Friday, July 31, 2009


Two things that do not work with MS.

1. Heat.

2. Activity.

Heat and activity combined could probably put me in the hospital 9 times out of 10.

Activity is more or less avoidable. Heat is not.

Two weeks of vacation at my disposal, and all I can do is lie on the bed and sweat.

I had certain vague plans--a trip to the mountains, swimming in the river, maybe a day trip to the beach. As it happens, however, my legs are not working, and every time I stand up I feel like vomiting.

Distance + energy required = a two week vacation in Portland.

I become, therefore, my wife's sopir, which translated from the Indonesian means driver. All day long we traveled about Portland and the surrounding area in her air conditioned car as she attended to business appointments and client meetings. As can be imagined, it was a heck of a lot of fun.

My wife and I are very unalike. Have I mentioned that before? Of course I have. In her mind a vacation is a period of time during which one can get even more work done than usual.

I myself had always pictured lying on the beach under the shade of an umbrella, reading a book.

Well, each to his own.

In any case, for the time being, like it or not, it's all about nausea, sweat, and profound fatigue.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Scorcher

Hooooooey! Somewhere around 107 degrees now, and I've been driven from my house, in search of air conditioning. Old fantasies of moving to Arizona one day have now wholly evaporated. No Frickin Way!

Heat like this is also another first in my relationship with MS. I had thought in the past that heat really did not affect me very much--or as much, anyway, as I had heard other people describe. Now I know better--for this sort of heat pushes MS and the overtaxed nervous system way over the hill of no return. It's like a certain point comes where there is no way to cool the overheated wires, and little fires begin to break out all over. Sensation in the toes, never veyr good in the first place, gets shut off altogether--what toes? The brain begins to drip like hot wax, calf muscles simulate silly putty.

But Oh this Starbucks feels so fresh and cool. I fully intend to hide behind the counter later and sleep here overnight.

Earlier on I felt like I was going to be sick. Felt nauseated, dizzy, off balance, developed a splitting, throbbing headache, and felt as if I might at any moment vomit. But see, I had always loved the heat the past--the pre-MS past. It had never bothered me--no, not even heat such as this. So obviously something has changed, right? Well, of course it has.

If there is one feeling in all the world that I really, really hate, it is nausea. I have always felt sorry for those with MS who have ended up with the vertigo/dizziness/nausea symptoms. Yikes.

Well, sorry if this sounds like a weather report. I'm just finding any reason I can to stay in this cool air for as long as I can.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dance

He flails the limb

He cranes the head

And people look away

She talks and smiles

And acts a role

But knows not what to say

He totters, weaves,

Bumps off walls

The sober drunk with his useless cane

This is the dance

The unwilling do

The dance of nerve disease

Rise up and walk

And take your mat

Go and sin no more

Maybe the year is ‘44

Maybe the President


He did not mean to die

You see

But only to shower that day

I am the statue

Head of gold, breast of bronze

Feet of clay

I know what I was thinking

I know

What I meant to say

This is the woman

Who in the part cannot feel

and so on the whole will never conceive

It must be karma

She did something wrong

Now she has to pay

And the beast was torn

From the innocent child

And cast to the herd of pigs

Rise and go

And tell no one

Your faith has made you whole

Oh that is what I meant to say

This is the dance

The spastic jig

The waltz of nerve disease

Saturday, July 25, 2009


For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. --1 Cor 13:12

I suppose that blogging is at least on some level a cry for attention. It is a will to dialogue, a will to share and to receive. It may even sometimes be a cry for help. It is certainly an avenue forged for the sake of connection--first of all with oneself, and then with others.

We go through life hardly knowing what to think of ourselves--how do I really feel, what do I really believe? Sometimes what we do becomes sufficient in itself to define. I am a computer programmer and I like bicycle racing. I am banker and I am active in various social causes. I am a husband and a father.

