Thursday, June 30, 2005


(it might have been the brownie that I ate before bedtime)

things are looking up

look up

I am tempted to celebrate, but what I would celebrate is actually mundane. I slept all night long, from midnight until six-thirty a.m. I can't remember the last time that happened.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

daily exercise

6 27 05


My brother and sister like to talk on the phone. Both of them call me, frequently. I do not particularly like to talk on the phone. When either my brother or sister tells me a story, they revel in each detail, telling me word for word what the other person or persons said, complete with mimicry of tone and phrasing. The telling is, for me, generally more interesting than what is being told. That said, I still get impatient, and try to end the conversation as quickly as possible without being rude. My mother was the same way; she liked to talk on the phone too. I am not like them. In fact, as phones become more and more omnipresent, I begin to dislike them even more. Ironically, though, I was one of the early cell-phone users. I hate the thought of being unfindable. But if you call me, I won't really want to talk so much. Don't take it personally.


I came home from swimming and promptly fell asleep. Now I am making soup.


doctor's orders

Despite the order of my doctor to avoid all exercise until Friday, I am going to go swim in a few hours. I can't stand being inside any longer, and I am feeling sluggish. I promise I will not overdo it, and just swim in a leisurely fashion for thirty minutes or so. But if I don'tswim today I am afraid I will start screaming and not stop.



Yesterday I was trying to do some work and so I started to print out the score of my piece so that I could take it with me and stare at it in unusual places like the subway or the car, anywhere but at the desk or piano. Maybe a new perspective could get me going.

But lo and behold, the printer said it was out of ink! Luckily, I had new cartridges. I installed them.

Still, no print! I cleaned the print heads. Once. Twice. Four times. Still, nothing.

I called Epson. Together with the woman on the phone, I determined that the print heads were hopelessly clogged and either the printer needed repair, or should be tossed. This is the second printer in a little over a year. Same problem.

She told me that you should never leave the printer on, as this exposes the print heads to air, and that you should not leave paper stacked in the printer. I am one of those neurotic people who reads the instruction booklet. Nowhere did I find those admonitions. I am sure they want you to leave the printer on and the paper in the tray so that your printer will break and need replacement. Otherwise they would not sell enough printers.

Just when I think I might be able to save some money for a trip or something, this type of thing occurs. I ordered a new printer. I need it for my work. But I was pissed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


At 10:30 am I was sitting on a low stoop on Columbia Heights, waiting until it was legal to leave my car there. I had Mabel with me, and my camera. Two women, early twenties, slouchy neo-bohemians smoking -- probably their parents lived nearby -- walked past me, both giving me the once-over.

"Definitely gay," I heard the darker-haired one say quietly to her friend, once they were past.


after a shower
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Green is my favorite color.

so many things

so many things

yellow house
red man
rusted nail
plastic bag
silver roof
pink ball
barking dog
children's screams
cloudy sky
slow rain
rapid breathing
cardboard box
furry rabbit
ear of corn


Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Man do I feel bad. All I can do is sleep. I am giving myself one more day of this and then something has got to give. I did get some good pics though, while car-sitting.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tom Cruise is an Ass

I have never liked Tom Cruise. This just gives me more reason to think he is a pin-head.

delicate flower

hydrangea (4)

My friends used to laugh and call me "delicate flower" when I got sick.

Unlike most people, I don't usually get sick in the cold months. I get sick in the heat of summer. I was not meant to live in a hot climate, I don't think, and hot weather really destroys me. That, I think, is why I got so sick this last week. And still I feel lousy, although the worst of it is clearly over.

Unintended Irony

I was just out walking Mabel. As she was sniffing around, a lady couple, British, came up to admire her. They praised her for her cuteness. While we were chatting, an elderly neatly-dressed man was walking past.

He winked and nudged me with his elbow, saying--loudly so that the couple could hear him--"with a dog like that you'll have all the ladies stopping you!"

a garden

Oh how I wish that I had a garden to tend. Every summer as a kid I was in charge of the vegetables and flowers. I took great pride in my work. It was one of the best things about summer, and the only convincing rationale for hot weather. Later, when I summered in Vermont, I had a wonderful garden, and I could spend hours working there. I miss it so badly sometimes. This morning while walking Mabel I took my camera, because someone had planted these beautiful pink hydrangeas in planters in front of the chiropractor's office on the corner. My mother used to have big blue hydrangeas planted behind the house.

hydrangea (4)

last summer

This is a picture of me from last summer. My hair is much grayer now. Otherwise, I look about the same.


