Facebook: Relegating the Self at Will

 

 

Not to Touch the Earth2; Relegation

“Not to Touch the Earth 2: Relegation” 2012, collage by Amanda Langley

Since deleting my Fakebook, Instaham, Bumblr, MyWaste, TwLitter, and ChainedIn accounts two months ago, I am slowly resuscitating brain cells sedated in junk food technology. I have reclaimed reality: “Wow, what is this? A real, live asshole standing in front of me that I can actually punch in the nose instead of meekly ‘unfriend’? And oh, what is this? A handsome Adonis in the flesh, a man I can lick lusciously behind the ear instead of cyber-file away under a list of 1,200 other people I am too busy to see in person.” Its not hard to colonize a mind. Ask Mark “Sucker”berg.

All the cybernerds can keep their warped googly-glass world and voluntary relegation of mind, heart, and soul tucked into megabytes and phony algorithms. And I’ll keep sweeping up blank stretches of white light in the blogosphere. I’ll be unleashing my own cryptic arrowheads to scalp a few modern day “neo-savages”. But lets not keep all of this from watering our rookie vegetable gardens. Real worms still exist outside firewalls.

 

Sinead O’Connor, that Joan of Arc of music, said it and meant it best when she declared “I do not want what I haven’t got“. She is like that pesky servant of truth that slashed every single one of the Silicon Valley trolls that popped out of their cyber Hades in the early 90s, promising spun gold, power, knowledge, and new age cybernetic possibilities. Not only does the digital emperor wear no clothes, virtual reality can tell you THERE IS NO EMPEROR! But the “self” is another matter to consider.

 

Whenever I get lost with my “self”, I consider being someone “else”. Social Media can help in that game of identity reconstruction. By posting and by ingesting the pictures you choose to click on, you transition via voyeuristic will.  You make yourself believe you are something that you can become. Presto, its la cosa nostra without having to make anyone take a dirt nap, yet. You’ve coned the con of cons if you can con yourself.

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When everything seems to be compartmentalized and relegated to be regulated, I turn once more to the sanctuary of the imagination. Thankfully, science and technology can’t solve everything.

The following is a poem I wrote to undo the tie that binds.

 

For the Blessing of Absence

And so this…

where every inch of  earth has been pressed thin-

every bloody cell carved out of a woman’s darkness be pulled

by the same sterile light;

No place,

No face can claim this psychic recipe.

Where numbers have numbed every corner of reason,

such is this matrix, a lottery of emotions, tangling frontiers-

Refusing to reuse the quadrants of space faithfully packaged into

shapes of thinking.

Excite all the unicorns into conforming:

That is “science”‘

That is the room in the elephant.

The bigger the story,

the smaller the possibilities of what was or never be.

 

9/16 @ Prospect Place

 

John Trudell and Atomic Destiny

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Portals… dark and invasive, we are surrounded by them. No need to wait for the year 3000 to get sucked up in one. For the most part, these portals can warp reason and extort the essence of spirit for the same reason black holes exist in our expansive galaxy…because they can. Down, down we go, “educated” though unthinking, “caring” though unfeeling, slowly stripping away the most intrinsically human part of our core. Such is its nature, rearranging and resurfacing energy in varying forms. But every once in a while, there are “escape tunnels” dug by those who came before us to help guide us back to the soul. John Trudell was one of those relentless and brave gophers.

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Though John Trudell played roles in Hollywood, as this one in the film “Thunderheart”, he was authentic and nourishing as mother’s milk.

I’m not interested in “spiritual” personas, coolness factors, nor even how much someone has the ability to amuse me. Those are fleeting factors. What I am appreciative of is when someone has the ability and the courage to shake and wake my heart, respect my emotional intelligence, and encourage me to THINK (not just process) by reviving preconditioned/ preprogrammed thought. The Machine can only have so many wired tentacles.

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The real hunger games.

I shouldn’t find it ironic that it was through one of these portals (YouTube) that I would encounter Trudell reciting his earth incantations, illuminating ideas through interviews and lectures, and sitting quietly resifting the fertile ground that was his mind. If one is curious enough, you too can go there to discover an inner landscape that was never lost, its just waiting for your return.

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While there are several roads to lead us outside of our contemporary Babylon, like John who also wrote poetry, I am conditioned to use the vary vernacular of my “overseers”. I speak in capricious code (American English) exercising “my rights to expression” (granted though, as a child talked down to but given permission to play). Can there be beauty in brutality? Atomic energy? We are all atoms. Its time to reclaim that force. Remember warmth, remember flesh… remember the darkness in womb…remember the light. Now reach, reach…THAT IS POWER. That is love.

