That’s the whole trouble. You can’t ever find a place that’s nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you’re not looking, somebody’ll sneak up and write “F*** you” right under your nose.

J.D. Salinger is dead and I’m not.

Fieroanimals
Click images for desktop size: “Fieroanimals” by Unknown

I think he’d appreciate that. I know I do.Zurich Film Festival
I keep trying to piece together the history of all this grief.
It was winter of 1999 when they told me I had lympho ballistic leukemia. The doc’s were worried because I took the news too calmly. Like there’s a choice.
The put me on the chemo’s that didn’t quite work. I mean, they did their thing. I went bald, it burned out my pancreas so I got the predicted diabetes. I dropped about 30 pounds of muscle mass. They just didn’t stop the leukemia.
They didn’t tell me, or maybe they did, that the second chemo, Lanvil or something close enough to that name, was laced with neuortoxins. I didn’t know until they told me a couple of months ago. Same time they told me that another of the chronic symptoms of diabetes was nerve degeneration. Diabetes was one of the contributing factors to the first heart attack.
Okay.
So a couple of weeks ago I got a fire in my thigh. Started at the middle of my back and ran all the way down to above my knee. Hurt pretty bad. I took massive doses of ibuprofen and that settled it down. The doc gave me this pill Lyrica. At first I liked it. It stopped the painful burning. The pain and ache it dealt with by making the whole thigh feel numb, but not in a bad explosive way. Just sort of dead flesh numb. I could handle it even if I couldn’t enjoy it.
I followed the directions carefully. One pill a day for a week then on day 7 double them up, one in the morning and one at night.
Fifty Five Drops
Click images for desktop size: “Fifty Five Drops” by Unknown
I started the doubling up on Friday. On Sunday I noticed my feet and ankles were swollen to about twice their normal size. Real John Merrick style freaky ugly stuff.
I’d been noticing a pain in my chest when I was walking to work. Nothing over powering, but still there. I stopped taking the pill. Didn’t take my Sunday night pill before hoofing it in to work. There’s a severe hill at the start of the walk. When I got to the top the pain in my chest was pretty bad. It dropped me to one knee and I vomited up about two cups of liquid. Embarrassing stuff.
I called the doc first thing Monday. She was out so I talked to the Medical Student with the same last name as mine. She told me to stop taking the pills. Told her I already had. She said check back in two days.
It was a rough two days. The pain in the thigh came back, at least the burning was pretty subdued. Work was miserable. Its hard suffering in front of people who don’t care. I get no sick days. I had to work to get paid.Invasion of the Bee Girls
I walked back and forth to work. It was hard. I still got there.
I took comfort in the fact that my puppy didn’t seem too concerned. I was having a harder time breathing though and she slowed down when I started to gasp too hard. She still fought me for the bed. I considered it a win if I got a third of Fred and Ginger
Click images for desktop size: “Fred & Ginger”
it, about a foot.
I called the doc on Wednesday. My doc was in. She told me for me to be in that much distress it was important that I go to the emergency room. I told her I couldn’t afford that, which is true.
I went to work as usual. I was getting used to vomiting at the top of the hill. I kept trying to tell myself it was getting better. I put a wedge in the bed so my feet would be higher than my heart. I did all I could.
On Friday I walked home, took care of my puppy and walked over to the Emergency Room. Something of a mistake I think.
Having chest pain rushed me to the front of the queue. Which was cool VIP stuff. They did my EKG, chest X-Ray and BP. I was freaked out. I hate hospitals now. My BP was 194 over 94. I’d never seen it that high. At home, on Thursday, my BP was 112 over 65. At the hospital it never went lower than 155 over 75.
The EMG doc came in and said that my EKG looked fine. I studied the tape with him and asked him about my two heart attacks. The last EKG I had the heart attacks were real easy to see. He looked Regresa A Mi by Titusboy
Click images for desktop size: “Regresa A Mo” by Titusboy
harder and said, “I guess this could be them.”
That was when my BP dropped. I felt pretty good. My heart was healing. Even though conventional wisdom said it wouldn’t, it was. My program of acerbic self flagellation and puppy playing was working.
The next thing he was saying was that he still wanted me to stay in hospital overnight for observation. That shot my BP up again. I asked a simple question; “How much would that be?”
No body knew. It took 10 minutes to find somebody to tell me the base rate would be $3,200. I told them no thanks.
I had to sign a Discharged Against Medical Advice Form. Then they were in a big rush to get rid of me. I made the doc examine my feet and ankles. He said that he couldn’t see any swelling. I’m confident that I wasn’t hallucinating so I decided the EMG doc was a bigger idiot than he appeared. (And trust me, most doctors are idiots. A degree confers no wisdom.)Three Stooges
The blood tests came back and my enzymes showed I’d had an “incident” some days ago. They told me stay off my feet and to relax . . .
I had to stumble around to find my way out. I walked home. My puppy was distressed. She even let me lie down unmolested.
I figured that the pain would gradually fade away and that eventually I’d pass the disaster that was Lyrica out of my life.
I got a phone call Saturday morning. The X-Ray doctor was calling. She was alarmed that I wasn’t in hospital. She wanted to know if I was mobile. The X-rays showed a large amount of fluid in my chest cavity. I told her I was uncomfortable but not dying. She asked me to monitor things and to return to the hospital if pain got too bad or I were to pass out or collapse. (I avoided asking how I was going to get to the hospital if I was unconscious.) She agreed to fax or messenger my x-rays to my doctor asap.
This phone call really made me angry. I couldn’t believe the doc had rushed me out before they even looked at the x-ray. I told you doctors can be idiots.
And all I’ve gotten out of this is DO NOT EVER TAKE A DRUG THE BASTARDS ADVERTISE ON TV. Especially Lyrica. Congestive heart failure is one of their known possible side effects . . . And I love my puppy. Late at night I only have to whisper her name and she comes running happily to me. And I love my friend who puts up with me.
When I was young I thought I was twice as much man as anyone else. It sounded arrogant even to me. But I think I was right nonetheless. Because now I feel like about half a man but the funny thing is I’m still alive even if J.D. Salinger isn’t.

