Tuesday, April 28, 2009


i pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of Haliburton,
and to the conglomerate for which it stands,
One corporation
under Mamon,
with liberty and justice
for 1%

Copyright (c) 200 by the author


TWENTY links of stainless steel: it sounds like a simple, inexpensive thing. That a bracelet could represent a lifeline, a thread of hope that strengthens as time goes on, I find difficult at times to explain.
After sliding downward for months—some friends would say years—I crashed. I crumbled. I melted.
To be honest, I now believe that my friends were right, and that the decline began somewhere around 1997. By then I had been in a relationship for five years, had witnessed the birth of my daughter, and had in general tried to make one life out of three somewhat-attached lives.
But the person I loved began drifting away, finding her comfort, her solace, outside of our apartment, in activities that I found very uncomfortable.
I tried joining in organized civil war reenactments. I helped pitch the tent, and tried talking to others at these events, but never felt like more than an outsider. Eventually, I opted out entirely.
When Chris wanted to join a nudist club, I went along. Contrary to myth, the behavior was neo-Puritanical. But for a variety of reasons, attendance at the club became more and more unpleasant. While she was busy socializing with members, babysitting our toddler daughter fell to me. When I said that I’d rather take on this duty from the comfort of home, I made it clear that I didn’t want my nonattendance to dampen her participation. Ensuing summers found me as single parent while Chris chose to go off to be among “friends.”
Noticing that happiness seemed to be flowing in one direction only, I began—belatedly, I admit—to reach out to the community around me, in search of a sense of belonging.
But the search for connection occurred almost exclusively beyond the door of the apartment. I made many friends in the GLT community through outreach programs I joined. Some of these friendships are the strongest, and longest lasting of my life in the bay area.
Meanwhile, inside the apartment door, Chris created a cocoon. By not taking action to keep the place clean, she justified keeping the world at a distance: she didn’t want anyone to see where or how we lived. Where I wanted to open the door and bring the world inside, to make meals for neighbors and friends, I found my efforts continually thwarted.
Long-time friends—both men and women—now fell under suspicion: what was I doing when I was with them and not with Chris?
Early on in our relationship, I was asked to break off contact with one female friend because of insecurities. Though there were at least a thousand miles between us, to keep the peace I stopped—for a while anyway—writing or talking to Alexis.
Another example: someone I’ve known since preschool, whose choices I admired, became someone that Chris didn’t trust? Was something going on that she didn’t know about? What about the frequent phone calls, emails, and trips to northern California?
The isolation bred frustration, which in turn created anger that would, without expression, become an all-consuming rage.

December 8, 2002
Early morning found me sitting on the couch in a silent living room. Both Chris and our daughter were sound asleep—I thought. In my head, a replay of the tensions reverberated. I wanted to fulfill holiday plans, but the thought of another waiting game to see what bills got paid riled me. Feeling trapped inside a very small box, I went to the kitchen and found a steak knife.
I practiced running the blade up and down my arms, across my wrists—always with the flat side on my skin.
Then, as I turned the blade skinward, Chris emerged from the bedroom. (I don’t remember what her question was.)
I froze.
Had she seen the knife that I quickly tried to hide?
Did she know?
Was she coherent enough to know somehow, what I was contemplating?
Two weeks later, at a friend’s house for Christmas celebrations, the two things that kept me from killing myself were the unfamiliar surroundings, and not knowing where I could locate a suitable weapon. The gathering of people, the joy of my daughter as she played with a good friend: it all washed around and over me, but left me feeling incredibly empty.

January 28, 2003
While emailing back and forth with a friend of three decades, I told him about my feelings—about being isolated. (The home phone had been turned off for nonpayment that morning. —I told him that the support system I depended on was becoming unreachable, and I didn’t know if I could keep this up. And then I told him about December’s two close calls with a knife before the holidays. An annual tug-of-war was underway: financial responsibility versus holiday celebrations with family and friends. I wasn’t against going to be with loved ones, but did object to elevating the holiday to a higher priority than paying the bills. In the past we had gambled with bills—sometimes losing, sometimes, surprisingly, winning. But that game took its toll—on me at least.
Robert’s response: “Call for help.”
I emailed a second friend, a psychologist. Traci and I were planning on getting together for dinner that upcoming Sunday. It was just to talk. Our intent was just to have a nice evening. But when her email came back, the message was the same: “Call for help>”
The first call proved frustrating. The therapist I called could see me, but the office visit fee, plus the train fare, was cost prohibitive at that time.
The second call bore fruit. Talking to a member of a Crisis Team, I was questioned about my mood, the danger I might prove to be to myself. An appointment was scheduled for the next day.

January 29
I arrived for the appointment early, knowing I would have paperwork to complete beforehand. I had come alone, and was working my way through the forms when Chris, showed up unexpectedly. I handed the forms to her, and together we completed the requisite questions.
When the therapist appeared, Chris hugged me and watched as I walked off to my appointment.
I was asked to agree to an oral No Harm contract.
Was I strong enough? If it got too difficult, too dicey, would I be able to call for help?
Though I felt shaky, I thought I had the strength to abide by this.

January 30
I went to my daughter’s school to read to her class from a Braille copy of James and the Giant Peach. This event had been planned for a few weeks, and both of us were looking forward to it. I had already read the book (three times) to Aunoria. Now I would read to her class. I would get the chance to tell a story, and educate the class about Braille as well.
The reading and discussion went off well. I passed the book around to the class, and basked in the positive energy of the kids.
When I finished, and headed into work, I felt strong, and managed to navigate through that day.
But that night: I was starting to prepare dinner, cutting up some chicken. I put the knife to my wrist, and froze.
What was it about this ordinary chore that I wanted somehow to rebel against?
I went to Chris, told her what I was feeling. She volunteered to take over dinner preparations, but I insisted on finishing. She came to the living room and stayed nearby till dinner was served and eaten.

January 31
I woke up with the alarm clock, only to find that the electricity was already running at high voltage. The urge to cut was incredibly strong, so I stayed in bed. I didn’t get up and go to the kitchen till I thought it had passed
When I went to catch BART and head into the city, I was met with the urge to jump, whether to land on the third rail, or to be hit by the train, it didn’t matter.
I glued myself to the wall, and didn’t move till the train arrived.
The workday was normal: lots of running around, answering the phone, doing normal court business. And yet?
As the afternoon progressed, I got shakier, less in control. The break, when it finally came, occurred during a phone call with my best friend. A supervisor came and insisted I hang up the phone, and that was all it took.
Any barricades I might have erected were swept away as I lost control, began crying, screaming.
In an effort to give me some privacy, my supervisor led me into an empty courtroom. Through tears that wouldn’t stop, I called home, connected with Chris and explained what was happening, and that I was about to call Kaiser.
When I called the mental health clinic, they told me to get to the emergency room as soon as I could. They would let them know I was coming.
My boss, the Court Administrator, stayed with me, walking by my side through San Francisco streets, down flights of stairs to the BART platform, even on the train. All the while, he’s talking, trying to keep me as together as he could until we reached my stop, and Chris met me on the platform. My boss continued on to his destination, and I headed for the hospital.
Looking back now, I know it was a matter of a couple hours--five, I think--of being under guard, before I was transported to a locked facility and placed under suicide watch. But the time seemed to crawl as I sat there with Chris and Aunoria.
The holding room was small, but with enough space for the three of us. The guard assigned, who introduced himself as Trevor, sat on a stool right beyond the door, keeping an eye on me while granting me as much privacy as the circumstances allowed.
When I needed to use the bathroom, I had to be escorted. And the guard waited patiently outside the unlocked door.
When the guard noticed that our daughter was both bored and scared, he found her a coloring book and some crayons to help her pass the time.
As I waited, not knowing what the outcome would be, I alternately listened to the sounds of the hospital, or talked nervously.
When the world began to move again, and a bed had been found, I was walked out of the hospital by two paramedics. I kissed Chris and Aunoria, and then followed the paramedics to the ambulance.
Strapped down in the back of an ambulance, I watched the world retreat as I was taken to a safe haven where professionals knew what to do with people like me. With each block, then each mile, the nervousness subsided.
It was around midnight when we arrived at the psychiatric facility. The paramedics escorted me in; a guard buzzed us through the locked doors to Unit A. Here, the nurses took over, leading me to their station for intake.
The station was not much bigger than a large closet. I sat, half-listening to the formal recitation of what I already knew or had surmised: I would be held for seventy-two hours or until I was stable; he explained the visitation schedule and applicable rules.
Taken to a room that faced the nurse’s station, endured the mandatory ritual of inventorying of my personal belongings. The pants I wore that day had a drawstring that would need to be removed. Most any jewelry–except my earrings–were removed and logged in. I was given a quick, perfunctory tour of the room, then left to curl up under a light blanket and try to sleep.

February 1
When the nurse woke me to take my blood pressure, the day was just beginning for the unit. Somewhere nearby, a TV was on. As the blood-pressure cuff squeezed, I heard the news about the shuttle, Columbia’s explosion during re-entry. I would spend most of the rest of the day safely in my room, lights out, curtains closed, and the door as closed as was allowed. Not even a visit by Chris and Aunoria, or the possibility of visits from friends drew me out of this dark space.
That first day, I refused breakfast, and might have refused lunch as well, but for the possibility of having the hold extended.
A nurse came in at one point to talk. She took a seat in the chair next to the bed.
“Why are you here?”
I thought that obvious, but I said it anyway: “Because I’m thinking of killing myself.”
Somehow, the topic of reasons to live came up.
“I can only think of two,” I admitted. “One: I want to get to have my gender reassignment surgery. And second: my fear of God’s wrath.”
“Hold on to those,” she encouraged.
In this unit, I interacted with people with a variety of mental illnesses. As ill as we all were, the compassion shown by other patients proved a soothing, stabilizing force. The professionalism of the staff was balanced by an intimate knowledge by other patients of the pain and disorientation I was experiencing.
Every ten to fifteen minutes, the door was pushed open, and a nurse poked his or her head in to check up on me. From time to time, they would claim the one chair in the room and engage me in conversation. Sometimes, their efforts were more successful than others. Sometimes it was just a matter of which nurse.

