29 April 2017

La La La Life Goes On Plus My Exclusive Interview With the Almighty



We are the Village Green Preservation Society.
God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety.
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society.
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
-- From Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks

People often ask me the following question: who the hell are you and what are you doing in our living room?

But seriously folks, they do, they really, really do.

Fact is I don't know how I keep ending up in other people's houses, especially their showers. I do like to rinse off fully clothed and the desire to do so often overcomes me while I'm engaging in one of my midnight strolls through strange neighborhoods.

I also like to collect strangers' toothbrushes. Some people find this to be a weird hobby. Some people find me a to be a weird person. Some people have trouble finding me at all because I'm really good at hiding. (The key is to hide in places that people don't end up looking for or at or in.)

I also have a tendency to do things that I'm prone to do but if only if it fits into a consistent pattern of my behavior which is manifest by my usual habits and daily activities.

At this point I have to acknowledge that much if not all of what I've been writing has centered around one person. Now if I can just figure out who that person is maybe I can find a corrective. If I'm correct about correctives they can correct situations that are in some fashion incorrect. Fashion being something of little interest to me except as it pertains to attractive women wearing something fashionable or not fashionable or not anything at all which I suppose reads like I enjoy seeing women naked and as a matter of fact I make no apology for the fact that I do. (So here I risk charges of sexism, posting inappropriate content or appealing to prurient interests to which I say the following: I very much doubt that at my age I appeal to prurient interests, my wife finds me appealing but beyond that I am more known for my wit and charm than being an adonis.)

I now interrupt this blog post for an interview with The Creator, the one and only God. I came across the deity during a prayer. I was in the midst of asking for gold, Rihanna and perfect health when the holiest of holies cut me off by saying: why not save your breath? You're always asking for some crazy shit that's pretty much impossible. Maybe try some questions that you can get answers to. Fine, I retorted, I'll ask you different questions, how about an interview? The Almighty (who refuses to identify by either the feminine or masculine pronoun) agreed. Here is a transcript.

Me: Is God your last name?
God: Seriously? I don't have a last name. Duh.
Me: A first name?
God: Craig.
Me: So you're male.
God: Dude, I'm totally kidding no first name. I'm just plain god.
Me: I gotta get this one out of the way, is the apocalypse coming?
God: I assume you mean to Earth. Well I'll tell ya I've got a lot on my plate right now but its on the back burner. Not sure when I'll get to it.
Me: Yikes! How's it going to come to pass?
God: Gimme a break, I haven't even decided when. Baby steps.
Me: Baby steps?
God: Yeah, it's a core philosophy of mine. Actually I stole it from a Bill Murray film called What About Bob? Murray cracks me up.
Me: You laugh a lot?
God: You're kidding, right? Watching the mess you people make of things is non stop hilarity, except for the uglier things like war, genocide, torture and all that inhumanity. That's not funny. But some of your politicians, priceless stuff.
Me: How do you listen to everyone's prayers and know what everyone is doing at all times?
God: Who said I did?
Me: I thought you were omniscient.
God: Yeah but I'd like to know who spilled the beans.
Me: I think its pretty common knowledge among most religions.
God: Shit, that was supposed to be a secret.
Me: What do you think of Muslims, and them calling you Allah.
God: Hey, they're no worse than the fucking Christians. And I'm not hung up on God as a name. Allah is just as good. Actually I'd kind of like a nickname. Like Kizzy.
Me: I'm not even going to ask....
God: Good call.
Me: Do you have any siblings?
God: A younger brother Larry and an older sister Ruth Ann.
Me: You're jerking my chain again.
God: Nope. I'm on the level.
Me: How come your big sister isn't lord and master of the universe?
God: She had a drunk driving bust freshman year so that took her out of the running.
Me: If you've got siblings you must have parents.
God: Yeah, the Rosebergs of Fort Lauderdale.
Me: They must be so proud.
God: No, they wanted me to be a doctor. Anyway, I gotta split, its the weekend and athletes are in full prayer mode. Check ya later.
Me: Peace out.

