A New Season’s Hark to Last Season’s Heart

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This calm and still Wednesday morning has become quite the glorious herald to the new spring, hidden from view just around the corner. Like my recent nausea, the clouds have reluctantly dissipated, as relief peaks through a nebular porthole as if to softly whisper “I’m here!” The most critical of change is often slow to root and even slower, to soothe.

I know better than to foolishly tempt or tease fate, or (more importantly these days) allow it a loop in which to slip one of its “holy” bad or cruel jokes. To welcome blind change, without direction or guidance, is often destructive, self-defeating, and certainly foolish.

For that reason, today I celebrate patience and compassion, and the intertwine of the two. It saddens me that so many Americans have given up on the “honorable” and decent path. They prefer a quick fix. They want answers. And, most of all, they want to bolster their assets and checking account now.

To many of those, any change is indeed a better alternative. But is it? It frustrates me that, yet again, this nation is on the verge of yet another potentially foolhardy “throw the bums out” tirade, antsily stomping its feet. May I remind you it was one such repercussional tantrum in 1972 that first plucked Jesse Helms from obscurity as he appealed to voters’ sense of xenophobia and bigotry.

Not to fear, my friends, I will stifle my partisan leanings and neatly tuck my soap box away,for now. We all will be bombarded with such messages and images over the coming weeks. But I am scared. There are simply too many loose cannons and over-armed gamesmen out there.

Today, I shall celebrate what is good in the world, as I mourn what we have killed. I will definitely smile with relief as my mind’s eye catches Jon fumbling in the kitchen and reclaiming control over his own health.

But I will cry at the thought of the children that were callously thrown away by society. I will cry for their tormentors who were taught by their parents to hate. I will cry for my peers who say “oh, how awful!” and immediately turn the television to “Dancing With the Stars” to learn of Marla’s fate.

Today, I shall celebrate the still and bright skies, as I mourn those who wade through flooded streets. Or those who wonder why there are no birds circling the feeders, while air raids circle above.

Today, I celebrate Jon and the Twelve Noble and Apostolic Pusses of Marklewood, as I mourn those who are alone or isolated. I shall cry for children whose fear and isolation is so profound that they jump to “safety” from a bridge. I shall cry for those many, many individuals who go for days without human contact, and suffer the worst of society’s disconnects.

Trust me, I am neither a naive, cock-eyed, or a short-sighted “pollyanna”! I am broke and unemployed; follow politics far too closely; and have recently succumbed to these damned maladies of mortality. But I am a happy person.

I am comfortable with myself. I attempt to almost always do the right thing. And I have a partner, family, and friends who are nurturing, compassionate, and like-minded. “Like-minded”, by the way, has little to do with religion or politics, as it is more clearly defined by both reveal of our souls and our over-simplified levels of compassion.

So as I shall soon flip my desk calendar, I take a deep breath. I’ll look ahead in grand manner. October is always a grand month, illustrated by cascading leaves and previews of the season’s “sweater wars”. It is a handy month for both catching up and getting an ample head-start.

First things first. Let’s get through spring and the ever tardy April showers. Autumn’s harvest will gladly make a housecall in its own sweet and due time. By then, surely it will be the appropriate time to trade in “last year’s heart”.

And I love Thursdays! And I love the rain! And I love the Universe’s snappy unfold of the passing seasons!

It’s all good, Lillian.

May all of us have a lot to smile about this evening and tomorrow. Proceed with kindness and grace. And remember: being happy and content never means that you must forget how to cry. It is often tears that cleanse a nation’s spirit.

(Image: “Marinero” by Femke Hiemstra, 2012.)

Accepting Fear’s Exception

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I used to keep a journal filled with thoughts and doodles. It became obsolete over twenty years ago. At that time, the most productive and motivating outlet for self discourse was via email.

An afternoon of scribbling, without so much as a blinked scan’s proofread, made way to an equally-quick click of the always-busy “send”!

Years later, specifically in 2010, this very blog emerged from an raw, emotional heap of isolation, fear, exhaustion, and confusion. Tartuffe’s Folly, in a private way, became my salvation. The entire email option at once seemed silly as I had found a legitimate outlet.

The process of posting helped extract and explore my optimistic nature. Since then, I’ve been far more emotionally fit and my own best “hope junkie”!

Except on certain days, that is. Days like today. My thoughts drift into my rarely charted recesses of pragmatism and realism. To many folks, such talk is morbid and symptomatic of some evil neurosis.

