Sunday, January 06, 2013


April 28, 1964


To increase the sentimental value of this card, I hereby discourse –

My poet friend, my goodest buddy – I hope that our friendship will never cease to exist, or that the ideals, "opinions," and beliefs that we now share may never falter, and allow us to become prudes.

for posterity, may we always retain our love for God in beauty.

Anita Anderson

on the occasion of receiving these holy cards from Chicago!

Hiccups, LSD, migraines

When I was little my grandmother taught me how to get rid of the hiccups. You hold your breath and say (silently, in your head, because you're holding your breath) "Hiccups, stickups, straightups. Nine sips of water will cure my hiccups." Then, still holding that same breath, you take nine separate sips of water. The separate thing is key, You can't just go glugglugglugglugglugglugglugglugglugglug. You have to sip, move the glass away from your mouth, swallow, then sip, etc. Always worked for me.


But sometime after I got grown I learned another trick. I learned how to feel that first little spasm of the diaphragm, that beginning of something deep in my throat right before the first hiccup. And then, that if I did something I can't really describe with breathing and swallowing just so, that the first hiccup never happened. Hiccup program aborted.


When I was a teenager, I started getting killer migraines. I mean the throwing up, beat your head against the cinder block walls because then the pain on the outside of your head will distract you from the pain on the inside of your head, which is worse, type migraines. There was nothing to be done except curl up into a fetal position in a bed in a dark room and wait it out. Which, of course, seemed to take eons.

So I spent a lot of time like that. Being very still in the dark, thinking about pain, while experiencing pain. And I found, eventually, that when I stopped fighting the pain, raging at the pain, and instead said to the pain, okay Pain, do your worst. I'm just going to fucking feel you, pain. I'm going to go where you are, all the way there, and feel the most pain I can. And if I really concentrated, if I totally immersed myself in pain . . . the pain was . . . suspended. Out there somewhere. I didn't really feel it any more. If my attention wandered, the pain slammed back. But as long as I could hold the focus, no pain. My goal became to hold that focus long enough to fall asleep, which worked, most of the time, once I figured out how to do it.

Dealing with depression was, for a long time, for me, about something outside of myself. Bad things are happening to me. Have happened to me. Life sucks. Lately I've been having better luck dealing with it by thinking of it as something like - someone slipped some LSD into my iced tea when I wasn't looking. And continues to do that at random, totally unpredictable intervals. When they do it seems to have no relation to what is actually happening in my life. It just happens for no apparent reason.

In my misspent youth when I did actual LSD, I spent most of those trips fascinated by how "reality" was changed by the introduction of a very small amount of a chemical into my brain. Because up until then, I had assumed that what I saw, heard, felt, etc was in fact, reality. LSD made it freakingly obvious that what I was calling reality was in fact my perception of reality. How my brain processed certain stimuli. And apply a little chemical to the neurons and my brain processed those stimuli in a different way. As the chemical slowly found its way to my brain and gradually started altering how I saw the world around me, when I was "coming on" as we used to say, as my awareness moved from sober to so stoned I couldn't talk or move (although sometimes I could laugh non-stop into total exhaustion) - that transition was the most interesting part. I thought.

Now if someone did, in fact, put some LSD in my tea without me knowing it, and if I'd never had the experience of a psychedelic drug, I could imagine that it would scare the crap out of me. To have the world gradually get very bizarre for no apparent reason. It would be hard to understand that the world hadn't actually changed, that I had changed. My brain had changed.


It was looking like we weren't going to have winter this year. I harvested my last tomatoes in mid-December before the first frost, more than a month after it should have come. No winter to speak of last year.

D.C. was cold. The temperatures were mostly in the 40's, at least one day in the 30's. Which wouldn't have been so bad except for the wind. Relentless wind. And rain - and cold, and wind - one day. Bundle up. Coat, scarf, hat, gloves. Brace yourself as you walk out the door. Walk quickly.

Since we got back, there has been winter, at least as Texans define it. This morning the sun rose into a sky so clear, so blue. The sunlight dazzled, the thin frost on the planks of the porch sparkling like glitter.

As much as I complain about how much I hate being cold - and I do - there's something I love about winter. I should say that I've never suffered through a real winter. I'm sure I would purely hate the endlessness of bone deep cold and wind and snow that piles up and just stays, lumpy and dirty, for days or weeks. I don't want to even think about having to spend an entire winter in Chicago or Ottawa.

But Texas winter, Pacific Northwest winter, that is something I can appreciate. When I lived out in the woods near Snohomish, Washington, my roommate and I lived in a vacation cabin with electric heat. Electricity was expensive, wood was cheap, so we bought a cord of wood so we could use the fireplace to stay warm. Melody told the guy we bought the wood from not to split it because she thought splitting wood would be "fun." Then she went back to Louisiana.

Where the cabin was

Every day I split wood. Probably not the way you're supposed to split wood. I'd balance the log on its end by smashing it into a puddle with a layer of ice on top of it. The ice and the mud would hold it upright while I swung the axe from overhead down onto it with a satisfying crash.

Every day I had a reason why I had to be outdoors, doing something, no matter how much I hate being cold. When I look back at those few months in the northwest woods, being outdoors in the cold, frozen puddles, sometimes an inch or two of snow, splitting wood under the towering Douglas firs are some of my best memories.

A few years later I was outside in the Texas hill country's winter cold, smashing wooden motorcycle crates apart for my wood stove. A golden field of winter's dead grasses stretching to the line of dark green cedars along the creekbed.

In recent years it's been dog walking that got me outside in the winter on a regular basis. It's always good to have a reason why I have to go out in the winter. Because I really do hate being cold, and I won't leave the warmth of indoors if I don't have to.

And if I don't go outside in the winter, there's so much I wouldn't see. The light is different in the winter. Sparkling crisp light like this morning's, or grey gloom other days, but always different from the light at any other time of year. Trees' bare limbs. Piles of brown leaves filling gardens. Squirrels and birds so easy to see in the leafless trees.

It's beauty I'd miss.

I love this movie. This scene . . . it's so hard to be so honest. It's hard to say something like this out loud for fear of being thought pretentious and sentimental. But we think these things, yes? The beauty of a plastic bag dancing in the wind  ". . . when it's minute away from snowing . . . ."