My body is rebelling against all the antibiotics I am taking. I am eagerly waiting for the day, coming soon, when I will be finished with them. Of course, everyone knows, you have to finish the whole course, so I will stick it out. And I am feeling much better otherwise. The pain and swelling in my throat and neck are gone. And no more fever.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


idée fixe

white glare


white glare

the past

white glare

There is no escaping the past. All you can do is try to understand and move forward. But to deny the past, to refuse to question your own actions, is to cripple your own future. This is what I've been thinking about, obsessively, for the past few hours.

This is because it is too hot. Too hot for me to go out and do anything. I feel so tired from these antibiotics. But I want to go. I want to leave. I want to be somewhere else. I am just too lazy and lethargic to do anything about it.

some feelings are like ghosts...

colors (window)


Numbness, though, is the absence of feeling. It is not a ghost. It is nothing.


I am afraid of heights. I have always been. When I was in Fort Greene on Friday evening, I leaned out the second-floor window to take this picture. I was surprised that I did not have the usual feeling of acute anxiety that I would fall out. Normally when I am up on a roof, I can't go near the edge. I feel like something will pull me over the side, even when there is a barricade or wall.

Maybe I am losing this fear.

ft greene place

in the morning


Last night I was quite agitated and although tired from the day I could not fall asleep and then I could not remember whether I had taken my trazodone and so I ended up taking twice my normal dose. So I took the maximum dosage and while this is not really dangerous it certainly affects my head and now, having been woken up by Tuna at six a.m., I am feeling quite light-headed and disoriented. I hope that I can fall back asleep soon and wake up again. I did have some wild dreams. But they were not good dreams. While right now they are vague in my mind, the last one was tense. The trazodone strongly affects the intensity of my dreams. So while I may sleep more easily, my dream-life becomes frantic, perhaps to balance the fact that I am actually sleeping like a normal person. Can't be too "normal," I think.



Saturday, June 25, 2005


I am quite bored. I am not supposed to go in the sun, according to the doctor (because of the antibiotic I think), and so I am stuck inside. It is quite hot out anyway, so I would not really like to be outside. And I am supposed to limit my activity, so it is best for me to stay home. I have practiced piano some, did some drawing, and read. But now I feel restless. I may just go to bed for a bit. Pomona, my cat, is already there and she would be happy if I joined her.



Francine found this amazing door on the street. Well, it wasn't all that amazing when she found it, but as she paints and decorates it, it is becoming more and more interesting. One of the great things about living in NYC is that you can furnish your place really well and creatively with things you find on the street. People discard some really great stuff. I have this marble shelf in my bathroom that was made with a slab of marble and bookcase, both of which I found. The marble, probably from someone's mantelpiece, was sitting on top of the trash one evening and I carried it home, delighted, although it was extremely heavy and I was afraid I might drop it. It would have broken into pieces. But the pieces might have been interesting too. I have chairs, a kitchen shelf, and a table too. I used to have a rocking chair and a slatted bench that I painted bright yellow. But then I gave it to a friend. I also have a small dresser that I found down the block.



I am feeling somewhat better. Definitely my throat is less painful. I am extremely tired. All of these antibiotics coursing through my bloodstream must be knocking me out.

I have been enjoying my camera. Last evening, in Fort Greene, I took pictures of the old door and the asparagus fern.

Today is the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. I wish that I could go. But the very hot weather would be rough, and I am required to stay out of the sun because of one of the antibiotics I am taking makes me more sun-sensitive. Casper lives.

colors (window)

Friday, June 24, 2005

bad pipes

My tonsil on the left side, part of the lymphatic system, is severely infected. I called the doctor and he told me I had to come in immediately and so I did and none too soon. Apparently the infection is so bad that another day or so and I would have to have surgery. So much for my stoic approach to illness. Yet again I have pushed the edge. Now I am on triple antibiotics and ordered to do nothing for five days. Damn. I will miss swimming.

But my whole jaw, ear and throat hurts on the left side. It is very uncomfortable, to put it mildly, and the advil does almost nothing for it. Hopefully the antibiotics will kick in soon.



