Friday, May 29, 2009

In the Aftermath of Lego Land

Carlsbad, CA
7:10 p.m.

There is a general level of functioning for the person with MS (aka brain damage) that is brittle to begin with, and quickly breaks down under the stress of demands that exceed the capacities of the baseline level.

One functions, in other words, within the parameters of a mild confusion--which is at least consistent and reliable--but when one or two additional matters of taxation are admixed with the preexisting dough of mentation, the whole structure wobbles, becomes Jell-O like. It droops and slouches, drunkenly weaves and stumbles.

Given the incompetence of the descriptions above, it will be readily clear that I am at this very moment suffering the debilitating effects of just such an overload.

Take the everyday matter of communication for example. Multiply the number of people with whom one is called upon to communicate by 5. A difficult enough task on its own, but doable.

Now make 2 of the 5 a father in law and a mother in law. Things begin to become more difficult. The wires are becoming dangerously hot.

Now then, cause 3 of the 5 multipliers to speak to you in a foreign language with which you are only marginally familiar, and to speak it very rapidly at that.

The result is silly putty. Capability has been far exceeded, function takes a total nosedive. It is not a matter of simply returning to a safe baseline, for the gaskets have blown, the pot has boiled over, the legs have been cut from under the whole notion of functionality on any level more sublime than that of the eel or the potato bug.

The only hope now lies in the chance to recharge. To sleep. To find a bed. Anyone's bed. Anywhere. And to sleep ... sleep ... sleep.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lego Land or Bust

Carlsbad, CA

We are once again awakened in the early morning by my father-in-law, who wanted to remind us that free breakfast was being served in the lobby. Just in case we had forgotten his 6 a.m. wake up call the morning before.

Yesterday we went to the bay front in San Diego, took a boat ride around the bay, saw the aircraft carriers Midway and Enterprise. Sasha taught his grandparents to say "aircraft carrier." After a fashion that is. We all repeated the words aircraft carrier so many times that the words got stuck in my head and I couldn't think of anything else.

So it happened throughout the remainder of the day that I was as likely as not to answer aircraft carrier in any form of conversation. When, for instance, the sidewalk artist asked whether I wanted to buy a souvenir, I answered "aircraft carrier." When the hostess in the restaurant asked for my order, I ordered an "aircraft carrier."

Having explored the bay front, my father in law because hungry. We had heard a lot already about the fresh fish to be had roundabouts, chowder and slumgullion, fresh tuna and crab legs.

Therefore we drove uptown and went to a Chinese restaurant.

Where else does one eat on the bay front in San Diego?

On the plus side, the meal was cheap--even with our party of seven--because both my wife's parents and Albert's parents had brought along their own buckets of precooked rice. (I had been wondering up to that point why the inside of the car smelled so like an Asian kitchen).

Next on the agenda was the drive of 200 miles of so (30 in anyone else's car) back to Carlsbad in search of the surprisingly elusive Lego Land.

We did not find it.

Today we shall, even if it kills us. It's a toss up either way.

But before we leave, I'm going to take an aircraft carrier--I mean a nap.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Carlsbad in the Morning, Early

Carlsbad, CA
9:47 a.m.

My father-in-law woke us up at 6 a.m. via the telephone in our room. An unrequested wake up call. This was so that he could tell us there was a complimentary breakfast being served in the dining room.

So much for a good night's sleep.

It seems that we have to eat fast so that we can get down to San Diego to take the aircraft carrier tour three hours before it opens.

First, however, we needed to drive up the highway to the motel where Albert and his parents are staying, in order that we might wake them up too.

This we did successfully. Life just wouldn't be the same without seeing Albert's father without his shirt on at least once.

It was, in any case, a good opportunity for him to fashion his security guard uniform for us, which he had brought with him all the way from Glendale, Arizona. I'm not sure which was most impressive--the uniform itself, or the fact that he had brought it all the way from Glendale, Arizona.

It is after 10 now, there is no one else to wake up, and we are waiting for such time when there is any good reason to be up so early.


Carlsbad, CA
8:25 p.m.

