Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Longest Day

It really began on Sunday night as i lay on the couch and could feel it coming on, the boyos had both had a version of the 24hr kiddie crud the previous week, Nick D. had it the worst, losing his dinner as he lay in bed, it was only twice but i had to clean it up and i was hoping to stay healthy, the Breadwinner of course claimed she couldn't clean it for some reason, the fact i had to drive my father to the hospital in one week seemed insignificant to her, if i got i'd be fine by then she said.  On Thursday the I-mac got it, a different version, just sort of knocked him down for the day but there it was.  So when i felt it coming on i just kept thinking "no fucking way man, not now, please."

I was supposed to stay at my dad's house Monday night, the night before his surgery, after battling through a restless sick night i drank enough fluid and packed a bag of pretzels and headed to Cleveland, to a hotel near the airport, i didn't want to risk getting my dad sick before major surgery, he had enough on his mind though i could sense his disappointment and he could sense mine, i was supposed to spend that night at his place, like we used to in the old days of Xmas with my Father, me and him bullshitting and trying not to think about the impending day ahead, instead we talked on the phone and spent the night alone and thinking between fits of sleep.

At 4:07am, after the best 40 straight minutes of sleep i had all night my alarm jarred me awake. I showered and packed and headed out into the frigid air, pulling up in front of his place i could see his front room light was on.  He was waiting for me. He's thinner and gaunt and slightly jaundiced. I gave him a hug, tossed my bag in his place, grabbed a water, made sure he had all the paperwork and whatever else he'd need and then we went down his steps, both of us telling the other to be careful because of the ice, we drove through the city, past my beloved downtown and the night skyline, the Terminal Tower bathed in red light, the Q, Progressive Field, i love that fucking view every time i see it, a concrete representation of some dream that exists in my mind, of a youth and a history and a story...

The Old Man and i navigated our way through the halls of the just waking Clinic, found the floor and area and got him checked in.  Then we sat and waited. I drank green tea and my father dozed and i watched him, this man, my dad, a common man with more dignity and grace than all the royalty combined. I tried to read. I tried to sleep. Three hours later they called his name, the same one he gave me, and took him back, i said see you in a bit and went back to waiting in the lobby. Once again i tried to read. Once again i tried to sleep.  After another hour they called me back to wait with him. We sat and talked and my father once again dozed off and on. I told him to rest and not worry about me. My big sis and her husband and son arrived.  My nephew is in his late teens and on the ASD spectrum, my sister and her husband have worked tirelessly with him and he is the sweetest kid you'll ever want to meet. My dad adores the kid.  We all know how hard these situations are on him.  They told me to take a break, i'd picked up my dad at 5am and it was now slightly after 11am.

I walked the halls and bought more pretzels and a water. I sat in a chair and stared out the window at the cold rust belt sun, i watched the noiseless traffic and the bustling mess in front of valet parking, then i went back to his waiting room. There was some explaining of procedures and what not.  If all went well he'd be in surgery for somewhere around 8 to 10 hours... if not they'd call us in two. I clasped my dad's hand and kissed his head, told him i'd see him sometime tonight, i joked how i was looking forward to sleeping on a bench in a hallway.

My sister's family left and my sister and i went to find a place to wait. I had a pager that would give me updates dangling from my neck. My dad's older brother and younger sister showed up. We talked and mulled things over, we told stories to pass the time.  My aunt is a real pain in the ass and spent a good deal of time wanting to talk about politics.  My sister is the right wing libertarian type, my dad and myself and his siblings lean far left, needless to say on this day i could give fuck all about politics and just wanted people to be civil and chill the fuck out.  I understand they wanted to take their mind off things but as i had to state at one point, "there is a time and place for this and now is not the fucking time or place."

At 1:15pm my pager buzzed and told me the patient surgery had started.  Now the grind really started. 3:15 was the magic number, make that with no more texts and we'd have a chance. We sat in a lobby and then headed to get some food. It was Tuesday afternoon and the last proper food i'd had was dinner Sunday night.  I ate like a peasant, a big hunk of bread dipped in chicken soup, a chocolate chip cookie, i kept glancing at the pager, it was 2:37pm, we were getting there, each minute feeling longer and longer.  We sat at our table and talked, 2:51pm and the same message still scrolled across, patient surgery started, soon we crossed the 3pm threshold, we had finished our lunches and began thinking about heading back up to the PACU unit, and then at 3:13pm my pager went off. My sister and i looked at each other.  It read the doctors would like to speak with you, please return to the unit.