What about the rest? What about this scary mess of conflicting inclinations, multiple choice meanings; this struggle of opposites, this constant continental shift of who we are and who we want to be, what we think and what we know, how we feel and how we are caused to feel. Any man but touched by the feather of the unknown must fall, and begin again.

One's viewpoint, one's character, one's faith is very often no more than a passing product of the moment. The passion of thought causes us to speak of the part and not the whole. We end therefore in communicating prejudice rather than compassion, and we live and are perceived according to the incompleteness not only of what we have been able to express, but what we have failed to express, not to mention what we ourselves do not yet know.

A thousand words are expended toward describing what is otherwise clear in one beat of the heart. Language finds itself fishing for meaning and completeness like a child with a stick and a string--who moreover did not care to touch the worm.

My Miraculous Autoimmune System

It is a fact, said a preacher I was listening to on the radio this morning, that if a person maintains a positive viewpoint, smiles a lot, laughs often, and is friendly, that persons immune system will run at the top of its form, 100 percent. It's a fact, no less--and we all like facts.

Well, I can go one better than that (and honestly, I haven't even smiled that much); for, you see, my immune system runs even better than the norm, so very actively in fact that it hardly knows what to do with itself. Thus the onset of multiple sclerosis.

The Lord works in strange ways indeed!

Somebody shout amen!

Friday, July 24, 2009


I have a ghostwriter on Facebook. Things just appear--my status, comments to other entries, even pictures. I personally don't write there anymore so much as read what has been written. So far I have not said anything of a particularly disagreeable nature, thankfully; although I have removed one friend, which is not something I personally would have done (kind-hearted fellow that I am).

All in all, I guess it cuts down on time devoted to frivolous pursuits (hey, good name for a game--Frivolous Pursuit!), and though it is a bit disconcerting to find myself wondering what I might say on my page, it is at the same time a fairly safe bet that I am less likely under this present arrangement to say something I shouldn't have said.

Moreover, I suppose this lends an element of mild suspense to the progress of the otherwise predictable hours. I may even say something funny, or profound, in due time. I may even say it in grammatically proper English!

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Simplification is delegation.

Unhappily, my ghostwriter, my shadowy amanuensis, does not appear nearly so eager when it comes to the accomplishment of chores such as bookkeeping, check writing, dish washing and the like, even though these are matters which would seem more pressing, in my mind, than Facebooking. Or rather, let us say that tasks such as those just mentioned are more and more nudged toward my corner of active stewardship.

Oh well, we all must do our parts.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

I wonder if any of you can imagine not having money enough even for a pack of cigarettes. My guess is that most of you can. Maybe we have all been there at one time or another. I guess the longer you live, the more often you'll find yourself broke.

This morning I had to make a decision. It was a weighty decision, one that I struggled over. Shall I lack this, or shall I lack that? The tug of war was between a pack of cigarettes and my customary Starbuck's cappuccino.

In the end the coffee won out. It is a bitter victory. What is a cup of coffee without a cigarette, right?

And so I'm sitting here, sipping at my unsatisfactory cappuccino, and raking my mind for some way of getting those cigarettes after all. (Is this sad or what?). Hmmmmmm.

There just seems to be no loophole here, no give in the situation. Maybe I should pray. Seriously. I knew a woman who prayed for a dishwasher and got it. Of course she was left to deal with the gaping hole in the roof through which the appliance had fallen, but still . . .

Maybe I'm just not using my noodle. I need to try to think in a more nonlinear manner.

Hmmmmm . . . .

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The mosquitoes are out tonight. It seems way too dark for the mosquitoes to be still out, but I guess they are not aware of this presumptive rule. It is in any case not affecting their present behavior. Or maybe city mosquitoes stay up later than mountain mosquitoes. I'm much more used to the mountain sorts of mosquitoes.

