Excerpts of this are taken from Ann Lauterbach’s “Or to Begin Again” and emails from my Genetic Counselor

But in the beginning
Let me preface that the doctors all said this was a good idea.
There was a condition, and that condition warranted medication. I was ambivalent.
So..a city of ambivalent people prescribed to focus more. What is there to focus on?
Music class. Music class in the room down the old hallway at the front of which was the front desk.

I remember waking up in pain, a crook in my neck.
A crook, robbing me of the uprightness of my neck.
Emerging from my bedroom, I face my father who assumes that my neck is not suffering the malady but rather it is a problem rooted in my head, a brain tumor.

My father the doctor thought I had a brain tumor.

My father the doctor thought I had, or might have, ADHD.

My father, the doctor, saved my mother’s DNA in a bank in Utah.

My father, the doctor, told me to talk to another doctor.

I talked to another doctor. She gave me ADHD and stuff for the ADHD.

My father, the doctor, told me to talk to another doctor.

I talked to another doctor and she gave me a lecture in (1) TARGET (2) SEQUENCING (3) DELETION/DUPLICATION TESTING.

–STEP (3) “Reverse”

All the information is known. I have the drugs, or I have chosen to not take them. I go to the counselor, the geneticist, the doctor, and the other doctor, who is a nice woman and is not really a doctor, and finally I go to another doctor, who is not really a doctor, because he is my father.

I stumble into their emails or their offices. I tell them my diagnoses.

I change the subject. (ADHD) (Renew)

I cut my breasts off and put them on the table. (Remove)

I delete their emails. (Remove)

I test my DNA for #3: Deletion/Duplication
mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.

Reverse: I pick up the breasts from the doctor’s desk and put them on my chest.

**

A city or a village that is full of crooks. They rushed in
in the middle of the night and robbed everyone of good posture and now everyone in the city or village has a crook in their neck.

The crooks swept in, in the middle of the night. And, like the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene #3 mutation, Deletion or Duplication, they grew out of and into the people’s necks, thus becoming a crook in their necks.

The next morning everyone awoke with a crook in their necks. They walked out of their bedrooms and remarked in the kitchen to each other, “I have a crook in my neck.”

But the doctors, who may or may not have also had crooks in their necks, diagnosed everyone with a crook in their necks in the city or village with either brain or breast cancer, based on their family history and their ability to focus. “Think of the suspense of stages as you mount the stair,” said the doctor, who was, or happened to be, a woman. She instructed her patients with crooks in their necks due to either a duplication or deletion of their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes “now, turning,” she said, “now, following the path,” to make her diagnoses, moving along the outskirts, her poor patients, crab-shouldered, distended.

“Unequal distribution,” she wrote in her notes. Her patients walked back privately whispered in her ears they were afraid to go back to sleep, or rather, that they just couldn’t sleep, because that’s when the mutations must have happened. And also they just couldn’t stop thinking about them.

The doctor, she told her patients that their behavior actually has nothing to do with their condition.

“Time passes.” They look at her, defeated, the “redundancy” of their defeated faces, lopsided on their crooked necks prompting her response,

“What I can offer you is a broad kind of genetic testing, because the likelihood of finding a cancer mutation is lower than a mutation that we don’t know what it means. If you or your family has or had a hereditary susceptibility, your highest risk that the crooks were caused by a mutation is 13-14%, no I mean 40%.”

One of the patients, who also happened to be a woman, began walking home. While walking she called her father, who also happened to be a doctor, and left him a voicemail, part of which said, “These also are not acceptable, not progression. The day has become abstract; I cannot know it.”

Her dad texts her back, “This is an example of natural observable fact.”

And when she gets home she has an email from her doctor, the woman, and in part of the email the doctor has written the same thing — “This is an example of natural observable fact” — but in this case it’s a compliment. She likes her patient. She ends the email with “kudos to you.”

