Category Archives: Personal

Thinking Thursday (hilariously updated postscript)

Looking for a Hero by George Oswalt

You will find me at the JRB Gallery on the Paseo tomorrow evening. I can’t wait for this opening.

Tonight, I’ll be on lower Bricktown in front of the Harkins Theater from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. watching Cami Stinson. Watch this and you’ll know why I’ll be out tonight.

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Daily Kos on Oklahoma’s 2d Congressional District election in wake of Rep. Dan Boren announcing he won’t seek re-election:

Yesterday morning, ex-Rep. Brad Carson emailed me to let me know that his plans have changed and he will not be seeking his old seat back in the wake of Dan Boren’s retirement. Fortunately, Democrats have a strong bench here despite the red hue of the district, and there are several other possible candidates, including ex-state Sen. Ken Corn (who previously said he’s “very likely” to run) and state Rep. Ben Sherrer. The Hotline also mentions state Sen. Josh Breechen as a possible GOP candidate.

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When Ezra Klein at Washington Post looked at the deficit negotiations, he found the GOP rejected their own proposals and walked out. Who’s the dick?

So when the GOP’s economic policy team sat down to make the strongest case they could for growth-inducing deficit reduction, they recommended a mix (of) 85:15 (blogblah’s note: of spending cuts to tax increases), not a 100:0 mix. And then, when the Obama administration agreed to an 83:17 mix, the Republican leadership walked out of the room and demanded that taxes be excluded from the deal altogether. How do you negotiate with that?

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Here’s a novel way to get past the debt ceiling crisis: rely on the 14th Amendment and just ignore it. According to CNN Money, it’s one of the answers to the puzzle proposed by the Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner.

The 14th Amendment states: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

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The chairman of the state legislative ethics committee in Indiana may have a slight problem, according to local reports.

a very attractive 26 year old woman who has connections to a strip club in Lawrenceburg, Indiana was in the car with 59 year old Republican State Representative Robert Mechlenborg at 12:08AM when he was pulled over by the Indiana State Police and subsequently tested positive for alcohol and Viagra.

Blogblah note: enjoy the schadenfreude my droogies.

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Time magazine editor and MSNBC political analyst for the Morning Joe show Mark Halperin gets suspended and apologized for saying President Obama was “kind of a dick” during last night’s press conference. Obama should consider the source.

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If you do nothing else today, please watch THIS VIDEO. Please, please please. DO IT! It’s the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in an age. It will change your attitude.

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Post Script:
I haven’t really had much to say about the New York legislature passing gay marriage equality legislation because, well, I don’t know much about it. However, I couldn’t resist the video below. In it, Howard Zinn, a counter-historian (my formulation), introduces part of an oral history of the so-called Stonewall Rebellion and actor Tim Robbins reads (with such wonderful verve) the eyewitness testimony of Martin Duberman. This is just so good, it’s awesome sauce!

Tim Robbins reads Martin Duberman, “Stonewall” from Voices of a People's History on Vimeo.

