What's the goddamn rush?

Using the Scientific Method, I conducted a little experiment in human nature on Tuesday.
With the help of my cruise control, I drove the posted speed limit all day.
Dedicated observation, as well as careful analysis of the data, and I have come to the following hypotheses:
  • I did not lose anything - fame, time, temper – by taking it easy.
  • I raised my gas mileage nearly four miles a gallon (according to the 4Runner’s onboard readouts).
  • Others are truly and vehemently pissed off that you are going so goddamn slow.
Granted, I normally drive about 12 miles over the posted limits (getting caught up with all the others out there to go-go-go). But I always drive the speed limit – 25 mph – in my neighborhood. I hate it when people shoot down my street at 60, there are so many kids out and there are no sidewalks, so I just set the cruise and take it easy.
I get passed a lot. I get tailgated a lot.
I get flipped off a lot.
Tuesday was no different. A teenage girl in a P.O.S. Saturn nearly pulled out in front of me from a side street – then rode my ass until she turned down another side street and sped up to beat me to the access road.
Driving the limit – and observing all local traffic laws – I turned onto the access road behind a truck. And in front of the teenager at the next street.
She mouthed very bad things at me – and flipped me off, both hands.
She stayed behind me until we got to the freeway – and she cut through the onramp, cut off a semi, and got in front of me.
She took the same offramp as I did 10 miles later, and I pulled up right behind her – with me going the posted limit of 65 mph.
Telling. Very telling.
(I waved at her.)
The experiment also got me to actually look at posted speed signs. As I traveled down a minor highway, there was a “45 mph zone ahead” sign. About 100 feet later was the 45 mph speed limit. Dropping from 55 to 45 mph in 100 feet is impossible without serious braking. A mile later, the limit dropped to 40 mph, without warning, on a hill and a tight curve (I got a speeding ticket there last year – it’s a perfect place for a speed trap – doing 52 in a 40 mph zone).
Just before getting into the congestion of downtown, the limit drops to 35 mph.
And here’s where a guy in a Ford pickup had had enough. He shot past me, one-finger salute, as he sped by. I waved at him, too.
I got flipped off later in the day downtown as well (all of downtown is posted 35 mph, I’ve noticed) by another motherfucking Ford pickup driver. The dick in the trucker hat who kept getting caught at the same stoplights as I did – standing hood-to-hood in two lanes - for the next five miles.
My conclusion? Fuck it. Slow down. Take it easy.
And always give a big wave and a smile to those who are going to flip you off.

Shakin' the Green Weenie

It's bound to trip my editor up:

"Shaking Green Weenies in 50 to 70 feet of water found plenty of one- to 11/2-pound bass, but anglers had to fish them slowly."

A "Green Weenie" can be a drink (Corona and margarita mix); it can be what happens when a Marine gets fucked by the Corps; it also can be a trout fly.

But in this case, a Green Weenie is a plastic worm.

You shake your Green Weenie to catch bass. That's what Thursday's fishing report will say (after I explain it).

The Perfect Storm

I have been released on my own recognizance.
From therapy.
Again.
Third time is a charm (OK, the first time, dad got run over by a car, second time, marital infidelity came calling at 2 a.m.) and we’re hoping that nothing ass-plodes too bad in my life that I go screaming back to the couch (overstuffed chair, actually).
“You’re good,” my therapist said. “Just give me a call every once and again to check in, huh?”
Let’s put this in perspective. I’ve worked on experiencing my feelings, rather than burying them so they come out in fits and starts; I’ve worked toward not being a rescuer; mainly, I have worked on being an advocate for ThomG.
If I take care of myself first and foremost, I can take care of others even better.
The things I cannot control that churn on the margins of my life do not pain me. This is a huge accomplishment.
It’s like I’m a tiny craft on a vast and stormy ocean. I am water-tight, ship-shape. Cruising toward paradise.
In stormy seas.
If I take care of the craft, steer correctly and confidently, I will ride the storm out. And I will have the confidence and experience to ride out the next storm (or set of storms, since here at Surface Tension it is a continuous blender of the weather vortex).
“They” say time heals all wounds.
Sometimes, you have to take both your hands, reach behind you and grab your own ass.
And not be afraid to seek out the help of a trained therapist.
Who also talks about faith and spirituality.
And you stand on his porch, shrug your shoulders, figure you want to hug, but that’s not real manly, so you shake hands and look into day going to twilight and smile.
Knowing what you know now has made a major difference in your life.
Oh, still a work in progress, but having made the progress.
To be the advocate for myself.
To experience the richness of my emotions.
To continue to be the man I want to be.

On the advice of my liver

My liver has asked that I take a respite from alcohol.
And because I am very close to my liver, I have agreed.
It’s not like I’m abusing liquor, mind you. I’m not knocking back a fifth of bourbon or vodka every night – alone, huddled on the couch with a highball in my hand, drowning my sorrows.
I’m not drowning my morning Rice Crispies with beer, either. No Jello shots for lunch, no flask in my jacket pocket.
I’ve just been out-and-about lately. A lot.
Where there is drinking.
Case in point: Sunday’s Oscar party. The ticket got you a free glass of Champagne. I then had two drinks past that.
Saturday night, there was a party for the Shasta Land Trust, where a buddy bought me a two beers.
Add a couple of dinner invites with wine and a few get-togethers with buddies after work to grab a brew, and you see the pattern.
Not a lot of time off for this hard-working organ.
Even when the drinking is in total moderation.
My 44th birthday is March 20.
I’m on the wagon until then.
When I will raise a glass of ale, and toast to good health, good friends and good times.
And a clean liver.

The red carpet


I am disappointed in the supposed stretchy properties of the magic that is polyester.
Stepping into the 4Runner on the way to the 79th Academy Awards ceremony, the nylon zipper of my lime green polyester pants burst open.
“People are going to notice,” I thought.
I searched, in vain, for safety pins (no luck).
“You should have just came as is,” people said.
(Too much information time: I do not own a single pair of undergarments; this is a discussion for later).
I was late. I needed pants.
Passing on the spandex that is my cycling gear, I opted for my suit pants.
Not realizing that when you lose 35 pounds in the last four months, the only thing holding up your drawers is a belt that is on its last hole (and you can pull your drawers down to your knees even when buckled up).
I went with it.
My entourage was a bit smaller than anticipated, since it was cold, windy and I was late (wardrobe malfunction, as it were).
It was still memorable.
About 100 people showed up for the party.
The M.C.s recruited me for security detail. Sure, get he biggest, scariest guy there, wearing polyester and maroon pimp-daddy hat, and you get stuck behind the scenes.
They had an actual Oscar (real weight 8.5 pounds) to hand out to people for the donated awards during commercial breaks (no, I did not get a picture with the actual Oscar, go figure).
Still, it was a blast. People were dressed badly, were dressed to the 9s, it was all good.
I won for Best Supporting Actor. (and won a $50 dinner for two to the new Brazilian steak house in town – the second of my party up for serious contention at this point).
It was a fantabulous evening.
One that will get bigger next year (and I’m glad to have had a hand in its inception).
Polyester pants be damned.