When my dad first told me about his liver surgeon he thought he was an arrogant shit. Since that time they'd formed a rather strong bond, more friends than doctor/patient.  He stood and stated the obvious, that there was nothing more they could do, he had a transplant surgeon sit in just as an extra set of eyes and for opinions, he said they discussed courses of action but that in the end if he started working on the liver there was a strong possibility my father would die on the table.  He also didn't want to see him spend a last month in an ICU.  He said he had formed a bond with our dad. He said he really liked him and that he was the most down to Earth guy, an intelligent and rational man who he really enjoyed seeing and speaking with. He spoke of how our dad stressed quality of life as more important than quantity, of how he didn't want to burden his children, i actually smiled through my tears because that was the quintessential essence of Pops, selfless and giving.  I could see this one hurt, that the surgeon really wanted to pull one off this time, that he had exhausted every possible scenario and option but in the end there was nothing to be done. Bile Duct Cancer.  A rare form here in the states. It was the shit end of the stick. We discussed possible treatment options and outcomes, none of which are very promising.  The liver is a tricky organ, the exact word to describe the treatment was grueling. My sis, knowing i had talked at length with my dad about this stuff asked if i thought he'd do it, my honest answer was it was a coin flip but something in me said probably not. Why feel like shit when the outcome is most likely going to be the same?

So now there was more time to kill. We waited for him to get to post-op so we could take him to his room and say goodnight, he needed to rest, i think we all needed to rest.  As i sat staring at my dad with the various tubes and machines i did my best to hold it together.  His voice was weak and groggy as he said, "this isn't good, i'm back way to early," he tried to smile, to once again put his kids at ease, it was as we walked out towards the lobby as they prepped to move him that what was left of my composure cracked, the tears streamed down my face as i told my sister, that i love the guy so damn much, that he was the best friend i'd ever had. In the unit lobby we were the last ones there as we waited. Another ten minutes or so and we went to his room and settled him in. I kissed his head, told him i loved him and that i'd see him in the morning.

I drove my sister back to Parma. I dropped her off and drove past my old and now closed junior high school. Past a landscape both familiar and foreign, gone was the Sno-White Donuts and Convenient Food Mart, gone was Rockpile Records and Mama Mia's, past Tri-C where i spent the Friday nights of my youth playing basketball and messing with girls, past the park where i took my first toke, i drove over to W. 130th and then towards my dad's place near W. 140th, i took out his keys and his money clip he gave me to take home, i sat down on his couch and turned on his television, it was past 9pm, i ate cheeseburgers and watched the Cavs play the Thunder, it was not lost on me that i was doing the same thing that my father would be doing and had done over the past 15 years of living here.  The new look Cavs looked good.  Maybe we could do it this year, it's the mantra of every native Clevelander, i smiled, i said i love you dad and then fell asleep on his couch.






Friday, February 9, 2018

Waiting for Superman

December was a rough month, the roughest i've had in some sixteen odd years or so, and the back spasms were the least of my worries.  If you've hung around the lounge long enough you know that me and the old man are pretty tight, my friends have often told me that they wished they had a relationship like the one my father and i have, and so when he told me he has been diagnosed with cancer it was the rare shot that buckled my knees, colon and liver, needless to say i got worry and worried i have been for the last whatever number of weeks as i try to sort out what i can do to help...

Of course my old man, Pops, as he is known to the boyos and my friends, is the most zen motherfucker you'll ever want to meet, he's a well read guy but i'm sure he's never read a book on the subject which makes him even more so, by not trying to be it he is it as Alan Watts would say, his surgeon has called him the most rational patient he's ever seen, as he stated in that first conversation, "everyone dies someday kid and it's alright, we'll see what we can do and if there's nothing? that's alright too, we'll take it from there...", the man has been teaching me my whole life and continues to do so...

One could say my mind has been on overdrive and i've been thinking a lot about any number of things when it comes to my Dad, i know the greatest thing he ever gave me was the ability to be me, did he influence the way i think? of course, but as he said to me many years ago, "it doesn't matter what i want you to be or if i like what you do because it's not my life, it's yours, and you're the one who has to live it, it's your choice what you do with it...", i understand what he gave me, call it freedom or free will or whatever, maybe what it's called is unconditional love in the purest sense, i believe it is the most important thing a parent can give to their child, he's knows his son wasn't always the most upstanding citizen, he knew it way back when, but it was my life and up to me to navigate it...

The strange thing is i've been mentally preparing myself for something like this for years, my old man has worked the graveyard shift for the last twenty odd years, he's been smoking cigarettes for over 50, he lives alone, every time he didn't answer the phone or people couldn't get a hold of him there was always that flash, of course oddly enough his lungs appear to be fine which drew a good laugh from both of us, yes the smoking didn't do him any favors in other respects but the former accountant turned warehouse grunt was in pretty decent shape for a guy in his 70's, yes he copped to the fact he could have done some routine medical things which he didn't but once again he stated there was no use moaning about it, he didn't, so we'll just get on with it...