February 2
The second full day found me venturing out of my cocoon, talking with other patients, and reaching out to members of the staff. When the time came for a smoke break–a privilege no longer available when I returned ten months later, we were led into an enclosed patio.
The previous day, I had refused the offer of time in the sunshine, but Sunday I took each opportunity to soak up the light and warmth. By dinnertime, I was invited by one of the staff—the nurse I had spoken with on the previous day—to join a group of patients for dinner in the cafeteria, which was off the unit–a privilege I was told by another patient that was unheard of for someone under suicide watch.
With the nurse and three or four others, I navigated my way through the Adolescent Unit, then the Children’s Unit. As we passed through, the call went out: “Adults coming through!" (We weren’t allowed to interact with the children.) That trek, both to and from dinner, broke my heart. All I wanted to do was reach out, to pick up a child and hold them close. But I followed the group obediently.
When I spoke with my assigned doctor, and he asked about motivations to survive, he was less than pleased when I failed to mention either my partner or my daughter as motivating factors. While other staff indicated it was okay to grasp at whatever straws I could reach, this psychiatrist had other ideas.

February 3
Though my confidence was shaky, I thought I was over the storm, and discharged. I had spent most of the past 72 hours crying and huddled in my room.
Breakfast brought a second invitation to venture off the unit. Like the day before, our presence was announced in each unit as we made our way to the cafeteria and back.
In truth, the psychiatrist I was assigned didn’t understand why I was even confined: “You’re smiling.”
This phrase, this assertion, became annoyingly frequent from strangers, family and friends over the next several months.
The first stop was at our daughter’s school, where I surprised her during her lunch.
I spent the next days, then weeks, fighting to regain some semblance of normal life. I went for long walks–one trek reached eighteen miles before the will gave out, and I had to call home from my cell phone.
Another day, another degree of control.
But it was an illusion, and reality would come crashing down on me in the coming weeks.

March 12
In the next ten months, this routine became uncomfortably familiar.
On this day, when I was admitted for the second time--a different facility--I already knew the drill.
It was here, my second confinement, where I hit rock bottom. I had been feeling bad all day, and had been unsuccessful in shedding the emotion. Work didn’t do it. Talking to people didn’t work.
I called home that afternoon. I told Chris how I felt, and what I
wanted either to find someplace warm, dark, quiet, or to go for a long
She suggested the latter.
Normally, a long walk worked wonders to clear my head. Five minutes after I began, I would find myself slipping into a trance-like state: the body’s mechanics worked; the legs moved; the ears let me know the condition of the traffic around me.
After work, I commuted back to the East Bay, going past my stop by one station, and began walking.
It’s a five-mile walk, and normally takes just over an hour.
But I made only about a mile before I disintegrated, and tried for the third time that day to end my life. Seeing two cars preparing to turn left onto a freeway onramp, I stepped purposefully into the crosswalk against my light. I was daring them–anyone for that matter–to hit me, to kill me.
I took my cell phone and called first my sister, and talked to her until I thought I could move on. Then I called home.
Chris arrived, finding me huddled in a liquor store parking lot, crying uncontrollably.
Before I went back to the ER again, I went home to change. One thing I had learned the first time was that I needed to be comfortable. So I changed from jeans to a skirt, and switched from shoes to sandals.
Back in the ER, in the same holding room, with the same guard, I wondered if what I had done--in coming--was wrong. But it was too late now.
A therapist visited me. I told her about the three suicidal periods I’d endured that day, how I’d wanted to cut myself when I woke up, how I had wanted to jump from the platform in front of a train, and how, finally, I had run across a freeway onramp in front of two cars.
I said I didn’t feel like I could abide by any contract.
Once again, a bed was found for me, though the wait seemed twice as long as before.
Something was different this time. I couldn’t explain it, but I knew that this experience, however long it stretched, was different. A new hospital, new nurses, new doctors. Whereas before, I had principally stayed in my room, that behavior wasn’t going to be allowed here.
It was close to four a.m. before I finally lay down and went to sleep, only to be roused by a nurse who came to check my blood pressure. It was six-thirty, and I had gotten only two and a half hours’ sleep.

March 13
When breakfast came, I didn’t want to get up. I was greeted by a team of nurses who did everything short of lifting me off the bed to get me to go to breakfast.
Looking back now, I can’t remember the sequence of events of those first couple days. Somewhere in that collage, a group of us was gathered and led to a quiet place. Instructed to close our eyes, then systematically concentrating on, then releasing, parts of our body, I found myself liking this experience. The image of a butterfly came to mind--larger than life. It was gold and blue and it lifted my mood.
Each day, when it came time for meditation, the butterfly would be there when I closed my eyes. I began looking for ways to keep that image center stage.
Another thing I do remember: we were shepherded into a room for Group. At this point, though upright, and having eaten, I still found words painful to say. So I let the others, already veterans of this situation, to speak. I was content to let them use up all the oxygen.
But one other patient found herself excluded from the session and spoke up. When she included me in the complaint that time was being monopolized, I cringed.
“Dana,” the facilitator said, “How are you feeling?”
Unlike the previous hospitalization, where my daughter was allowed onto the unit, here she was barred by virtue of her age. At eight, she was deemed too impressionable to be permitted inside the locked doors.
Of course, this wasn’t disclosed until Chris arrived with Aunoria in tow. And it led to a shortened visit, with Aunoria unhappy and angry outside, and me unhappy and frustrated inside the ward.
I told Chris one day about the butterfly, and how I wanted to have a permanent reminder--maybe a tattoo to help center me. She suggested a charm bracelet instead.

March 14
Another day, another series of routines. I still wasn’t talking very much. But the struggle over nutrition was over. The hospital staff had won.
When visiting hour came, it was a relief to find the doctor’s notation on my chart giving me the privilege to go outside to unit to the Family Room. At least I could see my daughter.
The Family Room was a small space where patients were allowed to visit with family members too young to be allowed on the unit. Access required the doctor’s permission.
For forty-five minutes or so, Chris and I talked—mostly about what was going on outside. She didn’t know which questions to ask, and I didn’t have the vocabulary to answer, when it came to talking about my need to be here.
Finally, having distracted my daughter with toys, I drew her to me and we had a quarter hour of horseplay before the nurse came to escort me back to the unit. I kissed first Aunoria, then Chris, before I willingly returned behind locked doors.

March 15
The seventy-two hour hold was about to expire. I had gone to therapy whenever the group met, and had spoken frequently with the staff in between times.
As dinnertime--and the end of the hold—approached, I was taken aside by the doctor. He said that he was unwilling to release me. He was reluctant to send me home as I still exhibited symptoms of instability. Instead, he presented me with a form that would extend the hold–possibly as long as 14 days. I willingly signed where he indicated. At least here, I felt safe.

March 17
My fifth day began as others had. The rituals were comforting, in their repetition. Quiet time, personal time, found me sitting in the common area outside my room. I stationed myself here so I could answer the pay phone whenever it rang. I had appointed myself the unit’s unofficial receptionist.
When the phone rang that morning, it was my partner on the other end of the line. She had received notice from the phone company threatening, once again, to suspend our service.
“Can you call them,” she asked.
Rage: it ran through me like flames, like the all too familiar high voltage electrical charge.
Didn’t she realize where I was? Didn’t she know, or even suspect, why I was here and not at home?
I made the call, with the current running through me. In fact, the feeling of electricity remained with me for the next several hours.
That afternoon, after visiting with Chris and Aunoria, I retreated to one end of the hallway; to a window-seat where I tried to slow the thoughts racing round and round in my head. I wanted to silence the words that were fighting to be screamed aloud.
But I wouldn’t say those words. That would be tantamount to committing treason, and I would rather hurt myself than hurt her.
Next to me, separating me from the window was a heavy wire-mesh screen. Without even thinking about the act, I began using the friction of skin on metal to try to draw blood. If, I thought, I could feel physical pain; maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotional pain of being abandoned by someone who wasn’t ready to occupy the adult world.
I stopped my movements, got up, and went to the nurse’s station.
“I need help,” I told the charge nurse.”
Maybe, if someone kept an eye on me, the emotions could be safely–though definitely not painlessly–released.
In the next couple days, other patients came in, and others discharged. One woman, knowing that she had maybe half an hour before she would leave, asked if she could braid my hair. When she finished, I wished her safe trip to the wedding she was eager to attend.

March 18
A small group gathered for therapy after breakfast. Five or six of us sat wherever we could be comfortable in a room with a stereo, a piano, and little else.
“On a scale of one to ten,” the facilitator said, “how do you feel?”
When it came my turn, I surprised everyone–including myself–when I proclaimed myself to be at ten.
“That’s great, Dana. Do you know why you feel so good?"
“Because, I figured out what my trigger is,” I said.
“So what’s next,” the facilitator asked.
“I don’t know,” I admitted.

