Archive for May, 2010

The Snows of Griffith Park*

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 30, 2010 by tom

The Man first appeared in my high-beams somewhere outside Dodge City, Kansas.  It was late, about three exits past when I should've pulled off to sleep, and I kept nodding off as I drove.  Maybe the company would do me good.  I slowed down.  The Man looked safe enough: clean jeans and shirt, and a sport coat.  I pulled over, leaned across the truck and opened the passenger door.

"Thanks for stopping."

"Where you headed?"

"I'm not sure.  I'll just ride along for awhile if you don't mind."

I eased back onto the highway, grateful for the company. 

"I have a cooler in the back seat if you're thirsty."

"Thanks."

The Man reached back and pulled the cooler into his lap.  He pulled out a half-gallon of rum and a little baggie of white powder.  The Man shook his head and laughed.

"Hah. This yours?"

"NO!" I was rattled.  "I don't drink anymore, and I was never into coke."

"Of course not.  This was meant for me"  The Man shook his head, smiling.  "Rum and coke. Man, I could tell you stories.  Do you mind?" He nodded toward his window.

"Help yourself."

He rolled down the window and tossed out the bottle and the baggie.  He reached into the cooler and pulled out two bottles.  He handed me a Diet Mountain Dew and took a Diet Coke for himself.

"How long you been sober?" he asked, twisting open the Diet Coke.

"Five years next Sunday."

"Good man.  Cheers."  He reached over with his bottle, and clunked it against mine.

"I've been sober now for 27 years.  With all the drugs, psychedelics and narcotics I did, I was really an alcoholic."

 He took a long swallow and smiled.

"Ironically, this is the only Coke I do anymore, and honestly, I only used to do cocaine so I could sober up and drink more."

Another sip as Kansas moved past our windows at 80 miles an hour.

"I don't know what it was like for you, but my last five years of drinking was a nightmare. I was drinking a half-gallon of rum with a fifth of rum on the side, in case I ran out, 28 beers a day, and three grams of cocaine just to keep me moving around. And I thought I was doing fine because I wasn't crawling around drunk on the floor."

"Damn," I said, laughing.  "It's a miracle you're still here."

"It really is. Honestly, I should have been dead ten times over. I`ve thought about that a lot. I believe in miracles. You're damn right. It`s an absolute miracle that I`m still around."

"Can I ask what you do?"

The Man smiled at me. "Oh, I am just a middle-class farm boy from Dodge City and my grandparents were wheat farmers, but I've seen the world.  Painting, acting, directing…photography."

The Man grew quiet, staring out at the night.  A mile or two later, we passed the crushed remains of a silver sports-car in the emergency lane.

"Poor sonofabitch.  Just like Jimmy Dean."

"True.  One of my teachers once said that dying young was the best thing James Dean could've done for his career."

"Nah.  You believe him?"

"I thought he was good–revolutionary for his time–but still…"

"`Still', what?"

"He wasn't Brando.  In Giant, he mumbled like he was half-asleep.  I thought he was good, but way-overrated. What about you?"

"Simple: Jimmy was the most talented and original actor I ever saw work.  You know, once he pulled a switchblade and threatened to murder his director. I imitated his style in art and in life. It got me in a lot of trouble."

"Yeah right.  You knew James Dean?"

"Dean, Sal, Brando, Natalie Wood." He closed his eyes, leaned his head back and smiled.  "One night, Natalie and I decided we'd have an orgy. And Natalie says `O.K., but we have to have a champagne bath.' So we filled the bathtub full of champagne. Natalie takes off her clothes, sits down in the champagne, starts screaming. We take her to the emergency hospital. That was *our* orgy, you understand?"

"She was beautiful.  Those eyes."

"Yeah.  She was a sweetheart, too.  Same with Sal Mineo.  And Jimmy.  I miss them."

The Man sighed.

"No complaints, though.  I have a lot of great memories, but there are really dark memories too. It was really a wonderful time. No, I don't think I would change anything."

He opened the glove box and pulled out a big Cuban cigar.  I could see him smile in the dark.

"I know this is for me.  Do you mind?"

"Knock yourself out."

He cracked the window and lit his cigar. 

