Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving A Holiday For My Dad To Shine

andMy parents divorced when I was around six years old and it was settled that the children would spend Thanksgiving with my dad and Christmas with my mom.

The first few Thanksgiving dinners were rough.  Turkeys that were dry, like drink a half a glass of water with each bite dry.  My sisters and I did not always get along and around the holidays we would fight like cats and dogs more often than not.  If you combine this with the fact my dad would not grow into his patience until much later in life, it could make for a loud holiday.

My dad, my sisters and I all got older, not wiser but mellower and with the mellowness came a loudness of a different sort, the laughter of my old man.  He could fill the room with his laughter, he could fill his small house and often it would extend to a neighbor or two in their homes.

My dad has been dead for a couple of years and time does make the absence of him less intense it does not make things easier, especially on Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 9, 2015

To Put It Out There Or Not Put It Out There, That is the question

I post shit that comes to mind.  That is it, I know it would be impossible to tell that from reading my past posts, but it is true.  Sometimes what comes to mind how people can be shitty.  Sometimes it is because people are awesome.  Most of the time it is because people are shitty.

As time passes and I become less able I lose control of things so to speak.  Some days I do not have control of anything but usually I have control over my words and I am able to plunk some of them out and post them to no one and everyone which is the beauty of the internet.

The first problem is that words have power.  Problem number two is when people think they generally think about themselves.  Not in the selfish kind of way just that it is hard to get outside of your own head and I am no better than anyone else, well I am better than a lot of people but certainly not the fine quality people that read this blog.  You combine these two problems and it makes it hard to vent about whatever person is behaving like an asshole at that particular moment because every person that is sensitive thinks they are the asshole in question.

The old me would not have given much of shit about this, but two things are different in the new me, first and foremost I don't find butting heads with people enjoyable anymore or to be more accurate I would say I no longer have the energy to butt heads with people.  The thing that will surprise everyone is that being Catholic has made want to be more Christlike. Before I post things I now consider what impact it will have on people.

You can not be too vague or everyone will think the post is about them, seriously this has happened to me more than once or you are specific enough that you may embarrass someone so you can blow off a little steam.

Sidenote sometimes it is crucial to let off a little steam or the boiler will explode.

I have a fifty-eight drafts I am working on and the truth be told I don't want to finish them because I am scared about what I will find out so really all this other stuff was just self flagellating bullshit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Where Have I Been? (Pink Floyd, Cats, Family Drama, 80's)

I have been sick, is this your first time reading this blog?  The past six months have been particularly bad but coming through the other side, wait actually it is still going on so more of an update during the trip that at some point will end one way or the other.

I meant that last line to be funny but my wife has informed me that death jokes have a small audience and that only a few people will think that is funny.  Ironically those people will have serious or life-threatening illnesses, you remember Arsenio Hall and the things that make you go hmmm?

Needless to say things have been better and even though it was, needless to say, I said it.  Sarcoidosis has found my hips, knees and ankles to be the preferred food as of late.  Without any Irony, I have been relegated to one room of my home, for the most part, could we call that room sickroom and talk to ourselves as we die?  Sure we could do that and in fact, let us do that now.

Sidenote

Listen to Free Four by Pink Floyd to fully appreciate the humor in the preceding paragraph, also you should listen to more Pink Floyd in general but not too much because it can be a bit of a downer.  The humor in the above paragraph might be considered existential and therefore about death, be aware, be very aware.

Anywho just a general rundown of the current state of physical affairs, I can't drive, some days I can't walk, and that keeps me in bed most of the time and not in a sexy way.  The plus side I have been getting a ton of beauty sleep, the downside I have not gotten any prettier.  As I type this now I have sitting on my bed with my back against the wall, with a cool Tempurpedic pillow of some sort between me and the wall so I am not actually sitting against the wall but I guess that depends on your definition of against.

I have an afghan that I purchased on Ebay covering my lower extremities and my legs sit akimbo, not actually but I have always wanted to use the word akimbo.  I sit with my legs apart and my knees slightly bent.  This is not a comfortable way to sit but I have found that under the current regime led by the dictator sarcoidosis that this is the least painful arrangement of my legs.  I am wearing Tardis fleece like a shawl and I do use it to cover my head, I wear my shawls old school like I am going to get some gruel on.

To complete the picture, there is a blue tortoise cat that I call Hummus.  Her full name is Blue Ivy Hummus but we have known each other for about a year and we have gotten closer over that year to the point where I just call her Hummus.  Before Hummus to came to the fast paced world of the sick-room she went by Quinn but now with the hustle and bustle she is surrounded by Hummus seemed much more appropriate.  Hummus sometimes sits on me and sometimes she sits in the windows and sometimes she sits on the stack of extra blankets and then sometimes she hides, under a bed, in her carrier which means she is hiding in a cat prison, I never said she was a smart kitty.

This may seem like the same shit from a few years ago when things got bad and you would be right, then what is the difference now?  My dad is dead, I called adult protective services on my mom, and my two sisters and I have not been seeing eye to eye about how I handled my mother's poor situation.  The stress makes everything better, okay it actually makes everything worse.  The stress has had a profound toll on my body, at one point I considered this complete bullshit put forward by weak people.  I do not believe in karma, but I admit it seems karmic that something I once thought was bullshit now afflicts me.

Don't worry. I still love gossip and there are several blog posts detailing all the conflicts of family life, and just wet your whistle it even includes the rarely mentioned extended family drama, that's right for no additional cost you will get gossip on my fall out with uncles, aunts, cousins and maybe some second cousins I honestly can't remember everyone that is mad at me.  I have tried to write a post about my mother three different times or I more accurately there are three rambling unfinished posts about my mother and my call to adult protective services but it maybe a year before I get enough distance to put something out on that topic.

Anywho life is not all bad, but I do not think the good things fit in this post, things have been really crappy and that is where I have been, Craptown eating a shit sandwich, but at least I am not going hungry.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why It Matters That I Got Shitty Service At The Best Buy (Hint I Am Disabled/Sarcoidosis)

I got shitty service at my local Best Buy. It was not the first time but it was the first time since I have been disabled. I was trying to buy my wife and Iphone 6 plus for our seventh wedding anniversary. Lucky number seven! I posted some stuff on Facebook about my problems at Best Buy and through that interaction things became clearer to me and thus for those reasons I will post a bit of what went on the ye old Facebook:

"Can anyone recommend a place to buy a cell phone? Sarah would like an Iphone 6 plus and would prefer to have good customer service. Also reminder the Best Buy on (location deleted) still has really crappy customer service, it is usually years between my visits there and I always forget until I get there and in the past we have sucked it up and just purchased what we came for and left but this time were like no and maybe it would be better if the Best buy employees did work on commission because when someone comes into buy a phone, not browse, they might actually try and sell her one instead of ignoring her for forty minutes. Commission is not always a bad word."

