Friday, November 25, 2011

No, Thanks-giving

Now that the day for giving thanks for all our blessings has passed, let's get back to reality, shall we? These are a few of the things to which I, for one, wish to say, "No, thanks."
  • With the Postal Service seemingly going under because nobody writes letters anymore, and the junk mail solicitors no longer able to support this once-proud federal (?) agency, why is most - nearly all - of my voluminous email junk?
  • Why do people who insist on "Friending" you on Facebook resolutely refuse to type a simple "Thank you" when you wish them a happy birthday, considering that the only reason you even know it's their birthday is because Facebook told you so?
  • Why did I wake up from a horrible nightmare this morning all about false friends and advantages taken? Really, now, isn't it time somebody took a deep breath, got a grip, and moved on?
  • Why, when all I want to do is feel sorry for myself and worry about that medical procedure I have to face today, do I have to make time to drive a certain somebody around town to look for a rug for the living room?
  • Why have I been cursed with the kind of body that requires a daily shower?
  • And why did I shave off most of my beard so I could have a fancy little goatee that doesn't really make my face look thinner? Now there's more skin I have to shave than I had to shave before, and I'm scarring here!
There's more where these came from, but I don't have enough time to dredge them up at the moment. Right now, I need to shower and shave and stop the bleeding in order to make myself presentable for a visit to my doctor's office so she (the said doctor) can dig into, and rip out a portion of, my flesh.

Lemme hear ya say it with me now, "No, thank you!"


The specialist examined me and decided that my infection is responding to the medication she prescribed. For this reason, she decided the time was premature for a biopsy. She will see me again when I have finished the regimen and decide then whether I am clean and fit to remain in polite society or in need of getting gutted. (She was personable today. She actually touched my right arm with both her hands and smiled as if it were a perfectly natural thing to do. Made me feel like a man.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

There's Good News and No News

And no news is good news until proven otherwise, right?


I may have been nervous. Okay, I was scared. But I went. I went like I was supposed to, to this specialist who was going to examine that little thing we talked about in my last post.

Did I say, little? Little did I know what was going to be in store for me.

But let's stop and take a moment to rewind the clock so we can start this saga at the beginning, which, as it turns out, was late Sunday night.

Around nine o'clock, the phone rings, and I pick it up to hear a voice asking to speak to me. The voice is my doctor, my primary, the one who made this appointment for me, calling to give me a pep talk (and - I'm pretty certain - to make sure I'm planning on keeping my date with destiny). I find myself deeply touched that he would take the time to reach out to me with reassurances that everything will turn out all right. Of course, I'm also rattled that he would take the time to reach out to me with reassurances that everything will turn out all right. Should I be concerned? Worried? Should I be thinking of hopping in the car and escaping down one of our highways, hauling my ass ... where? Anywhere.

Of course, that's what I was thinking. "Escape" equals "denial" which trumps "discovery" which equals "no escape."

Oddly, I'm not the kind of person who has whatever it is it takes to run away. So I stayed and spent a fitful night, sleeping in snatches, mouthing a few prayers whenever I found myself awake. Prayers to my mom and dad, prayers to Saint Michael, to Saint Martin de Porres, who was my mother's favorite saint and who always answered her prayers. I figured I could count on mom (Dad always comes through for my more mundane problems).

When morning came, I stretched the hours as long as I could before showering and dressing. On the drive uptown, I prayed some more, making the kind of promises we make in desperate times, the kind we know we'll never be able to keep, but hope and believe we will when we make them. What the hell, though, I figure God is used to that and kind of expects it from us, but He still loves us all the same and will do what He can to help get us through - even if it turns out to be through the tunnel to the light.

But let's not go there.

Instead, let's go inside the specialist's office.

My doctor had told me the night before that Doctor R would be a tiny woman, blunt and to the point, neither flowery nor fluttery. He didn't tell me she would be a pretty woman, blonde with ice-cold azure eyes.

