Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Classical detour

You know how it is when you go back to a place where you spent a lot of time as a kid, and everything looks smaller than you remember it?

That is how it's been going back to the Creative Arts building at San Francisco State University lately, for rehearsals. This is strange because I'm not any taller now than I was then, and yet everything still looks smaller. Everything is right where it used to be...the McKenna Theater lobby, Knuth Hall, the band room, the Casablanca Room, the practice rooms, everything just like I remember it. Only smaller.

I'm rehearsing there because the director of the flute choir there, Gail Edwards, got a grant to record a new piece by Alaskan composer Richard Freeman-Toole. It allowed her to invite me and some of my colleagues to bring the ensemble to a full 16 players as called for in the score. I'm playing bass flute. Julie Burkert and Sarah Holzman are playing (who played in the "Remove Before Flight" premiere), plus Martha Stoddard and Diane Grubbe. It's nice seeing them and playing with them again.

The piece is called "Aurora", and it's about the Aurora Borealis (unlike my piece of the same name which is about a top secret aircraft). It's atmospheric and dreamy. I'm also playing C flute in "La Milonga" by Christopher Caliendo, and both pieces are in the second half.

So admission is free, and there's a reception with refreshments to follow, and it's all very informal except for the recording part. (If you have a cough, remember your lozenges.) The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 15th, in Knuth Hall in the Creative Arts building at SFSU.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Eleven months

The eleventh month has seemed much longer than ones preceding it. There have been a lot of difficult occasions in it to be weathered.

I'm only able to write this (somewhat) coherent post because I have the support of family, friends, colleagues, professional caregivers, Wiccan community, music community, online community, and strangers with their everyday sympathetic kindness.
It is all those people and their overwhelming kindness that I am most thankful for. I am also grateful for those qualities within myself that have kept me going. My relentless determination seems to be intact. I don't give up, even when it's arguable that I should. I'm perverse that way.

I am grateful that I am not living on the street. I am grateful that I am financially secure for the time being. I am grateful that I am not being shot at overseas or exploited or beaten.

I don't want anybody to go through what I've gone through and I pray that they don't. I am so sorry for the anguish of everyone who already has. If there is anything more profoundly horrifying than what I've gone through, I don't want to experience it. I don't want anybody to.

Paul made me feel like anything was possible. Now, I have to accept that "anything" is not possible (Barack notwithstanding). If it were, Paul would still be here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Abdominal cyclist ultra!

This past Saturday I spent some time in the studio recording my 2008 60x60 submission. It's called "Abdominal Cyclist Ultra", and it's got lyrics bestowed on me by the gods of the Internet. Accordingly the piece is an impassioned plea to those gods, Highfalutin Melanie and Grain Bertrand, to grant me...something. And to protect innocent netizens from Other Abdominal Fluffy Cyclindric Crandall!

Come March 1, 2009 I'll know if 60x60 will include it. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Trespasser

On Friday I was browsing SFGate and saw a headline, "Caltrain hits man near Mountain View." It gave me a familiar cold and hollow feeling...Paul lived in Mountain View. Paul took the Caltrain a lot. It's easy for me to visualize Paul waiting for a train in Mountain View, or getting on one, or getting off one. Or me getting off a Caltrain in Mountain View, met by Paul, hugged tight, my long day transformed into a wonderful moment reunited with my best friend, High Priest, and lifemate.

"A spokeswoman says a man described as 'trespasser' was hit by a northbound train around 5:15 a.m. near the Highway 85 overpass," reads the SFGate article.

Within two days I found out that I have a friend who knew the Trespasser. He and I were only three degrees apart. The Trespasser walked deliberately in front of the train, and he is now dead.

In one moment the Trespasser sentenced my friend, his parents, his own circle of friends and family, his ex-girlfriend, his fellow graduate students, the train engineer and the train passengers, and any passersby to a lifetime living with what he did. Judge, jury and executioner of all these innocent people, to say nothing of himself.

Maybe he thought all his loved ones would be better off without him. They aren't. They didn't sign up for their new existence without him. They didn't sign up for a lifetime of nightmares about his body crushed by a train. They didn't deserve the months and years of unbearable anguish, the rage, the confusion, the guilt, the insomnia, the momths or years of medication and its side effects, and the months or years of therapy (if they're fortunate enough to have those last two).

But it's possible the Trespasser wasn't thinking of his loved ones. It's possible his pain was so intolerable he could sense nothing else. It was 5:15 in the morning. He probably hadn't slept. A tunnel formed around him and he could see no way out but the train tracks.

