Friday, April 30, 2010

Virtually Gone

So, maybe it wasn't my Crohn's after all. After bloodtests, a CT scan, and a colonoscopy, the doctor says the only things that look "abnormal" are my blood kreatinin levels (kidney-related) and something on my CT scan that looks like there could be "gallbladder issues." Neither appeal to me. I should have treated my body better over all these years. My fear is that I'll be unable to retire into any kind of leisure, whether I have money or not, because I'll be fighting to stay alive. And that's not what I want to do. At least the pain of the past two weeks is considerably better now...virtually gone.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

So this is Southland?

A little something for Teresa.

Monday, April 26, 2010 my friend

Finally, after resorting to sending a very, very nasty email to a gastroenterologist's office, I have an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 pm. It's been eight days since my Crohn's disease flared up and eight days since I had a meal...liquid, shakes, and the occasional bowl of mashed potatoes have been my sustenance for this week-plus and I hate it.

My inability to see a doctor is largely my fault. When my previous gastroenterologist decided to give up his practice to teach at UT Southwestern fulltime, I should have immediately found a new doctor. I didn't. I should have found someone who could give me the annual colonoscopy I'm supposed to have been getting. I didn't. I've been putting it off. But now I've finally got an appointment to see someone and I'm sure he'll insist on all the appropriate procedures. And he'll probably put me back on the meds I stopped taking after my doctor moved one to prescribe them for me...which may prevent another recurrence.

I long for a real meal...steak, chicken, squash, peas, beans, tomatoes, cheese...almost anything but shakes and apple juice and popcycles. However, the doc may not permit that until he knows why my gut is in wrenching pain and until he figures out what to do about it. I'm tempted to eat a huge bowl of spaghetti with hot Italian sausage tonight...just so I can have a real meal. Of course that might cause me to explode, which would be an ugly scene that would irritate my wife beyond measure. Where have I heard that before?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Beyond Measure

I've been dealing with a flare-up of Crohn's since late in the day on April 18...six days ago. I haven't had a full meal since then. Lots of liquids, even some shakes, but almost no substantive food. I'm starving (though you couldn't tell it to look at me). But I dare not eat anything substantive for fear of causing a perforation of my intestines. I loathe Crohn's disease beyond measure.

Friday, April 23, 2010



That's my variant on a an attempt by Al Jazeera to write a phonetic version of the pronunciation of the Icelandic glacier from whence a volcano sprang: Eyjafjallajokull.

Insolent Misue of Kindness

I am, at my core, a peace-loving man who desires nothing more than witnessing an end to violence.

So, it contradicted my self-image to plan to bludgeon a man to death with an axe handle. Nonetheless, I spent the evening of New Year’s Day, 2010, plotting the murder of a stranger I had grown to hate.

Who would have thought I, a nondescript middle-aged-plus man, owner of a small unprofitable business, would have been so seriously pursuing such a heinous act? But I was.

I wanted the motherfucker dead. I wanted his death to appear to be an accident. I wanted this “accident” to be fool-proof. I wanted this man’s death to be judged by all to be an unfortunate event with no human involvement.

I know, this is full of contradictions. The idea of bludgeoning the stranger while deliberately explaining to him--as he convulsed with every crushing blow--why I was doing it was at odds with my desire to leave no traces of homicide. The sensation of feeling and tasting the splatter of warm blood as I beat relentlessly on his skull with a hard-wood axe handle does not jibe with my desire to leave no evidence of foul play.

Just as importantly, though, I wanted this man to know he was being murdered and why. And I wanted him to suffer slowly in that knowledge, knowing there was no way to avoid his inevitable and quite painful demise. It was important to me that this bastard realize that, had he behaved differently to someone important to me, he never would have met me. He never would have incurred my wrath and my rage and my singular desire to beat him into a bloody, limp corpse.

In an ideal world, my message to him...that had he behaved with respect and had he not taken advantage of the kindnesses shown to him...would have spread like wildfire after his well-deserved death. But that would not be, because only he and I would be privvy to the fact that his death was caused by me in response to his infractions against goodness.

