Monday, September 4, 2017

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On the Ruminations Of Blood and Burritos

          Medical treatment and therapy is nothing more than a waiting game. Actually, it's a racket, as well as a waiting game. You know, it's also a communications train wreck along with a racket and a waiting game.

          Last July, I hurt my leg when I inadvertently stepped through a steel grating and pulled my calf muscle. Expecting nothing more than a little swelling and stiffness the next morning, I woke up to find my leg had turned tomato-red and blew up to twice the size. I wasn't really alarmed, except for the fact I couldn't move my leg, as it was bloated and radiated heat and deep pain. It tingled. It throbbed. My brain was cloudy--more cloudy than normal. I really couldn't think straight, but I still went to work, the good soldier I was--I had no idea. I really should've took into account the fact I couldn't fit this leg is not my already-loose pant leg. I had lost a good 50 pounds or so, I was working out like a pro, and I had my eyes focused on tipping the scales at a mighty sub-200 pound number. So, the idea that I had suddenly gained weight in my legs was inconceivable. Maybe it was the DingDongs I had a day before--a modest guilty pleasure for the sudden healthy training I have been chasing for most of my life!

          Now, my workplace is not necessarily a shining sort of positivity. Whether it be working retail at a car lot, or working full-time at a busy multimedia studio, or plugging along as a middle-aged character actor, the general consensus states: if you can't perform a job, they can find someone who will. Superiority, attendance, loyalty, or excellence in your craft be dashed! Knowing this full well, I went into work. There are two brilliant technicians I work with, and I've known them for many years, I'm proud to say. Together, we're a three-man orchestra. That said,  comfort didn't come from them.
"Put some ice on it."
"Put some heat on it."
"Drink some tea."
"Have a shot."
"Rest your leg."
"Walk on your leg."
"Elevate it."
"Shake it out and flex it."
Even though they're multitalented, they don't seem to know about these kinds of issues. By noon, my leg started to turn dark. I told my compatriots I needed to go in and have it checked out, and they seemed to agree, with the funny rejoinder, "Oh, don't worry about it, it's probably blood clots. They might even settle in your chest. Nothing to worry about. See you at in a bit......"

          The general practitioner (aptly titled the GP, thrown around arrogantly in the medical biz), started to get irritated when I told her it hurts, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly where. She glibly tossed her stethoscope onto the table and said, "I guess we'll have to check you for.....blood clots."

          Knowing she mentioned the punchline from a work-gag mentioned earlier in the day, I started to giggle. She glared with condescension and piety, "This is not a laughing matter, Mr. Vigil. Your life could be at stake."

          Now, I had no idea what blood clots were. Over the next few minutes--as my leg continued to swell--I was briefed on the dangers of having some of these nasty invaders in my body. Apparently, they cause havoc--from heart attacks, to strokes, suffocation, and amputation. It turned to 7pm as I was told to rush to get an ultrasound. It's a surreal feeling, rushing to an emergency diagnosis in my own car. What if I didn't want to go in? Will this pass, if I didn't get a confirmation? Who will pay for these procedures? When do I call the wife? Will I be home soon? What if I blackout right now? Should I travel in the slow lane, in case I crash? Will the car flip? Will the crash jumble the clots loose? Can I operate on myself? My heart raced, and I felt sadly mortal.

          The ultrasound was completed, and there were clots in my leg. The technician mentioned my voice sounded weak, and suggested I go to the emergency room in the hospital next door! Clots may be in my chest. Go now!!!

          Off I went to the hospital. They let me in, as they knew I was coming, and I found a quiet room with three nurses waiting. Apparently, blood clots get you VIP treatment! They stabilized me, put tubes in me, and rushed me into a cat scan. Long story short, I had a couple clots in my lungs. I needed to stay. In all this chaos and rushing me around--all of which took a good five hours or so--I forgot to call my loving wife. It was 1am in the morning. I politely asked for a phone to reach her. Two in the morning rolls around, and still, no phone. At precisely 2:30am, I receive a phone from one of the receptionists, claiming there's an irate female on the phone. My wife was searching for me, and called a few hospitals around the area, with no one helping her. You'd think with all the technology, everyone would be interconnected with their inpatient data. We finally spoke, and I got in a terrible mood. Ron started wandering the halls of the ICU, waiting for a room to be prepared for me, in the other part of the hospital. I really couldn't believe all this needed to take so long. As I passed by a few patients--waiting patients, mind you--one thing burned in my mind: what a mess of a system. No one was checking on patients, no one checked on me, but there was a TV. It didn't work, but there was a TV.

