Saturday, May 06, 2006

5.06.06, The Blogshirker

Alas, today's gotten away from me. Franky scale: 7, not too bad. But ask me again after we return from the craps tables tonight. I figure with the luck I've been having lately I should get lucky at some point soon.

Frank: (from his dais of sleep) "Man, I was really getting something accomplished in my dream. It's like sleeping a submarine: the elevators, all these noises in here, it's really amazing. I was really getting something done though..." (cell phone rings, very hip song I can't identify; we lose the prophetic voice...)

In any event, we're going to eat some Ezelle's Famous Chicken, hit the tables, and no doubt mayhem will ensue. Last night turned out to be a simple Italian dinner, wouldn't knock your socks off, but all right for just here in the neighborhood. The place began to close in on me though--could've been just me, but--the noise in there was incredible and the loud-talking, competing just to be part of the conversation at your own table. Too much. We switched to Bauhaus, a cup of tea, off to bed. Sleep was elusive and I did work for a while on Pt 2 of the Do Not Go Gentle Exegesis, but it's still in rough form. Tomorrow, I predict, will be a literary day. (Frank's conversation has now turned into GC-ing, details, and "moments"--even on Saturday, even immediately post-nap, he slips in the Howard Roark mode.)

Blow on the dice for us.

Friday, May 05, 2006

5.05.06b. About the Poem, Pt. 1

Early on I had promised more on the title poem, a little exegesis--or “extra-jesus” as we used to remember the term by in high school--so extra-jesus today on Thomas’s poem. Having Frank here and the in’s and out’s of every day might yield some ideas for later, but this afternoon my mind’s back on this.


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I don’t know how long I’ve known this poem; in fact, I can’t remember when I didn’t--but there must have been a time, just as there’s a time know when I feel like I “know” this poem far better than I would like, like I want to turn my eyes from it for a minute then return my gaze to see it gone. To not see the injunction in the title, “do not go gentle.” A place to start, at the beginning. What I see in the poem now--there’s that word that signifies so differently for me “now”--is that it relies on contradiction. In a sense we the reader simply passes over “that good night” as yet another euphemism for death. It’s so obvious, isn’t it? Why think about it? A minute’s thought, however, tells us (many of us? most of us? me, anyway) that there is nothing good about that night at all. It’s the one night nobody wants to go into. Granted there are cases, cases with real individuals which I gradually come to understand better each day, in which “that . . . night” might seem “good,” or better at least than what the now holds for them. Some relief, for some. The title’s injunction, which switches back and forth (from imperative to simple declarative) through the poem based on line breaks, “do not go gentle” creates the tension that builds through the repetitive form, this being the classic example of the villanelle. Tension: if it really were a “good night” why resist, why not go gentle, why not welcome it? The point: which I already made, it’s not a good night, to use the technical language of aesthetic theory I learned in grad school, it sucks ass.

To be continued. (Since the whole poem will take too long, I’ll put it up in installments.)

5.05.06, I'm Not Bitter, Don't Worry...

OK, here's the deal. I put my heart and if not soul then a fair amount of time into this damn thing for the past, what? two weeks. And you all don't post jack. Frank shows up, sits down, types off one quickie--and I'm not bitter, don't worry--and nine people reply to his post immediately! What the hell is that?

Well then I suppose I can concede that I am grateful for the replies--even they all were to Frank (he even got offers of drinks!)--and perhaps this is simply a function of having "another" person here to do it, it's an opening up, an invitation it seems. It's all good, post for and to whom you will. Besides, Frank's here for a few more days and I can always have him guest post again.

More anon.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

5.04.06 [Guest Blog], The Pharmacy at the Foot of the Bed

Guest Blogger for the day

Today, Mr. Jones asked me if I would post on his blog. I was reluctant at first but then I was flattered and thought it might be interesting to provide another perspective to this unfolding story.
To begin, I arrived late last night at the Airport and Mr. J was waiting for me outside . It has been three years since I have seen him. Surrounded by Seattle police, who patrol the drop off and pick up areas like Nazis, we embraced each other and I probably held on longer than I should of but the police could wait. I was back with my dear friend.
My first impression was how good he looked. From his earlier blog I have to agree I actually think he has more hair!
Upon returning to his apartment, I was immediately reminded of all the previous apartments he has lived in. Books, Music and Communist icons. What’s new this time are the gallons of Gatorade, protein drinks and the small pharmacy that sits at the foot of his bed.
We talked for hours and he brought me up to speed on his new regimens, schedules, pain management and of course the famous “third nipple.” Exhausted, we called it a night and I then I fell asleep with Icarus leaning against my head.
This morning we got up and Mr. Jones made some awesome coffee, evidently this town is notorious for it’s coffee? I had two of Nadine’s bran muffins that were delicious.
This is Mr. Jones’ second day of chemo (since IV) and he was in good spirits. He had a lunch meeting at the University so we headed over to school were I met some of his fellow professors and I saw his office which was full of books and a beautiful view of the blooming trees on campus. While Mr. Jones had his power lunch, I had the pleasure of
having lunch with his fellow professor and good friend The Mac Daddy. We shared our thoughts, fears and admiration for the brave fight our fellow friend was battling.

