Saturday, May 30, 2009

And a good time was had by all. 'specially me.

Okay, guys, I have just gotten through, truly, the suckiest week at work in a long time. I will not belabor the details; that's not the purpose of this post.

This is going to be a happy post, by gum.

At 5:00-ish yesterday evening, I almost literally limped to my car. I mean, we're talking down, ragged and defeated, despite the author of my pain taking a vacation day. My circadian rhythms make the hours between 5 and 7 pm the lowest point for me, energy-wise. I typically get up at 6 a.m. and for the next several hours am very ready, willing and able to do just about anything, especially when it comes to planning and organizing. But starting around 3:30 in the afternoon, the energy starts to wane seriously. Especially on Friday, and especially if it's been a tough week. A good example of this was yesterday -- made a detour to the restroom and stood in front of the wastebasket with a crumpled paper towel in one hand and my car keys in the other -- needing about three long seconds to sort out which one I was supposed to toss in. There are some evenings when I will walk in the door, say hi to Carl, kick off the shoes and most of the clothes, and just fall into bed and be deeply asleep within 2 minutes, waking up an hour or so later not having changed position. Then, of course, I stay up until the wee morning hours, but...

So, yesterday evening, I had to rush over to the church to catch the tail-end of an important meeting, and then a half hour later it was time to attend dinner at a friend's house. I had to slap together a time sheet, as I always do on Fridays, and would have gotten it started earlier, except for having to fill in on the company switchboard from 4-5. So it's rush-rush-rush, making up the time sheet, shutting down my computer, putting away all the paperwork and getting out of Dodge. In my quest to arrive promptly at the meeting, I took a shortcut along one of the most dismal, drug-ridden streets in the city. Such was my pessimistic frame of mind that I fully anticipated encountering a flat tire, fender-bender, carjacking, or improvised explosive device along one of those 4 blocks. Perhaps my emotional sun started to peek through the clouds as I turned onto the next street and left all that squalor behind.

The church meeting was not unpleasant, but it was a somewhat confused and talk-heavy affair, and having come in so late, there was little for me to contribute. I think everybody was fairly fatigued by the time we broke up at 6:00, but I didn't want to arrive too early at the dinner, which was located just blocks away. But there was no one to hang out and chat with, so I took the long route to my friend's. I'd never previously visited them before dark. Upon arriving, I discovered that they have ample parking space behind their house, making it unnecessary to scope out an appropriate spot at the curb. One of the other guests had arrived just before me; their smiling faces were a balm to the soul as we walked into the house together.

And so went the whole evening. My friend is a wonderful host, along with her husband, and a splendid cook. I've known her just over two years and feel enormously blessed by her friendship. She is a consummate night-owl. If you even try to make conversation with her before 11 a.m. or so, you'd be advised to record it, since she won't remember much of it later. So most of the time we spend together is on weekday evenings. She's walking on air, while my ass is dragging. I was genuinely worried about how I'd hold up for 3 hours' worth of leisurely dining and conversation with six other people.

But I needn't have worried. There was wine (oh, yesss!), salad, a roast, potatoes, squash, a marvelous dessert and coffee. A few auxiliary brain cells kicked in and I was able to converse intelligently about politics, religion and society in general. I indulged briefly in a recitation of the preceding week's miseries, but all of that suddenly, miraculously felt irrelevant.

After about three hours, the inevitable exhaustion reappeared and I was the first to get up and say goodnight. I'd seen one or two discreet glances at wristwatches before that and suspected that I'd provided an opportunity for the others. Six warm hugs and then it was a short, uneventful cruise back to my (thankfully) empty street and quiet abode.

An absolutely perfect end to a day that could have been worse, at the conclusion of a week that many of us thought would just drag on forever.

I'm hoping the momentum will carry me through this weekend and enable me to do something other than stare at the computer and take naps. And then Monday it's back to the battlefield ... freshly armored. Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Absolutely nothin'

A fellow blogger has been conspicuously absent the last week or so; today he resurfaced with an explanation that his neglect of an urgent project has made him decide to cut back on his Internet activity until he gets it all done.

At least he's got a legitimate excuse. I check in here every day; see my most recent post growing cobwebs and still can't come up with a decent topic that's postworthy. I comment plenty, both here and on LiveJournal. Just no original posts.

Some of my mental energy has been diverted to one of those sites where you write "articles" for which they "pay." The quotes refer to the fact that no magazine I know would accept the stuff I crank out at its current level of quality, and the fact that the "pay" amounts to pennies and you have to accrue $25 before you can get it out via PayPal. Still, it's become mildly addictive.

Have been catching up with several old friends recently unearthed on Facebook. Trying to come up with a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Harris' novel Hannibal, which launched my brief fanfiction writing career and some decent friendships, both on- and off-line.

So, in case anybody was wondering, I'm not dead, at least not in the physical sense. Depressed, maybe, a little. Looking forward to the next burst of inspiration. It will come. It always does. Click Here to Read More..