I got a lot of responses from friends making suggestions on where they had good experiences. I also had a friend that I did not know well but I knew in real life (not just a Facebook/Online friend) and they knew someone that worked at the Best Buy in question. They indicated there was a great deal of turnover and literally had junkies shooting up in the bathroom at that Best Buy location. This friend is someone I respect and admire, they are intelligent and thoughtful and I think my response was out of proportion:

"Unfortunately only people at the Cell Phone Station can help us or I would go back for your friend at the (department deleted), After forty minutes I said can you call someone over to help us and the young man said no, after these two employees at the cell phone station refused to acknowledge us or make eye contact for forty minutes. I managed the most robbed 7-Eleven in Utah for years and we were near a court mandated heroin rehab felicity. My two my common workman comp claims I filled out for clerks being beaten during a robbery or stuck with a needle emptying trash, I wish I was being hyperbolic. If anyone on my staff treated someone like these two I would have fired them. I am going to admit that I fired more people than other manager I knew but I also had less shrink (employee theft) and better sales year to year than them. I had a really hard time hiring employees after the month where the store was robbed five times in one month and corporate would not allow increase the hiring wage to be competitive with the environment and eventually when they started franchising stores I was one of the first to be laid off because of my complaining. Eventually corporate fixed the problems at the location after I was gone. The manager that took over got crushed and literally had two weeks worth of deliveries sitting on the floor waiting to be shelved, they are supposed to be put away when they come in. She did not last and eventually they started allowing more hours and higher wages I think the mistake I made was staying there so long. I think that competent people in horrible companies keep the companies from fixing things and the grass is often greener. I say to all of you who will listen if you are in a bad situation at a minimum transfer stores and you should probably quit. The next company I worked for was so much better and when they went bankrupt the company that took them over made a position for me, my job was eliminated because the new company did it in another state. They knew I was horribly sick and saw the value in me after a couple of months of working with me and even knowing the health liability they still hired me and they were/are concerned for me and treated my well. This taught me that I should have started looking sooner. I am not saying walk in tomorrow and quit but start looking for another job, a job where you don't have to make excuses for the company you work for. Sorry I sit at home and have a lot of time to type. Last things four other employees walked by and did not ask if we were finding anything okay, I am not saying they are not overworked I am saying is you should not stay somewhere that is run so poorly you can not do your job. A little sore subject for me that I spent twelve years of my life loyal to a company that looking back treated me really awfully. I mean I could tell you stories."

First in my defense everything I said in that reply was accurate but upon reflection it seemed to have more fire than would seem appropriate. I started with some introspection and you are not going to believe this but it is related to sarcoidosis.

Second let me just say this again, everything I said in that reply is accurate. The company I went to work for after 7-Eleven went bankrupt and when the new company acquired them they gave the employees that stayed on their seniority. That is important because I am going to relay an anecdote about my five year employment award with the last company I worked for and I did not work for them for five years.

The reason all that almost unreadable nonsense above matters is because at my five year employee acknowledgement ceremony I cried. After the vice president in charge of Utah said some nice words and gave me my five year award they asked for a few words, also for the record their were other people at the ceremony getting awards for various years of service but I can't remember anyone else who was there.

I was sick the day of the awards, I did not have a cold I had sarcoidosis. The sarcoidosis had gotten progressively worse since I had been diagnosed and at this point I could still legally drive but I had a hard time wearing shoes and I could not get in and out of chairs and I was not on oxygen yet but I could not walk very far without being out of breath, in other words I knew that my days of working were coming to a close. When I say I knew it, I did not know it know it but I knew, knew it if you know what I mean.



Why did I cry?  Well first off the VP had made sure there was a big comfortable chair for me to sit in or it might have been his assistant that made sure but the point is somebody made sure there was a big chair for me.  I am a big guy and those conference room chairs with the arm rests squeeze my fat in unpleasant ways and at that point there was a lot of fat because I had been on huge doses of prednisone daily for quite some time and that stuff makes you eat and eat and eat like you can not imagine unless you have taken it.  That was a digression but I am back on target and not just because red leader told me to.


I get up to give my let speech and I kind of knew what I wanted to say but I did not have anything written or planned out but anywho I start talking about what a privilege it is to be able to serve and help people and I start to cry.  Looking back gives me a little more clarity on why I was crying so here let me lay some clarity on you.  First it is a privilege to be able to help people, when someone is upset or sad or even hopeless and you can diffuse the situation, bring them a little joy or show them there is some hope it brings you a feeling that would be hard to put into words but here I go.  First it is a sense of accomplishment but it is more than that because it is not like a built a book shelf kind of accomplishment it is you may have been the little nudge in someones life that turns things around for them.  I know if it had not been for some nudges in my life I would be dead or in prison or in jail or in a trailer park, you get the idea it would not have been good.

That last paragraph may have appeared to be self aggrandizing and that is because it was but I did help a lot of people a little and few people a lot.  

When I take a step back from the step back I have already taken I find that it might be I am jealous.  I am jealous of their ability to work.  I don't understand people that don't take pride in there work but before I go down another rabbit hole of me lecturing kids on their work ethic lets get to the heart of the matter.

That heart of the matter?

I can't go to the store when I want.  I have a handicap placard and when I get out of the car with my walker and oxygen tank nobody writes a nasty note saying I shouldn't be using the handicap spot.  When the stars align and the moon comes out and there is a partial eclipse and something optional seems like it could be an option and then I go and be ignored by people that are paid to help me.  When I ran a 7-Eleven I would have disabled folks come in and I would say let me know if there is anything I can help you find which was my worried way of trying to get across if you need help I am here and if you don't I wasn't saying anything to the contrary.  We had to go to these classes about how to comply with the Americans with disabilities act and it seemed weird and nebulous but now that I am disabled it has become much more clear.

The law says you must make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled folk the same access as abled folks.  I will say I do not think these two employees had been given any training about people with disabilities but just on a human level the thing I find unreasonable is this:

There are two associates working the cell phone station at Best Buy and each one of them was helping a customer, there was a line of one me.  Over the forty minutes I was there it would have been reasonable that they acknowledged I was there and that they knew I was waiting in line, second I watched a manager run in and give one of them an override for a refund and he did not acknowledge me, I also think it is reasonable to have managers that are capable of filling as needed and I think in the same way I have a handicap permit I would hope just on a human level people would want to help someone that can not do for themselves but more than that I think that is why the law exists.  This happened weeks ago and I have not been able to make it out again to shop for a cellphone for my wife.

Is it Best Buys fault that I am disabled no, is it there fault they ignored me and did not make any efforts to reasonable accommodate me yes.  Yes I am aware that I am asking for special treatment and I would forward that as a society we have decided that I should get special treatment.  I get to have a reserved parking space closer than everyone else and if you so saw someone who was not disabled taking that spot what would you say?  In that same vein should someone with a disability get special treatment in a store, I am not sure I have been on both sides of this debate in my head but what I am leaning towards this:  if I was able bodied would I want them to help a sick person ahead of me in line and the answer to that is yes but going even farther if an associate asked me to wait while they helped someone who was disabled would that be what I wanted?

I think the answer is yes, I am not sure but I think the answer is yes.

Just one last thing even if I wasn't disabled that was really shitty service from the Best Buy and I think the fact I am disabled makes it even shittier.  


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mormons Have Good Intentions, Right?

I don't talk about it much but I was a Mormon when I was a child or I think more accurately stated my mother was/is Mormon and she comes from a large Mormon family that is religious.  Many of her brothers have been in Mormon Church leadership at the individual Church level and what they would call a Stake level in which the Stake President is over several Churches in a geographic area.  Her brothers and sisters when they retire will often go serve Church missions and spend their golden years serving their Church.  My uncles and aunts on my mothers side are for the most part Mormons who are in good standing, well very good standing with the Mormon Church.

I have skirted the issue in past posts but I will just come out and say it, my mother is mentally ill and has been for as long as I can remember.  Like many illnesses she has good days and bad days or maybe better said has good years and bad years.  A lot people do not view mental illness like other illnesses.  I wish that was not the case but I do live in the real world most of the time so I know that is not how most people view it.  I think everyone would look for help if there had been more of an effort to cut through the stigma and treat it like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that has no cure but can be helped by treatment most of the time. 

