Tuesday, February 28, 2006


First, look how cute these two are:


Now to the topic of the title. My building has three doormen. One is G, a cheerful guy who always looks on the bright side, is unfailingly friendly, kind and polite to everyone who comes in. Another is J, business-like, practical, not prone to make much small talk (which is perfect for me, because I am awful at small talk). And then there is T. I call him "auntie" (not to his face, of course). He is like a clucking hen who always sees doom. Two years ago Mabel had emergency surgery (she swallowed a piece of one of her chew toys and it got stuck at the opening of her small intestine). She came through it wonderfully, but she was definitely not quite herself for a month or so. Every time I took her out for a walk T would say things (in his heavily accented English) like "Oh she no look good. She no look good." I wanted to scream at him to shut up. Of course she no look good. She had her abdomen and intestine cut open, and a piece of her intestine was removed because it was on the verge of infection. The whole episode was traumatic, but each day she did better, and it was clear she would make a full recovery. His chanting "she no look good" just made me feel awful, although I know he meant well. But he is such a pessimist that he always says just the thing to make me feel like shit.

Monday, February 27, 2006

world news

How ironic that the president of Dubai Ports World is named Michael Moore.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

yellow is the color of...

colors (yellow)

Now after the sun has gone down I feel a strange emptiness. I am tired, but it is not physical. It is my head.

Today I went with ML to J&R where I hoped to find this kind of silicone keyboard cover that you use to protect the keyboard from dust and spills (!) since I learned the hard way what can happen. They did not carry what I wanted but I bought a silicone case for my iPod mini and also (drum roll) two large cd books to hold ALL my classical cds. Now, filed away, the cds are no longer visible on that ugly black cd rack that sat behind my piano. The room looks less cluttered. And I reacquainted myself with the contents of my classical library, which is extensive.

So now, feeling this kind of emptiness, I listen to Brahm's B Major Piano Trio. It is beautiful, a bit overwrought, sort of the opposite of how I feel now.

I realize that I am good at music and painting and teaching but I am no good with my relationships. I don't know how to have one without stress and torture (inwardly directed, mostly). But I hate being alone. I can't handle either one. What is the middle?

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Theo came for dinner last evening. I was a bit out of it; the wellbutrin is making me spacey, I think. It was nice to drink scotch and catch up. He was taken with Patsy's charm, particular when she was lying so glamourously on the piano.


Friday, February 24, 2006


This little demon


skidded onto the desk at top speed and knocked a full cup of coffee (milk, one sugar) flying so that it destroyed my computer keyboard and mouse in addition to ruining number papers (receipts, bills) and and leaving various small objects in a sticky coffee mess.

Then the mechanic called with an estimate of about $700 to fix the car (rear brakes, flush master cylinder, parking brake pads, air filter, oil change, and a few other little things). They add up.

I bought a new keyboard and mouse at Tekserve. Thank goodness for Tekserve.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


I feel strangely spacey today. My head is foggy. But I don't feel depressed. Just foggy. And finally my birthday flowers have wilted to the point where I have discarded them. I hate to see them go, but I have my photographs.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

before I forget

The wellbutrin is making me feel nauseated and also giving me visual hallucinations. I see clouds of different colors floating across my field of vision, and fast-moving shapes out of the corner of my eye. Interesting, but hopefully the types of side effects that will quickly dissipate.


I am feeling sharper. My dreams are more vivid, almost real. I can focus on what I am doing for more than five minutes. I have no appetite, though. And I am sleepy. I have to be careful and monitor my mood, because there is always the risk of crossing over into mania-land. But for now, I am thinking that this might be working for me.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Today is day two of my new regimen. Yesterday I felt very tired and a little odd. Today I feel quite tired and at the same time more mentally alert than I have been in a long time. Depression numbs you; you are slow, forgetful; you can't focus well. Sometimes I would feel very confused. Today I feel sharper, better able to focus. This has happened to me almost every time I start a new antidepressant. The lamictal on its own was not doing enough to curb my depression, it seems.

One thought that disturbs me profoundly is the basic core concept of psychopharmaceutical theory. The idea that without taking a pill (or in my case, a number of them) every day I will sink into a state of depression and ultimately total dysfunction...I don't know what to make of it. I do know that in the past, when I went off medication, it led me into a very bad state. So I will just take it as it comes, and hope that I can keep getting better.


miss you


July 16, 1936 - February 21, 1987

Monday, February 20, 2006


On a number of levels, I feel cornered. My doctor wants me to start back on wellbutrin again. I stopped taking it in 2004. I am not happy about taking it again, but in combination with the others, it might help me. I need something more that what I am getting now, even with my meditation, exercise, attempts to get regular sleep...I am sunk more consistently the past year or so. Maybe this will give me a shove back above ground. And wellbutrin, for me, has had very few side effects. I tend to lose weight on it,and I have no desire to smoke, which is a very good thing.


blue monday

I feel sluggish and draggy this morning. I wanted to sleep endlessly, but my body/brain would not let me. I sit here at my desk in a fog. I just took Mabel out and the cold air which would normally snap me out of my stupor seemed only comfortable, not shocking. I wish I could make time stop for a few days so I could do a little mini-hibernation and emerge, like a bear from the woods in the spring, hungry and eager.

orchids (5)

I took pictures of these orchids against the backdrop of one of my paintings.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

looking closely

I had a sort of bittersweet day. I was not in a very stable mood; from a certain hilarity to now, when I am feeling sad and down. Tomorrow I see the doctor. I hope that I have something to talk about. I hope I don't sit there, morose and silent. And if I do, I hope she goads me into speaking.

orchids (4)

I love these flowers.