The following is a poem I wrote thinking about some of the most UNTHINKING but “educated” men in recorded existence: those behind the inception of the atomic bomb.

ATOMIC

Divinity sparks the flea when danger dissects a ghost;

life be the dictator— human?

What can I offer you?

Energy is my only religion.

Take my body (that is fine).

I am breathless,

senseless,

the eye of nerves.

Like love, release me

I am a simple science to explore.

Here I resume,

swift power of a pin drop—

sight split with a solar seed,

together we ignite—

moments,

in generous waves of blazing destiny.

Silence reducing the wind,

we watch blinded

as that darkest bird cries mocking,

endlessly mocking

smoke signals

from one idea bore,

nevermore.

 

12/13/15@ Prospect Place

Trumping Friendly Fire

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Oh, if only we could all have friends in high places.

Let’s exercise some liberty here -uberstyle – and carry that first amendment to the United States Constitution like a loaded weapon. Words can trump reason. Comedians and crafters of law know this. Question is…are you laughing?

Think America, think. There is a punchline.

The practicing of free speech in the streets is amusing to those that have mastered it looking down from their ivory towers. Donald Trump should know; its long been his trump card. But I wonder about those “uneducated” in the game of monopoly (the real one involving blood-money, not the board play of childhood). THE joke is getting too real.

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Donald Trump spreading some comic relief.

 

While it is no surprise my own Republican voting, conservative-extremist father is a Trumpette (he has always been one to champion the boot-in-the-face agenda, size 11), a response from one of my artist/writer friends on the Donald got the hamster spinning that sucker wheel of mine. Here is an excerpt from my friend’s written correspondence (unedited, rogue grammar/spelling is his own):

“I’m still trumping out trying to put together my top ten list of why trump will make America great again. Problem is I really like the guy. I don’t want to hurt him or do a hatchet job on him. He doesn’t really hate Mexicans. Or women, blacks, or muslims or anyone. That’s just material. Its post modern comedy. He’s got a naturally funny mind- a sort of post SNL sensibility. He’s not a “fascist” just a kind of jazz artist riffling on the idiocy and uptightness of our times. Like all comics, he sees things clearly in their fundamental existential absurdity- and this is why I trust him. Of course, he may also be a psycho…which is possibly also why I trust him. Look at all these politically correct people getting all pissy about him. They take him seriously. They don’t get the joke and have become the straight men in his skits. America has become too stupid to recognize there’s a great new comic walking amongst us. I love him.

What Trump is is one of our great stand up comedians. Like a white Richard prior. Am I the only basically sane white guy hip enough to get the joke? Nobody got pryor or lenny bruce right away either.”

Pryor and Bruce just shit fire in their graves hoping it will reach such Trump-humping. If buffoonery equates political aptitude, write my name in for the Office of Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces. I too want to kick down the doors of “political correctness”, size 7 leather boots. I too want to make America great irate again. I too want to enchant people with my insipid babel. The punchline just punched us.

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Where have all the crucifixes gone Richie??

 

The following is a poem of deflection I wrote inspired by the Trumpster’s crafty noise and absurd soundbites.

Measures in Zero

Put your faith in another personal attack. Dumb down your dog. Carry a flashlight in the daytime. Ask your mother what the purpose of sex is for. Drink better, faster. Count to zero ‘cuz you can. Eliminate waste by doing nothing (again). Look under your brain for answers. Press “YES” for liberation. Jealousy will fuck you nowhere. Health is wealth numbed of greed. Fear flags, not flagpoles. Make machines worry. Crying is for science. Distract all entertainment. Showering of any kind is hostile. Ear for an ear. Hack into “NO”. Identity intrudes. Afford empty cups…it feeds beggars. Brand tigers. Toast the bred. Wish until you have to. Gratitude has sum. Blink thoughtfully. “Right!” said head.

 

12/8/2015, © Amanda Langley-Taylor

 

 

The Art of Dying Dignified

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“Amanda” by Hank Gross, 2007 (mixed media on wood panel). Leaning on the weight of the world.

So prop me up on some Gucci bags and give me liquid diamonds to choke on; Dying is dying. Dignity is for the living. Death doesn’t resolve anything other than an eternal moment. Oh, but pain is another thing.