After lunch I drove Mr. Jones home and it was evident that the chemo has effects. He was tired. He lay down and took a nap, drank more Gatorade and monitored his temperature. The boy is on it!! He takes care of himself and he has friends in this town that are wonderful.

The editor of this blog gave me free license to write what I wanted. So I will be frank! I am in awe of his strength, his genuine love for his family and his friends and of course his beautiful mind which is enduring the greatest challenge ever ! We all love Mr. Jones…..but today I respect him more than I ever thought was possible.

P.S. He says he’s a 5 on the Franky scale. I give him a 12

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

5.03.06, When Ms. Post Hales You

[afternoon edition: Franky Scale: I feel 6/7, but it is sunny in Seattle and since Himself Frank arrives tonight, I'll bump up to a solid 8.]

Has anyone ever stopped to notice that some of us wake up at different times than others? For that matter, do any of us realize we often live in different time zones? One more, do we ever stop to think that a text message sent before 7 a.m. in the Mountain Time Zone would arrive at a cell phone in the Pacific Time Zone before 6 a.m.? If one of the receiver's major goals for over a month now has been to try and sleep continuously through one single night, an early morning call or text message might be, well, a real pain in the ass! So much for sleep.

NO CALLS OR TEXTS BEFORE 9! Please. Also, by now all of my sisters agree they want their real names used, so Stacey, Sheri, and Sue. You've all been great, loving, held nothing back, but sometimes one out there likes to call/text quite early in the morning. Can I please ask that no one call or text me before, say 9 a.m., unless it's an emergency? Thanks. During my normal work schedule, yes, I'd usually be up, around, and out close to 6--right now, I'm trying to sleep as much as my body will let me. I already get up some nights at 1:30 am, or 3 am, or 4:45 am, or 2 then 3 and 5. It's the problem itself. This therefore is the new directive from Emily Post; may she haunt you for breaking the rule.

SUPPORT GROUPS: I also wanted to reemphasize the difficulty of this situation--having a family member die of cancer, and then to have it happen to one so young, having it come suddenly, etc.--the difficulty of course on myself but on family too. What I'm writing here then is actually for my own family, though if there are any readers with family members/loved ones who are sick, it might help you as well. Since I'm not the sibling of a cancer victim I can say exactly what it's like--but in addition to my parents' grief, Stacey, Sheri, and Sue have all been hit hard. Communication seems strained sometimes; other family issues expand and displace themselves; fights might break out or irrational silences ensue. To help with this I'm giving you a phone number I've already given and told people to call before--deaf ears--I'm afraid. But will you all please get in tough with these people--even though based at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, they can help you find similar groups either online or in Salt Lake City:

at SCCA, Patient and Family Resource Center (206) 288-2081 / fax (206) 288-2105
(for the curious) SCCA, Nutritional Services (206) 288-1148
SCCA, Patient Financial Services (206) 288-1113

Please call and see how they can help. They have social workers, financial advisors, shrinks, and many others who can help with the long distance, travel issues, treatment plans and alternatives, why my so-and-so won't talk to me about such-and-such. It's important, and something all of you need to take the initiative on; I have several initiatives I'm already trying to take care of, so please take some steps to take care of yourselves with groups that have experience with this. Thanks.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

5.02.06, For One Good Image

[a stanza from John Ashbery; and I leave out numbers for one day, all hell breaks loose: today's about a 5.]


No, scars. You forgot to pack
some. The world will live
without them and we must scurry to dream up
some other identical crisis. First it's men and
then it's me, that stayed nights
in a box, sometimes. Sometimes we were up and
sometimes we were down. It takes one of us to
reposition us and by that time danger has worn the day
down to its nub. It's best not to be
here. But if we linger after waters and cents
nothing is then too obtuse for the clime, the time
and all we travelled backward for: one good image,
the rest fenced off.


("The Great Bridge Game of Life," _Hotel Lautreamont_, 1992)

Monday, May 01, 2006

5.01.06, Mechanics of Chemotherapy (...skipping labor)

In fact, I was double-sidetracked and might post on immigration later. For now I'm posting a more timely explanation in response to several friends' questions about "What's it actually like to have chemotherapy?" / And the Franky Scale, I'm going to say 7 or 8 today, kind of sunny in Seattle, back with my cats, running at sealevel. Also have to raise my number a little before I get zapped tomorrow.

