Sunday, July 31, 2005

Apologies to Nicholas Cage

I don't mean to say that I despise Nicholas Cage the person. I despise Nicholas Cage the actor. So I mean no insult, except perhaps to his actor's ego. But for all I know he would despise my music. I would not take it personally.

"mysterious skin"


I saw this movie "Mysterious Skin" this afternoon. I had read the novel on which it is based several years ago--mid 1990s maybe--and found it beautiful and disturbing. The movie, directed by Gregg Araki, was beautiful and disturbing as well. The actors were fantastic. Elisabeth Shue, who is around my age and was a sort-of-cutesie teen type until she made "Leaving Las Vegas" (which I could not watch because I despise Nicholas Cage more than words can describe) plays the mother of the hustler character and she is incredible, so touching and horrible and weak and sweet all at once. The movie can make you feel queasy. I have seen all of Gregg Araki's films and found the earlier ones always interesting but sometimes too lacking in any subltety for me. But here he has found the balance. But I won't recommend it unless you want to see something profoundly unnerving. And you might cry, and you might vomit; all depends on how you respond. Now I am babbling...

he likes it rough...


Tuna likes to have his head patted and petted with alarming roughness. If you stop he butts his head into your hand, hard. So I took this picture.



I think that yesterday was the first day since I started this blog project that I did not write anything. That means that either I have no life, or...

It was an exhausting day. I took Y and N on the long-promised trip to IKEA which was, like all trips to IKEA, a nightmare (at least for me). There is something about that place that makes me very anxious, and I had neglected to take the right medication in the morning so I was feeling even more edgy than usual while we were there. It was also a fruitless trip, because Y and N were not able to find what they needed. I purchased some random items: clothes hangers, candles, and mats to place in my kitchen drawers when I clean them up this week (another one of my long-postponed domestic maintenance chores).

On the way to IKEA I took a wrong turn and we got mildly lost in the netherworlds of New Jersey. I also forgot to bring my EZ-Pass so we had to wait in toll lines. And coming back, we came very close to running out of gas.

Friday, July 29, 2005

strange day

glass (2)

Today was a strange day. I woke up early (surprise!) and walked Mabel. I then had to go to my school to get a piece of equipment. I thought that I would go to the farmers' market at Borough Hall while I was there. But when I got there I realized that the market is not open on Friday. I went home. I ate lunch. I don't normally eat much lunch. After lunch I went to swim, but I felt so tired that I swam only 1200 yards and then left. I got home and walked Mabel again and fell asleep for an hour and when I woke up I felt totally beat, even worse than before. Now it is quarter to ten and I feel like I might have to go to bed. I won't, though; I will stay up as late as I can so that I can sleep through the night and hopefully past sunrise. So all I did that was productive today was take some photographs and practice the piano a bit. Nothing to brag about, certainly.


Last evening I met Y. in the East Village for dinner. We walked down St. Mark's to find one Japanese restaurant that he had heard about and when we found it it was packed and seemed so chaotic and noisy that we left to go to Natori. We both had this feeling that the East Village has turned into some sort of grotesque trustafarian theme park. Maybe it was always thus; my romantic memories of the old place might be artificially lit with a glow of nostalgia, but in actuality I know that the neighborhood has changed so much, as has so much of New York. The kids in dreads and multiple piercings are mostly from Scarsdale and the North Shore, slumming on their parents' money for a few years before they go to law school, or get their MBA degrees. It reminded me of a guy who lived in the next room my first year at Vassar. He had long hippie hair and wore batik and birkenstocks and listened to the Grateful Dead obsessively. He also wore a Rolex watch and his parents lived in Larchmont. Some hippie.

When we were walking back to the R train, Y. said "Manhattan is over," and I felt the same way. I am happier than ever that I live in Brooklyn, and my fear is that Brooklyn will turn into another Manhattan...

Thursday, July 28, 2005



Today I was so tired from my scant sleep that after swimming furiously at 1 pm, all I could do was lie around. I did manage to talk on the phone; first to a student's mother, then to BQ. He was practicing his karaoke when I called...



