Tuesday, December 25, 2012

my new ride

So, today is Christmas, and I am feeling like I fared pretty well  this Christmas Day.  When I think of all the people who get so excited, imbued with the Christmas spirit, it seems kinda funny that I would think of myself in terms of having" fared well" on this day.

So many people have  said to me," are you ready for Christmas?"  They ask me that question is if there was something that I should be ready for.I am usually ready for Christmas to be over.  I stopped worrying about the drama of Christmas a long time ago.  I was given permission by a friend to mellow out.  To the best of my ability, I try to soak up the Christmas spirit vicariously from the people that surround me, while feeling this great gratitude knowing that they're enjoying themselves on this one day.

I made it back home after dinner.  I  feel great satisfaction knowing that I spent time with my family, watched a movie, enjoyed a great meal, exchanging freely with sister and parents.  I'm even put into the odd circumstance of counseling others who feel weird about their holiday season.  I get to listen to other people's anxiety, and I try to remember the anxieties that I felt myself, while feeling so very grateful that I can appreciate the positive feelings that so many people share at this time of the year.

Lately, my focus is been on transportation.  Living in a two hundred pounds power wheelchair, I started realizing how much of my freedom has been lost by not being able to enjoy all the options that I had as a walking man.  Because of Pres. George Bush signing the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1991, I actually have much more freedom.  Every bus in Santa Clara County is required by law to have functional wheelchair lifts.  The same is true of trains and other public transportation.  Still, I cannot get around the way I want to.

My parents did me the service of purchasing for me a manual wheelchair.  I am exercising regularly to develop endurance on it.  That's not the reason I wanted my manual wheelchair.  So many places I want to go, are challenged by the fact that people can't take me there.  I want to be able to climb into a person's car and have them drive me some place.  This is something I used to take for granted.

Now that I have this manual wheelchair, I have to see if I have the ability to successfully transfer my body from my wheelchair to the car.  Then, I have to be able to transfer my body from the car back to the manual wheelchair.  My excitement is that I have a friend who is willing to help me practice this.  He has excitement in this process is developing such that he's planning trips for me.  I get confronted with my own sense of trepidation.

With this new wheelchair, I no longer feel so limited.  I get to see how my friends are willing to help me, and I'm learning more about how I can help myself.  What a marvelous time this is.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Wheels

Lately, I've been thinking about transportation.  I'm trying to get excited about the discovery of  exoplanets around Alpha Centauri, especially when one is so close to being the same size as planet Earth.  I just can't feel the excitement.  My mind is spent on transportation.  As well it should be. 

I can't get excited about exo planets.  The latest discovery, around Alpha Centauri, is the nearest  exoplanet discovered yet that is Earth size.  Scientists get excited because Alpha Centauri is a mere 4 light years away.  Using current rocket technology, there is absolutely no possibility we will ever reach that star system.

My current musings on transportation are little more selfish.  Spending most of my time awake in an electric wheelchair, I do think oten about the limitations of this lifestyle.  I have family members whose homes are not yet wheelchair accessible.  There are no friends that can take me anywhere, unless they happen to have a wheelchair accessible van.  In recent times, the paratransit service called outreach has denied me access to their service, because I live too close to a bus stop, have access to a power wheelchair.

This denial caused me a slight bit of stress.  I wondered, what would happen if my chair broke down out in the middle of town, with no way to get home.  Outreach does not want to answer that question.  So anyway,Friday  I decided to go down to Denny's for a coffee, and meet with some friends at a morning meeting, and no sooner did I leave my apartment complex that my wheelchair dropped into a small hole, jarred the system, making it power down completely.  I stared at my console dumbfounded.

Why, just a week ago, my mother and I met as a medical supply store to look at wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs.  I had wanted to buy a manual wheelchair for quite a while, realizing that I can go anywhere night unless it's on a specific bus route they can get me home at a reasonable hour.  The wheelchair we wanted was not in stock, so we had to backorder it.  I jokingly said, I don't want to wait; I want it now.  Indeed, why would I need to have a manual wheelchair immediately?  I have gone this long without it.