August 19, 2010


Just this week, I’ve been busted on the East, West and Gulf coasts and also locally about not blogging. Sorry.
I have three or four “good” days a week, days when only one Lortab every six hours handles my pain well and I feel like doing something. I have three or four “bad” days a week, days when even two Lortab every six hours don’t seem to keep my pain in tolerable levels and also days when I just can’t do much of anything due to the distraction of the pain and the fogginess of my mind from the drugs.
One of the problems with this is that I never know from day to day which it will be. Just because I feel good today doesn’t mean that tomorrow will be worth a darn. That means it’s very difficult for me to make any plans and sometimes appointments are just a wish list.
For that period of time when it’s been 100+ degrees here in OKC, I was a virtual prisoner in my house. Even a very few minutes — five minutes, say — out in that weather just wilted me. Even brief exposure from the car inside the grocery could almost take me off the boards for the rest of the day. On the other hand, when the cool front brought rain this past week, my bones could feel it and the ache in my side from my ribs was off the charts.
In short, most of the time I’m not doing much. I’ve read some books and watched some movies and I sleep a good bit on the days I take more than 4-5 Lortabs in 24 hours. Opiates are like that.
It’s probably TMI, but I spend a lot of time fretting over money. I have thousands of dollars of medical bills that I simply can’t pay, not even if I liquidate everything I own. I’ll have to admit that I am both hurt and very angry that I’m one of those people who face bankruptcy due to medical bills, but my depression had me headed in that direction in all events and this series of medical bills just accelerated the process. I’m hurt and angry because I feel like I did all the “right” things. I had my first paycheck job at age 14, bagging groceries for LynneX’s father. I worked and got married and raised two kids and put myself and my wife through graduate schools. Both my kids got college educations. I owned a house and paid taxes and voted. Yet, here I am on the verge of retirement and instead of cashing out, visiting Europe and retiring to a beach, I’m a destitute pauper. I faced and stayed alive addiction, depression and cancer and my “reward” is bankruptcy.
You wanna know how I’m doing? Well, I spend some time seeking serenity in the face of the time-honored “life ain’t fair” problem.
Some good and some bad things have come down the pike since I last wrote.
The best was that my daughter brought the grandkids for a lovely visit and that is a full and complete joy all in itself.
This joy was compounded in the event because my old friend from gradeschool (YES! from almost 50 years ago), Rush Riddle visited from California and that brought another close friend, Ultimate Fastpipe, down from Stillwater. We had a grand time, or, at least, I had a grand time. There was some of me kind of drifting off into chasing the dragon stupor that slowed things down at the very last for me, but I must say I enjoyed all of the visits beyond my ability to write about.
My mother’s health has taken a turn for the worst lately and that concerns me. It’s a long story, but she’s being treated for some dangerous blood clots that have moved from her leg into her lungs and she requires daily injections. This seems to be the year God wants me to have an in the face reminder of the mortality of humans.
On another front, I’ve been divorced for 10 years and I’ve had my share of relationships, good and bad, during that time. None of those relationships lasted more than three years. I’m the one common denominator. Between my health and my finances (and my age), I think it likely I will not have romantic relationship that lasts “until death you do part.” I’m sorry about that. Some very good women have tried to put up with me and apparently I was beyond all redemption. Seems to me the best thing I can do is just withdraw from the field and not engage in that behavior again, thus saving some unknown draft choice in the future from having to undergo whatever it is I do to sabotage myself. Between my anti-depressants and the pain meds, it’s going to be awhile before that seems like a problem for me. (Now, we really ARE in the TMI category, so I’ll quit.)
I’ve already written that I’ve given up on politics. About a fifth of the country believes our president is a Muslim (the same people who howled about his Chicago pastor/church) and even more think Obama lacks the citizenship qualifications to be president. This has NOTHING to do with his race, of course. Jobless claims rose to 500,000 this week but we’re focused on the building of a recreation center in lower Manhatten and worried that the Imam praised by George Bush is a secret ally of the 9/11 terrorists. This presumably is because the media has such a liberal bias. Ann Coulter is not conservative enough for the sponsors of CPAC and is banned because she accepted a paid gig speaking to gay Republicans. According to all reports, these are the people who will claim a mandate wave victory this November. God save the Republic.
Sinatra has had a good week. He can jump straight up in the air and take out a cicada and I’ve seen him do it twice. He caught a field mouse somewhere and came hauling ass over the fence with it in his mouth. Thanks for the present, big guy, but no thanks. In this hot weather, he’s practically nocturnal; he sleeps most of the day and won’t come in at night. He’s often cocked off at me for not leaving open windows or doors for his convenience, but he does like to curl up beside my legs when I take afternoon naps. He doesn’t care about you. Sorry, that’s just the way he is.
Moving on and speaking of blog entries, I have very much enjoyed MCARP lately. I don’t get to see him in person all that often, so I like getting to find out what he’s doing and thinking about and I find a good bit of what he writes about is thoughtful and thought provoking. Keep up the good work, Mike.
So, that’s today’s view from St. John’s Infirmary.