So in my state of insomnia I sit down with my journal and try to write the story of the last four years so that I can better understand myself. It is not easy to do, and I wonder if I can maintain my concentration. And being so tired does not help.Still, I will soldier on,writing this story.


early morning

I can't sleep. I was very tired and fell asleep at 11. But now I am wide-awake. This is unfortunate, because I am still tired.

It is so quiet now, in the middle of the night. There is not a sound, other than Mabel's soft breathing and the slight whir of my ceiling fan.

I had odd disjointed dreams. I can't remember them at the moment in any detail. But it seemed that they were put together in short fragments.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005



What am I doing?

comment on a comment

Lodgerlow wrote this to me:

"Of course it is your weblog, to do with what you wish. But it is ne'rtheless a log of what you thought/felt in days/weeks past. Re-writing your history won't alter it."

And this is absolutely correct. But sometimes I write in the midst of the kind of mind-racing thoughts that I can't control, and I say things I would not say if I stopped for a moment to think. This is one of my bipolar tendencies: the manic in me just yaks away in a manner that the more morose, depressed me would find impossible and/or repugnant. And like most manic people probably do, if they are well enough to be self-aware, I look back on the products of manic episodes with some shame, some cringing, some regret, and in some cases, horror.


Of course we all censor ourselves, almost everyday: unspoken thoughts rumble through our minds and our sense of propriety or tact or whatever it may be reminds us to let them live there and not meet the light of day (or dark of night). So with that in mind I am going to try not to delete previous posts when I find them embarassing or maudlin or whining. That said, I would love to delete the post about memory that I wrote yesterday.


blurred tree

My head is in a fog from allergy medicine. Last night, as if someone pushed a button, my allergies kicked in at full speed, so that I was sneezing so violently that I thought I would blow the top of my head off. I found some zyrtec, and I was able to fall asleep. But the allergies were back with a renewed vigor at 5 am, so I took another zyrtec and now I am a zombie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



This is how I feel right now. You see, just when I think I might be getting ahead financially, and maybe I will have some extra money to travel somewhere or do something luxurious, I am slammed with some large expense. This is the only time when I wish that I were in some lucrative profession; if that were the case this car repair bill would be a pittance and I wouldn't think twice. Or more likely, I would not be driving a twelve-year-old car.

woe is me

I just spoke to the mechanic. My car needs new tires , rear shocks, motor mounts, and a bushing. The whole thing is costing me about $850. I am a little bit shocked at this horrifying expense, but taken in light of the six years that I have owned the car, it is not so bad, as I have almost never incurred any repair bills other than routine stuff. And this is actually routine stuff too, things that wear out as opposed to some mechanical failure. I had thought, back in the spring, that the car most likely would need new tires soon, but I had quickly banished that to the back of my brain (avoidance). $850 is a lot of money for me. I want to cry...


long ago, smiling

Someone commented on this photo: "now then,thats how you look happy...nice smile too." This photo was taken in my last year of college. I was happy, more or less. I rarely smile in photographs, and when I do I feel I look hideous.

I am obsessed with memory. I think that some people regard this as weakness. My friend BQ, I suspect, thinks of this memory-obsession as a handicap, and I detect a kind of scorn from him, which saddens me but which I accept. Or maybe it is merely a reflection of my ambivalence to my own memory-obsession. But all artists must be memory-obsessed. It is the reason why so many writers alienate their families and friends; an artist must portray the fun-house mirror of memory truly, or else he or she is lying.

When I was sitting in the early morning quiet today, drinking my coffee (Y. came over last night after working late and was still fast asleep) I had this realization. I wish my mother were still alive sometimes, but I have happy memories, and I am not sad when I think of her, only sad that she is not here. This is because I mourned her properly. It took years, and for much of that time it was almost too painful to even think about her. But I have never mourned the death of my family. I am still stuck in the anger/rage/disbelief of it all. So the next step is to mourn properly. I am sorry if this sounds so full of pop psychology, but I believe it is true. So I dedicate myself to mourning my own childhood with its awful unhealed fractures, with the horrible loss when it all fell apart. I must understand that my family did truly die. This is not to diminish my brother and sister and the importance they have in my life. But the family of my early childhood, the thing that brings to one a sense of security, died.