Having discovered first hand on Sunday night that bowling and MS do not mix--or at least not well--I am now into the first day of a week long vacation to Southern California and finding that rushing through airports, stopovers in Salt Lake City, and California freeways do not mix much better. In short, I am too exhausted at this point in time to write down anything about the entertaining hours we have so far spent either sitting, walking, or avoiding fatal traffic accidents, and so I will defer further account for tomorrow, assuming that I awake from the death like slumber that is already overtaking me.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Lost Weekend

Abdul and Roy have decided that they want to go somewhere out of town for the Memorial Day weekend. After holding a conference in Abdul's room upstairs, they came to us with three ideas for a place to go:

1. Seattle.
2. Lincoln City (the beach).
3. Canada.

Roy, having the better command of English, took the role of spokesperson.

"We want go Seattle," he said. "How far?"

"Well, just about 3 hours from Portland. By car."



"How long by bus?"

"Three days."


At this point Abdul interjects, "I want Canada."

"It's nice to hear someone does," I say.



"How far?" Roy says.

"Farther than it's worth. Much father, in fact."

"Farther than Seattle?"

"Much farther."

"We will go to Seattle," Roy says, sounding pretty definite.

"How will you get there?"


"Yes. I mean, you could take the bus, but it is much shorter by car. You could rent a car."


"Yeah rent, you know, menyewa."

For some reason I continually slip into the Indonesian language when trying to explain things to Roy and Abdul, even though they are, respectively, Japanese and Saudi Arabian.

"Okay, we will rent. How much the price?"

"Well we can look online."

"Ahhhhh . . . I don't have license."

"Okay. That's a problem then. We're back to the bus. But, where will you guys stay in Seattle?"


"Yes, once you get there. What will you do, where will you stay."

"Ahhhhh . . ."

"How about you just take a bus around Portland? There's a lot you haven't seen yet right here at home."

"Maybe Canada," Abdul says.

So goes, so far, the planning phase of the journey. The point of destination is leaning more and more toward a day at the mall . . . but nothing is yet written in stone.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Magic Money

It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain when awake. ~Mark Twain

Dead broke, with a week to go until payday, I found myself wondering this morning, above all other things, what I was going to do when my last pack of cigarettes went empty.

When I checked my bank account, however, I found that $250.00 had been deposited therein by the Department of the Treasury. Why? I do not know.

My immediate inclination was to praise God, but then of course God, as I am told by people who would seem to know, does not Himself smoke, nor does He approve of smoking.

To what providence then shall I attribute this magical appearance of cold hard cash? Do I have a secret admirer in the Treasury Department? Or perhaps it is mistake made by the bank (they've been known to make a few lately).

I do not know. All I know is that the balance yesterday was zero, and today, this morning, it is $250.00.

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. So the saying goes. And it suddenly makes all the sense in the world.

I'm headed for the bank. See y'all later.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left. ~Hubert Humphrey

Now there is an apt sort of credo for the MS challenged, don't you think? Not that Hubert Humphrey had MS. But there sure as hell was something wrong with him. Maybe it was just his politics. Maybe it was his association with Lyndon Johnson, poor fella.

In any case, there could scarcely be words more pertinent to my present situation than those of Mr. Humphrey. To suffer a loss of ability, be it physical or otherwise, is to be challenged to the core of ones being. It is a test of character and faith like no other.

What shall we say if we lose our strength? To move from this moment forward is impossible?

What if the mind begins to struggle at clarity? What if ones memory begins to hide things away? Shall I say that because I can no longer think in the way I am accustomed to thinking, there is nothing left to be thought?

Or what if I think instead according to the pattern of my inability? It may be that something new will struggle out, heretofore constricted by the laws of cogency and common logic.

Who knows?

Ultimately, we are not in control. We may therefore either conform to whatever reality befalls us, or spend our lives insisting that we have been wronged.

There is strength is every weakness, and weakness in every strength. The trick is all in the proper positioning of self.

