Saturday, April 29, 2006

Carl Strock ON TBI-- not!

Carl Strock is a tri-weekly columnist for The Daily Gazette newspaper published in the Schenectady New York area. Recently, his The View From Here column [4/26/2006, Local Section, page B1] addressed traumatic brain injury or tbi. This particular column is pure Carl Strock, frustrated whistle-blower and attacker of those who publickly disagree with him without doing their proper homework beforehand.

TBI or not TBI: That is the Question unintentionally demonstrates the plight of folks living with a very real disability that some other folks are reluctant to recognize. Insurance companies have certainly proven to be among the reluctant in practice even if not in theory. Carl Strock accepts the conclusions of two IMEs without question in the case of a fireman disabled by tbi. The hired guns who authored the two IMEs naturally found the patient to be just ducky.

The acronym IME stands for Independent Medical Examination and it is a misnomer. IMEs are not independent, medical, nor are they true unbiased examinations. They ought to be renamed Insurance Company Exams for that is what they truly are. IMEs are biased by definition. Litigation pits injured people against the insurance companies and their paid medical specialists. Consequently, the workers' compensation claimant and the survivor of an automobile accident both need the services of a qualified attorney in order to protect their slim rights in a system determined to forget them. It is a system which is not interested in the well-being of people. Money is the bottom line for all of the professional players: workers' comp insurance companies, no-fault [we-ain't-paying-cuz-it-ain't-our-fault] aut0mobile insurance companies, employers, and the ambulance chasers-- who after all also have a vested interest. Money, not health, becomes the bottom line.

The folks at sells guidelines for an adequate insurance company examination which will counter and discount the claims of litigants. They fall back on the tired old lie of attribution of tbi symptomology to psychiatric rather than to neurological etiology. They deny that tbi is a rising silent epidemic.

There is a rise in the trend towards full settlement of cases where tbi is diagnosed. MedLaw is in the business of suggesting how to defend against such cases without meeting the plantiffs. The company provides written reports of possible strategies to insurance defense attorneys.

As expected, neither MedLaw nor Carl Strock address the true state of workers' compensation and "no fault" laws in the State of New York. They neglect to mention the myriad loopholes which insurance companies can use to avoid monetary responsibility for their injured workers and drivers.

MedLaw does not appear to present their hired guns with a model of how to conduct an unbiased functional assessment. They are no better than the ambulance chasers whose tactics are also questionable. Meanwhile, a fireman with tbi remains at home and unable to work. And the brain-damaged among us are drained by a system which is the antithesis of help, hope, and caring.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


May the light from my candle
find its' way into the Universe.
Universe, be blessed by this light.
Oh Light, bless those who travel
on any hard path. Bless those
who have been bound in silence
yet now speak. Bless those
who are born of earth, air, fire,
water, spirit. Bless the dancer
who dances alone. Bless the warrior,
bless the child, bless the healer.
Bless those who dare to navigate
beyond the stars in their dreams.


~first published in New Stone Circle, Fall 1995

Friday, April 14, 2006


published in S. Africa BIA newsletter

These are the compensations my husband, Frank, and I put together working with our marriage counselor, Rosemary Walsh. Rosemary is a social worker who has worked with T.B.I. people professionally. She knows and understands the problems faced by the T.B.I. person and family they live with. Her suggestions are practical, real-life oriented and meant to lower the tension and conflict level in the home.

1. Every piece of furniture or cabinets that holds anything has a label on the outside [or right inside the drawer on the left side or inside door on good stuff that Frank doesn’t want permanently marked.] I know where everything goes this way and don’t lose things. Finding stuff is a lot easier.

2. We moved to Maine and remembering where everything goes in the new kitchen was hard for both of us. I insist that everything be returned to the same place so I can find it easily. In addition to the labels on the inside door of all the cabinets, we have made and posted a map of where everything is kept in the kitchen on the refrigerator door so we have a double help. Strange, but it is my normal husband who has more trouble following the system than I do.

3. There is also a sign on the stove saying “Please remember to turn me off”.

4. Every time I go grocery shopping I make a list of the veggies and fruit I bought. A magnet holds the list on the refrigerator door so it gets used and not lost in the back. It also tells my husband and son, Julian, what’s around to eat. Other stuff in the fridge I want eaten also goes on the list. Less stuff gets thrown out and Frank is not freaked by rotting stuff in the refrigerator.

5. My desk now consists of 2 sets of file cabinets with a long butcher block across the top. The file drawers are labeled A,B,C and D. In my word processing Arlene computer files I have listed drawers A,B,C,D and there is a list of what goes into each drawer and the order it is in the drawer. If I think it needs more than a descriptive file name I add under the file name what’s in the file. This system helps me find stuff and not lose or misplace things. As long as I keep filing the papers on my desk and adding new items to the computer list I stay organized.