Monday, July 25, 2005

right vs. left

Originally uploaded by madabandon.
You can see how my right eye "crosses." This is why I don't like to go without glasses. With my glasses on you will not notice my deformity.

When I was born my right foot was twisted perpendicular to my left foot, which pointed straight as it should. This problem was corrected by a bar that held my two shoes in place so that my right foot was slowly twisted back to "normal." Several years ago I had to have surgery on my right knee to repair ligaments that were strangely stretched, like a ruined rubber band. And now my right leg is shorter than my left.

My right side must be somehow warped.

what happened?

According to my mother, I was never a "happy" baby. I cried constantly. I did not like to be held, and would squirm and wriggle to escape the arms of whoever tried. I would climb over the railings of my crib as soon as I was strong enough and fling myself over the side, preferring the violent shock of hitting the floor to the confinement the enclosed space. Remember play pens? I refused to stay in and would climb up the side or scream and carry on so much that I would be removed. I was ill frequently, almost succumbing to pneumonia at one year, and at three having some horrible kidney infection. I would get intense headaches and bang my head against the wall. I ran away from school and from home. Clearly something was wrong with me. Considering these inauspicious beginnings, I think I have turned out better than what might have been expected. But interestingly, I don't really think much WAS expected. We were treated somewhat like pets: feed them and give them a place to sleep and nature would run its course. So what sort of animal am I?


iron and leaves


I have scared off too many people: friends, lovers, potential lovers, because of my emotional fragility. But this fragility is my strength: it feeds my creativity, while starving me of the kind of strong sustenance one can get from having lots of friends, which only happens when you don't scare people off. I don't mean to scare them. People think I am too reserved, and that I am too aloof. I am just trying to hang on to myself (like the David Bowie song). I can't help myself.


Lately, in my dreams and in waking life, I am haunted by the past. These are not always bad thoughts or memories; some are sweet, but some are disturbing. As I wrote in my poem, things change. It is what happens. Today I had coffee with F.K., my talented writer friend. We talked about Lucy. She did not know Lucy, but in the small world of New York writers she knew a lot about her, particularly since they are both writers known for memoirs which discuss self-image and the idea of beauty in our society. Such memories, I tried to explain to her...and in my poem I try to feel what it is about memory that is good, to find the beauty and simplicity in a good memory. And maybe I am trying to find the beauty in bad memories as well. That is not so easy to do. But I think of it as my unique challenge.

Here, I was three. I was helping carve pumpkins on Halloween. Look at my head. It looks like an egg, fragile and overly large. See how my hair shines. We lived in West Philadelphia, a very bad neighborhood. My father was a law student at UPenn. It was while my family was still happy, I think. I don't remember. But in so many later pictures from childhood I find things too disturbing. Maybe one day I will not think this way. Memory is a powerful thing. It knocks weaklings like me out completely sometimes.



I am feeling as mottled and scattered as the patterns made by this peeling paint. Too much activity today, fueled by much too much caffeine, has made me crazed and I am trying now to chill and relax. I did get a lot done, though, including an intense swim at midday. Now I feel wired and tired. I am in worrying mode: worrying about how much it will cost to fix my car, worrying about how I might alienate my friends, worrying about why my knee hurts so much, worrying about the weather...

paint job

And my head is jangling like the clang of these metal lids when they are jostled by the wind...



Originally uploaded by madabandon.


My new, improved work space. You can't see my new shades but they are very cool. They are about the same color as the floor.



I wrote this poem the other day. I was flooded with memory, hanging my shades, decluttering my office area (half of my very large bedroom). In the late evening I sat down and wrote it in one pass. I edited it the next morning, and then again later. I am not one to read my own writing once it's finished, or listen to my own music. I see my own paintings because I have them hanging throughout the apartment, and I actually enjoy looking at them. On the occasions when I listen to my music (working on my website, or at a concert or playing it for some other musician) I just get too focused on technical matters. But this poem somehow occupies me. It is not a sad poem. I think of it as a song of memory, a praise for memory, an understanding that one gets after having been around a while. Not a poem a younger person would write. But not sad. Not happy; just content, for a moment.