I humbly ask anyone reading this to think of the Trespasser before acting on intolerable pain. I humbly ask you not to believe the demon that tells you that no one can help you, and no one has ever felt the way you do. I suggest you tell that demon that there are people in your life who would do anything, at any time, for any period of time, to save you. And there are people who know a lot more than your loved ones about how to save you and they're ready, willing, and able. I cannot state strongly enough that your loved ones are NOT better off without you. I cannot scream it loudly enough.

Please, no more Trespassers.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ten months

Recently I upgraded the memory in my laptop. I thought about it and realized I'd gotten the computer a new brain.

Then I thought about how Paul often said, when he was alive, that he wanted a new brain.

I didn't think of upgrading him before. Wish I'd thought of that. Wish it could have worked.

I would have powered him down and turned him over, and removed his battery by turning a coin in the slot.

Then I would have taken out each of the screws in his memory door and removed the bad chip, and installed the two brand new chips, maxing out his capacity with new clean memory. Then I'd screw the door carefully back on and the battery would go back in and I'd power him up again, and there he'd be, feeling so much better.

Wish I'd thought of that. But now it's too late.

My list of unanswerable questions is way too long to post but here are a few that come to mind:

  • Was Paul there in spirit form, watching me, when I found his body?
  • If so, what was that like for him?
  • Did I do and say and feel what he expected me to do and say and feel at that moment?
  • Did he plan to follow in his father's poltergeisting footsteps?
  • Or did he decide to break Xmas tree ornaments and knock over vendor tables after crossing over?
Rachel told me that there is a Mexican saying about death, that each person actually dies three times. The first is when the body ceases to breathe. The second time is when the body is put in the ground. The third, and most profound and permanent, is when the living no longer remember the deceased's name.

With my blog I'm hoping to put off that third part for a while.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Latest news about the SOFIA project

When Paul was working on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) project in the late 90s, I used to call him up at work and pretend to be SOFIA, the 747 jetliner herself, asking him to come down to Waco, TX where she was hangared and pay her some attention.

Click here to read the latest about SOFIA's journey on behalf of NASA and humanity.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Nine months

Nine months would be the gestation period for a new human life. But I don't feel like anything new has been created.

I can't stop time from passing. Time flows onward without my consciousness or consent, and so too, it seems, does the distance. I feel I must be like any other animal who loses its mate -- instincts take over, along with the will to survive. I don't feel good about having a will to survive and benefiting from it when Paul couldn't catch a break.

Here are more things and people and creatures Paul loved.

  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • "The West Wing"
  • His aquariums
  • His guinea pigs
  • talking to squirrels
  • talking to crows
  • Bleu cheese
  • Worthington Fry Chik
  • Bacon
  • "The Planets" by Gustav Holst
  • EliSheva Nesher
  • Cats (all of them)
  • "Pretty in Pink" (except the end)
  • "The Breakfast Club"
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • my mom's Texas artichoke dip
  • Artichokes
  • Dick Dale
  • All surf music
  • "1 bourbon, 1 Scotch, 1 beer" by George Thorogood
  • Peanut butter
  • Teletubbies
  • H.P. Lovecraft
  • MST3K
  • "Horatio Hornblower"
  • Amy Abascal
  • Mole cheese enchiladas

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Paul loved many things...part 3

  • Amateur radio
  • Hedgehogs
  • Brandy Ho's
  • Dune
  • Darkover
  • Wonkette
  • San Benito House
  • Mythbusters
  • Discovery Science Channel
  • Twin Peaks
  • Julee Cruise
  • "Disintegration" album by the Cure
  • X-Men
  • "Gaoth Barra na d'Tonn"
  • Stelline, Oregano's, Pasta?
  • J. R. R. Tolkien
  • French fries with ranch dressing
  • Agent Scully
  • Twinberry Cafe
  • Davenport Cash Store
  • San Gregorio Beach
  • La Fondue

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

More things and people Paul loved

Still not complete.

  • Murphy
  • Gardening
  • Salt Lhassis
  • Il Piccolo Cafe
  • Dana Street Roasting Co.
  • Garden Fresh
  • The Psychic Eye Mountain View
  • Wednesdays
  • Equality Now
  • Making mixes and playlists
  • Talking Heads
  • B52s
  • Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
  • True Stories
  • Military history
  • Roman history
  • Civil War history
  • Masonic history
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Choosing gifts
  • Wrapping gifts
  • Giving gifts
  • Airplanes
  • Stargate SG-1
  • First Wave
  • the Donnas
  • Lava Beds
  • Butano State Park
  • Hawaii
  • Vulcanology
  • Mount St. Helens
  • William Gibson
  • Bourne Identity/Supremacy/Ultimatum

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stream of consciousness about things Paul loved

Of course, this isn't complete...