July 25, 2010


It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon here at St. John’s Infirmary. It rained here despite the sunshine and that makes it all the more humid. I can’t even get outside for a little while without wilting.
On the medical front, went late last week to the endicrinology clinic to check my adrenal gland function and the first of the three tests came back aces. The doctors keep telling me that my recovery is way ahead of schedule.
From my perspective, I’m still skinny and still often hurt on the right side. One change in the pain management picture is that my complaint has moved from the incision itself to the deep ache of having my ribs pried apart.
Unless someone has kicked you full force three times with steel toed boots while you lay on the floor writhing, you have no idea. Of course that’s never happened to me, so I’m projecting just like you.
My grandchildren are expected to be here the first week of August and that’s good news with exponential increase for the likelihood that son Jack and/or sister MindOverMary will follow suit. Also, my neice Katie may be bringing her children this way to visit her father about that same time, so family fun can explode in many directions.
Speaking of family fun, one of my sisters is staying with my Mom while awaiting damage repairs from the hailstorm. Yeah, the hailstorm from the last of May. That’s a long time to wait for workmen to do something at your home, but that’s the situation. I’ve got plenty of my own problems, so I’m glad that’s not one of them.
I’ve been too lazy this weekend to even shave. I bought the Sunday New York Times and haven’t looked at it. Now, you have to admit THAT is the very definition of lazy.
If you hear someone found me dead in my home, crushed by piles of unidentified stuff, I just want you to know I am not yet a hoarder; I’ve just got that many medical bills rolling in that fast. Who knew hospitals charge by the square for toilet paper even when you’re constipated?
I want to go see Despicable Me, but I’m putting that off until a weeknight so I can watch it undisturbed by small children with sticky hands and squeaking voices. When I see a 3D cartoon about small children with sticky hands and squeaking voices, I want them on screen and not kicking the back of my seat, and that’s my final word on that subject.
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July 17, 2010

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It’s been gangster movie festival here at St. John’s Infirmary lately.

First, the Godfather trilogy of course; followed by Pesci and DeNiro in Casino with Sharon Stone; then, Goodfellows with that knockout Ray Liotto performance. I branched out with the Coen Brothers’ Millers Crossing, but came right back to the good stuff with Pacino and Depp in Donny Brasco and then Nicholson, DeCaprio and Matt Damon in The Departed. Just when I think I’m out, they keep sucking me back in and Public Enemies found its way into the DVD player.

I’d like to get out of the house and do something. Maybe go to the mall and see Inception for something different. Uhmm. There’s a bit of irony in that sentence, but I can’t quite parse it out. Maybe some reader like RebL will be able to help me with that.

I complained in the last post about what a stick figure I’ve become, but to be honest I just don’t feel like eating in this 100 degree and humid weather we’ve been having. By the way, does this hot weather mean that Al Gore is still fat but that climate studies are maybe just a little right? I keep getting mixed up when I don’t watch Glen Beck every day and need someone with mainstream thinking to help keep me on the straight and narrow.

Read an interesting piece about how the radical right is now interpreting the Constitution in the same way religious fundamentalists treat the text of the New Testament. Who knew John Calhoun would take the place of Elijah in legal thinking? I can’t get over this 10th Amendment talk from the Tea Party folks. I suppose they slept through that whole 1860-1865 week in high school U.S. history. Maybe they had the flu or the dog ate their homework. That’s the ticket, as some SNL guy used to say.

I’m really sorry I missed Lady GaGa in town. No, really. I would have liked to see that show. In fact, I would have liked to be the guy who confirmed her gender up close and personal. I might be a sick old guy, but I’m still a sick old guy. Speaking of newer singing acts, will the fact that Pink fell mean that from now on, it’s after the fall?

It's been one week

Time flies when you’re having fun here at St. John’s Infirmary and I can hardly believe it’s been one week since I looked at you. My sister has been blogging more than me? MCARP blogging more than me? No No No, that’s just not possible. It is? Drat!

So, what up? Well, it ain’t my tale to tell, but both my son and my daughter received some good news lately. I can’t take any credit for it, but I really find it easy to enjoy it. I love my family, so both me and MindOverMary got that going for us.

That image a bunch a y’all got of me in a convertible? Trash it. I am currently driving an old Ford pickemuptruck. Blue with wheezy noises and no air conditioning. Not exactly the rakish figure I once sported, but it gets me to the grocery store to buy Sinatra cat food, which seems at this point to be my sole purpose in life.