While I love e-mail, because it allows me to keep in touch with many people without talking on the phone--I am not a fan of talking on the phone generally--it has one major drawback. The signs of non-verbal communication, and the conveyance of tone that are part of speaking face-to-face are missing. It is easy to mis-read the subtext of someone's words in an email message. Sarcasm, sadness, anger, joking: they can be lost, or felt when never intended to be so.


This morning I woke up very early (as usual) and it was raining. So strange, how the sky could be so clear and blue yesterday and suddenly so grey. Or, really, it is not strange at all. That's how weather is; volatile and powerful.

My car is making a very strange noise, a noise from the rear, like something in the suspension is awry. I hope it is not an expensive repair. But then again, when you drive an old car, these things come up. But since I have very little extra money, it might be a mini-trauma.

screen in the rain II

Sunday, July 24, 2005


It occurs to me that there is a slight manic freneticism to my thoughts tonight and to the speed at which I am doing things and to the exaggerated sense of delight I feel right now. Yikes.

keep moving

This was a very busy weekend. Yesterday Y and I roamed lower Manhattan to celebrate the weather and to do some shopping. I bought new shades for my bedroom, completing the transformation from clutter to very simple and serene stillness. We walked a lot and I got dehydrated because I was not drinking enough water and the sun was very strong. So this morning I woke with a huge dehydration headache but it didn't stop me. We got in the car and I drove to Jones Beach and my car is making some strange noises. The beach was great fun. We went to Field 6 and walked east and didn't go all the way to the hard-core gay section, just what I consider the "anything goes" section where there are gay people and straight people but few children or families. Not that I have anything against children or families but I was after a quiet, radio-free and shriek-free time.


Dreamcatcher (for __)

Once in a distant city
evening summers ago
we wandered the
streets. You bought me
a dreamcatcher.

Time changes things
and things change.
Today I am hanging
bamboo shades in
my bedroom windows.

On my wooden shutters,
I saw the dreamcatcher
dangling. I remembered
watching you dance.
That was a summer past.

Now things are different.
I remember how you slept
curled on the seat
As I drove fast
up the mountain.


Casper had a wonderful day. Casper went to Jones Beach. The sky was blue and the breeze was calm, and the water was not freezing and the waves were big. It was great. Casper did not get badly sunburned, although his nose is pink.


Saturday, July 23, 2005


I am totally enthralled by my empty desk...I feel like a different person. On the other hand, maybe I don't want to be a different person ultimately. But for now it is great.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Although I should be over it, the email from my father the other day has set my mind reeling with so many things; the issue of my fractured family, and how it affects me, is one that I am determined to understand. I think by understanding it to my best ability I will perhaps be able to get past it, at least more than I am now. When I think about it now I just become upset, angry and sad. It is painful for me to hear about healthier families. My ex just emailed me to tell me how his parents visited him from overseas, and they traveled around the country. Theo had a long visit from his parents. Lodgerlow spent a week with her father; there was strain as there is bound to be, but from reading her blog I sensed that it was a good thing, above all, to spend time together. But then I think that really, I never spent time with my father as a kid. Why would I expect anything different now, so many years later? I should forget it, move on, consider it something beyond my reach. That is a goal I will set for myself.


I am in a good mood today. I no longer trust myself, though. Too often a "good mood" is a harbinger of a manic swing that leaves destruction in its wake. But you wouldn't know I was in a good mood from this photo. I can't seem to smile for the camera.

7 22 05


Post clean-up:


good things come from...

Well, I was so disgusted after I took that photograph of my desk that I have spent the last ninety minutes cleaning, sorting, and rearranging. The end result is good. There is still a lot to be done: getting rid of stuff I don't need. But I don't want to make any rash decisions as I sometimes do, so I will wait on that one. I have had enough cleaning for now.


