Archive for February, 2013

Nukes and Me (for Donna)

Posted in Uncategorized on February 23, 2013 by tom

I was born when the Cold War was still going strong. When I was eight, my family took a trip to South Dakota, to visit my Uncle and his family. He was in the USAF, and we got to go on base to see the sights. My favorite was watching the huge, awkward B-52’s, with eight engines throwing out soot, lumber down the runway and into the air. What I didn’t know was that at any time–24 hours a day, every day–there were some of those awesome planes in the air, carrying nuclear bombs, and ready to strike the Soviet Union. [1]

The bomb didn’t really worry me. The Cuban Missile Crisis, that week when the world held its breath, was before my time. I remember some kids in my class talking about how the Red Chinese were going to invade us any day, but they were morons, and I didn’t listen to them.

As I grew older, naturally I learned more about atomic weapons, both how they worked and what they have done. I learned about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and how those bombs saved a million US Soldiers from being killed when we invaded Japan. Or it was 150,000. Or 3,000,000. What I was taught was that nobody could tell how many GI’s would have died, nor did the government give the same information consistently. One teacher dared tell us that we’d practically won the war already, even without dropping Fat Man and Little Boy.

But that was just history. Even when Ronald Reagan was President, I didn’t fear impending nuclear death. To be honest, I still don’t.

However, I’ve watched two disturbing documentaries over the past week. The first was called “Radio Bikini,” which followed the U.S. nuclear test called “Operation Crossroads.” “Crossroads” was fun–we just evacuated the 200 people who lived on Bikini Atoll, then blew up two a-bombs: “Able” was exploded in the air; “Baker” was like 90 feet underwater. The plan was to do our tests, wait till the radiation cooled down, then move the grateful Bikinians back to their home atoll.

Then we decided Bikini Atoll was a lovely place to set off nuclear firecrackers, so we did more tests, including the literally awesome Castle Bravo Test.

Oops. Forgot to carry the 3.

Oops. Forgot to carry the 3.

Bravo is the largest atomic explosion ever detonated by the US. (The Soviets lit one off three times as powerful)

Here’s what gets me. It’s not so much the madness as it is the math. Bravo was only supposed to be a third as big as it was. It was estimated to have a yield of 4 to 6 megatons, instead of the 15 it ended up producing. The resulting bomb was 1000 times as powerful as the bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. So the way I see it, a group of men were sitting in a conference room somewhere, and a couple guys were standing there giving a presentation, probably with charts and a pointer and graphs. One of the guys somehow convinced the people around the conference room table that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were horseshit explosions; that what the US REALLY needed was a bomb 333-times as powerful as Fat Man and Little Boy. They must have been persuasive; the guys around the conference table agreed, and the bomb–ironically nicknamed “Shrimp”–was built.

Then, “Whoops! You know Bob over in the bomb lab? He forgot to account for the Lithium-6 isotope possibly igniting. Don’t worry. The lab boys will never let him live this down. Hahahahaha.”

Bob screwed up by a factor of three.

There are plenty of defense-related things I don’t know about–threats to us, and counterattack plans by us–and I sleep more easily for not knowing about them. I neither need nor want to know everything the Department of Defense and the US Military know. I know enough to know I don’t want to know more.

But the concept of Mutual Assured Destruction–whereby the Soviets could attack us, and we could counterattack them, and our missiles would cross paths en route to annihilating our two nations–this concept boggles the mind.

The Cold War is over. The way I understand it, the most-likely nuclear threat will come from a small suitcase nuke set off in an urban environment, not from a Castle Bravo sort of cataclysm. So why don’t we just disarm? Probably because there are nine nations we know of with nuclear weapons, and we’d hate to put down our biggest guns, only to have one of them hold us up with a nuclear Saturday Night Special. It just seems ridiculous to me.

One bomb, one-thousand-times the power of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs.

One thousand cranes…

In Japanese folklore, if a person folds one-thousand origami cranes, a crane will grant this person a wish.