That was my plan, but it did not come to pass. My solutions to the problem of making the crushing blows delivered by an axe handle appear to be accidental never emerged. I've still never seen the man, never spoken to him. He does not even know I exist, as far as I know. Yet he still deserves to experience my solution to his insolent misuse of another human being's kindness.

[Is it real, or is it manufactured?]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trip to CC

This is a snippet of my trip from Dallas to Corpus Christi on April 8, 2010. I was driving fast and listening to XM Radio, The Village, Channel 15.


Yesterday, my wife and I took a long drive, the kind we used to take regularly. I didn't get nearly enough photos to commemorate the event, but I did take a few that I'm willing to share.

The primary purpose of our trip was to view wildflowers, and we saw enormous fields of wildflowers of all sorts...bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, evening primrose, and vast pastures full of yellow and deep red and orange flowers we could not name. But I only took a few photos...and not of the most breathtaking scenes, either, because I was so overwhelmed by them I forgot to get the camera. Instead, I took two photos of little clumps of bluebonnets, close up. (Click on any photo to embiggen.)

We stumbled upon a little town called Teague and my wife noticed an old train depot that had been turned into a museum. We stopped (expecting to be there a few minutes) and were transfixed by the old place. It's a treasure-trove of information about trains in general and trains that used to be the heartbeat of Teague, in particular. Just like the wildflower situation, I failed to take many pictures of the building or the trains and train-related equipment it housed. I did get a photo of a room that portrayed the way "it used to be."

As we were leaving, we noticed the old Teague Hotel right next door and I commented that I'd like to have the money and the time to rehab the old place.

Later, as we were meandering through backroads on our way home, we came across an area that was marked with dozens of signs like this:
I've never seen "Forbidden Zone" signs before, but they gave me shivers, as if I had re-entered the George W. Bush years. The signs were meant to warn people away from the watershed area of an important reservoir. I guess their targets are terrorists who would poison our water supplies. I thought to myself, "That should work. Terrorists wouldn't dare go into an area marked with such ominous, threatening signs."

Then, as we were wending our way back home, we came upon a Tex-Mex restaurant in the middle of nowhere (just outside a tiny town called Grays Prairie)...Tena's Tex-Mex. It looked sufficiently funky and was so "out of the way" that we had to try it. We tend to assume such places will be fantastic "finds" on our travels.

We should have acted on our first impulse when we walked in to see the place had not had its tables cleared from the last patrons. There were dirty tables everywhere; we finally found a cleared table and sat there, but I took a photo of some surrounding tables, which looked just like almost every other table in the place.

The appearance of the place notwithstanding, we decided to stay. The chips and salsa were more than adequate, which often signals what's to come. But when our meals were served, I was deeply disappointed. The only thing on the plates that was even remotely warm was the pork flauta, which had just been fried. Everything else was just under room temperature. Even the beans. I didn't take a picture of the LOOKED alright, it was just cold.

I rarely advise people NOT to eat at any restaurant, because I tend to think of restaurant selections as personal choices as much as selections based on quality of food. Not so with Tena's. Obviously, Tena's Tex-Mex has never had a food inspector visit...otherwise, it either would have been closed down or threatened with same unless their food-handling practices were upgraded.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Anniversarial Weather

This was the weekend that my favorite wife and I were to celebrate our 30th anniversary that has just passed, but we awoke this morning to a world drenched in wetness. So, instead of initiating a road trip of epic proportions, we're sitting inside wondering whether this weather thing will last. Our plan was to go find wildflowers, the backroads of Texas for which are known repositories. We wanted to find bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, wine cups, evening primrose, Mexican hats, and a million other brilliantly colored wild creatures sprouting from the roadside for our viewing pleasure. Instead, we're faced with wetness.

Seeing the disappointment in my eyes, my favorite wife offered to make me coffee (this, alone, is epic...she has rarely, if ever, offered to make me coffee in our entire blissful thirty years), but I was not in the mood. She then offered to make me tea, but that, too, was insufficient to lift my spirits. She then offered me "wotka," which though done in jest was a truly magnanimous jesture. I declined because it is not yet 9:00 am locally.