He also didn't tell me her personality would match the beige paint on the blank walls of her examination room.

She was a take-charge little woman. I hadn't been prepared for the extent of the examination she put me through. She peeped into my ears. She spread my nostrils and looked hard up my nose. She worked my neck like the Boston Strangler. She poked up and down and all around the inside of my mouth with both hands. If she'd been kind, it would have been like having thrilling sex, but she wasn't and neither was it.

When she was done with all that, she sprayed some stuff into my nose, told me to sniff it, and wait for her return.

When she finally came back into the room, it was with a machine connected to a tube. She proceeded to shove that tube up one nostril and then the other. She peered into my sinus cavities, swirled the tube around and up and plunged it down into my throat.

That done, she told me the good news. My lymph glands were fine. Nothing wrong with my sinuses. (Who was she kidding there? I have New Orleans sinuses. That ain't good.) The only problem seemed to be inside my mouth, and she wanted a biopsy. She scheduled that for Friday so I could have Thanksgiving dinner before I had to go on a diet of cool, bland food for a while.

I felt pretty good about the visit overall, and who would complain about a week or so of eating only ice cream?

I've decided, too, that, although she might not be a sweet and girly woman, Dr. R might be the kind of steel-backed person one would want to have fighting on one's side against a potential malignancy.

I also have a strong feeling that the biopsy will reveal nothing more than some years-old scar tissue from a long-forgotten, misplaced bite.

In fact, I'm willing to bet on it.

Come on, let's make a deal!

Are you listening, mom, dad ... St Michael, St Martin?


Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Road Taken

Thanksgiving has never been a good holiday for me. Don't know why, but it rubs me the wrong way and does mean things to me.

Tomorrow I see a specialist.

I'm holding on with a tight grip to a certain reserve of bravado. I see myself as that old horse pulling the cart, and I can't drop now. There's still road up ahead. I can see it.

But I confess to a few fears, too.

It's probably nothing, or nothing much.

My imagination is my curse, and I tend to dramatize things out of all their rightful proportion.

We'll see.

If you're thinking of worrying about me, please don't. I'm a resourceful cuss.

But, hell, you already know that, don't you?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"wotthehell wotthehell"

I just settled in to take a few moments of browsing before going back downstairs to watch The Mentalist (I have a weakness for smirky Australians playing Americans, although I have no idea why); and decided to take a glance at the Sitemeter stats for My Life in the Quarter.

I couldn't believe my eyes.

In one day alone, my traffic jumped to 438 Visits and 628 Page Views.

Please don't ask me what the difference is between "Visits" and "Page Views;" the official Sitemeter explanation doesn't make sense to me. I don't have that kind of brain.

And it's only 8:30. There are three-and-a-half hours to go before midnight.

I decided to see what my Google stats were for this same period of time, and they claimed I had 1,246 Pageviews today.

And, no, don't ask me to tell you the difference between Google's "Pageviews" and Sitemeter's "Visits" and "Page Views." It's all too much.

In fact, all of this is all too much.

Who are these people? Where are they coming from? Do they like my stuff, or are they laughing at me behind their hands?

This is scary.

You know how I get all nervous and breathy in crowds.

Right now, it feels like there's a mob outside my gate, and I imagine I can smell the sooty scent of torches and hear the rattle of pitchforks.


Update, Friday Morning:

OMG! The final Sitemeter tally was 515 Visits and 772 Page Views!

I am presently proceeding to an undisclosed location. Please do not try to find me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

And Speaking of Owning a Vehicle in the Quarter

After last week's saga of vehicular vandalism and the city's opportunistic towing standards, I was pleased to hear the following story from a friend of mine who lives around the corner from me.
D (not his real name) woke up early on Saturday morning.

There were so many things he had to do before heading uptown for work. Besides his regular ablutions, deciding on the best togs for that day's work, there was also breakfast and the daily newspaper to fetch for himself and his friend who lived a few blocks away. He always checked in on his friend in the mornings before heading off to his job. His friend was getting on in years, you see, and D always wanted to make sure he did not want for anything he did not have.

