Saturday, June 10, 2006

6.10.06, To Recent Comments, In Brief

[Forget the "yet" in the first line below. That's all for today. No doubt nobody needs more Tyranny of the Word, as my secret agent blog consultant pointed out this evening. -Mr. J]

Not so much a "real" post yet, but I wanted to respond to some comments. Especially on the last post on posting and dreaming. Franky Scale for now, 7ish. Hoping the physiological day will settle, back on chemo too/though.

Comments: Frarella. There have been a few comments or posts here and there that, in Dennis Hopper's words, "really put the whammy" on my head. F's above is one. That's why you're my brother. And what you said and what you question, shit, brings it all to the surface--the rest, for now, is silence.

Tossing Salads. I still can't believe that's your profile name, but what the hell am I going to do in a family full of lesbians? I've been thinking of calling and then wondered at how seriously you do take "giving me space"--so, you should call, too, of course, but on the other hand, the sign of respect you've given is immensely appreciated at a time when the need to be heard/listened to is really heightened for me. Thanks & love. And yes, Dan's smile.

Slarry. When did you get Suzanne Vega's permission? And, I love to see how myths are made. Those readers who know much of my family, and perhaps it's all families, see this grand process of narritivization at work. You notice how I rise above the pain and push through, just like Armstrong, running through the crashing thunderbolts and lightning. Sorry, not true. There was no rain. On the nice day I did run; on the pouring rain day I felt like crap and slept. Reality is not always as attractive as myth but I do think when we brave it enough to pass it on untarnished it can be better. Another one, not from the comments. Did you know that I was nearly 13 lbs when I was born?! Well, OK, I was only 11 something, my family would say, "don't be silly." And yet. Truly miraculous, mythical proportions. I actually believed that little family story until I saw my birth records and realized that, no, I was not a latter-day Hercules. It was something like 9 lbs — I don't know what the average is but I think the point should be clear. Myth making alive and well. Maybe later today I'll do a triathalon, work in a shelter for six or seven hours, and then donate my life insurance policy the less fortunate, oh, and write a novel. Some people dream. . . ;-)

And all the comments on boxes, I am tempted to read some kind of innuendo in those. Again, a family full of lesbians. . .

Machine. From a day before this. Thanks again for the word loan. The honor is mine and I'm always up for the narrative of an idiot man child and full of sound and fury. It signified everything.

David #1. Words, words, words. I'm always curious to see what comes next.

David #2. Mr. R. Good to see your comment. It's been a long time & I hope you're well. Mr. Kenyon's got my number you should call him, it'd be good to talk.

Spacely. Spelling is overrated. But then so are the concepts of "fun" and "happiness." I'm just trying to come to mutual understanding and I hope none of what I said/say comes across as harsh. I've been planning a blog on those two modern concepts above: not just that people have different tastes and notions of what they mean, but that they actually are all too often, in my view, dangerous tools used to keep us down. Too much Serious Thought might result in our uprising, our questioning authority, our desire actually to do something about the truly harsh ways the world is unfair. What's more, fun and happy require privelege. Not everyone can afford them.

Sure it sounds overly dry and academic, still, here Frued is right on the primary nature in our mental life of the pleasure principle. "[F]rom the point of view of the self-preservation of the organism [us] among the difficulties of the external world [let's say, cancer]," the pleasure principle is not about maximizing the amount of pleasure in our lives, always chasing fun and happy, but rather its tempered somewhat with the reality principle and what it's really about is decreasing the amount of unpleasure in our lives. But the pleasure principle untempered is "inneficient and even highly dangerous" (Freud Reader 596). I'd go even farther with this and say right out that Happiness and Fun make up an ideology that is wonderfully effective at keeping us down, and/or redirecting our energies from the truly meaningful to the transient and distracting. I'm always feeling guilty because I'm not happy enough! So, sure, I like movies, distractions, and I'm guilty of engaging in commodity "therapy," but one thing I am not worried about now that I look off at the foreshortened horizon is how much fun I'm having. I don't know, it's not a novel insight in my life. I've been scroogie for a while, but I think that also bafflement, thoughfulness, perplexity, amazement, sadness, grief, being serious, or occcasional lack of unpleasure, etc. are probably all more substantial than fun. And happiness I've never, honestly, understood very well: the question "Are you happy?" has always confused me.

