Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Did Conan Really Know What is Best In Life? (There Will Be No Discussions Of Cats)

Picture if you will in the theater of your mind Arnold Schwarzenegger in his seminal movie role as Conan The Barbarian, that is if you are too lazy to use Google and YouTube because the scene I am describing is on the Interwebs, but again if you are too lazy picture it in the theater of your mind...
Conan has been training to be a warrior for a while and he is sitting in the lotus position on a table where his teachers or trainers or masters or whatever they are eating and don't ask me why he is sitting in lotus position on a table where people are eating and a little side note Conan is not eating.  Recap real quick Conan is sitting in the Lotus position while his "masters" are eating around of him, some by his bum and some by his feet.  Another side note here that I did not direct this film or adapt the book into a screenplay and side note to a side note the books are good and I know it is a cliche but the books are much better than the movies.

Now that I have set the creepy Tableau one of the teachers asks the students in attendance and of course Conan is one of these, side note, none of the other students are sitting on the table in any position. The teacher or trainer or Sensei  or whoever the Hell this guy is asks the students 'What is best in life?" and the first guy is like it is my hunting hawk and the wind and snow and the next guy is like hot meal and a cold woman, at this point I have to admit I don't really remember exactly what the other students say but it is crap like that and then we get to Conan.

Conan says "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women."  When you are right, you are right and it is hard to argue against Conan's sound logic and the logic Conan uses here is sound.  It is a little Old Testament and I am more of a New Testament kind of guy, but I do not see any flaws in the logic.  I lived by this philosophy for part of my life but then I found Jesus and then I got sick and well... 

Well, today I am not really in a position to crush my enemies, see them driven before me or to hear the lamentation of their women because if I have any enemies left they do not have any women to lament them, on second thought if there are any enemies left they probably still live in their mother's basement and I am sure she would lament them being crushed but that does not change the fact I am not in a position to crush any enemies.  Since I am unable to follow the way of Conan and thereby follow the way of Crom, I must find a new philosophy for day to day living.

Side note:  I see that I did not use the correct tense at certain points above and I also switched tenses for no apparent reason at times.  For the record it is all past tense and by Crom, I am not spending the time to fix it

All sarcasm and exaggeration aside (at least for the most part) I do not miss the days of my youth, but I do miss Conan and building computers out of boxes (they did not work) and reading sci-fi books from the 50's recommended by my youngest uncle.  My uncle also taught me to play chess and backgammon and I appreciate that he never let me win.  People say youth is wasted on the young, I am sure it has been attributed to Mark Twain, but quotes can never be verified anymore without work, I would say that healthy is wasted on the healthy.

Computers made of boxes do not make me happy anymore and my deficit in problem solving and vanity make it much less likely that I will play games that require strategy like chess or backgammon.  Now before you get too far down the well and find that girl from The Ring I have found other things that bring me joy, maybe not that joy of a child but I find joy where I can.  I like blogging and I am even getting better at is as time goes on and  there is the company of my wife, which I do not truly appreciate until I became sick and there is Mass.

Once a week (twice if there is a Holy Day Of Obligation) I go to Mass at a beautiful cathedral and there are friendly parishioners who are glad to see me when I am there and miss me when I am not.  I was an atheist, a deist, an evangelical Christian and now I am on my way to being Roman Catholic and all I can say is I wish I had not required my own struck blind moment to make that leap of faith and I wish I could tell you it is all rainbows and unicorns as one of my friends is fond of saying but it isn't.

Everyone morning I say the following prayer:

O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works, joys
and sufferings of this day,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the
Mass throughout the world,
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in reparation for my sins
and for the intentions our Holy Father.

Some days the offering up of suffering goes better than others.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Cat Keeps "Accidentally" Turning Off My Oxygen (Is It Personal?) (Life has value, God, Natural Selection?)

I have a cat.  I think the cat likes me, I think.  We have only known each other for a few months but I think we are developing a relationship.  My cat likes to crawl and climb.  She climbs on furniture as you would expect but on two different occasions she has turned off my oxygen while I was sleeping.  I am not sure how long it takes but I wake up gasping for air and I look over and she is standing on top of the machine with a look that says "Did I do that?" just like Steve Urkel.

When I watched Family Matters I always wondered whether Steve Urkel was a buffoon or was he chaos hiding in plain sight?  I have never been able to answer question then or now, but now I am living my own sitcom, I am Karl and my cat is Steve Urkel.  As I live this sitcom I wonder was the fictional world of Family Matters just a sitcom or was it based on the long lost comedic tragedy rumored to have been written by Sophocles?

I have a lot of thoughts concerning Alf in relation to the cat but I am not sure how it ties in but I do love the eighties classic TV vibe that I have wandered into.  There is the obvious tie in that Alf always wanted to eat cats but even if my cat is turning off my oxygen intentionally I do not think I would want to eat her, well probably not.

You will notice that there were two spaces between the last paragraph and this one, you know what that means?  This is going to be a little less funny and more related to being ill, you know that whole sarcoidosis thing.

It is terrifying to wake up breathless.  Full disclosure I almost drowned when I was a child and when I wake up breathless...it brings me back.  Mortality has been on my mind since the sarcoidosis diagnosis and I have probably not thought about death this much since I was really into The Cure back in the 80's.  Over the past year I have been in the process of converting to Roman Catholicism and while that has not moved mortality from the front of my psyche it has turned off the flashing neon sign that was flashing the end is near.

