Saturday, July 30, 2005

It's My Birthday

...and I'll blog if I want to.

This is the eve of my 41st birthday, and the wonder, the impossibility of any of us getting born in the first place, then thriving all these years is on my mind. And I'm thinking of milestones.

My mother had been told by three doctors that she'd never have children. Her uterus was deformed, they said. So she and my father were a year into their loveless and violent marriage when her period stopped. She was 38, and certain that menopause had come to call. Her own mother had completed menopause in her thirties, so this wasn't terribly alarming to my mother.

The doctor had surprising news. Certainly, the tests had to be wrong, my mother and her doctor agreed. Another test was ordered. And another.

After three positive results, she figured it was safe to tell my dad she was pregnant. No use in getting him excited about a baby unless she was really preggers.
He could not have been more thrilled. He loved kids. He was a kid.I would be his portal into the childhood he would have created for himself. I would be his second chance to experience that happy and innocent time.

I don't think Mom was as pleased. She, being more practical than Dad, worried about having another mouth to feed. This was 1963-64, and she couldn't work pregnant and/or married. There goes her independence. It also meant she was stuck in an abusive marriage.

So Mom was stuck with--in all, three kids including Dad. I grew into a daddy's girl, and she could only watch, an outsider, as I enjoyed the close relationship with my dad that she could never have imagined with her own drunk and violent father. Everybody was getting something from this whole 'coming into the world' thing except her. Even so, every year on my birthday, no matter where I was, no matter where she was, she'd call at exactly 10:30 a.m. to wish me a happy birthday saying, "20 years ago, or 35 years ago today, at this very moment, you came into this world..."

I've passed 39, my mom's age was when I was born. That was a weird birthday. Mom had died by then, and 10:30 a.m. had come around, but there would be no phone call. So I ran through her spiel myself. "39 years ago, blah blah blah..." She'd go through the whole bit about the awful labor, kidding me of course. There were too many things to absorb that year. Tomorrow, I'll be the same age as Mom when she had my little brother. And in a few years, I'll be as old as my dad was when I was born.

And before too long, I'll be as old as my mom was when Dad died, then as old as Dad when he died. And as hard as it is to imagine--I might make it to the age Mom was when she died.

That's too much to think about. I won't be 41 for a few more hours yet.

Friday, July 29, 2005

La Poeme Du Jour

My path and my process are darker than most. But they're not entirely devoid of illumination.


A Religious Experience

This house no longer hums
with the sound of chanting.
The drone of prayer—
long since stilled.
And faith, once a fortress,
has gone through windows
open and unguarded,
residing perhaps with younger,
greener pilgrims now.

Salvation holds no promise
for a soul, hope-wearied
and withered. Yet
one truth has stained me
declaring that I am
the Architect of my destiny.
I alone am to blame
should the structure bear
either crack or criticism.

The scheme—if flawed
won’t be fixed
with the noise of dogma.
If I distrust the Doctor,
and can’t stomach the Placebo,
then all I have faith in—
is the disease.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Raindrops Keep Falling
On Scarborough Fair

Basil, Cypress, Wintergreen and Thyme...

These are four of the nine essential oils used in a type of massage called Raindrop Therapy. Carol is an LMT at my clinic who specializes in the use of essential oils and aromatherapy, and is responsible for the delicious and intoxicating odors wafting through the hallways upstairs.

I heard about Raindrop Therapy a few years ago from my colonic hygenist. Yes, I had a colonic hygenist. She told me about the nine different oils and the delivery, drop by drop, along the length of the spine, and the method intrigued me.

Carol explained that the oils used in this massage have powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial properties that when absorbed into the skin, eliminate viruses and germs that have nestled along the spinal column. There is research, she says, that has linked these viruses to scoliosis and other disorders of the spine, and these studies have demonstrated success using the Raindrop method to not only correct curvature of the spine, but boost immune system function as well.

Raindrop therapy starts at the feet. Carol massaged a fragrant blend into my feet, her hands pleasantly warm, her touch was gentle but deliberate. She held the bottle under my nose for a few seconds so I could breathe in the woody, spicy aroma. "This is Valor. It balances energies." I've learned that Valor is used as a grounding blend, and imparts relaxation, balances and aligns the body, and most importantly for a Raindrop massage, acts as a conduit for high frequency oils in healing and energy work.

Which is another point that makes this massage unique. It's all about energy. Dropping the oil from a height of about five or six inches is thought to charge the oil. All living things have an electromagnetic field--herbs, flowers, and their essences and tinctures--have an EMF. Letting the oil pass through the EMF of the recipient charges the oil in a way that is believed to be beneficial, optimizing its healing and energetic properties.

Carol applied one layer at a time, massaging the oil into my shoulders and spine, down to my sacrum, gliding with her palms, then using a manipulation called Vita-Flex along each vertebra. After placing a hot towel on my back to expidite absorption, she held the oil she used for that layer under my nose to breathe in. Oregano, Thyme, Marjoram, Basil, Wintergreen, Cypress, a blend called Aroma Siez, and finally, Peppermint.

In between applications, Carol massaged every quadrant of my body--using gentle lifting and turning movements of my hands, shoulders, ankles, legs and hips. The dropping of the oils wasn't only theraputic and sensually delightful, it drew the massage out in a deliciously gradual progression. I'm getting sleepy just remembering it.

After removing the last hot towel from the Peppermint layer, exposure to air punctuated the eye-watering menthol, causing a lovely cool breeze to seem to radiate from my back.

And I smelled like a four-course Italian dinner trying to hide under an Altoid.

Carol advised me that effects from the massage may manifest in a few days. A straighter posture and more energy might come about. Or not. It doesn't matter to me. The massage itself was wondrous, and Carol a gracious and attentive therapist.

Maybe I'll stand up straighter in a few days. Or maybe I'll plant an herb garden instead. Parsely, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

And Now for Something
Not So Completely Different

I know there are some of you who look forward to the Friday poem because there will be no mention of massages or any other theraputic carnal extravagances. Anybody can get a massage or a facial or acupuncture or whatever. But I'm writing about my treatments because each of them is a first in some way for me. And it's my way of proving that the universe is at least taking care of me, even when I swear up and down that She's about as nurturing and attentive as a post-partum Christian zealot mother in Texas. I know better.