6. My computer monitor sits on a small wood stand about 5 inches high that Frank made for me. It raises the monitor to eye level and makes it much easier to read and there is less eye fatigue. The monitor sits on the left side of my desk so I just have to turn a little to see it and the file drawers are right underneath so I can get to things quickly.

7. I have a timer I bought from the Cooks Club that is digital and makes no noise and has a loud bell-like ring that you can really hear. I set it for 40 minutes [now – in the beginning it was 20 minutes] when I am working at my desk so I get up and do something else before I overtire or go into neuro-fatigue or my head is suddenly stuffed with cotton candy. The timer has a little stand on it and a magnet if I want to put it on something metal. I use it for almost all activities that require thought or concentration. When I use it regularly it takes away the need to nap in the afternoon. I don’t get as tired by the day and that roles over to weekends so we can stay out all day. I can now make it through the day without getting sleepy or cranky.

8. All appliances or new things get the instruction manual put underneath them or in my instruction manuals file. Using the manuals I slowly do learn how to use things and can go back when I forget. I also put directions on things on stickers.

9. I also ask Frank to teach me sometimes and he knows he has to explain something to me slowly, go over it exactly the same way with the same words several times and then have me repeat it back to him and he corrects any mistakes. Then I repeat the whole thing with the corrections back to him and he makes sure I have it right or we start from scratch and do it again and he changes the parts I can’t understand or get right to make it simpler. This makes learning something much easier for me, takes away a lot of the frustration and is a patient, gentle way for him to teach me without either of us getting mad at the other. When I tell him my mind or I am too tired to learn or remember anything he knows he has to back off until the next day.

10. There is an Agreement book that Frank and I use to write down what we agree and decide on. We both sign every agreement and date it. We[particularly I] check it regularly as a reminder and to verify information. This has settled so many issues that could have turned into disagreements or would definitely have turned into a disagreement before we started The Agreement book. This replaces my lost short-term memory and my difficulty to move anything from short-term memory into long-term memory.

11. We have agreed not to spend more than $50 on anything without each other’s agreement. When we disagree we talk and explain his [or my] thoughts,logic and needs to each other until we reach a consensus. We try hard not to argue or get mad but to use this system and it is working beautifully. The tension level between us is so low you wouldn’t believe it.

12. In my handbag or pocket I always carry a small, top spiral notebook. I put in everything from conversations I want to remember. I go back and check the notebooks regularly. I even pull the notebook out and start writing if the conversation is going too quickly for me so it slows it down and I get it right and can verify the information on the spot. These little notebooks serve as memory messengers for me.

13. I make a list of what I have to do each day on post-its and put it on the small notebook cover. I take out the notebook or find it on my desk often so it is a constant reminder of what I have to do.

14. Monday mornings Frank and I meet first thing and we make a list of what I hope [and/or what he wants me] to accomplish that week and post it someplace obvious like on my desk lamp. I don’t always do everything but it keeps me focused. I finally learned not to be discouraged if I can’t get to it all and not to make the list so long that it is overwhelming. Things that I can’t do I either ask Frank to help me with or let it roll over to the next week. If he sees something showing up repeatedly for a few weeks he knows I need help with it and brings it up non-confrontationally to find out how I want him to help me.

15. I keep several journals.

I keep a “happy times” journal where I write down things that have made me happy while I still remember the details. Going back and re-reading this journal reminds that good things do happen and I have a lot to be happy about. On bad days reading the journal can snap me out of feeling depressed and sorry for myself.

I keep a health journal and write down health instructions, medication doses and health problems to share with my doctors. I often do not like the way my doctors treat me now. As soon as they know I have a brain injury, they almost ignore me or ask my husband what he wants done or thinks. I have felt able to put a strong stop to this. I am still me and I make my health care decisions and let the health care professionals know that.

I keep a “want to do” journal where I either write down or staple magazine or newspaper items of things I want to remember to do. By looking through this journal I always find new activities I want to do or places to go and see. Since moving to Maine, there are many new places to see and explore. I don’t want to miss any of them.

This whole system gives me a lot more autonomy and takes away a lot of the feelings of being lost or swamped. Now I don’t feel Frank breathes down my neck constantly or is on my case all the time like I used to. He also trusts me more, knowing I will take responsibility and do certain things and on time at that.I have never in my life been this organized but it has lowered the tension level of just living and helps me get through each day more calmly with less frantic pressure.