The last few posts have been short on points and long on exposition and this post is headed that way...

My parents divorced when I was five or six years old and I lived with my mother after the divorce and my dad was not around until I was in my teen years and on to adulthood.  I know you can't tell from text on screen but that was not a bitter angry statement just one of facts.  Don't get me wrong I was bitter and angry but like everything else it has passed away as time has marched on.  Growing up my mother was only religious when she was around other Mormons.  Appearance was more important that substance, I did not realize this until years later.

I have never seen my mother pray, not in my entire life.  When I was young we went to Church pretty regularly but I do not remember much from those days so I guess more accurately I think I went to church regularly when I was young.  My earliest memory of church is I punched another kid and had to go sit next to my mother at a piano or organ she was playing for primary.  I have a couple of other memories about going to the Mormon Church but they probably deserve their own blog post but needless to say I did not attend Church with any regularity and I did not form much of an opinion about the Mormon Church or about religion in general.

If I have not mentioned it before I did grow up and still live in Salt Lake City, Utah

I was ostracized growing up not being Mormon in a Mormon community and most people are quick to blame the Mormon religion and I would argue it is a cultural phenomenon in Utah.  I have said this before that anytime you have one group dominate an area you are going to see that.  I remember being in Missouri at a vacation home on the lake of the Ozarks and Sunday morning I flipped on the TV and on the three broadcast stations we could get each one of them had a Baptist preacher.  If you were a non-Baptist Yankee there was some ostracization.  I will say I found the Missouri ostracization to be more polite than the Utah ostracization, that whole southern hospitality thing is no joke.

The point I am trying to make is that when everyone that surrounds you feels the same way as you when you do run into someone different you are less likely to be tolerant and I would submit that is human nature.  I am not saying it is a good when this happens, it sucked as a kid not being allowed over to some of my friends' houses because I was not Mormon but as an adult I understand it much more as a cultural thing than a religious thing.  If you lived in Ethiopia where there are not a lot of Mormons I doubt the Mormons there are not letting non-Mormon kids over to their house to play because then there kids would have no one to play with.

The previous paragraph might have been just a long of saying confirmation bias or some buzzword thing like that.

Salt Lake City where I live has become more and more religiously diverse as time has marched on and as of the last time I check it is only 50% Mormon which of course is still a majority over any one religion but the point is every other person is not a Mormon.  When I was growing up and you were a Mormon and only wanted to speak to Mormons throughout your day, I mean down to your 7-Eleven clerk, you could do that easily, now every other person is not a Mormon and you could not spend your day exclusively with Mormons, well maybe you could but it would not be easy.  There are still some towns that are still overwhelming Mormon but I think the whole state of Utah is only 60% Mormon now.

Here is a link to the religious demographics of Utah on Wikipedia and it looks on 2010 census Utah was 61.4% Mormon so my guess was pretty close.

I do ramble, concise is not my middle name.  Anyway all of that is to say that my childhood has left me intolerant towards people that are intolerant and don't get me wrong if you move into a new place in Salt Lake City and go out on your front porch to have a beer one neighbor may see the beer and never speak to you again but the other will invite you over for dinner, this really happened to me and they were both Mormon so things change slowly but they do change.  I wish that story was a long time ago but it was a little while ago so hey.

Wait for it, it is all coming together now, well may not right now but soonish.  I think after all that it would be fair to say I was raised by a crazy mom without religion.  I was baptized a Mormon but it was not part of my life and I was never Mormon.  I did not know much about Mormon theology until much later in life and unlike many people that had left Mormonism I did not feel the need to explain what was wrong with the Mormon Church and their doctrine to everyone I met.  I refer to this as the Ex-Mormon syndrome.  When you have Ex-Mormon syndrome your life is consumed with the Mormon Church, hating it but still consumed with it.

As an adult I never considered myself an ex-Mormon, I did not like being ostracized as a child but I thought that was cultural and not directly related to Joseph Smith finding gold plates in Pennsylvania.  It is Pennsylvania right?  That shows you how little I know about the Mormon Church or maybe more accurately how little I remember, I think I knew at one point where the plates were found, I am thinking upon further reflection New York, I am remembering Palmyra, I am not sure in what context but I know Palmyra is in New York.

Anywho the rambling is coming to a point that is probably gonna fit in one paragraph, is that good writing or bad writing?

The impetus of this post was twofold.  A couple of weeks before my wife and I came into full communion with the Catholic Church my wife started receiving texts from some Mormon missionaries.  They were not directed specifically at her, she had been added to a mass missionary text list.  After a few days of receiving text messages it was pretty clear it was not some random miss type but that she was officially on the list.  My wife asked nicely (because she is nice) to be removed from the list that was end of that or so we thought.

After my wife and I came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church (baptized, confirmed and first communion) we get a letter from the local Mormon stake addressed to the Southwells.  After these events I have a question occurred to me, if you are concerned about my religious choices or in other words if I am going to Hell (I don't think Mormons have a Hell but it is an overarching metaphor) why wouldn't you talk to me?

If you are scared of me, which I am not going to say is unreasonable.  If you knew me in my youth or ever saw me angry even ten years ago I could be a scary dude, not like the dude abides but like dude that is scary kind of dude, but if you are scared of me write me a letter, send me an email, message me on Facebook, or maybe a Google Plus message (I am not really sure how that last one works, does it come through as Gmail or what?).  I cannot legally drive because of the brain damage from the old sarcoidosis so what do you think is going to happen?  I am going to call one of my forty something year old friends and say hey would you like to be complicit in a felony assault because I need to go beat a relative for indicating they are concerned with my religious choices?

I am not saying I would not think about beating you but my friends are normal people and normal people are not going to be an accessory to an assault.  That was a lot of the word 'an' in close proximity to each other.  What I am confused about is not really a Mormon or a Catholic thing it is a person thing, why did you care enough to notify the Mormon Church but not talk to me?  Unless of course this has some significance in the Mormon Church that I am not aware of and that I should know if I had been more involved?  It does not make any sense to me.

In the group of people that were baptized as adults with me at the Easter Vigil there were several Ex-Mormons.  As Easter quickly approached there was more and more discussion of sending the Mormon Church their letters indicating they wished to have their names removed from the Mormon Church records, which struck me as odd but it probably has religious significance because I was thinking my letter would have said take me off the membership rolls I am no longer a member.

When it came to it I did not care enough to write a letter to the Mormon Church.  I am not sure why I should care whether my name is represented by a series of ones and zeros in a Mormon computer somewhere (I am hoping they have gone paperless for the planet)?  I do know that it was important to some of my classmates, very important like they went to a Mormon Church disciplinary meeting (just a note a Church disciplinary meeting sounds scary regardless of the Church) and that just seemed like a lot of effort and the Catholic Church I was joining was happy with the affirmations I made during the rites that entered me into full communion with the Catholic Church so why should I care?

I started thinking about this and I started putting two and two together, they were concerned about being on the mailing list!  No wait that does not seem like them at all and for the record these now former Mormons are good decent rational folk.  There is something missing here and rather than have some insight I am hoping for some insight from you my readers and I know you come here for insight and if I make a habit of not having insight you will not return but this is just a one off, probably.

Anywho it leaves me wondering what goes on in the Mormon Church that when people leave they have a visceral need to leave the Mormon Church officially and why does the Mormon Church remove you from their records?  If you are baptized a Catholic they will keep that record for as long as humanly possible, my dad saw some Catholic baptismal records in England that were still stored at the local Church from six hundred plus years ago and I assuming that not everyone that becomes Catholic stays Catholic and it is it just me or is it weird to remove someone from the records?  That last thing about knowing about removing people from records is not really important I just find it weird.