Black Pearl, pretty little girl, let me bring you up where you belong – Phil Spector

I got badly sunburned yesterday. Then I took a bad fall. Whacked myself on the noggin.
I was wall washing, like an epileptic drunk when I saw my eyes in a window. One dialated, the other a pin hole. I was pretty sure I was concussed. No blood so I soldiered on for a while before I called for an ambulance.
At the hospital they confirmed the concussion. No big deal except I wasn’t allowed to sleep. The doc came and yelled on me about my health. He drained about 1,200 milliliters from my thigh. It was mostly blood and not fluid. For some reason I thought that was a good thing. I don’t have any idea why I thought that. I do know draining it took a lot of the burning pain away.
I got a lecture about how I was risking my health by not following procedures after my heart “procedure”. I felt like saying its not my fault but I just listened. I did point out I was taking all my meds, pretty much in the right way. I told the doc I’d do my best to follow orders. I think we both decided the other was an idiot.
T#hey did more heart x-rays and stuff then they released me. I thought I was going to get some chance to sleep but officially I was in Emergency and not in the hospital. That’s a technicality I can barely understand.
It was an unfortunate ending to what seemed like a decent enough day.
I told you about the shouting homeless bike mechanic. There was an event, some sort of political rally, with free food. I was standing around irritated that there was no food there I could even consider eating, when I saw the mechanic pulling up on his bike with a guitar!
I asked him if he was there busquing. He gave me a great crazy man answer. “I don’t busque! Do the birds in the trees busque? I make music! If you want to hear it that’s fine by me. If you should have a little money fall out of your pocket that’s okay too!”
He started to play and he was horrible. His guitar was a flat top that he’d strung with nylon. The tone was odd but interesting. His box was totally out of tune and the way he played it was . . . we’ll call it the Richie Valen’s bashing around technique.
He only had two chords, both clearly two he made up. A sort of Am7 at the top of the neck and a freaky CMajor he pled arounf the 11th fret. There were a whole lot of strings he didn’t fret and, even with nylon, a whole lot of buzzing. It was a nightmarish sound. People were walking past him and laughing at the crazy man.
That made me mad.
I asked if I could tune the guitar up for him. (No, I am still terrible tuning guitars totally by ear – I still don’t have perfect pitch.) He at first refused explaining that he’d been a musician for 40 years and yadda yadda yadda. Then he just handed the guitar to me.
I sat down and tuned the box pretty slack, looking to just do a whole drop note and tune it from an open D.
To try it out I started to strum out the song that had been bouncing in my head all day, The Rolling Stones, Chris Farlowe “Out of Time”. Since I don’t know the words it had a lot of da da dee verses, but always a strong chorus.
We actually got a little bit of a crowd and the Mechanic yelled at me, “Well, don’t stop now!”
So I played the first song I could think of, “O Lucky Man”. Which is a nice rhythm based number with cool lyrics to detract from my cramped hands and missed chords. Then I went straight into the Kinks, “Till The End of the Day”. Which everybody knows so you don’t have to play it too well.
People were tossing money so I played a song, an old Elvis tune, that I learned recently for my ex-friend. I think I do it pretty well and figured out easy ways to do the chord changes so my hands didn’t suffer; “Home is Where the Heart Is”.
