Crap Poetry

The hospice volunteer read from a book of poems about death.

It contained rainbows.
And also wolves, bald eagles, spotted owls, blue whales,
a veritable who’s who of the endangered species list.
All of them welcoming a freed spirit

Maybe they didn’t know my mom had let her membership to Greenpeace lapse.
Or maybe they did, but also that when that quack came around saying shark cartilage was a magic cure,
I’d said no.
Not just because it wouldn’t work
but for the sharks

Or maybe, as the poem implied, they were just overjoyed at the death of a human.
Any human.
Thinking, “Thank gods. If enough of them die, we might get to live after all.”

Six Years

Six years ago today, I went to the opera to see Messiaen’s St Francis of Assisi, because it was the last night and I had a ticket and all the critics were raving about it.
Some people might think that I’m too willing to sacrifice them for the sake of music. My mother died alone because I was at the opera. And if I’ll do that, what could anybody else matter in comparison?
We buried mom with some things of hers. My dad tried to give them to the mortician ahead of time. But he said to bring them back later.
We had a rosary at the funeral home. Her casket was in the room. We said ten Hail Marys and went home.
My dad had in his hands some things of hers to put with her. So the mortician opened up the casket in the front of the room, so Dad could put them in.
My dad who wanted a closed casket. My dad who had to call somebody to take her body away the morning after she went.
He put in there her teddy bear that she’d held for the last few weeks and her volunteer badge for the historical museum and a few other things. I forget what.
One of my mother’s friends saw the lid lifted and approached. Wanting to view the corpse. My mom had wished for a closed casket funeral. So her friend was disappointed. Palpably so.
But it didn’t matter because none of it could actually possible be happening.
This is not how she would want to be remembered. This isn’t the story she would want me to tell. It’s what’s on my mind, crowding out other memories.

Do unto yourself as you would unto others

One time, I was tooling around Oakland and these two guys jumped on this other guy and started beating on him. They took off and left the other guy lying bloody in the street. This was before everybody had cell phones, but somebody passing by had one and so the cops were soon there. Nobody jumped in the middle heroically or anything, but they did call 911. And if I saw something like that again, I’d be on the phone right away, talking to the cops. For the most part, I’m not fan of the police, but they do have their uses.

And you, if you were someplace and you saw somebody about to kill another person or hurt them, you’d call 911 (or your country’s equivalent) too. I mean, even if it was somebody you didn’t really like, you might not want to jump in the middle, but you’d make the phone call. It’s the right thing to do. And, I mean, it’s not so hard to pick up a hone. You don’t have to give your name. You just have to say where you’re at and that somebody there is in trouble. You would do that, right? It’s a moral imperative.
I don’t know what it feels like to be in an agitated state. I’ve been depressed, anxious, closeted, etc, but I’ve never been bipolar and I hope it stays that way. Agitated states suck. People who are in them feel as crappy and awful and unbelievable deadenedly sad as somebody with bad depression, but with energy. Like how somebody might feel on a day they couldn’t get out of bed, but they can get out of bed and move around, because they’ve got the stamina to do it. Feeling that low and having energy to take action is a dangerous situation. A friend of mine (who I neglected to ask if I could plagiarize) describes it as feeling like you leg was caught in a bear trap. You’d do anything to escape, even gnawing off your own leg.
But if you had a cell phone, you wouldn’t gnaw off your own leg, you would call 911. And if you saw somebody so trapped, you’d call for help. And if you saw somebody about to kill somebody else, you’d call for help. And if the guy whose about to get killed is you and the guy whose about to do the killing is you, it’s still the same situation. One where you have to call for help.
So I don’t know what it’s like. I’ve never been there. But I’m in the arts and so I know a lot of bipolar people. The suicide rates for bipolar folks is alarmingly high. I’m ignorant, but as your friend, I want to remind you to call 911 in an emergency. Even if you’re going to do it anyway. Even if you don’t like the guy getting killed. Even if you don’t want to be saved.

