Saturday, July 29, 2006


My brother's diagnosis is in. T'ain't good at all. His cancer is in the pancreas. I think I'd like to be about 5 right now, so I would still be years away from knowing the mortality rate for pancreatic cancer. Yet. I am not 5 and I do know the mortality rates. I can't fix it.

Some people may think I'm being cold or putting him in an early grave. That's far from the truth. I look at facts as a way of coping with the unimaginable and to keep my emotions from running out of control. He got a raw deal coming into the game when our Dad died 3 months after he was born. Now he's got another raw deal. I don't see any justice or purpose in this. Certainly not proportion or chronological progression.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Here... In New Mexico

I love summer nights here in New Mexico. The evening air typically cools by as much as 20 degrees from the daytime temperatures.

When I was a teenager I often snuck out my window and wandered around aimlessly, padding along different neighborhood streets in my Keds. I'd like to say they were sturdy, but my big toe could wear a hole in the fabric in less than 5 weeks. I loved the feel of the night breeze on my skin, just a whisper along the hair on my arms to tingle. I'd try to sneak up on stalking cats and tickle their ears - sometimes I was successful. There was a lot that once had a beautiful mulberry growing on it that was perfect for climbing and it had large limbs I could perch and lounge around on and in. It was a perfect place to hang out in the dark of night, to feel at ease in.

At night, one's senses become attenuated. On the mesa I'd sit nestled in silken sand and listen to the sounds of night. I could hear the whisper of a bat's wings beating in the air, the padding amble of a stray dog, it's paws crunching sere grasses beneath them. The scrabble of mice as their feet dug into the dirt under clumps of grass as owls hunted them could make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

It was darker at night back then. The city wasn't as large as it is now. I'd pillow my head on a rock and stare up into the night sky seeing the Milky Way spilled into the dark and the faint blues, yellows and reds of distant stars, their light like pinpricks through velvet on still nights, and twinkling, coruscating like flickering fireflies when winds stirred dust up in the higher levels of the atmosphere. If my wanderings in the night took me up into the foothills, I'd look down into the bowl of the city and the lights looked as if some careless dragon had spilled out chestfuls of diamonds, citrines, rubies, sapphires, garnets and tourmaline for some invisible seamstresses to embroider onto swaths of rich black velvet. Light and sound were entirely mutable - one moment dimmed and hushed, another harsh and shattering.

Night was the mystery I embraced, the solace I sought. In the darkness, I could merge with shadows and pass in silence. It was nothing I feared, though a thunderstorm and the winds presaging it could make my body tingle and tremble with anticipation as I turned into a storm runner, racing my way home as the sky gods threw their bolts of lightning around the heavens, limning the clouds with silvers and greys and black.

As I got older, of course I found the night was made for other things - like forbidden sex, lover's sex. Loosing myself in hot embraces, sweaty skin sticking and slipping while the sounds of neighborhood traffic went by, belly taut partly in fear of discovery. Night for hanging out drinking coffee, flirting with the guys at Kaps, sometimes seeing a hot guy like Indio or Smitty and set my cap for them, wondering if I could get them to take me to their beds. We were young - healthy human animals and our blood was hot, hormones pumping through us and driving the need to mate, often and to cherish our body's dance of lust and pleasure, sensation and satiation...or just sometimes could we just go for a ride on your motorcycle, please? Another way to dance with the night! oh yah...

Of shadows and secrets I know much. Camping in the mountains, I stroll along familiar paths at festival events where fires light the faces of drummers and dancers circle the fires, men and women stripped to their waist or more, swaying, chanting, intoning the names of gods and goddesses remembered over time. I've danced around those fires myself, and still do, but not so much now. My bones quarrel sooner now, so I slip back into the embracing darkness, content that those younger, more supple have assumed their rightful places in the night dance. I am a daughter of the moon, daughter of night

Saturday, July 22, 2006

My Brother Jay

Tonight my younger brother Jay is on my plate. Of six children, he is the only boy and the youngest. I'm eight years older.My brother has year ago May, my brother was diagnosed with cancer, a lymphoma whose name I can't pronounce. Over the last 5+ years he has also been living with HIV. This evening I got a call from my sister C. letting me know that his cancer is no longer in remission and it is likely involving the liver, bilary duct or the pancreas.

