Infodump

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I almost didn’t post a chapter today. I wrote one yesterday and decided that it was a big, fat infodump. I hate reading them, but I find myself writing them all too often.

People don’t like information. A while ago, I said that I started a blog about expertise and elitism and didn’t post it. I’ve decided that it is time. Just one word about it is that I wrote it as the Covid crisis began, so there are some dates in it that are irrelevant now.

It’s confusing, isn’t it. They trot out the experts, but not for too long.

Experts give too much information; they give the facts, ones that those in power don’t want to hear. The world depends on experts, but they don’t want to hear them. Our leaders want soundbites, they want to calm the markets, but they foment hysteria.

Don’t test anyone, it will raise our numbers. Don’t let them in. Don’t go there. Don’t take any chances, or don’t take the chances we don’t want you to take. Don’t go to conferences, don’t go to sports events, but by all means come to my needless election rally, and don’t forget to wear the hat. It will protect you from all evils, just like it has protected me.

Don’t listen to them. I’ll make you safe, and while I’m at it, I’ve promised more tax cuts. This is the perfect time for them.  I’ll put more money in your pockets, even those of you who aren’t affected. It’s an election year and my big fat pockets are open to all of you.

Don’t look. Nothing to see here.

Forget about climate change, we’ll drill for more oil. That will make up for it. Experts schmexperts. Why care for ecology when the stock market is dipping? Gotta keep the fat cats fat, so they can give you more money.

Wait! They’re giving me more money? I’ll believe it when I see it.

People don’t go to the opera or the symphony because it is elitist. It’s so expensive that ordinary people can’t afford it.

Oh, really?

Lakers vs. Nets tomorrow night (Mar 18?):

Lowest ticket $84, Highest ticket $827

Chicago Symphony, Mar. 20:

Lowest ticket $46, Highest ticket $210 (not including discount schemes)

But why see one of the best orchestras in the world when you can see LeBron play? Why sit and hope the Lakers win when you can get a winning concert every week? There are no losers.

Why listen to a concert of classical music? I don’t understand it.

When was the last time you went to one? If you went to more, then there would be a better chance of understanding it. Did you understand basketball the first time you saw it? Do you get culturally uplifted at a Lakers game? Do you get goosebumps?

But Blake Shelton tickets start at $26, you say.

Those are about half a mile away. All you are hearing is the sound system. The highest ones (that are still available) are $187 and they aren’t even on the main floor.

There isn’t a sound system in Symphony Hall, at least not for a CSO concert. You are hearing the real thing, and you can hear a pin drop from the back row. Is that elitist?

We label things we don’t understand as elitist. Did you ever attempt to understand it? At the beginning of the 1900’s opera was the most common music listened to (on disk), and remained high on the list for a few decades. Why don’t we listen to it now?

It’s old music.

Not all of it, and in fact if you haven’t heard it before, it is new to you.

But isn’t it a whole bunch of hysterical acrobatic singing?

I wouldn’t say hysterical. You might think that some new opera’s are, but the more you learn the history, the repertory, the more you understand it. What is acrobatic or hysterical about this?

It’s from the mid 1980’s. Let’s talk about it. The style/genre is minimalism, which is a repetitive style with simple content, not unlike popular music. This is a very beautiful opera, both in action and melody, yet it is tragic. It is about the fall of Egyptian civilization. The singing (in ancient Egyptian) is very unusual here, the man is a countertenor, the highest male voice (think Bee Gee’s but exquisitely trained), and the woman is a contralto, the lowest female voice (a highly-trained Nina Simone). The man often sings above the woman, giving it a completely ethereal quality, unlike something you would hear in popular music. This is a fantastic student production. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were pros? Sublime.

But there is no action.

Correction. There is little action. The words go by very slowly, therefore so does the action. How different is that from going to a Blake Shelton concert? There is no action. He stands there and sings. He might tap his foot, play a guitar, or sway a little. No action, though. Just words.

Something like this?

It’s an excerpt from an opera. No action, but, lot’s of action. It’s funny as hell. Watch all of this one, if you watch any of these. Hysterical, yes, hysterically funny? You bet. It’s modern opera.

Here is one more short excerpt from an amazing opera:

Her lover has just died, and she is singing about her love for him or possibly for God (not clear). She is about to commit herself to a convent in grief for him. This is about as dramatic as it gets without any real action.

Except for maybe Poulenc’s Dialogue of the Carmelites, when all the nuns have their heads chopped off at the end. I can’t not cry at the end. A YouTube video doesn’t do it justice.

Don’t even think about going through a car wash during that scene, if it is on the radio. I did. I bawled (and it was in French. I couldn’t understand a word).

Fffffffffoooounk. A head rolls away.

Not elitism. Sheer beauty. High art.