One of the slow victims of the Hiroshima bomb was two-year-old Sadako Sasaki. As a result of the radiation to her young body, she developed leukemia. She had the idea to make 1000 cranes, and hope that her wish would come true, that she’d live. She got to 644 before she died at age 12. Her classmates made up the difference, and she was buried with a thousand cranes.

I can’t help but love the parallel: the Castle Bravo explosion was 1000 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. It takes 1000 origami cranes to make your wish come true. That’s a million cranes.

We’d better start folding.

(The following is a video tribute to Sadako Sasaki; the music is by the L.A.-based, Japanese-American group, Hiroshima. The song is also a tribute to Sadako, called “A Thousand Cranes”. I worked at two stations that played Hiroshima, and I used to slip this song on after my boss had gone to sleep. I always told Sadako’s story. It goes beautifully with the song.)

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I Guess My Name Will Never Be an Adjective

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2013 by tom

The whole blogging every night during Lent thing? I’m sorry, but it isn’t going to happen. I don’t have the inspiration to risk it, much less the mental fortitude to fail. Moreover, I don’t feel like I have that much to say.

That paragraph sounds far more dismal than it should. I’m doing fine. It’s my weekend, and I’m relaxing with a few nice movies. It’s Florida-cold outside, and I have a warm cat snugged into my left side. I’m sure this is more for his benefit than mine. Selfish, handsome bastard, like a Meow Mix-eating Marcello Mastroianni.

Speaking of whom, I just watched Fellini’s “8-1/2.” Fellini made this film when he found he didn’t know what to do for his next film. The story concerns Guido (Mastroianni), a noted film director who finds he doesn’t know what to do for his next film.

Fellini obviously knew how people saw him and his work. At different points, we delve into Fellini’s childhood, his love life, his relationship with the press, and his own very odd imagination. After Guido clears his head of tormenting naysayers, here comes the perfect Fellini touch: a marching band of circus freaks (plus one nicely uniformed little boy, representing the director’s childhood), along with a parade of everybody who’s been in the movie. Everyone joins hands, and dances in a merry circle around the marching band. Eventually, Guido gets up, joins them, and dances along, until they all parade happily into the dark.

It was, for lack of a better word, a “Fellini-esque” ending.

That’s sort of where my head has been. I’m hard-pressed to focus on one capital-t Topic every night. I’m feeling less-Abyssy than I have in many moons, and it’s not that I have writer’s block. I just couldn’t try and focus on the same thing from different angles, night after night for 46 crazy nights. Next year, maybe I’ll revisit “Casablanca” again. On the other side of a depressive breakdown, that could be sort of fun.

Fellini had this way of translating his weird brain into films. I guess that’s sort of what I do here, writing these sometimes tedious, sometimes whimsical Dispatches.

Toward the end of “8-1/2,” I paused it to go grab a fresh Diet Pepsi (and to offload an old Diet Pepsi). I came back, and–during my own little intermission–I went to check my e-mail. I opened my browser, and instinctively clicked the tab to open my e-mail, but I saw something on the main news page that struck me. Former country music star Mindy McCready shot and killed herself Sunday.

I sorta-kinda met her years ago. She once dated a former friend of mine, and they remained good friends.

That’s an odd expression: “a former friend of mine.” It almost sounds like we were once friends, then he did something, and now we’re bitter enemies. It’s not like that at all. It goes back to my comet theory. I am like a comet, and my relationships with people are generally like the relationships between comets and planets. I’ll be a faint blot on the horizon initially, then approach to burn bright in their sky for awhile. Once we naturally move apart, I gradually fade into a faint blot again. I’m okay, and they’re okay. We’re just moving in our respective orbits, and our time together was kismetically fleeting.

That’s how that friend and I were. We were friends, then we drifted apart. It happens.