But as they say in the deepest of Southern back alleys: “That don’t make no never mind.”
My 851 days of waiting for a new heart have given me all too much time for reflection. Now that I’m in the hospital until after the transplant, there’s no escaping the truth.

What if a donor heart is never procured? What if I don’t survive the surgery? What if my body succumbs to rejection impulses? After ten weeks in this room, my list of queries and hypotheticals continues to grow.

I’m in no way a “Pollyanna”. If I was a terrific candidate for the procedure back in December 2013, time has only eroded those odds. On some Sundays, the odds seem fated for only a fifty percent recovery.

Of course, my beloved and I can discuss the subject … but only insofar as neither of us becomes melancholy.

I know of two friends with whom I can share such intimate thoughts — a friend from college days and one from New York.

There are no definitive answers, no sure things. But if, in my most investigative deconstructions, I indeed have such thoughts, it likely suggests one thing.

I’m scared.

And today, in my most roundabout and rambling manner, I now can admit it to myself. I’m scared.

Mind you: broaching this discussion with a family member or close friend may yet be several Sundays ahead. But not now.

Similarly, I never shared my journals or my “emails to myself”.

Everything is a process these days. What better day than an April Sunday for a review?

(Image: “Vanitas” by Fernando Vicente, 2008.)

A Holiday That Evolves With Time (and Hormones)

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Easter has always been a complex and inconsistent holiday for me. When I was a relatively wee lad, the day was filled with baskets of fine chocolates, books, and ensembles perhaps better befitting a young dandy. We would attend church service and return home to a celebratory meal and a day of family bonding.

The imagery and explanations confounded me, however, as I struggled to link the Resurrection with a rabbit in a dinner jacket. Upon over-ponderance, I’d face the weary truths of kickball, grass-stains, and parental over-compensation.

As I approached the twitch of pubescent hormones, the treats were offered, naturally, far less frequently. We did, however, still go to Easter service which was always joyous and offered triumphant music. I realized at a young age that this day was the only one that, being Catholic, the hymns would be upbeat and melodic.

We’d return home to again share a special lunch and to reminisce about relatives I had never met. I would soon-after rush outside to join-up with my neighborhood cronies. I could always frolic until dark, since North Carolina was yet the only state that honored Easter Monday. The next day was another holiday!

As I became a young man, Easter became less of a special day, except that stores were closed. Many folks either went to the beach or spent the day with visiting relatives. Or savored moody independence, like I did.

I usually slept late, stayed in my robe, and spent the day either fervently reading or watching some Easter classic film that was hopefully neither “The Ten Commandments” nor some cloying Jeff Chandler chestnut!

Then as I started my journey of drifting toward and away from serious romantic relationships, the day always meant some spectacular meal: a festive brunch or elegant dinner party with perhaps a dozen guests. Certainly it was a festive day but no one really thought of Easter, its history, or its intent.

We made merry and indulged, and nursed a wretched aftermath.

Of course now I am in my reflective dotage and the day has further evolved. Like all my peers, I am prone to embrace nostalgia and share tales. Jon and I usually fix a special meal, nothing extravagant, but something out of the ordinary. 


This year, perhaps the hospital kitchen staff will make good on their vow to prepare something indeed special. If not, we can enjoy the richly and serene imaginary from equally imaginary open windows. And dine separately together.

We both have such fickle appetites and limitations, that “n’er the twain doth meet!”

Jon will play his sacred music most of the day as he swoons with the swell of the chords and the organ. We will savor a few treats. And we will reminisce about friends and lovers who have passed away and relatives that the other has never met or probably even heard mention.

It’s just the two of us, the cats, and of course the Easter bunny. I doubt I ever stopped believing in her. Yes, I learned long ago that the bearer of such sweet sentiment, gentle nostalgia, and special delicacies had to be a woman: a gentle, patient, and motherly type.

But alas and alack. I will sadly not be playing kickball this year, although it is not for lack of want.

Happy Easter, my friends. 
The Easter bunny is an angel; it’s an unwritten law of nature and divine order, at least at Marklewood and in #3702.

Prodigal Soon Seeks Passage on That Midnight Train, Georgia

Full title: The Story of Griselda, Part III: Reunion Artist: Master of the Story of Griselda Date made: about 1494 Source: http://www.nationalgalleryimages.co.uk/ Contact: picture.library@nationalgallery.co.uk Copyright © The National Gallery, London

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I am loathe to admit that, after a month in the hospital, I am cranky. Worse yet, my gratitude is shaky.