I keep following uber-webmaster Fastpipe’s Twitter feed, but I’ll be darned if I can understand what he’s got his panties all twisted up about except that I certainly get the part about being on tech support and not being able to fix the problem. My problem is that if Fastpipe can’t figure it out, what’s the chances for a guy like me? Maybe my friend MichaelH’s idea of just moving out to the lake and being off the grid ain’t such rotten potatoes after all…

Speaking of going to the company store, to which I owe my soul, the other day I was there getting some cat food and coffee when I bumped into a display of cans and some started falling. I instinctively twisted and reached out to stem the damage. Not only didn’t I catch any of the cans, but that twist and reach move with my right arm was not the thing for me to do. It hurt like the dickens and I don’t mean Charles Dickens. Not even my beloved Lortabs makes it go away. Ouch and I do mean ouch.

Also, while I absolutely LOVE Oklahoma thunderstorms and lightening and rain, when it all stops and it’s 90F and that rain starts being humidity, this is not a good formula for my daily walks. Seems I can’t get up early enough or stay up late enough to walk in the cool and/or there just ain’t any cool under these conditions. I’ve been lucky lately to get in 8 blocks before I’m tuckered.

Politics has me bumfuzzled and gobsmacked lately. Are the Republicans not only going to win but also repeal the entire New Deal? In the name of cutting deficits will we really get rid of the Department of Education and Department of Health and Human Services? What do they think will happen if they try to balance the budget during the worst recession since 1937? How is it possible that such nonsense is so popular? I can’t even comment any more. There isn’t anything to say. No one listens to anyone they don’t already agree with. I will certainly be casting a whole bunch of throw-away votes this time, but by gosh and by golly, I will be casting my votes.

One last thing about that rakish, convertible driving image … have you ever seen kids draw stick figures? That’s what I look like in summer shorts. I am literally a lightweight these days, even if you thought I was skinny before.

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My fat Tuesday

Happy BDay Sis

Yesterday was my birthday and I went out to eat twice: to The Metro with Mom and to Zorba’s with Kim. I’m down to 141 llbs and I’m eating my way back to “fighting weight”, so I indulged in all the beurberry sauce and real butter and lamb grease and french fries that I could stand. To all those watching their weight, all I have to say is: I eat and eat and eat and still can’t gain a pound. Nyah Nyah Nyah. I look like the stick figures some children draw. If you thought I was skinny before, you should see me now when my pants are falling down over my non-existent booty.

Received the requisite phone calls from children, sisters and friends and a couple of mailed cards, so it was all good.

Here at St. John’s Infirmary, I’ve finally decided after much deliberation and consultation and intertubes research to decline to take chemotherapy and accept enhanced scanning. I’m comfortable with the decision and if anyone is horrified, let me know and I’ll listen and try to explain my thinking.

I’m actually feeling pretty good and cutting back on my Lortab intake as a result. I’m still walking a good bit, but mostly early in the a.m. and late in the p.m. when it’s cooler and a bit less humid. I’ve loved this rain, although I find it unexpected. I don’t care what Gary England says, it seems to me that we are really and in fact experiencing climate change. I noticed that in today’s news, it seems a British inquiry has cleared the climatologists from all charges of “cooking the books” as the Inhofe people asserted.

Very soon, I think, I’ll be back to the place where I have my life restored, although what life that will be is somewhat a mystery to me. I feel that I have overcome three deadly diseases — alcoholism, depression and cancer — and that there is something more I can do with my life other than merely spill out a few sentences on this blog for less than two dozen people to read. Some parts of my life seem to be falling back into place, but I see no need to speed up matters until after I see my children, grandchildren and youngest sister next month when they all visit. I’m still spending at least part of every day taking naps because I still tire fairly easily and the Lortab keeps me … shall we say? … quite relaxed. I continue to think almost everyone would benefit from a few hundred of these little white pills; they seem to make the day to day world rather pleasant, for a time. I’m told they have a bite if you try and break up with them, but I’m not there yet.

Last year, with my zero birthday, I was committed to changing things to achieve a “bucket list” since I felt quite young for my chronology. This year, I don’t feel that way. I feel every single one of my sixty one years. On the other hand, I’m grateful to have those years and this one day past that. Every single day seems like a gift. It’s not such a bad way to live, to see each day as a chance to live and enjoy. You might try it; I suspect it will turn out better advice than the whole Lortab suggestion.