I have decided to shower and shave, a gift to my favorite wife in return for her generous offerings. Then, we may fight the wetness or, if that remains an unttractive option, we may brave a short trip to a breakfast establishment.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

30 Years

Today is my wife's and my 30th anniversary! And I'm out of town. But, I decided to send her flowers in a big way, so I arranged for a dozen red roses to be delivered between 9 and 11 and a dozen yellow roses to be delivered between 1 and 4. I went through quite a lot of explaining and re-explaining to make sure they understood. But they delivered all the roses at once. So, I called to express my annoyance...and they agreed to send yet another dozen to her. She got the third dozen, pink, this afternoon. So, my wife is swimming in roses!

The celebration wasn't all my doing, though. My wife FedExed an anniversary card to the hotel where I'm arrived early this morning. It was a wonderful card, a perfect reminder that long years of marriage may not always be "romantic," but the steadfastness of a long commitment is romance, in spades.

So, tonight I took my staff member and her husband (who came along as a "free" helper on this trip) to dinner in celebration of my anniversary.

Thirty years. It's a long time, but time flies very, very fast. I'm looking forward to celebrating the next 30.

Monday, April 12, 2010

High School

I had breakfast yesterday morning with a woman I'd not seen nor spoken to since I graduated from high school 38 years ago. She was a svelte cheerleader then, a highly popular girl on whom I had a mad crush but told no one about it. I dared not ask her out for fear of certain rejection and ostracism.

I stumbled upon her on Facebook a few months ago and asked to try to get together when I got to Corpus. We've not had many Facebook communications, so I didn't really know much about her or her life since high school. I learned a bit about her.

She spoke of her sense of loneliness when there were dances and proms, because no one would dare ask her out because they, like I, felt she would never accept.

I spoke to her for almost 3 hours and found her to be charming, interesting, and intelligent. I learned lots about people who attended school with me...not terribly exciting, but interesting. I hope I stay in touch with her, simply because she seems like a pleasant person and has memories of some of the same things I do.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


The people who live along the coastal plains of Texas, at least those who understand what they have here, tend to understate the benefits of living where they do. They tend to speak in pejorative terms about life here. They bemoan the fact that the largest city down here is still small and not very cosmopolitan. But they are hiding something.

They are afraid of relinquishing their hold here because they're afraid that development could obliterate what they have here. There's plenty of evidence that over-development is already happening. The people who understand the preciousness of this part of Texas hate that it seems irreversible.

I could enjoy living here again. But I, too, would be fighting over-development. And I'd know I was in a losing battle.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Product of Boredom

Today's high in Santiago, Chile is forecast to be 87 degrees, with a low of 51. If that's a bit warm for you, wait a week; beginning next Sunday, the forecast is for a 3-day stretch with highs of 78 and lows of 48.

Contrast Santiago's weather with Woodburn, Oregon, where the forecast is for a high of 54 today and a low of 40. That comes with showers/rain until next Thursday.

What I like about Woodburn is that it's an agricultural center and it's very near Portland and the wineries of the Willamette Valley. Plus, it's considerably cheaper than Portland. Of course, one would expect that, based on what's showing up in the Woodburn Independent.

I've been up for about an hour an a half. While the coffee has been OK, the lack of breakfast has not. So, I'm going to eat some shredded wheat with milk.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Exactly: Gin & Tonic

Apparently it's gin & tonic season. I'm working on number four or five for the night; I've lost count. I should have stopped after number two, when my wife called me in to her television & paperwork nest in our bedroom to say something was wrong.

Quickly, I went to see what was the problem; she was experiencing an alergic reaction. She had a rash all over her stomach and arms and legs. There were red marks and welts that appeared to me as though they'd be painful, but she said they were not. But she was concerned, as was I.

After determining that she was having no difficulty breathing or swallowing, I went for the computer an asked WedMD to tell me what was wrong. While I'm not 100% sure, it seems pretty obvious: she has developed an instant-onset allergy to either crab or salmon. She bought crabcakes for dinner tonight, but knowing two little crabcakes would not be enough, she bought a smoked salmon spread to serve as an appetizer on some wonderful crisp crackers she'd found someplace not long ago.

At any rate, WebMD told me not to worry unless she had breathing or swallowing problems. So, I advised her to take an antihistimine, like e-doctor said, and tell me if anything changed. And then she went back to read or watch DVRs of her reality shows or whatever it is she records religiously. And I went back to my gin and Food Network and related gluttony-training-programs.

