By on June 24th, 2020

 

Humiliated Dog by Karsten Winegeart on unsplash.com

 

Reboot, the abashed blogger said, looking red-faced and rather silly. I muffed my opportunity on Sunday to post new work in both the Create and Playground sectors. The collections were there, sure, but I misjudged my new software so you, my audience, never knew.

 

Please enjoy them now that they’re alive. And please follow me if you don’t already.

 

 



By on April 14th, 2020
Lazarus awakening by Cornelis Anthonisz, 1541.
Detail of De rijke man en de arme Lazarus, Cornelis Anthonisz, 1541. Public domain, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

I don’t know where I was for five years. Sure, I know where I was, Barcelona. Bilbao, Paris for a month, and a lot of time at home. I didn’t have a diagnosis yet but towards the end I was afraid to go to the grocery for fear I’d lose my balance, grab a shelf and bring it down in a rain of denting cans.

 

Early in 2017 I learned I’d been suffering from hydrocephalus, a condition where you slowly lose (among other things) the ability to walk. There was a straightforward solution for that, brain surgery. They implant a shunt that drains off the excess cerebrospinal fluid that has been pressing ever-harder on your brain structures. Something’s gotta give.

 

But it’s not the illness, the dysfunction, the broken little bones. What bothers me is that I was sure I was myself. There was weird physical stuff but I was still me. My partner kept saying I was off and I’d get furious. It wasn’t till the diagnosis that I learned part of the condition is mild dementia.

 

What’s that mean, mild dementia? For me it meant I could not see myself. My 96 year old mother said part of her still felt like a girl. This seems wholesome, a continuity of self. Yet I experienced myself as normal. Slippage wasn’t visible to me, but I was slipping. How can that be?

 

Late in my siege my webmaster began having cluster headaches, renownedly painful. Doctors did what they could, trying various drugs out on him. One of them turned him into his evil twin. Rude, angry, in your face. This a benign spirit who naturally brings people together. It boggles me that while he was under the influence of this drug he didn’t know he wasn’t himself. He stopped the drug and woke up to the bastard he’d been channeling.

 

I had the surgery in June, 2017. Staph infection in October. (Isn’t it nice to know there’s a “good” staph that’s slow-growing, less pernicious?) The tubing of the shunt was tied off in my belly then and days before Christmas a third surgery reconnected it. I’m fond of Christmas but quarantining this chapter in my life to 2017 took priority.

 

Come March and my partner looked at me in disbelief and said “You’re back!” I slowly recognized how far under the surface of life I’d slipped. I came back into myself. Quite a homecoming. Inexplicable to welcome back the person you hadn’t been but felt you were. Deeply, maybe permanently baffling.

 

Most notably after five years of zero creativity I’m obsessively making art.  Start at breakfast on my laptop, transfer to the big screens upstairs and work full tilt till dinnertime.  New ideas keep spilling out. Like a pan that finally starts to boil.OK, LSD, Alzheimers, mass manias. No surprise that consciousness is malleable. But still. It wasn’t till “You’re back!” that I could see.

 

During my five year siege I read Nature Journal weekly as it came. I was avid, fulfilled by it, fed. Now it comes and I hardly care. I’m rereading books I’ve loved in the past. Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire? Still remarkable.  D.H. Lawrence Twilight in Italy? Hilariously chest-pounding at one remove — one clan of people are so much more manly than the ones on the next hill. Silly, overwrought. Who am I?

 

I wonder now where in my brain the deforming pressure pushed. A doctor mentioned it’s too bad there hadn’t been an fMRI (functional MRI, more video than snapshot). Was the pressure on the right or left side of my brain?  So much right/left stuff has been debunked, so much remains a numinous truth.

 

Today I feel a giddy sense of rebirth at age 71. Here I am again, quick-witted, quick-tongued. I’d been lethargic, everything seemed like too much work — why bother? I slept too much. Now I’m up before six some days. My neighbors are telling me they saw the decline and that the sparkle has returned to my eyes. A startling number of them — how polite they’ve been.

 

Hence my joy today, full of a whimsical sense of invincibility. Yet knowing that at my age most of the sand has poured through the timer. L’chaim.

 



By on September 26th, 2018



By on August 14th, 2017

Hospital 03 by Sloan Nota

I’d asked my surgeon whether I should cancel appointments in the two weeks after surgery. He’d ordered an overnight hospital stay. Just wait and see he said. I waited and spent seven nights in a neurosurgery ward. Was I surprised? I was.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my surgeon. But I think he’s in a bubble where his needs (he does craniums at 2 hospitals, he’s busy) mean more than his patients’. I haven’t seen him since going under the anesthesia. Since waking up hallucinating, interacting with my beloved as he was standing high on a wall.

