Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dear Lucy,
It is 4 am and I can't sleep. Even with the sleeping pill I still take at night, many nights I wake up in the wee hours of the morning wide awake. Thank God I don't have to get up for work.
I got to thinking about Andy Rooney, the guy on 60 minutes who used to have his curmudgeon session at the end of the program.
With all the people doing hair and makeup on him, why didn't anyone say, "dude, we have GOT to do something with those eyebrows, they are obscene."
He wasn't even bald, or we could have surmised that he was planning to use them for a comb over.
I once took my dad to the barber to get a hair cut and the barber asked the man he was working on if he wanted his eyebrows trimmed. The man had eyebrows you could smuggle a terrorist in and he said no. NO? What's in there?
What is it about men and their eyebrows? Is it a macho thing? Like certain species of birds that parade their plumage around to attract females, enormous, wiry eyebrows are supposed to be a turn on?
So, is Andy Rooney trying to hide something? An extra pencil or something? He didn't want to wear a pocket protector to keep his pens in and look dorky so he grew his eyebrows out to keep his pens, and his pocket protector in? Or maybe he was into recycling and had no bins? Plastic and glass in the left eyebrow, cans and aluminum foil in the right?
At 4 in the morning, when you can't sleep and even the dog is snoring, ya gotta wonder.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dear Lucy,

As I was walking Lucy tonight I was listening to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits and came on the song, Something in the Way She Moves.
The bridge of the song goes:

Every now and then the things I lean on lose their meaning, and I find myself
careening in places where I should not let me go. She has the power to go where
no one else can find me and to silently remind me of the happiness and good
times that I know.

That has been me this last year and I haven’t had Anne to go to that place and pull me out. It is a place that friends, siblings, even one’s own mother can’t find; it is the place reserved for one’s self and the life partner. That’s what makes it irreplaceable. What makes the survivor so lost and alone and helpless feeling and inconsolable. No one else knows where that consolable place is.
We are the few who have this or have had this person in our lives. We are like a club, not based on looks or breeding or education or cleverness, or on what god we believe in or if we don’t believe in any. I think we are in a club called damned lucky and immensly blessed.

I Love the Fall

Dear Lucy,
Today is a cool, blustery, cloudy day. The kind that starts to blow the turned leaves from their perches on the trees and sends them skittering down streets.
I love the fall. I love the crispness in the air, the turning of the leaves and the wind storms. I also love the colors. The browns and yellows and oranges of the trees, the bright pumpkins and other squashes and the spent yellow corn stalks and hay in the barns and the smokey scent of the fireplaces and wood stoves.
I also love Halloween. I love Halloween more than any other "holiday", and always have.
As a little girl I thought that Charlie Brown discovered Halloween because of the cartoon. I thought it was just the best idea in the world: dress up for a whole day as anybody or anything you wanted to be and then romp through the neighborhood after dark and get candy for it. And go to school dressed up. WOW!
I wanted to be Snoopy flying around in his Sopwith Camel chasing the Red Baron or sneaking through the woods to a French cafe to drink Root Beer. Mostly it was that he was having this fabulous adventure alone in his own imagination, while everyone else was being part of the crowd.
But, someone had to be part of the crowd. And someone had to have faith in The Great Pumpkin as Linus did. And someone had to go around with a million holes in his ghost costume and get rocks instead of candy and someone had to go off in their imagination to other callings.
Maybe my love for Snoopy, is why I have a beagle.

Hit a Wall

Dear Lucy,
I am back. It seems Sunday that I hit a wall of exhaustion. I was sitting at the Barnes and Nobel with my computer and blam; exhaustion. Each arm felt like it weighed 20 lbs and my eyelids about 3.
I packed up my shit and slogged out of the store and went home and slept from 6pm Sunday night until noon on Monday. Then I mostly lazed around yesterday.
Maybe it was all the emotion of the weekend coupled with all the activity of San Francisco coming to a head.
But I am back and though not feeling like taking over the world, I can blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Day is Done

Dear Lucy,
So the "official" one year anniversary of Anne's death has come and it is 11:15 pm and nearly over. I spent most of the day with my friend Lynn catching up after my trip to SF, and then went to a bonfire put on by my friend Deb in honor of Anne.

Anne was a self-proclaimed pyro. She loved fire. Not that she ever set any maliciously or anything. But she and Deb were known to set some doozies.
The best was when she and Deb made one in the woods where Deb lived and forgot about the fact that their fire was directly under some rather low hanging tree branches. We prayed alot that night and thanked God the trees were not real dry.

Anne's big fantasy--well the one I can tell you about--was to grow a huge field of corn and set fire to it to make popcorn.
Our first house here in Washington had a wood burning stove that we used in the winter. When Anne stoked the fire she would put so much wood in that we would ultimately end up opening the door to cool the house off. I was sure she was going for nuclear fission or something.

I miss her in the deepest part of my soul. I ache to hear her laugh again. My skin misses her touch and my heart hurts for her love.

It has been one year. And I still don't know how to live without her.