"Yeah,  I have made my money, and I have had some fun. It's not been a bad life."

He smoked in silence. 

"Yep.  Not bad at all.  I think this next exit is the one we need."

The sign read Griffith Park, Next Exit.

What the hell.  I signaled and exited, turning down Crystal Springs Drive.

"Just ahead."  I craned my neck forward, the road inexplicably winding after Kansas' long straightaways.

"Turn right."

We went up a driveway.  There in the headlights, three people waited.  I stopped.

"Thanks for the ride, friend."  The Man shook my hand, then climbed out of the truck and went to join his friends.

 

I saw the old friends smile and hug each other in reunion.  I put the truck in reverse, and headed back to the highway.

"No, Dennis Hopper.  Thank you."

 

 

 

R.I.P. Dennis Hopper 1936-2010

*- Apologies to Ray Bradbury; lines in bold are actual Dennis Hopper quotes

 

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It’s Hot

Posted in Uncategorized on May 23, 2010 by tom

It was one of those nights where you feel like mushrooms will sprout in your body creases, where the humidity hangs in the air like an embarrassing question asked when the room suddenly goes quiet about whether you ever get that "not-so-fresh" feeling, leaving people to wonder if you have mushrooms sprouting in your body creases–not cute little button mushrooms, either, or the small cubed mushroom pieces in store-brand Cream of Mushroom Soup (the main ingredient in ten thousand different casseroles, from the green bean stuff you get at Thanksgiving all the way up to Chicken Divan, which is just a fancy, Frenchified name for "Chicken and brocolli casserole"), but those gigantic portabello mushrooms, or those creepy orange and white bandy-stemmed rainforest toadstools you see photographed in dog-eared National Geographic magazines you read in your dermatologist's office, burying your face in the thumb-smeared pages so that the other magazine-hidden dermatology patients don't see your face and wonder if you have some sort of horrible genital warts or excema flakes like browned, crushed potato chip shrapnel atop a bubbling tuna casserole–the mushroom soup bubbling up like the Fountain Paint Pots at Yellowstone, only filled with soggy noodles and can-tasting tuna instead of steam-percolated mud–and you wonder whether you're more worried about what the other patients think is growing or flaking off of you, or what epidermal horrors hide beneath their 3 for $19.99 Wal-Mart sweat pants, maybe triceratopsesque horned spikes rubbing away the cheap white fleece (like the de-fleeced sweatpant legs of college coeds winter term, when they don't shave their legs for weeks at a time, unless they anticipate mounting), the thick rancid steam of a men's room during a December football game, where steam rises from the pee troughs.

Ginger Sister started her Ferrari Testarossa, cranked the air-conditioner, and drove off to the airport; a private jet waited to fly her to Cannes to rescue Lindsey Lohan.

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Yay Cassini: Thanks for the Perspective

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2010 by tom

My dear friend Little Odd Me is a wonderful photographer, and snapped this with her Motorola Cliq cell phone.  Pretty awesome, eh?

Okay.  I'm kidding. As great a photographer as LOM is, she would have a hard time setting up this shot from her secret forest lair.  This was shot by the Cassini probe.

The entire Cassini Mission–soup to nuts–will cost about $3.2 billion.  That includes everything–from the initial idea in 1982, through all the research in the world's greatest Nerderies, the probe itself, the launch vehicle, the geniuses who plot things like trajectory (to get to Saturn, said geniuses used multiple gravity-assist flybys of Venus, Earth, and Jupiter, for crying out loud), the Webby award-winning website, a full staff of PMSTT's (People Much Smarter Than Tom), and, apparently, an assload of film.

NASA teamed up with the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency to launch a 12,000 lb probe 940,000,000 miles–a distance so great that radio transmissions from Cassini take up to 84 minutes to reach Earth.  The program started in 1982–28 years ago–and could continue to 2017 and beyond.  NASA has a few options when Cassini runs out of gas: park it in a high, out-of-the-way orbit; smash it into a small rocky moon, or sling the sumbitch all the way out of the solar system.  We've learned tons of things, even dropping the Huygens probe to the surface of Titan, Saturns largest moon.  We have pictures from the surface of a moon nearly a billion miles away, and freaking spectacular images of Jupiter.

