Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I'm pretty taken with this little attempt at video. Unfortunately, I held the camera in portrait position and cannot seem to turn the video. If anyone seeing this can tell me how to get this turned clockwise, I'd appreciate it!

I'll do better next time.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Want to Live Here 4

The woman’s physical resemblance to her sister helped to confirm her identity, which was good because I couldn’t have asked her for proof. She seemed to be holding herself on a very short leash.
“Who changed the god-damned locks on the god-damned door?”
“I’m Nora Cahill,” I said, extending a wary hand, which she ignored. “You must be Susan Snowe.”
“I’m Susan Suddermill. I’m going into my sister’s apartment,” she said.
“That’s ok,” I said, “I was told by the police you would pick up an outfit for the wake?” My voice squeaked. I am a wuss.
“Then let’s go,” she snapped. I followed her out the door, scurrying behind her until I realized she wasn’t getting in without me.
Although an official from the Atlanta Police Department had told me Susan was coming, I did not feel comfortable leaving her in Abigail’s apartment. But where was my power here? The unit belonged to us, but who was the tenant in this case? With the rent paid through January and a deposit that could, I suppose, reach through February, wasn’t Abigail’s family entitled to come and go?
I satisfied my conscience by loitering just outside the open front door where I was soon met by an elderly resident, Mrs. Mason, a well-preserved woman in her seventies.
“Relatives?” she asked, nodding at the door.
“She stripping the place?”
“I think she’s just picking out some clothes for the viewing.”
“She’ll take the jewelry and the liquor first.”
Really? She sighed. “Now that was a sad girl,” she said, jingling her car keys. “That bottle of vodka on her kitchen counter is mine,” she said. “I meant to get to you first because I would like it back.”
“Would you like to go in and ask her sister for it now?” I said, only half kidding.
“You get it for me,” she said. “I’ll wait here.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Find Me

If you imagine a river that divides time,
Then we can still stand
on the same side
and it will be only memory
waving a flag
from the other bank.

And innocence, of course.
Love used to be so easy.

Perhaps the river really divided us
And you are in the past
Not here digging the same garden
At the bank
That separates the pair we were,
The pair we are,
And the two who swam so full of buoyant salt.

Find me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What therapy?

I've been reading an interesting book by Chicago-based art therapist, artist and teacher, Pat Allen. (check her out at www.patballen.com). The book, Art Is a Spiritual Path isn't the easiest read as Pat likes her sentences long and listy, but I'm loving that she's taken on art making as a spiritual practice. (So much better than times on one's knees.) And I'm grateful to her for articulating a process for paying attention, i.e., go to the studio, state an intention, inquire, engage, celebrate and witness. Often, one of these elements is missing.
I have found that the best way to turn what could be a spiritual practice into a form of masturbation is to work or play without intention, or without celebration.
It's true at work. It's true in the kitchen. Last night I found myself slamming drawers and bumping into edges. It actually hurt to bang a drawer. There was no grace to my movements and, as a result, no grace to myself. Yet I was neither upset nor rushed. If I choose from the elements above, I could say I was not engaged. Does it matter? Yes. I want all my movements to be engaged movements. Full movements. I am tired of ignoring the small moments but at the same time, I don't want to make every move I make precious.
(I'm thinking here that a beautiful painting could be made of a woman working in her kitchen and a beautiful scene of a drainboard full of mixing bowls, their creamy bellies catching the light, a chipped green rim suggesting many many Christmas cookies. Precious?)
Here is an image from an early altered book. It was done without intention. I had no idea what prompted it. Still don't. It does make me laugh and I like the observant dog. I like the shameless bared breasts and the pear shape of the figure. Is everything we do a self-portrait? What if we don't recognize ourselves?

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I Want to Live Here 3

What happened next was that I lost my Christmas buzz and my buddy long before the emergency guys and cops arrived. Stephen took one, no, two looks at Abigail and slipped out of her townhouse and into his own.

"I'll be back," he promised...and I believed him.

But I was alone for that half hour and used the time to check on Abigail's vitals. Such as they were. And such as I could without knowing what to look for. In the head-swimming confusion of the next two hours, I would say "She seemed 'obviously' dead to me." Which she did. Her skin chilled and stiffening, no heart beat, nothing "there" when I felt at her throat.

