Saturday, June 6, 2015

I Was … Delayed

Today is the second anniversary since Saumya’s traumatic brain injury (TBI). Two years ago she received an accidental bump to the head causing damage to the left side of her noggin. You may have noticed a lapse in regularity and frequency of my writing. I’m sorry, it’s not you; it’s me.

It has been a challenging two years. Not only has it had its share of health issues for us to deal with: constant migraines, nausea, seizures (thank God they’re over), various sensitivities, countless hospital visits, on and on; but it has changed the course of our lives. During that week two years ago in 2013 Saum was filling out her paperwork to Harvard Divinity School for a PhD program. We were to move to Boston this summer. Those plans are now scuttled. In the last two years we have: been out see to one movie, had two outings with our group of friends, been on one trip involving an airplane that didn’t go well and she’s been to restaurants maybe twice. My only regret: we were getting to know some new family in the Twin Cities which I haven’t seen much of since. But this has been more of a challenge for her as I have not had many of these restrictions.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Two Songs for Saumya

The Slide Song by The Afghan Whigs on Grooveshark

Dark River Farm 101Saumya

People keep asking me how I’m doing dealing with my concussed wife. Thank you very much. I’m doing fine myself, really. Gone is the anger of the past, anger at the disease of Endo, which is particularly hard to deal with. Pain is tough, and it wears a person down, the person going through it and those around them.

That’s not to say it’s all love and roses. It is extremely difficult to see the woman I love, going through one of the most difficult times of her life: when her brain checks out. With that, I have two songs that help me cope: The Afghan Whigs: The Slide Song and The National: About Today. Both are likely about break ups or more specifically drifting apart, neither of which we are going through, but the distance is real. When Saum checks out, when the headache gets bad and confusion and amnesia set in, we are distant. I reach for her, I hold her – I love her, but she’s just – gone!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What’s my name?

What’s my name? It sounds like a philosophical question; something existential. It has taken on new meaning for me.

Where are we? I’m not asking because I don’t know, or am trying to divine a meaning, but it’s a repeated question.

Saum has a concussion. Sometimes she’s getting better; sometimes there is a slide backwards. She will forget events, names of people and pets, what room she’s in. This is scary, mostly for her, but anytime the memory goes it’s also scary for me. Today, she couldn’t remember the name of our dog, Barnabas. We made a sign for her to remember.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Feel the Pain

The best quote I heard last week, “this Vodou stuff isn’t for pussies.” Thanks Mambo, I needed that. My solace, the song that’s gotten me through this period is Dinosaur Jr’s Feel The Pain. (Best video ever.)

Dinosaur Jr.–Feel the Pain

On New Year’s Eve I had dinner with friends, and then we went to Heart of the Beast for an amazing New Year’s celebration. Everyone was having a great time, but something in me was off – amiss. I just couldn’t get into the festive mood. A feeling was there, something was going to happen and it wasn’t going to be good. A few days later the trouble began.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A path that Really Isn’t

by Mauricio Quintana, 昆游龍, a.k.a. cintain

Today’s guest post is by Mauricio Quintana. Mauricio works as a practitioner of various alternative medicine techniques, but considers himself above all an explorer and student of life and the human condition. He goes by the name Cintain on various online and offline social networks, and likes to travel almost a bit too much. He can be found by following the trail of endless rant on twitter, baited with single-malt scotch or the smile of a pretty woman, and persuaded to sing with nary an enticement. His blog can be found at

I. Amongst the Host of the Pretenders

Photo courtesy of Mauricio Quintana

The hardest part about doing the kind of work I do is keeping it real. There is literally a horde of people out there who claim to see energy, work with subtler aspects, and be in contact with a host of incorporeal entities. It is annoying. Moreover, it is pretentious. The thing that used to really drive me up the wall is the fact that, if you're into this sort of thing, there really isn't anything that you can say to refute them. After all, subtle perceptions are what they are, right? If you can't hear what the spirits are saying to me, surely you can't hear them at all, and then you're the poser, the liar, and the quack.

Effectiveness is another one of those "objective" measurements that become tenuous with these people. There are so many "levels", that maybe your healing has already happened and you're just too dumb to notice, too "out of touch" for it to work on you. I am continuously amazed at the followers of some of the more charismatic healers out there. It isn't so much that they're getting "better" as that they are becoming more capable of aligning themselves with the vision and speech of their leader.

Photo courtesy of Mauricio Quintana

The trappings of this work are so alluring, too. Sometimes it seems that the more feathers, bones, medallions, wristbands, and stridently-coloured dress on a person, the more powerful and effective their mojo. The styles vary with lineage, teacher, and tradition, but "badges" are more important with some of these clowns than with the military.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Full-contact Religion

We mill about the peristyle (our temple) waiting for the ceremony. Some of us catch up on the past week, or the past weeks, since we’ve last seen each other.

At no time in particular, the ceremony begins. Assons are rattled, the sound of bells fill the air. The drummers take up their sticks and pound out a rhythm. The singing begins. I struggle to find the song.

At this point the Lwa (the spirits) have not come. The songs are sung the best we can. The ceremony begins like so many have begun before. We reach out.

In me, I feel their absence. My song is not its best. It feels dry, but I carry on, responding to the call of the verses. People are slowly starting to move, but even my movements feel dry.

We move to the rhythms.

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Muse Has Left the Building

79200-Encounters in Nature by BTNewberg
Meditation in the North Woods
From the ebook Encounters In Nature

© 2011 B.T. Newberg

Last week I sat down to write and was struck by a horrible feeling. I didn’t like where my writing was going. Nothing seemed to work. My wife and best friend Saumya suggested I go back and re-read some of my earlier pieces (for completely different reasons) – I did. I began to feel that was the cause of my funk. I like to blame things on her, but really the blockage was all me. After writing The River is In Me, I longed to write more like it reaching for my departed muse; all my attempts failed.

There are some old pieces that moved me. I revisited: Crisis of Faith, There Is No Hell and My Other Family. Nothing seemed to work. I listened to Encounters In Nature, mainly because my friend Mauricio shared his feelings on it. Did it hold some kind of mojo I could tap into?

Replay complete: I’ve decided it’s time to take stock of how my life has changed over the past year.