How to tell a story

How to tell a story

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Peace and quiet

Very rare, a quiet house! At least for an hour or two with H off having coffee with a friend. Not a great week so far. At least game 7 soon ... small rewards.

I started learning a new clawhammer song, and I wrote a new page in the novella. Not a total loss today.

How in hell did I ever delude myself into thinking this might be like a vacation - or a honeymoon! Talk about wishful thinking.

How I envy hermits in the desert.

It's all material yada yada.

Another rough morning

Etc etc etc.

I think day's with doctor appointments are easier for her ... a focus for the day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rough morning

H had both physical and mental issues this morning, lots of grief.

Better now, she's out for coffee with a friend.

I remain perpetually exhausted. Had ambitious morning plans, ukulele and writing, but not today, it turns out. Maybe tomorrow.

At least it's a slow week.

Will KC push it to game 7?

posted from Bloggeroid

Monday, October 27, 2014


My pre-order of Kindle edition of the collected plays book with Mahagonny and 3 Penny Opera scheduled to be delivered on Thursday. Eagerly awaited!
posted from Bloggeroid


Harriet's dear friend Pam stopped by, they took a long walk and Pam reiterated the hospital experiences H can't remember. Good for H to hear them from a different voice.

We got all the chores on our list done today.

posted from Bloggeroid

Medical bill$

We have great health insurance, which is the only way we will survive this financially. The crisis is a matter of timing: we had just reduced our income by five digits with my retirement (no benefits, being adjunct). Not a good time for bills to skyrocket. But on the other hand, at least I have time to be a caregiver.

And our ace in the hole is the house; selling would get us out of debt, and the primary task is to retain this balance sheet, which I see as doable as long as we don't have frills in the budget. Easy for me, hard for her. I know how to say No ... in fact, it's one of my favorite words ha ha.

All this comes to mind with today's mail, bringing almost a grand in bills.

My gas bill for trips to and from hospital in Sept ... over $200!

Well, it's all material. There's always that.

posted from Bloggeroid

The end of literacy

Just as Ezra Pound predicted over half a century ago.
In the news today:

"Amazon wants to take some of the mystery out of predicting what books will sell with its new Kindle Scout publishing program, which lets readers vote on their favourite excerpts from unreleased books to determine what does (and what doesn’t) get published. Welcome to the court to common opinion, aspiring authors."

The lowest common denominator marches on!

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Interesting to read the SF Chronicle every morning - and be rooting for KC! A tribute to Bob Trevor, my favorite teacher, who ended his career there before retiring in Honolulu. I visited both places in the 1970s and 1980s, when he passed.

After the Army, I took a Modern Poetry class from him at Pasadena City College, early 1960s, which changed my life. Later he was the first teacher to encourage me to write professionally.

He'd be rooting for KC so I am for him.

posted from Bloggeroid

Happy birthday ...

... to me. 75. A disastrous morning, sick and stressed and depressed, but I improved through the day. Ready for a very big game in the WS.

A slow week for doctors, which will help the dwindling finances.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Small pleasures

Man, I'm glad I make great iced coffee and bread. At least a part of my day won't turn into a disaster.

posted from Bloggeroid


OK, I get it

about chaos theory
about existential absurdity
about this and that
the parade of theories
trying to explain
all this mental static
in the culture

but what I don't get
is why it is so hard
to accept our tiny place
in the natural order

and why we think
we control
the natural forces
that created us

why we think
we are smarter
than a butterfly

why we think Nature
gives an owl's hoot
how much we save
by shopping at Costco

gives an owl's hoot
that our days
are numbered

posted from Bloggeroid

Navy Glee Club

Perhaps the only pre-game version of the National Anthem that doesn't make me cringe.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, October 24, 2014

KC 3-2


posted from Bloggeroid

To the Gods


Let me spend
my last few months
in peace and quiet
bothering no one
bothered by no one
with time for reflection
time for meditation
time for brooding
doing nothing
supremely well

so that my passing
is still like a star
is silent like a leaf
breath in
breath out
and finally rest

posted from Bloggeroid



T he new rapid repetitions
I n my life give new
M eaning to what
E ach moment means.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 23, 2014


A tearful morning, returning to the "Are my parents dead?" sequence. Repetition doesn't make it any easier. The opposite, in fact.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


H ow one thing happens instead of the

O ther is not always the expected

P robable outcome, which leaves me

E mpty with little comfort or security.
posted from Bloggeroid

My 1985 KC story


S ince her brain injury
A ll attempts at continuity
D eliver frustration and despair

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Looking forward to the World Series. After much thought, am rooting for KC, not SF, in honor of my late favorite teacher, Bob Trevor, who finished his career there before retiring in Honolulu, where I used to visit him in the 80s. He changed my life, really. Many of us have a teacher like that ... and I think I've passed it along to a student or two.

Visit from artist friend wore H out, she's in bed, napping in front of TV. Otherwise a pretty quiet day, and another tomorrow, before Thurs and Fri out patient visits.

We had a great talk in bed last night. But we don't get continuity from it because it gets forgotten. Frustrating.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I haven't felt this "poor"since I was a starving writer, which was considerably less stressful than now. The challenge now is not to sink so low we can't climb out of it when we sell the house. I'm used to doing "nothing" and having nothing but this will be a real life style change for her. She's used to being a world traveler. No more.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, October 19, 2014


The cliche says,
This too shall pass.

