Saturday, November 1, 2014

Greetings.  If you are receiving this email, it means you subscribed to my blog sometime in the past few years and are still on the email list.  I am starting a new blog covering my bikepacking trips, i.e. my adventures on my diminutive bike friday. If you are interested in following me (my first journey was biking the south island of New Zealand but I did an awful job of posting while I was there), you can find the blog at http://www.thelittlebikethatcould.com/.  You can subscribe to the blog there. I hope you will join me on the way.  Bikepacking, especially on ones own, can be both exhilarating and gruelling and it helps to know that someone somewhere is looking out for you.

Cheers from Bisbee


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

to everything there is a season

I have decided to (temporarily?) suspend Notes from My Balcony. I am switching to a new blog about my adventures with an incredible little custom-made bicycle, the Bike Friday, and my travels with the bike that lead up to my ultimate journey of cycling the length of New Zealand's north and south islands.

If you get these posts by email, it means you subscribed to my blog- probably at a time when it was worth reading.  I will no longer be posting here, so you are relieved of having to receive the posts from me anymore.  However, if you would like to follow my adventures leading to and through New Zealand, I have a new blog site, http://thelittlebikethatcould.blogspot.com/ where you can click on the RSS feed link or the email subscription to continue hearing about my crazy adventures.

I also have a Facebook page about this new phase of my life at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bike-Friday-The-Little-Bike-That-Could/552101604843368.  If you click on the Like button at the top of the  page, you will receive updates that way as well.

Thank you all for being part of my journey through Africa and Mongolia and back to my own desert where I have created this dream little off-grid house in Bisbee.  If you are ever in the neighborhood, my home is always open and visitors would be welcome.


.                                                     with warmest wishes from my balcony

Thursday, June 20, 2013

...in the time of HIV, a small miracle.

 Spelele was a tiny bit of a girl when we first encountered her.  She had suffered severe burns over much of her body and had lost the use of both hands due to scar tissue.  We did the initial interventions and a great program, Young Heroes (https://www.facebook.com/young.heroes?fref=ts), did the rest.  Thrilling to know that a difference can be made.  Steve Kallaugher, the founder of Young Heroes, share this with me this morning on Facebook.  Backstory on Spelele and others like her can be found at my (retired) blog:  http://africajournal-alyson.blogspot.com/.  It's a sad read in many parts, but a story that needs to be remembered.

Siphelele, whom you helped so much after her burns. Now age 10 and at the top of her class.
Like ·  ·  · Promote · 23 minutes ago · 


. Thanks Steve.

Monday, June 17, 2013

matters of the heart

As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart.  You don't know how lucky you are not to have one.  Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.  
The Wizard to the Tinman.

Much like someone dancing around in agony after hitting their thumb with a hammer or slicing a finger with a paring knife, thus creating a diversion until the pain subsides to a tolerable level, so it has been with me and my heart.  After the bout with propane asphyxiation that jolted me back into the land of the living, I pulled the old mountain bike out of the shed where it had been languishing since before my departure for Afghanistan, a kind gift from a good soul, and took to the road.  Even a bad bike is a fair substitute for a good therapist, and at a savings of thousands of dollars and countless hours of rehashing, reliving, rewriting what has already been indelibly inscribed.  The moving finger writes and, having writ, moves on…

I have come to believe that risk taking is best reserved for the young, when hearts and bones mend with a rapidity that is meant to be both forgiving and instructional.  And although I am not averse to adventure, I’ve had enough bumps, scrapes, and fractures to find seatbelts and bicycle helmets less restrictive than I did in earlier years.  But, having all my life run from the prospect of heatbreak (you could tell how much I liked a guy by how far I was willing to move away from him), I was wholly unprepared when it finally hunted me down and had its way with me.  So… I get cut loose (a generous term for “dumped”) two nights after I’ve returned from 14 months in a war zone, two weeks before Christmas, in physical pain from a back injury, despairing that I had not accomplished anything of use in 14 months, in the middle of the darkest and snowiest winter I’ve known here, cold, confused, alone.  Really?  Yep.  Just like that.

In all fairness, I’m no bargain.  I’m a bit edgy and probably unsuitable for most relationships. I never pretended to be otherwise.  But when I say, “I’m all in”, I expect someone to either dig their heels in or run for the hills, not both in such short order.

