Now into my 5th day without coffee. At the same time consulting an acupuncturist who is also a licensed medical doctor. "Try going without coffee for two weeks, see if it helps..." he says. Practical advice for a medical condition that may be aggravated by caffeine consumption. Currently drinking peppermint tea and Good Earth spice tea, now and then slipping in some Chinese Breakfast Tea. Doc suggests I keep up a journal detailing a) overall results of acupuncture treatment and b) what I notice in giving up coffee. I love coffee. It's like breaking up with someone who, for years, years! has been the source of such pleasure. I became addicted to coffee at Great Lakes Naval Training Center when, standing watch midnight to 4 AM, we were nicely fed (sandwiches, whatever! and coffee). I was 18 and had enlisted at the start of the Korean War. Drinking coffee was what sailors did, vets, a man's drink... alcohol being illegal on the base... so it was when I became a food reviewer I sought to find the best coffee houses in Santa Cruz County. As for acupuncture, I'm actually feeling mellower, less anxious, more "conscious" somehow... all very subjective, of course. Living in Santa Cruz this is how one's supposed to feel. Clear skies, temperature in the 60s, a mild winter... I'll be going swimming at UCSC outdoor pool. So while acupuncure hasn't yet affected medical complaint (still the inflammation, still the discomfort, etc.), it has affected my state of mind. I see these little seeds, inappropriate "notes," preoccupations which I recognize as germs of a kind which, when inflammed, are part and parcel of the hell of depression. Coffee Without Compromise.... excerpt #2: * The 18th Century poet, Delille, hailed: "...divine coffee, for thine is the art, without turning the head, yet to gladden the heart." * Delille's fellow writer, Balzac, proclaimed: "When one drinks coffee, ideas come marching in like an army." * The early Arabs discovered that cooked coffee beans yielded a much better brew than raw beans. Heat develops the aromatic oils in the coffee bean and makes them ready for solution in water when the cells are broken down by grinding. *According to the National Coffee Association, coffee is a fruit product. In fact, coffee is the most often used fruit product in the average American home. The coffee tree's fruit not only resembles our North American edible cherry, but is called a cherry. With a regular cherry, we eat the pulpy part and throw away the pit. It's the other way around with the coffee cherry, where the pulp is thrown away and the bean inside is used to make the brew. --more to come...
Preparing to give up coffee addiction, now into my 4th day without COFFEE, visit acupuncturist. I leave feeling calmer, a little more mindful and anxiety free. Home to "once more" tackle my room, do justice to my new MacBook. Coffee, anxiety, disorder, they seem to go together. And some related health problems. MacBook an inspiration to get the fucking room in order! Sorting through my papers I come across "Coffee Without Compromise," a magazine piece I wrote for Monterey Life and Taste Magazine. Those were the days! Working as a food reviewer. For one column (I was known as "Mr. Taste Test") I visited ten Santa Cruz County coffee houses in search of the BEST cappuccino. Ever the academic, I began with this entry from Samuel Pepys DIARY, written in 1663: "On the evening of 3rd of February, 1663, I just looked in on my way home from Covent Garden, at the great coffee house there where I never was before; where Dryden, the poet I knew at Cambridge, and all the wits of the town were assembled." * In the 17th Century, coffee was associated with health. The first known coffee advertisement in 1652 claimed that coffee "is good against the eyes... excellent to prevent and cure the dropsy, gout and scurvey." * By 1700, there were more than 2,000 coffee houses in London. Poor students paid a penny for a 'dish' of coffee--the price of admission--to listen to such illustrious conversationalists as Alexander Pope, John Dryden and Jonathan Swift. The coffee houses became known as 'Penny Universities.' * In 1732, Johann Sebastian Bach paid high tribute to the pleasures of a good cup of coffee. "Most precious of blisses," sang the immortal composer in his 'Coffee Cantata.' --more to come-- -- [from "Coffee Without Compromise," Mr. Taste Test] --- Wed., 8:30 PM - 1.28.09 Updike's death at age 76 - notes, jottings in course of Tom Ashbrook's NPR show... plan to re-read Pigeon Feathers, Rabbit Run... Sue Miller and critic William Pritchard... first use of MacBook in this way, i.e., as a notebook, carrying into the kitchen... We were put on earth to praise creation, Updike is quoted as saying. Updike a self-declared Christian. One caller praises him, "That man can make even psoriasis interesting..."