And so I share. It sounds like bragging at times, but really, I'm sharing. Let me reiterate for the greener visitors to WLPF what the deal is. I took employment as a receptionist with a naturopathic clinic the end of May, and one of the perks of the job is that I get to try all of the modalities the clinic offers. That way, I can speak knowledgably to potential clients about the particular discipline they're inquiring about.

My clinic employs four naturopaths, two acupuncturists, one esthetician, one chiropracter, six LMTs, and a spiritual counselor/sound healer/vocal coach. Our resident hypnotherapist/NLP practitioner rents space in the building now rather than being on the payroll. There are other holistic health practioners who rent space as well. Many of the practitioners are disciplined and licensed in more than one modality, or are in school to expand their healing skills. I'm surrounded by healers, real healers. People who practice medicine not because it's the family business, or because there's money in it--there isn't, or because there is prestige.

They care about people, they care about the whole person they're treating, and many clients/patients who come to the clinic have exhausted traditional avenues of medicine, and have only found relief with the treatment they've received at my clinic. Some of them travel great distances to see our practitioners.

I work with gifted healers who are nurturing and giving souls, and they've generously extended their talents and energies to me, and I'm deeply, deeply grateful for that gift.

I get a discount on products too. Now I'm bragging.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

And Now For Something
Completely Different

My face still feels smooth and dewy from my facial this morning. Even after sweating in 400 degree heat all day, my skin still has a velvety texture.
It's been a few years since I had a facial, and I've never had a spa facial before. I felt like royalty soaking my feet in a hot lavender flecked basin, grazing my feet over smooth stones at the bottom.

Today's spa treatment wasn't about fixing sluggish skin or normalizing a t-zone. It wasn't about turning back the clock on sun-damage or lightening freckles or erasing fine lines. As my feet softened in the water, lavender flowers collecting around my ankles and between my toes, Megan explained that within the experience of this facial and the space of the room, I was welcome to let go of burdens, and to welcome something new.

With this encouragment, and in a fragrant room she had prepared and imbued with the same care with which a priestess would cast a sacred circle, I thought of the foot bath as a symbolic threshold, and stepped out of the bowl and onto the table cum altar.

Sheila Chandra sang in the background, over sitar drones and syncopated tabla talas. Megan cleansed my face with something light, bright, and minty, moving her fingers in circles over my cheeks and forehead, tracing concentric circles over my third eye, then sweeping down the bridge of my nose, around my mouth and along my jaw, applying the cleanser in upward strokes over my neck.

We chatted about this and that as she worked, chimes hung over a lamp in the corner behind us tinkled softly. Megan removed the cleanser with a hot towel, swaddling my face, gently pressing on it before lifting it off, using the corners to wipe residue from the sides of my nose, hairline, chin.

The hot towel felt so good, I told her I wanted to wear one all the time, I don't care how stupid it looks. After every layer of the facial, she'd wrap my face up in the towel like a mummy, then when she removed it, my skin felt like it was being exposed to air for the very first time.

She massaged my hands and arms, feet and legs, and exfoliated my skin with an Alpha Hydroxy lotion using gentle circular manipulations. Then she gently pressed an essential oil blend with soothing properties into my face using the palms of her hands. I breathed deeply the heady lavender-comfrey scented concotion. Every cream, lotion, and gel she applied smelled exceedingly delicious. The multi-vitamin mask smelled of bananas--like the baby food--delectible.

While the dual-purpose masks (she applied a soothing mask underneath the multivitamin one) did their jobs, she massaged my neck and shoulders. Heavenly; just heavenly. I could feel my skin softening with each layer, and wanted to reach up and touch, but I resisted the urge.

The last towel--cold, and infused with sage, refreshed and renewed this sleepy girl. After my pores tightened under the cool wrap, Megan spritzed my face, neck and shoulders with a cucumbery-mint toner, then sealed the deal with a light moisturizer mixed with sunblock.

I'm still glowing. The whole experience--from the moment I stepped into the foot bath, was sensuous and bewitching.

Before I left the clinic, I picked an angel card from the bowl at the front desk: Clarity

Thanks to Megan's expertly administered facial, my skin, at the very least is clearer.

Those angel cards spook the hell out of me sometimes.

Why is Everybody Crazy but Me?

By Ms. Anne Thrope

Can someone please tell me if I have a sign on my back that says I Brake for Psychological Case Studies?

I am a magnet for high-maintenance, opportunistic, and often financially challenged persons. I, apparently, am the Statue of Enabling. Give me your narcissists, emotional vampires, your sex addicts and the issue-laden. Give me your whiners, your tweakers, and heavens, don’t forget to give me those who are considered a danger to themselves and to others. Please, make sure I get those.

Failing to sever ties, I’ve considered moving in the middle of the night to an unspecified location under an assumed identity. No forwarding address, no good-bye note, no sign of a struggle. But then I’d have to pack, which means I’d have to clean, and that will look suspicious. I have even tried pretending that I didn’t know some of my friends, uncreating them in the hermetic safety of my mind. No acknowledgement, no eye contact or head-nodding. I left them to their conversation as I would strangers.

That was the longest drive to Lincoln City ever.

An assertive person would have torched these bridges long ago, the very moment scarlet flags could be seen whipping in the tempest. A less than assertive, yet lucid person would have run at the first sight of flashing Danger! signs. A co-dependent follower—the one trying to keep up with the minions—with only trace amounts of common sense, would have finally heeded the sirens. Not metaphorical sirens. Real sirens; the kind that precede Miranda rights. Or the sirens which reassure that someone will be along shortly to apply direct pressure. I can’t say I haven’t been warned. Over and over. And over.

So I’m not assertive. I hate confrontation and I’d have to answer the inevitable question about the sign on my back. And, if my friends knew how I really felt about them, they’d be pissed. My problem is that I care too much about what they think; for that, I blame my parents. Undoing years of socialization—decades of learning to play nice and to share my toys—is easier said than done. Believe me, I’m trying. My bathroom mirror is covered with self-asserting mantras: I’m number one. Just say ‘No.’ This is my personal space. No solicitors. And still, there’s that sign on my back.