  • Photography
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy hot chocolate
  • Mexican mochas at Gaylord's
  • Mexican food
  • Making Mexican food
  • Baja Cactus, Estrellita's and La Fiesta
  • Figure skating
  • Beatrisa Liang
  • Emily Hughes
  • Olympic opening ceremonies
  • Hellenic Paganism
  • Gnostic Paganism
  • Gardnerian and Eclectic Wicca
  • His coveners
  • Making cakes & wine
  • Reading tarot
  • Astrology
  • Creating rituals
  • PantheaCon
  • Don Frew's presentations
  • Sabina Magliocco's presentations
  • My music
  • Joan Jett
  • Grace Slick
  • The Avengers
  • Buffy
  • Firefly
  • Babylon 5
  • Spaceflight Now
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • the space program
  • NASA Ames Research Center
  • the theme song for "Star Trek: Enterprise"
  • Seven of Nine
  • Electronic music
  • Reggae music
  • Green Day
  • The Offspring
  • Indian food
  • Pasand, Sneha, and Sue's
  • Making Indian food
  • Making veggie Thanksgiving dinner
  • UNIX
  • Linux
  • Weather
  • Storms
  • The beach
  • Hiking
  • Caving
  • Spiders
  • Wasps
  • Mushrooms and fungi
  • Phil Gelb's cooking
  • Phil Gelb's cooking classes
  • Phil Gelb's concert dinners

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Set list from last evening

Four Lives
Not Made of Stone
The Moon's Eye
Lil' Red Riding Hood

It was a nice room with a good sound system and a good crowd of nice people most of whom hadn't heard us before. Great all around. I'm waiting to hear if I won my silent auction!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sept. 6 address correction!

Apologies to anyone who was getting ready to come to Emeryville on Saturday night -- the event is actually in Oakland. Here are the real details:

09/06/2008 06:00 PM - El Mundo Bueno Studios
5427 Telegraph Ave. Suite M
Oakland, California

The show is still very much a benefit for the wonderful Stone City Pagan Sanctuary. Polly Moller & Co. will perform at 6:45 p.m.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Eight months

Each month seems longer than the one before.

I’m eight months into my life sentence. I guess this is my way of recording them on the wall of my cell. It’s a paradoxical life sentence that is served in a state of freedom (arguments about whether U.S. society is truly free aside). Just in the sense of being deprived permanently of a treasured life and forced to live another desolate one. And I didn’t commit a crime. I don’t believe love can ever be a crime.

The price of love is loss, but this kind of loss, the most untimely kind of death possible, is the most difficult to get one’s head around.

I am learning how to avoid certain trains of thought that will disable me if I follow them. I am learning who is there for me and who is not. I am figuring out what I am able to do, and what I am no longer able to do, at least for now. I am finding out which activities are good distractions and which ones just make it worse.

The horror portrayed in entertainment is real. And it is far worse than any TV show or movie can convey.

In other news, the lads and I will be playing on September 6th at El Mundo Bueno Studios in Emeryville. It’s a benefit for the Stone City Pagan Sanctuary. We go on at 6:45 p.m.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Seven months

The seventh month has been one of anniversaries (yes, multiple), and constant contradictory emotions, and accomplishment, and wondering, since this has never happened to me before, what is going to happen next.

Each morning cup of coffee recalls a morning when I remarked that my coffee needed more sugar, and Paul said, "Just put your finger in there, and stir it around, and that'll make it sweet."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gig report

I can't seem to get it together to blog about my own performance. Luckily, Amar was there and he is more on the ball.

Check it out...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Listen to No More Twist!

Did you miss the No More Twist! performance, live in the KFJC Pit on Thursday?
It's OK. You can still hear it on last.fm, or on Les' podcast.

The text is the exceedingly rockin' spoem "Nice to see you". It's a wonderful piece of spam poetry posted to the Spoetry Collectors email list in 2006.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

This reminds me of Paul a lot.

It's hanging up in a cafe where I go everyday for coffee. It's hard not to stare at it.

Any infringement of copyright is unintentional. If you don't believe me, go ahead and send Agent Mulder to arrest me.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Six months

I guess I am adapting somewhat, to my hideously shrunken universe.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I didn’t believe I could go on living without Paul. I had joyfully and passionately made a lifetime commitment to him, and I didn’t make any move in the present without considering our future together. I didn’t have any concept of a future where he was not here.

But it seems like I have to acknowledge that I have actually gone on living without Paul, for six months. I still don’t know why or how. The will to survive persists. Even more baffling is how I have not only lived, but had successes, somehow. I’m not sure I am really even doing it. It seems to happen without my direct participation, at a distance.

