Saturday, July 30, 2005

personal implosion

Well, I guess the good news is that I didn't die. Last post, I was happily poolside, bemoaning the pending sale of my first home. Not really bemoaning, just reflecting on the chimeric (a word?) nature of my life and times. Then, unannounced, unpredictably, there boiled a problem of surgical proportion....

It was a dark and stormy night. It wasn't. It was a fine day and my stomach began to ache.

Its funny -- I don't know if it is because I called in sick too many days at work, or played hooky too many schooldays, but any time I get sick, I just feel wrong and guilty. I am rarely able to assess my situation for what it is and go on home. I just keep working. And the problem now is that when I am at work, I am many, many miles from home or help. So, by the time it dawned on my that the ache was indeed a problem, I was shit outta luck and rush hour was on in Tigard. Me in my little Subaru, I pushed homeward through the pain.

I am so dramatic. But it hurt freakin' bad. By the time I got home, it was pretty clear that something serious was happening to my one and only bod. A call to the doctor confirmed my assessment and we were off to the hospital.

A ruptured appendix. Four days in Providence and three more scars. Its a collection now.

Notable events: Kitty the night nurse. What is it about night shift workers? I mean really. This biatch was so mean. She was more committed to my exercise program 4 hours out of surgery than Oprah's personal trainer. It was midnight for God's sake. Midnight in the hospital, me -- cut "from asshole to brisket" as my sainted grandmother used to say-- and Kitty was on duty.

I have had somewhat of a revelation about pain medication. And with my various surgeries and related and unrelated narcotic expertise, I think I would know. So, here it is (you might want to write this down) : It doesn't matter what you take as long as you like it. Nothing really works. Some just make you feel a little happier.

They started me off with morphine, which I hate, except that it was the impetus for the Stones' song, Sister Morphine, which I love, and it always looks like fun in the old confederate soldier movies on the battlefield. But it isn't fun at all. I read an article by (speaking of the Stones) Keith Richards, bemoaning (my word for the day) the absence of drugs that make you feel good. (A complaint aimed primarily at Prozac and other buzz-less substitutes for good ol' narcotics.) At any rate, there I was, armload of morphine and ... story of my life, it is not enough. When I have said this at various times during my drug-inspired life, I have been lying, but NOT THIS TIME. shit it hurt. So they gave me more. But that's the thing with morphine. There is not enough. It never feels good. And I guess I'd have to admit here that feeling good is in large part my goal. To not feel bad.

So we moved on to dilaudid (pronounced by many: dilotta). Now historically, this one has been on my hit list for years. My list of favorite all-time drugs. But that was back in the shootin' days. I remember selling them at a local bar (they used to bring 25 bucks apiece), and offering one to Jesse the Fly Fisherman. I said, "Hey. You want to buy a dilotta?" He said, "Dilotta? Is that like a buritto?" I said, "Yeah, only more expensive. A dilotta bell-grande." Poor Jesse. He had really long hair but really wasn't in the same junkie groove as the rest of us. Anyway, prior to this hospitalization, I don't think I had ever actually taken dilaudid by mouth. Pretty sure not, or I wouldn't have been so happy with their second choice. It made me mad as a hatter. Madness, not anger, tinged with agitation and verbosity. You can imagine. Anyway, they sent me home with sixty (count 'em) dilaudid, and like a good junkie, I took them as ordered for about 24 hours and finally figured out they were making me insane. Then we flushed them down the sink. 25 bucks apiece. I don't care how long you been clean... that hurts.

So I called the doctor back and said they were too strong. And this is the point of my story. We addicts DO recover. Was a time when the notion of a drug that was "too strong" did not exist for me. The closer I could push myself, my body, to that perfect edge where death meets life, the more successful I felt. The near-death experience was my goal. Daily. So, I backed up to vicodin, which I can take or leave, which makes me a little bit happy, and takes pretty good care of the pain.

And that's the story of july 21-29 in my life. I'm home, in pain, and healing.