Some of my friends aren’t wholly rotten; they’re just really, really irritating. Like Darla, for instance, whose superhero name is the Human Valium. I met Darla at work some years ago. A gentle spirit—as smart as she is sweet—Darla is a selfless people-pleaser, with a pathological need for structure, and desperate for a continuous amphetamine drip.

She had been in a cult before finding salvation in Amway. Then she joined another cult, before coming to her senses in the soul-vacuum that is corporate America. I don’t fault her for any of that. Haven’t we all been in a cult at one time or another? It’s one of those boundary-testing things people do. Two-year-olds put everything in their mouths. Teenagers smoke pot. Disillusioned twenty-somethings learn to play the tambourine. But Darla misses The Collective, and has attempted starting her own cult at work, basing her various groups around self-help books, email affirmations, and the weekly lotto.

Her time spent in the Kool-Aid Corps was not without its benefits. Darla learned to meditate, and the discipline keeps her grounded and focused. The down side is that she moves at a speed of about negative five miles per hour. She approaches every activity with a methodical, plodding anti-action. Walking, typing, talking—all movement—OK movement is perhaps too strong a word—this coagulation is carried out with the leisure of molasses.

I watched her fold letters and place them in envelopes once. She aligned the edges, and realigned them. Then she creased the folds with such grave focus you’d think she were about to invent origami. Darla is thoughtful. Darla is kind. But she and deadlines don’t see eye to eye. If you stand close enough to her, time actually seems to move backwards. She is the only known foe to the law of inertia, but she has a soul, unlike my friend Ted.

Psychiatrists say that everyone knows at least one sociopath. It wasn’t hard to pick the psycho out of my group. He’s neither homicidal, nor a loner, but he is a master manipulator with a predatory bent. And because there isn’t a caring, sensitive bone in his tin can body, his mean streak has room to spread out. Nice guy until you’ve found out he’s set you up—having fed you information which led you to take certain actions that backfired, leaving you sooty and tattered with humiliation. Did he have a score to settle? Nope. Was he in a bad mood? Nah. He did it solely to amuse himself; don’t take it personally. He’s great for drinks and conversation, but he just can’t help himself. He is a sociopath.

Funny, out of all my friends, it’s Ted’s company I enjoy the most. He never burdens me with his problems because he’s too busy figuring out how to set me up for failure. He doesn’t litter conversation with his feelings, because he doesn’t have any. I love that about him. And I’m thankful that he doesn’t have rage issues, like my roommate, Johnny.

Heeere’s Johnny, the control freak. Delusional, psychotic, paranoid, obsessive. These are the mantras on his bathroom mirror. I could write a whole book about him, but Stephen King beat me to it – perhaps you’ve read The Shining?

We’re all against Johnny. We made his hair fall out, and turned his girlfriend against him using witchcraft. We scrutinize his every foible and flaw, celebrating one defeat after another. I’ve tried to tell him we haven’t done any of that. Ted probably did, but the rest of us have our own problems. Yet he insists; bellowing accusations, vowing to kill us in our sleep, he invokes Jesus’ name, because the crucified tend to stick together, and because all work and no eggshells make Jack a perpetual victim.

I try to keep my own annoying tendencies in check, and in doing so, have unwittingly endeared myself to the primary group I chum around with. It’s no wonder these people want to be around me. I’m an oasis of sanity in their desert of neuroses. I’m the voice of reason breaking through the din of cackling demons. Chum. That’s what I am. The rotting kind, in a frenzied throng of social piranhas. That is, until I can get that damn sign off my back.

As of this writing, these characters and others are still in my phone book, on my birthday calendar, and marginally, in my good graces. Because I am the only one in this heap of damaged goods capable of introspection, I’m not worried that anyone in my social circle will recognize him or herself, but I have changed the names and disguised identities as a matter of literary etiquette.

To my critics, be warned. This is an example of how I treat people I actually care about. And for those who have escaped my poison pen, I can always make this longer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Love of Religion

...is the root of all sanctimoniousness.

Jesus: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Me: "Hey--you, rabbinical dude--I need you to move to the left a little so I don't accidentally hit you."

Too many people, not enough big rocks.

Jesus: "Need some more rocks?"

Me: "Yeah! That'd be grea-- OUCH! What the fuck did you do that for?"

Karmically Indebted,


How Scary Can a Poetaster Be?

If English is your second language, please use your first language to write lyrics. If you write crappy poetry in your native language--don't think that translating it into English makes it better. It only seems better to you now because of your vague understanding of the Berlitz Italian to English poem or lyric you just composed.

For example, Lacuna Coil, an Italian doom/death/synth metal group writes compelling songs musically. But their lyrics stink. If you're dead set against making any sense, refusing to follow something resembling linear thought, a la Bjork, then you must follow through with the abstraction, somehow creating a Picaso like story using your Word-A-Day calendar.

If you don't really care about the quality of the lyric, then sing in your native tongue. Because if I can't understand you, then I won't care either. If you're a death/doom/synth metal band, loping and swaggering, acrunch with leather and studs, gesturing all macho-like, then you mustn't ever sing a lyric like, "Destiny can't replace my life. Scary shadows of my past are alive."

Never, ever use the word scary. Because English speaking listeners won't be scared. And I know that's what you're trying to do. If you're going for bombast, at least use a more literary term.

LC also begins every verse with the word Destiny, apparently unaware what the word means:

Destiny flying high above...

Destiny who cares....

Destiny can't replace...

And what the hell does this mean? Destiny who cares
as it turns around
and I know that it descends
with a smile

The video is cool though. I just have to listen without listening. If you're writing to make me think, but you're making me laugh and roll my eyes instead, you're not trying hard enough to be pretentious.



Monday, July 25, 2005

I'm Still Here

Just uninspired. Not that I have run out of vitriol and whatever that other pill is that I'm taking-- I just feel like staring and breathing, and not much of anything else.

Thank you for checking back. I'll post again over the next day or so.

Excusing myself,


Friday, July 22, 2005

There's a Stream of Consciousness
Running Down My Leg

My poems aren't funny. None of them are. They're morbid, depressing, humorless, and I go to great lengths to make them that way. At my interior, I am not funny. I'm still hateful and enraged, but more scared and tender than my jaded exterior will admit. And at my core, I'm afraid of everything, of dying and living, of failing and succeeding, of floating away from terra firma, and of being forever grounded.