I remember how just as the sun set they would come out in clouds so that a person could hardly stand or walk without wheeling his arms about and at the same time slapping and flapping until it felt like the little devils were going to drive you mad, and then suddenly they'd be gone as quickly as they had come, when the darkness fell and the night air cooled and the stars began to gather in clusters above. They had bedded down in the huckleberry bushes and in the clumps of bear grass, their madding hum replaced now by the plaintive croaking of bullfrogs, the intermittent plop of a trout on the lake as it jumped for a moth or a gnat, and then up on the hill, amid the trees, the buzzing of a bullbat's wings, here and gone, as if to mark the quarter hours.

And crickets, unseen, only heard, chirping so prolifically that by and by one could hardly tell whether he was still hearing the sound they were making, or hearing a general ringing in his ears. But it was not a painful thing, or a bothersome--it seemed rather like the sound that peace would make were peace to make a sound.

I remember walking once through the dark to my camp. It was a moonless night, and it was late, and the only sounds were those of my boots on the road bed, the rattling of the contents of my creel, and the crickets, the crickets, the crickets, the crickets. I could barely see my hand in front of my face. I guessed at the sides of the road according to the places where darkness became darker yet. A million suns shone overhead, a million, a billion light years away, and yet each somehow as close as a beloved companion.

I was young then, and healthy, and strong, and nearly fearless, and I made my way home step by step, patient, never doubting. I had, back then, all the time in the world.

And so now they are gone, these pesky city mosquitoes. They have vanished in the process of description--finally no more of a nuisance to me than the reading of this was to you.

I bid you goodnight,mosquitoes and stars. Goodnight to the bullfrog, to the fish, to the moth. Somewhere Andromeda winks once again, and the panoply of time remembers me. My tent comes soon, just beyond the next stone, beneath the prayerful limbs of the pines.

News for Today and Tomorrow

Oregon City Jury locked on verdict for couple accused of manslaughter in allowing their daughter to die for the sake of pursuing faith healing and ignoring doctor's advice and simple cure by antibiotics.


Well then let's try the jury too, for Christ's sake.

Iranian chief cleric, speaking in regard to contested election results, advises Iranians to be careful with their protests lest they end up appearing to support Iran's enemies. (Let's keep it dishonest, guys, so that no one can say our government is . . . well, dishonest).

Total eclipse on Wednesday is expected by astrologists to bring a period of violence, terrorism, assassination, and catastrophe.

In a followup story, the total eclipse was deemed unnecessary.

Dog tested on latest experimental MS drug grows a redundant tail. The benefit of this result as regards human beings with MS is as yet unclear. The dog, however, when given a biscuit, appears twice as happy as previously.

It is expected that earthlings will soon begin to colonize the planet Mars, just as soon as Buzz Aldrin gets the place swept and tidied up a bit.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Long Time No See, Seems Like Yesterday

Early this morning I received a letter from 1966. It was a letter from my brother, dead since 1982. Or was it from my cousin, still among us?

I guess it was each of the three. It depends on how you look at it.

The letter came in the form of an e-mail from my cousin, David. Copied into the e-mail--or scanned rather--were several pages written by my brother, Gary, in October of 1966.

I found myself looking therefore secondhand at something I had held in my own hands on the day it was written, some 43 years ago. As a matter of fact, the document bore my handwriting as well as his.

I not only remember these pages, I remember holding them, I remember the feel of the notebook paper, the smell of it, the smell of the ink (my brother had always loved writing with a felt pen).

I remember it just as if I had been there. But wait . . . of course, I had been. I was. Now I am.

After reading these pages, I went outside and sat on the porch step. I sat smoking a cigarette. It was hot already. Resin had begun to drip from the leaves on the apple tree.

Sudah lama sekali kita tidak berjumpa.

My brother stirred, having slept. He opened his eyes just slightly, squinted against the light.

He says, Remember?

Yes, of course.

Why do you speak in strange tongues?

Because it is the only way. I wanted to say something, but did not know what. I can only say what will not be understood.

Okay. I see. I understand.

I thought you would, my friend. I knew.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fins, Claws, and Other Precious Hazards

The news today, as heard anyway on NPR, is that we need to save the sharks.

People, you see, are taking their fins. It's called "finning." This is the technical term. The fins go for about $300 dollars a pound.