So right...now it comes to ending this post and I am at a loss.  When I do not have some insight to bring to a subject apparently my rambling feels no need to stop but I will do my best to reign it in.  In the end I don't want a theological answer or discussion about the differences between Mormons and Catholics because there is a history of the religions not getting along in the US going back quite a ways.  More of what I am looking for is some cultural insight as to why my relatives are concerned with my soul but not enough to talk to me and why are people who leave the Mormon Church still so invested in something they have left?  I used to be a born again Christian and when I left under not the best of terms I did not have the same level of animus.
 




Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Had To Go To Confession Because I Do Not Call My Mother And Other Sins

Before I go any further, the title is hyperbolic but only in the sense that I had committed other sins.

I have memory problems and not in the I can't remember my wife's birthday kind of way but more of the I can't read anymore because I can't remember words I have read from paragraph to paragraph kind of way.  My short term memory has left the building with Elvis.  For the record before I was sick I would forget my wife's birthday and I could not remember peoples name but I could remember conversations verbatim for years and I used to be able to bring pages back up in my mind and read them again.

This was particularly useful in college, it would have been more useful had I prioritized reading text books above drinking and pursuing the fairer sex, it is good to know that baptism has wiped that slate clean.  I would like to apologize to any roommates that had to see me passed out in my own vomit, also if I ever dated or married you and you are reading this I am sorry (also you should probably move on and how did you find my blog?).

I am also quite fond of technology and now that my memory has gone it has become a crutch to handle my day to day mental tasks.  For instance I start receiving text messages a week before my wedding anniversary and in my experience fellas the wedding anniversary is much more important than the birthday which is why I only get text messages for my wife's birthday the day before her birthday.  In fairness I rarely forget my wife's birthday because it happens to be one of mine and my ex-wives wedding anniversaries.

Not to belabor the point but I am going to belabor the point.  When I wake up in the morning I can't remember what day it is, I can't remember what I am supposed to do that day, I forget to take my meds and it just on a side note if I were not married to the kind and loving woman that I am, I would be dead and that is not hyperbole.  It is not so much that if I forgot to take my pills I would be dead it is that I would be dead if I forgot I had taken my pills and then I took them again.  I take some nasty shit (the drugs for sarcoidosis) and double doses of some of those would be bad and mixing certain of them would be fatal, in other words there are some drugs that need to be taken eight or sixteen hours apart or I would stop breathing.

Looking back I see a lot of exposition, necessary?  I will let you be the judge.

With a bad memory and technology for a crutch it was only natural for me to use an app to prepare for and use during confession.  Before you go to confession you are supposed to take an inventory of sins and that sounds clinical, it is more like a meditation on your actions or in-actions.  Going to confession is not like it is in the movies, most of being Catholic is not like it is in the movies and that is a good thing, at least in so far as the last year has shown me.  I would also like to note that I can not speak to the Catholic Church of the past or in other locations for that matter, my only experience is with Catholics in Utah and the Catholics I hear on the nationally syndicated radio show Catholic Answers Live.

For me confession is not an unpleasant task that needs to be completed in so much as it is a gift from God and the Church that allows me to be absolved of sins and there are a lot of reasons that is a good thing but I am not a theologian and I don't play one on TV so I will just hit number one on the list.  It frees from mortal sin and allows me to take the Eucharist at Mass because Jesus can not be in the presence of mortal sin.  Below is a little exert from Catholic Answers website www.Catholic.com:

"The Holy Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because, in this and in no other sacrament, we receive the very body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Innumerable, precious graces come to us through the reception of Holy Communion."

Theologians work for Catholic.com and the information on Confession and Holy Communion goes on and on and is quite extensive and if you have an interest in details I would encourage you to go to Catholic.com and read there (no more ands).  I do not know how many of my readers are Catholic, Google Analytics does not keep those stats.  I do know there were readers before the whole Catholic conversion and now there are many more. Did my blog shoot up the Google ranks for sarcoidosis?  Did I get all new Catholic readers?  Do my old atheist friends still read the blog?  I have no idea.

What do I have ideas about?

I know I had a point when I started writing and I have yet to make it but I believe I will make it now.  I almost made the point earlier when I started talking about confession.  With my memory being in a lackluster state and my fondness for tech it is only natural that I would use an app to examine my conscience before confession.  Examine your conscience is the name usually given for that whole examining your actions and in-actions thing I was alluding to earlier.  After you examine you need to be sorry for your sins and want to repent because of your love for God.  There are some further details and for you Catholic curious out there refer back to Catholic.com.  You can also go over the whole venial and mortal sin distinction while you are there as well because it is not particularly relevant to the point I am trying to make.  

You may now be asking yourself was most of what I have written here relevant to the point I was trying to make?  Probably not but it is the ramblings that seemed relevant at the time.

I use the app and it helps me examine my conscious and then keeps it stored for me so I have it when I go to confession.  It also gives me a reminder about what I am going to say and what the priest is going to say and the words of the prayer because it turns out I get stage fright in front of priests during confession.  I know I would not have thought that either but it was surprisingly nerve racking and not for the reasons you would think either.  I was not frightful about saying my sins but I was frightened that I was using an app.  I do not think the priest is fond of people using there phones in confession but in fairness he could have just been tired, a lot of sinners showed up for confession the same day I did, but I think it might be my sin of pride that I think it is about me and my use of a phone.

This now ends the two hours traffic of our stage and just an FYI I will not have to confess that whole pride thing because it is not a mortal sin but it could have been, extra credit if anyone can tell me why!

Love to all,

             Fat Rasputin


 



Thursday, April 16, 2015

I write a lot but don't seem to publish often (I also don't bring you flowers anymore)

I am turning into the Emily Dickinson of the blogosphere.  There are reams and reams of meandering streams of thoughts put down into drafts, there are almost fifty drafts that stare at me each time I go to write.  Just an FYI for you young folk out there, a ream is a package of paper and paper is something we used to put words on before computers and the internet.

When I write, when anyone writes your mind works in a different way.  I know for myself this leads to self discovery and sometimes churns things up that I am often not ready to see.  English fails me and makes me wish I stuck with Spanish or any of the romance languages or even Latin.  It is not that I am not ready to see, it is that I see it and I know it is meal that I am not ready to digest.  Every time I write a little bit of loose Id finds its way home to the barn and sometimes they even find a stall in the barn and things are almost orderly up there.


Of course then there are other times when I can see the green water coming over the bow and I know I must go no further and these words on the page have escaped to early and they are a deluge of ocean water, an angry ocean that will capsize the boat and send me to the depths.  The sky opens and the wrath of Heaven comes down in a wind the churns the ocean into moving walls of destruction.  In my youth I would dive into the ocean and let it swallow me in the chaos.  I am older now and a little wiser.  My wisdom has not grown in proportion to my age but it has grown and I do not dive into storms, at least not often.

The theory is that I will come back to these hidden gems of literature after the sea calms down but the problem is I really don't like remembering the storm and I have a suspicion that everything I write might not be a hidden gems.  I have forty four drafts (gems) awaiting revision or closer examination or insert your own poetic phrase for fixing bad writing here.

I will attempt to wade into the sea of the past that I will admit is now calm and start churning out on schedule like I have agreed to, can I throw out the old I have sarcoidosis excuse?  Here I say again I will try and post every Tuesday and by that I will try and get a few posts ahead of myself so when things are bad there is still something new and exciting to read?



