Archives for the month of: June, 2008

Originally uploaded by Lynn Park

I’ve interviewed two women for the home health-care worker position; a third, who worked for me briefly when I came home from the hospital last August, didn’t call or show up for her appointment. I started out thinking it was a done deal that I’d offer her the job.

Until, that is, I interviewed Anita yesterday. She was running late, called to let me know. I didn’t chafe or get irritable. Finally she showed up, with a retarded young woman she takes care of from mid-Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. There hadn’t been time to see me between her morning job and this one so, rather than not see me, she brought her charge along.

We had clicked on the first phone visit when I’d asked her if she had a sense of humor and then wished her the Southern benediction–“Hot dayum”–and a sense of rightness deepened when we met in person. I knew I still had two interviews to go–and nonetheless last night and today “Anita” whispered itself over and over in my ear.

The woman I interviewed today was lovely, very professional, an Afghani whose English was good but not so good that I would be able to speak quickly or casually. I’d be worn out in an hour from the effort of having to accommodate myself to her comprehension level. Talk about feeling worn down and constrained!

Anita. Anita. Anita. “I’d like to offer you the job.” She was so happy she got teary, she had prayed so hard, she would take such good care of me. Someone to take care of me.

And my heart is singing. I thought it would be so hard to find someone to replace Judith. No one can “replace” Judith: she is as idiosyncratic and dear to me as is Brenda. Truth be told, sometimes it was as difficult with Judith as it was good, though the good usually won out. But now maybe it’s time for someone to take care of me.

Note: The photograph “Open” can be found in my photostream at


Come in
Originally uploaded by Lynn Park

Still feeling my way with the newness of blogging, sensing into the difference (or what will be the difference for me) between blogging and journaling, noticing my desire to play with my new toy all the time, which is not the point and would surely after the fact bore me and any reader. But an excitement nonetheless.

My first take on the blogging/journaling distinction is that blogging is ideas and journaling is feelings, to put it broadly, but for me ideas are feelings and feelings are ideas. The tricky part is where other people come in. How much will I feel free to write my feelings–okay, my negative or critical feelings–about other people? I think the key point will be to reference the other person and then to go beyond that person or situation, to allow myself a longer view through an exploration (guided or not!) of where this going beyond, which is the essence of process, takes me.

“The fire and the rose are one.” That’s what process offers the apparent contradiction between privacy and expression, too much disclosure or impenetrable resolve. And I’m getting the sense that one way my writing got stuck, or derailed, in the past was by being too interior. I was trying, with all my heart, to limn my subjective experience–and to break out of that I would do “writerly” exercises involving the outside world. But somehow that didn’t do the trick, probably because I had no vital connection to the slice of the outside world I chose to write about.

But now, with my photograph as a kind of liminal object, something feels different. For example, the picture of the open door speaks to the situation around Judith’s leaving, and much else. I don’t necessarily have to write about that “much else” here, at this moment, to have it resonate in what and how I write and in how I come to the writing.

Note: The photograph “Come in” can be found in my photostream at

Cool, clear water
Originally uploaded by Lynn Park

I’m wearing myself out. This is what I need: cool, clear water; ease; rest–and it’s not what I’m feeling. I blogged this directly from Flickr, which is good in that I can see the image I’m working with, but I don’t know how to change the image size or position.


Note: The photograph “Cool, clear water” can be found on my photostream at

Gaudi in Oakland?
Originally uploaded by Lynn Park

I lost this picture when I edited “I’m Pissed.” Now I’ll have to settle for having it right above that entry. This blogging is hard shit.

Note: The photograph “Gaudi in Oakland?” can be found in my photostream at

BlogSpot won’t let me download a picture–and the first two were so easy. I don’t know if I’m doing something wrong, and I don’t know what I’m doing, and this whole blogging thing is siphoning energy off from photographs and Flickr. I don’t want to make a fool of myself.

But I kept with it and I figured it out. This time I picked out a picture at random–“zen in the art of fortune cookies”–“Gaudi in Oakland?” The first thing I see is that the reflection isn’t smooth, that there’s a distortion that wiggles wavelike across the surface. I know that I deleted two American flags because they didn’t fit the composition.

