Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Depth of Hurt

The Depth of Hurt

Beneath and deep within is a black stone.  A seed, or a pit, no bigger than a pit maybe, but burning like a piece of coal.  Once ignited, like coal, it cannot be put out.  It continues to burn.  It is possible to grow some kind of hard shell to contain it.  It’s affect on the host organism can be insulated.  It cannot be cut out though – only insulated through much effort, discipline and total commitment.

The host can move forward, but retreat is never an option.  Reflection is to be avoided at nearly all cost.  I find that I don’t envy those who can have walls covered with photographs of their past years and those others they shared those years with.  Knowing that I cannot do that without more pain than I know I can tolerate, I don’t have anything to remind me of my past. 

It is possible to live without a limb – an arm, leg.  You can live without eyesight or hearing.  Even if these conditions happen later in life due to accidents, the spirit can revive and overcome.  There are things that can happen that can be more devastation than any of those other conditions.  How is it possible, you say, to have anything more horrible happen than – say – loosing your eyesight?  Loosing a child to cancer.  Loosing a child to suicide.  Loosing any loved one to suicide.

There are many things that can hurt worse than a physical injury – no matter how devastating at the time.  It is far more devastating to loose contact with the mortal and normal world from the standpoint of a mental illness.  Often because in the beginning, the symptoms for unnoticed and therefore uncontrolled until the person’s life is ruined.  Marriage lost.  Job lost.  Family lost.  Sanity lost.  And the person affected can’t figure it out, doesn’t understand, is left isolated and socially condemned.

Often, finding on this condemnation so complete the mentally ill cannot find the road back.  They become so lost even a path with blazes on every tree goes unnoticed.  And because it is their mind that is ruined, as opposed to a limb or a sense, and is therefore not obvious, empathy is nearly impossible by those surrounding them.  Only sympathy is possible and then it is often begrudgingly given.  Noting that sympathy, a more accurate synonym would be pity, is one of the most destructive emotions, or forces, that can be inflicted by one person on another – no matter how well meant.

Sympathy states simply, “I am superior to you and feel sorry for you.  I will help out of, or from, my superior position.”  Whether a person is disabled physically or even mentally, they recognize this as being not only duplicitous, but degrading.  They might be nice about it, even appreciate it on the surface, but honestly inside they are saying, “Fuck You!   And, “Either help me because I need it and you want to, or leave me the fuck alone.  I don’t need your pity.”

The hurt can be so deep, so encrusted with time pushing backwards that at times it seems even possible it is gone.

Then it isn’t, the host – the person surrounding the hurt – feels it again.  It’s there.  The deep knowledge that it is always there, returns.  So, what then …

The Aboriginals say, “Always face the sun, then you will never fear the shadows.”  Maybe that’s an answer.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Guy Next To Me

The Guy Next To Me

When traveling a person must always contend with person who sits next to them on the airplane, or bus or subway, camel, elephant, etc..  Dog sled.  And in front of them, or behind.  Who this person is makes a huge difference in the comfort and dispatch of time during the journey.

You find your seat on the plane.  Whichever one it is, unless you’re a Shah or celebrity and in First Class, you’re cramped.  I’m always cramped and I’m not all that tall or big.  Still, it’s endurable.  Driving the trip would take days, flying cuts it down to hours.  A little bit of discomfort is okay to save days otherwise. 

The plane, taxies around and stuff and shortly you’re at altitude and you can pull out your laptop, get a little work done, watch a movie you downloaded -  whap!  The jerk in front of you has to recline his seat as far as it will go.  Now your laptop is crunched at … like… a thirty degree angle.  You can’t see the screen.  Looking up, you are looking at the bald spot on his head – not a pretty sight.  The thought runs through my head, when this happens, “What does he think, the people behind him disappear when he wants to unfold his belly fat?”

I have a back strategy when this happens.  I bump the back of the seat, doing this … or doing that … every time I bump it I say, “Oh I’m sorry.”  Bump, “Oh I’m sorry.” Bump, “Oh I’m sorry”.  If it’s sleep he wants, either all the periodic bumping is going to get to him, or all of my apologizing.  After a bit, they always grumble something and put their seats back in the upright position.  I can be so annoying in a super-nice way when somebody breaks the rules of travel.

The guy beside, on either side have different sets of issues.  Being in the middle seat – well, middle seat tickets should be twenty dollars less than all the other tickets.  I mean they charge you that much and more for a seat in the Emergency Row because you get more room.  They should charge less if you’re stuck between two other seats.  If you don’t make your reservation at least six months in advance, you will get stuck in the middle.  Don’t know about you, but I can’t predict my life that far ahead.  Two weeks is about my limit.  I ride the middle a lot.