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There’s the smell after rain. We all know it. That asphalt mold, wet tree trunks and steaming soil or oil off the street, it takes me to the backseat of my mother’s red Volvo on our way to buy pie. We never ate pie growing up, why was she buying it? Was she sick yet? Where was my sister? We are stopped at the stoplight at the bottom of the hill we lived on, the intersection with the small white halfway-house on the corner. My dad liked that house, or liked the harmless drama it gave to the neighborhood, always from afar, from the inside of his car. He told me that once. He says shit like that all the time still, and that might have been one of the first – he likes (what he would call if he could call it on himself) pieces of real-life that feel “straight out of central casting.” It’s a useful phrase, descriptive and usually on-point. Then again so much is out of central casting, everything is. Old news. Anyway, my mother is stopped at the stoplight after the rain – no – she and I are crossing the street in downtown San Anselmo, after the rain. And there’s that smell. She is holding my hand as we cross the street. This is a moment splintered and unflinching: I see my foot slowly descending from curb to street. We are walking away from the cigar shop that Dad always bought the Sunday New York Times at. We are walking towards a store on the corner, it sold…I don’t know, I recall it being an open space with two stories, one lofted looking down on the other, and selling furniture, yet also perhaps ballet slippers. But back to that day, stopped at the stoplight beside the small white halfway-house looking at my mother’s silhouetted head from the backseat of her red car, it’s raining and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” is playing on tape – I don’t think it’s happened yet, but soon the pie will spill all over the trunk of Mom’s station wagon and the car will smell like pie and dank rain in a not-good way. Not in a bad way, but not in a delicious way. And sometimes I find that smell again in other places, it’s rare. Mom got pissed and cleaned up the pie. I don’t remember if I was there to watch her clean it up. And I’m not even sure I witnessed her get pissed, or if I even saw the spilt pie in the backseat. But I remember that smell. Hm, I’ve ended on a different smell now. Dank, warm pie in a wet car on rainy day with classical music.

I like Facebook

I like that

I liked when you wrote that

I liked your post

I like when you liked that

I like that

I like Instagram

I like your pic

I like following you

I like trolling the hashtags

I like the hashtag of the goddesses of Joshua Tree

I like the goddesses’ of Joshua Tree’s pics

I like the goddesses of Joshua Tree’s Etsy account

I like all her shawls and weavings

I like 

I’d like to buy them.

I like models on Instagram, I’m not going to lie

I like shopping, but just trolling fashion

I like trolling the goddesses of Joshua Tree more than the models though

I like thinking maybe I’ll be like a goddess in Joshua Tree someday

I used to follow the Instagram account for the drones over Afghanistan

I liked that drone account

but it doesn’t post anymore

and when it does, it’s depressing and redundant.

I like trolling the drone account now, not following.

I like trolling the drone.

I like that Instagram is an incorrectly spelled word with no suggestions in this Word document

I like writing this right now

I like this

I like

I like Pinterest

I like

I like Google

I like Gchatting with Dad

I like thinking maybe the government is trolling my chats with Dad

I like how Dad looks

like the President

I like when people think Dad is Black

I like when it is foggy here in Brooklyn,

like yesterday. Overwhelmingly

I liked the smell and chill of it. It

was like home, it reminded me of the way I walked home late at night some nights alone in the fog

like a 

like a G6

like a cool person going home to a cool place

like a person

like

like a girl going to her dad’s house

like through the park

like beside the park, not through it

like up the hill beside the park.

I like to read a book before I go to sleep.

I like knowing it’s better not to look at a screen before you go to sleep.

 

And yet…

I like trolling the hashtags

I like trolling the hashtags especially before I go to sleep.

My phone tells me to stop, please, it has

like no more room for any more pics.

But I like it.

 

 

Mt. Tamalpais woke in a fit of

indigo across the kitchen window.

At noon it had a clear green face, it seemed

to look down on me at school in the valley.

By dusk she was a navy shape

above the yard again.

                                                     

Light swings from basin to peak.

Wind blows, anxiously.

  

I woke in night’s middle and

walked to my mother’s studio

where an oily Tamalpais rested on her canvas.

While walking back to bed I glanced

through the kitchen glass at her:

a silhouette, looming.

 

In the middle of

the night, in the middle of

the window, I fit in with her

because she is sleeping, historically.

Image

Archeology of Others

A new journal, a new school year, a new puppy, a new purse…a new anniversary. My head is spinning, yet I’m happy and hopeful that when the dust clears this ill be a great time of life.

Sophie is in first grade! Allie is in pre-school! They are both so charming getting off to school with their huge backpacks. Ms. Fleming is going to be good for Sophie. I’ll be working with her on Fridays (which I admit I’m ambivalent – but it’s important) beside I’ll learn some good ideas about art for children. Allie is in love with June her teacher.

Two days a week the house is quiet. Carolla is at college and it’s only Zappa, Spock, & my struggle with painting. I still feel that I have not  reached what I’m searching for — that soft mysterious image, simplified, mystical in its pushingpulling from image to abstract icon. When the mountain becomes a symbol of itself — or its essence — (on and on) I really don’t know what I’m writing about but I do know the way to clarify is to keep working — let each painting finish at what ever level I can — and slowly (or rapidly) I’ll get to IT.

September 20