the most futile blog post ever

Ok, so I used to have anxiety and that’s mostly vanished, thank gods, (although my first self-inflicted T shot this morning did leave me feeling kind of freaked). It made me really suck at risk assessment. I never knew if I was actually in peril or not. Danger could be lurking around every turn. I might be unprepared!
I got very concerned about being prepared. Not just having an earthquake kit, but also being mentally prepared. In a crisis, you can’t sit down and think out carefully what’s coming. You have to just react. You need to already know how to respond when something gets thrown at you. So I used to sit and think about things that might happen and how I would deal with them. I would visualize myself taking steps to respond. I practiced it in my head in case I was called to do it in real life.
I don’t even remember now what I was worrying about, but if it happened, I bet I would (still?) be on top of it. This isn’t a completely crazy idea. It’s the whole basis for fire drills. Certain dangers are so unlikely that they’re not worth worrying about. But if you live in a tsunami zone, you know the evacuation route. Because when you get the 2 minute’s notice that a tsunami has just passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, you don’t want to be looking at an elevation map trying to figure out where to go.
I don’t want to be presumptuous or anything, but some of you live in tsunami zones or earthquake zones or flood zones. And having a mental drill once in a while might be a reasonable thing to consider doing. Which is to say that if you feel like you’re in a bear trap, I don’t think you’ll be recalling and following along with my moral reasoning about calling for help. But maybe for some of you, occasional mental fire drills make sense?
You folks all have shrinks and meds and people who know way more about stuff than me. I’ve got virtually nothing to contribute to this conversation. I really hate losing people and I want to feel like there’s something that can be done. That I can do. Something to keep the folks that I care about around longer. And it’s as futile as demanding that you stop smoking and start eating oat bran. Because that’s not up to me and I don’t know what I’m talking about.
fucking hell

Memorize This If You Need It

It’s easy to remember 1.800.SUICIDE (1.800.784.2433). You folks that need to know it, you know who you are. Program it into your cell phone. Just fucking remember it. And then when you need it, fucking call it.
Sometimes when you look backwards, it looks barren and bleak. And sometimes when you look forwards, the emptiness seems to stretch out forever. It’s an illusion. Your life can’t seriously be like that, or you wouldn’t have made it to adulthood. Children actually raised that way die Of natural causes. By themselves. So if you’re old enough to be reading this, you life hasn’t actually been like that. Probably, the worst is behind you. If your situation was really so low, you wouldn’t have the activity level or agency to do something so drastic. People don’t get drastic like that unless they’re on the upswing. You’ve just waited until things have gotten better and now you’re thinking of it. Call the fucking hotline number.
You don’t get to adulthood without hope. You don’t get to adulthood without love. Maybe they didn’t love you enough. Maybe they’re gone now. But that love was there or you wouldn’t be. More people care about you than you think. People love you. People have loved you.


Rapture Ready folks care more about afterlife than life. Other folks are like that too. Is there a heaven? Is there a hell? Do you keep getting reborn until you reach enlightenment? Do you live this life over and over and over again infinitely? Can you come back and chat with the psychic living? Is this all there is?
I don’t fucking care about the answers to these questions. There’s no verifiable evidence for any of them aside form the “this is it” one. Maybe you’ve had a person experience with talking to the dead. I’ve known people who have. But it’s not mutually verifiable. The evidence can’t be used in a scientific sense. But, seriously, I don’t care. I’m just as happy with oblivion as I am with doing this same thing over and over again in the exact way. There are bad times. There are good times. You owe it to yourself and to folks who love you to chase the good. Go out and fucking grab it and hold on. It’s an obligation. Hope is a moral obligation.

What brought this on

Polly’s boyfriend Paul died. He was a good guy. I knew him, liked him. He read this blog. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time, but I cared about him. I don’t actually know who all reads this or what they’re thinking and maybe I’ve never met them offline or even online. But some of y’all are happy and some are sad. And if you need to memorize that number, you know it in your heart. So fucking memorize it. And call it when you need it.