This November marks two straight years  of back to back chemo treatments every two weeks. Though, there have been small breaks in between lasting a week or two here and there, the treatments have washed over me as endless waves in the turbulent ocean of cancerland. The infusion cocktails have changed from time to time. By summer of this year, 2015, I was placed on an oral chemo pill (Stivarga) that nearly killed me (rash and blistering all over my body) and set my treatment back so severely, I was placed on hospice palliative care. Hospice provided an oxygen machine (at home) which I would use for the first time as needed, endless supplies of medications (Motrin, steroids, laxatives, creams, Valium, and morphine, which I never used),a nurse (weekly visits), social worker (bi weekly visits), and chaplain (as needed).  I was mobile, but struggled daily with the tightness in my chest which felt as though someone had strapped a bag of wet cement to my lungs.

For someone who has been addicted to running for over 20 yrs and was never a smoker, cancer (metastatic colon) spread throughout my lungs (and liver) was a sort of dirty ironic joke set in place by some deviant force. My last official three mile jog in May ended with yours truly spastically coughing to regain adequate oxygen intake, shocked that I have given into tears…equally out of anger and frustration and sadness. Forty-one years old…How did it come to this? Vomiting up my breakfast more out of reflux from the violent coughing than nausea, I walked the last mile home. Was I defeated? Not completely. Winning is illusion anyway.  I haven’t jogged since, though I do miss the runner’s high that comes with continuous self punishment. I now walk the miles on days that call for it. So what.

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A photographic self portrait, March 2015

 

During this hospice interlude, as difficult as it was to breathe, I pushed myself to do all the regular everyday activities I always had (grocery shopping, taking my son to school and back, laundry, cooking, yard work, etc.) Mopping the whole house was the most strenuous, causing me to sit every few seconds, gasping like a panting dog in the July heat. It raised my pulse faster and higher than any long distance jog I ever struggled to finish. At times, I would make my way to see family and friends, trying not to complain of my own difficulty breathing or chemo side effects, though suffering silently. I guess it was and is my way of trying not to remind myself of any physical discomforts because complaining didn’t help. My elevated heart rate often concerned my hospice nurse. AND this wasn’t even the beginning of all the side effects my chemo had so generously provided me with (neuropathy, lethargy, nausea, constipation, mouth blisters, dry mouth, headaches, loss of hair, loss of sleep, too much sleep…etc. etc) . No one was making me do all this physical activity, so why torture myself? Reality check: I thought about all the people (nurses, doctors, pharmacists, etc.) that have kept me alive since my 2011 diagnosis and had never complained or whined about the tiring work it takes to constantly heal people. I thought about my family members who always gave me comfort and love when I didn’t exactly give them any in return. I thought about my teenage son whom, I know, was watching my actions in my most vulnerable moments. This was a test of grace. NO, I was not going to lay down like a limp biscuit even if it killed me. Make way for the S.O.B.

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The Woman Cave: Where I keep my mini library. Books have long been healing vessels sent by literary angels.

 

By August, with the Creator’s blessings, I found my way to a new treatment, a combination of infusion and an oral chemotherapy (Xeloda). I have to give the staff at Balboa Naval Hospital of San Diego a lot of credit for the turn around. Three months of this treatment has stabilized me to the point that my need for an oxygen machine and home care nurse has ceased. I’m no longer in hospice, and I just mopped the entire house (living room , dining room, kitchen, and two bathrooms) yesterday without having to sit down to catch my breath once. While I know I am not “cured” of cancer, I am more conscious and aware of what I do and why I do it. Dying is irrelevant when you know you’re living wide awake.

So, you see, dignity is for the living: how you decide to spend your last breath. Will you die for it? I’d do it any day!

EBOOKS COMING SOON: Two Volumes of Original Art Collages

Book Launch Coming Soon!!!!

Two volumes of my original collage artwork “Danger is Great Joy: Collages Revisited, Vol.I & II” will soon be available in EBook form on Amazon.com. In each volume, I provide the odd backstories and driving inspiration behind all 30 collages. Find out how an American militia man sparked my imagination in “Behold Pale Horses” and why I want to kiss George W. Bush for indirectly creating “God Will Grant Us Better Gas Mileage”.

Danger is Great Joy Cover ReVisited

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My DNA Results: Stories Behind the Strands

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Early 20th century photo of two Mexican girls. What genetic secrets will their children’s children uncover in the 21st century?

