Monday, January 26, 2009

heaven in six minutes to ten years

what we tend to forget is how narrow the window of opportunity has been for many great accomplishments. for example, a pilot lands a plane on ice in the hudson river. in half an hour he's made a career as a hero. and many a medal of honor winner entered the rolls with a five minute run through enemy lines. 

i mention this cause we often despair. our whole lives have passed and what has it come to? well, it's come to the next five minutes. van gogh created all his paintings in ten years, and the best in the last six. walking through the kroller-muller museum in holland, i passed a case of awful paintings. what were they doing here amidst the masterpieces by van gogh and monet and dozens of others? i had to peer closely to discover they were the first paintings by, yes, van gogh. he started out pretty grimly, let me tell you. who would have thought...?

actually, my favorite story of an artist is the japanese print-maker Sharaku. he created the most realistic kabuki actor portraits of his time (and maybe any other). they didn't find favor, and as far as we know, his career lasted six months, all we have of him surviving from this tiny period. 

how many more can you name? the ode to a nightingale  written in an hour under the tree outside keat's home on hamstead heath. of course, whistler said it took him twenty years to learn to paint a great scene in twenty minutes (and charge a lot of money for it). but how many things don't require a long preparation. mostly, it's a matter of rising to the occasion. 

if you've got a day, a month, a year left, it's time enough. 

here are some new photos. a couple of rambles in chico. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

in search of the tooth fairy

how the devil did dentists weasel out of being covered by medicare? it makes no sense. my doctor says more bacteria released into our system when we floss our teeth than at any other time. last week, a friend had her dentist yell at her for waiting so long to have an emergency root canal ($1500), her face swollen as a pumpkin. "people die of such things."

yes, i've a mouth full of fillings. two molars lost chips and fillings in the last several months. the problems mount up (and the outrageous expenses). what to do?

there is medical tourism. dental work considerably cheaper in mexico. if you don't believe me, google 'tijuana dentists' or 'mexico dentistry'. their doctors well-trained, many with advanced study in the u.s. the bills run one-third of here.

so, i did as i've suggested, and january 5th i had an appointment with as recommended by the brother of a friend. then fate intervened. i house-sat in berkeley for xmas and new year, intending to drive to san diego on the fourth, a place to stay with a friend all set up. alas, all the museum-walking i did during the holidays lambasted my left knee. i'd decided to return to chico to recover before the drive. and as i walked into a cafe with my friend laurie for one last chai latte, a tendon stretched too far and i almost hit the ground.

luckily, i could still drive. back in chico i hobbled around for a few days. laurie found some alternatives: local dental schools. i knew they'd be cheaper (not cheap), students would take a lot more time, the work would be skillfully done, and yet...

okay, to make a long story short, i made an appointment at the uc dental school in san francisco. the student to which i'd been assigned turned out to be a pleasure. and i enjoyed standing up and seeing all the people being examined in little cubicles around me. she called in a couple of specialists who were nearby, older doctors with hundreds of years of experience between them.

yes, the comprehensive exam cost $47 and every tooth in my head got attention, both from her and the faculty doctors. xrays had been taken the day before ($84) and had brought up new problems. at least i finally knew the condition of my mouth. and yes, the treatments will still cost thousands of dollars, my savings taking a big hit.

many people lined up at the dental school to have the treatments they needed. how can they afford even this? and a number beyond my age. what's going on? how the devil did the dentists get out of it?

on the other hand, the museums were wonderful! you can see the pictures here:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

the wine of life

this is the fourth attempt. three times completed blogs have disappeared. now i feel like crying. it could be the wine. i've taken to drinking a glass in evening. if the french live longer...

but maybe it's merely an excuse to forget, a return to childhood, when someone else was paying the bills. (the true source of all addiction). maybe we never really grow up, even if we become responsible adults, sire offspring, dedicate ourselves to the good.

personally, i feel at five years old we were doing what we wanted to do: building mythical cities, acting out worldly dramas, reading books with beautiful illustrations. if we could only recover that impulse and put it action. maybe we would find god in the closet and invent fire.

truly, i avoid longing and popular songs. timothy leary, as he was fading away, said, 'senility is underrated.' and the ancient chinese believed you were blessed if you had a bad memory.

it makes sense. forgetting hurt, you can love again. forgetting failure, you can act graciously in the present. at the same time, when i listen to the recording of my mother recounting my childhood, i feel relieved. yes, i've lived and had a life. or i feel i've been loved, and that's enough.

i've spent my house-sitting xmas going to museums, living in history and watching life imitate art. you can see the results here:

for the new year i wish you nothing but good luck. that's all we truly need.

love, wayne

it all happens at once

the news is such a drag. all it does is give you disasters you can do nothing about. true, it can be entertaining, but more often it's merely disturbing. and most of it is merely speculation about what might happen!

if you read the headlines only, you know all you need to know: BOMBS DROPPED, BABY TRAPPED, HURRICANE HITS THE COAST. the repetition is absolutely maddening.

and the worst thing, it clogs up your ability to think for yourself. at seventeen i decided you either watch tv or do something with your life. i've watched very little since. movies seem to me more true and always shed a bit of enlightenment. have you ever heard anything from a news commentator worth remembering?

as bob dylan said, more or less, 'vague and useless knowledge.'

i'm being cranky cause i suddenly lost the blog i was writing, mainly, i feel, to the news suddenly invading the living room. and yet it's strange, i once found news comforting. it made me feel i was part of the world. yet, i suppose, i resent it will go on without me.

the lost blog described the blessings of forgetting (a chinese concept). when we forget hurt, we can love again. when we forget childhood when all our bills were paid, we can find a way to enjoy being on our own. and timothy leary sad, as he was fading away, 'senility is underrated.' and a nurse friend said, 'bleeding to death is a very pleasant way to go.' all this reverses the common conception.

why be reminded you once wanted to be a movie-star, an astronaut, president? the dream you have today may be the best one of all. you've learned something from life. maybe if you're a terrible, nasty person hated by your family and friends, you'll become a benine buddha thru alzheimer's? it happened to a friend's aunt.

perhaps this year the best you could do is to forget the past. what do you think?

personally, i've been haunting museums during the holiday season. boy, it feels better to remember someone else's history than my own. wouldn't you rather be recalled as a greek statue, a coutire hat, a zen poet?

my wish for you during the new year is the joy of forgetting. turn off the tv and visit an art exhibit. i guarantee it will be good for your soul and your spirit.

and you'll have a happy new year.