My desk is a mess. I long for one of those desks that you see on television and in photographs, a big expanse of glass or wood or stone, with perhaps a small laptop and no visible papers, writing implements, maybe a telephone...but I could have that only if I had no work to do, nor any of the detritus of daily life: checkbook, notebooks, change, pills, coffee cups. Periodically I have a purge and clear my desk, but it is only a matter of a few days, or even hours, before it is back to this state.



I am never late. I have a very precise sense of time. For example, if I must be at 92nd and Broadway at three, I will leave my apartment and arrive at that spot precisely on time (barring subway complications). If I am meeting someone in nearby Cobble Hill, I will leave my place and arrive at our meeting spot at exactly the time agreed. This timeliness is not driven by neurotic obsessiveness. Rather, it is some kind of sixth sense that I have. I don't calculate the time it will take, or leave at some precisely planned moment. Also, if I am working, and I say to myself that I will stop in ten minutes, I will look at the clock exactly ten minutes later.

I am not oblivious to social etiquette, though, and am late when it is appropriate: for a party, for an art opening, that sort of thing. And with friends who are habitually late, I have learned to show up late myself, so that I don't waste my own time. I had a lot of practice because my brother and sister are both late almost always.

I think that this skill, or proclivity or whatever it is, comes from being a musician. After all, a musician without an acute sense of time would not get very far.

Perhaps this is the reason that I keep waking up every night exactly at 4:39 am. The problem is, it is driving me crazy. I need to sleep, at least until 6.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You

I had sent my father an email with a column from the NEW YORKER (the same one I wrote about here yesterday). He wrote back, a brief paragraph, to tell me about their upcoming trip to Maine, and then he wrote "Have a great rest of the summer." Well, last time I checked, summer was only about half over. I guess he doesn't plan on talking to me, seeing me, or emailing me until fall. I get the message loud and clear. Sad that it still hurts. And I wonder why I am depressed...


I have been eating so many blueberries lately. I am, according to what I hear, bombarding my body with antioxidants. They taste really good, so good that I am not growing tired of them the way I would with most things. And they are one of the very few naturally-occurring blue foods.

In college I went through a phase during which I would use food-coloring to turn ordinary foods fantastic colors. Blue mashed potatos and bright pink rice were particular favorites of mine. One time one of my housemates invited a professor to dinner on a night when I was cooking. I made curry, which was yellowish, which I served with bright blue rice. The housemate, who was suspicious of my subversive nature, was furious. But I did not know that we were having guests. Later, in that same apartment, I put paper-thin slices of cucumber on the wall. They dried, adhering to the wall and making beautiful patterns of tracery (the kitchen was very very sunny, making it the perfect atmosphere for my feat). I called it "Rome." It was my first piece of conceptual art.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

no sleep = very tired



Conversation Piece

Jonathan is sitting on the Brooklyn-bound C train. He takes the current copy of THE NEW YORKER out and begins to read. Sitting next to him is a woman, early sixties perhaps, with very short grey hair and striking light-grey eyes. She is reading THE NEW YORKER too.

Woman: "Did you read Tom Cruise As A Dog?" she asks.
Jonathan (smiling): "Yes. It was hilarious."
Woman: "He'd do better as a dog."
Jonathan: "Absolutely."

The train arrives at 23rd Street station, and the woman leaves the train, carrying a big backpack and a duffel bag. She doesn't look back.


Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Prophet that I am, I took this picture yesterday. This is how things look to me right now: fuzzy and glaring. The doctor dilated my pupils and so everything is blurry and I can only see if I put my face about six inches from the computer screen. Walking home from the doctor was very interesting. I don't know who I confused, when people whom I know saw me and I didn't see them. I know it happened at least once, most likely more. I want to go swimming but I don't want to negotiate the subway or streets in my state of semi-blindness. But the good news is my eye should be ok with some antibiotic drops.

rollercoaster, flattened

It occurred to me yesterday that the new dosage of lamictal is doing what it is supposed to do. I have not felt, in the last few days, the familiar roller-coaster-ride of wild ups and downs that has disoriented and shaken me so much lately. Not that I am some emotional zombie; but the intensity of the downs, in particular, is abated. This is encouraging, because I was truly frightening myself sometimes. And the dizziness is lessening too, as my body adjusts.