I would vote for Hillary Clinton

I know. Just yesterday I said that I wouldn’t vote for somebody who thought that s/he should have more rights than me. And I would only vote for a progressive. But those Clintons! They’re charismatic! They make you feel all warm and fuzzy when they sign the Defense of Marriage Act and Welfare Reform and NAFTA and the WTO and when they open large pristine tracts of wilderness for oil exploration and they bomb third world countries based on shaky (and ultimately false) “intelligence” reports. Why is it that the left still loves Bill ater he did all those bad things? Why do we love Hillary? Why would I vote for her? It doesn’t make any sense. Yet, for some reason, I would. So would a lot of people. If the election were held tomorrow and she was running against Bush, surveys show that she would win. Maybe she could have Kucinich as her running mate.

No More Politics

A band that I like, The Disposable Heros of Hiphoprisy, have a song where the refrain is a guy singing, “All I ever think about is music and politics.” This song often gets stuck in my head.

My life

In personal news, um, not much has happened. I had band practice today from 1:00 to 6:30. A couple of songs got cut from our Vegas set list cuz I can’t play them. One of them I spent a couple of hours practicing last night. Bleah. It may have the hardest bassline out of all the songs. I still feel sniffly. I read a book about the history of non-synthetic dyes and paints. All those crayola colors make sense now. Sienna was the name of a color manufactured in Sienna, Italy. Burnt Sienna is that same color after heating. Midnight blue used to be called Prussian blue and was invented by some guy in Prussia. Err, you can see that all of the data absorbed into my thick skull and now I can give detailed histories. Or not. It’s what comes of reading while sick.
There used to be codes for “first mourning” and “second mourning.” All this is myserious to me. People are/were suppossed to refrain from certain activities and wearing certain colors while mourning. This knowledge, tucked among tales about how Britian fought a war to get Belize as a colony so they could use logwood to dye fabrics black, has made me feel defensive. One is probably not suppossed to get married less than year after one’s mother passes on. Vince told me that people sepnd up to 75% of their time trying to justify decisions that they’ve already made. So here is my justification: I’ve wanted to marry Christi for many years. In 1998, we went to Hawaii right before the November election so we could get married there in case the Hawaiian supreme court overturned gay marriage bans. There was an amendment on the ballot that would undo this court action. So it could have been the case that the supreme court would have legalized gay marriage and then, only a few days later, Hawaiians would have amended their constitioun to make it illegal again. But the people who got married in between would be married. So we went to Hawaii and sat on the beach and got a newspaper every day. The supreme court backed down and the amendment passed and the window of opportunity never opened. But if it had, we would already be married now.
Well, now, five years later, we can get married. We will get married. (Although the location might change if Massachusetts’ supreme court rules next tuesday to legalize same sex marriage there. We would be in a better legal position if we get married in a US state.) We’ve waited a long time.
I used to worry, five years ago, what to say to my grandmother. You’re supossed to tell your grandma (obviously) if you get married, but I thought she might not understand. But she died. And my cousin died. And my mom died. and the number of family members to be distressed about this marriage things is constantly declining. I’m digressing.
Now might not be the time to get married and throw a big party. It’s past the time I would have picked. Look, I’m about to leave. There’s a lot of folks I might not see for a long while. It seems like the right thing to do. But I dunno. Hamlet said something about the funeral meats coldly furnishing the wedding banquet, but that was a dead spouse, not a dead parent. If people weren’t so biggotted and stupid, Christi and I could have gotten married in 1998 and my mom could have come to the wedding.

Black dye, Belize, Puritans

Puritans wanted black fabric and were willing to pay for it. But dying things a true black is difficult. The old method was to dye a piece of fabric in many shades , dipping it mutiple times, until it came out black. The it was discovered that logwood, a new world import, made a wonderful back, but it faded unless dyed over indigo. So indigo was imported from south east Asia and logwood came from Central America. For a long time, logwood was illegal in Britian (so was indigo, but that’s another story), because the Spanish had a monopoly on it. But then Britian fought a war with the Spanish and got control of Belize (formerly British Honduras). As part of the peace settlements, all the privateers were to stop hassling Spanish trade, so pirates were out of a job. They went to work in the mangrove forests of Belize harvesting logwood and were paid for their effort in rum. so the puritans were financing all sorts of debauchery and things they found morally wrong (like slavery – many current Belizeans are decended from slaves imported to harvest logwood) in order to get acessories to show their piety. America really does still have puritanical culture.

