Sunday, September 24, 2006

Life is Funny

This is another current eBay auction titled "Life is Funny". This is a 4" x 6" digital postcard that I did for the CaaT (Complimentary Art and Things) eBay group for a theme on clowns/jesters/circuses etc. I always seem to find the dark in the most cheerful things.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


It occurred to me that it's been a while since I put any of my art on my blog. This piece is currently on eBay. It's entitled "I", and is an ACEO (card-sized) piece I did for the Nibblefest Art Contest (NFAC).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A different note...

For those of you who read the last post, here's the good news. I had been worried about a gradual increase in pain in my sternum, and had planned to tell my doctor at my scheduled treatment today. Before I could mention it, he asked if the wisdom tooth I'd had a root canal in (to minimize the risk Zometa treatment causes, of osteonecrosis of the jaw) had pretty much settled down, because he wanted to put me back on the Zometa. Then he asked if I'd had an increase in achiness in my breastbone. He said that many women notice that if they go off the Zometa. So the increasing pain that I feared meant that the cancer was worsening may in fact be simply because the normal reforming of bone just slowed down with the withdrawal of Zometa. I felt somewhat reassured. I resumed treatment with Zometa in addition to the Herceptin today.

And I had an amazingly creative time as I sat in the infusion room. I wrote a poem that will be part of a breast cancer-themed artwork, and also wrote a poem about a significant experience I had several years ago, which can be a stand-alone poem but which I'll also probably put with an image, possibly an altered vintage postcard. Here it is.
For the She-Wolf and Her Pups

PUTNAM and THE WOLF - Plaque at Wolf Den
Following her tracks through one day and night in the early snow of December 1742 to the Connecticut River and back, the early settlers of this region here discovered the den of the she wolf that had for years devastated their flocks and had so far eluded all attempts at capture. After all other methods had failed, when both servant and dog held back, Israel Putnam, 70 of whose sheep had been slaughtered, at 10 o'clock at night, with a rope tied to his feet, first with a torch, again with a musket, entered this cave, and by the light of her angry eyes, shot and killed the marauder, and entering - a third time, dragged forth the body of the last wolf in Connecticut.
On a gray day
in November
We walked the rocky trails
by Mashmoquet Brook.
I saw witch hazel
thin, long petals like yellow ribbons
shivering in small bursts of breeze;
armies of chattering chipmunks
calling, distracted,
skittering over the she-wolf's den.
I heard low growling
that no one else could hear.
Perhaps what Firewalker
of the North said
is true.
"You walk
with cat spirits, May",
he said.
Apart, I prayed.
Forgive me, young ones,
I mean you no harm.
Forgive me.
................................---May Terry

In the pink? Or in the dark?

Okay--so a number of you didn't know what the hell I meant by that little verse below. Has May lost her mind? Or just her ability to write?

I am tired, so tired, of pink ribbons. We all smile and wear cute pins, and "celebrate" survivorship. Except that my survival will be severely limited, and I find it hard to celebrate when 40,000+ women in the U.S. alone die of this disease every year.

So why, oh why, do I set myself up to be reminded of the feel-good, arguably useless public waving of pink grosgrain? I heard that the Hygienic Art Gallery, which used to be the Hygienic Restaurant, where my mother worked in the early 1970s (until she was fired for being too outspoken), was having a special show in cooperation with a breast cancer awareness organization. They solicited work from artists who've had breast cancer, or their relatives and friends, which covers just about anybody. I did a self-portrait, which looks rather like me, but not like someone who's celebrating surviving breast cancer, and entered it in the (non-juried) show.

The show opened last night. I wanted to be able to tell everyone that it was a wonderful experience, but it fact I felt totally isolated, and, ultimately, not proud or gratified, but angry. The art was less pink and fluffy than I had expected, but there was something about it all that made me want to scream, I'm dying! This isn't about celebrating! This is about a disease that has a lifetime risk factor for women of 1 in 8, and which can be helped to a limited degree by routine mastectomy and breast self-examination. Breast cancer gets (shamefully) many more research dollars than lung cancer, but many fewer than AIDS, which killed 15,798 in the U.S. in 2004, the latest year for which figures are available. Socks in Walmart with pink ribbons on them may make us feel good, but make miniscule amounts of money for breast cancer. Much breast cancer money that could go to research goes to awareness campaigns instead. In my estimation, this is a dubious use of resources.