          It really was a surreal scene--all of us were waiting around, groaning, walking ourselves into the restroom (I even helped this older Mexican grandmother into the restrooms, prepping her for doing a deuce). I was ready to fill out my paperwork and collect a check for my services! Five in the morning rolls around, and a couple big bruisers show up at my door, ready to WHEEL me to my room! To say I didn't rest is such an understatement. I mentioned I left my invoice on the bed, but that didn't receive any reaction. Don't know why, I thought my delivery was on point.

          The room in the larger part of the hospital was okay--my "roommate" was this dude who asked for EVERYTHING. He wanted a glass of ice. Shaved ice. Separate from a tall glass of plain water with NO ICE. He wanted breakfast well done. I don't know what PART of breakfast he wanted well done, but he just wanted WELL DONE. He wanted lotion. He wanted someone to show him how the TV worked. He wanted aspirin. He wanted an extra dose of morphine. He wanted to call his cousin. He wanted to call his brother. He wanted lunch early. He wanted to see the menu NOW. He wanted a burrito for lunch. Bodily noises frequently punctuated his requests. I was in Gross-out Heaven.

          The doctors visited me at a regular pace of once. Strike that, twice. The second time was getting my info for insurance. The other communications consisted of a nurse relaying facts from the doctor, basically telling me I was going to be discharged by the afternoon. Thank goodness--I didn't want to be around when my bunk buddy had a burrito.

          Toward the end of my stay, my dorm partner crossed over to my side and struck up a conversation:

"I'm Mark."  
"Hey Mark, I'm Ron."
"What are you here for?"  
"I guess I have blood clots all over me. You?" 
"I have a blood condition I have to keep coming back for....I keep fainting for the last few years, so the doctors want me in here a lot, for my health." 
"Do they know what's happening with you?" 
"Not really. I just keep getting infected." 
"That sounds terrible. I hope you get to feeling better soon." 
"I don't. I just want to go away. That's why I call my cuz--so he can bring me something to fuck me up." 
"...." 
"You should watch out for those clots, man. My Aunt got one in her lung, and it traveled to her brain. Killed her quick. Don't mess around with those, man." 
"--yeah--" 
"Anyway, I heard you were going soon. You be careful." 
"You too. I'll be praying for ya." 
"You don't have to. I got it. I'm always careful, man. I order everything in my life the way I want it. I'm tired of being not in control, you know?" 
"I hear ya. I hope you make it." 
"I hope I don't. Peace."

          I was released at a prompt 2:48pm. I guess I was stabilized. I don't know, nobody really told me. I was wheeled to the car (where my phone and iPad™ were). I called my wife and told her I was coming home, and I NEEDED a shower. I told my job the same.  
          I stared through the windshield all the way home, listening to the in-between station static, as I couldn't concentrate on anything during the car ride. Whatever problems interfered with my life, I felt for the many people that system let hang on to it, clinging like dead skin on a whale. The old grandmother's humility, the burned-out receptionist, the obviously-overrun Doctor, the irritated nurses, and Mark.

          I really don't know what's to come of all this, and I'm realistically pessimistic about the future. But I'm not nearly as bad off as I have selfishly led myself to believe. I make my weekly appointments to the blood specialists to get my finger pricked (I'm a moving target of being almost-therapeutic--whatever that means), I watch my intake of EVERYTHING, and I move a little slower to avoid extreme bruising. I won't lie, the little pill I take for my blood kicks my ass, though. I'm tired ALL THE TIME, even though I try to muster a workout every once in a while. 
          I feel like such a jerk. You know, I wasn't looking for a stay at the Hilton, but I left more stressed than I did when I came in. Something was intrinsically wrong with this picture, yes? Overall, what a dreadful ordeal. There has to be a better way to do all this.
          As much as I hate this systemic, joyless mincing, I am fully aware other people hate their situations more. I am blessed to get out when I did, and I think about those people in the hospital bowels who shared the horror. I get the uneasy feeling I'm the alert deer who sought higher ground before the tsunami hit the shore. The only difference is, I had no idea there was a tsunami. I escaped an administrative haunted house. I do know one thing, though--I'm taking lots of supplements. And I'm praying for those souls.







Sunday, August 7, 2016

Louise J. Vigil

It takes a long time to sift through memories, these days. When I think of my Grandma Louise though, a flood of memories come to mind. I remember my grandmother accompanied with a range of emotions, from passionate arguments and confrontations to effortless friendships, altruism and humor. She fought a lot, gave a lot, and laughed a lot. When Louise was younger, she worked for the war effort, helping to build grenades during World War II. How fitting it is, the imagery sticks with me to this day. She had a fiery temperament and an explosive personality.