Not long before 10 o'clock, I noticed that the bedroom light was out. Sure enough, she had gone to bed without bothering to let me know. Not unusual, but annoying nonetheless. I kept wandering into the kitchen to assess the extent to which the salmon spread remained fresh and tasty; each time, I was satisfied that it might last a little longer, but I could not judge whether the crackers would last as long or not long enough. So, I had to measure that, too. As I type this, the crackers are holding their own, while the salmon spread has almost left the building.

Anyway, the monstrous rash apparently had been (and, as far as I know, still is) primarily a visual event, lacking the itching and such that e-doctor says is possible but rare.

Back to the television, where that woman whose name I can never remember was talking up San Antonio like it were a glutton's promised land. Rachel Ray, that's it! She and her boyfriend or husband or gigolo were chatting up the wonders of Mexican food in San Antonio and they mentioned Mi Tierra, which was, 25 years ago, my favorite place in town. Either I nodded off or the show ceased to be of interest; the next thing I knew Rachel and boy-toy had left the screen and had been replaced by Guy Fieri, who also was talking Mexican food, but this time in Cleveland. He succeeded in convincing me that I must go to Cleveland to have authentic Cleveland-influenced Mexican food, because Cleveland-influenced Mexican food is nothing short of orgasmic. And if there's anything I need right now, it's an orgasm. Oh, wait, that's not what I meant to say. Well, you know what I mean.

It didn't take long for me to tire of Guy Fieri and friends, so I made G&T number 5 or 6 and attacked the internet, looking for truth and fulfillment. Let me tell you, folks, it's not here. If you, you out on the interwebs, were communicating with me now, maybe I'd find some truth and fulfillment, but you're off doing your thing, being happy and fulfilled without me. Assholes. Sure, just leave me to my own devices, which will lead to the inevitable demise of another half-gallon of Seagram's gin (it was on sale...we bought two half-gallons last time it was cheap).

Completely off-message here: Anonymous stopped by and left a message on my blog during the last day or so (surely you've read the work of Anonymous; he or she is quite well-known in literature). I responded. In my response, I suggested that I might one day elaborate on five (or more) places I'd like to spend 20 years or a few years in each to add up to 20. Or some such thing. And I will. But you see I have to decide what's more important to me: people or environment (or a combination thereof).

Some people might be surprised to see Woodburn, Oregon on my list. "Where the fuck is Woodburn, Oregon?" many may ask. Don't worry, you'll learn more. Or at least you will one-day have the opportunity. For I shall write about that place, and about Dubrovnik and Stockholm and places foreign and domestic where I think I may like to spend some time. The key issue for me is this: how can I pick a city when I know that my heart wants the country? Of course, I may be wrong. But how can I know until I experience the country? Exactly.

"If you love, tell me so, if you don't, then just let go." I believe that is a lyric to a song I once heard or sung.

It's April 2

Hot damn. It's the 2nd day of the 4th month of the 2010th year. And it's Friday. Add that all together and what do you have? Approximately nothing worth writing about.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It just occurred to me. I've lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area 20 years. I've allowed a bad decision to become my way of life. What the fuck have I been thinking? I moved back to Texas in October 1989. I had escaped the State in 1985, moving to Chicago to follow my wife as she followed her career. But I let my own career eclipse hers and I came back. So, instead of living in a cosmopolitan city that is full of diversity AND appreciation for same, I moved to the seat of ultraconservatism and the upper echelons of class warfare.

I want to live somewhere else for 20 years...or, I should say, I want to live away from here for 20 years. I rather doubt I have anything like that much time left. I would be 76 years old if I were to accomplish that; I suspect I may have 5 to 10 years, if that much. So why am I sitting here on my ass, waiting to die early and unaccomplished? I suppose it's the same reason that I came back to Texas and stayed 20 years. I'm a fucking moron. I'm allowing my financial connections and my fear of poverty dictate my movements. Would I enjoy life more as an impoverished itinerate gypsy sort, or as a tight-assed hater of 1/3+ of every day of my life? I don't know. I've never tried the former. And maybe I never will.

Soccer Kid