Now you know.

Drawing you in while I'm pushing you away,


Death Clerk

Someone has to keep the words.
So I’ll do it.
I’ll collect the unsayable things.
I’ll save those images,
preserving the last black detail
of their livid and rotten horror.

I’ll catalogue the anguish
and the heartache, when
no one else—being wrung out
from grief—
is up to the task.

I’ll stow the truth
discreetly away,
touching it with my
own bare fingers,
like an elephant
who happens upon
a fallen friend,
tugging memory back
and coiling the relic
toward an observant kiss.

I might tremble at first,
flinching forward in
small and tentative steps,
because I am still
a suspicious creature.

But I will look squarely at it,
staring through the shadow
to a pinpoint of light
I only just realized
has been trained on me.

This will be my work.
To keep a record
hidden in plain sight,
the way lace and tulle
shroud assumed tears.

I will codify ephemeral clay;
the imploding temple sensate,
documenting its decay,
its hold on each of us—
spectators to this never-ending
parade of entropy.
And I’ll fill space
with caves of loss.

Outside the cloister, denial—
itself a strange kindness,
can flourish—veneer unblemished,
its motives, unchallenged.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bones, Schmones. I Can Get To It
From Your Eye Socket

Liz treated me to an amazing massage yesterday, and now I can turn my head from side to side like a normal person. Her last words to me: "No computer today. Drink some water and take it easy. You can watch TV, but no computer!" I had been warned.

But I didn't listen.

I started this post yesterday after I returned home from my massage. I had finished two or three sentences before the lactic acid parade started making me queasy. I tried to write through it, but then my head started to throb. OK Liz, you win. I'm going to go lie down.

I've heard about the lactic acid and lymph rebellion occurring post-massage, but that's something that happens to other people. No, I really mean it. I don't have normal, predictable reactions to anything. My chemical makeup is off. My physiology is off. My synapses fire differently than the average person. I'm not like the other kids.

So the treatment yesterday knocked me on my ass. But it was worth it.

Every massage therapist approaches her or his work differently, facilitating healing using an array of tactics. Liz's technique is a very diplomatic--mixing up the easy gliding with more serious kneading and friction.

Beginning, as most massage practitioners do, with a series of gentle manipulations--gliding and rocking over my back, she persuaded my muscles to let their guard down. Increasing pressure as she stroked the length of my spine, then back up to the edge of my right shoulder blade, Liz traced the grooves and ridges, methodically reading them like braille.

As she alternated intensity and palpation, I felt twinges in varying degrees. It seemed like a muscular equivalent to, well-- crying. Not crying in response to pain or grief, anger or frustration. But the kind of outburst that punctuates relief or joy. Crying to release fear or despair, because there's no reason to hold onto it any longer. The twinge would sometimes open into an ache, and a pronounced poignancy resonated around the sensation. My body cried--off and on--in relief, in surprise at being touched, acknowledged, attended.


Liz is willowy, and probably weighs 80 pounds soaking wet, but her touch is firm, and grounded in her breathing. A determined woman, resolute in her work, she is unfazed by bones. "Your scapula is in the way. I'm going to go under your arm to get to the muscle." I've never had a therapist access my trapesius from my armpit before. But she got to it with a kind of manipulation that approaches bloodless surgery. Amazing.

She finished the session with craniosacral therapy--another first for me. Cradling my head in her palms, she administered light, barely perceptible touches to different points around my scalp, taking the'pulse' of my cerebral spinal fluid, sussing out blockages and irregularities. Then, supporting my left hip in one hand, and my head in the other, she held me like this for a few minutes, and though I didn't get sleepy, I disconnected for a couple of seconds in a kind of twighlight sleep.

Liz talked to me during the session, letting me know about the muscle she was going after and what it connected. I liked that. I liked participating in my healing, stretching at Liz's commands. I liked visualizing the red world under my skin, being reminded of how my body stays together inspite of everything I subject it to.

Relaxing is always good. Healing is even better. Getting to know my body like the back of my hand-- is a gift I didn't expect.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

500cc of Haladol. Stat.

It's one of those days.
The bad news:
Psyche wards, statewide have furloughed every last one of their hypochondriac-narcissist-delusional inmates onto the streets, and all of those streets apparently lead to my clinic.

The good news:
They're now admitting new patients. Gotta go.

Enabling the Munchausens of this world,


Monday, July 18, 2005

It's Always Been About Me

The Los Angeles Journal's PDF links are back! I'm on page 14.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Travesties Like This
Don't Happen In My World

I looked too soon. I should have ignored the debris until a busser had cleared it away.

Enjoying my lunch in the Classical Room at Old Wive's Tales, I glanced at a recently vacated booth. Wadded napkins, drained water glasses, and empty plates littered the table. Mostly empty, I mean. Something caught my eye. I looked away, asking myself if I really saw what I thought I saw.

This time I really looked it over; my worst fears confirmed. I've seen a lot of strange things, I mean a lot of really weird shit. I've even had encounters with ghosts and interdimensional phenomena. But this--this was beyond reason, beyond explanation. I couldn't believe it. What kind of people would do this?

On a dessert dish, listing to the left was the wreckage of a piece of oatmeal spice cake. Not the good Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker mix cake. But the homemade, healthy variety. You know, the desicated concoction of tempeh and spelt and things that generally taste like dirt--that kind of spice cake. This is a cake that primative peoples use to absorb body fluids in the embalming process. Crumbly, pebbly, arid--the opposite of melt-in-your-mouth.

It wasn't the cake they had left. Are you sitting down? Good. OK, I need to take a breath first...


They left the frosting.

Tilted toward me, creamy, thick, and untouched--not so much as a single tine groove in it--was a perfect square of cream cheese frosting.

The freaks ate around the FROSTING! Frosting, that unlike the cake, is actually palatable. A confection with the sole purpose of making the rest of the sand castle of a dessert tolerable. The only thing standing between you and pre-mortem mummification, frosting acts as a lubricant, keeping the chipboard particles from sticking in your throat.

