Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Do You Say It In Dog Language?

It seems like I've been gone for a few days, although I cannot say exactly where. Getting ready for Bali, I suppose. I've said it before and I'll say it again--moving your life to the other side of the world is no easy task.

This, combined with continually waking up at 3 a.m. makes existence a bit disconnected, surreal. Foggy.

In an attempt to tie up loose ends before disappearing into the jungle, I contacted my younger step-daughter, Jamila. This ended up in the usual sort of e-mail comedy wherein her mother becomes the central figure in the issue. Our prospective relationship, you see, must not ever allow the mention of her mother's name. This is difficult, as the actual reason we even know each other stems from my relationship with her mother (lol). Jamila's mother, as it happens, is a vengeful, bitter, hateful, self absorbed Shrew who will not hesitate to taint the poor girl's mind when the subject is yours truly (note, the poor girl is 31 now, yet still quite taintable). I seek therefore to protect myself by employment of the snow white shield of truth and reason.

It turns out that truth and reason are also disallowed.

Moving on then. The day before yesterday our dogs were arrested and issued a warning ticket. As it happened, my wife, in the throes of one of her recurrent huffs, had left the house without closing the front gate. Forthwith, Smokey and Coco took advantage of the opportunity to explore the neighborhood, get acquainted with other dogs, and generally harass various innocent bypassers.

Coco, as was the story from the Multnomah County Animal Control officer, had attempted to bite an elderly woman on the ankle (thank God he has no teeth to speak of, right?), while Smokey, being very protective of the little dog, shouted rude insults at yet another passer-by as she tried to pick up Coco.

Well, very soon now both Coco and Smokey will be moving out anyway, as they cannot go with us to Bali.

Anyone want a Labrador? Chihuahua?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Strange experience of late with Ambien. See, I have this deal going on where my body wants to twitch and jump around in bed all night. No partner, mind you--just me and my body. It is rather like restless leg syndrome, but of course it's not, it's multiple sclerosis, and therefore the drug commonly prescribed for RLS, Requip, does not work. For this reason my PCP prescribed Ambien.

Now here's the weird part: One or two Ambien tablets will knock me out within perhaps ten minutes; however it proves to be a sure thing that I will then wake up at about 3 o'clock in the morning and find myself completely unable to go back to sleep. Absolutely wide awake, only tired and exhausted. Can you imagine it?

So it is that I've been knocking about since 3 a.m. I find that there is not a whole lot to do at 3 a.m. Ones friend are of course asleep, as is ones wife, even ones dogs--although I will give credit to Smokey for staggering out to the dining room briefly just to see what the hell was going on.

No one I know is online at 3 a.m. (although someone named Sexy Mandy wants to chat on Yahoo).

Finally 6 o'clock rolls around and I head for Starbucks to have the first of what will likely be two dozen cappuccinos. Now everything about Starbucks is wonderful as far as I'm concerned, except for the music. Why must they have loud music playing, generally music with a jittery, Latino sort of beat. Do I need this? What is the purpose? Am I to be happy because of this upbeat music? Is this any way to wake up? For God's sake, I'm already on edge here folks!

Sooo . . . I think a doughnut would do nicely just now. Along with another coffee.

Life is a funny sort of business. It's also the only business out there. Every cloud has a silver lining. And every silver lining has a cloud.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hot Foot

Tonight I have the hot potato foot. You know what I mean? Suddenly your foot feels like it's about twice as big as it was in the morning, no longer fits comfortably into your shoe, and instead just sits there thrumming and throbbing, buzzing and bulging, and burning so that you feel like plunging it into a cold tub of water (as if that would help).

At the same time a large portion of my brain seems to have turned to cotton, and because of this my balance is off. Specifically, I cannot walk down the hallway without running into the walls along the way.

I'm not sure which of these is my favorite symptom at the moment. It's close.

Today I retired from my job after 20 years or so. So far I don't miss it. Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 56. Still a young buck. With a burning foot. On February 8th I will fly from the United States and turn up by and by in Bali, Indonesia, most probably never to return.