18 April 2017

The Secret History of William Henry Harrison's Post Presidency



William Henry Harrison did not die in office. The commonly held belief is that the nation's 9th  president expired a mere 31 days into his presidency. It is maintained in standard history books and texts -- which is somewhat understandable, if ultimately unforgivable -- but it has also somehow still repeated in such alternative histories as Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. That this canard is still put forth with few even questioning it, is one of the great mysteries and scandals of U.S. History. True enough Harrison ceased to be president on April 4, 1841 but the man known as Old Tippecanoe lived for another 12 and half years. The record on this speaks for itself.

Harrison, you may recall (born on February 9, 1773) was a former Indian fighter (famed for defeating Tecumseh at Tippecanoe), general in the war of 1812, congressional delegate, territorial governor, member of the US House of Representatives and plenipotentiary to Gran Colombia. He was the Whig party nominee for president in 1836, losing to Martin Van Buren, but won the rematch four years later with John Tyler his running mate.

History records that he became ill with a cold on March 26 (likely contracted during his marathon inauguration speech given on a frigid afternoon) and the illness progressed and became fatal. Poppycock.

In the time between Harrison’s electoral victory and his inauguration he came to be under tremendous pressure from his creditors which comprised over a dozen people and organizations. Some of these creditors saw in Harrison’s ascension to the presidency an opportunity to cash in big time. They didn’t want their money back so much as they wanted favors that would substantially boost their own interests. Also many falsely reckoned that, as president, Harrison would have ready access to the treasury and be able to, as one allegedly put it, share the wealth. Some of these creditors were people who had incriminating evidence of Harrison’s peculiar sexual practises which, it was said, ranged from minor peccadilloes to bizarre fetishes including elaborate role play.

By the time Harrison took the oath of office he had been besieged by charlatans, scoundrels, blackmailers, and those aforementioned creditors and was a nervous wreck. Harrison quickly realized that he could not properly fulfill the duties of his high office in such circumstances and a mere resignation would not be enough to ease his woes. He would be hounded onto his grave. Harrison did indeed have a nasty cold, and he cleverly used it to surreptitiously leave the White House for good and all. With the help of an aide, one Lloyd Charles Peckerhand, he decided to feign serious illness and then death. Only Harrison’s inner circle was aware of the plan and only Peckerhand and Harrison’s faithful valet Cicero Morningguard, an ex slave, knew the full details. Harrisons’s family, including his wife Anna, were left completely in the dark. Even vice president John Tyler was out of the loop. He assumed that Harrison was really quite ill and never dreamt that the president was biding his time to escape, playing cards with intimates while Peckerhand made arrangements for the most amazing disappearing act in the annals of US political history.

Harrison by this time had grown to detest his wife and was ambivalent about most of his children having particular contempt for John Scott who would go on to sire president Benjamin Harrison. Ole Tippecanoe was far more enamored of some of the female slaves he had taken as lovers, a number of whom bore him children. Indeed it was with slaves and whores that WH (as he liked to be called) exercised his flamboyant sexual practises. Wife Anna could not abide anything sexually save the missionary position, and even then with her eyes tightly closed.

On the date that the nation told of the president’s death, Harrison -- in the dead of night -- snuck out of the White House and got in a coach headed for Florida. With him were Peckerhand, Morningguard and Harrison’s current favorite sex partner, a white whore named Millie Strang. Left behind was much of Harrison’s fortune. Left in the lurch were his creditors.

For Harrison's body, Peckerhand had substituted a recently deceased indigent old Indian killer named Claude Lupus, who bore an uncanny resemblance to the 9th president. With a little bit of surgery performed by a quack plastic surgeon, Eli Culpepper, and a lot of makeup, no one noticed the difference. Culpepper's services and silence were handsomely rewarded.

Once in Florida the “deceased” president changed his name, with the help of a friendly forger named Callidew. WH's new identity was as Peabody McCorkle, land speculator. Little is known of Harrison’s three years in Florida other than he discovered a knack for real estate and made a small fortune. He also married an escaped slave named Clovis. The whore Millie Strang had been taken by cholera shortly after their arrival in Florida. However Harrison’s happy life in Florida was interrupted when he tried to sell some property to one of the very gentlemen who had been a creditor. When said creditor, one Hobart G. Mellow, recognized Harrison he insisted on restitution for the debt and accumulated interest. Being quite wealthy anew, Harrison readily agreed wanting only to be free of this man. However immediately upon receiving payment, Mellow threatened to expose Harrison if he didn’t “sweeten the pot,” with a few extra thousand dollars.