It has been a lifelong practice of mine to stop eating cake once the frosting is gone. I don't care how good the cake is. I was only using the cake to get to the frosting anyway. I'm not going to lie. The cake is just the fucking middleman. I'd rather have a plate of frosting thank you. Chocolate, lemon, cherry, butter cream, cream cheese--love it all.

What will you do with all that cake? Fill up a sink hole, spread it where you would bark dust, mix it with potting soil. I think it will kill aphids. Or racoons. Can't remember which. Let it petrify in the elements. Come winter, you can burn it in your woodstove.

I don't care what you do with the cake, but for god's sake, for the love of all that is holy and sacred and good in this world, eat the damn frosting.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Marsha, Marsha Marsha...

...Peggy, Veronica, Victoria and Sybil. What if Eckart Tolle had multiple personalities? "Who is talking? No, I really mean it, who is talking?"

Can you imagine a mind that is like a hall of mirrors?

By now you've guessed this week's poem is about MPD. It's an older work, and not terribly sophisticated, but who doesn't love poetry about mental illness? I mean, the stuff practically writes itself.

The story of Sybil Dorsett scared the crap out of me when I was in grade school. Then I read When Rabbit Howls, and decided that this whole world is a fucked up place for little girls. It's hard to be an army of one; but maybe we're all kept together by many concerned Threads.




At any given moment,
her whereabouts are
up for grabs.
She’s grown into
a community
of citizens inside her.

All for one,
and one for all.
they’ve each a name—
and each facet, whole.

Their host, once broken,
now fixed and fastened
by many concerned Threads.
each sane enough,
with its charge
of pain’s sore wisdom.

Town meetings seldom
see them,
but exists each one,
inside some
tentative eternity.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I don't know what's happening with the PDF link at the LA Journal site. So for those of you interested in reading the article recently published by the Journal, here it is:

But is it Contagious?
By Cindy St. Onge

A visit to the doctor’s office isn’t necessary; I’ve made the diagnosis myself. I won’t seek a second opinion or a cure in Mexico. There isn’t one.

I realized, as I watched HBO’s Real Time the other night, that I have a neurological condition, its symptoms resembling something between AHDD and Tourette’s Syndrome. Encepharreah is the medical term for this chronic and socially debilitating affliction, but it is more commonly known as Robin Williams’ Disease.

Williams certainly isn’t the first person diagnosed with the disorder, but he’s the most famous sufferer of Encepharreah, which means excessive brain discharge.

Humor is how I relate to people. I’m accustomed to being the life of the party, counted upon for witty retorts and bad impressions. I assumed that interrupting discourse between friends to insert sarcasm and wild gestures was welcome and amusing. My friends have always laughed, encouraging me on and on. Now I understand, I finally understand, that my compulsion toward hyper-amusement isn’t a personality perk. It’s a sickness.

I watched Robin Williams ‘contribute’ as one of the celebrity panel on Bill Maher’s left-of-center talk show. By the time the ‘New Rules’ segment was underway, and a multitude of outbursts and sound effects later, I wanted to kill Williams. Not quickly with a gun or a cross bow. Not even with gas pellets. I wanted to beat him to death, so that with every crack of his skull, he’d know why the bludgeoning had come upon him.

I wanted him to understand that he’s no longer funny or cute or engaging. That his banter is disruptive and annoying. That life isn’t one long Disney voice over. In my rage, I understood that in fact, I wanted to bust my own head open for subjecting my friends to the very same obnoxious acting out.

The disease, as I’ve observed its ravages of Williams’ career and persona, progresses gradually, and early on, appears to be nothing more that charming wit. But as years go by, a noticeable decline in relevance occurs. And what were once hilarious characterizations of bosses, politicians, celebrities, and other objects of ridicule, have become frightening outbursts—screams and grunts, contorted expressions, nonsensical fits of noisemaking; vocal incontinence.

I’ve watched Williams devolve from a brilliant comedic talent into a poster boy for adulthood behavioral disorders. He used to be the man who never missed a beat, firing off punch lines like a satirist machine gun. Now, he resembles the fidgety boy in my third grade class who transferred to a special school. Not a private school, or an institution for the gifted, but a place with syringes full of Halodol and Thorazine.

I’m still in the mildly sardonic stage of the disease, but I agonize, watching the once adorable Mork, now in the advanced stages, as he struggles and gasps for small scraps of attention. I watch, cringing, knowing this is my future. I might have five or ten years left, maybe a good 15 years left of apropos witticisms and impeccably timed deadpan, but the day will come when I won’t be funny anymore.

Oh, I’ll still crave attention, and if I have to make animal noises and armpit farts to get it, I will. But I’ll have no idea how ridiculous I look. When the invitations to happy hour and cocktail parties dwindle into a metallic silence, and the once easy and raucous laughter is dampened by embarrassed sighs and eye-rolling, I won’t get it. That’s the insidious nature of the disease.

RWD creeps to a painful and humbling end, death resulting in most cases from either blunt force trauma or prolonged Taser shock. Defendants, brought to trial for having silenced the class clown, have avoided conviction, pleading self-defense. They’ve convinced juries that their lives were in immediate peril, because just minutes before the attack, all the air was being sucked out of the room.

I’ve directed my friends to intervene when the time comes. They are to saturate me with any paralytic or sedative they can get their hands on. Something, anything to deaden the urge to entertain. I am not to be encouraged to parody or satirize, and coffee and alcohol will be off limits. Under no circumstances am I to emit commentary of any kind, that means no sarcasm, no mockery, no scrunched faces or shadow puppets. I am not to impersonate either sentient beings or machinery, including my favorite—the touch tone medley, which sometimes morphs into a fax signal.

I am to be restrained at all costs, until that is, I’m close to the end. At that time, I wish to be permitted one last remark, an old joke—off color naturally, or a flippant observation as I leave this world. My voice trailing off, a film will draw over my eyes like a stage curtain, the last sound I’ll hear is my friends’ laughter. And I will know they’re laughing for the right reasons.