Climbing, Leaping, and Other Compulsions Associated with Multiple Sclerosis

Why must the onset of multiple sclerosis lead so often to a sudden desire to climb mountains or jump out of airplanes?

I see it so depicted in magazine after magazine, in brochures and in seminar invitations, to such an extent that I can hardly deny it must be so; and yet I have to admit in all honesty that I have not experienced this same compulsion, neither before nor after being diagnosed with MS.

Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong, something lacking in my particular case of MS?

I cannot help but feel guilty. Shouldn't I be wanting to scale something--the neighbor's garage, for instance--and then straightaway wanting to leap from the highest point thereof?

Once upon a time Satan was talking to Jesus.

He brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written:

'He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you, and in their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

And Jesus, perfectly free of MS, mind you, as well as any other bodily malady, answered thus-wise:

"It has been said, 'You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'"

It occurs to me, where mountain peaks are concerned, that if I was supposed to be on one, God would have put me there in the first place. After all, He had the good sense to put the monkey in the jungle and the whale in the sea; the worms in the ground and the bunnies in the bushes.

And what did He put on the mountain peak?


Do I have a witness?

Nonetheless, it is the testimony of our eyes, upon the perusal of all the available material, that among all the curious symptoms associated with MS is the sudden inclination also to perform great feats of strength and daring--feats which, incidentally, are now quite beyond our capacity--white water rafting, surfing, bungee jumping, kangaroo riding, tree climbing, marathon running, and such-like.

How does this hyperactive, somewhat pointless impulse come about? What is it about damage to the central nervous system that causes skydiving?

These are questions that need further research. For now I can only admit to the existence of the symptom, and bemoan its utter lack of presence in my case. As it stands, I cannot climb the mountain--the stairs in my house are enough. I cannot commune with the clouds in the sky, for those in my brain are sufficiently thick on their own.

Can someone say amen?

Monday, May 18, 2009

How Long?

I think I have not slept since I was 12 or so. What I have done night by night is something other than sleep. I have lain down for a moment, hidden myself, escaped for a time.

How long since a morning has simply come upon me, wandered in through the window at its own leisure? How long since it mattered what the robin and the bumblebee had to say? What has become of the kisses of my mother, of the ease of joy, of the daily conspiracy of every thing and every creature to remake the hours in all the fullness of purpose?

How long since life has mattered like that?

There comes a time--who knows how or when--that finds both waking and sleeping diminished, a time wherein what is merely memory is found to have superseded miracle.

And the loneliness is enough to kill.

My life becomes a continual hungering after that which has already been swallowed and digested. What food can there be in the world for the feeding of empty spaces?

Time passes, and does not make us wise. Time passes, and in its passage we become more and more what we have made than what we are. What is left of original essence is found in the teardrop, contained in the blank stare, wrapped up in the fitful dream.

Advertisement for an Advertisement

Soon Jim Dandy may display an advertisement for a travel agency located in Singapore. I received a request from the same for permission to advertise, along with an offer to pay $50 for the privilege. And so I figured, why not? Fifty bucks is fifty bucks, right? Though it is not a sum that will take me as far as Singapore, every little bit helps these days just getting from one side of the city to the other.

Besides, Singapore sounds so exotic. The very idea of travel sounds exotic. Who doesn't like to travel?

So if y'all see this advertisement in the future, click on it--for, you see, I make an extra half dollar or so from every click.

Incidentally, a refill of plain old coffee at Starbucks costs the buyer 50 cents.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Blind Love Is The Cure

Last night I went almost blind in my left eye. I was kissing my wife at the time. I observed my growing blindness as we kissed and said nothing about it. I wondered how life would fit me half blind, and sensed that at the very least it would be somewhat irritating.

Then we made love and by the time we had finished, I could see again.


My latest theory, therefore--completely subjective, wholly without supporting data, and dependent upon this one incident alone--is that sexual intercourse repairs damaged myelin at something like the speed of light.

It is a happy finding, for obvious reasons. The only problem that I can presently foresee is the danger of this leading to over population. In the case of over population, birth control is, of course, a ready remedy, although this in itself might well result in an over balance of Catholics.