Exploring meaning

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I’m still here. Other than my ‘Round Midnight posts and a couple of EJO posts, I’ve been quiet. I’ve lacked the will to let myself go. There are times when I think of my father and just have to cry. Yesterday was the second week anniversary of his death.

I’m usually the stoic in the family, but I’ve been a wreck. I don’t think it has hit my mother yet. She says she keeps turning to ask Dad something, and he’s not there. I’m 300+ miles away, and she’s the one who has to deal with it. Canceling joint accounts, opening new ones in her name, keeping track of automatic payments from several accounts, changing those accounts, social security, veteran’s affairs … it just keeps going for her. My sister helps, but she has her own problems.

That’s the last I’ll discuss it for a while.

In ‘Round Midnight, it’s all change for Cassie. She has gigs coming on the east coast, and soon a trip to Europe. It appears that she has also hooked up with the late Ezzie Dryar in her dreams. Ezzie (who Cassie calls Gaia), has a connection with her. Cassie doesn’t have out of body experiences like Ezzie and her friends, or at least she isn’t aware of them. Her dreams are out-of-body, but that isn’t really important. In fact, they are out of universe experiences, if you’ve read the Ezzie series. If you remember, however, Ezzie was the only one who could flit between universes. I’m not sure how I’m going to use that yet, if at all. Because I haven’t named Ezzie, the two stories don’t have to be related. It could just be a weird dream.

Cassie seems to be looking for meaning in her life. She’s not “in love” with the women who desire her, but she loves them as friends, and sometimes a little more than that. She indulges them when she needs physical contact. She really wants a man, but has never been lucky with long term relationships.

She’s a handful and she knows it.

Can she reconcile her free spirit with the desire for connection, or will she forever float from man to man or woman?

That’s something I need to figure out.

Second guessing

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I’m still reeling, and it has been over a week. It’s not like it was unexpected or anything. He had been ill for some time. It would have been easier if he had died in his sleep, or suddenly from a heart attack, but he lingered, and it was left to me to call time.

I think he knew that I would be the one. He was very disappointed when I left to go back to work the Sunday before he died. Did he think that was the last time he would see me? Perhaps, but maybe it was because nobody would be there to stop his suffering. I was the only one strong enough to make that decision: Mom, no, Sis, maybe, but ultimately, no. My other sibs, definitely not, and they were angry that I hadn’t consulted them. In truth, I only started the ball rolling. The decision was made as a group when the doctor called us together.

Was I wrong to leave? I don’t know. He had rallied, was sitting up and breathing on his own, and communicating with those around him. Monday was good. It would have been nice to see him that day. He was having difficulty swallowing, but we hoped that he would continue to improve. He ate a little applesauce. On Tuesday, they spent some time with him on PT. That really tired him out, so he refused to eat his dinner (mashed potatoes), and he pulled off his oxygen mask during the night. His blood pressure plummeted.

He didn’t wake up the following morning, and was unresponsive all day, not until just before I returned at midnight. I’ve already described the rest.

I just remember his smile when the mask came off, the kisses. Then his tearless cry. Was it because that was the last time he would see us, the last time we would see him, or was it because he realized what would happen next?

I can’t forget that, and I can’t help but second guess our decision.

Then I think about the alternative.

  1. They would have had to put him back on the ventilator, further irritating his throat, and probably against his advanced directive.
  2. They still hadn’t decided whether he’d had a heart attack. There was no new damage to his heart, but he was losing blood, or at least red blood cells somewhere. Perhaps there was a blood disorder. He’d had 6 transfusions in the previous 3 weeks. He had been in heart failure for several years.
  3. He had been in Stage 3 kidney failure for 3 years, and there were indications that it might have progressed. There was blood in his urine, which hadn’t been there the previous week. There was a thought that his colon cancer was back, but the doctors had already ruled that out.
  4. His legs and arms were painfully swollen, and the Lasix meant that he had to go to the bathroom at least every half hour. He was sick of that. They would have to increase his dosage.
  5. Treating his kidneys hurt his heart, and vice versa.
  6. His veins were fragile, and every time they needed to draw blood was an adventure. They shouldn’t have removed his central line on Monday.
  7. He would have needed a month or more of PT in the hospital.

The night before his heart attack/fall, he’d been anointed by his priest. He sensed the end was near. He was as prepared as anyone could be.

The doctors chose to keep him in ICU even after they would normally transfer him to the ward. I think that was a sign to us. My feeling is that they expected a relapse, and perhaps that he would never leave the unit.

Everything tells me the decision was right, but I can’t help questioning it.

I promise I’ll stop obsessing in public soon.