 

Again, $3.2 Billion. 

In contrast, Florida's share of of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan thus far is $57.4 Billion.  That would make 17.9 Cassini missions, or 13,127,915 one-year scholarships for university students (or 1,640,989 PhD's in Astronomy to replace the PMSTT Science Nerds exhausted during Cassini). 

Don't get me wrong: I'm not especially Dovish.  I am all in favor of war when it's required.  I even loved the FIrst Persian Gulf War, because it had a clear mission: Country A invaded Country B; Country B is our ally; we went over and knocked Country A out of Country B, and then we left.  Really, "Mission Accomplished." The current war…I don't know.  It seems like the equivalent of the Chicago Bulls beating up your little brother, then you launch a full-out war on the New York Yankees.

At least we got all that cheap oil, right?

Hah.

This website has some interesting features.  You can select, say, the 2010 budget allotment for nuclear weapons, and see how many alternative uses could be purchased or funded instead.  For example, Boise taxpayers will pay $7.8 million for their share of our country's nukes for 2010.  This amount would fund 138 elementary school teachers.  It's priorities, I suppose. 

Without making any sort of value judgment, I'll note that we haven't used a nuclear weapon against another country in nearly 65 years, but there are some dumb damn kids walking around, both here and in Boise (note: all relatives of Jenn and Elyse are brilliant).

 

Sometimes, I wish I were 16 again.  I had 20/10 vision, and I could hit a golf ball 340 yards. I was relatively thin, and hugely strong.  My hair was all brown, and I had no wrinkles of any kind. 

I also knew everything.  I think that's what I miss most.  I worked at the TPC Prestancia, and I could spend all my money on music, guitars, and fast food. I lived in a nice house, where my nice parents provided all my meals and electricity.  I had a relatively nice brother, and a nice dog and cat tandem (Marky, Gypsy and Mr. Palmer, respectively).  I got nice grades in a nice gifted school, had nice friends, and woke up each morning knowing damn near everything.

A lesbian friend just sent me an e-mail talking about Exxon-Mobil removing "gender identification or sexual identity" from their Equal Employment Opportunity statement.  Back then, I knew maybe three gay people, none of whom had "come out." Now, I have a bunch of gay and lesbian friends.  It doesn't matter to me whom you mount, as long as you're not a jackass.  I'd rather have Exxon-Mobil worry about hiring supertanker captains who don't work drunk than whether they hire somebody gay.

Back when I was 16, I was fiercely conservative: big military and corporations good, entitlement programs bad.  This was easy back in the Cold War, a time when I didn't have to pay for anything myself.  Back then, I knew that God was in His Heaven, and anyone who wanted a good job could find one.  If you'd told me then that I'd spend nearly two years un- and under-employed, I wouldn't have believed you. 

I also wouldn't have believed that I'd have spent two decades talking on the radio, that I'd one day almost die from gangrene in my nardsack, that I'd have to go to rehab, or that I'd have actual sex with an actual girl before I die.

Perspective makes a huge difference.  In the topmost picture, you see two of Saturns moons, Rhea and Epimetheus.  They look close to one another.  In fact, Epimetheus is roughly the distance of our moon from Earth beyond Rhea. Behind them is Saturn, and the rings complete the picture. 

From here, Saturn is a fairly bright, yellowish dot in the sky. That's our perspective.  Were we there, obviously, Saturn would look substantially more grand.

This ability to study a world nearly a billion miles away, to land a probe on a moon and study its geography? To me–an unapologetic astronomy nerd–that's worth every cent of the $3.2 Billion.  The war against "terror"? Not so much.

My perspective has changed as I've aged.  Our Sun will someday become a red giant, it's equator expanding out to the orbit of Mars.  God willing, my equator will expand no more. Things change, though. I no longer have the extreme intellectual arrogance and moral certitude I did back then.  Now, I know I'd rather read Chris Moore than Jean-Paul Sartre, and that I had more fun reading Harry Potter than I did the Lord of the Rings. Sex and comets? Both very different from what I expected, but just as impressive. ūüėČ

Also, I put a higher value on human life than I did then, probably because mine has nearly ended a couple times. 

