Monday, May 30, 2011

Sisters, Memorial Day

This is a weird way to memorialize Memorial Day. But honest, if that counts. I woke up thinking about my sister, Judy. 

Who died in the past ten years.  Of cancer. She'd braved chemo for four years.  Of the four girls--me and my three sisters--she was the only one who had kids, a comment on my family of course.  There's a whole lot I'm not going to say here.

We didn't have a great relationship and I knew I'd need help mourning her when she passed so I tried Gilda's Place, you know, Gilda Radner.  It's a great gift for grieving relatives but for me, flawed.  Gene Wilder unabashedly loved his wife.  Him, I believe. I needed another way to talk about my sister and ended up elsewhere (no specifics, sorry). 

What I have never chipped away at in trying to grieve or mourn her is what could have been.  What was--was my niece and nephew, two amazing, intelligent, joyous, complicated (but not too complicated), beautiful kids who are now beautiful adults.  Other than them and the fact of family (a big fact, granted) we, Judy and I, wouldn't have been friends (unless, in the big hypothetical, my not being family would made me more worthy in her eyes). Probably because our interests were so different but more because her response to mine was too often disinterest and contempt I had to hide so much of who I was around her. She made fun of my friends.

Who she met, granted, only because I lived in her house for two years in the early seventies.  It was my only fallback, my mother having moved on divorce before my first year in college was over. There was no other family. So when I was in my early twenties Judy left me there with her husband while she went on long business trips. No, it wasn't worse case scenario, but it was funky.

I can't even begin to explain how race figures into this. Mainly as a gift. Really and truly. But I was a chubby white hippie-influenced intellectual with a black inlaws, living in the Crenshaw District.  And my white sister was anti-intellectual and anti-art--or any art I liked.

She talked to me long and hard about her life.  I could never say much about mine.  Not to her. I don't think she wanted to know me, but I think she liked me. A lot of people liked me for a lot of years, but they didn't want to know me.  These days I want to know me and honestly care about only a few people.  My triple-Aquarianness accounts for my great caring for anyone used by others, the wretched on our earth, to paraphrase Frantz Fanon.  Otherwise, today at l east, I'm just trying to figure out how to connect better with the few.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cool website: Writers and Kitties. {I kinda sorta lied. No W.G. Sebald today.}

"George Bernard Shaw being Irish with his kitty."
Time is a wild stallion and I'm no horse whisperer. I couldn't tame a lunch hour, let alone twenty-four hours of potential lunch hours, i.e., a day.

Which is to say that contrary to yesterday's promise of a bit about W.G. Sebald in My 3,000 Loving Arms on Tuesday, today (Tuesday) there is nothing here about W.G. Sebald (unless we count my writing that there is nothing here about W.G. Sebald as being about W.G. Sebald). (Not likely.)

Instead and with much delight I am offering you a neato website I chanced on, Writers and Kitties. See lumniaries of the written word along with their familiars, Pyewackets, meow mixers.

Truman Capote, Camus, Bishop, Twain, Burroughs, Smith, HIGHsmith. (Smith is Patti, Highsmith is Patricia. Okay?) And more.

The captions are not pushy or cute (thank God), but some are funny.  "Jim Thompson and his kitty star in another police pulp fiction."  "V.S. Naipaul and his postcolonial kitty." "Mark Twain shooting pool with his kitty. They get their hair done in the same place."

Someday, when I run dry of ways to avoid writing, I will go to this site and read the hundreds of comments viewers have posted on each photo. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

My Mind is not a Database

Over the past three months I have researched and entered well over 100,000 facts, pieces of information, data related to medical advertising, medical editing, scientific research and good restaurants for take-out, into my brain.

When, two Saturdays ago, I attended a lecture on one school of Sufi thinking, I luxuriated in the possibility of overriding some of the nesting and organized details of Pub Med (see previous posting) and academic honors with more beautiful facts. Having been shown gorgeous slides of Sufi shrines and tombs to Sufi teachers I felt a possibility of peace and a cleaner, less encumbered mind.