The drugs make my tongue swell and give me terrible dry mouth. On this tune that didn’t seem to make much difference, in fact the choking sound on the high notes actually sounded emotional, at least to my ear.
I ended my big come back with Dion’s “Dip Drop”. Its semi-obscure but cool, more guitar percussion than playing and it has a killer chorus that always gets people’s heads bobbing.
After that I couldn’t play any longer. Didn’t matter the mechanic was stoked. He’d gathered up $8.40
He wanted to only give me forty cents! Because it was his guitar and I did break his G – String. I settled for a dollar.
Not so much in my heart or mind but my body is dwindling. I see little old ladies passing me on the street. I’m constantly dizzy, lost. The pain is sometimes overwhelming. People must think I’m forgein and that erk, ouch, damn are a major part of my alien vocabulary.
I don’t want to die. I know that my life has been full. There’s too much tragedy in it but when I think of my life I think of the smiles and the laughs. I remember the tasty waves. The days when it was 10 foot and the Santa Ana’s kept the face flat and smooth.
I’ve won an awful lot. I’ve had more miracles than a born again Christian at seminary school.
I was always amazed when someone said they loved me. Amazed at how many people did. And amazed at how many people said, “I love you,” not to try and get me to fall for them but because they really did love me.
I’m conceited but I never understood why anyone should ever love me.
I’ve been so lucky in that I love so many more. I didn’t tell enough people how much I loved them. There’s my advice. Tell them that you love them. Just tell them.
There’s no one out there for me to really hate either. I have enemies, had them but I think I always won when it was important and lost only when it was in not responding to petty and vindictive rage.
There are so many things I only got to see once, but I did get to see them.
If it gets to the point where I can’t go on anymore I found a place to lie down and pass over. A baseball field because no place is closer to heaven than a playing field, and no playing field more blessed than a baseball diamond.
Its an oklay field. There’s no little league team there, all adults so i wouldn’t have to consider the horrow of a kid stumbling across the homeless guy’s corpse. Its only 270 feet down the right field line! I’d have beebn a pure power hitter if I’d played my home games there.
I walked the base paths. I imagined getting a blooper hit to run out a single. (Even in my fantasies I can’t hit the curve) then I stole second, moved to third on a bad pick off attempt and then went home when the center fielder was slow in retrieving the ball.
None of it is locked up. The seats are covered and lying on the bottom row I’m certain you can’t be seen from the street or even close up.
To pass over looking at a baseball diamond and remembering and imaging life there would be as good as I could ever hope.
I only worry about my puppy. I would love to see her again but that would be too selfish even for me. By now she must be settling into the fact that I’m not there. To see her and then leave would be cruel.
I don’t know how long I can hold on. I have to write to the two jobs that are still silent. A yes or a no is needed by me! It would probably make a difference. I’m just tired.

I’ve never liked a woman enough before to give her 12 sharp knivesMichael O’Donahue

The Lady Of Shalott By John Waterhouse
Click images for desktop size: “The Lady Of Shallot” by John Waterhouse