Friday, June 09, 2006

6.09.06, Some People Post, Some People Dream

Franky Scale: 6ish.

No chemo drugs for nearly a week now. Today from the lovely FedEx man, however, I'm blessed with another bottle of the pill version. Start tomorrow. Then another set of IV infusions, too big for a bottle; they come in a bag, it just hangs there and costs money. A hell of a lot of money. It's unbelievable and harsh the cost, say near 8K a bag — then I turn out to be lucky with my insurance, to be able to do it in the first place. Wait, lucky to have pancreatic cancer, lucky for metastasis. Something like that: lucky since I suppose somehow it could be worse. Before today the symptoms and side-effects seemed to abate, a little "healthier" each day, which is the truism of life, right? A little better and better, until it changes. In Salt Lake I come for what, some escape, some "getting away" . . . and I just woke from a nap filled with dreams that would scare Freud.

Is it place? Is it time? Is it the moment, metaphorically? Some people post comments, they read, they follow. Some do the posting while others lurk, some comment and lurk while others sleep and dream, but of what I can't really say. Some details linger and hang with me, some strewn across high desert sky, some scattered next to the bed, some hiding inside the well-used bottle of oxycodone. That bottle, too and or by the way, is secondary. It's back up. It's breakthrough. There is something about my dreams lately that has changed qualitatively — I don't know if it's all the drugs that course through my system, I don't know if it's the chemo brain, as they say. They. "They." They are me. Who's kidding whom. No one: that is the goal. So if anyone ever asks sometimes why take it so seriously. . . That was one of the first lessons I learned sitting in a waiting room at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, I looked around and at times could see the lake, at times the nearly-clear Seattle sky, but all around me I saw, and this is literal — not to be cheesy, to be glib, to be sarcastic, what you will — I saw community. I am them, they are me. This is what went through my head sitting there, waiting for blood. To give, that is, to have it taken. Funny when you're sick you don't give anymore, you have it taken. I saw all the people as most of you have seen them, no hair common, patchwork hair, all the stages in between, skin and bones some, some pain visible some not, some hope shattered some not, not all, and me today still now if you'd believe it, which you would if you'd see me, I still have mine and I think, based on those who have seen my hair and the rest of me that I look normal. Another word. It's the time the distance that makes me look small or withered or hairless or too thin in the eye of your mind, and how surprising amazing mind-fogging and not because I lack the vocabulary just sheer fucked up that none of that is true, yet perhaps. That I can so not look sick. So, then it was, which is the real point that I looked around and saw a community and realized I was, I am, a part. These are my people, I thought, we're all the same. A pause for thought, mine.

Normal looking, still wearing sometimes a "kind of" sarcastic grin — just trying to carry on for my nephew, so cut me some slack while and if you write, a longhand of reverse genetics, reverse impossible genetics, why not? — but the point that I am now part of this group, that we're the same inside no matter what the outsides are. No matter the age. No matter the caregiver. Yep, I go to SCCA and I can walk and pick up scripts and show my green card and get my little wristband — no not yellow please or sorry — and I am generally strong and able and I am "The Otherwise Healthy 38 Year-old Male" (it's in my chart), but still when I go with someone I go with my caregiver, at least for that day. There have been a few but Gillian knows about this process pretty well, she's spent a number of hours in the chemo ward or the infusion palace or whatever it's called. Something to do with infusion. So where is it all going, that I'm not sure, I just have this state of mind after a nap, after fatigue that came on like a ton of bricks, after lunch with my mother which was not so much like a ton of bricks, after going to the hospital with her — and for her I might add, not for me, a check up, corotid arteries, both sides, black white and red blue, clarity and occlusion — and after some writing but not too much and after food after a handful of meds. With the FedEx man in between. Everybody's fantasy.

