Thursday, December 31, 1998

Pesach silkscarf

I made this 6 foot silk scarf for Neil's mum in Scotland. I don't think she liked it as she never wore it. So eventually I asked Neil to bring it back so I could document it as I had no photos of it. This was a collaged color xerox, you can see the pieces. So it's a placeholder. Before the invention of digital cameras, documenting silk art was a nightmare as you had to find a way to get the entire piece in focus. in once shot and not be blurry. I found the color xerox at Krishna Copy on Telegraph to do the best job. But then there was no way to xerox anything wider than 8.5 inches, and the scarf was wider than 9 inches.

Flower: silk painting (art) 1998

 I couldn't get decent photos of my silk pieces, and digital cameras hadn't yet been invented, so I color-xeroxed my art. A precursor to the digital camera! I used embroidery hoops to hold the silk in place, and then removed the hoop when I was done painting. It was the only solution at the time as the Chinese metal hoops hadn't yet been invented.

Thursday, October 22, 1998

MAKING RAINBOWS


I tell the kids sitting in a darkened room
Yellow is a narrow band of sunlight
Green and cyan are the dream of the ocean
Magenta, nearly invisible, a fugitive
bleeds into red, you can’t tell where one stops
And the other begins. It bends back toward the light.
Purple and indigo are somewhere far beyond the sea.
On the distant borders of sight.
The tail of indigo is always the longest,
But it’s hardest to see where it ends.
RGB Always wants to make music of the spheres.
But cyan and blue are transitional
a mercurial folding into the tail, like a comet.
Of course they can be distorted by angle and light.
Prisms and crystals also control the shapes.
I throw banded light across the room with the prism.
My crystal wine glass also creates gorgeous patterns
almost dendritic, with ridges and curve of lens.
Jackson, a kindergartner asked if I was a magician
because I threw light across the room onto the walls.
Cody thought taste came from taste bugs.

10/22/98
Higham Family School
rev. 6/00

Tuesday, September 29, 1998

LABOR DAY WEEKEND AT THE OLD BRICK KILN

Labor Day weekend at the old brick kiln, at Remillard’s, or El Quijote.

The Gitano sings No puedo ir in the old brick kiln.
His face wrapped in tragedy, is almost comic,
but his voice travels, wrapping itself snakelike 
through sensuous bends and crenellations 
of the old brick kiln chambers where, as kids 
we used to sneak in to play in the thick dust.
The flamenco dancer’s hands speak to the night
wrapped in triste, and  la vida es el muerte.
He is plucking syllables from the air
and his pelvis pounds out the consonants. 
Vowels escaping on the outbreath, 
and the stars convulse into tears 
caught in the night’s dark throat. 
Desire wears the face of a dancer. 
The old brick kiln where we once explored, 
was rubble and spiders, for nearly a century,
it rose and fell under Jupiters neglectful influence, 
and fell again under Mercury retrograde.
After the flamenco set, Herman, Verona and I dance 
and sweat under the stars, on the roof 
of what was once an honest building,
now filled with earth-shattering disco 
to end this summer. Killing Me Softly
brought me back to Amsterdam, last summer,
and all the men killing me softly with their songs.
The disco ball drops, scattering stars onto the bay.

29 Aug, Larkspur Landing/San Quentin

Thursday, September 10, 1998

Ego dancing


Down at the lake my equilibrium is restored by watching the wild geese swim towards the sunset. Preternatural fall is in the air. The geese fly back towards the darkness that is east. I am drunk on light, or is it the glass of wine? I've packed all my things, I'm ready to go. I need to finish up with a few household chores, defrost the fridge, back up my email. I fix the hem on his new pants, iron the tux shirt, take a shower. It feels good to wrap up the loose ends. Drawing the runes gives me courage... He's late, home from school, and I'm down at the lake avoiding him. How our egos dance!

Wednesday, September 9, 1998

HALO


The lovers entwine, 
the geese bond in pairs, 
my truck and I, 
an unlikely couple. 
It’s magical when the lights 
around Lake Merritt 
ring the lake 
like a freeform halo.

 9/9/98

Thursday, August 20, 1998

Omagh Bombing part 3



He sleeps, depression stilling the heart, better than digitalis. I keep flowers to paint the tongue of the eye. Bris mo chroidhe, to break the heart, at the chance of happiness, shrapnel in the heart: self defeat at the hands of pessimism and confessionals, as if one's deepest fears were indeed the truth.

"O'Neil, a name more in pride than to be called Cesar." – Sir George Carew Elizabeth's foreman, foundered in a Munster bog.

Brave Hugh who fought with my ancestors at the battle of Kinsale in 1604, the Earl of Tyrone and Sean the Proud living beyond the Pale, tormenting Elizabeth.

The wild Rose is the one that has no thorns, but it has no need to draw blood to color its petals. What can ease our tribal pain? Disappearance and death is our inheritance. Europe absorbed the Flight of the Earls. What tongue survives the O'Neills of Seville ? Don Juan, or Sean. Unconscious tally stick carried into exile, into battle, about the necks of our ancestors.

So much pain suffered at the hands of a culture older than Greece or Rome, vanished without a trace. English legislation and diseased potatoes banished a tongue. Say the syllables of your own name in the ancestral tongue. See how it caresses you like a lover? But to use it as a weapon against the oppression—that's the final rub.

Greet me in the old tongue, if you can. In the lost syllables of an ancient order, and the rogue words for which the English could find no substitute, no sychophant. Say glamour, say tawny, say iron, keep the old tongue alive in my mouth, sweet kisses devouring speech that even the cock gives voice to in the night, not of the denial of love, surely one of the unwritten sins, but of loves speech, the integrity of whose tongue in my mouth?

I tried to dissolve denial with alcohol (an Arabic word), slipping from home with the stealth of a cat, escaping the tyranny of denial, and depression, for you cannot slip off the yoke of your ancestors, content with the inheritance of failure and flight, from what is good and whole, for a misguided notion that to suffer is to love.

Suffering becomes the bread God of dailiness, when to love is so simple, but complexities seduce you into the region of glacier and stone.

I trace your holy war, your jihad against the self, against the truth of the heart, into the fishes' belly. What is restored onto you? Jonah? What ancestor lost for you the way back home to the heart?

For you cannot blame your family, so you choose the women of your youth, the red whore of betrayal; the exodus from the self is easier than to lay blame square on the shoulders of naivety and youthful folly.

I know of your struggle, but I've not let the scar tissue weaken my heart, and turn it to stone so that the cromlechs and dolmens of the fields can block the true speech of the heart.

Why do you choose the path of war so willingly like a bride, when you know that white is also the color of death, the procession to the graveyard, the purity beyond death of the self? Words you'll never read because they exist outside the realm of your suffering, your true bride who knows the sound of the wound makes.

Scar tissue, weaker than the flesh. And the loneliness of stones. This bitterness inherited from the self-hatred, a placename, that rough soldier that seeks the noms de guerre.

Are you willing to risk sorrow for joy, why not sacrifice it instead? I drink my whiskey neat and prefer the Irish spelling to that of the Scots. And yet it backfires, hiccups a reverse order of guttural nuances seeking syllables for the words I am not able to utter to you, for you must find your own way out of the darkness of your prison. which is still shrouded by grief. And the clinging love of sorrow and pain are as addicting as the latest fix of the welfare junkies, You're destroying the temple of your body which you try to keep so pure, is destroyed. And the tighter you cling to its steps its altar, the more riddled it becomes, until we can't tell the cosmic joke from the punchline.

Talk to me of twilight, the rough magic abjure pain and alien import, for the cosmic joy of the Celtic heart. It's as if you had taken the eggs from a wild bird's nest and broken them, smashed them against the stones of your discontent.

"To worship or to destroy the beauty of your discontent." Of betraying love love to harm.

You ask if I can go home again to live alone in a bee loud glade, as if you'd coined the idea of loneliness and stored it in your cold banker's heart for the famine years. Morose in your discontent and desire to see love's end at the tunnel, robbing yourself of safe passage into the uncertain darkness of the future.

Spring has abandoned you, and the only thing keeping you from yourself is your self—that raw discontent of your raw inheritance of your life. You're like the farmer who sells his cattle to buy a statue of a swan and you want to put to put in your garden so you can assimilate the culture outside the self, for the self. Instead of the self. A substitute. Because you have no garden.

You have traded one for the other. You replaced love with suffering because that is what you're most familiar with, and familiarity breeds such contempt. The clouds darken on the horizon.

OMAGH BOMBING

OMAGH BOMBING

Am I a traitor to my race,
I drink Scots whisky.
and contemplate the half-life of The Troubles 
when the Plantation of Ulster's shame grew.

And the bones in that rough field 
sprouted another generation of hatred. 
We read about Omah in the papers
how the bombs dissected limbs of the innocent
and rearranged them into Daliesque clocks 
dripping from hedgerows and curbs. 

The Afghans have a saying:
I have never known sorrow, 
no it is a field I have inherited,
and I till it anew.