So next week i'll drive home, alone, much like i used to, i'll stay at my dad's place and in the wee hours i'll drive him crosstown to the Cleveland Clinic where he'll have surgery to see what or if anything can be done for his liver, my big sis lives in Cleveland but i wanted to be the one to take him, i get the feeling he wanted me to take him, i understand this is how shit works, he does too, it'll be a long week but we'll get through it, it's what he taught me, you do whatever you have to do for the ones you love...

* Those first five paragraphs were written around 5am, this afternoon, after a flurry of trades by our beloved Cavaliers i called my dad to get his thoughts, he had just gotten off the phone with his doctors, seems the heart tests he had done were less than stellar, another layer of worry, another question to answer, shit ain't getting any easier, the liver has to be sorted but if the heart can't take the stress of surgery? well you get the idea, i can hear a level of frustration in his voice, i do my best to talk to him about what needs done and what i can to help and then try to get his mind on other things, tell him about the boyos and the bullshit that is the day in and day out of El Kono, i think he needs the break from thinking about all this stuff...


(this song was written by Wayne Coyne about his father when he was sick, it was one of the first things i thought of when i found out for some reason, music has always been what gets me through the day, i told Pops i'll do my best to pretend i'm tougher than i am when it comes to this, but it's getting heavy as the song says... and it's hard to type when i can't see the screen through the mist in my eyes...)








Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Second Class Citizen


It was David Byrne who once famously asked, "well? how did i get here?", and being a denizen of the lily-white suburbs i often find myself asking that question, the place i inhabit is both comical and frightening (to me at least) and disturbing.  Next to my fair hamlet there is a place which i will dub Upper Crust Snob, it's main goal is to beat my fair burb in what i call the School District Wars and it irks the residents of Upper Crust Snob that we who have been labeled Cake-Eaters, a slur that developed long ago and my not being a native have really yet to fully grasp but as an insult i find hilarious as i fucking love cake, hell i love most pastry unless of course it's fucked up with a bunch of fruit on it because a fine pastry, at least according to Kono should be nothing more than sugar and icing and delicious type pastry material, but i digress, needless to say my lovely school district smokes them every year, this year being no different... (third in the state overall, which judging from my taxes it damn well better be.)

To be perfectly honest i do my best to do nothing more than drive through the village of Upper Crust Snob, but on occasion i am forced to visit, (i once spent a comical evening at the Upper Crust Snob Country Club for an awards banquet where the Breadwinner's business was receiving an award, i was fucked on pills and booze and weed, of which i kept walking out the front door and smoking while all the teenage valets looking enviously on, all whilst sitting next to the the commissioner of Allegheny County and laughing my ass off at what a slob he was while an attractive woman across the table openly flirted with me, fine night indeed...) so we may ask? how did i get here? well the I-mac had some event at school, International Night to be exact, and well he needed the extra credit points and they teachers were offering up ten fucking points if you attended and brought a dish, (for the record the kid made high honor roll with a 3.8 his first semester but his momma worries too much) it's some gigantic potluck where an ass ton of people show up and the kind of thing i would wholeheartedly avoid in order not to attempt to socialize with people i mostly have zero in common with, which brings me to quote another fine English band, 10cc, and the things we do for love... like walking in the rain and the snow/ when there's no place to go/ or attending shit for kid...

The village of Upper Crust Snob is on a building spree, a new plaza with a Whole Foods and a slew of high end shops, except of course for Duck Donuts which is a purveyor of fine donuts, made fresh and warm and fucking Kono approved, they're also building some mansions and quasi-mansions all i'm sure running well north of 500k, which in this part of the Rust Belt is big money, in Cali terms they'd be in the millions. Now it just so happens that one of these shops specializes in bundt cakes, yes you've read that right, it appears it was started by some well coiffed and manicured ladies whose children must be capable of taking care of themselves or more likely have a nanny or more correctly, an Au Pair.

So in order to get the ten extra credit points the Breadwinner decided it would be a good idea to get and donate one of these cakes to the big shindig, mainly because it reflected both her German and eastern Euro mutt heritage and who the fuck wants to eat haggis anyway? and so it was on the week before the event we rolled in and ordered said cake and tried the mini-bundt cakes which i'll well cop to being fucking delicious, on that day we were treated swell, or more correctly i was because i happened to be wandering around the shop with a woman who could easily fit the bill of successful trophy wife or more correctly very successful business woman, the Breadwinner is nothing if not a well spoken and polite human (myself being excluded from those courtesies of course) and has a lovely smile which disarms the best of them, i on the other hand am a 6'4 lumpen prole who is usually unshaven and wearing whatever i happened to pick up off the floor that morning... and so the cake was ordered, the extra credit points secured, and the next week i would pick it up...