It hit me a few minutes ago that my building sense of unease, of urgency about what and how to write has something to do with Judith’s leaving. She has two days left, plus bringing Miss Lily by here on Monday and the one day she’s getting paid for that she won’t have worked yet. And I’m worried about who will reflect me? Who’ll be there on an almost daily basis to see me and hear me pretty much no matter what I do and without my having to go through social nattering to set it up. I’ve come to depend on her, to know myself through her eyes and count on the relief of not having to keep everything bottled up. Don once a week and Janet every two weeks isn’t enough; each one goes deep and is valuable, but as an “all” or an “almost all” it’s pretty skimpy rations. And I’m scared. I don’t want to go back to the place where I feel like I’m the one who has to take all the care of myself. Brenda and Christina both can listen magnificently, when I really need it, but it’s not the same thing as Judith here, difficult as that can be sometimes.

Feel like I’m getting wordy–but at least I did get on to something, that this antsiness about the blog is somehow related to Judith’s imminent “official” departure. That’s something.

For a second there I thought the type was going to have to start under the picture, and I definitely wanted wrap-around text.

It’s 7:30 and I haven’t done anything with Flickr, but that’s kind of fun, to have more than enough. This could be where I learn how to do illustrated books.

The original text is “If your eye offends you, take it out,” but I’m remembering what Donald used to say about taking offense–how much of the problem started there–and thinking how I don’t look at my own experience the same way I look at the detritus I see on the street, the worn surfaces of buildings, the broken windows and defaced storefronts that I find so fascinating and so visually appealing. I thinking about some of the rundown areas of MacArthur Boulevard, where I would so much like to take pictures but where I am afraid my presence would be seen as intrusive or offending condescension, where I would be an “other” come to use the stuff of people’s poverty and misfortune in a way that is perceived as insensitive. I don’t know how I would say, “But let me thank you. I see such beauty here, beauty alongside and in the presence of the hardship and the public/private pains you are right to tell me not to assume I can appropriate without understanding.”

I know the eye I carry with me makes my Paratransit trips through “bad neighborhoods,” derelict sections of town, often a delight because I am able to see without judgment. “Back alleys and formal beauties”: the phrase that came to me at the laundromat in Berkeley all those years ago. “If thine eye be whole.” Maybe I can come to let myself extend this same kind of interested appreciation to how I work, what I’m going through–all the issues of aging, and weight, and loneliness, intensified as they often are by the borderline–by extending a benign eye upon myself. Somehow “a thousand years are as a day in your sight” fits in here too.

Note: The photograph “One open eye” can be found in my photostream at
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Hooray! I figured out how to send a picture from Flickr to the blog. Was thinking I’d have to get somebody to show me, but again, I did it myself, I taught myself.

This is the BART steps at the 12th Street Station in downtown Oakland. I’m looking between railings that go across the top, fitted the lens in between. The wall actually is a much duller color and, if the photograph hadn’t shown it, if it weren’t there to be pulled out, I would have sworn there was no reflection. I like that the diagonal doesn’t slice the picture plane into two equal halves, if only because that means I can send it to the Dissymmetry pool on Flickr.

Something bright and hopeful about this. Though the picture has the feel of a descent, it is a descent to the right, and if it’s this bright “near land,” close to the top, what lies below has to be wonderful. There is quantitatively “more” in the world because this picture exists, and qualitatively too.

Note: The photograph “BART handrail” can be found in my photostream at

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The title–The Benign Eye–comes from my next book of photographs; the first, a gift to me from Janet Ference, was True Vision.

I was talking to Paul Fromberg yesterday and said I’ve noticed that my photographs aren’t angry. Even when I’m upset or worried, there’s a kind of calm in the image. I can even take pictures of things that aren’t “pretty” and find beauty there. For a long time I’ve thought about the eye of Northern Renaissance art, how deep is (in photographic terms) the depth of field. To me that bespeaks a kind of equaminity that is worth pursuing, even if it cannot be chased, particularly because it cannot be chased.

I don’t know how this blog will evolve–I hope at times I’ll find myself writing into discovery. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. And I hope I won’t write “for” some phantom audience. I know that hasn’t been a problem at Flickr. In fact, as I’ve gained the friendship and praise of people whose work I value highly, I find myself more free, less constrained by “What will people think?” or “Am I putting it right?” It will be interesting to find out if I can do the same thing with matters of life and faith, aging and the body, borderline and loneliness–as well as the little purple flowers I find on the left-hand side of the path that I take up the mountain, away from the golden city that lies far across the desert floor.

I would like to include a photograph, probably “BART Handrail,” with this first entry but I can’t figure out how to attach pictures.