Saturday, November 24, 2012


Throughout life I would play the game of asking myself questions that demanded a decision.  They were often questions of highly debatable seriousness or consequence.  Often they were just questions that seemed to test my ability to decide anything.  Silly questions.  To make it easy.

“If I were given a choice to have any car in this lot, which one would I choose?”  I would ask myself, walking through a parking lot.


If I could choose any man to be with, who would I choose, I would think as I sat in a restaurant with a first date that would never escalate into a second.


If I could look like anyone, who would I choose, I would fantasize as I watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”   No decision was necessary as the answer was right there on the screen.


If I could be wearing any outfit in the room, which would I choose, I would think with envy as I mentally stripped the wearer bare.

As an adult I continue playing that game.  But now I do it to avoid real decisions.  Decisions to be made as part of real life with real risks.

I now find myself asking myself, “Self, if you had to decide on losing one sense, which one would it be?”

We have five.  I had to look that up.  And for those who need to be reminded:  Hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and sight.  For some reason I thought thinking was a sense.  Foolish me.  But then as I look around, I am reminded that had it been a sense, it was lost long ago by a whole species.

I think about losing the sense of hearing.  Being a sufferer of a non-fatal but enormously irritating and angst producing condition called Tinnitus, the reality of my hearing being compromised is very real and has already taken somewhat of a minimal toll.  Its loss is the never hearing one’s own breath and other sounds, both natural and manmade, that give us a sense that we’re not alone.  I think of never being able to hear them and my breath doesn’t come.

I think about losing the sense of smell.  Well, allergies and accompanying congestion have introduced me to that reality.  Then, oddly, I think of the cat litter box and when last I cleaned it.  And I think of the fragrance of flowers and the Night Blooming Cereus that blooms ever so infrequently on my side porch, sending out a whispering scent that sweetens my world.  I think of the smell of pizza crisping in the oven and the smell of new books opened for the first time.  I think of the smell I so adored of my horse breathing softly into my face, a mix of cut grass and bundled hay.  And I think of hygiene and all the showers I’ve taken and all the products I’ve used to make sure I never fouled my surroundings.  And then I think of all the odors the body emits and I put smell in its own category.

I think about losing the sense of taste.  It brings to mind a wonderful and talented actor friend of mine, Phil Bruns.  We did the debut of an off-Broadway play together called Spitting Image.  Oh, too many years ago - 1960 something.  During rehearsals, we’d break for dinner and fall into a local Mexican restaurant, ordering Margaritas upon hitting the chairs.  He’d order something stronger having drunk with the likes of Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Richard Harris and who knows who else.  He then ordered a side of red hot chili peppers.  He chose a big, shiny one and delivered it to his mouth, chewed down on it with a grin and swallowed it.  The three of us – Sam Waterston, Barbara Cason and Walter McGinn – stared in disbelief.  “How did you do that,” I asked, open jawed.  His answer: “I smoke too much; I drink too much and I can’t taste a damn thing.”  He smiled and continued to drain his drink and eat his peppers.  It didn’t seem like he missed taste at all.  I ordered my Chicken in Mole and knew I’d miss the taste of that.

I think about losing the sense of feel and realize how tactile I am.  How I drew my hand across the outer wall at the Petit Trianon to get historical vibes Marie Antoinette might have left behind had they existed.  And how addicted I am to the feel of my cat’s soft fur; and how I feel comforted by the feel of a hot shower raining on my face and body on a chilly morning; and how I love the familiarity of flannel on a cold night; and how I love the texture of sand under my feet; and the feel of velvety petals of a rose gently touched; and the feel as the tips of my fingers tap the keyboard and wonder how I would do without it and how impossible it would be.  And how I have felt the slicing of my finger with a sharp knife and the searing heat that produces a blister and realize there is reward and risk to feeling.