Jim Dandy, however, will endure--so no worries, folks. If ever the writing fades and disappears, you will know that the light has flickered and died.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Where in the world
can I run
where the end
will not be final--
run and forget,
forget, forget
the dream that never was--
that came in flowered silken prints
and perfumed feet and hair
and danced seduction
sudden death
and owned the very air--
this tongue that snaked
and wrapped the waist
and promised sweet the lie
then pulled me to the vacant depth
and killed me
never saying why

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Hard Matter

Scientific research done with the use of a brain already detrimentally affected by what one is trying to research proves to be a method less than ideal.

Hours, or at least minutes of exhaustive research have I devoted (since yesterday--see previous entry) to the question of how the insides of sluggish arteries might be scraped or otherwise scoured clean, thus (theoretically) eradicating MS--beating my head against the proverbial wall, putting the horse before the carriage, picking at bits of invisible matter in the air--how to get at the damn things (the arteries, I mean)?

But I had a dream, a vision in the night, of angels descending and ascending on a ladder, and upon waking I suddenly knew that I had been completely obtuse--for I suddenly realized that what is on the outside is best approached from the outside, and what is on the inside, from the inside.

You see? To work from within we must start from within.

What, I asked myself, works within the blood, within the vein, within the artery--from within the system?

Viagra! What else? Suddenly the answer seems just as simple as can be.

Now, of course I have no Viagra on hand (what kind of man do you think I am?), but I figure that procuring the same cannot be too difficult. I could, for instance, ask around at retirement homes, or check the black market, or, if worse comes to worse, tell my doctor that I need it for a friend.

That's the easy part. The next thing will be to determine how much, and how often. What is the optimum dose for artery scouring, and what risk, at the same time, would I run of exploding elsewhere? Would I need volunteers to lend a hand or something, or am I up to conducting this experiment single-handedly?

More questions, to be sure--but in hard research such as this, there are always questions to be satisfied.

And so I begin again. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Clean It Up

As most of us are now aware, the new idea vis-a-vis MS is that it may actually be a vascular malfunction rather than an autoimmune disease, and that cleaning out blocked arteries may be curative.

That's all well and good--but what I'm wondering, along purely practical lines, is how one might do this at home, rather than face the prohibitive expense of hospitalization and surgery.

I'm wondering if a toothbrush will work, and whether one should apply just the bare bristles, or maybe add a mild soap, such as Dove or Ivory. The fact that Ivory soap floats may also be pertinent (although I don't know how).

Would this be a cleaning or a scouring. Another question without an answer thus far. If the the preferred method is the latter, would this call for a pressure washer, or something less intense, like a water pick?

How to get at the arteries in the first place? This is a major difficulty, and could quite possibly be a deadly one.

One thing I know, however, is that anything that can be done in a hospital or in an auto repair shop--at Les Schwab or at Computer Geeks--can be done in one's own garage or den. My father taught me that. It may take more time, it may be messy, it may cause more problems along the way than you began with--but in the end you've accomplished the thing without the help of the so-called experts, you've done it at a fraction of the cost, and you can walk away with the sense of personal self-sufficiency that you can't get anywhere else.

After all, a handful or arteries can't be any more complex than a carburetor, now can it?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Exciting New Research

Cutting edge research (my own) in the field of medical science has shown that multiple sclerosis, a disease long thought to be caused by a malfunction in the autoimmune system, actually has more in common with sinusitis. In short, it drains.

I know this because my case of MS, having formerly been most evident in my brain, has now drained into my left leg, such that my familiar cognitive difficulties (one might say congestion) have wholly cleared, while at the same time my left leg has become stuffy, sluggish, and painful.

My research will now enter the hands-on phase of experimentation, which, as always, will be less than thorough or logical. I think of the nose, the classic target of sinus problems. I think of Neo-Synephrine. I think of the nature and course of the common sinus infection, and then expand the general mechanics to the body as a whole. I think of injected Neo-Synephrine. I wonder if the ingredients of Copaxone are actually the same as those in Neo-Synephrine.

As is readily evident, the matter is a complex one and will require much time and energy on the part of the research team. Since I am so far the only one on the team, and since much of my time and energy is devoted to being generally exhausted, any forecast of applicable conclusions, along with potential treatment modalities, is bound to be years away. That's the bad news. The good news is that we finally have this tiger by the proverbial tail.