My picture is in the "Styles" section of today's NEW YORK TIMES. Find me.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

orchids (2)orchids (3)orchids (1)orchids (4)



Like most young cats, Patsy has a demonic side. She is very sweet and affectionate, but periodically she becomes possessed and runs around the place, knocking things over. She also bites my feet when I am sleeping. This is her way of waking me up to feed her. Today she put a little hole in my big toe. It hurt.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I am quite sleepy. I will take the day off from swimming--preserve my right shoulder, which has been bothering me this week--and take a nap.

I love these flowers.


Last night I had dinner with M at Applewood in Park Slope. The food was amazing, I must say. The decor is a bit precious in a country-house kind of way. But what food...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

tempus fugit

It hardly seems possible that nearly a week has passed since I left for Boston.


The hotel was very nice and I had a room on the nineteenth floor which afforded me this great view of Cambridge and Back Bay. Boston is dull, though; as much as it is charming, its energy is quite low-key, almost too much for me.

Friday night in Cambridge, we went to eat at one of the "hot" Boston restaurants. It was quite expensive and housed in a strange shopping complex off of Brattle Street at Harvard Square. Once inside I saw one of my former students eating there with her friends. They are all Harvard students. Where do they get the money to eat at such a place? The food was ok, nothing great; while the dishes on the menu sounded wonderful, they did not live up to their promise. But no one goes to Boston for fine dining. Or at least I hope not.



Yesterday Y brought me flowers for my birthday. After he left--he just stopped by to drop them off--I found the card he had included. Reading it made me sad. The flowers are beautiful.

I got a few birthday calls: my sister, my aunt, B; C called on Tuesday, and I got some email messages too.

I went shopping at Barneys but did not buy anything. There were things I liked but they were way too expensive. I bought a jacket at Timberland, though, as a replacement for my favorite APC jacket which is finally wearing out. The jacket at Timberland is the closest thing I have found to it, but it is not as cool. Oh well.

I went to dinner with my brother. We tried to go to Al-Di-La in Park Slope but it was too crowded. Even Jennifer Connelly had to wait. So we went to a great place in Carroll Gardens instead.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tuesday, February 14, 2006



Tomorrow is my birthday. This year I am not depressed (although I don't wish to jinx myself) as I usually am in February. I hope it will be a good year for me. Last year was not so good. In fact, it was a particularly difficult one. I learned a lot though.

At dinner last night I talked to B about regret, and the past, and how I never like to feel that anything in the past was not worth something. But I spoke too of bitterness and sadness, and mourning, and how some things from the past still cause me such pain that I find it difficult to let go of it. I think when I start to talk this way I scare B a bit, because he always seems to recede a little. But I talk anyway, because I find I can talk to him. Even if I do scare him. But I don't think that I really scare him.


winter trees (2)

Yesterday I was busy. I swam. I cleaned. I did the grocery shopping. I took a nap! I did my laundry. I had dinner with B. When I got home I was very tired, and thankfully Patsy let me sleep until six, when she woke me up to demand that I feed her. After she ate, she fell back asleep, and so I was able to do the same. I feel as though I have slept too much, which is a rare feeling for me.

Monday, February 13, 2006



This is the view of the ocean in the blizzard that I took in Duxbury before my brother and I headed out on our arduous trek back to NYC. I missed the biggest blizzard in the history of the city. Almost 30 inches of snow. Today is bright and sunny. It will be quite cold, so I doubt that the snow will melt much if at all. Although Thursday the temperature will reach 52F.

I am still quite tired. Going to the hospital at the end of such a long drive just added to the stress of the day. My brother has a corneal ulcer; his eye looked absolutely scary but hopefully it will be ok.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I drove for almost seven hours through the worst blizzard in years, from Duxbury on the south shore of Boston to New York, through blinding snow. It was heinous. The Boston trip was otherwise interesting, frustrating, fun at times, dull at others. I spent the evening upon returning in the emergency room of the local hospital where I took my brother, who had scratched his cornea of his left eye. I just got home and am exhausted.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


On the afternoon the day before I am to drive to Boston, I lose my card case with my driving license, bank card and Amex. So I can't rent the car that I had planned to drive with all the drums and amplifiers, and in any case, I have no license. So I freak out first, take some deep breaths, cancel my afternoon class, and begin figuring out what the f-ck to do. And scour every inch of my apartment in search of the damn thing.

Luckily my brother generously offered to drive. He can see his friend up there and I can get my students taken care of. I rarely lose things, which makes this incredibly frustrating. And most likely the wallet is somewhere in this apartment. Ugh.


