As a writer, my goal is to create wisdom and new ideas and stuff that makes a reader feel happy, or sad, or angry, or even slightly insane. But thinking is hard when your head hurts and your body aches and your sixtieth birthday is just around the corner. (Yes, this Mickey is nearly 60, but can you believe that that Mickey is going to be 88 on the day after I turn 60?) Sometimes you just want to say, “Never mind that I wanted to post every single day for the past two years. Just curl up in a ball and go to sleep.” But there are ways to get something done even if your mind is full of the Sandman’s leavings and old, rotted dreams.
You can always get by with posting somebody else’s wisdom… somebody else’s thinking. You don’t have to work too hard to paste things together. After all, why else did you have to look at so many cut-and-paste essays over the years in middle school and high school?
And you can rely on the work you have already done collecting computer files full of colorful crap and stuff you like enough to steal to complete your cut-and-paste scrapbook post. You don’t have to feel like you erred and are about to have your head cut off by an angry Groo.
And you know you can get a lot of cheap likes on Facebook with some of the stuff you have available to put in this post. You have been working at the “Be funny!” thing for a long time, and have gotten almost good enough at it to be funny on the fly. And when you’ve gotten more than halfway to the goal, you can rest a bit. Take a nap. Regenerate the crazy things in your head so you can do this all again another day.
And if you can have a laugh before you are finished, even if no one else in the world gets the joke… well, at least you will feel a little bit better yourself.
I am still battling headaches, bone pain, and illness. But I am getting by with bed rest. And a bit of playing with dolls.
The hoarding disorder that drives my doll collecting took a hit from Walmart, whose clearance sale shelf offered a slew of Monster High dolls for five dollars or less.
I bought the dragon girl, the mouse girl, the gray cat girl, and the robot girl.
Of course if you play with them, that means taking their clothes off and switching their dresses. Just like a little girl.
Hopefully, I will recover soon, and won’t be a ten year old girl when I do.
The flowers have begun to bloom in Texas. The leaves are budding on all the trees who aren’t live oaks. The live oaks are shedding their winter coats, and there-in lies my divided feelings about the end of winter. I am allergic to tree pollen, mold spores, and the grungy green gungus that goes with re-awakening life. This weekend I raked live oak leaves and cut the grass in the yard. So today, I am paying the price. I have an arthritic back-ache. I have an allergic-reaction headache. I hurt a lot and I can’t breathe. But I got to see the fresh blooms of another growing season. A little pain… and then renewal.
I have to admit, I have changed a lot from my high school graduation portrait. The extra facial fur hides some of the wrinkles and all the little pink itches and bleeds gifted to me by the miracle of diabetic psoriasis. My hair has totally changed color without dye or bleach. And you can’t see it, but the brain is full of a lot more wrinkles.
This picture of my wife and I is from more than five years ago… what I looked like then reflected more who and what I was when I was still teaching and able to live life without so much arthritis pain and inability to breathe. Not so many parts of me had fallen off or stopped working back then. I sometimes think being younger than I am now is something to be wished for. But I really don’t suppose that if I were to find a magic lamp that had a genii in it, I would want to be younger again if it cost me everything I have learned since I was that age. I am an older man now… a sicker man… a less happy man.
But there is wisdom to be found in growing older. And there is a certain magic in that which is really quite priceless.
Ah, my poor little Ford Fiesta has been declared dead by the insurance company. Soon I will have to give up the chibi clown car I have been driving and buy something new. Can I get a used car for the money they will give me for the accident? I was counting on not having a car payment every month after June of this year. Ah, but it means a new member of the family to replace the loved one I have lost.
The ghost dog continues to haunt me in the night. Last night, outside my bedroom door, I heard a whining and whimpering again. I checked (had to make a nocturnal potty-stop anyway) and it was not our family dog. The downstairs family room door was closed to her and she sleeps in the other end of the house in my son’s room. So, either it was the ghost dog whom I totally don’t believe in, or I was dreaming that part (do I really have dreams as weird as that?), or maybe I am going insane… the most probable explanation.