Three hundred and sixty-five days is just a year

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, I was writing my last few stories from the Olympic press center in Sestriere, Italy. I was hours away from picking my wife up at the airport in Torino and escaping into the Italian countryside for a much-needed vacation.
I was in Italy for 34 days.
The last 14 were probably the best 14 days I've spent on this planet.
With someone I thought I knew and loved, 24 hours a day, 14 days straight.
I look back today not to dwell on the sins of the past (hers and mine), but to remind myself how fragile this life is.
And to live every day like it matters.
Because it does.
A year ago, I couldn't see the cracks in the dam, the gathering storm that is my life (and on the peripheral of my life). The churn has been simply amazing, a lot to take in in just 365 days.
But it is life. And it is unpredictable.
It'll be interesting in a year to post what the next 365 days look like.
Again, not to dwell on the past.
But to see where you've been - and look to the future.

Polyester

Trying to find decent polyester in this city is maddening.
The Cascade Theatre is hosting and Oscar party on Sunday. Hors d'oeuvres, Champagne, full bar – and everyone will watch the Academy Awards on the big screen.
What’s more, the gal in charge rented a limo and a camera crew. People will meet in the alley, jump in the limo for a ride around the block – where you’re deposited onto the red carpet. The TV crew will show live shots from the Cascade on the big screen, spliced into the real stars arriving in L.A.
One thing led to another, mass emails were sent, and it was decided that ThomG needed an entourage.
A posse.
Who was I to say no?
“So, ThomG, does it have to be all women, or would you be open to transvestites?” a colleague asked in the newsroom.
“I am all for trans-gender rights, and wouldn’t be opposed at all,” I said from across the newsroom.
One of the interns was noticeably uncomfortable.
“I think we damaged her world,” the immediate email said.
“Yeah, well, this is a newsroom, she’s going to need to harden the fuck up,” I responded. “I still remember the days when reporters could smoke and drink at their desks – which led to a lot of telephone throwing.”
I digress.
Women started emailing me, wanting in on my posse. One guy said I was an animal – and wanted in on my action.
We decided to go glam for the red carpet.
So my mission on Saturday was to find the finest-quality polyester I could afford (I took a $20 along).
I am not of a normal size. I am a Big Guy (not Big & Tall or Short & Fat, but broad-shouldered, muscular thighs). Apparently, men who donated their polyester to various thrift stores are more “average.”
First store we hit, I found a black velvet Oscar de Laurenta suit jacket – that was waaaay to small (it broke my heart).
I finally hit paydirt at the final store we went to – Second Time Around. First, I found a pair of black, square-toed tuxedo shoes in my size. A really interestingly-textured blue suit jacket (that is a bit snug). White scarf. Cream polyester wide-collared shirt. Maroon velvet pimp-daddy hat. Maroon silk pocket square. White leather belt with silver accents.
Lime-green polyester pants.
“Oh, these are hideous,” I said of the pants.
“Three bucks? Get them and wear them for St. Patrick’s Day, if nothing else,” my friend said. “Are they your size?”
They are (and it was half-price day on white-tagged items).
They are tight in all the right places (thighs mostly) and flair almost into bell-bottoms.
A buddy called while I was trying the pants on.
“You going to sock up like Mick Jagger?”
That’s a question that I will leave to your imaginations (sickos).
Total outfit cost – $18.26.
On Monday, there will be pictures here at Surface Tension from the red carpet.
Me and my posse.
In glorious polyester.

It is a lost cause, and I don't care to wage the battle

I am an educated man.
And through nearly 44 years, I have come to possess a fair amount of common sense; and elder friend described it over dinner on Thursday as “A wisdom of the world that is quite refreshing for someone still learning to find their way around.”
And yet, I have been beaten by a 12-year-old, 48-pound Australian shepherd/chow cross dog.
The war for the dog shit is over.
I surrender.
Each and every time I let those goddamn dogs out, I have to carry with me a plastic baggie, so I can pounce on Trinity’s shit before Scully has the chance to Hoover it up.
The muzzle was no match for this dog. I watched – in horror – as she used her tongue like an anteater to lick up Trin’s dung as it fell from her bunghole on Thursday.
Making matters worse was a development that started over the weekend.
Scully, after having feasted on shit, regurgitated it up on her kennel blanket.
You think dog shit is nasty coming out of one orifice?
Try two.
Fucking evil dog.

Aaaarrrrrrggghhhhhh!

As much as I hate to sound like a whiny bastard, I just don’t feel good.
Dry cough, watery eyes, runny nose, achy joints. Lots of phlegm. Mucus. Chunky lung-butter (oh, I know, too much information – it’s my bitch, so deal with it).
Been this way for a week, more or less.
“You should go to the doctor,” a co-worker said.
I know exactly what he’d say: “Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, avoid being strenuous for a bit.”
“What if it’s bronchitis?” she asked.
“Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, avoid being strenuous for a bit.”
“He doesn’t seem like a very good doctor, he should give you some pills,” she said.
Which is exactly why I like my GP – and find it only necessary to go see him when I get into massive amounts of poison oak every spring, to which he injects into my supple ass a big syringe of prednisone.
He doesn’t coddle me, and I don’t care to be coddled.
I just want to feel better. Right now.
Colds simply cramp my fucking style.
And I’m getting ready to waste another perfectly good weekend.
Uhhg.

Jungle rhythms

Whether it’s the rhythm, the tempo, whatever – music is a powerful force.
It cannot be contained.
It flows through us.
You can’t help but be swayed by it.
Especially when there's a good rhythm section.
Case in point: Wednesday’s mass was for the CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine – basically Catholic education) kids from the parish schools. The second- and third-graders sat in front of me, trying to be good.
It’s a hard thing to do, behave in church (I still have problems); the teachers gave stern looks, and a couple of times, had to grab an arm or two.
The high school kids brought several members of the band and choir to sing.
There was this one third-grader in the front row, Billy, who is either going to be the most popular kid while in high school – or the kid that has his shorts yanked up his ass every day with a wedgie. There is but two paths for this kid (during the sermon, which was directed at the children, Father kept asking questions, and it was Billy’s hand that shot up first. Always. Tells you a lot.)
Anyway, while Father blessed the ashes, the band played. And for the first time, the kid at the drums started getting jiggy with the beat.
Billy grabbed the pew railing and started shaking his head to the beat – it reminded me of a Ramones concert I attended once – and just started rocking.
All of a sudden, the third-grade boys erupted into a mass of shaking and dancing. Stern stares didn’t work; teachers were grabbing arms left and right (while the girls just sort of looked horrified).
It then spread to the kindergartners and the first-graders.
And stopped only when the drummer went back to his guitar.
It was the best Ash Wednesday mass I’ve ever attended.