She's in my heart and in my blood even now, as my wife and son can verify. Being in a job that requires a presence in public, I meet a lot of people and shake hands, and wave to anonymous passers-by. It's often difficult to make an impression from an interaction that lasts a few seconds. So it's imperative that you leave people with some knowledge that you're an important part of EACH OTHER'S lives. I found you always knew where you stood with Louise. You were the priority. Most notably to me, though, was the fact she kept an amazingly extensive record of names in her head. She knew names of cousins I still don't know to this day – a fact that is to my utter shame. She once told me her secret: she knew everyone by name because they all meant something to her. At first listen, her statement sounds so simple, even as a common sense quote quilted on a pillow, but there's a lot more at work in HOW she relayed this secret. With each day at my job, her thoughts resonate. Almost everybody meant something to her. That hits hard, and I want to try to live up to that thinking.



In summing up our relationship, I'm told I need to relay memories of my time with Grandma Louie:

-- I remember watching funny Burt Reynolds movies with her, laughing at the f-words, while I spent the night. I was always falling asleep with a giant bowl of ice cream in my lap.

-- I remember watching TV with her, as the Broncos went to their first Super Bowl, the stadium noise blaring right outside her front yard, on a colorfully-lit evening during the holidays.

-- I remember the beers we had in her high rise apartment, looking over the Denver skyline, chatting about what I wanted to do in life; she always said it didn't matter, as long as I remembered my family.

-- I remember the arguments we had later, but the feelings vaporized as we hugged again.

-- I remember telling her my newborn son's name. 
"Kalel! What the hell?"
I was still a kid at heart, but I had no idea her rap game was off the chain.

-- I remember when her recollections, stories and their details started to fade. She still remembered nicknames she had for some of us. A couple of them were the 'cussy' ones.

-- I remember once telling her life was tough. She said, "Bullshit. You stopped praying."



And so, and finally, at long last, it has come to this—
May you rejoice in your newly discovered reunions.
May you breathe new air, move with no pain, remember with no sorrow.
May you rest in the arms of a loving, giving, graceful God who knew your name from the very beginning.
Louise.
Peace be with you.
Peace.

-- Grandson, 2016


Sunday, September 7, 2014

An Appreciation

Tasting stouts might be a little passé, but this one rocks. There's a full roasted finish with a nice orange middle that makes for a heady beast, without sinking into the IPA hell that's so prevalent these days. The smell greets you with a cocoa sweet stillness of archaic notes, cradling a literate flair.

To be sure, this stout brings me back to my first taste of stouts, in my 80's high school days. So full, it closes my throat while I remember 4-hour tilts of RISK. Good times. 

Understand, I don't get out much, and this foray into an open night hails my memory with a tweak of sadness.  My son turns 15 soon, my friends have high school kids bordering on college age, so accessible funds and available minutes are a rare commodity. Anyway, it's nice to just sit and enjoy my life. 

Relax, loyal reader, I'm not going down memory lane. I won't regail/repulse you with reflections on Ron.  I won't try to make you sad, nor will I solicit a sentimental response. I'm here to tell you at the foot of the mountains there sits a mildly chubby cherub who is grateful for the adventure, however mundane it may seem. 

As I look into the stemmed glassware cradling this gorgeous potion, I want to tell you this is what it means to win. When I read the headlines of this backward world, listen to the non-melodic music of the age, and turn away from the shallow nature of today's vernacular, I'm refreshed at the simplicity of pleasurable things. People are laughing around me (maybe they're drunk), the day's repose is the right temperature, the sun's sitting just right over the peaks, and I have time to myself. 

You know, if I must truly confess, my back hurts. The couple next to me are getting on eachother's nerves with consistent reminders that they both look "shitty". The college couple on the other side of me are eating stinky food, raped by the reek of wing sauce. My palette's getting corroded with the stank--glassware is now being dropped on a consistent basis. I'm swirling the stout in a desperate attempt to summon better odors. One of the bartenders has an open shirt down her back, revealing a typical tribal design--a shame, really, she'd be more attractive without the Mark of the Fad. She must make good tips. It's irritating, really--I get upset just thinking about it. 

Do you really have to put your iPhone (trademark) in your back pocket? Don't you ever sit?! Or, in your clunky attempt to look cool, do you need to have it precariously hanging out of your dirty jeans? What do I care, you could probably afford another one--

And, what's up with the long beards? Are you studying sorcery? Are you wise? Are you compensating for the bald head? Why don't you conjure a spell to make your feet stink less, when you wear those disastrous thongs. Look in your tome of magic under the letter "S", for "stink foot".