After the civil lawsuit from the accident was settled I finally felt a sense of closure. The ordeal was over. Also, I at that point was slowly able to accept that this is me and the way I will be for the rest of my life with some improvements happening. I also accepted that if I am to have a happy,fulfilling life it is up to me and I must control my attitude and not dwell on the losses or the past. I also decided to keep trying – so I try every therapy, vitamin or supplement I hear about and anything someone I meet tells me has helped them. I believe in trying to make my life as good as I can. A brain injury is a bump in the road; it is not the end of the road.I am certainly not perfect [but then again I never was] and there are still things I want to do I can’t do YET but eventually I’ll get there. I realized the time came to stop banging my head against a wall [metaphorically speaking, of course] and to accept the way I am and to try and let myself be happy with what I have, can do and will learn or be able to teach myself.

reprinted with written permission from the author Arlene Norman.

Blessed be! ~sapphoq

Sunday, April 09, 2006



We offer qualified candidates the opportunity to become

a part of a Trade Marked process
I don't think I want to be part of a TRADE MARKED process.
Anyone involved in the "process" might be considered a MARK.
Grammatical error or slip of the tongue?

that only Certified, Registered and Credentialed persons can use.
Sounds rather esoteric. I may not be a certified, registered, or
credentialed person. I didn't know that persons should be
certified, registered, or credentialed. Is there a special bureau
for that?

The process
THE process?

can help
Is that like a definite maybe?

a wide range of people

with cognitive problems.
How about spelling and grammar problems?

[invitation to visit webpages]
Been there, done that.
And more. Unfortunately.

This discussion group is for professionals and para-professionals
of [bleep] Neuro Art Therapy.
You forgot the word INSTITUTE or school or whatever you
are calling it these days.

This is a Private and Moderated Discussion group.

Students and Graduates you may upload files, links and pictures to share your case studies
and other important information with your peers.
We are no one's CASE.
So nice of you to provide a forum in which your students and graduates can talk about US.
Have you heard about HIPPA? If HIPPA makes it okay for your students and graduates to do this in a Yahole group, then patient confidentiality is truly DEAD.

[bleep] PhD, LCAT, CDATA, CCT, ATR
Five thousand bucks or so
and about thirty-five pagesof a self-published book for a "PhD."
The PhD "program" is located at a KNOWN diploma mill.
Some of those other sets of initials
following PhD refer to what 'graduates'
of your program get to put after their
names. They were registered under
the "Intellectual Property Act."
That is, you paid a fee to have them

You forgot to tell your readers
that you consider that to mean that
the GOVERNMENT has given YOU
approval and permission to use
those letters.

Reviewer claims fair usage of material
from a yahoo group home page
for the purpose of review and reflection
of what it all means.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Harry Chapin used to sing that song, "All my life's a circle. Sunrise and sundown..."

I look back at the circles in my life in silent awe. I have cheated death three times. I am a survivor of so many things. And yet, in spite of all of it, I can love.

I feel the wheel turning deep in my body and soul. It is part of me on a cellular level. I embrace the wheel, casting aside any suppositions. I am the wheel.

We are both separate and merging. We are all part of each other. We are the wheel.



The medical profession informs us that folks with traumatic brain injury are far better off not drinking at all-- whether or not drinking had been a problem pre-tbi-- and not using any drugs except as prescribed by our physicians.

Fortunately for me, I was already in recovery from my addictions for many years pre-TBI. In the spirit of recovery, I offer some of the things I have learned that subsequently helped me when I began healing from my traumatic brain injury.

1. "Addiction is not freedom. " So says a pamphlet from Narcotics Anonymous.

2. "Doing more of what doesn't work, doesn't work." Nathaniel Branden

3. No matter how good "it" is or how bad "it" is, using does not improve whatever "it" is.

4. In order to have quality in our lives, we have to take care of ALL of our medical problems, not just the addiction or the tbi.

5. Exercise, rest, and proper nutrition are also part of recovery.

I have found throughout the years that --

people do not always wish us well.

"The world goes on as it will, and not as you or I would have it."--Marion Zimmer Bradley

we do not always get the things that we need, but we can survive anyway.

drifting is for drifters. finding meaning in life comes from setting and achieving goals.

it takes practice to achieve proficiency.

anything worth having is worth working for.

we should not agree to "leave our brains at the door" EVER.

sometimes even when we do the "right thing," the "wrong things" happen.

i do not have power over every force in the universe.

the idea that i create my own reality is a lie.

suicide is a highly irrational act.

life is sacred.

love is all that matters.



might not be what it is.
might not be real.
might not be correct.
might not be the only way of looking at it.
might not be what I think.
might not be what I need.
might not be who I am.



We all have dragons. It may be the next-door neighbor who planted trees right alongside the property line. It may be the boss who micromanages us to death. It may be all the people we used to know who had the nerve to die or the ex- who has the nerve to keep on living. It may be us.

