Monday, April 25, 2022



You know all those books that we’ve all read that were incredibly moving about people who overcame amazing obstacles to do very important things in the world or very astonishing things in the world or very beautiful things in the world? You know those people? You know how inspired we all are by those people who overcome really terrible obstacles, and certainly sometimes the obstacle is chronic pain, right?  Many people have chronic pain and they live with it and they somehow keep doing their lives even though they’re in chronic pain. And they are so incredibly inspiring to us, aren't they? We are deeply moved by these people. These people have such depths. They have such wisdom. They have a spirit about them. They can never be trampled. You know these people? Of course you do.

I don't give a flying fuck about wisdom and spirit. 
I just want to be free from pain.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Not IF but WHEN!


I'm in a support group of old lesbians who meet every other week to talk about issues around death and dying. One of the issues we've discussed is taking care of all the business around our own death in a timely fashion (like as soon as possible), so that it will be easier for our survivors to know our wishes and be able to... well, tie up all the loose ends. Even if you do have a will, it doesn't necessarily have a record of your passwords or the people who should be notified if you, for any reason, happen to leave the planet. Things like that.

Of course, it is so much easier to TALK about things like that than to actually DO things like that. So we all committed to doing SOMETHING before we met again.

One dyke said that she had gone through her address book -- yes, an old-fashioned paper address book -- and marked every person who should be notified when she died. I thought, "Well, that's an easy thing to do, and I happen to have a paper address book too!"

So I got out my most current address book, and put a big green dot next to the name of everyone who should be notified. Now, some people are obvious choices, but then there is the next ring of people. Do they really need to know? Will they be upset if they just hear about it later?

I will never get over not knowing Myrna in New York was dying. Whenever I was in New York, I spent a lot of time with Myrna. I visited her twice in her condo in Miami Beach, for a week each time. But we never kept in touch when I was in San Francisco. I certainly would have gone to visit her if I'd known she was deathly ill. But nobody even notified me when she died! I just found out in a casual way long after she was gone. I can't get over it.

On Day of the Dead last year, I made an ofrenda and did a ritual for Myrna. But I still can't get over it.
This is a photo I took of Myrna Danzig during our visit to the Coral Castle in Florida, one of the weirder tourist attractions in a state full of weird places to visit. I think we can all agree that when you have seen the Coral Castle with someone, you are entitled to be informed when that person has died! Am I right? When you're right, you're right! Unless of course you've had a big falling-out. But Myrna and I never had a falling-out.

I had no idea when I started this blog that I would get waylaid by Myrna. But the takeaway is:

Better to err
on the side of informing
too many people that you died
rather than too few.

So I went through my address book and put a green dot next to the name of everyone who should be notified. But now that I think about Myrna, I'm going to go back and put in a few more green dots.

ANYHOW, then I wrote on the first page of my address book. next to a green dot, "People who should be notified if I die." (See photo above.)

And the next time I looked at that page, I just had to laugh. After 15 years of practicing Buddhism, I write "IF"?!?
There's no "if" about it!

My dear Bloggelinis, I must inform you that even the lifespan of a Blogmistress has its limit.

I have been studying the Tibetan Buddhist slogans for almost two years. And before you even start on the slogans, you have to study The Four Preliminaries:
  1. The rarity and preciousness of human life
  2. The absolute inevitability of death
  3. The awesome power of our actions
  4. The inescapability of suffering.

Or, as I've condensed and personalized it:
  1. I'm alive.
  2. I will die.
  3. I have power.
  4. I suffer.

So it's "Not IF but WHEN!" And the title page of my address book reflects that!

And now it's on to making sure my survivors can easily find a list of all my passwords!

Dear Bloggelinis: Despite the ministrations of three chiropractors, two acupuncturists, a massage therapist and a physical therapist, I'm still in pain. I don't find fault with these holistic practitioners. I think I'm a hard case. I'm now taking the drug I despised in my earlier blog (gabapentin) and hoping for some pain relief. I had an MRI -- finally! Had to demand it, and was motivated to get tough by several of your emails. So thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm now refered to Kaiser Spine Center and will see another acupuncturist next week. I'm of good cheer because... well, I don't think bad cheer would be helpful.
I'M STILL OPEN FOR VISITORS! Celenia responded to my invitation and schlepped all the way from Martinez (I think) and we had a lovely time. As the garden progresses through Spring, it gets more beautiful. Terry

Thursday, April 14, 2022

I'm in the NY Times Magazine -- "The Issue with Billionaires"!?!


I just had to make those photos as LARGE as possible. It's not every day you get your work mentioned (and REVIEWED) in the...
...let alone in the lead story about...
It was 11pm Monday night when I read it, so I couldn't call anyone and tell them. Very frustrating. I could not stop giggling. It is so DELICIOUS.