I am deeply grateful to my family and friends for understanding how devastated I was and still am, and for giving me so much love and support.

I’m being made to understand that I am never going to “get over” what’s happened. And given the severity of it, I feel that’s appropriate. The best I can hope for is to get used to it. I don’t understand how I will do that, either, but what choice do I have?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Behold the Glove of Truth!

Here is Les modeling the first version of the Glove of Truth. I will be wearing the glove on July 23rd in our premiere performance of "Inquisition". It's equipped with sensors that will detect my vital signs and transmit them to Les' computer, which will analyze them and assign truth or falsehood. Then the computer will choose synth sounds and visuals to play and project in response.

Les is due back in the States next month and we'll rehearse and refine the piece then. The Glove of Truth and the software and all the non-human factors will be configured and tweaked and adjusted as we approach premiere night. Honestly I wasn't expecting for there to be a glove. Having all the sensors in one place does simplify things for me as far as staging. I can start to think ahead about how I will approach my half of the performance visually. So my configuring, tweaking and adjustment of myself as an instrument begins now.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The dear departed

Been thinking how to escape?
This strait-jacket of constraint
Been thinking what can be wrong?
With feelings that long to belong
Stargazing me
In an upside down sea
So weary this strait-jacket dreamer
So resigned to continue to suffer
But you've learnt that as you grow weaker
There's less hurt because there's much less to hurt
Stargazing me
In a tumbling sea
Up in the galaxy
Staring down on me
Stargazer reach out to touch
With your mind that frees you so much
Stargazer kissing your kismet
With bright jewel encrusted scars
Stargazing me
In tranquillity
Up in the galaxy
Staring down on me

-- Siouxsie and the Banshees

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Culinary mourning

Paul was such an artist in the kitchen. He created meals that tasted incredible and communicated so much love and thought and enthusiasm. It is hard to accept that I won’t ever taste his cooking again. I am thinking of wonderful things I will miss for the rest of my life:
  • His toasted cheese sandwiches. He made them for me often when we were living together. I would come home late at night from a full-time day working at the Eyeball and he would be all ready to make one, with sprouted bread and garlic aoli. They were so very good but they contributed in a big way to my former weight problem.
  • His idlis, and sambhar, and aloo gobhi, and rice, and raita, made temple style. I could have eaten his raita with a spoon. I loved his idli-making device.
  • His tabouli salad with the fresh tomatoes and the tiny five spice tofu cubes.
  • His Lamb of Buddha stew, which was my family’s traditional lamb stew recipe remade vegetarian. He only made it once. He even made the parsley dumplings, steamed on top of the stew.
  • His veggie fajitas.
  • His Thanksgiving dinner, with Qorn turkey and savory stuffing and potatoes and veggies and gravy.
  • His veggie stir-fries.
  • His veggie paella with lobster mushrooms, and veggie sausage, and seaweed to add the briney taste.
  • His cheese enchiladas with seasoned refried beans and yellow rice.
  • His home-formulated spicy hot chocolate.
  • His chili chocolate drops.
  • His Hungarian casserole, which he created inspired by my friend’s gift of paprika brought back from Hungary.
  • His stew pie, which he made by baking Worthington vegetarian country stew under a biscuit crust. When Worthington stopped making the country stew (a culinary microtragedy of its own), he created his own stew for the stew pies, with Qorn and potatoes and carrots and peas and mushroom soup gravy with special seasonings.
  • His tempeh, mushroom and broccoli main dish. This recipe was given to Paul by Phil Gelb. I’ve tried to make the dish twice this year. The first time I didn’t do a very good job. The second time I did better, but it still didn’t taste the same.
I did manage to recreate Paul’s homemade pizza. I can’t count the number of times he asked me what I would like for dinner and I responded eagerly, “A Paul pizzai?” (pronounced “peetsye”). It was soon after I lost him, that I got the ingredients together and prepared it the way I had seen him do, and I was kind of shocked that it tasted just like his. I couldn’t believe it could taste that way without him there. Folks suggested that maybe he was watching over me and helping me while I cooked it.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Five months

I have been thinking about all the times I blew out candles on my birthday cake wishing for Paul to be healed.

It hardly seems possible that the Phoenix lander should be exploring Mars without him here to follow it and cheer for it. And without us discussing the progress of the mission every day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

One of the flags and one of the incense sticks is for Paul, who was a veteran like my dad. I hope my dad is taking good care of him.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lie detector performance: full details

The promotional blitz for the Edgetone New Music Summit has begun. This is the festival where Les and I will perform as No More Twist!, premiering our piece "Inquisition" for Suspect, Examiner and Audience.