Meanwhile the disappeared in Africa 
have settled home into the earth's bosom,
without a trace. No witnesses. Meanwhile,
in the Gulf, we retaliate, I learn from the news,
a new word, preemptive, as in preemptive strike.
Death is death is death. Are we at war again?

And Omagh. Neil frets, his cousins 
will surely know some of the dead. 
I went to buy film at that shopping center, he said. 
This man who shares my food 
broke down and cried. As I held him, 
I told him tonight that I loved him. 
And already he's making plans of escape, 
as if love were a grenade 
waiting to rearrange the heart.

Today is my grandmother's birthday. 
She, who kept alive the fire within me,
Kindled the holy flame within me 
so that I would bear witness. 
The grand design continues to work
through you, she said.

I grab a book from the shelf, 
John Montague's Rough Field 
because I like the title and it reminds me 
of Seamus Heaney's collection, The Field. 
A good Irish read, I thought. That's the ticket.
Except Omagh crept from the pages.
After near nearly 30 years, we are 
recycling the violence that is Ulster.
She who kept the flame alive within me, 
a decade gone, to Tír na nÓg, or Hy Breasil,
or whereever the dead go to congregate. 
Ulster, the amber coating my glass, uisge beatha,
a Kabbalah of whispered secrets & peat fires. 

Neil, fresh back from the Highlands, 
bade me to promise that if he died soon,
to carry his ashes to Iona, Columcille
Columba, no doves rested in his breast.
Neil's namesake. Middle name 
that which spans the fathers, 
and the clan name. 
Neil's name repeats itself, 
a stutter in history, a chieftain's son, 
born in Scotland, because Columba 
turned his back on Ireland. But Neil's father
worked the land of his ancestors, 
with plough and turf shovel in Omah, Tyrone.
Where does one pain begin and another and?
Neil chastises me for not writing this past year. 
How I've been in purgatory for loving an O'Neill?
But as Montague says, one must begin at home.
Violence blossoms in Africa, in Ireland,
and now the Sudan. And then Afghanistan.
What fields have we inherited
beneath this vast bloodless sky?

The worst bombing in 30 years, someone said.
Kate Perry emails us a chain letter from Dublin
condemning the violence. What can we do,
so far from home. The garden of mankind.

A friend once misheard the word violence
and thought of violins playing.
But even violins aren't enough
to soothe us. No, our music is
missiles whistling a seamless melody
as they zero in on the target
with such ease. Preemptive strike.
Pogo was right, we were the enemy.
Ourselves, alone.

20 August 1998 
my grandmother's birthday

Omagh Bombing (prose) part 2


While Irish minds marvel over the Celtic inferiority complex. How much longer must we suffer? I think of Tocharian mummies 4000 years dead, in their plaids and sun tattoos, faces as familiar as kin, guarding the Silk Road.

Lately the news has been ladened with images of Ulster men and references to World War I, the Battle of the Somme. Or am I newly sensitized, how do I desensitize myself to it for the cosmic links and the laws of averages.

But the words Colrane, and the Foyle have a different attack on my psyche.

Neil is playing the Protestant priest in Frank McGuinnes's play, Behold the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme. He is playing against type.

At the end they all put on their orange sashes, I didn't know what it signified, but it made me shudder anyway. O'Donnell Abu was the name of the song, we never called it the Old Orange Flute. It wasn't until I stood in Leiden looking upon the statue of King Billy, or William of Orange, that the pieces of the puzzle began to fall into place.

In late spring we used to suck on the oat grass joints, sweet with sap, piggyback thistles and oats from Europe, Spain and Scotland, non-native species. Always I've lived a life of identifying what belongs where, acutely aware that I'm a long way from the land of my ancestors.

I am Irish when it pleases them, or I am American when it pleases them. No one asks what pleases me. The blood of my ancestors, or the land of my birth, as if one annotated the other.

So what of those who came to Ulster? Are they Scots or Irish? Where does bloodline leave off, and nationality begin? And why is it so horrific? 

Neil chastises me for drinking his whisky, is if I'd asked for something unattainable, like his heart. The thornless magenta rose I planted is about to bloom and already he is asking me to leave. The potatoes have yet to be harvested, and he is asking me to leave because I might get too close.

Tobar is Irish for the well, the sacred spring. I drink sacred water uisce beatha. In every language, it is the water of life. Mea maxima culpa.

The summer fog lifts long enough to reveal the turquoise jewel of the bay and it resonates against the flame trees on Bay Street, and the rust red of the Golden Gate Bridge. The straits of Chrysopylae shimmer like molten gold.

Yes, this city is the city of judgment, the judgment of Paris, an apple in the lap of California on this 150th anniversary of the Gold Rush. Gold flakes in a bottle, a souvenir from the feather River, where I toiled for pieces of the sun. And put them in the vial.

Omagh Bombing (prose) part 1

Omagh Bombing

20 August, my grandmother's birthday.

As if a traitor to my race, I drink scotch whisky, the half-life of the Troubles, when the Plantation, and Ulster's shame, grew restive, and the bones sewn in that rough field, sprouted another generation of hatred.

As we read about Omagh and how the bombs dissected the limits of innocent children into Daliesque clocks dripping from hedgerows and curbs. The Afghans have a saying: I have never known so much sorrow. Now it is a field I have inherited, and I till it.

Meanwhile the bodies of the dead in Africa settled home into the earth's bosom. We retaliate. I learn from the news the meaning of pre-emptive strike. Are we at war again?

 And Omagh. Neil frets. His cousins surely know some of the dead. I went to buy film at that shopping center, one survivor said. This O'Neill who shares my food, I told him tonight that I love him and already he is making plans of escape, as if love were a grenade, ready to rearrange the heart.

Today is my grandmother's birthday. She, who kept alive the fire in me, kindled like the holy flame of Rome within me so that I would bear witness.

The grand design continues to work through me, and at random, I grab a book from the shelf, John Montegue's Rough Field, because I liked the title and it reminded me of Seamus Heaney's The Field. A good Irish read, I thought, except Omagh crept in from the pages anew after 30 years, recycling the violence that is Ulster.

She, who kept the flame alive within me, a decade gone, Tír na nÓg, or to Hy Breasil, or whatever the place where the dead congregate.

The amber coating of uisce beatha and the whispering secrets of extinguish peat fires. Neil is fresh back from the Highlands, but he bade me promise that if he died soon, to carry his ashes to Iona, Colum Cille's Isle.

Neil's middle name is Columba, but no doves rested on his breast, Neil's namesake. A name that spans the father's and the clan's name. Neil's name repeats itself, a starter in history, a chieftain son, born in Scotland because St. Columba turned his back on Ireland.

Neil's father worked the land of his ancestors, Tír Eoghan, Tyrone, Omagh and Strabawn. Where does one poem get begin and another in? Neil chastises me for not writing. This past year have I been in purgatory for loving an O'Neill? But as Montague says, one must begin at home.

Violence blossoms in Africa, and Ireland, and now the Sudan and Afghanistan. What fields have we inherited beneath this vast sky? The worst bombing in 30 years. Kate Perry email us a chain letter condemning the violence.

A friend once misheard the word violence and thought of violins playing. I saw gangsters toting violin cases.

The Rough Field, an garbh achaidh. Should I be drinking Bushmills? A Protestant whiskey? Hugh O'Neill sleep sound in his bed.

Lamb dearg abu, the knife slipped and my left hand, red with the blood. The Red Hand of Ulster? I crossed myself, out of habit and think of the poetry plumping in the garden end Tyge buried in John's name. The Catholic slur. I learned well at my grandmother's knee. She gave me the Cailleach's skeleton one Halloween, Samhain and burned the candles.

My grandmother dabbing uisce beatha behind her ears like a rare Arabian perfume.

Will you dance with O'Neil
in an Irish battlefield?

But we chose the vast plains of the grafted tongue, and the only real famine in our lives is the lack of love. Did I have the music? Was it within me? It was attached to the words of an alien tongue nesting in my mouth. Wild Gaelic vowels, unbidden like feral cats beneath the sodium lamp, that darker permanence of ancient stones formed in the mouth.

As a child, I dressed my fingers and foxgloves, fairy bells, my grandmother said. Digitalis, pointing to her heart. Mo chroidhe, she said. I cannot separate the heart from the small trumpets that dressed my fingers in the medicine of the heart.

And thus, I learned about poison and trespassing, as if happiness was meant solely for others. I learned how to say the words for love, heart, and blood in several languages.

As if to draw on the fire. Who do I celebrate? My grandmother who suffered the tongues of Americans—WASPs stinging her with words as she boarded the cable car in her third trimester. My mother stirring crazily in the womb.

Mount Tamalpais rises up, a sleeping maiden against a flawless August sky. How many can claim such a place as their beginning? For, I began there, was it beneath an oak tree growing out of the dolmen at sunset, or was it in the backseat of an old Chevy or Ford? No matter, I exist. Anyway. The twin deaths of my parents, long-divorced, a cosmic joke.