Let me state that it dawned on me the other day, as i was wandering around stoned, that i could easily pass for a criminal, hoodlum, or petty thief, it's winter and my usual get up is a black Carhartt work coat, a black hat (think Randall Patrick McMurphy) and black gloves, watch any prime-time CBS crime drama and you get the picture...

And so it was that i went to pick up the cake, alone this time, and oh what fun ensued, when i arrived the woman who took the order was waiting on another customer, she looked fearfully at me as she worked on the lady's order, then two old women came and started doddering around, regulars i gathered, since it was taking a bit of time Brunette yenta called back for help and another well dressed and coiffed Blonde yenta stepped from the back room and came out to help, now if you looked at the line you could obviously tell i was the next up but the Blonde took one look at me and said, "can i help you ladies?", smiling all the while and doing her best to pretend i wasn't there, the Brunette was taking her good old time with her current customer in what i gather was hope that her partner would finish first and be forced to wait on me, the current customer then saw someone in the back, the labor/cake maker, a woman who was most likely a lesbian, (though i am loathe to stereotype or assume i've been in enough gay bars and dealt with the LGBTQ community enough to have a pretty good idea, besides she was the only one to smile and give a friendly look my direction), thus ensued a round of hugging and gabbing and what not all while i patiently stood and waited, of course Blondie was taking her good old time as it seemed it had become a contest of which the loser got me, because why would this man who looks like a mechanic or garbage man be in a bundt cake store?

And so finally it was my turn, Ms. Brunette had lost by a fraction of a second, Blondie stood back, most likely holding the mace or taser behind her back just in case i got out of hand.  I stated i had an order to pick up and Brunette looked at me as if i had a third eye though just a week earlier she had no problem taking my order or my money, she took my name and went in back to get the kid's extra credit points, when she came out she asked my name again and since somehow the last letter of my surname was cut off the tag she became confused, dare i say reluctant to give me the cake, my Scottish surname is not that common and any moron would figure out that was my cake, she of course deduced that i was there to steal someone else's cake because that's what tall men dressed in black do, we heist fucking bundt cakes yo, and then sell them on the street at inflated prices, of course while all this was happening i was reciting Buddhist koans in my head in order not to start fucking yelling at these yentas, i knew well enough that any uppity-ness on my part and the call to the UCSPD would be quick fast and that those jack-booted fuckers would take delight in fucking with me, and so once she figured out that the name on the box matched mine, minus one letter, and she found a tag with my full name stating i had ordered the exact cake she had she finally handed it over, a visible sign of relief on her face, she then thanked me for being so patient and though for a fleeting second i was about to state that i needed to be seeing as i was treated like shit because of my appearance and the place i was in, i instead smiled and said, it's a virtue now is it not? picked up my cake and made for the exit...

In the end i found it comical but in the age of the Orange Shitgibbon it once again drives home the point of white hegemonic butt hurt and the now not so veiled discrimination that seems more prevalent in this shithole country dubbed Merica, i would not want to be or witness a person of color in that shop (because then i would get in trouble), particularly an African-American male, Jah forbid the bubble that these people live in be burst lest the recognize their own shortcomings and misguided views on humanity, the cakes may be fucking delicious, but i can learn to make them myself, they've gotten the last of this hoods money...



Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Wilderness Years - Free Agent (part 2)

It's a shame that these days the kids will never know the glorious dog shit that was known as brick weed, you have to be of a certain age to have a real appreciation of it, shitty outdoor Mexican flattened and pressed for easy transport with a potency level that ranged anywhere from "this shit gives me a headache" to "it's alright if there's nothing else", if you got real lucky it might even actually have a greenish tint but most of the time it was shit brown and smelled like dirt, it was the bottom of the barrel crap and damn near the reason the blunt was invented because the tobacco leaf fucked you up more than the actual dirty brick that was inside, but progress marches on and these days the kids would scoff at this stuff... (truth is so would i unless of course i happen to be on vacation, see Republica Dominica)...