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Palm Sunday and My Dad (The Tale Of Satan's Tic Tacs) Part 2

This is the second part of a multi-part series (I am not sure how much many parts I am going to write) here is a link to part 1

Palm Sunday and My Dad (The Tale Of Satan's Tic Tacs) Part 1

Day Two

This is almost a side-note but I think it is still at the aside level so I wont separate it as per protocol.  When I am on large doses of prednisone I can write and write and write, obviously I have more time since I am not sleeping but also my brain manages to shift down while I am going up the hill of writing.  If you try going up a hill with your car in 3rd gear, depending on the car, you can make it up the hill but your car will climb the hill slowly and perhaps die but if you shift the car to 2nd gear all the sudden you seem to have more power but you don't you are just making better use of the power you already have in the current situation and that is what my brain does when I am on high doses of prednisone.

The point of the preceding paragraph, which I have to mention now because I did not manage to make it in that paragraph, and that point is if I do not stop writing I will not stop writing.  The rambling will continue and like you saw in Part 1 it went here and there because everything that popped into my huge noggin had to be extrapolated on and the writing, much like the beat, goes on.

Other side of the magic of being able to write and write and write is that when I stop and then come back to "finish" what I started writing I might be able to stay on topic the writing style is the same and the random sushi popping out of my noggin will not relate in a cohesive way to yesterdays noggin poppings.

Paragraph four of aside, I am going to start back onto the topic of Palm Sunday and my dad and the Tic Tacs of Satan but it might not flow like I think it should in relation to the previous post and I am pretty sure it wont flow by the measures of you my faithful reader.

As time goes on and the side effects of prednisone begin to mount you will need to bring some more drug buddies along for the ride.  After a couple of weeks of no sleep and people are really starting to avoid you, this is the stage right after they look at you funny, you go to the doc and say hey I need some sleeping pills or I will literally go nuts and boom there you have some sleeping pills.  Then you begin to swell and retain fluids and in my particular retain fluids to the point where you can no longer bend your legs and then you say hey doc this whole non-bending leg thing just will not stand and boom you get some water pills to help eliminate extra fluids (in my case it did not work).  Then your skin gets so thin that when hit a shoulder against a door frame, just a brush, and boom your start bleeding and then the doc is like well that one you just kind of have to put up with because there is no drug to counter act that side effect.

This list continues and continues and I can't remember how many drugs I took at my mostest drug taking point but I think it was like twenty seven and yes I say like because I grew up in the eighties.  Prednisone also has one really sobering effect, not a side effect but an effect, it stops your immune system from working.  Sarcoidosis is a disease of the immune system and when push comes to shove the only thing any of the drugs they give me to "treat" my sarcoidosis is try and stop my immune system in various ways and this effect can have one bad side effect death.  When you are full of fluids and your lungs are damaged and your immune system is not working and then you catch a little bug.  There is a little cough as you fade to sleep and by the morning you feel as though you are drowning from every breath and there are rails and wheezing and you have pneumonia but it is not even a regular pneumonia it is some weird pneumonia that is antibiotic resistant and combined with you weakened immune system and you almost die.

I do not know whether I have written about that before, the whole drowning in my own fluids, I think I have but only in a jestful kind of funny isn't it great to read this funny fat sick guys blog kind of way.  I had denial and not de nile, denial.  I was sick, I had as the best case a life changing illness and at as the real case a life threatening illness and there were several times that I came close to death and would only admit it in the back of mind, under the reptilian part, I mean this was way in the back.

After five years I have done the cost benefit analysis and I would rather be alive and suffer than dead and not suffer.  Certainly my impending conversion to Catholicism has informed this decision but it is not the only reason.  I know many people that have known me since my youth long for the days of the fat existentialist atheism that they had fallen in love with and hoped to change and bring in the light from the depths of darkness of his angst and I know those people are thinking isn't it convenient that he gets a disease with some suffering and he finds a religion that has a positive outlook on suffering?

Yes it is convenient and I would even go as far as to say it is the divine convenience, it is the third cousin of both divine tragedy and divine comedy and overlooked for simplicity sake but no more.  The conversion has been years and will continue for years.  There was a great man, an evangelical preacher, he was a good friend and when I was struck blind like Paul he was there to guide me towards Jesus and from there my journey has lead me to the place I have always known would be my true spiritual home the Roman Catholic Church.  It feels good to be home.

Again stay tuned I think I have many more pages to spill out!


Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday and My Dad (The Tale Of Satan's Tic Tacs) Part 1

Today is Palm Sunday and so far it is has been a beautiful day, not without tears and some poignant moments.  The service was beautiful and started in the Plaza of the Cathedral of the Madeline, I did not start the service in the Plaza.  I have not talked about sarcoidosis or that I have sarcoidosis for the past while and I know a lot of people started reading or read this blog because of that connection to sarcoidosis.

First things first, I still have sarcoidosis and it still sucks.  My conversion to Catholicism has changed my focus and that has been apparent in the posts over the last years but I think I owe it to myself to not let this blog become a rose colored version of my life.

I went to our diocese's Chrism Mass last Thursday which is where all the oils that will be used for the upcoming liturgical year are blessed.  Priests come from all over the state to bring the blessed oils back to their Parrish and renew their vows.  The mass is a little longer than most but still just barely two hours which compared to the Mormonism I am familiar with that is still one hour shorter than three hours they have every Sunday.

The Chrism Mass was beautiful but by the end of the two hours I was trying not to disturb my fellow parishioners with my writing in my pain.  The neuropathy caused by sarcoidosis had my feet on fire to the point where I had my wife take off one of my shoes.  The Easter Vigil is coming up and that is going to be three hours long minimum and there are retreats of varying lengths and not to mention other Masses between now and then.  I was scared that I was not going to be able to make it and this is literally or figuratively (at this point I have no idea which is correct) once in lifetime experience.

That is where Satan's Tic-Tacs come in.  Five years ago when I was first diagnosed I frequented an online sarcoidosis support group and there was a member in that group that referred to prednisone as Satan's Tic-Tacs.  Anyone that has taken high dose prednisone for anything for any length of time will find that a fitting name for this "medication".

Everyone knows about the bargain Faust struck with Satan (if you don't highlight and Google) and 20 mg pill of prednisone is a deal struck with Devil, of course not on the level of Faust but none the less a deal with the Devil.  The first day your doctor gives you that script for prednisone you are dejected but hopeful after all one third of all sarcoidosis cases resolve without treatment and another third will resolve with treatment that leaves only a third of chance that your sarcoidosis will not resolve.  The next morning you take your first dose of prednisone (high dose prednisone must be taken the morning) and within a couple of hours you feel it...

Your joints begin to move with a fluidity that you can barely remember from a time of yore.  Your lungs slowly allow more and more air with each breath and you feel you could become a human bellows.  You no longer sleep fourteen to sixteen hours a day and in fact after the first day you wont need sleep much at all.  After a couple of days the inflammation in your ears begins to fade on your balance is better, not like a human compass better but better because it is a deal with the Devil and deals with the Devil have a catch and that is just the small beginning of the catches to come.

Also within a couple of hours your heart feels as though it will explode and not out of your chest like a cliche but just explode but stay in your chest and die from the exploded heart kind of deal.  Your head begins to pound like that one New Years Eve that you drank a unknown number of beer and the best part of a fifth of rum and apparently answered a call from a friend that happens to be a girl that  moved to California and you told her to move back and you would take care of her but then the next day you had a headache that felt as though Thor and The Hulk had been using your head as a medicine ball and you get a call from that friend that is girl and she does not believe that you can not remember your offer of the previous evening, yeah a headache like that.