Harrison had felt it reasonable to pay Mellow back in full and even to include interest, but was damned if he’d allow himself to be extorted. WH made his excuses for the day and promised to meet Mellow 48 hours later by which time he would have collected the requested sum. Harrison alerted Peckerhand and the ex slave Morningguard (who incidentally had become lovers, Harrison was surprisingly open-minded about homosexual relations, likely because they figured into some of his own sexual experimentation) and his wife Clovis and they immediately absconded. Peckerhand had long prepared for this day, so making arrangements to flee took only a matter of hours. Joining them was the forger Callidew and his wife Lynis now fast friends of Harrison and company and in on their secret (unconfirmed rumors suggest that Harrison and Lynis were occasional lovers and that Callidew was not averse to their dalliances, evidently honored to have such a renowned figure diddling his wife).

The six went by boat to Nova Scotia, it being Summer the journey was quite pleasant. From there they went to Toronto to start their new lives. Pooling their resources the sextet bought a saloon and adjoining restaurant and started a very high end bordello in the upstairs apartments. The madam was one Mrs. Beatrice Bromwich (nee Lakeside) a widow who was a long ago lover of Harrison’s. Within months the saloon, restaurant and bordello were doing great business and Harrison could indulge himself with, as he put it, “the ladies upstairs” whenever he wished.

By all accounts Harrison was a far, far happier man as Peabody McCorkle, than he had ever been in his former life. He took long daily walks to supplement the exercise he got in the boudoir, maintained a healthy diet, drinking alcohol sparingly and smoking no more than a cigar a day. His wife Clovis indulged his extra curricular carnal desires, proud to have such a virile older husband. Peckherand, Morningguard, the Callidews and Beatrice Bromwich were steadfast and loving friends. Such was Harrison’s happy life for almost a decade when in late 1852 calamity struck. A fire swept through the restaurant and saloon, inevitably reaching the bordello. Peckerhand and Morningguard were immediately consumed by the conflagration and soon Clovis and Callidew lost their lives. Harrison escaped with Bromwich and Lynis Callidew but the latter tried to retrieve a precious heirloom and fell through a ceiling to her death.

Harrison had lost everything.

Fortunately the man everyone knew as McCorkle, had built up enormous good will throughout the city and community leaders were happy to find him accommodations in a small but comfortable furnished cottage. He was joined there by Bromwich who now lived with him as wife. The former US president lived another year. By all accounts he was happy enough but his indomitable spirit had died with the fire. Gone were his sexual forays, the long walks and the healthy eating and drinking habits. He was still able to enjoy relations with Bromwich, he still ate heartily -- only too much so--  and his occasional drinks became binges.

In early November of 1853, 13 years after being elected president, he took to bed quite ill. Harrison lingered for three weeks, going in and out of consciousness. When alert he would reel off the names of his many past lovers. It was said that the only reason he managed to live the three weeks was because he’d wanted to name each one of them. Beatrice Bromwich was at his side and perhaps fittingly it was after he uttered her name, that Harrison expired.

EPILOGUE

American historians have almost universally neglected the real WH Harrison story -- despite the wealth of evidence that he lived on after his three month presidency. Many simply and stubbornly refuse to believe it. There are a number of excellent sources for Harrison’s life as Peabody McGorkle. Primary among them are the detailed diaries of LC Perckerhand and the memoirs of Beatrice Bromwich. One can also check contemporary newspaper accounts in the Toronto Bugle and the Weekly Maple Leaf. The leading authority on the McGorkle portion of Harrison’s life was the late  historian Welles Summerset (1867-1951). His interest in the Harrison “after life” stemmed from his grandfather Chuck who had been a frequent visitor at the Toronto brothel. Chuck Summerset formed a strong friendship with McGorkle and managed to figure out his friend’s true identity.