Friday, September 25, 2009

A Sad Day

Dear Lucy,
According to the death certificate, September 26, 2008 is the official day that Anne died. Actually, she died one year ago today.
When her friend Ann Werner discovered her in bed not breathing last September 25, the EMTs were called and she was "revived" meaning they put her on a ventilator, got her heart started and took her to St. Joseph hospital.
I received a call from Ann Werner at work saying come to the hospital, I think Anne is dead.
When I arrived, they had Anne on a gurney with a tube down her throat pumping oxygen into her. They were preparing to take her for a CT scan. The scan showed that she had about 5% brain function left. She was brain dead.
Ann Werner and I told the doctor that Anne wanted to be an organ donor so they put her into a room to do tests to see if she was eligible.
At that time, when I was alone with her, I crawled into the bed with her to lie next to her one last time and talk to her.
After several hours Ann Werner decided to keep Anne on life support until the next day when her partner could fly in from Reno to say goodbye. That is why her death certificate lists her death as the 26th.
I did not come back to the hospital to watch them "pull the plug" on Anne as I wanted my last memory of her to be "still breathing".
It was the saddest day of my life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Every day I receive this daily Dharma and this one hit home:

September 24, 2009
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

The Lion's Roar

We each need to make our lion's roar—to persevere with unshakable courage when faced with all manner of doubts and sorrows and fears—to declare our right to awaken. We need to take the one seat, as the Buddha did, and completely face what is true about this life. Make no mistake about this, it is not easy. It can take the courage of a lion or a lioness, especially when we are asked to sit with the depth of our pain or fear.

–Jack Kornfield, from “Take the One Seat,” Tricycle, Summer 1993

I think this is what I needed to do when I quit my job and "ran away from home". Anne and I had been together for 17 years. Prior to that, I was with Cathy for 7 years. There really was no time in between (and that's another story).
I had been married for the last 24 years of my life so when Anne died, I didn't know if I even had it in me to face the real grit of life alone.
Taking off, especially to San Francisco where I stayed in hostels for 24 days and wandered the city alone and even went to Oakland to that concert alone, clicked for me.
I still had the courage to be free and to face the unknown on my own and to even have fun. I could stretch without snapping. I could play without a playmate.
Now that I know this, I feel very settled in my soul again. Oh, I will wander off some more I am sure, because I can and it feeds my spirit somehow.
But I don't have to run next time. I can walk away knowing that I will come home; wherever home is or will be.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dear Lucy,
As I think on about the feelings one goes through when dealing with a death, I think about the initial shock.
I don't recall going through as much shock over Anne's death as I did when my sister Nancy died. She had killed herself.
I was with my partner Cathy living in the Bay Area at the time. It was 1991. Because she got home from work before I, she had the lovely job of telling me the news.
I remember her calling me at work and asking to talk to Anne who was there giving me a ride home as my car was in the shop. Cathy wanted to know if I knew about it yet and told Anne. I have to say, Anne hid it from me very well.
The shock was like what I imagine an out of body experience is like. Maybe more like having fallen so far back inside yourself that sound is muffled and garbled. Everyone seems so far away even as they sit before you. And faces look monsterous. Smiles look demonic and frowns clownish. You have tunnel vision. You can't tell if you are breathing or not. You can't form the words or the screams of anguish to let them out. You just scream inside, alone and unheard.
You are drowning in your own freakish world and nobody can help you. In fact, their attempts seem to only send you further down, like quicksand.
You know because you see it, that people are holding your hand or hugging you, but you can't feel it.
You are surrounded by people and utterly and entirely alone...


Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Dear Lucy,
I have been toying with the idea of using parts of this blog to write a book for lesbians (and others of course I am all inclusive) on grieving the loss of your mate.
So, I wrote this as a rough draft start:

The books all tell you that denial is the first step in the grieving process.
It is the brain trying to wrap itself around the fact that the person who has been the single most important human being in your life heretofore is gone and will never come back. Ever. NEVER EVER.
But that is a dictionary definition. Here is the real one:

Denial is expecting her to walk through that front door and flash a big grin at you and say “Hiya sweet cheeks” like she's done for the last 16 years and she doesn’t and you get that pang of worry in your gut thinking something is wrong for her not to be home, until reality says, “she’s dead” and you remember for a while and then an hour later, find yourself staring at the door again waiting for her to come home.

Denial is expecting a phone call from her at any minute while you are at work and the hours and days, and weeks and months go by and you still half expect to get one and every time the phone rings you look at the caller ID fully expecting her name to be there.

Denial is rolling over in bed in the middle of the night expecting your arm to fall gently to rest on her and having it fall completely and utterly to the bed and then waking up and looking over to find her not there and thinking for a brief second that she is up getting something to drink or going to the bathroom. Until reality says, “she’s dead”, and now you can’t get back to sleep or even stay in bed and get up to sit alone on the couch and get angry and depressed and cry until it’s time to get up for work.