I heard an eerie sound, like someone softly crying or moaning. I looked, and there, balanced on the ledge of my window, was a beautiful pale pink dove. As soon as I saw it, it flew away.

tuna waking up
tuna awake

not interesting

I have nothing of interest to say today, really, but since I have not missed a day since I started this blog (is that pathetic?) I thought I had better write something. I just called my doctor because my throat is no better today than it has been for the last three days. I don't have a fever, but that might be due to the advil I have been gulping. He said I must come in today, and so I will. I guess it is best that I did not go to Pennsylvania, although I think my sister would have welcomed my company. She told me that last night she slept out in the yard in a tent with Alex and Jake. Alex got the tent for his birthday, a gift from my father and stepmother. I thought that was very sweet, that she did that. Caleb, the youngest of my nephews, would have joined them, but he is probably too young, and besides it is a three-person tent, and he is half a person (in size) and that would have made things too crowded.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Because I could not spend all day sleeping, I did some laundry. The laundry room is in the basement. Usually basements are creepy to me, but the one in my building is somehow comforting. I can't really explain why.

red door


The real downside to being physically ill is that it leads me back to a depressed state, which I had successfully escaped for the last week or so. Damn damn damn.


So I went to bed hoping that when I woke up I would be better. But I was up and down all night. First I was freezing, and then I would feel like I was burning up. At 4 am I had a fever of almost 102F. Finally at 5:30 I fell into some kind of sleep; I woke again at 7. Y. is coming by with some advil. I have none, for the fever and for my incredibly sore throat. And I doubt that I could walk to the drugstore without wanting to die. So today, all my plans will have to wait. I will lie on the sofa, call the doctor, and hope that I get better fast. I had planned to drive to Pennsylvania tomorrow to see my nephews, but unless I feel substantially better I will have to cancel.

While my mind was racing last night, I thought of significant lies that I've been told. Why wasn't I more angry when I realized I had been lied to? Is it my faulty self-esteem that causes me to endure such things without a sense of outrage? Because now, for the time being at least, I feel mad.

This morning the sun shone through the silk I have hung over my window in an attempt to darken the room. The sun wakes me up too easily unless I block it out.


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

one more

I forgot to mention that my legs feel like they have been pounded with baseball bats. The pain is relentless and nothing seems to help. I have had this symptom before, but not in conjunction with the others.


sore throat, particularly on left side
flushed and dizzy
head feels like it is caught in a vise

this is when it really sucks being alone


I don't know if it because I feel ill, but I am sinking...


mental vs. physical

Interestingly, when I feel stable mentally, as I have this week, I seem to feel physically bad. What is the equation?

country life

The other day, driving in the car up to Beacon, Y. mentioned that he would like to live in the country. I have often pondered this myself. To wake up in the morning and see trees and hear birds, and to live in rural quiet has always appealed to me. But I wonder: would I be bored? Yes, at times. I might become too much of a hermit. I might grow my hair long and grow a long crazy beard and wander through the woods talking to myself, so that people would talk about me when I went on one of my rare forays into town. Or I might just really really relax and be calmer. If I had a porch to sit on, I think I would feel better about the world in general. Or am I just succumbing to the idea that a change of place would make me stable? I have learned time and time again that this is not so.


trees and clouds

Despite being quite tired, I did not sleep well at all last night. I woke up every hour, and finally at three a.m. I took some sleeping pills. They did not really help, but I did sleep until almost six. My legs and head and throat hurt. Often my legs hurt at night, and wake me from sleep. This has been going on since I was a child. I don't know the reason, and it seems much too vague to mention to the doctor. So this lack of sleep is making me feel foggy; I think the previous night's minimal sleep led to my frenetic activity yesterday but today the same kind of lack of sleep is just dragging me down.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

this is how I feel, too

tuna with green glass

busy day

Today I was super-busy. A bit amazing, since I was beat from last night's benadryl. I composed in the morning, went swimming in mid-day, went to the dentist in the afternoon (no cavities! actually, I have never had a cavity so I think I am safe), washed the car, waxed the car (ugh) and now...I will relax and do some reading this evening...


self-induced exhaustion

Last night the flower-smell finally did me in. My eyes swelled and I could barely breathe. So I took benadryl, a double dose. I could breathe, but it totally knocked me out. I am still reeling. And I am still sneezing, making me think that tonight I will have a repeat. I hope not. I want to find that tree or bush or whatever it is and make it go away...