Anyway, one time, Mindy McCready called him to chat. Sensing a long call, he got up to grab his beverage. He said, “Here. Talk to Tom for a second.” He handed me the phone. “It’s Mindy.” Our conversation was very limited–an exchanged volley of “Hi, how’s it going?s,” and “Good”s, followed by a “Well, here’s Paul again. See ya.” I wasn’t star-struck, because I didn’t listen to country music at the time. I’d never heard her sing. I still don’t think I have. After knowing him, I was, however, aware enough of her to notice every time she made headlines. She did that quite a bit. Sophocles would read Mindy McCready’s biography and shake his head. “Nobody would ever believe that one person could go through that much shit. THAT is a tragedy, ffs.” She made Oedipus look like “Seinfeld.”

I’m not sad tonight. I feel bad that she felt eating a bullet was her only solution. I know time had not been kind to her, but still, that’s such a permanent, irrevocable choice to make. As Chris the Shrink put it, “a permanent solution to temporary problems.”

I am a comet, and we comets persevere.

What’s been strange my past couple years of cometry, has been reconnecting with girls from decades past. Calling them “girls” isn’t unadvised, either–they WERE girls when I knew them. My oft-derided and mocked Facebook facilitated these odd reunions.

KK was my first girlfriend. We did little besides hold hands and hang out, but I felt all tummy-knotted and turned into a blathering gomer whenever I saw her. She had the most beautiful brown eyes, too, like firelight through a snifter of really good Cognac. She changed schools suddenly, and I never saw or heard from her again. I always wondered what had happened; I never forgot her. I wasn’t obsessed or stalkery–I moved on with my life too–but because I didn’t know, I always wondered. Until she found me on FB. In catching up with her the past couple years, I’m sure we’ve learned a Jupiter’s worth more about each other than we ever did during our bus stop conversations.

Jenny and I were never boyfriend and girlfriend. We loved each other as friends, and trusted each other with a lot. No sex or anything–we made out exactly once–but I think she was my first soulmate. We knew each other when I was at FSU. She worked at the same radio station I did, and we’d spend every Friday night (and most Tuesdays) getting completely stoned, watching movies on cable, and creating extremely odd creations to sate the munchies. She was five-foot-nothing and about 98 pounds, and I was six-two and weighed about 2.5 Jennies. When I was still in college, she and I had some grand adventures. Some cold winter nights, we’d drive out of the city, way beyond the lights. Then we’d smoke a joint, lie on the hood of my Corolla, and look up at the kabillion stars glowing above us. One night, we got sent to man our station’s booth at the North Florida State Fair. We basically had to sit there and hand out bumper stickers or something–we didn’t stay there more than a few minutes. It was too bright, and we were a bit too high to be in that expo hall. PLUS, we had to interview a singer whose lone hit was so old, that WBGM wouldn’t even play it. This was one of the worst interviews in the history of radio, and I don’t think it ever aired. Seriously, when I interviewed Art Garfunkel, it helped that I could name–and sing his harmony parts on–two or three dozen songs. This guy at the fair? No such luck.

Anyway, J and I kept in touch for a few years, at least till 9/11. I knew she was in NYC, and I found out she’d gotten married to a New York-based Australian. Now–on this cometic pass-by–I find they’ve actually moved to a tiny seaside village in Oz. She encountered her first seven-foot-long python the other day. I’d have passed-out, but she took a picture (she may have passed-out after, though).

Welcome to Oz, J.  (Photo Credit: Jenny)

Welcome to Oz, J. (Photo Credit: Jenny)

SO…

After a period of years, my cometary orbit has brought me back into these two women’s lives, as we comets are wont to do. Maybe, writ sufficiently large, my orbit would cross Staceypunkin’s, or some other person I’ve left bitter in my stellar dust. It’s impossible to know where life will lead you, especially if–like me–you have absolutely no idea where the hell you are now. The relationships in my life have all been pleasant surprises, where someone I had no idea existed quickly becomes one of the truly important people in my life. Sometimes–like KK or Jenny–they never fade from my memory. Other times, I can’t remember a person’s name an hour after I last see them. Some people I’ve known all my life (or all of theirs), but only because I’m related to them. I wish them well, but I can’t force friendship solely based on sharing genetic forbears.