Cabin fever? I should only have that much room.

I am dizzied and speechless that I face another six weeks on IV antibiotics, backless hospital gowns, lack of privacy, and using a portable urinal.

My beloved and Henry are home refeathering the nest without me. Now that each hour has become so precious, I’d rather spend them in “my” world, “his” world, our humble Marklewood.

Please, don’t misjudge my tone to be depressed, desperate, or, at the very least, a bad sign of something a-brewing.

At 1:00am in 3702, my rant is now passing, at least for a few more weeks.

If you stop by, please try the Black Bean Soup, London Broil, or the Shrimp/Grits.

Fondly,
Raleighwood’s Reverse Prodigal Son

Wee Hour Ramblings

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It’s just shy of 4am and here I ponder. I obsess. And I explore the metaphysical haze that rises from the February dew and the balmy breezes that stage my fictional village settings.

My beloved and I usually watch television at night. Downton Abbey, Call the Mid-wife, Doc Martin, Sherlock Holmes, Elementary, Mr Robot and an increasing roster of guilty pleasures. I enjoy crime shows (Criminal Minds, Law & Order: SVU). Jon enjoys science fiction dramas (The 100, Expanse, Extant) that follow absurd storylines and Telenovela-like spaceship shows.

Oy. We both mumble a bit and slip into a hoarse Sotte Voce derision of each other’s choices. Why don’t murder victims stay dead? Half the time we are told ludicrous backstories.

It must be hard out there for an assassin. It happens so often that one of us always predicts: Oh, he’ll be back. Years ago, on One Life to Live, there was once a long-lost brother to a Llanview Grande Dame.

Half a year into his storyline, he was killed off. He drove his sport scar into a the side of a big “Big Rig”. His fate? He was decapitated, reminiscent of Jayne Mansfield’s end. A few years later, that very character just rolled into town to liven up those lost scenes.

Yes, I must be strong. I best avoid CNN. Those 10pm shows of yesterday still prompt my viewing:

Monday was Medical Center Night. Tuesday brought Marcus Welby MD. Oh, how I am indeed becoming my parents with their Hal/Margy peccadillos. Sure, I claim all the differences, improvements, and more recent popular trends. But Polly and I are so much like our parents … except for social skills and temperment.

So, in closing, I confess my more casual trespasses. But I’ve already deeply-analyzed my issues. And that’s when I fall into the Persian Blue abyss that holds my dreams.

I may study the sky … imagining a kingdom of clouds. I seed turrets, fountains, and windows. I find myself trying to peek in. And therein my blog post begins to take form.

And as I stand up erratically, I see faces in the turret.

(Image: by Alan McDonald.)

Three Regrets: My Heart’s Latest Disconnect

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Wednesday Night, 10:32
UNC has a heart and Dr Sheridan has accepted it for me. It is being flown in during the early, early hours of a wintry dawn.

Transplant time! We are off to UNC Memorial Hospital.
Please take care of Jon and Henry.
Oh. Oh. Oh. What should I pack? Can I keep my own socks on?
“Rush. Rush.”
Oy ve.

Thursday Morning, 9:07.
Update:
The surgeon, Dr Brett Sheridan, and the transplant team on duty did not think the heart was up to par. It just wasn’t viable. My cardiologist, Dr Rose-Jones concurred, in abstentia.

So back, back to the wait. A mere “DAMN!” is inadequate. Very. And the nurse even shaved me from neck to knee. Under and over, in and out. Oy.

It is what it is. And don’t say a Fire Drill.

Sign me:
Sleepless and Heartless … and not quite “en route” yet to Raleigh.

Thursday Afternoon, 4:52
I do not know what to think. All I know is that I’m thinking it.
We are still not home yet. And we are now unprepared for this alleged and possibly most wretched winter advisory.

I stand corrected: It is what it isn’t, neither less nor more.
“Earache, My Eyes.” Actually, it’s my neck. Six attempts to place a Swan Catheter into my Carotid Artery have left two bruises and various pricks. They will, however, place “among my souvenirs”.

A Cheech & Chong reference means absolutely nothing these days. Don’t worry, Lillian. And please let Cousin Eve know. She has yet to open Facebook’s window for a peek.

