Saturday, September 09, 2006

9.09.06, Eve's Ramblings (disconnected thoughts)

[more rambling, b/f 10 pm]

Before I ramble too much more, a request. I know I have three sisters who read this blog, so is it possible to have one of you get these posts to mom? Or take turns? Would someone mind doing that for me? Nearly every time I talk to her she says she’s not heard of anything on the blog, no news, no details. Since I talk to her pretty much daily it’s not a huge issue, but I would imagine she’d like to see the blog.

All this searching about and studying about Being probably looks like it had some teleology in the light of the present “study” of it. While I grant that the two are related, even more closely than I would have thought before, the one is not just an extension of the other acclimated to death and short-term being. I’m surprised, however, by how all of the high philosophical attempts to work it out, though extremely wordy and too often burdened down with a scholarly tradition and apparatus, are at center the same as trying to get up every morning and face mortality. Knowing you’re facing death sooner than most people you know narrows those Big Question discussions down to a number of key everyday questions.

What is my desire? What is all the chaff in life? What can be eliminated without detriment? What do my actions mean, and, how screwed up are my priorities? On actions, what is left of them after I’m gone? What’s the value of social interaction? Ethical behavior? Etc. But now I feel like I’m I the laboratory and it’s possible to test theories daily. You can feel what some questions mean, whether some assertions hold water, whether some propositions are simply shit. I don’t if it’s coming out well, but I feel like Hegel’s concerns in his “Preface” are the same ones we deal with daily if we’re honest and thoughtful. Or it that feels pretentious, reverse the order, “Our simplest honest everyday concerns are actually . . .”

Death, or foreshortened life, forces all this. It's not so much about how long every morning till I think "cancer" so much as how long till I think "How much longer?" My head rattles with it all. And this is what happens mentally between bouts of various physical annoyances. It rambles, I can’t guarantee it’s entertaining, but it’s real.

[eve’s ramblings]

To blog out of nothing. Today. A 5 or a 6 for the numerically oriented. The Franky Scale (. . . where is St. Francis tonight, a cocktail in hand for me?). Feeling late. Always late, but this is all happening too early so what would I be late for? For what? Apparently last week I was late for a procedure that involved one version of “me,” but the version of me that maintains my body, governs or is governed by fatigue, experiences bouts of energy, never fully manic any-more though, this version of me was unaware of being late for anything. So the appointment made without me, the doctor scrubbed without me, the tan overconfident somewhat lacking in bedside mannerist there without me, while I was living my life and making sure I wasn’t late for anything. Till the administrator called and informed me there were two me’s, and one of them was scheduled, it’s just that the other didn’t know.

There is a parable in here somewhere? If it’s true that “because I could not wait for Death, . . .” then perhaps I’ll get lucky and be late again sometime in the near future. Death with wait in agitation, looking at his Swiss watch, wondering “What gall? What nerve?” while I’m off somewhere else writing him into a parable where he is the butt. I hope his administrator is the same as the one who called me to apologize and say I guess we assumed we had you on board for this. Nope. Not this me. Must be someone else. So Death will run around checking my usual haunts, to no avail. I’ll be sitting elsewhere with a good book, and no watch . . .

Growing inside me like knowledge. This is the thought that comes to me tonight. Wisdom — no, too high falutin. Some would have us think though that knowledge must inevitably lead somewhere, like wisdom. Hmph. Just knowing certain things and thinking them through these days. These Days, caps. What is it like . . . calls come, messages, over wireless, or through the net. But tonight too is solitary, more at this same day today. Sometimes often there is little to talk about. Times of patience, or simply, being. So much of Being accentuated these days, precisely because they stand out as being precisely “these days.” Keeps coming back, little returns of phrase. And, just being, for a little longer. No Blue Cliff Records, Dharma Bums, or else metropolitan or colonial fictions so much the less. Applicable. Not today thank you. The Stranger, Twenty Love Poems, Flower Garland Sutra / Hwaom, Satan Says, Three Poems, Tender Buttons. Philosophy and Truth and scads of other notebooks.

There — in growth, knowledge, tumors — is a strained simile. Still it serves. Sometimes even a cliché serves just right. It’s all tied through some backmountain trails and desert plateaus and long wash walks to the recent concerns I’ve had: no, let’s call it obsession. Being. The one uncanny fact is how I was obsessed before these days. For the past few years I’ve been studying through this maze on the side, the deepest philosophical problem, or question ala Camus, through Hegel and Marx, through Being and Nothingness, Being and Time, some other places. Put this on hold, there is a sound and sight afoot.