The surgeon is a good guy, a funny guy, but he doesn’t get that when you exit brain surgery you have some questions. You’ve got a tube under your skin behind your ear and big bulge on top of your head. Email a question, he’ll answer in a minute, Johnny on the Spot. But face-to-face he doesn’t get the need.

What am I, a carburetor? And this is Jiffy Lube? You’re not done with me yet because I’m human and you’re human and you just opened up my head.

_____

After surgery I hallucinated for three days, curtesy the anesthesia department. This was acceptable to hospital personnel. Hey, I came out of it didn’t I?

Good thing I’m an artist — I thought an earlier patient had left animated artworks in that room to entertain the next patient, me. I knew the regular artworks and sometimes discovered more.

Part of me (an itty bitty but real part) still believes in those artworks. In La-la land. In what I connected with. Like Dorothy and Toto after Oz. They knew the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch. They knew the Ruby Slippers. They didn’t make those up. But no one back in Kansas will buy it. They’re in a place of knowing what other people don’t, real people don’t. Because they can’t, they didn’t go there.

They stayed home.

_____

I knew I was hallucinating because I’d be having a conversation with somebody, turn my head and speak out loud into the room. So I would shift to normal reality because I was supposed to, because I needed to appear that I knew what they knew was going on.  At the same time as holding to a scrap of over-there. Which quietly attenuated to a wisp. A snap, then a no way back. Until I slipped into it again like into a dream, but through the la-la liminal door.

I want to understand this.

Because I didn’t know what’s what and I did believe hallucinations to be fact (because life has always been fact) and believed that I’m supposed to be tethered to the bed (tho I’ve never been so tethered in my life) and so believed I’m misbehaving when the nurse says that’s now the -teenth time I’ve set off the alarm. Why didn’t they warn me? I woke up amazed and half-hairdo’d. I knew damn well what surgery I’d had but not that my hallucinations weren’t as real as breakfast on a tray. They blended invisibly with gotcha-locked-in-shackles real life.

_________

[note: later when I have complications the doctor kindly works me in, twice. And takes real time explaining things for me. Exactly what you’d want while in your hospital bed.]



By on August 13th, 2017

Hospital 02 by Sloan Nota

Oy, an e-missive from the Patient Site of my healthcare conglomerate.  414 pages of scientific links related to my condition. Hell, Chiari Malformation? if I have it no one has stopped by to tell me about it. Please do not reply to this message, as it is auto-generated.

My two other choices going forward with hydrocephalus? A medication that too often does no good. Or ‘minor brain surgery’ which implants a shunt that will drain excess cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) out from my brain, down a tube to my abdominal cavity (aka belly).

‘Minor brain surgery’ — I’ve heard this from so many voices by now — is my only chance. So let’s look at it. ‘We make s small hole in your cranium.’ The surgeon repeated what I’d read up and down the internet. Small hole.

When I woke up half my head was shaved and a sturdy S curve of stitches had been carved in my scalp. I remarked it looked like a baseball and a surgeon confided they call this the baseball stitch. To think I’m usually reassured by metaphor. Beauty, even recognizability, were of little concern to me. But I was tethered to a hospital bed that would sound an alarm if I tried getting up without assistance. Nurses would come pounding down the hall. Neurosurgery ward, recently fiddled-with craniums. Big falls bad news.

As I will reveal anon, I hallucinated for the first three days.

I learn later that my first stop was a step down unit. After a description I realize it’s where they ease your wacko balloon slowly from the ceiling.

I may have set the alarms off ten times that first night. My bladder had needs. Nurses exasperated. No one had prepped me for this role out of Cuckoo’s Nest.



By on August 12th, 2017

Hospital 03 by Sloan Nota

They draw blood at least once a day. ‘Your sodium is down!’ Sodium pills make you retch? Try them with ice cream  OK, try with applesauce. ‘Your magnesium!’ Another pill. ‘Your potassium!’ A fizzy drink.

At no point was I advised they’d checked my adrenaline levels — which would have been pushing off the charts.

After four or five years of a debilitating condition I get a diagnosis of hydrocephalus. My gait increasingly poor, a spate of urinary incontinence, a degradation of mental powers (‘mild dementia’). Four or five years. Years. And now the choices include Do nothing, just keep on slidin’ off the map. HOW DARE YOU OFFER THAT? No one in their right mind would choose that. Increasingly become a burden to those who love me? Of course they’re just testing to see how selfish I am. They can’t be serious.

Of course I’m 70 y.o. and female. They may be serious.



By on April 16th, 2016

Muybridge race horse animated 184px

Dear readers –

Some of you know that I carry two diseases of the retinas.  Usually I can move quite briskly through the day but not in the past few weeks.  For a while I couldn’t read even the biggest font — yesterday I began piecing together words in a magazine article. It’s great!

So please bear with me as I make my way back into a Green As Sky world. Green as grass, green as spring, green as summer. Home free.