Forbidden and Low-Hanging Fruit

When I was in primary school at St Thomas More Elementary, in Chapel Hill, I loved fruit. As with many third graders back in those Camelot days, an “old school” snack was always waiting when I got home: a plate with both a cookie and either a pear, banana, or apple.

Its intent was essentially a parental “loss leader” to encourage me to do my homework before going outside to play. My friends all went to public school, except my friend Damian, so we usually hurried so we could catch-up and trade tales of nuns and “other teacher” types.

That routine continued until we moved to Greensboro. I was ten years old and couldn’t fathom why exactly Hal, Margy, Polly, and I had to relocate. Why were the nuns at St Pius X so strict and serious? I avoid using the word “unfriendly” as I have memory of that “pointer” stick punishment that Sr Mary Patrick relished dispensing.

It was also about this time that Polly started kindergarten. The same snack routine fell into place, except for the new choice of oranges, Polly’s favorite. Naturally, being older, I was more flexible and able to understand the concept of compromise. Hal and Margy would later discover that I was also well-versed in the art of “choosing my own battles!”

My sister loved oranges of all types: Valencias, Navel oranges, Clementines, Tangerines, and a few years yet, “Blood” oranges. After one year of my quiet acquiescence, I discovered the beauty and thrill of the deliciously sour and oh-so-mixable grapefruit. Grapefruit became my favorite choice of both fruit and juice, remaining so until my 30’s.

About that time, it was pointed out to me that the ultimate sour “nectar” conflicted with my medication. Disappointed, I basically experimented for the next two decades. Blackberries, Carambola, plums, Kiwi, and peaches, they all gave me joy. On the other hand, citrus fruits essentially piggy-backed with the grapefruit and left my daily regimen. I neither appreciated nor understood the exotic pineapple until a few years ago after I retired.

Now it seems that I have become so set in my eccentric ways I rarely veer from habit. Usually, watermelon, blueberries, and pineapple are the only fruits that can be found in the Marklewood refrigerator save juices.

“Who ever saw that one coming?” It was similar to most “change” in daily life these days: it just occurred without either my knowledge or approval.

Did I mention that I dislike any cooked fruit? That includes: jams, jellies, and pies. And I detest and have never understood the creation of raisons, enjoying them only in animated form..

Yes, I realize this musing may be stretching its relevance to accompany the interesting anthropomorphic Au Bon Marché trade cards above. Let’s just say that I appreciated those past fruits of choice … surreptitiously, quietly, or vicariously.

Vegetables? I have actually enjoyed them all since my toddler years, even the oft maligned broccoli, cauliflower, and okra. However, I passionately dislike rutabagas, snow peas, and beets.

I digress. Actually, that was true before I even began to scribble these humble words.

(Images: “Fruits Animé”, six of eight, Series #28, Bon Marché c.1900-1905.)

It’s My Shadow’s Schedule, Not Mine!

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It is a sad, sad state of assorted sordid affairs when one identifies and defines each distinct day of the week. Labels in life are often dangerous, judgmental, or misused. Life and our thousands of traditions, thoughts, reactions, and answers come with neither constructive instructions nor a wee-set of warnings.

Yet, over-simplifying one’s explanation can actually lead to over-simplifying one’s life. I am there and have been since May 22, 2013.

Nonetheless, I build each day with those entries that are either distinctively crucial, meaningful, or entertaining. Yes, they can skip across a continuum from absurd all the way to crucial. Thus, my week here at Marklewood has become an illustrated collection of Zeniths and Nadirs.

Every Monday, my home health nurse Michelle stops by to: check my IV and re-dress its entry area, take me vitals, and conducts the quickie INR prick. She forwards her reports to the UNC Transplant Team, most notably to both of my cardiologists.

My beloved and I schedule all of my doctor visits for Tuesdays and his for the remaining days. Since mine usually involve driving to Chapel Hill, we make a day of it. And we almost always make every effort to stop by Merritt’s Grill for the very, very finest BLT in the Americas. To say “world” would be expressing gross exaggerations and might skew an analysis or two.

On Wednesdays, I usually sleep quite late. Preparing a manly supersized iced coffee, I then take it, some rye toast, and my iPad into the living room. I rarely then ever leave the living room, that is until Jon and I watch Jeopardy together upstairs.

After we eat dinner, we usually continue with the TV on, while we separately “type away” on our iPads. His Siri can be described as a submissive and easily confused man. Mine is a headstrong woman who autocorrects with incorrect spellings and responses. Education is so important even within a fictional narrative.