How am I doing?
Please don't ask.

posted from Bloggeroid

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heart di$ea$e $uck$

etc etc etc

posted from Bloggeroid

New mantra

Heart disease is a spendy affliction. Therefore my new daily challenge is ...

How can I get through today without spending money (except for paying bills)?

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quotation of the day

"How sad to think that nature speaks and mankind doesn't listen." --Victor Hugo, 1840

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Breath: a poem


There are moments in life
so unnatural to normal breathing
that I hold my breath
for as long as possible
with the mindless faith
that when I finally inhale
I will be revived with pure
oxygen and a new wondrous
landscape filled with beauty
that takes my breath away
and all the past difficulty
of breathing will be as forgotten
as last night's nightmare.
posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The saddest truism in the western world

Once a control freak, always a control freak.

posted from Bloggeroid

Susan Jacoby

Here is one of our best journalists, author of The Age of American Unreason, a worthy update to the Richard Hofstadter classic. And her more recent book is brilliant: Never Say Die: The Myth and Marketing of New Old Age.

This comes to mind because yesterday Harriet looked in the mirror and said, "I'm an old lady. I need peace and quiet."

A great deal of cultural and corporate bullshit goes against this notion. We worship youth. We fear death. We pretend age is a state of mind, not a biological fact. Jacoby has as finely tuned a bullshit detector as you'll find and shows the truth about aging, not a myth that self-destructs because it has no scientific basis.

I used to kid Harriet, it's time to act your age. "I'm an old lady. I need peace and quiet." It's a horrid, sadistic culture that believes there is something wrong with this.

Harriet bought into the bullshit. I never have. That's my only explanation for why she fell and not I.

America really is a very sick culture. Susan Jacoby nails it.
posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Chinese fortune cookie

Lunch after visiting the doctor ...

"This year your highest priority will be your family."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Writer to writer

From a colleague re the new novella ...

"That's a ballsy start to something there, CD. Keep it up."


With the writing pendulum so stuck in the outside-in commercial sector today (the very antithesis of half a century ago when I began), we few inside-out writers find and support one another. A number of them have been my life savers - you know who you are. I'd be in the loony bin without you.
posted from Bloggeroid

MARRIAGE, a novella

A change! I'm working on something = sanity for a writer.

MARRIAGE, a novella

Several days after the event, Robert Wilson calculated that at the very moment his wife Amanda was crashing to the sidewalk, her heart stopped, her brain deprived of oxygen, he was at the travel agent booking his flight to Tucson, an exploratory visit prior to moving there alone. He hadn't told her his plans yet but didn't expect her to be surprised. It was she, after all, who had told him some months ago, at the end of one of his tirades against the gentrification of Portland, which had been as close to an ideal city as he could imagine in the 1980s, that if he disliked Portland so much, maybe he should move. He was astounded to hear this – from his wife! But it got him brooding about the possibility of moving away alone and redefining their marriage as a two-household arrangement. Maybe she could spend winters with him in Tucson, and he could return to Portland to spend summers with her. What he knew was that his wife seldom was home, and he could spend time without her in warm Tucson sunshine more happily than in gentrified, damp,and wet Portland, a city filled with ghosts from the 1980s,

Etc etc etc

I guess the plan is to be exhausted for the next 6 mos ... nobody can help except H herself by being, well, not herself and getting mellow and uninterested in controlling everything. Tomorrow, maybe our regular doctor can get to her - but she will quickly forget. How do you make progress when you start over every ten minutes?

Act 1 ... harriet rehab

Act 2 ... sell the house

Act 3 ... ME

So I have something to look forward to.

Act 1 could be a lot of fun if H could get her mind around a six month vacation. Otherwise she is her own worst enemy, I have to act like a cop or say fuck it, and fun is hard to come by.

I am not writing in this blog again until something changes.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Beautiful bread

Caraway rye, perhaps my best ... now I am baking dog treats, talk about spoiled ... a visitor due st 2 but if H is sleeping, I'll reschedule.

Stsrt the official program tomorrow, with the schedule they sent home with us.


posted from Bloggeroid


H napping ... need one myself ... baking instead.

posted from Bloggeroid

On the need to DO something

H has a very strong need to do things and silence, meditation, reflection do not count. Is this a Jewish tradition? It's very American blue collar, I know ... the basis of the culture's long tradition of anti-intellectualism (Hofstadter wrote brilliantly on this). Anyway, this morning she looks at yesterday as a waste because she didn't DO anything when, in my view, it was by far the best day of her rehab and the best day we've had in our marriage in years. Ah, me. 

Pam coming over this morn to relieve me so I can do some shopping. Made a list of things she asks for and we don't have.

I'm good. I am very patient with the zillions of repetitions. I get impatient at a different level, the need to be at meetings, in charge, the leader, not missing out on anything. She has a great day in rehab, yesterday, but thinks of it today as a day of boring do nothing failure. Very interesting indeed. Somebody Jewish has to tell me about the work ethic in this tradition.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


May be the best evening I ever spent with Harriet. I want to do it again when she remembers.

LATER. A great night!
posted from Bloggeroid


H still in bed ... both our laundries done ... a nice dinner keeping warm in the oven ... everything under control ... and I feel great, even a tad rested for the first time, because I feel I have control over my future.