This is what Utah will do to you: now what? Do I warn you? Do I invite you? Do I recommend you just read on, make your comments, call now and again, and provide support that does not go unnoticed? Yes, you have to remember the latter, even if I'm napping, even if fatigued, even when it's pouring here like Seattle which it tends to do each time I come like it follows me to remind of something that's supposed to be remembered through rain and about another city and perhaps even another time. I do not know. Every day passes and it gets farther from normalcy I'd say, while at the same time there is this need to work to conform to the normal, to get back to the everyday, to try and push past the barriers that didn't exist before. At least in part that's what I feel. And too there is this seeing. Hundreds of people most so strong and "there," which I need, and still everyone in their own place, from their own place, all trying to deal with individual lives that don't touch this. This doesn't stay put though. So you read a post a comment a phonecall a card and you see a lot of individuals with a lot of individual "situations," at times coming together, at times standing in the same spot looking in the same direction. At times, between the lines, you see the varieties of awareness, love, pain, support, suffering. All the sources varied too.

I feel like I'm sitting at the center of the little steel merry-go-round thing you have to push into action by running in circles in the sand — you get it going from the outside then jump on, the try to move centerward. I don't think I ever pushed this time, don't know, I just know I feel like I'm in the center and watching. The first phone call, then the second diagnosis, were like taps on the shoulder that said "Hey, you're sitting in the center of the little steel merry-go-round thing on the playground, see how long you can either keep moving, or stay sitting there," they said. I just watch the rest of the world and all of you spin around the edges. Remember how the sand gets worn down so there's a little trough, too, a concentric circle around the little merry-go-round? I watch everyone get closer or farther from it, sit or run, push or take notes. It just spins, I just sit.

A line from somewhere if I remember, it's like rain from another city, "I take naps in the afternoon lately, sometimes I dream." Something like that.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

6.08.06, [Short Story, by Machine] One Night in Seoul as The Ideal Life

[Dear Readers: OK, the blog title above mine, I admit. As blog editor-on-occasion I have also added a few brief but necessary explanations in the following piece, usually about Korean terms, which clarifications appear in brackets “[“ and “]”; one or two names have been altered to keep the innocent in your ignorance; and note that everything in this story really happened. It’s crazed, but I shit you not. Also, I still need to discuss the author's identity, not in philosophical terms — but maybe that too — but as he would like it to known on the blog. Since he has posted Comments here and there, though not will nilly, under the nom de guerre "Machine," I will follow suit. Please enjoy, the lenght is worth it (and not wood scale jokes on that last remark). Too, I think it's safe to assume the narrator of the story is in fact Machine, since I too am in there, playing myself, and all the characters for better or for worse are real.

Franky Scale: 7-8, in spite of Zion!

-Mr. J]

“Korea Fighting” by Machine

Its 2:10 pm and I just got home. I can barely see my computer keyboard due to a impenetrable fog that has settled in front of my eyes, and my hands are trembling uncontrollably, most likely due to the “roofie” that Rico slipped into my tequila last night at The Loft. I’d like to thank Walter and especially Mr. Jones, who hung with me to the bitter end when others wouldn’t. Id also like to extend my gratitude to Walter’s West African friend, David, who waited until I was outside the Flexx Club before vomiting all over some extremely pissed off Nigerians and getting the holy ghost beat out of him. I’d also like to accept thanks from the City of Seoul, for single handedly revitalizing the economy of Itaewon last night over a period of 13 hours, and from Mr. Jones, for supporting his graduate education.

I don’t remember much about last night, and I hope that I never will. I woke up about an two hours ago in what appeared to be a jail cell, the only sounds reverberating from a vibrantly throbbing fan that sliced through the thick morning air like helicopter blades over the deep jungles of Malaysia. I had no idea how I got there or where I even was. I was somewhat relieved, when I realized that it was Jones sitting on the corner of the bed, smoking a cigarette and chatting to no one in particular with a crazed and satisfied look on his face.

“What a fucking night, man . . .” “Let’s go,” he mumbled, staring off in space. “They are going to kick us out of here soon, and the girls are getting anxious.” I must have nodded my approval, because Mr. Jones helped me out of bed and put my backpack on my shoulders. “You see that cat?” he asked. Again, I simply shook my head no and hoped that I would soon recognize where we were, as we were now walking through a well-cared for courtyard garden.