And as much as Cassini's images inspire awe, I know the solar system's most-amazing entity is far closer to home, photographable with a $150 Motorola Cliq instead of a $3.2 Billion space probe, and runs on Meow Mix instead of plutonium.

 

 (And yeah, she made me write that)

Have a great weekend.

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(Non)Sense Us

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 by tom

One of the joys of being an American is that "The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct." In other words, we get counted by the Census.

This is the second Census that will count me at my home on the shores of Lake Tom, although I probably just Christmas-treed the last one in a drunken amusement stupor.

The Census is a simple questionaire…supposedly.

This year, however, I have apparently transformed into a person of great interest to the government.  Several moons ago, I received  a personal note from Robert H. "Bob" Richards, the director of the US Census, telling me that he was going to be sending me a questionaire in a few days.  Then I got another personal note telling me the questionaire would be delivered imminently.  Then a man showed up at my door with a locked briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.  He performed a retinal scan on me, then handed me my exhaustive questionaire from the US Census Bureau.  Fine.  I figured it's my patriotic duty to answer these questions.  A week later, I received another personal note from Robert "Bob" Richards, telling me that US Census Agent R-8841 delivered my questionaire, and that they would appreciate me filling it out promptly.

I took fifteen minutes and answered the questions.  One night, I dropped it into the mailbox at the Post Office next to Burger King (as opposed to the one behind where Nicole lives).

Then a month ago, I received the actual US Census questionaire.  This is shorter, more concise than the pre-Census questionaire I'd already filled out, however I was confident in my ability to answer–I mean, I'd already proved myself in the warm-up round, right?

Five minutes this time. Once again, the PO next to the BK.

Then Wednesday, I had a note taped to my door.  Stephanie Cullen, US Census Department badge #A–2854, had stopped by to interview me.  I'd been out and missed her.  She said she'd get back in touch.

Thursday night, I was driving home from work.  It was 0345, and 28th St was dark and empty.  As I approached Roosevelt, the night was suddenly illuminated by a million blue strobes. I pulled over into the Synovus Bank parking lot. 

"Get out of the truck please, Tom," a loudspeaker ordered.

I did.  A helicopter hovered, its spotlight surreally bright.  I felt like a Psorophora ferox under a microscope. An armored black Chevy Suburban pulled up. The back door opened, and out stepped Robert H. "Bob" Richards himself.

"Good evening, Tom," he said.  "Please join me.  We're going to take a ride."

The back of the Suburban was outfitted with comfortable leather couches. 

Bob opened a cooler.  He took out a Samuel Adams and handed me a Diet Mountain Dew.

"Stephanie told me you were unavailable to be interviewed, so I figured I'd take care of you myself."

Bob yelled toward the front, "Andrew, DRIVE!"

The Suburban rumbled off into the night.

"Just a few questions, if you don't mind."

I was sure Andrew had a gun, and that resistance was futile.

"Okay, Mr. Richards. I'll answer."

"Please, call me Bob."

"Okay, Bob."

"First, are you a natural-born US Citizen?"

"Yes."

"State, County, and City of residence?"

"Florida, Pinellas, St Petersburg."

 "How many members of Congress?"

"535–435 in the House, 100 in the Senate."

"Good answer."

"Thanks."

"How many Justices are on the Supreme Court, and who's the Chief Justice?"

"Presently, there are 8 Associate Justices, and the Chief Justice, John Roberts."

"If you were having a barbecue, which two historical justices would you serve?"

"Um, Felix Frankfurter and Warren Burger?"

"Indeed. We also would have accepted John Joseph Coleslaw."

"There was never a Justice Coleslaw, Bob."

"Just checking.  Give me three examples of onomatopoeia."

"Gurgle, burp, and fart."

"Don't mind if I do."  Bob farted con molto brio.

"Jeezus!"

"Now based on that fart, what did I have for lunch?"

"Um, God.  Popeye's red beans & rice, with two biscuits, corn on the cob, and pink lemonade?"

"Well done, although it was orange soda.  Beatles or Rolling Stones?"

"Rolling Stones."

"A trick question: most dangerous person in America today?"

"It's a tie: Regis Philbin or Ginger Sister."

"Very good.  Now, Apple Jacks or Froot Loops?"

"Apple Jacks."