Hope H can feel up to a Sunday drive tomorrow. Maybe even a picnic.

posted from Bloggeroid

Pond House opening

A few months ago H had a solo show at the Pond House. The head guy retutned the paintings today, which are now all over the place ... usually stored in attic. I made a video of opening ... she has no memory of it. (Sold 4 paintings).

Progress = "Isn't it interesting I have no memory of the show."

Yes, it sure is.

I am good. I figured out how I can get through this. I get my time later.

posted from Bloggeroid


My best approach ... this all is part of the Human Comedy ... keep her smiling and seeing beyond the moment much as possible ...

posted from Bloggeroid

What I learned

For me, the world has become vibrant. It's like I am on a mild dose of acid 24/7. Everything is more intense.

There is no reason to be unhappy for one moment when any circumstances can be changed. Life is too short to coast through. Seize the day. Do what you need to do.

posted from Bloggeroid

Corporate medicine

So Kaiser sends H a survey about her recent care at Sunnyside. She can't remember being there. She was out of it anyway. How can she fill out a survey?

But she must - to get a free gift!

"listen theres a hell of a good universe next door
lets go!"
e. e. cummings

posted from Bloggeroid

An unrecommended diet

I've lost 15 lbs since Sept 16.

posted from Bloggeroid

Preparing a R.I.P.

Brooding about how to end and archive this blog. Too much self-censorship going on. Not a healthy style for me. I'm one of those artists who suffer from social graces deprivation.

Some time ago I started a private blog called The Final Act. I figured my friend, colleague and publisher TS could publish it posthumously. I haven't used it much but the time may be near to use it exclusively. Harriet can start reporting on her own recovery, and I can quit biting my tongue.

Strikes me as the best alternative now but I'm not all the way there yet.

posted from Bloggeroid

Crossed fingers

A good morning so far ...

posted from Bloggeroid

The end of public blogging?

I am considering ending my public retirement blog, archiving it, and for the rest of my days blog posthumously, privately, at another blog I have. I have been blogging a long time, almost from the beginning of the interface. It's natural to me because I respond to everything in writing. That's what writers do. In the beginning, I thought of it as an educational tool for my students. I enjoyed reading the journals and letters of writers, here was a new public way to let writing students into the working mind of a working writer. So I began.

Along the way, however, as blogging became more popular, I saw disadvantages. It began when the chair of the English Dept called me in. A student had complained about my blog. I had written that my current class was slower in getting an important concept than other classes, I had to tweak my syllabus to give them more time. The student was outraged to be called slower than other classes. The chair suggested I stop blogging about my current class.

Nothing outrages me more than censorship and the suggestion of self-censorship. But I went along with it, biting my tongue, because I was old and tired and wanted to keep my job. I hated myself for doing this.

I have never felt more urges of self-censorship than during this recent health crisis. I don't even want to get into it except to say, during my own long recovery from alcohol abuse, a major lesson I learned was not to bang my head against the wall in useless battles. Walk away. It's like the Lew Welch poem at the top of this blog: maybe a small part of it will die if I'm not around feeding it any more.

I think public blogging was run its course with me. In a private blog, published by a friend posthumously, I can say whatever the hell I want about anything or anyone I want without inviting a useless discussion or debate. Opinions are opinions. I am not trying to change anyone's mind. I am trying to understand my own thoughts and why I embrace some and reject others. I am not interested in how you think, I am interested in how I think.

I have become very excited about the short fiction that will come from all this. I think it will be titled, simply, MARRIAGE. My work usually has dark endings, and I suspect this one will as well. No, there is an exception! When my marriage to the woman I thought was my soul mate ended when she came out as a lesbian, my real life response was typical of an ignorant male at the time, the 1970s. Since then, I have reenacted the end in fiction, first in my play THE HALF-LIFE CONSPIRACY, written ten years after the fact. In the play, it is the same breakup but now the ex husband helps the ex wife break up with the very woman she left him for ... he becomes a true friend helping her through a difficult time. Fantasy, wouldn't it have been nice if this is what had happened. So my endings are not always dark.

This ending, of MARRIAGE, is not clear to me, dramatically (or personally, for that matter). No matter at this point. This story will take a year or more to write because it is very complex and layered, and yet will be written very simply, and nothing is harder than to communicate complexity in an elegant simple style that looks like it's just a natural off the top discourse. But that's usually the goal in my work. Misleading simplicity, I suppose you could call it.

I still feel like an alien on the wrong planet but I am glad I have "a job" to do now because it keeps me focused and if I can pull it off, I can return a great favor that Harriet did for me over 20 years ago. She is a fantastic woman and deserves as much brain power back as she can manage herself to get. But no one can get it back for her. She has to it herself. We can guide her, cheer her on, reprimand her, but her life is her own. She will make of it what she will. 

So ... how do I convince her how much FUN we can have because she doesn't have to go to any meetings for some months ahead?

If I end this blog, there will be a final R.I.P. post and the blog will remain online, like the earlier one that led to this, archived. At the moment I feel this is a real possibility.

The challenge

I can get Harriet into an understanding of the challenge ahead and what needs to be done to best create a brain healing environment ... but it only sticks for a few minutes and we start all over again. Her desire, on the surface, is to jump right back into her busy life. She thinks she missed old meetings BEFORE her heart attack because she can't remember being at them and so wants to reschedule them (!!!) and it's a chore to get her to understand she is not going to any meetings for a while, nor being in crowds, nor doing anything that activates her brain too much. It's like throwing a pass with an injured wrist ... you do that, it won't heal. You have to rest injured parts of the anatomy, including the brain. How do you get Harriet to rest her brain?

