Saturday, February 12, 2005

And one more thing...

I finished opening the mail just now and found the results of my tests, the ones I've been waiting to see for over a month. No cancer. No cysts. No nothing.

They apologized for the mistake. An apology is nice, especially when it doesn't change anything, and it has about as much meaning, too.

One of those days...

...a beautiful day, actually, with lots of things for me to do and see.

A quick shower and combing out my hair showed me that the hair is growing back in and I have arrested the falling out process. But I had lots of other things to think about, mostly errands and getting out of the house for a while. The trip to the post office was uneventful, but at the post office I found lots of good news, a little money, and even more good news, which propelled me on my way in to Fraser to the library, but I was early so a trip to Starbucks to use my free drink coupon was in order.

Chantico is the word of the day. It is a decadently rich and smooth and nearly orgasmic silken libation of chocolate that I can still taste. Utterly and completely delicious. I wish I had more. The cup is really small but the taste is lingeringly, unbelievably large. Mmmmmm, chocolate.

Off to the library to finish my chocolate power drink until they open and then a quick, short walk to the door to pace and wait for them to open -- it was past 10:00 by my watch anyway.

Then into the hallowed halls where soft murmurs of sound wrapped me in camaraderie and common cause. A small fine to pay, books and movies to reserve, and a measured, hawk-eyed scrutiny of the shelves to pick up books, check available magazines, and sit at a computer not my own to peruse, search, and otherwise track down books, subjects, and information for use in writing and reading, and other nefarious purposes.

The library here in Fraser is small and vastly incomplete, but it is worth the trip just to enjoy the feeling of delving into dusty archives and playing hide and seek with books and words along the sun dappled aisles between the stacks.

And now off to look up more books and reserve more reading material. It is a very good day and it's not even noon yet.

That is all. Disperse.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Aaah, back in control

There is nothing like a day spent in the library among the dusty stacks and leather and plastic clad spines of portals that take you to different worlds. I'm boning up on Michigan trivia to write a whole bunch of articles for pay for a book guessed it, Michigan. I've been so focused on things I can't change or affect and wallowing in self doubt and confusion, so it was time for me to move on to something I can control -- writing and researching and writing some more.

I hate being out of control. It's an ugly feeling. Of course that doesn't include being in free fall high in the sky above clouds and anthill towns and tracks, but that's a different story. I mean feeling like I'm free falling through life without a net and without a crash helmet, parachute, or soft landing spot. But no more. I'm back up on the horse.

And I have a host of things to catch up on. I have plans to make for a trip to Alamogordo, New Mexico to do an article on a seniors only Harley motorcycle club in two weeks and a trip to New Jersey for job training in a little over a week. I also have to practice taking some decent pictures on chrome but may opt for the digital version since it's easier and faster to see when you screwed up. I'm going to make a stop in Albuquerque to see an LJ friend and share a Mexican repast, lots of eye contact and talk, and I will get to hear his voice and he will hear mine, and I will get to see his much praised and vaunted green eyes.

On March 1st I will stick around in Colorado Springs long enough to see and hear Michael Johnson and bask in the sound of classical guitar.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Walk into the fire...

Fantasist and novelist, H. Rider Haggard, wrote several larger than life tales, among them King Solomon's Mines, featuring Allan Quatermain, and She, about an immortal goddess, an Egyptian princess of ancient lineage who found the secret of immortality and spent the long centuries waiting for the reincarnation of her murdered lover. Even Hollywood has taken Haggard's tales for their own, casting Ursula Andress as She.

In Haggard's tale an English gentleman of mixed descent named Leo inherits an ancient artifact that leads him to a lost city in the depths of Africa where he finds Ayesha, the immortal queen called She Who Must Not Be Named. He falls in love with her beauty and grace, wit and intelligence, but is awed and frightened of her power and her unshakable control over her people. She is an intense woman who intrigues and excites Leo even while he is frightened of his feelings for her and his overwhelming attraction to her.