Denial is sitting in a burger joint a year after she’s died and having to pick the crunchiest French fries for yourself because she isn’t there fishing them out for you because she knows you like them the best, and she’s been doing that without even thinking about it for 16 years, and you start to cry and have to stop eating and leave.

Denial is strolling down the ice cream aisle of the grocery store and staring at the Haggen Das Vanilla Swiss Almond container for 5 minutes because that was her favorite ice cream and you know you will never eat it again because the memory is just too painful.

Denial is taking your wedding ring off eleven months Stafter she’s died, only to put it back on again because you are not ready to concede defeat.

Denial is that creature that lurks in memories long forgotten, and so deeply imbedded in you that it has become part of your DNA, waiting to creep up and snag you when you least expect it with a memory that is so delightful and feels so good you want to wrap yourself in it and stay there forever and then reality says, “She’s dead and this is the past and you have to move on”.

Denial is fishing out that lock of hair you felt goulish for cutting off her head as she lay dead in the hospital bed and getting cold, and thanking God you had the guts to do it, and holding it and looking at it, and remembering how you had always hated the fact that she was older than you and never got more than a few streaks of gray while you, long ago got to the point of only having a few streaks of brown.

Denial is digging that smelly t-shirt of hers that you took out of the dirty clothes hamper the day she died, out of the bag you keep it in, and wrapping your face in it to remember her scent, and finally feeling comfort again for a few minutes, and having reality set in and say, “she’s dead. You will have to put the t-shirt away for another day and move on”.


Home Again

Dear Lucy,
Boy did you scream and howl and cry and squeak and wiggle and run in circles when I got home. And then this morning when you came into the living room and saw me and realized that you had forgotten that I was home, you nearly did the same thing all over again.
Suzie and I talked and laughed and gossiped for hours when I got home yesterday and so between that and just being home, my body hit a wall and I went to bed and slept until noon today. The only thing that got me out of bed was the "I need coffee" headache I was beginning to get.
I sat on the couch with my coffee--just how I like it, not the stuff of hostels made of dirty socks--and it was so quiet and peaceful, all I could hear was the birds arguing outside (arguing like birds not like Ralph and Alice Cramden, "to the moon Alice!"), and the wind chime and a train whistle far off in the distance.
Bellingham is peaceful and calm and green and beautiful and death to a writer who needs to be shocked and startled and edgy, to get the muse going. I hope that now that I have primed the muse, she will stay primed for a while in this peaceful place and get some work done.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Heading Home

Dear Lucy,
It is Monday morning and I am sitting in the common room of the hostel, blogging and reading emails and just killing time until I have to head to the Oakland airport for my flight home.

It will be nice to get out of the hostel world where privacy is out of the question, everyone is very young and has a foreign accent and is coming from or going to someplace exotic.

I feel very good that I have accomplished what I set out to and even more as I have had the great blessing of having my ex, Cathy back in my life as a new/old best friend.

I finished the research for the book that I needed to get it back on track, ate tons of great San Francisco food, wrote lots of poetry and blog entries, and came to the conclusion that while I love San Francisco and would come back and live here, it is not a priority.

So for those of you on my end and on Cathy's end who worried, wondered, expected that we would just get back together, you may breath a sigh of relief! We did have a few great laughs at your expense though, I must admit.

For me personally, I have always had to have an escape hatch. A way, place to run off to when the need came. Anne seemed to instinctually understand this and just knowing that she did and always encouraged me to "take off" if I needed to made being "settled" do-able for me.

Now, I have another escape hatch--San Francisco. Somehow, if I decided to move back, I would make it and I would like it. It would mean big changes and lots of sacrifice, but I know now that I still have the guts to go out on a limb and try new things even if they are scary, and having Cathy nearby would mean I would have one person in the area to go hang out and have a good laugh at life with. And, it is the people in our lives that matter more than anything, right?

So, it is good-bye to San Francisco for now and hello to autumn in Bellingham.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dear Lucy,
As I lie in my bunk on the 4th floor of the hostel last night sweating for all I was worth, I thanked God that I didn't have to worry about having a hot flash on top of all this.

I was really hot and sweaty as I had walked very briskly home from the concert in Oakland. There were dozens of people from the concert at the BART station, hundreds of people all over the place, so it didn't seem scary.

When I got off BART, I had about a 5 block uphill walk to the hostel and again though there were still lots of people out in the warm midnight, I still couldn't help but let my imagination run away from me a bit.

I imagined turning a corner and there suddenly being no one there. Like being alone in a dark alley. Then, as I finished my 360 degree turn to witness this, up pops Rod Steiger with the Twilight Zone music playing in the background and him with that look on his face. You know the one, the: "I have the business end of a toilet brush shoved up my ass, but you're not supposed to know it" look, as he mumbles about controlling my horizontal and vertical.

But, that didn't happen, mostly because I didn't buy any funny brownies at the concert!
I got home fine, crawled into bed, finally cooled off, and fell asleep to some very strange dreams.