My birthday and Father’s Day coinciding. Five children, five grandchildren… Reflecting on the "if only" moments in my life. No regrets, but journeys I made, some of them without exactly knowing why I was making them, leaving a thoroughly advantageous position (teaching in the Writing Program at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, for example) to go, as much on whim as anything else, to spend a year in London... Reading David Grossman’s New Yorker (6/15/09) feature “The Age of Genius, The legend of Bruno Schulz.” A couple paragraphs in particular stand out: "…salmon have always seemed to be the living incarnation of a journey. They are born in freshwater rivers or lakes. They swim there for a while, and then head for salt water. In the sea, they travel in huge schools for thousands of miles, until they sense some inner signal, and the school reverses direction and begins to return home, to the place where its members were hatched. Again the salmon swim thousands of miles. “Along the way, they are preyed upon by other fish, by eagles and bears. In dwindling numbers, they scoot upriver and leap against the current, through waterfalls twenty or thirty feet long, until the few that remain reach the exact spot where they were spawned, and lay their eggs. When the babies hatch, they swim over the dead bodies of their parents. Only a few adult salmon survive to perform the journey a second time. “When I first heard about the life cycle of salmon, I felt that there was something very Jewish about it: that inner signal which suddenly resonates in the consciousness of the fish, bidding them to return to the place where they were born, the place where they were formed as a group. (There may also be something very Jewish in the urge to leave that homeland and wander all over the world—that eternal journey.)” So blog becoming something of a scrapbook, snippets of things I want to remember… blog more handy, more efficient than the hardcopy journals I used to keep. Well, in truth, I still keep 'em.
Once more, what might otherwise go into The Journal goes instead into The Blog. Key Words... continue to find 'em a convenient way to keep track of entries… sample follows… Random stuff, but if I ever want 'em, I can find 'em. BTW, I make no claim to this stuff being original. The wisdom of animals: put your nose where you will, but don’t go near a bad marriage. 7/8 of everything is invisible. “News is what people want to keep hidden. Everything else is publicity.” --Bill Moyers. Nelson Algren's famous advice, "Never eat at a place called Mom's, never play cards with a guy named Doc, and never go to bed with anyone who has more troubles than you." I think the point of most “games,”--and what is not a game?—is to understand it, and to think it’s important. So we have to be smart and dumb at the same time, and to be smart enough to know it. (quote from Senator McCarthy, NOT Joseph McCarthy) McCarthy said, "Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important." “If Momma aint’ happy, ain’t no one happy!” My father was a podiatrist, so I know shit like this: The sole of each foot has over 200,000 nerve endings.
THIS IS A FATHER Where are you going? That you don’t know, do you? Yes, it’s me. Who else would it be? You think I don’t see what you’re up to? Wait, I’m not finished. He’s in such a hurry to leave but he doesn’t know the address. Walk, walk, that he knows, the easy part. How will you end up? You think I’m hard on you? I’m not hard enough. Where do they come from, smart guys like you? And where do they go? Head at one end, feet at another. What kind of creature is this? Meshuggener, a crazy man. Two billion times in a lifetime it beats, the heart. And the brain, three and a quarter pounds, 200 billion neurons. And for what? To walk. What, again! Walks out on a wife. Walks out on a child. You I didn’t walk out on. For you I stayed—even now, I may be dead, that’s true, but I’m not going anywhere. This is a father. ------ [from The Collected Poems, Black Moss Press.
