Monday, December 15, 2008

The Arm of the Oracle

My walls of denial are crumbling. I cannot do what I thought I could. I also really need help from others. The only problem is what. What do I ask for? How do I ask for it? I was a very independent, stubbornly resistant, able to do it all kind of gal. Now I really need other people but I do not endear myself to my helpers. I talked with my CR doctor. I think it is a big step to even admit that there is a problem.
So as I was leaving her office I slipped and I was about to go flying onto the sidewalk but there was a woman in front walking by and I reached out for her to steady myself. She was so far away, but she stuck out her arm and braced herself to be grabbed. It worked and I held her arm. I did not fall. I was amazed because these things seem to happen in slow motion and I never think I am going to hit the ground.
I thanked her profusely and she yelled at the doorman about how I almost killed myself on his slippery doorway. And then I realized the synchronicity of realizing I need help from other people but am not clear with them about what it is I need and physically reaching for an Oracle from the Matrix resembling lady whose red down jacket enclosed arm was there. She saw what I needed and she gave it. I need to make my needs clear and thank the people who do for me what I cannot do for myself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Funeral

My father Edgardo Vega Yunqué will be laid to rest at Calverton National Cemetary this Friday at 1PM. He served in the Air Force towards the end of the Korean War. He was stationed in the Azores and learned Greek and Portuguese. He referred to it in a journal as "three years of total decadence." He operated the radio, hung out at the beach and drank with the ladies (some perhaps shady). Then he returned to the States and fell in love with my mother. He was only 25 when they got married. It must have been some contrast.

He was not a patriot. I am not sure he would choose to spend eternity buried amongst his fellow serviceman but he didn't leave any instructions so I made the choice. He insisted we speak English and that we do so very well. Spanish was never spoken at home. He married an American woman and produced three pale children with blue eyes and straight hair. He preached independence for Puerto Rico but he did not raise us to be Puerto Rican. I think he really did love America. He just did not like that he was not 100% accepted as American. It was a shock to him in 1954 to get on the train to South Carolina heading for basic training and be told that he needed to be in the last car with the colored enlisted men. The Irish kids in his neighborhood in the Bronx never let on that he was any different from them. He was always grateful to the Irish for that.
Maybe we can get them to put McVega on the headstone?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I hate my brain injury!

I was having such a good week and now I feel crappy. Why can't everyone just leave me alone and let me do my work? Do not write me long, complaining emails about brief conversations about which I have no memory.

I am not a bad teacher even though sometimes I lose things or plan on the spot. I can improvise because I know the topics inside and out. Leave me alone or better yet just come up and watch. My door is always open and a piece of paper ain't gonna tell you what I taught. I have been driving off road for the last 18 years. There is no map for it.

I wanted to go to my studio to work on my art today but the emails were too time consuming and enervating. But check out the piece I am working on. It's not done but it is part of my "World at my feet" series. I think I will call it "If he were meant to fly..."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What remain"ed"?

My father's cremains arrived yesterday while I was seeing my cognitive therapy doctor. There is a lot of overlap between emotional issues and cognitive dysfunction these days. I am doing my best to get enough sleep, exercise, and food these days. That way I know at least when my response to a situation is inappropriate we can rule out any of those problems. Plus, they help maximize my brain functions and emotional disregulation. So, Dr. S. thinks let’s deal with the death stuff there and I will focus on the time, memory, talking, language misunderstanding, and brain injury stuff to Dr. K.

I am perhaps obsessing over my father's death. My musings change neither his life nor the choices I made while he lived. Some time before my surgery I stopped fearing death because I realized I would not know if I died. I would only be aware that I was alive because conscious thought is part of life. I was so pleased to come across this article.

I have temporarily placed my father’s cremains (such an odd word) next to Suki’s on the windowsill in my living room. His funeral will be held later this month and the cemetery does not store cremains. Ed liked cats so he and Suki can bask in the sun together. Suki only lived at home with me for the summer between junior and senior years at college. Ed put her under a broken 5-gallon glass water-cooler bottle to just see what she would do and she cut her nose trying to crawl under the tiny edge. Suki spent that summer hiding under the bathtub because Sabrina stalked her. Ed discouraged my attempts to make any modifications for her because "animals adapt" or "natural selection means the strongest survive" or some other stupid shit. I just wanted to feed her in a different room so she could eat in peace. Instead, she ate in the bathroom with the panicked urgency that the wrath of Sabrina was about to befall her. She can tell him her story.

Right out the window, he can see 240 West. We left in the middle of the night when I was 16 because not paying the rent had caught up with us and we were about to be evicted. He told us it was better because there were too many ghosts there. I loved that apartment. I left behind so many books I still wish I had. Ed can reflect the place where he raised Suz, Matt, Tim, and me with our mom Pat, and he can visit those ghosts he created.