March 19
I was surprised to find myself being discharged. It was only two days since a major suicidal mood had swept over me, but here I was, walking off the unit, being buzzed through locked doors, and ending up on the street.
The agreement was that I wouldn’t go “home.” In order to be discharged, I had had to scramble to find alternate living arrangements.
A friend had offered to take me in (at least temporarily), and had given me a key to her house. Now I was on my way to Berkeley to see where I would be residing while I went into outpatient therapy.
I met up with Chris later that day, and we went looking for my bracelet--appropriately--as it would turn out--we found it at The Anonymous Place, which caters to AA and NA members and others.
The recognition of the previous Monday that I had anger bubbling inside me contributed to the creation of an emotional DMZ that neither of us now wanted to cross.
It started with just one butterfly, and nineteen empty links. My fingers were tracing the image frequently as I tried to regain equilibrium when I felt suicidal.

Palm Sunday
The church was packed. Maybe it was the crowd, the sensation of being squeezed, but as Mass proceeded, I wanted more and more the cry my heart out–to the point that I almost got up and walked out.

Easter Sunday
I no sooner walked into the church and sat down among an overflow crowd, than I turned around and left. I was afraid that if I stayed, I would kill myself at the altar. Instead, I fled.
A parishioner, finding me walking down the shoulder of the road crying, offered to take me home.
Months passed, with the solitary butterfly keeping my heart above water. As the relationship with Chris failed, the butterfly was right there. As we made plans for alternate living arrangements, then prepared for separation, the butterfly was there. The bracelet never left my wrist.

July 18
Separation. While I was at work, Chris and Aunoria packed and locked a portable storage unit. When the storage company arrived, they departed.
When I arrived home that night, the apartment felt abandoned. Much of what had served as home was gone by mutual agreement. I had chosen not to cling to possessions, and allowed much of what had filled the apartment to either go with Chris or sit in a warehouse. I had asked only to keep my desk–which I’ve had since childhood–-my bookshelves, and a place to sleep.
For the first time in eleven years, I faced the world, and all its challenges, on my own. The freedom I asked of Chris was now mine.

November 22
It was after a visit with my daughter, after having her with me for just a few hours before re-boarding Amtrak’s Capital Corridor train, that it became too much to handle. Visitations ended each time with both of us in tears. It was too much to handle, but I didn’t want to implode in a public place. I’d done that twice already, but there would be no familiar faces if I lost what little control I could muster.
Safely home, I screamed, I cried, I slammed my fists into the wall: I wanted to break every bone in my body.
When the rage subsided to the merely painful, I called for help.
This time, the whole journey, to the hospital, and then being discharged, was accomplished alone.
The time spent in the ER this night extended to fourteen hours. Instead of keeping me in the same small room, I was given a bed and checked every ten to fifteen minutes till I fell asleep somewhere in the middle of the night.
With morning came news that a bed had been found.

November 25 Thanksgiving
Discharged from the hospital, but not at home by doctor’s orders, I found myself among a small group of other patients in a similar circumstance. Making the best of it, we formed an ephemeral family, taking on household chores, then gathering to talk, to listen, to cry, to console. For most of my stay we had a family of five: four women and one man–not including staff. One woman told me about cutting, explaining how and why she did it. Another stepped forward and held me when I fell apart one afternoon in casual conversation.

Two days earlier than was expected, I got into a car with a social worker and left the shelter for good. The ride home was quiet, wordless, but not without its tension. I wasn’t allowed just make my own way home. Instead, here I was, a passenger heading northward toward my empty apartment.
It was after discharge, after staying in a crisis shelter for Thanksgiving week that I talked with my doctor.
We talked about the things I wanted, and how impossible it seemed that I could reach those dreams: gender reassignment surgery, publication of a book, world travel.
“I can’t sign the letters you’ll need while you’re suicidal. I want you to prove your stability,” she said.
When I asked what that meant, she said: “I want to see you stay out of hospitals for one year.”
The date of my last discharge was November 30, 2003. To prove stability, I had to get to November 30, 2004 without being confined.
That feat, like the others I had previously been chasing, seemed impossible. But if I was going to get my life back together--put Humpty-Dumpty back together again--I had to find a way.
I began counting the days out of the hospital: one, two, three--eight- twelve. It was, for me, like an alcoholic building a foundation of sobriety. And I realized this would be the only way I would make it through the 366 days I needed.
I went to the mall one day just before Christmas, some twenty days after coming home. I found a place that sold the charms, and bought several: one for each of the months between the second and third--and last--admission.
March was out: I’d been in the hospital.
April was out, because of the suicidal Easter.
I awarded myself charms for May, June, July, August, and October. (September had seen a close call with the ER. It came down to my word: could I go home and be safe, or did I feel too unstable and in need of being watched. I chose, ultimately, to go home.)
But now it was December. With these new charms on the bracelet, I began the long, painful, seemingly endless, climb back to life. Day by day, I began looking for the joy in life. Where once, I had only two reasons I could think of for staying alive–surgery and a profound fear of God’s wrath--I began finding others. People I had known socially, and professionally, came forward. Those who would become trusted friends, who didn’t want me to stumble, gave me cell phone numbers, office numbers, even home phone numbers

December 30
Thirty days’ stability.

January 29, 2004
Sixty days.

February 28
Ninety days’ stability.

March 29
One-hundred-twenty days.

Those first few months, I bought charms for the other patients with whom I had shared Thanksgiving. I put their initials on the bracelet so I would remember them: J K and M. (I couldn’t find a G, so I designated one of the FRIEND charms for the other woman in our family.)
I added a charm for my daughter--a kangaroo, since that was her nickname.
Three FRIEND charms came, too
I put the LIBRA charm on, because of a friend I met whose energy I craved to emulate.
Maura was/is incredible. A first-year law student, she became my loudest cheerleader, and I hers. Like me, she chases dreams.
We met at a church-organized gathering, and an hour later, bathed in her energy and confidence, I knew she would be a part of my life.

April 28
One-hundred-fifty days!

May 28
One-hundred-eighty days!]

June 1
My birthday—one-hundred-eighty-four days’ stability: I had reached six months. I was halfway to my goal.

June 27
Two-hundred-ten days!

Each month I conquered brought a cheerleading email from Maura
As months passed, and we talked, she became the only person who could tell you how many days I had achieved, and how many remained. I found this out around July. I had begun to count down the days. Instead of saying I was two hundred fifty days stable, I began saying that I had one hundred sixteen days to make the year.

August 18
One day I went to check my email, and there was a message from Maura. She reminded me that I only had one hundred four days to go.
Until then, I hadn’t thought anyone was paying attention. But that email, and subsequent messages and conversations, proved otherwise.
Because of the depression and the suicidal moods, visitation with my daughter was tightly controlled. At first, it was just an edict from Chris, paralleling the terms of the stability agreement I had made with my doctor. Later, it was codified when we went to court over child-support and division of property.

September 1
Ninety days to go!

It was September 2004 when Chris and I talked about the upcoming holidays. She would be going to see friends at Christmas, and visit with my siblings and their kids. But Thanksgiving?
She told me: “If you can stay stable until Thanksgiving, you can take her home with you for the long weekend.”
In the preceding fourteen months, I traveled by train for visitation. And overnight visits meant staying in a hotel. But to bring Aunoria home: that would be incredible. That Thanksgiving fell five days short of my year of stability was waved away.

October 1
Sixty days to go!

The closer I came to Thanksgiving, the stronger my desire became to stay on track.

October 31
Thirty days remaining.

November 25, Thanksgiving
With five days left before I would complete one year of stability, and Chrissie’s dispensation, I boarded the Capital Corridor train for Sacramento to pick up our daughter and bring her home with me. The entire trip, that day felt surreal: I had done it—kept from hurting myself, kept myself from being hospitalized. Now, one of my rewards was at hand. I would be with my daughter for four whole days before I would repeat this process, reversing direction, relinquishing my prize—but with promise for the future.
In August, I had bought charms for most of the remaining months, but withheld getting anything for November. I would make it to December first. Only then would I complete the bracelet
Thus far, I had waited for my mid-month paycheck--when rent wasn’t an issue, to look for charms. So it was when it came December. I thought about running out immediately and buying the last charms, but I didn’t.
Instead, I thought about the people who had been there for me. Friends, professional colleagues, and even strangers had all been part of my fight. Many of them were represented now, so what to do for the final charm(s).
By December, there were only three blank links on the bracelet.
Three butterflies--including the original--were bordered on each side by blanks. And there was one other empty space.
I thought about the people who had kept me moving, and those who had taught me invaluable lessons.
One friend, knowing my religious commitments, reminded me that I didn’t need to have my rosary with me; I could just use my fingers.
The Pastoral Associate at my church told me to think of climbing into God’s lap when I felt bad.
And one patient I came to know during my second admission had spoken up for me when I couldn’t glue two words together on that first morning.
So, how to finish the bracelet?
Days before Christmas, I went shopping. I decided on the final three charms: a charm of two entwined hearts, to be a second charm for Maura, a cross, and another charm of hearts for R.
The bracelet is complete now. In fact, I joked with a saleswoman one time about what I should do when it was finished, and she told me to start with a watchband. (But I haven’t worn a watch in more than a decade.)
Now, I only remove it from my left wrist for two reasons: my daughter’s curiosity, or airport security.
The climb back to life continues—complete with its joyous moments and its moments of utter despair. As I write this, I’m by no means home free, but I’m learning. Along the way, I’ve had my definition of friendship repeatedly confirmed: someone who will be my cheerleader when I’m pursuing a dream, but will also be there to hold me when I cry.
Daily, I run my fingers over the charms, reminding myself of those who’ve shared my journey out of the pit of Hell. For the fellow sufferers of depression that I met, whose charms are here, I pray daily that they’ve found some happiness. But for all of them, I give thanks.