Dear Lucy,

Went to the Bob Weir/Phil Lesh concert last night at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Bob Weir and Phil Lesh were guitar players in the Grateful Dead and are I guess, the post Grateful Dead. The concert was fabulous, but strange.

Deadheads, a microcosm of life that spent their years living in buses or cars and following Grateful Dead concerts all over the US, set up their wares to sell before concerts and it is usually as big a party as the concert. There was a remnant there outside the theater and walking through the crowd one could buy ANYTHING of a mind expanding nature. It was kind of mind blowing.

The Fox theater is an old building established in the 1920s with the old balconies and all the filigree on the ceilings and walls and gargoyles on the railings. Really gaudy and interesting. Strange place for a bunch of tie-dyed, pot-eyed hippies to go hang out.

My seat was in the balcony in row X, so you know that all the pot smoke wafted up my way. Didn't matter that I couldn't see the whites of the band members eyes as most everyone was standing up dancing anyway. The young ones. We oldsters danced the first couple of songs, each song lasting like, 15 minutes, and then we were resting!

I was amazed by the people around me. To my right was a family--literally. A husband and wife with thick New York accents and their 4 girls I am guessing their ages as 6, 8, 10, and 12, in their little tie-dye dresses sitting in seats a row in front of their pot-smoking parents who argued through the whole show in their New York accents.

I was busy being appalled that they brought their kids to a concert to be exposed to enough pot smoke to get all of Oakland high, until I spotted another couple a few rows down from me holding up a baby! A Baby! His head disappeared in the haze of pot smoke as they bounced him around.

Sitting directly to my left was a well dressed couple in their early 60's who looked like they should have been at the "Hello Dolly" play down the road. I figured his name had to be something like Lance as he sat their in his (think English snob accent) Ascot and argyle socks, his wife Buffy sitting next to him and tee-heeing as he likely twittered some amusing anecdote about himself and her at Nostrums over his million dollar cell phone. He never even bobbed his head to the music.

In the row in front of me was the quintessential "pretty boy and his sugar daddy". Pretty boy looked like a redheaded Tom Selleck and his "daddy" looked like the little English dude that played his boss in Magnum PI. Sonny was in a brand new tie-dye shirt obviously purchased by daddy, and he was smoking a joint the size of my leg. Daddy, in his well-pressed slacks and Polo shirt stood ramrod straight and stiff while Sonny danced madly and badly like stoned white guys do.

Pretty soon I realized that I was feeling kind of dizzy and forgot where my legs were, and had a monster thirst and a craving for a chocolate covered Oreo cookie dipped in warm bacon grease, and wondered how I would escape this place should a fire from all the lit joints occur.

Would I tip-toe politely past Lance and Buffy? Elbow my way through the "King of Queens" family? Or jump through Magnum PI and his statue Daddy?

Fortunately, thoughts don't last long in a place like that and I was back to listening to the music and wondering how I ended up in such a mad, surreal, unexpected place anyway?


Friday, September 18, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Whew that sun is out and just a baking the city to a crisp. Folks are walking around looking rung-out and befuddled and wondering how long this is going to last.
It won't last long, I can guarantee that. I shaved my legs this morning.

The minute the cosmic whoever that is in charge of all this sees me shaving my legs, the clarion call goes out to that old devil fog: The pasty white lady is shaving her legs and fixing to put on shorts. Send in the fog! Rev up the wind!
And, I don't mean to sound paranoid, but I think the fog just finds me and follows me around. It's like walking to another aisle in a bookstore when you have just passed gas (not that I do), and the gas just follows you like it is velcroed to your butt.

So, I am at the air conditioned library to do some work and by god I bet when I step out that door into the city, the fog will be back. And I will be in my long pants. And high-tops. With my long-sleeved shirt in my backpack. Just like the old days.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dear Lucy,
I am in Heaven. Sitting in the middle of the "Mission District" of San Francisco in a taqueria eating the best burrito on the planet, concocted before my very eyes by a short, plump, Mexican Mama with dancing brown eyes, who smiles knowingly when I tell her I want mild salsa.

She knows I am a gringo raised on German sausage and casseroles made of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, limp noodles, canned tuna and topped with corn flakes, and that I didn't discover hot peppers until I was 5 and, eyeing them in the thick glass jar on the counter of Mr. Taco, popped one into my mouth and slipped into some taste-bud Hell where Satan himself stood laughing while I cried and choked and snotted into my mother's midwestern, Minnesota handkerchief.

The Corona bottle sweats as I take each tortilla chip and laden it with salsa and extra cilantro and pop it into my mouth while Sheryl Crow croons in my ear something about the sun setting over Santa Monica Boulevard and a woman walks through the door wearing a dress busier than all of San Francisco itself, laden with luggage and packages, toting worries and dreams and orders her lunch to go so she can wrestle it along with her too busy life, and I am the voyure in the corner peeking into people's lives as I try to lose my own in my now warm bottle of beer...

Dear Lucy,
I bought a new hat today. It was inevitable. They call to me like a drug.
Anyway, I guess I will have to go on living now, at least long enough to break the hat in.