…and, having writ, moves on…

MRI studies have shown that rejection, be it romantic or social, registers in the same region of the brain as physical pain.  No other emotional state tested, not fear, anxiety, anger, or sadness, elicits the same response.  When people experience the pain of rejection, it registers as physical pain.  It can’t be localized- it’s not in your arm or your toe or your left elbow, and the level of the pain can depend entirely on the extenuating circumstances, but it is real pain nonetheless.  And it can be pretty severe, causing people to act out in destructive or self-destructive ways, with sometimes horrific results.  Just pick up a newspaper and you will find some headline about the rampages of a socially rebuffed teenager or a jilted lover.  When I searched for treatment for my back injury, a herniated lumbar disc, I found a plethora of pain centers in Tucson alone.  So where are the pain centers for the people who feel the sting of social isolation, the brutality of betrayal, or the heart-crushing vacuum when love has been withdrawn?

So, out came the bike and off I went, in some mindless, Forest Gumpian attempt to rediscover my core, a core I was at relative peace with before I found myself in the unchartered waters of love and war.  (Photos of my Gumpian adventures can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/63401339@N02/sets)  I have spent the better part of three months either on the road or on my bike or both.  I resurrected my yoga and meditation practices simply because they work.  They keep me centered and bring me back no matter how many times I spin off into the ether.



Spending hours on my bike at a time, I realize how much of our lives we spend in our heads.  I would estimate that maybe ¾ of our waking time is spent in conversations we haven’t yet had or re-visiting and re-writing a history that has long since passed.  …nor all your piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it…  While some of this may be useful in helping us sort through “stuff”, whatever that is, most of it is simply what has been referred to as mental masturbation, without any hope of relief in any form.  And while this is seemingly harmless, as a neuroscientist I know that our bodies experience these fabricated conversations and scenarios as real.  In other words, you can have a dozen arguments with someone in your head and you know they are not real, but you have had them in your head and the next time you interact with that person, at some level you bring all of that into the dialogue as though it had really happened.

Enter the zebra…

I have figured out a way to deal with this internal dialogue so that my brain and body know this is a movie of my own making.  I bring a zebra into the conversation.  I do it naturally, so that the zebra somehow fits the situation, but the image is so ludicrous that I immediately separate from the emotion of the movie in my head.  The zebra originates from the adage, “if you see hoof prints, think horses, not zebras.”  This reminds me that my head is a wonderful and sometimes horrible world of make believe, frequently populated by zebras.  As soon as the zebra enters stage right, I burst out laughing and reawaken to the beautiful world around me, the real world that opens to me as I fly by on my bike.

I have many new items on my agenda, not the least of which is preparing for a 2-month bike trip through New Zealand mid-January to mid-March. 

More to come.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

recovery

Afghanistan kicked my ass.  For each month someone spends in a conflict zone, at the end they should be required to spend a day in quiet retreat where they have nothing more important to do than just breathe.  And they should be surrounded by people whose only purpose is to remind them to breathe.  Just breathe, dear.  Instead, they come home to people who either don’t recognize this tense, harsh stranger who has returned or who have forgotten that this person was anything but that. 

War is difficult enough.  Being in a place where people want to kill you, where the people around you want to kill someone, and where small children and innocent women die, leaves one on edge 24 hours a day.  Just outside of your awareness, you wait for the worst to happen, hyper vigilant even in sleep.  Add to that the insanity of working within government bureaucracies that are inefficient and mean-spirited, where time and money are squandered both frenetically and mindlessly, where the purpose you came with dissolves like the Afghanistan desert sand through your fingers.  And you are compelled to work with allies whose corruption is tolerated so that a larger purpose can be served, alongside a culture where the worst imaginable atrocities, especially those visited upon women, are commonplace and often celebrated.

Then you come home…  some come home to face joblessness, indifference, even derision and disgust.  Some return injured, crippled, or maimed.  Those of us who were spared the physical injuries agonize for those who weren’t.  We will do so for a lifetime.  Others, like myself, come home to personal lives that are not the same.  Although the relationships you left behind have remained in suspended animation for a year or so in your own mind, the people you left behind have moved on.  It’s a cruel paradox of time that invites disparities in expectations.  I can imagine how difficult it must be for the person who has to deliver the news that they just don’t feel the same way anymore to someone coming back from war or a humanitarian disaster.  Imagine, then, being on the receiving end of that news.