You do not even mention those side effects to your doctor because even thou those side effects really suck you are a grateful because they pass and the pain and discomfort and general feeling of unwell fade and you are scared that he will lower your dose of prednisone because you did start out at a reasonable dose of prednisone and you did not see much relief until you hit eighty milligrams a day and your doctor was concerned about such a high dose but you said hey do not worry because you were fat and the milligram per kilogram load would not be as great as with a person of correct weight for their height and that is like a totally legitimate thing to consider and you say you will call if there are any heavy duty side effects but you don't because after those few hours in the morning you don't feel it.

The Pain, the tenderness, the fatigue, keep naming symptoms, the symptoms fade and not so you are not aware of them (except fatigue because after a week you have really not slept at all and you think you might be going psychotic from lack of sleep) and there is a moment to look over and see how beautiful my wife is and not think about anything else, not have to "mindfully" observe your pain or push through or past, all that is needed is a few well placed nudges and you can sit there and enjoy the sight of your smiling wife and she does not smile that way much anymore.

What way is that you may ask?  Without a look of worry or concern from you, just a genuine smile from her because she can see you are not in pain that you are enjoying the moment and the gift from God which is life.

Tune your radios to this same station at the same time to hear more from Fat Rasputin, well probably more the future is not mine to know but I do know from the past that I have been listening to a lot of old time radio this past week, mainly Pat Novak for hire and I think that is because the Bishop is from San Francisco, bye for now.

PS I did forget to talk about a bunch of things like skin lesions and such but I still have brain damage as an excuse so be aware this is not an exhaustive list of everything I have going on but it is the list I can remember to put down right now.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Saint Patrick's Day (This Year It Is Personal)

So it has been a long week, acupuncture, x-rays (not related to acupuncture), blood tests, wonderful last church class before Easter but I am officially beat up.  Also for the record when a doctor makes you spend the day at the hospital just to do what you asked him to do over the phone, I know he cares and he wants me alive but it can be a little frustrating.  Also my automated Reddit to Facebook decided to share every post I have ever upvoted instead of just the new ones but hey it is Friday.  Also I literally slept 20 hours one day and it fells like a lost a day from this bug I picked up, I remember the good old days when I was sick on Saint Patrick's Day from drinking to much booze, oh the times they are a changing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

If Someone Asks You What You Have Been Doing Sometimes The Whole Truth So Help You God May Be Too Much

This is a post I started a few years ago and never finished, well at least until now (sinister laugh, provide your own sound effects).

I have not been able to work now for over a year.  When people meet me it is like there is some Harry Potteresque sorting hat that divides them into two camps, the people that like me and the people that do not.  If I was a writer I would add some fancy nuance to that statement but I am not as much a writer as I am man who types the first thing that comes to mind for better or worse.

Side-note:  Bravado aside there are some people that do not have strong feeling for me one way or the other but I read some other blog about writing blogs and I did not think that would be as dynamic and I am trying to modify my writing style from rambling to dynamic rambling.

When I was still working I thought most of my co-workers did not like me but liked that I got stuff done, also I worked cheap.  I had a few people I was close to at work but you know I was that one guy who worked in the back office that lacked social skills and did not understand humor in the "traditional" sense.

At least that was my perception of the status quo before I became noticeably ill.  When my co-workers noticed my sickness manifest itself: they were nice and they were compassionate and they were caring.  Now I noticed my co-workers generosity of spirit but thought it was just that, generosity of spirit and I did not think more people liked me all the sudden, I just thought hey nice people are nice to people in need it does not mean they like the person in need.

So fast forward to a few years ago (remember I started this post a few years back) and I had not been able to work for a while and my prognosis was not looking good.  My wife and I had been working with a lawyer and ourselves to plan for my imminent demise.  We were hopefully planning for a long way into the future just to cover our bases but secretly my wife and I both thought we were planning for the not so distant future.

At this point I think the exposition is done, at this point to the best of my knowledge the exposition is done.   I will notarize this later but really I am sure it is done, probably.

So you see I stop by my old workplace, the credit union, to get some financial stuff in order, you know the stuff for my not so maybe imminent death.  I am talking with the manager and my wife is there and everyone is smiling and from what I recall I was at the top of my game and I was making people laugh and smile and such and then it happened.

Another manager came in that had been promoted to like an area manager let us say for the sake of this blog post.  She came in and was happy to see me and more than oh is that nice to see you kind of happy, it was like a genuine pleasure to see you happy.  I do not think I appreciated this at the time but the past is the past and I hope to learn from it anyway here it goes.  She asked what we had been doing and I said planning my death.

I was not being glib and I was just being matter effect and all right I might have been trying to be a little funny.  This person that was genuinely glad to see me started to cry.

It took me years to come back and finish this post.  It made me uncomfortable to think that I had read people wrong.  I am afraid of people and reading them was my way to control that fear and then it happened.  After some thirty five years I had changed and I had become more lovable and that was terrifying.  I still have not worked it all out but having people care about me is a weakness and at that time I could not see the strength in being loved.

Just to clarify: it is not funny to joke about your death to people that care about you.  It is my coping mechanism but I have tempered it or I better said I try.  Loving God and loving your neighbors are the two most important commandments but what is rarely mentioned is how hard it is to be loved.  Growing up as a burgeoning sociopath I did not have a problem with a lot of people coming around loving me.

I am no longer to be feared, my anger has left me and my body is broken.  Sometimes you catch a glimpse of the road ahead and it helps you carry on and that there may be freedom to be found in the pain, the pain of the past, the pain of the future, and the physical and emotional pain of the now.







Tuesday, March 3, 2015

It Has Been Long Time Since I Published A Blog Post (Did That Sound Like A Led Zeppelin Song)

It has not been a long time since I have written, most weeks I manage to some write something and indeed some weeks I am prolific, I have some thirty odd posts that I have not published.  Then you may ask yourself what is the deal?

There are a lot of deals and you knew that before asking, I mean really what in life is simple?  So I have a couple of options. Number one I could bitch about how my brain refuses to allow for decent copy editing most days and the stuff I turn out is usually in desperate need of copy editing and then that would proceed into bitching about how some days I can just not muster enough of, well for lack of a better word ganas.

Ganas is a Spanish word that does not directly translate into English. Depending on the situation it can be poorly translated as desire, forward, want, things of that nature but none of those really it do it justice.  My friends that are fluent in Spanish know what I am talking about and everybody else is lost and to bring the lost back on to the path and for the those that are not lost make sure they know where we are going forward.

I only use the word ganas in one way when speaking to anyone in any language.  Fire, like the fire of passion.  Language fails me here either from my lack of mastery or its' lack of ability but the result is the same, every time I try and write about the fire of ganas it comes up short.  It is basic and primal, fire for today, fire for tomorrow.

Much like the triangle of fire from my boy scout days the fire of ganas is made up of three parts.  The spiritual, physical and mental make up the three parts.  It is not an equilateral triangle and it is not a total sum game, meaning there is no number system that describes it.  You are not trying to get to 300 and some days it is 200 from faith and 100 mental and other days it is 100 from each, it definitely does not work like that.  Anywho after a paragraph of trying to describe it I have managed to tell you several things it is not, I think it might be me falling short and not the English language.

I think it this time I am going to let you the reader use your understanding of what it is not to imagine what it is.  Also throw in some Jiminy Cricket just for some spice because there is spice in ganas.

Aside:  I like similes and metaphors, there I have said it out loud.  I know everyone already knew this but the first step is admitting you have a problem.