"With which vodka would you make the perfect martini?"

"With no vodka.  A pure martini uses gin."

"Yes.  Bonus question: shaken or stirred?"

"Stirred–shaken causes the ice to melt too much, thus watering down the gin."

"Correct. Upon which common animal would both a Uranotaenia lowii mosquito and a coral snake dine?"

"A frog."

"Best song to boost attitude while driving?"

"`Master of Puppets,' by Metallica, or `Rock & Roll,' by Led Zep."

"Where would I find Iapetus?"

"Orbiting Saturn."

"Who's the bigger diva? Mariah Carey or Ana-Sofia Vargas?"

"Ana-Sofia Vargas."

"Who said `Go ahead: bite the big apple, don't mind the maggots!'?"

"Mick Jagger sang it in the Stones' song `Shattered.'"

"What is the Southern equivalent of the Northern breakfast, creamed chipped beef on toast?"

"Sausage gravy and biscuits."

Bob smiled. The eastern sky was pre-dawn pink.

"You're a good American, tom."

"Thanks Bob."

Andrew pulled up beside my truck.  Bob shook my hand, then checked my name off his list.

"One more down. 309,000,000 to go before I sleep."

"Wow."

"Yeah.  One more question…If I were to question Hannibal Lecter, which two items would be next to me on the table?"

I smiled and pulled two pictures from my pocket.

 

Fava beansAnd a nice chianti

Bob's head exploded.  I got into the truck and headed home.

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The Brighter Side of Almost Dying (part 3)

Posted in Fun with Fournier's on May 9, 2010 by tom

One of the interesting phenomena of being hospitalized at length is the hospital visitor.¬† Between St. Anthony’s and Kindred, I was in the hospital for exactly five weeks, from Friday December 21, 2007, to Thursday January 24, 2008. For many people, the most difficult thing about being in the hospital is…

Wait.¬† I don’t really like the word “hospital.” The Germans, bless them, have¬†superior verbiage for many things, and the place where sick people are warehoused is just one of them: Krankenhaus.¬† It’s like “rattlesnake.”¬† What’s a rattle? A baby’s toy.¬† In German, we have “Klapperschlange.”¬† Fantastic! It sounds deadly and scary.

So anyway, when most people are in the Krankenhaus, in addition to the pain and illness (and non-good food), they suffer from loneliness. The loneliness didn’t get to me for two reasons.¬† First, I’m sort of like Scrooge, in that I’m, “Secretive, self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.” The second reason is that I was blessed with a good number of regular visitors.¬† My parents live an hour away, and they came to see me most days.¬† Carrie lives here in St. Petersburg, and she came to see me most days. The others were a ragtag lot, a combination of friends from AA and radio, even family friends who came more to see my parents than to see me.

Okay, that last group sounds dodgy, but one of them brought me some beautiful flowers, and the other brought two twelve-packs of Diet Sunkist Orange Soda, so I can forgive them.

One of my visitors my first week, my ICU week, was Abby.¬† I have an annoying-to-some habit of issuing nicknames to people to delineate them from others with the same name.¬† For example, I have about a million Jennifers in my vortex.¬† To me, it’s only natural to have Jenn the Lesbian, Jenn the Dame (who resembles a 1940’s film actress), and Jenn my Twin (I was closer to Jenn than her twin sister, Jo).

Even though I have no other Abbies in my life (of any spelling), this Abby was “Little Orphan Abby.” Basically, she’s the little sister I never had.¬† Abby worked at WSJT when I was there.¬† She put herself through college, and asked me to perform her marriage ceremony.¬† I did.¬† Then I checked into the nutbin for a month.

Anyway, Abby is family now.¬† She and her husband, Bryan, join my parents for Thanksgiving every year.¬† Like I said, I consider her to be my sister.¬† And she’d sprained her ankle in December 2007, but she managed to crutch her way all the way through St. Anthony’s Krankenhaus to ICU, where she spent a lovely 90 minutes visiting me.

And I didn’t remember her being there.¬† The next week, I gave her shit for not visiting me, and she exploded.¬† Oh, well.¬† We laugh about it now. (I laughed about it then, but remember that I had the Dilaudid pump)

One Krankenhaus phenomenon is that everything you do–input and output–is measured and recorded.¬† If I didn’t eat my obligatory morning oatmeal, somebody made a note.¬† Every time they emptied my catheter bag, the nurse measured and recorded the quality and quantity of my urine.