The smudge

“Hey, you’ve got a big black smudge on your forehead.”
If you’re Catholic, you’ll hear this every year.
It’s Ash Wednesday.
The beginning of Lent – the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday and leading up to the resurrection of Jesus.
By cosmic kismet or just dumb luck, I had a coffee meeting this morning, and am meeting a friend for lunch. I’ll get ashed at the 4:30 p.m. mass.
Which means no one will need to tell me I’ve got a black smudge on my forehead.
(Tangent story time: I was back in Nebraska recently (and not surprisingly, this story takes place at Wal-Mart) and got behind a guy in line who was trying not to listen to the checker.
“Ummmm, I don’t remember, I think my father said it was the mascot or something,” the checker said.
“Uh, yeah, I dunno,” customer said.
“It was one of the Catholic colleges,” checker said.
“Uh, dunno.”
“What’s the question?” I said.
”Uh, I really dunno,” customer said.
“My dad had this nickname for this team,” checker said. “It was a Catholic school.”
“That would be Notre Dame Fighting Irish or Boston College Eagles,” I said.
“No, this had something to do with fish,” checker said.
“Mackerel-snapper,” I said.
“That’s IT!” Checker said.
“You do know that’s a derogatory term toward Catholics,” I said with a smirk.
“Oh, my gawd, no, I didn’t,” she said. “My dad was a fundamentalist Christian, he said a lot of things.”
“That,” I said, “I do not doubt.”)
Anyway, my bestest girlfriend called Tuesday night after leaving dad’s house for a visit.
“What are you giving up for Lent?”
“Nothing.”
“C’mon, you have to give up something. It’s tradition.”
“Sex.”
“You can’t give up what you aren’t getting.”
“Ouch – but then neither can you. OK, lima beans and tapioca pudding,” I said, telling her that it was my running joke with my mom.
“You don’t like tapioca pudding.”
“I know.”
“You have to give up something.”
“OK, on Fridays through Lent, I’ll fast. Completely.”
“But what if you do something athletic, you’ll pass out.”
“A risk I’m willing to take.”
“You’re going to do it?”
“Yep.”
“I asked your dad what he’s giving up for Lent, and guess what he told me?”
“That could be anything.”
“He said he gave up his foot for Lent, and that was as far as he was willing to go.”
Made sense to me.
You know where they get the ashes? Palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday – burnt and mixed with a little bit of oil. To stick.
And that way, all your non-Catholic friends can tell you that you’ve got a smudge on your forehead, there.

The View

From Wikipedia: “The View are a four piece indie rock/punk rock band from Dryburgh, a small district in Dundee, Scotland. They have been active in the music scene since early 2005, supporting more renowned acts including Babyshambles, Primal Scream and The Undertones.”

All I know is, I like “Wasted Little DJ’s” for the pure punk of it all – and I just heard the song for the first time on Monday (downloaded on iTunes on Tuesday).

Check out the video:

Lend me an ear

“My kid was diagnosed with A.D.D. when he was six, we’ve got a couple of kids that are bipolar, that kid over there has cerebral palsy in his leg or something, and see that kid right there? He just got out of jail,” the big guy said to the reporter – the one writing things down in his reporter’s notebook. “If you could, don’t talk to (juvenile delinquent). I want to stay positive.”
Strangers with this kind of honesty make me go a big rubbery one.
(I stole that from Fight Club, which I watched in a NyQuil-induced stupor Monday night).
But it is interesting what people will tell a perfect stranger like me, notepad open and pencil poised, after just a few minutes.
I seriously didn’t want to be at the BMX park on Friday. Not at 7 p.m. I was feeling like shit, I had already worked all day – and I now had to smile and write stuff down for a story. A story I wasn’t particularly interested in.
I had a really good time.
It’ll be a great story.
I guess it was because everyone was so open. These were lower middle class folks mostly, the people who serve your food and clean your homes.
And they were there to watch their kids ride their bikes along a dirt track. Keep them off the streets, keep them away from the blinking glow of a television screen.
I told the photographer that I needed a lot of shots.
“I’m going six columns with this story,” I said.
The whole page. Dedicated to BMX.
Because everyone opened themselves to me. Warts and all.
A lot of the comments will stay in the notebook. It never has been my desire to embarrass someone in print, especially someone so honest that I stop to just put the pencil down …
And listen.
Because, sometimes that’s all people want. They just want to talk.

Gonna need a ruling

Part of my 43 Things is to read 12 books outside my "normal comfort range."
I'm interested in a lot of things (my bookshelf holds everything from easy fiction from Crichon and King to titles like "Guns, Germs and Steel" to "A Natural History of the Senses"), but I was looking to expand on even that.
First, I read Panamahansa Yogananda's "Autobigraphy of a Yogi." Very interesting (but a bit dry).
I just finished Gail Tsukiyama's "The Samurai's Garden," which was fantastic.
"Sophie's World" is going to take me at least another month to get through - not because it's awful, but because it is so engrossing, there's no way to speed-read through it.
So I'm on the lookout for 10 more books outside my "comfort range."
Here's where I need a ruling:
There are two books on by bookshelf that I've started several times - but just can't get into. The first is "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" by Michael Chabon. I know, I know, people love it (it's become my former roommate's most-favorite book ever).
The second is "Life of Pi" by Yann Martel.
By "forcing" myself to read these two novels - critically acclaimed as they are - do they count toward my 43 Things?
I welcome your thoughts.

A dad update

For those who have asked, dad gets out of the hospital on Monday.
He is being released home - to the (suspect) care of third sister - until second and first sisters make arrangements to spend time with him.
Just in case, I have researched airfare to Omaha, and have alerted the authorities that I may need to fly on a moment's notice.
On Saturday, he called to say they were releasing him without any antibiotic orders, that the various infections he had were cleared up.
That's very cool.
He was a bit flustered on Saturday.
He can't say prosthesis (he has somewhat of a thick New England accent), so I told him to just call it a peg leg.
"They said I can get my pros-pres-pros, ahhh, peg leg in a couple of weeks. I decided that I want to go to the same pros-pres-prosis, ahhh, peg leg place for the fitting and the rehab."

The act had a certain symmetry

While bubbling with this cold on Saturday, I ran my errands.
At Target, the Shasta College firefigher cadets were having a fund-raiser car wash.
The truck was filthy.
I liked the symmetry of firefighters washing cars.
They brought their own hoses.