One teaching numbed me in an exciting way. A sage had urged Muslims should pray for all Muslims. I hear parallel versions of that in churches--praying for all Christians--but I never gave it much thought before.  (And parallel, also, in synagogue, to include the third of my personal triad.) Seemed like a standard issue preaching from the pulpit. At the time I thought that if I generalize Islam, reduce it to its most mystical branch, praying for all Muslims is a joy.  However:

If I reduce Christianity, reduce it to its mystics and decent faithful believers who really try to do good, help the poor, and get enough inspiration to keep going, blanket prayers are also easy. But my mind instantly went to Christians I dislike: the hateful rightwingers; "pro-lifers" who kill in the name of pro-life; the well-fed aristocracy of clerics all religions have now and in history which commit abuses including sexual abuse and, by refusing to allow use of condoms, are responsible for millions and millions of deaths by AIDS, well, then my praying is challenged.

You won't believe it, but I thought I was leading up to writing about poet W.G. Sebald's After Nature, which was my subway book last week.  It's part of my database mind reaction. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.  For today, I hope (and pray) for everyone's highest angels to elevate us all. It's the best I can do; may it be doable for our higher angels.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

This is not a leak. This is public info about FDA approval of a perinatal drug.

from the movie Babies
This is not a leak.  This is public information, posted at First a bit of background on Pub Med, then the nonleak itself (about a drug the FDA approved).

Pub Med is the online, open-access archive of all articles published in medical journals. While the full article may not be available for free online, the abstract is (not all articles in the New York Times or many literary journals are for free, either). The full article is in the specific journal, and all relevant information needed to hunt that down is in the link. For your edification the number at the end of the link is specific.

Every article published in medical journals is assigned a number and can be researched by inputting the number, in this case 21471853, into Pub Med. I do a bit of related research (is how I know this).

Now for "Unjustified Increase in Cost of Care Resulting From U.S. Food and Drug Administration Approval of Makena (17α-Hydroxyprogesterone Caproate)."

Six physician/researchers from, variously the Albert Einstein Medical Center; the Yale University School of Medicine; the Washington University School of Medicine; the University of North Carolina School of Medicine; Massachusetts General Hospital; and the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston co-wrote the article.

The plot is simple and time-tested. A drug company (Big Pharm twirling its shellacked mustachio) and the FDA (a few select officials made all the happier) got together.

I am in no position to say if there was malfeasance or simple neglect. Also I am taking the researchers' words to be true--something I can't verify. That said, I have never seen an article like this.

The drug is Makena. It is manufactured by KV Pharm. Its use run $30,000 per pregnancy (for preterm deliveries; those costs are prohibitive to many. BUT there are alternatives to its use. Good, scientific, medically sound low-cost 9or far lower cost) medicines for preterm deliveries / perinatal care.

Makena's approval ENDANGERS lives. "This increased health care cost is not justified at this time."

And further, the team maintains:
The price barrier to access imposed by KV Pharmaceutical actually could result in an increase in preterm deliveries over current rates. Actions are needed by the FDA, national societies, and the manufacturer to ensure that all high-risk patients continue to get the needed therapy to reduce the number of preterm births.
So I am doing my little bit to get the information out there, to you and whoever you pass it onto. Pro-lifers, by which I mean vigilant anti-abortion groups, should take up the cause. Right?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Some Ways I Kept My Foot in the Waters Today

Still unable to carve out serious writing time, so for now I'm just happy I do anything. Today? On the way to work I read a few poems from W. G. Sebald's first collection, After Nature which I picked up at a used books store last night.  Involving poems and great interweaving of stories and history.

Tonight I went to KBG Bar and heard Deborah Landau read from her new collection. Her sensibility is sweetly raw, gently painful, fluid, female. I bought The Last Usable Hour (Copper Canyon Press). More later.

Well, that's it.  What did you do today to please The Blessed Mother Art?  If nothing, there's still time.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Consumer Complaint: Best Buy's Lies

A few months ago I bought a new notebook.  I knew what I wanted, played with a few models to be sure, and efficiently and independently made my decision.

