Tuesday, April 14, 2015


*(I took a bad fall while climbing in Joshua Tree a few weeks back and since then, I can not draw; I mean I can put pen to paper but what comes out is another thing. It's distressing but the truth. Just giving you a head's up on this awkward situation.)


Let's just suppose, while I was climbing in Joshua Tree...

(What the heck, what is this? A mime?)

...I had fallen on my head instead of my back...

and let's just suppose I had died instantly, instead of living. And the nurse (at the Palm Springs ER where I ended up) came to collect my brain fragments and she, Nurse Ratchet we'll call her, laid the pieces out on the boulders to dry, and like a meat chart.... 

....she points to sections of the brain intact, and those not intact, and says, See here, see how this frontal lobe is void of the requisite feelings of forgiveness, and this area, where deep empathy resides, is severely deficient ('147 Nigerians dead,' hardly comprehended, but 'He shot puppy, point blank range,' grasped immediately)...
...and appreciation for all the little things and for all the little problems of the everyday, for the people in her life, that center proves to be missing. What do we call that area, it's got a name, it'll come to me....

But here! Take a look! The only part left intact is this area we call the Rattus Callosum. Here she's able to absorb the nuanced comings and goings of rodents. Go figure. But other than that, Nurse Ratchet says while wiping her hands clean, we can pretty much trash the whole thing.


But...but, luckily that didn't happen, I landed on my back first,

...then my head, and rolled backwards down the rocks until a boulder stopped me. My head was surprisingly sturdy, no concussion, and although my back took a beating— couldn't walk and had to be airlifted out— two weeks later I'm walking, and I see people everyday making their way in much worse shape than I. How do people live with such pain, I wonder. No spiritual insights here, I've tried, but the one thought that keeps recurring is how incredibly lucky I was.


Afterwards, in the hospital, while waiting for the test results, my nurse, Nurse Ratchet, casually waltzes in the room and announces, "I know the doctors wouldn't like me telling you this, but they found a tumor in your brain."

Then she turns to my brother, who was with me when I fell, and says, "Oh I heard you were looking for something to eat. I know a place with the most delicious crusty bread! Let me tell you how to get there."

They spend the next 5 minutes talking crusty bread and directions, while I'm thinking, I have a brain tumor?! A Brain Tumor!?! A tumor in my brain?!? What the fuck?!!?

By the time the doc comes in to tell me I'm okay, I'm in a state. He says nothing about a brain tumor. I ask tentatively, "The nurse said something about, uh, my brain?" "Oh that," he says, "nothing to worry about it's called a M_____, totally benign, You'll want to keep an eye on it." And he leaves. 

Where is that horrible nurse? If I wasn't hooked up on morphine, I'd kill her. Oh god, here she comes, she insists I get out of bed and walk. If I don't I won't be discharged. She practically drags me out of bed. I walk only so I can get out of that room with its ringing bells and sobbing family members— someone has died next door, I hear their plaintive calls through the wall.

I must get out of here! 

I make my way slowly down the hall, and not that I want to but I must hold on to this woman, as painful as it is. 

A beautiful older black woman sitting in the hall looks at me and says,

Kindness. Her words sting me with their kindness.

That's the part that's missing. The brain deficiency, what's lacking. I knew it had a name.


  1. oh my god my dear friend. this is all so other-world scary and fucked. i am so glad you are not in the kind of shape you god-forbid could be in, but what youve been through is just horrible. brain tumors. missing synapses or brain fields. loving kindness. (your drawings seem fine, tho…gathered strength as the story unfolded…so that's that…dont worry.) i so wish you lived closer :(

    1. Yes me too! (I would have loved to taste your maple syrup!) I'm on the mend and doing good. So. Very. Lucky. xx

    2. You are lucky. And you are so loved -- and wait, you never even TOLD me about a tumor!! That's what should be missing, sweetie Rattus.