Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I have always had a strange and inexplicable fascination with the phrase, "Backwards and forwards." I picked it up from a novel in high school and it struck a nerve in me. Maybe it hit upon an unnatural repression that grew from the more visually hurtful things of my early years, maybe it just hit upon my artistic vein. Part of me thinks that this obsession is the basis of most of my art and that I have somehow transmuted the phrase into, "Moving backwards in order to go forward."

Backwards and forwards. Always and again and never.

I read this quote from a review of The Constant Gardener from my always favorite Stephanie Zacharek:

Occasionally, Quayle looks at Tessa with a kind of helplessness -- not weakness, but simply an inability to reconcile what's so wondrous about her with the clear-cut, organized world he so deeply believes in. In the end, he realizes that there's no reconciliation between the two. She's his tragedy, his salvation and his perfect partner: He does everything she does, only backward, and in oxfords.


I seem to have struck a nerve with a previous post and thank you all that posted. I get lost in the headspace of this writing world and the public-ness of my words (and subsequently my other inner workings) that I talk to this journal, this blog as if it were a living entity. Thank you to those who posted. I was just reminded that the world is here. A kind of plucking out of head space into Thank you.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Biloxi mayor: 'This is our tsunami'
Residents of Moss Point, Mississippi, make their way through floodwaters from Katrina.

from CNN.

The destruction of Katrina is insane. 54 people have died in Mississippi, levees have broke but actually watching the footage is unsettling.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Now really, who in the hell reads this blog? I mean, this is such heavy, cloying shit. I should really talk about other things. Like the fact that Nate Van Allen from the Siderunners is going to give me guitar lessons. And that I have to help clean the house. And that Mike and Angie made our family dinner and we are still talking about it.

You know, stuff like that.

I haven't written in awhile. I wish I could say that I have been too busy but regardless of the fact that I actually have been very busy it wouldn't be true. I haven't been able to put down anything cohesive in awhile. Even the recent posts have been things that have struck me or that I have seen. Not trying to be overly dramatic (a hard task for me) the days seem heavier than usual. There were moments before the diagnosis, before I could put a name to what was going on that I would lay in bed for hours, depressed, not being able to move, sinking deeper. Now that I can give it a name. Now that I can say carcinoma and roll it off my lips like I have suddenly unearthed some secret I find it is paltry to give anything that name. Forgiving the fact that malignant is one of the dirtiest words in the english language, I daresay that it is too easy to dismiss mental states and physical ailments on something that I never wanted nor something that had the potential energy and determination to kill me. I have to admit, looking at it from the distance, nearing the year mark of my diagnosis, I can say that I actually admire my carcinoma, my cancerous spreading tumor that took a foothold in me and pushed ahead, further than I had in many years at that point. It had a singular goal. To move, to keep reaching. I suppose it's like that with all things malignant, all things sickly. Sometimes I think it's not such a good thing, maybe like Idi Amin pushing forward through Uganda with sickening determination. That was my first thought.

I have a friend who I look at, who I have been close with recently, who battles his body. Maybe battle isn't the word he would choose, but I rather like using it when it comes to him. I remember once watching him ease through the air on his bike, balancing in the air and coming into the restaurant I waited tables in. Funny, he pulled me out of the self loathing emotional wreckage I was suffocating myself in. He wasn't trying to, he was simply being him, talking to me. I re-met an old friend. Years later, I watch him now, I really study him closely as his body doesn't cut through the air the way it used to and I listen. His gruff, self deprecating almost cynical growl - and then suddenly I see it, behind the voice. He tells me he is faking it. And I see he is right. But he is fighting this internal and external battle. he is fighting. Daily. Armed with paint and wax and coding and words, so many words, he moves. He keeps moving. In my head he looks at me while I say all this and he raises his eyebrows as if to ask me, behind the words and the daily hellos, do you really get it? do you really see?

I think so. I do.

I talked with another dear friend today and without disclosing the contents of that conversation I wanted to emphasize to her that she touched me, that she changed my life. Literally. She stepped in and did one simple thing, She was her. That changed me. DO you know that? That as much as you have the potential to think that maybe someone may react another way, you change people's lives?

