Saturday, July 08, 2006

7.08.06, Mere Numbers

Doesn't seem like I'll be posting today. After two posts yesterday I don't want any of you to get spoiled (ok, bored or obligated); also and ironically, I've had great streak of writing today since this morning so in one sense I'm penned out.

Franky Scale today was a good 7. A legit 7 this time, fairly positive, far less unpleasure than on most days, and with that lack of distraction I was able to really sit down and concentrate. I miss working like that, for hours and hours and only stopping from the necessity of a meal, not so much desire for one. First half of the day prose, second half poetry. Today I got it, so there.

7.07.06, Scratch the Myths, Why Not

Friday night (you gotta work when you can work) before sleep approaches, wait. That should be more accurately put ". . . before I decide it's about 30 minutes or so before I need to sleep and take an Ambien." Tired of reading. God, how much can a person read — and I am the one who chose the most inappropriate profession since I read like a sloth. Enjoy it, yes; do it quickly, not even. After wandering from Spinoza to Socrates (ok, Plato really) to some generic on text on Buddhist enlightenment (Top Secret) to Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon theologian) to Nietzsche to Zizek. How much indeed. The string of ideas and theories comes round to a kind of mental blur where I now find myself, confusion maybe, chemo-fication perhaps, an uncharted state where my thoughts wander and figure "why not post twice in one day?" and "why not post something that might not be related to cancer?" (Though it does relate to poetry; and then through words to voyeurism, and I know you're all voyeurs.)

And if I try to push the connections I might say we've discussed or at least alluded to the power of myth and mythologizing on this blog before and that alone could connect what I'm going to post at bottom. Another tie might be themes of finishing one phase and moving into another. Not progress, not so naive; but naive enough still in the way it's written. In my defense it's ten+ years old so cut me some slack. If you're also in this state of Friday night mindblur you might not mind too much. If you're still buzzed from a night out and simply checking the site out of mindless habit, you might also not mind too much. A word or two still strike me as out of place whenever I look back at this — and that's breaking the great first rule of public speaking and or reading: Never begin by apologizing. Alas. More mindblur.

The poem:

"It Is a Myth Where I Live . . ."

It is a myth where I live,
a dark purple sleep of myth they call life,
where I do everything but forgive
an ex-friend who now goes by wife,
living with me without being what is us,
rocking in and out of deceitful slumber
to avoid sitting together to discuss
the quirks of mine that numb her —
when waking to this brunt it’s painful
my soul-joints crack and creak when I rise,
forecast the weather, dimly attempt again to fill
the bottomless void of compromise
between what I saw as self and thought integrity,
to appear pleased about philistines’ presents
lest they feel discomfort on account of me.
They buy and wrap their Gods in flowered paper
never dare, why would they, to open them alone.
The memories of those times will not escape her, for
blood is thicker than watering what you haven’t sewn.

Wiping rheum from my sleepless eyes
as I wait to learn why missteps and strife
are more common to us than compassion,
depression better known than the happy life,
I ask through artifice, the one medium
that does not talk back in eternal truths
but rather lies to me, my thanks, so that
tedium will never scratch the legends
or taint the heroes that I choose . . .

(12:44 AM, August 1991
Provo, Utah)

Friday, July 07, 2006

7.07.06, Paradoxical Necessity

BTW, DZD: In case I don't grab a phone in timely fashion today, happy birthday to you Ms. One more year and you'll be blessed no doubt with some numerological gift that comes from 7's, maybe you should head to Reno and drop some nickels next time. For now, happiness and love.

For me, Franky Scale: a wavering from 6 to 7. The nausea is much better today — yesterday kicked my ass, to put it plainly, and I decided to heed the voice that advocates severe napping. Restorative sleep therapy I think it's called. During these second and third days after the IV chemo I've been trying to take this pill called zofran, trying means "remembering to." Part of me, if it's possible to have some Depression-era attitudes about money that might have been passed to me from my parents, that's what the part is, hesitates when I'm about to pop a zofran. Even on the cheap side of the agreement between my insurance company and CuraScript, they cost something like $59 a pill. Almost enough to make you choke on it. They are supposed to help with nausea for twelve hours though and they seem to work all right. Too, I've been eating more ginger candy (thanks to sender), which does help in the short term, when it kind of wells up in your throat in those sudden moments. There's also compazine, metoclopramide, and lorazepam (under the tongue for fast relief, or something like that).