Monday, May 11, 2009


A gentleman at the church I attend is close to 83, and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a couple of years ago. His declining state troubled me enough to e-mail the minister about it. I'm feeling half-embarrassed about the e-mail, because I picture him reading it, thinking "Tell me something I DON'T know."

Sol has been at the center of church life for decades. I'm a newcomer. So the majority of people know Sol and his large family, most of whom attend the church. They knew Sol when he was the founder and CEO of his own company.

Other people have joined the church since I did. They probably look at Sol and think of him as "the old guy who won't be around much longer." He's always been a quiet sort (at least as long as I've known him). He and his wife sit in their accustomed seats in the front every Sunday without fail (except for a week here and there when one or the other was in the hospital). They're a "fixture" in the truest sense of the word. It's easy to look at him and think "He's here, he's old, end of story."

But I fit somewhere in the middle between those who "remember him when" and those who don't know him at all. When I first joined the church, he welcomed me, fetched me coffee, and made small talk about what we had in common, which is a Jewish background. There was a connection made there, and so I took notice of things he did and said. He was a funny guy, and sharp. He had a wry sense of humor. Another elderly gent in our church tends to be something of an instigator. He'd throw some crack at Sol, and Sol would saw him right off at the knees. It was a treat to see Sol in action.

In the last couple of years, Sol has been in the hospital for heart problems and his wife was treated for cancer. They both "pulled through." But my most recent interaction with Sol was quite different from what I'd gotten used to. Now he barely speaks and is more likely to fall asleep wherever he sits. His breathing is labored and rapid, and his facial expression when awake is one of puzzlement. Sure, the way he has been for five years probably is nothing like the younger version of Sol, but just what I've seen in the last month marks a dramatic deterioration.

Because I spent much of my childhood in the company of older relatives and neighbors, I saw plenty of people "get old," "slow down," etc. But the difference between the natural aging process and Alzheimer's is unmistakable, even in someone of advanced age. It doesn't just sneak up gradually. Or if it does initially, once it takes hold, the effects are obvious, even on a week-to-week basis.

It's scary. I'm glad the scientific community is working to find a remedy.

[Came home, wrote some more...]

Some years ago, I heard a truism I never forgot:

"When the mind goes, the heart shows." That could be why some people who always seemed to have it together in their prime become ugly and foul when they get old and their faculties slip. I also think this applies to intoxication as well as dementia. Other people become childlike and sweet.

That's the case with Sol. Those who knew him a few decades ago describe him as a Type-A, impatient, rather intimidating, driven sort. That was all in the past by the time I joined the congregation. The man I met was gentle, kind, absolutely devoted to his wife. I feel privileged to have met the "heart" of Sol, before the Alzheimer's took that away, too. Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, May 02, 2009

"White Light" - Wishin' and Hopin'

I don't pray to a deity. Stopped doing that nearly 7 years ago. Happy to put it behind me. Never looked back.

I don't meditate. But I'd like to learn. I have a great deal of difficulty focusing on one thing, such as breathing, to the exclusion of other things. It's a work in progress.

But without prayer or meditation, there remains the question of what to do when there's a situation that's out of your control, but you've got something invested in the outcome.

Wish ... hope ... send white light, as a friend of mine likes to say.

I'm more than a bit skeptical about the "law of attraction." I've tried it a few times, seen it work, but the track record is almost exactly equivalent to the results gained through prayer. Inconsistent. Closer to coincidence than anything.

So I hesitate, good humanist/skeptic/UU that I am, to delude myself into thinking I can send out "waves" or "vibes" or anything like that to the universe and somehow influence it to alter the course of events to suit me. Pure logic says it's in my head and nowhere else.

But the thoughts persist. The helplessness that has kept religion going for millennia.

Two of my good friends have been vacationing at Ground Zero for the current flu outbreak. They are healthy, vigorous people who always keep a positive attitude and don't generally slouch around talking about their latest ailment. And fortunately, in the event that some microbe may overtake them, they have access to good healthcare. There really is no reason to worry about my friends. They've kept in touch via e-mail and made no mention of any worries other than government offices being closed and the possibility of travel delays. I do sense, though, that they're more than ready to get back home.

I feel tense, restless, and yes, helpless. I have a personal stake in this situation simply because I care about them and think they're undeserving of sickness, bureaucratic inconvenience, or even the worries of friends, who may want them to quarantine themselves for a week or so after they come back, just to play it safe.

I'm as clueless about "white light" as I ever was about prayer. The Law of Attraction folks say I should only visualize the best outcome -- picture them bouncing off the plane with carefree grins and luggage full of whimsical, sanitary souvenirs. A month's worth of amusing stories about the food and scenery. That is, actually, how I see them in my mind's eye.

If that's "white light," I'm hitting the SEND button now. Click Here to Read More..