Interruptive image: A breeze flowing right through my kitchen window, with some force, and a tree sits just inside my eighth floor window, what kind, I don’t know, while I cook. When is the last time you could hear the sound of tree leaves rustling and breeze wind flowing while you stood in front of your stove. Next room the blinds sometimes reach just the right windspeed to imitate cicadas. Perfectly. Who did this? When was the last time? Now I sit to eat. There is one cup for tea, given to me by a poet named Hwang. Where is he eating tonight? There are two cups in the set. Or is he asleep in the midst of friends and hangers on, cigarette burning dangerously down to the drunk sleeping quick while one friend, who is a radical journalist and freerange intellectual, will catch it before the end. Then Hwang will wake up, laugh in small at a joke two minutes old, light another. So it goes. Eternal return. (Was it two years ago I was there grabbing the cigarette?)

More later…. That’s why it’s rambling…

Friday, September 08, 2006

9.08.06, Slow Waves

Friday hasn't brought much excitment, just some fatigue and tiredness (the former I mean technically after the chemo side effect) after a rough night's sleep last night. Franky Scale would clock in around 5. It's so arbitrary, as we've said, but on average I'll drop one right in the middle. It's mostly nausea, the coming and going of a stomach that rises up the throat, or that flips over one way and then the other.

For now, to alleviate these annoyances I'm going to talk some poems with a friend. Get away in the mind. Maybe something spontaneous and guest-bloglike will occur.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

9.07.06, Chemo Just Keeps Happening

[3:22 am]
Ambien works, on occasion. Temazepam seemed to work for a while. But not lately. So there are times when midnight bathroom, water, or popsicle breaks turn into more than I had planned. Like now. Nothing to report, no dreams, no impressions, no epiphanies. Just simple insomnia with a splash of nausea. Just a record of life's simplest events. Does is bore you to tears? It does me, though those tears I can usually hold back. What constitutes boredom? I used to feel very confident that boredom was impossible for me to experience. There was simply too much, always, to do. Now with my future out of joint, boredom does seem to hold its place occasionally. It's a surprise. Life's curves. It's rife with deep thinking, sructured around the avoidance of other thoughts, too often. It's often what brings me here after I've had my water, once my popsicle is finished.

So what does it all mean? Nothing, still. (You see, it's not just questions only, but answers too.) That remains the fact to face, the one that requires the most courage. And thinking of what I'll miss, this is part of the "boredom" thinking I experience sometimes now. If I'm feeling more buddhistic and enlightened then I can tell myself my attachments are mostly taken care of. That I'm close. The trivia having become just trivia, miinutiae minutiae. The days continue to roll out however. From a day of freedom to the next when my body is disciplined with toxic anti-cancer drugs. The days in between when my mind turns at times to wondering whether . . . whether it's working, how much it's working, whether it matters, or it's just a time-filler.

Yesterday I spoke with a good friend who's been out of the loop for a while, one with whom I share quite a few values, and it was odd to hear — don't look too hard for a seque here — her take on immortality. Not any religious kind, I assure you, but rather a good old-fashioned literary kind. Also a kind I've not held much faith in lately since I question the good of what's left behind that you as subject will not be able to read or evaluate. If there is any response you won't know. Is that a kind of immortality? No next life means, quite simply, lots of silence. Despite her confidence, and there's no reason to overestimate my abilities in this regard. This is not lament, nor metaphor, just observation, the return to a question that had slipped off-stage for quite some time. Why does it arise now? Because the strangest things come to fill the sleepless brain.

Enough somnambulant wandering on my part. It's only just a bit entertainment for those moments stolen from your work. Pieces of the random thrown into the record, if record this becomes. Other than that, life is still suffering, as if was before cancer too, and we just try to alleviate it as best we know how. Tomorrow day what, 22 of the chemo cycle, or 23, or does it matter? Another day it keeps moving. Hopefully with a little sleep between now and then. I hope no one's up to read this now.

BTW, a book recommendation in Korean. There is a newish book of poetry out in Korea called "Anak'ist'u (The Anarchist)" by Chang Sogwon, published this year by Munji. The latest in their unofficial "Wangtta" series. Go read it, those friends who are in Korea or have access otherwise. It points the way for much of what's solid and forward among the newest Korean poetic voices. And Sogwon is a great guy, too, which doesn't hurt. (Minjok Kodae!)