My Thursday is usually unstructured: a day of writing, reading, and posting. Kindly add to that an evening of Big Bang Theory, Mom, How to Get Away With Murder, and Elementary. Also, I see my therapist on every third Thursday … if I am up to it that day.

I define Fridays simply as SciFi Fridays. JON’s SciFi Fridays. On the other hand, I’ll listen to music, watch videos, or engage in more interactive web activities. Bless the Beasts and the Earphones!

Saturdays belong to National Public Radio and its roster of witty chat, games, and stories. Programs include: Car Talk, Wait Wait .. Don’t Tell Me!, Dinner Party Downloads, and Prairie Home Companion, among others. They flow seamlessly well into “after dark” TV programming, on PBS.

Surprisingly, Jon and I vary very little in our Sunday activities. It can be a make-up day for any missed NPR shows from the day before. Fast forward to 9:00pm. It offers a rough and tough battle between Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, and The Walking Dead … or any combination therein.

Spoiler Alert! On these ambient, dim (not yet twilight) days, the weekdays unfold quickly with ne’r a variance. Yes, it is shocking and usually excruciating to admit. Time tends to heal itself, while my beloved and I unsuccessfully court change.

I shall update you after my heart transplant. But only after I’ve gone to the Outer Banks, submersing myself in the divine salty water. I always find such swims are not unlike Naval Baptisms, of course with a hologram of Monsignor Dolan officiating.

I shall update you when my sins and illusions have been washed away.

But yes. I guess. I have digressed.

Shalom.

(Image: “Young Napoleon at the Military School of Brienne-le-Château” by Jacques Onfrey de Breville, 1908.)

The Emergence: A Commuter’s Bliss

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To either drive into Raleigh or return, There are quite a few thoroughfares that Jon and I could use. One, however, stands out. It remains one of the few such roads here that is still a simple two lane country road. That is the reason for our motoring bliss and the area’s bucolic charm.

The best aspect is that one comes upon it quickly and without warning … like a gust of wind or noisy bolt. Often, it is not unlike coming out of a treacherous fog or thunderstorm. I might even suggest “orgasm” but I usually avoid going there. For your safety and mine. Just ask Lillian. Of course, she’s likely singing Manilow’s “Looks Like We Made It”.

For half of the last five miles of the leg to Marklewood , one drives through NC State U.’s educational farmland. They test livestock grub, new grasses, different techniques for different crops, and my favorite:

Each year, the agriculture classes build a fence around two acres, experimenting with schematics and looks. They really don’t fence anything in except for a small uncommercial putting green. At the end of the year, the students tear it down for the next class’s academic pursuits and their certain pure enjoyment.

Meanwhile, in spite of living here now for almost fourteen years, the feeling that quickly overcomes me is still fresh and feels still new. I amuse myself with comparisons to the Cotswolds, the French countryside, or just other parts of this great country’s landscape. (I pray that voters will be sensible and compassionate next November.)

During the brightest of wintry days, the many cows seem to all face the sun together. The first time it reminded me, in an apologetically irreverence, of “turning to Mecca”. They could’ve been doing that but, just as with humans, how and why does one fairly assess, assign, and judge another’s religious faith from a form or a quick interview?

We should all ponder that point, eh? Hell, doesn’t the very notion conflict with our Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Articles of Confederation? The cows at least are a mix of many breeds that intermingle and co-mingle in nonjudgmental bliss.

But I digress, just as you predicted. We should promptly get back to those bovine beauties.

Chuckle. Chuckle. Smile. Yes, I even smile when I sit here at my desk and start hopelessly visualizing these nearby pastures.

At least I have never taken to naming them. Except for Heather. She’s the one with a window on her side so that her digestive organs are easily viewed.

No bull!

(Image: “Ajax” by John Curry Steuart, 1936-37.)

With Neither Maize Nor Wattle

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I was reminiscing this afternoon and sharing with Henry my most memorable Thanksgivings. It was a broad task for sure. But I tried.

Best Food? 2001 at my sister’s. No one can best her Prime Rib and Brisket. And that year, we also had turkey and oysters and a lot of people.
I was extremely emotional because Michael died just a month earlier.

Most Fun Thanksgiving? 1989 at the house I shared with the anti-Christ. The day stands out because everybody was happy and mingled well. We had moved in two days earlier and I was up all night organizing all our new kitchen. The weather was perfect.