When DNA was first explained to me, I was lead to believe such twisted little ladders were like file cabinets locked away, only accessible by some Ivy League scientist. In some respects this is still true if you are trying to find the “crazy gene” you inherited (note: that’s everyone) or the “gay gene” (note: that’s nobody). But if you are looking for a breakdown in terms of all the ethnic traces of your past in your genes, it is now readily available. Certain companies can ship DNA kits to your home and, depending on how fast you can ship your spit back to them, have the results faster than your spouse could complain about that obscure charge on the credit card. I chose to go with Ancestry.com, paid my $99, and got results via email this weekend. Here are the results:

38% Native American

27% Iberian Peninsula

15% Italy/Greece

5% Great Britain

5% African (Coastal North, Central South)

3% Finland/Northwest Russia

3% East Asia (Coastal)

3%  Middle Eastern (Non-Caucuses)

1% Eastern European Jewish

<1% Europe East

It’s VERY important to keep in mind that these are ESTIMATES and that fluctuations in data could be likely, but for the most part, they make sense to me. The evidence is in my face:

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Ancestry.com does breakdown SOME specific regions within ethnicities. For example, for Jewish heritage, it specifies the general region of my specific Hebraic bloodline (European Eastern: Poland, Belarus, Latvia). Or even for African heritage, it can specify countries: Cameroon, Mali, etc. (which I am not from but they are wonderful specifics for someone searching for more details of their Afro-roots).

Unfortunately, the saddest part I find is how they lump all Native Americans into two categories: either North American or South American. No further specifics (tribes, territories, countries) are able to be traced or specified. I don’t know if its due to lack of research in this specific field of DNA research. Or that my particular lab does not have access to that information. Or if this data is still trying to be assembled. Or maybe it’s that we’ve been so cross pollinated (aka FUCKED OVER) that researchers have quite a task to peel back this ancient onion. Who knows. I have pretty descent clues through knowing my grandparents that its most likely I come from the Southwest (Apache, Pueblos) and Northern Central Mexican tribes (Yaqui, Chichimecas etc.). Native is on both sides of my family. It’s the part of me I most wish I could have specified..but couldn’t. STUPID Western world screws us over again. Maybe I need to do more work to find these answers.

The 27% of Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal) would definitely include heritage on my mother’s side (Spanish) and Father (Spanish/ Basque).

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A photo of my mother as a teen. Spanish eyes and a Native heart.

My 15% Italy/Greece origin is a mystery to me. Most likely coming from my biological father’s side, but since he passed away in a car accident when I was 3 (both his parents also have passed on), its difficult to confirm.

The 5% African does not surprise me since I believe we are all part Nubian.  It’s nice to have some Sistah to claim.

Finland must have been a side “accident” that one of my merchant Spanish ancestors fell into at some point on their drunken voyage.

Great Britain is so close to Spain, even its fleas jump the channel to get some Iberian sunshine.

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My biological father at age 12. Is he the source of my 15% Greco/Etruscan bloodline?

The 1% Jewish is disappointing. A few months earlier, my adoptive father got his DNA results back. How I wish I could have beat his 3% Jewish stock! But I did manage to out-Native him. His Native American heritage; 0 % . Sorry dad, Cherokee was only a myth.

Some ethnicities I am definitely NOT are Irish (shocking considering how I used to drink), Polynesian (not shocking considering I hate tropical environments), and Central Asian/ India, Bangladesh (disappointing, because I love their spirituality).

All in all, I am happy with my results. I look to encourage others to do their own. And definitely am waiting for the day they can send me a test kit to track and rate my “sexy gene”. Maybe that’s not as far off as we think.

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My maternal Grandfather Jose Gutierrez Acosta on his beloved farm (Early 80’s). Much Native blood runs in this fertile soil.

Here is a poem I wrote dedicated to my maternal Grandfather Jose Gutierrez-Acosta, a man who knew how to really spread the seeds of love.

Abuelito

             to my grandfather Don Jose Gutierrez Acosta

 

He is buried in an unmarked grave;

A patch of earth he would never claim his own.
Breeder of fourteen children.

Tender of a thousand harvests

of corn,

of onions,

of garlic,

of tomatoes,

and potatoes.

A multitude of bellies fed;

And after one lifetime,

forever sleeping as a seed,

never dead.

FREE EBOOKS! ****FREE EBOOKS! ***YES!!

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To celebrate the release of my book of satirical writings “Throwing Grapes at Bravados” in EBook form and my new chapbook of poetry “The Dark Chamber“, all six of my EBooks are up for FREE (no cost) for a limited time (Sunday, May 25- Thursday, May 28) on Amazon.