Swirling the caramel concoction a little more, now.... The drink temperature is getting to where I like it, and the aromas are blitzing like an '77 Orange Crush front five. Grapefruit, that's what it is! I mistakenly took the orange citrus train to Prediction Town on this heavenly mixture. Make this blitz an '85 Bears front five! Oranges, begone, there is a dark grapefruit hither--No, cherub, this stout has the bitter numb of grapefruit. Brewers, well done: your palettes have foresight and ingenuity. I am contrite.

The dude next to me chugged his... Troglodyte. 

And, do you really need to drag your dogs to the brewery? Their filthy nature doesn't drum up a tinge of appreciation from my like, I have two charming furries of my own. Here's the difference: your pups aren't endearing, they're spoiled from you parading them around the local inebriates, like an emperor without clothes, who happens to eat his own scat.

Golly, this stout is good.  Best to leave it at just one. A good memory. 

They're playing rap, now. Time to head out. The mountain scenery has turned black, and the interior just looks like any other bar, with dreadful music filling the room. Thank you, God, for the magical drink. I suppose I really won't experience its like for a while. 

Guys are starting to stare at the tattoo, and I feel ashamed for the sex I'm a member of--until this girl opens her mouth and flashes gang signs, swearing like an amateur.

Going in for the descent, time to join life again. Not the hustle and bill-paying of earthly gears, but the warmth of a family and a newfound appreciation for momentary gaps. 

Appreciation, indeed. This was a worthy culinary experiment. I could go for a good movie, about now.




Friday, September 5, 2014

Jump





"Jump! Don't look down!"

"You've really got nothing to lose," they encourage me.

"You've done it before, you know..."

Ron looked into the glass and pondered the deep bourbon's legs as they shrouded the sides.  "I almost went bankrupt, as well."

"You have endless contacts and resources!"

"Yes, I do," Ron glared into the garish computer screen, and clicked the Unfriend icon, "--every one of them attached to a human."

__________________________


I see myself at the foot of a sickly bed. The poor dog stretched before me--starved, face lined with desperate worry, pummeled by uneven tempos of breath. I put so much hope into it--I thought I was providing such favor, keeping it locked away, being safe. The bloodshot eyes turn my way, and the whimpers turn into a low mumble. I'm going to lose my furry friend, I know.

With a rush of quivering strength, I kick the bed posts, "Look, I know what I'm doing: I'm convincing myself to not step out in faith. There's no real way to lose, so go ahead and die, for all I care!"

Why am I afraid?

___________________________

Ron adjusted himself under the table, moving his arm as such to give the illusion he's itching his leg.

"I just don't want to go through the...leg work, again," he explained to the interviewer with big diamonds and global implants, "the empty calls, the awkward meetings: the dry days of waiting for an answer--"

He knew he was talking to himself, at this point.  How would a corporate trophy wife ever understand the struggle? Inside her head, she rolls her eyes--gotta get the pool cleaned!

"So much excessive spinning; so many un-answers. So much time was wasted, trying to apprehend a hopeful nugget--" Ron abruptly stops, and glares at her. He sets down his pen, crumbles his resume, places it on her iPad (trademark).

Ron, looking around, whispers in her ear, "Look, I'm going to be responsible for a staff of people who need the work. Times could get thin, and it could be my fault. I'm going to be accountable for the quantity and quality of the work.  It stops at me--"

The interviewer reaches around his head, and squeezes his cheek.

She whispers back, smelling of lipstick and Starbucks (copyright): "It also starts at you! Isn't that what you want? No one to tell you how to edit yourself, someone to set your limitations; an overseer who doesn't really know your passion?" 

Ron adjusted himself again. This time, everyone noticed. He didn't care.


______________________________



I'm back at my dog's death bed, but I know it's really me, lying there... I'm mad at the situation. I can't believe I'm explaining myself to my dying dog.

"I didn't know what I was doing. I'm so sorry."

"The right colleagues were impressed," Man's-Best-Friend seems to say, "and you have some true jewels of work. You slept at night."

I start to weep a bit, "The superiors I work for might be upset."

"Your only superior is the one who loves you more than you'll ever know," the doggie rests its head, nuzzling its pillow, "and I always knew you loved me."

...that new damned bag of organic dog food....


____________________________________



"Looking in the mirror is scarier with each year," he thought to himself, walking the narrowing path.


He covered his mouth, collecting the data as to what could happen.
Am I reaching too much?

          "You haven't reached in a while."


He relaxed, paused, fixed his gaze to the path beneath him. The green moss dwindled as it drew closer to the edge of the end, close to where his feet felt the most discomfort, as his body lurched forward and back. The comfort of green disappeared amid this balding rash of regret. 


I don't want to lose--

          "You already won."


Breath was unbearable now, and this was it: he clenched inside, shaking his younger self.