Raised is not the right word. He reared us? Attempted to raise us to the best of his ability? My sister's tribute at his memorial showed homage to positive and there were many positives. There were also drastic measures he took to force conformity to the ideals he imposed on us. As extensions of his extremely narcissistic self, his children could each act out fantasies that he could not. He was very proud of the fact that despite brown eyes and curly hair being dominant traits, we all had blue/green eyes and straight hair. We had to speak perfect English. In the guise of WASPs we could go where he could not. He liked to call me his "Cliffy" even though when I actually learned anything in college that contradicted his doctrine, I became the kind of loathsome Cliffy who would have looked down on him. He both hated and loved this country. He wanted us to be all of the icons he revered but pretended that he hated for their exclusivity. Matt was supposed to be a professional hockey player. I was supposed to be the screen actress Ali McGraw or Candace Bergen. Funny, dramatic, all-American. He used to get very annoyed at me when my glasses slipped down on my face. Like him, I have no semblance of a bridge on my nose. It never made any difference to me but it seemed to emphasize the wideness and remind him of what he thought was ugly in himself. It was as if I was mocking him by letting my glasses slide down on purpose. I don't know. I actually grew up thinking I was ugly because of those features.

I love aging because I feel like I do not have to worry about whether or not anyone thinks I am attractive anymore. Who I am is much more about what I do and say. What was I thinking in this picture? I know it is probably my lunch in the bag but I am imagining it is something different because my face is saying, “I have a secret.”

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Brief Wondrous Life of Edgardo Vega

He was on page 16 of the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Junot Diaz. Irony? He had written his agent's number on a napkin in legible handwriting. He had a box cutter and some money, three loose keys, about 25 of his own business cards. Where was he going when he fainted? He had some glucose tabs and that was it. No wallet. No cellphone. The box cutter was to clip the baseball standings from the paper. It is such a shame. His mind was still so sharp. He had so many words to say and now his voice is silenced. Yesterday the sparrows were chirping up a storm in this one tree and even though it was so long ago I still remember Steven King writing that sparrows are psychopomps, harbingers of the dead. So I listened to them. I listened for Ed's voice, for a sign, a message. I think he might have said, "Don't return my cable box yet. The Rangers are on a roll."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reading my dad's book: Omaha Bigelow Nov. 15


A public intervention by Nayda Collazo-Llorens
October 25 – November 16, 2008
Viewable from dusk until midnight, Thursdays through Sundays
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 25, 2008, 6PM - 8PM
Artist's talk: Saturday, November 8, 4:30PM

Tribute to Edgardo Vega Yunque: Saturday, November 15, 3PM - 7PM

*Please note that there will be a tribute to Edgardo Vega Yunqué who recently passed away. The homage will take the form of a continuous, non-stop reading of The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow into the Impenetrable Loisaida Jungle, one of the most recent of the accomplished author's 18 novels.

MediaNoche, Manhattan's Uptown gallery devoted to new media, presents Voiceover, a site specific public intervention by Nayda Collazo-Llorens.
A constant flow of text moving across the storefront windows of MediaNoche engages the public to explore aspects of memory, language and displacement. Viewable at night from the street, nearby buildings and passing trains on the overpass, Voiceover is a non-linear textual piece
projected onto the windows of the gallery, located at the Northeast corner of Park Avenue and
102nd Street.

A lyrical, textual composition, Voiceover is based on Collazo-Llorens' research of the archives and oral histories section of, a web site on the history, culture and politics of Puerto Rico and its diaspora. Fragments from these oral histories are combined with texts from public spaces, literature, the media, as well as the artist's own writings.

The projected words become transmitted signals, simultaneously truncated and expanded, pointing to multiple narrators while triggering viewers to connect to their own experience. The ephemeral quality of the projected light and the fleeting texts suggests the fragility and transient nature of memory and story telling.


Nayda Collazo-Llorens was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is a visual artist based in New York City and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received an MFA from New York University in 2002 and a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston in 1990. She works in various media, including works on paper and canvas, video, and installations, exploring the way in which the mind processes information.

MediaNoche, a project of
MediaNoche is the place where art, technology and community converge. We offer artists working in new media exhibition space and residencies in order to provoke a dialogue that blurs all lines of marginality and alternity. Unique among arts and technology groups in New York, MediaNoche is directly linked to the oldest Latino community of the city, Spanish Harlem, and has showcased a roster of local and international new media

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Reply to: I'm trying to see the negative...