Texting SMTOE (sets my teeth on edge)

There are many things I just don’t get in this world:
But what I really don’t understand is text-messaging.
If you’ve got the fucking mobile in your hand already, just make the goddamn call.
Full disclosure; over the past month, I have sent my first series of messages. Usually replying to the person who text-messaged me.
I think I’m over it.
Because it takes me something like five minutes to send a 15-character text.
And because I’ve come to realize that text-messaging is stupid.
That thing in your hand is a mobile telephone.
Texting is dangerous for society. We no longer talk. And I’m starting to see email in text-shorthand.
“Afaik il cu2nite b4 dinr, l8r.”
(“As far as I know, I’ll see you tonight, before dinner, later.”)
Pretty soon, we’ll all just be grunting at each-other, like Neanderthals.
OMG, LOL =]

Rx means relax, dammit

You cannot hear it, but the sound here is my teeth, grinding.
It’s a sunny Saturday in Northern California – with temperatures expected to warm up to 75 degrees (24 degrees Celsius).
And I have the workings of a vicious cold bubbling in my chest.
It’s exactly where I intend to leave it, not full-blown, but (hopefully) skirting the full-on nasties of the common (fucking) Rhinovirus.
So, I’ve turned down two mountain bike rides, two hikes and one “hanging out drinking wine and watching the river” invite and one dinner invitation (which I think included a night at the local cinemaplex).
I’m percolating, and do not wish to share.
Complete lung-butter stuff.
But, like all colds, I feel like shit when I go to bed – and right when I get up.
Right now, I feel OK (as in slight runny nose, little cough, tired eyes).
I think I could ride. I think I could hike (seeing friends? Well, that would be just wrong, in my Typhoid Mary state).
But why tempt fate? Why be sick for a week, when I can just grit my teeth and wait it out?
Because I am a piss-poor patient (and in I am impatient). Colds are the worst.
I’m headed out to run two errands, where I will pick up some Airborne, some Zicam and (whoopee!) NyQuil for some evening entertainment
I will watch movies, order pay-per-view, read “Sophie’s World” in the sunshine of my front yard and generally take it easy.
Which is to say I will be completely bored in something like five hours.
A friend suggested Tom Ka Gai soup (all the while putting up her fingers in the sign of a cross to tell me that I should stay away today – love you, Jules, I know you peek from time to time) and I thought about a big bowl of Pho.
Good thing there’s Racha Noodle, my favorite Thai place, in the ‘Hood.

But I am not a unique snowflake

" You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are all part of the same compost pile."

- Tyler Durden, "Fight Club"

I have come to realize that there is another ThomG in the Blogsphere.
Holy CRAP.
That's what happens when you Google.
Your world view gets a lot smaller.
And you do realize that you are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.

I'm kind of a big deal

In the past 24 hours, I've had three people come up to me to tell me what a big deal I am.
Uh, huh.
On Tuesday, I had my talk with mountain climber (and altogether cool person) Laurie Bagley. She summited Mt. Everest last May, becoming the 19th U.S. woman to do it.
On Tuesday, she spoke to the largest of our city's Rotary Clubs.
The comments all went like this:
"It was funny, we kept asking her questions, and finally she looked at her watch and said, 'Guys, I appreciate all the questions, but I have a tea date with ThomG!'
"How do you rate?"
Trust me, it's not because I'm a big deal.
Laurie's just fantastic person, a caring friend.

Indulgence

Sometimes, indulgences are thrust upon you.
Los Lobos played the Cascade Theater Thursday night, an acoustic show that was freaking brilliant.
I know, I was there.
Tuesday, a friend asked if I was going. I though the show was sold out. She said she had to go talk to a Cascade official, and she’d “scope out the scene.”
“There were four tickets left,” she said. “You owe me $32. Oh, and sushi at 6 p.m.
“You need to get out, ThomG.”
I had the mirage roll, teka maki, a bowl of miso soup and a couple of Asahi beers.
Great conversation, as people kept joining and exiting our table.
And no questions asked about my “situation.”
The show was amazing. Four guitars, four guitarists. Pure music in a acoustically fantastic theater.
Los Lobos played traditional Mexican ballads and mixed in stuff from their albums “Kiko” and “Acousitc En Vivo” during the first set.
Toward the end of the second set, they got electrified and played tracks off “The Town and the City.”
For an encore, they covered Neil Young’s "Cinnamon Girl" (very cool), and ended with “La Bamba” (which I could have done without).
It was a fantastic February indulgence.

A dad you can rely on

I've been in a foul mood all day (but one of my lunch partners said I hid it well).
So I called up dad.
"Hey, hold on a sec, I have to lie down in bed - and I'm not quite used to having missing parts."
First sister and I passed an email back and forth last night on how strong and funny dad is.
There's no pretense. He is what he is. And he's wickedly funny.
"I've been doing my exercises all day, the ones I was doing before, but now I do stump raises."
I bit.
"Stump raises?"
"Yeah, they're like leg raises, only I do them with my stump."
"I've been walking today, too."
My turn to volley.
"Walk - or hop?"
"Well, I call it walking, but some probably would say it's more like hopping."
I told him that my bestest girlfriend was supposed to come visit.
"You think I should put on a pair of pants?"
"I think you need to do what you feel is right for you."
He howled.
"I put on some pants, then. Don't want to give anybody a big shock."
He's doing so well, the doctors said he could have been released on Thursday. He's going to stay in the hospital until Monday.
"The prosthesis guy is coming in tomorrow," he said. "Explain to me all the special features that come with picking out a new leg."
"Well, pick out a good one."
"Oh, you bet. I'll give you a call when I know just what those new features are."
My day got a lot better.
How could it not?

It was self-inflicted

It is the cold and flu season.
And this is what happens when modern pharmacopeia collides horribly with a holistic approach to healing.
Especially when ThomG tries to marry the pair (in some misguided search for mysticism in the machine).
Explosive diarrhea.
I began to feel grippy on Tuesday, that little tickle in the back of the throat thing, with hint of sinus congestion. Tired eyes, blech.
Normally, I’d guzzle a bit of NyQuil and just say “bye-bye” for the rest of the evening.
But I was fresh out.
And the prospect of Mariah Carey-inspired dreams while on NyQuil put enough of the bah-jeezus in me to Google “cold remedies holistic,” where I read, with interest, that cayenne pepper does a body good.
“So,” says I, “how would one go about blending over-the-counter apothecary with holistic healing?”
Bloody Mary.
Think about it: You’ve got all those vitamins and minerals in the tomato juice, fruit (lime wedges), vegetables (a celery stalk and giant Spanish olives) plus the all that goodness of an alcohol-induced stupor. I like my Bloody Marys spicy, so the more cayenne, the better.
I passed on the NyQuil and bought a giant bottle of Smirnov Triple Distilled vodka ($5.69 off with my Safeway Club Card).
Only to find that I was fresh out of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. Essential components of the essential Bloody Mary.
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
Into the shaker went ice, celery seed, a heavy-handed shake (or eight) of cayenne, kosher salt, fresh-cracked black pepper, cumin, ground fresh, nearly-famous, Tulelake horseradish, tomato juice, lime juice and (lots of) vodka.
While not completely satisfying (bloody fucking awful), I finished the first…
And concocted a second.
Twenty minutes later, the boiler ass-ploded.
“They” call it the trots, because you trot out of bed every 15 minutes or so in a race for the roses in the fucking Kentucky Derby.
I have seldom been so miserable – no alcohol-induced coma, but such a deep fear of pooing the bed that it bordered on serious paranoia (I ended up not seeking a holistic approach here, but downed four Imodium with several bottles of water between midnight at 5 a.m.)
Seriously, I was “Up All Night” (Boomtown Rats, anyone? “…They know they're alive, when they start to feel pain…)
Funny thing is, I do feel a world better today; I didn’t ride last night, didn’t walk the dogs, just went to bed, read…
And simply cut out the fruits and the spices and went right for the good stuff:
A couple (three) dry Martinis up, a little dirty with three olives.