The window seat; I love to look outside and down at the world below, at the clouds … unless it’s a red eye flight.  When the guy next to the window decides to pull the blind down, that upsets me.  I start to get claustrophobic.  “Put it up, put it up!  I gotta see the sky!  Whoah!  Then the guy sitting on the aisle seat goes to sleep.  And he is always like huge.  As soon as I notice that he’s in a deep sleep, I find (for some reason) I have to take a piss.   And I mean it’s really uncomfortable and I have to go right now! 

If, perchance he wakes up, that feeling of immediacy goes away immediately.  And why, staying on this topic for a few words, why does the person by the window – who is generally a woman – always seem to want the whole can of soda.  Knowing that in ten minutes she is going to need the ladies room and both of us between her and aisle are going to have to get up and then wait standing in the aisle until she gets back.

And this is also just about when the stewards come squishing the cart back down that aisle forcing he and I all the way to the back of the airplane to turn around to go back to our seats, just about the time the plane hits turbulence and the seat belt lights go on.

On my last flight we hit some real heavy turbulence going over the Gulf of Mexico.  Why during the worst of it where so many people having to get up and head to the bathrooms?  Right after the pilot came on and said, “Stay in your seats.” ???  There was like a line of them. 

My rules for “The Guy Next To Me”:
1. If you have a weak bladder, buy an aisle seat.
2. If you have a weak bladder, DON’T drink a huge can of soda during the middle of the flight.
3. If you have a bag that won’t fit in the overhead, DON’T TRY TO STUFF IT INTO THE OVERHEAD.
4. If you’re too short to put your bag in the overhead, ask for help.
5. Don’t choose the window seat if you’re afraid to fly.  That seat is for people who LIKE to fly and look out the window.
6. If you’re 200 pounds overweight, don’t choose – or in some way, get out of – using the middle seat.
7. If you’re in the aisle seat, when the plane lands and is ready to deplane, stand up in the aisle immediately so the other people next to you can stretch a little bit.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Daffodils Are Important

Daffodils Are Important

My Dentist has this thing about daffodils.  Locally, every Spring, there is something called the “Daffodil Festival”.  It’s a local thing – like the “Artichoke Festival” in Castroville, California.  Or the “Corn Festival” in Hayes, Kansas.  Other than these celebrations of specific plants, sometimes animals – like the “Oyster Festival” in a neighboring town – there would no reason whatever, to go to, or even stop except maybe to get gas, in these hamlets of rural integrity.

As you would be driving along through most states, small towns like ours are not even an exit.  Seriously, there is no designation of on the Interstate that my town is even on the planet.  You have to get off on a state highway to find the first sign to take you to a county road to take you to a rural road to get here.  But every year we go nuts for our very special daffodils.

And we do have daffodils.  By the ton, by the woodsy fields and fields of daffodils.  There is no need to plant them.  If anyone has every stuck one daffodil bulb in the ground, give them a few years and they are popping up like bamboo in the Amazon.

They are extremely eye-popping yellow, have a cute sort of design – a cuplet in the middle with radiating perpendicular petals.  Pretty.  Not like beeyootiful, like maybe orchids or tulips or roses.  But very cute.  Kind of humble.  Like a button nose little girl with freckles. 

So what does this festival entail?  About a thousand paintings, watercolors, drawings and photographs of – say it together – daffodils.  Booths lining the town’s main street, which is easy to find, not only because it is pretty much the towns only well paved road, but because it is named “Main Street”.  Each booth with a singular artist’s unique interpretation of the daffodil.  Considering the daffodil comes in two varieties; big yellow ones and small yellow ones, there is not a great deal of true uniqueness each artist can throw at the subject.

Now, I realize there will be some folks out there who will say, “Hey daffodils can come in a yellow middle and white petals around it, or vice versa.”  Actually, in rural Virginia this is not true.  All we have here are the all yellow ones.  SO butt outta my blog on that one.

What I like and must say is the most important thing about daffodils, is that they do come up and blossom every year as almost the first evidence of Spring.  Like today, it is raining the temperature is clammy cold and it is raining a solid rain.  Everything everywhere you look is still dirty winter gray-brown and mostly winter dead.  In short – today is a depressing day.  Really I-have-had-enough-of-this-shit day.  I NEED Spring day.

Yesterday evening I heard crickets going at full volume and this morning, driving into town – daffodils!  Daffodils everywhere.  Beautiful little jewels of color splattered amongst all the dead gray and brown of late Winter and early Spring.

