There is a certain amount of frustration that comes with age and arthritis and limited ability to move. A good share of the time I am stuck within my bedroom/studio. Bad weather and weather changes, as well as the strains of housework, stiffen my back into immobility. So, I am stuck exploring not the outside world, but the inner world of stories, pictures, and my own imagination.
Of course, one has to beware of a life lived in imagination and isolation. Some of it can be kinda wicked and dangerous. Okay, maybe not, but definitely in danger of overwhelming goofiness. As you can see, I take a bit of my artwork and use photo-shop to make even goofier arty things. I experiment and stick stuff together just for the heck of it.
I suppose this is probably evidence a good psychiatrist could use to keep me locked up for a while. But I’m kinda stuck anyway in my little room.
Well, my family is packed up in the RV and headed to Florida, looking for beaches and fun, and going to see my eldest son graduate from his Marine MOS schooling. I would’ve gone too, but my lungs have been very naughty and I can’t get that far away from doctors that my pirate health insurance will actually pay for. So, I am stuck in my room. It sucks (in the sense of a vacuum cleaner, because as a former middle school teacher, I am not allowed to even think about a less G-rated meaning; my teacher brain would blow a bad-word filter-gasket). My family members, of course, are concerned about leaving me here alone, but I don’t want one of my six incurable diseases to be victorious over any of them. It is enough that COPD can ruin my life, and it does not need to impact them. Besides, I have the consolation of staying in my room with the carefully conditioned and filtered air and playing with my toys, like the old days when I was a kid (the really old, old days!) and got to stay home with Captain Kangaroo and my toys to play all day, even though I felt like regurgitated dodo-bird food… and I have a lot more toys now than I had then.
You can plainly see in the picture of my bedroom studio that I have stuffed animals all over (left over from my 2007-2008 online store days when I sold repaired and reconditioned stuffed animals from Goodwill), plenty of dolls… erm, action figures, a cardboard castle, a DVD player, laptop computer, books galore, and lots and lots of drawing paper. I am prepared to be home-bound and left out of things. I can draw and write stories and blog and draw some more. And I will, too. Besides sulking about having to miss out on the fun the rest of the family is having, something I am not only good at and thoroughly practiced at, but very efficient at producing words and ideas at the same time I am hurting, or woozing, or gasping for air, I intend to advance at least two of the three novels I am working on rough drafts for at this time. I am working on When the Captain Came Calling, and Star-Dusters and Lizard-Men. The first is about learning to see through lies, an invisible man who comes back to Iowa from a cursed voyage in the South Seas, and how a family deals with unthinkable loss. The second is a star-faring science fiction tale of a planet dying of both pollution and corporate abuse that can be saved if the species of intelligent lizard-men living there are actually worthy of being saved. So while I sulk and pout and feel sorry for myself, I have plenty to do. And I will continue to make light of the situation even after it kills me. Death won’t know what he did wrong to get hold of an ornery old Iowegian-Texas transplant like me who will laugh in his face until the old Bonehead is properly and resolutely perplexed.
I 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.