The summer when it seemed that everything was on hold

After viewing the film about the comedian, Tig Notaro, my husband likes to introduce himself in this way, “Hi, I’m Bob, I have cancer.” My husband has stage 4 melanoma. He was diagnosed with Stage 2 in January, but this is an aggressive strain of cancer. After no success with immunotherapy, he started a new protocol two weeks ago; chemo pills that he takes twice a day. He’s lost a lot of weight (cancer cells secrete appetite suppressants) and has days when he exhausted, nauseous, vomits, and can’t get out of bed. Our last road trip was almost two months ago to pick up our son in southern Oregon who needed our care and housing. Our son’s story is a long one that I’m not ready to share here quite yet, but let’s just say that at age 27, with High Functioning Autism, and many gifts that have yet to fully blossom, he requires a lot of support, particularly in relation to medication management. With both of them not able to fully be in the world, my trajectory into the life of summer pleasures has been quite limited, but I am grateful for my garden, our little food forest, and our new meditation sangha that meets in our renovated garage, B & B’s Bad Buddhist Temple. We meet every week and it has been immensely nourishing for all of us. I also get to write, walk, enjoy beautiful weather, friendly neighbors who are always offering support, cook up lots of tasty things to tantalize the family (even if they can’t eat them), paint in my iPad, listen to stimulating podcasts, do Physical therapy for my pseudo-sciatica, get massages every 2 weeks, and generally have a very good life. I can get wistful for a life of traveling, but I remind myself of the climate costs of such an indulgence. If I stay off of social media with everyone’s photos of their journeys, block the borderline personality disordered folks who I seem to be a magnet for, and remind myself that every day is a miracle, I will make it through this threshold somehow.

And, with the upcoming gathering in my studio, “Re-emerge and Reboot,” I get to brainstorm with locals who might be interested in figuring out new strategies for navigating this time, or as my book title says, “Rewilding Our Muses: Creative Strategies for Navigating the End of THIS World.” Perhaps with the help of folks who gather with me, I will sense that the only thing on hold might be my attitude.

Exploring the Quantum

I’m grateful that I created this blog, despite years of ignoring it. Now is the time that I can recommit to sharing thoughts and inspirations here. Hopefully I will be able to channel a flow of sprouting seeds for others to plant. The discipline of posting scraps of thoughts here can help me build the momentum for writing my book. My partner’s cancer diagnosis has made my concentration touch and go, but I recognize that this period is also one of relative stability, so it’s the time to get things moving.

In this vein, listening to an audio book (not my usual) about the quantum: The Quantum Revelation by Paul Levy, has been a fascinating accompaniment to my off & on meditation practice. I see how present moment is all I get to hold and release with each breath. In that same way, I get to hold and release words, allowing them to flow through me so I can learn from them.

Yesterday, my therapist who is also tuned into some psychic realms, said that there was about a year and a half to get the book out before things go to hell. I breathed that in all day and in my dream time. I understood from talking to her that this book will be like stone tablets to guide any survivors of the collapse. I need to take this work seriously. And given the messages I’m receiving via my screens, Inspiring others seems to be the deepest layer of my work now.

The threshold that we sit in as a species requires a complete reframing of time, space, and what we consider reality. Mystics and physicists are joining hands, and artists are essential part of the mix. DaVinci stated that art is the first science…and it’s fascinating to see how that insight has been distorted by capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and all the other oppressive systems. I am so grateful for this time of relative ease to untangle what is happening to us on the ground. My home office is cool and filled with the light of the day, a lush garden is outside my door, my partner is busy making his breakfast in the kitchen, and the sun is shining. The harshness visiting so many today is being kept a bay and I’m going to take advantage of this as long as I can.

Learning about COVID first-hand

Yesterday, I finally tested negative, after over a week of fatigue, then cold symptoms, and finally the loss of smell. At the end of April, I thought my intense fatigue was either caused by our two-week road trip down to southern Oregon and then on to the Bay Area or the doctor reducing my dosage of thyroxine, but it turned out to have another cause. For three days, the cold was accompanying by a somewhat comforting brain stupor (only remediated by binge-watching the last season of Frankie and Grace, followed by Inventing Anna). Once the symptoms dissipated I got tested, and went home to quarantine. My sense of smell only vanished during the last three days, but now the most pungent of my essential oils is clearly registering. What a relief.

People keep asking me if I know where I picked up the germ. It could have been anywhere. Our last restaurant meal during the road trip in Eugene or at an outdoor gathering, dancing in the woods. I spent most of the week before I came down with the illness alone in the studio or in the garden, but there were a few exceptions, and in recent months, I almost always walked unmasked in the hallways of my studio building. My masking indoors had become a bit sloppy…..sooooooo….this is how the virus arrives now. My husband is still testing positive, and he has hay fever and Stage 4 melanoma on top of everything, poor guy.

Now it’s time to get back in the studio after a long hiatus, and to welcome in the crowds this Saturday and 2 subsequent Saturdays as part of my farewell to the space.

MAY 15th

I had a great turnout and deep discussions with folks who joined me in the Merlino studio yesterday. I was exhausted afterwords, but grateful to share work and stories with those who came. I’ll be doing this again next Saturday, and the Saturday after that. In June I will pack up the studio and put much of it in storage in the basement. My new home studio in the renovated garage is complete (other than the floor surface), so I’ll be setting up there to begin a new chapter, slowly but surely this summer.

Marked Urgent: Making Art for Challenging Times

Well, it’s been five years since I posted anything in this blog. Guess that means it was a time where this kind of reflection was not a priority.

Now that I’m back to this realm, I want to use this space with more commitment to share thoughts, links, promote the work of others, and process what I’m working on, whether it be poems, essays, visual projects, performance works, or community art facilitations.