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Just click on the following link to go to my Amazon Author’s Page for a listing and link to all EBooks:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00CLD9ZA0

To earn some great karma, please leave a review of my book on Amazon if you wish or email me your thoughts/ comments/ etc. at phonyphonyfun@gmail.com.

SOME NOTES BEHIND THE WRITING OF EACH NEW BOOK:

Throwing Grapes at Bravados:  Originally published in hardcopy form in 2005 (now available in EBook), it features limericks, light humorous poetry, satirical prose, and other odd verse. The title was inspired by old Loony Tunes cartoons. Many episodes involved characters acting out in ridiculous ways onstage to amuse a seated audience below. Food would be thrown at the entertainer on stage in protest for their poor performance. I thought…What a wonderful way to get a free meal!  Many of the pieces in this book came about post-reading John Lennon’s “A Spaniard in the Works”. In “Tailbone Art Surgery”, I write a letter to a plastic surgeon requesting that I be given tailbone enhancement.  In “A- Maizing Girl”, someone forced to wear a dress made out of corn finds an ingenious solution to her embarrassing dilemma. In “Tips for a Happy Marriage”, 40 suggestions are listed to include “writing love notes to one another on unpaid bills”.

The Black Chamber:  My newest chapbook featuring poetry that hacks into the dark side of the digital age, Big Brother, the industrial military complex, mass media, and “the Age of Intrusion” (as I call these times).  The title comes from the nickname given to the Cipher Bureau (the United States’ first cryptanalytic organization), a precursor to the National Security Agency. “PRISM” was the first poem written in this series. I “trip through the wires” that leave a cyber fingerprint in the modern world. In “The Invisible Hand”, I touch upon the last moments of someone beheaded by a terrorist organization. In “Conspiracy”, the question of divine intervention or sheer chance is examined, decoded and re-encoded.

Alcohol: Fun with a Loaded Gun

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What most of my 20’s looked like. Photo courtesy drunken me.

You’d think that a porky tumor in my liver may have detoured me from partaking in a few pints of beer. Or that chemotherapy biweekly for an entire year…yes, an ENTIRE YEAR filled with endless rounds of throwing up might have given me my fill of poisoning my body…that even smelling alcohol would bring about nausea. And you are right. I went a whole year without going for that fuzzy buzz. But then, like a dirty-rotten friend, it called again. To “celebrate” my making it through one whole year of chemo, I went out for a “few drinks” (4 pints of beer) to the local bar a few months back. I was alone (nowadays, I prefer it that way), yet was friendly and amicable to other fellow lost souls I met that night. I went there, head freshly shorn (one of a sea of side effects I shrug off) just as some kid that had recently graduated from some hellish boot camp. I’d gotten used to the Mad Max look on myself after my 26th chemo round. For the most part, I had a good time that night, at least, I thought.

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Me in 2005. I was buzzed when they took this picture. Not a good way to convince that cop that pulls you over that you really aren’t a drunk.

The next morning, I woke up cotton-mouthed, eyes dry and heavy… but, this was my usual chemo effects. My husband, who usually ignored my movements and activities surprised me by sternly asking  if I had any recollection of coming home the night before. Of course I did, I answered casually: drove home, unhinged the old bra, then…well, it was kinda foggy in mind after that. I noticed the bruise and rug-burn on my left elbow. No biggie…had ’em many times. Can’t be any worse than bleeding out my ass which is how I found the first cancerous tumor a few years back, I reasoned. But, then I saw my husband’s expression: a mix of frustration, concern, anger, and disappointment. Slowly, I began to recall the mood I hurled around the house the night before. RAGE, UGLY RAGE, the kind that gets high on itself as evil gets high on inflicting pain and sorrow. I thank GOD my 13 yr old son was asleep at the time (one o’clock in the morning) and didn’t see it. I’m 41 years old. At what fucking point will I grow up????

Who would have imagined that this beast would initiate my sobriety. Colon cancer tumor, 2011. Photo courtesy my doctor.

Who would have imagined that this beast would initiate my sobriety? Well, kinda. Colon cancer tumor, 2011. Photo courtesy my doctor.

People may say I’m justified. You’re going through some serious life-altering, soap opera shit right now, I can hear the sappy Freud in me say. Is that an excuse? Blame it on the barking dog, or the stressful job, or the lover who left you. BULL!!!Whatever, but lets go back in time a bit.