Pizza Joe made his calls, i hung at the bar and drank and watched the news and waited, sometimes the drug game involved countless hours of waiting for something to happen but the feelers were out and i needed a score, and so i sat and drank and hoped, Mexican brick, it was the catalyst for the Pizza Man moniker, of course Pizza Joe had his own weird set of rules, he refused to let me pay more than $1700 a pound, my how times have changed, 17 for a pound of shitty brick, i already knew how thin the profits were going to be, it was a a bit of a risk to make two or three hundred bucks, of course if i bought two at a time the number would drop to 16 a piece, lucky me, i knew i'd loose customers but i needed to keep things going until i could find something new and at least it was something, it was a step back and i'd have to reign my fun in a bit but at least i could still eat, and hell maybe i could use a little step back, take it easy for a little and not get too burned out, maybe even take a day or two off...

I'd have to admit sometimes the stuff was better than others, for a short time it was actually decent and those times would see a little bump in the bottom line, of course dealing with the city kid crews made me actually miss Hippie Jack and Cocaine Mike because for all their shortcomings they were still somewhat professional (some of the time), they handled themselves better, which in hindsight still set the bar pretty fucking low, the wannabe player city kids were either overly paranoid or ridiculously fast and loose, one minute flashing jewelry and rolls and pulling up in their new pimped out ride, the next minute freaking out if you so much as said hello to them because the cops were everywhere, call it bi-polar dealer disorder, call it annoying as fuck, i just wanted to get away from the scene as soon as possible, for all my soap box talk of fucking the system and living outside the laws and what not i often sounded like a fucking suit...

My favorite urban myth from this time was the Election Day Crackdown, seemed the hoodrats had convinced themselves that every election season the local law enforcement would step up its game and begin busting people left and right, there were ghost stories of a friend of a friend of a cousin who's brother got popped just two days ago, of course no one ever actually had to worry because they all stopped and sat around dive bars looking nervous and jittery, there was no coke or smack or weed or at least it was scarce and hard to come by and usually overpriced, and then like magic, the next day everything would go back to normal, oddly i've heard this urban tale from all over, passed down through the hood storytellers in the finest example of our species oral tradition, Young Bucks beware for John Q. Law lurks when the ballot box is afoot...  it was bullshit... it was Kaiser Soze... the only reason these clowns got popped was because they were just that, clowns, they got busted because of stupidity and not some fantastic feat of law enforcement, as a wise officer once stated in the city paper when talking about the local war on drugs, "the guys who are good at it? we'll never see them, maybe if we get lucky but the good ones we don't even get a sniff, that's alright though, there are enough bad ones to keep us busy..."

So i was swimming in the shallow end, each time i began to run out i crossed my fingers and hoped that a deal could be pieced together, usually it happened, sometimes it took a few hours and sometimes it took a three or four days, i'd pace my business just so i would have stuff on hand, i'd screen calls, some people had more privileges than others and i'd try to hold onto stuff for them, sometimes i couldn't fill the whole order but as every stoner will tell you as long as they got theirs it was cool, they'd smoke their friend up until i could re-up they'd tell me, they had the advantage of being the guy or girl who had the number and could get through the door, the people i saw frequently and could move a bit more usually earned the coveted spot sitting on the mattress on the floor, and it was a necessary illusion, if the impression is i always had gear than the kids would stay loyal, to keep me as their #1, like the starting fucking goalie or something...

But as it stood Pizza Joe had come through for me, i'd offer him the obligatory free eighth, tribute as they say for setting it all up and he'd never take it, i think he felt like he was a big brother or something, like he was teaching me the ropes though by this time i'd already been doing it for the last couple years not to mention a few other stints which put my resume at somewhere around three and half years of slinging, but i'd listen and learn, it's what i did, i studied the mistakes and what they did well and incorporated it into what i was doing, sometimes more in theory than in practice and sometimes vice-versa... but the object was to stay afloat and for the time i had done that, i could still pay down the student loans, i could still eat and pay rent and booze and score the occasional and varied recreational drugs, now and then i could even mosey down the street to the strip club and do my part in financing the dreams of any number of budding doctoral students and amateur masseuses, like Mr. Lou Reed said, sometimes you need a bus load of faith to get by...






Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Eleven... or Pissing in the Wind

It all started because the esteemed Gulfboot Johnson got tired of my writing him long emails about the early years, when El Kono was just a kid from Cleveland stuck in the Wyoming hills playing basketball and the hi-jinks that ensued, he claimed that it was entertaining and it was a waste that he was the only one to see it, he said that on this thing called the internet there was this wacky new trend called blogs, i thought that sounded like a medium for fucking wankers and besides i didn't know how to go about getting something like that up and running, i was a technological Luddite, even more so then than i am today, and so the truth is Gulfboot set this experiment up, set up the site and if my memory serves helped come up with the name for it, a combination of one of my favorite words at the time and one of my favorite places, and thus was birthed the Asshat Lounge...