P.s. The charms for my daughter are: two BOOK charms, a LITTLE GIRL charm, and the KANGAROO.

Copyright (c) 2005 bythe author

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


From miles away
As low-pressure moves in,
Closes the distance
Between raindrops
And skin.
Water falling/
Grows deeper/
Runs faster/
Tastes cleaner/

Bright colors,
Flat bodies,
Flat faces,
Illusions lived

Warm in the winter,
Cool in summer,
Soft things,
Loud things

Down silent streets,
On busy roads/
Sharing my journey
With the four-wheeled set.

Fear up close and personal,
Sorrow in my darkness,
Solitude in my freedom
Freedom in my solitudes.
Joy in the sound of children,
Peace from an infant in my arms,
Quiet in a morning not yet born,
By texture.
Half an inch/
Half a mile deep?

Or sought


THE WALLS scream

In response to my frustration,

My hands impacting,

My fingers ache,

I’m amazed there are no holes.


Wind and
Rain, and
It’s a temporary inconvenience,
A pause for refreshment./

Wind and
Rain, and
Someone in a hurry
Arrives dead on time.

Wind and
Rain, and
Everyone shelters in place
While earth drinks, earth eats.

Wind and
Rain, and
Children jump in puddles
Over the objections of parents.

Wind and
Rain, and
I’ll eat lunch at my desk.
I might as well work.

Wind and
Rain, and
The mailman will be late,
Bills and junk mail sodden.

Wind and
Rain, and
The ground hog sees his shadow?
Perhaps he’s only kidding.

Wind and
Rain, and
The newspaper comes
Wrapped in plastic.

Wind and
Rain, and
Someone scrounges for food,
Familiar with wet loneliness.

Wind and
Rain, and
There’s nothing to do
But wait it out.

Wind and
Rain, and
Will the power fail?
Will a tree fall—thirsty land given way?

Wind and
Rain, and
Winter’s proclaims her arrival—
Maybe we’ll hear thunder, too.

Wind and
Rain, and
The sidewalks lead
To empty places.

Wind and
Rain and
I procrastinate,
Find reasons not to run my errands

Wind and
Rain and
The east coast laughs
When we can’t find the umbrella.

Wind and
Rain and
It’s just
Another wintry day.

Wind and
Rain, and
A chance of sun
At ten percent.

Wind and
Rain, and
Winter boots the sun
From the California sky.

Copyright (c) 2008 by the author


For love of Laura:
Everpresent, ever bright,
Unquenchable fire.

We named you Laura.
We talked about you for hours,
As if you were real.

As if I knew you,
I think in terms of LAURA—
What will you be like?

Images of you—
All the stages, all the looks,
All things you could be.

TIME keeps extending:
To pause, take stock, and go on,
Marking each moment.

Always the questions:
From my friends, from family:
I can’t explain you.

I tell those who hear:
I know just what I’m doing.
But of course, I lie.

One year is measured,
And I wait, anticipate
Things to say to you.

Waiting for you now,
Like waiting for the high tide,
You will arrive soon.

You were just a dream—
Just a thought, a plan, a name:
You are; y0ou will be.

Curled up in the mind,
The fire has been set.

They’d call me crazy
If it weren’t for the dream
Of embracing you.

Dresses, dreams and more,
LAURA, the world waits for you—
Your family waits.

My child, treetop bound,
Arms and legs a blur, rising,
Ascending the world.

Child over cat—frozen!—
Split second to catch the sight,
Then gone, both running.

Kept up by child screams—
Laura, allergic to summer,
Seeks out the floor fan.

Mental snapshots, yes,
Of a child as yet unborn,
I can’t wait to hold.

Her fear of falling,
Descending stairs, she holds on
Tightly, then laughs.

Riding through tunnels,
Through open windows she screams,
And laughs, laughs, laughs, laughs.

I prepare for you.
I am to be inspected:
Found worthy/wanting.

Pages torn from books,
To be rewritten in time
By fragile fingers.

RED, WHITE, BLUE blocks—up!
Skyscraping, room-cluttering,
Filling up your world.

ENERGY compressed,
Held tightly within your soul,
Prepared for RELEASE.

Captured arms and legs,
You pull me down to your eyes,
And I can’t escape.

Crackerjacks with prize,
Little fingers tear the box,
Scattering the crumbs.

You are singing—
High, sweet voice—this is your song.
Ascending sweetly.

You are jumping rope,
Keeping cadence with your friends
With your childish chants.

I trip on your toys—
Remnants of your busy day
Scattered on your wind.

From stories to sleep
The fragile thread leads to dreams,
And back to daylight.

Crayon-deco walls,
Washed clean—again—again
Just for you, Washed clean.

The world’s your toy-box:
You possess the continents,
The islands and more.

There was a time once
A friend took time to explain
What it is to dream.

And she is watching
To see that I understand—
Truly understand.

Like a spool, around
Which a thread is wound—and wound—
You are my center.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Excuse me.



`What train was that that just left?

Was it Pittsburg-Bay Point?

Was it Dublin-Pleasanton?

Was it Richmond, or Fremont?
I have to get to Oakland Airport. That’s the Coliseum Station, right?

Doesn’t anybody speak Ibo?


English—does anybody here speak English!
I’m an American: I speak American!
I have a question!

That train! Which train was--?



Hope Southwest is running late.
I never intended to stay in the city so long.
Come on: somebody, speak to me!
What train--?

What are my chances: one in three, one in four?
How frequently do the trains run?
I’m a stranger here.
First time in San Francisco.

And my last: if no one speaks to me.

PITTSBURG/BAY POINT: will that get me to Oakland by six o’clock?

That train: what was the last train?
Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to get to Napa.
Do you think so?

I didn’t think it was that far. It didn’t look far on the map.
Hey, dam nit, can you tell me if this is the train I need--?
Hey! This train—will it take me—is the train I need?