It is a slim price to pay, in my estimation, and so the risk seems quite acceptable.

In any case, babies aren't really as bad as they seem to be on the surface.

Now, this hypothesis, this theory of mine clearly needs further investigation, further research, a respectable period of time and a respectable number of individual sessions. I'll be the first to admit it. In addition, the finer points will need to be explored. What is the effect of position upon myelin? What is the effect of foreplay? Does it matter who is on top? What about same sex myelin repair? And so on.

As can be readily appreciated, I will need to solicit a certain amount help in order that no one person should become over-taxed, or even die, from the expenditure of too much energy on too prolific a basis. I will offer no reward, but rather participation will be purely voluntary, and should be, for obvious enough reasons, its own compensation.

Applicants will remain as anonymous as possible.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

As the Worm Turneth

Some of the latest MS news, as some of you may have seen, concerns an experimental treatment called Helminth therapy. Helminths, as we have learned, are a class of small parasitic worms. What class they are in, or whether it is grammar school, middle school, or high school, I do not know. In any case, these worms, which are thankfully microscopic, are dropped into a sort of Sports drink, mixed well, and imbibed by the willing, or the remunerated, MS sufferer.

As an interesting side note, I would mention here the anecdote shared with me by my neurologist regarding the class, as it were, of experimental subjects, who, according to the doctor, reside in large part in Russia and Eastern Europe where the standard available treatments for MS cannot be afforded. These have then something in common with the experimental worm himself, in that their choice in the matter is pretty much nonexistent.

In any case, the Helminth (not to be confused with Absinthe) is invisible, and is invisibly admixed with an otherwise harmless beverage, which is then consumed by the experimental subject.

The theory itself is based upon an hypothesis, which is called the "hygiene hypothesis." Studies unanimously find that autoimmune diseases (such as MS, Crohn's, etc.), as well as allergies, are significantly less common in the developing world. This in turn is supposed to be due to the greater opportunity afforded Third World peoples of being exposed early on to infectious agents which thrive on poor sanitation, thereby stimulating immune response and ultimately effecting good health.

So next time your mother tells you to wash before meals or to stop playing in the mud puddles, simply refer her to the wisdom of the Helminth worm.

Let me be clear at this point that it is not the actual Helminth that will be wiggling about in your beverage, but the egg of the Helminth. It would be akin to the difference between eating cavier on a cracker as opposed to the whole slimy fish.

On the contrary, the Helminths themselves hatch and mature inside the body, which will surely seem much more palatable. After hatching, they swim by and by to the large intestine, like salmon toward the sea, where the larvae interact at last with the immune system and are killed. A sad sort of life for the Helminth, to be sure, but all in the name of medical science.

The cure therefore, as far as I can understand it, is found in allowing the autoimmune system to function as it was created to do according to the introduction and eradication of common infections.

Hmm. Does this mean that we have all these years been trying to fix something that warnt broke in the furst place?

Monday, May 11, 2009


Having set out this morning to write something about how we should appreciate the small things in life, it soon became apparent that the absence of some of these same small things was making it very difficult to write about an appreciation of the same.

A sharpness of mind, for instance. How can I effectively speak about a quality such as this when the effort at description requires the use of the thing which is lacking--to whit, a sharpness of mind?

I sit instead with sore neck and shoulders, hands folded in perplexity above the very face of enigma, the jungle of letters on the laptop keyboard, which is a jungle wherein some days no sun shines save the thinnest sliver.

Appreciate what you have. Then appreciate what you have left of what you had. Apply your whole self as far as possible to the whole of each and every day.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Face Book

It occurred to me this morning, while glancing through my e-mail, then checking out my Face Book page, to wonder why people who are not very attractive insist nonetheless on posting photos of themselves at every opportunity.

Immediately upon the heels of this thought, however, came the realization that I myself am not very attractive, and yet I post my own photos with the same general enthusiasm.


I'm supposing that it is because we all love ourselves. It requires no effort at all. We know how we are on the inside and somehow imagine that our inner worthiness will modify and transform even the ugliest of mugs. Even suicides love themselves. In fact they love themselves to death.