I am still working in dedicated fashion on my hometown novels. I have added to the rewrite of When the Captain Came Calling and I have started a new novel project I am calling Recipes for Gingerbread Children. It is a novel about the old German lady who inhabited our little town in the 1960’s and 70’s. She was a Holocaust survivor with a tattoo on her forearm. Mother still can’t talk about her without mentioning what a terrible life she must’ve had, yet she was one of the most sunshiny people I have ever known. It is a new idea that excites me, like the one that became Magical Miss Morgan.
I am also still desperately trying to overcome illness without doctor’s visits or medication. A lot can be done with careful monitoring of diet and blood-sugar levels. I owe my life to over-the-counter Mucinex and Vicks Vaporub. My son is also suffering at present, and I have to talk to professionals about it today, because I will not risk his health to protect my empty pocketbook.
So challenges remain challenging and I keep moving forward and upward. What more can be done? I have in the past couple of months not only faced several different difficulties, but I have reached new levels of success with this blog, much of it by writing a lot in ways that are full of self-medicating thoughts with healing words and ideas. People seem to like that. My average daily views is up above thirty. I am nearing 800 followers. I may not have writing income, but I do seem to have a personal brand that others respond to. So, if you have read all the way through this recycled oatmeal post with nothing but old pictures in it, please be reassured… oatmeal is good for you… and for me.
I admit to being a closet nudist. By that I mean that I only walk around naked inside my closet. I flirted with the idea of becoming a nudist once… or as they call it, a naturist. But I have never overcome the urge not to be naked where anybody can ever see me. I am a chicken. Literally. I look like a plucked chicken when I have no clothes on, especially now that I have all the little pink bleedy spots all over the lower parts of my body. Bread me and fry me, I am done with this particular metaphor.
I come from Iowa where kids were repeatedly told never to run around like a naked Indian. I think older people tell you that because they know from experience naked in Iowa in the winter time is tantamount to making parts of yourself into popsicles where you really really really don’t want to get all icy-frozen. (I mean fingers and toes, of course! What did you think I meant?)
But I have learned from long experience of health problems that a little bit of running around like a naked Indian can actually be a beneficial thing to do. Now, I know that you probably don’t believe I am being completely candid here, and that I may have some kind of pervert’s agenda going on the background… but I have been told it is so not only by naturists, but also by medical professionals.
This link is to an article on Today, Health & Wellness written by
The very real possibility exists that it is illness that will end me. I have six incurable diseases (diabetes, arthritis, COPD, hypertension, psoriasis, and an enlarged prostate). I am also a cancer survivor (malignant melanoma in 1983). My fragile, diseased body is like a house made of straw, and the Big Bad Wolf came knocking at my door yesterday.
My daughter, the Princess, came home from school yesterday noon with the flu. She moaned and cried and was burning with fever. She vomited on the bathroom floor. Of course, the retired guy who stays home all day is the one who had to tend her and clean up after her. But he is also the one most at risk of dying from the flu or from pneumonia as a side-effect of the flu. I am the son of a registered nurse who worked in the ER and still gives excellent medical advice. I have been taught how to care for the sick with proper precautions. The poor Princess is already feeling better today after the overnight miracle of Theraflu. I am no longer worried for her. Now it is me that is at risk.
I identify myself with the cardinal. Yes, the bird is the mascot of my favorite sports teams. But it is more than that. It is the resolute little bird who doesn’t fly away when the winter comes.. No flying south with the snowbirds when the world is covered in pure, white, cleansing snow. It stays through the ice and cold to watch over its personal territory. But it is not invulnerable to the ravages of winter. Many of its bright red and pugnacious kind succumb finally to old age and the cold, and die in winter. But I have no regrets. If the final winter has come… well, I cannot exactly say I have no regrets, because I have goofed up a lot over rime… but I am satisfied. If my life has to be complete from this moment, then it is a good life, well-lived. And I am satisfied.
