Monday, July 29, 2013

Marina, Sonia, Micah, Daniel, and Me, Part 1, the Backdrop of the Story of Caring at Home for my Friend

       It is has long been begging to be told, and so I tell it after such a long time waiting in the wings, this story.
       I remember the first time I met Daniel, he was one of those. I was barely twenty, Ashtanga  Yoga had just begun. My first retreat, our teacher Babaji's name, and Kurt's name will be the only ones unchanged by me for this story.

Ashtanga means eight-limbed. The limbs are:
1) Withdrawal of the mind from the senses,
2) Concentration,
3) Meditation,
4) Hatha Yoga (the postures, mostly named for animals),
5) Truth,
6) Right livelihood (work),
7) Harmlessness,
8)Karma Yoga, or selfless service.

The last was and is always stressed by our teacher, Baba Hari Das, who also always modeled the concept and ideal of dispassion.

       The first time I encountered Daniel, he was playing an autoharp, singing one of his songs in his angelic tenor voice, something along the lines of..." I've fallen down a deep dark well/ Some call it earth, some call it hell...," or was it, "Mama give the baby suck/You are the universe to him..."...?

       He made us all laugh, all the time he wasn't playing his music. I danced on the hill as he played outside the main hall at the Yoga retreat up Bear Creek Rd., that first time. My hair and skirt were long, and his smile was so sweet. We all loved Daniel, the original Krishna to all of us Gopis. It is important to stress in this because of how important he was to Marina all along and at the end. I was there at her constant service, he is the reason she died happier than she would have.

       I met Marina through Daniel, both were 28.  Her young children were, the older girl, Sonia, and the younger boy, Micah.  Marina publicized Daniel's concerts, served him faithfully. I would visit her, she came to the house on Pine street. I enjoyed her stories of picking up guys at The Catalyst, a Santa Cruz fixture then, and as far as I know, to this day. Many famous acts passed through, to play at The Catalyst. I was in awe of both her and Daniel, Daniel who made us laugh all the time. He had a talent for it.  Later, he was at Marina's house often, making us both laugh as I massaged her body head to toe nightly. 10:00 PM, was when the show she loved to watch nightly finished...Dallas.Was it re-runs, or was the show really on nightly...? I don't recall. I never watched it, I was concentrated on the massage, and the laughter.

       A few years went by, I studied art and Early Childhood Development and Education. I had moved into a 'Yoga house' with Daniel and others at 22. So many stories on the way to this story to be considered, then discarded for this post. There is art to brevity, I strive for it in all I write. But at the house on Pine street with Daniel, and the others, Marina was always in the background, always a part of things. That house is where Kurt died. Actually he died at Big Sur. Kurt was found at the bottom of a cliff in Big Sur. I loved Kurt, and his story will be told another time, this is Marina's story...Kurt is in the backdrop of my life, always.

      As far back as I remember, life in California has always been that of real estate changing hands and too many evictions, or, simply forced movings. I have never wanted to move from any place where I have lived. The house at Pine St. was sold...I moved.

       A few years later while living at Janet's house on Chestnut St., I was in school studying art at University of California at Santa Cruz. I was now 25. Marina lived across the high school next door to where I lived, around the bend, she was a neighbor, visits were fairly frequent. Her friend Ana gave me a ride home from play rehearsal one night, we put on the Ramayana every year. As we pulled up to the house she told me she had had a grueling day... somehow after deliberation, she had decided to tell me. Marina and she had been to the doctor's office. Marina had been informed at age thirty-one... that she had Leukemia, had been crying all day in Ana's arms. We did not talk in those days about 'Oncologists,' 'stages,' or 'treatments,' or 'bone marrow transplants,' which did come up later, the idea was feared and rejected by Marina. I knew from the fact that in elementary school, Elliot had died of it, that my mother's friend, Ellie had died of it, another family friends with my parents had lost a daughter to it, I only knew in the moment I was given this news about my friend Marina, that it was a death sentence. How young we all were.
        I put my head down on the dashboard, and I began to wail. I sobbed right there, even after Ana went into the house. I could not stop crying for hours, head on arms folded beneath my face.

       Once, at about six or seven, I had listened as my parents talked of my aunt Muriel, who had recently died of cancer. Very curious to learn about the world always, I asked questions. When I learned that cancer is a painful illness that always ends in death...those my parents talked to me...we were all little adults in that house. That night, as I lay sleeping in bed with my father...frequent nightmares, terror in the night, I sought refuge with the very source, both of my parents. I awoke with a painful stiff neck, certain I had cancer. I was unable to move my head. I cried, I still recall the puddle of tears on the pillow, I was almost literally drowning in my own tears as I cried silently, not to awaken my father, or my mother in the other bed. My father heard me  though, awoke, turned on lights, carried me to my mothers bed, and they asked me why I was crying by now uncontrollably in the night. I told them I thought I had cancer, I told them of the pain and stiffness in my neck. They told me I had a stiff neck. I was told not to get in bed with my father any more. He got into bed with me after that, whenever my mother kicked him out for snoring. Nothing untoward, as my friend from England delicately says, my parents strictly adhered to corporal punishment, there was no sexual abuse. I slept that night with my mother.