Sometimes we are afraid because of legends which have gotten distorted when passed down through the generations. Dragons when christianized become serpents with legs and wings--demons--otherworldly forces up to no good. Pre-christianity, dragons were fierce and noble beings that represented challenges. With the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game craze [yes I was part of it and loved it!], dragons were judged as 'good' or 'evil' based on their color. Today, some of us have befriended the dragons!

We can befriend our dragons. Whether our dragons are fierce protectors or the demons that haunt us, we can embrace our dragons. The next-door neighbor, the boss, the ex--they're only people just like us. We can lose the feeling of having fire breathed down our necks.

The internal dragons can be tamed and then embraced. They are a part of us. They speak to us from the pages of ancient texts, challenging us to see ourselves for who we are. It is said that we have power over a dragon once we learn his or her name. We can call ourselves by our true names. We can put on the mantle of our own unique power. We can reject the patriarchial notion that confuses true power with control We no longer have to dwell in our panicked unrealistic fears. We can become our own protector dragon.



Nathaniel Branden, The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Bantam, New York 1994. p.8
"But if I lack respect for and enjoyment of who I am, I have very little to give --except my unfilled needs. In my emotional impoverishment, I tend to see other people essentially as sources of approval or disapproval. I do not appreciate them for who they are in their own right. I see only what they can or cannot do for me."

Armando Favazza, PsychoBible- Behavior, Religion and the Holy Book. Pitchstone Publishing, Charlottesville, Va, 2004. pp. 227-228.
That self-mutililation may be a morbid type of self-help is not such a far-fetched idea...Consider the Hamadsha, a group of Islamic, Sufi healers in Morocco...Then they dance and slash their heads. This is the moment that the sick participants have awaited. They step forward, dip bread or sugar cubes in the freely flowing blood, and eat the miraculous food in the belief that the power of healing resides in the healers' the therapists mutililate themselves to benefit the patients...'
"...At another level, however, the symbolism of the behavior suggests something profound, something that is embedded in elemental experiences of healing, salvation, and social orderliness. Without understanding why or how, some self-mutililators seem to tap into these experiences unconscioulsy, intuitively seeking to heal themselves and to restore order to their disordered minds and lives...'
"In shamanisn...the healing of illness and reversal of misfortunes are affected by the shaman's personal contact with the spirit world."

Issac Bonewits, Real Magic. Weiser Books, Boston, 1971. pp148-149, 159.
"...general prayers...Passages are then read from various books...Thus the deity in effect replies to the prayers just offered...sermon...basket...resumes his dialogue with the god, presenting him with gifts, especially bread and wine...'
"The priest now identifies himself with the god by repeating the incantation that turns the bread and wine into the body and blood of the god...If you are a Catholic, this is a literal change...if you are a Prostestant, this is a symbolic change. Somewhere there is a very important difference between these two terms; you can tell because millions of men, women, and children were maimed, mutiliated, and murdered over it...'
"Now the congregation and the priest consume the now tangible god, believing that in doing so they will absorb his power and characteristics....The minister tells the people that their prayers will be granted, that the god is with them, and then dismisses them."
"Note the pattern so far: Supplication-Introduction, Reply from the Deity (or personified group-mind), Identification of Participants with the Deity (same note), Statement of Requests and Statement of Success."

Take the passage by Nathaniel Branden and substitute the word "god" or "higher power" or deity of your choice where it says other people. Thus you now have a description of an impaired relationship with divinity:

"But if I lack respect for and enjoyment of who I am, I have very little to give-- except my unfulfilled needs. In my emotional impoverishment, I tend to see...' [insert the deity or deities of my choice here] ' [a source or] sources of approval or disapproval. I do not appreciate [him or her or] them for who [he or she is, or] they are in [his or her or] their own right. I see only what [he or she or] they can or cannot do for me."

How we grown out of that sort of relationship with divinity? Or have we clung fast to it because it is the only thing we have ever known? What is a good [Pagan, Christian, Polytheist, Monotheist, Duodeist, regular Deist, Nontheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, Spiritualist ...] to do? How can we grow away from our old notions and mature into something better?

At the risk of offending everyone, I'd much rather believe in the flying spaghetti monster or in the olden Hebrew god who made the world and then flat-left it than base my self-esteem on my idea of whether or not I am looked upon with favor by any god or goddess. If I believe in the flying spaghetti monster or in nothing or in the impersonal forces of nature which are indifferent to my pleas, my life becomes simpler. I don't have to get hung up on whether or not I am going to heaven or the summerlands or the flying spaghetti spaceship in the sky when I die. I can concentrate on the here and now, squeezing whatever joy I can out of each day-- and not forgetting to share the joy. Can I have joy without a personal relationship with the olden ones of my pagan roots? You betcha. Can I have morality without religion? Sure I can. And it is unencumbered by a belief in the twist of fate, no coincidences, the frozen chosen, or being 'right where I'm supposed to be.' Why then should I believe?