For me, all this resulted in a descent into a darkness I had not experienced for a couple decades, a foray into Dante’s fifth circle of hell where “the sullen lie … withdrawn into a black sulkiness which can find no joy in God or man or the universe.”  I lost interest in everything around me; sleep and hunger eluded me.  Where I might have turned to running, which has held me fast for many years, a back injury I sustained in Afghanistan precluded me from engaging that trusted, reliable ally.  It was the best I could do to get out of bed each morning, but get out of bed I did.  I put one foot in front of the other and showed up for life, devoid of interest, joy, or hope. 

As a neuroscientist, I understand in a very real way, the signs and symptoms of classical depression.  I had them all.  As a neuroscientist, I also know how very physiological/biochemical classical depression is.  Once you’re in it, there’s little you can do without external intervention.  In 3 weeks I dropped almost 30 pounds.  At 5’7” and 100 lbs, I looked ghoulish.  I did force myself to eat and was fortunate for the people who noticed and cared enough to force me to eat as well.  I went through the motions, hoping something would take hold.  This is not sadness; this is not grief; this is a complete shutdown of the psyche, a downward spiral from which there is no escape.  I know that medication is effective for getting people to the point where they can move again and start the road to recovery, but I was unwilling to take that step.

Fortunately, an unexpected event turned everything around in an instant.  I had a propane leak in the small tank close to my bed and I woke the other morning to propane asphyxiation.  I was violently ill, vomiting ceaselessly, unable to catch my breath.  But in that brief period, the shock to my system was apparently sufficient to release the neurochemicals needed to reset my baseline, perhaps analogous to ECT or exposure therapy.   From that moment on, I was fine.  Just like that, I was a completely different person, embarrassed by my insanity over the past 2 months, but no longer insane.  Just like that.  I went hiking yesterday, looking for fossils (abundantly rich in my limestone-laden backyard) and started thinking about the future and hiking New Zealand.  I rode down from my canyon this morning, my soul open and devouring my surroundings, intoxicated by the beauty of it all.  The hurt and anger buried deep inside has, to a great extent, been supplanted by a poignant sense of regret and has taken a back seat to joy and a renewed sense of purpose.  The perseverating self-loathing is gone.  I have been released.  The disappointment remains, but is no more than that, and rises to join a deeper understanding of the unfortunate events that gave rise to my situation. 

A Buddhist tenet says that all things are interdependent arising.  So it was with this. 

I am grateful for the people who noticed, cared, and stayed just out of sight but ever ready to step in if needed.  

This is me, moving on.

What I have written here is deeply personal and revealing.  But, as I said in my previous post, “I would not be the first person to come back from 14 months in a war zone to some cruel and bitter disappointment.”  Although I do not advocate propane leaks as treatment for depression, it sometimes helps to know one is not alone and others have gotten through this.  Feel free to share.  And be generous with love, patience, and understanding for anyone coming back from a conflict zone or a humanitarian disaster.. .

Sunday, January 13, 2013

homecoming

I would not be the first person to come back from 14 months in a war zone to some cruel and bitter disappointment.  It happens so often; it's almost cliché.  You come back already disillusioned and discouraged, and then….  But my little house in the canyon was waiting for me- patiently, faithfully- a few glitches, but nothing that could not be remedied. 

It has been colder and grayer than I recall and, while I know there’s no truth in it, the coldness in my heart has been reflected in my surroundings and it seems I have drawn it to me and wrapped myself in it.  Perhaps the spring thaw is just on the horizon.

On the morning of new year’s eve, I woke to the thick and welcome silence of snow.  After 14 months of helicopters, generators, and controlled detonations, in a camp of 3500 other people, that morning I woke to perfect stillness. 









We have started work again on this sweet little house.  We are moving a wall in so I can have a window seat to sit on and watch the birds feed. 