That sounds so interesting. I am trying so hard not to see the negative in everything but it just keeps sneaking up on me and biting me in the ass.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


You can hardly tell because I underexposed the photo of In His Footsteps 1 but the tiny negative at about 4 o'clock is from a photo of Tim and me. Tim and I are standing in the kitchen on East 109th Street and I have a stocking on my hand, fingers stretched to make it sheer. It is a photo I used in another piece I made right after Tim died. It was that photo behind a rainy window with the caption "Sometimes I feel like I am a ghost." The weird thing is that one frame of a negative was on the floor of my dad's storage unit when I was there yesterday. I don't know where it even came from.

Insominia: No one can spell at that hour

This is "In His Footsteps 1"

Finally worked on some art

My life is turned upside down. I am back to school and apparently no easier to work with than last year (or maybe that is just how it feels). My apartment is filled with mysterious papers from my dad's files. I am trying to piece together what he did to end up where he did. It seems he saved everything he ever had in his entire life or at least the cord for it. Cords and wires wrapped up in duct tape. Attempts at an effective filing system, abandoned for handy spots to put things, and everywhere amongst bank statements, ideas for writing, phone numbers, or receipts, a few photos were randomly inserted: me, puppet shows, Tim's memorial, his southern girlfriend, contact sheets of his head shots. It is so sad that he could not just behave himself. I feel that way. I just need to exercise some self-control, some discipline but ... I read about organizational strategies, know that I need sleep for my brain to heal, should not buy any more small bags for sorting things, and yet chaos reigns supreme! No I will not give to being a grown-up. Set limits for myself? Bah! But my dad, oh me, oh my, the floor sweeping robot machines are kind of cool. He fell for some stupid, fake debt consolidator company pretending to be a trust that would help him but just took his money. He did not eat the way the doctors told him to for his diabetes. He did not fill his scrips for lancets and he had a blood glucose kit that was a year old that looks totally unused. I have to go to bed. I will take a picture of my art tomorrow. I think I might call the piece "In his footsteps."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Rememberance: Unprepared and Late for my Dad's Service

It was typical that I should attempt too much for the memorial service. I insisted it was all vitally important, rejected suggestions for simplification, thought I might even make it to the funeral home to get the death certificate and then Brooklyn for the mail while printing the programs, editing the slide show, writing my speech, and collecting a guest list to use to issue tickets for the reception (tickets because? well I thought hoards of strangers, possibly crazed fans of my father's writing or worse heckling enemies would show up and then we would not be able to keep them away}.

Okay, so I did not fail exactly. I got there... with about a quarter of the programs we needed, not all of the names from the meticulously collected list, no speech written, and half an hour late. But I guess it was okay. It reminded me that I have limitations.

I want to try to capture what I said about my father here. It was amazing speaking directly after my sister because our experiences were so different. We may as well have been living in different houses. Four people spoke before her and no one came out and said anything negative or surprising including Suz. All they had to say was, "Well, you know Ed..." When Prof. Adorno described him as highly opinionated I actually laughed because it sounded like an understatement. It got me thinking about whether anyone could understand what it was like to be raised by such a man.

My sister's speech was so great. I have to get a copy. Nobody seems to know why Ed was so angry. I've asked everyone in his family and they all had different answers. Racism. He thought he was white until he joined the air force and had to sit in the back on the trip to South Carolina for basic training. That was in 1954.

So back to my speech. My sister's concludes with a brilliant quote about when a man dies part of mankind dies. This after memories of all of the brilliant topics Ed taught us. I must have been spacing out during those times because all I remember were the bizarre confusing statements he made and that I took them as absolute truths because he was my father and he was smart and always right. Suz kept saying he taught us about astronomy, anthropology, politics, and not just like that but she remembers the specifics. I was shaking my head when she said he taught US, not us maybe you. That stuff flew over my head or I was too busy fantasizing about my real parents coming to pick me up and bring me back to the palace where I was supposed to live as Princess Arena. I had never heard the name Serena and the sound of the words Princess Arena were like silk the way the slipped together so smoothly. So when I get to the podium with my bare bones outline of an idea, I was relaxed and kind of amazed that my memories are of the book I said I would write some day called The Sayings of Chairman Ed. He thought it was hilarious and a great idea. The Collected Quotes of Chairman Ed.

1. Stop throwing like a girl. I tried. I did everything I could to use my whole arm, to imitate that motion he and my brother's used to get the ball to sail long distances and with great force but I just couldn't do it. First of a I am a girl so that made it a strange thing to say. Also I have since learned that besides my complete lack of ability to translate any sort of oral direction of what my body is supposed to do into actual motion, girls do not have the same bones and muscles boys have.