When it started there were no expectations and eleven years later there are still no expectations... I had no idea what i was doing or what would happen and luckily nothing happened and i still don't know what i'm doing, through a distinct lack of talent and ambition i've achieved exactly what i set out to do which is nothing, the Wu Wei with a bit more typing thrown in...

Since doors opened here at the lounge a whole cottage industry has sprung up around the business of blogs, awards banquets and conventions and such, money has changed hands and the lumpen prole, as usual, are sold a dream of success and riches beyond their wildest dreams, yet what the fuck is success? i have no idea, i guess some would say a moron in front of a typer putting somewhat incoherent run-on sentences together for eleven years could be success; it could also be said that someone with no readers and few views might be a sad and lonely sort, maybe he's a bit off mentally, like Sisyphus and his boulder or Charlie Brown and his football, then again i don't really know what those things are or mean, i thought metrics was how they measured shit in Canada...

And so here i sit doing what i always do, what i've done off and on for the last eleven years, telling stories to myself in hopes of amusement and to stave off the mindless glow of the telly, the hopes and dreams of the young Kono have long since faded, in fact the old Kono barely recognizes the young Kono but actually that would be a lie, the old Kono just doesn't give a fuck about the things his younger self did, is more comfortable with himself than the young one was, a fact that most of the people who knew they young one would be puzzled by seeing as that young Kono was full of bravado and cockiness as those young sorts are apt to be full of, now i'll to revert back from third person to first, i just do, it's the act that i enjoy, i all i ever wanted to do was sit down and type things out, be it metaphysical musings or stories, to leave my history so that my drug and booze abused brain could go back and see what a fool i've made of myself, like that Memento film without all the tattoos...

There is a fluidity here that sustains me like the air and water i need so much, there is a past and a future which merge into this now and leave the words written like chalk on the sidewalk as the first drops of rain begin to fall, the words are there and then gone, washed clean and reborn, they are remembered and forgotten, they ebb and flow like the waves meeting the sand and they are mine and they are not mine, everyone's and no one's, it may go on for another eleven years or it may stop tomorrow, what i didn't know eleven years ago but have learned in the process is that it's the act of creating that holds the meaning, the rest of it is so much window dressing, a distraction from what truly matters... and if that is the only thing i've learned than it has been well worth the time and energy invested...

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Green Tea

I had my first back spasm this past month and i can readily admit it's not something i'd like to experience again, poor Nick Disaster stood and cried and said he didn't want to go to basketball practice as his father crumpled to the ground on his hands and knees, breathing deeply and trying to reassure him that he'd be fine, it would pass and then we could go... and pass it did but i don't think fine is the word i'd use to describe how i felt after... of course being house boy means you don't get fucking days off and so off i went to multiple games and practises, barely able to get in and out of the car, it's amazing how people think you're smiling when you're really gritting your teeth... but somehow i made it through the day and figured fuck it, all i have to do is be careful and that won't happen again... oh but i am a silly man, yes i am...

In these lovely days of winter i adhere to a strange regimen of bullshit, kono-mysticism, and half-baked theories gleaned from the covers of grocery store checkout magazines, i drink a lot of tea, most of it green tea for the antioxidants but i've got some black and English breakfast just for good measure, the green is done with lemon and a touch of sugar, the others are made good and strong with sugar and milk, i usually stand and stare off into space when i drink my tea, i'm not sure this a contemplative stare or that of an aging space cadet, oddly enough i haven't thought about it, but it's what i do and i listen to whatever happens to be playing on the turntable or radio while staring blankly out the windows while the cardinals and blue jays battle and the fucking  absent-minded squirrels hide their nuts, i eat CBD gummies in hopes of somehow reversing all the damage done to my body from years of  abuse and knowing that i'm most likely proper fucked in that department, and yes all of this is usually preceded by the clandestine and mellow toke, just enough to take the edge of the aches and pains i've accrued through the former and present punishment i dish out to this skin suit...

So in the hopes of avoiding the pain of the back spasm i convinced myself of the purity of my healthy lifestyle, yes i can hear you laughing  but the mental part is half the battle now isn't it? convince the mind that everything is hunkfuckingdory and the body will sort itself out... so while it wasn't a total surprise that i had another back spasm what was a surprise is that instead of this one lasting two minutes it went on for roughly seven or eight hours, not non-stop mind you, as long as i didn't move i was fine but everything in between hurt like a motherfucker...