I had another direction for this entry. Something more, oh I don't know. After a year, maybe all this that I am feeling is mental. I am not discounting that there aren't physical things wrong with me. But, how do I say this, I can move. As my son and my stepdaughter grow up (and then keep growing after that) they will have a village to raise them. I saw that at my benefit. I am not saying, should anything happen to me, they will be all good. No No. I know that. What I mean is that as much shit as I have dealt the world, and I have, god I have, with these hands and this mouth and this mental wall, go ahead and ask exes and old friends. For fuck's sake, ask my friends now, the ones I have forfeited at times, been rude to, disrespected, and yet here they are clapping at me while I try not to cry onstage and I think, come up here, I want to give you what you have given me, I want to spend days with you and cut an entrance into your life, to see. Come up here so that I can cheer you, so we can all cheer you.

I see so many things, paintings in my head, utter violence that I want to shut out, a photo of a soldier carrying a dead boy, my friend Joe watching Duck Soup with Atticus, my wife's face as I came out of surgery, my father crying on the back porch when he found out hs father died. I see my mom singing Smooth criminal while me and my sister beg her to stop so she doesn't embarrass us. I see everything played out like a Super 8 movie of my life. And I too raise my eyebrows at myself and say, do you really see this?

And I haven't even begun yet.

Today and tomorrow you can catch a screening of we jam econo, a documentary of probably one of the greatest bands ever, the minutemen. It's playing at the Gene Siskel. It's hella nostalgic and beats sitting in a bar with old punks who call you a yuppie if you have a clean shirt.....just kidding. I was 11 when D. Boon died but I was passed on his legacy by listening to firehose and being given a copy of what makes a man start fires? by an older skater with the sage advice, upon seeing me reading notes from the underground, "listen to this, kid, this is some real shit." My friend Scott was listening to Fugazi at the time and it just spiraled from there.

Thanks to The Fader for the info.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What with my week going so badly this photo courtesy of my friend Paul (that's him there with Bono) brightened my day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Nate Sr.: You hang on to your pain like it means something. Like it's worth something. Well, let me tell you - it's not worth shit. Let it go! Infinite possibilities, and all he can do is whine.

David: Well, what am I supposed to do?

Nate Sr.: What do you think? You can do anything you lucky bastard - you're alive! What's a little pain compared to that?

David: It can't be that simple.

Nate Sr.: What if it is?

-from Six Feet Under

Monday, August 15, 2005

"Note: male raccoons have prominent testicles, which are shown in Japanese art, including the designs for Pom Poko. When the characters grow desperate, they swell their scrotum's to enormous size and use them as weapons. "

from an amazon review of the new dvd release of Pam Poko that is "A community of magical shapeshifting raccoons desperately struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development."

Not feeling well today. I am struggling through work. It is the last day of the pay period so I need to make it till at least 2. Then I am leaving and taking tomorrow off. I might have caught Atticus' bug or maybe I'm just low energy and sick.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Our ceiling is looking like it's going to cave in the front room. There are two cracks in it and it was dripping obnoxious liquid onto the couch (now moved) and onto the floor. The apartment people sent over some guys yesterday but it seems to be still dripping.

The reason I am worried about a "caving in" is because the ceiling actually did cave in a few years ago and water was pouring from he ceiling all night and me and Irene had to go back and forth to the bathtub with buckets of water. It was horrible.

Sariah seems to be doing better. She had a stroke so many years ago and about once a year she goes crazy. I feel like she may have had another one. She was twitchy and she bit me two days ago. I've switched her food to ProPlan which is a mite more expensive but she is getting older and she needs some more care. It has seemed to help. And we are letting her come in at night to sleep. She is Atticus' favorite. Strangely he will reach out and grab a hold of her fur which must hurt like hell but she squirms out of it, readjusts herself and is cool. Such a gentle soul.

Gabs is at camp. Irene is at work. Atticus is finally asleep. It's raining outside and the only sound in the house is the fan.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Sometimes I look around me and I suddenly wake up. I see the faces of my friends, notice how they look, really hear the voice of my father, look around and suddenly I know this is here. I shudder and shake and start to cry and immediately I run away from it. I get scared. A grown man hiding in the corner. It used to be a little boy but now I see him, me, sitting there. I watch myself go. Does that make sense? I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could see that boy, put my arms around him and make it all better, wipe away with my older, more creviced hands the pain and the fear in his face. Maybe then the man that I know will let go of his grip, let go of his solid, knuckle grip of that corner. Behind my eyes I watch this Super 8 movie of my childhood. I turn away. Why this, why that?