       Janet's husband Ricardo came out to the car, and got me to come into the house. I visited Marina many times before it was announced to at least a hundred of us by our teacher that Marina needed a caretaker. Would any of us volunteer to go live with her, help her in her steadily declining condition? No one came forward. Not one voice, not one person in the large gathering was willing. Minutes went by, I thought my heart would break, while no one said a word. I was in school studying art, U.C. Santa Cruz, I was twenty-five. I announced, firmly for the whole group to hear (and truly how shy I was in those days, so out of character)...before the whole group, I said that I would go live with Marina, I would care for her. I dropped out of school, not knowing for how long, not knowing what my duties would entail.

      I voluntarily entered into a time of darkness, the underworld of caregiving, which is how it felt to me then. My thoughts were of Marina, I wanted to give her palliative care, without knowing that terminology at the time. Her house, her children, her meals, rice pudding which she constantly craved, and her nightly massages became my duties for six months.

Part 2, the details, next entry.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Once Upon a Time in Photoshop Elements

 So...I am watching Sergio Leone’s Once upon a Time in the West... well sporadically, off and on throughout my day. As of this writing There is still an hour of it left to see, streaming on Netflix. 
        I am watching because to be certain, it is great filmmaking. I am watching off and on because, it is slow ponderous filmmaking about people quick on the draw, and foul of temperament. Hair-trigger folk difficult for me to like much, and the much suffering woman at the center of the story of. Cinematic miracle, this classic Spaghetti Western made by Leone in Italy and based on a story by Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento is about our American west. Like so many male-centered stories of factions struggling to wrest control of their world at gunpoint...for me a bit like watching fingernails scratching the length of a long chalkboard, feels that natural and real, but that slow, even more nerve-wracking. Harsh, but I do not really want to know most of these people even in film fiction, don’t care about them, they are violent power-mongers, people who hold no interest for me. Too real. It is reminding me of other films, particularly Once upon a Time in America.

          Meanwhile, this meandering post is really on a wholly different topic, Leone’s films are a ruse. I am really here on the topic of Photoshop Elements, the supposedly much simpler, and def much less expensive version of Photoshop...back to that momentarily. 

         I was watching Once Upon a Time, and searching connections between the two Once Upon a Times, and discovering that both Once Upon a Times were indeed both films made by Sergio Leone, The West, and America. I had experienced exactly the same feelings when watching what must have been the american release of Once Upon a Time in America, and caught up in my world then, had gone to see it , was then scarcely interested or very aware of who had made this particular film, at that time a wish to escape was pervading life in general. 

        In between and as break from working in Photoshop...which is grueling in other ways. But I am learning, and as I learn I discover...three times now, twice gut-wrenching loss of digital life, precious hours and vision gunned down mercilessly for no reason in Photoshop Elements. Once it did not matter, it was a barely existing beginning, lost I cannot fathom why, barely off the ground, that little birdie was. Sudden violent death of my work in the program is random, it seems.
        Twice it happened after long laborious multi-layering work produced from the depths of my soul of souls...just as I am saving the work the program crashes, and poof, my long hours of work are gone, this time against the backdrop of a shoot-‘em-up of epic proportions, Once Upon a Time in the West. Close up and intimate knowledge in film of those to be avoided in life can perplex, sometimes feels to me more warrented. 

         Instantaneously lost to this world my work is, as if gunned down by a sharpshooter---that fast---a speeding bullet. So I search the question in my aching heart for an answer, ‘why does photoshop elements for apple crash just as I’m saving hours of art?’ i google. Something very close to that, and comes to me this answer at a list-serve,

“That is a well known bug in Apple's QuickDraw code, which Apple has said that they will not be fixing because they have deprecated QuickDraw.

In some cases, turning off GPU switching in the system preferences can avoid or at least reduce the occurrence of the bug.
But the only way to really avoid it is to update to a version of the software that uses the Cocoa APIs and not the Carbon/QuickDraw APIs.

Sorry I don't have better news.”

‘QuickDraw code?’ Really? That language is so very strangely coincidental as to seem much more synchronistic, almost;  the net and I are somehow in poetic sync. 

         So then I search the question, ‘what is the computerese definition of the word, ‘deprecated?’ Because I know the definition of the word in the English language, just...what’s it doing in this answer to my question?

“In dictionaries, deprecated is a term used to indicate a pronunciation or usage that is acknowledged but discouraged. In computer programming, a deprecated language entity is one that is tolerated or supported but not recommended. For example, a number of elements and attributes are deprecated in HTML 4.0 , meaning that other means of accomplishing the task are preferred. Deprecated features may become obsolete in future versions of HTML, though browsers that support the features may continue to support them. In the Java programming language, a particular method may be deprecated for a given class of object s.”

         I will continue to ponder the sadness attendant loss of work when that loss is beyond my own agency, my decision, my choice.  Ponder, and who knows? Maybe even fix. With a little tech help, that is.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

RIP My Dear Friend Barry 1954-2013

       Barry Ress was my friend of more than twenty years. He recently died, and I miss him so. There is little to be said of the loss of a great friend such as Barry was. He was a staunch supporter of me, my art, and I was the same to him.

       I will miss you, and you are in my heart always. I see you now, wherever I go. There are Barrys everywhere. One day a duck followed me around the lake where I walk, and it was you, sweet friend Barry. I spoke internally to your spirit in the form of this duck about how I miss and love you as you followed me. I think you may have been looking for food, and that too is how I think of you, the many wonderful meals we shared...the theater, the movies, the celebration of life. RIP
Love from Chandra to you Barry x