But it might be to high--

          "Then," he gasped at the inhalation of new birth, "...jump..."




Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wait a minute

It's all about waiting. 

I've put it in writing for all to see.

Someone once said "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." I can see that. I can also see people walking about, smoking their cigarettes, sipping pops. Filling up gas cans, making small talk, setting their gum on the dashboard: everybody's getting ready. 

You see, no one's really "there" yet, but they're gonna be--Tolkien's "last deep breath before the plunge..."  A drama professor once said "great drama shows the highlights; no one wants to watch the in between moments". True. Even actors wait for their cues....and there it is: Life doesn't grind us, waiting does. 

Not everybody lives. Not everybody gains. Not everybody loses. Not everybody enjoys. Not everybody dreads, desires, cheats, assails, curses, prays or preys.  But everybody--and this is everybody--waits.

We wait for life to happen. We wait for love. We wait for sports matchups. We wait for justice, we wait for convergence, revelations, we wait for a diagnosis, we wait for Jesus. We wait to be born. 

I'm not going to the next logical thought here: you'll have to wait.

It carries the wisdom of verisimilitude. Doesn't matter what we wait for, or for how long. We're all stuck in that syrup-slow aquarium of anticipation, and it links our tired lives through its timeless tendrils of tedium. Stan Lee would be proud of that one!

Waiting drives us crazy. It endows the value of the main course. It's the Everything, But....

Every emotion exists in "wait", every adjective. Every quantity is calculated in "wait". 

"Wait" trumps everything but Time. Even for anything that happens, however the immediacy, there still exists an element of "wait". Waiting is the ultimate substance in the universe.

Great thinkers and apologists will suddenly sit up and try to be recognized. They'll no doubt slip on the dusty specs of knowledge and place their caps of academia here, and simply ask: "you've defined the condition, now what's the question...?"

Well, then, let's bring out the questions:

Can "wait" become a "do"? No, that's lame: I'm trying to energize a passive verb. 

Can "wait" be gussied-up? Glamorized? Made more enjoyable?  No, muzak's got that cornered.

Since it's ever-present, can "wait" be ignored like the cute 20-something with a brand new selfie?

It's something we all have to deal with, certainly, so can we choose to steal its power? Harness its intimidating presence? I'm not presumptuous enough to tame and make it my ally, much less my friend: waiting knows me all too well. But there might be hope in siphoning this relentless resource.

Waiting can work for us. Wait can wait on us. Make t-shirts: Ween Wait. We can willfully woo wait!

Love waiting. 

Fill it love, endow it with the energy of action. 

Any action. 

Never let a wait go to waste.



Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm Number One!

The other day, I was cutting holes in a plastic jar with a big blade.

That should be your story right there. An incidental element to a family story of arts and crafts. No controversy, and certainly no Ron Vigil-ness anywhere. Even with my good friends at work watching me--twirling the blade with an air of self-assuredness and sophistication--were not aware of the obvious accident to come. You should've seen me, though! My associate Sergio and the Sheriff's Deputy with him kept squinting, watching me pull and jerk through the brittle plastic, as I dropped in the occasional: "I'll be fine" and "this is almost done".

In fact, I was pretty much finished with my Sloppy Task (great band name, BTW) when the blade skipped out of a hard plastic groove and whispered through the webbing between my thumb and fore finger. Just like a samurai film, blood jumped onto the carpet, darted across a desk, and dribbled onto a collectible t-shirt that shouldn't have been lying underneath, from a nearby display case (guess who has that shirt now, kids!).

My friend the Sheriff's Deputy, whisked me off to the designated medical center to seek Workman's Comp Medical Attention, conveniently located on the other side of the city in Rush Hour traffic. This was after me sitting in the company office bloodily filling out corporate forms making sure I don't sue them over a cut I made to myself on the job. Awkward sentence? Yes, but the whole situation was awkward, thankyouverymuch! So Larry and I (the Sheriff's Deputy is Larry here, and will be mentioned from here on out as such designation) went searching for the designated medical center. We arrived after searching the surrounding neighborhoods--I did, however, find a couple locations for a possible future house, though--very nice, and affordable, I hear...

I must tell you, dear reader, this isn't about Poor Ronnie Gets A Cut And Tries To Explain The Universe. Well, we'll get to it--

Once I arrive at the place, I'm told I need to wait for someone to arrive so I could take a drug test, since the accident occurred while I was on the job. Fair enough, I thought, as I waited in the Trauma Room, regretting the fact I should've gone to the bathroom BEFORE I left work...

Long story short: doctor arrives, cut is cleaned out, preparations are made for stitches, here we go Ron!