My insomnia is wearing off I will continue tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The memorial...

Now the sadness is crashing into me like waves. That crazy dad of mine is gone. His bag with his book and Tom's number written on a napkin. And the form checking in his belongings inverted the last two digits. His glasses in a bag and no signature on the form. Just the word "EXPIRED."

I am so sad and there were so many people there and I did not get to talk to them enough or thank them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Writing about my father ...

Edgardo Vega-Yunque chronicler-of-new-york-leaves-the-scene

This is the piece David Gonzalez of the New York Times wrote. My father fixed me up with him on a blind date once. All I remember was that he had big hair and made me laugh. He had this one source who was an addict or something and didn't get the concept of voicemail. So he would call David Gonzalez at the paper and leave messages that sounded like he thought he was being screened. "Yo man, pick up, pick up. I gotta talk to you." That story made me laugh. I was planning to go out with him again but then I met Andrew and passion ruled for awhile. I spent my weekends riding back and forth on the F train until Sachi broke her arm and my parents sudden, dramatic separation forced my mother to move in with us. Andrew, who had to be the center of the Park Slope party scene at all times, was crushed by the news of Sachi's accident. "I guess that means we won't be going out this weekend." And that was the end of that for me. Sounds callous but I realized I didn't want to go OUT ALL the time. Sachi and I had a wet tissue fight in the examination room while we waited for her cast and we laughed a lot.

In contrast to David Gonzalez's piece the Times put out an obit that turns my stomach about my dad. I did not get to finish what I was going to tell Bruce Weber and so I will write it here: Mr. Weber said he had been talking to the Clemente Soto folks and apparently he pissed some people off or as Mr. Weber put it, "So I gather your father was kind of a cantankerous man?"

This is what I was trying to say before I hung up, in my dad's last email to me he said: "I am a social rebel and sometimes my rebellion gets the best of me. I don't believe I can change and adapt myself to a world that stifles free expression." His free expression sometimes crossed lines and that did not fly with me. I tried to maintain a relationship with him but it was very difficult and I had finally let a man into my life for good. I was making progress and things were good. Brian, my love and ironically an Irishman, is a man who is happy to tell it like it is but he is well aware of who is going to get pissed off. My husband says , The only thing I HAVE to do in life is die," but he is there when you need him.

In the email from my dad he closed with this: "Be well and always remember that I love you always and as you said to me once: "I will always love you." On the last day of my life I will recall that memory and the one when you, at the age of four, asked me: "Daddy, what is he last number?" I said infinity and your mind, it seemed to me, went to the furthest reaches of the universe, examined my response and said, most naturally: "Oh, the numbers never finish."" There were things he did that made him impossible to be around but he was amazing too and I am sorry that I was not able to convey that to Mr. Weber in the obit. Also he would have hated his obit to read "Novelist of the Puerto Rican experience." He wrote about people, the human experience.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Balloons

“Well, I can’t really say that I respect writers. My father is a writer. He’s devoted so much of his life to it without getting a lot back.
“He’s treated many parts of his life as if he were writing them. He says whatever comes into his mind and then he thinks that he can edit it out later if he has hurt anyone. I know he also believes that because he says things, they will be so. When we were kids we believed him. He would say, next year we really will be living in a townhouse on Park Avenue. Write down the date. You’ll see. In exactly one year I’ll have sold a book... and so on and the four of us kids really believed him and we’d get so excited and happy. Year after year, we would get our hopes up only to be disappointed.
“One summer when I was about ten years old, my older sister and two younger brothers and I were all at home with my father. My mother was out at work during the days. My father would struggle in the summer with what to do with us. Sometimes we would go for weeks staying up until one or two in the morning playing poker with my dad and sleeping in most of the day. Mostly we sat around the house bored. Once in awhile he’d plan a great excursion and we’d set out on a quest.
“I don’t even remember what the goal was that day but we ended up at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival. They give free concerts and performances and we saw whatever it was we went there to see. It was nearing the time to leave and one of us noticed that underneath one of the overhangs of a building there were trapped some twenty or thirty balloons. They were tangled together and seemed to be in two bunches with a large number of strings hanging down. Some of the strings were very long but mostly they were matted and knotted together in lumps and the lowest one was still twenty-five feet off the ground.
“We watched in helpless awe as my father attempted to snare the tethers with his huge bunch of keys. I don’t know why my father had so many keys but at the time I didn’t question it. At first it was exciting but after twenty minutes we all started to grumble. My father had us standing sufficiently out of the way so as not to be hit with the keys. It also allowed us the liberty to complain out loud about my father’s pursuit. ‘I don’t even want the balloons anymore.’ someone would say. And then, ‘Yeah, we should go home.’ and finally someone would counter, ‘But wouldn’t it be cool if he got them.’ And then we’d go around again. Forty minutes passed. We were tired of watching him and yet we could not stop. He had gathered a substantial audience.
“Just when everyone was about to give up on him, he snagged the balloons. The weight of his keys pulled them down and he grabbed one of the strings. Everyone shrieked with delight. My father is not a small man. Like an overgrown kid, he came running towards us. Out into the open courtyard he ran with a huge bunch of balloons. I couldn’t believe the pride and joy I felt after the frustrating wait. But something happened as he neared the middle of the courtyard. The balloons began to shift. It became quickly apparent that the one string that my father held was attached to nothing. And still he ran towards us. In slow motion all of the balloons escaped and my father ran towards us not looking back but pulling a string. In moments our joy turned to horror as all the balloons floated beyond the reach of anyone. The weight of the string and our facial expressions must have clued my father in. He stopped running and turned to watch the balloons float away. We walked home in near silence. Every so often my youngest brother would say, ‘He had them and then they were gone.’