Santa Cruz, CA. Watch Obama and McCain with 15 friends & neighbors. Three Republicans and 12 Democrats. Host and hostess begin by laying down ground rules, Respect is required, we're not to blast the intelligence of those who disagree with our positions. Very diverse Northern California community, a professional chess teacher, several women from a choir which performs for patients in hospices, a University teacher visiting from San Diego, comedy school students, several craftsmen --and women--, a retired librarian, environmentalists, a massage person who specializes in facials... sorry, that sounds a little off color. Anyway, it's as if host and hostess are preparing us for a prize fight. And the candidates, at the same time, get prepared, shake hands and come out fighting. But it's not a real debate. It's all carefully rehearsed, Obama, who I favor, and McCain both with their talking points. Talking points versus Talking points. Both, complain our friends, skirt the real issues, they deal instead with the froth... it's near the election and therefore they're playing it safe. At some level, their talking points blur, one into the other... several people complain that Ralph Nader is missing. That two million people have been evacuated / Iraqui refugees and 100,000 or more Iraqi civilizans killed (according to BBC radio) and so that is one reason why there is less sectarian violence. Also, says the University professor, neighborhoods in Iraq have been ethnically cleansed and, as a result, Sunnis are less likely to face off, as they once did, against what Martin Buber might call The Other. Who has recently read Buber's I and Thou? So it's not The Surge, says the teacher, it's that there are fewer people around... And Karl Rove and his divide and conquer approach, says choir woman, that Blue State vs. Red State, that hate radio and anonymous ads attacking one side or the other... that's dividing the country and, no matter who wins the election, puts that person, whoever is the winner, into a position where he / she has half the country against him / her right from the beginning. The anti-Clinton folks let their hatred get in the way of their patriotism, because Clinton actually did a number of things right, like manage the economy. When he left office there was a surplus, which... well, enough! Sedate discussion. Repressed feelings. And, to make matters worse for the Democrats, McCain came off looking better than we had wanted him to. Woman healer: Party system is very narrow... and, is military force the only way to solve all this country's problems? Too much emphasis on the military. Both Obama and McCain... these two guys blur, they blend into one another, says the healer. They're too well and too carefully coached and probably rightly fearful of how the media might manipulate, i.e., over simplify, what they say... anything to make a story, anything for a headline.
Immanentize the eschaton - in conversation with an environmental scientist, I learn that there are some political, religious and scientific thinkers who believe some "end of days" type event(s) might actually be a good thing for our screwed up world and, possibly, in the long term interest of, well, I'm thinking, those political, religious and scientific "thinkers." Good for the world? Things have to be pretty bad for "end of the world" to sound like not such a bad thing. I dunno. I'm not on board with the rapture. Maybe I need to re-read The Book of Revelations. Speaking of environmental and financial messes, F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby has a character remark on the tendency of the very rich, the very well to do, to simply "walk away" from the messes they themselves create. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia "To immanentize the eschaton means trying to make the eschaton (the transcendent, uncreated, spiritual, or future; the end of days, see eschatology) in the immanent (within the limits of possible experience) world." --- Jon Stewart speaking to a Republican guest on The Daily Show remarks, "So your party is the only party that can fix the damage your party has done?"