I cannot help but wonder how many fins it takes to make a pound, or on the other hand how many pounds there are in a fin, but that's just me.

The fins are used for soup. I guess it's called Shark Fin Soup, but that is just a guess, because I've certainly never had it, nor ordered it in a restaurant.

To tell the truth, I'm somewhat surprised that I haven't had it, given the curious sorts of soups my Indonesian relatives are in the habit of concocting. Yet I can confidently say that I have never found a shark fin in my soup, either swimming or just lying there.

I did find some teeny tiny little fish once that smelled and tasted rather like something the cat had caught, killed, and let to rot two or three days ago--but we don't have a cat, so I an confident that this cannot have been the case. Also there are no fish in our yard. Nor in any of the neighbors' yards.

One time last summer during a bad episode of MS symptoms, I happened to be walking (after a manner) to Powell's Books downtown when I was accosted by an intense young woman who had been beamed in from the 60s and who wanted me to help save the polar bears.

Polar bears?

Is it okay if I pay for my MRI first? Or would this be environmentally insensitive?

Polar bears? You mean those big white beasts that eat Eskimos?

It just seemed the most ridiculous thing, under the circumstances. Well, my circumstances anyway. It would probably have seemed reasonable enough to the polar bears.

If I am free of passion, I am yet not free, for my person is subject to the passions of others.

Were I to become a hermit and remove myself from the passion that dwells without, then I would not know whether I am free or not free, nor would I even be called upon to be free.

If I react with passion to the passions of others I am enslaved again to my passions and theirs.

If I seek only to forget passion I will have done nothing to comprehend it and passion will soon restate itself by way of reminder.

The introspective memory comprehends passion and dispassionately instructs the soul.

This in itself is not victory. It is merely where the battle begins.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Need to recuperate somehow, take some downtime. A lot of stress recently has given the MS a couple of good hard twists, and I end up entirely sprained--mind, body, and soul. Feels like a combination of mononucleosis and Parkinson's disease. Just want to sleep, but muscles keep hopping all over. Feel kind of like something that's dead, but its nerves keep on twitching, ya know?

I had to take two hours off work last night. Just shut down, unable to think, feverish, aching. I just crashed. Fell over into bed in my clothes and the lights went out.

No such luxury tonight. Must find a way to stay awake and function.

In the meantime what I want to do, what I mean to do, my freedom of action outside of work gets shoved to the back burner, delayed, postponed until further notice. There are not enough resources to go around. Obviously this makes life rather dreary. But there you have it. It's the old up against a brick wall scenario.

I read recently that the Japanese nation during the last year of World War II, desperate for oil to fuel its war machine, employed tens of thousands of her children in digging up roots that produced a small amount of a substance that could be turned into oil. Drop by drop. Literally a drop in the barrel.

That seems pretty close to my present level of functioning.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This morning I heard from inside the house a great squawking of birds in the yard. I went out and found a multitude of Bluejays swirling around the apple tree, and then one young female bird on the ground below.

The dogs, who had come out the door with me, immediately began to consider eating this bird, but of course I shooed them away. I knelt and cupped the poor creature in both hands. She flapped her wings and fell from my palms once again to the ground. I could see no wounds, nothing terribly wrong, and yet the bird was unable to fly, or even to stand on its legs.

I carried the bird about the yard, wondering how I could protect it against the dogs. The other birds were still squawking, still diving, swooping past my head. I tried to put the injured bird into the apple tree, but she fell out at once and ended again on the ground.

She made no struggle in my hands, made no attempt to escape. She looked at me, beak open, heart thumping, her body soft and warm.

What can I do, I wondered? How can I help this bird? How shall I keep it from the dogs? It would not stay in the tree. I placed her for a moment on the top of the outdoor table, and yet she seemed to raise up with all her might, to seek again the protection of my hands.

It struck me then that I might save the bird by putting it into the neighbor's yard, beyond the fence that would forbid the dogs. I lifted it over, gently released its body. She half flew, half glided to the grass, perhaps six feet distant.