"Yick" describes how I feel. And I didn't sleep so much, because Patsy woke up at 4 am and started romping.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

lie down

I have spent as much time as possible the last two days lying on my sofa. There is something about the sofa that makes it very easy for me to fall asleep. It must be some kind of feng shui thing; when I lie facing east I am asleep in moments. So with this nasty cold, it has been quite helpful, and I appreciate my sofa very much. This picture shows the view if you are facing west.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

not much to say

I won't go into the details of how lousy I feel. Hopefully this will pass...

Monday, February 06, 2006


I am getting a cold. This is a very bad week for me to get a cold. On Friday I will go to Boston where some of my students will perform. There is a lot to do to finish organizing the trip. So I will take it easy and try to get lots of rest.

I have been quite a clumsy one lately. Over the weekend, on Friday night, I walked right into the bedroom door which was somewhat ajar, smashing my forehead and mangling my big toe of my right foot, breaking the nail. Then the next morning I banged my hand into the kitchen cupboard and cut it. Just an hour or so ago I smashed the other hand into the corner of my desk, putting another nasty cut on the back part. What will I do next?

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Mabel had a haircut last Monday. We did a photo shoot today.

Mabel (2)
Put your mind at ease by refusing to worry about what everyone else thinks. Let go of the negatives in your life. You only have to prove to yourself that you are following what's best for you. Don't let overindulgence lead you astray.

This is tomorrow's horoscope.

I don't usually worry about what everyone else thinks. Almost never.

I have a hard time letting go of the negatives in my life. A big problem.

I am not sure about line three.

Overindulgence of what? That is the question.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I just had an epiphany. I had it in the shower, which is where I get many of my ideas. I realized that the events of the last few months, and the last few days in particular, have eroded my nerves to the point where I am on the verge of psychological chaos. And now I know why.

I have been reading DRY by Augusten Burroughs. While not a great book, there are things that are very compelling in it. When he tells the story of the death of Pighead, it struck home with me on so many levels. At one point he had been deeply in love with Pighead, and Pighead was not deeply in love with him. Their relationship changed into one of true friendship. But then Pighead dies. And the narrator falls back into alcoholism and drug addiction (the latter just like me, only I couldn't admit it to myself ever; I would just rehabilitate myself when I was at the edge of breaking).

Last night I had dinner with Y. It was excruciating for me, but not bad. Just excruciating.

And the confusion of the other evening--a long twisting story--had sent me into a state of near panic.

But then this morning I realized, in the shower, that at no point in my life have I allowed myself to sink into the emotional response to traumas. For example, after my parents split up, telling us on a rainy Sunday in what I think was March--the sky the same dull grey as it is today--I went to school the next day, and while inside I was a total mess, I functioned with my usual diligence.

In college, away from home, I led a double life; I studied hard and took my classes seriously, loving the challenge. But my life was a cushioned mess. I used drugs to great excess. By the end of each semester I was a pale mess. But when summer came I would return to Pennsylvania and, without giving myself any time to rest, would begin working fifteen hour days, six or seven days a week sometimes, and swimming thousands of meters a day, exercising like a freak, so that when I would return to school in the fall no one could recognize me with my muscles and wholesomeness. Really I should have been in rehab. I needed it, but I didn't and couldn't do it then.

During my third year of graduate school, when my mother was dying, I flew back and forth from Chicago, only taking a full month off when things became very serious. I stayed by my mother's side through December into January. In January everyone urged me to get back to my life. After all, while we all knew she would die, and she knew also, it might be a month, or it might be three. So I went back to school and worked feverishly as I always did then, monk-like, only allowing myself the occasional wild drunk night for release.

Then in February I went back home because she took a turn for the worse. I don't remember now how long it was; in my memory it feels timeless, although most details are very vivid to me. After my mother died, only a few days after the memorial service, I went back to Chicago. I did not take a week or a month or a quarter off. I plunged back into grad school. What else was I goinng to do? I was like a walking ghost then, so pale and so thin that I looked like I myself was seriously ill. But I plunged back into school, emotionally numb, and finished my PhD fifteen months later.

I guess I have always felt too great a sense of responsiblity, and I think it is because I am truly afraid of what would happen if I just gave in to my emotions completely--not through the vehicle of my work--and let them run their course. But the thing is, if someone had just told me "you need to take a rest/go to rehab/take time off from school/heal yourself" I know I would have done so, in a heartbeat.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Depression Rises Before Spring

The cock crows
But no queen rises.

The hair of my blonde
Is dazzling,
As the spittle of cows
threading the wind.

Ho! Ho!

But ki-ki-ri-ki
Brings no rou-cou,
No rou-cou-cou

But no queen comes
In slipper green.

(Wallace Stevens)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


As my next birthday approaches I am contemplating a major change. I am thinking that after I finish the next commission--OEDIPUS AT COLONUS--I may take a "sabbatical" from composing and devote myself more thoroughly to painting. This would require some alterations to my life. I would need to find some studio space. I would need to somehow make an exit from the music world, although I doubt many would notice if I weren't around. I am glad I have this to think about. It provides some focus.

rothko tribute