The paradox alluded to above has to do with "work" — that which you get paid for. I had to go into school today to seem friendly, persuasive, and intelligent (tall order all at one time) with a group of interviewers from Korea who are deciding whether my nameless university in Seattle will be awarded a substantial chunk of money for a special Korean Studies center grant. Doing my part, I figured. Plus they asked me to come out for it. They wanted to tour a special library exhibit we're doing on rare books from the "Liberation Space" period of 1945-1950, when Korea was actually one Korea and for a few years of the five the country was yet to be divided or occupied in North or South by larger imperial interests. It's the one period in the 20th century when the Koreans had a shot at their "own voice," and I wrote the catalog essay for the exhibit so I had a minor role to perform. Our librarian kindly told me how pale I looked, however, but perhaps not everyone saw what she saw. (And I ran into a member of my dept who hasn't seen me in two months and thinks I look like ever before, which means either "good" or at least "normal" — more evidence that in reality I'm doing well with side effects.)

The oddity was how getting out for such a meeting and going through the formal work motions seems to have some positive distraction aspects to it. On the other obvious hand, it's not always a joy to get back out to work. Then, too, the unpleasant realization I think most of us would have when you're forced to take account of "your life" that your work has been Work and a necessity for most of us, that it's not always the dream some people assume it is. The grass always being greener. Like "summers off" and similar myths about academic life. Yes, summers off, if you count "off time" as those three months when you need to publish articles and try to finish book manuscripts. Still, there's something therapeutic about it. I mean, if you're not working, what will you do? That's another surprising realization in "times like these."

So many people have encouraged me, with the best of intentions, to go do that thing you've always wanted to do! Have you ever really sat down to think that through? Do you really have one thing, or a few things, you've just always wanted to do? If I just do X, then my life will be complete! It seems that life's winding down is more mundane than dramatic, a tougher piece of information to swallow I think. I'm of the mind now that it doesn't really work that way, that the One Thing will make you complete. Rather you're faced with everything you have managed to do, to date and that's about it, and you get to ask yourself, "Is this enough?" And you're forced to answer, or at least consider seriously, "It may not matter, because this is what's been done." So work and other paradoxical necessities might not hold all the answers and yet they might still hold a primary structuring place in our lives.

Thoughts to end the week with, or to start the weekend with. You choose.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

7.06.06, Pain and Follicles

Five, or 5, if you will: whoever said the Franky Scale had lost some of its effectiveness is right. Is a 5 on the scale dead center, no pun, or right in the middle of all the possible feelings. Today is simply the second day after the IV chemo day, traditionally a Day of Suck. It's not horrific but low-grade fever and that kind of flu-like feeling when your hair follicles kind of hurt. Do you know what I mean? Pain in your follicles. I don't get that. I'd worry it's some horrible sign about my hair but I know this symptom from fevers, etc., before. Blech. Naps. Chicken broth later on. Maybe some white rice to go with it.

If I could get my FS up, my plan had been to get out to a neighborhood cafe, pen in hand, or keys under finger, and get my ass to work. Now I'm on the fence. That's the news for now.

Seattle shows its colors today, spreading out a mild temp of something like the low 60s, perhaps there's a chance of rain and there is grey across most of the sky except a tiny hopeful band of bluer laid over West Seattle. I don't mind any of it, it accounts for all the cafes, in all likelihood. What accounts for all the ink-covered hipsters in my neighborhood I can't say — is there some connection between rain and grey and tatooes? Topic to ponder while you wait for the extra strength Tylenol to cut the fever.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

7.05.06, What Becomes of Fear

The most crazy event in my life, of late, was probably last night, 2:23 a.m. — did anything significant happen historically at that time? anyone lose their virginity? relatives passed away then? — I woke up not from something usual like a run to the bathroom or a fever and wet clothing, but from hiccups.

Six fucking hours of hiccups! I kept thinking of historically figures who had died of having hiccups, reading the internet to find out causes and countless "cures," not a single one of which worked by the way. Upside down water-drinking, earlobe rubbing concentrically, holding one's breath in countless odd combinations, swallowing a tsp of dry (white? I guess) sugar without getting it wet or absorbed on the back of your tongue (that one is tough), drinking lots of water, drinking lots of it slowly, drinking lots of through a paper towel, and for all it's worth they may as well have said "Get a pair of bright red pumps and a tiny woman's thong, wear these and nothing else and dance in front of your 8th floor window while the police below harass drug dealers and scan local buildings with their spotlights." It would have done just as much good.

From just after two till about 4 I just worked at it, killing these goddam diaphragm spasms, then just reading and living with it," then I figured if you get that tired and your body is going hiccup through sleep anyway, the let it. So from 4 until about 6-something I slept and hiccupped and then got up, took my morning drug routine, and they went away sometime between about 6 and 10 when I got up later. (I always try to get 8 or 9 hours sleep now; I treat that bit of medical advice as if it really matters, where I couldn't give two shits about sleep before . . . actually, phsysiologically speaking I still can't give two shits about it, or most anything else, but that is quite a different chapter in this story.)