* * *

Every Thursday — was Tuesdays previously — the same thing happens. I wake up and wonder "Do I want to eat? Well I really should." and then "Do I want to get up? Not really, but what choice?" and I ask some similar questions as means of slowly getting my brain to work, my body clean enough to go out in public, then myself clothed and packed up so I can have that last five minutes to wait before Mme X comes to get me in her superhero car. Chemo just keeps on going, every week, seemingly with or without me.

It becomes habitual, as it feels it has already, but whenever that happens a surprise is usually waiting right around the corner, no? Hm. Better be good.

* * *

Lethargy sets in. Fatigue might be a better word for it, a benzodizapine induced physical whammy. I think there is no help for me but a serious spell checking and sleep. Bringing the Franky Scale somewhere off 5.

* * *

Not a lot to add today, in terms of today events, however I did have a conversation with the GI people from the UW Medical Center the day before that's worth recounting. They called to tell me I missed my EUS procedure for the NCPB, the nerve block to reduce my "belly" pain, as they kept putting it. I said "What procedure?" And realized that the size of the UW hospital and its nature due to that size unavoidably cause Kafka-esque problems. If I were quicker to think on my feet, I would have replied like K, "Ah yes, my procedure. How did it go? Do I feel better now? Was it successful?" Just to taunt the scheduler who processed "me," and decided my appt time, and scheduled me into the doctor's morning schedule without ever consulting the real me. Very interesting.

I informed her of this, to her confusion. Then we started over and I suggested that maybe if they actually planned it with me and found out if I wanted to do the procedure than we might get somewhere. So later I was called and it started over. I am pencilled in for Oct 2, Monday late morning. I refused the 7:20 slot since I want my doctor to be fully caffeinated and to be able to practice on a few people before he gets to me. Which means I think I'm going through with it. Low risk, relatively high success rate. All to the reduction of pain.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

9.06.06, Creation & Criticism, Another Poem

Franky Scale 6.73482. IV chemotherapy tomorrow again, early a.m., plug me in and let me go, drip drip recline drip drip dose. It's all a very tiring routine, but this is the final of four weeks in this immediate cycle. Enough said. "Tiring" because it is so much the same, but the sameness is not really what will "save" me. Which means it's just time removal and the Other Big Clock keeps moving. Ineluctable.

* * *
Slarry, you asked about my poetic process, the act of creation regarding that two-day old sonnet. Assuming you're asking seriously, here's a serious answer. My answer deals both with writing and with my cancer experience. I wrote it at night on 8/30. The occasion should be obvious in the broad sense; more specifically, I suppose the poem lends support to my theory that "a writer writes." Again, broad sense, every piece I write presently becomes a standstill image of the larger process I'm undergoing. Back to process, I don't ever sit down and think "OK, time to write a poem." It just wouldn't happen even if I did. I do, however, try to write whenever I get the chance, diaries, essays, problems, small fictions, whatever. It's part of my life theory and my therapy — it's probably a large part of what's kept me alive so far.

If I haven't done it already on a given day, I'll sit down before my keyboard at day's end, and then I'll begin recording events, feelings, whatever hits me. It will start to flow, so long as the mind is open to a choppy flow, verbose flow, disconnected flow, chiastic flow, etc., any kind of flow. Almost always a small narrative emerges. At times, like on 8/30, the lines about a given theme start to thicken, they condense into more economic form, the break in certain places — the lineation often happens of itself. Rhyming almost never happens of itself. Although, a poem's form might just "happen," like the near 14-line form that poem found all by itself. To push it into a rhyme scheme and sonnet form was merely a small puzzle after it was all written. A self-contained "piece" of creation will emerge and my responsibility is to See it, Extract it, and then Rework it. The latter might take one or a hundred times.

Below is another piece. I'm not big on explaining any piece, especially before it's read, . . . so, here is another piece, that's all. All I will say is that the idea came before the content did, which is why you can read it like a written record, which is why actual records could be worked into it—in that sense it is all historical and true. That being said, this piece is still only mostly done; something is still off with it. I just can't identify it yet. It's called "The Premonitioner." Note, the first stanza took place, and I wrote what I wrote, weeks before I was tested or diagnosed.

