What was the thing….?

What was the thing I was going to write about? It was political and cool and something I’ve been meaning to say. It’s has slipped. Is this the Lupron? Faulty memory as a structure, a device.

In the meantime, keeping busy.


Beto, get off the counter

As the Beto backlash finally begins, I find myself glad of it.

I didn’t follow him closely during the midterms, but I heard about how much people loved him. Running against Ted Cruz, hated by just about everyone, Beto has been praised by only losing by 3%. I get it that Texas is deeply red these days, but I don’t know how a guy everyone loves lost to a guy that everyone hates. But ok, I was still feeling good about him.

As the counterpoint to Trump’s El Paso rally, I thought Beto was pretty great. Local guy, former politician, dressed down, hyped up, expressing a more attractive message… he seemed like a perfect fit.

Considering him as a Senate candidate, how does he beat Cornyn if he couldn’t pick off Cruz? He must agree, since he skipped that offer.

As a presidential candidate, standing on a counter in a small cafe in rural Iowa — yikes. You’re already taller than everyone, dude. Get off the counter. We don’t need to be craning our necks to look up at you.

In the 2008 democratic primary, I went to the polls thinking about Obama and Hillary. Two historic choices. But I was also thinking about Biden. After 9/11, Biden seemed like one of the few bold voices, willing to stand up against the Republican war machine.

I walked out of the polling place shaking my head, asking myself if this isn’t how racism and sexism works. I had gone to the polls wondering whether I would cast a historic vote for a black man or a white woman. I left having voted for Biden.

I vowed never to let internalized racism and misogyny win my vote again.

In the 2020 democratic primary I hope I have the opportunity to vote for any one of a number of diverse candidates, and I’ll be checking myself for the kind of thinking that might try to convince me that none of them are good enough.


Bokashi Dog Poo

Anaerobic pet waste composting using the bokashi cycle system. The waste pickles underwater with the help of bacteria and fungus. After several weeks, the pickled waste is buried in the local soil. It functions as a soil amendment for ornamental gardens.

Surface growth after a few weeks. 

Surface growth after a few weeks. 

Eunuchs, Castrati, Spadones

I’ve been doing some research on these fellows. My cancer treatment is chemical castration, which precipitates me into this distinguished milieu.

Somehow I never fully considered what castration really is. Metaphorically, sure, but practically, I didn’t think actual removal of the penis would have ever been a common practice.

Turns out, I was wrong.

The “Greater Seal” castration, meaning both penis and testicles.

The “Greater Seal” castration, meaning both penis and testicles.

To Lupron or not to Lupron

I saw the cancer doc a week or two ago for my quarterly check up. PSAs are still low. Cancer undetectable. Lupron, the treatment that seems to be working for me, is a hormone suppressant. It keeps my body from producing any androgens. No testosterone for me. The technical name for this treatment is chemical castration. I am eunuch, castrati, spado.

The side effects are totally gnarly. Loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, atrophy of the penis, urinary dysfunction, hot flashes, breast growth and tenderness, bone density loss, cognition and memory decline, loss of muscle strength, joint aches and pains, fatigue, weight gain, depression and emotional distress, loss of body hair.

I have all of these symptoms. Every single one. These are the side effects of an effective cancer treatment. My cancer is undetectable, but I have all these other issues.

I have a choice. I can stop the Lupron. I can refuse the treatment. My cancer doc doesn’t recommend it. If I stop the treatment, my cancer is likely to come back.


Sustainable heat?

It needs to stay at or above 130F for 5-7 days straight to reliably kill seeds. Which is important since this pile is all weeds and cardboard.


Empty Morning

I was working everyday

In my garden until today

Now I don’t know what to do

So I’ll sing this song for you.



When the MegaMillions was the biggest ever, something like 1.5 billion dollars, I considered buying a ticket. I have never purchased a lotto ticket before. I think of the lotto as a kind of hope tax on the poor. I’ve never had a lot of money, but I could never bring myself to admit that my best chance for being wildly wealthy is the lottery.

My mom is the lotto ticket buyer in our family— she’s the lucky one. I always figured that if we were supposed to be rich, the money is safest in her hands.