Just then, a delicate smell of Under Arm and Dirty Clothes greets our nostrils, and a larger woman--apparently in a hurry--charges into the room, carrying three bags. No one shook hands, no one smiled, no one even knew her name even when she shoved a sweaty palm in my face: "I'm here to test you". Talk about an entrance. The doctor, bless his heart, sought solace in another room. You could tell he was a clean freak, and this chick was his mortal enemy, you could tell. Besides, he probably had to throw up down the hall. We exchanged desperate glances when he left, as if he told me he'll get me out of this cell in eight-to-ten years...

After a quick waft of Body Stank, she thrust forth an empty cup, and led me down the hall to the restroom. Good thing, because I really needed to go, this task would be completed soon, and she could go on her merry way, where she could go home and hopefully take a freaking shower.

Alright, dear reader, let's get something straight: I'm a heavier guy myself, and I don't take pleasure in ripping heavy people. But when you're challenging human proportion, you don't tend to the Pit Farms, and you have an "air" of self-importance, you're fair game.

"Fill it up as much as you can", she said, standing guard outside the bathroom door. This was going to be no problem, with no waiting, just a simple "here you go, have a nice day". Cup was filled, cup exchanged hands, now it's onto the final paperwork. As the doctor was still nowhere in sight of the Trauma Room, this lady started to rush to the end of her task. As I sat back down on the table, I noticed the room and its surroundings compress into a slow motion ballet. Paper forms gracefully folded onto themselves, breathing slowed uneasy sighs, and the Venti-Urine danced along the counter as a hurried elbow shoves it along. Here, time stopped.

She spilled the pee all over the counter, the floor, and down the front of her white dress. Never heard so many whispered f-bombs in all my life... scratch that, yes I have. I meant "f-bombs from someone other than myself". A large part in my heart was joyous--schadenfreude in its purest state! A lingering tiny voice in my heart was scared; I was on empty.

We might have to wait here longer, if I can't get something, if youknowwhatimean. Should've asked her if she accepted semen, I could've had that going in a minute! As the entire medical facility was out of water, I had to throw a couple cups of tap water down my gullet, and the messy clean up was underway. I really dreaded this lady to move around too much, because the air became less-and-less fresh. All the while, I'm doing kegel exercises to load the howitzer for another enemy bombardment. Talk about marking your territory: the room, the paperwork, the dress and the woman were mine! Sure there may have been body odor around, but I'm Number One!

Denoument--I squeezed out a bit of urine, and she did the test (why did she ask me to fill the cup in the first place?). As she left in a hurry, I heard a faint "it was nice to meet you, so sorry about the mess". The door closed. That was it? After all we'd been through together, this was all I receive? At least I left her with a couple creepy Ebay items.

Everything else from here on in was standard operating procedure: stitches and pleasant conversation were vollied, I made another appointment, I signed a couple autographs (it still feels so surreal), and we all said our goodbyes.

As Larry and I left the clinic to jump into his van, I began giggling to myself. A few minutes passed, we were sitting in Rush Hour, and it hits. We REALLY needed to hurry back: Wonnie had to go wee-wee.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Restless Soul Syndrome


Haven't been on here for a while now, mostly because what I had to say didn't amount to much--or what I had to say was surely going to get me kicked out of the Blogosphere.

I feel like I'm biding my time too much here. Enough. Okay, I'm gonna get right to it! Here goes...

I'm searching. I'm sad. I'm scared. I'm disappointed.

A few months back, a good friend from college killed himself by jumping from a prominent building here in Downtown Denver. His last post reminded me to have a great weekend, and "he'll see me soon", he hoped. His Facebook page is still creepily open. I had to de-friend him, as I felt a little voyeuristic and unwelcome. I mean, HE chose to leave the dinner party, right? So, who am I to suck up to the leftover emotions with his abandoned friends and family...

A few weeks later, a long-time business associate tried to kill himself with a massive overdose on Xanax. "Luckily", his wife discovered him lying on the floor and the paramedics performed their oft-overlooked job once again. After visiting with him a while recently, I still wonder when he'll try again. I really hope he does not before someone truly ministers to him.

Both men had the same empty smile, the same extreme succeses and failures in life, and me as a "friend". Here, I began to reflect on what I could have said or done, to quell their inner demons for a while longer, before they chose their methods of self-consolidations. I often look back and try to pinpoint the faulty living in my own battles, the missed opportunities in my associations, and I've discovered I have not been a good man. As I tumble into the midway point of my 40's, I presently know I don't have it all together. Let's get something clear, though: I have a reasonably successful career, I have a pretty good home with a loving son and dogs, and my spiritual walk is a consistent revelation of refreshment and joy.

I'm just not a good guy.