We had a good talk this morning, got her in a good place, she understands, and she went back to sleep. But I would not be surprised if the first thing she says when she wakes up is, Do I have any meetings today? and we start all over again. 

I am curious how long my own patience will last. I have not yet succeeded into turning this into a vacation or a honeymoon, to make not going to meetings FUN for her, but I'll keep trying. My fantasy was that this would be good for us and our marriage, forcing us to be together more, but this, too, is a challenge because apparently "staying at home" is not a strong concept with her. She may be the only person I know who doesn't embrace the opportunity of having a six month vacation.

I am staying sane by remembering a bigger picture. This is just after the first intermission of Act One of a long, heavy drama. Act One: Harriet's Rehab   Act Two: Selling the House   Act Three: Charles Addresses His Needs.

Acts one and two are pretty much outlined. Act three, of course, follows from what happens in acts one and two. I see all areas of the spectrum as possible at this point. But I am not a martyr and when my services as caretaker are done and the house is sold, I am going to do what is best for me, not for her ... and I have no idea whether or not there will be an "us" then. It is hard to get a sense of "us" with someone you seldom spend time with. It feels like a concept, not a living environment.

So ... anything can happen! I haven't given up on the honeymoon idea yet and even got a smile out of her about it this morning. But she won't remember. She'll worry she forgot some meeting she has to attend. I have no idea how to change her priorities. Maybe I shouldn't even try. It's her life and if she wants to spend it going to meetings, who the hell am I to try and stop her?


Another day, another dollar

Let's try this one more time ...

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, October 10, 2014

Home front

H watching one of her cop shows ... earlier was into her calendar, thinking she would keep various appts ... nooooooo ... but the old stressed busy Harriet is still there, which is the worst mental environment for her. I don't think this will be easy for her. Maybe she's her own worst enemy.

posted from Bloggeroid

Waiting for meds

Nine meds to fill for Harriet. Day and night, 7 in morn, 5 night.

No bill at discharge. Not a dime asked for yet.

Rough homecoming. Sleeping with Pam watching her.

posted from Bloggeroid

Home sweet home

Doesn't recognize anything ... car, house , dog ... then had an inladylike accident ... here we go ..

posted from Bloggeroid


In her conspiracy mode ... "Get me out of this nut house!" ... first thing tbis morn but got her grounded in 10 mins or so, I left her as a patient and greeted her now before cognitive therapy as a patient. She is all packed up and ready. Out at 1130. Curio$$$ity etc ...

posted from Bloggeroid

Today is the day

Lots of sleep, still exhausted. But it is discharge day! I hope they send us home with a few days of meds so I don't have to immediately rush out and get prescriptions filled ... she takes 7 pills and they might be spendy. We shall see! I also am very very curious about what kind of a copay bill I get when we check out. I think our insurance has a grand max but I may be wrong about that. Pam will be there, so we'll have help and she can watch Harriet if I have to run off to get meds or whatever. Have our lunch and dinner and tomorrow's breakfast planned, that's as far as I've thought ahead. I hope the art table is acceptable, at least until tomorrow or Sunday when Karen can come over and help get it right if it isn't.

I'm surprised at how few people have signed up to visit Harriet. I think they stopped reading the blog. But right now, it's the only way to visit.
If Harriet asks for specific people, I will call them. She is very, very excited about getting a mid month visit from two old friends with whom she was scheduled to take a traditional trip. They are using part of the trip to come down and visit her.

So yet another new stage begins. I have no idea, but will before the morning is out, how much class/rehab work I am supposed to do with Harriet on a daily basis. I know they are giving me a schedule. I know they are giving me "exercises" to conduct. I know there is out patient care, but at Kaiser, not Rio. But if we are talking daily or a few hours a week, I have no idea. It doesn't really matter. In a way, I prefer daily, just for the rigor of it. 

Here I am yawning away after 8 solid hours of sleep. I really hope I get to feel RESTED again in my lifetime.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harriet's new upstairs art table

Thank you, Karen!

This really sucks

Folks coming over at 1 to help me put finishing touches on bathroom and art table ... and I can barely keep my eyes open despite sleeping for 12 hours last night! When does this nightmare end?

This is so weird

I had 14 consecutive hours of rest yesterday, 12 in sleep ... and I feel exhausted!

Thanks to the blog supporters

Now that I'm quitting writing in the other blog, I am getting email from folks telling me how much they appreciate it. Good! Glad to help. However, knowing what I know now, I wouldn't do it again in a zillion years, the unnecessary stress and (IMHO) bullshit is not worth it. I learned long ago that some battles are useless to fight. This is one of them.

I really hope Harriet uses it to share some of the amazing experiences, what the neuro guy calls "imaginary memory," she has had.

But for those who appreciated it, thanks so much.

No more dumb ideas

I hope keeping a recovery blog is the last dumb idea I have this year but it probably won't be.

Morning visit

Harriet the patient, all the way! Very hopeful. Doc reminded her to let me do all the finances for a while and she rolled her eyes. But I got her to understand why it's a good idea she do her art upstairs for a while, not down in the studio ... played on her sympathies, I have to be with her 24/7 and it makes it easier for me! She understood that, when yesterday she was having a fit because she thought people were telling her how to do her art.

14 hours!

 Finally starting the day ... 14 hours after I crashed.

