How to tell a story

How to tell a story

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One task at a time

I've been good at not overloading myself ... I do one or two things a day, apart from the visits, and prioritize them. i have house things to do, car things to do, financial things to do, which no one else can do, in addition to the wife and dog needs I address. It could get overwhelming fast if I didn't face it all in an organized manner.

One of my energizing times continues to be slow driving to mellow jazz. The angelic voice of Chet Baker can work wonders.

posted from Bloggeroid

The challenge begins

I get training on how to care for her in her impaired mental state. Safety issues, recovery issues. Also need to redecorate the house to be better suited to her special needs. And a few other issues to address. Good news: I am up to it!

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Can anyone recommend a Portland area handyman to put a deadbolt on a door ... need your own tools. ... needs to be done by middle of next week ... Charles, 503-452-8277 BEFORE 9PM

Her day begins

Without a walker, nurse help, walks to BR for a shower. Eager to hear more about this alternative reality.

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Alt reality?

Arrived to a conspiracy theory: the hospital is doing weird things to her, making her forget. Later she said she's been in a different reality. NDE?

Now holding and kissing pboto of parents, grief and tears ...

Trying to get her to nap before 930 and the rough schedule begins.

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A trip

Yesterday H asked if we cd take a train back east to see all her relatives. This is something we should be able to afford AFTER we sell the house, which was our plan anyway since we lost so much income with my retirement. Also an incentive to get it ready to sell. Almost all the stuff to downsize is hers now. I gave away 32 boxes this summer, she has qiute a bit more plus furniture. I assume her kids would want stuff.

So when she gets home, we can downsize together, maybe a few boxes a week, and hope for a good real estate market in a year. Find a more affordable home and see if we can afford that train trip, which I think we could do. And it's something to work toward.

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, September 29, 2014

Sorry, Seattle

A nice evening at home

Bought a heart assoc cookbook so i can cook and take in treats and goodies.

Crash at 9 if I last that long ... taking pill to be on the safe side, big meeting, but will see how I do without one tomorrow night.

Doing chores a few each day rather than killing myself.

Looking forward to learning what these weekly meetings are about.

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Top 3 ...

... questions H asks me over and over.

  1. Can I go home?
  2. Is my mother alive?
  3. Are my kids ok?

A diet change!

H passed the lunch test, moved to a heart healthy diet, real food, unassisted eating. It's a yummy menu with many sides for creative dishes. A major improvement!

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Tending to myself

I left to beat rush hour, left Barbara there until 6pm, when Pam will take her to the airport. Family meeting tomorrow afternoon.

Having some great vegie sushi for dinner, mellow jazz on, going to bake bread,  do a little organizing of the papers and notes scattered all over hell from the anxiety of taking down this and that on whatever paper was available ... I am feeling much better, best since this happened. I see progress. The physical stuff, which is what I would have the hardest time with as a caregiver, looks great, I think it will be about her memory, and I think she can paint now anyway, whatever happens.

The one complaint I hear more than any other, by far, is .... I never have time to do my art!

To which I say, you have the time you make, sweetie. If it's important to you, you'll drop something to make room for it. Learn to say No!

But she never listens to me. She makes a face.

So the result I hope from this is, She learns to say No!


H got a roomie, younger woman. Crowded and busy here, we got spoiled.
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Battery charge

I rec'd a very nice email from one of H's friends ... pushed all the right buttons for a writer. Made my day.

Also getting terrific support from a retired minister/writer/friend - the very person who married us.

Sister still in town, flight delay for second day, but gets to spend full day with Harriet. I go later, want to be there when she sees the shrink.
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Home chores

H's email had payment alert ... one complication is she did lots of money stuff online, can't recall passwords, and we can't find them ... another is this happened just after our income went down 5 digits with my retirement (altho 20 yrs at PSU, I was an adjunct, not a penny of benefits)... we had planned for all this, this was the year to downsize, sell the house, and get into a less expensive lifestyle. And then ...

I got it taken care if with a very sweet customer service lady kn India. What a strange world we've created.

So finances, with other complications I won't mention here, might be dicey for a bit, my main stress after her health. But I/we are ok in the short run. Something in prep of selling the house that she insisted doing alone now might have to be done together, which means it will get done much quicker. I already downsized my stuff this summer, giving 32 boxes to the Vietnam Vets of Amer, great stuff from books, dvd, cd, to clothes, shoes, hats, they will love it! I spent six mos in a VA hospital with those guys, I know what a great find in the clothing room feels like (I still wear a Harris tweed overcoat I found there). H got on my case for not selling the stuff, and often I give in rather than argue, but I told her selling this would be bad karma that I don't need and arranged for a vets pickup. A few days before the heart attack H promised me she would downsize two boxes a week. Now we can do her stuff together.

Here is how much the world has changed. In the early sixties, my best buddy needed a loan for college. Small Idaho town. The banker knew him since a kid. I was with him when he picked up the check at the Bank of Troy. As we got into the car, a secretary ran out and said,

"Dick, could you fill out this loan application for our records. No rush."

And they call banking today progress?

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She wants to get off mushy food but won't jump thru the hoops which alone will do this. Stubborn, independent.

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I went to great effort to get H a decent cup of coffee, it still sucks. I think I get the picture.

Her first Q, Is my mother still alive? Wept at answer. "Who's still alive?"

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Life is a crap shoot

No medical person would have compared Harriet's and my profiles and chosen her over me as a candidate for a heart attack. Genetic history, past and present lifestyles, diet - everything favors her. In only one area am I more "healthy": stress. She's a worry wort and I no longer give a shit about crap out of my control, which is just about everything. Some atrocity will be on the news, and she'll be in tears and I'll be thinking, How did I end up on such an insane planet? ("there's a hell of a good universe next door, let's go" - cummings).

So I wish our roles were reversed (except I'd rather have gone the whole 9 yards: I've already had more blessed years than I deserve). If it were me, far fewer people would be involed. Instead of a jammed switch board, you could count the calls on one hand (not a complaint!). She is just beginning her journey as an artist. I've been on that road for half a century, enough already. She has kids, grandkids. I have neither. (I have a large literary archive in a culture that prefers their artists dead - otherwise it would stop turning them into hucksters and stars).

On paper, none of this makes sense. Unless, of course, the very methodology of reaching such notions is fundamentally wrong.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Home before dark

Harriet did  most of our night driving because I'm not very good at it ... hence the curb I ran over early in the week, damaging the wheel ... that was at night. I ran over another a few days later but it was small, no damage. The message is, I shouldn't drive at night.

And just as well. I am totally exhausted ... and watching a movie with her, on the DVD in the room, I thought I was going to lose it, she looked so forlorn, it broke my heart.

I'll be there early for breakfast. Another reason to crash early,.