Just yesterday, I was texted by a lion-hearted guy at work who asked to have a few drinks with him. Earlier this week, the same guy called and asked me how my day was shaking out, as I didn't look happy at the time. All I did was tell him I was simply too busy to visit with him.

In business, I have people who want to work with me, and I forget to call them further.

I avoid eye contact in crowded places, I ignore neighbors, I despise my bosses, I avoid the mirror, and--most terribly of all--I friend and de-friend people on Facebook all the time, according to my misguided egotistical assumptions.

There are times where my wife and I try to work things out, and I put everything in the back of my mind, plowing into my work and aspirations.

Having noticed all these empirical truths from a purely pragmatic mechanism, I'm left, still with myself. Where does this discovery lead? What now? Do I really try to change? Do I re-schedule missed opportunities and appointments? Do I resolve to take different steps?

I took a quick look at my own writings--all counted on a single hand, with three chubby digits--and noticed the last entry was about a year ago. A lot has happened since, and I'm guilty.
Not that I'm some great prize among men, nor do I value my presence and information with a slight dramatic pause: I just don't share much.

It all probably goes back to Acting School, or even before. I liked being other people. I loved discovering everybody else's ticks, inner landscapes, and motives. Everyone else is more interesting, I think. To clarify, I'm not lashing myself, nor am I soliciting a response, but I have a firm grasp on my Inner-whatever. My life is lived almost entirely in my cranium. I love it in there. I'm selfish of my own perceptions, jokes, and criticisms.

One of the great joys in my life is among friends, where we can spar over opinions, thoughts and dreams. In those cases, I don't share as much as I should, because I might indulge my brain too much... you know how those people are at cocktail parties, speaking for hours, most notably about themselves. If I'm ever like the afore mentioned character, I've given orders to my friends to beat me with shovels, and whack me out in a field (that's the Chicago Way, after all!).

So, what I'm trying to get at is this: I want to be better. More outgoing... I don't think there was ever a time in my life where I DIDN'T try to hide. Being genuine should be a bigger priority for me.

I want to be a better friend...Goodness knows how you (and you know who you are, people) have lifted me up when I needed it, and I'm brutally contrite as a result. Thank you.

To the friends and family I have let down, forgive me. I will do what I can to be better.

To Jay--I want to be there for you, and you should let me know whatever it is that you need. Sorry for the poor writing, but I'm coming from the heart. I'd like to help or pray for you when I can.

And finally, to Kyle--I failed you. Fly away.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Koyaanisqatsi Redux






An old friend of mine brought up the fact this week marked the United States landing on the moon. He cloudily remembers his family noting this moment in his early childhood--many other friends chimed in, and a rash of memories mixed with dreams assaulted my heart.

I remember being in my sister's room--the television was just switched on, we had just arrived home from dinner. I remember "black and white" snowy puffy man walking in dirt.

We ran outside, looking at the sky. "There are people up there."

I was such a fan of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration--that old logo, with the red swoosh arching around the cosmos, like Kalel (Superman's Kryptonian name) vigilantly patrolling his blue home, stars glittering in the ecliptic.


Best patch of all time. It was a planet... it was a map... it was a badge... I knew we were going to live on the moon, with the great view of Earthrise on the horizon. Cancer was on the run, we were told, and flying cars were around the corner. I had posters of Neil Armstrong, the Apollo Capsules, moonscapes, and Edwin E. Aldrin, Jr.--the last name is only for you REAL fans....


Throughout the 70's, I was always looking at the sky. "Trek" only enhanced the experiences, with a healthy dose of "Space: 1999". After all, "Space: 1999" put our society on a bold timeline to meet this prophetic depiction on our saturday evening screens. "Star Wars" invaded my brain, but I knew at it's heart it was a science-less fable. George Lucas didn't really have a beat on reality or physics as we knew them. No, society will show the REALITY of a perfect "tomorroworld" (yeah, that's what I used to call it). I heard NASA was also developing a ship that would be a literal cosmic AIRPLANE that would effortlessly sail back and forth from the Earth to farthest reaches of the solar system--the Space Shuttle. Travelling outside our atmosphere was going to be a reality. The turn of the century was gonna be awesome!

I started to invent comic book contraptions and their schematics--I culled side views of the Baxter Building (Fantastic Four), wrote faux-formulas for the man-gliders (Nick Fury) and actually planned the timeline as if these gadgets were to be the true predecessors of the mega-technology promised us by the dreamers of the times. And, wouldn't it be awesome, if we actually found an equivalent substance to the power cosmic (Silver Surfer)?