But take a closer look. Try to be objective. Turn on all the lights in the bathroom, the ones above the mirror as well, and take a look at the person standing there until he seems to stand alone.

Good Lord, that can't be me! I had no idea I looked that old. I had no idea my nose was that big, nor that it leaned so sharply to the left! My eyes appear to have dug their own holes over the last 30 years, and piled up the skin around the periphery like walls for a fortress.

Clearly the lighting, no matter how bright, is not good.

The story is often told of a certain primitive people in Africa who believed that these little boxes called cameras were able to capture and imprison their souls. For this reason they avoided photographs like the plague. You will not see their faces in Face Book.

It turns out, moreover, that these primitives were right--for in those few unhappily trapped and snapped, you will find in the printout not kings and princes, not lion hunters and marathon racers, not the beauteous maiden nor the tender mother, but a poor, blank, fearful, rigid collection of countenances quite devoid of the beauty which had formerly enlivened each visage and vessel.

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53:2-3

Friday, May 8, 2009

Folk Medicine

Recently, while entertaining the stomachache phase of my cold virus, and having exhausted all other means of cure or balm provided by modern medical science, I finally turned to the top cupboard in the kitchen where my wife keeps her Indonesian remedies.

These foreign pharmaceuticals are most often in the form of oils of varying color and acridity, though there are also some lozenges. But for the most part we're talking about syrups and lotions.

Here among other potions was a bottle still wrapped in tissue paper, just off the boat from Jakarta (my mother in law had brought it back from her most recent trip).

Minyak Kayu Putih.

That's what the label on the bottle read. Oil of white wood.

And then in diminutive lettering on the side:

Sakit perut, perut kembung, rasa mual, gatal-gatal akibat gigitan serangga.

For stomachache, flatulence, nausea, and skin rashes from bug bites.

My lucky stars! Here, except for the part about bug bites, was exactly the thing I had been looking for, no matter what the language.

Next question, though, was how this medicine was meant to be administered. Do I drink it? Do I mix it with water? Surely it is not another of these deadly injectables--those are found only in America, right?

I decided the most prudent thing to do would be to ask my wife.

I entered the bedroom, holding the bottle forth.

Oh my God, you didn't drink that, did you!

Though I had not tasted even so much as a sip (the smell of the stuff is enough to deter so rash an act), I was chilled nonetheless by the alarm in my wife's voice, the instant blanching that overtook her face. What if I had? Would I be lying on the floor now, seizing, foaming at the mouth? I felt that I had just narrowly escaped the most gruesome sort of accidental death. I felt like crossing myself before some sort of shrine, blurting out a prayer of thanksgiving.

However, as no shrine was readily available, I simply answered that no, I had not consumed the deadly oil nor yet applied it in any manner.


The oil, as it turns out, is to be rubbed directly upon whatever area is causing ones current discomfort--in my case, the stomach.

Oh come on. You mean to say that you just rub in some of this stuff and your stomachache goes away?

Yes. But just a drop, she warned.


And so I rubbed.

As for the smell of minyak kayu putih, I am pretty much at a loss for words of description. I guess the closest thing I could compare it to would be the smell of camphor oil, and yet the similarity even here lies only in the acrid quality, a sharp medicinal, pungent character. Ether might serve as another example along the same lines.

I finished rubbing. I returned the cap.

Wash your hands, the wife said. Use lots of soap.

Now . . .

You all are not going to believe this, but minyak kayu putih works. I swear to it even as I live, though my disbelief be equal to that of the greatest skeptic on earth. It works!

Within minutes my stomachache had disappeared, just as if my magic. My flatulence went completely flat, as flat as a punctured bicycle tire. From here forth and forever after I will swear by the oil of the white wood, and turn my back to Tums and Pepcid, Pepto-Bismol and prilosec.


I wonder if they have anything for myelin damage . . . .

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Yesterday was my third wedding anniversary with my third wife.

This morning I did some calculating. Adding up my years of marriage to various wives (one at a time, of course), I came up with the number 25. I am presently 55 years old, so this means I have spent 30 of my years unmarried, 25 married.

