25 May 2005


”If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito” – Betty Reese

I’m hopeful and hoping that I’ll be moving into the new place sometime in June. Two steps forward, one step back. When we pulled the tape from the crown molding and baseboards in the living room, it pulled the new flat paint and sheet rock paper right off the wall. Huge rips now, spanning the clean lines of classic light buff But, well, the crown molding is painted. Some previous occupant had painted latex over oil-based paint and it’s impossible to prep the baseboards for painting. So we ripped them off the wall and will replace them.. hopefully this weekend.

I have been trying, throughout the week, to steal lunch hours, breaks and time after work to make bits of progress in the place. If I commence on the kitchen, the last room to be reckoned with before moving in, by this weekend, I feel like I’ll be achieving some kind of meaningful momentum on the project. We’ve decided that we’ll continue to use the bathroom in the back cottage, even after we move in, and not begin the remodel work on that bathroom until after we’re settled in. Maybe that’s foolish – but at least I’m deciding what kind of fool I’ll be.

I look forward to a weekend when all there is to do is a speck of gardening and an adventure with Secret Agent Dog to the beach at Bolinas. We haven’t been yet at all this year and I’m in withdrawal. I miss the ablutions of summer. And I decided, by the way, that yesterday was officially the first day of summer. Not the day I spied the young rattlesnake, but yesterday. It was hot. It was really hot. It was windless and oppressively hot and the trees were still moist and neon green of spring and it was hot. I ate popsicles and didn’t cook dinner.

This weekend we’re supposedly invited to the annual Memorial Day pool party at the friend-of-a-friends house in Terra Linda. The wealthy women who had their lap pool airlifted (okay, they used a crane) into the back yard. I tried to wrangle an invitation to use the pool for months afterwards last year and then surrendered defeat. This year the friends invited us and then said, oh, we have to check to see if it’s okay that we bring you. Which makes the invitation seem like less than an invitation. I feel like I’m waiting to be picked by a team for a dodge ball game and I don’t even like dodge ball.

On Friday the big meeting begins at work – to decide organizational fate. I guess all the negativism I feel in my words (and bones) stem from a sense of doom and dread about these conversations, this process and the decision(s). People will be laid off as a result of decisions – the trajectory of people’s lives will take some dramatic twists and turns. While at some level I’m at peace with the whole thing – I’m just not ready to launch. I hate the waiting but I hate the beginning too. Hate is a strong word and it doesn’t serve.

20 May 2005


True myths may serve for thousands of years as an inexhaustible source of intellectual speculation, religious joy, ethical inquiry, and artistic renewal. The real mystery is not destroyed by reason. The fake one is. You look at it and it vanishes. You look at the Blond Hero – really look – and he turns into a gerbil. But you look at Apollo, and he looks back at you. The poet Rilke looked at a statue of Apollo about fifty years ago, and Apollo spoke to him. ‘You must change your life,’ he said. When the true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message: ‘you must change your life.’” - Ursula K. Le Guin

I had troubling dreams last night. I was on a boat with my mother and others, in the Bayou, it seemed or someplace else mysterious. Something fell in the water, or someone, something that needed saving. My mother, who is historically hysterically fearful of water jumped in to save it. The boat kept going – leaving her behind.

I began screaming that we had to go back. We had to fetch her. How they didn’t understand such a bold move from my mother, who’s fear and panic in the water is inimitable. To risk what she risked by jumping in was more then it perhaps appeared on the surface. The boatman yelled that he couldn’t go back just yet. That he would, but right now it was impossible. I kept looking backward, stretching to see – but we were only moving further away and clarity was lessening by the moment.

Eventually the boat did turn around and fetched her from a medical unit. She looked pale and ashen, deathly really, and had a wound that had been tended, in the shape of an oval, between her ribs on her right side. It was though she had been speared with a sword and this is the mark left behind – neat, oval, and now sewn up. I asked her what happened, pointing to the wound.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I jumped in the water and that skin just fell off. I’m really not sure.” Somewhere along the line she had fainted, perhaps, blacked out and her memory of things were murky. “What was really disturbing,” she went on, “is that when I woke up I was on a cold gurney. There were dead bodies to the right and left. I was in a morgue. They thought I was dead.”

And we sat in silence pondering this as the boat swiftly carried us forward.

It’s unclear that she accomplished her mission. Unclear that she saved anything.. only risked.

And this morning I have this strange sensation of riding in a bright colored car – clear blue sky, soft warm wind, windows open, breeze in my hair, and I’m waving… waving while on my way. It’s all very… sunny.

19 May 2005

Tick Tock

To always be intending to live a new life, but never find time to set about it – this is as if a man should put off eating and drinking from one day to another till he be starved and destroyed.” - Sir Walter Scott

I found a big monster tick - swollen, engorged on a feast of blood – dead on the living room floor this morning. It had to be attached to one of us. I’m certain it didn’t just wander in like that and die.

It’s important that I remind myself, more than once it seems, that living life differently isn’t pinned to decisions about work. Decisions like this just don’t wander in like that – they’re rather attached and sucking the life out of you before they fall off and happen. They’re greedy.

18 May 2005

Look Here

I have died so little today, friend, forgive me.” - Thomas Lux

I reach out and up - hand extended into all this space. It’s as though I’m volunteering. It’s as though I’m trying to touch someone. It’s as if I’m reaching for something to grasp, hang on to, cling to – if I found it, touched it, I’d be chosen. Saved.

I can’t hear your voice in this room. Were you speaking to me? With such profound patience and silence I sit waiting for your single sibilant yes.

It’s raining here, above the 37th parallel. The towering spikes of campanula lay prostrate across the garden, heavy with sky and wind. Handfuls of purple flowers kiss the earth. In my white terrycloth robe and red plastic gardening shoes I trekked about the garden this morning, tying things up.

I would make a wonderful corpse – the way I love the smell of dirt. Ah, but I’d miss the taste and smell of coffee like I already miss tobacco. I imagine there would be plenty of things to miss.

And here I sit amidst all this life, squandering weeks, days, minutes, seconds as though I’m a rich man as opposed to the free raggedy popper that I am. Aren’t I pathetic – like a skid row bum drunk on sweet basil and Gerber daisies -content to wallow in the filth, blind by addiction to pastel columbine petals blowing across cut grass and bleeding hearts twining with digitalis in the shade of the faux orange tree. Just who do I think I am? Fancying myself a princess of sorts – ruling over the lilacs and rosemary. A grand ruse.

How do I find the words to apologize for all the lies I have told myself? I learned them from you, my friend. I learned them from you. You with your lives and all their invented meanings. Look here.

16 May 2005

The Way I See It

On my doorstep, in my kitchen, adversity melts like ice in a highball glass. That’s the way I see it sometimes. Inverted reflections, changing shape as the minutes dissolve into dark spirits.