Dear Lucy,
As I stand in the tunnel of the BART station awaiting my train, I can't help but wonder why anyone would go through all the trouble of committing suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge?
Taking all the necessary buses and doing the transfers, and walking half a mile through the throngs of goose-fleshed vacationers taking pictures and being wind-blown,to jump into the turgid freezing water, when one could just as easily take the escalator to the subway station where I stood and momentarily losing balance, fall to the tracks below where the much misunderstood and maligned "third rail" waited every moment of every day to be touched.
Then I am hit in the face by a gust of wind pushed through the tunnel by my oncoming train and I step in and go home to have a good cry and berate myself for being such a goddamn, fucking, coward.

Dear Lucy,
I was thinking the other day (I know, you are shocked by this) about how angry babies seem to be when they are born.
They come out all red and wrinkled and covered in slime and howling like the worst of all of life's punishment has been wrought upon them.
From their warm, safe, womb they are suddenly thrust into the blinding light; people handling them, weighing them, cleaning them, the noise deafening, the chaos frightening, their mother worlds away from them and they are naked and exposed and vulnerable, and shivering and looking for a nipple to latch on to.

And, we never change.


Giving up Hope

Dear Lucy,
I continue to read "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times"
and continue to get a totally different view of life.
In the chapter titled, "Hopelessness and Death", (makes you want to jump right in and read, doesn't it?)it says:

"If we're willing to give up hope that insecurity and pain can be exterminated, then we can have the courage to relax with the groundlessness of our situation."

Other books that I have read about death and loss leave the reader believing that this sudden feeling of groundlwssness is something to get over not something to become accustom to and, gasp, accepting of.

This book actually teaches that as one turns to the "dharma", the Budhist teachings, one begins to get the "knack of hopelessness".
Sounds like a major downer at face value. But it is really very freeing. It allows the human to be human without falling into despair. I think the despair comes when we are in the midst of this groundlessness, and think, believe, hope, that it will subside and life will make sense again. But when life begins to make too much sense, we become bored and restless.

I keep hoping that soon I will wake up in the morning and not think, "oh shit, another freaking day to muddle through", and then thanking God that He woke me up to the fact that I was just slip-sliding through life unaware, and now I am feeling everything again. Seeing everything again. Writing again. Taking chances again. Saying no to people again. Finding Kathy again.
I only hope I like her when we finally do meet.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tom and Jerry

Dear Lucy,
So as I walked along Market Street today, I stopped at a Carl's Jr. for a bite. There is a farmer's market going on outside and suddenly a fight breaks out between two drunk men.
The one, agressively charges at the other, and giving all he's got took a swing at the man, missing him by several miles, sending himself into a Tom and Jerry-esque spin whereupon he does the splits and lands flat on his back.
Two policemen zoomed quickly to the scene on their bicycles (really, they could have taken their time by now) to break up the fight as hords of passers by stand around regalling each other with their version of the scene, eyes glittering, arms flailing, grabbing their crotches and snorting in manly fashion.
And I wonder why I feel like my version of insanity is so accepted here?



Dear Lucy,
Living out of a suitcase is mad and impossible and pares you down to the essentials, giving you pause to wonder how and why we surround ourselves with all of the stuff-ness of living that has no intrinsic life?
Where is it that I am ultimately headed in this one life that demands I own all the trappings and entrapments that suffocate me under the auspices of comfortable and normal living?

As a child I thought I wanted safety and security for the rest of my life only to find that it is illusory at best and confining of the soul at worst. It demands no artistry, no stretching of the imagination.
What is this desire to nest and this rage to run? Is there no middle ground, the great, sighing, ahhhhh of life?

I thought it would be in the pastoral setting where cows graze and gaze upon you with their lovely brown eyes, and the whiney of horses, and the smells of alfalfa and new flowers and clean rain, and here I am in the city surrounded by car horns crying and engines chugging and builders hammering and chattering in Spanish and the incessant whine of the vacuum cleaner outside my doorm room door, and feeling more alive and at home than ever.

A woman can cry madly in this city, out in the open, snot pouring, eye-redening sobbing insanity, and not feel as though a soul is going to be bothered. Being unhinged, left of center, out of sorts, totally lost, is accepted. Not that I want to stay that way. I just want to be able to be that way for a while and rest from my struggle with sanity.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Haight Ashbury

Dear Lucy,
I finally got the time and energy to make my trek to Haight Ashbury. Had a great conversation with the bus driver on the way as he regaled me with stories about what it was like in the 60's and how it has changed. He was 10 during the "Summer of Love".
The neighborhood has changed considerably even since I lived in SF, there being more junky 60's trinket shops for the tourists. Even the Buffalo Exchange, a used clothing store I used to love going to is way smaller than it used to be, but there is now a Goodwill store there likely taking away business. But the Buffalo Exchange had way funkier clothes and was tons of fun to play at.
I bought a few patches (seems nobody sells those anymore)and had a monster ice cream snack at Ben and Jerry's on the corner.
Then I headed home while my bus transfer was still valid. It's $2.00 to ride the bus these days.
Here is a picture of my treat: A chocolate chip cookie with coffee ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and toffe bits. I can't believe I ate the whole thing!


