Saturday, October 16, 2010


had a long talk with martha tonight. old friends can remember and connect things you cannot and offer it up like cold melon on a desert serescape. ideas which have been flickering around in my head this week, questions about the change i've made this year and change i yet need to implement, have clarified. the confusion i decided to allow myself and sit in is now resolving somewhat. heady stuff.

an essay i was directed to by cowboy diva gave me a succinct adage/reminder right when i needed it, from none other than that bastard paul (my mother reviled him in particular of all early christian propagandists because of his unwavering woman-hating): "test everything, keep the good." which presupposes trusting oneself AND existing in a functional community, i think.

today is the anniversary of my abdominal surgery, when a hidden carcinoid tumor was removed from me because i had a hunch and insisted on what i deserved. i remember waking up cold and afraid to move in the surgery suite, surrounded by short-haired expert nurses all over 40 years of age, who briskly reassured me, got me to move, and handed me a phone to announce the news of the success they had helped bring about. no brain damage this time, my intestines restored, my stomach noticeably altered, and then a quick trip to the PCU where i was delivered into the extraordinary hands of grace, the perfectly named nurse who set my course for the year that followed. amazing grace.

the goodness of people is unlimitied and bubbles up constantly, looking for a meander it can join. take off your shoes and wade through as you search for your own headwaters. love glues the cosmos together and, they say, smells like raspberries in our corner of space. ♥


Thursday, October 14, 2010


(A Perfect Storm of Turbulent Gases in the Omega Swan Nebula M17)

Every Thursday, I post a very large photograph of some corner of space captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and available online from the picture album at HubbleSite, followed by poetry after the jump.


by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Here's the weekly best of what I've gleaned from I Can Has Cheezburger efforts. There are some really creative folks out there.


Monday, October 11, 2010


I can tell you exactly what I was doing this day a year ago. Well, I could if there wasn't so much shame and fear in the way.

I'll try to push past.

I was hungry. It had been two days since I had eaten. Barbara, the woman I paid to deliver my groceries, was due to make a delivery around 7:00 that night, and I had to distract myself from focusing on the food soon to be in my house. It was around $100 worth and it would have to last me for a month, which it would not quite, so next month I would hit another gap of no food. Following a month of food rationing. But tonight I would eat. I was particularly looking forward to the carton of deli spinach dip I would be getting free as part of my grocery's coupon deal, a rare treat.

However, I was also dreading the physical effort of getting those groceries put away. It would take me several trips, with a chair placed midway to rest. My back and stomach were hurting as they had been off and on for months.

I had decided it was a combination of recurring strain and maybe incipient gall bladder disease. I'd read up on the web about how to deal with the latter, since I had no insurance or means of getting help for any illness, and discovered I really wasn't eating things which should be causing the flares of pain I was having. Sometimes the pain lasted for hours, and it was bad enough to not just put me in bed but keep me from sleeping or resting.

During one severe prolonged episode, accompanied by vomiting, I had in despair decided to distract myself by creating the plot for a new novel, a sequel to my previous sci-fi book Skene. This new book, named Pya, became engrossing enough to occupy my concentration until I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. I'd generally wake up with the pain gone. In July I had started writing the novel down.

This night, I would try to save myself repeated trips of hauling by carrying four or five bags at once, the perishable stuff. I made it as far as that half-way chair before the pain flared worse than ever. What I would days later find out is that I had ripped through my intestinal musculature, rupturing a double hernia. The shift in terrain finalized an intestinal blockage which had been slowly starving me, causing me to lose 85 lbs in the past year.

But I didn't know all that right away. Sweating and pulsing with increasing pain, I just knew I had to lie down. I grabbed the dip and some corn chips, a bottle of gatorade, and headed for bed.

I couldn't find a position that relieved the pain. After a while, I thought maybe some of it was from my stomach being empty so long. I took a couple of bites of chips and dip, along with gatorade. That's when the vomiting started.

I know the dates because it was a Sunday, I missed work that night, and because the grocery delivery is in my email. And I know the terminus, 2 a.m. on the 14th, because that's when I was admitted to the emergency room. So there are two days plus several hours between the final onset and the point where Lisa the ER nurse said "In 30 seconds, what I'm injecting into you IV right now will stop both your pain and your urge to vomit, I promise you." And it worked, an absolute miracle.

Therefore I spent over two days circling the drain toward death, days in which there must have been sunlight and thought, but I don't remember anything but darkness and puking and agony. Trying to ride it out because I didn't have even five bucks in the bank. Occasionally worrying about the food going bad on my floor, how would I eat next month, until a few minutes later the next wave of hurling made that thought a joke.

