Thursday, July 29, 2010

interview at The Collagist

Here It's about avoiding consciousness.

Overlea plot

I will demonstrate the hardiness of commercial brands of tomato plants (in my case, Roma and Cherry) vs. the wimpiness of heirloom tomato plants(Black Crim and Yellow something). It's quite remarkable. I think it's the lack of production and not the color of the produce that forced them out of the mainstream. Both have been fertilized only with egg shells (for calcium).

Imagine this:

You are in a small room, maybe six feet wide by twenty feet long. There is one TV placed in a central location on the wall opposite of where you sit. Regis and Kathy Lee, no, I mean Kelly, are on. You and six other women are reclining in pale green vinyl chairs. You all have IVs hooked up to different liquids. Nurses come around every so often asking if you are nauseated, if you have a headache, if you feel flushed. They provide the ice packs that you must punch to activate. They put these ice packs behind your neck to lower your body temperature. Every so often they draw blood.

Husbands must sit in the even smaller waiting room. One husband sings just under his breath to his wife. You have chosen the recliner by the window. You look out at the vastness of the hospital. You can see where Hopkins stops and the poverty begins. You think about what a hard time you had finding the transfusion unit, how it was like trying to navigate an airport-- not Heathrow, but maybe Atlanta. Your pituitary gland has been activated, which in turn activated your adrenal gland, which in turn spiked your cortisol, which, in theory, your body has a very hard time processing.

You need to eat graham crackers so you don't vomit. You look at the IV in your arm and think about how there is a needle in there. You wonder what would happen if you moved your arm in the way people do to show their biceps, if the needle would bend with the movement of it or if it would puncture the vein. You are, of course, interested in the absurdity of all of this.

Your time is up. The nurse, gently, even lovingly, removes the IV and all the tape. You press down on the opening in your arm. The nurse puts your three vials of blood into a plastic bag with your name on it, she puts an orange piece of paper in the bag, then seals it and deposits it in the type of vacuum tube banks use for their car side service windows. Your blood is pulled to the lab through hidden shoots in the walls.

You walk out of the hospital into the heat. You order an everything bagel with low-fat cream cheese. You want a latte with skim milk. You are given a plain bagel with cream cheese and a small black coffee. You don't fight with the clerk, you just sit and eat. You drive home.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Mind Says,

when I get to heaven, I hope I can work for Safeway.
We all long to be used by God.
I have a clear idea of what it means to work. A work/life balance? What a gimmick.
God’s never heard of it. Even in heaven, people stand around and ask each other,
So what do you do?

I bag God’s groceries, that’s what. And there is shame in that. And there is pride in that.
And I have formed my entire
analog self around the job.
My mind’s representation is in uniform.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The recommended Hmong translation for "X chromosone" is forty-six words long

1. I'm reading a great book. It's titled, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures. The Hmong are an ethic minority from the highlands of Laos. The CIA trained them during the Vietnam war. They were given refugee status after the conflict. The book is about consciousness, really, the way we indoctrinate our beliefs, the way we practice our cultures. The girl of the title has seizures of the grand mal type-- only her heels and the crown of her head touch the floor during a fit. You can imagine the "collision of two cultures" that occurred when her family tried to get her help. I couldn't settle on a quote. I could have given you one about how opium funded the Vietnam conflict, about how the placenta is the "life jacket" you return to after you die, about how the soul must be tied to the body by ceremony-- souls like to wander away, how American soldiers were paid 400 dollars a month for service, while the Hmong got 3 dollars a month, the Americans got "turkey loaf, ice cream, beer, ham, eggs, etc., the Hmong were only given rice...

2. *^&$(#&(

3. I'm going to host a charity for Women for Women. It's a non-profit that benefits women of the Congo. It won't be the first charity I've hosted. The first one, for the Potomac Conservancy, raised two thousand dollars. I think I could make that much again, but I'll be aiming higher this time. Oh yeah, by the way, 5 million people have been killed in the Congo, the worst conflict since WWII. It's happening in my lifetime! Jesus H. Christ.

4. Completely non-writing related posts of late. I'm still doing it, writing, that is.

5. It is hard to form words without teeth. Conversation takes a lot of repeating.

6. I am taking a modern dance class. Last night was fantastic.

7. My friend KFO sent me a link to an article about how Facebook, Twitter, etc, are all ways of distracting ourselves from ourselves-- of really being with our thoughts. Solitude and Leadership It's well worth a read.

8. I've eaten a few zucchinis and two handfuls of peas from my garden. Several tomatoes are a gorgeous orange right now, almost ready to top homemade pasta!

9. After almost a month and a half of not duotroping, I blitzed it today, boys.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A ligature risk

is what the CEO of Spring Grove called a gas lamp chandelier in a picture of the hospital in the 1920's. Electricity was still unreliable. Doctor's operating theatres always had picture windows to let in natural light, in case the bulbs went dark in the middle of a procedure. Procedure.

A veteran of WWII, a former employee of the hospital, told me, "You better get some combat boots."
I said, "Oh, you mean for the tour of the campus?" We were to walk about a mile and to be shown where buildings used to be ( and be warned that sometimes sink holes open up when the earth settles into subbasements.)
"No," he said, "When the Arabs come, those shoes won't cut it." I was wearing two and half inch wedges.

I had some hesitation about repeating this, after thinking about how I presented the homophobic and racist comments of my brother-- that my repeating them was giving them audience.

My reply to the man was, "Oh my." The small circle of people dispersed.

He later said, to the roomful of people as the conference ended, "Go home and have a martini-- don't take Thorazine, that stuff will kill you." He was responding to a speaker that talked about how a woman had had 80 electro shock treatments and a partial lobotomy and was still uncontrollable. She was in the first Thorazine trial and within a year was employed in the community. I don't know how she had any brain left.

It was a full day. I learned that it was the Great Depression that broke taboos about family attachments. Prior to the GD, if you had a schizophrenic aunt, you took care of her at home. This meant a basement, usually. After the GD, people no longer felt shame about giving their relatives to the State. It broke all kinds of codes of behavior.

I saw a "psychodrama theater" from the 70's. It was attached to a laundry building from the 20's and an office building from the 40's. The hospital now uses that mash up of a building as storage. They don't use psychodrama anymore. I'm sure they can't "bill" for it.

The CEO pointed out that the grounds offer the same soothing qualities as back when the patients and the staff played baseball games together. That's something, considering over 60% of the people there are forensic -- court-ordered, and they aren't allowed outside at all...

One last thing. One photo from the 60's featured a doctor measuring out prescriptions. He was smoking a pipe in the pharmacy.