Once again, I am eager to write. Like I was two nights ago. I could almost say I am physically holding back a storming torrent of words wanting to be man-handled by me down on to the page.
Is it because of the date? Bloomsday apparently. A date that passes by mostly everyone without even a corner-lift (of a page, stretching the metaphor here I know) of recognition. But lovely ol' Zed (slight irony intended) did a special tonight, and mentioned that somewhere in the world, hard-core readers collect together to do 36 hour readings of the book. Non-stop Ulysses. That's a wonderful thing I think, the thought of a half dozen or so people gathered together to read a book and bask in its metaphysical beauty. Oh, some context. James Joyce wrote the book Ulysses not long after WWI. The whole book is set over the course of one day, in Dublin. Here's it's wiki.
I remember my ma telling me, many years ago,that there were supposedly less than 20 people alive at any one time who had read and understood Ulysses. And yet it regularly makes Number One in the better 'Best Book' lists. How can a book so unread, so unreadable, be such a great work? Part of it is its ability to offer something new upon each reading. I must buy a copy. I've never owned, nor attempted to scale, Ulysses. I no longer even have his other work, my 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' on my shelf. How can I call myself a reader unless I have at least tried?
But I am off topic. What prompts me to write is that my mum woke up yesterday, blind in one eye. This in a woman who is already without the use of her hands and arms. How do you wake up with half vision and keep on going?
So mum had tests, they wanted to take blood but of course the phlebotomist up on Wickham Terrace could not get a vein. This is just some of the damage done by chemo in the 1970s. I remember as a kid being around these great big blue machines, big boxes in rooms, the boxes made these 'winding up noises', you could tell they were boxes that did something. Not like today's computers that just exist, these were a cross between tech and engine.
They irradiated, that was their job. In Computer Science at Uni this semester we read the case of some similar American or French machine that killed three people when bad programming, well more correctly, insufficient testing, led to massive doses being released if an operator made an error then backspaced to correct it in under a couple of seconds.
Apparently the testers were not as used to the machine as the technicians who used it on live patients, so the error was never detected - the testers weren't fast enough. Bad code led to death by irradiation.
But the blue beasts I spent my childhood playing around gave out smaller doses. Just enough to nearly kill you, to make you want to die, not actually die.
...And across town, well down in Canberra, a great blogger tried to kill himself earlier in the week. I've followed Terry Wright's Australian Heroin Diaries blog for a couple of years. I've always considered his site as a yardstick for measuring what I want to achieve. Of course I've never even come within 5% of his quality, but I'm glad that there's someone out there doing it. And the fact that he can write so openly and honestly about his suicide attempt, that he can describe himself as a failure for not achieving death, only illustrates to me his skill as a writer, not his lack of skill as a suicide.
I'm loathe to put his domain here, as he does so well what I fail at. But I guess while he covers the news on gear, I can focus on my selfish emotional response to the drug. And that's a huge part of the whole gabo debate that isn't covered. Why take it? I know there's a different answer for each user, but every bit helps. I first used the afternoon I walked out of my last Uni exam after a gruelling three years of more-than-full-time study. Basically I pushed a young body too hard, and I still pay for it - somewhere in the vicinity of $600-$1000 per week.
And while I get stoned, my mum adapts to life with 50% vision. And the one that's left was not her good eye. The one that's left is the one they stick a needle into every month to lower pressure. I spoke with her tonight over dinner,
"You're so brave mum."
"I know." she smiled back.
How can I justify self-medication whilst she troops on? As dad emailed me this morning, in amongst so many other life-threatening procedures and maladies, losing an eye is not such a big thing.
I'm glad she's my mum, I can think of no better role model.