Every time I visit my Dentist I see how much she loves Daffodils by all the posters and paintings she buys every year at the “Daffodil Festival”.  This Artwork hangs on every available wall in every patient room in her clinic, including the waiting room.
When I am having my teeth cleaned or a filling done, I am staring at daffodils.  When I have been having a root canal, of which I have had several, in her clinic, I am forced to stare at daffodils.  No matter what season I am in one of her chairs in her clinic, I AM STARING AT FUCKING DAFFODILS!

So I will not say I hate daffodils, because my dentist tends to shove them in my face all the time – when I am stressed and in pain.  And, I cannot say I love them because they are a wonderful harbinger Spring.  But I kind of must say, if you are a person who tends to be influenced a great deal by real depression, they are pretty important.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pants, Socks and the Guy Next To Me

Pants, Socks and the Guy Next To Me

So in my last blog I talked about Traveling Companions; or, important stuff I always take with me when traveling (if that’s not obvious).  I sort of mentioned socks, but I didn’t get into pants.

Pants are pretty important, unless you’re going some where not wearing pants is legal.  I am sure there are such places, but I have never really looked into it.  Florida? Scandinavia (in the summer)?  My favorite, a marvelous invention, are the ones where the legs zip off, giving a person the option of transferring to shorts … if the day gets hot.  And then, like a miracle, back to pants in the evening when all the mosquitos and other flying nightmares arrive.

However my favorite pants are classic, plain old blue jeans, or jeans as is the modern lexicon.  Jeans are tough, don’t show dirt easily and these days can be worn with formal impunity almost anywhere.  Since the zip-off pants/shorts tend to have cargo pockets, which tend to fill up with an amazing amount detritus (stuff), they are not that comfortable on airplanes and can be a hassle to empty out all that stuff (once again) when going through the TSA.  Plus I have found the zippers halfway up your leg tend to chafe when stuck sitting on an airplane for five to twenty hours.

Now since jeans are cotton and bulky, like cotton t-shirts, how do you avoid the overloaded luggage syndrome?  You wear them.  They can’t overstuff your bag if they are on your butt.  When I get to where I am going, I carefully hang them up and only use them for the return trip.  If I am continuing on by rented car, or some such land mode, where I do have to squeeze them back into my luggage, it doesn’t matter as much because the bag doesn’t have to be jammed into the overhead.

That overhead compartment is a big complaint of mine.  On some airlines you couldn’t get a shaving kit in there. (Or, make-up bag … really small thing?  Whatever?)  And there are a lot of overhead pigs, or people who spend half the passenger loading time trying to push a manatee sized sack of shit into a skinny compartment where it is obviously never going to go.  Then the stewardess, or steward, has to climb over everybody stacked up behind this idiot in the aisle and politely, ever so politely, ask if they could tag the manatee and have it put in the cargo hold.

You can just see the look on the airline steward(ess) face, “Jeez, every fuckin’ flight!  Some jerk just won’t listen to the boarding announcements!  Which they say about a hundred fucking times!  Big bags are NOT going to fit in THIS aircraft overheads!!!.” 

I NEVER check baggage, after having it lost a bunch of times or waiting at the baggage check for an hour for it to come whanging down the conveyor while my wife or conscripted friend has to circle around the arrival road about a hundred times.  Airport cop angrily waving at them to move on every thirty seconds.
So pants are zip-off miracle fiber pants/shorts and jeans.

Socks.  Socks are tricky.  Best avoided when and where possible.  But to get through TSA you have to be wearing socks – even if you are a woman (unless you are a woman who really doesn’t mind dirty – with god knows what grunge is on the floor on her feet.)  Men just can’t get away with it.  That really is a nasty look.  Socks through the flying stages.  Oh and taking your shoes off after sitting down on the airplane is only okay if you’re wearing socks.

What kind of socks?  Nylon, polyester, more miracle fiber.  Never cotton.  Cotton will droop, smell bad and never dry out.  Now colors – fortunately white is no longer the only option, or black either.  Lots of really cool choices these days.  I take advantage of that.  Red, blue, green, stripes, checks, whatever.  My new thing is to not care if they match.  A third of them get lost in the sock laundry paranormal alternate universe anyway.  Not half, but a third.  Half would make sense and be symmetrically workable, but it seems to be a non-symmetrical mathematical function.  So who cares, it happens to everybody.

I just think, “What are you looking at my feet for anyway?”  It’s like I don’t know if women actually do try to go through TSA barefoot.  I never really looked or cared to notice.  I do think I’d have noticed if a man tried to do that, “Now that’s gross.” Going through my mind.

This is once again long enough, I’ll get to “The Guy Sitting Next To Me” next time.

Thanks for reading along.  Really, thanks.