Monday, September 14, 2009


Dear Lucy,
Egad, all this time I have been giving you flea baths and putting flea drops on you so you wouldn't have to suffer the constant itchy/scratchy creepy fleas, and here I am needing a flea bath, some flea drops and a compassionate owner to feel sorry for me because of bedbugs.
Cathy sent me an article she had looked up online and yep that's what my welts looked like. Bedbug bites.
I went immediately to the front desk and they jumped right on it with all their apologies and excitement and business, and I sit here in the only clothes I think have not been infested, having nearly scalded myself with the hottest shower I could stand, and waiting for my stuff to get washed by the hostel.
One day I will look back on all this and laugh.
Today, I will scratch.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Just Call me Spot

Dear Lucy,
It is Sunday afternoon and I am still spotty. Seems like new ones are coming but thankfully I am not covered head to toe. Mostly arms, feet and some on my neck.
Whatever/whomever I am allergic to has not left my system.
It is a good excuse to lounge around on my bed reading and sleeping and writing so maybe it is a good thing.
In Buddhism the teaching is to let go of attachments and my attachment is to the belief that everything in my life should go smoothly and that no one ever gets sick on a road trip.
I shall accept my spots and carry on knowing that they will go away eventually.
Won't they???

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Dear Lucy
I lie on my bunk this morning staring up at the little, black, luminescent bars that compose the bed frame above me against the stark whiteness of the mattress held aloft, and think about how bars like those always seemed to be present in my life holding me back from something or someone or somewhere. I don’t know which.

Next to me the window--with its sad drapes weeping down to the floor, old and used up years ago, perhaps to shield a queen in her castle from the unwashed commoners--is propped open and gaping, inviting me to dangle my feet out or throw water balloons at passers by in the naked alley.

The itching all over my body is driving me mad, making me feel trapped by all the tingling spots on my skin and believing I will never be free from their claws again. Free to let my skin show in public, lest I become labeled as dirty or poor or wretched like the street urchins I pass on the way to some restaurant or another to indulge my culinary appetite for delicious food.

The blandness of Bellingham will soon be upon me, the people all one color, wearing sensible clothes and walking stoically through the rain. Always the rain.
I would have one good Mexican restaurant to provide the kind of Mexican food a tongue can dance to. A small library, where the books along with their keepers are dry and moldy and sneeze invoking and passable as entertainment but not exciting in the least.

I can’t imagine my mother’s horror if she knew where I was and what I was doing with my life. Lying around reading Kerouac and Ginsberg and writing in notebooks thousands of ink marks that represent my soul, or that I think of dying every day and put it off because I haven’t finished the one last novel I had started for Anne.

I have to change rooms because of a snafu at the front desk and they want to kick me out in my pajamas and spots and antihistamine induced haze and send me to a dorm room still infested with its current owners, their clothes and skin and scent still fresh.

I fall back to sleep with Kerouac in my dreams rushing across the country to be anywhere but where he is.

Or maybe it’s me.

Life in a Hostel

Dear Lucy,
This picture looks like life in a hostel; life crawling over life to get down the hall.


A Poem

Dear Lucy,
Yet another poem

Breath baby
You have tripped
over your
Superman cape
and lie prostrate
before the feet of the
I need-ers


Friday, September 11, 2009

A Busy Day

Dear Lucy,
Today I had to change digs as my time at the Amsterdam Hostel was up. I had already made reservations for eight days at another hostel and as it turns out it is only two blocks from the first.
Instead of being in a room with 5 others I am in a room with 3 others. Hope it is quieter.
I like this place more already as it has a great common area with comfy couches, lots of light for reading or working and a cool old fireplace.
The Amsterdam had no place comfortable and well lit enough to just sit and read so I would either end up sitting out on the front porch where the smokers were, or in the kitchen at an uncomfortable chair.
So, I am happy. Still itchy. Still getting more splotches.
I am wondering if these splotches are from fleas or something like that. After all, I am in a hostel where lots of people are breezing through with backpacks and all. Just a possibility.
So, I spent some time at the library, then did some writing.
Getting lots done and feel really good about it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Still Itch

Dear Lucy,
I still itch.
After my Dear Lucy blog post yesterday, I laid down on my bunk to read a bit and fell right to sleep.
I woke up at 4:30 in the afternoon with my head feeling like it was full of wool, my mouth like I had gargled Wesson Oil, and I swear my arms grew because when I got up to walk to the bathroom, my knuckles dragged on the floor.
And, I was itchy again!
I managed to revive myself, take just one Benadryl, get a cup of gawd-awful coffee from the kitchen downstairs, and do some writing.
Now I am faced with a decision. Take a Benadryl and stop itching but feel like a cast member of Day of the Dead, or scratch.
I will chose door number one--Benadryl.
Better living through chemistry, I say.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Itch

Dear Lucy,
Yes, it seems I have developed a case of the hives. I have gone over in my mind what I have eaten, drank, worn, rubbed up against and can't think of a reason to be covered in red bumps and scratching like a dog at a flea convention.