Sunday, September 7, 2008

May 20, 1936 - August 26, 2008

My dad is dead.

It is very strange because like Meryl he was dead for so long before we found out. I spoke to the doctor who treated him in the ER and she gave me all the details. He was dead before anyone ever would have had a chance to be there with him or for him to give any contact info. They looked up some old contacts from when he was there two years ago and apparently numbers had been copied wrong. Fortunately when the case was turned over to the city those guys had the good sense to try directory assistance before he was buried in Potter's Field.

I am sad on and off. It is unreal. I chose not to maintain a relationship with him as an adult (although I tried briefly after my brother died, he was impossible). I think people need to be needed to live. He was not feeling very necessary. His last book was cancelled. I told him not to come to Sachi's graduation.

He fainted and woke up before the ambulance arrived. He said it happened before and maybe his sugar was low. The doctor told me he was calm and cooperative in the ER. He died once and she brought him back with a punch to the chest. When he came to, he asked what happened and she told him. "So I was dead? Wow!" The next time he coded, they could not bring him back.

They didn't do an autopsy but it was not a heart attack or his diabetes. They think he threw a clot in his brain or lungs. When he was in his forties, he had a similar experience to the one I had where he lost sensation and vision. He went in the hospital and they thought stroke. He was released and his sight came back. I think he had a cavernous angioma in his brain. They are hereditary especially in Hispanic families. He never had a CT scan or MRI. They didn't really have that technology back then.

I loved him even when though I should not have. He was a dangerous and destructive man. (IN THE YOUNG EYES OF A SMALL CHILD) Never confuse the art with the artist. He spun up a childhood for us and then edited as he went along removing the typos, egregious grammatical errors, and places where he dug his pen so deeply into the paper it tore. The result was a fantasy. It was lies but as beautiful and lyrical and seductive to a child as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

It 's so sad. I wasn't even that great a student. I got good grades but I did not try very hard at all. Short cuts, that was how he always described my efforts. I didn't even want to apply to Harvard and I don't remember what my essay was about. For sure, he edited it to the point where it did not resemble anything I could have produced.

And then in college, I fell apart. I could not tell which world was the real one, the bedtime story indoctrinated into me by my father, that societal norms were to be rejected because they cultivated fronts and behind the falseness was something to be feared or the one I saw in front of me where despite their Judeo-Christian beliefs and waspy prep school backgrounds, everyone sure seemed a hell of a lot happier than me. I wanted what they had but I did what my father told me to do.

"How are you?"
"How am I? Fuck you! Like you even really care."

It did not win me many friends. I conformed and I felt broken in two, then three, then more. And now there are so many pieces all over the floor I don't even know where to put them. Truth? Value? Beliefs?

Labor Day weekend I visited some friends and I gave them a copy of Blood Fugues. (I had about five copies.) David was worried I had made a mistake because the copy I gave him was signed to me. I said it was fine. (And I still mean it - this is not a hint asking for it back!) The signature made it even more valuable and he could sell it on eBay. I think I even joked that it would be worth more when he died. He was already dead. (ACTUALLY, I VISITED MY FRIENDS THE WEEKEND BEFORE AND DAVID GAVE ME THE BOOK BACK THE DAY OF THE MEMORIAL AND I FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THAT.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Planning – Executive Function

• I ask people to wait; I only need 2 more things, five minutes.
• When I find it each item, reminds me of another essential thing.
• I cannot plan because I cannot actually see more than one step in front of me at a time.
• Each object is a clue to the big picture.
• That is when I am lucky enough to convince someone to wait for me.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sachi and I decide to hang out on the roof and catch some rays.