A love, unconditional

I have been linked to this person since birth (she’s 10 days older than I am) and we’ve shared an intriguing bond across nearly 44 years.
But I know hardly anything about her.
And yet, I love her.
(Not in a “oh, baby, oh, baby” kind of way either; it is much deeper, on so many different levels that I can’t even begin to explain – and I’m supposed to be so good with words.)
I can go years without seeing or talking to her, but when I do, we just return to this weird lock-step pattern – like when you’re walking with friends down the street and all of a sudden realize your legs have become synchronized – and everything is interesting and alive again.
It’s old, but it’s new, too.
How love should feel.
Is it true love?
How the hell should I know?
I just know I love her on a lot of levels.
(She came over for dinner with much of my family; we spent time in the kitchen, trying to talk – but spent most of the time looking intensely into each-other’s eyes, and felt this urge to touch, to hug, to hold one-another – as people kept streaming in. She managed to grab my hand once, and wink.)
She has a marriage that is messier than mine own.
“I just don’t want to get into anything right now,” she said in the kitchen. “It’s just too hard to explain to people.”
“I don’t want to start anything either,” I said. “Timing is everything.”
While home, every time my cell rang, I hoped it was her. To talk. To make plans to see her cabin by the Platte River. To see her.
To be close, just for an instant.
“I can’t believe that two weeks is almost up,” she said as she gazed into my eyes. “Everything is so complicated.”
She’s got a 6-year-old son (and I had I all could handle with my 78-year-old father).
She has a husband that hasn’t touched her, held her, in years.
And she’s beautiful and strong and interesting (she cried as hard as we did at my mom’s funeral – she came to the graveside services – because of our shared experience; I was her first kiss and she was mine; she has, in a shoebox, every note and card I have ever written her; and it was my mom who was her first visitor at the hospital when her son was born).
Over the weekend, she called to check on my dad.
She cried for his trials (and sent me to tears, because she truly cares).
She’s already made plans to visit dad in the hospital.
She is a woman to love.
A woman to caress softly, to kiss roughly (when rough, animalistic kisses are called for) and to hold – so close that you can’t tell if that is your heart beating fast – or hers.
My life is in California; hers is in Nebraska.
Never say never (we did, during one of our marathon discussions, vow to hook up if when we were 60 and both single). Life is a mystery that opens slowly. Whatever happens, happens.
I am without hope or agenda, when it comes to a relationship with her. We always will remain friends – the kind of friend who can tell you hurtful, necessary things, but without the sting of anger – and that’s even better.
Because what I’ve realized since our last embrace is there is another soul on this planet who loves me unconditionally. Because it has always been.
A love that crosses both time and space.
I’m one lucky bastard.
No matter how much bullshit gets piled on this life, that life, we remained connected.
And those few stolen instances of a kiss or an embrace or just a look and a smile are elevated to something simply magical.

'Love is like oxygen'

I believe in everlasting love.
I belive I will fall in love again.
Because when you have true love in your heart, it's a shame not to share it with others.
(Or get true love returned).
It will take time.
But it will be worth it.
In honor (not scorn) of this day (which a cynical friend calls a trumped-up Hallmark affair), I bring you the love medley from "Moulin Rouge!"

Off (on the right foot)

Dad came out of surgery at 11:30 p.m. CST.
First sister said he was doing well.
The surgeons were confident that they got all the staph-infected tissue.
The reason it took them so long?
Ever had a spinal?
Dad's first didn't take.
They had to give him two to knock him out.
Fuuuuuuuccckkkkkk.
Progress reports to follow.
Once I talk to the man.
Who has to be the toughest S.O.B. I know.

Spare parts

The surgery is set for 2 p.m. CST.
A flurry of mobile calls while I drove to work: a very close friend from my hometown called and will visit dad today – and called the church to make sure they were aware (and would send someone), then called to add dad to a rosary circle that prays every day (I love this woman!); first sister called to say her driving progress was slowed due to snow, but there she would be there; my friend, Don, just called to check on me.
I called dad for one last pep-talk.
“The doctor’s here right now looking at my leg,” he said.
“Tell him to get a Sharpie out and write, ‘Take this leg only,’” I said.
“Hey, my son wants you to write on my leg, so you know which one to take,” dad said, laughing.
“Don’t worry, Ed, I actually do have to initial it,” the surgeon said. “But I’m sure by just looking, we’ll know which one to take.”
“My leg looks pretty bad. I don’t think they’ll mess up.”
I had to ask…
“So, dad, what do they do with your leg when they’re finished?”
“What do you mean what do they do with it?”
“Do you get to keep it?”
“What the hell would I want it for?”
“I dunno, you could put it in the freezer, join up later.”
“Maybe I could bury it, I’ve got a plot.”
“Or you could bury it under the maple tree.”
“Yeah, I could do that; hey what do they do with my leg?
“They burn it.”
“Burn it? You OK with that?”
“Christ, I don’t want the thing.”
Keep it light.
Dad’s ready.
“Thanks, Thom. Thanks for calling. I’ll let you know when they’re done. It’s going to be fine.”

Forward, Ho! (Into the Abyss)