Goodbye Dad

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Some of you may have noticed my absence this past week. On Wednesday, my father took a turn for the worse, and was unresponsive all day. After finishing my teaching, I hopped in the car and drove the 5 hours to be at his bedside.  I went straight to the hospital. He was very awake and agitated, but he had an oxygen mask on.  Every 20 minutes or so, he had tremors, and I sat with him to help him through them, holding one or both hands, restraining him from taking the mask off.  Around 7 am, the nurses came in to re-position him and suction some mucus from his mouth.

When I returned to the room, he was again agitated. He reached for the mask, then the leads on his chest, tossed away the blanket, and reached for his IV. His message was clear. He was finished. I begged him to wait for mom and the rest of the family to arrive. He was already DNR, but mom had to make the next decision.

He wanted to go home.

That wasn’t going to happen. My sister and I have been his rock throughout this process, as my other sibs didn’t know how to deal with it. Mom was in denial, thinking that by phoning 911 the previous week was against his wishes, and that he was now being tortured. When mom came, I left the room and wept. His nurse came to me, and I explained that he was done. She agreed, and I went to inform my sibs in the waiting room. That wasn’t easy, but I think the nurse went to talk to mom at the same time. The next thing I knew was that the doctor on call had summoned us to dad’s bedside to explain the palliative procedure. They would gradually increase his morphine until his breathing slowed to the point they could take the mask off. If they took it off too quickly, he would suffocate. The process took nearly 6 hours, and dad wouldn’t let go of my hand. After the mask was off, he would have time to relax and hopefully say goodbye. It would be quick, but not too quick – albeit painless.

Each of us kissed him goodbye. He was happy, and then he was sad, perhaps he cried, but he couldn’t produce any tears. We all held onto him. His heart stopped; he gasped twice, and then he was gone. It wasn’t like the movies, where they just exhale and that’s it. We couldn’t tell when he was gone.

I had held his hand for 13 of his last 14 hours, and his grip was just as strong in death as it was in life. He was conscious most of the time, but he wouldn’t let me go, as I talked him through it.

A few minutes later the palliative care nurse came in and confirmed his death. As I was the one who ultimately made the decision, I can’t help wondering if he could have survived if we had talked him through another day, or if we had misunderstood him. My family is horrible at making decisions, and I was the one they turned to make the DNR decision, and then the one to let him go.

He was just too weak to breathe, and in too much suffering to want to.

I love my Dad.

Method in madness

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With all the nonsense and gibberish poetry I’ve been experimenting with, I thought I would write a haiku in one of my invented languages: Chyllkrnny

That’s a word with multiple meanings based on context. It can mean chosen, or the chosen, or add an h at the end and it means the chosen ones. It is a magic race of people that live underground, only visiting the surface for certain supplies necessary for magic spells and potions. The story is epic in proportion, and probably too much for me to finish in a single lifetime. It’s another one of those things I’ve set aside. I’ve put the translation below, but I couldn’t quite fit it into haiku without losing essential meaning.

The Cult of Hahn has a significant amount of non-Latin chant in it, i.e. it looks and sounds like Latin, but mostly isn’t. I may post one of the chants at some point. I’ve also written another story (again under an alias) that has significant amounts of another invented language, but the narrator has only been able to figure out a few phrases of it.

On that note, I’m going to be out and about for the next few days, so you may not hear much from me until next week.

Today’s card:

I’ve picked several repeat cards today, but this one fits in with the poetry.

Ace of Cups.

Essentially this is the root or the seed of love, and represents new relationships, compassion and creativity.

In the poem, the chosen one feels a deep spiritual love/connection for an outsider, who is forbidden to her. Her penance is to go on a quest for a list of ingredients for a potion, while under the influence of another potion (of forgetting). If she succeeds, she may or may not be permitted her forbidden love. If she can’t find all the ingredients, she will forget her love for him forever.

Transformed

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Today’s a business day. I’m meeting someone to collaborate with on a project. I’ve known him for about 15 years, and used to play in an orchestra with him. We are probably looking at a 2-year lead time, so you probably won’t hear anything about it for a while, and since it is part of RL, you probably won’t hear much about it here.

It’s another dank rainy day, and I’m still feeling a little lowercase. I wrote a poem yesterday on TCoA that wasn’t at all what I expected, as well as a stream on EJO. I’m going to post any new Hot Tub streams there from now on, rather than at TCoA and copy it later there. It will just save a little bandwidth and brain-width. Today may be a quiet day from me, as I leave for my meeting in a half hour, and may actually work when I get back, if I’m inspired.

Today’s haiku: Lupine

I had thoughts of some word play with supine, but Lupine is also the adjective for wolf-like, and I took that road instead. Maybe I’ll write another about being supine …

Today’s card:

XIII. Death. More literally, change. Yesterday’s card, the Universe, is also all about change, and every change is the effect of an act of love and contains pure joy.