Wells Summerset’s book, “The Unknown After Life of William Harrison” was never published. Summerset completed the book in 1931 and spent the last two decades of his life trying to find a reputable publisher for it. No one would touch it, ostensibly because of its graphic sexual content. After Summerset’s death, his son Wiley managed to get a few copies printed as a lasting tribute to his dad’s work. A few libraries carry still it. Wiley’s son Angus Summerset has renewed efforts to publish the book, thus far to no avail.

A US Senator, who for now wishes to remain anonymous, is planning to submit the real story of America's 9th president into the congressional record in a huge first step toward correcting history. "People need to know the truth about all their presidents," he said, "even those who flew the coop."

14 April 2017

A Guardian Angel Brings Bad News

My guardian angel’s name is Chuck. Can you believe that shit?

I know this because he appeared before me yesterday in human form. “Hi, I’m Chuck,” he said. “Do you know who I am?” he asked.

“Yeah, you’re Chuck, you just said so,” I replied.

He looked maybe 30, was wearing a red striped long sleeve tee shirt and corduroys and Keds sneakers. He was a little on the tubby side, medium height with bushy red hair.

“Yes, I know you know my name is Chuck but do you know who I am?”

I was standing in my backyard looking up at this big tree we have --it seemed kind of spooky with no leaves and the sky being all cloudy --when Chuck, I’m gonna say, appeared. I mean suddenly he was there. But I wasn’t freaked out, there was something calming about him.

“Well no, Chuck, I don’t know who you are so why don’t you dispense with the mystery and tell me.”

“I’m your guardian angel.”

I chuckled at that one. Not really a full throated guffaw, just a light chuckle. See the thing was that I half believed him. Why? It was just the damn feeling I got from him like he wasn’t real, not in the sense of regular human beings.

“No disrespect there Chuck but you don’t look like an angel.”

“Well of course your basing your conception on what angels look like from classic art, probably mostly from the Renaissance. Actually the film It’s A Wonderful Life gives a more accurate picture of us angels.”

I knew the movie well as most people do so naturally I asked him, “are you trying to earn your wings like Clarence?”

“Heavens no. There are no wings for angels. That’s just storybook stuff.”

“Excuse me but it seems like the whole deal with guardian angels is storybook stuff.”

“I can see where you might think so, but that’s part of human mythology that is in a general sense quite true.”

“Thing is there Chuck I find it hard to believe you. I admit I get a funny feeling from you but come on, what proof is there?”

“Fair enough.” And with that he disappeared then reappeared standing right next to me, shoulder to shoulder. I damn near fainted.

“Enough proof?”

“Plenty,” I said and went over and sat in a lawn chair.

I offered Chuck a sit. “We don’t sit,” he said.

“Ever?”

“Never.”

That’s gotta be rough. Do you at least get to lay down?”

No things are very much different for us, in fact we don’t usually take human form."

Looking back I'm amazed at how quickly and easily I accepted the reality of angels existing and one visiting me. I credit Chuck himself for that, it was just the vibe of normalcy that he gave off, like everything was cool. If he’d produced a talking bunny rabbit I don’t think I’d have flinched. More than anything I just found myself to be curious.

“Why this particular body, Chuck? I mean how is it you come to look like you do?”

“Well we have choices as angels for what we look like when, out of necessity, we have to take human form. I chose the body and clothes from the time of my death.”

“So you were human too?”

“Of course its a prerequisite to being an angel.”

“How’d it happen?”

“What?”

“How’d you die, you must have been no more than 30.”

“Twenty seven to be exact. I was drunk — first time in my life, as a matter of fact — was driving on icy roads, lost control of the car and went down a deep embankment, flipped once and landed on a boulder. You should have seen me, what a mess.”

“How can you —-”

“Right, how do I know what I looked like in death. Well I’ve watched replays of it several times. In fact we’re required to watch replies of most major events and incidents in our life and a lot of ones that seem minor but had great significance.”

 “I can see where that would be pretty rough. There’s a lot of times in my life I hate to think about let alone would want to watch a replay of.”

“You get used to it pretty quickly. In fact you learn to study and learn from it. I should think it would be especially difficult but ultimately quite constructive for someone such as yourself.”