Instantly then, a large gray cat leaped out from the bushes, where apparently it had been hiding all this while. Hissing, the cat fell upon the bird.

And that was the end of the bird.

Isn't that just the way with the world? We mean well, we want what is good, but the best of ones heart is ever prey to the hunger of the unforgiving wild.

I felt so bad for that bird. Really she hadn't a chance from the beginning, but I had just somehow imagined she might.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Another blank day, but different in some way than others. I don't feel confused, just blank. It's probably just life, as far as that can be differentiated from MS. Everything has a way of getting shuffled over time, so that what used to be readily apparent becomes just this or that card mixed in with all the rest.

I no longer ask quite so often "What am I so tired?" It has become a state of being, part of who I am. I am no longer surprised that I cannot feel my feet. Rather, it would seem odd if I could feel them, for the old feet walked out of my life more two years ago. I have not seen them since. I am now used to the ones I have.

One thing I am asking, however, is why were my Copaxone shots today and the day before SO DAMN PAINFUL!? Did I go too deep? Not deep enough? I mean, they were not painful when the needle went in, but within seconds this deep down aching showed up, and grew and grew until I could hardly stand on the leg, let alone walk around on it.

As always, I ask myself "Is this a good idea? Can it really be a good idea? To inject something that makes your leg feel like it's going to fall off?

Common sense would appear to provide its own clear answer--and yet I continue, day after day, for my faith is locked up in the conclusions of "the experts."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Those Brave Young Monkeys and Other Beasts

On the front page of The New York Times this morning is a picture of two monkeys--Rhesus monkeys, to be precise (it may make a difference)--two monkeys sitting side by side, the one on the left looking rather dapper, head held high, with even a hint, as it seems to me, of superiority in its demeanor, and the other, the one on the right, looking rather more slouchy and scuffed around the edges, gazing with a lazy sort of suspicion at its own pot belly, wondering perhaps where it came from, or whether this was actually a suitcase or himself.

And the headline reads: Dieting Monkeys Offer Hope for Living Longer.

Well, that's just what humankind needs, right? Hope. And now thanks to these monkeys we have it.

The thing that always amazes me is the altruism of these animals--consummate philanthropists each and every one of them--the monkey, the mouse, the rat.

I bring you, therefore, good news this morning, tidings of great joy. As long as these Rhesus monkeys keep on dieting, we will all keep on living longer!

Mind you, this is in the New York Times, and on the front page at that. It was not found in Ripley's Believe it or Not, nor on the news page of, not on Facebook, not in the Sunday comics section. We should therefore honor the source and apply proper credence to the utmost extent.

I have heard other pieces of news lately, stories which are likely true as far as they go, but lacking in general benefit for mankind. The woman who was hit by lightening in her own kitchen, for instance. Such attention seeking measures are not only frivolous, but dangerous, and therefore ill-advised. Also they render a bad example for the little ones--for, you see, the woman's 9 year old son was watching as his mother performed this particular magic. She may as well have told the boy that it was okay for him to watch the Three Stooges too.

And then there was the boy who was struck by the meteorite. Again, an imprudent, inadvisable pastime, and quite without redeemable proceeds.

If we are going to make news, we had better do so in the name of the betterment of our fellow men. Just as these monkeys did. More even than most people, those of us who have MS should be thankful morning and night to the brave and selfless animals who suffer without complaint (for they surely do not know any better) so that we humans may thrive and live, and gain the honor ultimately of injecting ourselves with the same drugs (though in non-lethal doses) that have been proven out for us through experimentation, torment, pain, seizure, death, and every other sort of conniption imaginable by these otherwise innocent and unsuspecting critters.

Food for the stomach, and the stomach for food. Diet on, monkeys! (And try the Weight Watchers Lasagna--my wife says it's deeelicious!).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day and Night

My wife and I are so very different from one another. They say that people grow more alike through the years together, but frankly I cannot imagine there being enough years remaining to me to satisfy the demands of the yawning chasm between us. Rather, the gulf is not yet done with growing.