“What cat?” I barely croaked out. “The cat that shit in my mouth,” Mr. Jones guffawed loudly and slapped me hard on the back, loosening my bowels. I know what he meant, however, because my mouth felt like an baby turd wrapped in feathers and cotton had flown into it, and was starting to spread itself down my larynx and inevitably into my lower intestines, where it would begin a furious effort at massive reproduction and eventually my death.

Somehow, Mr. Jones led us out of a maze of alleys that would rival any Moroccan medina into daylight, where we were joined by two lovely young local women who seemed to know who we were. Well, actually, they weren't that young. Or lovely. But I’m pretty sure they were women. I instinctively checked to make sure my wallet was there. It was, but all that remained of the 200,000 won that I had hit the streets with last night was several credit card receipts, three crumpled 1,000 won bills and some sort of hieroglyphics written in blood on a canceled check from Montana John. One of the receipts was for the Itaewon “Knight Rider” yôgwan [very cheap, motel like, four cement rice-papered walls, one fan if you’re lucky, & one jimmy cap if you’re really lucky, “if”…] that I had apparently just woken up in. I stared at the girls.

“You sleep good?” the big one asked. She had the eyes of Dr. Gold and the girth of Rruke when he’s retaining water. She gently stroked the head of a stuffed teddy bear that was peeking out of the top of her purse. The bear still had the sale tag on it. She saw me surreptitiously eye and smiled. “Thanks so much,” she bowed. I was starting to realize that once again I had sunk into the deepest depths of what the Italians prefer to call “Il Inferno.” Thankfully, I had company.

I can only recall two scenes from last night with any clarity, one being a member of the proud but fallen Azzuri sitting dejected on a soccer field with his head wrapped in what appeared to be a huge nylon sock, blood leaking down the side of his face as the scoreboard behind him flashed “2-1 Korea Win!” over and over again. The other scene is our very own Toly Kim mounting a moving police van and dancing without his shirt with two very underage junior high school girls, while spitting slug after slug of beer up into the air and all over his body in an effort to imitate Seoul’s very own Han Kang [Han River] Geyser. The judges gave him a 8.3.

I was their biggest non-believer, having the audacity to call a 3-1 Italian victory moments before kickoff from my darkened perch at the Loft. The Koreans in the crowd threatened me with violence and incessant drum bashing, but the Italians nodded their headed solemnly, as if they already knew something I didn’t. When the Italian Blue went up 1-0 early in the first half, a few of the blasphemous headed for the exits to beat the traffic. I wasn’t one of them, and neither was Mr. Jones, or Stash and his lovely bride, or Walter, who just happened to show up for the second half, believing that the game was supposed to start at 9:30 p.m. Toly certainly wasn’t, and after restraining him with some old leather straps to keep him from going after that meat head who always plays pool at the Loft, I started to listen to him. I thought he was describing a drug deal gone sour, with his repeated slurring regarding “high” and “speed.” He was right, of course, the Korean’s had superior action in the air, and their speed was to be reckoned with.

The Azzuri could boast of having arguably the best league in the world, but last night, that mighty giant finished a close second. The Italians left soon after, adhering to their strict code of “Omerta.” Harry S. Truman once said that “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it” while Lyndon B. Johnson, who is known for a trip to the bathroom during his visit to Vietnam in the 60s, when he noted to a Vietnamese legislator at the adjacent urinal that “They don’t grow ‘em this big out here, do they, son?” Well, the Koreans proved them both right last night, in a display of ferocity and anger that would have sent Satan himself scampering into an 8th Circle.

The noise was deafening at the Loft, so I could barely hear Jones when he begin frantically whispering in my ear about “free beer,” “food,” “topless dancing.” Nonetheless, he still managed to get my attention and I followed him outside where several ajôssis [middle-aged or older random Korean male] had gathered around a small black and white TV to watch the game. “It’s cool,” Jones whispered to me. “Ask them for some beer and food, they’ll give it to you, I swear to Jacob on it.” Well, I didn’t have to ask, because with almost no time left on the clock, the Koreans scored a tying goal that raised a roar from the Yalu River to the uncharted islands off of the East Sea.

“Hesus Christo,” Mr. Jones whispered, dumbfounded. “The Koreans seem to think they’re in a soccer game.” A redfaced, older Korean man slapped a beer in my hand and took me by the scruff of the neck closer to the screen.