And so I shall proceed--patiently, tirelessly whenever I'm fully awake--and in the meantime spraying and blowing, spraying and blowing--all for the good of mankind, and women too, and children, and especially for those of us who suffer from this sinus-like syndrome.

(anyone desiring to join my team may do so simply with a reply and the purchase of any sort of decongestant)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Death Of Those Who Have Died

The death of those who have died is strength to those who are living. It is not first off moral strength or physical strength, nor the sort of stoicism which may masquerade as strength, but only itself, born without desire or personal will, a result, not an intention. We do not choose, but are chosen. This is the way of every crucial event in life.

The strength of the eternal victim is hatred, while the strength of the mere sojourner is in assimilation.

We are all quite completely at the mercy of whatever happens to happen--not the captains of our own destinies but lowly sailors in a storm. When the winds are harsh and the waves are high we hold fiercely to the rails and to the trunk of the mast, for this is the only earth we have. When the sea surface calms, when the wind only whispers, when the sun seems fixed in the heaven for eternity, we lie upon the deck, spread legs and arms to the soothing sky, and dream that rest may be permanent.

The wise man is he who knows that neither peace nor adversity is permanent any more than his own flesh is so. It is memory that lives and instructs in our time, and faith alone that endures forever.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Return of My Brain

My brain is back. I don't know how it happened, what I did, or did not do, but suddenly here it is, thinking, functioning, remembering, all as clear as a bell.

At first I thought this was maybe just some weird trick of perception--like the way an amputee feels a missing limb--but it cannot be so, for the organ proves itself in performance. The other day, for instance, my wife told me a phone number to call, and even though it took several minutes to go and find paper and pencil and cell phone, I actually remembered the number immediately and without flaw. I was astounded, amazed at the utility of the thing. I wrote down the numbers and read them back to her, just to be certain, as if to prick myself with a pin.

Am I dreaming? No, by God, it's real!

Not a month ago, had we been driving in the car together, my wife would have had to direct me from start to finish. Left here . . . straight now . . . right at the next traffic light. And yet now this sort of guidance, helpful--no, essential--before, has become suddenly acutely irritating, such that old objections return to the pilot's seat as if they had never released the throttle in the first place--I know, I know; you don't have to tell me; I've been here a hundred times before!

Surely I sleep. Surely I dream. Surely I have received without cause or merit. Shall I rejoice now, or tremble at the thought it might depart once again? Shall I tell people about this, or shall I be silent, careful of words that might shatter the gift? Can I trust my brain to stay, or does it whisper but a moment like a ghost, an echo, and arch wings of flight even as I speak.

And if it stays, then what I am to do? What to make of this brain? How should I live for having received this unbroken thing thing from the abyss?

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Disappearing is not easy. It is, in fact, a Herculean task. It is a task better suited to an army of clerks, accountants, and experienced boat people. Aside from being very difficult, it is also relatively expensive. One might imagine that disappearing would be a bit less stressful and exhausting than the relentless struggle of every day life, but it is not so.

Nonetheless, I shall soon do just this--I shall soon disappear--and quite without the use of trap doors, smoke and mirrors, black capes, magic phrases, or a beautiful assistant in high heels and black nylons. Well, I take that back. I will in fact have the help of the beautiful assistant.

Having disappeared, I shall then pop up elsewhere, and by elsewhere I do not mean from behind the nearby curtain, nor in the mouth of the lion, nor from beneath the drape on the table--no, resurrections such as these are all too common. Rather you will find me (or rather I shall find myself) on the other side of the world--not instantly, and not in a blinding flash, and yet sudden nonetheless, of a sudden just there, an astounding product of space and time in as far as these involve distance and displacement.

Physicists of the modern day have discovered a strange phenomenon that would seem to be active at the most essential level of existence itself, the very machine than runs the cosmos, and everything, and everyone in it. In short, and without explicative particulars (for I do not understand them), electrons, which are always in pairs, are perfectly complimentary. The action of the one determines the action of the other, they communicate, and apparently they do so instantaneously. You cannot force them not to do so. Moreover, no degree of separation can ever separate them. If one electron somewhere around the center of the Milky Way turns right, its other member, though it be floating about in the Andromeda galaxy, turns left. One rotates clockwise, the other counterclockwise. It is quite impossible, and yet quite true.