Copyright (c) 1998 by the author


Step right up,
and pick your poison!
No commitments required. No guarantees. But also, no guilt!
Kill your hunger or thirst for the moment with something sweet, something gooey and delicious. You’ll fall asleep with the feeling of satisfaction, only to wake up hungry again, but hey, that’s life, isn’t it?
If you’re not looking for something nutritious, you’ve definitely come to the right place.
Junk love. That’s what my best friend, Lydia calls it. A temporary fix for a lifelong problem, like eating cookies when what the body demands is a four-course dinner. Snacking when you should be eating.
Junk love available for the taking!
Here are some samples of what’s available out there.
Matthew Marcus, aged twenty-eight, brown hair, brown eyes, five-eleven, one hundred sixty pounds. Loves fast cars, loud music, and makes the most of every minute. Hates wasting time. Makes quick decisions, and either lives or dies by them.
Or, how about Jonathan Kitridge, d twenty-six, height about five-five, mental age, I’d say about thirteen. He has the attention span to match, so be careful. Thirty days, or ten dates, whichever comes first. After that, you’re on your own—literally. Watch your hearts!
James Todd Carroll, aged thirty. Likes classical music, books, long bike rides into the country. You’d better exercise before seeing him, both mentally and physically. You’ll need it. He’s fun, but he’s been bruised in the heart, so he’s not looking for anything permanent, just salve for the wounds. Don’t get your hopes up.
Anton Miller. He’s cute, cuddly, and perennially curious. Either don't sleep, or keep him on a leash, or you’ll lose him.
Greg Martin. You’ve got to be on your toes with him. He’s a PH.D. candidate and he drops obscure references into conversations. You know, about the original Latin names for the different species of butterflies. Now, butterflies are pretty, but who needs to know their original Latin names.
Kevin Locke. He’ll take you for a ride on his motorcycle. He loves the feel of the wind in his hair and the sun on his back. If you go with him, learn to pack light. You won’t be able to carry much more than the basic essentials of life. And buy lots of postcards to let the rest of the world know where you’ve been and where you’re going.
And hold on. It’s a long and sometimes rough ride, but it’s worth it just for the experience of the open road and the view of the desert on a summer night as you’re racing for Las Vegas at eighty-plus.
And then there’s Martin Michaels. Complete opposite. Likes the beach, and that’s about it. Spends any warm day looking for a free space in the sand, a good wave, and the right sun block. (Funny thing is, he never tans. He gets tons of freckles, but never ever tans.) He’ll spend hours in the sand at the water’s edge, making sandcastles, trying to make one the waves won’t eventually destroy.
Once, I think it was on our fourth or fifth date, we came back after three days, and one of his sandcastles was still there—until some kid kicked it down in his rush for the water.
He’ll eventually lose your phone number, forget where you live, and you’ll stop receiving flowers on a weekly basis. But he’s a nice guy if you want his number or address. I have them right here.
Robert Andrew Mitney. Small, about five-two. Energetic. If you’re going to keep up with him, you’ll have to run. He’s always in a hurry. To go to work, or to bed.
Likes old movies of the thirties, even the silents.
If that interests you, here’s his number: nine-five-oh-one-two-three-oh. And don’t be fooled by his answering machine. It may be a woman’s voice you hear, but that’s only his little sister.
McAllister: if you like getting breakfast in bed, this is your guy. Great cook! Waffles! Pancakes—to die for! And his
sweet-rolls! Yum, yum, yum!
Of course, he wasn’t worth a damned as a handy man. Couldn’t fix anything. When my car quit—something about the alternator—he just shrugged. Guess he missed that part of his youth. You know, the “I’ll fix it
If it kills me” stage. Screwdrivers, pliers, a simple monkey wrench, are just extra thumbs to Kevin.
But that wasn’t what separated us.
His wife did that trick. Called my apartment while he was there, said she’d had enough of the separation, and could they talk? Five minutes later, he was gone. No phone calls, no letter—not even a postcard or hint of apology. I mean, I knew about the separation, but I though he was moving on, entering a new stage of his life: post-Julia.
Guess not.
Well, he’s gone. Time to move on.
Ashley Wilkes. Don’t tease him about anything related to Gone With The Wind. No, he’s never dated anyone named Scarlett. No, he’s never even visited the South. And no, he has absolutely no curiosity about the book or its mythology.
He’s heard it all before. Hates anything to do with the Civil War. In fact, hates anything about war. He’s an ardent pacifist.
Visit his home, and there are picket signs in the closet. (Found them when I was looking for a sweater to wear to one of the recitals we went to.)
If you give him a spin, just steer clear of politics and war, and you’ll do just fine. My philosophy: don’t ask him about his politics, and you won’t have to tell him how vehemently you disagree with him. Keeps the peace that way. Besides, he won’t be in your life for long. Politics will come up sooner or later, no matter how hard you try to avoid it; a simple innocuous remark will be the death knell of the relationship. Teasing, he can handle. Comparisons with the character, for which he’s named, he can tolerate, but political dissent, NEVER.
Taymour Watson. Indian by birth. And I mean the nation of India, not the Native American. Even though he’s lived here most of his life, he’s still a staunch believer in the caste system, and he likes to pigeonhole people.
If you’re a lawyer, if you’re a political figure—no matter how small—you are, in his eyes, untouchable.
Women have their place in Taymour’s world—in the kitchen, in the bedroom--where they’re harmless and powerless. So, beware.
And keep your claws hidden, till you really need them, to regain your freedom. Taymour’s funny, and warm, and protective, but the boundaries of the world he’s bringing you into grows smaller and more confining by the day.
Alex Carter. Absolutely no fear! I’m telling you, this guy must have ice water for blood in his veins!
Hang gliding—he did it in the Mojave Desert, and the Grand Canyon. And he has the pictures on his walls to prove it.
Deep sea diving: thanks to technology, he has photographic evidence of his exploits, plus the gear stuck in an unused closet.
Rock-climbing: I did that with him once. There’s nothing like rappelling down a rock face, with your weight in another’s hands to instill trust. If he lets go, if he slips, I’m dead.
I got cuts and bruises I expected.
But I guess the will I wrote up before the trip was unnecessary after all.
Speedboat racing! He’s done it on numerous occasions. Won some trophies, some victories, some second-place finishes, a few honorable mentions.
He’s even traveled cross-country on horseback! Through the deserts, over the Rockies—through the worst snow in a century—and beyond, to the Mississippi River, where a pair of state police cars blocked a major bridge so he could ride across without fear of being struck by some careless driver.
Hot-air balloons! We won an amateur ballooning race in Colorado a couple of years ago. I had no clue what to do, but I learned—quickly.
So, if you want to spend time with him, you’d better be a fast learner, and a firm believer in his philosophy of “DON’T PANIC!”
White water rafting? He’s done it, many times, many rivers. He thrives on the adventure, the chance to see new places, testing his limits all the while.
He even took me up for a skywriting trip. It wasn’t till I was up in the air, and started paying attention to the moves of the aircraft that I realized he had a plan.
After he finished writing his message, he landed the plane, tipped my chin up with his right index finger, and made me read his message: WILL YOU MARRY ME, KATHLEEN?
And I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t chicken out. Well, not exactly. I said, “No,” without flinching.
I guess I surprised him, because he never knocked on my door, or called me, again.
Everybody has their faults, their flaws, their imperfections. Mine is that I’m not ready for permanence.
And why is that a flaw anyway?
At least I know this about myself, and freely admit it. If, and that’s a big “if”, you want to hang around for more than just a junk-food attraction fix, keep your finger off the C-button, step back, watch me try, watch me fail, watch me succeed, watch me learn, and hopefully grow.
Someday, according to Lydia, I’ll outgrow this “fixation,” this “fantasy life.”
But don’t hold your breath.
With this little black book, and its line of successors, with my long hair and blue eyes, my passion for bright colored dresses, I don’t think I’ll be tamed—not any time soon.
Do you know this about yourself?
Are you secure enough to acknowledge that you’re a junk-love fan, an aficionado of temporary treats, and games?
How many of you have little books like this, filled with pages of names, phone numbers, addresses, date preferences, flowers or no flowers, perfume likes and dislikes, dress or pants, conservative or freewheeling?
Come on now, confession time!