This took me aback. “Whattaya mean for ‘someone such as myself’?”

“Come now. You work with organized crime, cheated on your wife, or should I say wives. Why you’ve committed all manner of crimes both in the legal and moral senses. You’re practically bereft of ethics.”

“Now you’re just being hard on me. I ain’t so bad, not compared to some guys I know.”

“You will learn in this life or the next that comparing yourself to others is of no value. You must be judged and you must judge yourself on your own actions.”

“Say what’s this all about, anyway? Why the visit and why the sudden dressing down?”

“I’m afraid I bring some rather bad news. I meant to ease into a bit but you’ve asked so…”

“Bad news from my guardian angel? That’s got to be the worst kind of news.” I was actually very scared, more so than I had ever been and I’m a guy who’s been in some pretty tough jams. “Okay, well lay it on me, I suppose I can take it.”

“I’m being re-assigned.”

“What? You’re not going to be my guardian angel? So I get some rookie instead?” I was relieved. This didn’t sound so bad.

“I was a rookie when I started with you.”

“By the way when did you start with me?”

“When you were born. I’ve been with you along for all of your 52 years.”

This sent a chill down my spine. Chuck had been watching me my whole life. But something didn’t make sense. “When’d you die, Chuck, I mean what year?”

“1986.”

“Well hell that was just over 30 years ago, no way you been watching me my whole life. You showed up when I was 22.”

“Here’s something you’d have difficulty understanding. Time is different, very much so, in the afterlife. Someone who died today could be the life long guardian angel of a man who’s turning 100.”

I trusted that what Chuck said was true even though it didn’t make the slightest sense to me.

“Okay so bottom line I’m getting a new guy.”

“I’m afraid not. You see the things is that when death approaches your guardian angel can no longer do anything for you. I’m to take on a new human. Tomorrow.”

“Death approaches? You mean mine?”

Chuck just nodded, slowly and sadly. I felt my heart drop into my bowels. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead and yet I felt chills.

There was quiet for a bit before I could muster the courage to ask: “When? How?”

“Honestly I have no idea. Soon though, I’m sure.”

“Why did you come to tell me this? Won’t you get in some trouble? This has to be a major rules violation for you.”

“It is considered bad form but you are my first so I’ll get a slap on the wrist but I’ve earned a lot of points for my protection of you. You were a difficult first client.”

“Yeah, I’ve had a lot of tough scrapes. Some I don’t know how I got out of. That was you I suppose.”

Chuck nodded then he looked real sad like and stared at me with sympathy.

“I’ve got to go,” he said.

“But wait!” I stood up and reached out like I was gonna grab him. “What’s going to happen to me? I mean, after, when I’m…?”

“Dead?”

“Yeah.”

“I honestly have no idea. Goodbye.” And he vanished.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening thinking over everything Chuck and I had talked about. I felt resigned to the idea that I was gonna die soon. My great fear was not that but what would happen after. Maybe like Chuck I’d be an angel or maybe — cause of the life I’d led — I’d be in some place like hell. The whole idea made me damn nervous so I took out a bottle of whiskey and went at it. My wife was out of town visiting her mother so I was all alone. I sat in the kitchen with the whiskey and some Sinatra records playing in the background.

At 9:00 I got a call from Vinnie. He wanted to see me the next morning over at the warehouse. I’d have thought nothing of it if it hadn’t been for Chuck, now I figured it’d be where they bumped me off. We had meetings there, sure, but a few guys had been whacked there too. It was a good place for it. They must have known I’d been skimming a little each month. I never thought it was enough for them to get wise, but I was never very good with numbers.

I drank enough that I slept like a baby despite my date with a bullet. Least I hoped it was that and not strangulation. I’d seen guys strangled before and its awful. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t torture me. I was part of the outfit after all and besides I’d confess everything before they had to.

I put on a nicer suit than I normally would, had a big breakfast and spiked my coffee with brandy. I know what you’re thinking, -- I should have taken a powder -- but they’d a tracked me down soon enough. You can't escape these guys. So here I am, about to get into my El Dorado for the last time. I know I should be scared as hell but for some reason I'm feeling calm, ready for what happens, besides I’ve had a good run. Gee it was swell of Chuck to give me the tip.