Published in The Los Angeles Journal, Premiere Issue # 3, July 2005

I Just Assumed
You Wanted Me to
Make an Ass Out of You

You know, the first time I heard "When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me," as part of the dialogue in Silence of the Lambs, I thought it was pretty clever. I like the word assume. I use the word assume, interchanged with suppose, think/thought, theorized, and guessed. But now, I'm really sick of hearing people parrot the phrase that attempts to admonish against assuming, but doesn't mean anything. It doesn't.

To assume is to arrive at a conclusion with the facts at hand. People make assumptions, guesses, suppositions knowing that information could surface down the line that would render their inference null and void. Variables and unknowns won't stop anyone from guessing.

To assume something means that one has the capacity to deduce. It implies the use of logic and implementing one's god-given problem-solving aptitude.
This is how a normal brain works. Don't tell me that thinking makes me an ass. That's utter nonsense.

And if I don't get it right, how on earth have I made an ass out of you?

Someone looked at the word assume, saw the word ass, and had a Beavis and Butthead moment. "Heh heh--it says ass u. Heh heh." That isn't clever; where is the lesson? If you can't find the word 'ass' in guess, theorize, or infer, then shut the fuck up.

The next time you're tempted to shake your finger at me because I've assumed something--and you're about to talk down your nose with what you'll think is sage advice--don't. If I'm wrong about something, just tell me I'm wrong. I don't mind legitimate criticism. I welcome edification. But don't sing that horrid little cliche as if you were fucking delivering the Sermon on the Mount. I will call you out, flay you in public, and prove that the only ass in question is you.



Is it Too Soon to Start
Thinking About Scientology?

The Los Angeles Journal has finally published my essay, "But is it Contagious?"

They accepted it months ago, but I thought they were just blowing smoke up my ass. Imagine my surprise when looking at their online version of the new July issue, I spotted my name in the contributors section.

If you can stand to page down through an annoying PDF version of the magazine, click on the link above. I'll tell you right now, they cut my opening. They kept the ending, and I was too sick to read anything else.

I'm very pleased that my piece appears just mere pages away from an interview with Lewis Black, one of my favorite neurotic Jewish comics.

The New Yorker it ain't, but I do expect to get a few hate-emails for my heartless derision and ridicule of the hyperjokaholic Robin Williams.

Oh well, a byline is a byline, and they spelled my name right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

There Are Days When
It's Really Good to Be
Me & My Body

My body and I have agreed to a cease-fire today. Self says to body, "I'll stop insulting you if you promise not to embarrass me during our massage today."

A massage? You're going to let someone touch me? Oh I see. It must be a man who will be giving us the massage. You use me to punish men. OK. What do you want me to do--thicken up around the middle, release the stubble batallion, massive pimple eruption? What?

"Just don't do anythng. No farting, hair-growing, zit-making, epidermal scaling or leaking anything from anywhere. Can you just be normal for one hour, just one hour out of one day?"

Nor-mal. OK. I'll be good. But Self, you have to breathe, I mean really breathe, and allow me to be there.

"Breathe? I only breathe on Thursdays and Fridays, and only because by then, I have to. You know that."

Make an effort, will you?

And so the body and I swore to a truce and gave ourselves over to Jay Alvaro, LMT for an hour.
Because of said war between the flesh and the spirit, third parties are seldom introduced into the conflict. But poor Jay would be knee and elbow deep in this battle. Even so, he managed to subdue both sides with much-needed effleurage, stretching, kneading, really giving both of us a good knocking around.

I told Jay beforehand that I have a high pain threshold, and will allow a therapist to knead me black and blue. So after summarily informing him that I kind of like pain, onto the table and under the cozy blankie I went.

"OK body--remember--be cool."
OK self. Breathe. And shut up.

Oh--MY-- GOD--

That's the spot--right there. Ahhhh

His touch firm and sure, Jay pulled and pushed, bent and rocked and stretched, and administered AK47 percussion rivaling Tommy Lee and Lars Ulrich. I always forget how physically demanding giving a massage is. As hard as Jay worked, I selfishly wished I was taller, or wider--to draw out the session just a little longer.

I kept thinking about the kind of body a massage therapist needs to do this taxing work. Where do they get their strength? I've received massages from different-sized therapists, and each brings his or her own gifts to the session. Jay works, wholly present, listening to my body with his hands. And he has a vast wing span. I lay there amazed as he stretched and pulled my legs with one hand, while he smoothed out stubborn muscles in my back and shoulders with the other. That's efficient.

And, it's a delightful stretch--Jay's expansive reach along the whole side of the body. I was taffy in his hands.

Every aching, knotted square inch of me received attention--from the top of my head to the tips of my toes--body and soul were gifted with the warm and deliberate touch of another body and soul.

And no one was punished.

Epiphanies? Ah, so this is how to lotion up all those places I can't reach!

Monday, July 11, 2005

How Am I Supposed to Know
When I'm Irregular?

I had every intention of posting something between yesterday and today. At the moment, I'm much too tired and constipated to do anything but grunt and sleep.

I'll try again tomorrow. Posting, I mean.

Thinking of Elvis,


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Smarter Than the Average Bear

In today's weird news:

Remember the "Land Shark" Saturday Night Live skit? A knock is heard at the door, Lorraine Newman or whoever would ask, "Who is it?" and the mumbled reply, would come. "Candy gram; Pizza; and a variety of other ruses that might convince Lorraine to open the door.

A bear in Croatia is working the con, trick-or-treating his way through the streets in search of pic-a-nic baskets.

It's funny, because it's scary. And true.



Friday, July 08, 2005

It Still Has That 'New Poem' Smell

I have been waxing poetic this week, and ignoring my leg stubble. This week's offering is fresh. So fresh it may not even be finished. It's like poetry sushi, or tableside guacamole. I hope you enjoy the poem, but the fact that you now have visions of leg stubble and guacamole prancing through your head is your problem.

Fake kisses,


Three Seasons

Anguish, it is borne in the leaving.
And joy, is in our coming home.

I miss those three seasons—
that age of forming,
those days of slow growing
and gentle becoming—
blind and safe in the miracle
of salted darkness.

My easy days of knitting bone,
of weaving skin—that
quiet unfurling—
the dance toward awakening,
of toes-unwebbing in careful steps
to the swish and thump
of a beating heart.