_____

New situation, you gain insights. My favorite is that when an artist can’t connect to the world of printed words she can grab a National Geographic of any vintage, turn it upside down and see on the visuals as abstract compositions. Color masses. distribution of tones. I find I have (at least) two visual minds. One keeps me from stubbing my toe in a world full of chairs, the second sees impractically, in the terms my art has led me to weight what I sight.  [riTcky wording used for emphasis.]

I think of Mondrian here. How while painting trees he begann to seize on the grid-like way branches interlaced.  Is this how a muse works? In the world we’re so carefully and carelessly taught how to see, we notice another aspect that tickles our attention. We play with this, maybe sketch it on napkins, maybe try imposing mental right angles on the limbs of a peach tree.  Your path opens up, you take it.

Circling back to us being taught how to see. In an industrial landscape — oil derricks, electrical poles — I’d always felt affronted.  One day I worked to view the scene as an engaging composition. And it was there. Fell into place, boom boom boom, freed from political blinders. Which rid me of feeling.bad.

Must stop for here. The words flow freely but the eyes are running in the wrong shoes.



By on July 8th, 2015

 

What could be more American than Fourth of July on Cape Cod?  Let me tell you.

Start with four old friends and an Iranian teenager.  One guy, four females.  Among us is one ex-pat who’s lived decades in Spain.  (She prefers the term ‘gone native’ to ‘ex-pat’.)  One is an American long married to an Iranian.  One is an Iranian 15-year-old who’s only lived in the US for 10 months.  The guy and myself both identify as Americans, un-nuanced.

Miz Spain spends part of the Fourth communicating on Skype with a young Afghan/Pakistani woman, newly a mother and newly in Spain.   Our friend has characteristically taken the frightened Afghan woman under her wing.  The young mother understands Farsi so our 15-year-old meets her on Skype and they talk their talk.  Add next another Iranian teen in the US for the treatment of extensive burns.  She’s happy to meet our Iranian.  Connections are being made.  Visits are planned.

We all set off from Truro for the fireworks in Provincetown.  If you’re unfamiliar with P-town it’s a doozy.  A seaside draw for the LGBT community who enjoy promenading down the main street, showing off purple hair in pigtails, metal bits in tender body parts, and an inventive assortment of other mild transgressions.  Many men are holding hands or snugged up tighter, very buff men bicycle by in form-fitting stars+stripes tshirts.  Fourth of July folks, let’s party.  Our Odd Fivesome makes our way through the crowd, three grayhairs and one dye job, plus an exemplar of the rich luxury of young  hair.

I’ve no idea of the percentage of LGBT humans in the world but it’s nice celebrating America’s release from tyranny amid these still-persecuted people strutting their stuff.  Our restaurant has big rowdy tablesful of men.  Our teenager has questions that us inveterate liberals gladly answer.  When we wandered back to our car at evening’s end the Iranian lass draws a comparison to nighttime Tehran. Eh?

Fireworks, lit gizmos whirling in the crowds, let’s all celebrate liberty for all.

 



By on March 18th, 2015
Wiggle Room silk scarf by Sloan Nota

Wiggle Room, silk scarf by Sloan Nota. Printed by Print All Over Me

My new silk scarf came today and I’m one happy human.  Glorious color, true to the image above. Swashbuckling size, a lovely hand (feel) to the fabric, and so far the only one on Earth.  I designed it and I’ve been well served by Print All Over Me (PAOM), a Print On Demand (POD) service that is set to take off.  As a business and as a business model.

I’d been testing the waters with another POD service but PAOM offers the scale and brio that I’m most comfortable with. And silk proves the best substitute for my favorite medium, pixels.

Sloan Nota scarf & swimsuit

Two Print All Over Me templates featuring the same artwork, Three CLEs by Sloan Nota,

_________________________

PAOM craves the new flamboyance — hip-hop inspired, bumptious, thrumming with visual energy. Here’s a sample outfit:

I’m wild about this new fashion but it belongs to today’s cohort.  My cohort trucked through beads-and-denim hippiedom. Tom Wolfe called us Beau Brummels and I suspect he’d dub today’s new gonzo stylers the same.

OK I get the look but I can’t wear that look to the grocery store.  Not all at once anyway.  Say one t-shirt at a time.

Print All Over me cotton tshirt.

My Mario Bros Tshirt from Print All Over Me .

However I can flaunt my hoary wisdom and pair the Mario Bros with a gold-toned silk jacket from my closet.  Tried it a few times. Packs a wallop.

Combine Tshirt + silk jacket

Mario Bros Tshirt plus arty crushed silk jacket from my closet.

It would be excellent if I could direct you to my PAOM store but their coders lag far behind the curve.  The website sucks. There’s a new version supposedly in the wings but  but but.  When that kink’s smoothed out and I have an organized store I will let out a shout that you will hear.