Archive | Sylvia Allen

Sheet Music

I grew up not allowed to sing.  My father was a jazz musician all his life. He started playing professionally when he was 15, and was still doing that two or three weeks before he died, at age 86. He was a perfectionist, very critical, highly respected in his community, the west coast traditional jazz […]

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Magic

My mother, Marguerite, was very bright, absurdly literate, pathologically insecure, and a poet. As a young mother she gradually became aware that her first and most loved child was a psychopath, and believed that recognition of his defect would destroy her life. She could lose everything she loved most, both her son and her husband. […]

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Metaphor and Dementia: Dancing in the Sky

  In the metaphorical conversations I had with the patients on the dementia ward, certain themes came up again and again. Not surprising for people with late-stage terminal illness, a common theme was concern about work being finished. A teacher was anxious about whether the materials were ready for the next day’s classes. A caterer […]

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Writers, Metaphor, and Dementia: David’s House

Years ago, long before the advent of protease-inhibitor cocktails, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma, which in those days was an AIDS-defining illness—a death sentence. I felt helpless and horrified, unable to do anything for my buddy, but wanted to do something useful, so I volunteered at Shanti, a San Francisco […]

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Leaving the Best Day Job Ever

I have the best day job ever. I work at home. I never have to go into the office, which is 600 miles away. I set my own schedule. I can work more hours or fewer hours, as I please. My boss and long-distance co-workers are a pleasure to work with. The job is very […]

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