We are opposites, as perfectly so as day and night. I am cerebral, she is intuitive. I am poetic, she is practical. I am forgiving, she is vengeful. I am slow, she is fast. I deliberate, she decides. I am calm, she is a fury. I wear my heart on my sleeve, hers is guarded by seven fiery angels.

Her dream car is a Mercedes. I will take anything that runs. She wishes to expand. I would rather shrink. She feels identified in the world by the things she possesses. I feel incurably alienated.

My wife knows what she wants, and therefore what is lacking. I have pretty much what I want at all times. She is an extrovert, I am an introvert. She has scads of friends, I have two friends--my first ex-wife and my wife's ex-husband.

She dreams. I ruminate.

She is young. I am old.

She does not love those who do not love her. I love even my enemies.

She makes a profit. I break even, if I'm lucky.

She is beautiful, and I am homely.

She is healthy, I am sick.

And more amazing than what I have already written above is the fact that I really have not even started yet.

(P.S. -- We dress alike)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sorry Charlie

On my last visit to the neurologist I was given samples of NuVigil, in both 150 and 250 mg strength. I found that these work very well indeed--especially the 250 mg dose, and so I called in to report the same, and a prescription was faxed to my pharmacy.

Well, it turns out that my health plan does not cover NuVigil. Provigil, yes. Not NuVigil. Sorry Charlie. What they want instead is $350.

So, bye-bye NuVigil. They just can't cut a fella a break, can they? Why even make these medicines if they're going to dangle them in front of our noses only to snatch them away?

I guess I just don't get the whole idea of health care. I thought all this money had been taken out of my check for the last 17 years so that I would be able to get medical help when I needed it. Naive of me, wasn't it? How callow, how innocent. How duped.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Like a Thief in the Night

My trip to the neurologist on Thursday has left me with a lingering sour taste in my mouth. He had seemed always friendly in the past, personable, and thorough, and yet this last time I felt he was hurried and dismissive.

Maybe I'm just bummed by a new realization--yes, still new after more than 2 years, still dawning on me--that there is really nothing much to be done about the problems I am experiencing other than just the same old things--the same pills, the same tests, the same struggles.

The truth is, I don't feel like having another MRI. I mean, what's the point? What will it change? Nothing at all. What do I care if there are new lesions or if there are not new lesions? What are they going to do, surgically remove them? It's just more money out of my pocket, lavished upon, of all things, two hours of buzzing and blaring in my ears. I can get that shit for free by walking out to 82nd avenue.

Maybe what I need is comfort care--you know, palliative care. Even if I live to 85, treatment with demand access morphine seems more reasonable sometimes than these endless tests and pointless expenditures in order to gather data that is surely more interesting to the doctors than to me.

Do I seem in a bad mood? Well, I guess I am. I can sense the presence of depression, lurking nearby--I hear it rustling where the grass grows high, I know the meaning of the crows which flee from the walnut tree. Something is wrong. I listen to the shadows, strain at vision as if midday had become suddenly the dead of night.

I am tired of this disease.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Look What the Dog Brought In

Latest news is that the cure for MS is colon cleanse. Who knew?

One time my ex-wife went to the emergency room for an unrelated complaint, and it turned out all she needed was to fart. These things happen.

In other news, Iraqis celebrated the departure of American troops from their cities by blowing up other Iraqis.

Oh brave new world . . .

In the meantime we continue ever faithfully to follow the stories of those brave young laboratory mice (somehow they never get old--neither they nor their stories). Researchers have most recently found that injecting mice which already have MS with the diabetes drug Actos causes an arrest in the process of gray matter loss in the little mice brains. This is good news. While it is readily evident that Actos, being an antihyperglycemic agent, also causes severely low blood sugar in the same mice (which itself causes brain damage), this glitch is being ironed out with the administration of Koolaid and cookies.

