To the doctors again, I loaded the car with the wheelchair and its 

inhabitant and the inhabitant’s 62-year marriage distracting mate.

My dementia-ravaged mother’s caretaker naturally came along.

She and I lifted my mother’s stiff resisting 95-pound taut body high

into the van, me pulling from the seat above, she pushing from

the cement driveway below, the two of us nearly thankful she has 

wasted to such an accommodating weight, making the task feasible.


On her wedding day, she was 95 pounds, so my father repeats to

anyone who will listen, including the new neurologist who observes,

examines my mother while my father offers his opinions in a blared

recital of facts: “She was an English Major and wrote a thesis on, on…

Saul Bellow. It’s in Long Beach in the school somewhere. She was a

good wife. The best you could ask for. But you never know how much

you have in a person until she’s gone.” And so goes his secular litany.


Struggling not to once again remind him that she hears and is alive

and beat down the growing irritation, I explain that she fractured 

her shoulder somehow while in a nursing home and so protects it.

The doctor nods, hmmm’s and continues manipulating my mother’s

rigid limbs, tries to uncurl her fingers long-ago cemented into C’s.

She murmurs her observations in one word confirmed diagnoses: 

“Spasticity…atrophy…tremors…neuropathy…” as she plies tissue.


My father answers, “Her left arm doesn’t work at all,” when the 

neurologist inquires about body movement, and I snap, “Not true.”

I shush him a few times as his need grows to run the show, talk to 

someone who will hear what he repeats like a skipping vinyl record, 

evoke sympathy from new flesh (the same old audience tires), 

release nervousness or some other cause of his inaccurate, 

inappropriate and irrelevant comments–and I immediately soften.


He needs so much too, but then he has always stolen more from her.

The pink and blue light sabers clash in stinging zaps inside my body.

She is a White Walker sans the unstoppable malice, with bones 

for a face and fallen flesh failing to disguise human skeleton, I muse.


In the car trip to the office, she sneezed, and I marveled at her voice,

the familiar sound of her reflex, which flooded me with spinning

memory flinches of every moment I had ever heard it, pouring

gooey thick amniotic washing into the bones of my sense of time

and destination, the immediate and outward, unknown, unseen.

In Arabic death ritual, relatives painstakingly and lovingly wash the
corpse to send it onward in its journey while leaving blessings behind.


But the miasma of missing Mom living right before my eyes, mouth,

nose, ears and skin, who I touch and purr to and who sometimes

gaping-mouthed, wild eyed, crazy-toothed, lopsided smiles at me with

oh-my-God-of-the-moment recognition, cherished, ecstatic familiarity 

and connection for us both, confuses us, me, who churns with the incongruity 

and daze of seeing him well enough to complain, repeat the same jokes and other 

grating, mindless habits he has long held, and just as long refused to change–


and yet see him as short-term too, gone in a cardiac flash or in interminable dribs

and drabs of life-leaking, irrefutable, genuine  horror for him, me, everyone but 

the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians and equipment and drug 

manufacturers who gain from decay, his, theirs and ours, the dying.


At home, I hear the wheelchair wheels squeak by as my 20-year old

10-months now concussed daughter, chair-splayed, giggles at the electronic 

buzzes emitted from her palm’s worship, the small God of life she knows, 

my mother never knew, its advent arriving too late, my father acknowledges

then glances away from, its mystery blinding, and I know far too well, prey to 

its opiates, but not enough to forego profit and sneer nor succumb to its disease.

Shall we call this nature and proceed with a sun-spreading daylight’s delivery?



In Patience…


…We wait.

For doctor calls,

nurse triage,

pharmacy fills

hospital beds

pressing 1,

then 3,

then 0,

then more numbers

and more

and more

and more

and then a voice

another voice

and then

a dead end.

Start over.

A doctor,

we need

a doctor


the wall

of admins

like fortresses

hide them

protect them

in gall.


to live

beyond the

chains of care

of health-









I suffer from insomnia, always have. My brain either does not shut down at night or does not stay shut. It is not a constant condition but revisits often enough to make me miserable.