Monday, June 20, 2005

summer `do

mabel (2)

Mabel had a haircut today.

half? (full or empty)


please read

Reading the last post, in particular my description of the short story, I feel that I made it sound trite and shallow. But it was a beautifully-written story. The characters were so true. My words are just inadequate.


Someone in the building next door left a pile of books on their stoop. I took three copies of the YALE REVIEW. On the subway, riding to the pool, I read a story called "Skin Deep" from a 1996 edition, written by T.M. McNally. It was the story of a girl, maybe eighteen, from a small town in the west, perhaps Colorado. She works as a landscaper. Her father is in prison for a series of felonies. Her mother, a dreamer, has a no-good boyfriend and hopes that the girl, Lacey, will become a Broadway star. Unknown to mom, a mysterious wealthy man, who may be behind the father's imprisonment, has arranged for Lacey to go east, to Massachusetts, to attend college. The story ends with Lacey on the plane, heading to her future. She never returned home.

Reading the story, I started to cry. Luckily for me there were few people on the subway car and I had on my dark sunglasses. So much of it reminded me of my own life. I remember leaving for Chicago; I could not sleep the night before and I took one of my mom's xanax, but it gave me a horrific stomach ache. Outside my mother's house, the U-Haul my father had rented for me stood, packed with all my worldly possessions: a futon, a table and chair, my books and records and clothes. Not much, really. I had not spent much time in my mother's house in years, and lying on a mattress on the floor in my old room, sleepless in the awful early September heat, I thought about what awaited me. I had only ever been to Chicago for one day, when I went to see the University that had offered me a fellowship--my ticket--and I had little idea of what to expect. I was moving into an apartment I had never seen, for $275 a month, university housing. Little did I know how wretched it was, infested with roaches and mice, and at street level on a busy intersection where a 24-hour bus stopped every ten minutes. I had a check for $300 from my father, for food. The first month's rent was paid, and I would have money from my fellowship once school began.

I left very early in the morning. My mother was not really speaking to me for some reason--she tended to be like that--and I just wanted to get out of there. It was hot and humid and the truck had no air-conditioning, and only an AM radio. I had an old walkman (remember them?) and as I drove I listened to tapes. In the mountains in western PA, outside of Pittsburgh, a state trooper pulled me over. I was going very very slowly--the truck would not climb the hills--and it is illegal to drive with headphones on. After checking my drivers license, the man told me that he would not give me a ticket. He asked me where I was headed, and when I told him "Chicago," he said that anyone who had to drive in that vehicle in the scorching heat with no radio didn't need a ticket.

The first night that I was in that apartment, at two in the morning, a car ran up the sidewalk and crashed into a lightpost just outside my window. I had just fallen asleep, exhausted. I did not sleep for the rest of the night. I didn't know a single person in Chicago, I had no phone service, and it occurred to me that if I died, no one would know.

That was the beginning of a long time when I had no home. Chicago was not my home. My mother's house was not my home. I would stay for short visits, but she had remarried a man who was a stranger to me, and I had no friends in that town anymore anyway. My father lived in the same town with his wife and his adopted kids--four of them--and I felt no part of it. To this day, thinking of it makes me feel panic, but at least it is distant enough that I can keep breathing.

sneezing, sore throat, burning eyes

Some tree or bush is sending its sickly-sweet fragrance wafting into my windows. It is driving me crazy because it makes my allergies go haywire. I sneeze, my throat hurts, my eyes burn, and I want to scream. But I don't wish to shut the windows and turn on the air conditioning, which would solve the problem. It is far too nice a day for that, and my electric bill is always so bad in the summer that this cool weather is a blessing. So I will go on sneezing, wheezing and rubbing my eyes until the tree or bush or whatever it is drops its last wilted bloom of the season.

to the right


One of the unpleasant conditions I have always lived with is obsessive-compulsive disorder. While my OCD has improved tremendously since I began treatment twelve years ago, for a long time it caused me great distress. As a child I would run up the big stairs to the back of the house where my room was, repeatedly, to check that I had shut my bedroom door. I used to have to check the stove a ridiculous number of times, making sure all the burners were off, before I could leave the house. When I was in high school, and had an very old and beleaguered car, I would check for oil leaks dozens of times a day, anxiously peering under the car repeatedly. I would seem to forget that I had just checked, or disbelieve what I saw, or simply feel compelled to do it again. This weekend a touch of that returned; the aftermath of my car-repair last week seems to be a revisiting of that old obsession, and yesterday I found myself checking the oil something like ten times in a row. I did so again this morning. I have to get a handle on it. I am driving myself nuts. At least I never had the common OCD symptom of washing my hands hundreds of times a day. That one seems truly awful.

sofa time


I spend a lot of time sitting on my sofa, reading or more often staring into space thinking. I did even more of this than usual yesterday. I also like to look at pictures. The small gray book is about Tadao Ando, my favorite architect.

how did they do that?

green cones

What I wonder is how they got the grass to grow this way. Also, where did they find green traffic cones?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

ghost (casper?)