“Korea!” he blurted out, pointing to the TV. His grip on my neck and upper spine tightened. “FUCKING KOREA!!” I craned my head around to find Jones for help, but he was off drinking soju [foul chemically “fermented” moonshine] out of an ice cream pint sized container he had commandeered from two Base Brats who had tried to steal a beer from the overflowing vat before us. The game had moved into overtime, and I could barely see the screen that my face was being held mere centimeters from. I looked again for Mr. Jones, as my nerve endings screamed for release and my eyes began to bulge uncontrollably. The world was going red and white, and Jones was happily munching on grilled octopus head as the ajôssi kept screaming into my face “Korea Fight! Korea Fight! Korea Goal holy shit Korea score Korea FUCKING GOAL KOREA!!!” And then the night exploded . . .

Of course, events get jumbled after that. My brain can’t seem to recollect anything, and the only messages its sending to me now are the involuntary desires to breathe, pump my blood and drink water, but I’m too lazy to get up from the computer for the last one. I remember sprinting through the streets touching anything that moved. I had been reborn in the downpour of raining beer and dry champagne, baptism by booze, trial by fire. I hugged anything that moved, dwarfs, police, MPs — I kissed working ajûmmas [female equivalent of the ajôssi], babies, the egg burger guy, I danced in the streets, I shouted capitalist, nationalistic slogans, I sang songs I knew and I sang songs I didn’t know. I laughed . . . I cried . . . I grabbed on for dear life to Korean women with huge, pendulous breasts . . . I curled up in the fetal position by the side of the subway station, sick on Tower Burgers and beer (but getting some great upskirt shots), again and again, Walter’s evil, flashing camera lit up the night like a tracer bazooka, snapping digital photos of me in extremely compromising positions that I now must find and delete those photos before English Spectrum’s afternoon edition goes to press.

“Its coooooollll, maaaaaaaaannnnn,” Walter gave me his million-dollar smile. “Let’s get outta here . . . maaaaaannn, this is my boy David,” he introduced a quiet young African man who seemed to be quaking in trepidation like a scared rodent, cowering in fear under its master’s bed on the fourth of July. “We going to go get some at King Club, baby!” Walter announced to the streets, both fists raised in the unmistakable sign of a conqueror. He suddenly leaned over and began breathing heavily into my face, “But first, me you and Jones going to go over to that Flexx Club.” Walter lowered his voice noticeably . . . “I gotta bottle there for us.”

I really can’t remember much after that . . . strange visions of Flexx Club and a Peruvian waitress named Marta . . . a stone cold Russian girl who refused to smile, dumped a cola on Mr. Jones’s head and threatened my life, even after Walter busted out several jokes in amazing Russian with just a hint of a Ukrainian accent . . . I remember doing a Cha Cha line dance in an empty King Club with nos. 1-3 while Toly cheered me on and drank my pellucid soju slushi . . . I can barely smell the scent of samgyôpsal [thick grilled strips of baconlike swinemeat, dipped in salt, wrapped in lettuce, good for the heart] and eggs during the daylight hours when Mr. Jones insisted on eating breakfast behind some strange church that wasn’t there the following morning . . . I can see someone shooting a roman candle at my head, and Stash taking him down from behind with a leg sweep . . . I can hear the patter of barefeet and gun fire at 8:30 in the morning in a permanently darkened Russian club where the clocks were always set on 2:50 a.m. and powerful Russian girls in jean skirts on dangerous Crystal Meth and steroid cocktails argued over Jones and had to be separated by Koreans smaller than them, while I sat at a table with two deaf mutes, one who offered to exchange his ajûmma into my slavery for just once dance with my “date” . . . I definitely can see my date, tricking me like the trick I am into, buying a frigging teddy bear for 30,000 won like the GI Sucker I always swore I wouldn’t be . . . and . . . and . . . .

And I can still see Mr. Jones. He is sitting on the corner of my bed, fully clothed, puffing on a cigarette made from newspaper and dried tobacco seeds, pensively staring out the door that had probably been open all morning displaying my handphone and wallet whilst I slept undisturbed by the whirring robotic fan and the explosion of breaking bottles throughout the morning, slowly turning his head to look at me and say, with all honesty and truth:

“Man, did you see that fucking game last night?”