And there was a lot of it.¬† I had nothing else to do, so I drank an awful lot of sodas people brought me: DIet Pepsi (my parents), Diet Mountain Dew (Carrie), and Diet Sunkist (my mom’s friend Mary).¬† Being catheterized is a wonderful thing if you’re chugging huge amounts of soda.¬† Keep in mind, I’d gained 24 lbs in the four days before I entered the Krankenhaus–all of it water my down-shutting kidneys didn’t process–and the pill lady brought me Lasix a couple times a day.

Between the huge amounts of fluids and the diuretic, I was a peeing machine.  I think I set a record at some point, although the Guiness people never showed up to confirm my feat.

I was assured, though, that I set another record.

My first few days in the Krankenhaus, I didn’t…well, I just didn’t go number two.¬† I hadn’t really eaten, and Lord knows I was taking lots of¬†constipating narcotics, so this was one process I didn’t need.¬†¬†The doctors had some sort of conference, and decided that¬†the world would be a better placer if I¬†“moved my bowels.” Accordingly, they slipped a¬†double-secret pill into my evening cup o’ meds.

My nurse that night was Joanne, a lovely French-Canadian woman with an awesome personality.¬†Despite my rather un-suave circumstance, I¬†found myself flirting with¬†Nurse Joanne.¬† She had a great laugh.¬† I remember that.¬† My brother Marky called that night, and I was chatting with him,¬†hydromorphone-giddy and happy to be alive.¬† Suddenly, a great,¬†thundering rumble of borborygmus shook my bed and caused plaster to fall from the ceiling.¬† Or so it seemed. I told my brother I’d call him back, and started pounding on the call button.¬† Joanne came in, and I immediately requested “the litter box,” as we euphemistically called it.¬† After what seemed like an hour, I pushed the button again, then called my brother back.¬† Nurse Joanne¬†returned, and we began anew our flirting.¬† My brother told me I was shameless, and was talking about football or something, when Joanne exclaimed, “Mon DIEU! That has to be the biggest bowel movement in the history of the world!”

(sfx: wilting)

My brother laughed himself incontinent, and I just started mashing my Dilaudid button in self-defense.

The good thing is that both illness and pain meds allowed me to forget this incident. The dark cloud of this silver lining is that my brother was neither ill nor on narcotics.¬† A couple nights later, we were talking, and he asked if I’d broken my world record.¬† I asked what he meant, and he imitated Joanne’s sense of alarmed wonder perfectly: “MON DIEU!”

Damn.

Puddin (aka, “Michelle”) came to see me in St. Anthony’s one night.¬† She got very lost en route–indeed, St. Anthony is the patron saint of lost things, and Michelle’s ass was definitely, and ironically lost. While she was lost, we were talking on the phone, with me trying to give her directions.¬† Yeah, like I had any idea where I was–I was seeing glowing words on the damn ceiling tiles and gaining reassurance from Nigel, my middle fingernail–but I did my best.¬† Finally, Michelle not only found St. Anthony’s, but queased her way through to ICU.

Two things I should mention.  First, Michelle hates hospitals under the best of circumstances.  Second, ICU is not full of cute healthy babies or puppies.  The people in the other ICU rooms probably had missing limbs, or ventilators, or they were just a head in a jar, or a giant tank of mixed viscera into which the nurses dumped medicines or MSG.

So I invented the verb “quease” advisedly¬†to describe Michelle’s walk through the fires of hell halls of St. Anthony’s.¬† As she was queasing along the hallway, my Jamaican nurses came in to tell me I was being moved.¬† I had my computer and my phone already in my bed with me.¬† The nurses took my fan and Christmas tree, and piled them on top of me, then bade me farewell and left me in the hands of two orderlies.¬† We shall call them Dumb and Dumber.

That might not be fair–maybe they weren’t dumb.¬† However, at this point in my life, I was not a keg of beer.