Party on, my little friends. Catch a falling brain and put it in your pocket.

By the way, I'm not kidding about the colon cleanse cure. You can find it online easily enough. No need to strain, so to speak.

Sarah Palin quit? But where does that leave the rest of us?

Friday, July 3, 2009


After yesterday's visit with the neurologist, examination and discussion, it would appear that for all practical purposes there's nothing much wrong with me. Whew, what a relief. It's all in my head.

But hold on a sec . . . that's just the problem! That's what I was trying to say. It's in my head, in my brain. There's something wrong with my brain!

Lordy, Lordy.

Well I got some new pills, and the doc ordered another MRI.

Other than that, I'm on my own.

Having mustered the boldness to fuss and complain (not easy for a chronic stoic), to tell the doc straight out that based on my symptoms now as opposed to my symptoms a year ago, even a month ago, it seems clear to me that most everything has gotten worse--the stiffness in my legs, the aching, the imbalance, the fatigue, the eyesight, and the confusion--yes, most of all the confusion--he left me with the clinical gem that most patients (perhaps 70 percent) will rate the symptoms they are suffering as worse over time, when in fact they have remained clinically at baseline.

So, uh . . . yer calling me a liar?

So I am to double up on my baclofen and also begin a new prescription--NuVigil, a new improved version of Provigil, more potent, long acting.

Well hell, if they'd make this stuff available over the counter, I'd forget the doctors and treat myself.

Honestly, I'm just about to scrap all this--except for the MS, which seems rather doggedly attached to me--and keep my troubles to myself in the future.

I guess there are not a whole lot of good things to say about MS, but at least there is this: It is faithful to the bitter end.

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.
1 Timothy 4:9

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Coming Soon, MS/PC

It strikes me this morning as suddenly appropriate that my laptop does does work very well, for in running very slowly, it keeps up (so to speak) rather nicely with the slowness of my brain. Were it a normally functioning laptop it would no doubt be way ahead of me, jumping to conclusions, loading pages according to spastic, unintended keystrokes, and so on.

It may be that I could produce an exact copy from this prototype and market the thing. The MS/PC.

If you feel challenged, don't worry--so is your new laptop! Here at last is manageable technology for the technically unmanageable mind. Remember dial-up? Well, it's back, and better than ever!

Dude, yer gettin an MS/PC!

Last night my wife got a new Apple. She need never worry about me using it. It was hard enough just opening the box.

So, here I am headed for my appointment with the neurologist. I have a lot of questions, a lot of complaints, which I have typed up for his viewing pleasure. I'm ready for the raised eyebrows, the blank stare, the doubtful mutterings, Hm, that's odd, I've not heard of that before.

The first order of business will be my deteriorating vision. This is not MS, he has already told me. Nor is it cataracts. So in any case, it is not his problem. Still and all, I cannot see. It's got to be somebody's problem, don't it? (Oh yeah, I forgot, it's mine).

On the phone a while back he entertained the idea that it might be strokes that are affecting my vision. Hm, that's odd. But then he ruled that out in nearly the same breath. We had a long conversation on the phone that day, wherein he thoroughly explained all the things it was not and why.

Edifying that. Fascinating too.

Given all the reasoning and evaluating thus far, it appears most likely that there is nothing at all wrong with my eyes.

I'm just a complainer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Trouble in Sin City

Switch gears. Every day is a new day. And believe me, with my brain in its present state, that's more than just a cliche. My cognitive deficits, God bless 'em, conspire with every sunrise to dust the chalk off yesterday's slate.

How much have I said herein of Roy and Abdul, our exchange students? I am finally learning to pronounce Roy's real name. It goes something like this--Yoi-skay. The actual spelling is nothing like that, but phonetically I'm beginning to get a handle on it.

Sadly, the students are not speaking to each other these days. This is because of something that happened in Las Vegas. The details are sketchy, and neither is saying much about it.