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July 2, 2010

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Seems like a pretty good day here at St. John’s Infirmary. For one thing, I didn’t have to go to morgue and see my old lady laid out all cold like at St. James.

For another thing, I went to the doctors’ office today and came home with a wildly happy report. “Remarkable” and “Very Fortunate” were some of the words they used. Seems like the little walks I’m taking are better than anyone expected of a skinny old man like me.

All my tests are coming back clear including the chest x-rays and my scars are all healing nicely.

In fact, the surgeons released me and I won’t have to go back and see them. They refused to express an opinion on chemotherapy except to say it depends on what I work out with oncology and the amount of risk I’m prepared to take that the cancer will show up again somewhere else.

The “morgue” reference isn’t totally off the wall. My mighty hunter and self-appointed security guard raided a bird’s nest yesterday and it was my sad duty to interr a couple of featherless fledglings, to the howling displeasure of Sinatra. To say he’s “pissed” (not in the British sense of the slang word, but the American one) is a distinct understatement. My own sense of trying to coexist peacefully with our feathered friends has taken a blow, but I was out of the house too early today to catch the mockingbird. I hope the fledglings weren’t mockingbirds, because I would hate to think of feline sin.

So, I’m just trying to enjoy the purple Rose of Sharon (gosh, I hope for Woody Allen’s sake they’re not from Cairo since that was one of his worst films) presently blossoming in my back yard.

Hope everybody blows something up real good for the holiday and happy birthday Tuesday for me. I’m giving up on trying to do anything for the next four days since everyone I called this morning was already on their way to their four day holiday weekends, presumably at the lake.

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July 1, 2010

Vintage RayBans

It’s a lovely day to recover here at St. John’s Infirmary. The temperatures are a moderate low 80s, the sky is partly cloudy and there’s a slight breeze to make it even more comfortable out on the back patio drinking my morning coffee.

I’d be remiss not to mention that today’s mockingbird morning concerto was particularly beautiful with a rousing crescendo for an end around 9:30 a.m.

While musing in my canvas chair, I think I’ve developed A MODEST PROPOSAL!

As most of my readers know, I have suffered in the past from alcoholism and depression long before this whole cancer surgery thing cropped up. Not long ago, I celebrated 15 sober years and I think I’m in my 30th year of some kind of intermittent therapy, either talk or antidepressant drugs.

I’ve noticed that my depression and my alcoholism haven’t bothered me much and that I have found fighting my nicotine addiction as well as pain has also been well managed by the application of sufficient amounts of opiates. First it was morphine, then Percoset and, lately, Lortabs, that have kept my mind off all these things and made it much easier to get through my days.

Well, my gosh, forget the lithium and copper, we’ve got a treasure trove in Afghanistan with all those poppies, it seems to me.

Think of all the mental health facilities and prisons we fund that could be shut down or converted to opium dens. All that money we spend on The War on Drugs. All those drug war deaths down on the Mexican borders. Think of the money we could save and how well we could stabilize Afghanistan with just a fraction of the cost of what we spend on Mexican pot and South American cocaine. Think of the prison savings alone. Not much guarding needs to be done on prisoners who are chasing the dragon with legal opium pipes, I expect.

In addition, instead of all that domestic spending on tobacco and all the heartache it causes, we could just export all that Virginia and Kentucky crop and help the balance of payments accounts and the imbalance in our exports and imports.

Think how much more productive this country would be if all those drug and alcohol counselors and shrinks were actually producing something instead of just sitting around talking to a bunch of sad sacks.

Can you even imagine a smoke-free America? No more bars, no more “snake pit” asylums and “black hole of Calcutta” prisons? It’d be paradise, wouldn’t it?

Seems like there’d be a lot less violent crime, too. Who wants to bash someone when you’ve got a nose full of opium?

Well, it’s just an idea. Y’all discuss amongst yourselves and get back to me. I’m gonna go take another pain pill and forget about it.

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June 29, 2010

Pretty exciting morning here at St. John’s Infirmary.