Grad Skool

Well, I’ve gotten one letter from CalArts saying “yes,” and have heard only rumors from other schools. I’ve heard via a third party that Alvin Lucier thinks I sound “interresting.” A certain bitter ex-member of the Mills Community says that their financial sitution makes my acceptance there near certain. Oh, well, gee, uh. I didn’t think they took economics into account for admissions, but what do I know. I don’t mend benefitting from affirmative action, but I’d prefer it to be the “we need a better male-female balance” kind rather than the “we need more cash” kind. This is because I’m a contrary leftist and nobody on the right is suing to stop the second kind of class-based admission system. And I’ve heard from another individual that CalArts is not an easy school to get in to and that Mills has already made it’s descision and the letter will be mailed shortly.
The more I think about it, the more I just want to move to Seattle and screw grad school. Honestly, it’s not like my music career matters. If all 15 people who care about electronic tape music think that I’m cool, well, that’s swell, but it’s still only 15 people. I think that in the US art is dead. If it’s not dead, it’s terminal and twitching. In the 80’s it was doing that reaching it’s arm up towards the light thing and a bunch of folks decided it was about to go for a walk, but nope it was that increased wakefulness before death thing. (I haven’t read too many hospice pamphlets, not me.) Give art some more morphine, talk quietly in it’s presence, hold it’s hand for a moment, hold your breath each time it breathes in, waiting to hear if it will breathe out again.

and then what happened?

Well, then, on the morning of February 14th. christi and I took the train back to Portland. the train was nice and had miles of leg room. We went bowling that night with Renne on account of it being her birthday. All of her Portland dyke friends are kind of good bowlers, which is something to consider when considering the Pacfic Northwest. After bowling, we got fondue. the next day, christi and i went to Powells and got too many books. I still haven’t read all the books I got from the visit before that. the music section is too much temptation, but they had no Esperanto books, except one mighty expensive one.
we sat in front of the fireplace and I started writing a symphony. then Matthew returned to Portland, after being expelled from the South Bay. Despite this occurance, he seemed well. Happy, friendly, at ease, (balanced if you will) and otherwise, also balanced. Looking good. It’s always good to see Matthew doing well. He’s a nifty guy. Also, he seems not to bear a grudge as far as I can tell, and that’s also a very good thing. since he’s family and all. anyway, I was glad to see him.
And then we came back on Sunday. Yesturday, I started one of the tape and Cello pieces, at least the tape part. I found an old recording I made in March of 2001. I had just gotten a new toy microphone and for some reason, I spent half an hour recording myself talking about my mom. So I’m pulling samples out of it, right now, I’m grabbing out very time I said, “my mom” and am going to loop them, but I’ll pull out more stuff too. At some point I was talking about how my family was dying off and how my missed all her dead relatives. (Basically, everyone she remebered from her childhood except her brother died. I can relate to this because, like her, I’m also experiencing a shortage of family members. I thin it might be related.) anyway, there’s prolly good samples about that. Also, my grandma was still alive when it was recorded, so there’s a section about taking my mom and grandma to see a symphony for mothers day and the kind of music that my mom likes. Christi will write a slurpy, lamenting cello line to go over the tape. I think the human condition is fundamentally sad, because one day everyone you love will die or leave you or you will die or leave them. why people want to increase misery through violence (and pverty, which is also violence), I do not understand. Anyway, it would be cool to do a series of lamentations, drawing a connection between the inevitability of death and the needlessness of war. those things are strongly connected in my mind. Why kill people? They’ll all die on their own eventually. The trick is to avoid cliches and lameness. Pauline Oliveros and the Kronos Quartet have both recorded excellent anti-war pieces incorporating sobbing, gunshots, screaming, etc. the trick is to do it well, it would be terrible to take sounds of mourning and put them ina cheap, poorly constructed context. so this project is definitely adequately challenging.