Then I realize, in my avoidance, that I have left to last the sense I would never want to lose.  I think about losing my sense of sight, a fear that once translated into a nightmare.  Fortunately, I don’t remember nightmares, or dreams for that matter.  But I did remember this one.  It was the fear of not being able to escape darkness and feeling closed in, a prisoner in my own head.  Terrified, I awoke into another darkness, this one the darkness of night.  I remember wiping the moisture from the back of my neck as I recognized the stream of moonlight coming in through my window.  I find myself even now having trepidation as I write this in the glare of a November afternoon.

Sight!  The window, portal, gateway through which images, real or imagined, enter our brain.  It seeds our cognitive ability to recognize colors, hues and light and darkness.  We see and make judgments about who to and who not to love and what to and what not to include in our often carefully created space.  I think about those who’ve never had sight and want to know their thoughts about how they’ve lived without it.  And then I remember trying to explain the color red to an acquaintance who had been blind from birth.  I couldn’t.  The memory startled me.   To never know red.  Or to go blind and forget red.  I can feel the emotions well up as I type this.  To never again see the candlelit faces of Carravagio or the brilliant thick swirls of Van Gogh blues and yellows.  To only feel the sun and not see how it changes the world around us.  To never see a smile only hear a laugh.  To never know how I look to myself or others.  To fricken not recognize a typo or where I am on the page.   To be lost and have to be found -  kind of like Hide and Seek but now called Blind and be Sought. 

Then I realize that this decision game of Sense Ditching is an activity of such nonsense that there isn’t even an app for it.  And there’s an app for everything.  And I realize that as I’ve lived this long without making decisions, I can make it the rest of the way.  That's just my decision. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I was staring at the Facebook screen and thinking why in hell does anyone give a good damn what I think?   It was a startling thought as I’ve spent a great deal of my adult life as a donor of thoughts.  This need to contribute just seems to be a normal function.  Then it occurred to me that it could be just a snake like function of shedding skin.   That my need to emerge from inner emotional turmoil and mentally perplexing questions can only be done by airing what’s going on in my head.  Mind you, I’m really good at being silent.  For days or longer.  Just ask my husband.  Not a good trait.  And it doesn’t make me feel better.  But it’s at times like those that writing becomes a therapeutic cleansing. ..a shedding.

And while I’m on the subject, let me include you in an animal related memory regarding snakes.  I do think it’s time for them to take a more positive place in the lobes of our still primordial brains alongside those creatures which compel us to love them.  How easy it is for baby faced kittens and puppies with their little pink, wet noses and big Keane eyes to lure our hearts and minds into a nurturing and protective mode.  And how warm and comforting it is to our egos when they look up at us adoringly, perhaps in request for food or cuddle close to us perhaps in a search for warmth.  How calming it is to stroke that soft fur and elicit a purr or a warm tongue kiss.  And now that we read that the presence of a pet can add a reassuring few years to our lives, that is a payback that humans find even more gratifying.

It was several years ago.  My husband made reservations to visit Shambala Preserve, a sanctuary for abandoned exotic felines.  It’s located in Acton, California, north of Los Angeles.  Being animal lovers, this type of environment afforded us the closeness to these most beautiful creatures that doesn’t depress as do city supported zoos, mostly inhumane roadside tourist attractions and circuses which exploit and harm the majesty of animals.  It was here that I saw my first snake up close and personal.  I could feel the back of my neck tingle with all my preconceived, ill-informed notions of this reptilian symbol of male dominance and the equally ill-informed thought of its textural feel of slime.

The messenger, dressed in safari khaki, emerged from the visiting crowd.  Around his neck, a draped, rather sizable snake rested calmly and comfortably.  Those who noticed stepped back abruptly grabbing those who didn’t in an unneeded rescue mission.  I watched from a safe distance.  I found it humorous as I watched while giving birth to a thought of how over reactive human beings can be based on false perception.  And then I thought of my own resistance to fact.  It was then I decided to do my own rescue mission, saving myself from a lifetime of snake aversion.

“I’ll be right back.”

The announcement startled my husband, but I was already on my way toward the messenger and his companion.

“Hi, can I touch your snake?” I asked as I reddened, realizing my double entendre.

He smiled.

“Sure, go ahead.”