This morning, he found his friend in fine fettle, and, after sharing a warm breakfast with the gentleman and leaving his newspaper behind, he set off for work.

He made his way home and climbed into his pickup truck. If you live in the French Quarter, you will know that, at a time like this, you will want to pause and consider what it is you are about to do, how you are going to go about doing it, and then getting up off your duff and making it happen.

D's first thought was, Where did I leave my pickup truck last night?

He started his engine, pulled out of his parking spot, and proceeded down the street, keeping a sharp eye out for his truck. Not on this block.

He took a left at the first corner. No luck.

Another left at the next block. Nothing.

A left again, then two blocks. The pickup was not in sight.

Where could I have left it? he wondered.

He took another turn, a right, then another right, another yet again, and down for three blocks more. The pickup truck was not to be found.

He scrambled in his left pants pocket for his cell phone. He dialed the New Orleans Police Department's Eighth District.

"Do you have any reports of a stolen pickup truck?" he asked.

"No, sir. Do you wish to file a report?"

"Well, I can't find my truck this morning. I've looked all over a four block radius, and it's nowhere in sight."

"Have you tried the auto pound? Call them first. I'll get you the number."

He called, but his truck was not there either.

Panic was setting in. His skin felt clammy, beads of sweat were budding on his forehead. He pulled over to the side of the street and tried to consider what next to do.

He looked at the time. It was getting late. He had to be at work soon. What to do? He sorted his priorities and decided work was paramount. He'd look for the truck again later in the day.

He took a deep breath and pulled out back into traffic and made his way out of the Quarter and far away uptown.

His day was hectic, and, always, there in the forefront of his mind, was the fear he'd never find his vehicle when day was done.

Did his insurance cover theft? He wasn't sure. He'd have to check. And why his truck? It wasn't new. It was, by all manner of measure, an old Mississippi heap, its tires caked with red clay, grime on the windshield around the wipers' curves. It was a part of him, however, a chapter of his own personal history, written in steel and chrome. A great sadness clouded his day.

Finally, when work was done, he gathered his strength about him, making himself ready to resume his search. Without thinking, he headed out to the employees' parking lot.

The sight hit him like a strong wind in his face. There, right there, was his pickup truck, dusty, and with all its dings and dents in place. His truck.

It was only then, right there, that he remembered, realized, just how he'd conducted his frantic search eight hours before.

He swore he would never tell a soul.

Well, maybe his friend, the elderly gentleman he looked in on every day. He'd enjoy the story. And D could trust him to keep his confidence and never repeat the tale.

Yes, that would be a pleasant saga to recount to his friend over the next morning's coffee and sausage.

He smiled to himself and felt a warm flush of pleasure in the knowledge that he had such a trustworthy friend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sorry, I Have Nothing to Say

That's the phrase I always use to respond to people who ask me why I haven't written a book.

Why anybody would ask me why I haven't written a book is beyond me.

Why anybody would think I should write a book astounds me.

There are too many books out there already. Way more than there are good ones. Certainly too many to read or even worth reading. And I pretty much gave up reading books when I retired from my job with the State. Now that I'm no longer employed, I don't have the time.

That isn't to say I have lots of things to do. I don't. I just don't have the time to do them.

That probably doesn't make sense to you, and that's because you're younger than I am. Just wait. One day you'll wake up and realize, hey, didn't I just have my first cup of coffee so I could poop, and now you're telling me it's time to go to bed?! Believe me, when you reach September, you discover time passes before you knew it was coming at you.

Besides, about the only thing there is to do for people in my stage of life involves doctors. My own and my friends'.

And that can be a good thing.

It can be a good thing because you can tell your partner that you have to drive ... oh, let's say Eric ... to Ochsner's out on Jefferson Highway for his Coumadin appointment when what you're really doing is slipping off to see your own doctor because your dentist scared the hell out of you the month before by telling you he didn't like the look of that ...