In every decade of my life, I have know or known of at least two or three people who've had cancer; some lived with it for a decade or two, others went quickly. My mom went quickly. And now my brother is in The Fight. His downturn began 5 weeks ago, but he thought he was shaking off something else. I'm eating chocolate ice cream out of the carton and trying to keep my mind focused on facts. Facts are simple, managable. Emotional eating. Inside my memories jumble and collide with emotions and I am afraid of losing control.

I put mom's Buick through the garage on his 5th birthday. We'd been playing in it, and I was the being the hot-shot big sister. How we came to be playing in her car, I really don't remember. Mom was out with a friend of hers and we were being babysat by 'Dette who was snogging with her boyfriend in the living room. I guess Jay and I somehow released the parking brake and the car rolled some in the drive. Now I mentioned previously that I'm an ACOA. That is "Adult Child of Alcoholism." Back then I was simply a freaked out candidate for becoming really anal. Seeing how far the car moved, I reasoned that Mom Would Have-A-Cow(tm) and All Holy Hell(tm)Would Break Loose because, when drunk, mom could be a raging terrifying frightful bitch and I didn't want that on my brother's birthday. And I could NOT predict whether she would be surly or funny either. So I figured : "I'd better get the car parked exactly the way it was or mom's gonna kill me." My best thinking at work. Ha! I got out of the car and eyeballed the tire tracks and figured I needed to pull forward about 6 inches. That went fine. No problem. Got out to assess whether I hit the mark, and thought I missed, so I backed up again, and then when I went forward, instead of hitting the brake, my foot slipped on the gas pedal, and into the garage I plowed. Oh what a mess! I was stunned. Jay stood on the sidewalk looking on in horror and when I got out of the car and went over to him, Dette blasted out of the house and Jay was like "You've fuckin' wrecked my birthday." and then Dette shouted at me to go get her dad. I remember going up to Dette's parent's house and getting her dad to come down, and then I went in the house to call the cops because I "knew" an accident report needed to be filed (funny thing the thinks kids pick up). Jay and both were a mass of anxiety for similar reasons - his birthday was ruined and I was the ruination of it all. Mom showed up home with her friend Erna about the same time a motorcycle cop arrived. There is something sort of spectacular about a car in a house. Not the thing you want to come home to, but its a stop in the tracks kind of thing. After sorting out a few facts, Mom asked who called the cops and J., Dette, Mr. 'Ville, and my sisters all pointed: at me. She asked me why in an oddly calm tone and even though I was shaking in my shoes, in the way only a kid can, I explained: "I thought that's what you're supposed to do when you have a car accident." (And I honestly thought that, too.) Mom paused for a moment and the next thing I knew she was roaring with laughter and I could see the tension slide off Jays young shoulders. His party went on, and all had a good time, but I ruined his birthday and that's been our story ever since. You have NO idea how relieved we were that Mom had laughed instead of flying into a rage. But some drunks you just can't predict, y'know?

We didn't have much in the way of sibling rivalry and by the time he was an adolescent, I was already living away from home on my own. We always connected with mom vis a vis language - talking, conversing, playing with words, sharpening our tongues and wits and honing them to a fine edge. We shared the salacious pleasure of language used to draw forth responses, to teach, cajole, entertain and wrestle and spar. Unlike me, they also shared the pleasure gotten when words were used to hurt like a whip. I can, in self defence, but it is not to my taste and I prefer to keep to softer speech.