I would, if I could, go back
to that place where sleeping
was the same as floating,
was the same as flying.

In my smallness and roundness
I embodied every promise
and every possibility.
But I couldn’t have imagined
any of this—a world
so dry, so bright and thin.

Who could live in such a place?
A hard and brittle room that doesn’t
give when I kick against it—
a convex curling away—this is no womb.
It will never feel like home.

Beginnings must push
away from themselves
killing the line
to close the circle.

Over arc and into horizon,
our distal origins echo
in the bloodsongs
of nostalgic longing.

How I miss those
dream days of swimming
in my red-black lake, pooled
in the velvet grotto
of my mother.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

In Other News

Hurricane Dennis, you're an asshole.

You're being touted, celebrated even, as the first hurricane of the season. You derivative, thunder-stealing, credit-taking wind bag. I could have been a bad-ass hurricane. I had the stuff. I showed promise. But I've been downgraded to a tropical depression.

That's low. After all I've been through, I hit land and get depressed.

I'm not surprised, though. I can't make a dent in the blizzard of paperwork at my day job. I can't sell any of my writing. Can't give it away, for that matter. I'm getting old and flabby and am hopelessly sugar-addicted.

Well, of course I'm depressed. My confidence has eroded, Dennis, and you're not helping. I didn't care if I wasn't the first hurricane this season, but I fully intended to obliterate all kinds of shit. Trailer parks, churches, homosexual re-education camps. I had a list, Dennis. Do you have a list? An agenda? A clue? Do you even have a clue, Dennis? I didn't think so.

Don't patronize me you arrogant jerk--a little flooding and the remote possibility of tornadoes isn't the kind of destruction I had envisioned. Remarking about a weather system equivalent to post-nasal drip is no way to boost the ego of a Hurricane, and yes, as far as I'm concerned, I'm still a hurricane.

I want another chance. I can do it this time--Emily, dear, you'll have to wait a bit longer--I'm taking your turn because I was ripped off. Dennis is riding my coattails and scoring my heels and how on earth can I be expected to explode in my full, ruinous capacity with that sort of harrassment?

Run, you trailer park cretins. Cower in your flimsy, chip board church shelters you Bush-loving cave people. And by all means, take great care to protect the three or fourth teeth shared by the lot of you. I'm coming back. I'm not going to be depressed for long, because I'm bipolar hurricane Cindy. Unmedicated, bipolar hurricane Cindy.


B.P Hurricane Cindy

Dirty Rotten Bombers

Forty people have died, and hundreds were injured after a spate of terrorist bombings shook London today. I'm not sure which band of simian cowards has taken credit for the attacks, but my guess is that they are swarthier than most.

My heartfelt condolences to the families who've lost someone, and to the British subjects who will likely reel from these events for days and weeks to come. I pray for your healing to be expedient, and for justice to be meted even sooner.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Whew! That Was Close!

I smelled sulfur when I woke up today. I opened the door to let the cat in--there it was again. Curiously, the screaming I hear most other mornings was absent. But that horrid smell--it was everywhere now. Was the meeting of my maker--my other maker--imminent?

Then I saw the orange cones. Thank god. They're just paving the street.

This time.

Monday, July 04, 2005

One Woman's Trash

...is another woman's time portal to the 80s.

I want people to feel welcome in my home, to a point. My brother has apparently given his girlfriend, who shall be known only as Crispy Bangs, carte blanche. "Mi Casa est Su Casa. And all the stuff in it besides."

It's bad enough that she comandeers the kitchen as soon as she steps foot in my house. She uses every dish, ever pot and pan, every utensil to concoct her over-salted gastrinomocal productions. Yes, some of what she cooks is delicious. Yes, she is generous for buying the food, making the meal, and then cleaning up after herself. But it's my kitchen. It was, anyway.

Early in the 'relationship', I observed CB running my hairbrush through her crispy locks. I threw it away and bought a new one. Then she started bringing her stuff over, leaving a corn-rasper and foot brush by the bathroom sink. She runs her fingers through her hair frequently--in the kitchen--as she cooks. The linoleum in the bathroom and the kitchen is a mixture of her long black strands and my brother's curly chest-shoulder-back pubes. It's disgusting. Sickening. Animals don't tolerate this kind of filth.

Last night, she and my brother were talking in the kitchen, she, flinging food-bits and other decomposing matter from her teeth with floss. IN THE KITCHEN!!

And then, this morning, she's teasing her hair with my comb. MY COMB! Ratting that mall-banged, Aquanetted mess with my personal styling device--which, when wrapped in cellophane, doubles as a harmonica. Oh my god, how long has she been using it? I threw the comb away. Had to.

I just came from the bathroom, and noticed that the comb is back on the counter, stuck in an old hairbrush my mom bought in the 1980s. Yes, you just read that right. No, I won't hold your gagging and outbursts of disgust against you. Ms. Bangs fished the comb out of the bathroom garbage.

What did she ask herself as she looked in the mirror and decided her hair wasn't quite high enough? What was the train of thought that derailed before it could reach the station of good taste and hygenic acceptability?

Where's that comb?
Maybe it's in the garbage. Aha, there it is.
I don't know why someone threw this perfectly good comb in the garbage, 'cause I'm not finsihed using it.
I'll just dig through the wadded tissue and hair and pube trimmings and used floss and bloody tampons and whatever else is in here--so I can toss those locks up a couple more inches.
All done. Now I'll put the comb in these brush bristles, in case someone else needs to use it.

I want to take a shower, and wash the filth and the cooties away, but she's touched everything in this house. I'm going to have to keep my brush and comb, my bath towel and washcloth, in my room. I'm throwing the soap away too.

Crispy is as crispy does.

Now, Back to My Usual
Caustic Unpleasantness

My head is a bucket of phlegm. My nose itches, my eyes too. Yeah, I have allergy pills. The Loratadine stuff that doesn't cause drowsiness--there are blister packs littering my kitchen counter and medicine cabinet. I buy them by the bottle at Costco and in boxes everywhere else, but never use all of them. They don't work.

Loratadine won't make you sleepy, but unless it's laced with Pseudophedrine, it won't do a damn thing for allergies either. Nothing. Except irritate the sinuses and mucous membranes of the nasal passages. But Pseudophedrine--miracle drug that it is--is also the chief ingredient of methamphetamine.