“You’re like totally digging on my Skye-bird, huh?” Jason’s brother’s fiancĂ© blurted out over beers on Friday.
Yes, there’ a huge physical upside to this woman: 5-foot, 11-inches tall, raven hair, olive skin, hazel eyes and she’s built like a woman should be – all hips and curves (and has no need or desire to spend her time looking at labels to check the friggin’ carb amounts).
She’s also very sweet and very kind, judging from just a couple of conversations.
“You are totally in,” the fiancĂ© said. “She’s going to be at my wedding, you’re going to be at my wedding; you guys have a couple of drinks, you get out on the dance floor – and you’re hooking up.”
“What time frame are we talking about here?” I said as I turned red – and Jason kept poking at me under the table.
“We’re getting married in June, that’s like four months,” she said. “Of course, she likes tattoos.”
I showed her my three.
“You are so in.”
And thus the theme of this post emerges: I am ready to move on. I need to move on.
Because I’m human – and humans require touch and feeling and closeness of the opposite sex (if you’re heterosexual, like me).
Hell, we deserve it – as much as we crave it.
The thing about a divorce is, you get a lot of advice, opinion, blanket statements. Mostly unsolicited, but sometimes you open yourself up to it by answering questions that close friends are only allowed to ask.
Here’s a sampling, on-topic:
“Oh, ThomG, you’re nowhere ready to date yet.”
“Honey, you’re damaged goods for a good six months.”
“You’re going to hate women for a good long time, and that’s OK.”
“Go out and get yourself a good grudge-fuck.”
“Hey and don't wait until your divorce comes through to start your life again, you don't need a bit of paper to say 'the show must go on'...get on with it now, life is for living.”
“You’d be celibate for nearly a year thinking like that. I dunno if I could do that. What I’m saying is, I think you get a signed petition for divorce, and you’re a free man.”
“The one thing you don’t realize, is that when you are ready, you jump straight to the front of the eligible bachelor line.”
“Dude, just go for it – she didn’t wait, and neither should you. Go, be happy. You’re a handsome dude.”
The decision to move forward comes with terrific trepidation.
On two levels.
I’m a guy. I have a penis. I like sex. Mr. Stiffy would like some female companionship. A shag, a toss, a fuck. Getting laid would do a body good.
Ahhhh, but I also am in touch with the emotional aspect of the act (call it being in tune with my feminine side).
It’s why I’ve only had a couple of one-night stands in my life (and didn’t feel good about them at the time).
The need to fuck conflicts with the need for an emotional connection. I have no want or desire to be a dick. But I want to be honest. I’m currently not looking for Ms. Right, just Ms. Right Now.
Does that make any sense?
I did get some very good advice from a terrific, insightful woman on the subject of moving forward (that addresses the mess above):
“If you're going to start dating again, be nice to the first girl. You (and maybe her) will both know she's not forever but part of the healing process, so don't promise what you can't deliver. Find a girl who's not looking for the happy ever after, if you just need the company, someone to hold, etcetera.”
Someone, right now, to hold, to joke around, to cook dinner and drink wine and listen to jazz – with no promise of a future – would feel fantastic.
I do know what I want – and deserve somewhere down the line. A woman who is deep, who truly cares about the world around her, someone who has true nurturing feelings and is open about sharing them – and is willing to give me her entire heart for the rest of our lives.

And in a different part of America...

Currently, before heading out to Nordic walk, I'm cleaning my house.
First sister is busy shepherding around U.S. presidental candidate Barack Obama around her college campus.

Soothe the savage beast

Yeah, music soothes the savage beast.
I got some unexpected cash in the mail on Saturday.
This was on the heels of what amounted to a pretty shitty fucking day (more on this later).
I spent most of the day painting my (former) step-daugher's room (pine green), which was extremely bittersweet (it was purple, with little butterfly stencils).
So, I'm drinking a beer, eating homemade chili, and downloading songs on iTunes.
When I'm done, I'm going to burn the songs to a CD, put the disc in the CD player and turn the volume to 11 (fuck the neighbors).
Here's the final tally:
TV on the Radio: “Wolf Like Me”
The Cat Empire, “Sly”
The Shins, “Phantom Limb”
Modest Mouse, “Dashboard”
Bloc Party, “I Still Remember”
Kaiser Chiefs, “Ruby”
Mikey Avalon, “Jane Fonda”
Dinosaur Jr. “Start Coppin”
The Flaming Lips, “She Don’t Use Jelly”
+44, “When Your Heart Stops Beating” (the potty-mouth version)
Beck, “Think I’m In Love”
The Raconteurs, “Level”
AFI, “Miss Murder”
Dead Kennedy’s “To Drunk To Fuck”
Matisyahu, "Message in a Bottle"
Ben Folds, "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You"
I welcome your thoughts.

I'm on the map

Surface Tension has gone global - just check my ClustrMap - and that is very, very cool.
Now, it seems, that Clustr has bestowed on me it's User of the Month for January.
Jeez, now I really have to be smart and creative in whole new ways.

Sign of the Apocalypse

I suppose, in this day of pandering to the lowest common denominator to determine what is news, it shouldn't have surprised me that my newspaper put the death of Anna Nicole Smith on its front page.
I walked into the bank on Thursday to see that the televisions they have set to Fox News Channel were showing live pictures of a casino rooftop and barking that Smith had collapsed and had been rushed to the hospital.
I do not speak ill of the dead.
But who the fuck is Anna Nicole Smith, and why should she rise above a mention on the personality page to the front page? I mean, she rose to fame taking her clothing off, then stayed well past when her 15 minutes of fame were up by marrying some old oil tycoon to get his money, becoming a fat reality TV star, hawking diet pills and then having a baby whose father is in question while her son died of a drug overdose in her hospital room.
On Wednesday, four U.S. Marines were killed in Iraq.
The Marines, who were assigned to Multi-National Force — West, died from wounds sustained due to enemy action in two separate incidents in the insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, according to a statement. The deaths raised to at least 3,114 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
That news, however, didn't make it to the front page of my newspaper.

On the (water) wagon

A friend of mine wrote a great opinion piece in the newspaper on Thursday, one that has stirred this water-drinker to action.
I am a bottled-water consumer.
I also am a dedicated fisherman and conservationist.
But when my last flat of bottled water is drunk - the bottles left for the recyclers - I will purchase bottled water no longer.
I usually buy a case of bottled water for $4.98; that’s for 24 bottles – when I could just fill any old bottle or glass from the tap for free (or for whatever the city is charging me already for all my water consumption).
I looked at the label on the bottled water – and it’s “purified” tap water from Los Angeles.
What a dipshit I am.
The water in Upstate California is some of the purist around. It falls as snow on the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains. And my community does not add fluoride to its water (although it does add chlorine).
If I want to take the chlorine out of the water, all I have to do is got to my Mega Hardware Outlet and buy an under-sink purifier for less that $100.
I chose to drink bottled water, since it was an easy way to track my consumption.
Yet in the cupboard, I have a mix of at least five Nalgene or Sigg water bottles. All of which hold a liter of water – and have marks in both liters and ounces.
Refill. Reuse. Keep on drinking water.
Because I need it. We all need it.
The human body is 70 percent water; break that down further and the liver is 96 percent water, blood 90 percent water and the brain is 85 percent water.
Humans need a gallon of water a day to stay healthy (yes, drinking a gallon of water a day will cause you to pee – a lot; my motto, “Pee clear, and pee often.”)
I just don’t need to keep adding all those plastic bottles to the environment.
And it stops, soon.

TV On The Radio

Every once and again, a band comes along that manages to get that perfect hook into you with a song.
Brooklyn, N.Y.-based TV On The Radio is like that on their new CD, "Return to Cookie Mountain."
The song "Wolf Like Me" has a hook that just seems to blend so many styles and is so rich that you end up thinking about it long after the song ends. There's a certain sex quality about it, hot, sweaty, primal.
It's like having a passionate quickie when you've just come in from the beach - and the rest of the evening you find yourself returning to the memory of the energy - the heat - of pure animalistic sex.