Posting video, then a pill and sleep, I hope.


Not a scrap left on her dinner plate.

Most repeated question, about six times a day. "Are my parents alive?"
No longer cries when answered.

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Brief break

Ran into former PSU colleague ... he just had double knee replacement himself ... good to talk to somebody I know.

So back for my 3rd visit today after feeding dog food and medicine... be nice when she can have visitors, give Pam and I time off.

We're going to make it.

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Close but no cigar

A's win, cinch wild card.

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Since H is an artist, painting, which she is doing now, is "occupational" rather than "recreational" therapy. Shot vid to post at her sight. Naema here, too.

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Looked at stats of H's visitors ... she's had 19 visits from someone in Poland. Wonder who.

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Modern tech

While she sleeps I am following both Mariners and Athletics, pitch by pitch text, in an app I have.

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H asleep ... good! ... I came to observe 2pm therapy ... they will wake her for it = boot camp.


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Back to observe her 2pm therapy, home to tend dog, back to make use of dvd in room ... they have movie library. It's a quick empty freeway trip today, weekdays it's the milk route.

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The advantages of memory loss

The Sketch reunion vids I posted at the other sight are misleading. I freeze frame, which seems weird, because the next instant the dog ran off, upsetting her. He was more interested in exploring the garden. It wasn't personal, he wasn't interested in me or Pam or Barbara either. He returned and gave her a quick lick once but it happened too quickly for me to get it.

I wanted this to be positive, hence the edit. I'll ask her if she remembers. If no, I'll show her how glad he was to see her. If yes, good memory news, I'll add that after he saw you were ok, he explored the garden.

I learned how to manipulate info as a high school senior. Took an elective from a brilliant teacher who showed us how media manipulate the news. One of our textbooks was How To Lie With Statistics. As a class project we elected a fictitious student to student body VP with an underground write-in campaign. This wasn't campy, the students thought he was real. When the admin found out, they fired the teacher. He went on to start a private progressive high school.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Winning the hard way

If Mariners lose, their season is done. Tie game, bottom 9th against Angels ... they get bases loaded and nobody out ... and can't score! But they get win in 11th.

One game left, Ms one game behind A's.

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Cordoba rocks!

Played Keyport Rag on my ukulele for first time since Sept 16.

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Mariners. ...

Just tied game, A's already lost, a win keeps them alive with one game to go ... home game, they are going crazy in Seattle! Distraction, baby!

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Tenacious Harriet

Her wheelchair now has a seat belt lock only a nurse can unlock. Guess why?
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At my last exam, my doc encouraged me to lose a little weight ("wouldn't it be fun?"). I am! However, this is not the "diet" anyone had in mind.

Wrong direction

We Just Set The Worst Carbon Record Ever -

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Home update

Took Sketch for run ... have lunch, relax before taking him to see Harriet.

Mellow jazz over football today.

Looking forward

I can see a mellow routine ahead. I like mellow! I like routine!

I go in early with her coffee and my breakfast. We eat together. I hang around until therapy starts. Maybe I video something, maybe I leave. I do what I need to do in the middle of the day for a few hours. I return in the late afternoon, sometimes with the dog.

Sounds mellow to me.


Doing 3 simultaneous 2 hr projects ... her laundry ... rendering video for blog ... baking bread, sesame wheat, for Pam and Barbara.

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OT guy going to request she gets more rest between therapy .. resting now until 930 ... still asks if parents are alive but handles news they are dead.

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Looked at myself in the mirror ... I look a fright!

Coffee here sucks ... I'll bring coffee and have breakfast with her every morning.

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With H, full time job getting her to eat slowly.

GREAT CHANGE ... I told her at 730 she wd see Sketch today. At 815 she sd, Did you day I was going to see Sketch today? This is the best short term memory recall I've seen so far.

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For me the hardest part of being an inside-out writer is the emotional stamina it takes. I often don't have it. Writing my last novel SODOM, GOMORRAH & JONES practically gave me a nervous breakdown, it's so fucking right on about my particular view of the world. A very cogent review of it by a woman at Amazon ends by saying she hopes she can become as happy at the end as my protagist, CJ. Guess what? I hope I can,, too! A lot of my work is wishful thinking and my main characters adjust a hell of a lot better than I do.
I should have gotten my degree from Cal Tech and become a college math teacher ha ha.

A poem


In the worst of times
we are the best we can be.
What mattered once
seems trivial in the panic
of ending possibilities,
and what was taken for granted
now is all that matters
and the fear is
we realize this too late.


By next week, I may have one! I am going in to have breakfast with her, bring my own. That will be a good start to the day.

A lot of afternoons, I expect, I'll be taking Sketch to the garden.

Early morn helps parking too tho i discovered if i patk at very top, i dont get lost. is my mind starting to go?

i am ready to start a work of fiction inspired by all this! i think it's not going to be about death but about marriage. we'll find out.

With all h's support, i cant help but think of my poet friend ger, only six of us there to spread his ashes ... same, or less, wd happen to me if i outlived h bec i wd have moved to sw for warmth and cheaper living - you can get a studio for 350 - and died where no one knows me. no matter. i want my work to last, not me personally. few folks really "get it" about inside-out writing and the arts, it's become so much about outside-in commercial writing. Ezra Pound, bless his fascist soul, saw all this coming in the ABC OF READING.

In a sane culture, writers/poets/artists would be like priests, monks, subsidized and living on small stipends, whose job was to discover and express the subtext of human experience. Since the Beats, hasn't been much interest in this. No wonder most of the time I feel like an alien visiting a very bizarre planet.
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Over seven hrs sleep!

Took sleeping pill, crashed at 830.

New developments ... taking some of her art for her room ... sketch will visit her in outdoor garden this afternoon ..

Friday, September 26, 2014

Very very very tired

There are a couple things I wanted to get done tonight but no way ... I'll watch a bit of the game, take a sleeping pill, and call it a day. Even when everything is going well, this is so damn draining. I'm not built for this kind of work ha ha.


Good talk with neuro doc, re brain stuff ... she is textbook case, good chance for signif recovery in 4 mos ... will know much in one month re how much improvement so far.

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Boot camp

H was sleeping after lunch when they came for her ... letting her miss one session and sleep but will wake her for the rest. Brings back memories of boot camp in the army.

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Great relief

The one non health issue stressing me out the most, stress from ignorance, is resolved. I don't have to worry about it until Dec and should be no problem handling it then. Naema got this info for me, and she is a sweetheart and I owe her and her husband a dinner for this.

Boot camp 2

Saw her daily schedule. Man. I'll post at other blog. Amazing. You don't sit on your ass around here.

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Boot camp

Man, they are right ...H recovering fm shower, PT in 20 mins.