Ayesha tells Leo, and provides proof, that he is the reincarnation of her murdered lover/husband, Kallikrates, and she offers to make him immortal so they can be together forever: beautiful, unchanged and powerful.

The secret of Ayesha's immortality is bathing in the cold blue flames of a cosmic fire, arresting the decay and ravages of time. Leo loves Ayesha even as he is overwhelmed by her so he follows her along a treacherous path to the cave where he will join her in immortality. Even as Leo approaches the fire his fear overtakes him so Ayesha walks into the flames, taking his hand, urging him to join her, and he finally follows. However, Ayesha ages and dies in the flames, withering into an ancient mummy in his arms, leaving a terrified and trembling Leo to gape in horror. His fear to venture alone into the flames cost him his love, and he must wait for centuries until Ayesha is reincarnated and they can be together again.

Leo fears Ayesha's intensity even as he is drawn to her. She is all he has ever dreamed or desired and yet he fails her, fails himself, in taking that last crucial step, unwilling to trust completely in love and walk alone into the heart of the blaze, scared of making a necessary change that will unite him with his one true love, his soul mate.

Women are called the weaker sex, and yet when you look at the world as it was in Haggard's day, and even today, you will see strong, intelligent, and exceptional women everywhere, women who brave the heart of the fire every day of their lives, beckoning for their men to follow, to be with them.

Was Haggard writing a fantasy or was he voicing some universal truth that resonates even now? Did Haggard fail the woman of his dreams, the bright heart of his fantasies? Did he realize too late that he must face his fears and take the final step in order to attain all he deserved and desired?

We all crave intensity, overwhelming and heart stopping intensity, but in order to touch it and make it our own we must fearlessly walk alone into the heart of the cosmic fire. Will you brave the flames for true love?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The good depression drug

When I'm down I cook. I frequent a site where we exchange recipes and talk about our personal lives, problems, wishes, and desires. Tonight I decided to do something with the chicken in the fridge. Here goes:

Chris's Golden Mushroom Chicken

Boil your favorite chicken pieces or a whole cut up chicken for 20 minutes. Add a little salt and reserve the broth for chicken soup or beans or whatever. Arrange chicken in a casserole dish or roasting pan. Cover with one can golden mushroom soup, sprinkle on shredded mozzarella cheese, cover with tin foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Take off foil the last five minutes and let the mozzarella bubble and brown.

You can add diced potatoes (Chris's favorite idea, but add another ten minutes of cooking time) or add sliced red pepper and black olives before adding the golden mushroom soup.

Sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese before serving, dig out the good china, silver, and crystal, dish up your favorite vegetable and salad, pour your favorite wine or beverage, and dig in.

The only problem with living alone is that when you cook something special there's no one to share it with and you eat it for several days. Still, do something nice for yourself anyway if you live alone and make a really special meal like this one. Add a decadent dessert, like my favorite apple-cranberry crepes with cinnamon cream, kick back with some great music and treat yourself to a luxurious evening of pampering. Better than Prozac, Xanax, or any other pharmaceutical drug. The only side effects are a warm glow of accomplishment, a soothing and relaxing evening, and maybe an extra pound or two if you over indulge, but you can always walk it off in the fresh air the next day and increase your endorphin production. To really kick up the endorphins, make the dessert chocolate.


The bottom line

Many years ago medical insurance was a rarity, but it was a boon to people who could not afford to be ill when specialists were hideously expensive. Now all doctors are expensive. Medical insurance has become more expensive than the cost of buying a car or a house or food and people have to choose between a roof and food on the table, gas in the car to get to work to earn a living to pay for the roof and food on the table, and buying medical insurance. It's a simple equation really.

Doctors inflate their prices to cover the cost of their education and the poverty of their student years, to pay for their roofs and food on the table and gas to get to and from work to buy roofs and food, and to pay for malpractice insurance because everyone wants to get rich quick by suing doctors/hospitals for every imagined mistake, real or fantasy, and to pay for incompetent doctors' mistakes who should never have been licensed in the first place. There is also the cost of trials on drugs that need more drugs to offset side effects that will need more drugs to offset more side effects (the cycle goes on ad infinitum, ad nauseam) and tests that aren't necessary, but lucrative, and more doctors and hospitals...and the list goes on.