What I do remember is finally praying to my mama, begging her for help, sending it out into the night, and instantly the pain getting much, much worse. I took that as an answer -- "I can't help you this time, you have to ask elsewhere." There was no phone by my bed then, so somehow I got to the next room, to my desk, where I created an email with key information and mailed it to Jesse. Then I called 911, and then I called Jesse for 30 seconds before getting to the door. I had not been able to find my shoes or underwear, and the clothes I pulled on smelled of puke and piss, but I was mostly covered as I got to my patio railing, gasping and bent over, and the flashing red lights rolled up.

I remember the paramedic's face clearly, how she met my eyes and put her arm around me. I remember the fat guy in the ambulance, how kind and patient he was as I tried to remember my social security number, my allergies, my medical history. And then, at the ER, there was Lisa who spent the next few hours with me, stopping my torment, washing and changing me, figuring out ways to weigh me and get me x-rayed without adding to my burden. She used her cell phone to call Jesse and give the first diagnosis, announce the surgery planned for later in the week.

I'm still freaked about the lost time, humiliated that I ever reached that point, wanting to blame myself or, if it's not my fault, then whose fault is it? How can it get this bad? No wonder people die all around us, how can this be? My life has changed exponentially since then but I still don't feel safe. I wonder if I will ever feel safe again.

I am having trouble celebrating this anniversary. And I have decided to just let it be confused, not a clear spiritual lesson, what it is. Even faith reminds me of that long sojourn alone in the dark, and my belly tingles with the memory of it. Best I can do today.

Aside from telling, of course, the magic elixir of telling.


Sunday, October 10, 2010


In the early 90s I was having a sleepover with Ixchel where we sat up late, talking over our reaction to a Barry Lopez essay we had both just read about when Cortez burned the aviaries of Moctezuma. She told me that if time travel were possible, she would kill Columbus and all his crew as they waded through the surf to reach the New World, not allowing them to so much as set foot in this hemisphere.

I looked at her, a blend of races, wondering at the implications. She laughed and said "Yeah, that would mean I'd never have been born, and I don't care about the space-time contradiction. I'd find a way because it would be worth it."

That night I dreamed a small group of us had, in fact, stumbled across the means to travel through time. I chose to take crates of automatic weaons and three Hueys to Lakota in the Black Hills at the end of the Civil War, when all the soldiers and officers steeped in warfare against their own were turned loose to perform American genocide. I lived among the Lakota to train them in the new technology, but they were fast learners, saying the copters were not much different from ponies.

After I woke up, my modern brain took over, recoiling at the slaughter I was enabling, the arrogance of my assumptions. I also noted that stopping white westward expansion would have hit my own ancestry in the solar plexus, and likely meant the tenuous path to my own birth would have been interrupted -- most of my people moved to Texas as CSA refugees, counting on the hated Union army to "handle" the Comanches and Apaches.

However, I still recall the satisfaction I felt in that dream as fusillades of bullets ripped through blue woolen uniforms, imagining the panicked telegrams that would begin to flow into Washington. It was ferally gratifying, that reset of history.

Europe dodged its need to mature and deal with rot at the core (mostly fueled by patriarchy in the form of christianity) by excreting westward its misfits and substance abusers. Like teenagers who have acquired handguns and credit cards, my people didn't just immigrate to keep from starving (although that is often part of the reality). They also aspired to own land and a house and further their family name, all European ideas of success. They bought 400 years of avoiding coming up with a different, sustainable idea of prosperity and community at a terrible price.

But here we are now as the bills come due, and if there is anything that will enable us to clean up the mess we made, it will be the thinking and will of descendants like me, who refuse to nostalgically celebrate continent-killers and instead dream about arming those who would have stopped our grandfathers, dropping them into dirt moistened by their blood.

The real struggle, of course, is not a scifi dream. It is more complicated and intensive, fueled by self-love rather than guilt because I must believe all my lineage is cheering me on, grateful for my chance at a comprehension they were too limited, too damaged to ever attain in a way that stuck. And forgiving them is also part of the equation, because what is going to save us will not be found in either mythologizing or demonizing those who came before.

Still, I often think of Ixchel's approach -- vaporize Columbus in the waters of the Caribbean -- and ponder what even another 100 years of Europe having to deal directly with its own problems might have done for the future of humankind. Because, in all the most relevant ways, they are us.