Many warm thank you's to all those people and events in the past 24 hrs that have summoned my buddha nature.
let's start the roll call off w/ the safety class i had to take last night at legacy emmanuel, which goes back to a traffic infraction i made in july (ran red light on bicycle in front of law-enforcement enforcer) the veracity of which i think is dubious but i ultimately need to take responsibility so i will. the class, while pretty much exactly what you'd suspect 2 plus hours of 'instruction' led by a bike-riding judge, a trauma nurse, a crunchy bike alliance guy about sharing the road in portland would be like still had moments of wit and insight. To handle the wit-less, insight-less moments you simply take breaths, take inventory and arrive at a platform of gratitude that this class is a welcome substitute for the $242 penalty of your violation. thank you class, even though attending meant i missed the Blazer game last night. thanks Legacy emmanuel too. the last time i was there i met with a radiation oncologist. comparatively speaking, i'll take a boring class any day of the week...
next up let's give thanks to pyramid taproom at the rose garden, where i arrived after class to meet my wife. i found a decent parking spot a few blocks away and walked thru the windy chill to the arena, planning to sit my fat seat in a chair and watch the game on TV while downing a handsome quanitity of beers. I tried to enter from the plaza/promenade at the door that said "Enter" but the employee/guard told me i had to go thru the arena instead. I walked into the arena and 3 red-vested ushers met my request (to go sit in the pyramid room and drink a beer while waiting for the game to end and my wife to come join me) w/ a glazed bafflement. "You don't have a ticket" they said. I explained that no, i did not have a ticket but i wasn't entering the arena, i was merely going to be in the pyramid room drinking a beer and that i didn't see what the big deal was b/c last summer my dad and my wife sat in there before a game and had dinner but they were unimpressed by this claim. There was 4 minutes left in the 3rd plus the whole 4th which translated into at least 45 minutes of real-time for me to kill. I went outside and sat in the wind and chill, staring thru the windows at the patrons and felt a burn in my stomach. I acknowledged it and took deep breaths, grateful to be drawing them at all and listened to this american life on my ipod. eventually the game ended and i saw my wife through the glass in the restaurant, wondering where i was, and we were happily reunited. thanks to all involved.
now, let's give a warm and generous shout-out to henry and strunk - our cats. On the drive home margaret and i joked about how they were going to be upset that we were coming home so late and that they didn't get fed dinner. I said "they probably shit on the bed". Well I was wrong, they did not shit on the bed - they pissed all over the bed, in two giant pools that necessitated stripping, soaking, washing and drying of bedsheets and linens. thank you kits, for making me laugh. It was very instructive indeed.
major shout out to norman who has reasons of his own that may not be visible to me. his refusal triggered a familiar swell of gut-burn anger that i've been breathing into and exploring for the past hour or so. maybe i'm looking at the small not the big? who knows what's underfoot?
the fact is that in meditative reflection and spelunking of the inner variety one encounters terms like 'obstacle' or 'challenge'. Those are abstractions. The above are specifics. Losing your toolbag out in space is specific. The junction of the sublime and the mundane is near. In fact, right here.
so at the risk of boring my own self, as i've been on this topic multiple times over multiple months, i find myself still extracting lessons from brain-tumor land, still discovering that as far as i've come there's still ways to go even when the last time i realized i came a long way and didn't think i could go any further. these moments, these realizations (if that's even the right word, emergences maybe, these flashes of clarity) are not linear. there's no logical progression or footpath to follow. There are triggers but they're not absolute, they're not guarantees.
over drinks the other night w/ a dear friend, an old friend, a friend who knows me from the life of pre-brain tumor says how i look different lately, how my teeth can actually be seen when i smile, that i look like myself. i know what she means b/c i do feel diff lately for a variety of reasons (most of them creative). it was a tacit reminder of how large a chunk was extracted from me, not merely from my cavernous sinus (brain tumor joke for those in the know about the vagaries of the skullbase tumor) but me, my identity, who i was/am, how i feel, how i relate to people, spanning years.
the other night we (re)watched a film, one of those ten-best, seminal life-long films that not only shaped who i was but who i wanted to be, a film that was always a litmus test for a relationship's possibility -this is a film widely-regarded by any and all who have any connection whatsoever to cinema as capital G great but for me, this time, nothing. it meant nothing to me. it felt like a relic from a bygone era. stripped of all meaning, it sat there making points and jokes - and sputtering around, empty and irrelevant.