I was first married at 20 years of age, but to be fair I will calculate adulthood, along with a marriageable state, from the age 18.

(This math is beginning to become difficult).

So . . .

I find that I have been with wife for 25 of my 37 adult years.

My immediate sense is that this cannot be right. I must take the math to an accountant for verification. I cannot remember being in a state of un-wife-ed-ness for 12 years. True, these 12 were spaced out over time, not consecutive, yet it still seems a more generous chunk of time than I can account for.

Where was I during these years, I wonder.

This may be something that would bear further investigation. It may, for instance, be of interest to my children, or my grandchildren. But probably not.

I think that for roughly half these 12 years I was stuck in daycare, and for the other half stuck in a bottle. Details, however, are lacking.

If you have the number sequence 9-13-3, what number comes next?

Again, I would guess in this case that certain details and variables are lacking.

I remember when I turned 50 having the sense that I had only just begun to live. Up to that point I had been too busy. Or married. But at 50 my ship had finally drifted free of the dock, all the ropes undone and hanging loose.

Then I was diagnosed with MS. Now I'm not saying that MS ended my life or anything like that, but it has kind of cramped my style. It is difficult to take the tiger by the tail when you can't stay awake long enough to hold on.

Better then to be caged than killed, I suppose. Although the two likely add to one and the same sum in the end.

**Author's note: It occurred to me after posting the above that some substantial portion of these foggy 12 years of un-wife-ed-ness can be accounted for in the state of engage-ed-ness that from time to time existed. As such, I will subtract 4 years and 2 months from the 12 unmarried years, leaving a balance of 7 years and 8 months.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Man's Best Friend

The dog has fallen into the habit of sleeping on my legs at night. Actually it is both dogs, but the smaller one hardly counts, being perhaps 90 pounds lighter than the large one.

Why they have decided that my legs are the most comfortable part of the mattress, I cannot guess. Or perhaps it is only that my legs are in the way, and so they simply lie on top of them rather than get down onto the floor where they ought to be.

On the other hand, why is it that my wife's legs are not so comfortable and/or obstructing than my own? Why, come to think of it, is her entire side of the bed spared the presence of these dogs altogether?

It's because they love you, she says. They want to be close to you.

Well close is one thing, but . . .

That's what you get for having dogs.

That's what I get. Fair enough.

On the bright side, I guess I would have to admit that I am no longer so much aware of the numbness, tingling, and achiness in my legs which is due to multiple sclerosis; this being, of course, because I cannot really feel my legs at all after the dogs are done with their nighttime slumber.

Are you sick, are you crippled, are you hurting? Get a dog!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My Mind Is A Nose

I wonder if any of you has ever had a text message argument. You know, the kind where you enter peeved little snippets into your cell phone keypad and before you know it the thing is buzzing you back again with a return barrage similar to your own. Wtf!

Maybe this is the perfect kind of argument for modern times, fitting to the character of our society. A communication style composed of abbreviations and cliches, epithets and acronyms.

How many of you have or have had a daughter or a son whose every other word was whatever? Or how about this alphabetical invention: This is an A and B conversation, C your way out.

We have compressed language and communication into a chattering of syllables and single letters, and what is finally communicated begins to adhere to the same format. Okay? Okay. :)


One thing you can count on from life, if you happen to be living mine anyway, is that it just gets a little more ironic all the time. As I approach the third anniversary of my marriage to a woman twenty-four years younger than I, who said on our wedding day that she hated me, which itself was because of a lemon meringue pie, I begin to appreciate, in this august moment, how odd a thing it is for my sense of humor, which often depends upon an intimacy with language, to have been dropped into association with people who either primarily or only speak Indonesian.

Here, for instance, is what one lovely girl stated in her Facebook share post:

It's time to work on my garden. Ohhh I miss home when I smell of dirt.

I kindly replied with a brief grammar lesion, explaining that what she had said in essence was that she smelled like dirt, and moreover had implied that Indonesians in a general sense smell like dirt, since it is this odoriferous quality (according to the sentence) that has caused her to miss home.