My Sunday night was a good one. I watched one of Fellini’s best films, his passionate testament to whimsy, depression, dreams, fantasies, childhood and adulthood, and relationships both good and bad, waxing and waning. I noted sadly the untimely death of a very passionate woman–she was passionate in love and hate, substance abuse, music, and living too fast.

I note their passion–Federico’s and Mindy’s–even though I’m one of the least passionate people I know. I was passionate about drinking for many years, till I broke up with it. Now, I guess my only true passion would be writing. It’s not an overarching, kd langish constant craving, but when I write, I do so passionately. I hate when I read something I wrote, only to adjudge it lame or, worse yet, limp. I may write tedious inanities, but by Christ, my semicolons will be used correctly; incorrect semicolon use galls me.

Most of all, I’m passionate enough about writing, that I won’t force myself to do it just to do it. “Lent in Casablanca” was a blast to write, but there were some nights where the prospect of writing another post about that movie was horribly daunting, and I was in reasonably good mental shape at the time. Now, I feel like I just had the mental equivalent of major knee surgery, and I’m recovering well. I can walk mentally, but playing 46 consecutive nights of brain rugby would be pushing it. (Plus, at some point during Lent, I may comet my way periaptic to some hot chick, and I’d hate to have a blogligation hanging over my head.)

So, my apologies for wussing out on my original Lenten commitment, but look at it this way: it’s 800 fewer words of crap for you to read each day.

I’m sorry; and you’re welcome.

Oh, SHIT! Tom's back from the damned Oort Cloud already?

Oh, SHIT! Tom’s back from the damned Oort Cloud already?

Love, Spannend und Neue: Lent in Deutschland, Night One

Posted in Lent in Deutschland on February 15, 2013 by tom

judgment-at-nuremberg-129759l-imagine

It seems fitting, for Valentine’s night, to write about love. I’m not talking about love of country, love of ones job, or loving beer. I write of good, old-fashioned, hormone-escalating, giblet-tingling, sweaty, romantic love.

In “Judgment at Nuremberg,” we have examples of three stages of love.

In the beginning, love is all giddy and fun, where we get silly spending time with our newly beloved. In “Nuremberg,” we find Chief Judge Dan Haywood  painting Nuremberg Rote countless evenings with the German widow, Mrs Bertholt. They go out drinking, see concerts, go out drinking some more, have coffee in Mrs Bertholt’s cozy little flat. As so often happens during the early “falling in love” stage, something happens, a breach the romance is too nascent to endure; something happens, and suddenly, there’s an endlessly ringing, unanswered phone, with a frustrated lover on the other end.

We have Captain Harrison Byers (William Shatner (no, really!)), who’s been living in Nuremberg for two years. He’s young, and he has a beautiful German girlfriend, Elsa Schleffer. You can tell their love is deeper, more familiar.

More familiar still is the love between Judge Haywood’s housekeepers, Mr & Mrs Halbestadt. They’ve been married for many years. They had two grown children who died in the war, but the couple endures. They answer for each other and complete one another’s sentences.

What do all of these types of love have in common?

Simple: I’m not in any of them.

It’s weird, that. It seems like I’m always moving into or out of some kind of relationship. If I’m not with somebody, there is at least somebody on the love radar, some prospective suitress I’m chatting-up. After my Summer of Discontent, I haven’t thought of love. This didn’t dawn on me until tonight. It’s been an adjustment just getting to a point where I can stand being Tom, much less trying to add another to my world. I’ve begun working from home for awhile,  so I’m not really meeting anyone new.

I’m not saying my life is devoid of love. I have a loving family and lots of good friends. Most of my friends are women, so I’m also not devoid of female company. I guess I’m just not in a position for any type of romance. Happily, this doesn’t bother me. I’m used to living on my own, and I like it. Plus, down on 34th Street and 22nd Ave South, there are plenty of inexpensive hookers.

I kid.