Now we are the creative force behind all this, we individual human beings. There is nothing that happens until it is observed to happen, nor can it happen without being actuated by observation. It is all about us after all. We live in a biocentric universe.

We are part therefore but separate. We are here and yet we are not. And if one thing vanishes, or so it seems, then the other must surely appear.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My God, my God . . .

There is nothing so difficult as stopping someone from doing what has already been done. Our will is to retrieve, to rescue, to restore, to somehow go back. But of course this is not a world with time machines and mysterious portals; it is, rather, a world of consequence activated by choice, a world where the courses of electrons are determined by observation, according anyway to the latest theories of quantum mechanics. What happens happens when it happens according to causation set into motion by the individual human being.

And then what next? Manifestly, it cannot be what was before. It must be something else, something different, something beyond or instead of, for you cannot go home again, as Thomas Wolfe so famously said.

Do you ever get the feeling like you are living inside of a book you once read? Or that a certain story has attracted your interest over the years in a strange persistent way because it has somehow all along been alive with the essential motion of your own life? Why does one story compel at the deepest level where another does not?

Do you get that feeling?

I do.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Just Some Thoughts

They say that marriage is ultimately a worldly expression of relationship with Christ (Paul says so, I mean). This is why the man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, even to the point of death; and the wife is to love her husband as she loves Christ. Naturally, being only human and subject to all the weakness that is in the flesh, we tend to fail fairly miserably at fulfilling this command. But I guess what we are supposed to do is just try again and again.

It seems apparent that it is impossible for one human being to live up to all of another human beings expectations. The strengths that I do have are strengths that many other people do not have. By the same token, I am found lacking in some things that other people do not lack. Ultimately though, if we are all judged on the basis of those things that are weakest, we must all fail. During periods in a marriage where contention has arisen, it may appear to one partner or the other than someone on the outside is especially wise, attractive, attentive, understanding, and so on. This is the luxury of the free agent, so to speak. He may offer all his best upon the isolated moment, while not having to oppress with the weaknesses that would be present and obvious in the long haul. It is easy to be occasional, far away from the daily drudge, the finances, the frustrations & etc. The details. The hard parts. It is much more difficult to be permanent.

Now, if there is one thing I know about women it is that they are eternally dissatisfied, and no mere man of flesh and blood can hope to change that. On the other hand, men are eternally needy emotionally and in terms of self-esteem, and this is why they so often try to cure their frustration by falling into the sweet talk of another woman. It is a vicious circle, and something we can all benefit from by recognizing and remembering. The fact is, the grass is not greener on the other side, but just all part of the same yard.

My philosophy (and perhaps a mistaken one) has always been to make the most of what is good in a person, while tolerating the weaker things--this with the thought that people suffer as much from their own faults as anyone else does. I begin to wonder, however, whether my refusal to make an issue of the less attractive facets in a person's makeup is really only an unwillingness to enter into conflict. Do I love the best and endure the worst, making it sound like a character strength--or do I simply seek to hide from trouble under the guise of a worthy sounding philosophy?

Ever since God took Eve from Adam's side, the man (who had been doing fine before) has depended upon the woman (nice going, God). In a sense she is like his mirror, that reflection by which he evaluates himself and either values or despairs at what he sees. He will see, according to the light and shade she chooses to provide, all manner of creatures, from the strong and the heroic to the base and worthless. If the woman reflects something of Christ, the man will see something of Christ in himself. If she reflects little of Christ, he will not see Christ.

If is evident, of course, that until the man (and the woman too, for that matter) sees, evaluates, and works by the light of Christ penultimate, he must suffer through an ever unreliable world made of circumstance and mood, as unpredictable and as impermanent as the clouds.

Monday, January 4, 2010

By His Striipes

The other day an anonymous visitor posted a comment on my blog in answer to a tongue in cheek sort of thing I'd written about a spat of bad luck involving any number of aches and pains--the topper being an injury to my back which left me hobbling about like some sort of troll. As my hyper religious son most often sees these sort of things as directly attributable to Satan himself, I joked around about the notion--because, as it seems to me, ones failing health can manage very well on its own without Lucifer's help. That's just the way it is.