Momentary lapse

Instead of a blog, should just have sent photos and video to the family.

I forgot what planet I live on. I forgot what culture I live in. I forgot some primary lessons in Ezra Pound's THE ABC OF READING, which predicts the negative aspects of keeping the blog.

Sometimes I am so dumb I can't believe it.


Yesterday home at 4 ... baked bread ... to bed at 430!!! ... 11 hrs rest. Onward.

I'm done

Yep, I've decided I am done writing in the recovery blog. The only thing I will do is add video, if Harriet is up to talking about it, and I'll show her how to add posts herself.

I have very mixed feelings about doing it at all, frankly. I don't need the hassles it caused.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Harriet's challenge

Yesterday's great news is dependent on Harriet doing her program. Frankly, I'm not sure she can do this very easily. I am a Zen existentialist, which means I believe individuals are free and responsible -- even to fuck up their own lives. 

I will communicate to Harriet my understanding of what the doctors tell me is the best mental environment for her recovery of memory. But I will not force her to do anything. I can keep the external environment safe, to an extent, but if she wants to drive a car without a license and grabs a key and takes off, I will yell at her but I will not physically stop her. 

I believe we all have the cosmic right to act in our own worst interests. Some of you think I am a cop but actually I am quite the opposite. I believe in individual freedom -- so much so that I think people have the RIGHT to commit suicide and I would like to see the Oregon Death with Dignity Act expanded to include anyone, regardless of health, over a certain old age. You are 80 and have had enough? No problem, we will help you so you don't have to blow your brains out.

Yesterday I saw a bit of the old spunk in Harriet, which actually can work against her own best interests right now. I will tell her that. But I will not lock her up in the house. It is her life. If she wants to go through life with 50% memory instead of 90% because she does not maximize her mental environment for recovery, that is her business. I will tell her and I'm sure the out patient doctors will tell her what she needs to do. 

The car driving issue came up again yesterday. She doesn't like this one bit. Understandable. But it can be reversed, IF AND ONLY IF she recovers enough. But if her independence streak takes hold, and she decides to drive anyway, well, bon voyage. 

One thing I have learned from this is how precious and special and vibrant and electric simple life is ... and it is a waste of time to sit around being unhappy about anything. I was unhappy about certain things, and one way or another, those things are going to change in the long run. First things first: help recovery; sell the house.


And now this ...

I have been accused of holding Harriet's friends in contempt. Whoever thinks that needs to go back to a Reading Comprehension class. I have said that the actions of a few have really upset me and that the actions of others have been generously supportive. 

Yes, I freaked out over a card Harriet received, but the one and only reason I freaked out was because Harriet herself freaked out. My concern is Harriet's welfare, period. I don't give a rat's ass about much else right now. 

I only know what the doctors tell me ... I am not a brain doctor. When the doctors tell me something different, I report it, as I did earlier with the new info about visiting her at home. I already said, in detail, that I think the hospital needs to be clearer about rules for visiting and that some of the confusion was not the fault of friends but of the hospital. However, the particular card, which was in itself loving, as I stated, was far too complex and convoluted and rhetorically sophisticated for Harriet to deal with it. "Why is she telling me this?" Harriet asked. I didn't say so, but my answer would be, She is telling you this because she thinks you are sitting there wondering why she is not visiting, when she would be there every day if permitted. 

Well, in truth, Harriet never once mentioned this friend, who probably is in the short term memory bank that is damaged. Harriet worried about her best friend in high school, her family, three friends from the 1970s ... but recent stuff is temporarily forgotten. This card totally upset and freaked out Harriet, and I freaked out in response. Sorry about that. I can be an emotional guy.

But many more friends have been explicitly supportive of me than the opposite. I thought I had made that clear.

I don't hold anyone in contempt, not even the one who freaked Harriet out. It was a love letter, for God's sake! But it was too complicated. Harriet had forgotten the beginning of it by the time she got to the end of it, and what she worried about was, Why is she telling me this? and Doesn't she like me any more? I didn't put the friend down to Harriet. I said she loves you but is very bad at communicating it and would have flunked my writing class at PSU, which turned the emotional disastrous moment into humor, Harriet smiling, and we went on from there. 

I shouldn't have written anything about it in the blog. I shouldn't even be writing the blog for the minority crap I get form it. I did for relatives back east, first and foremost.

Look, this is so common a problem that the doctors said, a great challenge will be managing well meaning friends. This is a typical conflict. I also wrote that if it is, the hospital should figure out a better way to deal with it and communicate the realities of brain damage.

I will be absolutely and totally delighted when I can return to my life of silence and meditation and not have to communicate anything to anyone about Harriet's health, because it won't be an issue. Until then, you have to put up with me.

And this is about as charitable as I am capable of ha ha.

"Doing nothing, if properly understood, is the supreme action." Norman O. Brown.

Productive morning!

Really got a lot done this morning ... our friend at Tyler's auto, Margaret, got me out of there in thirty minutes, which really helped. Did a very productive shopping, incl a Welcome Home balloon ... things to eat heart healthy for a few days etc ... will go in in an hour or so.

Which of the three Harriets will I find? The victim of a vast medical conspiracy ... the upset and bewildered woman faced with input, usually written, that she cannot make sense of ... or the amnesia patient, knowing she is in rehab to get well?

One never knows.

Coffee shop

Getting the car srrviced ... down the way, having coffee and trying to stay awake. Happy how I left her, hope I find her the same way later for a change.