Yesterday we installed the wood stove and I finally have heat.  I will be putting my chainsaw to good use.
















postscript:



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cappadocia, Turkey

Oddly, an old blog of mine was sent out a couple days ago, making me think I should attempt to keep a little better in touch. I have been in Turkey for a short R&R, arriving in Istanbul just in time for the Easter break crowds. Istanbul has a great deal to off; however, after standing in long lines for the better part of three days and pushing my way through crushing crowds to get back to my less-than-desirable hostel room, I hopped the overnight bus to Cappadocia, finding a lovely hostel in a tiny town called Goreme that looks a lot like Bisbee would look if it were carved out of rock. Words and photos (video below) do not do this place justice. I only have 3 days here, and it is not enough. One needs at least a week or so to hike around and visit the little towns that pepper the area, marveling at all the cave homes, some of which are still inhabited. I would love to stay a month in a little cave home here. I took a hike through Ihlara Canyon, also dotted with cave dwellings and churches, that was very reminiscent of Pays Dogon in the Bandiagaras Cliffs in Mali, as well as the Anasazi cliff dwellings in the southwestern US. I hope the video link works. I will post another of Istanbul before I leave to return to Afghanistan.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

hummer heaven

I am not unaware of the many difficult events and challenges going on in the world right now.  But neither can I, nor should I, ignore the beauty and magic that reveals itself right before my eyes. .  .




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

to everything, there is a season

As winter gives way to spring, so too the changes in our lives.  Things we set in motion when the first frost settled on the ground those many months ago have taken root and begun to sprout. Life does not always render itself to if-then statements as tidily as do computer programs.  For computers, the if-then algorithm plays out in milliseconds.  In our lives we experience, as the Buddhists would say, an interdependent arising in which everything arises from multiple causes and conditions, many of which we initiate and some seemingly at cross-purposes when they become manifest.  And it is only in retrospect that we see that everything was so perfectly predictable, we could have written the script ourselves.  Change is in the season.

I lost a dear friend a couple weeks ago.  Actually, "dear friend" trivializes the depth and significance of the relationship (as it does all of the most significant relationships in my life.  They are always more than dear, occasionally more than friends). I will write a tribute to him when the time is right.  He deserves no less. .

For those too young to remember the song, you are even younger still to know its source:

Ecclesiastes 3 
1To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:2A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace
  .

Sunday, February 20, 2011

requiem for bill

I wrote this tribute almost exactly two years ago, on 2/20/11.  I held it for editing and it slipped away from me.  I am resurrecting it now because it reminds me of why I do service.  Remembering is part of my recovery from serving in Afghanistan.  Remembering is a part of reconnecting with myself- who I was, who I became.


The best stories can't be told.
And the ones that can will become the stuff of legend.

Amidst the historical and all-encompassing uprisings in the Middle East, the passing of a remarkable man yesterday went unnoticed.

When Bill found me many years ago, I was just 21 years old.  My worn out underwear was safety-pinned together and the hem of my skirt was held up by scotch tape. I had ulcerative colitis from having consumed, in a few short years, copious quantities of scotch, when I could afford it, and Ripple, when I could not.  Dirty, diseased, and afraid, I had spent almost every night of the previous three years vomiting up the night's activities and praying to die. My small apartment had not been cleaned for a year and the dishes filling the sink had become rusty and molded.  To this day, I am not quite sure of the mechanics of cheap porcelain dishes rusting...

Bill taught me the value of service, dragging me to AA meetings all over L.A. and West Hollywood, insisting that I, and a cadre of misfits whom he sponsored, earn our stripes by setting up the chairs before each meeting and taking them down afterward, sweeping the floors, making the coffee, and, worst of all nightmares, greeting people as they came in the door.  I felt unworthy to do the first few tasks and unable to do the last.  I had to go up to the podium at Gramercy Place to accept my 30-day sobriety chip, praying that no one noticed that, in my terror, I had peed my pants.

Some come into AA and "get it" right away.  They clean up, find god, and become circuit speakers.  And then there were "Bill's Babies"- the mavericks, the recidivists, and the miscreants.  His first acolyte, Tommy O., used to climb up onto the roof and howl at the moon.  And this was sober.  People just glanced sideways at Bill and the rest of us at that time, shaking their heads in sad agreement that we didn't stand a chance.

