Saturday, January 22, 2022

Not to Complain, but Complaining

Behold, an act of God. Last night we had hard winds, gusts up to 80 mph. For comparison, a Category 1 hurricane achieves speeds between 74 and 95 mph. I am not the only one in my community to have trees or parts of trees blowing over. This Italian cypress, unfortunately, came right up out of the ground and landed mostly in my neighbors' yard and on their roof. 

As it happens, these are the neighbors whose Tesla solar roof sends excruciatingly bright glare into my house ten months out of the year, running all along my west-facing wall. I've managed to mitigate said glare by installing ceramic film on all the windows and sliding glass doors. They had seemed amenable to paying some part of it, then apparently decided that I was harassing them and ordered me never to contact them again. Well, goodness. These are the folks whose kids hugged me when they saw me, and to whom I sent fresh-baked goodies. I had hoped we might remain civil but had to give up on that.

Well. Now, the tree lies on their roof, a pine of Rome. I suspect they are not home, as I have heard nothing from them, which suis me fine. Friends and my insurance company tell me that each person is responsible only for their own damage, a relief to me. I will incur $2000 for the deductible, thanks to the pipes that broke two years ago and flooded/destroyed half the house. 

Now I wait to be contacted by my insurance company's designated contractor. Apparently, there are 25 people ahead of me, so far. I had called an arborist I'd used in the past, but 1) he won't be available for two weeks, and 2) his truck now bears the message, "Democrats Are Destroying America." I'd rather not support him anymore.

This debacle follows bills of $2000 to the veterinarian for my cat, who attacked a possum and lost, of $4800 for corroded pipes, which repair included digging up half the front lawn, and, a bill for $8000 for bringing the electrical system up to code (and installing a new main switch, as the old one had frozen). 

I'm feeling beaten up by these acts of God. I had been in the middle of a major re-write qua reorganization of my manuscript of poems about my late husband, and I was making progress, though not without struggle. Looks like time to take a break for something hard in the outer world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Seasons of Love

Walter's yahrzeit is coming up. December 16 2021 will be the third anniversary of his death. I remain weirdly disoriented by his not being here. Sometimes I feel as though he had never been here in my life, sometimes I feel that he died last week. Every time I deal with something but remain dissatisfied with the outcome, I feel that he would have handled it better. At the least, he would have been able to reconcile me to the imperfect situation.

The house is still full of stuff from our life together, even though I have divested myself of things that have nothing to do with my life alone. The practice cello, for instance. He hadn't played it in our 35 years together. Neither had his daughters. I offered it to them but they didn't want it, Turns out it was a good cello to begin with, a good tone, but it would need a lot of repair to be in good condition again. The bow was actually worth more than the cello. They're both gone now, as is the old-school metronome I gave him (wooden, spring-driven). I never found it helpful to play or sing with a metronome, and I'm unlikely to start now. It gave him joy to see them all in the house, though, even after he stopped being able to use them.

Walter did a lot of looking, and a lot of seeing. He noticed, he saw, he thought about what he saw, he made connections. I have long thought that curiosity is an under-appreciated trait, and Walter was certainly curious about the world around him, the people around him, the possibilities around him. You can see that, in his seeing, he was experiencing--something.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Everything new is old again


We're getting into the time of year when my dear husband, Walter Maya, declined and died. This photo speaks for itself, including the little flourish of flowers apparently growing out of Walter's head:  his playfulness, his imagination, his ability to take what was in front of him and make something good out of it.

And this pertains to writing how? I am in the thick of making a collection of poems about him, mostly directly, and incidentally about mortality and decline. There's a lot of that going around. My memories and preoccupations have always been influenced by the time of year. I wonder if it is the slant of the light and the length of days, but who knows--not me. Anyhow, I am writing new poems about him and adding them to the older poems. I've always written about death and decline, even mortifyingly early on. In the years since his diagnosis with cancer, I wrote very few poems that were not about loss and change, his changes, losing him.

 As a psychologist, I performed neuropsychological evaluations. Which is to say that I used my experience and the available tools to answer questions about changes and difficulties in other people. You might say that I was peculiarly trained, suited even, to notice his changes, his losses, and therefore my losses too.

So, since the last time I posted in this blog, I've been steeped in thoughts and feelings about who Walter was and about the hole his death has left in my life. I do believe I'm making progress in this project, this book-to-be. I don't know if the smaller or larger worlds care about such a thing, but it's what I need to be doing.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Found in Translation


Behold some residents of the 2015 writers' conference at Napa Valley Community College. That was when I last attended, with my sweet husband before his diagnosis of lung cancer. We both had a good time; he always got on well with writers and hit it off particularly well with Brenda Hillman, whose mother was born in Brazil.