The pain gathering in my mother's nervous hands fed her, until her breasts glowed. Light leaking into the cellular darkness. The idea populates my mind, the generational pool towards a further light, the identity we run from, or try to deny it like St. Paul.

The odor of my grandmother's white hair nested on Neil's head. And I caress the confusion of his hair that is also my grandmother's hair, I have no desire to delineate the vagaries of the heart.

Is it so hard to look into the eyes of the living? My mother's eyes, long dead before the final curtain. The pale, exquisite beauty, as she stood in the floodlights. Limelight, once the brightest of lights, beckoned, and the wild applause. Later, she couldn't distinguish between the audience of the stage and the audience of the streets. Ministering angel of the marginalized, no angels came to her rescue in the end.

Lately the earth's been trembling through no fault of her own. And the rational ones begin to discuss earthquakes, weather, and the Richter Scale. The house moans in your absence, as if keening for you, as you deliberate between the land of your birth, and the land of your life, the family closing in.

What if what you desire is also what you abhor? A hollow note from the next offering, that was your youth, you confess your frozen heart is irrepairablly damaged. You ask me not to get attached to outcomes, or have expectations, s if you owned the patent on loneliness, that blind animal rising from the abbeys of shunted desire and pain, towards nothingness.

The siren replaces the banshee's wail in this swollen city of crack and the timetable of the net high metered out. The landlord says you can time the arrival of the welfare checks by the speed of the dealers driving on the shoulders of the freeway. The iceplant, punished for the burning flame in the veins of those who've assembled at the altar of misconceptions.

I remember the nuns telling us not to chew the wafer, to let it melt on our tongues, but they also told us the rain was God's tears. I knew I wasn't that bad though my mother caught me scolding myself as a child, saying: Bad girl! Bad girl! A mantra to carry me forth. It was then that I knew God was peeing on us. Clear, and simple. We were shyte.

And the old women, dressed in mourning black, believed, believed, like my aunt who pleaded with me to believe so that I would be saved when the time came, for the Man Upstairs.

The Bread God obviously never stood in the bread lines of Russia, as I did, in the bitter cold of winter, in Leningrad, only to arrive empty-handed. Body of Christ.

And my Soviet boyfriend, a fanatic believing every word to be true. Darwin is dead. My cousin teaches a dead language to the young who have no fear of dying.

Bog Latin commemorates the hedge schools where we cobbled together bits of history that will scar us into the next generation.



Sunday, August 9, 1998

Pat Wall, modern art dealer: Dali & Miller, 3.5, envoy (folklore fragments)


A friend of John Cocteau’s shows up for the art opening. Someone notices something golden shining in the foundation of Pat Wall’s house on 220 Olivier Street in Monterey. Pure gold. Did a rat gnaw a hole in a poke hidden between the walls from 150 years ago? They took the bags of dirt to Ed Rickets’place, who concocted up a batch of aqua regia to dissolve the gold. Rickets says, So, if all your gold disappears when I add the aqua regia a mixture of nitric acid and hydrochloric acid) that proves that it’s gold. They renamed the house Casa de Oro.

Varna’s Spontaneous Generation of Women in the Desert is reminiscent of Picasso’s Women, the sun with its jagged edges, a woman with her left hand on her canted hip. Tall shadows. Someone asks what to do with Ellwood Graham’s awful abstraction, Nuclear Picnic, Pat says, put it in the kitchen with the piano. Meanwhile, Virginia Varda has been potting like mad.

Dan Harris got ahold of Pat’s piano and turned it into an art piece when the gallery moved from Carmel to Monterey but there was no room for it in the new place, so they tossed out the refrigerator and installed the piano.

Sue Wall’s piano was one of the seven art wonders of the peninsula. Wild parties galore were memorable, the stuff of novels, and of dreams, but few painting sold. Pat said that he always bought something from every show. Those were his Halcyon days. Pat said he was fond of Miller, he smuggled copies of the contraband Tropic of Cancer. He and Rosalind put Henry up and went to the baths  at Esalen, and ate horsemeat shish-kebabs.

Dan’s wife, Gertrude Harris said one time she looked out the window. The dog was barking at Jean Varda standing there at the gate. Don’t be afraid of the dog, she said, he won’t bite. And then she took another look. Varda was making a horrible faces at the dog who was shaking in terror, he turned tail and ran away.

Varda’s montages and collages in mirrored mosaic created quite a stir. Muriel Ruckeyser, Robinson Jeffers, and Benny Bufano came to the Christmas opening. Pat Wall’s openings and parties were legendary. They were the biggest social event of the season. It must’ve been the sherry on ice. You never know what will turn up in Varda’s pictures. I found a piece of my old green dress in one, said Nancy Lipton.

A clip from the Monterey Peninsula Herald, December 1946. The maddest boat on land or sea. Varda sells a painting and buys a 21-foot fishing boat. He removes the engine, and turns it into an anchor. He rips the keel off, and reverses the boat, making it into a sailing vessel with a stern. With everything switched around, the boat won’t know whether it’s coming or going so he says he’ll have to carve a figurehead for it. She’s good forwards and backwards, said Varda. Varda did a lot of sailing in Greece, he names her the Rima. The cabin becomes a playpen or his daughter.

Sat.Aug. 31, 1946 Monterey Peninsula Herald. Among the new faces is that of Richard Diebenkorn, a young San Francisco artist whose mosaic is priced at $75. Also featured are the paintings of Miller, Graham and Moreau. An article on the Pat Wall’s gallery wall is by Joseph Henry Jackson. Between the lines, he comments on Pat’s statement, gestation over safety, incessant to the temporal magic of the mundane...the art world has its own phraseology, just as the book world has its own, and who are we to complain?

Apparently Sal, at as in Salvador Dali, and Henry Miller shacked up at Mrs. Crosby‘s place while she was gone. It was a case of loathing at first sight. She returned to a house divided with Dali eating in the living room and Miller in the kitchen. They were kicked out and forced to ride together to the station. Miller holding Dali’s paintings on his knee. The reason for the feud? Dali, the painter had come to right, Miller, the writer, had come to paint.

Apparently Pat’s mission statement was picked up by the New Yorker with the query: are any of these pictures for sale by the way? From there it was picked up by Time Magazine and it was labeled the best avant-garde gallery on the West Coast. Calling it the new Paris. Well, there wasn’t much else in San Francisco or LA by the way. Pat’s gallery was pretty much the only modern art gallery on the West Coast. The Millard Sheets school still thoroughly dominated the scene.

After the war, Paris became conservative and the artists fled to California. Varda, Graham Elwood, Dan  “Zev” Harris, Gordon Onslow-Ford, Anaïs Nin, Benny Bufano. Pat’s place, at 220 Olivier, nothing more than a fisherman’s shack, became a crash pad, he was a de facto landlord for all the artists. Rent was $20 a month. But he went broke, as the money he got for the sale of his farm in Jersey, was gone. The end of an era. The gallery closed. Pat and Elwood became carpenters. They held one last party where guests contributed whatever alcohol they had to the proverbial punch bowl. Thus ended a four-year-long party introducing avant- garde art in California (1946 - 1960) But they sure made history.

Pat and Rosalind eventually got married. I’m not too sure what happened to Sue. She became a mythical being in all the retellings. Pat and Roz headed down to Mexico in a big black Cadillac.  Their first son Christopher was on his way, and my best friend Micaela was still a gleam in their eyes.

(See Rosalind’s article in the Herald weekly, July 15, 1980?) most of this was gleaned from readings of fragments and articles—reportage and paraphrase, and my own journal fragments—as well as some of my memories of Pat telling the stories of the artist colony that made Big Sur famous. I also revisited many of the places in the early 1970s, that Pat had mentioned, including the ranch that Henry Miller was living on. We met up with a bunch of hippies, who saw we were reading Tropic. A party ensued. We wound up sleeping in the VW van on a hill so steep, it was a miracle the van didn’t roll.

Pat Wall, Modern Art Dealer: 3 Henry Miller and the Avant Guardians (journal)



Amazing to spend the morning reading about the Pat Wall Art Gallery and its wild guests, then to look around Micaela's room and see the very art mentioned in the reviews. The Avant Guardians are watching over me as I sleep.

I'm looking at Henry Miller's self-portrait with its red and green five sided frame, the brushstrokes are deft. Henry, supposedly in his 50s, stared back at me across the years, a young man with sallow skin and Prussian blue ears and nose. 

You painted what you liked, Henry. I hope you died happy. Henry looks a bit like Oleg Atbashian, which puts me off a bit. Self-absorbed men. Was it the talent that made them so self-absorbed, or was it the rank self-absorbtion that allowed them to become so talented?

I recognize so many of the paintings: McClatchy's Door. Several Graham paintings: Lament, and The Beginning of War. Other unnamed pieces. When Graham and Miller became rather famous, things changed. 

In the early 1970s, I remember traveling to someone's house under the Bixby Bridge to see Henry Miller's watercolors. I was not duly impressed. But I dutifully read everything that Miller ever wrote, so I felt compelled to witness the paintings too. I think I was reading Nexus at the time.

