Wednesday, September 6, 2017


In what has to be the most monumentally perfect end and seque into what has got to be a better tomorrow – and this is being said with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, we are bidding a fond adieu to this third quarter of 2017 and looking ahead to the last quarter of 2017 and heading into 2018, with the hopes that all of this will be far, far better than what has gone before and I must elucidate.

Hurricane Irma, 09/06/2017 01:48 am edt. Marching up the Caribbean to Florida.

After coming home from Japan, which was surely a highlight, it took a while to get back into my normal routine, and as a matter of fact, I'm not sure I ever got there. This is rather a disaster for someone like me. I'm hard-wired to the max and it's difficult for me when I get out of my routine; I get out of sorts and lose my appetite, have trouble sleeping and just generally do not operate at my optimal level best, but I soldiered on.

Things seemed to be settling down into a normal routine, until I had two unfortunate hospitalizations; one in March and one in late July. The one in March was due to some atypical chest pains that were attributed to my essential tremor, which I've grown accustomed to experiencing, but the one in July, was a bit more difficult, as this one was caused by my essential tremor once more interfering with my autonomic functions, by lowering my blood pressure and this time, my heart rate, throwing me into bradycardia and had the unfortunate effect of leaving me with a poor sense of balance and with vertigo. I was also having my usual trouble of keeping weight on. The upshot? Home with physical therapy, occupational therapy, extra food, care of Meals on Wheels and extra vitamin supplements.

My handsome viola, Wolf. He's an Italian snob and it shows in the way he looks and sounds. No wonder he doesn't want to get his feet wet!

Then, after a few weeks of that, I came down with a case of strep throat; only my 2nd in my entire life. I knew it was strep, because my gums threatened to run away first. Lovely stuff. This is on top of having had my new cell phone stolen back in May. What a bad summer. The highlight was seeing my old and dear high-school chum of 40+ years back in May. That was 3 days of laughing hysterically over everything. I get to see her again in the spring, along with another cohort of ours, and I can't wait.

So, here we are. It's September 5th, 2017 and what do we have awaiting us? Why one week after Hurricane Harvey, certainly one of this epoch's most destructive storms in terms of human misery and the cost in property damage and just the scope of destruction, we have Hurricane Irma, not just lying in wait, but what has become quickly, a category 5 storm, with winds of 185 miles per hour, at least 3 times the width of Florida, so that it matters not where she comes ashore, we're all at risk. And it matters not whether or not I am ambulatory, or if I have a vehicle or not. I have a valuable instrument, and as long as I'm in a place that is high and dry, it behooves me to stay put. Or rather, it behooves the underwriters of the insurance policy that hold Wolf's policy for me to stay put. Not that I'm tempted to go and grab a boat and go punting through the streets of Tampa anyway. Nebraska Avenue is weird enough, when it's normal out. I can just imagine how bizarre it's gonna be with Irma's impact. Mr. Cigaret and his “Merry Christmas” in July and Abraham singing to the cars will have new audiences to sing to and new patrons to greet, if FEMA and disaster relief need to make their way to our shores. As for me and Wolf, it's highly doubtful that we'll be singing for our suppers, but you never know. Stay tuned. At any rate, when Irma leaves, it's time for this run of luck to change! 

Sunday, July 9, 2017


I started this off naming one of James Thurber's funniest stories, because it rings so true for my own life, which has been an endless series of confusion, pratfalls and just plain idiocies. I could jump in just any old place, and come up with some stupidity or other; either mine or someone who is close to me. Being homeless for eleven months just helped to enrich that craziness.

So, not very long ago, on the 15th anniversary of my mother's death, I discovered through my own pulmonary doctor, that my own copd, which had taken her life, will not take mine. The last symptom, the scar tissue that inhibits exhalations seems to be gone, according to my pulmonary specialist. When I discovered that I had copd, I made it my mission to try and help others – as well as myself – and began going through Clinical Trials; I have been in one trial or another since 2012. To say that this is startling news, really throws shade on how important this is. In the past, the most people could hope for, was that their copd could be arrested, and if the patient had quit smoking – which I did in 2010 – there should be no worsening, although that is not always the case.