“I am ready whenever you are.”

I put on some sunscreen. Offer some. Chat about Fire Island, Buck’s Rock, dinner, art classes. I look and find for the SVA catalog. Winter 2008 seems like the correct one. I’ll work on my found object project so I grab the container with those.

All I need is thread then we can leave. Give me two seconds.

“I really want to go. You said you were ready five minutes ago.”

I spot the thread and next to it is a pair of scissors.

Oops! Yes, of course I need those too and
(Oh, crap)…

I know. I know, Sorry. I only need a needle now.

“This does not sound like two seconds, I think you need a little more time. Can I help you? What else do you need?”


I want to stop and ask for help because there is probably something else but… what?


It is hard to find because… I do not have my glasses on.

Now, I just need my glasses.

I suddenly see why I am always late. I don’t know what else I need until I find the first thing. The related things aren’t staying in my head with it. While looking for glasses, I am holding the thread, scissors, needles, fabric, etc. All the objects I have collected are in my hands so I do not forget to put them in the bag.

OR I set them down somewhere and then can’t find them when I find the next (if I remember that I even set them down; I could just leave without them)

BECAUSE if I stopped and packed them, the item I just remembered I needed (glasses) flies out of my head. Since the ones I had in my hand are packed I have nothing to remind me of the next and I go searching with no purpose and every single thing I touch has some other possible association. Now I have lost track of the purpose of my trip, where I am going, and why I even needed the thread, and I still don’t have the glasses so I am not finding sought object but I don’t realize why it is so hard to find.

AND all this while (if I am alone) it really does seem like just one more thing and only a few minutes so when I glance at a clock on my way out, I am stunned to find that 40 minutes have gone by and I now have 20 minutes to get to my destination 45 minutes away.
THEREFORE, I run out the door clutching a banana, glasses, three $20 bills, letters to mail, and a book (it could have been what seemed so important to bring). I drop all of them as I lock the door. I stop and throw them all in the bag loose (except the letters to mail because the box is right there) and for the rest of the day seem to be unable to locate the cash because I probably dropped it in the mail box with the letters. I am hungry and can’t buy any food but the banana is down there forgotten squashed under a huge pile of other stuff in my bag that I do not need.


My sister says she never dreams at night
there are days when I know why;
those possibilities within her sight,
with no way of coming true.
Some things just don't get through
into this world , although they try.

-from Rosemary by Suzanne Vega

I think some things are coming through into this world. I think they tried so hard they had to break their way through. My head got a little broken in the process but the damage maybe gave me a different kind of sight. It is letting me see new possibilities.

Dreaming is not verboten anymore.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

CAREFUL! careful

Peter Chadwick, a doctor and researcher of the mind lost his when he was younger. He recovered and wrote an article about it.

I was stood in the middle of a mountain of paper on the first day when a secretary said "You've got a job for life there!" I replied suddenly and loudly with "I know!!" Immediately, everyone in the office froze and looked at me with wide eyes. I knew at that moment that (as usual) it was not quite the right thing to say. I should have smiled perhaps and said more softly "Yes, it looks a bit of a job, I'll do my best for you" but "I know!!" was just that tiny bit aggressive, overassertive, perhaps a bit presumptious, and a bit impulsive. It was "sort of OK," but (as ever) it just was not quite right.


This was the day before he spun into madness.

How bad is it that I feel this way every day? The tiny tightrope line between psychosis and remembering to use appropriate social responses is where I keep thinking I am walking.

My daily mantra for morning meditation (which I came up with last week way before I read this article) is: Today I will speak to others and myself slowly and with patience.

Found via Mind Hacks one of my new favorite daily reads.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I am one proud mom!!!

She did it. She worked so hard and made it and graduated proudly cum laude. She wrote a thesis with an adviser with whom she actually met. Don't ask. I feel redeemed. Harvard gave me this great opportunity and I did not take full advantage of it but I raised a wonderful daughter who could. She has such great friends too. I miss Barry.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You like me, you really like me...

Yes I feel a little bit like Sally Field. AGAIN! It is unfortunate that I rely so heavily on outer sources for my sense of worth. I'm working on it. The timer for my internet quota just went off so priorities call. BPNT! better post next time

Saturday, July 5, 2008

should it be easy
to put the pieces in place
make them fit then sew

Friday, July 4, 2008

Molly Wants to Break FREE!

If there was ever a doggy who needed to be sent to training camp ... Actually, she is so sweet! We miss you Molly! They better be nice to you! We'll show them what you can do to that Linon Puppet! Major damage!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It is nearly a year!

