Monday, July 28, 2008

Don't die, don't die, don't die.

I see the passionate who killed themselves with drink, Or drugs or speeding cars in order not to think they must have felt like there just nothing was to do
Don't die, don't die, don't die, don't die...There's something wrong here where the best ones want to go.   --Richard Hell.

Looping over and over in my head 
A circular motion    hits   and   beeps
like a pump infusing blood
or a warning in an automobile.

I resisted the urge to turn left into the parking lot of the liquor store today
Instead I spent my whiskey money on sustenance and root beer.
I felt a pang of sadness in my heart, knowing 
the full lips pressed to glass
the sweet sting  my tongue would
the fiery slide my esophagus would miss. 

instead i would like to call you up
ask you how your day is going
invite you over to my place
and tie you up to the tiny bed of my childhood
 until you start crying or coming
whichever satisfies me equally

just as long as I can take some from me
this hate
this drink
I'll cut you instead of me.
this weight
place it on you from 
my chest to your back
you seem so willing.

it was difficult 
it took time
but I resisted just this once

now to multiply it by a lifetime.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tube dreams.

March 28, 2008.

I woke up this morning with tinnitus so bad I thought the birds were going wild, chirping, outside my windows.  Even with months off of Tobi the poison lingers.  The ultimate battle between the sun, Spring and the last of Winter is on.  two days ago it was sunny and warm.  I wore a little summer dress, painted my toenails (which gets increasingly harder as I age-- being bent into a position where I can't breathe just to have pretty piggies is just silly) and wore sandals.  I traipsed around town running errands feeling like the prettiest little Springy thing alive.  Of course yesterday was cold, gloomy and overcast.

Feeling like a less terrified Jacob, aural hallucinations and all, I also awoke to my oxygen cannula wrapped around my neck.  Now, I used to be an incredibly restless sleeper as a child.  I would fall asleep in correct position and wake up the following morning with my head at the foot of the bed and everything tossed onto the floor.  I remember running in my sleep, swimming, jerking away after a dream of an endless fall.  I suppose adjusting to sleeping with someone next to me in bed over the years has calmed me but I still have the occasional sleepy thrash.  However, it's been years since I have woken up with my cannula somewhere other than my nostrils.  

In December my sats dropped to an all-time-room-air-low.  I've always had high sats no matter how sick I've been, impressing nurses and doctors alike with numbers soaring in the high 90s.  I dropped into the 80s and have recovered some but soon realized after I should likely be on oxygen 24 hours a day.  I know it would make me feel better but wearing oxygen during the day is exactly what crosses the line to healthy and functioning to completely diseased.  Some of us won't get ports, some won't have sinus surgery, others refuse hospitalizations and do infusions at home instead.  We've all got our limits and mine is looking sickly.

I told Q about my recent dreams.  Wisely he said, you're having tube dreams.  Nearly each night I dream that I am wearing oxygen but instead of being hooked up to a portable I am hooked to a stationary out-of-sight concentrator and there is miles of tubing following me where ever I step, getting wrapped around bookshelves in the Tattered Cover, the cookie and cereal section of my supermarket and even more horrifying it's wrapping itself around cars in a parking lot.  In the back of my mind I am thinking, I have to retrace my steps and collect my tubing, and most importantly, I must slow down.  But I ignore the anxiety and just keep going and going and going and no one around me seems to notice that I've laid tracks for thousands of steps behind me.

Awake, on an outing with my mom one day, I was so winded from a small walk, feeling blue in the lips and like I was going to collapse in the middle of the Container Store, simply searching the vast aisles for her, I saw something that made me forget I couldn't breath.  A beautiful little girl of ten or eleven was running down aisle nine, calling in sheer excitement for her mother to follow, her nose filled with that familiar boogered plastic.  Dragging a tank behind her, she was free and happy and looking like a normal little girl despite her baggage.

It made me think for an instance, if she can do it I certainly can, and in some sort of high I avoided running to her and taking her in my arms, likely sobbing and thanking her.

That fearlessness has now faded.  Here I am, out of breath, needing naps every day, refusing to spend the night at friend's simply because I've got issues.

That little girl was so strong.  I was so impressed.

I was that little girl once.  When I was an infant, as a second grader, in junior high and again in high school.  But can I be that little girl again?

Others can do it but it still doesn't make it alright for me.  I still can't find the button to turn my concentrator on in the dark.  I'll cross the line when it's absolutely necessary but until that day, I'll still have miles of plastic tubing haunting me each night.

When I think of myself dead.

July 1, 2008.

when I think of myself dead I think of frying pans.  when I think of myself dead I think of somebody making love to you when I'm not around.  when I think of myself dead I have trouble breathing.  when I think of myself dead I think I won't be able to drink water anymore.  when I think of myself dead all the air goes white.  the roaches in my kitchen will tremble.  and somebody will have to throw my clean and dirty underwear away.  -Bukowski.

emergency trips
are all the rage
in my life these days

woke at four am puking
my guts out
and losing every
drop of anything wet
from every inch of my

called the doctor and said, please,
help me,
I think I'm dying
I think I'm dead.

then I spent four hours hooked
to tubing that fed me
and I slept under the guise
of anti-nausea medication that made my head

my mother sat by my side and 
read poems
while I shifted 
trying to find a spot to lay where it didn't 
my stomach.

today is my sister's birthday
she's twenty nine
and thriving
and I ruined the day
instead of baking the cake
I spend the morning and afternoon obsessing
about food
and absorbed in my disease.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pop culture reference.