I spent the time between meetings (as my good friend Dave recently reminded me) painting my fingernails, a task that took painstaking effort and filled enough hours to get me to the next meeting.  My hands shaking so badly, I would start at the knuckle just above the nail and work my way down. Finished with the painting, I would carefully, with unsteady hands, take a Q-tip dipped in polish remover and remove all the excess from the knuckle to the nail bed.  I haven't worn nail polish since then.  Along those same lines, Bill would send a couple of his sponsees to one of the busy intersections on Wilshire Boulevard to count cars, knowing they needed a task to sustain them to the next meeting and were incapable of much else.  But they have their own stories to tell.

Bill explained the concept of service to me.  He told me that there would come a time when everything and everyone would fail me, the people, the program, even god (with whom Bill had issues and of whom Bill had doubts, although he was one of the most spiritual men I would ever meet) would fail me, and the only thing that would save my life is saving someone else's (because, in the end, the only life we really ever save is our own).  He warned me that, if service did not become second nature, I would not be able to fall back on it when the time came.

Service is the genius of the AA program.  All we have as recovering drunks, our greatest contribution to the newcomers, is our experience, strength, and hope.  And so we sit in meetings and talk about ourselves in the hopes that someone just coming in will identify with our histories and find enough in common to conquer his or her own fears and come back to another meeting. The danger in this approach is the tendency to become myopic and self-absorbed, as we go on and on ad nauseum about how difficult our sobriety is, how screwed up our relationships are, how cruel our bosses are, how little the world understands about us, and so on.  So the founders gave us service, the opportunity to rise above our tragic little lives by reaching out to help another drunk, which can be extrapolated to simply helping anyone who has it a little worse than we do.  And someone always does.

And, in watching Bill's devotion to his fellow drunks, I got it.  Bill could be harsh and irreverent, and people did not seek him out until desperate, fearful of his often brutal directness.  He could be tough; but he was rarely wrong.  He told me once that everyone is screaming for justice when we all should be begging for mercy.  Bill had a fondness for women and the ponies but, independent of those occasional excesses (although even those were often intertwined in his message somehow), everything he did was calculated to be instructive.  On one occasion, he insisted his group of grown, gruff, cynical disciples go with him to see the movie, Bad News Bears.  I wish I had been there to see the look on their faces as they shared the ticket line with noisy, eager 9 and 10 year olds.  There was a message in there, you  see.  Things that seemed so simple always took on a deeper and more profound significance with Bill.

I watched and learned.  And service I did. Service, in its different forms, sustained me through the death of my alcoholic father in my early sobriety, just at the point when I began, through my own alcoholism and recovery, to understand and forgive.  Service sustained me through the collapse of my very brief marriage and the subsequent death of my ex-husband, who loved me with a depth of which I was incapable, and who gave me a quirky, bright, and magnificent child.

As a single parent, fearful but no longer pissing my pants, I started college at the age of 31.  I never went earlier because I never thought I was bright enough.  I lost track of Bill during that time; he had relocated to New York and I moved forward in my life.  I graduated college summa cum laude and was accepted at almost every graduate program I applied to.  After graduate school, I turned down an opportunity to do a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard because I felt my son, who had been dragged around from place to place to serve my needs, deserved a chance to finish his adolescence in a small, lovely community in the Bay Area.  And they were the best of times.  I was consumed with my fascinating academic research and my house was always filled with a core group of bright, unconventional, and charming adolescent boys with whom Joel could finally experience a sense of true belonging.  I had lost touch with Bill and, as a single parent and academic researcher, service work would have been a luxury I simply could not afford in those years.  But I never, not for one minute, forgot who I was, where I started, and who gave me that chance.

About 5 years into our time in northern California, I met a guy in the gym who said he got sober quite some years earlier in Santa Monica.  I asked him if he had heard of Bill.  His lip curled into an unpleasant snarl as he replied, "that's the bastard who made a move on my wife (by then ex-wife)."  I said, "yeah, that would be Bill. Do you have his contact info?"  I never got a response.  Everyone loves a tragic and flawed hero (except ex-husbands, perhaps), because the hope is fostered that, as damaged as we are, we too can aspire to greatness.  Bill, roguishly handsome and equally charismatic, had several wives over the years, and at least twice that many girlfriends (again, the best stories can't be told); however, Sheri, the pretty young redhead who looked like a ballerina, had to have been the most significant of his loves.  At one time or another, it seemed everyone in LA AA had lived with Bill and Sheri for a period of time in their recovery. Even me. And he lost her, tragically, to relapse and, eventually, to a fatal overdose. And Bill carried on, helping more drunks get sober.