You see, at the bottom of the magazine's cover, this is "The Issue with Billionaires." So I'm not exaggerating what this issue of the NYT Magazine is about. It's about billionaires.

I am not a billionaire. I am not even interested in billionaires. So on Sunday when the paper was delivered, I glanced at the magazine and threw it aside. But on Monday night, I just couldn't sleep, so I picked it up. The writer Willy Staley starts off talking about how many billionaires there are (2668 in 2022, according to Forbes Magazine's World's Billionaires list), who they are and how the hell Forbes Mag figured it all out. At least 92 reporters worked on assembling the list. Elon Musk is at the top of the heap, as you can see from the drawing on the cover, with $219 billion.


But then Staley had a very interesting analysis of the transformation in our society that has spurred the increase of these greedy blood-sucking oligarchs. Of course, Reagan's brilliant idea to reduce the top income tax rate from 70% to 28% in the early 80s jump-started our vertiginous plunge downhill into a plutocracy.

I kept scanning the article, hoping to find more glimmers of understanding of our broken economy . And then I noticed the words "San Francisco", and I stopped scanning and started reading:
Last summer I was wandering around the neighborhood where I grew up in San Francisco, one substantially changed over the last decade, like every corner of that city, by the enormous fortunes generated in Silicon Valley.
FYI, my neighborhood has not changed AT ALL in the 45 years I have lived here -- except in the price of housing. Staley continues:
San Francisco is now home to 81 billionaires, at least according to WealthX. That's almost two per square mile or about one for every 10,000 residents -- the highest concentration in the world, As I was walking, I came across a homemade sign hung in the window of an old Edwardian. It read: "No Billionaires! $999,999,999.99 is enough already!"

Staley goes on:
The sentiment was comically San Franciscan: stridently in line with contemporary liberal values, and at the same time openly tolerant of extreme inequality. Why would it be okay for someone to have $999 million and not a billion?
Now, this is my very first review in the New York Times. I did think it was going to be for one of my plays, but it turns out it's for my window. I must dissect his condescending attitude:

"Strident"? STRIDENT?!? STRIDENT?!!??!!!!!

Staley writes an entire article trashing these billionaires multiplying like cancer cells, and outlining their destructive effect on the world. And when I propose a simple solution -- getting rid of the whole category labeled billionaires -- he calls me strident. How very Democratic Party of him. He describes the problem but doesn't have the guts to even CONSIDER a solution.

And what the hell is a "comically San Franciscan" sentiment? Has caring about the world become an amusing stereotype? Are San Franciscans the only ones who are so foolish?

Plus he doesn't get that I was being funny. He thinks I am actually saying it is perfectly fine if people have one penny less than a billion. Doesn't the "already" that ends my statement signal clearly that I'm saying something serious and making a joke at the same time?

And, finally, how dare he use the dismissive "homemade" to describe my beautiful sign? Yes, I made that sign in my home. I printed out each letter on a separate piece of paper, taped all the pieces together, bordered them with some decorative tape and spaced out the lines so they filled the window nicely. How often has he come across such a carefully made sign in the window of any home? That was a magnificent sign! (Well, I didn't feel that at the time, but now that it's been treated so disrespectfully, I realize that it's magnificent.)

Oh well. I can't really blame him for not getting the joke. Almost no one understood my billionaire window sign. Maybe I should have explained it more, as I have in this blog. It was one of my least successful window signs. I didn't leave it up for very long. Maybe a month or so. One day, after the sign was gone, as I was leaving my house, a woman was walking by. She shouted "No billionaires!" as she raised her fist to the sky. I said, "You're the only one who got it!" She replied, "I loved that window sign." I thought, "Well, I have to be satisfied with that."

But it turned out that someone else walked by the window who would be writing less than a year later about billionaires for the New York Times Magazine -- the absolute pinnacle of magazines.

Serendipity. One of the great joys of life. So many gifts given to me by serendipty, each one a total surprise.

I'm still giggling.

Bloggelinis: I would like to point out the tile underneath the window. Ain't it wonderful? 2013 was The Year of Tile. I spent an entire year trying to find the right design and colors. It's not like picking paint colors. If you make a mistake with tile, you're stuck with it a looong time. Did you know there are an almost infinite variety of different tiles available in San Francisco? I spent an unbelievable amount of time in tile stores and just walking around the city, looking at what patterns others have made with tile.

