April 13, 2002

bloodied hands are everywhere

And just to clarify my stance on terrorism, about which I've received some nasty, unsolicited, and unintelligible emails of late, here you go.


In case that's not clear enough, I'm against terrorism and genocide of all kinds. If you don't like it, take me off your blogroll.

April 12, 2002


Some bloggers like most to talk about the global, the big picture, the world, its conflicts, its leaders and losers. Some are very good at it. Others are annoying. Still others are mere copies of what we hear on cable news and talk radio, which, in my mind, is a waste of good blog space.

As for global issues, I will leave it to the bloggers who are good at it. There are more opinions out there on current events than you can shake a laptop at.

The blogs I like to read are the personal, those individual portraits of the human heart, blogs about lives and losses, realizations, aspirations, fears; bloggers who open their closets, skeletons and all. That's where I learn things. I come here to escape the macro, the global, the things I cannot solve, the pieces of the world that others control and seek to dominate. Big secret #1: You have no control of what's happening; it is in the hands of governments, and governments, like corporations, are not human. Only those caught in their in the machinery are human. That is the tragedy.

What I CAN change is me. That's it. That's all I can change. And that's all you can change.

Mirror to face,
Blogging for grace.

I challenge you today to put your heart on the line. Take it past the easy blog fuel--who killed whom today, what could happen next. Go for premium. Get personal. Tell me about you. Who fucked with you today? What happened to you that you are the way you are, the person you are? What brought you to blogging? Not the outside stuff. The *inside* stuff.

I dare you.

April 09, 2002

panic remembered

The past has a way of protecting you. Sometimes for a long time. Until it’s way way in the past. Yesterday, I remembered suddenly the circumstances around my first panic attack. I used to think they started in high school. The doctors would ask: "When did you start having panic attacks?" I'd try to think back, but, caught in the grips of anxiety, it seemed like always would have been the most accurate reply.

Until yesterday, though, I thought I had it nailed down to my tough times in 10th grade. Those are the ones I remember best. Under siege by what ifs and terrorized by possibilities ranging from the very real to the really absurd, grappling with hour-long bouts that were very painful, and very physical, and made me certain that I was going completely out of my mind and could not take it another split second, the days when a minute seemed like three years and the thought of three years led to the next wave of terror.

But last week I remembered. I didn’t just remember; I was there. In the fourth seat of the first row from the door, Mr. Connor’s 6th grade science class, trying to pay attention even as I was fixated, as always, on his bald head and his wrestling coach walk, and the rumor I had heard from the other kids that his wife had just died.

His question to the class is what started this wave of panic, which ripped up my spine to flush my cheeks, which made me want to run from class to the bathroom where I could throw up. I was sure I would faint, and if I didn’t I was sure I would die. It was perhaps the hardest question I had ever been asked and is even still:

“What does your father do for a living?”
Followed by, “Let’s go around the room.”

And one by one, the answers came from the other kids, fast and furious, a restaurant manager, a construction worker, a teacher—like you Mr. Connor!—a writer, he works at Xerox, he delivers the mail, until he hit the row before mine. I turned around to Susan, who sat behind me. She lived on my street… one of the few who knew I didn’t have a father, that he was dead—“What do I SAY?” She shrugged her shoulders. “mmmm mm mmmm.”

As a kid, when your father dies before anyone else’s in what you know to be the entire world, that makes you really different. A freak. And in 1969, if he died of cancer, that made you a leper. I was about to become a leper if I didn’t think fast. Really fast.

And as he pointed at me, I said it. Well almost:

“My mother works.”
“Oh. ……………….. What does she do?”
“She shows apartments.”

And he moved on.

But I never did.

And for Halley

For Halley, who lost her father today, "Passage" below seems a fitting poem for her too. Our thoughts are with you, Halley. Much pain in blogland today.

April 08, 2002


(for george)

It’s the going
the going
the going
the going,
It’s the deadly
of without.

It’s the
not having,
the space
every place
I look
you aren’t.

dreaming of
the absence of

It’s the trick
of the eye
turning is
into was
and was
into wasn’t
ever so.

It’s life with
the music off,
the soundlessness
and then
the shrill smack
of the high end
set loose on me.

It’s the first day
without you.

April 07, 2002

The Revelation

so, I'm thinking about doing some writing stuff--you know, outside the blogging realm and the 8,000 client deliverables I'm writing all the time. I don't know. It's not fully formed. But I have this start, or middle, or end that came to me just now. Not sure where it's going. Feedback welcome. -j.


She has been afraid of bugs for as long as she can remember. More than the typical aversion, hers is the kind of fear that jolts, base of spine to tip, a panic that reaches a crescendo in the time it takes the brain to process what the eye has seen. And for her, beetles are the worst.

June Bugs some call them. They swarm on hot summer evenings, the color of night, knocking against windows, working their way inside screens. June bugs struggle with a single purpose: to burrow before the sun rises. Daylight is their death sentence.

She was 30 before she realized the source of her phobia. It came to her one spring, after a hard rain, the kind that washes worms onto pavement and subsides before they can wind their way back to the earth. She stared at the carnage this day, stunned by the asymmetrical beauty of the worm carcasses, spread out just so, some making a perfect “s”, others coiled tightly. Her eyes played games. Block out the solid, stare at the space, and suddenly the worms were canvas, the pavement paint. She was overcome by the deathly beauty taking place in her own driveway, a place she’d seen a thousand times but never like this.

Until she saw a single worm struggling, alive.

The familiar fear rose, pushing her backwards, the primal instinct to flee more than she could suppress. One step back. It’s okay. It’s just a worm. How ugly. How disgusting. I’m far enough away now. Look how it slithers, only half the body responding to a nervous system that says, “Move, Now!”

There’s no telling how long she stared. That wasn’t the point of the moment. The revelation came after she got into her car and began the drive to work, a revelation that, when it came, took control of her car and pulled it to the side of the road where images surreal were waiting.

You are afraid of bugs because
they ate the skin and flesh
from your father’s corpse,
in and out of his eye sockets,
between his fingers
on the hand you once held tight,
is the wedding ring still there?

And they will eat
you too one day.
That is what bugs do,
consume the dead.

She wasn’t sure how long she sat at the side of the road thinking these thoughts. There were no tears, just the revelation that landed like a thud on a soul hardened to injury.

She was just six when he died, and had wondered plenty of times since exactly what happened to his body inside that casket. How does he look now? Sometimes the urge to dig him up was so palpable her fingertips itched. She dreams of hollow earth, of things underneath the surface. It is a compulsion to understand the dead, and perhaps, in that understanding, to undo death. It’s a desire so intense it shades everything that comes after.

In biology class, when the rest of the class saw a skeleton, she saw her father’s bones. When the life-size model of the human body was unveiled, she saw his organs. When the rest of the class dissected frogs, she was cutting into him.

Step aside, give me the scalpel, let me explore and see if I can’t cut out this disease. “Inoperable?” Urge born from loss, she whishes she had been in the operating room that day, because she is sure she would have taken the time to cut the cancer out, to put him back together just right. Surgeons who don’t love their patients cannot cure them. Daughters should heal fathers. Fathers should fix daughters. We are one, have the same sicknesses, know where they hide, how far the tentacles reach and where. “God,” she implored, “just give me the chance.”

But she would never have the chance. Death once done can’t be undone. And that is the reality she has battled all of her life, the unchangeable “is” that would color her world, give birth to her voice, and become the platform from which she would speak.

And she is me.