12 April 2017

Hi There? Back in What Day? Can You Bake a Pie? Explain a Movie? How Do You Relax?

I thought I'd add these wise words from Marge Simpson.
I got one of those emails asking for money for some worthy cause and it began as follows: “hi there.” I deleted it. They weren’t going to get any money from me anyway as I’ve been charitable enough lately as it is, but usually I hear those letters out. But “hi there” is a deal breaker. I’d literally prefer: “dear human” or “shmuck” or “anonymous person who may have some dough you can send us.” Just not “hi there.” I once worked with a person who “hi there”’d everyone. It was disconcerting. Hi where? Here? Maybe you respond with “and hi over there.”

So you’re probably wondering what kind of a person gets his panties in a bunch over “hi there.” There’s no end to what will irritate me. Like “back in my day.” You had a “day”? Just the one? Or are you referring to a time period? Why isn’t this your “day”? Did I too have a “day” too?  I must have missed it. Maybe its coming up. There’s another version of that: “back in the day.” When was “the day.”? Is this not “the day” too? Ya know what I do like? Halcyon days. I want some more of them. I’ve had some and they’re great. I had them back in “my day” which coincided with “the day.” Yeah, back then.

Of course you hear a lot about “the good old days.” White conservative men just love the “good old days.” For many of them those were their “salad days.” What made them great for old white guys was that they were undisputed kings. Women, African Americans, gays, people with disabilities, and other people of color were second class citizens and didn’t kick up a fuss about it — or not much of one anyway. I would love to have a time machine and travel back in time visiting various epochs but as the saying goes: “the past would be a great place to visit but I’d hate to live there.” Ain’t that the truth. Depending upon how far back and where you went you could be dealing with a lot of really awful odors. Showers and baths have not always been readily available nor thought to be healthy. Washers and dryers have not been plentiful until recently, not to mention laundromats. Many rivers and streams, and lakes in urban areas served as sewers and received industrial waste. And of course to spend a lot of time, for example in the US before the 1990s, meant inhaling a helluva lot of second hand tobacco smoke.

Can I share something that has absolutely baffled me my whole life? Well I’m going to anyway. There’s a line from the song Anything You Can Do from the musical Annie Get Your Gun that is as follows:
[Frank:] I can do most anything!
[Annie:] Can you bake a pie?
[Frank:] No.!
[Annie:] Neither can I!
For the whole song the two characters have been asserting that they are superior to the other at doing this or that. This includes such skills as killing a bird and speaking softly (frankly I’m not impressed) then suddenly Annie asks Frank if he can bake a pie. Fortunately for her he can’t. Because she can’t either. So why did she ask? What if he’d said, “why yes, I bake delicious pies.” Then suddenly she’s screwed. That is, unless she lies. Indeed, why doesn’t Frank lie? Because if Annie in fact could bake…You see what I mean? Ludicrous. Yet there it is in the middle of a hokey song from a hokey musical that I wouldn’t watch anyway so what do I care?

Recently on tweeter a well known gentleman asked if someone could please explain the last ten minutes of the recent film, Personal Shopper. I can’t for the life of me understand why someone would want a movie they just watched “explained.” That’s something I need “explained” to me. I saw Personal Shopper two weeks ago and was mystified by the last ten minutes. I was also enchanted, beguiled and amused by it. Someone “explaining” it would be akin to someone telling me why the peach I just ate tasted so good. Saturday night I finally saw Take Shelter 2011 a film which also ends mysteriously. If someone tried to explain it to me I’d sock ‘em in the jaw. Math problems should be explained, new laws need to be explained, computer features have to be explained, but art should be left to wonder at. To savor. To consider. To ponder. When it comes to art, being bemused is one of the most wonderful states I can imagine.

I’m off this week (actually most who know me would contend I’m a little off every week). I love vacations. But they don’t always make me happy. I don’t know how to just enjoy down time. I always feel like I should be doing something. Idling about doing this that and the other, taking naps, scrolling through the internet, feels like I’m wasting valuable time. I’ve got a damn novel to finish. Plenty of reading I can be doing. Languages to study. I get frustrated first with not “achieving” anything, then for being frustrated at being frustrated. I don’t know if it’s a cycle but it is vicious.