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At Harriet's room

If I ate at Nobby's, I think I'd throw up ... that can come later ... presently getting a shower with help from handsome male nurse. Something to remember!

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A busy Friday

Both Barbara and Anyka head home today. I'll drop off A at bus station late morning on way home to tend Sketch. Pam will tale B to airport.

Big day is Harriet meeting her rehab leaders ... she'll have 4 hrs daily I think. There is a family meeting every Tues, which is why my updates at her blog will be Wed. Very latest info.

Hosp is in my old stomping grounds ... I can have breakfast ag Nobbys! 2 blocks away.... will soon actually ... A getting ready, time to walk Sketch.

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UCLA 62 ASU 27

The team expected at beginning of season ... if they maintain, might get interesting.

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Granted I've been rattled, but twice recently ... once at Sunnyside and yesterday at Good Sam, I forgot where I parked the car. Eventually found it but not good.

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Up doing support chored

Didnt take pill and maybe should have ... awake after 3 hrs ... did a few necessary support chores/email .. back to bed soon.

Both sister and younger daughter leave today.
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Sports sanity

Mariners win, A's lose ... and UCLA has turned explosive after a slow start.

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It's all material

I would tell my students that a great advantage of being a writer is that no matter what happens to you in your life, positive or negative, it is material, it's something you can write about. The craft and process of writing can turn it into positive experience. Nothing can take that away from you if you respect and honor the craft and art of writing.

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Harriet at Rio

From here on, all info about Harriet is at a new blog:

Harriet's Recovery Blog

Harriet's spirit has returned but not her brain. For example, left alone for a moment, she disappeared ... they found her wandering the halls. Now she has a wrist band with an alarm if she leaves the room.


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Sunnyside 341

First thing nurse sd is, Did you bring clothes? Things are happening ...xport est 11 a.m.
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Writing and retirement

Lots of folks have told me that writers never retire, and there's a sense in which that is true. At the same time, I agree with the Zen notion that poetry is not the words on paper but the mode of activity in the mind of the poet. The thinking can remain without actually writing anything down'

I get into this in my essay "Creativity. Faith. Impotence" (in my archive, book). Some of the street people you hear talking to themselves are actually poets in this stage. Art moves in the direction of Silence. "Doing nothing, if properly understood, is the supreme action."

Writing down accomplishes two things: easier to manage complex material; easier to share with audience. Again, as I argue in my essay, the latter can become irrelevant to an inside-out writer. But the former remains true: some things are too layered to compose in your head alone.

I thought I was done writing. This was fine. My literary archive us huge. My ego is healthy: I think I have written plays, screenplays, stories, novels and poems that will stand the test of time. I don't need fame and fortune now because I had a good taste of it in the 1970s and 1980s. It ain't what it is cracked up to be. The only thing I miss is the money. When Yeats was told he'd won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first thing he said was, How much? He was right on.

So I thought I was done writing things down. Retirement would be reading, meditating and spending time with Harriet and Sketch.

I totally forgot the gods have a dark sense of humor.

I have something in my head that is begging to be written down. A story, maybe short, maybe a novella, a dark comedy, about an old fart whose wife has a heart attack ...
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The Face of a New Climate Movement

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Achilles heel

Later today

I am going to ...

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Morning relaxation

Been a while! Iced coffee at hand ... man, talk about good fortune.

I have one important thing left to do ... tell someone to MAIL me a bill. Issue is finding the right person. Something she was doing online and i have none of her passwords.

So knock, knock, maybe a nice routine can develop here. Nurse says patients usually stay at Rio 1 to 4 weeks before sent home. Aggressive and individual. I wasn't there for evaluation but daughter says she cracked up handsome young evaluator with this exchange...

Eval, Do you like to dance?
H, I love to dance. Let's dance now
(starts doing upper body dance in bed)

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Home update

Took pill and had longest uninterrupted sleep in weeks!

All clothes she wore are cut to shreds ... wear own clothes in rehab, daughter here to pick them out. To Sunnyside as early as we can ...

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014


John Guare

Paris Review - The Art of Theater No. 9, John Guare

He also wrote film Atlantic City.

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R.I.P. Mariners

3 games down, would take a miracle. A major collapse of hitting and pitching. Painless for me because this fan was focused elsewhere.

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New blog

I have a new blog for H and will post address here when she is at Rio.

I will post weekly updates every Sunday evening. I will try to get video as well.

The nurses are impressed and excited she passed their evaluation. She should be moving tomorrow. I'll add details as I get them.

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Rehab boot camp

As soon as paperwork is approved, likely tomorrow, H gets a bed at Rio at Good Sam, the most intense demanding therapy in NW.

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H made a joke

H: are u going to eat lunch?

C: I'm going home to have lunch wifh Sketch.

H: You eat dog food? (big grin)

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Showed her part of her online slideshow of 57 paintings ... amazed she'd painted them, thought I put them online ...

It's slow day by day BUT THERE IS PROGRESS.

The new blog will be active as soon as she leaves here.

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LS got me going in less than an hr, no charge.

H trying to nap. Good news ... being evaluated for most progreesive rehab in Oregon ... issue is her present mobility. They have a bed, if she passes gets it today or tomorrow. CROSSED FINGERS. Hey, given my morning in a zero sum universe, has a real shot at it!

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Blanche lives ...

... depending on the kindness of strangers. I think I hear end of work sounds.

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LS update

Car into bay now ...

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At LesSchwab

Here, air, down the road and going flat again, in waiting room for real fix, say it is wheel, not tire. No idea how long but LS service is always first rate in our experience.

1 of 3 stressful probs solved thus a.m.

"This is a mean ol' world
Try livin' by yourself"
Little Walter

"as long as you and i
have arms and lips
which are for kissing
and to sing with

who cares if some
Oneeyed Sonofabitch
invents an instrument
to measure Spring with"

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Home update

Got good start on new recovery blog ... get ready for 9 am phone calls, try to figure some things out ... next entry won't be until I am at hospital late morning or afternoon.

Handling stress

When I went into the maze that is OHSU on day one, it was a nightmare. I understood right away that finding a parking spot and her room, stressful and confusing in the maze, had to be non stressful activities. Therefore, I later got it together and did some scounting to find 1. a lot that ALWAYS had a parking space and 2. directions from lot to room. I found a small lot near the eye clinic with an attendant, who told me, yes, the ground floor here was never full because everyone went up to park closer to where they worked. There was an elevator and a very roundabout path to the hospital from here. He even had a map, it was so complicated. I want it!

I really enjoyed this strange path .. it tickled my sense of humor. I made a video of it but have not had time to edit it until now.. Here it is, how I visited H for the first days at OHSU.


If you visit Harriet from now until further notice, you MUST obey the following rules and regulations. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Home update

Can't do biz calls till nine, try to catch up on other things. Esp see imp new rules and regulations.