I scurried around looking for a hand mirror without finding one. Instead, I picked up a framed photo of her sitting at a table for two on a dockside cafe, the photographer's shadow rippling across her legs, positioned it near her mouth, and searched for signs of breath. Nada.

In my anxiety (was it a half hour to wait or was it even longer?) I ran water into a glass in the kitchen, noticing as I did, an open bottle of vodka on the counter and a sludge of cut limes in the sink.

Had Arborgate's own Miss Lonelyhearts, drunk herself to death?

Holding the glass to her lips with my right hand, (my left cradling her head) I spotted a new bruise just above her forehead, disguised by the long bangs. She must have fallen. Laying her back down, I returned the glass to the kitchen, washed, dried and put it away. As if that segment of the evening hadn't happened.

I wanted to run across the street to my office and search out her next-of-kin, though I believed this would prove to be her ex-husband, a man she'd complained about just a few days earlier. But of course I couldn't leave her and Stephen was still next door, presumably occupied with securing his rather large stash.

The police officer who finally wrote down my answers to his patient questions was from up north and not much older than me. The EMTs were older, but very sweet and acted like maybe I needed to drink sweet tea and get warm. I was, they told me, probably in shock. I didn't think so but when my eye balls started shifting left to right and my teeth began to chatter, they sat me down and pushed my head between my knees. So, I guess they could see a faint coming.

Nancy and Stephen knocked on the open front door with offers of coffee and we repeated an account of the evening and the events leading up to my seeing Abigail's open door.

"Do you normally check on doors here?" asked Officer Landers.
"I check on things," I said. "I check that things are all ok...the dumpsters are closed properly, that there's no garbage tossed around, which there almost never is except when people move out. Then the places gets a little messy. Or, you know, after a storm. If someone's door is open and it's late, yeah, that's not ok, so I check it out."
"Isn't that dangerous?"
"I never thought it was. Maybe because Stephen was with me or... I don't know, it seemed like the right thing to do."
He nodded. It was the right thing to do. It was my job.
"We always liked it that you guys were around all the time," said Nancy. "That you and Judith and Tim live here."
"It's a community," said Stephen. God, they both worked for ad agencies. Could you tell?

Once the EMTs hustled Abigail's body out the front door, dinging the molding with their gurney, the officer asked me to lock up. We took a look at the still open sliding glass door, checking that it was not broken. It was fine.

"I guess she wanted some air," I said. "I wonder when she fell."

"Did she fall?" asked Stephen.

"It looks that way," said Landers, rubbing his forehead where Abigail had injured herself. "She's got a bruise right about here."

We each looked around, silently inventorying the rooms for dangerous edges. When I pointed to the glass-topped dining room table, Landers nodded.

"Tripped, maybe. Banged her head. She could walk around with a head injury like that for hours before passing out."

"Subdoral hematoma," said Nancy.

"Where'd you learn that?"

"It happened to my cousin when he was driving his car. Got in a fender bender, hit his head on the steering wheel. They found him dead in his living room two days later."

"He didn't go to the doctor?"

"He'd complained of a headache but that was all."

I wondered if Abigail had complained of a headache and, if so, to whom?

"You'll probably see her husband in the morning," said Landers.

But the next day, a woman declaring herself to be Abigail's sister was pounding on the office door at 9 a.m., demanding to be given keys to the townhouse.

Twists of Fate

In my last post, I kidded about the drive-by my sister-in-law and I took with the Knuckle. We wanted to interest her in moving to a nice independent and assisted living place in Clearwater, much closer than where she's living now.

Little did we know that less than a week later, she would slide from her bed while dressing and, unable to rise, lay in a tangle for two days! Thank G-d her pal came on Friday to pick her up for lunch. Instead, she picked her up for a trip to the ER.

The knuckle is not going to be living alone much longer. After the hospital (she's doing nicely) and some rehab, we're going back to clearwater.
what a scare!

So, boomers, let's all promise to pick exactly the right moment to move from our own houses to ALFs. and good luck to all of us that we can see it coming.