I think the owner was rather hoping that we'd buy a painting, but we were as penniless as Miller was when he moved to Big Sur. Micaela has more articles on Henry Miller's watercolors. Wish I had time to read them all.

Henry moved to Big Sur in 1943 and lived in a tent alongside the highway, he was already living the life of Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, it was a cult of sex and anarchy on the coast. He said, "I'm not perverse, but the idea of looking through a keyhole fascinates me."

A keyhole in a tent? I asked myself. And thought of camera obscurae.

April 14, 1947: Henry Miller talked about how his paintings morphed from landscape into fish. I wonder if that's a reference to his Red Fish? 

Said Miller, "When I paint I have a lot of fun but I feel I'm on a tight rope. I'm jittery sometimes when I start out to do a landscape I end up with a fish I worried about this until the other painter said they do the same thing."

I had to laugh, Mike Goldberg's painting, Sardines, came to mind. See, Frank O'Hara's poem Why I Am Not a Painter sums it up nicely.
....I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.
Pat Wall's art gallery became the focal point in a Harpers article on the new west coast cult of "sex and anarchy." A Times reporter descended, to buy a Miller painting, then left for the East Coast, calling it Paris of the West. Miller was a Paris expat, so he had several threads going. The race was on.

About the same time, the restless New Mexico contingencies (Wilfred Lang and Co.), were experiencing hot flashes, the Age of Light was born. (My grandmother's niece was working on the Manhattan project).

And somehow the role of art went from the cultured confines of the City of Light to the Age of Light. Miller detonated a moral code in Big Sur. The world fell apart, the center did not hold.

Henry must've loved exhibiting his thermonuclear watercolors next to the surrealist nudes of Dutch oil painter, Cock van Gent (a she!), and Edward Weston's extreme close-up photos of bell pepper buttocks.

The Grahams, Toni & Ed Ricketts, James Broughton, Virginia Varda, Dr. Rodin, Henry Miller's physician, and someone named Brewsie were among those attending. Everyone signed the register as Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so, as if that slender slice of decorum could contain the avant guardians.

I assume that Micaela's mother, Rosalind Sharpe, a Bixby Canyon girl, was not yet part of the wild art scene at Pat's Monterey gallery on Olivier Street. Where does painter Bright Bonnier fit in? And whatever happened to Sue's daughter Hyale (sp)? Who was her father?

Speaking of brewsies, Pat Wall said that for the openings, he provided a large punchbowl filled with tea with lemons, laced with a bottle of cooking sherry. Guests were expected to provide the booze—it all went into the punchbowl, indiscriminately. That was the price of admission. And well doctored, they all were until dawn.

I remember Miller's Red Fish, one of the paintings in the controversial show at Pat's gallery. Love the price list ranging from $5 to $400 (Graham). One could pick up a Varda from $25 to $175. (Varda had to bolt his paintings to the walls of the Charles van Damme to keep people form stealing them. I loved admiring my ten-year-old fragmented self in his mirrored mosaics painted in cobalt and crimson.)

Of course, Pat sold next to nothing. Nobody who attended had any money to buy art.  He squandered his inheritance on a dream of art. But because of his vision, the art world imploded on itself, and was forever changed. Art dealers looked to the West for inspiration.

rev. 6/17

Part 1 & 2

Pat Wall, Modern Art Dealer: 2 Betty Wall (journal)

Pat & Betty Wall, me, Arthur Boericke, Fort Bragg 1971

One of Pat Wall's gallery artists, Joseph Albers, a Bauhaus student and teacher, painter and poet, taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina with Jean Varda. Varda I remember from the Sausalito houseboat days when I used to stay at Pat and Betty Wall's house. Micaela, Chris and I often played on the Charles van Damme ferryboat.

I knew Walter Gropius's name would eventually crop up in this crowd. Too bad the Hexagon House in Guerneville burned down. We used to go to tea dances there in the early 1980s. I remember sitting on a tall stool admiring that open beam work.


Another clipping on top of the scanner: thieves broke into Picasso's home, took his clothes, took his money a radio, but left the art. Thieves also broke into a Berkeley woman's house to steal a painting by Dan Harris. Who is Dan Harris?

Names from my childhood kept cropping up. Sue Wall dressed as a girl sucking on a lollypop, a painting by by Dan Harris. Pat's other wives: Rosalind Sharp, Mrs. Margaret Lane. Did those women have any idea what was in store for them? Still in their separate identities. 

Pat would later divorce Sue and marry Rosalind and have two children, Micaela and Chris. Meanwhile Mrs. Lang and Wilfred Lang separated… Which one? My God is that a reference to Betty Wall, Micaela's stepmother and Pat's third wife? 

So, who was married to Wilfred at the time? I can't imagine Betty as the "other' woman. But they all were "other" women, one way or another. Betty was more of a mother to me than anyone else in my life, certainly my own mother—besides my grandmother that is… The other women who raised us. Art was also the other woman.

Aug 9, 1998

Pat Wall, Modern Art Dealer: Ellwood Graham (journal)



When I was a child, my eyes feasted on the paintings collected by my best friend's father, Pat Wall, when he was an art dealer in Monterey during the 1940s. Pat's gallery was on Olivier Street, we never did collect his oral history, so this is a placeholder for what we collectively remember. We also didn't realize that Pat singlehandedly changed the face of West Coast art with his unorthodox exhibits.

Pat, who was from Jersey, the Channel Islands, UK, came to California with his inheritance and a dream of art. He took a chance on the local "moderns" and this is how I got to know the work of Ellwood Graham who "painted out loud" with lots of hot colors. His abstract portrait of John Steinbeck was controversial at the time—circa the 1940s.

What I loved were how Graham's personal hieroglyphics, or pictogram paintings which were almost quilt-like in nature, I loved the way the heavy dark colors were a combination of thick impasto, a drawing, and transparent glaze. A doodle, a half a whale (the tail end) captivated my attention. He compared his work to a composer working on a "musical canvas." Graham painted an egg tempera mural in the Ventura Post Office. Is it still there?

So much history attached to those paintings of Pat's. There was John Steinbeck and Ed Ricketts, known as Doc Ricketts— they too were juxtaposed in Graham's work. It was John Steinbeck who told the artist to paint out loud imagine that—paint out loud. Graham moved to Monterey because of John Steinbeck.
Steinbeck also created in Graham's [Monterey] studio. He wrote Sea of Cortez while Graham rendered his portrait. Of course he sold the painting to Steinbeck, but "I kept some studies and sketches." 'Where is that portrait now? "People have been calling me for years... I don't know." he says, "I haven't seen it in over 50 years."

Then he adds, "That portrait was very good... I hear it was bought by Burgess Meredith but I also heard it belonged to John Huston. —from Alta Vista Magazine, 1992 "Ellwood Graham: Never Say Die," Susan Lea Hubbard (see bottom of this post for more stories).
In Micaela's room is the Graham painting her father left her. I am transported back in time to our childhood. We practically lived together. We were inseparable as children. Like Samese twins joined at the hip.

It wasn't until adolescence that we drifted. Micaela was lured into the world of music and drugs. It was the Summer of Love, a watershed year for many of us. She was too young for sex and drugs but not for rock 'n' roll. An overbearing father pushed her out the door too soon.

It took Micaela an half a lifetime to come back home to herself. So when I look at the paintings on her walls, pieces of those worlds not only decorate the walls of her house, but her inner house as well.

I realize that's what Graham was doing—compressing a personal archaeology into a rectangle of color and geometric form.


Scattered amid xeroxes of my own work and her fiber art, and recent pastels, a  checkerboard history on the walls.

On top of the scanner I find an article about Graham called The Gift of Love. It was comprised of section notes that he took as he cared for his dying wife. Her face emerges from the grid, ghostlike, for she is dead. As his he. But not the memory.

For a long time I quit being an artist, thinking what's the use? I was bored with the photographic approach most artist were embracing at the time. This was during the heyday of my former art teacher, Bob Bechtel, whose work I absolutely could not stand. The camera could do it, so why should I spend hours laboring on something that could be captured in the fraction of a second? I switched mediums I ran from Art I got my degrees but I left town.

For a long time, I measured minute increments of time, my shutter slicing off random bits of shadow and light. I wanted color for my palette. I wanted light and shadow—and that became my medium.

Then I read this article on Elwood Graham who compared most paintings to creative photography. He said that singularity is the is the rarest ability and any artform. This is why our way of saying that a work of art should have the impact of the artist. This was from a man who painted Robinson Jeffers' twins: one extrovert, the other an introvert. He said they later grew up that way too.

I read through other memorabilia of Pat Wall's gallery. I remember sitting in the shadowed stairwell one summer afternoon as Micaela told me of her father's gallery, and of his first wife, Susan.

Bob and I later went to the place where Pat's gallery once stood. What was I looking for? By that time I knew the the names: Henry Miller Jean Varda, Andre Moreau, Pablo Picasso, and Wilfred Lang. Now I could put it all together in retrospect. But when I was young, they were a litany of mysterious names.