She took my word for it, and changed the sentence.

"You must be a very down to earth sort of person," I said.

"Yes, I am, " she answered. "But that's a good thing, don't you think?"


My mind is a nose. This is the point my head cold has come to, as there is little to differentiate the general stuffiness and congestion of my thought processes from the struggles of my nose toward breathing.

The onset of this cold was so swift that I thought (or dreamed) at first that it might leave just as swiftly as it came. Symptoms that more commonly would have been spread out over a period of days marched in one after another all in one night--sore throat, snuffly nose, fever, body aches, you know the drill.

Far from assembling, however, for a lightening blow, it soon became apparent that they had merely been settling in, getting comfortable, the way one might do on a winter's night in his easy chair before the fireplace, with a thick 19th century British novel at hand.

I would have the reader appreciate, therefore, that what has been written above has been accomplished all in fits and starts, by sentence, by word, during those periods wherein I would dribble miserably out of the bedroom to the dining room table and the laptop.

It's been about five days now, and I'm guessing that I'm about halfway through. Lets call it page 400 or so of Bleak House.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Busy Having a Cold

One good thing about being sick with a cold is that one has a lot more time than usual to write. Always wanting more time to devote to this, right? Well, there ya go. The Lord does provide, amen?

Of course the downside is that one feels too shitty really to apply his mind toward any sort of concentration or invention, so this kind of undercuts the aforementioned blessing.

Instead of writing, therefore, we observe, and then record the thing that is observed. A young man sitting beside me for instance, a Russian to judge by his appearance and his clothing (and also because this particular Starbucks is patronized mostly by Russians in the evening). He is waiting, without patience. He has perhaps been here for a time already, was meaning to meet someone, and someone failed to show up. He is lost in his thoughts, perhaps insulted, perhaps angry. He looks toward the window again and again, as if yet holding out a hope against hope.

And then he leaves.

Another Russian, a young woman, waits in her white dress for her coffee. It is a dress that an American would not be likely to wear unless she were a bridesmaid or a ballroom dancer. But this is the way Russians dress, even for a trip to Starbucks. She is perhaps 17, perhaps 21, and there is an elegant sort of glow about her, as if she had just taken herself out of a display case. She makes me think of Natasha in War and Peace, and of Anna Karenina. I wonder will she also be tragic some day.

Because I am sick, coughing, feverish, and unable to walk for any practical purposes, my family--the wife, the stepson, Roy the Japanese exchange student, and Abdul the Saudi student--have all gone to Cinco de Mayo without me. At Cinco de Mayo they will walk about in the rain, listen to Spanish music, and buy food that would make me even more sick than I already am.

Nonetheless I have the sense of missing out--just like I missed out yesterday when Roy and Abdul went ice skating for the first time. Seems that the older I get, the more precious things like single days and hours become. One begins to realize in a real way, and for the first time, that there are only so many ticks left on the clock.

Put me in coach! I'm ready to play.

Ask for nothing. Receive what is given.

These are the words I am determined to ride out on, when the white horse finally comes, when the rider thereof beckons. And I think that all things then will finally be crystal clear, and I shall meet myself at last.

And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."
--Revelations 2:17


Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!' --Frederick Goethe

It has just this morning come to my attention that a certain penchant for procrastination has begun to overtake my person. This comes as somewhat of a surprise, for I have not been given to procrastinating in the past, to the best of my recollection.

Nonetheless, what I have noted is the existence of a growing backlog of intentions, a catalogue of things I am going to do when such and such a time arrives. When, for instance, I feel better; when my brain is working better; when I'm over my head cold; when the Swallows come back to Capistrano.

I track myself, elusive as I am, according to trails of yellow sticky notes, scribblings on the calendar, shy little jots and tittles on page corners and on napkins. These notes pertain either to things I am going to write or things I am going to learn. One hopes that the former will precede the latter (but of course hope, in the final analysis, is no more than a four letter word--five if you add the s).

