Thursday, September 11, 2003


Today San Francisco is 42° warmer than average. How do you beat the heat? Today, during the height of the heatwave, I thought I was having a stroke, staggering around the house.

I fell into and out of the shower wanting to run away from my body, the way Hemmingway's cats did at Key West, only they were too tired to move and slouched across every cool tiled surface they could find. All 61 of them.

But the house I live in has carpets and wooden floors. Only the bathroom has tiles and it's hard to compute from the bathroom floor as the laptop is down.

So I kept thinking, maybe I'm dying, maybe I'm really sick. Maybe I really did get West Nile virus in south Florida. it was reported that there was an outbreak. Great, I'll get encephalitis.

I have headaches and I can't sleep and Diana keeps talking about the guy with encephalitis, who had to carry his gonads in a wheelbarrow. Well, no worries there.

So, I don't have sleeping sickness, I know that's from tze-tze flies. When I was in fifth grade I thought about these things a lot, you know. I worried about things like malaria and lockjaw. I was forever stepping on nails in the corral. So I was always checking to see if my jaw was locked. I couldn't imagine what kind of key it needed.

I imagined one exotic disease or another slaying me. I was like a young pre-med student with psychosomatic symptoms for every known disease known to man and woman.

I loved reading all about strange viruses and protozoa, thinking I was going to be a veterinarian when I grew up. Feverishly I studied scientific arcana, trying to beat the heat from some imagined illness.

An editor sends me a picture of glaciers. You can't beat that, she says.

My skin is splotched grey-green and red. People with too much iron have to get bled. It's a Celtic trait. We still live within the Iron Age.

Meanwhile, police helicopters circle overhead, it's a a new 9/11 legacy. Nonstop, red white and blue lights flashing in the night. Some legacy.

Someone asks: if your soul were a flower what kind would it be?

The cat is eating my tongue.

The full moon is eclipsing Mars. I can't take the unseasonable heat. The earth is heating up. The glaciers are melting.

We are still in the war zone. We never left.


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