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

6.07.06, The Ideal Life & Nonfiction

This phrase came up in a recent post. Though provoking, if you take it seriously; but that even begs a question, "Does such a life exist?" So,

"What is the ideal life?"

We'll have to come back to this.

This morning I'm flying to Zion — just like in the Matrix, and I can go lament taking the Red Pill. Hm.

Also, the World Cup is almost here and we have a special short story treat, guaranteed to entertain, probably more than anything else on the blog. I've enlisted a friend and writer who caught A Day and Night in the Ideal Life during the last World Cup in Seoul. Need to check some formatting, etc., the identities of the innocent — only the innocent mind you — and then it's yours. Just wondering whether to post it a day early to help get you ready for the big event, or on Friday to help you celebrate the opening day....?

The wait will be worth it.

Franky Scale: really too early to tell, but I'll say 8 for this early am. With SLC approaching, should I say "5"? No, no, no. "12" right?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6-6-6, Numerology & Satan

(P.S. I've noticed there's someone (or one portal / ISP) from Portugal who comes to the blog every now and again; not sure who it is, but just to make the world slightly smaller I thought you might like to know I've been going back into my Spinoza lately, and trying to find some additional material on his life, in relation to another little project I have going on the side. Part of which concerns excommunication, and by some weird coincidence, if I remember correctly, I was excommunicated at the same age as Mr. Spinoza--though apparently my "evil acts" were not quite so noble. -Mr. J)

OK sorry, there's really nothing about Satan in here. But with the date and all, you'd expect it, right? And just like the prurience so many demonstrate by your interest in working wood or wood scales, I know there's also a slightly evil side, a kind of play-with-fire aspect hidden or not so hidden in you. That's why I love you.

For numerology, I'll post a Franky Scale number of 8. Good overall, yes; but I have to be honest it's slightly unsettling to me. I can't help but think of the calm before the storm idea, and of course there is Saturday next with more chemo drugs to stuffed into my cakehole. On this auspicious date, at least, it's going well.

I have to enjoy my life today especially for another reason — tomorrow I'm going to Utah! God help me ;-)

(Does anyone know how to make a little keyboard smiley face with the sign of the beast on it?)

Monday, June 05, 2006

6.05.06, Books not Words (well, not too many words)

Franky Scale: 8 then 7ish. Good first half of the day then some nausea of unknown origin. Not a big deal but when it comes without warning it can be harder to get in check after the onset. Fine overall though.

This a late in the day post, obviously, after 6 pm here in Seattle, and even though I've thought about what to post not much has come to mind, so I'll keep it relatively short, spare everyone too much trivia, and will have to wait until I get the fourth seasons of the The Sorpranos and rewatch that for more inspiration... Till then.

One item on books: I picked up two books on death this week. (A comment that sound unnecessarily morbid out of context, so bit it.) One of them is apparently a "classic" that until now I've never had occasion to or motivation to read. It's On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Once I picked it up I realized this is the locus classicus for the five stages of dealing with grief/dying, stages it seems like we all "know" and try to recall but forget after listing one or two of them (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). The second book is by Stephen Levine and is called A Year to Live. Kubler-Ross's book is not bad about 60 pp. into it, although I could do without the belief in a life, or generally "life" after death, also much of the slight religious overtones. Not a 2 x 4 over the head approach, still, I much prefer the tone of a Camus, a Nietzsche, even a Bataille. Also the book seems geared in many ways toward everyone but the dying, The Dying, so ominous that title; and she's written what seems to be a dozen or more other books among which there are definitely a few totally directed at helping others come to terms with what the terminally ill person's experience seems to be like. It's all second hand, right. Of course. Either way, it seems worth a single read from me, and there are a number of transcribed interviews with patients at the end that are worth looking at.