Once again, I mention that I am Hagridian in size, and I had an appropriately Hagridian bed.¬† This is the only bed I’ve ever slept in where my feet didn’t dangle off the end.¬† I liked this bed.¬† D&D, however, had some problems with it. We hadn’t even made it out of the room, when BAM! They rammed the bed into the door jamb.¬† BAM! They hit the nurses’ station.¬† Apparently, I made quite a¬†comical face when they BAM!’d me, because Michelle was laughing at me.¬† I waved goodbye to my BAMFLINCH nurses, as we hit a pothole.¬† Seriously? A pothole in the ICU corridor? Yup.

Michelle came over and kissed my forehead, then lifted the fan off of my lap. Narrow doorway…BAM!

The journey’s slapstick pinnacle had to be when they tried to maneuver me into the elevator. The problem is, the bed was, say, x inches wide.¬† The opening to the elevator was x-1 inches wide.¬† BAM to the left; BAM to the right; BAM to the left; BAM to the right.¬† I flashed back to slamdancing in a college punk club.

Finally, Michelle was blushing and giggling, and I sort of snapped: “WE NEED A DIFFERENT ELEVATOR!”

“Oh.¬† Yeah.¬† We should try the other one.”

Grr.

One last exuberant BAM against the wall, and we were off to the other elevator which–shockingly–was designed to carry beds and things.

Michelle didn’t stay too long that night.¬† Quite honestly, she couldn’t stop laughing.¬† Plus she was queasy, and¬†she was afraid that suppressing¬†her laughter would make her puke.¬† She asked me if¬†the BAM!s had hurt.¬† I explained that yes,¬†I had an open wound where half my nardsack had been cut off, and that yes,¬†the¬†BAM! pain factor was pretty¬†high.

Thankfully, so was I, so I managed not to explode.

Michelle never¬†came back to the hospital to visit.¬†¬†After the Keystone Kops orderlies, I didn’t blame her a bit.¬†¬†I didn’t really want to come back either.

But I was alive, and I was slowly and painfully healing, and I was grateful enough for that.

Plus, my place in human digestive history was now secure.

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Comets

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 by tom

I've always been fascinated by comets, those dirty snowballs that zoom through space, dancing across our skies every decade or so.  I'm ancient enough to remember Kahoutek in 1973, my first experience with crushing disappointment.  Halley's in 1985-86 was even worse–the worst viewing in 2000 years, they say.

My first good comet experience was Hyakutake in 1996, followed by the spectacular Hale-Bopp.  These were awesome comets, clearly visible, even in my light-polluted corner of urbanized paradise. The past couple years saw the magnificent McNaught (well, at least my friends down under saw it).

 

The other night, I was talking with my friend Emily, and it dawned on me why I like comets so much (other than them just being badass).  Simply, I myself am a comet.

Before you snort derisively and mock me, let me explain.  I am not a ball of dirty ice whizzing through space, subliming gas behind me as I approach the sun.  God knows, I've blasted some gas behind me, but it wasn't visible to the naked eye (except when I ate Brussels Sprouts that time).

I'm a comet when it comes to my relationships with people.  Other than size, I'm not really like a planet.  Some people are like Jupiter, with lots of satellite people orbiting around them forever.

 

I'm not like that. 

I tend to explode through people's lives, shine brightly, then move on.  Time and again, I've had relationships–both friendships and romances–that follow this pattern.  Sometimes, it's somebody in need.  Other times, it's somebody in a transition.  The one truism is that I grow to love these people and spend lots of time with them, and then we separate.

This used to bother me.  I looked back on all the good friends I've had, and lamented that we've grown distant.  It doesn't bother me now.

I've accepted my intrinsic cometity.  In a month, I'll have been sober five years (God willing).  One tough chore recovery has taught me is learning to accept myself, specifically to accept the things I cannot change.  I don't have the steadfast, familiar comfort of moons in regular orbit around me.  Indeed, there are periods of relative loneliness as I drift from star to star.  But when those relationships happen, the sparkle and light more than makes up for it.  I'm good with that; I'm good, too, with what Wordsworth called "The bliss of solitude." There are solitary stretches at times, but I'm always somewhere, always passing something or someone.  And when the right person comes along, we light up the night.

Glad I can come perihelion to you sometimes. ūüėČ

Happy Thursday.

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