Copyright (c) 1998 by the author



SO, you think that just because you have this picture of me, that you have a piece of me?
You have a temporary image of me; one that will fade with time and the ravages of light on chemically treated paper
I don’t really understand why you wanted the picture in the first place. You should already have a thousand memories of me to draw on while we go off on our separate assignments
You know, my father was a photographer, just like you.
All my life, from the time I was about three or four, I was the live-in captive subject for all my father’s pictures. It’s amazing I’m even here with you. You’d think I’d seen enough flashes, heard enough clicks, smelled enough chemicals, bought enough film. How could I ever get involved with another shutter-bug?
“Turn this way. No, to the right just a little more.”
“Hold that pose.”
“Have to do something with your hair.”
“Put on this dress, and come back downstairs.”
“You look spectacular.”
“We’d better hurry. We’re losing the light.”
“Just one more shot.”
First bike.
First library visit.
First car.
Notice, as I did, that there was none of the usual father-daughter conversations.
“Need help with your homework, Dana?”
“How was softball practice, Dana”
“Let me see that report card again, please. I can’t believe it.” “Your mom says you’ve got a boyfriend.”
I guess his camera shots were meant to take the place of words.
Well, they didn’t.
For eighteen years I lived my life in the pages of photo albums.
Is it any wonder I don’t have any here? I have no interest in reliving the past, looking at what I was, where I’ve been, or any of that shit. Thanks, but no thanks.
Of course, I work with photographers now. (Must be a genetic thing.)
But I don’t point and shoot.
I don’t care about shutter speeds.
I don’t look at light meters.
My job—and I’m good at it—is arranging the details.
To me is left the itinerary of the models the magazines request, their lodging, their travel, their desires, their fetishes, their eccentricities.
I never attend the shoots. Too many bad memories of being nothing more than immovable, bendable, transformable statue. I can’t watch those who voluntarily submit to it.
It makes me want to scream.
I don’t think so!
What if I don’t feel like it, Dad?
What if I’m having a bad day, Dad?
What if I just found out I’m not going to summer camp, like all my classmates,
What if I have Chicken Pox, Dad? (But of course, he documented that, too. Just like the rest of my young life.)
But I never said no.—to my Dad.
Not to anyone.
But I do, now. To you.
And that’s the crux of it, isn’t it?
I had someone capturing seemingly every instant of my life—at least “the important moments,” as Dad used to say, trying to soothe my emerging rebellions.
First lost tooth: Dad caught it on film, before the tooth fairy could bring me a quarter.
First communion: Dad used up a whole roll—thirty-six pictures of virtually the same shot.
Sixth grade graduation.
Junior high, complete with his “boy-crazy pictures. Can you imagine? He followed me on my first ten dates! Not to protect my virtue, he just wanted to document the event, the passage of his only daughter from childhood to adolescence. I finally managed to lose him, darting into and out of shops, slipping out a back door I think was the trick that succeeded where everything else failed.
On film, he had my first attempts at makeup,
First date. He embarrassed Jordan, my next door neighbor, after he had worked up the courage to ask me out when I was thirteen. It took weeks to convince him my whole family wasn’t that eccentric.
Junior prom.
Senior prom.
High school graduation.
Each stage of my life, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t escape the flash-bulb-wielding, camera-loving, film-freak father of mine.
Don’t we have enough memories? Mental pictures we can draw on, look at, relive, in the privacy of the mind, where no one else can edit, revise, rearrange?
ON THE BEACH: you and I waiting for the sun to sink into the sea. We stayed, even as the rest of the tan-seeking crowd disappeared. We wrapped ourselves in those cobalt-blue towels you got for Christmas, to keep off the cold. And we were there when the sun finally swallowed the sun for another day.
And the sun-burn we got for the effort, remember?
ROCK.-CLIMBING: we worked our way up the rock-face, bruising our legs, scraping our hands, all the way to the top. Then we rappelled our way back down, our canteens bone-dry by the time we touched firm ground. Our matching His & Hers T-shirts were plastered to our bodies. And we made dibs on who got to shower first when we got back home.
Racing for the car, eager for the air-conditioning to cool our overworked bodies, our legs ached with every stride, and our arms hung at our side, barely functional.
AT THE LIBRARY: you have your nose in the periodicals, looking up whatever information you can scavenge on the origins of baseball. Meanwhile, I’m scanning through the library’s selection of videos for the evening’s entertainment.
Meanwhile, those who get up late on Saturdays begin straggling in, and the library no longer is our personal kingdom. Without a word, we both decide to leave.
DOING LAUNDRY: we work together, digging through the mounds of laundry that have overtaken our small bedroom. Underwear and socks fly a short distance, forming a new pile—the first-to-be-washed things; jeans and towels go airborne into the hallway—Next Clean Thing
Our hands touch as we work, this one free day of the week when we’re both free. Sometimes the touch is accidental, sometimes gentle, sometimes jarring.
Hour by hour, we excavate more floor, reacquainting ourselves with carpet—we really have it!
After hours of washing, drying, re-sorting and putting away, we collapse before the idiot box, a video already in the player from last night.
We’re not too tired for some things. Our clothes grow another pile on the floor—and we’ll only have to put things away in the morning.
MAKING DINNER you make the spaghetti, while I make the salad.
The radio plays our favorite oldies station. This isn’t the music we grew up on, but it’s a compromise between your taste for jazz and my country. We find our common ground, sing along with songs as we prepare dinner.
We have friends coming over, and things should be just right. The wines in the fridge, the garlic bread is almost ready. The sauce is simmering, and the spaghetti is almost done.
And the dessert: neither one of us could resist German chocolate cake. Our joint-effort. We licked the spoons we used, the mixer blades, in the bowl. There’s never enough chocolate!
And when our friends, Jodi and Jann arrive, we set the table, light the candles, bring out the wine, and begin the evening’s series of silly toasts.
This isn’t an “occasion,” but an excuse for the pretty tablecloth to see the light of candles, a reason for bringing out the wine, a justification for fun after a week gone by in which we barely saw each other except in passing. You leaving for work, as I get ready for bed. I leaving for my current job while you start your daily landing cycle—reading the paper thoroughly before bed.
And so, the friends, the candles, the wine, the dinner, and the chocolate!
READING THE PAPER: I always want the comics first. We both recognize I need my daily smile before I can face the deluge of news, gray and black. And you: the weather. For some reason I’ve never learned to understand, you don’t trust the weatherman on the 11:00 news, choosing to read about it before facing it in the morning.
World News follows. You need the newest topics boiling over, even if you can’t do anything about it. You just “need to know.”
We don’t waste energy with the TV or radio while we read. We share the silence, nibbling on waffles come fresh from the toaster-oven.
And when we finished, discarding the sections of the paper, which interest neither one of us, we move the morning’s refuse to the fireplace. In winter, morning proceeds with a fire. In summer, we take the paper to be recycled.
SHOPPING: we have such different tastes. You like your vegetables, picking zucchini, carrots, lettuce, green beans and corn. I gather the bread, the morning muffins, the apples and bananas. We each have our own system, prioritizing what we need. Working separately, we seek out the items on our divided list. When we finish, we’ll meet in the middle of the store, one last chance to check for anything we missed.
PLAYING THE FLUTE: I practice every day, knowing that you are an invisible audience. You’re just out of sight, rattling dishes in the kitchen as I work out the kinks in my newest composition.
The space between artist and analyst is a respectful but bridgeable distance. You don’t disturb me in my moment of artistic ecstasy, and I leave you alone to balance the checkbook, or do someone’s taxes.
Sweet notes ascend to the ceiling as I finish my day s work. I put my flute away, handling it lovingly, the vehicle of my joy. I energize myself as I entertain you with my repetitions. It amazes me that I don’t bore you with the number of times I run through my sequence of songs. Hour on hour of practice, for concerts you’re at work and can’t attend. But you don’t need to.
PLAYING BASKETBALL: we begin a friendly game of HORSE at the neighborhood middle school. At first, the shots are easy--lay-ups, close-in jump-shots, free-throws--but our competitive juices begin flowing, the shots become more difficult, the attempts to outdo grow more outrageous, until I win with a half-court, single-handed hook.
You can’t match it.
Exhausted, we retreat to a doughnut shop to lick our wounds, so salve our egos, and share a laugh at the extents to which we went to win.
LEARNING TO LINE-DANCE: you and I, the only two in the line, practicing before our bedroom mirror, with the instructional video to guide us. Remember how many times we tripped over each other? Those first few steps were so hard to memorize. How many hours before we moved without any thought of where our feet were supposed to be?
RIDING BICYCLES: dressed in our matching sweatshirts, inscribed with His Buddy, and Her Buddy, we would ride through the streets, early enough to observe the sunrise, on those days when we’re both paroled form work.
In the cold of the morning, when everyone else we know is still sawing logs, dreaming of a boss’s beheading.
We pedal our way through foothills to UCLA, then to the beach, where we both get red as lobsters from sunburn.
MARKING TERRITORY: as if we’re animals, we let the other know where they can trespass, and where they can’t.
On my side of the room, the clothes are tossed whimsically. I promise you repeatedly that I’ll get around to folding them up, putting them away. But I never do.
Perhaps it’s because I never feel comfortable with too much order. There’s enough of that in my life as it is.
On your side of the room, things are neatly folded, put away in their assigned drawer, or hung up neatly. We are a study in contrasts. If, as they say, opposites attract, is it any wonder we’re together?
Our first apartment. How did we live in such a small studio—tell me that. With the sliding-glass door that served as our front door, where we had to go out and buy the darkest curtains we could find to keep the world from peeping.
And then the move to this place. Boxing up those first collections of “stuff” we’d collected in eighteen months. Scrambling for transportation—this was before we came into the money we’ve accumulated. (How many weeks did it take us to unpack, making this feel like a home, not a warehouse or a self-storage unit?
The furniture in the living room we agreed on, the curtains, the dining-room table, the cuckoo clock, the silverware, and everything we own, we own together.
Memory one million and one.
And what about the days when we were hired? Two days apart. The exaltation and relief of knowing we can make a living after college.
You went to your interview with Modern Treasure, first, then came home with Bailey’s Irish Cream to celebrate.
Two days later, it was my turn to bring the goodies, to jump for joy in my new suit—bought for the occasion. New Rainbow West said “Yes”, I couldn’t believe it!
We started making our plans for a life after student poverty. All the things we wanted but could never have.
Lists. We wrote down all the things, trying to prioritize in which order we would make our purchases with our paychecks, allowing for deductions for taxes and expenses—like rent.
Memory one million and one!

Just think about all those fingerprints, and those of any stranger who picks it up when it inevitably falls out of your wallet.
In the interlude before being lost, it will become creased and unrecognizable—yes, even over a summer and autumn.
And how many people will see this picture? Will you show it to friends? And how about your colleagues on the shoot? Will you show me to them? Reminisce a little? Brag a little, growing possessive—of the picture, and of me?
So, if you truly want this picture how about this?
Or chains around the ankles at least. And handcuffs—it won’t be complete without those.
And a gag, and a blindfold. That way, I can be See No Evil, Hear No Evil, and Speak No Evil.
Not funny?
I thought so.
Do you realize how invasive a camera is? Intruding into someone’s life without warning, without invitation, without honoring the sanctity of the moment?
What if someone—a stranger! —Started popping up, invading your house, your work, your social life, snapping away— catching you when you’re just found out the insurance on the house is going up? When you discover at the coffee shop that you left your wallet in the office—after eating your lunch?
And here they are again, snapping a picture of you when your infant nephew has just spit up on you?
These invaders, these photographers—or chroniclers, as some of them call themselves—don’t care how good, or how bad, the moment is for their subject. It’s enough that they are there to forever freeze the image.

How about my voice? On tape? You could listen to it in the interludes between photo shoots? At night, by the fire, when you’re decompressing from the day, evaluating your work?
We won’t have many opportunities to talk while you’re away, while I’m on assignment, too.
And I can play some of my own compositions on the flute! Music to put you to sleep by. Music to wake up to, along with your ritual coffee.
And the music, if you wanted to share it with your collaborators, I wouldn’t mind. An artist always wants an audience.
This would be more portable. The tape could fit into your shirt pocket, near your heart.
And I know you’re taking your Walkman. I saw you packing it away late last night.
Private, if you want it to be Shared, if that’s what you want.
Harder to damage. It’s wrinkle-proof, fade-proof, tear-proof. You can return to it whether there is daylight or not, in the middle of the day or the cold of the mountain night.
What do you say?
If you want to capture something of me, let it be something living, something that breathes, shows emotion, tells stories, and consoles.
Let me get my tape-recorder.
We have a few hours before the flights that will separate us. There will be time enough to capture the moment, to be played, then rewound, then played again, and rewound again.
Let me get my flute.

Copyright (c) 1998 by the author


What time is it?
Same time it was yesterday, only twenty-four
hours later.
What time is it?
Half past kissing time, time to kiss again.
What time is it?
Time to get up.
What time is it?
Time to go to work.
What time is it?
Time to go to lunch.
What time is it?
Time to go home.
What time is it?
Quitting time.
What time is it?
What time is it?
Free time.
What time is it!
Time for dinner.
What time is it?
Time for bed.
What time is it?
What time is it?
What time is it?
Anyways, who cares? Most of time’s passage is irrelevant.
I mean, why bother noticing the passage of seconds and
They’re the pennies of time—next to useless, and nobody wants them until they’re all you have left.
What can you do in a second,
Wave goodbye!
Blow a kiss!
Shout hello across a room!
If you have a string of seconds, of course, it’s a little better. But singly, they’re next to worthless.
And minutes aren’t much better, you know?
If you say, “I love you,” how long does it take—two seconds?
So, you could fill a minute with thirty “I love you,”s if you were of a mind to.
But for most of us, the passage of seconds, the use of time, is in such
small increments—legal tender, but useless in small quantities.
And who wants to gather them into something worth saving? It takes too much time!
Something you’re trying to save, aren’t you?
So, if you discard seconds and minutes, you can concentrate on units of measurement that actually amount to something.
Eight hours make a workday, if you’re lucky, and you live in the right part of the world, and you were preceded by union activism, and so and so and so.
Twenty-four hours make a day. Well, that’s pretty scientifically accurate—almost
But hours are slippery. They get away without you ever noticing that they’ve been spent—sometimes wisely, sometimes foolishly.
In an hour, what kind of work can you do?
You couldn’t have built the Brooklyn Bridge, though you might have been able to rough out a design.
You probably couldn’t write a book, though you could maybe read one.
How many pages could you read? Me, it’s about thirty pages an hour—my reading speed. And I’m slow.
How many letters can you write in one hour? If they’re short, four or five, I’ll guess. But what if it mattered to the person you’re writing, and you had to take care with your words, could you complete it in one hour?
How many cookies can you bake in sixty minutes? Enough for your son’s Little League team? Enough for your daughter’s Girl Scout troupe??
How many eggs can be boiled in 3,600 seconds?
But again, I don’t care.
I’m not racing anyone to the end of a book. It’s an act of love, not a contest of speed.
I’m not participating in some speed-bakeoff.
And I’m not working in a hotel, or a hospital, or a truckstop.
I refuse to race anyone to the end of an hour, let alone to the end of a day.
Seconds become minutes; minutes turn to hours; and, before I know it, Time has slipped away from me.
Where’s the day gone?
It seems just like a few minutes ago that I picked up this book and began to read.
And yet, there’s no denying that the sun, which had been at its zenith when I started, is now clearly on its final descent.
Did I check my watch once?
Of course not!
What time was it when I picked up the book?
Reading time!
What time is it now?
Look at my wrists!
No leather band, no metal band either, and no round-faced commander with one big hand and one small hand.
No white band of skin!
Haven’t worn a watch for three years, three orbits of the sun, 1,06 days.
Now, days—I’m forced to acknowledge them!
The sun comes up.

