my husband from whom I am separated, left me to cry by myself because he couldn't understand why I was so upset by something that had happened so far away from me, and anyhow, "we had it coming to us."

A cut away from feeling until we are zombies all.

I am beautiful at night listening to music in my room, wearing the long dangling earrings from their treestand, and makeup from a kit wrapped in red tissue paper that my step daughter gave me for my last birthday. Violet eyes.

Say yes to Cambridge SoundWorks and their small sound systems and to boxes that can be easily placed in the back of a trunk.

I am beautiful with candles lit on the top of my dresser drawer and light from the halogen bulb shining in a single circle above the computer screen. I think tomorrow I will bring this same CD to work, Zap Mama, and broadcast it on the seventh floor of the lunchroom and see if the planners and schedulers get up from their desks and start to dance in between cubicle cells like I am doing now in my bedroom. Castanets are not mandatory.

Sharon Doubiago's Hard Country awaits me on my desk, the first in a stack of books.

I am beautiful when music stops playing and I hear cars driving up the street and listen to the humming of a fan inside my laptop, and the burbling of the refrigerator calling to its individual parts. It's movement that interests me tonight, a young man sailing on a skateboard to a bus stop wearing a backpack, one continous movement without breakage.

The Seybold Conference on web technology whooshed me from one workshop to the next. Now I am filled with new code, but I don't know how to execute.