I mentioned to Melissa C. that I wanted to have a party to celebrate the one year anniversary of my brain surgery and she thought it sounded weird. I suppose it does but don't we celebrate the milestones in our life? How about the one year anniversary of the day I could have died but I didn't? Or how about one year ago, a bunch of people helped me make it through a rough time and I want to say thank you by inviting you all to dinner.

I am in a good place right now because even though I am still having problems with my memory, keeping track of time, writing on the board while trying to explain a concept, concentrating, effectively carrying out any plan, or writing a minimal TO-DO list in under 45 minutes, things are looking up. I met Jason C. and he reminded me of the importance of gratitude. My principal is finally beginning to understand that the problems I am experiencing are not as a result of my unrealistically high expectations for myself nor due to some emotional breakdown people perceive me as having. At Melissa C's suggestion, I found a benign brain tumor support group. They laughed as I described my frustrations over the past year, not out of ridicule, but recognition.
"I feel guilty complaining when I am lucky to be alive."
"I do not really want to hear how great I look."
"The over sixties all tell me none of them remember a thing either. And did you lose your memory overnight when you had brain surgery at 44?"
"Why do people think it is reassuring to hear, 'Well, you're still smarter than most people.'"
"Don't you think the pressure is causing those symptoms? I think you are just depressed."

I AM NOT DEPRESSED! I love life! I love laughing and talking with my daughter! I love my husband and family! I love knitting and painting and sewing and math! I love crossword puzzles and fixing things! I love the beach and my dog and cereal and helping kids learn to love math as much as I do! I love looking at beautiful art! I love wearing clothes that are different from what everyone else wears! I love coming up with creative ideas and inventing things!

So I think it is okay to celebrate. I will celebrate life and the gift that we all have to have it!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Tranny Karen

I bought my first dress form on eBay. The seller had no feedback and had found the form somewhere in the garment district lying in a gutter, another victim of the fashion industry tossed aside. She had no stand so I propped her on a stool. Later I bought her a stand from another eBay vendor who sold full dress forms but had one stand with no form. Surprisingly, neither auction had any other bidders so I got both pieces very cheap. Sachi was a little freaked out by the torso when she arrived in a package wrapped in disassembled cardboard boxes and bound with yards of packing tape. When I told her about the eBay transaction, she looked at my account, and looked at me doubtfully.
"You bought a body form on eBay from a seller named 'TrannyKaren'?"
I guess it did seem kind of weird after she put it that way. Images from Silence of the Lambs popped into my head.
"But it was such a bargain..." (The fight song of the eBay addict.)
The name Tranny Karen stuck and even though she has no head, I picture her looking a little like Nathan Lane in The Birdcage before he draws on his eyebrows or puts on his wig. I wonder how these events affected Sachi?


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

They always did...

Individuals with a temporal lobe tumor or lesion a
re often said to have a temporal lobe personality.
Aspects of this particular personality are that
they may be more likely to have aggressive outbursts,
overemphasis on trivia, pedantic speech,egocentric...
In addition to aggression, individuals with a tumor or lesion on their left temporal lobe may be more sensitive to slights and even appear mildly paranoid. Unlike people with schizophrenia who can become frankly paranoid, temporal lobe dysfunction often causes a person to think others are talking about them or laughing at them when there is no evidence for it. This sensitivity can cause serious relations and work problems for the individual (www.brain system/temporal.asp).

Reading and language processing problems are also common when a tumor or lesion occurs on the left temporal lobe. Being able to read in an efficient manner, remember what you read and
integrate the new information relies heavily on the dominant temporal lobe. This is an essential skill in the modern-day world and can cause severe distress for individuals who are unable to perform such tasks sufficiently. (

I was talking to my friend Jon and complaining about how my recovery was affecting my job. "I keep getting in fights. My coworkers hate me." His response: "So what? They always hated you. You never cared before." I had to laugh. I appreciate that he speaks his mind and it does not hurt because I trust that he holds me in high regard. When I spoke to Steven C. at the benefit he said he only remembered three teachers from his years here: Me, Mr. K and MT. Was it the passion for our subjects or the yelling tirades or the inflated egos?

Life Under the Titanium Plate

They cut a hole in my armor
Exposing me for what I am
The guards put down their weapons
Leaving me open and unarmed

I prepare for the onslaught
It is only a matter of time
All the waiting All the fear
And yet the first blow is always mine

In the distance I hear the bombs
The enemy is growing near
How will it feel after all this time
Soft flesh, raw nerves, cowering in fear

I look the same on the outside
My protection was a disguise
But I was the only one who knew
Behind the mask are a child’s eyes

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My mom is writing poetry in her sleep

My mom had a dream that we (mom, my sister, me and our husbands) were all watching a poetry show on a big bed. The poet said, She's having a Bad Attitude Day! Let's Give Her Some Latitude Day! My sister was offended because she thought it was about her. My brother-in-law Paul was jumping up and down on the bed roaring with laughter because he thought the poetry was hilarious.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rashida Jones, are you sure it was Bubbles?