I make breakfast!
I go to work.
I go to lunch.
I come home.
I eat dinner.
I go to bed.
The day is always filled with some variation of this routine.
The day, in other words, can’t be ignored. Our bodies are adapted to it. And if you are deprived of light, you sleep more, work less. If you have all light and no dark, then you’re up longer, sleep less.
It’s just a fact of nature—days.
String five of these days together, and you have the work-week!
Insert two days of “rest” between these five-day segments, and you have the calendar week.
String four weeks together—give or take a couple days—and you have a month. An artificial measurement if I’ve ever seen one.
Link the months together, and we arrive at the year.
So, thanks, but no thanks. No watch for me.
I don’t want to be bogged down by time.
I never worry if I’m “late.”
How can I be late, when time doesn’t matter? I arrived, didn’t I? Safely? Then what else do you need to know?
So, I arrived after one person, or before another.
It wasn’t their time to get here.
Seconds? Useless!
Minutes? Marginally useful, but a nuisance.
Hours? Useful, but why keep track of them?
The same thing for weeks, months, and to a certain point, years. Sure, you can keep track, but you’re not accomplishing anything.
Except perpetuating a record that no one else can emulate.
Without the identical experiences, stimuli, who cares? It’s a different path.
I have a radical idea! Instead of sentencing criminals to five years imprisonment, make the sentence in minutes. So five years becomes five times three-hundred-sixty-five days, times twenty-four hours, times sixty minutes.
I’ll let you do the math.
I think, if someone thinks of all the things he can be missing in all those minutes, he might, just might, think twice about their crimes.
So, if you want to keep your family heirloom grandfather-clock, go ahead, but what about making it run backwards? Or, you could rig it so that the chimes go off randomly. You still get the sound, and the effect, but it isn’t really marking time anymore.
The only clocks that matter are the biological clock and the circadian, anyway.
One tells us how long we will live—if only we could check the time on that clock.
And the circadian clock—it tells us how much sleep we need, and when.
All the rest of the world’s clock—they’re just for show.
Well, the one exception, annoying though it may be, is the alarm clock. If you have trouble getting up “on time,” then maybe it’s necessary.
But maybe not. Maybe what you need, what I need, is to work within my circadian day.
Which means I work when I get up, I quit when I need to sleep, or eat, or go outside for a walk around the block.
And if you have to keep your clocks, for aesthetic, or for sentimental reasons, what about painting over the numerals, making a happy face, a clown-face, or just leaving it blank…
Me, I’d have the clock inscribed with: I HAD TIME ON MY HANDS, THEN I DROPPED IT.
So, throw away your watch!
Watches, digital or not: throw them out!
Clock-radios—who ever combined those two? They should be shot!
Clocks in the kitchen—bye bye.
Clocks in the office--=out the window! Down the garbage chute!
Clocks on airports!
Clocks on planes!
Clocks on trains!
Who needs them?
Turn them around, face to the wall.
Join the revolution!
Work as long as you feel like working!
Rise and fall with the sun.
Note the passage of days.
But never, never become obsessed.
There’s too much to do.
Tell me, truthfully, is there anybody here who wants to watch two hands racing around in a circle?
Is there anybody there who likes watching the glowing red numerals changing, never ceasing, marking off the passage of another artificial increment of life?
Down with watches.
Wipe clean all the faces of clocks.
Big Ben—dismantle it and get rid of it.
The atomic clock in Washington D.C.! Remove its fuel! Let it run until there’s no more energy to move the hands.
And then…
Then, put a plaque on it: “Here stands the last monument to man’s obsession with something he could not control. Man eventually overcame his fear, and today declares himself obsession-free.”
Throw away your calendar.
There’s never going to be a new day, just a string of new moments.
What time is it, you ask?NOW!

(c) 1998 by the author



(C) 2009 by the author


Hands off.
I said hands off the body!
Do you think I’m some kind of property, public domain, a pawn you can move here or there with
Do you think I have fewer rights by virtue of my disability?
Do I, in your eyes, look like some kind of property, public domain, a pawn you can move here or there with impunity?
Do you think I have fewer rights by virtue of my disability?
Do I, in your eyes, deserve pity?
How about contempt?
You don’t?
Then how would you describe the situation?
You arrive at an intersection of two busy streets. You notice a blind person, complete with white cane, standing at the corner—well, not truly at the corner but near enough—so you decide to take action.
You don’t ask if you can help, because, let’s face it, I’m a lesser being, less knowledgeable, less capable of taking care of myself, defending myself.
So you grab my arm.
Right so far?
And thinking you know my destination, you wait till the light turns green—we both see the WALK sign light up, and you pull me across the six lanes of traffic.
Arriving here, across the street from my previous position, you discharge your responsibility, relinquish me to my own desires.
Let me tell you something, Citizen. Had I not had enough vision to see you, see my surroundings, the availability of help if I really needed it, you’d be on the underside of the sidewalk, pushing up wildflowers.
I didn’t ask for your help, because I wasn’t going anywhere.
I didn’t ask for assistance, Citizen, because I wasn’t going anywhere, but waiting for the bus.
Oh, not to catch it, not to go somewhere, but to meet someone and go to lunch.
Eighteen years in the city, and I can navigate these streets better than you, know where to go, which locations to avoid. I know where I feel safe—and up until now, that included this intersection.
Until now, you didn’t know that, did you?
Of course not. You didn’t stop to ask any questions, assuming that you had more rights, more knowledge, a civic responsibility.
What if, Citizen, someone approached you from behind, grabbed you without announcing intentions—what would you do?
Attack, perhaps?
Defend yourself—definitely.
Ask questions—later, after the event, when danger’s passed.
If anyone, anywhere, anytime, were to treat you like you’ve treated me, as if I were less than fully human, a slave, a piece of property or a possession, we’d be at a police station, and I’d be facing arrest for assault.
But because I’m disabled—or you think I am—for you, it’s different, allowed, and accepted.
Not quite.
Because I face the world at a disadvantage, I’ve studied judo, and could have, if I’d really felt threatened, brought you down without warning.
Because I lack certain knowledge of the world, I am always on the defensive.
Notice, Citizen, that my hands were prepared, my cane, quickly folded, now a legal weapon, ready in my left hand.
One false move…
And because you assumed facts you didn’t know
, I could identify you, press my own charges of assault against you.
You saw the cane. Conclusion: he can’t see at all.
While I read Braille, I retain low vision, enough to move through the streets of any city, revealing r concealing my disability as I choose.
The cane, when I use it at all, is for legal protection, but also for self-defense, did you know that?
With one swing, one upward thrust, your neck is broken, okay?
You didn’t ask.
You didn’t know.
Now who’s disabled?
Hands off the body!

BLIND coming through!
One side! One side!
BLIND coming through!
And when we stopped running, we would drop to the ground.
And we ran.
And why we ran?
We ran because we could that day, because we were thirteen, and blind, uncatchable, existing just beyond authority, never out of reach of help if we needed it, that summer of 1997.
Behind us, Dana, Scott and Jack struggled for control, struggled to move through the packed amusement park, Dana, our counselor for the day, trying to keep us within sight, if not within the five feet proscribed by summer camp rules.

BLIND coming through!
One side! One side!
BLIND coming through!

Jumping Jacks!
Through the park,
Weaving through the crowds,
Dividing families in the act of picture taking,
Scaring children and adults alike,
The image of two teenage boys, one black, one white, holding hands, running hell-bent, free for a day, oblivious of punishments to come for this indiscretion--onward we ran.
Like a game of Cat & Mouse, we eluded, dodged, evaded.
Like pranksters, we climbed up, over, under tables, ducked into and out of restaurants, indivisible, inevitable, inexcusable.

BLIND coming through!
One side! One side!
BLIND coming through!

We passed others of our group of hundreds, counselors and campers obedient to rules and manners, waiting patiently in line for rides, waiting for food, waiting for someone to emerge from a bathroom or a gift shop.
Those who could look, looked.
Those who couldn’t look—they heard us yelling at the top of our lungs as we fled past,
Running up hill,
Around and around the concessions,
Over, under around, through,
The sun began to set,
The drivers returned to their busses,
We had one last trick up our sleeve.

