January 19th, 2006

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When I woke this morning I said to Steve that the side-effects of Taxol are different than AC.  I feel terrible in whole new ways.   Steve said I should write a poem like Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” only title it “Thirteen Ways to Feel Like Crap.”  I thought “Thirteen Ways of Chemo Pain” might be more me.   I felt in the night like acid had been poured down my throat and was eating out my body.  My hands and feet are not comfortable, and I feel pretty generally lousy, and so, it is.  I don’t think I want to write a poem about this.  I’m trying to hold my right shoulder down that keeps popping up to protect me from the next blow.  Lots of fun, and I am a witness.  I am mostly fine and clear, like the weather predicted for today.   

Jane and I talk.  I tell her I am in pain.  I try and write, and will go through what came.  When, you see Jane’s poem, you will see how connected we are, all of us.  I read of Jung and the three stages of alchemy.  Her poem is that, a poem of alchemy, though she had no idea what I was doing or reading.  All she began with was the pain she heard in my voice.

Here is my beginning flow.

the side effects of taxol are different
than those of AC -
I feel lousy in whole new ways
like acid has been poured down my throat
and eaten out my insides -
I feel like a clean toilet bowl
where the squeaks of cleanliness
are squeals of achiness
and my hands and feet feel burned
and charred,
I am burned out, blackened -
I think now of Jung and the three stages
of the alchemical process,
the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone.
I google it and read from this web-site,
a Jungian analysis of the film American Beauty.


First is Nigrego,  the dragon, devil, or blackness.
There is suffering and dissolution.
We are taken apart to understand of what we are composed.
This requires heat.
Next comes albedo, the brightening stage.
Male and female integrate.
The dissolution of nigredo leads to the seeing of the shadow,
the animus, or male,  for women, and the anima, or female,  for men. 
Here we may find the ultimate source of energy, the soul. 
In Rubedo, everything comes together and there is a growing redness,
increasing warmth, and there “is an increasing participation of consciousness,
which begins to react emotionally to the contents produced by the unconscious.”

I continue,  quoting directly from the website named above.

"The growing redness (rubedo) which now follows denotes an increase of warmth and light coming from the sun, consciousness. This corresponds to the increasing participation of consciousness, which now begins to react emotionally to the contents produced by the unconscious. At first the process of integration is a 'fiery' conflict, but gradually it leads over to the 'melting' or synthesis of the opposites. The alchemists termed this the rubedo , in which the marriage of the red man and the white woman, Sol and Luna, is consummated." [15]

(I think here of the work my red and white blood cells are doing right now.  Certainly, they must feel consummation in all this activity.)

"But in this state of "whiteness" one does not live in the true sense of the word, it is a sort of abstract, ideal state. In order to make it come alive it must have "blood", it must have what the alchemists call the rubedo, the "redness" of life. Only the total experience of being can transform this ideal state of the albedo into a fully human mode of existence. Blood alone can reanimate a glorious state of consciousness in which the last trace of blackness is dissolved… Then the opus magnum is finished: the human soul is completely integrated." [16]

Unus Mundus

"Everything good is costly, and the development of personality is one of the most costly of all things." [21]

"The experiential experience of the unus mundus seems to be a transcendent one. The West Nigerians say, 'Only when a man dies does he discover the mystery of life'." [22]


Viewing chemo as an alchemical process is helpful to me.  I finish reading this, and call Jane.

She has her poem.   She says all this in her usual, complete and whole way!

Jane and I feel ever more strongly, how we all are one.  We meet in the collective unconscious, a network of mycelium, from which we mushrooms peek, and speak.




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Jungian Connection!

Jane says,  "Here's our alchemical piece."    Once again, she says it all.

There is a field broad enough to hold all pain.

There we sleep like a spoon against our shadows.

Even at night under the moonlight we are safe.

We feed the hyenas and hawks by hand.

We become our true bright selves.

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Ah Hah!!

Vatican Paper Hits 'Intelligent Design'

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

(01-18) 13:45 PST VATICAN CITY, (AP) --

The Vatican newspaper has published an article saying "intelligent design" is not science and that teaching it alongside evolutionary theory in school classrooms only creates confusion.

The article in Tuesday's editions of L'Osservatore Romano was the latest in a series of interventions by Vatican officials — including the pope — on the issue that has dominated headlines in the United States.

The author, Fiorenzo Facchini, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Bologna, laid out the scientific rationale for Darwin's theory of evolution, saying that in the scientific world, biological evolution "represents the interpretative key of the history of life on Earth."

He lamented that certain American "creationists" had brought the debate back to the "dogmatic" 1800s, and said their arguments weren't science but ideology.

"This isn't how science is done," he wrote. "If the model proposed by Darwin is deemed insufficient, one should look for another, but it's not correct from a methodological point of view to take oneself away from the scientific field pretending to do science."

Intelligent design "doesn't belong to science and the pretext that it be taught as a scientific theory alongside Darwin's explanation is unjustified," he wrote.

"It only creates confusion between the scientific and philosophical and religious planes."

Supporters of "intelligent design" hold that some features of the universe and living things are so complex they must have been designed by a higher intelligence. Critics say intelligent design is merely creationism — a literal reading of the Bible's story of creation — camouflaged in scientific language and say it does not belong in science curriculum.

Facchini said he recognized some Darwin proponents erroneously assume that evolution explains everything. "Better to recognize that the problem from the scientific point of view remains open," he said.

But he concluded: "In a vision that goes beyond the empirical horizon, we can say that we aren't men by chance or by necessity, and that the human experience has a sense and a direction signaled by a superior design."

The article echoed similar arguments by the Vatican's chief astronomer, the Rev. George Coyne, who said "intelligent design" wasn't science and had no place in school classrooms.

Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed in off-the-cuff comments in November that the universe was made by an "intelligent project" and criticized those who in the name of science say its creation was without direction or order.
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In the moment -

In this moment, I am feeling better. Perhaps just speaking the discomfort, helps. The day is lovely, and looking out on sunshine is quite the treat. I warm from within.
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and now -

I do so want to feel well. It is so disheartening to feel so lousy, and I know the heart is courage, so keep it up, and, well, I read this little gem from this web-site:

http://www.portfolio.mvm.ed.ac.uk/studentwebs/session2/group13/taxol.html -

"Taxol is a new anticancer drug that is isolated from taxine, a complex of alkaloids, a natural toxin that causes poisoning by being rapidly absorbed from the digestive tract and interferes with heart action (Feldman et al, 1987). It was found in the stembark of the Pacific yew tree, Taxus brevifolia, found in the north-west Pacific coastal region of the USA, a poisonous, non-resinous evergreen that grows to approximately 50 feet tall. Discovered in 1967 when its antitumour activity against a variety of rodent tumours was noted, its unique mechanism of action led to the development of a new class of chemotherapeutic agents called taxanes."

No wonder my heart is so affected and I feel so achy. When I go to take my shower, and feel I achy I am and see how my feet look, I decide a bath is in order, so I soak softly in the tub, and then, shower, and now, try and muster energy for this day. I want to feel well, and I sit now with how I am, just being, and knowing therein, a shift will come, somewhere, sometime, my way.
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Afternoon -

I had a Rosen session with Karen today. What came up first was how confused I am by all of this. Am I well, or am I sick, and do I really need to know? It is how I am in the moment that matters. I let concern and worry go. Gone!

Also, I feel how hard I am gripping, keeping my back straight, my spine strong. I keep seeing the image of myself crawling out onto land, into some new way of being perhaps, but maybe I can just relax into the sea a little bit longer. Maybe I can rest in liquid curves.

I also felt in the session how very clearly it is true that from death comes life. I could feel the young girl I was, and she is resting there, still, in these bones, just waiting to burst forth, like the flowers in spring. She is here with me; all forms are here with me. I am death and life, young and old. I thought of how mushrooms and worms work to recycle what dies. Jane and I are actively alive in our mushroom network. Worms are active in the soil. I am simply turning over, composting. The chemo may have scraped off my top layer of topsoil a few times, but I have plenty more.

So, I am peaceful, content, restful. I am letting go of striving in this moment. There is nothing to do.

There was a frog in Muir Beach, singing today. The frog symbolizes cleansing. I bathe in thoughts of replenishing, purifying, and filling. I fill. I cleanse.

I read from Louise Erdrich's new book, "The Painted Drum." "Thank you for my existence," is what stays with me. Those words are my comfort right now as the sun drops down behind the hill, bringing night to me, and light to another world.

Vicki returned these words to me from the David Whyte poem, The Faces of Braga. I offer them again.

If only we knew
as the carver knew, how the flaws
in the wood led his searching chisel to the very core,

we would smile, too
and not need faces immobilized
by fear and the weight of things undone.

When we fight with our failing
we ignore the entrance to the shrine itself
and wrestle with the guardian, fierce figure on the side of good.
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Heart Happy!

Petra sends this.

Comfort In Tears
How happens it that thou art sad,

While happy all appear?
Thine eye proclaims too well that thou

Hast wept full many a tear.

"If I have wept in solitude,

None other shares my grief,
And tears to me sweet balsam are,

And give my heart relief."

Thy happy friends invite thee now,--

Oh come, then, to our breast!
And let the loss thou hast sustain'd

Be there to us confess'd!

"Ye shout, torment me, knowing not

What 'tis afflicteth me;
Ah no! I have sustained no loss,

Whate'er may wanting be."

If so it is, arise in haste!

Thou'rt young and full of life.
At years like thine, man's blest with strength.

And courage for the strife.

"Ah no! in vain 'twould be to strive,

The thing I seek is far;
It dwells as high, it gleams as fair

As yonder glitt'ring star."

The stars we never long to clasp,

We revel in their light,
And with enchantment upward gaze,

Each clear and radiant night.

"And I with rapture upward gaze,

On many a blissful day;
Then let me pass the night in tears,

Till tears are wip'd away!

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I smile at the above poem.  How apt!
Steve wants to take me to dinner so I have freshened myself, and put on a lovely sweater and a beautiful necklace and my wig.  My stomach is tender, but I can sit in candlelight and gaze and feast.   Something else that came up today and yesterday is that I feel I am needing to keep growing my heart, expanding it out, to contain all these gifts I am daily given.  It can only be a good thing I realize to have such an experience, and today, I feel as though I am pregnant in my heart, it is so full of love from all of you.  Thank you!!  "Thank you for my existence."   My life is rich!
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Comedy Time!!

For those of you who love Steven Wright, here is a whole bunch of him.

Steven Wright-isms

I planted some birdseed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.

I had amnesia once -- or twice.

I went to San Francisco. I found someone's heart. Now what?

Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.

All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.

If the world were a logical place, men would ride horses sidesaddle.

What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?

They told me I was gullible ... and I believed them.

Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto a freeway.

Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long.

Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

One nice thing about egotists: They don't talk about other people.

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail.

A flashlight is a case for holding dead batteries.

What was the greatest thing before sliced bread?

My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.

The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.

How can there be self-help "groups"?

Is there another word for synonym?

Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all"?

The speed of time is one-second per second.

Is it possible to be totally partial?

What's another word for thesaurus?

Is Marx's tomb a communist plot?

If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?

Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.

It's not an optical illusion. It just looks like one.

Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?