Book two, subtitled — and I cringe at admitting this, that I'm actually going to read it, oh well — the subtitle is "How to Live this Year as if it Were Your Last." Seems to be a self-helpish kind of thing designed to help "you" live a fuller life "in the now" and then later, probably after an editor's suggestions, was reshaped slightly to say "Oh yeah, if you're really dying this can help you too!" To be fair, the author appears to have experience with interviews or counseling with the terminally ill and some of the insights of the book are based on that. So, excizing all the new-age and spiritualist cheese from it — or should I say "resecting" it? — there may also be some worthwhile points in there. At least that's what I aim to find out. (On the other end of the spectrum I've come across a couple of more philosophically oriented titles that appear to have at least as much insight, however the academic book's shortcomings become blindingly obvious when they are on the topic of death and are read in the situation I find myself. Still, age-old questions, anxieties, and fears. One is called Facing Death: Epicurus and His Critics, by James Warren; not bad so far if you can see past the silly scholarly apparatus and tone. The other is The Vitality of Death: Essays in Existential Pscychology and Philosophy, by Peter Koestenbaum; a rather meaty thing, about 600 pp., and looks very good from the initial skim I gave it.

The long and short of it, of these or any books, will already be a question in some of your minds: what the hell good is a book at this point? My answer: I agree. It's just that when you're in the mood it might be poetry, could be fiction, a guilty glance at a new-agey leaflet, or even something trying too hard to be erudite and get someone tenure. Other times are for music. Some for conversation. Some, silence and watching the sky disappear into night. Whatever hits in the moment.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

6.04.06, [Guest Blog, by David] "One Dirty & One Straight," Poem

[Good Sunday: David's sent in a post to be guest blogged and today is the day, could be seen as poem or travelogue or both and more, all there and unedited except one point five stanzas at the end where the narrative slightly trails. It holds together well nonetheless. It's great to see into this experience from the eyes of some perceptive others. And too, thanks to David for not having any drop lines or indents in what follows! (I apparently need to work on my HTML skills to be able to effectively indent. Who knew?) -Mr. J., and the title was picked out by the editor, second choice was "What Silence Suffices"--very nice, too, more serious tone though...]

"One Dirty & One Straight"

What silence suffices to enclose
or all that other messy self expression

Here at the intersection of Broadway and John
d waits for mr. j

All that traffic passes
(all that traffic passes includes me this time)

From somewhere somewhere bound
earnestly nudging the green go-ahead

When down the block
or up it

comes mr. j, the distinctive stride,
carriage, making his way

closer, he is as he ever was
thinner than I remember

who could ever watcha gonna

very focused, this young man
with his bit of beard, burns, earring

we walk away a block to foregather
over cups of coffee one palmiér

talked about many
imaginable and unimaginable things

occasional bouts of “chemo-brain” he laughed wry
as for a moment a book title or passage stayed away

right there, nothing changed, everything changes
changing change stays the same

so utterly random
“and unfair?” I ask

“No, because what does that make ‘fair’?”

Administrative bureaucratic practices are not

Cite that knowing attitude!
he’s say Why
not, why not why not why not
why not why not why not why
not why not why not why not
why not. Not why. Why not.

O the dim closeness
of the bar, the cheery
ineptitude of its tender
who with a muttered oath
spills with apologies the glass, it was
a glass of water which broke
as we leaped up (not us!) from
seats, seats at the bar, we
were seated at the bar with
a cheery pair of martinis,
one dirty & one straight

What do we talk about discuss what
the usual things the rain the car
caught in traffic the likelihood
of parking now at this hour how
the cats Yes Crantz and Icarus
one slightly distant there
one here on the floor urging
a pat touch word Tell us
Crantz, tell us how it was
at your doctor’s office this day

We had arrived from the rain
to a joyous greeting from someone’s pug named
Lucy and the phone rings it’s
a “call lost” there in the shelter
of the shelter.

Look, I might have said What what
and mr. j he say
Well, the
whole things be
what I what,
not what I meant but listen soon I will reveal
the recommendation,
what the counselor said

But here in the street now
runs an alley behind brick buildings
the rain not “heavy” in any sense
but falling steadily.

. . . [TBC?]

Franky Scale: I dare say 8, now that I'm two days into the glorious week of no chemo drugs at all; knock on wood — not that kind (boy this could get confusing; and too of course I've already received numerous emails about the hypothetical wood scale since that post, it's clear where the real interests lie...) — but do that or something else superstitious since my motility, as we like to say, is not ideal. The rest of my system seems to functioning fairly well. So 8 in the a.m., who knows where I'll find myself in the late p.m.?