The irony in the very existence of these notes is that the depth of the matter about which they intend to be a reminder will have long since fled recollection by the time they are viewed again. So it happens that procrastination leads to a void. There is no better advice for the post MS person than Goethe's, as presented above.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

An Apology, Excuse Included

Having read this morning my last few blog entries, I find that I owe an apology to whatever readers there may be out there.

You see, I have had a very bad cold (no, not swine flu), and this, on top of the usual MS brain challenges, apparently brought on a temporary fit of delirium.

It would seem that at some juncture my brain (what there is of it anyway) became inextricably tangled with a science news report about a mysterious blob near the dawn of time. As it happens, my thought processes, already blob-like where focus and distinction are concerned, were in some way activated by the light of this mysterious space blob--a gigantic star (apparently) which (apparently) had exploded just after the advent of the Big Bang,

It is theorized, moreover, that at the center of this giant mysterious blob is a gigantic black hole. Near the dawn of time. An un-blob, one might say, as a black hole is a negation, an antithesis.

But let me stop before I get started. In Indonesian the word is maaf, in French it is pardonez moi. In short, and in English, I apologize.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Maybe Life Is a Haystack

Maybe life is a haystack, and each of us a needle.

Isn't that what we think?

A man searches the daunting multitude for the woman who will love him and be his wife. He searches, or maybe he simply waits and hopes to be found. A woman anticipates the advent of the one--and finds him over and over again. But no, he is still not the one.


Is life a haystack, really; and each of us a needle?

How is it then that we seek something special, uncommon, called apart from the numb milieu as if it were the one gold among more common metal? If each be a needle, and if sprigs of hay are all alike, how is it that we imagine oneness?

Maybe each in and of itself is all.

Is our search in life one of discovery or of conquest?

We are all in this world bound to find what we desire, and yet desire itself ever continues to hunger.

One has to wonder why there is a haystack in the first place, and why are there needles. These must be very special things--these wheats of hay, these salted needles, altogether like bees within a hive.

Ought not our nectar be like love?

The Missing Link

The mysterious blob which scientists recently discovered near the dawn of time is now suspected of being the cause of multiple sclerosis, a disease process which has long been a mystery as confounding as that of the blob.

No one knows exactly how multiple sclerosis originated, and by the same token no one really knows where the blob near the dawn of time came from. We only know where it is, roughly. It is for this reason that professionals in the fields of astronomy, science, and medicine have linked the two entities.

“It’s a first step,” one researcher commented, “and it’s major! Is there a cure in it? We don’t know. What we’re looking at now is questions, more and more questions, while the answers remain somewhat blurry.”

One might have said blob-like.

Although the indistinct discovery was originally given the name Himiko, after an equally obscure ancient Japanese Queen, it is felt now that whoever came up with this name jumped the gun. Given the relation of the blob to a known disease, by virtue, as has been said, of their common indistinctness, most who now study the phenomena feel that a set of initials would have been more suitable.

“We thought of TB (for The Blob),” one doctor said, “but of course those letters are already taken (tuberculosis). Himiko is unsuitable—the Japanese have nothing to do with it. We, after all, discovered the thing. And the fact that there are very few Japanese people who have multiple sclerosis removes them even further from being pertinent.” At this the doctor shook his head and shrugged a shoulder. “It’s something we’re working on,” he added, “and we will certainly keep the public up to date.”

Since the phenomenon that scientists are describing is being observed through a depth of space billions of light years from earth, it is readily admitted that the picture may remain a bit out of focus for some time to come. The disease multiple sclerosis also remains stubbornly out of focus, and so its link to the blob becomes more obvious yet.

Additionally, since the blob is billions of years old, it is believed now that multiple sclerosis, having clearly arisen from the inception of the blob, is also of a similar antiquity.

“It’s exciting,” said a spokesman at the Kennedy Space Center. “To think that we have all but proven that disease, that MS in particular, has been with us since the very beginning of time. The possibilities for research and discovery are almost endless. What about the dinosaurs? How about Cro-Magnon Man? How about primordial soup?”

No thanks, we might answer. I’ve already eaten!