The usual cycle begins when I divert, even slightly, from my regular sleep and awakening time. For instance, if I work a night shift on one job and then teach an early class at the other, I lose sleep. By the time I settle down to sleep, it’s late and my optimal 7 hours of sleep is down to 6 or fewer. And too little sleep one night does not result in a guaranteed better night the next. In fact, the opposite is usually true. I get over-tired, making sleep impossible when I am wide awake from having gone through too many tired hours.

Ordinarily, I fight insomnia with sufficient exercise, healthy diet and strict sleep times. Sometimes months pass without a bout. But lately–the last two years lately–I am not able to avoid it even with careful attention.

I am not one to medicate. Yes, I like a glass of wine with dinner and a cold IPA after a long week, but pharmaceuticals I avoid. Most sleep aids leave me with a hangover and homeopathic remedies have not proven successful for me to date. And every one knows alcohol disrupts sleep when the effects wear off during the night.

A friend donated “medicinal” marijuana to me for the cause a while ago, which helped me sleep during some of those insomnia episodes. After high school, pot stopped being fun since it only made me fall asleep, a condition I wanted to avoid most of my life. But now, that is just what the doctor ordered–literally.

I visited a pot doctor and a dispensary today to get a “recommendation” and “medicine.” It was rather surreal to this old girl who has not purchased pot since 1977. I had heard about the different varietals and experienced the potency surge–like pot on steroids–but I was amazed at the various applications, combinations and methods to use this plant once purchased simply as a dime bag for ten dollars that yielded either good stuff or bad.

The dispensers at the dispensary were quite informed and professional, affording me samples and sniff tests to entice my discerning nose to the subtleties in aromas. And though I sniffed and nodded, I had to confess to total ignorance.

“Just give me something that will make me sleep–the entire night–and still allow me to teach a 7:20 a.m. class as a human not a zombie, ” I requested. After all, this was the purpose, the reason for this trip and experiment for a cure or at least relief.

“Girl Scout Cookies,” she replied, and I went home with my Rx bag of enough medicine to last me for the next one hundred bouts of insomnia or my lifetime, whichever comes first.

I must say, the number of tweaks to whatever you eat, smoke or apply is mind boggling. There is something for whatever ails you, and not merely back pain, insomnia, stomach ache, anxiety, depression and soreness. There’s even a recommended varietal for writer’s block (or was a I sold a bill of goods?).

You can spray cannibis oil on affected areas of muscle pain or rub in ointment if preferred. You can eat candies, cookies or marshmallow puffs, according to the literature I perused while at the “shop.” You can quarter, halve or pop a whole cookie in your mouth depending on your tolerance for THC, cannabinoids or late night sugar snacking.

According to my doctor, the edibles are best for sleeping through the night but not the heavy bodied indica types that leave residual hangovers (though all of them can in the wrong dose). Hybrids seem best. But timing is everything with those, not so good with an unpredictable work schedule or late night shifts. Who has the extra two hours to wait or gumption to eat pot at work? Not me.

We’ve come a long a way from pot brownies, I guess.

Curious about why California, the earliest leader of pot legalization, is late on the bandwagon behind Colorado, Washington and Oregon (D.C., maybe too), I researched and found politics, money and petty bickering between purists and pragmatists, both vying for the initiative that will finally win the day after failed attempts in 2010 and prior. As it stands, the 2016 initiative, California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which is finally down to only one initiative–so far–is still gathering solidification and blessings from grandfather NORML and political power ReformCA, two big backers of pot legalization.

Hopefully, sensible law will win the day, one that de-criminalizes marijuana use completely, not in some half-assed mock health law, though I am not knocking the compassionate care legislation that gave real patients medical marijuana relief. I suspect some of my fellow office visitors at the doc’s today just wanted to recreate, and so played the sick card. The farce should end.

As for me, I’m playing the guinea pig and research subject (this whole experiment is merely for research purposes and a good story, right?). Stay tuned for updates.