* * *

“The Premonitioner”

Before Daniel’s birthday after he died: I began to write on death and beauty, two concepts, no facts, always correlate in my brain. The ellipses in the original:

“…and I suppose I should rephrase my thought about death’s approach, my approach to it, since I am going towards it but I write from where I am and where it is — once I arrive the meeting will stop the writing, but what I am doing is coming to die.”

Reversing the direction, of death’s coming, is like hearing Monk play, really hearing. Piano keys are never pushed, they are not hit, they are not struck however gently — Monk rests his hands above the keyboard and lets them fall. Myopic naysayers could not see how he would wait, in full control,
how he would let,
the keys fall

in gentle syncopation.

Every year I rename my journal. Two thousand six on New Year’s Day was titled “Small Steps in Death’s Shadow.”

3 January 2006 untitled day
“. . . I don’t know if stress it the cause or not but my stomach fucking killed last night, right when I was about to sleep.

“Pain tonight too on the 4th, next day.”

“— pain is the most powerful aid to mnemonics.” (Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals 61) Not that we would otherwise forget. . .

4/5 January 2006 slow life dull pains
“. . . Next morning, the 5th, my stomach hurts still. Like this highwire tension, it seems like it won’t go away.”

I would run 6 miles a day. My halfway point a work of public, community art beneath the University Drawbridge, perhaps an anti-war piece, 14-feet tall, encircular, grey & red, in any event called “The Wall of Death.”

8 January 2006 why stay awake
“Sunday morning. Briefly, before the sun was up, sitting at my desk with a fresh cup of coffee, I thought, ‘This is not too bad, I feel pretty good being alive.’”

Consolation, there is no consolation in premonitions. Just one more ringing echo return of dumb fate speaking against the boundless sky. Deaf fate awaiting her return. A clownshow communication you can only watch if you turn on the subtitles.

Morning of 9 February:
“I woke up today and my stomach was hurting again — that nervy and painful feeling that I’ve had nearly every day for months now, and spend hundreds on for bullhsit no medical help.”

“The time to show a message is when too late and later there is no hanging in a blight.” (Stein, Tender Buttons 5)

[Tender Buttons]
2 March 2006
“In the morning I got a ride from Kim to have my endoscopy done, I lived.”

“The one thing you want is to pause so as to puzzle all this out, but that is impossible; you are moving much too fast for your momentum to be halted.” (Ashbery, Three Poems 87)

5 March 2006 cannot wait
“I keep waking up at about 5 every day — now . . . 5:21 and I finally . . . 'fuck it,' more insomnia coming . . . the summertime curse? . . . some other reason . . . stomach feels nervous all the time at night, that . . . pain upper left since last fall?”

10 March 2006 Dr. Peppin bad news
“6:02 PM, Dr. Craig Peppin just called me, at home, at about 5:50, which I’m taking as a sign that he’s concerned.

“Somehow even the line that it could be a kind of cancer just doesn’t bowl me over, but rather seems somehow appropriate, like it was only a matter of time until I would learn that in my life. Why do I feel that way? Will it all be cut short? And more strange however, when I piss and moan about my existential angst all the time, how life is so unsatisfying and I feel almost nothing but of the soul riven by lack then why should that be a worry to me?”

“And would you believe that this word could possibly be our salvation? For we are rescued by what we cannot imagine: it is what finally takes up and shuts our story. . .” (Ashbery, Three Poems 104; italics added)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

9.03.06, A Sonnet from Fragility

“Life, the Crash Course Version”

Death opens vistas through its immanence. Widened
Vision and broadened possibility both result from the horror
Of the approach, the horror. Every possibility existing gossamer,
Hanging by delicate threads of if, comes to the fore of when

Pain’s freedom is finally achieved. The ambivalent joy is where
In the eye-opened crash course for life, life until death is no more
Fast on silent shoes of black patent leather across a floor
Swept clean by silence? The daily expectancy is where,

In dodging nausea, neuropathy, constipation, diarrhea, and more
The localized general pain, incessant & unseen like a cancer,
Stop a step short of simile — as cancer without “like” is interred,
Buried in the belly of everything you could have become before

Your horizon expanded to reach anything, yet restricted to the now?
Dream your fullest desire your everything, just do it fast somehow.

* * *

If there is going to be a Franky Scale I'm going to think about it some more. Even at this time of day it hasn't been long enough to say well. And sometimes it gets tiring constantly taking one's temperature.