A touching moment this morning...she wanted me to get in bed with her. Not big enough for that but we managed to cuddle and have a good cry together.

Need to buy groceries today or tomorrow, bake bread ... get my chef act together.

After car, take Sketch for his run, see how I feel after that. A nap would be nice. Dream on.
posted from Bloggeroid

Why Portland sucks

So I am cruising slowly along the milk route to the hospital in the dark before six in the morning. A bicyclist runs a red light and I almost soak his $500 designer bicycle outfit in his own blood. And so naturally he gives me the finger.

This, to me, is a very typical Portland citizen today. Young, rich, with the aggressive moral authority of someone who believes that, because they ride a bike and don't pollute the earth, traffic laws do not apply to them.

This is a far, far cry from 1984, when I was showing my NY agent around NW Portland and she told me, "Charles, this is just the way Greenwich Village used to be. Hope it never changes."



Left before 6 a.m. ... day began with her thinking she is a prisoner who never eats, never does anyhing, never talks to anyone, and can't trust anyone, including me ... I talked her back to reality and she is better now ... a very busy day, 9 therapy sessions ("I never do anything") ... I have to leave after breakfast, VERY busy day ... maybe back at fourish ...

What a journey. May we have a day without surprises and setbacks.

posted from Bloggeroid

Need more sleep

Got a few hours but not as much as I need ... up to do busy work, rather than lie awake in bed. Was greeted by a very supportive email from one of Harriet's friends ... despite my rant yesterday, most of her friends are great, they either support me explicitly or they stay out of the way until later, when the situation improves. And the ones who screw up obviously love her but just don't get it.

With that card, I think part of the problem was that it was so long, by the time H got to the end, she couldn't remember what was said in the beginning. It was really a very sweet love letter to an adult mind. But H not only has short term memory loss but can't make connections. Her two questions, after asking me to explain this card to her, it had upset her very much, were ...

why is she telling me these things?
doesn't she like me any more?

I said, she loves you but she's a terrible writer. Lucky she wasn't in my class at PSU, I would have flunked her. A smile! And we could move on to other things. But I was not there when she got the card, she had been upset about it for an hour or so before I got there to see her in a terrible state.

All this breaks all of our hearts. But she can get better if she can stay out of the "psychic drain" that she felt at the end of yesterday. And when she is home, Pam and I can protect her from surprises because we'll be with her 24/7. 

But the hospital, too, could do a better job. They need a clear, simple brochure to give to anyone who wants to visit a brain injured patient. Also, they need better coordination. In the beginning, a nurse told me, only one or two visitors at a time, and her doctor was there and intervened and said, No, no visitors until further notice. I have yet to get further notice. But the one or two is standard, so the computer downstairs says that! If you come to the desk and say you want to visit Harriet, there is no problem. That should have been flagged, the computer should have updated the rules that the doctor changed. How the hell is a friend to know if the front desk says, ok, only one or two at a time and gives them the room number? You can't blame a friend for what really is a hospital mistake, or lack of coordination.

I really will embrace being in control so that kind of shit will not happen.

One of the first things I was told when they learned I was the husband, I would be the primary caregiver, was this: managing her friends will be a great challenge. Well, they nailed that! But again, okay, if this is a great challenge, in case after case, why don't you do something to make it less of a challenge, why don't you do something to educate friends better so they won't make mistakes out of love?

Hope I can get a few more hours sleep before I go to the hospital. I have to leave after breakfast, I have very full days today and tomorrow with out of hospital chores, things I can't pass on to someone else.

A new day. Clean slate, yesterday was yesterday, let's do better today.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


A bit of distraction before a pill and bed. No baking bread tonight, given the extra trip. What a day ... no more like this, thank you very much. I can't wait until she is home, and she wants it so damn bad. Come on, Friday!

posted from Bloggeroid

Total exhaustion

Somehow I am going to try and get in by 630 tomorrow, so she doesn't have to be alone. So much to do between now and Friday. I really didn't need this third trip to the hospital today but am glad I did it. 
I get really pissed that so much bad stuff could be avoided with a little basic common sense from people.

Well, I already did that rant. I need to grab some sleep and get back to her.

More about friends

Sketch and I went for a cruise and I've calmed down. If you had seen the pain and confusion in Harriet's face trying to understand this card a friend sent her, you'd be very upset, too. She has enough challenges without that. She didn't understand what the card meant, why the person had written it ("Doesn't she like me any more?", which is the opposite of what it said!! which is rather the point here, folks.)

The irony, of course, is that the card is so loving. But it also is self-serving. It says, *I* am not there every day because etc. Well, guess what? Harriet has not asked about this friend once. She hasn't asked about anybody from church or the art world or any of her current groups once, at least not in my presence. She has asked about family. She has asked about three old friends she has had since the 1970s. She doesn't have mental time for the rest, I guess.

She has brain damage. We get down to basics here. See spot run. The therapist gets on my case for being too complicated, and I know what is going on. Don't make her try to understand something.

Zero sum universe

This has been my best day and worst day, except for the first three. 

Best, seeing her body language first thing in the morning. 

Worst, seeing her frustration and confusion trying to figure out a card from a friend that was full of language and rhetoric and explanation, causing major distress in Harriet. 

I have enough fucking worries without having to police her friends. Jesus.