3 years ago this week mm and i and maxwell got in a van and headed out of boston after 2.5 long months of living in a hotel-room and getting proton beam radiation treatment. i recall a moment driving out of town along the charles river thinking "okay, now time to deal w/ X" (X here referring to a situation w/ a once-dear friend who said the absolute wrong-est thing to us at the absolute worst possible moment imaginable). But we didn't deal w/ X 3 yrs ago - somehow rearriving in portland and just managing day-to-day life was impossible enough, disorienting and alienating, like deep-space exploration - and we still haven't. It isn't punitive, it isn't rational, it just is. For the longest time I've placed most of the blame for X in the hands of the once-dear friend. Yesterday for the first time since X occurred I found myself getting angry at the brain tumor itself, recognizing my skullbase chondrosarcoma tumor - and all it subtracted - as the true villain. This is not some excusing of the friend's misdeed as much as it is channeling my emotion(s) to the appropriate place, recognizing the breadth of repercussion(s), seeing the great swaths of destruction in the wake of the explosion, dust and fragment still raining down, swirls of smoke beginning to lift. from this vantage, X was only a sliver. from this vantage, X was collateral damage...
all by way of saying: it's taken me nearly four years to get to this damage-inventory state. four years ago at about this time, i was having blurred vision, excruciating headaches. nearly four years ago at this time i was diagnosed. just look how far i've come, i find myself screaming to myself. moments later, i'll feel and scream the converse - that i'm only just now emerging from a cocoon that i was unwillingly (but self-defensively) forced to seek shelter in. Being in there for so long it became home (and part of it always will be) but slowly, steadily i feel myself returning to a different home, a welcome, familiar place...
no offense to all my old high school co-horts, but why oh why are dipshits like this guy always from georgia? and why oh why are they always un-travelled, illiterate and offensively stupid? or does that answer question number one?
you'd expect a flare-up of dipshit chatter w/ the ascent of obama (confirming their worst ignorant fears) so i guess there's that. rats scurry into the light as the ship sinks below the water. still seeing them gives you that queasy pit in the stomach. just how many disease-carrying vermin are there down there anyway? reminds me of a s. king short story i read in high school...
i've had the same blue knit hat for years and right around this time of year is when it always comes out, just as the season turns from sunny autumnal to rainy cold autumnal. this week i could not find it. our detective work led back to last saturday, when mm and i went the laurelhurst to see a matinee of The Muppets Take Manhattan - which if i may diverge here slightly still works as a film and is better than 99% of the movies being produced these days, not just kids' movies but all movies. end of divergence...
All week mm said 'call the laurelhurst and see if they have the hat' but i've always not liked talking on the telephone - probably some authority issue - and refused.
cut to friday night, we're on 28th post-having dinner w/ C & J at navarre, en route to some bar for drinks and mm points up the road to the laurelhurst and says "go. go now" to which i respond by trotting off into the autumn night. it was a long shot. frankly i may not have lost it there. Could have been anywhere really. What's more, even if i had lost it at the laurelhurst the odds of it finding its way into the lost and found bin and waiting there for me, quietly hoping for my return, were slight at best.
movies were ending and there was cleaning going on. all the popcorn was out of the popper and a man stood reading a periodical waiting for people to clear out. He told me he couldn't leave his station as he was the only person out front. A moment later another employee materialized. The magazine-reading man asked her to check the lost and found closet for my hat. She turned to do so. I stood nervously - full of halibut and belgian stout beer from dinner - waiting, preparing to say goodbye, thinking about loss, the ephemeral, the transitional.
and then she walked out from the closet w/ my hat on her hand and i was suddenly out the door, running to meet my wife and friends at a bar, hat on head.
mm's 35 bday is fast approaching.
well, pretty fast - 9 wks or so. It just
happens to be the day after the inauguration
so what better way to ring in 3.5 decades
than to be in DC for the birth of a new era.
yes, we're going. we're wait-listed for tix courtesy of rep. e. blumenaeur
and the odds may be stacked against us
actually being on the mall that day but it doesn't really matter.
hey, you know what? i just had a thought: you should come w/ us. don't say yes or no right now. just think about it. history and all that. think on it...
yesterday a.m. we saw a hummingbird at our feeder.
a startle on a grey lonely morning but a welcome
one. a harbinger of good things coming....
and so after a historic and brilliant campaign and an electrifying, momentous, jaw-dropping day - a day where new worlds are created, where old paradigms shatter, where the globe sits poised and watching, where millions and millions of hearts soar as they contemplate the meaning of true possiblity, true change, the kind you feel in your molecules, in your very soul -
what do the obama's do?
they eat pie.
the past 7 days have been one of those exhausting on-the-go weeks, moving from one
high-pitched event to the next - pretty much all of it good. the basic highlights are thusly:
- after years of chatter and speculation on sunday i finally got off my fat can and directed something. granted it was just a couple scenes, bare-bones, nothing flashy. but i did it.
- saturday km and af had their baby. congrats!
- friday went to the rose garden w/ mm and dad to watch a great game. mm dressed up (of course!) and i being my fuddy-duddy self did not.
- thurs mm learned that her essay is getting published in the missouri review. very exciting. (this is the same essay that got rejected a couple wks ago by a publication similar in stature. it's about the first week of my brain tumor diagnosis). way to go mm! oh, and it's for their issue in December. Meaning next month you can read it. whoo-hoo! i am biased naturally but the essay is spectacular.
- we got home internet.
well those are the broad strokes. doesn't look all that revolutionary typed out like that but it felt like progress on multiple fronts; the crossing of various thresholds. keep in mind it's all against the backdrop of an historic election, the whiff of promise in the air, change coming, transformations, becomings...