Because of this obscene cycle of bottom line conscious doctors and hospitals and insurance companies majors surgeries that require more attention, time, and care end with an overnight stay, at best, and a lot of uneducated and inexperienced family and friends taking care of the patient, not to mention those without such a network of familial and friendly support taking care of themselves or hiring nurses and health care workers at their own expense (the cost sometimes partially defrayed by insurance). One of these major surgeries is a mastectomy that ends with an overnight stay and then home to recuperate on your own.

This is a travesty of justice and a clear breach of the Hippocratic oath, not to mention common sense. If you agree, go to Lifetime TV and sign their petition. I am not talking about a tonsillectomy or removal of a hangnail or even an appendectomy, but a mastectomy, major surgery, life threatening surgery.

Doctors and hospitals and insurance companies are watching the bottom line on their fiscal reports, more interested in profits than health care or human life. Let them know the bottom line on the humanity report has been drawn and they are over the line. Speak out. Let them hear your voice. Let the government, insurance companies, doctors and hospitals know that their greed will no longer be condoned and that humanity will no longer lie down and take their actions without rising up and being heard.

That is all. Disperse.

Snowy days

It was snowing when I woke up this morning and the salty fall reminded me of going to Hot Sulphur Springs last week. It's the first time I have been that far west of Granby since I moved here. I thought it was a busy little spa town. That's not what I found.

On the way there I drove a black ribbon highway between dazzling fields of snow and ice where bushes like herds of dark humped buffalo straggled aimlessly through the fields, up and down the hills, topping fluffy drifts and ice sheened slides glinting in the eye-searing glare of the winter sun. I drove the main street of Hot Sulphur Springs in less than a minute even though I drove less than 20 mph looking for my destined street. I blinked. I missed it. About a mile outside of town I realized there would be no road or driveway where I could turn so I stopped, looked both ways, made a hurried Y turn and headed back to town, (town seems too big a word for such a small and seemingly insignificant almost village collection of old west style buildings puffing anemic trails of wispy smoke into a dazzling blue Colorado winter sky).

Weaving a way down through the back road (there really is only one), I stopped a lone man sliding along the snow-packed track that passed for a street and asked him where Hemlock Street was then drove two more streets, almost to the edge of what passed for civilization, and quickly found my destination. Ninety minutes later I was back on the black ribbon heading home to my little aerie at the top of my mountain, safe and warm and content to gaze out at the snow powdered trees and rocks out my deck windows.

There is no place like home even when the home will soon no longer be yours and all you will have to remember these times are well fingered watercolor memories and vignettes like these.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

This is not the way to start a day

I was blissfully, happily, and deeply asleep when the phone screamed at me and yanked me back to this world where I stumbled, nearly blind, to the phone for an unavailable call that just had to be answered. It was the secretary for the new job I just got, the one for medical transcription that will let me stay home and work in various states of disarray and deshabille (if I wear anything at all) but for which I must fly to New Jersey, land of toxic waste disposal, landfills, and The Sopranos, two weeks from today to take two very expensive and at my own expense days of training. Oh, they will send a car to pick me up at LaGuardia airport in New York and take me back and they will ferry me back and forth from the hotel (way too expensive for my tastes) to the job for training, but I have been informed everyone is happy to put themselves out for training that could very well be accomplished online because they are a family. Somehow waking me rudely from needed sleep is actually what my family would do so maybe they are telling me the gospel. At least after weeks and months of being told I'm over qualified (employer speak for you're worth more than we want to pay and you probably wouldn't stick around long anyway) I have a job that pays a hefty salary every two weeks.

So here I am trawling blogs and journals to see what everyone else has been up to while I have been pupating.