Then Best Buy's standard practice went into operation. The young man who was assigned to get my computer from storage told me he'd see if there were any left (of the notebook that had been nationally advertised). He was sure there weren't and urged me to buy a pricier model.

I asked that he check for my model. It was in.

Then he tried to sell me a Word package.  I told him a use OpenOffice--shareware.  He shook his head in warning but saw I wasn't budging and so launched into the protection plan offer.  You know how wise guys sell "insurance" to candy store owners and butcher shops. That's what it felt like. He kept insisting my computer would  not be safe unless I spent another hundred dollars on a Best Buy maintenance plan.

I've been using computers since 1985. Maybe around 1987 I had to get my harddrive checked out but other than that, nothing. I declined, but what was insulting (yes, I know I'm taking this personally) was his comment to the sales girl about me, how I was a lost cause. She ignored him.  Buying my little $300 and change Toshiba was one long lying sales pitch from Best Buy.

Now I have a new cell phone I have to return to Best Buy. The clerk lied to me. I know lied is a strong word, but I am quoting the phone carrier. We just got off the line.  I've been using this make phones and plans since the get-go.  Best Buy has stepped up its bid to fill in its financial holes by way of pressure and misrepresentation or mistakes of ignorance; I'm especially annoyed.

Big picture is I am thankful I can currently swing purchases--a new notebook a few months ago--a new phone (my old died). I'm thankful for the convenience and opportunity.  My very first cell phone about seven years ago paid for itself in less than four hours through some freelance work.

So that's that. A rant. A nonpoetic segue.  And now I see it is an opportunity for me to recalibrate my emotions so I remember what I want out of life--it's not anger. Onward and with less emotion.

Friday, May 13, 2011

And for today, I am saved-er; when one job ends another looms; writing

I'm going to start with a post script. Using a Homer Simpson illustration may just undermine any attempt at seriousness here.  Oh well.  Here goes.

There is space in my head today, the kind of space a westerner appreciates, with sweeps of sky thinning into infinite firmament, mountain ranges on the horizon, shrubs, the many passions of dirt..

One job ended. It had been a long spell of databasing and so much information my brain rearranged itself. That's okay. It's malleable, my brain is. Further arrangements can be made and the rearrangement isn't so bad.  I felt its impact a few weeks ago when I wrote a few drafts.  Not so later with a different draft but any influence on a poem is if not good, then at least worth consideration and evaluation. 

Makes me wonder, did driving myself so much for these past few months open a few new passageways, block a door or two, narrow a circuit?  Does the new wallpaper work for me or doesn't it.  Yeah, I'm being abstract but then I'm not saying so much that detail is called for.

Only four hours of work today.  A full half-day vacation--time to detox or adjust as if I just stepped off a cross-country flight and am vibrating in solidarity with the airplane. 

Something new on Monday. And creation this weekend. Energy's being lowered like stars onto a stage. Everything's a prop. Every prop serves.

Monday, May 9, 2011

For today, I am saved

After work --ten hours-- I walked straight to a park for bark leaves shadows a whole different (lower thrum) vibration like a giant freezer might have if its shiny depth held tree trunks leaves shadows. 

Breathe breathe. 

My almost escaped Soul chooses to give me another shot. She is always ready to bolt.

Hope for me, there is hope for me, She believes. My Soul She likes flesh, likes a body without which She is intelligent ether only.

Without my Soul I am unintelligent electrochemistry. Souls find new bodies. Bodies don't find new Souls. That's a mystery.

Apple, spinach, celery.  Fresh juice. Cashews.  Carob-covered raisins.  Dinner.  I tell my soul She is  happy.  She doesn't care about spinach cashews raisins. She wouldn't care if I were macrobiotic or ate beef and chocolate cake for every meal.

Would She?

Why am I writing about Soul?  Why do I always land here?  Minutes ago I said, Sarah, write something anything, for any reason, or because you're a writer.

It's done.  Thanks for your indulgence.  For today, I am saved.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Lower Depths and The O.C.

I saw a performance of The Lower Depths last night.