We danced, listened to music, hung out on the deck, and threw a frisbee with our sheepdog.
After folks started to leave, three particular friends, my sister and her husband each fixed a cocktail and secured a seat for ROUND 2.

Most Forgettable?  1974 at my mother’s. My Father insisted on coming over. They had divorced 8 months earlier and he was living in Dallas and in a relationship that he rekindled from 1951. He showed no interest in my sister’s first year in Middle School or my freshman year at UNC. As soon as our utensils were gathered on plates, Polly and I left. It was all just so wrong

Most exotic Thanksgiving? 1958 in DC, but my mother was in Minnesota where she worked for Eugene McCarthy.

Legend has it that my father invited all of his friends who were from Germany, Italy, Kenya, and other points in between. After cocktails, everyone went into the dining room to eat. I was sound asleep on the sofa in the livingroom.

I woke up at some point … and crawled and toddled all around the room. As I advanced I looked into each glass and ate the garnishes. I happily dined on mainly cherries from Manhattans and olives from Martinis. I also finished each drink.

When dinner was over, my father and guests returned to the livingroom and found me sound asleep. Okay. Okay. I had passed out on the previously mentioned sofa.

The rest of the day unfolded as one would expect. Yes, my mother was livid when my Father confessed about a month later.

Finally, my most earnest and better prioritized Thanksgiving? 2011. Jon was recovering from a life threatening illness and I had recently had yet another heart attack.

Life had quickly become fragile. Nonetheless, we celebrated our union and found that, yes, we actually could afford a leg of lamb.

It is now four years later. Jon is much better but ridden with ailments of being almost 70. I’m still waiting for a heart. Henry is almost 13. He is your typically lazy tom but would even “turn pussy tricks” if it meant an entire turkey slice might fall to the floor. Since I am “projecting” with this post, we’ll just say He hopes that the turkey slice cascade to the floor. And that Claudja and Hermione are watching some football game.

We will share Thanksgiving with: my sister and her gentleman suitor, my niece Sara and her husband, my niece Sophie and her husband, and my niece Aubrey. My sister’s ex-husband, his wife, and young son will join us.

I will not try to understand the unfortunate inclusion of the latter nor will I let it interfere with the joyous part of the day. It may very well be the last time we are all together.

I am confidant to assume that we’ve each already endured a questionable, perhaps grossly dysfunctional Thanksgiving.

“Receive” will thus be Thursday’s Groucho Marxist “Word of the Day”. (К сожалению об этом.) I intend the word “receive” to invoke that 70’s and 80’s serendipitous suggestion for welcoming a positive karma.  We’re nonetheless surely due for a Cohen-esque Perfect Day.

And if not? Groovy. Bring it on, My Friend. Bring it on.

(Image: “The Small Village Torzhok” by Konstantin Ivanovich Gorbatov, 1917.)

Commuting Fate & the Daydreamy Mr Tapper

Art AuctionsWhen I was 30 years old, I worked from 8am to 5pm, endured an hour’s tedious commute to/from, and generally worked every Sunday. I did all the cooking, shopping, housecleaning, and gardening. The anti-Christ and I entertained often, the detail of which were left to my discretion and execution.

YET somehow I managed to get everything done on both my work and home agendas. The anti-Christ and I went to the movies each week, attended most of the Kennedy Center events, and made time to go shopping in Pentagon City.

We also traveled frequently and impulsively: monthly to New York and three or four times a year on some indulgent holiday to Provincetown, Martha’s Vineyard, Key West, or somewhere more exotic. The AC got all the airline travel points in the separation decree. I got the playbills.

Today at age 59, I am retired and have given up volunteer work. Jon does all the driving, marketing, and household missions. I spend most of my oddly-configured day on various writing projects and watching CNN. I’ve been an election junkie since 1968, but Jake Tapper somehow makes it sexier and wittier.

I no longer can cook anything substantial … and certainly not a complete dinner with courses. The oven is almost exclusively for heating DiGiorno frozen and self-rising sausage pizzas.

These factors weighed and considered, I still end my day with frustration and self-flagellation because I leave so many tasks incomplete or untouched.
Time now gets away from me and does so rather quickly.

I am never able to reach forward and just grab it.

What I can do, however, is reminisce back to a time when I could do it all. Of course, I am much, much happier with my beloved.

(“Three Studies of Lucian Freud” by Francis Bacon, 1969.)