(There really ARE hookers down there; I just don’t hire them)

Judge Haywood has had to adapt to the other extreme. He was married for a number of years, and his wife died in his late middle-age years. He has a daughter and four grandchildren, all of whom love him, and whom he loves in return. Despite this, he has had to learn to live alone after so many years with his wife. It must be hell to lose ones soulmate and life-partner; I can’t even imagine. A few years have passed, and now Judge Haywood finds himself in a flirtation with the widowed Mrs Bertholt. His awkwardness is palpable, as he tries to learn how to play the game again, but he obviously feels something for the executed general’s widow.

There will come a time when I’m ready, when my brain is fixed and my head screwed on straight, when I’m ready to take that big-ass chance again.

Then, and only then, I’ll be ready to act…

…and go rent me one of those crackwhores.

Sorry. I mean, “start dating again.”

Happy Half-Priced Candy Day.

Lent in Deutschland

Posted in Lent in Deutschland on February 13, 2013 by tom
The poster, German-style

Nuremberg poster, Deutsch-style

I’m cheating a bit, fudging the date on this post, so don’t feel like you’ve missed anything.

As you may have guessed from this post’s title, I have chosen Germany for this year’s Lenten slog. This will include cinematic Germans and representations of Germany, plus German films, all cooked up with sauerkraut as a combo platter.

This won’t be quite the same as “Lent in Casablanca” a couple years ago. Most of those posts were tied directly to “Casablanca,” be it critical analysis, assessing different viewpoints, creating different scenarios within the world of Rick’s Cafe Americain, even–perhaps most notoriously–inventing new characters (Testarossa Ferrari was invented; believe me, Annie the Soapmaker is 100% real), and mashing characters from other works into “Casablanca.” If nothing else, my Casablanca is probably the only place where Hermione Granger and Lisbeth Salander are lovers, and hang out with a real 21st century soapmaker and a bunch of people from a 1940’s film.

“Judgment at Nuremberg,” as an example, is a less-fun film than “Casablanca,” and in many ways, it’s more real–real-life isn’t always fun. Germans would never make “Tommy Boy.”

Many of these posts will tie to films you have seen–“Nuremberg,” “Inglourious Basterds,” even “Casablanca,” perhaps. Other films will be ones you haven’t seen, like “Wings of Desire.” (Everyone should watch “Wings of Desire”. Call off of work if you need to). Originally, I was going to limit this only to “Judgment at Nuremberg.” I decided to change it, to open it up to other films and other perspectives. Also, “Judgment at Nuremberg” is over three hours-long, so I’d be spending roughly a whole day watching it each week.

Anyway, as always, this an experiment, and I thank you for stopping by whenever you can. (Also, I’m glad I’m not Catholic, so I won’t go to purgatory for missing a night here and there 😉 (or for cheating, and saying this was written Ash Wednesday))

And thus, onward! Guten Nacht.

Had to Cry Today

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11, 2013 by tom

A friend and fellow Vox refugee posted a moving story about a friend roughly her age, who had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and had been moved into a “someplace nice.”

“Someplace nice”: such a curious term, and so common. It’s almost like a tacit apology–“we had to put mom in a nursing home, but at least we found someplace nice,” as if turning your mother over to a bunch of strangers is somehow less of an abandonment than if the paint weren’t pretty and the floors clean.

Don’t get me wrong: I am grateful for the “someplace nice”s in the world. I had an elderly aunt who was in a “someplace hellish that reeked of urine,” and it galled me that my Aunt Frances had to be there, far away from friends, family, and the heavily bourboned egg nog she and my grandmother overimbibed every Christmas.

My friend’s friend has an amazing mind–a teacher and writer, a scholar in Classics and Comparative Literature. She’s always been a little scattered–what genius isn’t?–but she’s gotten noticeably worse. Not late-stage bad, of course, but little things. A couple times, she got lost, with no idea where she was or how she’d gotten there. My friend  & her husband took their friend out to the zoo, and had dinner together. They could see the scatter-mindedness was worse, that their brilliant friend wasn’t always able to follow the conversation.