See if that makes any sense:

My mantra

According to Laurence Gonzales in “Deep Survival,” successful survivors develop a mantra.
And I desperately wanted a mantra.
“It can be anything,” Gonzalez writes. “(Steve) Callahan’s seems to have been nothing more than the word ‘survival’ itself. Over and over again, he’s say something like, ‘Concentrate on now, on survival.’”
This life is a journey of discovery. I fully understand that obstacles have been places in my path for a higher purpose. That I will scale these hurdles (I always do, brilliantly), and I will be a better person for it.
But the pressures weigh heavy – and have been getting heavier even since I got off that AirBus A318 Monday in Sacramento. I struggle to see the path.
I knew Monday morning that things were not going to be good when I returned from Nebraska.
I dry-heaved until my dad called to ask if I was OK.
“Doing good,” I lied.
I dry heave to mask the emotions I need to feel to successfully get through all this.
Tuesday, I got up and just repeated, “Enough, that’s enough now.”
I did not dry heave (but I did have a couple of good cries on Tuesday as waves of emotion flowed through me).
Wednesday, I did it again.
“Enough, that’s enough now.”
Two days, no dry heaves.
The pressure I currently face is enormous (whether it is of my making or not). So far, so good, in facing it. Feeling it.
Forgetting it.
It’s good to have the mantra.
“Enough, that’s enough now.”

The Sound of Music

It’s the only way I could get back in the swing of things at the office (in true Surface Tension style):
Talking with TheRobRogers about a point of music – specifically Nine Inch Nails “Closer” – he produced his iPod to listen to a cover version by Richard Cheese.
(The guy sings lounge versions of popular songs; it is pretty brilliant).
Closer, for the uninitiated, is a very naughty song (click on the link there for the lyrics).
Hearing it sung by a lounge crooner just adds something. Something very special.
Excited, I pulled up iTunes on my laptop to see if the music store had any Richard Cheese for download.
They’ve got everything.
So I clicked to hear the 30-second snippet of “Closer.”
Not realizing that my headphones were no longer plugged into the computer.
“You let me penetrate you, you let me complicate you…”
The sound was on full-blast.
For the entire office to hear.
It’s a newsroom, meaning a completely open office where some 150 people are jammed together in a tight space.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve every seen ThomG blush.”
“I’ve never seen ThomG move that quick!”
“Was that you? I heard it completely over at my desk! That was naughty!”
“So, ThomG, what are you listening to?”
“Can I hear that again?”
Fuck.
Me.

Stuck in airports

The plan was hatched over a double Jim Bean, straight with a water back.
Trapped at Denver International Airport for a three-hour, 20-minute layover, I watched as people gathered – directly opposite the gate for my flight to Sacramento – for a British Airways flight to London.
I'd become a stowaway.
I’d just join the ebb and flow of the line, hang near the back lavatory until nearly everyone had boarded – and found myself an empty seat for a Trans-Atlantic adventure to the British Isles.
I admit, there were flaws in my plan.
I didn’t have a boarding pass.
Or my passport.
But it would have made for some interesting storytelling, in the end.
It’s not like I want to run away from anyone.
Or anything.
It’s just being trapped in the petri dish (anything you touch is bound to have some exotic organism stuck too it – wash your mitts at the airport – often) that is a major airport...
for hours...
sucks.
I managed, in my time in Denver, to break two of my 43 Things (I chewed my fingernails bloody and scarfed down a Big Mac and large fries; I’m so ashamed).
That’s why I meandered into the Cowboy Bar in the first place, to give my mind something to do (and drinking, I admit, probably wasn’t the greatest course of action; for the drinks I purchased, I could have waited until I was on the ground in Cali and bought myself a whole bottle of whiskey) and to hatch my plan for becoming a stowaway.
But you can’t stay in an airport bar forever (you’ll go broke or you'll go nuts).
So I amused myself with people-watching and eavesdropping on conversations.
I watched from the British Airways side of the gates (just, you know, in case I saw an opportunity) as people meandered through the A gates in Denver.
Mostly, I cast casual glances at the backsides of women.
I am a butt man. I am not ashamed of it.
There are men (my father being one of them) who will oogle women with large breasts. The larger, the better. And I mean give a hard stare at chest-level.
Not me.
I do not oogle.
I observe.
Buttocks.
Even the most casual observation can get interesting.
I took a cell call, and as I looked up again, there was a woman standing with her back toward me, taking on her cell. A fabulous butt in blue jeans.
And she turned.
Exposing her very pregnant stomach.
At first, I was horrified.
Then I thought, “Hey, that’s a beautiful thing.”
OK, so maybe I am a perv.
I then switched to listening in on others’ conversations. One-sided cell conversations and two-sided ones between people trapped at the airport like me.
(Tangent story time; I’ve listened to conversations for forever. Once, in college, I was at a “gentlemen’s club” when a very outspoken state legislator – and avowed ‘Christian Conservative’ - came in with his chief of staff and some other guy. They sat down at the table next to us and started to spew dirt on his fellow legislators, and I spent the next 30 minutes taking notes on bar napkins – then I called my journalism professor from the pay telephone in the men’s room in a beer-enhanced giddiness to report the legislator saying very baaaad things.
“And what do you think you’re going to do with these notes?” he asked. “You, my son, are at a titty bar yourself. That kind of shoots down your objectivity and a sense of fairness, don’t you think?” Well, he had me there).
I know writers who eavesdrop on conversations all the time. They walk around with little notebooks and write stuff down. Then, they go home, write quotes down on index cards and file them. It is seriously easier to take quotes from real life – rather than make them up when writing a piece of fiction.
I didn’t hear anything good.
I should have made a run for that British Airways flight.

I've been tagged

In the spirit of good, clean fun (and because it's the first time it's happened) I have been tagged - and have responded. Thanks, SkiGirl, for tossing down the challenge.

Here goes:

A – Available/Single? – Let’s chat in six to eight months, shall we?
B – Best Friend? – Jason, because he understands me best – and knows when to listen and when to kick me in the ass.
C – Cake or Pie? – Pie; key lime.
D – Drink Of Choice? – Espresso coffee, done right (usually an Americano, but I have to say that starting today, I have begun to put aside something each month to buy my own espresso machine) and whiskey (Bulleit Frontier Whiskey or Rebel Yell Bourbon) with just a splash of water. Yeah, I’m a man’s man. Man.
E – Essential Item You Use Everyday? – Reporter’s notebook, pencil, laptop (kind of a combo thing).
F – Favourite Colour? – Ahhhh, shades of green. For eyes, whom I'm attracted to (this is a rip-off from SkiGirl) – hazel.
G – Gummy Bears Or Worms? – Gummy bears (the pineapple ones are the ones I like the best).
H – Hometown? – Not much left for me there; that’s why the town that I live in now feels more like home than home. Wish dad would move out.
I – Indulgence? – Oakley sunglasses (expensive), RockStar Energy Drinks (not so expensive).
J – January Or February? – January, because it’s a whole new ballgame.
K – Kids & Their Names? – Hmmm, another tough one; two (stepchildren) who I love with all my heart (Cody and Jessica).
L – Life Is Incomplete Without? – Someone special with which to share it (and maybe a fine cigar - an Arturo Fuente Hemingway, perhaps).
M – Marriage date? – March 29; we almost made it to another anniversary and that sorrows my heart something fierce (because it didn’t need to end).
N – Number Of Siblings? – Four.
O – Oranges Or Apples? – Oranges.
P – Phobias/Fears? – I have an irrational fear of losing an appendage; when I go through a yellow light in the truck, I tap the roof (no, I don’t know why I do it, but I’ve done it since I got behind the wheel of a car).
Q – Favourite Quote? – “Never wear your best trousers when you go out to fight for freedom and truth.” (Henrik Ibsen).
R – Reason to Smile? – Most everything is a reason to smile, because if you can’t smile, if you can’t laugh, then you’re not much of a human being. Even when I get most pessimistic, I can always find something that makes me smile. Life’s kinda funny that way.
S – Season? Spring, especially in Northern California. Sleeping with the windows open, kayaking at Whiskeytown Lake, taking an epic mountain bike ride (nearly any direction from my house), walking along the Sacramento River Trail and spreading the maps out to plan a summer backpacking trek.
T – Tag people? – Jason, Stevo, RachelRenae (gotta share the fun).
U – Unknown Fact About Me? – I sometimes pee in the bathroom sink (and reserve the right to explain why).
V – Vegetable you don’t like? – Eggplant
W – Worst Habit? – Trying to be perfect all the time.
X – X–rays You’ve Had? – I believe the only thing I haven’t had X–rayed … no, well, come to think of it, I had that X–rayed, too.
Y – Your Favourite Food(s)? – Panag curry, medium–rare ribeye steak (bone–in, at least two inches thick), tekka maki rolls (with warm sake), fresh–caught brook trout cooked over a campfire, Buffalo chicken wings (medium–hot and in moderation).
Z – Zodiac Sign? – Western Horoscope – Pisces; Chinese – Rabbit (and I’m mildly amused by all of it).

Saturday morning cartoons

Ahh, yes. Saturday morning.
In my youth, it was spent in front of the television, watching cartoons and eating from a bowl overflowing with Corn Pops or Quisp (a poor-man's Cap'n Crunch).
The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour opened the morning (before sunrise), while H.R. Puffinstuff ended it (around noon).
In the middle was my favorite, Jonny Quest.
Here's the original opening clip, only in Spanish, with English subtitles.
Gives it a sort of international flavor, mixed with the cool jazz music (my buddy from Dallas, Jim Heath - aka The Rev. Horton Heat - remade the track for the CD "Saturday Morning Cartoon's Greatest Hits").

Medical mofos

“Like my leg of lamb?”
Healthcare in the United States is seriously fucked up. No one can afford it, and the care you do get is usually horribly substandard.
Dad’s bandages had soaked up so much blood overnight that his lower leg did resemble a piece of meat.
And the homecare company – FirstChoice – decided not to show up on Saturday.
Dad called.
The nursing supervisor called back.
Dad let her have it, only very subtly. He never raised his voice, he didn’t argue. He just kept talking over this woman.
It was a master-stroke of guilt. I even felt bad, and I was just listening.
“We’ll just let (the doctor) hash everything out,” dad said as a last statement, as you could hear the nursing supervisor try to explain. “Thank you, thanks for nothing. Bye.”
And he hung up on her.
“Looks like you’ll need to change the bandage.”
Which I am happy to do. Anal-retentive behavior always leads to doing a job well.
That sucker is wrapped extremely well.
But the hematoma is swelled with blood and fluid.
“I don’t think that’s going to last a whole day,” I said.
“We’ll see,” dad said. “You can always change it again later.”
I’m going to have to get some of the fluid out. And what I’d like is FirstChoice to come out with a big needle and drain it that way. I’d rather not have to squeeze dad’s leg like a pimple.
“That’s OK, I’ll just take some pain pills before you do it,” he said.
Bleh. Save a Vicodin for me.

We've got the black and blues

My dad has a hematoma.
A very severe bruise, two inches about the skin graft.
And it keeps filling up with blood (the surgeons squeezed more than a cup out of dad’s leg).
He took the pain – and sweat through his clothing – as they worked on him.
“You get a gold star for pain today,” he said.
I was in tears.
The plastic surgeons, the ones who did the muscle graft, were very pleased with how the graft looks. They are mildly concerned about the hematoma and the blood, but not overly worried.
“We’re not giving up, and neither should you,” the lead surgeon said.
The infectious disease doc isn’t worried either – that the antibiotic he’s on now is the correct one for the bone infection.
And it is the infection in the bone that holds the key to all of this.
So, we continue to treat that.
And watch the bruise.
He’s been taken off the blood thinner medication.
And I will teach the homecare nurse tomorrow how the surgeons want his leg wrapped from now on.
Dad’s resting, trying to think about what to have for dinner.
I’m in a funk.
I fly back to California on Monday.
I feel like I should stay. But I can’t. I’ve got things to face, work to do.
The worry makes my skin crawl. I am lethargic. I am sorrow.
Dad can sense it.
“Tell you what,” dad said. “You can come back out if they cut my leg off. I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done.
“But you have to take care of yourself, too.”
I find no comfort in that.

Big chickenshit that I am

Blogger keeps asking if I'd like to customize Surface Tension.
"We've introduced a new tool for customizing the appearance of your blog. Before you can use this tool, you'll need to upgrade your template. By upgrading, you will lose many of the changes you previously made to your template. However, we will save a copy of your current template so that you can access it later."
I dunno.
I like the look of Surface Tension, but change can sometimes be a hoot.
It's not like I'll completely kill the thing, especially if Google saves my template.
And, for a few more days, I've got some time on my hands...

Regret

The Failure rate for second marriages in the United States, according to Divorce Magazine (yes, they have their own magazine) is more than 60 percent.
Never did I think I would be on the wrong side of that statistic (truth be told, it is Sharon’s third divorce), since I was supremely arrogant to think I could handle anything and everything that gets thrown at a second marriage:
Money issues were No. 1 (not in our case).
Stepchildren issues (nope).
Poor communication (to a degree, yes).
Sexual or physical abuse (no way).
Infidelity (whoops – on her part).
But this isn’t about divorce rates.
A friend asked the other night if I regret marrying Sharon.
Regret, according to the dictionary is, “…to feel sorry about, or to mourn for (a person or thing gone, loss, etc.)”
So no, I do not regret marrying Sharon, nor do I have any regret divorcing her, either.
(I know that I did everything I could to save this union; and until she seeks help for her issues – whether they be mental or physical – it is my opinion that she will be doomed to repeat her mistakes for the rest of her life.)
But I got to thinking about things and I do have but one regret.
Before we were married, I got a vasectomy for her. My gut told me not to, but I did it anyway.
I regret that I will never be able to father a son or daughter of my own (and to all of you who say, “A vasectomy can be reversed,” this one cannot. Time, and my surgeon’s competence, mean no more happy, healthy swimmers from me).
I would have been a terrific (biological) father (I already am a terrific stepfather).
And in all of this, I will never get the chance to bear that out, to prove it (biologically).
And I mourn not having a son or a daughter to carry on the essence that is me.