After all that I have not mentioned Led Zeppelin or what ganas has to do with posting on my blog, I think you are probably smart enough to figure it out but just in case you are not.  The title is going to have to be enough clever Led Zeppelin talk for today and below I will try and bring the Ganas around to why I have not posted in almost a month, wow I do suck I am sorry but can I use the sick card?  I am sick I swear....

Ganas

The past while has been hard for me physically, I am often reluctant to talk about the details because I hate reading those blogs where there person relays how sick they are get off in some Munchhausen By-proxy Syndrome kind of way from people reading their story and feeling sorry for them.  I write this to document my successes and struggles with the twofold benefit that I release it from my mind and during that process I sometimes learn something and other times it is just a release that it is now somewhere else and not just in my mind.  The other benefit is that I hope I help people, I hope I help a lot of people but even if I just help the few I know about that is enough.

Aside:  When I was first diagnosed with sarcoidosis there was a blog that I read and related to and it gave me a lot of comfort during some hard times (i.e. existentialist angst at the thought of my potential demise).  The guy writing that blog died so again I will pledge to do my best to not die.

This has been a little bit rambling and I am in doubt of its overall coherence but I will try and wrap it up here.  My faith is God has been strong.  My spiritual health has wavered in the past, I have an understanding of the spiritual purpose for my pain but some days my pain wears against my understanding like understanding is sandstone and my pain is water and my understanding can slowly be washed away.  My wife does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to reestablish my faith but I have also been lucky to have a relationship with a Deacon from my church who has helped with the heavy lifting and has given me tools that I can use to lift myself up.

All rightly then that was a little off topic but I am going to leave it in, I think there might have been a good simile in there.

Over the past while that I have not posted there have been different problems with my ganas so to speak.  Mostly it has been physical but it would be a lie to say that I have not had weakness in the mind or the spirit.  There are days where my mind has no desire to process anything, i.e. information, emotions, Judge Judy, I mean anything.  I do not know if your mind can really get tired but there are days where my mind is too tired to push anything onto the virtual paper.  I don't like to think about it much by my physical decline has affected my mind in ways I still do not want to consider but for the sake of my current unrealistic world view I would still like to treat my mind as being completely separate from my body.

I think I am ashamed to say that some days the spirit is not willing.  It is not as easy to quantify as physical or mental and I am aware of how nebulous those are.  There is never a day that I doubt my faith but there are days that my spirit finds my faith lacking.  It is not a failing in my Church but a failing in me.  In its simplest terms there are days when I feel the world collapsing and I ask why me?  I will not get a satisfactory answer to this question why I am alive and the petulant child in me lacks patience.

Everyday that anyone gets up and does anything is a wonder, congratulate yourself, someday life is harder than others but you get by and move from day to day and some days that is a miracle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Passive Aggressive Attack Platform (The Star Wars of emotional warfare, Star Wars from Reagen not Lucas)

PAAP

Passive
Aggressive
Attack
Platform

I have talked about what I wanted this blog to accomplish, but let us just keep it real right now.  When this blog started it was just like 90% of the blogs out there, meaning it was just a way for me to bitch about people and like most people that bitch about other people I was too much of a punk ass bitch to name names.

If you don't name names using your blog (PAAP) to communicate is like trying to shoot someone with your eyes closed, it is possible to hit your target but not likely.  I talked about this in an earlier post Your so vain I bet you think this blog is about you?.  Apparently it struck a cord with the reading public because it was by far and away my most popular post of 2014.

The good news is I am not going to name names if I have something to communicate I will contact the person I wish to communicate it to directly.  What has caused this change?  It turns out I am the Kwisatz Haderach, okay I am not the Kwisatz Haderach but I am something quite close, I am sick and I have faced my mortality (death) and laughed, well maybe not laughed in as much as I smiled slightly, that is probably more accurate.

Now for everyone that reads my blog for veiled insinuation directed at people that are close to me do not worry I still have something for you.  If I have some horrible interaction with someone I will describe said horrible interaction in Technicolor detail (480p).  Full disclosure as to not get your hopes up, I do not have a lot of horrible interactions anymore.

How can this be?  I am still not the Kwisatz Haderach but I have gained some wisdom over the past five years of being sick, not seven years in Tibet mind you, but you can learn quite a bit from five years of being sick.  The main thing I have learned is something I have known for my whole adult life.  Peoples past behavior is the best indicator of their future behavior.

The subtle nuance (it is not really subtle or a nuance, I am just emotionally slow and learn emotional stuff the hard way, which means I have to learn it over and over again before it really sinks in) that I have discovered is, no matter how your life and circumstances of your life change that does not change that people's past behavior is the best indicator of their future behavior.

What it all comes down to (Alanis Morrisette) is my chronic illness (sarcoidosis) and the life altering and potentially life taking aspects of sarcoidosis changed me and changed what I need and want from the people around me.  It did not change the people around me in the same way.  I am not saying it did not change the people around me, all right, I will come out and say it: the people that you wanted to be there for you, but were never there for you are still not going to be there for you.

People that suck before you got sick are still going to suck even after you are sick.

People may change and people may surprise you, but they probably won't so give them the opportunity to surprise you, but don't mortgage the house on the possibility.

PS

You ever feel like you are overwhelmed with being sick and with all that it entails and entrails for that matter?  The people you could rely on before you got sick, you know the people that did not suck before you got sick, they are probably overwhelmed too, so give them a little breathing room and allow them to grieve the loss of your health with you and try not to burn them out.  Living sick is hard, but loving the sick is harder still, at least on an emotional level.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Only The Shadow Knows (Nostalgia Ahead)

My dad had a small house and when my sisters and I would stay with him I had to sleep in my dads bed with him.  Other than the snoring I did not mind and we would listen to the radio as we would fade into the static of sleep.  On Sunday nights we would listen to replays of old time radio shows like The Shadow, Boston Blackie, Rocky Jordan, X Minus One, Johnny Dollar, Duffy's Tavern and I could keep listing and listing but I won't.

They would play two episodes from two different shows and they would follow along from week to week until the storyline had finished, there were some stand alone episodes but most were shows of that time were serial in nature.  Even before the TV it was still about ads and they wanted everyone to tune in each week to hear the ads.  Before Orson Wells had the Mercury Theater Playhouse it was the Campbell's soup Playhouse.  The preceding has been a side-note brought to you by my wandering mind, thank you and remember to tune in next week and remember to buy blue coal, it is colored a harmless blue color at the mine so you know you are getting the finest in Pennsylvanian Anthracite.  That Last bit is from memory, but I think it is pretty close, Blue Coal sponsored The Shadow which was one of my favorite shows.

In a lot of ways my dad was a hard man, he was a child of depression for better and worse.  When I was a child, my dad didn't say he loved me and we did not hug or kiss, but me and my dad would go to sleep listening to old time radio and it was good and it was warm and fuzzy and Norman Rockwell could have painted it for the over of the Saturday Evening Post.

My dad bought an old trailer home and put it out on some property he had in Skull Valley Utah.  There was no electricity or running water, but it was a significant upgrade from a tent.  The whole family would go out there from time to time, but as me and my siblings got older that time to time became less and less for everyone but my dad and I.  We did not initially have a TV, but my dad had an old short wave radio we would listen to the radio and play cribbage by the light of some camping flashlight and I am sure that Norman could have found some inspiration there.

My childhood was pretty shitty.  It was shitty enough that even with pseudo-anonymity that this forum provides I will probably not document the shit of it for the world.  I may put shit to paper in twenty years or so but not now.