The friend’s daughters got her into a “someplace nice,” and set up her room with a giant TV, and nary a book. This is a woman who read and wrote volumes, and they put her someplace with no books? The friend is relatively young–early to mid 50’s, I think–too young to have Alzheimer’s, too young to know that she’s going to lose herself, that her “muchness” will evaporate into the “someplace nice”‘s rarefied air while her body goes on living for several more years.

My mom and dad had to put my grandfather into a “someplace nice.” It was a big single storey house, remodeled so each of the guests could have his or her own bedroom and tiny bathroom. My grandfather fell in that bathroom a few times, one time bashing his head so bad that he needed 20 or 30 stitches to close the wound. But no matter how bad Grandpa was, the “someplace nice” was always clean, the meals always good, the small staff always friendly and kind and quick to help when needed.

And soon after Grandpa died in his “someplace nice” room–while I was a thousand miles away, raising a toast at my best-friend’s wedding–I’m certain the room was cleaned top-to-bottom, and readied for the next “guest” whose children were putting them into a “someplace nice.”

I don’t knock the “someplace nice”s of the world–I’m grateful they exist. What gives me pause is that I wonder if one can become too dependent on the “someplace nice,” if it accelerates whatever malady led them there. I wonder if Grandpa declined more quickly once he moved into that “someplace nice.” He was 88 years-old, and he was near the end of his life. He had buried two wives, and since his second wife’s death, he spent a lot of time requesting that Jesus come get him and take him Home.

He lived with my parents for awhile, around the same time I stayed there after the Devilbitch breakup. Grandpa’s life was filled with a whole bunch of purgatorial waiting.

I’ve been in waiting rooms that have big TV’s to hypnotize and placate the waiting throngs. These TV’s are frequently tuned to the local 24-hour news station, or maybe The Weather Channel–something completely unobjectionable. Grandpa was big on The Weather Channel. He’d watch it all day if nobody else changed the channel. He’d sit there, and every three or four minutes, he’d look at his wristwatch, and sigh mournfully. Periodically, he’d get around to bugging Jesus again. My mom was about ready to send him to Jesus, too. Mom’s an RN, so it was natural that most of the care-giving duty landed in her lap. Sometimes, Grandpa’s plaintive requests for death to take him pushed her to the edge.

My life was good those few months. I was making good money doing evenings at WSJT. From 7pm to Midnight, I played music and said pseudo-cool stuff. Then I’d usually buy a fifth of something, and drive the hour back to my parents’ house. I’d go into my bathroom, and I’d chug vodka or bourbon till I was good and buzzed. This was my routine. I’d finally pass out around dawn, then wake up around 2pm. I’d take a shower, get dressed, and wander out into the family room. Grandpa would be sitting in my dad’s recliner. The big chair dwarfed him, and Grandpa was a mere withered husk of the tough, funny guy who tended his own huge garden and orange grove until his mid-70’s. I’d say hi, and he’d ask me how work was going–work was always hugely important to Grandpa. I’d tell him the truth: work was going great. I was well-suited to be a night-jock-on-a-jazz-station, and my ratings were really good. He’d acknowledge that this was good, and provide me with that day’s rain chance.

This daily exchange pretty much exhausted our conversational repertoire. I’d drink coffee and watch The Weather Channel with Grandpa till I could invent an errand to go run. I had to leave, because sure as hell, every five minutes or so, he’d look at his watch, and there’d be the sigh: ohh, woe, ohhh. Periodically, he’d invoke the “come get me Jesus” mantra.

Seven years after Grandpa died in his “someplace nice,” I found myself checking-in to one of my own.

This is why I wonder if people don’t decline faster as they lose their independence. I had a lovely room, with a comfortable bed, a powerful air-conditioner, my own bathroom and shower, and a lovely triple-vaulted ceiling with a skylight. (It didn’t dawn on me till later that the ceiling was so high so that hanging myself would be impossible).

