Tag Archives: feeling sorry for myself

The Mother of all Vacations

Dead pool

Well, vacation is a complicated idea around here any more.  I sit here blogging while my family is on vacation in Florida with the camper.  They went to see my son in the Marine Corps graduate from his MOS class, and they are staying for the beaches.  I got left behind because, for me, breathing and camping no longer seem to be something I can do both at the same time.  So, I opted to stay at home alone with the dog and the air conditioner to continually walk the dog, pick up dog poop in the park, and practice breathing.  Breathing is hard with COPD.   Chronic Obstructed Pulmonary Disorder basically means I have far too much lutefisk residue clogging up the storage sheds in my lungs.  (For those of you who don’t know about the horrors of living as an Iowegian… lutefisk is a dish made by Scandahoovians from Norway out of white fish soaked in lye soap until it turns into a kind of bad-tasting poisonous Jello.  Iowegians eat it constantly, and claim to love it, though I have it on good authority that eating it builds up your immunity to death… because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  And the funny thing is, I don’t even eat lutefisk.  Lutefisk in the air back in my youth has managed to encrust my lungs with lutefisk residue.  That, or the toxic chemicals we used to spray on the soybean fields… Naw, I’m pretty sure it is the lutefisk.)  (That last parenthetic expression just squeezed into third place all time on my longest parenthetic expression list.)  (But only by two words.)

mickey in powder

So, I chose this lonely vacation from vacationing because I kinda like breathing, and I am definitely not ready to risk finding out if the lutefisk in my lungs has actually made me immune to death in the Iowegian tradition.  And so, what happens while I am staying home alone with the dog?  Bill came to visit.  Bill is a tropical storm.  After the record setting water-soaked Texas month of May he is not a welcome visitor.  Take a look again at my family’s swimming pool.  That pool has about thirty cracks on the bottom perfect for making it act more like a sieve than a pool.  It has only held a few cup-fulls of rancid mosquito-water for the past three swimming seasons.  I had fallen far enough behind sticking chewing gum in the cracks that it does not hold water.  It was finally beginning to empty before Bill showed up and added six inches just today.  And rain is so good for COPD in the most sarcastic way I can possibly write those particular words.  I did not need Bill to visit.  I find I am forced to live with his visit, and he is not even a relative.

So I have been stuck in bed, drawing cartoons about Pirates who rob people by being bankers and throwing me into the powder room as their prisoner, practicing hard on my breathing, and feeling very depressed about missing vacation.  But, it occurs to me that, since I am now retired from teaching… for an entire school year already… and too ill most of the time to try to make extra money as a Walmart greeter, smiling and saying hello to ugly fat people in warm-up sweatpants, like I had planned and claimed I was looking forward to doing…  I am actually on the longest vacation of my life.  Longer even than the two jobless years of substitute teaching the Wicked Witch of Creek Valley sentenced me to.  I may actually be on vacation now for the rest of my life.  Whoa, baby!  Bring on the babes in bikinis… the non-alcoholic Margaritas… there is already water in the pool!

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Filed under humor, Paffooney, vacations

Walter Mitty

DSCN5331I am still recovering from a heart-attack scare, and as a part of my regimen of rest and fluids, I watched the DVD of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring and directed by Ben Stiller.  It is a brilliant piece of film art in my opinion.  The basic story is about a day-dreaming ne’er-do-well who is so much like I once was that it is practically an unauthorized biography.  Mitty daydreams and pines over a co-worker that he is afraid to introduce himself to.  He works at Life Magazine at a time when the printed periodical was going out of business.  His job is on the line.  Then, he loses a photograph from a famous photographer when he has never made such an error before.  To correct his mistake, he goes on a world-hopping quest to find the photographer, visiting Greenland, jumping into the ocean from a helicopter, fighting a shark, escaping from an erupting volcano in Iceland, climbing a mountain in the Himalayas, and finally, getting fired for not finding it, though he does find it, and proves he is more competent and brave and daring and heroic than even his daydreams told him that he was.  At the end he even gets the girl.  It made me cry to realize how much my life was like that.  It has been a comedy of errors compounded by the criticism and negativity of the world around me.  I fought hard to be a competent teacher.  I had to become an advocate for kids.  I fought for the good of the students against principals, parents, the State of Texas, three school administrations, politicians, and sometimes even the students themselves.  I rose to new heights during my darkest hours.  I made a difference.  A lot of kids came back to tell me I was their favorite teacher, that they learned things and remembered things from my class more than any of their other classes.  I know some of them were lying for sentimental reasons, but not all of them were.  So I was, in the end, a success.  I had my Walter Mitty moments.

So what is the point of all of this, and of the picture of my messy studio which is also my bedroom and sickroom?  If I had died from the heart attack rather than finding out it wasn’t really a heart attack, I would still be successful in the course of my life and career.  Three beautiful and intelligent children with my genetic stamp… more than 2,500 students educated and served… thirty-one years of faithful teachering… like Walter Mitty, I have been worth so much more than I have ever been given credit for.  And yet… and yet… I am not finished.  I am only now coming into my real magical powers over words and ideas.  I am only now reaching out and saying what treasures are truly in my heart for all to take away and enrich themselves with.  Some of it is in the books I have written.  Some of it is in the blog I am here making available to you.  I am not bragging.  I am old and in pain and very near the end… but I still have love to give… and laughter… and life.  Please, help yourself to it while you may.  I am not done yet.


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