Another stressful day in the life of ...

Very little sleep, though I'll try for more. Think I can handle the car tire issue. 3 financial issues worry me but I think I can resolve 2 of them on the phone this morning. We'll see! Prob not to hosp until noonish.

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I am going to start a new blog called Harriet's Recovery Blog. My goal will be weekly updates, weekly video messages from Harriet, and Harriet herself taking it over when she can.

It will take me an hour or two to set this up and I have more urgent things to do right now. But stay tuned.

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With the good xray, and room change, H is "out of danger," is my impression. The slow recovery can begin.

So this blog is going to change. It also is not useful to me if I start writing outside-in and censoring myself. It's the same for you, info is info, but once I have to censor myself, this process has no emotional or spiritual value to me. As soon as I can, I'll be switching to weekly factual updates, and go back to my usual blogging.

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I once dated a gambling addict. She would buy $50 of scratch offs and win $30. This would make her day and she'd brag to her girlfriends she'd won $30. I could never convince her she actually lost $20.

I think sales work the same way. I understand needing or wanting x and then finding a sale when you go out to buy it. I don't understand having no thought of x whatever, then buying it only because it is on sale.

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Stress begets stress

Should have taken a sleeping pill ... the tire is low but not flat, I think I can drive it to nearby Les Schaub for check and refill.. No Aaa.

We arranged the morning so I cd stay here and address a stressful financial matter thatH was handling online .. need to check it out and see if I need to do something before the 1st and she left me no useful info , so I need to find record, make phone call, see what is what. Maybe everything is fine. Maybe the shit is soon to hit the fan.

(Censored. Just deleted a passage. I belong to the inside-out school of writing, always trying to write my personal truth. I am baffled when someone tells me I am private when my entire bin of dirty laundry is in the public domain, in my work. For example, in my drinking days, I once shit myself in a white tuxedo on opening night of my play. I managed to escape before anyone noticed (except smell ha ha), so easily could have hidden it - which I did for a few years. But it's actually a significant event, so I ended up writing about it because that's what writers do. No bullshit. In my play about Moliere, I put words in his mouth based on this. In my memory blog The Years, I deal with it explicitly. Don't tell me I am "private" ... what I don't do is sit around in a circle with other folks, talking about it. I publish it for the entire world to see. I digress. I censored myself, which I saw coming on, because this is not the time ir place to express personal truths involving certain things. And I hate censoring myself! I'll make up for it later.)

Man, a low tire, not a flat, has raised my spirits. I'll take what I can get.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stupidity, new school

Turning into convenience mkt in dark, didnt see curb and ran over it ... prob have flat in morning. Have AAA but it's the last thing I need.

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Family care, old school

Last minute family panic about leaving H alone ... so her84 y/o sister spending night with her, sleeping in a recliner.

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Room 341

Out of the heart unit!

Visitors, 3 south wing ... it's around corner from elavator C

2 therapy folks looking at her tomorrow

I'll blog daily until she's stable enough not to.

Try to make another video greeting for east coasters.

So far, so good.

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Graduating to 341 tonight = improvement.

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Good news

Xray good, no concern.

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My eyes still will well up without warning. If I can't see the road, I don't want to be on the freeway. But only once did I stop the car for safety concerns.

Sister and daughter leave Fri ... other son comes in next week, 4 days, will stay with me.

45min now before I head out. Quiet time. Sketch is putting up with relative neglect as well as can be expected.

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Imperfect recovery, or miles and miles of love

Food nurse told me she was better Sunday than today, concerned. Also concern about cough and congestion, may need another procedure.

I am home but back again soon. My 3rd trip today. I take the milk route by choice. 40mins one way. Do the math and it's 4 hrs of driving to or from ... but I love it bec it is solitude. Not getting much of that otherwise. I treasure the long, slow drive, no stress, mellow jazz on radio ... however I don't like the price of gas.

I left when H wanted a nap. Pam, Anyka, Barbara with her. I ret around 7, P and B go home, A and I an hr or two later.

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Did not pass ... still mushy food ...

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Got chest xray ... lady here to check swallowing ability ... right now everything has mushy consistency ...

We have an impatient patient who keeps asking when she can go home ...

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I don't like the chest cough ... be checked soon

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In room

Latest ... has cough they dont like, giving chest xray, maybe suck stuff out ... so apparently not leaving anytjme very soon ... but she is restkng now, 4 here besides me ...

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H has not eaten any real food yet, just specially processed food, bec of swallowing issues.

Why is it when any large group gets together there are always too many cooks in the kitchen?

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Tending dog ... man, this really is the tip of the iceberg, not the end of something alone, also the beginning of something else. I see stressful complications ahead, just around normal daily stuff.

Well, one step at a time and all that.

I'll soon be changing this blog to updates every few days or weekly or something. I'll have a schedule so concerned folks know when to look.

I am near the point where I'll be censoring myself here ha ha.

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If she qualifies, to rehab, week or two, 2 facil close to home, be perfect. cant imagine she wd not qualify ...

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A nurse sd she wd go from here to a rehab ctr for two weeks ... i hope so! but first time i heard this . stay tuned.

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Sister Barbara here, son and daughter, Pam, Doc (new one) gave us the latest, no defib ...general doc called this rnorning re transition issue ...she'll come home this week ... needs 24/7 somebody with her, yrs truly most of the time ... waiting game to see what comes back, what doesn't ... a new chapter ...wait and see

so far, so good

posted from Bloggeroid

Skill set

I made scram eggs, bacon, toast for 3 of us ... son off to hosp, daughter with me in an hr ... her sister now here ... son leaves today, other son comes next week ...

posted from Bloggeroid


Was able to handle refund online! shouldve thought earlier...

posted from Bloggeroid

Everything is different

  1. I got a good night's sleep without a sleeping pill.
  2. Even Sketch slept in.
  3. Last night I got a wonderful call from my best friend in LA, the sister I never had, whom I've known since she was 8, the daughter of a dear late buddy. She wrote the songs for my plays Country Northwestern and Christmas at the Juniper Tavern, also a talent jazz singer and sings the songs at my satiric blog Sam Adams The Musical. She has an infectious laugh that always cheers me up.
  4. I feel I don't have to go in as early today. I plan to make everybody here breakfast.
  5. More when I get to the hospital. Yes, their wireless was down yesterday, hopefully not today. I want to hear whether or not she gets a defib and the schedule for getting her home.
  6. What a week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

One week in the life of ...

One week tomorrow ... what a week of stress, uncertainty, fear ... to finding the cause of collapse, and fixing it ... and into a new phase, a long recovery process with uncertain results.

The three of us are relaxing tonight. Adam flies home tomorrow afternoon. Her sister arrives late tonight.

