Sunday, December 20, 2015

Days of innocence, of family secrets; being beautiful; mostly good days

Annual cover, Thomas Jefferson High School
Except for the yearbook cover and the last photo, the pictures here are from Leslie’s iPhone… the world through her eyes.
Days of innocence; days of family secrets.
Everything was perfect back then and it was of utmost importance to maintain that myth – within individuals, families, communities, cultures…
Of course there were true good parts too, sweet things, beautiful things. Leslie and I fell in love during these days – when we all really did look kind of like the photo on the annual cover. We fell in love in that environment, that consciousness.
Then along came youth culture, the consciousness revolution, the sexual revolution, civil rights, women’s liberation, the war, the peace movement, all of that – we were the first rock & roll generation. It was a decade like no other before or since in the history of the world!
Now, there are still family secrets, but now there are places to go for help. Now it is a crime for teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. to not report suspected child abuse. Now there is awareness. Now the interview with the child and the police is not a bleeding nightmare for the victim (Respect and Love to Det. Lt. Walsh and Asst. DA Karnutsis – sorry about the spelling. They made it happen in Dallas). For the times they are a’changing.
A photograph of love
Now I know what a Majestic Feeling is.
1967… I would hear someone say, “_______ is so beautiful.” I’d think, “She’s not so beautiful.” Or someone would say, “He’s a beautiful person,” and I’d think, “What! He’s a guy. A guy can’t be beautiful.” But then my mind opened and I realized she is beautiful; he is beautiful; and most incredible of all, I am beautiful!”
When you find out who you are,
David in our Noe apartment, fall 2014
Beautiful, beyond your dreams
If someone had asked me if I ever dreamed myself as beautiful, I’d have thought they were crazy. Yet somewhere deep inside, from the beginning, deeper than consciousness, deeper than words I did dream of being beautiful. I awakened and became beautiful (you know, now and again).
At the same time, Leslie was showing me, loving me how to do beautiful… and I was reaching out, reaching beyond my misperceptions about myself and thus my misperceptions about others.
Another factor in the awakening was war. I came out of that war wounded, sick, soul-sick, skinny, tense, with violence barely below the surface – yet in all that, committed to somehow never lose track of the war, never lose track of being alive.
For the ones who had a notion,
A notion deep inside,
That it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.
One of our hangouts - patio at Thorough Breads
These things worked together in the creation of who and what I might be: the war-driven drive to be fully alive, Leslie’s love and the example of her life, and the changes in my consciousness.
How could anyone ever tell you, you were anything less than beautiful.
How could anyone ever tell you, you were less than whole.
People say things. Sometimes I’m staggered at what people have endured and how some things resonate all through people’s lives. Sometimes it’s extraordinarily difficult, even impossible to “choose to be happy.” Here’s to the ones who have endured – and to those who didn’t endure. And a Curse on those who cause such pain.
On Market Street
I wrote this in 2008: I was in the Parkland Psychiatric Emergency Room, in one of the little interview rooms with a woman, her daughter, her granddaughter, and one of my students. Their story was that the grandmother had learned that her husband was molesting her granddaughter – just as he had molested her daughter. “He’s not going to get away with it again, God-damn him.” There is a curse – the real thing.  
Two hard days the past few days. Otherwise I’m doing pretty well. There have been days in the past few weeks that I’ve actually not been more than ready for the day to be over(!).
Today I finished cleaning the house for Christmas. Part of the cleaning was moving everything off Leslie’s shrine so I could dust and rub the wood with oil, then put everything back. Of course everything in/on the shrine is of the greatest significance and I was sad and grateful and lonely for some hours.
I’ll be out shopping or whatever and see so many couples. It’s like that’s our natural state – in relationship.