In my 20’s, I did the usual drinking and partying every weekend with friends, lovers, strangers, dangers. Whatever. Same old, SAMO (yawn). Wasted time, wasted money….yes my 20’s were pretty much spent wasted. During those college years, I’d do my homework in bars, drink in hand. I’d meet my boyfriends there. I’d do my “therapy” there too, I claimed. Drinking was “fun”. Drunks were “funny”. Dying was a place far away, only heroin addicts and old people went there. At one point, at age 24, I twice (accidently?) overdosed on a combination of prescription drugs (Valium and Zoloft) and alcohol when I was single and living in San Francisco. By the third time, my parents drove up to Frisco to save my sorry ass by taking me back “home” to San Diego. But I didn’t change my ways much there either. Neither of my folks drank, being practicing Christians, so I couldn’t play that trick card that says Well, I picked up the habit watching my alcoholic parents or I inherited the drink gene. WHAT A DAMN CANARD!!!!!!

Me at age ten, seated in center on right near fireplace. Not a picture perfect family, but at least my folks didn't drink or abuse me. So what's my excuse???

Me at age ten, seated in center on right near fireplace. Not a picture perfect family, but at least my folks didn’t drink or abuse me. So what’s my excuse???

In my 20’s and early 30’s, drinking was “cute”. I have family members and friends who still think this way and I know their views won’t change, sad to say. But a bloated belly, a fat liver, a DUI, a habit of hangovers, chronic depression, and fights fueled with alcohol at age 40 and older don’t look very “cute”  or “funny” anymore, do they? And that is only the beginning of what habitual drinking does. What it does to a family, that’s a whole miniseries in itself.

Fast forward to my late 30’s. After being together for ten years,  my husband and I separated. This marital purgatory lasted a long, dragged-out 3 years. I blamed our separation on his alcoholism (how it isolated him from me, how it drove me to drink…blah blah) is what I’d claim. Though this was partly true, it was a muse for an excuse to act out like I did in my 20’s. But when the reality of having stage IV cancer came to me in 2013, I needed to rebuild bridges, NOT burn them. We reconciled and are truly the closest we have ever been. But it was my concern for my spouse that got me off my pride horse. It was nights (starting a few months ago) listening to him practically choking on his vomit or acids from binging the hours before that woke me up to the darkness that comes with alcoholism. I’d shake him or try to push him over on his side to get him to clear his throat just so. He, all the while, still in a sleeping stupor, either unaware or too drunk to awaken.  In the morning, off he went to work, functioning somehow, but definitely not happy. That was me just a year before, hung over at my job. No, my spouse has never physically nor verbally abused me nor our son in his drinking spells. No DUI’s, no lost jobs, no police at our home. But watching his body change (belly), his health affected due to that evening drink to relax his nerves makes me sad, very sad, and scared as hell for him. It was the first time I actually sought AL-ANON. I knew I had to face the realities of my own struggles.

How many times did Amy Winehouse choke on her vomit during sleep before getting help? Death won't let you know.

How many times did Amy Winehouse choke on her vomit during sleep before getting help? Death won’t let us know.

I have gently informed my husband of these moments when his drinking has altered his sleep. And no, that hasn’t changed his habits, which I wasn’t surprised by. I know a person has to want to change themselves for it to happen. I leave him be. But the incidents prompted me to see how EASY our minds are twisted into thinking that we need a life with alcohol to “have fun” or “be fun” or sickly, to “function normally”. Can we remember back to when we were kids, when we could just be happy at will? When we could cry or get angry or be silly naturally? Why do we need fucking booze to be our “self”…our REAL SELF??? So I see now how a life liberated from depending on some “thing” (poison, literally) outside myself in order to feel is just that: LIBERATING. It is not a criticism nor a judgment… it is a fact. Imagine, letting yourself be. Drinking is a coward’s tool to face life and its spectrum of emotions. A pussy’s poison!! I’m done with being a coward.  I prefer to stare down reality, no matter how evil, painful, or cold…AND believe me, I have seen a lot. And I hear all the excuses that come with drinking and drugging (cultural tradition, family sanctioned, functioning alcoholism). I lived them too. Lies from non-thinking minds. The habit is like playing around with a gun and saying “I’m just having a little fun”. At some point, you’ll fire that loaded weapon without control, and god only knows where the bullets will fly. Nowadays, metaphorically, I have laid down my guns. I prefer the sober asshole in me to the excuse-filled crying, depressive drunk of my old self. If you need help, get it, its out there, even in cyberspace. Step into a life of liberation, of clear thinking, of BRAVERY, of real happiness.

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The following is a poem dedicated to my sister Pam, one of the bravest people I know, who has been living drug-free now for over a decade. I’m proud to be your sis. And, no, drinking does NOT make art…people do.