Why then magic? Why then the cycle of prayers, reading/singing/sounding instruments, meditation, gathering energy, sending, cakes and ale, grounding the circle? Why not just skip the whole deal?

There is freedom when walking the [somewhat modified] path of my spiritual ancestors. There is power too. This mantel of power I will not deny. Because I am not afraid of my separateness--my intrinsic aloneness--I do not fall into the error of believing that individualism must be dammed in favor of the new agey "we" of the cosmic soul. Because I embrace who I am, I am no longer a frightened child calling in the dark praying to whoever cares to answer. I no longer have to hide behind the great collective "we." I have grown up.

Because I have freedom from religion, I can freely choose how to conduct my life without regard to whose god is the right one. And I don't have to fear scientific knowledge. I can truly embrace life as being sacred. And I can truly celebrate diversity.

I am a Pagan. I am a Solitary Hedge Witch. These words are visceral. They are words of power because they hit me in the gut. These words sprang forth from my innermost being when I first began to re-claim all that I am.

What do I believe? Do I believe? Are all the gods one god and all the goddesses one goddess? Are there more than two? Are there less than two? Why does this matter to you? How I work with power and spiritual principles is within the sacristy of my own life. Shall I profane it by spelling out my spiritual or religious beliefs or non-beliefs? What does it matter who or what I gather energy from? It is not the who, it is the how. It is focused intent. It is healing. Witches of old were not afraid of pissing into bottles or of offering their own blood. They knew something that our sanitized society and modern how to be a witch books no longer care to acknowledge. In the healing, blood must be spilled.

In the healing, blood must be spilled. People who cut feel the pain of the universe keenly. In western society, people who cut are looked upon as pariahs and social outcasts. People who cut need "treatment" where very often the professional helpers do not believe that people who cut can truly "get well." The best the professional helpers can hope for is that their cutting patients can "age out of their personality disorders." The professional helpers all participate in professional supervision sessions lest they catch the 'craziness' of their cutting customers. If the cutting is the letting of blood, then is it not a holy act? In our society, cutters are unhappy traumatized people who need "treatment." In other societies with other expectations, cutters are holy people and healers.

In the Moroccan society, Shamans cut their own heads open. The afflicted partake of the sacred offering of blood by mixing it with the staff or the sweetness of life. Bread has been called the staff of life. The holy man Jesus is called the bread of life. Jewish people offer each other sugar cubes during their new year as a symbol of the sweetness of life that is possible. Isaiah in the hebrew bible tells us, "By his stripes we are healed." [KJV]. Wounds caused by whipping bleed. Some modern day celebrants of easter in Spain beat on drums until their hands bleed. Others flagellate themselves in religious estacy. Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in blood transfusions. There is indeed power in the blood. Cutters and people of faith all acknowledge this power in different ways. But it is there, whether we embrace it or deny it.

Catholics and Prostestants unite with a tangible god in partaking of communion. The body and blood of their god is [or is like] the bread and wine is [or is like] the cakes and ale of the Witches is like dipping bread and sugar cubes into bleeding heads of shamans. Voudon practitioners refer to loa possession as "riding the head."

Learning to navigate through this life with true power is the challenge I present to you today. Remember though, that all revolutions are bloody. It is indeed a bloody gauntlet that I throw down before all of us, regardless of anyone's creed or non-creed.

May we all put on the mantel of power and embrace ourselves in our aloneness. Only by embracing our aloneness can we truly find each other without merging into nothingness.



I remember days when I did not have to fight to survive, when bureaucracies were not breathing down my neck, when I was less cynical and parasitic people stayed away.

Over and over again I have to fill out forms, re-live my car accident, be "interviewed" by this one or that one who works for agencies that have forgotten that I am nobody's case.

Over and over again I have to inform people that no, I am unable and unwilling to be your personal taxicab or hugger or guru.

Over and over again I am reminded that my brain no longer functions in the ways that I have gotten used to.

I remember days when I thought I knew where I was going and I thought that I would and could get there.

Over and over again I have to help myself because the "agencies" that are supposed to help me DON'T help me because they don't know HOW to help me without falling back upon their tired old suppositions and generalizations about people with traumatic brain injury-- and I just don't fit into any categories or labels well. I never have.

Over and over again I have to tell these professional helpers that if they are not going to help me, then I need them to GET OUT OF MY WAY.

I remember days when I was me.

I have become the stranger, the other. I no longer feel at home in my own brain.



I honor the seven directions
because they have first
honored me
and blessed me richly in
this life.

To the North,
the earth my carpet.

To the East,
the air my breath.

To the South,
the fire my vision.

To the West,
the water my blood.

Above me,
the shining stars.

Below me,
the shadows of promise.