My mother had a genetic predisposition to copd, just as she did to essential tremor – although, alas, she was never diagnosed or treated for essential tremor. I just know it from consultation with my own neurologist and discussion with my aunt, who is a terrific observer of such things. Both of these traits show up on the same genetic strand of DNA. And I know this how? By reading my own medical chart. These are primarily the only true medical weaknesses we possess, lest you count the pure bat-shit insanity and pure cussedness on both sides of my family.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, most people who quit smoking don't get worse, but by the time my mom quit smoking it was very late in the game; she had 13% lung function. I had 43% lung function when I started my Clinical Trials, but within 2 years, it had gone up to 90%, however, I still had those damnable scars that made exhalations and true exertions very hard on me.

Well, it had dawned on me somewhere after I did Japan – read “Mr. Bean Does Japan”, after I lost my blind cane - that I didn't have that “elephant sitting on my chest” feeling at all. Me essential tremor was being a mess, but I'm generally a mess and don't pay that any mind; it won't kill me. And then, last Monday, I had a thought (and no, it didn't get lonely and leave), but I needed a hill to try out my thought.     

I had to go to my bank, which is up a small hill facing Nebraska Avenue. I went and got the rent, and then went back down the hill. Then, I ran as fast as I could – I was a runner in high school – back up the hill, and capered and danced around, chortling to myself and just having a fine time. I did this for about 20 minutes, without ever getting out of breath.

I told my “pretend adopted son” Alex about this episode and he said, “You just know someone saw you and said, there goes another Nebraska Avenue loon!” So, we had a good laugh about that.

On Wednesday night however, I pulled an even bigger stunt. I'm a restless sleeper. I always have been and it was a latent sign of my essential tremor. At least, I never sat up in bed and jacked my better 2/3s in the eye, as is the case with my mom, when she gave my dad a black eye. When he said “Ow! What did you do that for?” She was all huffy with her response: “Just be glad you're a fish! You can write on Sundays!” I'm sure untold generations will be pondering the profundity of that meaning. My dad said sleeping with me when I was tiny was like sleeping with a bulldozer. My poor dad.

Anyway, somehow, I'd gotten turned around and was sleeping with me head, where my feet should be. I woke up at some point, thirsty and was looking for my water bottle. I saw it, and reached for it-wtf????

I fell out of the bed, and landed on my head and shoulders with my feet up in the air. I lay there and laughed like a loon for about 20 minutes, feet still in the air, before I recovered enough to pull myself up and get back in the bed, with my water bottle. It is a good thing that I'm still so limber and agile, because there are times I don't have one brain cell in my head.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

#IWSG – July 2017 Check in – Depression Really Ain't All That

I'm not going to start this with the usual organ recital of how I had an essential tremor episode, landed in the hospital, came out and got the Plague that everyone had for about 40 years it seemed, but was closer to 7 weeks and then had my cell phone stolen, and then I went to bed depressed for two months, until I got sick of my own pitifulness and drop-kicked my ass out of bed. We've all been there in one form or another, and my particular pity-part seems to be “I suck, hate myself, never did anything good, am a rotten person and cannot do anything well...” What horseshit.

Any one who has to deal with mental illness goes through this cycle and we know that things will get better. I'm at my best when I'm fighting for something I believe in, or if I have a job to do. Simple stuff; easy-peasy. And I've got the tools to take me to next step.

Anyway, it's time for me to move on to the next step and get on with my life. Symphony rehearsal starts in about 7 weeks and I've been approached by NTI, a company that provides work-at-home jobs for people with disabilities; the extra money will help.

I NEED to start writing again too. When I'm really creative, it keeps the bats out of my brains and keeps me motivated. I'm sorry I just sort of dropped out of sight. Alex Cavanaugh and Juneta Key came looking for me, just as I was climbing out of that hole. Thanks, you two, and to any others who may have sent emails I missed, thanks to you as well! I know you care! I hope everyone has a productive #IWSG month!