Find out more about the festival at the Edgetone New Music Summit web site, and get your tickets from Brown Paper Tickets, where they are on sale now.

Our performance is on July 23rd. But you really should come for all four nights. Each night features a different experimental music genre and there is something for every taste.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

World Vegetarian Week - May 19-25

Why not give the vegetarian diet a try for a week?
You don't have to do it for eighteen years like I've done...unless you want to.
And if you did, you'd have a serious impact...check out the top ten reasons why.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Again with Galway Kinnell

I posted this poetic section in my blog back in March of 2006 -- a time where I remember having a premonition of the terrible events of the first of this year. I remember telling Paul on the phone on that evening in March, "I don't think we have as much time as we think we do."

I was getting over a cold. I had my variegated brown sweater on. I'd been on my way out the door to dash down to Paul's home in response to the horrible cold feeling inside me. He called me just as I was about to get in the car, and was a little startled and perplexed and assured me everything was fine, not to worry, don't come rushing down.

I never forgot that evening and I redoubled my efforts to make every moment between us the best I could make it. Please don't anyone forget that your loved ones can be taken from you at any moment.

If one day it happens
you find yourself with someone you love
in a café at one end
of the Pont Mirabeau, at the zinc bar
where white wine stands in upward opening glasses,

and if you commit then, as we did, the error
of thinking,
one day all this will only be memory,

as you stand
at this end of the bridge which arcs,
from love, you think, into enduring love,
learn to reach deeper
into the sorrows
to come – to touch
the almost imaginary bones
under the face, to hear under the laughter
the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss
the mouth
which tells you, here,
here is the world. This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones.

The still undanced cadence of vanishing.

-- Galway Kinnell

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Four months

I had no choice but to hear you
You stated your case time and again
I thought about it

You treat me like I'm a princess
I'm not used to liking that
You ask how my day was

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

Your love is thick and it swallowed me whole
You're so much braver than I gave you credit for
That's not lip service

You are the bearer of unconditional things
You held your breath and the door for me
Thanks for your patience

You're the best listener that I've ever met
You're my best friend
Best friend with benefits
What took me so long

I've never felt this healthy before
I've never wanted something rational
I am aware now
I am aware now

You've already won me over in spite of me
And don't be alarmed if I fall head over feet
Don't be surprised if I love you for all that you are
I couldn't help it
It's all your fault

-- Alanis Morrisette

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One of Paul's satellites

Looks like the heroic Ulysses, supported by Paul back in the day, is getting old and tired.
Here is the latest.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Full moon and empty arms

My personal nightmare is the stuff that bad poetry is made of.

I guess I am doing what all grieving people do – hunting through 10 ½ years’ worth of journals, archived emails, chat transcripts, tarot readings, and I Ching readings, trying to recall Paul’s presence to my mind and heart and spirit.

Reading between every line of those divinations looking for hints and precursors and trends and energy movements. Thrashing around wishing those chat transcripts were more like our conversations in person, because we didn’t talk in chat like we did in person. I don’t figure most people do.

I can remember a time in recent years when he and I were hanging out and I had just come back from the studio, or I was about to go into the studio, for the recording of my piece “Ultralite” for Not Made of Stone. The lyrics were very much on my mind and I quoted a line: “If I brought you a pen that was perfect, on your birthday, what would you write?”

“A love letter to you,” Paul replied earnestly.

I blushed and grinned foolishly at him, placed my hand over my heart and fluttered it to illustrate what was going on inside me at that moment.

I don’t belong in this reality, or any reality where Paul is not.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Orpheus of Civic Center BART

The mythology and lore of Orpheus is long, deep, and wide. He is a lot more than the greatest musician of elder times. But lately my daily travels in the "underworld" of BART have led me to think of him and his wife, Eurydice, and his quest to bring her back from the land of the dead.

In the tunnels leading up and out of the underworld at Civic Center BART I've encountered two street musicians recently who have brought me to tears. The first was a violinist playing "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles, and the second a tenor sax player who played "Someone to Watch Over Me". The sax player saw me crying as I gave him a donation and he declared that he hadn't had a reaction like mine "down here" in a long time.

I said, "I wish your music could bring my man back to life."

I wondered if Tartarus could be found down in the bowels of the Transbay Tube. I wondered if the river Styx might be somewhere under the Bay, and if Charon might be a BART operator. Cerberus might be lurking on a hidden platform to prevent unauthorized passengers detraining.

I wondered if there were souls down there who might emerge, drawn by the artistry of street musicians in the BART stations. If I rode BART around the Bay Area long enough, might I find Paul peering in at a window of one of the trains? Could I charm Hades and Persephone into letting him go, with one of my poems or an improvisation on the bass flute? If I got him to follow me, could I lead him back to the land of the living, as long as I held fast to my faith, and didn't look back to see if he was really back there?