Did I mention that Roy and Abdul had gone together to Vegas? Yes, it was their vacation between terms at the University. The whole thing cost a couple bucket-loads of money--nice work if you can get it. My wife, along with a few other young women, volunteered their services in the capacity of a guide (with some small consideration, of course), but Roy and Abdul would have none of it. They made it quite clear, albeit in broken English, that they could handle the trip on their own.

In hindsight, I consider it to be one of life's great miracles that they returned to Portland at all, for I had not, in all honestly, been able to imagine how they would succeed even in finding their own hotel room.

They went, they saw, they conquered--and then came home on separate planes, their friendship no longer intact.

We asked whether they had had a good time. Yes they answered. Yes, yes, very good.

Then that night I heard them arguing in Roy's room. The argument had something to do with money.

Roy, I promise you the money was given by me. You should remember better.

No, Aba-duul, I am not forget.

Roy I promise, you should remember.

Just a moment, Aba-duul, just a moment.

No, no, I promise. It is certain.

So it went. It is difficult to make much of such duels of bad grammar, but it was clear that something had happened and things were not well between them.

The next day I talked to Roy.

Roy, what's going on with you and Abdul?

Mmmmm . . .
He did not want to talk about it.

I pressed him.

Is it money?

No no no, not money, no. Aba-duul, he is late every time. Many times we have miss the bus. I told him, Aba-duul hurry. I told him many times.

I guess he is kinda slow, I said.

I told him many times. But he goes his own piss.

Now I knew this could not be right, so I asked Roy to repeat the phrase.

His piss, Roy said, carefully accentuating the word. He goes his own piss?

I asked him to spell the word.

P-a-c-e. Piss.

Well, that cleared it up perfectly.

In any case, Roy and Abdul have not spoken since that night in Roy's room. The pass each other in hallway or kitchen, turning their shoulders, loudly silent, like two offended lovers. They no longer walk to the bus together. And they make no further plans for exotic travel.

Roy gravitates toward me, and Abdul toward my wife.

And let me tell you, I got the best deal there, because Roy's English is far superior to Abdul's.

The Beginning

Yesterday my wife said she does not love me anymore. Then later on she said she does. The reason she said she did not love me was that I had forgotten to do something. I have already forgotten what I forgot, but specifics don't seem important. To me, anyway.

Well, it's really not that I forgot to do one thing, but that I forget to do most everything. I guess the frustration builds up.

She says she is tired of dealing with MS. That makes two of us. But here again my own fatigue is beside the point.

I can't deal with this anymore, she says, I can't deal with raising two children. Sasha (our 9 year old) will grow up, but you just keep growing down!

What can I say? How true, how true.

What can I do other than identify with her frustration? What can I do other than to agree that she would be best off without me?

What does she mean by I don't love you anymore? Isn't she really just talking about the man she married as opposed to the stranger she is now stuck with?

It seems that women use words differently from men. In her mind, on her tongue, love and hate are somehow able to play at mutual inclusiveness, contradictions become concepts rather than absurdities. Expression is a matter belonging to the moment, not to eternity.

I feel, therefore I speak, she says.

And I think, therefore I am.

I remember walking one time in the park with my second wife. We had been married some 12 years at that point, and things had been going downhill. It was hard to get her out of the house, it was hard to get her to talk. It was hard to get her to do anything at all other than sit on the couch with her laptop, lost to our family in games and chat rooms.

As we came down the hill, our dogs trailing behind, she turned to me and said I don't think I'm in love with you anymore.

Deja vu, right?

What was she saying, really? She was saying she missed the romance, the newness. She was saying she missed the sparks and fireworks of courtship. She was saying she missed being young, missed being thin, missed the flirtations of men, missed having a choice. In cyberspace she gazed hours on end at the reflection of the world--a different world, a world of dreams and possibilities.

I knew all this, and comprehended according to the patterns of the world. And yet deep down it stuck with me, those words, after so many years, I don't think I'm in love with you . . . Deep down, where things are judged and discerned according to the most rudimentary laws of living, the words themselves nested and remained.

I think of that now as the true beginning of the end.