I see my psychiatrist today. I’ll probably talk about my difficulty accepting relaxing. Maybe I wont. I never know what I’m going to talk about besides of course updates on my “mental state.” I’m sure we’ll talk meds today. He had me on lamictal and as we were increasing the dose (this med was going to solve everything, by god) I developed an allergic reaction in the form of body wide rash that itched like hell. The rash is finally under control and fading but now the question becomes what — if anything — will replace the lamictal? I’m rooting for something without side effects. Such things do exist. Goodness knows I’ve experienced enough side effects over the past few decades. Lamictal rash effects only 5% of all patients who try it. Aren’t I special?

Hey what am I talking about? I ran nine miles today, finished a poem, finished this blog post, did some chores around the house and will get my head shrunk. This’ll have been a productive day. Tomorrow — the novel.

05 April 2017

Dental Surgery Anyone? Sick of Trump? Sound like a Plan? Not Under Your Roof? Keeping the Dead Closeted? Depressed and Happy?

An obligatory Rihanna photo.

I have a week off coming up. I’ll be kicking it old school saving pennies for the big trip to Europe in the Summer. People will ask what I’m going to do with my week off. I’ll say what I often say: “I’ll be performing unnecessary dental surgery on the elderly.” It never gets a laugh nor so much as a chuckle but I think it's clever and so trot it out on a regular basis.  I stick to my guns. Actually I don’t have a gun so I suppose I stick to my gums. That’s not right, peanut butter sticks to my gums. The peanut butter usually is accompanied by jelly or jam and I’d be in a jam if I ever did perform surgery on anyone, elderly or not. What’s the cut off age for being elderly? Or is it just a state of mind? I wonder if elderly is what we used to call old? When I was kid some people were old but I don’t recall anyone being elderly. Now the people that were old when I was a kid are called dead. Or deceased. No one dies anymore, they just pass away. Sometimes old people are lost. “We lost Uncle Fred last year.” Did you give up the search? Maybe if you can’t find him he’s in hiding. Doesn’t want to associate with people who refer to dead relatives as having been “lost” when they are in fact dead. Even passed away is too much for some people, who say that someone “passed.” What? Gas? A few blocks down from my house when I was growing up was what we called an old folk's home. Today it would be referred to as an elder care facility. I prefer the old way, or is it the elderly way?

Yesterday I overheard a conversation among fellow teachers in which one complained about the news being all about Trump and how Trump thus became the dominant topic of conversation in her current events class. Do you think during the Civil War Americans complained about all the news being about Lincoln and battles and slaves? Do you think during the Great Depression Americans complained about the news just being about the economic crisis and the dispossessed? Do you think during Watergate Americans complained that all the news was about Nixon and the conspiracy and the cover up? I can answer that last one: nope. Oh I’m sure some people were fed up and uninterested but most of us where riveted. What’s going on in the US today makes Watergate look like a human interest story. We’re talking treason, folks. Foreign powers directly influencing a US presidential election and US leaders (including the head honcho) and US policy. This is an enormous story the likes of which this country hasn’t seen since that Civil War earlier mentioned. Hyperbole? Not a bit. Tired of Trump, are you? Well I suppose in a sense we all our but we’ve got to maintain our focus. It’s critical not to look away and pretend it’s not there.This is not a pop song or a TV show or a celebrity we're tiring of. Because of Trump administration policies poor people will suffer, LGBT people will suffer, refugees will suffer, immigrants will suffer, our privacy will suffer, human rights around the world will suffer, the climate will suffer, women will suffer and students will suffer. Meanwhile a hostile foreign government has already influenced our government and likely will continue to. Vigilance is a must.