I could not sleep last night. In the evening I was socked with a bombardment of allergy symptoms: sneezing, itching eyes, sneezing and sneezing some more. I must have sneezed five hundred times. So I went to bed around midnight, but I could not breathe. Finally at some point I must have fallen asleep, but I woke up at 3:39 am, wide awake. Once I was awake, Tuna decided it must be time to eat so he started talking and would not stop until I fed him. By then, sleep was hopeless, and so I just tried to relax. But now, at 7:15, I feel like sh-t.

It must seem, to anyone who has read my blog in detail (if anyone has...) that I am constantly ill. But Inever used to be like this. Only in the last year or so. I do have a rather checkered medical past, though...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

heat, annoyance, forgetfulness


I went swimming, despite my eye, because I was feeling tired of staying in. I braved the heat; the pool was strangely empty, the water cold, and it felt good to swim (although I was tired). The trouble began when I left the gym. I had to wait at 42nd Street for a train; it was quite hot on the platform, and the wait was long. When the train came, I entered a car that was not air-conditioned. I had to wait until the next stop to get out and enter the car behind it. A large woman pushed me out of the way to take the only available seat. I stood until 14th Street, which was fine, because then I got a seat. No sooner had I sat then the conga-drummers, whom I encounter frequently on the A train, sat right next to me. I admire their drumming but it was loud in my ears. I burrowed into my book (ILLNESS AS METAPHOR by Susan Sontag, quite interesting) and soon they left the car. Then at Canal Street, as the woman next to me left, a very large man and his girlfriend (wife?) got on, and the man practically sat on top of me as he squeezed his woman in next to him in a space that could barely fit one normal-sized adult.

I was shocked out of my reading by this large body crushing me into the metal bar that held me in place. I was pissed. The guy was huge, his body radiated heat, and he had a sour sweaty smell. I think he was hoping that I would get up. I would not give him the satisfaction. Instead I resumed my reading, and was so deeply into the book that I only looked up to see that I had gone several stops too far. So I got off the train and had to catch one heading in the Manhattan direction, so that I could get home. Unfortunately there was some train problem and I had to wait in the sweltering station for fifteen minutes for a C train, while a truly crazy fat woman screamed and ranted and paced the platform. She was so noisy that I could not concentrate on my reading, which made me acutely aware of how hot I was. By the time I got home I was in a foul mood, but I am fine now.

practical matters

Since I am going to the opthamologist tomorrow, I will have to move my car at 5 pm today. It is a bizarre fact of New York City life: if you own a car and cannot afford/don't wish to keep it in an expensive parking garage, you must grapple with the complex rules governing on-street parking. In order to park legally for the rest of the week, I must move my car to a side that permits parking after 6 pm. To find such a spot, I must move my car at no later than 5 and then sit with it in case the parking police come around writing tickets. This is a seldom-acknowledged loophole in the parking rules. As long as you are with your car, the agent will not give you a ticket. But if you leave your car before six, you will get a ticket, which costs at the very least $65. If the doctor has to do something nasty to my eye tomorrow I will not be able to drive because I suspect I will not be seeing so well. Today it is disgustingly hot and humid, and I don't look forward to spending an hour minding the car. I would prefer to move the car at 7 am tomorrow and then again at 5 pm. But I had better not risk it.

eye saga, part ___

left eye
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
Well, my eye is worse than ever. I will go to the opthamologist tomorrow morning. I hope that she does not have to do anything to it, like a little eye surgery. But I fear the worst, since it has been infected now for at least a week and has not improved at all. I don't know why I keep getting these eye infections. They are a nuisance. And always in my left eye, which is the only operative one.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I have slept virtually the entire day. I am too dizzy to stay awake for very long.