I have been developing skills I didn’t realize I had.
Snow shoveling skills.
I think snow shoveling skills are pretty much taken for granted around here. There’s about 4 inches of snow on top of 2 to 3 inches of ice.
No one seems to much notice or care. I nearly get killed walking to the mail box. Ordered To Love Walking my puppy becomes an experiment in terror.
Fortunately for her, and for me I suppose, I like terror.
So, I’ve become a snow shoveler. This was only because it became apparent that no good hearted kids were going to show up and do it for me. Not even Elves.
Anything I could say about snow shoveling would make me sound like a fool; or even worse, like a rank amateur.
The only real skill I have in it being an innate ability to hurt myself. But, and here’s the real clue to success, never to hurt myself badly enough to actually stop!
I think I am perfecting it enough to make it an acknowledged art form so I can apply for federal funding.
I do a lot of dancing around grabbing various body parts, which my puppy and my dogs all take as a sign of great fun to come. I tweak my back and every joint in my body just two points past the smiley chart of discomfort, just enough to know it will really hurt later, at least by the next morning. All the while I’m extending myself just enough to be sore and tired but NOT enough to actually warm myself! That’s a real skill.
Why it doesn’t snow when its about 60 is a mystery only God and religous philosophers can ponder with any hope of results.
As I carve my uneven and winding dirty path I note that I have a gift for dumping the dirty snow I’ve just removed into a slushy pile that I will invariably step into or, even better, I’ve put the pile in a place that I will have to climb over it to accomplish one of my more mundane chores.
Snow Flakes
Click images for desktop size: “Snow Flakes” by Unknown
I think I was bred in California (SOUTHERN California) for a reason.
What worries me greatly is that my puppy and I are both having fun.
I get the impression we are certainly entertaining the neighbors . . .
I’ve also noticed that I do not have a good selection of music on my iPod that works at all for cold weather and snow. This is an odd discovery and I don’t know if it has weight or not.
My impressions, surf music works – especially when we stand and watch kids sled or snow board, Rob Zombie does not. Rap doesn’t, pop does. Doo wop works the best, heavily distorted guitar solo’s the worst.
I may be onto a new marketing ploy here, or I may not appreciate music properly when my hands and ears are numb.

Phantom From Space I’m giving serious thought to opening up the comments section of my puppy’s and my blog here.
I shut them off, or screened them heavily because of a) comment spam (beastiality ads on my puppy’s site number about 500 a month) b) People – I normally like people but not all the time, not when they’re being hurtful and they remain strangers c) My cheap but poor server.
a – can be handled with some Movable Type plug-ins. Kids like to talk to my puppy and I’d like them to be able to freely, and even talk to each other. My current system of giving out my puppy’s e-mail address and restricting commenting by blocking all but her freinds and family’s ip’s works but it lacks elegance and feels chained.
b – I’m in a place now where I can cope with the vindictive out here. I have a bipolar attitude towards anonymous love and hatred. The full reality is that I don’t care but it distresses people I do care about. Its my biggest consideration.
c – is all logistics. This site is based on WordPress, which is php based. I like open source projects, the idea of them anyway. WordPress code is something of a jumbled mess. They keep improving it without ever going back and cleaning up the code. It could be slimmed down. But the bigger issue is that my cheap but cruddy hosting service freaks out at processing all the php code. Php and cgi do put a lot of load on a cpu, and with a hundred or so sites on a shared server, all running php it bogs things down dramatically.
Stones By Corbis
Click images for desktop size: “Stones” by Corbis
Movable type is perl based. My hosting service freaks out at cgi scripts, but Movable Type creates an html page which even the cruddiest server can display with little grief.
In other words I’ll have to deal with the grief on my end but it will be invisible to you.
Movable Type is a pro product actually meant for something much bigger than my wants. The biggest pain in the neck is setting it up. I’ve been working at it, dawdling at it for a couple years now. I may now have my impetus for speeding ahead.

We’re going to put up Christmas decorations today . . . I’m wondering how much I can hurt myself doing that . . .
Detour I’m feeling a bit poorly, nothing bad enough to illicit sympathy, but badly enough to want to sit quietly. No one is allowed to sit quietly when they have puppies!
My puppy has an exam tomorrow, for obedience!! I hope she passes. I wanted her to start focusing so we can go to a Therapy Dog Class and get her accredited for this area.
They don’t allow dogs in hospitals here!! Fear of lawsuits for spreading infection! MY PUPPY DOES NOT SPREAD INFECTION, although I might.
She’ll get to go to retirement homes and maybe some kid things. We’ll see.
As to my iPod, one group that works summer, spring, fall and winter are Jan & Dean. Frosty The Snowman can even become a klazzik hit in their nimble hands.