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.