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“I’m sure I must have sounded like a fool and a borderline psychotic most of that year, when I talked to people who thought they knew who and where they were at the time … but looking back, I see that if I wasn’t Right, at least I wasn’t Wrong, and in that context I was forced to learn from my confusion … which took awhile, and there’s still no proof that what I finally learned was Right, but there’s not a hell of a lot of evidence to show that I’m Wrong either.”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976
I was carrying a bucket of oats to a back pasture, but had to cross two adjacent pastures with mean bulls in them. I remember reasoning that I would walk along the fence line, and if the bull charged, I could hop across the fence to the other pasture. I was a little frightened, but not so terror stricken that I could not cross. I managed to traverse the fields without incident.
In the back pasture, there were three non-descript horses, and for some odd reason, I was frightened. But being a farm boy, I was not going to let a damned horse scare me, and I determinedly walk to a feed trough under a cottonwood tree to dump the bucket of oats. The horses were a few feet beyond the trough, and as I neared them, they turned their backs to me to kick me. I panicked, dropped the feed bucket and ran to the safety of the other pasture.
One of the horses looked back at me and said menacingly: “Don’t ever try that again!”
I woke with a pounding heart. Ben, the medicine man, was off on a toot, and I was alone in our camp in the sagebrush. Dawn was just breaking, and my soul was not quiet. The night before, I had received a warning from another Brujo to not go to Denver. That was odd, because I had no such plan in mind, so I just dismissed it.
I fanned the fire back into life just as the sun broke over Magic Mountain, a name that some of the locals had given to the Mountain behind the Taos Pueblo. Artisans felt that it had some pull on them, and perhaps it did. I know that most of us believed we wouldn’t leave until the mountain dismissed us. With the passing of years, I believe that was true, but that I had another calling other than Brujo, and the two callings were at war with each other.
One path had all the comforts of knowledge and power, albeit a bit dusty comfort, and the other was a walk into sere, friendless landscape. I thought I had chosen the life of a Brujo, but the Fates had moved my thread in the Tapistry of Life, and three weeks later I woke on Lawrence Street in Denver, broke and not knowing how I had made the seven hour trip.
A rose colored neon cross flashed “Jesus Saves” above me. A place of refuge on a mean street. I needed a place to sleep where I wouldn’t get my head kicked in. Father Woody sat up on what had once been a stage, reading. People were sleeping in the aisles and wooden pews. I found an empty spot in a pew near the front, and went to sleep in my new land.
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Restless night. Mostly introspective spirits stalk the passages in my mind. Usually, I write to entertain, to inform or to amuse. This is a totally self serving screed, however, and if you find it too wearisome, move on to the next blog. I really don’t know why I am even publishing it.
Odd … I sit here a little bit after dinner, the urge to write is upon me, but I don’t have anything I wish to write about. I did a quick post with updates on Google+, Blogster and facebook. Cupid. Rhymes with … then just as quickly went back and deleted the inanity.
Sometimes that works for me. Make a statement, no matter how ridiculous, and let it flow. But tonight, it just embarrassed me, and if it didn’t insult you, it should have. You deserve better from me.
My soul is suddenly, unexplainably unquiet again. I feel like that child in the sandbox who traces a picture, then in a fit, wipes it away because it doesn’t look at all like what they had in mind.
I see a pattern in these subterranean upheavals when I am skirting around spiritual revelations, when the foundations of belief and knowledge shift. I usually don’t cast my pearls around on blog sites and street corners, and I shant delve into them here, though I really wish it was a place where I felt truly free to do so without couching them in obscure turns of phrase. So they go into the minds diary, but they just won’t reside their quietly.
Maybe I need a confessor. The problem is that the few remaining peers in my life are hugely learned men in PARDES, a mystical system of study in some theological circles. I can occasionally wow them on an intuitive level, but never on obscure foundational issues.
It’s as if you woke one morning, and discovered that your mother and father changed overnight. Though their love for you and sense of duty toward you and your education didn’t diminish, their whole demeanor changed, and their expectations of you grew to terrifying heights of perfection. Yes, there is mercy, but it comes at a soul crushing cost. Who can survive it?
I have passed the point of no return. It is victory or ruin because now I know.
I was just sitting back in my chair listening to talk radio and my ever present budgie, Kippur when I saw her sitting on top of my monitor, chubby legs daintily crossed at the knees, and cottage cheese squeezing out at the garter bands of her old-style nylons.
“That cheesecake pose went out in 1920 along with that skirt you are wearing.” I snarled. “Where have you been? I have been sitting here for a week and all I have been able to crank out is the coffee is good journals.”