H's post procedure mantra, repeating often: O my God ...


posted from Bloggeroid

Harriet eats real food at last (after heart procedure)

Photo by son Adam


couldn't connect this pm ... notes below ... found clogged art, fix
w stint,


cant connect at hosp, writing this to send later.

couldnt send fax, wrong number, try again tomorrow.
h to heart procedure at 230... pam, adam, anyka and i meet in recovery area around 5 ... more info then ...

friend rose arriv just as h being wheeled out. earlier she had left card, quilt at our front door ... happy to see quilt on h bed

want to find out when defib surgery will be ... need to get right fax number for united refund, send doc letter.

i am doing ok. so far, so good.


420... found waiting lobby ... 2 others for other patients here.

Frustrating I cant get online ......i went cafeteria to kill time ... coffee shop open till 10pm.

i couldnt get online to bank at home either .... maybe big cyberspace accident has stopped traffic.

waiting is the name of the game at hospitals.


445... with H in recov, they found blockage, clear stint, in hr back to room.

507 ... talk to doc ... prob no defib bec they feel sure clogged artery was cause ... might come home very soon ... see how she is tkmorrow. I have photos of her heart.

posted from Bloggeroid

Quiet time

Really really nice to have some quiet time with clothes in drier in an empty house ... I'm used to hours of quiet time a day, a firm believer in Norman O. Brown's "Doing nothing, if properly understood, is the supreme action."

posted from Bloggeroid


Pam called ... all is fine. ... I talked to H but she doesnt remember my being there earlier ... Adam and Anyka also there ... minister came by, artist friend she went to China with came by with book about their trip and exhibit and Adam is reading it to her. She is very well supported!

I have clothes in drier, found fax place on way to hosp, I'll be there before two.

Update at home

No sooner did I wish for relief than friend Pam walked into room. P here as much as anyone. Updated her and left for escape of errands. Now home doing laundry. Put together fax package for her United refund - hs reunion in Mass - easier than expected. Go fax after laundry done. Then run dog, back to hosp ...want to get there at 2 may have to do short walk instead of run.

went to deli fir lunch stuff ... feeling better, Pam arrived nick of time, I felt losing it coming on. Nope! Can return and continue my performance. I want an Oscar!

I really really like cardiologist. Speaks a language I understand.


H: what are you doing here?
C: I'm here because I love you.
H: Oh, Ok.


Little by little is remembering a detail from one question to the next.

Hope I get relief soon. Very stressful morning for me.


Signed consent form but procedure wont be til late afternoon ... no food or drink! Will be hard for her.

Card doc is really good, very commo savvy ... says may be personality change, some memory may never be recovered ... or she may become old self.

Soon as son arrives, doing errands.


Was in chest pain from pounding ordeal, shot up pain med, bp high, med for that ... trying to get her to nap.

Mother issue. Last time really upset her mom was dead, thought she missed funeral ... so I managed to sidestep issue.

A little progress

Instead of what happened, occasionally it's I collapsed?

So sad to go through all this. Tears at one point, "I don't want to die," breaks your heart ... and she wants food and water but csnt til after test.


Nurse in to do s few things ... H still asks where is she, what happened? I just explained again, she going to. try more sleep ...

Good fortune

If you read about my wild past, you may marvel that someone as classy as H entered my life. Dont think I dont know it! 21 yrs together now. I figure I'd be long dead if I had not met her. I owe her one, true even if we weren't together.


Brief waking, back to sleep ... talked with nurses, wont know anything of schedule until docs come by later ... actual procedure only an hr, 8 incl prep and recovery.

Surgeons have amazing job. I dated a surgeon once. HILARIOUS story. If you want to read it, use link in right column to go to my other blog The Years, use search box at top and enter surgeon, should turn it up.

Bedside in a dark room

H sleeping peacefully ... wanted to get here before she was wheeled off fot 8 hrs. Just the length of the procedure makes the nerves tingle. Besides, experience counts - well, unless you are in the State Dept - and I'm the guy whose mother dropped dead in a hospital lobby after successful surgery (death unrelated). This is a lesson about how the world actually works, not how we wish it would work, and I haven't been the same since. So this will be a stressful day.

But with 8 hrs to kill, I can catch up on chores.

No idea when this will stsrt. If emergencies come in, may not happen at all. It's long, exploratory but not urgent.

Folks appreciate this blog. As much for me as anyone. I'm a writer, my knee jerk reaction to experience is to write about it. In fact, a retirement wish was ... no more experience! My archive is large enough already and I don't have to write about anything else.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

The plan

Going in very early tomorrow. Left her sleeping with son and daughter bedside.


Pulsatons of grief still can wash over me in an instant, a flash flood of the emotions. But this has brought family and friends together in a special way. And it infuses the world at large with a new intense energy: sunrises are more beautiful, a Miles Davis solo sounds more spiritual, an ass of a neighbor suddenly isn't so bad. Cummings nailed it in a poem with the line ...

the most who die
the more we live

Hooray! v So far, so good

Working hard to stay in the so far, so good mindset ... been kicked in the butt by the gods for premature celebration ... the gods are black humorists and being one myself, I know how easy it is to set up an audience and manipulate its need for happy endings ... hence


H sleeping. Writing here at bedside.


No food or drink after midnight for big test tomorrow.

With difficulty, managed to stand by self ...


Almost real food for dinner ... fed self w/o making too big a mess ... try to sleep now .. I'm only one here at moment.

Her sister Barbara phoned, they talked and I brought B up to date.

Easiest Q of the day

H asked me, Are you still with me?


Finally getting a meal soon ... had long sleep during my absence. 3 kids and friend here. Feeding her apple sauce, swallow test, she's passing.

Important small step

300,000+ Demand Climate Action Now at Largest Climate March in World History


Her 8 hr heart test/procedure is tomorrow.

Sesame wheat as therapy


Bread in oven, looking perfect ... when out, spend an hr w Sketch, feed him, back to hosp ...

updated her email ... updated bird feeders ... garbage out for Mon pickup ...vacuumed ...everything i wanted to do but laundry, do tonight or early morn, not urgent ...

by appearance, a first rate loaf! i used to bake by the long kneading way in grad school, this new way just as good, i make a loaf without hassle in 90 mins!

Moving toward normalcy

Home, leaving her with five visitors ... chores etc but also decided to bake a loaf of bread ... start to finish, using this new wet cold dough in the refrig method, only 90 mins ... will take to hospital and give it away, do the same tomorrow ... baking bread is good therapy for me and I am getting good at it ...

Give Sketch an early dinner and then go back around 330. (Still haven't heard if test today but I rather assume not).


2 friends arrived ... son and daughter due soon.

When I leave around noon, bake bread (2 hrs) and some other chores. Baking bread my best therapy.