Orpheus must have been just as devastated by his loss as I am. Perhaps his faith was shattered by the blow, as mine has been, so much of my faith in humanity having come from knowing Paul. And there Orpheus was, unable to resist turning around to check on Eurydice and whether she was really back there following him up the escalator. Maybe he worried that she didn't have a ticket, and that she'd end up on one side of the turnstile and him on the other. She would have to illegally jump over. So being as big a worrier as I am he turned around and looked back, and the rest, as they say, is myth.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Three months

"Is everything a baited hook?
And are there locks on all doors?
If you're looking for an open book,
look no further -- I am yours.

We'll behave like animals, swing from tree to tree.
We can do anything that turns you up and sets you free.

You're an exception to the rule.
You're a bona fide rarity.
You're all I ever wanted -- Southern boy, could you want me?

So come outside and walk with me.
We'll try each other on to see if we fit.
And with our roots become a tree,
to shade what we make under it.

We'll behave like animals, swing from tree to tree.
We can do anything that turns you up and sets you free.

You're an exception to the rule.
You're a bona fide rarity.
You're all I ever wanted -- Southern boy, could you want me?
Southern boy, could you want me?
Southern boy, could you want me...?
Southern boy...?"

by Incubus, with my gender alterations

Friday, March 21, 2008

The lonely laundry room of the Twilight Zone

It is almost three months now since I was pushed forcibly through the Looking Glass and into this reality.

Lately I am not always sure if I am hallucinating this reality, or if I dreamed up the whole past ten and a half years. The old reality must have happened, otherwise why would this one feel so wrong?

I'm reminded of what it was like to wake up in the middle of the night in Paul's apartment, and get up for a glass of water. All his seven computers were there with their lights shining, and the router's lights twinkling as it kept up with the network connection. I could hear aquariums bubbling, and during the summer a low roar from the fans directing a cooling outdoor breeze from the open balcony door. It was a safe and peaceful place to walk around silently in the dark, and never more wonderful than when he was there, sleeping while I padded around.

There is no place like that here..

Only here can I read about my best friend and the love of my life in a context where many of his body parts are deemed "unremarkable" by a medical expert. Even his heart, and that's just not the case. I told him several times that I wished his heart could be on a velvet cushion behind bulletproof glass, as befitted my greatest treasure. He never did arrange for this to happen.

There was a reception at City Hall that I attended. There was a bunch of clowns there performing. A couple of them were stiltwalkers, and one of them came up to me. She was about 19, I guess. "Hey, I love your black arm band!" she said cheerfully. "What does it signify?"

"It signifies my loss," I replied. "I'm in mourning."

"Oh! Well, good luck with that!" replied the stiltwalker.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wired for performance

It's official: my duo partner Les and I, as No More Twist!, will premiere our piece, "Inquisition", on the first night of the Edgetone New Music Summit. The date is July 23, it's at the Community Music Center in San Francisco, and you better be there.

Les (who has discovered that his name is pronounced "Lez" in the UK, where he's now getting a Ph.D.) is creating the biometric interface that I'll be performing with. So far, he's got a working pulse detector and a skin covalence detector. Devices for measuring other vital signs are in development.

This means that when you, the audience, ask your probing, uncomfortable, surreal and goofy and hilarious questions, my biometric reaction will be monitored, for better or for worse. My heart rate's going to be amplified, and you'll be able to hear it speed up and slow down. (No way is it going to stay the same.) Whatever my skin does will be translated as data. And Les will turn all this information into sound and visuals that will be mixed with your questions, my answers, and his admonitions about form and content (if any).

It's a truth and falsehood light- and sound-world. Of course you want to be a part of it?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Things I have learned in 2008

So far in 2008 I have learned a lot and selected the following that may be of interest to readers.