There has been a firm offer on my house. And counter offers coming in. Whoopee. It is going to sell.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


One time I was in San Diego and sipped a latte on the lido deck of the Hotel Del Coronado. I felt like a Kennedy, and do now. We put up the pool. I lounge beside it, paddle around in it, skim it with the blue plastic net, wait for it to pop and drain, flooding the basement and the neighborhood with pristine blue water. but not yet. Now, it is summer, in the high eighties, and I am a happy portlander. I have even let my husband off the hook for not buying me an air conditioner, a condition of our marriage. Or was that a dishwasher? I forget. I remember the deal was some major appliance and I get to decorate the house. Well I did.

I was just offered an opportunity to submit to an anthology called knockers. I will, I think. My dear and double-breasted readers, You can too. I don't know the url, but that will get you to the author's website.

So, the pool is up, the heat is on medium low (weather-wise) and I am loving it. There is so much to say.

I think what inspires me the most, as I sit on the slanted grass hill at Hosford and watch the transparent moon sneak above the city, is the ethereal nature of my life. I am no longer where I was. I am here. I was here a year ago -- two years ago, now -- when the man who is now my husband, lay with me on that same hillside and explained the quality of night in the city, how it never gets really dark. And my eyes have adjusted to this light, and this schoolyard, where Sid runs with the pack that are the Hosford Dogs, and we are a part of this neighborhood.

I put my house on the market, my house in Talent, the one I was going to live alone, grow old and die in. And I have so few regrets. The money helps with that. But if I could go down there, remove the twig-shaped drawer pulls from the kitchen cabinets, and put them in my pockets, I'd be good to go. They're mine, after all, and I am in a sort of reminiscent kinda space, where nothing seems real, the floor under my feet appearing only as I step forward into this still so new life.

It is mid-summer already.

Sunday, July 03, 2005


Its difficult to believe it is summer when we haven't had a day above eighty. I love it here. It is the time of the Blues Festival in Portland, and we went to see Buddy Guy Friday night. There are some people who just needs to be seen in person.

Work: It is work. The building is beautiful, and the people who are moving into it, who have been incarcerated in the State Hospital for years and years, think it is the Hilton. They may be crazy, but not about that. My office is the last thing to come together, as it should be.

Home is home. It is difficult to find energy to write just now, so much is going on. I have my Subaru, and it is strange to pull into a drive-thru coffee thing and have to look so far UP to order my large coffee with lots of cream. LOTS OF CREAM. I am accustomed, in the narrow streets of my neighborhood, to round a corner and start up a hill and have other cars make way for me. Not anymore. I'm on my own. I am invisible. Silver bullet car. Tiny little miniature Outback. I am everywoman. It may not be sexy, but when I filled the gas tank and it was 26 bucks instead of 55, I was pretty darned happy.

My creative spirit has left me, it seems. She's done it before, and I fear the Hemingway curse, that I can only write drunk, then I remember.... HEY! I couldn't write drunk!! I talked about it alot, but accomplished really very little.

It'll come to me. It is me.

I got a rearview mirror on my bike!! It is so much better. I don't hear that well anymore, and never know when people are coming up behind me. In small towns, in other parts of the world, it may not matter so much, but here in bike town it really does. There are cyclists who are so competitive, so car-like in their manners.... They tailgate, they pass without signaling. They fly up behind me and pass within a hair's-breadth of my quaking handlebars, and whooooosh, they are gone. Leaving me in the rubble, clinging to the railing over the Willamette River, my choice at that moment seems either to be splattered on the metal gridwork of the Hawthorne bridge or swim for it, my bike so much nautical history. The Titanic Schwinn. I hang on for dear life and begin again. Commuters. They are rude and dangerous and wear stretchy clothes. I'm sure it feels better, but blue spandex on a 40-something man... not so good. But with thighs like cannons, you don't want to point out the fashion don'ts.

Okay. enough of that.

Life is good today.