Alcohol

Good old Al‒

The fun gun at the party holding up the empty barrel to the big pussy rejecting the poison‒

His acidic eyes forever burning brightness into black.

Yeah, I’ll drink to that.

Not a holy black or

Halloween out of the trick-bag black,

more so, the absence of anything.

If only he knew.

He’s the original crash test dummy.

Calendars mark him by the day.

His truths read fiction.

People are his piñatas.

He is wanted in every state.

He’s the most interesting scam in the world.

No one expected to find him bleeding-out the laughter

to carry tradition into a sad-ass-sorry song.

Yeah right…

You know it;

The oceans of lies that flow through father to daughters

and mothers to sons.

You know the tune,

the one with bridges to cross

or jump from.

You know it.

Your other-half sang it with medicinal moderation

between loveless kisses and fake lullabies.

Oh, the muse for excuse‒

Don’t mind me, I won’t mind you,

the coward’s fuel.

It’s the season for creating

artists and avalanches and arsenals of thought,

here fermenting,

drowning proof.

Cheap, cheap,

goes the songbird.

Hear here my dear;

Do you ache to numb your ear?

That fist-shot of furry

you welcome by the dime.

Diluting the hour,

same ol’ cliché,

bitching louder,

bitching louder,

killing time.

You’ve struck the pain;

Give yourself a hand.

It comes lose for self-abuse.

Relax now,

it’s just a joke.

I saw it brewing with your name,

knocking down the judgmental ghost.

Approving, disapproving‒

both imposters just the same,

running home‒

striking out‒

crying foul‒

we play the sobering game.

And the risk is sweet,

yes,

risk is dumb-luck’s falling star,

the child’s magic marker

for an angel or a devil’s scar.

A moment to act out;

A reason to be careful with who you are.

But, can you recall that floating carpet

where feelings weren’t yet fenced-in

and happiness was a piss-warm cup you drank from?

A talisman for tasting your soul,

you suckle the danger.

Bitterly tender,

heart still heaving,

you raise the weapon and swallow it whole.

Paint Me a Poem: The Preoccupations of an Ex-President

Painting by George W. Bush. Hair by hell!

Painting by George W. Bush. Hair by hell!

What do presidents do when they get out of office? What else but paint! As I was thumbing through the pages of a recent article in Architectural Digest, I was amused to see that our ex-President George W. Bush was working the old muse.

Bush family room outside Waco, Texas. This is where all the magic happens folks.

Bush family room outside Waco, Texas. This is where all the magic happens folks.

What was more surprising is that he jump started my muse! Since I have been writing my next collection of poetry entitled “The Black Chamber”, what would be more fitting for the book than the lonely hours of an ex-President?

The master at his easel.

The master at his easel.

 

Tony Blair

Tony Blair

 

A few of GWB's paintings exhibited.

A few of GWB’s paintings exhibited.

 

 

Mr. Bush Paints

 

Just outside of Waco,

where the sun drips gold,

you’ll find still lives,

a kangaroo’s opera of “ordinary”.

Trees,

pets,

and portraits of world leaders…

the typical genres (not all half bad)

done on an easel

in the enclosed breezeway of a family room.

A fire engine of a phone at his elbow,

a Castro’s call away from plots and political proclamations

come these plein air imaginings.

Sneeze,

and the sky bends.

Laugh,

and the ocean solidifies.

Cry,

and the whole earth turns purple.

Think,

and attack the open end of a blank canvas.

The crescent moon of his mind envisioning

“a new world order”

out of vermillion hues and ultramarine blues.

The dead horsehairs of his paintbrush

shaping a house to fit into a landscape.

Layering his universes;

Contriving and controlling

as a cowhand of craft.

Minimizing fortune

in the natural frontier,

he executes with his own prosimian hand.

Maximizing his truancy of time,

expanding peace

as though it were some new design…

he stylizes simplicity as a hiccup

for tomorrow’s colorful crows.

Next month,

his pieces will be exhibited on walls

where seminary students go wandering,

contemplating all of God’s wonders,

waxing over the artistic strokes as mime.

Fear and Loathing in Chemoland

thIELBBTLJ

Chemotherapy…the art of beating up your cells ’til they sting you back like tiny jellyfish. Since my diagnosis with stage four metastatic colon cancer in November 2013, I have been the lucky recipient of this “therapy”. Nine rounds down with three more to go.