Making Angels in the Evening Rain

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This afternoon in the first minutes of Raleigh’s Rush Rush Hour, Jon and I were calmly headed to Chapel Hill for my bi-monthly transplant evaluation and check-up. We had no expectations as to the outcome.

In other words, we had made that medical pilgrimage so many times (perhaps, 75 or so) in two years that any conjecture could, if not “would”, range from the totally obscure to the painfully generic.

My fear was that my extremely wonderful cardiologist, Dr. Briony Peony-Smith (not her real name), was regrettably poised to admit me to the hospital to finish the undetermined wait for a heart. However, despite my essentially bed-ridden limitations, my extreme shortness of breath, and my inability to focus, I am “still, yet, and again” otherwise able to continue depending on Henry and Jon as my caregivers.

I can still hear my eighth grade French teacher, Mr George Bright, enunciating that most general definition of encore. Yes, we love those random nostalgic gems that make us smile. I thank God that I don’t experience any shortness of breath while perusing that mental year-by-yearbook account of my life as a Catholic boy in North Carolina coming of age in the early 70’s.

In addition to a constant unfold of “sentimental journeys”, my immediate prognosis includes: a very restricted diet; extreme and non-stop nausea; an almost absurd inability to stay awake for more than hour or so; and a physical inability to talk. One might add that I can no longer rub my stomach as I pat my head with the other hand. Or perhaps I won’t share such.

I can still drink regular coffee, even though our “K-cup dependent” Koureg gets an F and has withdrawn altogether.

I can still eat ice cream. Hooray. Hurrah. We shall, one day soon, miss Edy’s Grand Gourmet Mocha Chip, Harris-Teeter’s Banana Pudding, and Turkey Hill Peach ice creams.

I still have Wanda, the mega-channeled remote control.

And I can still wake up each morning, glance over at my beloved nestling with our charmed and charming puss, and smile.

Despite all the bleak days, wretched finances, and wellness obstacles, I love my world. My friends. And my family.

I just wish Jon and I had more closet space.

(“The Fallen Angel” by Salvador Dalí, 1950’s.)

Shake it Off, Irma

.There was a time that I’d hide such an infirmed or cautious state. ‘Twixt slippery lips, a shiny cup, and those “eagerest” of Ears, options start to reel: whether to keep up the conceal or lastly reveal. “Boots don’t walk forever” nor, in my case, dirty dirty bucks. I pant. I huff.

No, silly. I gave up the puff a few years back when my diagnosis seized my life.

Until I finally receive said heart and “le’ go my L-Vad”, my pace belies a caution, a yawn, a whimper. Or its growing need or diminishing timeline.

Please let me breathe or leave me alone.

I’ll join the Underworld’s Orpheus for a jaunty jig or a stolen reel. That is, if I “Can-Can”.

When it actually takes effort and energy to take a nap, that is the time best spent with eyes closed and hearts open. The Universe listens to prayer, no matter what we call it.

In fact, Irma, a prayer doesn’t even require a name, proper or otherwise.

The Perfect Wine to Compliment a Face Mask

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Freshly picked berries, a still warm Bundt, a Gewürztraminer with an odd hint of basil, and an unopened jar of an Erno Lazlo facial mask cream. The hummingbirds hovered closely. The year-round inhabitants of New Jersey’s historic Joyce Kilmer Service Area privately smiled politely, not quite sure whether they should be nervous.

Toby and Damian questioned their motives and were now certain they were indeed sending mixed signals.

Fleur de Lisa and Neeley shared a sweet, questioning wink … albeit of a private and reassuring nature. Were they leading the boys on simply by remaining open to the notion? Aren’t all Saturdays meant to provide both score and script?

All four picnickers felt some type of guilt. And that guilt placed in four distinct notches on the Sieber-Markle Continuum of Guilt and Other Malfunctioning Emotions.

By that point, Toby had poured each of them a “separate but equal” glass of wine. The story in their eyes traveled quickly around the blanket, coming to rest on the bottle’s neck.

“Salut” “Here’s to the noble hummingbirds!” “To us! To our individual stories and the one we’ll pen together” “Cheers, my friends, and dance. The Bossa Nova knows no shame.”

Damian went to his truck to fetch another chilled bottle of wine. He also needed a few moments of privacy in his Dakota to rearrange his sexy charm and to rehearse the verbiage.

It’s a boy thing.