Changed unknown pw for h email (poss w her cell phone), now i can access w mobile. I havent told her ha ha ha.


Sitting with ... hungry, no fd or drk until determined no heart test today.

Half asleep, she kept saying "I open a can of worms." I couldn't figure it out until tlk w her later ... she overheard me tell nurse re friends jamming switchboard at ohsu ... she opened a can of worms!

Heart test takes 8 hrs!


If they dont find more subtle heart issue, may be low potassium issue, says card ... defib surgery certain in any case.

H still asking what happ every few mins ... card says mem return shd be more rapid along the way.

Bedside update

H sleeping, moved Her to 243... admit at 262
cardio doc here, more info says 3 min bystander cpr bef amb arriv ... the difference!
test req 8 hrs being still


My best day yet. Stayed up till 10, watching game with son, took pill and crashed, slept straight till 4 when dog wakes me per our routine, gave him a pill he needs twice a day, fed him, took him out ... usually I then would bake bread andor read the SF paper but with son on couch, I went back to bed and Sketch followed me ... he likes to sleep under the bed directly under me. Both of us in bed till 630, up, I watered plants, will soon fill bird feeders then take S to park for a run, then home and to hosp. A with daughter coming a bit later. I'll return at noon. Bake bread to give to someone, laundry, voice and email housekeeping, blog update if necessary, lunch, and go back around 3 to stay thru dinner.

Baking bread great therapy for me hope I can bake daily and give away.

Sunnyside info

For those visiting Harriet ... much easier to navigate than OHSU ... when you turn off Sunnyside into the hospital, just go straight and you enter the parking garage ... park, go and enter main entrance, find an elevator and go to 2nd floor ... follow wall directions which are everywhere to wing A ... find room 260 and use the phone for entrance and she is in 280.

Dinner at Sunnyside

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Son still at hosp, will crash here on couch.

H getting ornery, pissed she has to spend night in hospital bec she has to go home and check her email - and really got pissed I'm checking it for her. I sd I'm helping you. She sd she doesn't want any help.

Oh my ...

At Sunnyside

Room 208, same 4 of us here, H still askkng Why am I here? Cant remem answer one time to next.


Being xfer to Kaiser Sunnyside as I write ... youngest daughter in amb with her, oldest son & friend follow ... I go in a bit, home to tend dog etc.

Memory and emotion issues ... didnt know mother was dead, really upset her.

Sometimes comic.

I ask, Do you know who I am?
My husband. ...Where do you live?
I live with you.
Really? ... How long?
Over 20 years.
... Wow.


Call, want to xfer her soon to Kaiser hospital, where we have our insurance ... may even happen today. Makes family visit a tad more complicated and may be more inconvenient but insurance is insurance.

Greetings from Harriet!


H officially out of intensive care ... crowded without bed downstairs, so she remains on ICU floor but now is regular patient, moved from room 8 to 9.

Update, doc

Tests Monday ... defib surgery prob Tues dep on tests ... maybe home Thurs (!!!!!) and therapy.


Food on its way ... looks like tests delayed til Monday.


H standing, walking w/help ... nurse, "You are really strong, good job."

Old H: unplugged probe, tried to eat it! Hungry ... need to check her swallowing first ... she is now sitting in a chair.


I have video greeting fm H ... post when home.

A wonderful moment

2 girlfriends arrived, CONVERSAYION ... she cant remember what happened but remembers address, phone, even ssc. This is so incredible!

First Question

"When do I eat?"

Cant until after tests, which may be delayed until Monday given weekend, ... waiting for docs now.


Awake and talking! No memory ... wben i tell her shesays WOW that is amazing ... but she can converse now.

Tough day

I think this will be a tough day. 1. I didn't get enough sleep. 2. 2 family members into town today, a little hectic but also a chance to let them carry the ball.

Need to pay attention to my own needs. Rest, battery charge.


At H's computer to bring email up to date, son Aaron inLondon was online, brief Skype text chat to bring him up to date, he arrives next week.

Chores that need doing, have to fit them in ... nothing anyone else can do. Lots of help offered. Best help is no calls after 8 pm!

Tired but good spirits. When son arrives, will come home, see if I can nap.

How in hell would I ever have started my university class next week? What good timing to retire! Lots of time to do what she needs.

Two little lessons along the way

  1. I never realized I was such a wimp. Of course I also am a very good playwright and a decent actor. I can create and deliver a performance. The last thing H needs is a bedside wimp, so I wrote a role for myself, the Strong Husband, to perform at her bedside. And it comes off! I even have a fan club! Isn't art amazing:? In reality, I am the last person you want in the foxhole with you.
  2. Having gotten a taste of it, I don't think I want to outlive Harriet.

Disaster breeds opportunity

In 18 years of living with Harriet, by far the single complaint I've heard most often is this: I don't have time to do my art!

As a writer, I understand this very well. Time is an asset to an artist. How do most artists find time? The same way I did: by being selfish. The art comes first and everything else comes second. This has consequences, sometimes disastrous ones, especially in relationships. But there it is.

Harriet is not selfish. She spreads herself very thin and ends up having too little time for herself, her art. And she bitches, at least privately to me, about it.

Now the gods have given her a great gift and a great opportunity. If she follows the recovery program, she will end up with much more time to do her art. If she follows the program, she can enter the most personal, creative and productive phase of her artistic life.

But I know Harriet. There is no guarantee she will follow the program. It's hard for her to put her own needs first.

I will encourage her to follow the program, to be a little selfish for a change. I hope her friends do as well.

If you want to talk to me ...

... phone between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. I will answer messages.

Peace Like A River by Harriet

Video of first showing ...

Harriet's gallery.

Woman of the year


Took half a pill against rules, got a liitle sleep, Sketch got me up at our usual time, back to bed after he is done.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rude awakenkng

Took sleeping pill, to bed. Sleep. Phone rings. Panic, can only be bad news! Request for update. THIS IS WHAT THE BLOG IS FOR! "I'll let you go back to sleep now." How &!#@$/=+$!! of you.

Of course, I can't get back to sleep. Another pill? Not supposed to. Drive to DQ for a Blizzard? Not supposed to drive after taking pill.

What to do? For now, we have pecan ice cream in freezer ....

SEA 10 HOU 5

Goodnight ...

Almost relaxed

Had a good meal (take out), doing something normal, watching Mariners game (winning!), feels almost like a normal evening. Her son Adam flies in tomorrow morning. As family arrives, I can step back a bit, recharge the battery.

Some very interesting paintings are going to come out of this.

After the family leaves, plan to take my ukulele one day and serenade her. She likes to hear me play.

Recovery begins

I almost lost it in the elevator after leaving ... got myself together so I could drive home ... an explosion not of grief but relief. 

Time to spend quality time with Sketch. Our zen clown of a dog.