One suggestion is to “die daily.” Death is the apex of one curve of existence. Treat opposites as necessary complements, and rejoice. Transformation, change, voluntary or involuntary, in either case logical development of existing conditions, yet perhaps sudden and unexpected. Apparent death or destruction, but such interpretation is illusion.

I included a more complete interpretation of this card than usual, reminding me that I’m about to get in the car and drive for 45 min each way. The Death card rarely actually means death, but I don’t want to push it. It means change or transformation. Maybe my meeting will be a transformational experience. Maybe I’ll get wet and melt away, or turn crystalline, like those magic rocks we played with in science class in school. Maybe my sunburn will peel off and I’ll be babe-like once again.

That’s it. I’ll stick with that. I’ll be reborn as a 20-year-old.

Chaotic

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Far from chaotic, today was a day of reconnection, a sublime new restaurant (awesome Mexican egg breakfast), and whimsical thoughts. How do I get chaos from that?

I am the seed of chaos. That’s a new one for you. I bring chaos, the fury and passion of love, and all the fluttering of the heart that goes with it. As you can see from the array of topics of my recent haiku, I flit about from subject to subject, emotion to emotion as the wind blows, as the devil (or angels) take me: sunburn, delirium, death, weather, sex, and today: sleep or more sex, depending on how you interpret it.

Today’s card:

3 of Swords. Sorrow.

Why sorrow? It’s the dark and heavy womb of chaos. It is also the transcendence of the natural order, secrecy, and/or perversion. (This wouldn’t be the first accusation of perversion. You should should see the review of my first Amazon Breakthrough Novelist Award entry! “A series of sexual fantasies…”) Erotic yes, perverted no. Stir the pot, let the fantasies boil. The storm broods under implacable night.

Well, it is supposed to storm in a couple of hours. The night, my boudoir, lit large by an electrical storm, stirs fantasy, engenders chaos. Ecstasy.

Credo

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I believe.

I believe in my disbelief and my unbelief.

I believe in love, love of one another, and love of the power behind all things. I believe that all sentient beings were made to love, yet some love the wrong things in the wrong way. That is part of living.

I believe in freedom. The freedom to express, to say the wrong things as well as the right things, to do the wrong things as well as the right ones. I am free to cover or uncover, to show or conceal, it is up to me to make choices and leave others free to make their own choices.

I believe in knowledge and truth, as well as lies and half truths. All are equal. All serve a purpose. I will often tell you if I am lying. In that I reveal my truth without revealing data that you shouldn’t know.

I believe that I cannot truly know right and wrong, yet anything that violates love, freedom, truth, or knowledge, or those rights of others, cannot be truly right. Who am I to judge, and what right does the “church” have to judge?

I believe there is more than what the church offers. There are coincidences that cannot be explained by traditional religion.

I consider myself a lapsed-Catholic, yet I still go to church regularly. I do not belong to a particular parish. I do not believe in doctrine, yet the core is still there and is tucked somewhere in my beliefs. Much of church doctrine was designed to control their believers.

I believe there is a power behind all things that bestows talents on everyone by design.

I have been involved with Wiccans, yet I am not of their number. The experiences that I have had with them are the same as what has turned me off from traditional Catholicism. I have read tarot, cast spells, and even expelled a ghost (although that isn’t what I would really call it – releasing her is probably a better description). As I describe them in my Ezzie stories, these are blind talents. I am not sensitive to ghosts, yet I have had friends who were, and things I did (on my own) were reported back to me. A spell had accidentally disturbed a ghost, and a healing spell that I later cast released the ghost. Again I did this without the knowledge of the others, and they later reported that the ghost had left, and that it happened the night I cast the spell. Spells have consequences, and I have learned to fear those consequences. They change what is natural and that must be balanced. That is why I no longer cast them.

I believe that the Tarot reads the indications of the present, not a predestined future.

I came to the Tarot by accident. A friend of mine had a Rider-Waite deck, and since I had had several readings done, I knew a little about them. This friend asked me to explain them. I thought the best way to do it was through a reading – I really had no idea what I was doing. In the reading I made a prediction (by misreading a card, in fact) that came true – very clearly – the next day. I have done random readings for friends, but not recently, and I no longer read for myself. (There was one card that came up in every reading for me over a span of 2-3 years, which I could never explain.)

I believe in dreams. I have dreamed of people years before I met them.

I believe in reincarnation, although I can’t say I understand it. I have met people who I instantly click with, like I’ve known them forever. I suspect it is because I have.

These are all things that determine who I am.

I am the Carnal Goddess, the Angel of Love, the Black Heart, a solitary, and a Priestess with given talents of fantasy, creation, and interpretation. All things come from within.

Who are you?