Before I work on the Franky Scale, or offer any more brilliance about hiccups and such, I wanted to re-post a quote that was put into the comment section of the blog early on by The Princess, at my request then, but I think very few people read it or paid it much attention. It's worth some time. In many ways this uncanny line from Garcia-Marquez, from his book Love in the Time of Cholera, works as my motto, from now till death. So there is a certain amount weight hung on it.

And before I give the line, it was also uncanny that good friend, who understands well what to ask and what not to ask, got me with a really pointed question — it was appropriate but just not one I had thought before, and this question came before coming across the Garcia-Marquez quote, which was re-stumbled over later that same day. She asked me the simple question: "What are you most afraid of about dying?" What is more simple, huh? What do you fear? What scares you? And this could lead into, what's left undone? Who will you miss? (but that's an already flawed question in that presumes post-mortem bad) But it points to all those feelings about "now until then" and in the simplest form.

My answer: "The pain, I guess. I don't want to suffer through intolerableble pain, the kind of pain that makes you want to die, anyway, by any means. The pain that is a "10" on the doctors' pain scale." Or I said something like that, surely somewhat less articulate, since I find my verbal articulation has really taken a nose-dive in the last three months. So keep that question and answer in mind when you read G-M's idea:

"Each man is a master of his own death, and all that we can do when the time comes is to help him die without fear or pain" (Love in the Time of Cholera 10).

The fear (the same fear in all the poetry) comes from pain, the fear of the pain. We say "do not go gentle, do not go gentle" but there is a part of the brain that knows, or wonders the unmentionable question at least, which is at what point will I not be able to endure the pain any more. Notice how none of the figures in Dylan Thomas's poem heed his advice — they all couldn't fulfill what they hoped to, they were all what-if's. At what point with the unpleasure simply be the norm of the pleasure principle? Where, or when, does that happen? That's the rub of the waiting game . . . is this the pain? No. This one? This, is it normal, extreme, is it too masked by oxycotton . . . . is it . . . . is it?

The quote works as motto for now, and I wanted to make sure more people had a chance to see it. In the world frustrationion which seems to be where all of you live, wanting to help but either not knowing what to do or, perhaps — and yes, I usually see this when it happens, give me credit — of having a difficult time accepting what I say I need or don't need. I was solitary before, why would I become such a more of a social animal now? Though I have a bit. I'm still OK being alone when I want. I did not live in Salt Lake City before, my family did; why change that now? My life is here, most of it that is. I've lived in many places and each place holds part of me. Now I'm here, by choice; I'm alone sometimes, also by choice; I tell you that your "being there" is a great help, and it is. "[A]nd all that we can do when the time comes . . ." I don't know how Garcia-Marquez hit on that with such accuracy without having gone to the dead place, but he's right on.

Franky Scale: I'll say low 7, since I feel pretty good but I'm also just a hair above the Hell's 10th circle filled with the eternal hiccupers — I'll check my Dante — so I'm hesitant. Oh [!!This is a Christian spoiler alert, blesphemy ahead!!], did we ever talk about what happens to a Mormon if you catch Jesus wearing crotchless garments and deny that you saw him? This came up in NYC after dinner, don't ask why, but we were theorizing how you can get thrown into the Mormon "hell"-like place, called Outer Darkness or Perdition. We figure seeing Jesus firsthand and then denying him is pretty bad, but if you see him wearing crotchless garments — probably baught on eBay — and you deny that, it's so sinful that you'll get transferred not to Outer Darkness but the Mormon leadership will cart your ass off to Catholic Hell. Then you're really screwed. Have you ever sat down and read any of Dante? Very serious shit. (Theology is such a consolation at times like this.)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

7.04.06, Back in Seattle & My Big Money Drug Connection

[A couple of small comments of mine on comments made yesterday have been put in the Comment section. Fyi. -Mr. J]

Yep, it's here in Seattle where I get hooked up once a week, the mainline connection, and we're on such good terms the just put it on my tab every time. The experience is never tainted with the filth of lucre. No, no, no. Instead it's clean and business-like, structured, removed; just like the language we use. They never break my skin, poke me, stick this into your arm, etc., all they ever do is "access" my "port," and then about 5 hours later they tell me "Now, let out a deep breath and I'm going to deaccess your port." It's so that I'm almost not human sounding, hm, wondering why that would be? ... [the euphemism blog refuses to wait much longer...]

Today was more of the Fifth Cycle of chemo, the first infusion session in the hospital; and we made good time and got out in under 4.5 hours I think. Maybe even under 4 hours. I don't know how the time varies such but it does. I hung in until about 90 minutes in, tried to keep up and converse, with Ms. G. and Ted, but then I was called away to the land of IV benzadrine, ativan, and some steroids for an hour of so. Then back to the Dada book I picked up and which has given me some ideas for a whacky collage poem or two: first up, in part from talking with G, is going to the "Angelus Novus" poem from a few days ago. Start your bidding!