She snapped back, “Maybe if you stopped downing all that codeine, I could get a word in past that chunk of chedder you have for brains, Hemmingway.”
“I’ve been sick.” I sniffed back, averting my eyes as she uncrossed her legs and tugged the ratty tweed skirt down in a vain attempt to cover her knees.
“You have been out of the hospital a week and a half. You know damned well you don’t need the pain pills. You are just taking them because you like being stupefied. You’re just an over-the-hill, bald-headed hippie anyway. Maybe it would be a good time to actually write something worthwhile before the crematorium turns you into cinders.” She spitefully retorted.
“I can’t write when my soul is unquiet. I am upset with the hopey-changers and this disaster in social engineering that they have foisted off on people.” I whined back. “I have been thinking of getting back into political pieces.”
“If your soul got any quieter, the coroner would be writing out your final ticket. Seriously, you really need to start working on something other than social journaling, but I am not sure that politics are your forte’.”
“I can’t seem to maintain any sort of interest in my stories. After I get to know the characters, I lose all further interest in them.” I bleated.
“Yes, writing is work, Maynard. Cross checking and rewriting are all a part of the mix. It isn’t all beer and skittles, you know.”
“Skittles means something different these days than it did in your day. Men haven’t played skittles in æons. Skittles are sweet candies that the boys in the hood visit convenience stores in suburban neighborhoods to buy. Get a new bromide.”
“The point is, Daniel Webster, that writing is mostly perspiration, and very little inspiration. You haven’t sweated since the last letter you got from the IRS. Where you at with Akashaic?”
“Do you ever weary of old clichés? Akashaic is kind of a dead horse right now. I had too much of my old middle aged sexual fantasies in it. Now that I am a … *ahem!* … golden ager, the basis of the tale seems to be a little trite. It needs a major rethinking.”
“Well, rethink it.” She said, unsuccessfully trying to smooth out the button gap in her cheap blouse.
“Actually, I have revisited it. It will be a total rewrite if I do. I drug out some old drawings I had made of the castle in light of the new thinking, and maybe I can salvage the tale. But for the moment, I have a number of unfulfilled promises to catch up on before setting down to seriously re-craft it.”
“You always have an excuse ready, don’t you?” She snapped.
“And you are as unhelpful as ever, aren’t you!” I shot back.
Wednesday, and my world return to near normal. Little pinpricks of irritation grace my nether parts as my smooth shaven bottom regrows the hair that the catherization lab people so deftly removed. Dignity has been restored, and the continual stream of people who paraded into my room to unceremoniously hike the blankets to look at the incision in my groin are a passing memory. Everyone had a peek, it seems, including the janitor. I hung my dignity in the patient closet and stoically endured the indignity.
Kippur the budgie is glad to see me and is rewarding me with chirps, burbles soft squawks and dancing when I ignore her. And sleeping! It has been so long since I had such sound sleep! Total zonk sleep that takes half an hour to rouse completely from. I didn’t know how miserable I was. The symptoms of shortness of breath and lack of energy had so slowly snuck up on me that I just believed that all of that was normal.
Today, I will promptly nap when I yawn, wake when my eyes open, eat when I am hungry, write when I feel like it. It is a recovery day. Mostly. I admit to a tinge of guilt at my sloth, but I am sure to quickly get over it.
Talk radio fills the air, the sun is waxing stronger each day. In spite of the hard freezing, the hardy wildflowers continue to put up greenery in preparation for spring blooming. Still a chilly 37° outside, a warm 75° inside.
A bottomless coffeepot is a perk this morning, though Snookums has expressly forbidden me to walk out on the front porch because of the ice. She took a hard spill there this morning. No. I’ll not be allowed to even de-ice the steps. The back stoop is ice free, and we’ll use that. Yes, ma’am.
The press is telling me everything about the Presidents SOTU speech, whether I want to hear it or not. He sounds in full campaign mode as he tries to salvage the train wreck. I think the smartest thing he can do right now is just shut-up and let the party hacks do the salvage work.
And life returns to its soft day upon day routine …
Odd, isn’t it, how one moment all is good, your world is in good order, and then in the next you are careening out of control. Saturday was one of those days.
Went to services Saturday morning. It was a close-knit group and the teaching was enlightening. We broke for lunch, and unhappily, the ladies plugged in too many crock pots into one circuit, and everything was cold. But we survived by nuking stuff and eating things cold. Afterwards, I was feeling a little short of breath, but nothing really threatening.