Thinking it was best not to think about how to proceed, I mindlessly reached out and ran my hand down the body of the reptile.  As I did, my face broke out into a smile so broad it hurt my cheeks.

The snake felt smooth like a fine, Italian leather jacket and it was cool to the touch.  It wasn’t wet; it wasn’t slimy; it wasn’t scaly…and it wasn’t repulsive.  I began to feel emboldened with this new found awareness.

“Do you think I can hold him?”

I did expect a kind of resistance resembling, “Well, I don’t know.  He is a snake after all.”

But what I got was very different.  Without a word, the messenger lifted off the snake from around his neck and placed it around my shoulders.  I almost fainted in awe of my heroism, the elements of which I never considered I had.

The snake rested as calmly and as comfortably as he did on the messenger.  My thoughts raced, my eyes teared and my heart pounded.  Here I was with a snake on my shoulders.  This was a moment of a very rare and enormously valued enlightenment which is underestimated by my lack of vocabulary.  This was a moment that I cherish.  This was a moment that I gave up fear in exchange for facts.      

Thursday, November 15, 2012


The conversation went something like this:

"There is an addiction to violence in this world.  And it's spiraling out of control."

This was a comment made to an intellectually gifted friend whom I respect though find as annoying as she finds me.  Her response:

"Actually, it's not.  Statistics show violence is on the decline."

As I personally disdain statistics as being from the minds of nerdy number heads whose emotions and eyes have shut off actual life, I vehemently disagreed.  This allowed the annoyance level to rise, which in some way delighted me.

Born number challenged, statistics have little sway with me.  Consider that I still don't know my times tables, the blame for which I put on a sadistic teacher.  And I can be observed, to my shame, counting on my fingers when doing subtraction. So, it can't be a surprise that I don't rely on that amazingly enduring system which dates back to Egypt around 3100 BC...and may date back even earlier.  

So, for lack of understanding and trust for a system that assists putting life in a column, or a bar, or a pie, I use my combined senses to make judgements by allowing them to be attacked on a daily basis by waves of human behavior that can only be described as out of control violence on each other, on other species and on the very planet that sustains us.  I hear it every day in angry discourse; I see it frequently in the increasing number of violent films; I taste it in the tasteless foods drained of benefits by corporate killers; I smell it in the toxic air made foul by industry; I suffer the attacks on my sensitivity from the media.  I ache with heart break at how little we care for the suffering of others and the animals we cruelly victimize.  I wonder in despair at the garbage we throw at the earth and I contemplate its violent revenge.  I think of Factory Farming and corporate resistance to GMO labeling and the fat cats fighting against our right to know about any of it.  I see it in how passionately we seek access to guns and how easily hunters see killing as sport.  I see it in our training of kids to be killing machines we send to war.  I see it in the abuse of the young, the elderly and the disabled.  In conclusion: I don't hear, see, taste, smell or feel that violence is on the decline.  And so to my friend who believes what she reads, I say you are wrong.  

Statistics are for me mostly senseless.  They are created by those whose senses have long ago been relegated to the back of a dark closet to join other useless things.  And then there is Nate Silver, a statistician whose statistics I owe my sanity to during the 2012 Presidential Elections.  But for him, I would discount all statistics as another mind game to keep senseless people busy...and a safe distance from violence.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I'm wondering if I'm to blog every day.  And if I blog every day, will my blogging become bloated and boring and blah.  Can't have that.  I can't assume that every thought or experience that floats around in my brain and fills every moment of my day is worth sharing with strangers.  Friends maybe.  Friends have earned the right to be bored. Strangers have not.  I don't want this to become hellish to those who venture here to read these ordered words.  And I do try to avoid the hellish except for this day.

My husband wakes me.
"It's 8:00.  Wanna wake up?"
'I don't,' I think.

It's a diamond of a day and the light is pure and sharp as it pours in the window.  It's a good light in which to start a day.  Even for me whose love of waking late into the morning is lifelong.  Then there's the cold.  It's a Southern California cold but it's still cold for those of us just out of a long summer of hellish heat that lasted for too long.  The thought of throwing off my quilted barrier to the chill becomes an act of courage.