Why the juxtaposition between the Norman Rockwell moments and the ambiguous shit moments that I speak of?  I am aging and I think I am aging at a pace that is faster than most.  The sick are quick to age, not quick at much else but definitely quick to age and as I speed away from the day my dad died I remember everything about his life as it wrapped around mine.  There was good and there was bad, I have to be careful here because I think I am slowly writing a bad Paul McCartney song, but as I age, I find myself missing my father and looking back at the good times with my father with nostalgia and the bad times are there but they are in the background like a poorly lit scrim with some out of focus gobos.

I see people focus on the bad and become bitter and unhappy, I see people deny the bad exists and live in constant fear that they will be forced to remove their heads from the sand and then there is what I have done.  Is my way the best?  Only The Shadow Knows.

I thought about ending it there, but it seemed like a cop out so here is a couple more lines...

I have denied and I have been bitter and I have focused on the good and become nostalgic about my father and I am happiest being nostalgic.  I am still saying prayers for my father in purgatory because I have not forgotten the bad, but hell he is dead and nostalgia is fun (as long as it is not some hipster being ironic, I still wish I was well some days just so I could punch me a hipster or two).  I have nostalgia for a bit of the ultra-violence as well, but that does not belong here, so remember nostalgia is mostly good, especially about people from your past.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rip Van Winkle Could Have Used Some Meth And Other Fairy Tales (I Have Missed Many Nows)

I did not post a post last week, I know that my three regular readers noticed.  I have been ill and not like the ill from the Beastie Boys album Ill Communication.  I am not the sickest I have ever been (I know no one is tired of hearing that!) but I am pretty sick.

Over the last two weeks I managed to start two blog posts, but made little progress on both.  The cause of this is not going to be a surprise, it is the sarcoidosis and the flare there of.  Specifically, I have been doing some sleeping, Rip Van Winkle style.

I started having trouble with severe fatigue shortly after being diagnosed.  At the beginning my body still had some resiliency, but after five years it is not just my mind that is being worn down, the body has followed along for the ride.

Over the last two weeks I was awake eight hours or less each day.  It has been hard on me, my wife and my cat.  That is bad, but unfortunately it gets worse, those eight hours were not quality hours.  There have been days where I have not left the bedroom.  My hygiene has gone out the window (some out the door). 

I hate being dirty and the only thing I hate more than being dirty is being smelly and over the last two weeks I was dirty and smelly more days than not.  My joints and muscles have been uncooperative in my quest to be clean, on one occasion my wife had to bring me my toothbrush and a couple of cups because I was unable to brush at the sink let alone shower.

I have a doctors appointment next week, I am going in with no expectations.  Back in the day when I had full control over my faculties I read studies and traveled out of state to see specialties and blah, blah, blah.  The upshot is I have a rare disease and there are no new treatments.  I wake up each morning, take an inventory of my body and I try to make a plan to have some joy that day. 

I do have one expectation for the doc, maybe some symptom relief, maybe...

All right bringing it back around to Rip Van Winkle, he slept and the world passed him by.  Time does not exist and only the now is real, that being said I prefer to be awake for the nows.  Now take a step back with me and I will say that being sick for the past five years I feel like Rip Van Winkle because the world does pass you by when you can not get out of the house or interact with it.

The past couple of weeks this has become really apparent, like watching an ant through a microscope, that is right not a magnifying glass a microscope.  I feel like I have missed many nows.  I have been going through a sick phase since Christmas and for my Catholic posse the worst part of this is that I have been unable to attend mass since I left early on Christmas.  Being sick sucks, being sick and asleep sucks, being sick and not being able to go to church sucks, being sick and missing time with your wife sucks.

Being sick sucks. 

This post is not as fleshed out as I would like because I am sick and that sucks too.

PS

The cat is not getting enough attention and she has let me know, no sympathy from the cat and I think that might be a good thing.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ozzy (How I learned to love tinnitus)

January 22nd, 1988 I saw Ozzy Osbourne in concert.  Anthrax was the opening act, now Anthrax was certainly a good band, but I had not particular affinity for the band and had not purchased any records or cassettes so I could listen to their music at will.  Napster would not be around for another ten years or so and if you wanted to pirate music you had to know someone with a record or cassette that was willing to let you put some wear on their media to produce a copy.

That being said I was looking forward to seeing Anthrax because word on the street was they put on a Hell of a live show.  My best friend and I were obsessed with Black Sabbath (Band not movie) and we showed up several hours before the doors were to open.  We were both wearing unlined Levi jackets and it was cold, but we were planning ahead because it was going to be hot once everyone started mashing together.

This concert was held at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City and was a couple of years before the deaths at the AC\DC concert so the whole floor was GA.

Well there was a lot of crap that happened that we are going to do a verbal montage for, lots of hairspray, many bangs were close to God, many shirts with sleeves and sides cut out, men only,  the women wore mid riff shirts often adorned with fringe of their own making, there were weapons, booze, and bullets (we used to put 22 bullets in the Levi tag on our Levi jackets, I am not sure why this was cool but trust me it was), the wealthy among us groundlings wore leather, tight leather, the kind of leather that was so tight that when it was being removed the person would have a paste made of sweat and baby powder (not sexy) but it looked amazing why it was on, power tripping security guards pushing us around (picture minority women not angry young men who could not get on the police force, I am not sure why this was but it was), everyone smelled like cigarettes and there were some pre-gamers that ended up adding the aroma of vomit to the arena.  Montage over (scene).

Then, like some lyrics from a Pink Floyd song they sent along a surrogate band for Anthrax, after all these years I cannot remember why but I think Scott Ian was sick or injured or something along those lines, but the point is we were all shocked to see Kip Winger and his band Winger come out on stage.  Winger... Instead of Anthrax....

I have been to quite a few concerts and shows and this is the only one I have personally witnessed a crowd, not all of the crowd, but enough of the crowd you could hear it in the stadium, boo.

As time went on and Winger continued to perform, the crowd increasingly gave Winger the bird.

It was bad and worse than bad they were loud and bad.  They left the stage and an intermission began as they prepared for Ozzy.  My ears were ringing and it seemed as though dulcet tones of Kip Winger kept dancing around my skull much like evil sugar plumb fairies left over from a bad Christmas party.  There was an unhappy malaise had settled over the crowd and the setup for Ozzy was taking a long time which left us alone with our tinnitus.

Then Ozzy took the stage and the world became electric.  It was the No Rest For The Wicked tour, but Ozzy did not disappoint, Black Sabbath was well represented.  The beginning notes of Iron Man began to play and the whole arena began to shake their fists to the beat, it was a wild sea of people but a unity of arms marching to the beat of Iron Man.  A was a fat young man and I had taken off my Levi jacket because of the heat and during that song you could see the bass waves traveling through my arm.  At the time it was the closest I had been to religious ecstasy.At the end of the show he came on to tell us how sick, he was but he hoped we enjoyed the show (I had not noticed he was ill) and then he played his last song.

At this point many people began to filter out of the arena, but we knew the show was not over, Ozzy ends every show with the song Paranoid and he had not done any encores yet.  I am not sure why everyone left, but with him being sick and half the crowd having left, he came on and gave us Paranoid and it was the end of a fine show.

As my friend I walked home from the show we were unwittingly shouting at each other because we had become slightly deaf from the volume of the music and that was okay and the evening that had started in the depths with Winger had been redeemed by Ozzy.

The moral to this story is perseverance and patience and Ozzy always puts on a good show even when he is sick.  Every time I hear the ringing in my ears, I think of Iron Man and leather.