July 15, 1947 the Wall Gallery shows the work of Joseph Albers, who later went on to Black Mountain College. And I thought how intertwined the world of poetry and art really was. I thought of Charles Olsen's Call Me Ishmael. Am I not an artist, or am I a half-artist when I don't practice? Am I Ishmail because my pen has been so silent?

9/8/1998
added, somewhat revised 6/17. This is probably a much bigger assignment than what I originally signed up for. So I broke it into sections. But that also requires revision and I'm trying to fill in old work, not recreate it.


Bohemian Housewarming Party

Tuesday, July 28, 1998

Saltspring Island (placenames) (Journal entry)


I awoke thinking of Salt Spring Island. Phrases we once said: We're going to Ganges for some Labatt's Blue. We're going up Mount Vesuvius and Mount Maxwell. Salt Point, Long Harbor, Indian Wells. So many orphan names attached to memory. Now mere fragments.

This place is the haven of wildlife artist Robert Bateman, and of movie stars: Al Pacino Patrick Stewart, Robin Williams. We never saw any.

But I do remember all the nesting eagles at Beaver Point. Like Christmas tree ornaments. The pictogram that I carved into living rock. A Kwakiutl sun face design for the solstice.

I remember naming the deer. We camped at Henry Ruckle's farmstead at Beaver Point, Now Ruckle Provincial Park.

And the odd bits: the first to arrive were nine slaves in 1857. They landed in Vesuvius Bay, the northwest corner of the island. Refugees from California. Last time I was on  Salt Spring Island, it was a refuge for draft dodgers, from the Vietnam war. Bob was thinking of defecting. We were looking for a place to call home.

A cultural crossroads on the Gulf islands. The Hawaiians, the Kanakas (Polynesian for human beings) whose descendants still live here. We visited the Hawaiian graves at Fulford Harbour, at St. Paul's Church, some dating back to 1885. No markers for the First Peoples, the Salishan and Saanich.

7/28/1998
rev. 6/17

Friday, July 24, 1998

Dream: Robin Williams


7/24: Last night I dreamt I was hanging out with Robin Williams, and it seems so real. I was amazed that he remembered me after all these years. After all, I haven't seen him since 1983. And despite all those years since College of Marin, (1970-1973), I was surprised to discover that a part of me still loves him. 

I awoke with a sensation that one doesn't ever really fall out of love, it just moves over for another person, like a lazy dog at the hearth. And so, I chose Bob Hamilton, or should I say, he chose me, because I was too shy to pursue Robin, and he was too shy to pursue me. I was left standing in the field.

 Imagine how different my life would've been if. If we had managed to handle the mating dance? But now, more years than I care to imagine, have passed. What is the half-life of a first love? If requited, or not? 

I dreamed we'd absolved all that self-confessed shyness. I regret all the lost years. I said, too bad we weren't in touch when you did Moscow on the Hudson. We could've practice our Russian. Yours was pretty good, I said. But mine's better.

There wasn't a romantic twist to the dream. We were just glad to see each other after all these years. But our lives, once intertwined, were interrupted, and I lost sight of him, both literally and figuratively. And the world claimed him, as he lost sight of himself.

7/24/1998

Thursday, July 23, 1998

Remembering Lloyd Bridges



On March 10, 1998, Lloyd Bridges died. I remembered him when I was a child, How he held me on his knee, threw me into the air until I screamed with delight, and he gave me a crystal star necklace. He said he had a daughter just like me. Lindy. He was like a father to me that summer in Sacramento .where my mother designed costumes for a live TV program, a weekly series, Music Circus.

I remember Lloyd on stage as Sky Masterson, sitting at the table pounding his fists, in Guys and Dolls. And there was also a ballet dream sequence. The set was draped in purple tulle netting. The magic of theater had me hooked. I later dressed up in those scraps of purple tulle pretending I was a ballerina. Twirling in the basement. 

The crystal star, it slipped behind the backseat of our neighbor Agnes's Pontiac. I remember frantically searching for it, heartbroken. But she was too drunk to care, or to help me find it. Can't stand the odor of Bourbon to this day.

Now I hang crystals in my windows to catch and spin light, just like that crystal star Lloyd gave me. I watched that man on TV religiously every week. Sea Hunt would eventually lead me to the sea. I can't get enough of that underwater realm.  Magic.

It was like swimming inside a crystal, mirrored endless light. I gazed at it that summer in Sacramento, dangled it in the motel pool, playing my own game of Sea Hunt. But Jeff and Beau wouldn't play with me. They knew their father wasn't Captain Mike.

I have a vague recollection of them, two blonde boys in the deep end of the pool. But I was too shy, and only six. But I adored Lloyd. I was too young to care about things like autographs or photos. 

As I watch the biography of Lloyd on TV, a floodgate of memory opens up. And yes, I was really there. I remember fragments of my childhood and maybe someday I'll write about it.


7/23/1998

Tuesday, July 21, 1998

Intruders of Imagination


I've been cleaning, marveling that I can even do such simple work. I'm patching the tiles of the kitchen floor with acrylic paint and Fixall. I realize I've already dreamed of doing this before, a déjà vu moment, and I say to myself, Neil will call today, and so he does. I'm depressed, it's 4 AM for him in Scotland. I told him I had night terrors when he left. I was screaming at shadows, intruders of the imagination waiting at the door.

7/21
added, rev slightly 6/17

Friday, July 10, 1998

Journal entry, 7/10, Big Sur


7/10/1998  Big Sur was fabulous, it restored some sense of play, freedom and adventure. Since the accident we’ve had our noses pressed hard against the dredge wheel, reality pressing in from all sides. Other than a jaunt to Nicasio to see my family, or the rare evening among friends, we haven’t really done much of anything. No mini vacations etc.

We were planning to go to the Guinness Fleadh at Spartan Stadium in San Jose and it was so expensive the tickets were $42.50 each plus $10 for parking with no in and out privileges, no food no drink etc. We got pissed off and drove down the coast. We hung out at Asilomar, the scene of the crime, and I snagged a room on the at the Bide a Wee motel for $59. He didn’t want to stay at first and I ignored him. We played table tennis in the Asilomar Lodge  and visited the scene of the crime where he collapsed from the ulcer. Yes it was isolated, and yes it was at night, and yes, he really could have died there.

Sunday, June 28, 1998

Catering to the Catered (journal entry)


I'm waiting for the Boyd people to show up. It's 7:50 AM. I could've had another cup of tea. I rode in on BART, everything still new, but it's not as overwhelming as before. I'm sitting in the hall of the SF Mart, an orphan in service black and whites.  I could have used that last cup of tea, I'll be upset if they don't arrive by 8 AM as I struggled to get here on time. I'm early again because I don't know the ropes. How close to shave it in terms of time?

What was I dreaming? Evaporated, the alarm jostled me back to this world, and for some reason, I have such strong memories of Leningrad and Amsterdam whenever I ride BART or the metro. That link with Europe via the underground railway. It's the odor, and I think how an entire culture exists underground, even if it's only transitory. Not just the vendors, or the homeless, but those enroute, as well as those who are always caught between worlds, never arriving.

7/28/1998
added 6/17

Sunday, June 21, 1998

Catering the US Open Golf Tournament


21 June, 1998, the longest day of the year, and the last day of the US Open golf tournament at the Olympic Club where we're working. The caterers Ridgewell's, the sixth largest catering company in the United States, also caters White House events. They give us many rules. We are an invisible tuxedoed army.

This is how we celebrated the first anniversary of our car accident, and Neil's 44th birthday. As penguins in cumberbuns and bowties.

It's been interesting working the event. We're stationed in the Bayer Aspirin cabana. I now have catering experience under my belt. A new skill. Light bartender, server, sous chef, even busboy experience, all in one job. I was having to fluff out my résumé. I didn't expect to do it at the Olympic Club.

We had ringside seats at the Bayer cabana. The Bayer representatives take pity on me and offer me some aspirin. When Tiger Woods stepped up to put, you could hear the reverence roll like a wave over the links. It was a holiness of sorts. Everyone was dressed in woolen kneepants and Argyle socks, as if they stepped out of the 19th century. I looked for Model T cars on the horizon. Mostly Caddies in the parking lot. Even a Rolls Royce or two. It's that kind of crowd.

I learn words like birdie and mulligan and wondered about the backstory, what Irishman did what to get that one named after him.

We were hired through a connection of Neil's, a Marin caterer, Fred Martin. It's sporadic money at best, I needed to earn something anyway. We've been so exhausted each evening, so it's a training ground, or a battlefield where we attempt to prove our mettle.

added, revised 6/17

Saturday, June 20, 1998

Asleep in the bath


I'm mad at Neil for hogging the tub. I asked him not to stay in the bath until 2 AM, so he lumbered out at 1:30 AM. Meanwhile, I fell asleep on the couch, exhausted. And then it was too late to take a shower or so I thought. But then, because I needed a bath, I couldn't sleep. So, I crawled off to sleep in the bath, Norwegian Wood style. Every muscle aching. But the water was too cold. More grueling punishment tomorrow at the US Open to watch Tiger Woods rack it in.