I had some persistent discomfort in the chest that was gently radiating up thru my neck and jaw for several days that I attributed to pushing the lawn mower around the edges of the house and trees. One of my dogs greeted me when I got home with her toy bone, and I played a quick game of tug-of-war with her, then the pain struck with a vengeance. I stumbled into my study and sat down at the PC, waiting for the pain to subside. It did ease a little, but not a whole lot.
I had some nitroglycerin tablets in the fridge that I had from 1995 or so. I took one and felt a huge relief, though the pain was not erased completely. If nitro reduces your pain, that is not a good sign if you had been pain-free for 20 years. I followed it up with an Alka-Seltzer to see if that helped. That would tell me if the pain was coming from my stomach rather than the heart. Nothing. Finally, I asked Snook to take me to the ER.
It was a long 20 minutes to town, but we got there, and Snook the whole time was calm and collected.Bless her!
The intake nurse didn’t waste time and had a wheel chair there in moments to transport me back to the ER where they started the usual protocol of blood thinners, and huge doses of nitro. That wasn’t doing the trick, and we tried a stomach numbing mixture that didn’t do much but make me belch and fart.
Finally, the nurse brought in morphine. Ahhhh! The nurses got prettier, the walls became brighter, my world was once again in order.
Sunday they just tried keeping me pain free with morphine and nitro patches and did a fair to middlin job.
Monday morning was tests and more tests, then on to the cath lab to peek inside. While there, they put in two stints to open up some earlier grafts, and cleared another blockage.
Viola! They found it!!
Sometimes illness is so subtle that you are not aware of the extent of your suffering until the cause is removed. I am sitting here without the usual shortness of breath, and feeling energetic, which isn’t good. I have to remain sedate for a week or better.
The first thing I did was crawl into my daybed for a little afternoon nappy-poo. My eyes rolled back in my head and I went out like a light for a couple of hours. No vampires were waking me for blood, no dieticians were poking my finger for blood sugars, no wires were going to a machine that chimed every ten minutes, no tube led to an infusion machine. I was FREEEEEE!
Woke, and tried to catch up with y’all, but you are a busy busy bunch, so I probably missed a few posts.
Glad to be back!
Monday. There was a time in my life when Monday meant something. It meant the short weekend was over and one must be out earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. But now in my dotage, there is little to mark it as a distinct day. I can bank online now, so bankers’ hours are meaningless. Two bank ATM’s on either side of the village allow me get cash on the rare moments I need cash, like a yard sale.
And politics start on Monday. During the weekend, the whor … err … politicians, dump their most unpopular pieces of legislation on us where the second string media whor … err … pundits totally miss the impact of that legislation on us out in the hinterlands.
The rumble of wage slaves wakes me at dawn on Mondays instead of the soft sunlight God intended to rouse his sleepy creation. And the parcels and catalogues I order arrive on Monday after sitting idle in the local USPS/UPS distribution center.
Talk radio resumes. Other than the online news ventures, most of my information about the larger world comes from talk radio. I like the medium because it is a bit more honest in that the host puts his biases right out front. You don’t have some smarmy leftist commentator trying to pass as an unbiased news source. Like it, or go watch Racheal.
And today it will climb into the seventies. I have some roses that need to be cut back, and maybe I’ll mow a small patch in front of the house with the little mower just so it looks like I care. But for now, my tummy is delightfully burning from the pepper in the sausage and eggs, the last of the coffee sits just off my right hand, the budgie is trying to get me to interact with her, and I need to wrap this up. I have taken way too much time from you today.
To work, you sluggards!!
It is Friday already, and a warming weekend is in the offing. My lament every single Friday is where did the week go
It is odd how the perception of time changes with age. Time flits by in increasing tempo when you get older. It is not at all like that agonizing æon when I was fourteen wanting to be sixteen so I could drive. I want to snatch old Cronus’ hourglass from his hand and flip it back a decade or to so that I can catch up with me.
Ambition has died in me, and is replaced by a stoic resignation. The house is as improved as it is ever going to be. The yard? Well, maybe electrify the carport and put some posy containers along the front walkway this year, but the big plantings will await another owner. There will be no swimming pool, nor will the huge dog run get irrigation and new sod. Snookums gets new teeth this year, so that depletes the discretionary spending. And that is just fine with me. I just want to write and grow moss.
And I have wrestled my ambition to become a novelist down to the mat for a three count. An essayist is all I will ever be. But that aint so bad. I guess. Essay on!
Soon it will be time to drive to the shul, to sweep, vacuum, scrub and change batteries, then return home to a neatly laid Shabbat table for the beginning of Shabbat at sundown. New Moon follows New Moon, there is evening, and there is morning. The seasons flicker by like an old peep show being cranked too fast.
But life cares little for an old mans opinion, and breezily goes on, with him, or without him.