Jay and I are simpatico on many things and our relationship is a generally agreeable, no-fuss no muss type, which is pretty good for siblings, I reckon. We agree in principle on a lot of subjects and it is food and cooking, seasoned lightly with politics, that we mostly talk about. I'm an good cook and have flashes of creativity. Even had a few recipes published in Bon Apetit back in the mid 80s. He became a chef who worked in places like San Francisco's Carnelian Room and the St. Francis Hotel. His practice dishes when he had ambitions to compete in the Bocuse d' Or were as visually beautiful as they were savory. Mom was not a very good cook, so we came to our cooking styles in self defence. He made a profession out of it while I'm a hobbyist with it. And briefly, he had his own place, BITE, on Market St. But then he got cancer. And now my mind turns on memories and impressions and the fear I feel seeing him join our sister Karla who has long been ill with M.S. and seeing their lives passing in too early a sunset.

Today I struggle with these things I cannot change and seek refuge in the Serenity Prayer and comfort in still laughing at the way Jay sandbagged me good on the 4th of July.

Monday, July 10, 2006

In the grass
in my yard
I stretch sleekly
warmed in sunlight
like a cat
on my back

Copyright: Morgan 6/4/06

Major Life Events - The Short List

What major events do you think shaped your life? I think of major events as something that happened that made you stop and say "WOW! This is good! important! mind-bending! heavy! sad!" and so on. You know - the kind of stuff that led to you growing up in the world and made you conscious of what was going on around you.

Some of my life events were:

  • The Kennedy-Nixon race.
  • Learning to read -absolutely life altering.
  • The Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • My father's death 7/23/63.
  • The Space Race.
  • The 60s.
  • Being a "baby-hip" and getting into the arts, hanging out with writers and painters, as well as bikers, hippies, and other assorted social misfits.
  • Discovering writers like Khalil Gibran, Herman Hesse, Constanting P. Cavafy, Ursala K. LeGuin, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Thomas Merton, and many others.
  • My Mom becoming sober in A.A. starting in 1972.
  • Joining and serving in the Air Force from 1973 to 1979.
  • Getting married while in the Air Force and separated by 1979.
  • Going to college and getting divorced.
  • Graduating college.
  • Marrying my beloved 2nd husband.
  • My Mom's death - still sober after all those years.
  • Opening our marriage after 20 years together.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

A Cynic

"CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision."

-- Ambrose BierceThe Devil's Dictionary

"Someone who doesn't believe other people's damn lies." Jim Murray, LA Times

Admit being a cynic and you get to listen to lemmings diving off the cliff. Me. Today. 7/8/06

Missing Persons

I have a mystery I don't have a solution to. His name is Joseph P. Doolittle.He was a cute little brown haired boy with merry, sparkling blue eyes who sat in the front of the class.I didn't know him for very long - just first and second grade. We played together sometimes. He got me in trouble with our 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Weeks, and I returned the favor. It was fun! Like little conspirators sharing a common bond, we always found something to grin about. It was a good thing and he never joined the other boys who bullied me. But then Joseph just up and vanished one day.

I knew where his house was and I went back there a couple of times; I wanted to find my friend. The place seemed to always be dim inside. His parents and brother were still there. Lived in an old Bellemah home off of Indian School and just west of Wyoming. Joseph's parents or brother would put me off with different excuses like him being on vacation with a relative. Stuff like that.

I persisted intermittently for a couple of years. The last time I went to his house, his brother told me to shove off and don't come back -- and he said something odd: he said Joseph told them that he really wasn't their son and wanted to go live with an Hispanic family in Las Vegas, NM, so I should stop bothering them. Something didn't sit right, but I was a kid and who was I to argue with 'em? Also, there was a kind of a menace the way his brother warned me to stay away, so I did. I got a creepy feeling about his family -- that they would just up and send their son off like that. Stick a kid in therapy, sure, but send them off to live with strangers? Without a fight?

What 8 year old boy repudiates his family like that? Nah. Doesn't make sense. Didn't make sense then, doesn't make sense now. So I've wondered off and on over the years, as the summer progresses and back to school signs crop up in shops around town and school signs begin announcing registration, whatever happened to Joseph? Whatever became of him? Is he well? Is he ok? Healthy? Happy? WTF Happened Back There, Back Then? Would he be someone I'd like, or despise? Is he even alive, for that matter?

Do y'all have a missing person you've ever wondered about? Do they haunt you, too?