I finally found that Escher-like design when I met my niece Rose for brunch in Boogaloo Cafe in the Mission. Lucky for me, I had to use the bathroom -- and there it was! The design, that is. Not the colors. Searching for the colors was endless too. One day after it was all done, I was returning home and as I unlocked the door, I was thinking, "No matter how great the tile below the window is, it could not have been worth the incredible amount of time I spent on it." Someone happened to be walking by, and she stopped and said, "Oh, you live here? Every time I walk by, the tile makes me laugh." I said, "Thank you SOO MUCH for telling me," and I thought, "Okay, I guess it was worth all that fuss." Actually, I get a lot of encouragement from passersby -- AND from my Bloggelinis, don't I? Terry

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Unspoken, Except by Herself

Has anyone else noticed that our newly confirmed Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson, describes herself as a dark-skinned Black woman? Not just a Black woman but a DARK-SKINNED black woman. She is owning something that is rarely talked about when we talk about race: That the burden of discrimination falls more heavily on people whose skin is darker. I think we all know that this is true intuitively, but it's never mentioned. Certainly the mainstream media, which wrote extensively about Jackson's life, was silent on this issue. And for good reason. They almost certainly would have been accused of racism for focusing on the skin color of our wonderful soon-to-be Supreme Court justice. I myself would not be writing about it now if Judge Jackson had not claimed it for herself publicly.

So what does it mean to be a dark-skinned black woman? It means that when employers are looking to hire someone, for the Supreme Court or any other job, even if they are specifically SEEKING a Black woman, they would probably be more comfortable hiring a LIGHT-skinned black woman. Say, more like Condoleezza Rice than Ketanji Brown Jackson.

There is an extra price to be paid for dark skin. I have a friend who is Black and an actress. She is incredibly talented, brilliant in comedy as well as serious drama. She's also beautiful and graceful and tall and slender and a great singer. She checks all the actress boxes except blond and blue-eyed. One afternoon, she was having lunch with me and another friend who was white. She had to leave early because she was going to an audition. It was for a new play at a major theater that had a large cast -- all Black. It was a very political play with lots of singing and dancing. What's not to like?!? The whole theater community was buzzing about it, and my actress friend passionately wanted to be part of it. I was excited for her and certain she would be cast. As she was getting up to leave, she expressed anxiety about her appearance. After she hurried off, my white friend said, "Why would she of all people be worried about how she looks? She's so beautiful!" I said, "Yes, but her skin is very dark and maybe that makes a difference." Still, I was sure she would be cast.

I was wrong, and I was shocked. When I went to see the production, I saw that no one in the cast was as dark-skinned as my friend. There was also no one as talented. It just didn't seem fair.

Of course, life is unfair for almost everyone, not just dark-skinned Black actresses. And in my experience, art is even more unfair than life. So it is possible that my friend not being cast had absolutely nothing to do with the beautiful deep color of her skin. But I doubt it. It was a BIG cast.

So, kudos to President Biden for choosing an incredibly qualified DARK-SKINNED Black woman as the new Supreme Court justice! And kudos to Ketanji Brown Jackson for publicly claiming her dark skin!

I can't help but wonder if the color of Justice Jackson's skin contributed to the total contempt the Republicans expressed toward her during the hearings. Do you think those slime buckets would have treated her with more respect if her skin had been lighter? I do.

Bloggelinis: Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy and empathy and information in response to my blog about my painful right leg. I haven't answered all your emails yet. I'm writing all the referrals down and am learning so much from your experiences. Truly, so many of us have been felled by intense chronic pain. I also talked for quite a long time with my friend, Tara, a disability rights activist. She had so much wisdom so share about being disabled and dealing with the health industry. Strengthened by all the encouragement, I wrote my doctor demanding an MRI, which is the first step in actually diagnosing what's going on. Amazingly, my doctor agreed, and I have an appointment in two weeks. I think maybe today I'm a little better. I haven't spent much time prone. That's a good sign. Again, thanks for your love and concern. Terry


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Blogmistress, Down


Dear Bloggelinis:

Right now I am lying down talking into the Notes app on my iPhone. Then I will make this text into an email, send it to myself, and edit it (sitting). I have never done this before. So a steep learning curve for me. I have always spent many hours fashioning my blogs, with all the links and photos and research. I think I’m going to have to forgo that now because I really cannot sit for very long.

I think this is the longest stretch I’ve ever gone without communicating with you. You see, I’ve got a pinched nerve in my spine that is causing constant pain down my right thigh. It hurts to sit, to stand, to walk. This has been going on for OVER TWO MONTHS! I am experiencing the Western medical system in all its copious inadequacies. My doctor refuses to talk to me about what I'm going through. She just gives me prescriptions for one pain-killer after another. So far, none of them help.

I am looking for a healer. My definition of a healer: Someone who is intensely interested in solving this problem I’m having with my body and who also has the skill and knowledge to actually help me.

I have seen two acupuncturists, two chiropractors and one massage therapist. I might have found my healer, on Monday when I went to the second chiropractor.