I grew accustomed to my “someplace nice”. My room was cleaned for me every couple days; our meals were buffets filled with spectacularly good food. I didn’t carry keys or a wallet during my 30-day “visit.” I had no need. The only time I left was one Sunday afternoon when my parents signed me out–seriously, they checked me out of the “someplace nice” like a library book and had to check me back in when they returned me. (I got pee-tested when I got back, of course) The thing was, it was kind of nice that I didn’t have to entertain people from the “real world”, except on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, and even then, only for a few hours. Then it was back into the comforting routine. I woke up when they woke me. Took my meds when they told me. Ate when it was time to eat, and went to classes or meetings or crafts or whatever when it was time. If I got overwhelmed and panicky from the intense meetings and classes, I could always go to the nurses’ station, and request my prn Ativan.

It was on the front of my chart: if I asked, I was to be given a 4mg Ativan prn–pro re nata, “as the situation demands,” or more accurately, “when tom demands.” There were days where I’d feel myself going into a panic attack. Sometimes, going outside and chain-smoking Marlboro’s with a friend or my counselor helped. Sometimes, a hug from my girls M or J helped. Other times, I took my prn Ativan. The nurse didn’t ask questions or pry. She’d note my chart, bring me a little plastic cup with my Ativan, along with a cup of the coldest, best-tasting water on earth. Down went the Ativan. I’d usually go smoke two more Marlboro’s, then weave to my room and pass out on my bed. I’d sleep droolingly, and life was invariably more tolerable when I awoke.

By my fourth week at the “someplace nice”, I felt ready to go back to the world: to my job, my friends, my apartment, my freedom.

I lasted about a third of the way home before I had to pull off the road, and sit there shaking for 20 minutes. I’d been 30 days without driving–no big truck clutch, no shifting gears, no lanes to stay in, no other cars. And no damned noise. I was driving through hell, and I wanted my prn Ativan.

I wanted to go back to my “someplace nice”.

When I had my 2012 Abyss Summer, there were a few times I’d find myself somewhere and not know why. I could always figure it out and find my way home. Simply, I was in such a pharmaceutical haze, that I operated on autopilot much of the time. My eyes were lifeless, and I felt like my soul was dead.

But I never lost “me.” I never lost sight of who I am, where I was, or why I was there. I was always aware that I was tom, and that my brain had gone kablooey, and that I was someplace very dark and bad, but that I had a team behind me, helping me fight my way back; I was safe at my parents’ house, my “someplace nice”. Today–ten months after the Kablooey started–I feel like I’m as back as I’m going to get. I have a coleslaw of psychotropic meds propping me up right now, and it’s working. This past week, I’ve felt like maybe it’s time to wean off of them. There is not a chance in hell I’d skip even one dose without asking my doc. The guy’s a genius, and he got me out of The Dark Place.

My friend’s friend can’t be put back together with a bunch of pills. My friend was sad, because her friend has begun what someone termed, “the long goodbye.” It’s horrible; it’s sad as all hell.

My friend titled her post “So Sad Today.”‘ For some reason, that led me to think of the Blind Faith song, “Had to Cry Today.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F3czhKWc9U

Blind Faith did one real album in the late 1960’s, and I always liked this song. The verses were negligible and unimportant–good thing, because I couldn’t understand what Steve Winwood was singing anyway. This version is Clapton and Steve Winwood reunited in 2007. Steve Winwood’s singing is a little more intelligible on the verses, but it’s the hook that always gets me. They’ve changed the lyrics. And this is why my friend’s post made me think of an old, obscure Blind Faith song:

“Had to cry today. (Because) I saw your face, and I missed you there.”

It’s hell to be there physically, yet to be missed; it’s hell when your mind goes careering downhill, swerving hither and yon, with no regard for the nice lines that we’re supposed to stay between. It’s hell when you need someone else’s help just to remain cared-for and safe.

I’m grateful for this world’s “someplace nice”s, for my parents’ house–my “someplace nice” this past summer. I’m glad, too, that Grandpa was asleep in his “someplace nice” when he got his wish, when Jesus finally showed-up in His cab, and took my grandfather home.

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