Wednesday, May 13, 1998

Journal entry, 5/13 back in Santa Rosa


5/13/1998 I’m back again in Santa Rosa after a sojourn at Neil’s place since Easter. My God how the time has flown. It all began with me sobbing over the phone at Easter, we were talking about taxes and I came undone. I was supposed to go to Wendy’s Easter party, and to possibly meet up with Neil beforehand. We were still on pretty shaky ground ourselves, which didn’t help matters any. And I was feeling so very fragile.

Neil said to bring my taxes down with me and so I did. Tom Harrell was living with Neil and finishing up his fourth your internship at Highland Hospital, so we didn’t have a lot of privacy. Tom’s hours are varied between three shifts. Poor guy. And so I worked on my 97 taxes, and actually accomplished my goal by April 15. Then I begin working on my back taxes and finishing up on my Higham family school book, when Neil had to go to Monterey for a gig. 

Meanwhile I went to Sinead’s and then home again feeling like this trip up north was all wrong, and I didn’t know why. He was looking so forward to it. Tuesday he called me early from Monterey. I called him that afternoon at home but he had been hospitalized for a duodenal ulcer that hemorrhaged. So I turned right around again and drove right back down to Neil’s I didn’t even spend one night at home.

Saturday, May 9, 1998

Full Moon Over Lake Merritt


Saturday's full moon over Lake Merritt. I found in the mud, a horse jawbone, encrusted with barnacles and tube worm casings. Blackened as if it had been burned. I took it home and bleached and cleaned it. I always wanted a horse jaw, or skull. So, I didn't get the whole thing. Still, I am pleased for the horse is the totemic animal of my dreams, of creativity. The horse, the archer, first full moon in May, magic is afoot.

We walked around the lake, a long line of goslings came tumbling down the hill to the safety of water. The super flock had grown up, teenagers now. We counted 36 goslings. A few domineering mothers had kidnapped, goose-napped all the others babies. As someone said, you can't get much cuter than that. As they waddled up the embankment to splash about and drink from a mud puddle, and to nibble on the grass, they were a superfamily: brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and relatives by proximity. What could top that?


May 1998
Lake Merritt, Oakland



Sunday, May 3, 1998

Home alone on a Saturday night


Yesterday I was miffed at Neil for not showing up for dinner at six, he had gone to see Vito. Well, an evening transpired, he had his guitar with him, and the women of the sangam were there. He eventually called near 8 PM. I went out for a walk around the lake and he still hadn't returned, so I did some errands, arriving home after 10 PM.

I was talking with my cousin when he finally came in, and I was bugged because I was in the hurry up and wait mode all that time, and I had already fix dinner by the time he had called. Sinead calm me down as I tend to take off when my mind gets going. But I was the one home alone on a Saturday night while he was out playing.

Mauve is a color


We're in the emergency room at Highland Hospital. Neil's bleeding again. Frank blood. Stretchers coming in right and left with the crazies seeking shelter for the night.

A woman, whose contractions are coming in three minute intervals, tells me the pain is bad it is unbearable. She doesn't know the English for midwife, and I don't know the Spanish. We chitchat. Some women have been here for over five hours. I'm beginning to feel faint. Some are screaming, others are moaning hopelessly.

Neil wrote his will while waiting. We ran his lines for Malvolio. I am an executrix of his will along with Allison. He bequeaths his Ovation guitar to me. I don't want it.

Some of the paramedics are as crazy as the crazies. One explains to the other that mauve is a color, like lavender, only different, as a crazy accuses another of being gay.

Neil says, be warned that someone could pull a gun. He is called into a waiting room. The crazy says all the homosexuals run the mental institutions. You know like Cuckoo's Nest. They wheel in a big jovial Indian man dressed in mauve, with swollen crippled feet, his toes have all curled underneath with ingrown nails. He will never walk again.

Neil comes back to say it'll be a while, six people in front of him it's been crazy back there as well. He looks particularly handsome tonight though he's been bleeding on the inside. He reads to me from the yoga journal about love, the heart, and relationships Aha! he exclaims, always looking for exterior signs, that's about us. Lately he's been questioning why we're still together, I think. Mauve is a color, only different, I tell him.

Sunday, April 26, 1998

DIVIDING MORNINGS BY AFTERNOONS

DIVIDING MORNINGS BY AFTERNOONS

All this new math asks the impossible:
I divide morning by afternoon
to arrive at a total bird count.
Let me go, like the water iris 

fisting its way towards death,
for I have seen the day lose its breath
 as the sky blanched and contracted.
 Another crisis averted, a dress rehearsal

converted into an equation for living
one's life the appropriate length of time.
 Or is it a case of X plus integers?
If only the problem were that simple,

like laying out a sonnet rhyme scheme
and then filling it with wild birds.

4/26/1998
added 9/2016
minor revision

The Higher Functions of Lower Math (Archie Williams)


I have spent the morning weeping over the higher functions of lower math while the medical student Tom, a doctor in waiting, sleeps in the other room. He is neither doctor nor student, yet he would have no trouble passing the math test. He could pass it in his sleep. Maybe I should ask him while he sleeps.

Neil attempted to show me the simple algebraic equations that poor Archie Williams tried to teach me some 25 years ago. He may have been the first black man to win a gold medal for running, but he couldn't teach me the higher functions of simple math.

I admired that golden disk within its five interlocking rings. And the heft of Archie's Olympic medal. Nouns Berlin and Hitler were stored in memory to be extracted at a later date when the larger picture would reveal itself some some 20 years later— when I fell asleep in front of the TV.

Hearing Archie's name mentioned on the TV, I pieced together a string of names that were attached to the story of Berlin, 1936, Jesse Owens and Archie Williams—the underprivileged, the those censored by race and by creed. Under a Nazi Germany, was it Nuremberg? The story took years to piece together. Before internet.

I struggled to become a teacher like Archie, but I failed a practice CBEST test. A test a sixth grader could ace. I couldn't piece together the parts of the whole in order to pass the practice test. I'm failing the higher functions of lower math.



see more on Archie Williams
"Olympic Pride, American Prejudice" documentary includes Archie WIlliams
RIP Harry Roche
Segregation Games (Archie Williams)

Tuesday, April 21, 1998

Journal entry, ulcer, 4/21 - 4/26


4/21/1998 I’ve been uneasy about Neil being in Asilomar, it turns out for a good reason. On Sunday he passed out at the ocean and when he came to, he thought he had food poisoning so he took himself to the hospital. It was a duodenal ulcer and he nearly bled to death, they said I was feeling more and more depressed as I headed north and I didn’t really know why. I guess I sensed something was amiss. He’s on the phone with a classmate, Jill, gory details. Tom Harrell, the doctor/boarder, walked in the door it looks like he had a rough day in the emergency room. Neil talks about his classes and I’ve heard the story before. It is the first warm day, spring has arrived and it’s a bit sticky. Scent of lemon blossoms hangs in the air.

4/22/1998 Neil sleeps. Wendy called to ask how he was doing. He was so shaky and gray yesterday evening when I arrived. Shaky on his feet. We held each other for sometime. I gave him a light massage but his skin hung to him, clammy. He probably lost a quart of blood, and is anemic. I remember seeing how sweaty he was the other day, and I thought it odd. And that sweetish, almost fetid odor that emanated from him. When he fell asleep on the couch, he was sleeping oddly, and I thought something was wrong. Did he have a stroke?

4/26 A second night on the couch for him, and of course I can’t sleep. 7 AM. Nightmares of vultures landing on the infield. Too many consultants between me and the pitcher anyway. I had to throw a fit in order to see who the pitcher was, let alone, see the ball. When the vulture landed between us, ending the game, it began to feed on itself for it was dead, or dying, plucking it’s skin like a doppelgänger devouring itself, beak first.

Friday, April 17, 1998

Journal entry, 4/17 continued


4/17 continued... I made a drawing of calla lilies today, I worked outside with my single flower turning it again and again for different angles to make it look like I have a full bouquet. I realized that the little black kids on the balcony were watching me trying to figure out what I was doing. One little guy said to the other, why does she keep looking up at us? And the older one explained, she’s drawing that flower. Look. But he wasn’t convinced and they argued about it for a while. I smiled and then held up the drawing. The ice was broken. The little guy said, tight! And I said thanks. There has always been a potential for hostility between them and us. They often throw trash into our little yard. Maybe now it will stop. Neil wouldn’t have leave anything outside. Stuff has been ripped off before. And now we leave the chairs and the tables and even the clothes we put the line up, overnight—with confidence having made that space a secret oasis. It is our dining room.

Speaking of our, I’m still in the dark as to what we’re doing, having cut myself off from him. I do have more strength I’m not dependent upon him. My domestic urge is still strong but I’m less attached, there’s a good distance on both sides still. But we regained some small parcel of ground. I climbed aboard him wrestling as we used to do and he wasn’t too responsive, he was that tired but a few feeble attempts restored something that was lost.