My thinking started to change a couple of years after my cancer diagnosis. I’d made it through the macabre period of expecting to die. I had survived radiation, my cancer had become undetectable and I was ready to start feeling better. Except that didn’t happen.

My energy levels continued to tank. I wasn’t eligible for long-term disability at my job, but toughing it out wasn’t working. My job reviews read like a list of Lupron side-effects. When I lost that job I had to go live with family. My other choice was homelessness.

That’s when I started thinking about the MegaMillions. I really thought it through. I read articles about how winning the lottery ruins your life. I realized that being that rich must be a full time job. The only career I’d ever really aspired to was teaching artist. I would have been more than content with a regular paycheck that made buying a house someday and getting a new car every decade or so realistic.

I don’t know any rich people, but I talked about it with my family. My mom is from that generation of boomers who believe that their successes are the result of their own hard work, good character and exceptional ability. I love my mom. I think she’s great. She worked very hard and is smart as hell. She treats her wealth as though it’s what she deserves. My brother said if he won, he would just spend it all doing whatever he wanted. Eventually he agreed to give me a small stipend if I wasn’t too much of a dick to him.

I thought about what I would do with all that money. I decided that if I were very rich, I would endow a chair in my mother’s name. I might fund an artists’ residency. Maybe start a non-profit to support vermicomposting in every American home. Mostly though, I figured out that being that rich would mean meeting with bankers and investors and brokers and all the other kinds of people that I never wanted to meet or be. But worse, I’d have to find ones that I could trust.

The most seductive part of the exercise was thinking of how it would change my story. Rather than being a failed college art professor who got cancer, didn’t die but whose life went to shit anyway, the MegaMillions would make me into into someone who….

I never bought the ticket.


I weed, I dig.

I try to spend as much of my time outside as possible. I’ve never really been an outdoorsy person, but maybe I am now. At night I lie in bed thinking of what needs to get done tomorrow in the garden. I think of water and the weather, soil temperatures and germination timings.

In the days mostly I weed. I dig. I take breaks. Lots of breaks between digging and weeding. I have this strange pain in my hands. They ache. All the time. They never feel normal. They hurt enough to wake me up while I sleep. My hands feel swollen. But they tingle like they are asleep. The pains are sharp in the palms, as when I cat/cow for spinal flex.

I wonder if I am dying. If this is some symptom. Probably it’s not, but the last time, it was.


Desert Garden

The raised beds are mostly planted. The potato trench is dug. The wildflower meadow is seeded and watered.


Inspiring Political Idea

The most inspiring political idea that I’ve heard recently is the multiracial, multiethnic coalition. As I understand it, this is simply the idea that the basic principles of the USA (i.e. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness) be applied to all people equally.

Evidently, there has never been a society on earth that treated all people equally.. Every evidence points to core American principles being applied only to white, landowning men, while women, poor and people of color are subjugated.

The first African slaves were brought to North America in 1619 — a year before the Mayflower. There has never been a period of American prosperity, freedom or experience that didn’t involve the subjugation of black and brown skinned people.

It’s time for white supremacy to die. The great American experiment continues — can we extend core American principles equally to all people?

First of all, one thing that I think it always important to say here is that a genuinely multi-ethnic, multi-racial pluralistic egalitarian democracy has never been brought forth on this Earth ever. So the project that is being pursued here, the thing we’re trying to build, literally there’s no model for it.
— https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/how-bad-it-really-ezra-klein-evaluates-life-trump-era-ncna886496


Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens moved my thinking in significant ways. If I were still teaching, I would be tempted to assign it as the text book for all my classes. Simply hearing a coherent, non-religious narrative about what humans have been doing on the planet is mind-blowing.

Thinking about how narratives, storytelling, fiction, lies — these are the mechanisms of cognition that distinguish homo sapiens from other genus of homo. All of those millennia, under the stars around the fire, telling tales — it’s our great evolutionary strength.



spado noun

spa·do | \ ˈspā(ˌ)dō\

plural spadones\ spāˈdō(ˌ)nēz , spəˈd- \

Definition of spado

1: a castrated man or lower animal

2: an impotent person