But in any case, this person offered a diatribe (mind you, a complete stranger he or she) about how I just needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps and receive the healing of Christ, understand that we are healed by His stripes, and so on and so forth.

That's fine. But first off, I would ask anyone commenting here to go the extra mile and avoid hiding behind the anonymous option. I mean, if one truly believes in what one says, why feel that ones identity must be kept secret. Seems to me to undercut the whole point the writer had apparently hoped to convey.

In addition, I do not see physical ailments as things foreign to the pattern of natural life. This happens, especially as one gets older, and also if one suffers at baseline from a disease such as multiple sclerosis. I do not agree that such things are indicative in any way of being somehow distanced from God or being faithless. Rather, I accept my lot with a sort of thanksgiving that thrives in the spirit rather than in the flesh, and I understand that sometimes adversity is the best, sometimes even the only, effective nutrient to the spirit.

By His stripes we are healed, yes indeed--emotionally, spiritually, even physically--whatever is in His will. At the same time, part of our business in life is in finishing out the sufferings of the Lord, for unless the seed falls to the ground and dies, there is no new life. Understand the Word, therefore; understand the transcendent philosophy of the apostle Paul; and then please, please leave the childish things behind; for we are grown in due time, by pangs and by pains, by sorrows and deaths, into adulthood.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What Now?

You know the truth--a thing that is immutable, dispassionate in and of itself--and yet your immediate inclination is to run from it. You imagine other things that might be true, other things that might render the real truth false. You want to run because you already know what the pain is like, and yet you know that you are running on air, and in the wrong direction at that, and you know that your unwilling feet must soon hit the ground, and sink, and sink, and sink, and sink.

When you walk on the sucking sands of shit instead of solid ground, you have to walk in a certain way. You have to try not to struggle. You have to try to remain calm. The trick is in using upper body strength. You have to pull yourself up, inch by inch. You have to stay calm, even though you think you are dying, and you have to regain yourself inch by inch, and somehow believe, and somehow have faith, and somehow understand that dreams had always been only dreams and good for the moment but not for balance of time.

For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless.

So says the teacher, and yet we never will listen, for hope will forever come before hearing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Measure of a Man

Okay, so maybe I ought to write something. It's an important day, after all. New Years Eve, 2009. It's some kind of a significant hallmark, or must be, I'm sure. There is a big difference between 9 and 10. Can anyone deny it?

Then again, I am less and less an observer of days, as the apostle Paul put it. And that's a good thing, right? Attaching a significance to numbers is tantamount to witchcraft. Right? Superstition, magical thinking. Be ye not conformed to the patterns of the world, for the world is passing away.

So it is, so it is.

I remember spending quite a long time on this subject last December 31st--the passage of one year to the next, that is. It seemed a natural time for rumination, summation--an accounting, a valuation, an appraisal of where I had been and where I had ended up. I was still fairly new to MS (funny how you can become old to a thing in the space of one year's time), and my feeling at that time was that the disease had changed me in some essential way, that it had become central in self conception. In short, it seemed important.

And so I have changed after all, now that I think about it--for MS no longer seems very important, or particularly pertinent, or even particularly interesting.

Why had it seemed so on December 31st, 2009?

Recently I watched a movie where aliens had come to earth and got stuck here (their ship broke down). These were a lizard like people, and not good for much--unusually stupid as aliens go. By and by, the main character in the movie (a human) became somehow infected and began to turn into a lizard himself. What was alien became little by little part of him--he sprouted jagged scales, claw like hands, a weird looking yellow eye. The infection, as it seemed, grew from within, like a cancer perhaps, or a leprosy, so that at last our hero had shed his human appearance altogether and had become quite fully one of them.

What was he in the end? A man trapped inside a lizard, or a lizard which quite incidentally had once been a man? Is this how it works: We are what we become? A lizard without recourse learns to live in his skin, for he is what he is. What would be the point of outrage?

Lizard like, I slither therefore into 2010--unaffected, unsurprised, all but unaware. One thing only do I note as new: An intense desire to find a new abode, in a hot, dry, humid land.