So I went to the nearby Walgreens and bought myself some Benadryl pills which I took half an hour ago.

Now for some people, allergy medication makes them manic. But not me. I am not manic. I am NOT manic. I AM NOT MANIC! Quit staring at me! I'm hearing voices...oh no, it's just Satan again. Yes, kill, kill, kill. You say that every time. Why don't you get yourself some fresh material for Christ's sake???

Go to my happy place, go to my happy place...

Anyway, I have only had the hives once before in my life about 8 years ago. Could never figure out the cause then either. But Anne, God rest her soul, dutifully dabbed me from head to toe with that pink Calamine lotion which against my white skin made me look like I was wearing a hippie dress from the Summer of Love.

After a couple of days the hives went away and I lived happily ever after--except the time a few years later when while mushing up the ingredients for meat loaf by hand my fingers swelled up from the tips to the first knuckle.
Anne called them my "clown hands". I called her many names.
So, I took Benadryl and my enormously bulbous fingers went back to normal.
I have made meat loaf dozens of times the same way since. No clown hands.

So, I am sitting in the room of the hostel waiting to see if the itching subsides. There are three sets of metal bunk beds and six lockers in this room. It is like being in prison except I won't get raped.
Damn the luck!

I don't have any food, but there is a beer and pizza joint only 30 drunken, staggering steps from here. Location, location, location!

I just hope I don't scratch myself bloody. My luck I would get that flesh-eating disease.

"What happened to your leg," Suzie will say when I get home with one half-eaten away.
"I left my Sannn... Frannnn...Ciscooooooh"

The other side effect of Benadry is that it

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My View of the City

Dear Lucy,
It is week two of my stay here in SF and I am again at the library doing research. Not only am I looking up information on San Francisco during the Gold Rush, but also San Francisco of 1966 and the Vietnam War as that is when/where my backstory takes place.
So, I am looking at a book called, "The Haight-Ashbury, A History" and "What's Going On? California and the Vietnam Era" to get a feel for what the 60's were like. I know, I know, I grew up in the 60's but give me a break, I was a child.
My only memories of the 60's were that there were a lot of strangely dressed, angry people shouting for peace, and of Vietnam I remember the nightly body count on the news and worrying that my brother Ken was going to get drafted.
The ideas for the book continue to grow and I think my greatest problem is keeping myself from getting overwhelmed by it all. I wonder if JK Rawling went through this with the Harry Potter series?
Back to work.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What I am Reading

Dear Lucy,
Last week when I had dinner with Cathy she gave me a book called, "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron.
At least, I think she gave it to me. If it was a loan, Cath, I hope you like pink highlighting because I have highlighted the shit out of it!
Anyway, Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun of the Tibetan heritage.
The first paragraph to hit me was this:

"...anyone who stands on the edge of the unknown, fully in the present without reference point,experiences groundlessness. That's when our understanding goes deeper, when we find that the present moment is a pretty vulnerable place and that this can be completely unnerving and completely tender at the same time."
Is is hard to put into words the feeling of groundlessness I have without Anne which is what makes it so damned hard to stand fully in the present. Because for 16 years she and the marriage have been my reference point and I just figured would always be.

My wandering and not knowing and "running away" are all because I am standing on the edge of the unknown and am groundless. The past is gone and is a nice place to visit(but I wouldn't want to live there), and the future I had planned has been annihilated.

So, I continue to read and I continue to wonder and wander and to look into the unknown.


Friday, September 4, 2009

A Couple of Poems

Dear Lucy,

"She kicked me out,
before I even got in
Into the saftey net.
But what is better,
to be held, in the cottony warm
safety of the straight-jacket
To be out in the
emotional cold
but able to
for real?"

Lonely man sits
in straight-backed chair
He doesn't dare
seek comfort again
and soften...


A Trip to 22nd and DeHaro Street

Dear Lucy,
Today I decided to get my depressed behind out of the hostel and make a journey to the house Anne and I lived in while I was going to college.
This house was her grandmother's and her aunt lived in the main portion while we lived in a tiny two bedroom "inlaw" flat in the basement.
We paid part of our "rent" by cleaning out the garage which had been gradually filled with crap from about the 1930's when the house was built, until Anne's uncle died in 1992.

It took us two years, three garage sales, and two dumpsters to get it cleaned out. This venture is what gave me the original idea for Gold Fever where the girl finds some diaries while cleaning out her grandmother's attic.
As you can see by the picture, the garage door--though double wide--is still quite small. When Anne and I were in our accident that totalled her Jeep and we bought the green truck we had in Washington, it was too tall to fit in the garage on DeHaro so we would have to parallel park it every day!
This neighborhood is called Portrero Hill and on this side of the hill it is nice, quiet and safe. On the other side of the hill is where the Projects are and where O. J. Simpson grew up.