The boarder, medical student Tom was at the door. I leapt off Neil and sat up, all circumspect beside him, embarrassed by the compromising position only to have him crawl on top of me to throw it’s me. What I saw was a rekindling of affection in his eyes, we both have been dead and cut off since I left. We walked down to see the ducks at dusk and he again was ranting about the pain in the suffering, specifically how he regretted the blow up he had with his old man in Ireland.

He said, he was a real cunt about wanting to leave and instead of giving into him,I got angry and we weren’t speaking to each other and I thought at the time that I’d live to regret that moment—it will come back to haunt me. And it did.

He was pretty shattered by the time we got to the ducks. I tried to hold him from behind because he need to be held even if he didn’t want it. It reminded me of a pony I had who threw me, and at first I thought she was maliciousness until I discovered she was insecure and needed to be gentled. I guess she had gotten plenty of abuse from her previous owners. She knew pain and humans who inflicted were her adversaries. She had had hid her fear behind a socialized façade, she was seemingly well adjusted.

He broke away after a few moments, still intent on containing his own grief. His back was really hurting. He said, let’s sit down on the step. I massaged and held him, telling him to breathe, to let go of the grief, not to dwell on the anger and the resentment, but love—for love is what your father needs right now, not the other. Give him your blessing.

I gentled him the way I would a horse. I was a horse whisperer and I could feel him letting go. I was  inside him deeper than I have ever have before. Still I was cautious for it could be seen as invasive and he was so vulnerable. I was using my healing skills to restore the pathways for I do have that gift to enter the psyche though there were still so many lines of defense between us, we were able to find a common ground.

You are perfect the way you are I whispered, remember the self. Let go of the burden of grief and pain. You don’t need it to carry it around with you any longer. You are the phoenix rising from the ashes of the past. There is only this moment, twilight on the lake, the ducks and geese flying towards the setting sun. How do they know where to go with such determination he asks. We could hear their gobbling replies on the wind.

I could feel him letting go, feel the pain slip from his shoulder blades, feel a bit of hope for that ice that is his wilderness, was beginning to thaw.

Journal entry, 4/17 domestic goddess routine


4/17/98 After the midterm yesterday Neil was pretty keyed up and stressed out so we didn’t go to the Romeo and Juliet play after all. Just as well as I was way too tired. The pain management pill is definitely making me dizzy, giving me vertigo. I started taking them Easter night three times and by Wednesday tax day I had vertigo. It takes longer to undo the damage I think. This is three days out, and I’m still dizzy.

Neil was going on about the theory of spiritual life, about advancement and how time is speeding up unnaturally while I watched the world spin past my forehead. I was useless for much of anything. 

I went on a domestic cleaning jag, sweeping, mopping etc. I rerouted the TV cable because I tripped on it one time too many. I wrapped it around the door but it was black and so I painted it white. Also I touched up the nicks on the walls and doors, the base paint I had brought to restore the stool was close enough. I also re-organized around the fridge painting around the electrical cord and I put nails up to hang the brooms, etc. I put in a cup rack and rescued potatoes that were gurgling, and made a great dinner with Greek potatoes, spinach feta salad, apple cobbler with gluten-free flour, which was a little challenging but it worked. It felt good to be on a roll, centering me.

Thursday, April 16, 1998

Journal entry, post tax season 4/16


4/16/98 We made a quick quick dash down to the lake to visit the ducks which was a concession to me, for Neil has a midterm today, and needs to study. He lectured me on the pitfalls of poverty consciousness, when I said I was yet another grand in the hole from paying my taxes. He said,  You just got a $2000 job. Think of it in terms of more, not what you haven’t got. He’s right, but I am the the pessimistic optimist. I’ll believe it when I actually have the contract signed. He said remember when I sent you $2000 and I said your stress level rise to meet the occasion? It wouldn’t matter if it was $25,000. It’s still outside, a mental image of fuck you on the inside. It rises to the demand. True, that.

We celebrate with a salmon dinner. I dropped him off to study while I shopped for dinner and I felt like I’ve been given a reprieve on several accounts for I love being here and nearly having convince myself that we could become platonic friends, until we went down to the docks where he grabbed my jeans at the waist, sticking his hand between my cheeks left me over the edge, a rather familiar gesture for a man who professes interest no interest in my body. I didn’t let on, poker face as I was. Another time he remove the hot mitt from the stove mumbling about pilot lights and possible fires. A year ago I would’ve been pissed off at him, but this time I smiled knowingly, my back to turn towards him. Allow him his neuroses and quirks, for it to is a part of the the process. Be not attached. No gain.

It’s taking some time to restore the balance, but we are once again normalizing our relationship through established rituals, whether it be domestic like what do you want for dinner, or offering nurturing massages. Seeking the balance between the giving and receiving will always be our biggest chore in task, he had to give a whole lot more to me to get me through my taxes, as I had told him it would be so, then he had expected, but he did come through to the nitty-gritty end.

After dinner, our first outside since the range weekend, though we also had breakfast outside yesterday as well, he went to Berkeley to study, asking if I’d call some of the old Ulster gang, to see Romeo and Juliet at TheatreWorks, a play he had auditioned for. A lovely long chat with Lorcan whom I like very much, but he is a bit shy, and Jane Bark, Vito Orlando, and Allison Tassie, a real telephone night. Jane said you didn’t come to my puja, my housewarming. Neil said you were busy I said I had left him, having been fed up with our non-relationship on Ash Wednesday. I left him for the season of Lent. She said Ash Wednesday was a good day to leave. It was appropriate she said. He seemed a bit down, she noted. I said denial was buried in his name, and he wants to just be friends, and I couldn’t take it anymore, so I left.

Everyone seems to take it in stride that Neil and I are having a relationship, that he thinks it’s nothing more than friendship, but we all know better. Where do we go from here? I’m obviously a big part of his emotional makeup, as he is of mine. He’s afraid of definitions, and commitments, yet he desires the wife and kids thing, as an abstract. But, this is my home, this is my bed, we’re still sharing. Don’t rock the boat. See how long it will go on like this for he made the concession that we sleep together only this once for I am so fragile and I’m so vulnerable, when will he kick me out? Loose strands of my hair become a metaphor, turning up in the domestic arrangements, blankets, pillows, sinks, rugs, to claim residency.

The pearl is my oyster, I misread an ad for watches. If they carapace of the watch is the oyster, and the mechanism, the heart of the pearl, where does that leave time? For time allows nacreous intentions to grow between the shell and the quivering flesh. A conversation form Easter Neil wanted to know whether or not aphrodisiacs work and was there anything to it? Mostly in the mind of the beholder says Tom, but if you believe, it will work. Oysters seem to be a real-time honored aphrodisiac he concludes. His libido is raging and he can’t seem to find the right woman though he’s desperately searching.

Tuesday, April 14, 1998

Journal entry, Working on my taxes 4/14 to 4/16


4/14/98 Working on my taxes from 1992 to 1997. I spent the morning in the IRS building weeping, while collecting information forms, only to be told that because of my accident, I should go to an actual tax accountant who specializes in the arts. I should also depreciate my losses, my wages and earnings from 1993 up to 15 years into the future. But I don’t have enough information due to the accident, to file. To file an extension, even though I’m supposed to have back years paid, is impossible. The woman at the free tax helpdesk patted me on the shoulder as I wept, saying she understood. She understood. Perhaps that was more important than anything else. Not that it matters in the larger scheme of things. I’m doing all of this for such minute amounts of money. Draconian.

I’ve been at Neil since Easter Sunday working on my taxes. A fit of weeping yesterday afternoon depleted me. I had worked so hard and got nowhere. All the foibles of a dyslexic threatening to sink me. The complex labyrinth that is the IRS schedule and forms, the sheer volume of information is debilitating. 

The rules change from year to year, according to Congress. So no rules need apply. It’s all bets are off. I had to get different forms for each year. 1992 is being mailed to me. To do, California tax forms. My plate is so full I’m at the point of not dealing with it at all. I’m not used to this copious weeping. Agony, frustration, fear, rage myriad of emotions bursting forth. The taxman, and he taketh away.

4/15/98 I’ve been working all morning on my medical stuff stuff which will help with the insurance. I had breakthroughs right and left. A desperate call to do it Tobey Kaplan via Neil‘s urging, for some tax information on deductible categories where I was stuck. She also gave me the name of her CPA which I will have to use, even the IRS suggested it. All in all, my experiences yesterday with the IRS were very positive, considering. No one chastised or criticized me for not paying my taxes. Neil said it’s like going to confession, except there, you get to hide out in the dark confessional. I was on display for the world to see.

The other perk was a job lead at Markham school, Tobey said there is matching money. So I also called to Tureeda to see if I could approach schools, as Micaela wants to observe me. So things are opening up a bit. I’ll have to call some other CPITS people to see if there’s a nibble or two. I should ask Tobey‘s advice on upgrading jobs etc. She’s in much better position than I, with a junior college job, and other jobs as well. Still 1/3 of her income comes from CPITS.