Yesterday on some late night show Leno? Conan? I saw Rashida Jones tell a story about the time she got bit by a monkey. For one terrifying moment I thought she might have been the girl I was babysitting for in the Central Park Zoo twenty-five years ago. Then I realized she was probably not old enough to be that girl. Also she told everyone it was Michael Jackson's monkey Bubbles. The girl I babysat for was visiting her dad in New York. The job was actually for my sis but she couldn't do it. I think the dad was some bigwig in the music business. The kid was in town visiting and hanging out at the record company.

So I went to his office to pick up the girl and he asked me to take her to Central Park, play in the playground, go to the zoo, have lunch, see the animals, and return to the office in around four hours. I was 17 or 18 and the job paid well. These one shot hotel or office babysitting jobs always paid better than my regular gigs so I was pretty psyched. I think I was getting $5 an hour by then but I figured I'd probably get at least $30 this job and the job was a cinch. I did not have to do the entertaining. The environment would be stimulating enough.

She behaved kind of bratty. There was nothing I could say that she was not ready with a snappy comeback.

"Throw the garbage in the trash."
"No! It looks pretty on the ground."

"Hold my hand when we cross the street."
"No! I can fly over the cars if they come."

"Don't throw rocks at the pigeons."
"They like it."

It was exhausting but I was getting paid to do it. I held on to her little hand tightly in dark buildings. She tried to pull away and run. She tried to reach into the cages in the reptile house. I warned her that she might get bit but she said, "I will bite back."

As our visit to the zoo came to an end, we headed for the middle plaza. Back then, it was not the big seal pool. There were some bird cages and a big open space. I let loose her sticky hand and away she ran. Come back, wait for me, I lamely shouted. Where could she go? Into the bird cages?

By the time I caught up to her, it was too late. Like slow motion I remember thinking that there were not supposed to be monkeys in those cages. There were no guard rails so she was able to reach her fingers right into the cage. The nearest monkey grabbed her fingers in both its tiny paws and chomp. I pulled on her arm but I felt substantial resistance so I let go. What if I pulled and her fingers came off?

After what seemed like five minutes the monkey let go. The girl was screaming and blood was seriously spraying out of her fingers like in a Monty Python skit. I didn't know what to do. I had warned her but she didn't listen. Why did I let her run? Why were there monkeys in there? Did I even know that monkeys could bite? Was I wearing anything nice that I would never be able to wear again?

Suddenly we were surrounded by strangers and zoo employees. An ambulance was summoned and while we were waiting, an animal attendant asked if I thought I might be able to identify which monkey had been the biter. No way, they all looked the same. By now my little charge had calmed down considerably. She was humbled but slowly building herself up, gradually restoring the proper power balance. "They're going to arrest that monkey, aren't they? They're going to send him to jail, right?" "Yes, they are," I reassured her. "That was a bad, bad monkey!" We were almost laughing about it by now. I had never been in an ambulance before. Behind my reassuring words was the crushing thought that I had failed in my caretaking job. I also might have sentenced a monkey to death by making a false ID.

I had called her dad before we left the zoo and he met us at the hospital. He asked me if I had enough money to get home and when I said yes, he said goodbye. I waved at the little girl, so small and now so brave telling her dad the story. She smiled and waved back. We had been through a lot together and now I was alone.

I started crying and went to my mom's job. She took one look at me and thought I had been hit by a car. No, I'm okay ...not my blood... the whole story spilling out... and he didn't even pay me for all the time I babysat.

So who was that little girl? I have always wondered. If it was Rashida Jones, it would make sense that I picked her up at a record company. I guess that white guy who met me at the hospital was not her dad. I probably would have remembered the name Rashida though.

But seriously Bubbles? It makes a good story but Bubbles is not a monkey but a chimp. Do chimps live in cages? Do they bite? Maybe like in most families, the truth got stretched and enhanced to make a better story. Ms. Jones, if you are out there, ask your dad if that's the real story. And if it is not, I'm really sorry. I should have done a better job protecting you no matter how strong you thought you were.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

Learning to simplify and when to say no

I want the energy to come home and make art and write. My thanks go to Melissa C. Stan S. Jackie W. John P. and my Brian for making that possible.