tired, dizzy


The increased dosage of lamictal is making me tired and dizzy. Staying up very very late on Friday did not help. But since then I have slept at least twice as much as I normally do. However, being able to sleep is something I usually long for, so I am not complaining. The dizziness, on the other hand, is a drag. But this happened the last time the dosage was raised. I think that it will stop in a few days, once I adjust. At the moment I could easily go back to bed, even though I slept until 8 am, which for most people is the equivalent of sleeping until noon.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


Both Y. and I lost our mothers at almost the same age (he was 24; I was 25). His mother was 51 when she died of cancer; my mother was 50 when she died of cancer. Last night we sat up, almost all night, and talked about these things. We were both crying and crying. We thought that maybe our two mothers were watching us. His mother's name was Kumie. My mother was Judith. J-K are next to each other in the alphabet. We thought that where they are, language does not matter, so that they are good friends.

I stayed at Y's house in Japan for the holidays a few years back. His mother took such joy in her family. She was so happy and full of energy, cooking, talking, laughing. Then she and his sister came to visit here, and I helped take them around. They came here and met Mabel. His mom thought Mabel was a boy, because she though her name was May-bo. Bo is a diminutive for "boy" in Japanese.


hollow tree

My head?

lost day


Friday, July 15, 2005


The humid weather makes me grouchy. But sitting outside on Montague Street having coffee with F_______, my writer friend, was nice. The breeze was soft and Mabel enjoyed the attention of the waitress, who could not get over how cute she was.



My doctor has increased my dosage of lamictal, also called lamotrigine. I will start tomorrow. I hope it helps me. Lately I have had a terrible time sleeping, and my mood is erratic, causing me a lot of strife especially in my personal relationships. I am very difficult to be around, get angry at the drop of a hat, or sink into black states of despair. My main activity for this week has been swimming furiously until I am near collapse, and taking photographs. Composing is going slowly, when it goes at all.

jury duty

I reported to the State Supreme Court of Kings County at 8:45 am, as directed on my jury summons. I nervously clutched the letter from my doctor in my hand and a man gruffly directed to a large room in the ground floor, down a flight of a cavernous stairwell. I waited in a slow line and finally was face to face with the clerk, a small woman with a tight-lipped expression and brassy dyed hair. I said good morning and handed her the letter. She read it, re-read it, studied my jury summons, wrote something down, stamped the remaining portion of the summons and handed it back to me. I saw a glimpse of what she wrote. It said "exc" and "ret." I wonder what it means. "Exc" surely is "excused. "Ret"? Retired? Return? Retarded?

I have served on jury duty in Brooklyn twice before, but given the wild fluctuation in my moods and my inability to sleep, my doctor agreed with me that it would be best if I didn't serve this time. I was worried that it might be embarassing to have some clerk give me the third degree but she didn't ask me any questions.

After she handed me the letter and summons she said "have a nice day" and she smiled. I smiled back and said "you too." I feel most comfortable when people are kindly polite. I was raised to be that way myself. My mom was very strict about it, and so we are all, my brother and sister and I, almost absurdly good-mannered.




Just now, listening to NPR, I heard a segment on how the Supreme Court vacancy is playing out in the "heartland." People from a church in Omaha were interviewed. First, we heard the pastor leading a special "prayer meeting" in which he opened by saying "we are here to pray for the Supreme Court." Then he told the interviewer that the opinions of the court are more secular than he thinks the "American People" wish them to be. Funny, last I checked, this was a secular country with a secular government. Next a woman was interviewed. She said "I trust President Bush. I am very happy with the decisions he has made and I know he will make the right decision. I am glad that he is our president." It is hard for me to fathom how anyone could say that, unless they don't read, don't follow world events, and can trust that smirking cowboy-idiot for even a few seconds.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

how I keep myself sane (?)

collage #33

les bleuets

les bleuets
Originally uploaded by madabandon.
I bought these blueberries. They are said to be good for the eyes. As I have another eye infection, I hope that they are. They look beautiful. But they are not the best-tasting blueberries I have had. Their looks trump their taste. That is true of many people I know also.


blue car

The brownstone down the block is being defaced. Literally, its surface has been chopped and chistled away. I gather that this is necessary every few decades, if you are a brownstone owner. It is interesting and a little frightening to see so much of the house removed; at the top so much is removed that I can't figure how the whole thing doesn't topple down and crumble to bits.


sign here
Originally uploaded by madabandon.