My morning starts with preparing for the electrician. He will be shutting off the power for the day.  We live in a duplex as a tenant shared by a couple, their two often screaming kids, and their two often barking octo-doxies.  The wife is the niece of the owner of the duplex which once belonged to us.  The niece wants central air in her residence presumably in a planned assault against Global Warming.  The duplex is 1930's vintage requiring a major electrical upgrade to allow for this strategic defense.  It's a hell we refused upon learning of the extent of breaking of walls here and creating dust, disorganization and general mayhem.  Not to mention that this would affect me in several other negative ways, most of which would affect my well-being.  Ms. Niece continued as planned.  We suffered the power being off from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 p.m., the thunderous sound of walls being torn down and power drills being powered into hard surfaces below.  It was hellish.  But it wasn't here and my home remained dustless and in order.

Ah, yes, the duplex.  It was once ours and sold years ago the result of a catastrophic series of bad decisions.  And that's all I will write on that.  I will say that it was hellish, an earthquake of sorts; the aftershocks from which I still suffer.

Time of day is mostly unknown.  Most of the clocks are powered by electric, not by battery or tiny, intricate wheels turning on seconds.  It's hellish not knowing the time of day.  I am aware and now envious of those who can tell time by the way the light lands.  I can't.  And I need the time of day as I have a doctor's appointment at 2:00.  Let me add, I don't like most doctors.  I will not go into why I need to see her on why I feel as I do, but trust me, it's hellish.

In between showering and seeing Dr. Who, I fit in giving my soon to be 17 year old Calico, Dolly, her subcutaneous fluids in hopes of staving off the deterioration of her kidneys as a result of Chronic Renal Failure.  This is hellish for me and, dare I forget to say, hellish for her.  But that she feels much improved after is our reward.  But it's still hellish.

I have scheduled my return from the doctor appointment and various chores to see the electrician pull out of the driveway.  I pull in to my garage, which now opens with my remote, and sense the return of electricity.  I will revel in its ability to return light from darkness; it's ability to give me back the Internet and Word and will be reminded of how extremely addicted I am to convenience.  It's hellish. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


I enter this blogging mire as a way to silence the complimentary, persuasive and concerned voices around me.  They who are the recipients of many of my rantings, musings and opinions have agreed that I have a blog in me that needs to get out.  I, on the other hand, am happy to remain in my own cocoon to emerge in the privacy of e-mails and the glare of Facebook.  A contrast, I agree, but both do not require a commitment for which I am less and less able to make on a daily basis.  And even now, I look above in the Compose window and see the options of Publish, Save, Preview and Close and see Close as the most attractive option.  But I will persist against the easy way out for I have an over active mind that fights sleep, a voice that wishes to be heard and a passion for truth and the creative.  And I have a need to speak about the sane potential of matter how often I am disappointed.

Warm and safe for now.  But what of its future?

And so my first post will be a direct emotional response to a picture I saw on Facebook today of a caged mother pig stretching her head out from under the bottom most bar of a small, hellish enclosure and stretching her flat nose toward her infant, as cute as any born to human, from which she is separated, her anguish palpable and painful. Never desiring to nurture a child of my own, I somehow empathize with this mother and think of the cruelty that has been visited on such an innocent creature.  And I wonder why it is that this mother in her yearning to be near her child and her fear for her child's safety is any less important and considered than if she were human.  And I wonder why we as a species can sit down to a breakfast plate of sizzling bacon and not wonder about its origins of human inflicted pain in our lust for self-indulgence. 

There will be more of this animal related anguish to come among a pot pourri of other topics.  It seems to me that if we can not remove ourselves from ourselves and see beyond our selfish need to satisfy our lust for self-satisfaction without awareness of its toll on others - human or animal - we are pathetically doomed.  By the way, to my amusement, the origin of the word pot pourri is French and means literally, rotten pot.  I'm laughing my ass off.