Beverly Hills, 90210 [I have my daughter Hannah Sward's permission to run this brief excerpt from her work in progress, Diary of a Non-Starlet] On the Set of Beverly Hills, 90210” Author’s note: Chloe is an L.A.-based, aspiring 22 year old actress with a Master of Dramatic Arts degree working as a TV and movie extra -- and stripper -- while she waits to break into the Hollywood scene. What follows is the opening section of a book titled Diary of a Non-Starlet. A work of fiction, the book begins January 3, 1997. January 3 - Breaking in Some people do this for a living. They’re the ones with portable lawn chairs, a small wardrobe they carry around everywhere on hangers and a cellular phone to make endless calls about the next day’s work. Some even have a call-in service that they pay for and that guarantees them five days of work each week as an extra. They’re the “professionals.” The average day is eight to twelve hours on the set. The first eight hours pays $50. for non-union and $100. for union members. Anything after that is overtime. Naturally, everyone tries to get into the union and not only for the money. Union members get treated with a tad more respect. Union members are one rung up from the bottom. For example, on some shows non-union extras get paper bag lunches while union members are allowed to walk over to the catering truck and eat whatever and whenever they want. There’s always a professional chef on hand, pancakes, grilled rosemary chicken… you name it! When it happens to be a big cattle call, it feels quite barbaric. I feel kind of embarrassed ambling over to the catering truck in front of all the other extras. Like I’m some princess. Sometimes some famished soul asks me to bring back a hot roast beef sandwich. I hate it. If I were to say no, it’s like I’m some sort of Nazi. And if I say yes, I feel like some sort of spy smuggling contraband over the border. Most of us haven’t given up hope of one day becoming what we went to school and trained for – to find paying work as actors and actresses with lines. They don’t say ‘Extras’ when they call you, they just say, ‘Background.’ It sounds harsh, but really that’s all you are. And so you go where you’re told. You become what you are called, “Background.” Mr. Megaphone picks up his instrument. “Background,” he bellows, and everyone puts down their books, magazines, junk food, etc., climbs out of their lawn chairs, and mope over to the designated spot. My habit of making the best of every situation doesn’t apply to this lousy job and I hate the happy nerds, the enthusiastic extras who jump up and try to look as if they’re having a good time. Yet here I am . . . but what’s the appeal? I get to read and write and there’s lots of leisure time and I don’t mind getting paid for that, even if it’s only $100. I’d rather do this than wait tables . . . so I’m doing this while waiting for a chance to act, which is what makes this extra work somehow endurable. And it’s a continual process. You may land one acting job, but that doesn’t mean there’s going to be another and so you still have to do something in between . . . jobs in between jobs to pay your rent. [sample... more to come...] (copyright (c) 2008, Hannah Sward) -- Hannah Sward lives in Los Angeles and is a recent graduate of Antioch University. Another sample of her writing, "Starving," may be found in Alimentum, The Literature of Food, Issue 4, 2007.
Sometimes I think I have no imagination at all. I'm just a _recorder_ of one thing and another, a witness... like, I need to write down how "the retina accounts for 40% of all nerve fibers connected to the brain--but only one-millionth of a person's total body weight. Our eyes register 36,000 visual messages each hour... and can perceive about 150 different colors." Information overload? Sure... I jot that down and am open to more... diVoga notebook April 2008 entry, "Beagle who won Westminster Dog Show is praised by at least one judge for having 'the most beautiful shoulders...' another judge observed, 'Look at that face, you melt right down... a sweet face... I give that dog a 10!" And then, April 2008 (still), I start a poem about Spam, "I am a nice girl--that would like to chat with you." I think of titling the poem, "I am a nice girl that would like to chat with you." She goes on to say, "If you would like to see some of my pictures..." "Man be lonely no more..." that's good! "Thank goodness he had a big wang." I think of using that for the refrain. "debt free in 3 years..." sounds too good to be true. If you want to learn more about the American Dream, seems to me, all you need to do is read Spam.
Not so many months ago George Bush declared himself The Decider. “I’m The Decider…” Soon after I had this dream, I dreamt I was a passenger in a car driven by… The Decider. A squinty, out of control man who may or may not have been drinking. And, in the dream, I’m struck dumb, unable to raise my voice, “Let me out of here…” “Slow down, boss…” The Decider meanwhile at the wheel, we’re going faster and faster. And I wake abruptly with my foot pressing onto the floorboard, the way one does, or I do anyway, when a plane is coming in for a landing or someone I’m uneasy with is driving. I am re-assured, I have confidence in Obama, thank God for Obama. Still I wake some mornings with my foot pressing… slow down, slow down… only this time it’s not the President, it’s the world that seems out of control. The world…. Whirled world whirled whirling world.