So far this chiropractor is the first person who appears to have a strong desire to figure things out. So I am very hopeful. She is not warm and cuddly, as all the other naturopaths were. She's rather cold, brusque. I don't give a damn. I haven’t been able to walk further than the corner mailbox without intense pain. As you all know, rambling around San Francisco with my pups is one of the great joys of my life. But at this point, I'm not longing for long walks. I just want to be free from pain. Alright, I'd settle for a little bit of an ache, which is what I feel in the better moments. But this green pain that moves all around my right thigh and occasionally shoots down my leg... I can't tell you why this pain is colored green, but it is.

I have had an incredibly healthy life up to this point. In fact, when I went to the doctor for my general check-up four months ago, she told me that I was “amazing." You know, being 75 and all and having received some very nice genes from my parents.

Of course I always knew that my amazing health could disappear in an instant. Unfortunately, my primary care doctor doesn’t seem to have foreseen that, and now she considers me a nuisance to be drugged in various fashions until I stop bothering her. It’s hard being left in the dust by a Doctor who I felt really cared about me and cared for me very well over the years. Maybe she can't get over her "amazing" prize patient turning out to be just another fragile old woman.

Oh well. Thank goodness I have a Buddhist practice. Whenever I'm going through a rough patch, I'm always grateful for Buddhism. The Buddhist answer to the question "Why me?" is "Why NOT you?" It's like a glass of cold water thrown in your face to wake you up. You're ALIVE, damn it! Get what you can out of it! You might not come around again. And yet, despite my 16 years of practice, sometimes I feel very sorry for myself.

Fortunately, I have a beautiful garden. Now that it’s hard to walk further than the mailbox, and it’s also uncomfortable to ride in a car (Have you any idea how many potholes and bumps and humps and dents there are in streets in San Francisco streets?), I am cherishing my garden very much.
It’s also wonderful to have people come over and share it with me, especially now that Spring is flinging. So if any Bloggelinis want to drop by for tea, please email me. It's relatively easy to park in my neighborhood.

By the way, just in case this chiropractor doesn’t turn out to have the answer, can you recommend a chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist or orthopedist in San Francisco? 

So, Buddhism and my teacher maintain that there is a way to transform constant pain into a superhighway to enlightenment. She
explained to me the exact kind of attitude I need to have towards my pain, which is curiosity without obsessiveness. I think that’s what she said. Actually I’m not sure what she said. I was in pain when we were talking. Right now I am lying down. But I think what she meant was something like, "Oh, how interesting that the pain is intensifying and causing me to contemplate the advantages of being dead for the first time since I was an awkward adolescent hoping to get hit by a truck!"

Yes, my teacher was talking about THAT rather than "Shit! Fuck! I hate this! It's not fair! Oh, it's getting better.... no, it's not... Why me? Why me? Why me?"

First, I took an old prescription of Naproxyn, a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug, that I had lying around. Didn't help. I noticed the date on the bottle. It had expired! Of course it didn't work! So the doc prescribed a NEW bottle of the same stuff. Didn't help.

So Doc prescribed an opiate. All the information on the printout was very alarming. I will definitely end up in federal prison if I give you of these pills, so don't even ask. Also, even if I’m very careful and only take the drug as prescribed, I could STILL get addicted! Really?!? That's not fair! But despite my qualms and after everything I read about the terrible opiate crisis that is devastating society, I was perfectly willing to risk addiction if I could go back to living without pain.

But, perhaps fortunately, the opiate didn't help.

Then my doc suggested lots of over-the-counter painkillers. No good.

My fourth painkiller (if you don't count the expired pills) is not for pain but for seizures, and has the possible side effects of suicidal thoughts and blurry vision, among many other enticing possibilities. The pharmacist was EMPHATIC that I must NOT leave my house alone until I find out if the drug causes me to get dizzy and collapse. I am really reluctant to take this drug, partly because it cost $1.87 for like a hundred pills. It's not that I want to go into debt to get out of pain, but I'm suspicious of a drug that Big Pharma is getting rid of with a clearance sale. I haven't taken it yet, but I might start tonight. I promise I won't leave the house.

You know all those books that we’ve all read that were incredibly moving about people who overcame amazing obstacles to do very important things in the world or very astonishing things in the world or very beautiful things in the world?  You  know those people? You know how inspired we all are by those people who overcome really terrible obstacles, and certainly sometimes the obstacle is chronic pain, right?   Many people have chronic pain and they live with it and they somehow keep doing their lives even though they’re in chronic pain. And they are so incredibly inspiring to us, aren't they? We are deeply moved by these people. These people have such depths. They have such wisdom. They have a spirit about them. They can never be trampled. You know these people? Of course you do.

I don't give a flying fuck about wisdom.  I just want to be free of pain.

And now I'll end with a delightful photo of Princess Loulou, taken by the world's sweetest dog-walker, Tony Schwally.