I need to leave ... hoping some visitor shows up ... or I think she is falling asleep again ...

Something familiar

At home H falls asleep on the sofa a lot. Once, asleep with her mouth open, a common thing, I took her photo and almost got divorce papers ha ha. So I will not take her picture now, asleep with her mouth open, but it truly is a beautiful sight.


friends left, back to sleep ...


2 girlfriends arrived ... she woke to look etc.


taking a nap.


  1. Earlier a lady friend of ours marveled at my strength ... HA! I do own up to good theatrical training ... I can do a good performance ... and then go off stage and weep and puke my guts out. It isn't strength, it's a performance for Harriet's benefit.

Head man

Just talked to main doctor ...
1 her heart stopped
2 she basically was dead
3 help arrived soon enough to bring her back to life
4 she was rushed to hospital here etc etc

Man alive...

She'll get out of intensive care in next 48 hrs, be admitted downstairs for continued recovery ... depending on test results tomorrow ...test cd lead to heart surgery.

Doc super pleased. He sd flat out, she died and the rescue unit brought her back to life.


Only took 25min from our house to bedside, and 5 or 10 of that is after parking here. Found isolate lot always half emoty, 3 elevators and a cat walk to get here, the scenic route ... and I love it! The security of knowing there's a parking space. This helps.


Sitting wigh H, who is watching tv sort of. She let me take her photo, which I'll post when I get home. Looks tired but still tubeless and otherwise great. Only me here at mkment.

4 days ago


In the long run, unless tests reveal something else, the most important factor is her attitude. She was really great following doctor's orders after knee surgery - well, other than going faster than told - so she can do the program once she understands its importance. Again, I think continued support from her friends, family, myself can be an important morale booster. She can get impatient.

Tues I thought I'd lost her. Today she looks pissed because she isn't going home. Amazing.


H's email "get well" folder already large ... be 100s by the time she can read it ... need note from doc so she can get oct 1 flight refund.


Home for a break ... back in a few ... man, what incredible progress! I don't use the word miracle, having once studied David Hume's essay on the matter, but she is damn lucky someone called 911 as quickly as happened. 3 days later she is bitching to go home!

Important now for her to understand what happened and to do what she's told ... in this regard, her many friends can be an important morale booster. Come Monday, all of her family should be here.

This is a long haul ... hope she can accept that.

Dog and I going for another walk.


Spoon fed apple sauce, took pill, almost managed to hold and drink cup water by herself ...


She actually looks pissed when told she can't go home. Both positive and negative interpretations of that. She is something of a control freak (my opinion)

.. she just whispered for me to take her home ... I tried to explain what happened etc and that recovery will take a while. Doesn't seem happy about that.


Briefed by doc ... focus now to find cause, exploratory tests tomorrow to look at heart and valves ... likely she'll get defibulator.

She managed to whisper to Naema tbat she wants to go home. That's Harriet.

I may bring camera this pm, see if she will smile for camera ... will only take photo with permission though!

When she is good enough to leave intensive care, goes to other unit.

H still trying to say she wants to go home.


Nose tube out. Temp removal of oxygen tube, see if it monitors ok ...for moment free of all tubes...


Tube out of mouth ... nose, feeding, staying for now ... weakly sd name Harriet ln command ... also on command, royal wave to 4 of us kn hallway ...


Tubes coming out presently ... earlier she SMILED at me ... brief talk with doc, he is very pleased at this point, more detail when he returns ...


Taking tubes out later ... Naema, Pam and I here. Will talk to Drs later ... case worker intro'd self, takecare laison for transition. Very helpful.

H liftng entire leg up now. When she is more presentable, I'll post photos ... when she can talk, I'll add video.

Lots of positive energy in room.

Family flying in during next few days, even more bedside support.

So far, so good.

Wish I cd thank whoever called 911 whe. she collapsed onstreet. Probably saved her life.

Bedside, first report

More progress! squeezes your hand now ... and she shaped lips to a kiss for me! Tubes may come out today ... nurse says ekg good ... havent tked to dr yet.

An un-reccomended diet

I lost five lbs this week.

Taking dog for walk, then to hospital. Will blog bedside.

Love At Ground Zero

My fav painting by Harriet...

 Later used as cover for my novel Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones, maybe my best fiction, certainly the most challenging. Almost had a nervous breakdown writing it, always a sign ha ha.

Drawing in left corner by Tom Strah ... I thought it looked like CJ, the retired history and Amer Indian Studies prof who is my protagonist. A lady reviewing the novel at Amazon absolutely "got it" ... I was amazed and delighted.


Home front

Managed to bring some order to H's email, made some folders for things, be a hell of a lot easier for her when she gets able for it. Tons of well wishes.

H's great support and popularity bring to mind the death of my dear friend and poet, Ger. A decade or more ago. Had services and scattered ashes at Shakespeare Garden in Wash. Park (illegally, I am told)... there were SIX of us there. He, like many writers, was a solitary guy. Sister only family ... rest of us were writer friends.

Not everybody jams the switchboard at the hospital, which I'm told happened via H's friends.

Couple hrs to kill before I go up. Want to be there when docs make their rounds.

Good night's sleep but still feel a little tired, drained. My own doc worried about MY health, told me to only stay a few hrs at a time.

Interesting thing about grief. It's like the tide, ebbs and flows. Can be quietly sitting. nothing on my mind, when BAM! I'm in tears. In the beginning Sketch would lick them away but he doesn't like this game any more. He'd rather play tug of war.

He stopped sitting at the door, waiting for Harriet.


H's email came right up ... she has poor spam filters, 100s of junk, but got it down to 45 to look at later. Want to put get wells in a folder etc. Handle any emergency etc.

H is most disorganized person I know, when I need to use a pw will be a problem bec her "book of passwords" is a chaotic incomprehensible mess to my eyes. Gonna see if I can change it, get her email acct on my Fire for mobility.

Made myself breakfast! An accomplishment. Shower and back to email before off to hospital. Need to take Sketch out today.

So much better today. Let's make it a trend.

Good timing

Man, am I glad I am retired during this! I can't imagine prepping and starting classes during all this.


Beat Angels, As lose, back within game of wc. On to Houston. Still in it.


Six uninterrupted hrs, which feels great. Not done yet, back soon. Our regular dr, after looking at records, "she is going to recover ... may be a long course." Hope she's right.

Also told me not to hold vigil at hosp for more than a few hrs, I need my rest - I think this is in response to long vigils by daughter and girlfriends, I only stay 2 hrs at a time, several during the day.

Today will go up at 930 and wait till I see doctor, then return in afternoon. Want EKG results.

So far, so good. See if I can get into her email and manage things, make folder for get wells.

So far, so good!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Real stuff

Amazing how many hours of the day are filled with things that seem irrelevant compared to a loved one in a hospital bed.