I know I’ve said this before and I’ll likely say it again, particularly when senility sets in (which could be any day now) but it bears repeating. When you present a plan to someone, such as, let’s meet outside the cafe at 7:00, they should never, ever, under any circumstances respond by saying: “sounds like a plan.” Of course it does you moron, it is a fucking plan. What would be weird is if your plan sounded like a sonnet, or a riddle, or soliloquy, or hymn, or a battle cry, or a yodel, or the ravings of a lunatic. "Sounds like a plan” indeed. When someone asks you a question do you respond with “sounds like a question”? Or if given directions do you in turn retort, “sounds like directions”? Or if issued a warning do you say “sounds like a warning”? No, no and no.

When I was in my very early twenties I lived with a young woman named Becky. The relationship lasted just under a year. It rankles me still that she’s the one who left me because this was a woman with the intellectual curiosity of a fiddler crab. But that’s — as is so much of what I write — beside the point. There was in those days huge 4th of July gatherings on the beach in Mendocino drawing all the local Finns and many of us from the Bay Area. My family was distant relatives of some Finnish families who lived in the very tiny berg of Comptche which was a half an hour inland from Mendocino. There was a tremendous amount of food and an even greater amount of booze at these soirees. The attendees represented all generations. I went every year in my early twenties and was not the only person who enjoyed the proverbial one night stand there. It was a wild scene of debauchery and I loved it. Anyway the year I was with Becky we went together. We were staying in one the big house in Comptche which boasted many extra bedrooms. On the beach in the middle of the revelry a middle aged gent of my acquaintance approached Becky and I ostensibly for a bit of friendly banter. But he had a point to make and that was that Becky and I couldn’t sleep together “under my roof.” Being in his cups he repeated the “under my roof” line several times. I wondered, what the hell is it with this guy's roof? The man’s got a sensitive roof. Would it be okay if we slept together on his roof? Another person later gave us the same business about his roof and what we couldn’t do under it. Geez fellas, nobody’s asking to do anything under your precious roof. Both old coots (they were actually younger then than I am today) also added that whatever we did on our own was our business. This was a relief. I was glad they appended that to their remarks lest I think they try to interfere in our personal lives.

I’ve been increasingly miffed about something. Two months ago I attended a memorial service for my good friend Kevin. His siblings and cousins all spoke about him and recounted his jobs, travels, talents, special interests and hobbies. They covered it all (almost) from editor of the high school yearbook to regular volunteer at AA. But they said not one word about his work with LBGT organizations. Kevin had been active in Lavender Seniors for years and had been for decades an outspoken advocate of gay rights. Hell they never even mentioned he was gay. Alcoholic, sure, but gay, no. One might suppose that this had something to do with the fact that a sizable part of the family are mormons and many were in attendance. Fuck ‘em. What the hell were they going to do if Kevin’s sexuality was mentioned? Walk out? Stand up and announce that he should burn in hell? Kevin told me more than once that some kinfolks had tried to persuade him to join the mormon church and that he always replied that he’d consider it if they ever allowed gay priests. (Actually I’m pretty sure that even then he wouldn’t have considered it.) It’s 2017 and people who are out of the closet should not be shoved back in in death. Especially not for the sake of a few bigots.

I close with a few words about my current state — not that anyone asked. I am currently experiencing my second consecutive day without depression. The depression laid siege 12 months ago and in that time I’ve never had more than two weeks free of it. Once I had ten days and another time a week. I’ve had a few two and three day stretches here and there. The last two weeks had been pretty bad as I had an allergic reaction to an increase in lamictal as we increased my dosage. The reaction came in the form of a rash that extended from head to toe and itched like crazy. Today is the first day that it has improved (yes I’ve been to the doctor and yes I’m off the lamictal). Here’s the thing, I am a very happy person. I always have been. Somehow in a way that I can’t explain I’m even happy when I’m spending most of my waking hours depressed. I’m happy even though I’ve contemplated suicide and even though I live in fear of panic attacks. I know that doesn’t sound like it makes sense but damned if it's not true. Perhaps it is my physical health, my wife, my daughters, my friends, relatives, work and all the art and beauty that surround me. I even get into the depths of despair and some part of me remains — in an overall sense — happy. The rash has made it extra hard to be happy but…I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe it’s not so much happiness as optimism. Maybe it’s gratitude. Maybe it’s love. Maybe it’s hope. Whatever it is, I’m happy about it.