Dia Beacon

Yesterday, after leaving Mabel in the hands of her Aunt, Y. and I drove (or I drove and Y. was the passenger) to Dia Beacon, about 60 miles up the Thruway. It was a great place. Huge. Richard Serra, Robert DiMaria, Bruce Nauman, all giants of 1960s-era modernism.

There is a nice outdoor place to sit and have some coffee.

the scream (after edvard munch)

There are beautiful places to walk outside, too.


The grass around the café is planted in an interesting grid pattern. Some of the squares are of moss, not grass.


The cloud formations on the drive, and while there, were quite spectacular, great dark-and-light swirls of puffy cumulus clouds (I think that's what they are).


Unfortunately I could not take photographs inside the museum. But some of my favorites were represented, including work by Agnes Martin from the 1960's which is her best, I think. And this incredible room by Sol Lewitt. And Robert Ryman too.

You can walk in, feel awed by the cavernous space, wander through the room with the huge tilted steel Richard Serra sculpture, and then go back out to recover. Here is a view of the café again.


We drove in my old red car. It is quite dirty, but the a/c was just fixed and it is running quite well.

dirty car

Friday, June 17, 2005

summer hours

In summer, when I don't have to teach, I get in the habit of staying up late. In the old days, at Yaddo, or at MacDowell, or in Vermont, I would often stay up until two or three in the morning. In Vermont I could practice at that hour since there was no one to disturb, just whatever little mice or other animals were living in that great big old house. Oh how I miss it.


For a long time I took a daily picture of myself. Most were scary. I had an idea of making a giant piece, hundreds, even thousands of little squares, all with a face of mine from a different day. I am not sure how I would make it, but I have decided, at least this week, to resume my habit. My new camera has a remote control so it should not be hard to do. And I have a tripod.

6 17 05 (4)

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I sent this email to Theo just now. We had dinner last evening and discussed depression and how one deals both with it in one's self and in a friend. Since I have been guilty of posting this sort of thing and then deleting it in a fit of second-guessing (one of my worst pathologies) this time I promise I will leave it here, no matter what.

Hi Thierry,

I have been thinking a lot about our discussion of depression last evening, and how ___________ is doing with regards to advice, etc.

I don't know if I was able to articulate my ideas clearly; I was very tired from my days of no sleep and my brain felt slow. But now I will try. Forgive me if I am repeating myself.

I think it is very difficult for anyone who has not had chronic, long-term depression--lifelong--to understand how it eats away at your confidence, your ability to make plans for the future, your outlook on possibility. My most well-meaning friends are full of suggestions: take a trip, take a class, go out and do things, join a group...and while I can intellectually and rationally see the logic and the benefit in all these, emotionally it can be impossible to take steps in any direction. You become paralyzed with anxieties and fears, and sometimes it is far safer to stay in one place. As much as doing so is just making the depression stay in place, it is often the only choice that is possible.

Does this make sense?

And so you can latch onto the idea of a relationship providing the stability and balance that your own psyche can't provide. While this places an impossible burden on the object of the relationship, it is an idea that is hard to shake off. I know because I have this problem, and I stay in a relationship sometimes for the "wrong" reasons, although for me they seem to be the only "right" reasons.

So _________ may withdraw because he is afraid; he might not want to admit this, and he might not want to seem like he is weak, but he is. I don't mean this in any way as a criticism. He is ill. As am I. The best we can do is try to manage. I know this sounds defeatist, but it is, for me anyway, the conclusion I have reached after thinking/pondering/questioning my depression for most of my life.

I know you are a generous and kind person and I know you mean the best when you reach out to him. Don't be hurt if he can't respond all the time.

Your friend,

6 16 05


Elephant beaten with candy and little pops and chews all bolts and reckless reckless rats, this is this.

(Gertrude Stein, TENDER BUTTONS)