I'll take Kerouac for a thousand.  September 11, 2007:

I can't really figure out if the technology I use on a daily basis is a luxury or a hindrance.  I see it off the highway in flashing billboards a hundred feet tall and luminous.  It's in the dash of our car in the form of a disembodied robot woman who shows us, often times incorrectly, to our destination.  I withdraw myself from the world with my headphones several times a week.  It all gets tiring.  I needed a break from the worn exhaustion in my thumbs from text messaging, the soreness in my wrists from sitting at the computer in an ergonomically incorrect position, the red mark on the side of my face from my cellular telephone.  Today was simply a day where I needed a rest. More than that, I needed to spend the day with J.

I unplugged myself and we went driving.  On the other side of the bridge we stopped at a beach I've never seen before.  I plunged my feet into the sand, which burned until the weight of my body sunk them deeper into the coolness.  There was a chill in the air and I was glad I brought my jacket.  I stared with wonderment at the Golden Gate Bridge.  I closed my eyes and listened to the waves hit the beach.  We tried to pick out Robin Williams' home from the front line of mansions on the rocky cliff just West of the Presidio.

I took a picture in my head, then on the camera.  How many times have I found myself flipping through the digital lineup on a camera when everything is right in front of my face?  I tried to shake the feeling, putting the camera away.  The wind got colder, pulling my trench coat open.  

Over my shoulder I took a last glance at the spot where Kim Novak took a clumsy and trance-like tumble into the ocean.  We drove on.

The streets are lined with eucalyptus trees and for the first time in a while I regret having lost my sense of smell.  I rolled down the windows and desperately inhaled the air for some hint of it but couldn't find it.  Later the highway is surrounded by wild dill, which I think I can faintly smell but I wonder if it's just my memory serving me well.

Nineteen thirty two brought the Bixby Bridge into existence and something like forty years later a couple of beats put it on the map, at least in my mind.  [The bridge] came and went in a flash.  I was staring over the edge the entire time at the rocks on the beach and the water violently crashing into them.  I didn't know it was the Bixby and I didn't know we were over Bixby Canyon until we got to the Big Sur visitor's center and I looked on the map.  I felt foolish like I had missed some signal or important call down to me from some dead poet.  

Big Sur is a lazy little place with lots of tiny rental cabins and a gas station about the size of a toilet.  There were unoccupied lawn chairs outside of the gas station which I can only assume become filled with locals on weekends, laughing at the tourists who drive out of the city to get some fresh air or become one with nature, or whatever the hell San Francisco yuppies like me are searching for.  I did want a break from the city.  I'm sick of the noise, I'm sick of the people, I'm sick of the concrete and I'm sick of driving around the block thirty seven times to find a parking spot.  I think more than escaping the city I convinced J. to drive to Big Sur because I wanted enlightenment.  I wanted, as a friend suggested recently, to meditate in the woods and come out feeling like a lighter, happier person.  We filled our tank at the tiny gas station with the small handwritten sign stating "Pump first then pay."

Passing over Bixby Bridge on the way back made me hold my breath.  I wanted my first trip across it to be magical.  It was lackluster for the first time because of my idiocy, and subsequently lackluster the second time because, well, I'm not quite sure.  I imagined Kerouac and Cassady living in Big Sur, staying near the subtle but somewhat breathtaking charm of the Canyon (so long as you know when to look and steal that moment.)  I thought of their hard living juxtaposing the beauty of those woods.  I thought of Cherkovski's Bixby Canyon Meditations and I repeated a mantra to myself, get it get it get it.  Some spoke of it like it would change my life.  I didn't get it.  I turned on the GPS system to assess the quickest route home and to see how many miles we'd gone from our front door.  One hundred and forty three miles.  The robot voice instructed us to take a left and I half expected her to instruct another left after that, then another, and another until we end up right where we started.

Just as the sun starts to set, a brilliant round orange over the ocean, the regular aches of fatigue start like clockwork.  On our way South earlier we passed a gentleman who had parked his red sports car on the side of the road and was camped out atop a bluff sitting in a foldable chair with a bottle of beer pressed to his lips, staring out at the ocean.  Forty minutes later, now heading north, we pass him again.  He is slumped in his chair, sleeping or perhaps passed out drunk.  My headache slowly creeps from the back of my head to the front, my cheeks feel flushed, my body warm.  My joints start to stiffen and my lungs want to stop.  My cough produces phlegm that matches the green Army surplus bag I've pulled tissues from to spit in.  I lay my head back and thank J. for driving.

In a tiredess I can only compare to inebriation, while I find it hard to put sentences together in my head let alone verbalize them, I realize just as J. exits the freeway to the city that Bixby Canyon did work its magic on me.  It is miniscule and took a lot of consideration on my part to realize but it was there.  That bridge brought a few moments of mutual awestruck silence between us, him and me.  We drove across that bridge and both times, didn't say a word, just stared at the ocean and the rocks and the sun touches both our faces through the tinted windows of the car.  For a split moment, that Canyon gave us something that has felt so distant for some time, but is warmly familiar.

Of course in my late realization I welcomed it with open arms and in response I give a silent nod to the writers who put such a ridiculous idea in my head in the first place.