One friend is awake at 4 a.m. because of his and his wife's colds and another is writing about self absorption that does not seem to me to be self absorption at all but focus on his work and his livelihood. That's not self absorption.

As I told him, self absorption is focusing on clothes, shoes, handbags, belts, and personal appearance to the point you must turn a room or two into a closet to house your things, working endless hours at a very good paying job to make more money to buy more things for yourself and thinking of no one but yourself to the exclusion of anyone or anything...not children, friends, spouses, lovers, family, or even passing strangers or the people who offer their service to you. You don't look anyone in the eye and you couldn't give a description of your own family because you don't look them in the eye or even know who they are, which is evidenced by the fact that the last time you remembered their birthday or bought them a gift at Xmas it was the kind of gift that you would buy for a charity drive. That is self absorption.

Of course you could argue that even having a public online journal is akin to self absorption, or that keeping paper journals is focusing too much on the self, but that is not necessarily the case. A journal is also a place to explore the world and your views on the world which you must look in the eye, study, devour, and catalogue in order to write about. Yes, writers are peculiar people and most of us are research hounds who love the thrill, the exhilaration, the sheer joy of delving deeply into the archives of life and coming up with insights, thoughts, and story lines that will one day bear fruit, and sometimes diving deep into the pool of memory to resurrect, relive, and otherwise chronicle the lives of people who will not always walk this earth. That is fascination and curiosity and love of knowledge, not self absorption. You may disagree if you like and tell me I'm out of my mind, and you would likely be right--most writers are somewhat out of their minds, especially when they're writing, or they would not be able to create and people such fascinating alternate realities, but we are far from being self absorbed.

Trail a writer and watch their expressions, body language, and interaction with the world around them and you will find them life absorbed. To be sure there are clothes hounds and writers who are devoted to acquiring wealth, material and financial, but while they are self absorbed momentarily they are most obviously life absorbed especially when they're writing, researching, and editing, or simply giving a bit of their knowledge back to the vast pool of information from which all writers--and people--dip their cups. Writers can tell you the intricate details and mental workings of someone they met five minutes ago with insights and acuity that would stun the subject of their intense scrutiny as well as their families and friends who do not know them so well. Writers are nearly psychic about people and events in the near and far future--look at Jules Verne and many other so called science fiction fantasists for proof.

My family has always looked at me as though I were a cuckoo in their nest or a changeling left by gypsies and called me a dreamer. As I told them, and tell them still today, without dreamers and their dreams we would all still be eating raw meat or lightning struck animals still smoking and charred from nature's electric attention while we huddled deep in autumn's drift of leaves in some dank and wet cave instead of communicating in a heartbeat's time with people around the world with flashes of light.

Okay, so maybe this is the way to start a day.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Ten short days

Ten days from today I hit the half century mark. Yes, folks, I am actually going to be 50 years old and I love it. There are some things about it I don't love -- like not being able to share it with the man I love, but into every life and all that rain-on-my-parade blather.

Sometimes it seems he and I are completely in synch and other times facing off across a great distance and having to shout across the mountaintops to even be heard. Life isn't perfect and love doesn't solve everything. Ask anyone who has truly loved--or thought they did.

There are times when a few hours of passion is enough and other times when it makes the silent hours of waiting too difficult to bear. Time and distance lend enchantment at times, but they also make the loneliness louder and more painful to hear and feel.

The first half century of my life has been marked with joy and pain (a lot of pain sometimes), but in the last few months before this natal celebration of golden proportions I realize that passion and life and even the act of living is fraught with pain and without that pain we would not know we live at all. I am not a big fan of pain but I can--and do--endure its venomous sting because the moments of pleasure and happiness, the feeling of sinking deep into passion's embrace for a moment outside of time, is worth all the pain.

For my birthday wish I want more passion and less suffering and pain. Anybody know to whom I make my desires known? If so, give me their email or snail mail address and I will storm their crenellated towers.

In the meantime, enjoy the moments of happiness and never look back.

I'll shut up now.