He had a different strategy than she did.

view from below


Standing under the BQE, the ground actually shakes.

a gray day

The car wash is located in a rather bleak precinct of South Brooklyn. But while I was waiting this brightly-dressed woman crossed the perilous intersection. She was smartly dressed for her walk.



Yesterday I took my car to Red Hook to get washed, since it was covered with some kind of noxious slime; it had been parked near a restaurant, and I think the garbage-carting truck that comes in the middle of the night might have been the culprit. The paint seems to be damaged in a few spots, but such is the plight of a city car that lives on the streets.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Probable Cause of Hopelessness #11

After my parents had divorced, my father remarried. Within a year or two, he and his new wife adopted two girls, sisters, from El Salvador. Then a little later they adopted a Mexican-American boy from Texas. After that, without even telling me, they adopted another boy from the Dominican Republic. They celebrated Christmas, an alien holiday to me and my brother and sister, and they went to church. My father, who had never spent much time with us since leaving, was occupied with his new family. After my mother died, he did make an effort to fulfill parental duties at critical times: weddings, graduations and such. But his family was not a part of mine, and never felt like it no matter how much time has passed. So now, so many years later, I still feel the sting of rejection; it still feels like my brother, sister and I were not enough, and that perhaps we remind him just too much of my mother, whom he clearly hated.

Probable Cause of Hopelessness #14

That terrible December, 1986, I would drive my mother to her radiation treatments. She told me how, while lying on the table, she would visualize the radiation chasing down the cancer cells in her brain and killing them.

Well, it didn't work. The radiation was ineffective, and the cancer galloped through her body with alarming speed, so much so that the doctors admitted, with rare candor, that they were shocked at the virulence of her disease. Four months, start to finish.


While I have decided, a while back, not to complain or dwell on my little miseries, I do have one question that maybe someone can answer for me. Why is it that, no matter how many times it happens, I am surprised when, after a few days of relative calm, I find myself sinking into this dark despair and hopelessness? Even though I know by now that it will not last, it is almost completely overwhelming.



I rode in a school bus through W___________, the town where I grew up. It looked more squalid than ever, decrepit and hard-hit; houses were crumbling. It had the look of a blighted, forgotten place. But the street names were familiar to me as the driver called out the stops. I was going there to go to college. The college office was located in a building that looked like my elementary school. I signed in with a secretary, an older woman in a white coat. I was shown to my room in a dormitory. The room was dark and cramped, wedge-shaped, with one small window looking out onto a dark stairwell. My room seemed to be below ground-level. The walls were thick damp concrete, with peeling paint and what appeared to be mushrooms or some sort of fungus growing in patches. There was a small dirty bed and a desk crammed into the impossibly narrow space. At some point--the chronology of the dream is unclear--the lady who checked me in gave me a funny look when I told her that I doubted I would stay in that room, that I was looking for an apartment in the town. Then I was handed a menu, as in a hospital, on which I was supposed to check my dinner choices. At dinner, when I met the other students, the food was repulsive to me, dishes of undercooked eggs, the same greyish color of the walls in my room.




It is now 6:30 am and I have been awake for two hours. Last evening I had an attack of allergies: eyes, nose, sneezing, etc., and so I took a claritin. I stayed up until it had worked enough to let me breathe, and then finally fell asleep around midnight. But I was bolt-awake at 4:30, and despite my efforts to fall back asleep--breathing, trying to silence my brain--I gave up and read and played with Mabel. Now I feel exhausted. If I could sleep normally, in general, I would feel much better. I have been doing all the things I can think of to help: exercising almost daily, no caffeine later in the day, keeping to a schedule...but it does not work. I would say that I get about two normal nights of sleep a week, and the rest is a struggle. I wish that I could practice piano in the middle of the night so that at least I would accomplish something with my insomnia. When I am too tired I can't really compose, but practicing can be mechanically mindless enough to serve as a good way to pass the time productively.