I never thought I'd be a 54-year-old curmudgeon, much less a bitch. But some things just bring it out in me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In lieu of posting unpleasantly on my email lists:

Everything's ducky!
I'm so lucky!
I'm pink and fluffy
And I never get huffy
And I never whine
I just say, "I'm fine",
Been sayin' it since the
It'll say it on my tomb!
She was brave, it'll say,
'Til they put her away,
It's sad she's gone,
But she makes a great

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Letter to Mr. D. L. Witherspoon


Spend all your time waiting
for that second chance
for a break that would make it okay
there's always one reason
to feel not good enough
and it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
oh beautiful release
memory seeps from my veins
let me be empty
and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

in the arms of an angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort there

so tired of the straight line
and everywhere you turn
there's vultures and thieves at your back
and the storm keeps on twisting
you keep on building the lie
that you make up for all that you lack
it don't make no difference
escaping one last time
it's easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

in the arms of an angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort there
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here
........................---Sarah McLachlan

Dear Mr. Witherspoon,

I just read your story called "Choice" on your website at .

I see that it's seven and a half years old. I haven't quite figured out what you're about, though I did go to your home page. I just felt compelled to write to you.

My son Adam is a heroin addict. He refers to his "wife", "Angel". One of his cellmates once said, "Hey, I didn't know you were married, man!" I didn't know there were prison inmates more naive than I am.

Adam was first hospitalized at age seven. He was suicidal and having auditory hallucinations. Once the crap was sorted out, and the clearly bogus diagnoses discarded, he was left with labels of Tourette Syndrome (the famous tic disorder), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (an autism spectrum disorder), and dysthymia (how they decided a seven-year-old who puts a knife to his throat was dysthymic, I'll never know). He's gathered quite a few more since then, some probably close to the mark and some not, but none more devastating than the diagnosis of heroin addiction.

I wish he had the ability, or the strength, to choose. What he has going for him (or not) are high intelligence, acute ability to sniff out bullshit, and an almost incalculable sensitivity. What he has working against him, besides the stubborn unwillingness of the culture to accept addiction as an illness, is the feeling that only heroin can give him, that he really belongs in his skin and in this world. He calls it his "full body orgasm".

After leaving the rehab he was paroled to several months ago, he is back to shooting up--how frequently, I don't know. This beautiful and bright boy, just 26 years old, is in danger of losing any chance he had to a satisfying life. Mr. Rogers said, "You can never go down the drain." I guess he never met Angel.

Seven years ago, you wrote about a choice. Do you still see it the same way?


Monday, September 04, 2006

How Birds Die

I was sitting, waiting in my car, in the gravel parking area of a small farm stand in a rural town near mine. My friend had gone inside to buy a bag of birdseed.

To my left were thick woods, tall trees of maple, oak, and shagbark hickory, and dozens of other species, no doubt, if I'd gone in to look. A cool breeze seemed to come from the dark shade below the treetops, the wood moist even in the arid month of August. As I turned to look straight ahead, I saw a man digging a post hole on the edge of a meadow bright with goldenrod and Joe Pye. The sound his shovel made when it hit the ubiquitous Connecticut rocks was the only interruption to the birdsongs filling the air.

One small, gray bird caught my eye. He soared, then came down and flew horizontally over the meadow. Then suddenly, he dropped to the earth.

The man looked down, then up again, then down. My head followed his the way heads do in a tennis match. The man moved to where the bird went down, but seemed to find nothing. The bird did not rise from the earth.

That's the way I'd like to go, I think--in mid-flight, drop my body like a piece of baggage to the ground below, and keep on flying.