Front view of house

View from street

View of Twin Peaks neighborhood in distance, from around the corner of our place

I had to really put some thought into getting to the house as I have lost many brain cells in the 12 years since we lived here and I used to take the bus to school every day.
I remembered taking the bus from home to the Civic Center on Market Street and then transferring to another bus that I caught in front of a law school. Fortunately, the law school is still there, and I got on the right bus.
Funny how this place, that we hated (the place was a fire-trap, cold, dirty, and dark)living at could bring back fond memories. We used to say that one day we would look back on that time with fondness. I wish Anne was here to do that with...

Happy Birthday Anne

Dear Lucy,
Fifty-one years ago today, Anne was born right here in San Francisco General Hospital in SF.
Her name given at birth was Barbara and her mother was listed as being Danish, English and Irish and her father as being Indian (they didn't call them Native Americans then), but didn't list what tribe. Her mother had 5 other children.

She spent a month in an orphanage before being adopted by Paul and Frances Samaduroff and renamed Anne Marie Samaduroff.

From that point until she died, she was Russian, raised in a religion called Molokan meaning "milk". It was never determined whether the name came from a river near where the religion originated or whether it referred to "the milk of the Word". She never understood the religion because the sermans were in Russian. But she did learn the meaning of community from the members of the church.

On Sunday mornings when Anne was a little girl, her maternal grandmother (Baba in Russian), got up early and baked goods in her wood stove. She would then send Anne and her brother Dave (also adopted) out to the community on Portrero Hill to deliver these goodies to the old and sick members of the church. Portrero Hill in San Francisco, also known as "Little Russian Hill" was inhabited in the early 1900's by Russian Molokan's seeking religious freedom.

I think the only thing she really hated about being "Russian" was having to always spell Samaduroff a hundred times.
She would call to make an appointment and it would go exactly like this.
My name is Samaduroff. That's spelled S as in Sam...right., D, as in David...right., F-F, as in Frank, Frank. This would be repeated at least twice, and then when she arrived for her appointment, the paperwork would have it spelled wrong. And that's just the spelling. You should have heard how it was pronounced...when it was pronounced.
Most everyone who knew her just called her Anne Sam.
Had we ever gotten married "for real" she was ready and willing to take my last name.

In the last 4 years of her life she became interested in her Native American heritage though she was not able to do much research into it. She was somewhat "adopted" by the Lummi tribe in Bellingham after becoming good friends with one of the elders who was a formal tribal leader and that seemed to make her very happy.

So, happy birthday, Anne. I would have gotten you a card, but the postage would be enormous. I will have a piece of birthday cake today for you. It's the least I could do.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear Lucy,
Whew, what a day. As I continue my research at the library on San Francisco during the Gold Rush, I am amazed and excited at how much information there is to go through.
I have been reading, and writing and typing and outlining and even doing some writing of the book today.
What I have learned so far has changed my scope of the novel in a good way, and in a big way.
So, my brain--not used to so much exercise--is tired from the mental gymnastics of re-thinking my plot twists and characters.
It is a good thing. I need the diversion. I need something to be excited about and work on.
But, I am tired. And I am going to go hang out in the TV room and watch Family Guy because I am just that kind of sick, twisted, individual. If you have ever watched Family Guy, you'll understand.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Anne Would Have a Cow Man.

Dear Lucy,
I just had to snap a picture of this flag on my way home from the library. Anne would have had a cow, man.
I can divulge this now. She's dead. What can she do?
Anne was a flag-waving patriot.
OK, I said it.
The fact that this flag is so thin and faded that you can see through it would have sent her into spasms of acrimony.
"That flag should be burned and a new one put in it's place. How can anyone fly the American flag in that condition?" That is about what she would say.
Oh. And don't get me started about how upset she would be if a flag was flown after dark!
Too late. You got me started.
"No flag shall be left out after dark without being properly illuminated". That's what she would say. Properly illuminated. Like she memorized it from a handbook of flag etiquette.

It is odd how I can be surrounded by possible memories of Anne and not be phased, and then see an American flag and think fondly and amusingly of her and of some of the odd things that would rankle her.
Well, I noticed this flag and got rankled in your honor Anne. Wherever you are.

Dear Lucy,
Just in case anyone is saying, "hmmm, she says she's in San Francisco, but where are the pictures?"

So, on my walk from the subway to the hostel, I took these photos even though I looked like a total tourist doing it.

The front entrance to the hostel I am staying at

Saks at Union Square

The cable car on Powell street. It goes from Market street to Fisherman's Wharf. Five dollars one way!
There you have it. I am not spending all my time in the library!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

At the San Francisco Public Library

Dear Lucy,

This is it, the mother-lode of all mother-lodes for Gold Rush history of San Francisco. A whole floor of history.

Now, I must pace myself.

No drooling.

No maniacal laughing.

And for God's sake, no crying.

Breathing is essential.

You may not hear from me for days...