Trying to get it together

Some of Harriet's friends piss me off so much I can't see straight. I don't know what the hell they think they are doing. Do they think the doctors are quacks? Are they trying to justify some need in themselves? Why would you do things not in the best interests of a brain injured friend you claim to give a shit about? Ignorance, right, but how many fucking times do we have to say, NOTHING COMPLICATED, and then you end up with a Socratic argument about why the fuck you are not seeing her every day, full of rhetoric and explanation. I hope I don't see this particular person for about five years. I considered her a friend, too. 

People don't get it!!!

A well meaning friend sent a card explaining WHY she wasn't visiting, and it just confused and upset Harriet and created the very mental environment we are working to avoid. THE LADY HAS BRAIN DAMAGE. QUIT TAXING HER BRAIN!!!

posted from Bloggeroid

Gathering my wits

Think I have the stink gone, garbage can drying in the sun ... clothes in drier ... mortgage payment got posted, temporary relief from financial stress ... and I have my own, my own!, iced coffee at side, which I have not had time to do for a few days ... I brew my own in the refrig overnight in a French press, Pete's House Blend, and it is the best iced coffee in the universe ... tonight I will bake bread!! another routine chore I have not had time to do ... I am a home brewed coffee, home baked bread kind of guy ha ha ... still high from seeing Harriet looking like a patient, not a lost soul.

It is only 1030! I don't have to leave until one. When the laundry is dry, I'll take Sketch for a run before I leave.

Oh, H asked this morning, for the second time, if we could get a kitten. She wants something soft and cuddly to pet. Not sure how Sketch would like a kitten! A stuffed toy? There's a new Harriet, an old lady petting a stuffed toy!?!  Well, she may forget this by the time we get home.

Man, I am glad the weather is good, makes certain chores a hell of a lot easier.

Soooo ... will H be the patient or the lost soul tomorrow? I'd love to see the patient with consistency, that would mean she is on her way back. Pam pointed out that it's good I see her so often because I notice differences that others would not see. Her memory wasn't great this morning, a stranger would not be impressed. But I was blown away! This was an entirely new Harriet, a PATIENT, not a lost soul, someone AWARE she had a problem and INTERESTED IN fixing it. Gigantic progress. Now ... will it stick?

I will report on the meeting and no doubt Pam will as well. Until then ...

The mystery deepens

Pam did NOT take down the family photos. Our guess is that Harriet did herself. I know yesterday she wanted me to start packing to get her out of there ... too early for that but I started taking dirty clothes and not bringing them back ... but we think the best guess is that she took them down. Now the question is, where did she put them? I didn't see them in the dirty laundry I just dumped in the washer. They must be there somewhere. I am not the best finder in the world, or at least I typically cannot find something that Harriet then finds in ten seconds. We'll look for them this afternoon.

And here I suggested Pam forgot to tell me ... my bad! Sorry, Pam.

If I were Harriet, where would I put the family photos? 

Chores, chores!

An encouraging breakfast with Harriet, details at other blog. One stressful item ... her family photos are gone ... probably Pam took them down for some reason and didn't tell me, hiss boo!! ... or there is a thief in the hospital.

Anyway, before going back for the big meeting, doing laundry and mainly FINALLY getting to cleaning a very stinky outdoor garbage can that has been making me sick to pass it.


Brooding, old school

Ah, the juices are back and I'm brooding about new work. The story for which I have a first line. H's new sensitivity to heat/cold suggests interesting dramatic possibilities.

In the story, the woman goes down as the guy is across town, preparing a move to Tucson because he hates how Portland has changed. They will live apart: hopefully she will spend winters with him in Tucson, and he will spend summers with her in Portland. He does not want a divorce, he wants a more sane existence. Then the event ... and he feels guilty as hell.

The roles reverse. He finds all her friends in Portland are a great help and relief to him during a long rehab ... and she hates the Portland winter so much she wants to move to Arizona! So now he wants to stay, and SHE wants to move ... and the story is about this swinging pendulum, how marriage is an unending series of compromises and adapting to changes.

At least that's the rough notion so far. The beautiful thing about writing is that, if it is going well, the characters really do become "real" and they lead you, not the other way around, and you end up feeling like a secretary ... during the creation stage. In the polish stage, which really separates the girls from the women, more left brain manipulation happens to give it shape.

The most important book I ever had in a creative writing class was when I took an exploratory class after the army ... we used a collection of short stories by all the American heavy weights and the book had both the FIRST DRAFT and the FINAL DRAFT of a story ... and it was absolutely amazing to me how bad the drafts were! Steinbeck, Faulkner, Hemingway, they were all TERRIBLE on the first try of a story ... and that's when I turned on to writing, because it wasn't inspiration or a gift or any of that, it was actual hard work, starting with a piece of shit and turning it into something beautiful. It was perspiration, not inspiration. And the key was REWRITING, CHANGE, FIXING, POLISHING. 

I was a published mathematician before I was a publish author and actually I find more similarities in the two endeavors than differences: math is about structure, and beauty is simplicity ... the more elegant, the least wasteful, a mathmatical proof, the more beautiful it is ... and surely that is why I am a "minimalist" writer and follow the same aesthetic. But thru high school I kept a math journal, I spent a ton of time alone, brooding over math problems. Later I would brood over story and play and screenplay construction. Not really much of a difference, it is still solitary, it is still brooding.

I wonder if Harriet ever broods? She worries but that is different. Brooding is positive, creative, FUN. 

Man, do I have a blessed life. Remarkable.