Lou Harrison died last night. He was a wonderful world music and percussion composer. He had a tremendous impact on classical music. He was also, a warm, talkative and friendly person. This is very sad. I’m glad I got to meet him as the OM 8 driver last year. He talked about local architecture and the SF World’s Fair, for which the Palace of Fine Arts was built and how he first heard Eastern music there and it made him want to compose. He also spoke some Esperanto with me. He claimed to hardly remember it and then rapid-fired off several sentences. My old housemate was his sign language teacher. It used to be very exciting when he would call. World-famous composer calling for my housemate! Anyway, it’s very sad and a big loss for music. He never stopped composing.

A few days of sun and rain and de-snailing and de-fungussing (is there one or two ‘s’es in fungusing?) improved the state of my xmas tree greatly. It’s in the house dropping needles everywhere, even flinging them across the room. The cats keep trying to explore it, but the dog wants to explore them, so they’re not interacting with it. They probably think it’s a pine scented litterbox. Or is it fir scented? When your father-in-law is a forester, knowing the diference between pine and fir trees can be very important.
I was putting up ornaments yesturday and realized that my mom gave me almost all of them. The last candle that was burning when she was alive burned out yesturday. The holidays suck suck suck. Oh my, do they suck. If you see Santa, please tell him where he can stick his holiday cheer.

I have not posted for a long time. It’s because I was bummed. First, there were two news-helicopter situation within blocks of my house in one day. Some folks decided to rob the bank I always use the ATM at. They shot the two folks tring to put money in that self-same ATM and one of them died. And then, in just a few blocks the other direction, a disgruntled ex-employee of some company took hostages and killed himself. These were bad things, but what bummed me out is that nobody called me to see if I was ok. It’s not like I require such a call, since I am ok, and when I used to receive them, I found them midly annoying. But now I am mom-less and receive no such calls. That was the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Of course, the holidays are a major bummer too. I’ve had Thanksgiving with Christi’s family for the last few years, but my god-mother invited my nuclear family over and I was going to accept. My dad told my brother and I both not to accept and he went for some undisclosed third option also. I think he may have sat home alone. This also is a large change, because usually my mom would be trying to convince me to have thanksgiving with her instead of far away, which would be mildly annoying. Now I get told to scram.
But all is not doom and gloom. I saw my last living female relative during this just passed weekend. She was my grandmother’s first cousin and is a nun. She’s elderly and sent some confused communications during my mom’s illness, so I was worried that she wouldn’t be well, but she was doing much better than I expected. We went to see the movie Adaptation with her. those of you who have seen it may be thinking, “that’s not a very nun-friendly movie!” You’re right, it’s not. There was some confusion because it stars Nicholas Cage and she thought it featured John Cage. So it was not at all what she was expecting and since she’s mostly blind, she couldn’t see it very well, which is a good thing for her in this case, I think. The convent nurses told me not to take her to see anything that wasn’t G or PG rated, but they were kidding. I think.
And we saw Christi’s grandpa. Normally, he holds himself ot a very strict schedule, but we threw it all in disarray. Normally he eats a particular TV dinner for each night of the week, but he went out to dinner with us two days in a row, which is unheard of for him. We went to see Christi’s cousin in a school play. The cousin played a head in a box on a table. The play was terrible. The kids did the best they could with what they had, but they really did not have much. It was a valliant effort. christi’s cousin was the best actor in the play. All of the charecters were highly bizarre, yet somehow the cousin managed to be beleivable as a head on a table, no small feat. I’ve heard that their school is in dire economic straits and so has to use plays with very very low royalties. someone needs to write low-royalty plays for highschools.
the auditorium has a WPA mural painted in the foyer. It’s a very nifty mural and it shows workers and other nifty themes. It’s too bad the WPA is over, it was the only time during US history that the government actually supported the arts. This may never happen again.
Christi is reading all of Ned Rorem’s diaries. They’re amusing because of his terribly pretentious bon-mots. I told Christi that I was going to keep a terribly pretentious journal for when I rise to star-dom as a composer. she encouraged me. Then I could publish my journal under the title Self-portrait of the Composer as a Young Woman or something else equally awful. She suggested maybe I just keep a blog. I may need to start another blog, since this one does not adequaltely come off as a celebration of my genius. Ahem. Nevermind.