Because Oregon has declared war on meth, I can't get the over-the-counter medicine without the third degree and a fucking passport. If I don't want the hassle of having to have all my papers in order to purchase Benadryl or Sudafed or Claratin-D, then I can buy the stuff that's made without Pseudophedrine. Or I can use anything still made with my old friend, Diphenhydramine.

Sleeping pills perform double duty by relieving my allergy symptoms for a couple of days. But then I'm a zombie for those two days. Not to mention, I have a tendency to become dependent on sleeping pills.

What are my choices? Standing in the bread line at the pharmacy for my small ration of pseudophedrine (I'm allowed only one box at a time), sleeping pills, or wasting 8 or 10 bucks on some crap that has no efficacy whatsoever. Loratadine is advertised as an antihistamine, but I think it's just a type of flavoring, like Mrs. Dash or Stevia. Worthless.

Fuck the State of Oregon and the Decongestant Nazis. Don't waste my time and make me feel like some petty criminal because I need medicine to keep my nose from running. Don't look at me suspiciously because I can only tolerate the air I breathe with the aid of a histamine suppressant. I'm a law abiding citizen--for all you know--and deserve better. I'm tired of feeling dirty everytime I have to show my driver's license for a box of Claratin-D. I'm tired of feeling like I need bail money when you take your sweet time writing all my information down on your clipboard like some customs official.

Governor Kulongowski, your tactics have backfired. It's so much easier to pay the black market rate and get my Claratin-D from the neighborhood meth dealer.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Epiphanies Say the Darndest Things

I bought a new purse today. I've been using a midget backpack, which I continually forget to zip and always seem to have it tipped upside down, spilling all my worldly belongs over sidewalks, grocery aisles, and lobbies of one kind or another. After I bought a new purse and wallet, I went to my next appointment.

Today, at the clinic where I work, I got to be a patient, receiving my very first acupuncture treatment.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous--not because of the needles--but because I'd never experienced acupuncture before. And because I'm still getting to know the practitioners at the clinic, and after years of working within the safety of cubicle and front counter barriers, the intimacy of this type of interaction is, for me personally, awkward.

But Natasha made me comfortable right away. Warm and understanding, intuitive and funny, she put me at ease. After going over my medical history and concerns, she took my wrist and felt my pulse, shaking my arm a little bit, the way one does with a stubborn bottle of ketchup. Then she felt for a pulse in the other wrist.

"You're damp," she decided as she sat back down.

I suppose this is something that only a woman could say to another woman, but I couldn't help but feel overexposed and a little defensive.

She immediately explained the correlation--according to Chinese medicine--of the elemental phenomenon of dampness to my symptoms."Ohhhhh, damp. Relieved and enlightened, I've added it to my list of ' hey baby, what's your sign' stats: I'm a Leo-Dragon-4-Damp-Unitarian.

Following her instructions, I positioned myelf on the blanketed table and let her work her magic. She began with gentle bodywork--pulling, turning, massaging--focusing on my legs and feet. Then she explained what I might feel once the needles are inserted. A dull ache is what many people experience, and others have reported itching, stinging, and tingling.

I wasn't apprehensive about the actual insertion, I explained. I've been raising a kitten for the last 10 or 11 months. After nearly a year of tooth and talon inflicted gouging, shredding, and flaying, there isn't anything Natasha could do that could possibly hurt me. From the top of my head to the tip of my toes, I've become a mass of scar tissue. Jab all you want. I can take it.

I hardly felt her insert the needles along meridian points in my feet and legs, hands and arms, and my ears. But when she twisted them--that's when I felt the aching. Sometimes a big, deep ache, other places--a thinner, higher kind of aching. Sometimes the sensation radiated, other locations registered a slight twinge just in the area around the needle.

Once the needles were in place, she massaged my neck, shoulders, scalp, and ears. I wasn't expecting this. I was in heaven. She gently pulled and pushed, lifing my head and stretching my neck. Aaaahhhhh. Did I mention how very heavenly this was?

She left the room so I could bake a little bit under a cozy heat lamp, and advised me to bring my focus to my body as much as possible. My focus meandered from my feet to my hands to my ears, and then I thought about the Angel card I picked from the bowl at the front desk when I arrived for my appointment:


How appropriate. Trying something new required openness. Relaxing into the gentle manipulations took quite a bit more openness. I told her as she moved my head from side to side, that relaxing was difficult for me because I have trouble receiving. I thought about this for a moment. I really do resist receiving. I'm ok with giving, and doing, but not receiving. It occured to me that receiving isn't taking. It's the act of letting go and being open. It's not demanding, or needing, or wanting. It's just being a space that holds what is given. A space that is open to pain and pleasure, to what is hard and what is easy.

And then I thought, "I'm a receptionist. My job, my work is to receive." A light went on. A happy, patient, dancing light. My work is to receive. And where I am, my position at the clinic--and the very point of being at this clinic--I'm learning to receive by being (a) patient.

Funny how the universe answers our prayers and questions with the grand gestures of day to day living. Right under our noses.

Thank you, Natasha.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Come On In; The Water's Great!

Hi there. What are you wearing? Yeah?
Me? Oh, you know, just some old faded stretch pants and a striped tank; nothing special. Why are you breathing so hard--are you OK?
Oh--are you sure? Alright. I was worried for a sec. You still sound a little winded. Maybe you should get a paper bag. Don't worry; I'll hold the line. I'll be right here when you get back. No, go ahead--I'll wait. I can sense your panic. Do this: stop talking for a minute and just breathe in, then breathe out, nice and slow.

There, that's better. Now just keep kicking.


Cover photo, Near Surfacing by Cindy S. St. Onge Posted by Picasa

Air Hunger

It is an ironic pain
to burn from the inside out,
wholly immersed in water.

Sinuses burn, and your throat.
Even the roof of your mouth burns
in this agonal craving.

Your heart and lungs burn hottest of all.
Not from ravenous flames—swift
and merciful in their work, but searing from
orange-hot coals, lazy embers—
scorching, radiating, starving;
dispensing death a few
white ashes at a time.
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