“I’ll like a Pepsi, please.”
“What about your friend,” the concessionaire asked.
I looked.
I turned my head, didn’t see him next to me.
“What friend?”
“Behind you,” she said.
“Oh, him. He’s not my friend, he’s my identical twin.”
If once,
Only once,
I could have had enough vision to read the expression on her face that moment,
It would have been priceless.
But I couldn’t.
And Dana and Jack and Scott, our witnesses of sorts on our day of rampage, finally caught up to us.
We stood, composed, at ease, sodas in hand, blood still pumping, prepared for flight yet again.
But the day We fell meekly into line with other campers, to board the buses, beginning the long trip back to Malibu,
To Camp Bloomfield,
Home for the next week,
Until Summer Camp was over for another year.

Q. what color is this jacket.
A. Red.
Q. What kind of red? Red as a rose? Red, like the flag? Red, like your favorite lipstick?
A. Blood-red.
Q. What color is this blouse.
A. Blue.
Q. What kind of blue?
A. What does it matter what kind of blue. It’s just blue.
Q. It’s important. What kind of blue?
A. Baby blue.
Q. What color is the carpet?
A. Cream.
Q. How many fingers do I have up now?
A. I don’t care.
Q. It could be the last thing you see. How could that be unimportant?
A. Okay, okay. Eleven.
Q. You’re not cooperating.
A. You’re catching on.
Q. Tell me what’s green.
A. Grass, in the spring and summer.
Money, if you can call that color truly green.
Christmas trees are green.
So is the elm.
As is the oak.
As is the pine.
As is ivy.
As is—
Signal lights are green.
Q. what about orange?
A. The 76 ball at the gas station, an orange, of course, those safety cones that Cal Trans uses to block off lanes.
Q. What about blue? What’s blue?
A. Water can be blue.
My Porsche dream car, a beautiful royal blue.
My niece, Jessica’s toy-box.
Q. Pink?
A. Flowers.
Q. Which flowers?
A. I don’t go around memorizing names of flowers. .
Q. Maybe we should pick up with this tomorrow.
A. Yeah, maybe.

One year! At best, at the outside, two.
According to Dr. Meridian, according to God--that’s it.
Lights out.
Show’s over.
And as the colors fade to black, what will I see as my last image? A delta summer sunrise? Fireworks on the Fourth of July? My best friend, Meghan, feeding her newborn daughter?
Don’t know. I really don’t know
Do I want to know? Do I want to have that knowledge that this is the last thing I will see, so treasure it?
Believe me, Dr. M., I ask myself that question every day.
You think your news today was a revelation, an epiphany? It wasn’t. it isn’t.
I’ve known. I’ve always known.
Living in the twilight, as I’ve done for nearly thirty years, I’ve always been aware, always accepted that it could all go away, it could all disappear without warning, without preamble, without mercy.
Won’t know until after the fact. That’s the bitch of it. There’s no controlling it, no predicting it.
Dr. Meridian is only guessing.
Aren’t you, Dr. Meridian?
Can’t just wait, still as stone, with one image before me—for two years, come on!
Can’t set it up.
Can’t predict the moment that will be the last—my twilight.
So, I’ll just have to go on living each day, as I’ve done for twenty-eight years.
here’s your cane?
Hanging on a hood behind the front door.
Have you arranged your medicine cabinet? You don’t want to take the wrong prescription.
Yes. Everything’s Braille-labeled.
Will you rearrange the furniture? Will you make it easy on yourself? Or have you memorized the placements of every little thing?
Tomorrow, next week, someday.
Not good enough.
Good enough for me.
What if--?
If if if. If necessary, I’ll punt.
where’s your checkbook?
In the drawer under the table by the front door.
Is that a safe place for it?
The two drawers on either side are fake. No one will look there.
Are you ready for blindness.
I think so.
Are you prepared for darkness?
I’ve always been prepared.
what about the piece of metal that got imbedded in your cornea.
That was scary.
How did you handle it?
Like anyone else would, I think. I stayed home, waiting out the healing process.
I did.
So, how prepared are you for nightfall?
Prepared enough. Besides, there’s still time.
How much time?
One year, maybe two.
That’s what Dr. Meridian said yesterday. Ask him.

It’s not like I never knew it would come to this.
In fact, I’ve known since my mid-teens, haven’t I?
Someday, some indefinite time in the future, my luck would run out, along with the supply of undamaged soft tissue.
No more corneas.
No more medicine.
No more fears of rejection.
No more rainbows.
No more green Grass.
No more red white and blue—no more star-spangled banners.
No more red fire hydrants.
No more purple Lakers jackets, or green Celtics jackets.
No more pristine white walls.
No more black-and-white chess boards.
No more color TV.
No more living in a paper-doll world, where depth perception is a foreign concept, where everybody and everything could be mistaken for a cleverly designed series of facades, stage props, created for their illusion value.
And now, that day is close to arriving.
Don’t know the exact date.
Will I wake up one morning with the knowledge that this will be the last day of vision?
Will I have any warning, any dimming of the lights, before the final blacking out.
It’s not like I’m not prepared though.
Already know braille.
Know how to use a cane.
Already listen to books on tape, from history to romance.
Thanks to technology, I can get most of what I need for reading material from the internet—not available ten, fifteen years ago.
Already know how to take the bus. (Never had a driver’s license in my life!)
And, which is most important, I already know how to ask for help.
I know what I can do for myself—at least, I know what I can do with my limited vision. Sure I’ll have to relearn my limitations once night falls for good, but it shouldn’t take that long, should it?
Probably slow me down by a step, maybe two. Can’t walk so fast in a world you can’t see at all.
Have to learn how to arrange my things so I don’t look like a total idiot when I dress myself. Tag my clothes so I know which colors are which, what goes with what.
And I’ll probably have to rearrange this apartment differently, take the furniture out from the middle of the floor, pick up my shit so there’s less to trip over, and remember where I put things.
One year, hopefully two.
Time to practice total blindness.
Time to rearrange the furniture, get it to my liking.
Time to figure out what I’ll do when that day of darkness comes.
Maybe I should retake Mobility Training, freshen up on my cane technique.
Things to Do:
Go to baseball game,
Go to basketball games, Watch the action, the unbelievable passes, the impossible shots, athletes at their peak.
Fly a kite! watch it rise and rise and rise, ascending above the trees, tugged ever higher until it is a dot, a red and white speck, against the blue of the sky.
And as the kite soars, children run randomly past, in search of a hot dog, a Coke, a playmate, a parent.
Spend time at the Central Gardens, tending the flowers,
Run in a 10K. There’s nothing like it, hundreds of people gathered together, the same obsession at the center of their thoughts, one word reverberating—WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!
Bicycle to San Francisco, see Pier 39 and Ghirardelli Square,
Go to the museum, see the paintings and sculpture,
Walk through the city, memorizing every hill, every bump in the sidewalk, every curve of the streets, finding landmarks I’ll still be able to find when that day comes.
Get my degree—should be easy enough. Can’t count on the second year, so better cram and do it in one. I can do it!
I’ll be busy for the next year.
Lots of things to do, people to be with, challenges to be met and conquered.
I wonder who’ll be with me, who’ll stand by me, when I need more help, when I find I can’t do some of the things I can do today?
Connie and Elizabeth? Probably. They’re already in the dark, so they’ll be able to give me tips.
Scott? I wonder if he’ll handle it. Only time will tell, right?
The Penbrokes? The parents will do okay, but Michael and Laura and Esmeralda—I don’t know. I won’t be able to join in the games of Tag anymore. What will that do their judgment of me?
Jana. She’ll definitely freak. Won’t know when to help and when to step back and let me try my hand—at whatever it is.
Tyler? He’s seen some bad stuff, seen people dead, so I don’t think it’ll phase him in the slightest. He might even be the first person I call when it happens.
I need to think.
Let me put on some music, put my feet up, tune in, tuning out.
There, that’s better.
God, with the news I got today, I wonder what my dreams will be like from now on?
I wonder if I’ll still dream in color?
There’s nobody to ask that question though.
If you can hear, then lose your hearing, you can still remember music in all its beauty, can’t you?
So why can’t I keep the colors, the sights and knowledge I’ve acquired in twenty-eight years of life?
I think I can!
To be able to draw on that vision-memory, even years after the light’s gone out, that’s what’ll keep me from losing my sanity.
I’ll touch clothes in the store, being told that it’s red or white or pink—and I’ll know what the salesman is talking about!
Listening to a baseball game, when the announcer says that it’s a lazy fly-ball, I’ll know what it looks like for the white ball to be floating in a blue sky before it falls back to earth, to be caught or dropped by the center fielder!
I’ll know the beauty of spring when the weather changes and the temperature begins to rise! When the green returns, when the blossoms come—I’ll know and understand!
I’ll still listen to the music, marvel at the sound of fingers on strings, wishing I could learn to play the guitar!
I’ll still escape on the blast of a trumpet, soaring high in the music!
I’ll know by touch when the counter-top is clean, when the dishes are spotless, when laundry is ready for folding.
I may be losing my vision, but I’ll be damned if I’ll lose my freedom in the process!
My sisters won’t be here.
Mom won’t be here.
Grandma and Grandpa won’t be here.
Not until I master my own life, learn the cans and can’ts that come with the nightfall.
Oh my God! What time is it?
Sorry, Dr. Meridian, I don't have any more time for your worrying.
I’ll be prepared, just watch and see.
Yeah, right, as if the world’s listening, as if they care.

It was supposed to be one year!
Dr. Meridian, you said it would be a year, maybe two.