In life and writing Gorki was loyal to the concept of freedom. He'd been friends with an early version of Lenin and criticized the later, repressive and vicious version.  The Lower Depths is modern to the core and chatty, packed with conversations of the eternally bamboozled (who are always with us).  His bamboozled are in a basement.  That alone put me on edge because I'm allergic to mold.It's not a bar but did remind me of the dark bar and bar stool-ees in The Iceman Cometh.

Booze, more booze, hitting wives, greed and centuries of resignation also put me on edge. The production counted among its beautiful czarist-era sluttish derelicts a dear relative of mine. And was intelligent, witty and dark.  Nothing there to displease Gorki.  The audience was especially attentive and supportive.

Oddly I was reminded of the O.C., a t.v. show that takes place in a dreamy Southern California bedroom community (in, duh, Orange County). Characters in the O.C. have dental and medical plans, great bodies, great wardrobes, great skin, great nutrition, sun, fun, school, and a little tribulation but troubles always work out.  And there's a lot of hanging out and talking about life.

And that's why it came to mind last night.  I guess.  I was laughing at myself (on the inside) when I thought that, but in a weird way that outlandish comparison with smooth, sunny Southern Cal. makes the play even more universal. People hang out. They have problems (who to take to the prom or as is the case of Gorki's characters, how to avoid  eviction in the dead of a Russian winter or stop a husband from relentless beatings of his wife or flat-out life-sucking despair).

I'm so proud my relative was riveting.  And in a classic. Acting was strong. Set was spot on.  Wardrobe close to perfect.  Gorki's depiction is a reveal on possibilities of higher natures. Of course I'm American to my positive thinking core. And still proud of my grand niece.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Poem: A Cruel Mistress Is a Cruel Mistress

The moon is in the seventh house to the left,
up from the corner, your left, not mine.
The seventh seal bounces a beach ball on her snout.
The beach balled.
Don't ask.
Your trousers got sandy.
His dancing shoes were abducted by kelp.
Kelp! Kelp! the heels called.
Her gown hemmed and hawed.
The moon is hemmed in by hope.
The seventh sandal has no soul.
Death stalks celery.
Your soul, She moons my beach ball.
The heels grieve for their leather uppers.
If I were a carpenter you'd be a county fair.
A cigar is just a cigarillo happy to see you.
The dance of the seventh veil
distracted the kelp.
The first six have no rhythm.
The heels had a new hero while the soul
slipped into Her gown.
You are part of my journey,
She whispered to the bodice.
Venus threw water on the moon.
Get a room, the sun said,
as the towel sang
it wanted to be loved by you,
by you,
and nobody else.

the above written by Sarah Sarai in celebration of taking a day off to spend with beautiful nieces. o, a leisurely morning. o, coffee, o, eggs, o yes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Notes of a Pre-pre-birther: Show me the dotted line with God's John Hancock

For too long this nation has been swept up like fallen Corn Flakes by a feverish broom the handle of which is gripped by "birthers."

My hunch is the broom handle is old and dried out, and the birthers in their frenzied states got splinters and by now have oozing wounds which cause them to be crazier than their God-given insanity specified.

What I am is a Pre-pre-birther. I want proof of the spark in the eye of Barack's father and the spark in the eye of Barack's mother. I want written certification that Barack Obama was once a a little bit of universal consciousness waiting his turn at this thing called "being human."  "Being human" is a duty all bits of universal consciousness must fulfill even though most understand it obliges them to 0-100  (and change) years of misunderstanding and embarrassment, of forgotten anniversaries, of the opportunity to participate in colonialism as either a colonel or colonel-ee.

Sure "being human" does come with party gifts, those being the occasional heart-stopping sunset of colors which make your eyes spin and your toes curl plus at least a few personal moments of dizzying joy and connection, and yay for all that.  But basically it must be proven, to me, that humans are human.

So until you show me the dotted line with God's John Hancock, I will continue in my delirious understanding that Barack Obama is a global hallucination.  Ditto Dolly Parton.  Ditto me.  Ditto you.

*I love Dolly Parton and will fight to the death any who make fun of her.  Ditto Barack.  Ditto me.