And one day, that time came for me- the day Bill was talking about- when it all collapses around your feet.  On November 18, 2003, as I was negotiating a faculty position in Arizona, my magnificent son, who had gone off to serve in the Army Reserves, suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack.  My darkest hour had arrived and sitting in a corner eating Valium had been taken off the table those many years ago.  My only option was to go right through the center of it.  My son's friends stepped up and put together a memorial service, knowing I did not have the emotional strength or will to do so myself.  My colleagues at work, and from academic institutes around the country who knew me, served as a source of support, with emails, cards, and flowers.  And, when color started to come back to my world and my legs were no longer shaky, I knew exactly what to do.  I stood up, brushed myself off, looked at life square on,  and said, bring it on.  I knew I had taken the worst that life would ever deal me, and I had persevered. And in gratitude, remembering my roots, knowing how and why I persevered, I kicked into gear.  I turned down the faculty position, joined the Peace Corps, and went to Africa to do HIV outreach and education.  I was sent to the country with the highest HIV prevalence in the world- 38.6% of the adult population was HIV positive.  And when we landed on the ground, treatment was a pipe dream.

Three years watching Africa die puts everyones' difficulties in perspective.  My loss was nothing compared to  years of suffering followed by the agonizing, senseless deaths that Africa experiences.  Joel's death was quick, and probably relatively painless.  In Africa I sat with mothers as they watched their 18 and 20 year olds die from AIDS-related cancers, pneumonia, and TB, without the benefit of medication to ease their pain.

In 2007, I returned to California and went in search of Bill.  I wanted to share my story and to thank him for giving me the tools I needed to survive, tools I have passed on to anyone who is struggling and is seeking succor.  Stay sober, do service.  I posted notes on the Bulletin Boards of AA meetings with my phone number, hoping someone would call with information about him.  And they did.  We had a wonderful reunion before I was off again- this time to Mongolia for a year to help set up HIV programming for commercial sex workers and at-risk youth. I saw Bill again this August, as he was recovering in the hospital from removal of a large pancreatic tumor, as well as the removal of his spleen and part of his colon.  I received the rare and highly coveted "attagirl".  Finally, I saw Bill again this week, privileged to be included with a his two adoring neices, a couple long-time AA colleagues, and his fiercely loyal and devoted friend Mark, as we sat with him on his final journey.  Mark, who credits his 22 years of sobriety to Bill, was with him in those last few minutes yesterday, as the rest of us gave them the room, and I can only imagine the difficult journey he took with Bill in those last moments.  Returning to the room, I kissed Bill's lifeless cheek and whispered "thank you" in his unhearing ear.  Within an hour I was in my old pickup truck, making the long drive back to Arizona.

I woke up this morning, unable to lift myself from my air mattress bed, in this little house in this magic place where I have finally set down roots.  But, as I wrote to one of my dearest friends here, "The cries of hungry birds have coaxed me from the safety of my sheets, where i had hoped to remain until a better picture of the world presented itself.  The sun is slowly emerging from behind dark clouds, reminding me that light follows dark as much as life follows death.  I could have stayed in bed forever, comforter over my head, your [gift] under my pillow.  But, once again, i find myself in a position where i have to take a deep breath, puff up my frightened little chest, face life with a bravery i don't really possess, and silently shout out into the void, 'bring it on.'"


As with my son's death, I don't know why the earth doesn't implode to fill such a tremendous vacuum.  But, as long as it doesn't, I will be out there doing service for whatever time is left to me and spreading the gospel of Bill.


godspeed, bill.



give me your poor 
your maladjusted 
your sick and your beat 
and your sad and your busted 
give me your has-beens 
give me your twisted 
your loners your losers 
give me your black-listed.

lyrics by Dory Previn from Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign
. .