Within and without,
the Ancient Ones witness
and the Ancestors remember.


Monday, April 03, 2006


SPIKE Q: So Death, what brings you to these parts?

DEATH: Searching, searching.

SPIKE Q: Okay-- next question. Are you male or female?

DEATH: I am androgenous and ambigendered.

SPIKE Q: Care to explain that?


SPIKE Q: My friend Marie is dieing and she is unhappy about that.

DEATH: Happiness and unhappiness are not within my realm. People live and people die. It may be everything to you but it is nothing to me.

SPIKE Q: Uh, okay. So Death, what do you do in your spare time?

DEATH: I play strip poker with my best buds-- Anubis, Kore, Kali, and Hecate.

SPIKE Q: STRIP poker? But you're not wearing any-- oh never mind. So who is best at it?

DEATH: Kali is a real cutthroat. Hecate cheats. Kore is distractable depending on the season. Sometimes Anubis picks a fight with Hecate's hounds. Kali does win most of the time. Hecate and I are about evenly matched.

SPIKE Q: Your fellow poker fiends are almost all women!

DEATH: It would seem that way, yes.

SPIKE Q: What are the stakes?

DEATH: Why do you ask? Are you planning to join us anytime soon?

SPIKE Q: Noooo.

DEATH: Just checkin'. Somehow I didn't think you would scare so easily. After all, you have looked in my face and laughed a few times over the years.

SPIKE Q: Please don't hold that against me. It was all nervous laughter at finding myself still alive.

DEATH: You have to admit you've done some pretty stupid things. Well, the last time wasn't your fault though. That was the time you refused to die, you know.

SPIKE Q: Uh, thanks. I think.

DEATH: You're quite welcome my dear. I perceive that you are thinking of a bus or an airplane. I suppose you are thinking about the termninal of death being the end of the line. Or perhaps you are wishing for a speedy exit.

SPIKE Q: Actually, I was thinking about Emily Dickinson. Did you really stop for her?

DEATH: Emily and I were rather well acquainted during her earthly lifetime. Most poets of a melancholy nature are well acquainted with me, you know. You've written some deep stuff yourself, come to think of it.

SPIKE Q: Thanks. Sort of. Care to talk about Sam Hain or seances?

DEATH: Sam Hain. When the veil thins. My favorite time of year, you know....

SPIKE Q: Uh, Death? Death?

DEATH: Sorry my dear. I was pleasantly distracted. Oh, that's right. I remember your first seance.

SPIKE Q: You do?

DEATH: Oh yes. You were such an odd kid. Reading the Sunday obituaries was one of your hobbies. You and a couple of other vacationing kids were under a boat on the beach one night. Someone had the bright idea to call back John F. Kennedy.

SPIKE Q: Yes, the candle blew out and we all spooked.

DEATH: JFK is not really interested in coming back to talk to the public, you know. Better you should have tried to dig up Sylvia Plath. Now there was a fine melancholy soul. Since the advent of psych drugs, there are less melancholy souls around. Such is progress.

SPIKE Q: You would rather have people be miserable and kill themselves?

DEATH: Now just who do you think I am, Spike? I take no position on suicide. None. Nor on misery or contentment. I am nothing if I am not---

SPIKE Q: Yeah, yeah. What about reincarnation?

DEATH: What about it?

SPIKE Q: Well, is it real or not? An awful lot of witches and hindus believe in it.

DEATH: I take no position on that either. I will say one thing though. Karma has been frightfully misinterpreted. So has Power for that matter.

SPIKE Q: Death-- uh, you are, uh-- vaporizing.

DEATH: Sorry, Spike. I gotta go. Seems the jig is up for some old guy in the nursing home up the street. Shall I save you a chair at our poker game?



Dear Australia,

1. NO-FAULT really means: it ain't our fault so we ain't paying.

2. NO-FAULT assumes: an adversarial stance against its own insured.

3. NO-FAULT continues to: send you bills for your premiums while delaying payments to you, its' injured driver, for as long as freakin' possible.

4. NO-FAULT hopes: you die in severe pain while waiting.


-spike q the bloodthirsty


In recovery, I have not become a goody-goody two-shoes or some kind of angelic being by any means. Nor do I hope to. I am who I am and that is especially true since I got clean. Than axiom became truth in a new way for me in my journey to healing from my tbi. That is true for all of us, whether we admit it or not I think.

Without the shadows, the brilliance would be overbearing. Without the shadows, there would be no rest. When we are in the midst of the season of the long dark, it is difficult to remember that it is the forced hibernation, the cold, the absense of sunlight that gives rise to new growth.

To be afraid of the darkness is to fear the shadows within. Those shadows lurk and fester and dodge our every breath. It is the breath of life that heals the shadows. It is by embracing the shadows that we become fully who we are.