Important meeting today

What I want to happen is the doctor in charge to explain and communicate to Harriet the reasons for and importance of her new limitations, that both are reversible if she improves, and what the program is to improve ... so we get out of the conspiracy theory realm and stay in the "these wonderful people" and "simple life" realms. 

Ends up she was the treasurer of an arts organization and has the checkbook, which I haven't seen around, but then I didn't look through the clutter on the table, I just put it all in a box and put it in the basement, so I suspect it is there ... or in a file in the filing cabinet, which also is a chaotic mess. Organization is not her strong suit, at least not the kind of organization that makes things easy to find for others. When I show people her password book, they just shake their head ... it looks like a kid's doodle notebook after a decade of use. "All my passwords are in the password book." I'm sure that is true. Finding them is quite another matter.

I am a little nervous because I checked and the mortgage payment, always on the 5th, did not appear updated yesterday, but the 5th was a Sunday, maybe it is late posting ... it is supposed to be automatic. I'll check again today and if it is still screwed up tomorrow, I'll get on the phone. Finances are my greatest stress, still, not because we don't have the money but because I don't have access to it nor even to statements to know what the hell is happening. When I began to broach money with her on Sunday, I could see her starting to get upset so I changed the subject. I can ride it alone for a while if I can find out what the hell needs to be done ... but down the road, we definitely need to fix this to make it easier. The other way is fine, she already has access to my funds.

I did manage to fake the computer into sending me a new password -- shockingly, this is not that hard to do -- and looked at her retirement portfolio, which to my amateur eye looks in better shape than I was led to believe by her worrying. But she over worries about everything, which may be a contributor to her heart problem, and why she collapsed and not I. At any rate, after looking a net worth for 2012, 2013 and 2014, and how much is goes down in a year, I think she will be in her 90s before it becomes an issue, and that is spending at the current rate, which definitely could be reduced with a more simple life style. If I can get her to live the life of a Zen monk artist like me ha ha, she could have retirement funds into her 100s.

This will be an interesting time, to say the least ... how much of her old activity will she want to do after she gets better? A fantasy ... I have wanted to move into a warmer climate, like the southwest, for years, and on Sunday, on a day where the old Harriet would be complaining of the heat, she was cold ... amazing! If Portland ends up being too cold for her, as for me, maybe she will want to move ... but she would not want to leave her friends or church, so that would be a hard decision for her. But maybe that will change too ... they say to expect personality changes! She may be very different, a less social animal ... she may want to be an exotic dancer ... who the hell knows?

So it will be interesting indeed. First things first, and the next three to four months are the rehab program. Then, to quote the least sensitive nurse in the world, who said this to me after H was in a controlled coma for a day and a half and it was time to warm up the body, "Let's see if we have anything."


Good morning

Monday, October 6, 2014

Beyond exhaustion

Really struggling not to go to bed or nap now because I know then I'd be up at stranger hours that I do already and screw up a sane daily schedule. Determined to last until nine.

A very optimistic day ... from the speech therapist, and from Harriet herself, "these wonderful people" and "maybe we can have a quiet life." A far cry from the earlier conspiracy theory. But I never know what to expect the next day ... except the unexpected.

My cousin Robin must be sad the Angels crashed in 3 games. Never would have predicted that.

Maybe a short drive for a pop with Sketch, windows down, wind in the hair.

"the most who die / the more we live" cummings

Sketch with new Kindle camera

I am impressed at ease of posting this.

Perpetual exhaustion

I sleep but I don't get rested. Maybe when she comes home.

A lot done today. Have her Kindle ready but not giving it to her in the hospital, afraid she will lose or damage it. It's a gem, I think she'll like it. She can watch Laura Dern in HBO's Enlightened! free, first rate, which is why it lasted only 18 episodes ha ha ha ha. She can take photos and immediately post them. Take video. I hope she takes over her recovery blog. I think it would be good for her. 

Housekeeper here, spiffing up the place, hopefully I can't destroy too much in the next four days ha ha. 

Feel good about getting that first sentence of a new story based on all this ... it sets the right parameters. 

I am so glad I remember I have a private, posthumous blog! I absolutely hate self-censorship, which I sometimes do if I know something will piss somebody off. This way I can say what I want to say and hopefully all parties will be gone by the time anybody reads it. USUALLY we writers handle this by fictionalizing everything, then denying it has anything to do with anybody ha ha. I learned a lesson early in my career about letting the models for characters know they were the models -- almost lost some good friends over that! I thought I was flattering them, they thought I had insulted them. 

Have to go in for Physical Therapy and learning how to get her up from the ground, our big trouble spot on the pass. Otherwise I would take a nap. Maybe come home and nap right after.

Tomorrow I have an appt to get car serviced, something I cancelled a few weeks ago. Also need to get wheels aligned from my tiny accident.

Family meeting tomorrow. I want the Big Wheels to speak to Harriet, the Voices of Authority, and maybe convince her she is not the victim of a conspiracy.

With the right attitude, this could be such a cool couple of months! We do the few tasks we have to do, and the rest of the time we hang out like two folks on vacation, day trips hither and yon, walks, do things together at home, I mean, she even said, I think I could enjoy this, and I hope that attitude returns and sticks. She's just in a bad spot right now because she can't drive and the rest, her independence has been taken away. A therapist today told me this typically is a major reality and denial issue, especially with men.

I am optimistic. I haven't the slightest idea why ha ha, but I am.