1. There sure are a lot of dead people on TV.
2. They are not really dead people. They are actors pretending to be dead. A real dead person does not look anything like that.
3. When you suffer a catastrophic loss, lots of people will come out of the woodwork to offer sympathy and do the best they can to help you out.
4. Some of these people will say things that are patently absurd. This is OK because they don't know what to say and they feel like they have to say *something*.
5. When you suffer a catastrophic loss, some people will take the opportunity to kick you when you're down.
6. Some people will offer open-ended, unconditional support and reveal themselves to be amazing human beings. Some of these people are who you'd expect and others are not who you'd expect.
7. There is a pug named Louie who is really good at helping people forget their agony.
8. Some people will offer support for a while and then stop doing so.
9. Some people will find themselves incapable of being supportive. The identities of these people may surprise you.
10. Your catastrophic loss will feel like the first time this has ever happened, to anyone, anywhere. You will find out that it happens fairly often. Lots of people are surviving it right now.
11. Meeting your fellow survivors and being in contact with them is both reassuring and awful because it is terrible that this catastrophic loss should be happening to so many people.
12. People have been surviving this for so long that there are actually books about it, and everything that you're going through can be found in them. This is also both reassuring and awful.
13. The loss of one exceptional human being from the world makes it really really cold.
14. It is possible to learn to execute a lot of different tasks while crying. Driving while crying, however, no matter how much practice you get at it, is still unsafe.
15. It is possible to spend years and years and years doing the best you possibly could and still be up against something so horrifying you could not defeat it even with the best you had.
16. You will find your catastrophic loss made into plots on TV. These will not usually be accurately or sensitively executed. The best thing is not to watch them.

There are some things I learned before 2008 which I feel might be of interest to readers:

1. If your loved one wants to do something nice for you, do not tell them "no". When your loved one is gone you will wish you had said "yes".
2. Nobody knows when his or her number is up, therefore, make your every encounter with your loved one the best you possibly can.

Monday, March 10, 2008

In memory of Paul...what to do?

Stay up late and watch the Endeavour launch!


Or, tape it and watch it tomorrow. Mind the time change on your VCR or TiVo.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A classical detour

Last year, the Flock of Flutes ensemble of Walnut Creek, CA commissioned me to arrange two solo flute standards – “Cantabile e Presto” by Georges Enesco, and “Fantaisie” by Georges Hue – for solo flute and flute choir.

On Sunday evening, March 16th, the winner of the Flock’s Young Artist Competition, plus the whole flute choir led by director Monica Williams, will premiere the “Fantaisie” arrangement at Walnut Creek Civic Arts.

Come have a listen to this new addition to the flute choir repertoire! For tickets and information, call 925-943-5842.

March 16, 2008
7:00 p.m.
Shadelands Auditorium
111 N. Wiget Lane
Walnut Creek, CA

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Two months

The nightmare reality is now two months old. Or two months young, depending on how it relates to the total of the time I have left. 40 or 50 years, if I continue to do all those things you do to have a long life? Is that how long it will last?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

No More Twist!

It's official -- my friend and collaborator Les Hutchins and I are combining our artistic urges and expertise to form a performance art duo.

We'll go by the moniker No More Twist! Fans of Beatrix Potter will recall where that name comes from...it's good to have a name that was called out desperately by the delirious and feverish.

Very likely your first chance to see and hear us will be at the 2008 Edgetone New Music Summit. We will play on the opening night of the festival, July 23rd, at the Community Music Center in San Francisco. You've all got to be there, because you're intregral to the performance. We're going to need you to ask uncomfortable, goofy, probing, and/or silly questions.

Stay tuned for full details.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monday, February 04, 2008

Happy birthday, Paul

I'm so glad you were born.
But you are not here to celebrate...
I am way beyond heartbroken.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

10 years, 5 months, and 16 days

On Wednesday, July 16, 1997, I thought I was having a very platonic lunch at Hobee’s on Rengstorff Avenue in Mountain View, with my friend Paul Decker. All of a sudden, he leaned across the table. He seized my hand in both of his, kissed it passionately, and gazed deeply into my eyes. At that moment everything in my life changed.

That day, which we marked ten times as our anniversary, began a long and wonderful partnership. We soon discovered how perfect we were for each other: we shared a common spirituality, similar political beliefs, and a thirst for learning and discovery. We agreed on pretty much everything – from the most sweeping high concepts to the smallest details. We had so much in common we nicknamed ourselves “The Twins”. We never took each other for granted, our passion never waned, and although we endured a lot of adversity, our love for each other and our commitment to each other never wavered.

Paul quickly became entwined in every part of my life. Soon after we began our relationship, he took on the role of sound engineer and road manager at my live performances. As my self-appointed number one fan, he enjoyed watching my creative process as it unfolded. He knew I loved to write about the intersection of science and mysticism, and he would often send me articles about new scientific discoveries, NASA missions, and deep space survey results, knowing that I’d turn them into poems and pieces of music somewhere down the line. He was there to witness every stage of my four studio albums, and provided cover photography for my second and third CDs, Summerland and Diogenes.

His presence at my concerts was such a blessing. With him there, I could always count on at least one person being there who was really going to listen. I enjoyed sneaking a look at him from my place onstage, to see him leaning over the mixer, intent on his work, but also smiling and mouthing the words along with me, sometimes with his eyes blissfully shut.