When I was using, addiction overtook me. My life revolved around "the getting and using and finding ways to get more" [from Narcotics Anonymous literature] especially if it was yours. When I came into recovery, I had to find a new way to live. Facing the shadows of my past and of the addiction itself enabled me to breathe life into where formerly existed only the festering and fetid odor of death.

When I knew that I had a traumatic brain injury, I had to face myself anew. I had permanent personality changes and permanent disabilities to acknowledge. I learned to embrace myself and who I was in each moment. Clumsiness gave way to purposeful slowness. I began to relax into my newness. I felt myself coming out of the long dark into the brilliant springtime.

In embracing death, I lost my fear. In embracing death, I came more fully into life. When I had to face my own mortality as a recovering adult, I learned what stuff I was made of. I learned the weave of my being. I was able to be still, to be silent, to dare, and to know the taste of mortality.

I was given a precious gift once -- I was present at the transition of an old woman at the nursing home where I once worked. It was like lights going out in her soul. I have never forgotten that.

To know brilliance, we must also know darkness. The depth of my bondage has today become the expanse of my freedom and joy.



I believe that each one of us have a primary right as well as a responsibility to define ourselves and to live by our own core values-- provided that our actions do not interfere with the way that other human beings have chosen to live their lives. Let's pretend that each of us has a orchard of the particular fruit that we might prefer.

I happen to prefer pears to apples. Just because I prefer pears to apples, that does not give me the okay to go burn down the apple orchards in my neighborhood or in the universe. When the dominant culture or most vocal culture of any society seizes the opportunity and self-imposed obligation to convert all orchards to those bearing the fruit that they happen to prefer, the rights of people belonging to sub-cultures or minority groups get ignored or trampled on. Or worse, those who do not belong to the dominant or most vocal culture get treated as extra-legal-- existing outside of the protection afforded by the laws. How is this justice?

As an adult, however I define myself and express my core values is and should be my own process. In order to be true to myself, I must become willing to embrace all that I am. In a just society, my pear trees would not pose a threat to anyone with an apple orchard. In an unjust society, others take it upon themselves to convert me away from my true nature.

When I say to you that I am a pagan or in recovery or bisexual or a friend to vampires or living with a disability, those things are NOT open to discussion geared towards talking me out of my true self. I do not proclaim any of these things for society's approval. I am beyond your approval.

I am who I am and we are who we are.



Skating the hallways of a diploma mill--
Here's some "degrees," I can have what I will!
I can "major" in anything with credit card or check:
Teaching or history or computer tech.

Developmental psych, finance or chem,
Or sports recreation, fashions for the femme.
Experience from life counts most favorably;
Send them a synopsis so that they can see.

Gushing testimonials, faked graduation day pix,
Orations and papers and success in the mix.
On and on the on-line brochure goes...
No way will I join in this chorus of 'ho's.



I take no prisoners and make no promises
to anyone or anything, anywhere or anytime.

I resolve nothing and forgive naught
for that is not the way I find holiness.

I am free from your earthly ministrations.
I am free from your expectations and damnations.

Just as you reach for me,
I dissolve into the infinite being.

THIS IS ME, five


I am who I am, believing in love. Is it love

that we lack or love that we need more of?

If there will never be enough love, then

why? Or if there is enough love, then how

is it that we are bleeding and gaping howls

of pain? We say we believe in love and yet

we despise each other. In our pain, we send

love away. Love is both sought after and feared.

I met love once, and I too was afraid to love love.


five was the loss of innocence. five was believing that the only way to get away would be to move out at eighteen.

five was the forgotten child. five was a quiet child on the outside and wild on the inside.

five was making a pattern of tiles in art class. five was music. five was discovering words.

five was daydreaming in school, wanting to be outside. five was falling in love with a tree out back and not knowing why. not caring.

five was running down the hill and cutting five's hand. five should have gotten stitches. but didn't. five got a scar instead and it is still there these years later.


winter is running wild down frozen streets
of frozen dreams and ice jams blocking
up the rivers. winter laughs and dances,
twirls her hair on a string, tickles the whiskers
of a rat creeping through the dank alleyway.
nothing is safe from winter's grasp. broken dreams
lay along the frozen streets unable to laugh or
dance or jam. they lay like so many rats in
frozen breath dead with laughter seething
upon curled lips. winter's string lays broken
into whiskers of dank cotton. wildly, winter
skates along the rivers into brilliant spring.



I CARE BECAUSE I have experienced the misery of knowing that not enough people care in order to make a difference.

I CARE BECAUSE I have known injustice as a victim in a society where victims are prosecuted instead of the perpetrators.

I CARE BECAUSE I have learned that all of us are human beings here and religion kills when it attempts to dictate how we should all live.