It all started so innocently as i sat at this very computer in a shitty metal folding chair, Spartan Chic i dare say, when suddenly here it came, within seconds i was on all fours and then within minutes i was contemplating taking up religion so that at least i would have some deity to bargain with, curse at, plead with, make false promises to, anything really as long as said deity would make the pain stop, the boyos sat in the next room and came running in and found their old man prone on the floor and unable to get up, my legs seemingly deciding they had had enough of this walking and standing shit, i did manage to basically pull myself to a standing position and brace against the door while breathing deeply and hoping there would be no aftershocks, i was wrong, soon i was back down on the floor and the I-mac ran upstairs to tell the Breadwinner what was going on, the Breadwinner came down to find me on the floor and went to work on the internet to see what could be done, by this time of course both the boyos were freaking out because they have never seen their 6'4 inch 195lb. daddy laid out flat and writhing in pain, the I-mac was pleading with the Breadwinner to call an ambulance but no call or ambulance would be forthcoming, i understood why, she was tabulating the cost of the ER visit ($600 if i wasn't admitted) and the ambulance ride, what could they do? she said, i was about to scream shoot me fucking up with Demerol that's fucking what but at the time the pain was to busy occupying my thoughts... (if i stated what her end of year bonus, draw from her business, and other business rebate check was you'd understand just how low i rank, in fact the only chance i had for an ambulance/ER visit, seeing as there was no fucking way i could make it to a car let alone get into the damn thing, was the begging and pleading of the boyos but even then she remained unmoved...)

And so internet advice it was... the info relayed to me was that what i needed to do was get upright and jam my fist into the spasm, all well and good if i could actually stand and get my fist around my back before the pain crippled me, of course you'd be surprised what you can do and so i began to pull myself up the door again, once upright i shuffled slowly and leaned against a wall within sight of a pull out couch, the plan was to get there and fall down on my back, slide some pillows under my knees and jam that fist every time the pain shot... of course i still had to get there and i spent a good twenty minutes leaning on another door and jamming that fist, each movement brought pain ranging from holy shit to somebody please fucking put me out of my misery, but dammit i got there, my right arm burning from how hard i was cranking it into the epicenter of spasm central...

It had calmed down enough to get to the edge of the couch and i now faced the longest three feet of my existence, i didn't want the pain to come raging back and i knew the move i had to make to get down on that couch would do it, and so i took a deep breathe and flopped down, the pain firing and my fist digging in, once there i waited a few minutes breathing deeply and thinking fucking happy thoughts, i gave the nod to the Breadwinner who slid some pillows under my knees as another jolt sent my fist digging into my lower back, i laid there in the blue glow of the television and didn't move, even perfectly still the first hour or two i'd get jolts, one or two enough to illicit a pained "motherfucker" from my lips, i gingerly patted for the remote to turn on some music, classical and then jazz but it was the droning hum of American infomercial shilling that finally put me out, sleep never felt so good...

Until of course i had to piss...

When one is an able-bodied bastard their whole life you never really dwell on not being able to do a simple thing like get up, walk to the toilet, and toss a whiz... on this night i would learn what a privilege it is, of course in all my suburban mystic bullshit i had learned that sore muscles need water and so i lying there i drank as much as i could, i wanted to believe in magic, magic laughed, and so twice that night i had to rise and shuffle to the bathroom around the corner, i left the light on because i didn't think i could turn it on without another spasm, each time was an adventure, i would have liked to get out of my jeans but there was no fucking way that was happening, at least not without me screaming in pain, and so i would shuffle and piss and jam my fist in my back, as the dawn broke on my third piss i cautiously rose, there was ache but no mind-bending pain, i kept my fist at the ready, i took my leak and shuffled back and caught just a quick nip as i lay back down, i had come out the other side, at least for now...

I laid there and stared at the ceiling as the morning i usually orchestrated took place around me, the boyos came and carefully kissed my head and rolled out the front door and into the Breadwinner's ride, off they went and i slowly got up and vaped the heaviest indica on hand, whatever gets you through the night... or day... a couple of phone calls later (to the chiro and the doc) and i was out, i told myself that it wasn't that bad, as my little girl kitty sat next to me purring i almost cracked a smile... by noon i actually made it up the steps, the slight tweaking and twinging reminders like aftershocks to a great quake, to take it slow, to breath, i made cup of green tea, i shuffled back to my makeshift bed and read away the day amidst the sound of my breathing and the suburban nothing...




Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Water Buffalo

It is said that to desire the path to enlightenment will only make said goal get further away... or as Alan Watts says "attempting to kiss your own lips", so the deeper i go into this study the more i realize i cannot desire knowledge or wisdom or leather shoes for to do this will negate the knowledge or wisdom or leather shoes, really the trick is to learn not to desire but just be but how does one do that in the age of consumption? fuck if i know... and of course for all my attempts to become a better citizen of the planet there is this thing called other people who constantly get me to loose this grasp of peaceful consciousness or whatever it is and and want to  beat the living shit out of them...

If ever there was a man to try my patience it is/was/and always will be the Breadwinner's father, a man who seemingly finds it impossible to enjoy anything (other than shopping) and who understands so little about what life actually is and could be, his level of selfishness and lack of self awareness is a stunning tribute to the Me culture we have cultivated in this country... problem is he's not a millennial but a 70 fucking year old man...

Full disclosure, a few years back on a trip to Costa Rica i contemplated rolling him down a large and rocky hill because he was such a raging asshole, no need to re-hash the details, that said the other day i arose at 4:30am so i could drive him to the VA for another of his outpatient surgeries, he's an old combat vet who saw shit that no human should have to see in the jungles of Vietnam, he's also a devout lover of Faux News and a supporter of the Orange Shitgibbon, his grasp of facts and rational thought is minimal but he does like to yell and throw fits when he hears opinions contrary to his own, needless to say we don't see eye to eye on many (any) things, he also loves to argue though and takes some weird delight in working himself up in a lather, of course his arguments are usually based on shit he makes up and he really hates when you point out that he's making shit up... being trapped in a car can be an uncomfortable place unless you've learned the art of deflect and distract... i have mastered this technique in his presence...

So i got him checked in and then drove home so i could make the boyos breakfast and get them off to school, i waited for the hospital to call so i could pick him up and drive him back to the house where he would stay for the night... having the man in your house is like inviting in a noisy water buffalo, he's a loud and lumbering mess, he snorts and grunts and belches, he makes coughing gagging sounds for no apparent reason, he leaves the most noxious farts and shuffles off, and yet i do my best to stay patient...

The root of his problem i believe is his inability to give or receive love, he doesn't understand how, has never learned and so it's a concept he struggles with, he is a man who if asked the age old question, the house is burning down and you can save either your wife or your kids, who do you save? would unequivocally say his wife, he had an unhealthy relationship at best with his deceased wife who he claimed to adore, of course that is if adore means being a jealous, selfish, angry, controlling prick, he resented his kids for taking up her time and taking time away from him, he used his wife's struggle with weight to manipulate her self-esteem, his way of showing love when his kids were growing up would be to give them money or buy them things, needless to say the Breadwinner received very little, yet here he stays, he has four children, notice who took him to the hospital? there are few people who can tolerate and deal with him for more than an hour, for some reason the man really likes me... to quote Neil Tennant, what 'ave i done to deserve this?

In the couple days he was around he spent a good deal of time talking about his money, how this is the best year he's ever had in the stock market (an allusion to the Orange Shitgibbon), how big his dividends were, how he was a fucking savant when it came to picking stocks, i stood washing dishes and folding clothes and quietly repeating the mantra "please shut the fuck up", when i mentioned i thought my old man was a pretty savvy player, (my old man being an ex-accountant and Water Buffalo being an ex-insurance salesman) he immediately barked, "not better than me" at this point it would have been easy for me to snap at him, to be the oxygen for his burning desire to argue and fight, i laughed, he repeated "not better than me", i shrugged and grinned and carried on... not long after he was at it again, commenting on something and offering to bet some bank account he had, my reply was another shrug, his was i should have taken him up on that bet because that was another of his fat bank rolls, i countered that he wouldn't be taking that money to the next world and how much do you need? and that the size of a man's wallet has no bearing on the character or decency of said man...

And therein lies the rub, the man has spent an entire life accumulating as much wealth as he could, he has thrown money at some of his children in an attempt to buy their love and yet when it came down to it was someone else's son who took him to his surgery, who picked him up and got him food and looked after him until he fell asleep, not because i love the man because i don't... nor do i hate him, my old man taught me about things that were more important than money, call it compassion or empathy or a willingness to be kind, don't look for a reward just do it because the universe is a cruel enough place on it's own most nights, i did it to set an example for the boyos (who know full well i'm not very fond of the man), sometimes you just do things because it's right, though i'm not sure right is the proper word, maybe kind and decent are the words, i explain to them that when their old man is nothing but a memory they won't remember a thing i bought them but will think of the moments we shared and the things we did... if i could give the Water Buffalo anything it'd be one day of clear thought, to show him the things he's missed and how lucky he really was even with his relentless attempts to piss it all away, hoping that from that day forward he would take advantage of the time he has left.... instead of staring at his phone and bragging about his money...