Well, I really don't want to talk about that. It's probably nothing. That's what my doctor said before offering me antidepressants.

Why should I need antidepressants? I mean, okay, I broke down and cried in his office that one time, but that was several months ago. And, okay, things haven't really gotten any better, but what's so unusual about that in this day and age? And, yeah, I worry about money, and I'm angry a lot, and pretty sad most of the time ... but depressed?

I can handle depression. Depression is my natural state.

What the hell, I took the pills.

Now, I have stomach ache and diarrhea; but it's still early. My body has to adjust.

And why shouldn't I be depressed?

Bobby decided to go the insurance route with the broken rear-view mirror on the car (that's a $250 deductible), and since I cover the insurance while Bobby takes car of the car note, my insurance rate will probably rise.

We brought the car in on Monday, got it back Wednesday.

I have to say, the repair people did more than they were supposed to do (I hope nobody gets in trouble for me telling this little secret - if they do, I'll come back and delete this part). That was nice.

Might even be worth the raise in the rate.

Then yesterday, between noon and one, bringing Bobby back from his eye doctor's appointment, the only place I could find to park was on the 600 block of Barracks Street.

I got up early this morning to move it closer and found it gone.

Now, who steals a Scion?!

Right ... Not stolen. Towed.

It seems a movie or television crew of some sort was doing a bit of filming last night and had our baby towed. Not moved around the corner like they tell you they will do, but towed by the City.

I swear there were no signs posted when we parked the car.

The cab driver told us on the way to the auto pound that in Los Angeles, if they're going to film in somebody's neighborhood, they pay the residents for the inconvenience.

"The only reason they film on locations like here in New Orleans is so they can ride roughshod over the locals and screw 'em. Why, they were filming in my neighborhood once and told me I couldn't go to my own house. I ran over the cop who tried to stop me. They can't keep me away from my property. Sure, they arrested me, but I have my rights, goddammit."

We got the car back, of course. It only cost me $173. I guess it could have been a lot more had I decided to express my "rights".

Coming home, the only place I could find to park was on the 600 block of Barracks.

Hey, there were no signs posted.

Anyway, do you see what I mean when I tell you I have nothing to say?

My life is just a blah.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Woe Is Me

I was born to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Don't try to tell me I'm not. It's part of my Catholic upbringing; and it's mine, all mine.

This is our car as I found it on Tuesday morning on the 500 block of Barracks Street where I'd left it over the Halloween weekend. I'd gotten up early to go move it for street cleaning and I came upon it broken, bruised, and bloodied by the night-goblins of the holiday. That's its little passenger-side mirror hanging by its sinews.


What did my little Scion ever do to you?

Of course, breaking the news to Bobby was unpleasant. You all think of Bobby as this happy-go-lucky fellow who's the life of the party. Nothing can get old Bobby down. Well, as the poet sings,
"Oh, no one knows
what goes
on behind closed doors."
In Bobby's eyes, I am the prime mover of all misfortunes that befall us. I am the cause of all rent increases. The electric bill jumped because I left the light on over the stove. It's my fault there are so many stop signs on the way to the doctor's office. Don't even get me started on what he says I had to do with Pearl Harbor, the Hundred Years War, and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ!

It didn't even help when I pointed out that 15 or so people got shot overnight on Halloween. He just shot me one of his accusatory looks that said, "No thanks to you. I know who you are and what you're capable of."

He's been shooting me those looks ever since.

And I'm beginning to believe them.

So I broke down this morning and did a little research and found a repair shop that's gotten good reviews on Yelp - of all places. I called them up, the auto shop, and they said they could do the kind of repair we need.

Whenever he wakes up, I'll try to gauge his mood to see if it's safe to break the news to him. If you don't hear from me within a week, you'll know why. Please, call the police.

The police? Who am I kidding? Call Schoen.
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