 

I got so sick of cleaning up the shower drain from all the hair I lost, I took the scissors and cut my long hair off. But why the heck didn't this chemo make hair fall out from other hidden places. UGH!

I got so sick of cleaning up the shower drain from all the hair I lost, I took the scissors and cut my long hair off. But why the heck didn’t this chemo make hair fall out from other hidden places. UGH!

Chemotherapy is everything and nothing like they tell you it is. The typical stuff happens: hair loss, bleeding gums, upset stomach, constipation, fatigue that could bring Speedy Gonzales to his knees. But then you start thinking you are a walking lab rat once your asshole is bleeding, the joints of your fingers “lock up”,  head is chemo-lagged, your hands and feet swell and “darken”, you don’t get a menstrual period anymore, brown spots ravage your face, and anything you eat or taste that is too hot, cold, acidic, spicy, or sweet around the week of treatment goes down your throat feeling as though you are a first time sword swallower. Blah blah blah, yeh, basically it sucks, for a good cause, that is. Sometimes you need the devil to cast the devil out.

Neulasta, what I shoot myself in the stomach biweekly to keep my immune system intact. Good practice of future heroin connoisseurs.

Neulasta, what I shoot myself in the stomache biweekly to keep my immune system intact. Good practice of future heroin connoisseurs.

So it’s no surprise that chemo isn’t exactly a trip to Paris.  What does boggle my mind is why infusion treatment centers (at least the one’s I have known) don’t have a more pleasurable environment while a patient is getting treated. The average treatment requires a patient to sit in a chair and wait for a cocktail of chemo to drip at a snail’s pace into your veins for hours at a time. I’ve had more entertaining moments at the DMV watching weirdos come and go in the waiting area. You could very well be on the last leg of your life, yet medical centers are hell-bent on saving some extra dollars to make chemo the misery that it is. The following are some suggestions on how to improve chemo treatment centers.

A typical boring chemo infusion center. Note the bellydancers...NOT.

A typical boring chemo infusion center. Note the bellydancers…NOT.

1) Floating Masseuse. Why not have your feet or hands massaged with cocoa butter or spring lavender oil? Better yet, why not make them floating comic masseuses? Nothing like a good laugh while someone is slipping through your toe cheese.

2) Chairs with personal television screens. This is a no brainer! Have Netflix already logged onto them. Have a DVD player and a good set of earphones. Hell, have a dancing monkey perform the Nutcracker in a cut out cardboard box for all I care. Give me something to look at other than the hairy mole on some nurse’s face.

3) Beds. Ok now, we have cancer. I think its ok to let us lay on an actual bed since treatment usually lasts hours and the medication they give us for anti-nausea makes chemo patients sleepy. If they gave my dad a bed for a minor case of a spider bite, I doubt its overkill (no pun intended) to give someone with stage four cancer a descent cot for a couple of hours. Flannel sheets please!

DON"T WAIT 'TIL AGE 50! Get a screening done anytime you see blood in your poop! Might save your life.

DON”T WAIT ‘TIL AGE 50! Get a screening done anytime you see blood in your poop! Might save your life.

4) Classes for Personal Enrichment. Not everyone will want this, but some people would think it a cool idea to spark new life into a patient. Have certain rooms of the center to gather for classes in jewelry making, beer brewing, or becoming a phony-baloney psychic.  At this point, I would even take a class on installing solar panels on a lawn mower if I can avoid all the times I  looked over at the clock.

5) A Minion. That’s right…someone to do a run for me down to Subway since treatment centers don’t feed you.  Someone to lug all my crap to my treatment chair: Books to read, snacks, writing paper and pen, laptop, thigh master, yoga pillow, lucky coonskin hat, bowling jacket since none of these things are available to you at the hospital. Someone to fill out all the insurance, hospital, and workers disability forms when starting that dive into red tape. Someone to hug. Someone to smack around. Someone who will get out of your face and not take it personally if you tell them to.  Some people would assign this role to a family member or trusted friend. I prefer to select someone anonymous to not take my shifting moods seriously…plus I prefer someone better looking!

Resourceful and quick on his feet. My minion of choice is Christiano Ronaldo.

Resourceful and quick on his feet, my minion of choice is Christiano Ronaldo.

So there you have it. Five suggestions to take chemotherapy infusions to another level of healing. Five things that will take me away from writing any more horrible limericks (as the one below), the only entertainment I seem to have at chemo treatments today.

There once was a patient quite sick

who’s treatment was that of a trick;

He paid through the nose,

before the scheme was exposed

that they had amputated his dick.