Franky Scale, trying to get more honest pictures across w/o hysteria (please hear me those of you who might tend toward overreaction...) and yet with accuracy) I'm putting today at 5. It just doesn't make sense to say "7" once more and then be thinking "yeah, I feel pretty good except for the 24/7 nausea right now, sure it's not to bad." I'll say it's 5 now but should improve as I get more rest and the day moves on.

Wood Scale: see attached photo. (just kidding)

Though I think I will put up a photo as kind of commemorative of the San Juan Islands trip from a month or so ago and then of the NY trip this week. One of my enitrely naked of course. My sense is that putting this much bubble bath in a B&B jacuzzi probably pissed someone off later — but the Kodak moment was worth it. And rated G. Later on I will get in touch with myself and ask how I feel about writing a "guest blog" for the people. Guest blogs tend to be so pupular after all.

Last, I hope everyone takes some time "off" or whatever is best for you today, but I hope you seriously reflect on the ragged shadow image of the different country, now entirely lost, that the US now is — the simulacrum. It's so far down the shitter I can't put it in any finer metaphor, it's going to require more scrubbing to get our arms clean than we can imagine, and that's only if we decide to reach into that pipe filled with excrement and try to pull it out. I know a lot of conservatives are reading this, so please, just do your own homework; please, read more than papers on both sides, check their sources, read government reports, see what the speeches actually say, read UN reports, Congressional records, etc. That should be enough to inform you accurately about the current administration. Anyone who blindly accepts this authority, Bush & Co, because of religion, god, party affiliation, or for whatever reason, is going to have a long period of out-damn-spot to deal with. As it should be.

Independence, yes. But independence from whom? Independence for what?

Monday, July 03, 2006

7.03.06, The Late Night Jonez

Just stepped back into my apartment with a view after the past several days in New York, one night in the city, one night in Albany — all the hot spots. Decisions were made: that of the Holy Synod by which the Franky Scale will be changed, the decision that if I travel somewhere then perhaps I'm the one who has to do a "guest blog," and that motility (more euphemism) is as important as ever.

Franky Scale (still pre-adjusted, but now more self-conscious) has been a 6; nothing went terribly wrong today, though there were several hours devoted to simple life-management tasks, the physiological kind.

On adjusting the scale, some questions need to be asked. Is there "rating inflation" on the scale? Or, what would a "normal" day's rating be? What constitutes a normal day anymore? Or, what would the Perfect Day be on the scale? A 10 I guess, but what does that mean. Part of the synod's discussion was how before cancer I would rarely have listed so many days in the 7 and 8 range, so what we need is somepsychologicall reevaluation of the why and wherefore of the Scale. Just food for thought; and suggestions are welcome. (Based on the popularity of the imagined Wood Scale I guess that would draw more attention from readers, as has been noted before. That will have to be done on a more one-to-one basis with either visual aids or the extreme use of metaphor, if not allegory.)

I slept half the flight — and I could never sleep on flights before getting pancreatic cancer, so that's one indication of the drain it can be occasionally. Half the flight in sleep, some in eating, some in scattered thought, and random jottings. Here are some of those: for those who can't sleep on planes, over plains, or just now.

Land - open - mine - naked - long unfulfilled - still - purchase - end of time - money - walking - enlightenment - dream - death - bier - fire - peak, treeless - Timpanogas - Pagonah - Parawon - Iron Country - Modena - Tocquerville - ranch -tract/s - houses - streets - population misanthropypy - distraction - blithe - wasted coastline - free hollow - deed - tax - susnset - effulgence - nightchill - tapwater - inaccess - solitude - selections - infrequencies - frozen - asphyxiated - withered - cut - window - starvation - noncommunication - blankets - void - mythologizing - enlightenment - long prior - no hope - grass - morning dew - tree - hillock - room.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

7.02.06, Concluding NY

Just returned from a meeting of the Holy Synod in Albany, with Frank, 34DD, and the Princess, and determined that the Franky Scale needs to be modified for accuracy. Exactly how this is to happen has yet to be determined, but it will be the subject of much prayer and fasting over the remainder of this holiday weekend. For the sake of continuity and in the absence of a new system, I'll say today the Franky Scale was a 6(ish); no problems to note and also nothing exceptionally positive in terms of health. Just working on regularity, a rather boring but crucial aspect of getting by.

Tomorrow afternoon it's back to the west coast and to blogs of some substance. A return to Seattle, a return to euphemisms, to continue what almost happened on Friday before the salutary distractions of the city.