August began (actually late July ended) with steroids. It was a weird regimen. I started with 6 pills for 3 days, then 5 pills for 3 days, and so on. It wasn’t until later in the week that I realized the pharmacist hadn’t given me enough pills. But after I explained it to them, they gave me the extra 6 without a problem.
The Acoustic Duo has had some gigs, but I haven’t gone to them. It’s better for me to use that time for myself. It’s not that I do much, but I also don’t have to be ‘on’ with hosts, fans, etc.
The National Poetry Slam happened. The San Diego team made it to semi-finals, but couldn’t get past Slam New Orleans.
D turned 17. Wow. I didn’t see her as I went up to my parents’ house to see them and to see my sister and nephew who were visiting. The drive up on Friday night was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced. There was traffic, but when there wasn’t, all the cars were going different speeds, like drastically different. In one lane, around 40 mph, in another 80. It was rough. Sandy & T had gone to the Eminem & Rhianna concert in Pasadena. They got back around 1 am, and we chatted a bit about it then went to bed.
On Saturday, Sandy & I took Dad to dialysis, then the rest of us went to lunch at El Cholo. It was super yummy, as always. My mom is under strain with the accident of N. At the time, he was either still in the hospital or had recently been moved to a facility. Since then, he’s able to be at home, but his personality has definitely changed. He is being really mean to my mom and to his sister, which is obviously very hurtful to both of them. I feel so very bad for my mom. I can’t imagine ‘losing’ a close friend in such a traumatic way. And it’s extra hard because he’s the same otherwise. There’s nothing physically wrong with him. It’s his brain, his wiring has been screwed up. So I’m sure they have some hope that he will be the same as he was, but I fear that is not in the cards, at least not anytime soon. Plus, he was always really helpful for her and my dad when they needed things done around the house. He was always ready to help, so that’s not something they can really rely on anymore. Not to mention just the friendship they had. It’s just really a terrible situation. So sad.
Back to the visit.
On Saturday night, Sandy & I went to see “The Hundred-Foot Journey.” She had already seen it, but she liked it so much, she was happy to see it again. It was a wonderful movie. Really pretty, a great & sweet story. I was glad I saw it.
On Sunday, things weren’t so good for me. I started to get a migraine almost immediately after I woke up. I went back to bed. I had breakfast (my appetite was still good). I went back to bed. Later, the family had a serious conversation that made me sad. I fell asleep in the recliner in the living room for a couple hours. I was planning to leave around 7 pm.. We had dinner, which was really good, but almost immediately after, I felt pretty bad. The headache had never really gone away. My brain felt foggy. I went to bed. After about an hour or so, I got my stuff together, and we went outside to take some photos. Any family who reads this, I apologize because those pictures of me are probably terrible. They asked if I could drive. At that point, I felt like a zombie. They said that I should probably stay. I went back inside and promptly had a panic attack. I have no idea if they knew that that was happening. I was crying, hyperventilating, and felt like it could on forever. I called Han who talked me through it until I had calmed down enough to drive. I said my goodbyes and drove home.
Then it was right back to work the next day where it has been super stressful. But I’ve been going to see the kitties every Monday. I went to an open reading on Tuesday that was okay. On the 13th, I took the last pill of the prednisone.
On Friday, I went to the Casbah to see a poet friend perform. He was on tour with a couple bands, and he did short poetry sets before each one. He lives in Texas now, but was from Long Beach which is where I met him almost 20 years ago! It was great to see him and to hang out.
That Sunday, I hosted my reading at Java Joe’s. It’s the dog days of summer, so even though people on FB said they’d come, there ended up only being 2 poets and one listener. It was great that they were there, but still a bit disappointing.
On Tuesday of this past week, I went to an open reading at Rebecca’s. It was awesome! There were so many people and all fairly good. I didn’t get called until late in the reading, but I know that people stuck around to hear me, which was great.
On Wednesday, I had a co-feature (for those of you who don’t know, at open readings, each poet gets about 5 minutes at the most. If there’s a feature poet, they get about 20 minutes). My co-feature was with my dear friend, Robt, another person who I’ve known for close to 20 years. We don’t get to hang out much. He lives up in North County and he works a ton. It was wonderful to see him, to hear him and to be around him. Another old friend, Jimmy Jazz, was in the audience, too. It was a good reading. I had finished a couple new poems that I read which seemed to have been well-received. Han couldn’t go because he had a gig at the Belly-Up that night.
On nights that I’m home and Han isn’t working, we’ve been watching Aaron Sorkin shows. We finished West Wing last month. Then we watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (it was only one season). Now we’re re-watching The Newsroom, which will start its third and final season next month. So good.
Yesterday, Friday, I made a new recipe. Baked stuffed chicken breasts (yummy) and a cold green bean salad. Tonight I made a meatloaf and au gratin potatoes.
Today has been quite lovely. Quiet. I did laundry, wrote a letter, and played a lot of Candy Crush. I started a new book, The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje. I’ll start the last Harry Potter book on September 1. I’ve also watched TV and just tried to relax.
When I checked Facebook a few hours ago, I saw that Sandy had challenged me to do the ice bucket challenge. It’s a social media trend happening now where people around the world, regular people and celebrities, dump ice water on themselves to raise awareness for ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease). The idea is to get people to donate to the ALS Association. It’s working. They’ve raised $62.5 million as of today. It’s phenomenal. Of course I’ve watched several videos, including the “fail” ones (why would you stand under a deck and trust small kids to dump the bucket correctly?), but I honestly didn’t think I’d get challenged. Now that I have, I’ll tell my story about what I know about ALS.
My sister said on her blog that she’d heard of the disease but didn’t really know what it was or knew anyone who had suffered from it. Unfortunately, I am fully aware of it and knew someone who had it. Eric Lowen was a singer songwriter and founding member of a duo from Los Angeles, Lowen & Navarro (Dan Navarro was the other member). I met them through Han at one of the Folk Alliance conferences I went to in the late 90s. They played at my house concert for 2 nights in September 2001 before 9/11. It was magical. Their best known song is “We Belong” which was recorded and became a huge hit for Pat Benatar, but their songs were recorded by a lot of other big names, and they also performed everywhere. They had a crazy schedule and they were well-liked, well-respected, and they were just great guys. Eric was a tall Nordic character. Dan is shorter and dark (think Dave Navarro of Red Hot Chili Peppers & Jane’s Addiction – I think they’re cousins). They both were amazing songwriters and always super entertaining. Eric was diagnosed with ALS in 2004. They kept touring as long as they could. I think the last time I saw him was in 2007 at Russ & Julie’s 10th Anniversary house concert where the Acoustic Duo was performing as well as Lowen & Navarro. It was shocking to see and hear about the changes Eric went through. From performing as he always did to not being able to play guitar, to not being able to stand, to eventually not being able to sing in 2009.
Through a friend of his here in San Diego and with Dan’s support, I hosted two fundraisers for Eric’s trust. The first was in 2008 and the second was in 2010. Through ticket sales, I was able to give the trust that was set up in Eric’s name to help his family pay for his care a combined total of $4,425. It was really gratifying, a way to help. Eric passed away in 2012.
I watched this video tonight. It was on Upworthy. I think it’s funny and sad and devastating. He lives in Temecula.
So Sandy, thanks for challenging me. I don’t know if I’ll do the ice water on my head (there’s a lot of conversation about the waste of water, especially here in CA), but I’ll be making a donation.
Until next time!