[so as promised] I’ve had several friends ask what chemo is like, the trivial details and mechanics of it, so let me give a few. Before the first IV session, which they call “infusion,” I was mildly wigged out; however, I was also loopy with post-surgical anesthesia so who knows what my mental state really was. After a couple of sessions it goes like this: You check in with your freaky-looking credit-card type thing they use as ID at the SCCA--it contains only name, sex, age, and an 8-digit number. Forest, not Amex, green. No logo, no pictures, no mountain scenes, no kitties, nor holographic images suggesting unimaginable wealth, in someone else's account. The Green Card truly is odd. Hand them your green card and they tell you a number: “Number 20.” This is your infusion room. You walk through a door and down a hospital hallway, where I always feel like I’m trespassing, and you find your private room. You get an IV pole--which actually looks kind of Philip-K.-Dick-ish and high tech--a hospital bed, a lazy-boy for your caretaker person, a TV and a VCR (I think it is, not DVD). A waterless handwasher item hangs on the wall to promote OCD behavior in the hospital. Every time you come in or go out, you must wash. A small window behind you lets light into your room, but you're facing the wrong way so, unless you watch Lake Union in reverse image on the off TV screen, you can only look at the curtain separating you from the nurses’ station--yes, it’s set up like a panopticon. Not perfectly round, but close enough. (So the curtain must symbolize ideology, it’s all you see, makes you feel alone, private, voluntarist, but the Nurses of your Destiny all sit at the central desk of biopower just on the other side! Althusser vs. Foucault in a steel-cage death match!......sorry, thought I was back at work for a minute.)

First, they draw blood to make sure you’re still healthy enough (in terms of immune system) to do more chemo, wait about 45 minutes for the labs to return, then they hook you up. For 30 of 40 minutes a manic nurse will sequentially “access your port”--which means stick a needle into your skin, into the subcutaneous porta-cath Dr. Hands put in for me [pullling a needle out of your skin is called "de-accessing your port"]--and switch five or six little hanging clear-plastic bags of fluid before the actual chemo drugs are given. Pre-chemo drugs, or secondary drugs, include things like benadryl, some stomach-protecting drug, anti-nausea drug, etc. (anyone want a list just say so), and their cumulative effect is to kick my ass and make it hard to stay awake. Why do I want to stay awake? Don’t know that--it’s some odd compulsion, maybe a fear that I’ll miss something, or that some stranger will come by and steal my totally cool hospital socks made of some synthetic monkey-shit-brown material but sporting very hip white rubberized stripes on the bottom to keep you from slipping. Anyway, I fight sleep.

It’s actually quite anticlimactic: the chemo drugs are heavily diluted, administered drop by drop so it takes about 3.5 hours, and there is no pain. You just lie there. You could sleep, watch a movie or TV, read a book if your mind stays that keen. With me, I just get tired, I think I tried to read Zizek last time, and Gillian--no doubt somewhat sadistically--was engaging me in a conversation about Benjamin’s “Theses on History” and who is the puppet and who is the dwarf, whether historical materialism always wins or whether it’s theology. (Just a joke, Gillian, xoxo). I can’t figure that shit out even when I’m not inside the panopticon, let alone souped up on a benedryl cocktail. Overall the process is uneventful, just time-consuming. Then you get a ride home and vegetate. Though drinking lots of fluids is highly recommended. Gillian tells me it's a good time to get writing done.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

4.30.06, Max Weber meets Dr. Malfi

End of April entry. Cruelest Month has come and gone, the calendar pages turn whether we go with them or not. I don’t mean to sound too Weberian, too Protestant-work-ethic-y, still I can’t help but think more than ever questions like, “Last month is gone, what did I do?” It’s more than thinking, Sheri, I think this qualifies as full rumination. Not to the obsessional point, still, to a point hard not to notice. Where’s Dr. Malfi?

Quote from Tony Soprano (Season 1 I think): "Cunnilingus and psychiatry brought us to this!" (I swear this was *not* even planned, but a friend emailed this qte out of the blue, so when I realized the insane uncanny connections captured by Tony's line by the brilliant logic of his context and idiom, what choice did I have? One of those fleeting moments when life makes sense.... well sort of...)

Another of my sisters texted me today to check: “Has the eagle landed?” Hmm, I know one of your readers uses the same phrase in a quite a different frame of reference. Enough said. (And not totally unrelated in this windspeak here, my third sister had to email to ask me question about salad/s. I told her that her 17-year old could enlighten her.)

Though one additional connection can be suggested publicly: this same friend who references the migratory & flight patterns of eagles did ask me something. After my thong post thing, said friend, who is not from Seattle, wants to know you Zara Zara Zara ‘O, or at least “who you are” & “what you’re like.” What do you think…? Should I tell? ;-)

Chemotherapy. Remember that? After one week completely off the drugs and trying to cleanse my system, regain some strength, put on a few pounds through the Mormon Neighborhood Casserole Diet (= Atkins + Carbs + Jello), with Boost on the side, I began feeling better. My realization now is that chemo does in fact suck. For all I can tell my hair might actually be getting thicker, but chemo is not nice to my system, the feeling is simply there in the gut, just a gnawing, a breaking down, and less so elsewhere yet still there. Again, it’s not excruciating or debilitating by any means--knock wood--it is simply everpresent, everannoying, and unavoidable. Not unlike conservativism these days.

On the Franky scale I’m going for a 6/7.

Finally, I returned to my cats, but to mail and bills too, and yes the bill from Dr. Hands was here. About 5 G’s. Once I saw this I realized I did the right thing not tipping him. For that price I also should have been given the full wax job rather than the cheap little Lady Bic Electric Trimmer. Thank the labor movement of Washington State historically that I have such good health insurance. Wobblies of the world!