When you have six incurable diseases, are a cancer survivor since 1983, and were forced to retire early due to health and income problems, you have probably seen your share of really, really bad, horrible, rotten, no-good, black-hearted, totally-depressive days. Yep, me too. I just made it through a four-day, no-air-breathing illness, potential car problems, and too much work with too little energy to apply to it. But I made it through. I have secret knowledge.
I have restored myself to light and life in a number of ways. One was through happy discovery. I was able to peanutize myself with the help of a movie promotion I have been following on Facebook. http://www.peanutizeme.com/ This link allows you to turn yourself into a Charles M. Schulz comic strip character with Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang. Doing something nutty and foolish is a way to charm and dig and laugh yourself out of depression. It wasn’t all easy and stuff, though. I had to copy my hair and twirl it upside down to get the beard. And I also had to laugh about the chimney growing out of the top of my head like a brick unicorn horn. It’s the kind of goofy stuff that gives a semi-serious artist fits of giggling. So I owe BlueSky Studios not only my thanks, but the link in this paragraph as well. The advertising campaign for the new movie may have saved my life.
Another thing that helped was solving the automobobble problem. My little Ford Fiesta, the Ozzy Osbourne of motor cars, had a heat-fit yesterday in the middle of Lewisville, Texas, Interstate Thirty-Five rush-hour traffic. It developed a seemingly permanent “check-engine” light that threatened an Ozzy at the Alamo moment on the access road. The rush-hour stress built up in me to the point that my blood-sugar dropped and we barely crawled into Taco Bueno to cure it with crispy beef tacos and bean burritos. I have absolutely no money left in savings for more car repairs. So, I crawled into the Walmart oil-change center this morning and pried twenty dollars out of my wallet to get the car-juice sloshed and swirled. Low and behold, after having to sign a waiver that said the problems the car had were the ones it came in with, the new car-juice solved the problem. The engine purrs again and the car has completely forgotten about that “check engine” light, and possibly the biting-the-heads-off-bats thing as well.
So, here is me. You can compare Grumpy-Me to the Peanutized-Me and evaluate whether I appear to be worth saving or not. Notice, I am either holding a newly-purchased Barbie’s little sister doll to add to my maddeningly growing doll collection, or I have managed to kidnap a middle-school girl from Lilliput. I am happy again. At least, I have that old goofy grin again that indicates the pain is not overwhelming… and once again I have overcome!
I should also add that I have been getting work done on my novel, Snow Babies.
Amongst those who play checkers frequently and well, there is an unwritten rule. He who moves first wins. No matter how well you play, the other guy knows all the moves too. You can’t help but follow the same two or three patterns for the flow of the game if you are determined never to lose when you don’t have to. So, if you play checkers with old gassers who have glasses and bald spots on their heads, liver spots on their arms, and Buddha bellies, then there are no surprises. You can play checkers like the clock ticks, moving relentlessly and without thinking. It allows you to discuss the world, solve the European immigration crisis in the cruelest possible way, watch the grandkids rolling skating in the neighbor’s driveway, complain about frequent bouts of cramps and flatulence, and just generally enjoy life in a way that is as Norman Rockwell as all hell… without actually having to think about it.
Today is a day like that for me. Diabetes ravaged me yesterday, my blood sugar playing a fierce game of Chinese world-champion ping pong between high and low… all day long. My brain is full of sand today and I cannot think. I can write, but the only thing that comes out is sludge as boring as watching old guys play checkers. But I have a young family and duties that will not give me a break. Number two son is playing flag football for his charter school, and we have to get him to a game in Grand Prairie, Texas today, over an hour away through the metroplex in good traffic.
Flag football, of course, is not real football. But this is Texas. Anything even remotely related to football is super serious business in a cowboy-centric world. You have to get out there and cheer. You have show team spirit. You have shout bad words at the other team when they invariably intercept your son’s pass and run it back for a touchdown. And I don’t have the energy today for the drive, let alone the actual football. All things considered, I’d really rather be playing checkers with old guys.