Since I was young, I collected everything. Comics, toys, posters, records--my youth was awesome, because I couldn't wait to grow up in a beautiful future. A future of dreams! On weekend nights, I fantasized how long it would take to travel from tip of the Big Dipper to the tail on Draco. At least 303 years--don't ask me how, I just remember impulse power was the best way to go, and a tight-knit family would be the only solution for that kind of crew. By the late 70's, the first Space Shuttle received its name--Enterprise. I was in Heaven. I was convinced I would live the remainder of my years on another world.

As if on cue, I learned from a spoiled-brat on the playground (or was it football practice?), the Enterprise wasn't expected to travel in interstellar flight. Enterprise wouldn't even be active. It was a placation for the fans. It was one of the first times my love was demeaned by popular culture.

Time kind of got small for me--girls got prettier; the Space Shuttle program hit a few stalls; Captain Kirk looked a little older in "Star Trek--The Motion Picture" (still an awesome film, for me); "Alien" scarred my sci-fi brain with all the gore; my brothers fought with my dad a lot more; I listened more intently to family arguments; I lost track of The Avengers; Han Solo was abducted, and incased in carbonite. Pink Floyd's The Wall told me not to trust anyone, and I started to actively listen to that thinking.

A few years before, I read "The Lord Of The Rings," and kept reading it through the years. This was a different dream, not based in accomplishments or technology, but based in magic, and the fantastical. Add to the fact my friends and I discovered Dungeons and Dragons (1st Edition), and you have a teenage boy who was fed up with Man. Fantasy rode Ron through the 80's--Rush and Yes helped him travel inward, and growing up was a trip.

Needless to say, I grew up, got married, got a couple dogs, a couple degrees, and began to build a career. All this time, I looked sidelong at the calendars as the year 1999 settled into the present. That December 31st, in the waning hours of that sci-fi promise (the news, movies, the presidents, even other scientists told us 1999 was the Year Of Progress--for goodness' sake, there was a TV show SPACE: 199-freaking-9!!!). We had bills and earthly concerns, and, with a rushed tap of a champagne flute in a dark basement, I had to let childhood die. My wife had to retreat upstairs and go to sleep--the pregnancy was exhausting her. There were a couple of other times in my life where I felt as low in spirit... worst New Year's Eve ever.

Ten years later, my son Kalel will attend his first concert later in the summer--Rush at Red Rocks. We bought the uber-expensive tickets online, with the help of me selling some long-held collectibles (a couple old issues of Fantastic Four)... it's a fair trade, especially since I've amassed more issues at a better price, anyway. My wife and son will travel to see her father: an ex-NASA engineer, and will attend some space exploration displays and a "Star Wars" exhibit. By the time he leaves, though, I promised myself I'll guide him through his first dungeon with the Ranger character he created for the new Dungeons and Dragons (4th Edition). What a Lucky duck.







Thanks, Don


and Jeff and Mark...


and Laurie and Kal

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Of PC, Censorship, the Preservation of Street Cred and Cat Fights

Can you believe I'm actually writing something new? I can't either.

Couple things popped up to me in the recent month, and I'm beginning to think I'm an old fuddy-duddy. There seems to be this new trend to be mean. I'm not talking about kicking puppies or flipping the bird in traffic; I'm talking about sneaking in undercover, delivering a clean backstab, and leaving the scene of the crime, laughing to yourself.

It happens all the time, since the "invention" of the chat room. Or the political forum. Or the audition. Or the baby shower. Or the Town Hall. Or marital spat. Or Youtube. Or the cocktail party.

In some circles, this is called "trolling"--being simply a hater. Coming in, dissing a thesis/author, initiating a personal attack, planting subliminal subterfuge. When the perpetrator is caught, there's this pious lifting of the arms--the body-language equivalent of backing away--accompanied by the faux-subtlety of a plea (with a straight face) of complete innocence. These "perps" have an additional tactic after they're found out: turning accusation into attack. After all, only the malevolent could use malevolence as a reasonable charge.

In other instances, this is called being a "hater"--without the act of hating. Here, we get into confrontation, which leads to taking sides (some choose not to participate, not before hailing their own impartiality), prompting the accuser to take up the defensive posture. Everybody's placated--the accuser is spent, the author/idea becomes either compromised or rendered impotent, and the perp walks away, looking for another forum to sabotage.

One of my friends mentioned this as a form of "killing the messenger". You don't even need to address the message at all. It's very effective, and the message remains unheard.

Next time you've been looking for those informative blogs you like so much (and wondering where they've been), or you're wondering why some people in journalism or entertainment seem to disappear off the face of the planet--they might have just been a victim of this kind of deed. Someone may not only have disliked what these people had to say, but those same perpetrators are gutless enough to keep you from UNDERSTANDING what they stand for.... think about it.