I sometimes exist as this child man waving to the other person who shares some of this, my sister, across the expanse of our lives we hold each other and yet are so far away even when we are sometimes a few feet apart.

Now, here now, I hold tiny hands in mine and watch the side of his face, watch a girl get more awkward and grow into the shoes she needs to wear and see her carry her own set of baggage. She and I, well, I give her a hard time, I am too hard on her maybe. I try to the lesson and there's no poetry in it, no soul, no love. What is it they say, experience is a hard teacher, it gives the test first and the lesson afterward. Step back, man, I keep saying to myself, step back.

That little boy. The boy I was and in many ways am. You were a brat, an idiot, a lovely kid, a boy who stole an engagement ring from his mom's drawer and gave it to his 1st grade teacher, kissed girls behind the bush when he was five, the boy who watched and watched the other, the harder moments.

Sometimes past all of it, you know, it, it comes down to one simple thing, waking up.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Can I just do one last post today? So Mikey and I were talking yesterday about many things mostly music which is our favorite tangent and somehow we got on the topic of The Poster Children, who I never liked. I just thought people liked them because they thought the bassist was hot. So unfair and so juvenile especially without hearing the music. I honestly never heard a song by them so, grudgingly, I was sent by Mikey Danger to their website and I listened to a few songs and well, they were and are really good.

What is even better is Rose's blog and the Rick and Rose show aka Radio Zero (Rick and Rose are two of the three Poster childs and married with child) which has been podcasting before podcasting and is very, god how do I say this without sounding and fun. So, sigh, Mikey, I give.

Last time this happened with Ryan Adams who I still think is a cocksucker but whose songs especially the ballads just kill me.

Did I just say cocksucker?


I love it when John Lennon sings, I don't believe in Beatles and then the music stops, just for a second in God.

I have to share a lovely blog that I grown to adore. For everyone who is obsessed with food as I am you should visit Clotilde Dusoulier's food blog Chocolate & Zucchini which has recipes and commentary from Clotilde herself. Check out her backstory if you can. Enjoy.

I have to say, I am and have been very upset over the death of Peter Jennings. I watched a special on him last night and seeing his last broadcast and his stunted speech made me cry. It's strange, I don't know him but I know him. I was talking about this with Seema, my sister, last night and she is also feeling the same weight and sadness. We grew up with him. Our parents were always yelling at us to watch the news and we switched between all three stations, between Rather, Brokaw and Jennings.

I have a tremendous desire to spray paint a silhouette of him downtown somewhere with a flame over his head.

Night before last Irene woke up and asked me, "Who killed Garp?"

"Poo, I said. She shot him, remember?"

And then we went back to sleep.

Oh, so my sister sent me some pictures which I am going to post here and others need more pictures especially those far away like short, lovely curly haired spitfire girls in the UK and cute publishing boys in New York. So here are a few for starters. They are from a disposable camera and sent from my sister.

Peter and Ana's wedding (Irene's sister)

My sister graduating from graduate school

With our dad.

From the benefit. You can see Joe on the right and what I think is the back of Bubba's head

Me on stage

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The forums are open. Come visit and contribute.

Stella starts barking at 5:00 am. I get out of bed and tell her to shut up. Go back to bed.
Wake up at 5:45 am to muffled whimpers to walk Stella and Matilda.
Walk them both for about ten minutes around the neighborhood
Come back, feed the cat first. Her food is on the table, out of reach. Then feed and water the dogs.
Wait until they are both done eating otherwise Stella will come over and eat Matilda's food and drink her water and Matilda will bite her on the nose.
Now it's about 6:15/6:20
I clean Atticus' bottles and put them and the rest of the dishes into the dishwasher
I shower, get dressed
I wake up Gabrielle
I turn on the oven
Take the dogs out quickly
put toast in the oven
sit up Atticus in his crib put a pillow behind his head let him play
Butter the toast
Jelly the toast
Put on a plate
Grab Atticus and a glass
Take him to the bathroom sink and wash his hair
Gabrielle comes in to talk
we comb his hair
Gabs has eaten her toast
Fill his bottles, write his name on his diapers
Fill the bag
It's 7:50
we're a little late
We say bye to Irene, she is sick
We head out

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I feel I should assert a few important points in these pages with regards to the benefit. First off, I want to again recognize, the organization that literally out together the benefit and put in the work. The Forum section of their website is sadly underused, especially the Tales from the Land of Medical: Tell a medical tale, talk alternative therapies, or about a friends health, go ahead and get it out

And again, for that attended I am making in my personal goal to get in touch and thank and chat with all of you, give others a hard time (cough, Moe) and just generally say hi.