I went outside to the back patio to enjoy my morning coffee in the cool of the day and was escorted by my personal feline security, Sinatra. Cunning predator that he is, he checked beneath all the nearby shrubs and bushes for any threatening squirrels, birds, crawling things or other evildoers. As cool breezes greeted the (7 a.m.) dawnings, he scampered and cavorted in the dewey grass, making sure I was safe from the swarm of gnats that hovers over the lawn. When he came to my ankles for his obligatory scratch between the ears, I knew it was safe to go in for a second cup.

Ordinarily, I’m serenaded by a particular male mockingbird in the mornings and again in the evening, but as I settled in with my second cup I noticed he was down the block today. Instead of his melodious morning concert, my yard was invaded by a raucous bluejay mafia making the territory their own. These four thugs of the sky didn’t need no stinkin’ badges, I’m tellin’ you. They clearly had no fear of me — one took the high lookout while the other three scoured the ground for anything that moved, each trading places from time to time. Later, these same four took notice of one of their second cousins twice removed, a crow much bigger than any of them, and they chased him from the entire neighborhood’s sky like World War II spitfires strafing a bomber. The bigger bird hadn’t a chance against these four blue ruffians.

I don’t drink as much coffee as I once did and I went inside for a true pleasure: I got to take a shower, wash my hair and shave myself all by my lonesome, just like a big boy. Even dried myself off with my own towel. Yep. Just like a grownup, I’m telling you. Big advance over just a couple of weeks ago, so I’m pretty proud of that landmark occasion.

Before it got too hot, I went for my daily walk. I’m up to 8 blocks now. Continuous blocks, mind you, not four 2-block walks or anything like that, a real walk for eight straight blocks without stopping. Gosh, there’s no where from here but up, right?

I closed out the early part of the day with a rousing read of an international best seller of a thriller called … er … something or another by someone I’ve never heard of.

Well, that’s the day’s dispatch. Don’t want to keep up this pace since I know some of my older readers must already be feeling the angina from the excitement.

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June 21, 2010

Summer’s solstice, the longest day and not a beach in sight. Ah, well.

I spent most of the day in bed, either sleeping or playing on the internet.

I’ve been out of the hospital about 2 weeks now, but some times are better for me than others.

I had hopes I could go play a little poker or at least get some gnosh and gossip with the gang Saturday night, but that was not in the cards for me. I had some fluid drained out from around my incisions and it seemed to drain a lot of my energy with it. I got a little of the gnosh and gossip any way, if belated, when Marcy dropped by with some chicken salad and brownies. Congratulations to the newcomers to the poker table who, as I understand it, cleaned the clocks of the old timers. I’m glad to still be in possession of my shirt.

I had some hopes to do some things today, but I had an up and down night with very little “good” sleep, so today was a rest day for me. Now, I’m pinning my hopes on getting to spend an hour at an AA meeting tomorrow because it’s my 15th AA anniversary. I’ve made arrangements for my long-time sponsor to come pick me up and take me to the meeting and I’ll get a little brass medallion with Roman Numeral XV on it. All I really did was not drink and not die for a bunch of consecutive days, but that “don’t die” part seemed dicey a few days last month.

My “belly button” birthday is next month on the 6th and I hope I’ll feel good enough to do a little celebrating then, but that’s too long a timeline for me to contemplate right now.

For a long time, I’ve neglected a couple of thank you notes and I’d like to make up for that. For two months now, my Mom has spent every single day with me. She’s nurtured and cared for me and been my companion. For those same two months, my nights have been spent with Kim, who has fed me, bathed me, cleaned me and my house and my hospital room, monitored my medicines and advocated for me with nurses and sundry when I couldn’t do it for myself. I could not have done this without their support. No idiotic internet blog comment by me can say how integral they have been to my life. I simply would have lost my mind and what little health I’ve still got without them.

Since yesterday was Father’s Day, I’d like to proudly report that both my son Jack and my daughter Rebecca called from their respective homes in New Orleans and Tucson. They are such great people and their calls cheered me up and choked me up with gratitude and love.

I’m sorry that I still seem to be too weak to have much company, but I can see a time when I’m more robust right around the corner. I look forward to seeing familiar faces soon.

Now, go have some pagan ritual, dammit. It’s what I’d do.

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