I was privileged to be a part of his life, and to experience countless loving gestures, large and small…all the special meals he cooked for us, all the photographs he took of me, all the gifts he gave me, on special occasions or for no reason, chosen with care and circumspection; the bike he refurbished for me to ride, the awe-inspiring sandwiches he made for our hikes, the computer table and printer hutch he designed and built for me, the Christmas computer he built for my mother out of parts, all the times he cleaned up my kitchen just because he felt like it, the bottles of water he always seemed to have, knowing I was always thirsty…and all his anniversary, birthday, and Valentine’s Day cards, with their poetic and passionate hand-written messages.

Time and again over the years I marveled at how lucky I was to have found a man who was a feminist, an intellectual, a visionary, an artist in the kitchen and behind the camera, a mystic, a writer, and a passionate and devoted lover. Paul showed me what true love and respect were all about. He didn’t care what shape my body was, or how I wore my hair, or what clothes I wore. His support of me in everything I chose to do was unconditional and relentless. He understood me completely, and accepted me for who I was. He established himself in my heart and mind as the gold standard of men. I resolved to be the best girlfriend I could possibly be, since he deserved nothing less. As I told him on many occasions, “The more guys I meet, the more I appreciate YOU.”

On my journey with Paul, I had countless new experiences, and learned so much from him about love, respect, commitment, generosity, thoughtfulness, courage, and patience. He was my best friend, to whom I could tell any secret without fear of judgment. He helped me to heal from the wounds of the past and move forward with strength and confidence. With him cheering me on, I accomplished amazing things in my personal and professional life. Because of him, I know what it means to be an equal partner, to be truly accepted, and to be truly loved.

My love for him knows no bounds, and my grief at losing him knows no bounds. I don’t know, yet, how I am going to endure being separated from him. I pray to all the gods that we will be reunited in the Summerland, and in all our lives to come.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Performances in February

February 2, 2008
3:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Polly Moller & Co.
Live on KFJC 89.7
with Nozmo King

February 5, 2008
8:00 p.m. - Matt Davignon & Les Hutchins duo
9:00 p.m. - Polly Moller & Co.
1510 Performance Space
1510 8th Street
Oakland, CA

February 7, 2008
8:00 p.m. - Karl Evangelista, solo guitar
9:00 p.m. - Polly Moller & Co.
Luggage Store Gallery
1007 Market Street @ 6th
San Francisco, CA
$6.00 - $10.00

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Paul's potatoes au gratin au vin

Paul brought these potatoes to a gathering at my mom's house. Here's the recipe exactly as he gave it to my mom. If this dish suits your dietary restrictions, by all means please make it in his memory.

Today is Day 20 of this nightmarish new reality.

Potatoes au gratin au vin a la Justin

  • 6-8 large potatoes cut into thin slices
  • olive oil
  • 6-8 large onions cut into thin slices
  • 1 cup white wine (sauterne if possible)
  • ground cayenne pepper to taste (substitute chili powder if you don't like hot stuff)
  • 4.5 cups grated white cheddar and Italian cheeses. (I use the Sargento brand pre-grated cause I'm lazy...but you can add your own mix of grated romano, provolone, parmesan, asiago, etc. I really like dry Monterey Jack as well.)
  • salt to taste

Oil pan (I usually spray with non-stick spray as well).
Layer in potatoes, onions, and cheese.
Pour in the wine.
Sprinkle top with pepper.
Bake at 375 for an hour.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I miss my man, that tender flower...

...It was on a deeply violet night he came to me.
Under unquiet sky, I took his innocence...
His exhausted smile and oak leaves in his hair.
Steadfast he was and at my side in tranquil time or war,
but now he's gone a journey and I wait alone.
I mourn my man, I mourn ahead of time,
His lifeless body, laughter fading from my mind...
--"The Song of Coinchend Cennfada"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Garlic green beans and cashews for the bereaved

I made this tonight and it turned out pretty well, so I thought I'd post it, in case anybody needs to cook when they're bereaved. It also seemed like the thing to do -- post a recipe in memory of Paul.

IIt doesn't take much time or effort and you can do it when your head's in a fog. I put cashews in there because nuts are small, and yet pack a lot of calories -- so when you are grieving and have little or no appetite, you can eat nuts and make sure you are getting enough fuel to run on.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound green beans, cleaned and tips removed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup cashew halves

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil. Add the beans, salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the marjoram and garlic and saute another minute. Add the water, cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook 10 minutes, add the cashews, and cook 5 minutes more. Serves 2 as main dish, 4 as side dish.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Echo, by Christina Rosetti

Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope and love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter-sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brim-full of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death;
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.