And to reiterate, four amazing bands played and if you liked them you should learn more about them. For example, Adam Fitz just had a record release party Friday at the Hideout (which I missed due to my own physical incapacitations). The Read Letter are playing Bad Dog Tavern next Tuesday, August 16, and it's free free free. Black Bear Combo has three new mp3's on their site (Game of Death is my favorite). This Thursday, August 11 The Siderunners are participating in the Benefit for Aaron Watkins who passed away from Lung Cancer in June leaving behind a wife and child. They are playing with The Peelers, Phenom, Dummy, Baseball Furies and Last Vegas.

The Great Sandini owes me some more feats of magic and a few Saturday card games and Donaldson needs to buy me a pair of heels.

That's all.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Last night I dreamt I was in a bookstore and I found a weathered leather bound copy of Leaves of Grass. The bookstore owner asked me what my favorite poem was and I told him and I started reciting it.

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle

When I came to the last line, a line I always remember and whisper to myself it became magic. I found myself knee deep in water and the dream was waiting for me to utter those words like a magic spell and I did The Sea whisper'd me and every thing in my body that wasn't working started to work again, every hidden virus, every possible carcinoma, they all left. It was like a magic spell. I could use it on everyone. I could use it on my friend.

I put Atticus in the stroller and went to the local bookstore today (City Bookstore on Irving Park) and I immediately found a decent copy of Leaves of Grass. Someday I will get a nice old leather bound copy, nothing so fancy that I can't open it up and turn the pages but something nice and hefty, something to anchor me down.

It has been a strange and tiring time since the benefit ended. I was still floating for days with everyone's love and the wonder of the evening. Michael said that's what weddings are like, that same feeling. I even gave a speech though the applause midway flustered me so I forgot the whole thing. I had a witty thing to say about everyone involved. Since that day, slowly, my body has started to give way, things began to snap or untether, springs popped loose. Understandable considering the work that went into it and the strange calmness after. My feet are worse than ever and my hands are getting there. For a few days now I have had moments of not fully hearing people, having them sound far away. My body aches and feels slow. My throat hurts. Now since this has become much to my amazement a rather public blog I imagine many people at this point mentally chiding me or actually getting to the phone to tell me to go to the doctor. I am. My appointment is on Monday with my oncologist. The fatigue, though it seems rather intense and....familiar, is not a sign that they are going to take me out of remission. I think a more plausible explanation is waiting to be expounded upon.

This past weekend my sister in law got married. I have mentioned my future brother in law in these pages before. I like him. He's a storyteller. He is Serbian and many of his family came in from very far away. He is going to be a priest in the Serbian Orthodox church. As we were heading to the reception Sunday night Irene told me, Isn't it amazing that in our family tree we will be bound to people in as far away as Serbia. Look how far we stretch. I am paraphrasing.

That is pretty amazing if you ask me. India. Guatemala. The UK, Greece, Brazil, Tanzania....Serbia. To name a few. Nice

I am a bad man for not writing here earlier. It has been a rough week and more. Atticus was sick with tonsillitis (!) for days on end. He was screaming bloody murder. Poor boy. His tonsils were swollen so he couldn't eat so he cried because he was hungry and the crying made them hurt more so he cried more. He's doing much better now.

My head is filled with more paintings. I want to do more. I have a deep desire to do a mural somewhere. I have ideas for one. I have kept away from words for this whole time and no poetry has flowed.

Zipyflavor, you'll appreciate this as you are my African music soulmate: the songs Aki Special by Prince Nico Mbarga and Les Ambassadeurs International's Seidou Bahkili have saved my life. Again. I sing them to Atticus and dance around.

British Sea Power kicked me in the ass. Jesus.

All my paintings are gone. I wish I could say I miss them but I want to see what kind of stuff they give to their new companions. I love them all but Shari, you got my favorite.

And, as a side note, she'll kill me if I say this out loud but a certain young lady in our house watched Labyrinth for the first time and has a mad crush on David Bowie. Mad crush.

My head is so many places (Tybe and Judd, hello from me) that I can't fully transcribe what is jumping around up there. Barack Obama was on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me this morning.

Can I say more later? I will. I will.

O madly the sea pushes upon the land,
With love, with love.