That being said there is something primal about breathing and when you awake from slumber (did that sound like Poe?) from the lack of breathing your body screams and claws and scratches for life.  In our genetic design there is an imperative to stay alive and whether you are Roman Catholic and believe that God values all life and gave us this imperative or that it has evolved on it's own through natural selection without the aid of God they both say the same thing: life is valuable and God has a plan for you and your suffering or you should try and pass on your genetic code, people give short shrift to natural selection, it took a lot of evolution to get to you or me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Thanksgiving, I was only haunted by my dad for a minute

My wife and I have returned from our Thanksgiving at the Zermatt resort.  My wife was a little uncomfortable with people serving her as she had never stayed at a "fancier" hotel before but by the second day she was good, had the whole handshake money in the hand tip.  It was fun having room service and food from Frisch (local vegan restaurant, my wife is vegan) for Thanksgiving dinner.

The room was huge and had a fireplace, a balcony, a dinner table, a king size bed and a huge tub.  They have a spa in the Hotel and I had scheduled a day of spa activities for my wife for the Friday following Thanksgiving.  She reported back that it was good, not as good as some dedicated spas but good.  My wife and I are short on immediate family that are alive and local and it was nice to have a getaway.

My parents were divorced when I was six and somewhere along the way Thanksgiving became my dads holiday.  There were some dry turkeys for the first several years but along the way dad became quite the cooker of turkeys.  My sisters and I fought on most holidays and Thanksgiving was not an exception and my dad was not a peacemaker, I think he would best be described as a silence maker.  There were at least as many holidays that were filled with laughter and my father could fill a room with his laughter and illuminate any environment with his smile.

On this Thanksgiving after my wife had gone to sleep there was melancholy brought on by the absence of my father.  No tears were shed but my eyes did water.  It is better this year than the first year he was gone, well I am not sure better is the word, easier.  Easier is not the word either, I am thinking that is some combination between distant and less piercing, like I was stabbed with a spear but it has been withdrawn and it only stabs me again on Thanksgiving or when I reach for the phone to call him but most of the time the spear is withdrawn, most of the time.

PS (Health Note)

The resort was 1200 feet above our casa and I will tell you what, it was rough the first day.  I didn't really put it together that the altitude was responsible for my discomfort until the next day when I had begun to acclimate to the altitude.  I swelled up like that guy from Big Trouble In Little China who explodes at the end of the movie and once the swelling had gone down the next day it was pretty apparent that it was probably a little bit of the old congestive heart failure.

Now what is the sarcoidosis take away health tip from this little jaunt up the mountain?  Do not ignore your body, if you feel like you can't get comfortable and which ever way you lay you feel like your chest is being compressed and you can't breathe, well you might be dying and in more of an immediate kind of way than the existentialist we all are dying kind of way.  Loves to all and sarcoidosis hopefully just for me!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today I Do Not Smell (Bad)

I promised a whole post about faith and saints and religion and my experience with the aforementioned.  That post is being written but I am finding that I am less than forth coming about those topics.  Trying to put words to the unwordable is hard and I have a self imposed stigma that surrounds my faith.


That being said, today I do not smell bad.  I took a shower, I brushed my teeth, I did fall short and forgo the beard oil but I did put on deodorant.  The last couple of weeks have been rough.  I have spent a lot of time smelling bad.  I spend a lot of time sitting and marshaling my physical and mental faculties so that I can leave the bed and arrive at the chair with the laptop so I can communicate with you all.  Do not worry no guilt trip, I communicate for all the wrong selfish reasons.

Today was a perfect storm (almost perfect) and I am writing and all I can smell is the gentle odor of sport fresh deodorant and an occasional cat fart.  As Ice Cube so brilliantly put it today was a good day, I mean today is a good day but then I wouldn't be quoting the song so I mean you know what I was going for there so I am just going to leave it and move on, now.

In a non-flippant way I would some how like to share what the tough times are like and how I make it through and go on with a smile.  The past four or five years I have had a pretty good idea of the combination of things that have kept me going.  Faith in Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church, my beautiful wife, my ugly friends and last but not least the kindness of strangers.  I am thinking the flippant started coming out there towards the end..maybe.

I never had a Glass Menagerie but I did have a plastic one.

Those things do get me through but the last weeks have been dark, darker than a Tim Burton movie, darker than Donnie Darko, darker than that part of the movie Legend after the Unicorn is killed.  I am coming out of the darkness (knock on wood) and it feels as though I made it through by reflexes left in my lizard brain from childhood.  In the acuteness of the moment all the things that keep me going fell away and I just survived because that is what I have always done and that is what I know.

Over the long haul I have the faith that all life is sacred but when  push came to shove I did not kill myself because of the lofty spires of my faith it was instead something deep and primal.  Everything about life is beautiful even the pain and all of it is a gift.  I have been thinking it would have been nice to have the receipt and no I am not taking the metaphor where you think I am, I do not want to return my life but I was thinking maybe I could exchange the pain parts for something else.

I am not sure what I would exchange the pain for.  The limits of humanity are such that after five years I am having a hard time remembering the nostalgia of the past and my imagination has found its limits as well and I am left with a thought.  Even if I could exchange the pain would it only be for store credit and what would I exchange it for?  Is there something else I would be interested in?  Can I order from the catalog and have it delivered to the store or I am limited to what is on hand?  Life is full of questions or I guess I should say my life is full of questions.

When I ask myself what is good today, I do have an answer to that question, I do not smell (bad).