I'm looking forward immensely to taking part in a workshop given by Robert Hass (yes, that Robert Hass) on translating poetry. So far, the languages of the source material proposed by other attendees include Tagalog, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and my own German. I want to come up with an English translation of Schumann's setting of sixteen of the poems of Heinrich Heine, Dichterliebe--A Poet's Love. I have loved this piece of music ever since I was introduced to it 50 years ago, and I've been fooling around with translating Heine ever since I first read him. What I'm trying to say is that this is indeed my idea of a good time.

So, this year will be the first time I'm attending a writers' conference solo. I've never before attended one of these conferences without my husband. I'd attend the workshop in the morning and we'd get lunch and I'd tell him all about it and then go write and we'd get dinner and I'd tell him how I wasn't sure if what I'd written was even a poem and he'd support and encourage me through all of this and even claim to have had a good time reading or walking or lying out somewhere and looking at the sky.  I still expect to have a good time talking with other writers and attending events, but--I'll miss my sweetheart too.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Bruce Wayne! He's the greatest orphan of them all!


In a desperate effort to find the top of my desk, I came across the following dialog. 
I wish I had written it, but I suspect I transcribed it from the LEGO Batman movie.

Joker:  I’m your greatest enemy!

Batman:  I don’t really have a bad guy. I’m fighting a few different people.

Joker:  What?!

Batman:  I like to fight around.

Joker:  Look, I’m fine with you fighting other people, if you want to do that, but what we have? This is special. So when people ask you who’s your #1 bad guy, you say….?

Batman:  Superman!

Joker:  Are you seriously saying that there’s nothing—nothing!—special about our relationship?

Batman:  Whoa. Let me tell you something, J-Bird:  Batman doesn’t do “-ships”. As in “relationships”. There is no “us”. “Batman & Joker” are not “a thing”. I don’t  need you. I don’t need anyone. You mean nothing to me. No one does.

Joker:   Don't you think it's finally time to face your greatest fear?

Batman:  You mean snakes? No! Clowns! No--snake-clowns!

Joker:  Why did you build the Batmobile with only one seat?

Batman:  Because I only have one butt.

I wrote down also these deathless lines:

What's good about Batman:  Lots of cool gadgets; loves punching; excellent brooding.

We're going to punch those guys so hard, words describing the impact will spontaneously materialize.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Subtle, He Says


Another day to miss my beloved and hilarious husband, the late Walter Maya. This earnest artist believes that his creations subtly suggest our various sexual parts. I found it difficult to think of anything else, except maybe what I have heard about acid trips. Walter would have sniggered himself silly over these pieces, the more so as the artist believes his creations to be evocative. Right. Like the rude rocks of Joshua Tree National Monument.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Psychology Meets Politics, part 4: Not with a bang, but a whimper


Actions like separating children from their immigrant parents, with no records kept by which the children and parents might be reunited, certainly could be characterized as attacking the relational bonds, the more so as the children’s suffering and decompensation are well documented. Other executive orders leading to withdrawing funding for remedying the situations of people who are vulnerable, certainly are not impeded by concern for that vulnerability. If anything, 45 seems easily willing to characterize these vulnerable people as having brought their situations on themselves—by being poor, by living in the vicinity of environmental hazards, by working while studying at universities, by being born with disabilities—or at the least being deserving of mockery.


I believe also that many of 45’s well-known practices can be characterized as attacks on linking. Consider his pattern of hiring contractors and stiffing them on the agreed payment after the work has been completed. He has reneged on contracts with everyone from plumbers to lawyers to venues for events. He is so well-known for this pattern that he has encountered increasing difficulty hiring lawyers to represent him. Isn’t a contract a sort of relationship, even if a transactional one? Isn’t our entire capitalistic system predicated on payment received for work performed? To claim many many times that the work is always substandard makes me think of the (grown) enraged child finding a caretaker disappointing, inadequate. (There is also the issue of feeling entitled to receive anything and everything for free, but that is not my focus here.)


Fred Trump kept 45 afloat financially to flaunt as a puppet, albeit an implausibly successful one. Mary Trump’s examination of her family’s finances establishes that 45 has never made money in any of his ventures, and that Fred’s ‘loans’ were outright gifts. In this light, The Art of the Deal seems more like The Art of Being Born Into a Mob Family. Could 45 ever become a real boy? Becoming a reality TV success was not enough to reassure him. A ghost-written autobiography, whose author has been vocal about his profound regret for legitimizing Trump, was not enough. Literal golden walls and toilets were not enough. Becoming President would strike some people as a high success, but 45 has found his fantasies often thwarted. No military parade to coopt July 4—no invulnerable wall to keep out dangers—no Nobel Peace Prize—not even the cover of Time. Only what I imagine to be an indefinable unease, a haunting suspicion that he is getting stroked to be put to use by cold and powerful men. Still. Again.