Monday, December 7, 2015

On the street, drugs, AIDS, nine months, park party

I write different things on different days and sometimes rearrange things, so who knows what day something is really written on.
Walking along upper Market/Castro/Noe/Church…
David and Charles on Castro... all those people
  • Super pretty young woman zipping along on a Razor scooter – Wow!
  • Man alternately raving and begging.
  • The man who sells flowers two blocks from my apartment, Guy, walking up the sidewalk carrying a bouquet. “Are you doing a home delivery?” “No, I’m starting my second career, singing in the studio.”
  • Lovers walking, embracing (this is a town full of lovers).
  • Two men shouting at each other, “m-f this, m-f that, g-d m-f the other.” They weren’t upset or anything, just shouting at each other.
  • Old man wearing a black leather jacket walking an old dog. “There’s a couple of old dogs,” I said. We both laughed and the dog just stood there, glad for a rest, I’m sure.
  • Many of the people with babies carry them in a harness so the baby is facing forward, little legs kind of flopping along. Wouldn’t it be grand to be able to see the world like those babies!

Harvey Milk shrine in the Castro.
He was assassinated in 1978. 
I already knew that drugs like enalapril, omeprazole, levaquin, and so on can do wonderful things (and also can be dangerous). But it really came home to me when about 20 years ago I started prescribing them and following people over time. The first serious illness I cured was pneumonia – in a woman who wasn’t responding to treatment through a public hospital. I gave her Biaxin XL 1 gm qd for 10 days and I forget what else and she got well. I went to her apartment on Gaston several times working on getting the dosing right. Always a few gangsters around. For the rest of our time at Agape the woman would come in every few months mostly just to kind of say hello.
Yesterday evening, David, Charles, and I walked to the Castro for a farewell dinner at Eureka!, one of my favorite places. When we turned on to Castro, I realized that the sidewalks were covered in chalked names. It was World AIDS Day and the names were a memorial to the many, many thousands who died from this terrible disease. I was stunned. There were little buckets of chalk for anyone who wanted to add a name or idea. After I got home I decided to walk back to Castro and add Rueben’s name. Little known fact about Leslie: she helped take care of Rueben when he was sick.
Sidewalk memorials. Rueben.
Today marked nine months since Leslie passed away. What a ride we had and what (a different kind of) a ride this grief and mourning have been. Looking back on this time – and really it’s been hard since last November when Leslie began having difficulties – I realize I’ve gone about as deep into grief as I can go (famous last words!) and I realize I’m afraid of more pain. God almighty, it’s been hard. The first 6 months I was I don’t know what I was. I was going, Leslie, oh my sweet Leslie. I was in awe of her everything. I was so sad for her, for us, our beautiful life together. I spent a lot of time being grateful, too. The next two months I was feeling sorry for myself. The last 3 weeks I’m not as sad.
It was a perfect day to get a Christmas tree. I can hardly believe I did it. It would have been easy to think never mind and not have a tree. I bet nobody would be surprised. But there it is.
Hippie Hill drum circle on a Sunday afternoon.
Here comes the didgeridoo!
Saturday: Breakfast at Taco Joint with Ron. Home. Go to used stuff store looking for ceramic pie pans, thinking wouldn’t it be nice to give people pecan or apple pies in nice pans. On the way, I saw a farmers market and knew Don would be there, so stopped and hung out with Don and Tia for awhile. On to used things store but no pie pans. Got a tree. Patched a hole in the side of the house where a squirrel had chewed its way in (Thanks for telling me, Jay!). Went to Whole Foods and ran into someone I’ve known a long time and had a disturbing interaction with him. Got lights on tree. Started with decos and John came by and hung out for awhile while I put decos on. Dinner at Whole Foods. I’m sure I would never bring my own Cajun chicken grilled in John’s “Big Green Egg” and my own bread from Acme Bakery and get $.78 worth of lettuce to enjoy the sometimes convivial atmosphere of WF (saw Stephen from psytrance scene, so that was nice). The front of the house smells like a Christmas tree.

Atrium Obscurum park party. Sarah Spirals
doing the opening dance/flagging
Sunday: Park party in Fort Worth with Atrium Obscurum. Brought cookies (chocolate chip with extra chocolate and nuts). Helped with set-up. Spent the afternoon talking with people – a lot of nice people who I like a lot. Good music throughout. It was a beautiful day.