Beware of premature optimism

Call from LA friend, just lost first cousin whom she visited in hospital, on road to recovery, sitting up, laughing and joking, then got infection and zap! he's gone. Or my own mother, checking out of hospital after successful surgery, drops dead on the hospital lobby floor!

The minute you think you have the gods figured out, they give it to you both barrels. An argument for humility.

Tonight's event

When to crash with a sleeping pill? Not too early or late ... maybe around 9. Hope it works ... I can use a good night's sleep.

Nice to get good news today ... but much distance to go.


H wiggled her toes on command !!!!!

To sleep tonight

I hate taking pills but I broke down and got dr to give me sleeping pills ... maybe I'll sleep tonight.


I have criticism of our health system but at the same time much impresses me. In my dealings at 2 Kaiser hospitals and 2 clinics, at the Pdx VA, and now at OHSU, personnel and work flow have been first rate.
My criticisms are elsewhere. Insurance & costs issues, end of life issues.

An incident

On the day before H's cardiac arrest we took a noon cruise on the Portland Spirit. Out of the blue. Great outing! Had somebody take our picture on our camera, so she didn't want to buy the commercial photo - but I liked it, wanted a momento, bought it anyway.

See it here.

When things looked bad, I thought, O hell, not a coincident! The last cruise and all that. Now things look a tad better, maybe it's just a souvenir.

I definitely want it this way.

Extraordinary support

H has so many visitors I was asked to tell people to stop calling hosp, interrupting work flow. Daughter there 8 hrs yesterday. 2 is about my limit before I feel a nervous breakdown coming on, so i split and return later. H very well networked and it's paying off in support now.

It's like at home, she gets 6 phone calls a day. I get about 10 a year and half of those are sales pitches ha ha. Much good energy flowing her way!


Guarded optimism for first time! Very exciting when she opened her eyes when I spoke her name. But no apparent awareness yet beyond this ... will react to a pinch on foot, not hand. EKG later today. I'll return late afternoon.

Article in SF Chron this morn re " Death in Amer" report slammed med prof for systemic probs depriving patients, will keep one alive with expensive measures in hosp when all s/he wants to do is die at home. Right on!

Hanging in better, sort of.


H waking up ... looked at me when i sd hi sweeitie ... not sure how aware she is ... another brain scan later, neurologist joining team

At the hospital

Sitting with H ... they are warming her up, slowly decreasing sedation, and later will try and wake her up. She wiggled around during the night, a good sign. Waiting game continues.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Girlfriends visiting tonight encountered a particularly optimistic nurse. No test shows a problem = cause for optimism. I'm going up early a.m.


Not looking good ... 9pm tonight, end icing and sedation and see if she wakes up ... drs say all outcomes still possible.

Archive free

Partisan Review Now Free Online: Read All 70 Years of the Preeminent Literary Journal (1934-2003)


Nurse says H opened eyes and looked around for first time ... degree of awareness uncertain ... I'm going to hospital later, will talk to doctor.

Cosmic question

Q: What kind of a world do we live in if I, who does nothing right to care for my health, outlive H, who does everything right for better health?

A: An absurd one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Zero sum universe

So while I am across town getting checked out with good news, Harriet is collapsing on the street with cardiac arrest, which I don't find out until hours later. She's presently in cardiac intensive care and nobody knows what happened. This really sucks.

Ticker ticking

Visit to hospital, pacemaker checked, all is well. Long as I split before climate catastrophe and/or dementia.

The book we need

Hot off the press, Naomi Klein's new book THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM V. THE CLIMATE - I've only read the intro as I write here - strikes me as talking about climate change in the only context that may relieve our pain (too late to save us ), we need a more communal economic and social ideology in order to respond in rapid and effective ways, that our political leaders in the west have failed us, so change must come from the grass roots, quickly, a revolutionary challenge to the control of wealth and resources.

I think she is right.

But I also think this has no chance of happening, that by the time great numbers of comfortable citizens are ready to act it will be in defense of personal property at a higher level of crisis. Masses of citizens are not ready to save the planet. Later they will try to save whatever they can in food and water riots.

But Klein nails the reality of this crisis. Its subtext and root truth are about ideology. It IS capitalism v. climate, and capitalism is winning hands down.

A Monday cruise

An afternoon cruise for the retired class.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reality bites


The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Public Domain, Making Them Free to Reuse & Remix


Eight Free Films by Dziga Vertov, Creator of Soviet Avant-Garde Documentaries

A woman of conscience

Angry Letters to the One Member of Congress Who Voted Against the War on Terror


I can get damned excited when somebody buys ONE copy of a book special to me - and so today with a sale at Amazon of my Army novella, which is filled with surrealistc truth.

Getting down to it

Terry Simons leads us to two writers who pull no punches:

On my "to see" list

Our grim future

American business

Urban Outfitters selling "bloodspattered" Kent State varsity shirts

* Everything reduces to a fashion statement.

Art v. commerce

Anyone who writes knows there are several mindsets with which to begin. Graham Greene divided his own fiction into two categories: novels and entertainments. The latter were his spy novels and such, the former his serious work.

I made the distinction to my students between writing inside-out and writing outside-in. The latter are the entertainments, in which you begin with parameters defined outside yourself, such things as genre traditions, audience tastes and demands, and here success is usually measured in popularity, in sales.

Writing inside-out is a different matter entirely. Salinger wrote that an artist's only concern is to try for some kind of perfection, which is measured on his terms and no other. This is writing inside-out. Success has nothing to do with popularity. Schoenberg wrote that art is not for all and if it is for all, it is not art. Writing inside-out. Writing outside-in is not art, though it can be skillfully crafted.

A rare writer can do both at once. Durrenmatt does in such plays as The Physicists and The Visit. But this is rare, more rare than many critics suppose.

This came to mind as I was reading about the development of Homeland, the series I just watched and admired. Initially the marine character was only included for the first two seasons but became so popular they gave him three and a romance with the female lead. This is pure outside-in writing. It's not bad writing, it just has a different motivation than the other. Outside-in is about popularity, making an audience happy. Inside-out is about self-discovery, making the writer wiser. Maybe others will come along for the ride.

I've done both in my career but I definitely prefer inside-out writing and in the latter years of my career did this more and more - and today exclusively. But both are honorable work.

As a young writer, I was more elitist than this. In grad school, unlike grad writers today, we thought outside-in writers were hacks. Times have changed. It's been years since I've had an inside-out writer in my class. Everyone today seems to want financial success and popularity, not self-discovery and a tad of wisdom. There are very few contemporary writers who can hold my interest ... I should say American writers, because European and Third World writers still do more soul searching than our popular writers do. There probably are many inside-out writers hidden in cyberspace. Maybe one day someone will discover them.