After days of struggle, I finally finished my taxes. Neil walked me through the figures and, as I suspected, I owed them nothing. It was a minus win situation. Primarily due to my medical bills. But I have to pay my Social Security regardless. Done.

4/16/98  Now I’m facing the blank page with both anticipation and with nothing to say, having made a perilous journey through the tax maze, and having suffered I was elated to be done with it. We were mad hatters dropping off our precious cargo. There was a comraderie on the street, a common experience we shared as we lined up in front of the post office. One black man, seeing our goofiness as we raced to the mail bins to beat the 6 PM deadline, only to discover it was 7 PM, said it’s tax time! To which I replied yeah, hours of work to prove that I don’t owe anything. Neil gives me a bear hug to congratulate me on completing my taxes, saying see you survived it.

A woman walking her envelope to the bin burst into a smile thinking he was addressing her. I insisted on dropping a letter into each bin, there were four of them. He said hey that one was an express mail drop. I said I didn’t really care. I wouldn’t even put my return address on the envelope I was so mad. He had to do it for me. I said, trust me it’ll get to the IRS, no matter how funkily it’s addressed, it’s that big. I said, even if it were to get lost in the mail. I’d still get it back. Giving my zip was enough to ensure a return, but his sense of pride propriety with scandalized so my envelope was compromised by conformity, my address on the outside, a mental image of fuck you on the inside. 

Monday, April 13, 1998

COLLECTING STONES

COLLECTING STONES

Turquoise protects against catastrophe.
Amethyst promotes mild misunderstanding.
Citrine is an agent between the lower
and the higher self.
I am advised to follow my vision.
Keep my intentions honest 
and make sure my motives are pure.
I'm told to develop objectivity 
and stand back to observe the self.
Try to be more forgiving 
and less possessive, the oracle says.
What a bunch of crock.
I am no Brandenburg Concerto
or a mad minuet of the butterfly in flight.
I am the brash opening of Beethoven's Fifth.
What did I expect seeking advice 
from clattering stones?

April 13, 1998
10/15/2015

Journal entry, 4/13/98 Easter


4/13/1998 And so I called Neil who sounded a bit guarded but he’s been that way since my departure. It surprised me to learn that he’s been spending some time focusing on my dilemma—taxes and depression, admitting that he had reneged on those promises to help. A breakthrough. So his nos can become yesses. It was a wretched morning for me as I’ve been so depressed the past few weeks that I’ve been nearly dysfunctional. He told me to bring my taxes with me to meet him at the ashram, which I did.

I’m in such a fragile state, that the ashram was a calming refuge, but I couldn’t stop the weeping. He said to bring something of value to leave at the chair of the guru, so I left a silk painting, I had given the others to Wendy and Alison–as it was their birthdays. I wrote my wishes on a prayer stick, Finely sliced wood, one wish was to have a loving relationship and family. Also a prayer for strength and the resolve to grow through this trying time, to put my taxes behind me, to put to bed my grief over my parents and their death. To send to put it into the suffering of these past five years. I also prayed for a career, at least for guidance and for help.

My rock-bottom status—I’ve given up all hope and have lost the will to be a warrior. He took me to the altar of the statue of Laxmi bedecked with flowers in the breezeway. Should I have left my painting of flowers with him or with the guru? I left my prayer stick with him. What happens to the prayer sticks? Do they burn them? And my art? Do they burn it too? give it away? It’s like leaving a child behind. That just further increases my feeling of abandonment.

At the bookstore, the clerks exclaimed over my pieces. I had asked for a bag large enough for them. A lot of unexpected feedback positive. I flamed red, my face was hot—an unexpected source of praise.

Funny, when I was in the main meditation hall, I could feel energy rising from the top of my head but was it split into two directions. Later I realized one thread veered towards Laxmi, and the other towards the guru. As we first enter the meditation hall, he took my hand, holding it firmly, full of strength. And I again had that feeling of connection. The aha! moment. I belong here. Many hugs and weeping.

But by the time we got to the picnic, it was very late in the afternoon, The picnic was loads of fun. Vito, Jane Ayles, and Bob were there as well as Wendy’s family. Larry Spears and Naomi Gibson with their kids. Naomi left for Scotland as her grandmother had died—three deaths since the New Year’s. Tomas the intern was a little red-eyed as he’s on the night shift rotatuon at Highland Hospital but we had a rousing game of rounders which is a free-form softball with the kids.

As we headed back I began to sink into a depression again. How much of this is due to a profound lack of sleep? Tom and I chitchatted on the couch. I tried to to nap. Neil was talking to Jane Bark. We went to Pasand for dinner and had lamb for Easter.

We came home and Tom napped before going to work at midnight. Neil and I poured our souls out to each other and meditating for 20 minutes. The energy centered and rose in my crown and my feet began to buzz. They haven’t done that since I’ve left, I’ve missed that connection, literally. Neil said that sometimes that happens to people their feet open up, but it’s not common. Why, I wonder, I’ve always like to be barefoot, I suspect, to feel the energy flow through me.

As to what it is, scientifically speaking, I’d say it’s like the magnetic fields an acupuncturist stimulates. Nerve pathways which transmit electronic impulses. Whether or not I believe in all of this is moot as it’s happening to me. I’ve experienced it before but it was never quite so intense. I can see why people get all hooked on it, and of course I’m suspicious of that stuff too. But the life I’ve been living is no longer meaningful so, I’ve nothing to lose by it.

Neil says so many things I wonder if I can recall much of it except by paraphrase. Namely that I was on the verge of opening up, letting the shaktipat in, and he said I’d see how and why it changed my life. The spiritual community exists for a reason. I’m not a believer.  Vito said that I should do kitchen seva, etc. that’s his thing, to do dishes, but I reject this. I do enough dishes at home. Thank you very much.. Why is it that men are willing to do dishes at the ashram but not at home? Talk about double standard.

We talked a lot about the sources of my depression. Neil wants me to go to counseling—we share the same symptoms. I feel I’ve been depressed for a while, but I find it curious that he’s not willing to go to a counselor to see if his is a clinical depression. I know what the source of mine is, my parents deaths and the unresolved problems around them.

I played mirror for him and I said it doesn’t matter how you do it, just as long as you do it. He’s chosen the path of meditation and it’s helped him enormously via spiritual growth, but bottom line, he is still depressed. Why I don’t hear from him, besides the fact that he’s overwhelmed and or busy, is because he continues to be depressed. We talk about or despair, how the thought of suicide becomes evocative and unacceptable at the same time, the point being that the despair leads us to that place.

Earlier on, I had talk to him about how it was his responsibility to mine joy in his life, not someone else’s job. Strange to hear my own words back on his lips. Was I following him or maybe he was following me—we were on the same path.

We made ready for bed he said tonight is special mean we get to sleep together, but just this once and I become icy with anger, lying there, too tired to leave, having taken an allergy pill and a muscle relaxant at the same time. I spit out, you say that like I’m going to attack you? This is your decision. You call the shots. You defined the relationship. When he asked why I couldn’t just let it go and be friends. I said why are you so attached to nullifying thismrelationship thing because this is how it began, how we started. I don’t know when nor how it shifted into friendship with you but somewhere it did after the accident. I’ve been trying to hack away at it to no avail. because you keep giving me mixed signals.

I said part of the reason for my depression is the separation and I’m in grief over you as well. Boy did he deny that one, saying no no no no it’s about your parents, old issues, it’s not about me. I have nothing to do with it. Oh, then, denial is it. He was hurt that he was being attacked for being honest, saying we had three or four big episodes dealing with this, I thought we were clear. I reminded him again he was dictating the shape of things. He said something about my choosing the path of suffering and anger and hurt by being blocked. When I didn’t have to, as if I’d had a choice.

I can resolve to cut off all relationships with him, I’ve done it before, but I am not sure it’s the right path because I only feel right when I’m beside him. I had no answer, the anger dissipated as quickly as it came but I was glacial. His touch disarmed me and I rolled into his arms saying thank you for this evening. I get trapped in my own anger. Remember when I told you I had the hardest lesson was patience?

He said, you become stranger when you’re angry, you’re unrecognizable. I don’t think he said a beast or an animal. But funny how anger wounds you. You mean it for others, but it hurts you more, he said, falling asleep. He stroked my face. I contemplated that maybe he really doesn’t love me. He’s not in denial, or dishonest. Maybe something really did slough off. maybe he’s just a gadfly.

On the other hand, his depression and lack of desire have a lot to do with it. What is the best path to take? We were in contact all night long, mammalian warmth, creature comfort. I dreamed of finding a rubber on his desk and freaked only to discover it wasn’t opened. Still, it upset me because it was all out there on the table—literally. For me, or another woman I don’t have a clue.

Another tidbit—maybe we’re just dreaming up this moment during our long talks. I told him accident unhinged me and made a hole in my psyche and he was inside my head. He said I am you, there is no division. We are all one. I said I am afraid I am a fraud, and  he said, we all feel that way inside.