I CARE BECAUSE I have lived through the misery of active addiction, inadequately or untreated mental and neurological conditions, and child abuse.

I CARE BECAUSE people have cared enough to show me a better way to live.

~sapphoq celebrating diversity

Sunday, April 02, 2006


1. I am fat, ugly,disabled , and exist apart from the lives of "the beautiful people." I have grown weary of defending myself against the daily onslaught of a society which does not value a way of being that is unique and my own. I refuse to justify my life to my former "peers."

2. I have not "arrived" according to the definition of said society and it don't look like I am going to anytime soon. I will not play the phoney in the company of fools. I no longer have the energy nor the desire for inane drivel.

3. When I think about the trauma I was living through in high school, I quickly lose the desire to reunite with anyone who recognized or should have recognized my vulnerability.

4. I don't feel like getting all dressed up in clothes I don't really like to wear in order to hang out in a fancy restaurant several hours away from my home with people that I don't know anymore and maybe never really did know all that well.

5. I resent being hit up for monetary "donations" to support an institution which preaches a message of conformity to the will of a man who wears a dress .

~sapphoq the wanderer


click here for singing to and picts of Kwan Yin


pict of kwan yin came from website above.

happy healing!



another poem for marie who died

i remember cruising with you down the boulevard
in your little blue car. we talked about quakers
and poets and traumatic brain injury and art
and reasons for things that had no reasons
and the moon and the stars and vision.

we were the hood sisters, you said. we both wore
our gray hooded sweatshirts proudly,
with the zippers down. you in your french chapeau
and me in a faded baseball cap trying to keep
the sun out of my eyes-- we both
had overcome so much, had lived through
so many nightmares. we laughed richly
knowing that the regular people
and the therapists and the docs and the mhps
did not know, would not know, and
could not know the utter joy
of it all, of dreaming, of being.

our laughter was the sound
of distant worlds colliding--we didn't know it that summer.
the sticky sweetness of rita's ice
and of hindi tobacco and women singing
in graceful saris gave way to a bitter
bitter reality for which even the poets
had no words.
you left that early november
morning when the church bells
were numb before even god
could wake and smile.


Saturday, April 01, 2006



already happened in March. I am aware of my traumatic brain injury every day. To only have to acknowledge it for one month out of the year would be a blessing. is the addy of the Brain Injury Association in the Untied States. Our good folks at the state chapter here ( ) had informed us a couple of years back that Brain Injury Awareness month was being moved to March. We were all supposed to be aware of brain injuries every October. What happened is that October was just too dammed competitive. Several other really big orders and disorders had booked the month of October ahead of us. There wasn't enough press to go around for all of it. So like some bastard child, brain injury awareness got pushed back (or forward, depending on if you are a pessimist or an optimist-- me, I'm a realist) to the springtime.

Our local chapter, or support group-- depends on who you are listening to depends upon what you call it-- does a color-the-helmet contest for little kids in surrounding school districts in March (which used to be October). In April (which used to be November), a few of us get to walk and stumble our way around a table with stacks of pictures to pick the prize-winners. At the end of April, after the oestre rush, there is an awards ceremony. Kids and parents stream in from all over to hear a few people talk and watch the prizes being given away. I hope that the kids will remember to wear their helmets when biking or skateboarding or sitting in their wheelchairs hoping not to knock their heads too hard when the violent seizures come blasting through. TBI is no prize, I'll tell ya that.

The national folks also made up some nifty green rubber band bracelets. The bracelets say, "Mind Matters." Two thousand scientists are in their meeting rooms right now across the universe argueing whether the mind is separate from the brain, is the brain, or does not exist. I refuse to wear the bracelet. "Can you say 'BRAIN' boys and girls?" Hell, I guess not.

The Brain Injury Association does alot of really good work and I've been told that I should not quibble with them over words. Words are powerful. Thus I quibble. Thus I am a quibbler. Or, one who quibbles. No matter.



These days I spend in quiet contemplation of life and simpler ways of being. As I let go of the clatter and concerns of the outside world, I rediscover my authentic self. Through a celebration of the turning of the wheel, I get back to my own roots. I embrace all that I am.

I step through the doorway that is outside of time and space into that place of stillness and healing. The forest is my temple. I greet each tree as an old friend. Water swirls over a waterfall and I stand on the wooded bridge at once whole. Loons call from the distance. The lake is spring-fed and cold. I strip and walk in. At once, the healing waters engulf me and rock me, washing away any vestiges of pain. I relax. The sun warms me and the wind tickles me. Here I am alone and not afraid. I float on my back until the sun begins her journey to sleep. Mists rise on the water. Sated, I find my way out. A fire has been started and I dry myself by her warmth. There is hot vegetable soup and herbal tea. After, I sleep.