The benefits of having a manual wheelchair are enormous.  I can get more exercise on a day-to-day basis.  My friends can take me anywhere I want, without my having to pay a service to take me home.  The possibility of burning extra calories is very encouraging, and I'd always have a reserve in the unlikely event that my power chair should become unusable.

So, along comes Friday.  Without a cloud in the sky, everything looked hopeful.  All I wanted was to be my friends, and then find my way over to Sacred Heart community center to do some volunteer work.  It wasn't meant to happen.  (Notice to reader: that last sentence was purely for dramatic affect.  I am not a fatalist, and do not subscribe to superstitious thinking).  When I hit that bump, and my chair powered down, I felt a small sense of dread.  But, I've always been inclined towards problem solving.  I spotted a couple guys and each was able to help me in some small way towards pushing me back to my apartment.

The maintenance guy at my apartment pushed me to my desk.  I thanked him and sent him on his way.  What a difference a week makes.  Isn't it slightly ironic that in the day following this incident, my mother would call me to tell me that my new wheelchair would be coming in a week?  How funny it is to think that this one weeks wait would occur at this time.  Still, sitting at my desk, I started calling the people I needed to call.  I immediately called the people that do my wheelchair repairs, and asked them if they do emergency repair work.

The woman on the phone was very helpful.  She understood immediately how poor the situation was for me, and told me that she needed to make a few phone calls to find out if she could get a technician over to help me.  I want to emphasize that I did tell her my power chair does not work, that I cannot walk, and am unable to leave my desk.  While reviewing my contact information, she asked me if I would be at this phone number all day.  Knowing what I told her, all I could do was laugh.

She asked me what phone number would be best to reach me, and told me that she would probably call you within the next 5 min.  In less than 90 min. after the initial problem, a technician I know well was here at my apartment, and quickly was able to fix a loose connection, making my chair functional yet once again.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Maybe I am Thinking too Much

okay, so I'm eating a Danish.  For $5.79 I'm able to purchase at the store eight raisin-ettes from Svenhard's.  Over the years I have consumed thousands of danishes from theirs and other bakeries.  It is funny to realize that the fuel for this behavior is a memory.  This memory comes up from childhood, a memory now altered shamelessly by me to meet my needs and feed my compulsions.  I suppose remembering childhood should never be done so cynically as this.  Still, I digress.

Each Danish was covered with a frosting or a glaze that was always kind of hardened around the edges.  When my teeth bit into it, pieces of fat and sugar melted across my tongue, and my back teeth fresh pieces of the frosting mixed in with spiced raisins to produce the most exquisite explosions in my brain.  As you can see my memory of these danishes remain fresh and exciting.  Every package I buy for $5.79 comes with an unfulfilled promise.  That promise is that I can re-create to my satisfaction that sensation I remember from many decades ago.

I feel bad.  I feel bad because I spoke to my friend Bong, and like a drug addict, I felt compelled to hide my bakery purchase. It's like wearing long sleeves in summertime.  my friend Bong is a Buddhist, a woman who chose her faith in these last ten years of her life.  She says that the goal is to find peace within yourself.  She believes this peace is to be found in compassion.  She develops her compassion through breathing and simplicity.

I feel strange knowing that I, too, am learning to breathe, and breathe thoughtfully, consciously.  I also want to find that compassion. Bong is eighty-nine years old.  As a part of her faith, a part of her study, she has achieved great peace through great simplicity.  I told her about using hot sauce, and she told me she doesn't like "accessories."  In my quest to explode neurons within my brain, make every synaptic explosion meaningful within my life, I fail to think of hot sauce as " an accessory".

I suppose the question is this: if I want to achieve the peace that my friend has achieved, do I really have to make the changes that she has made?  I still cling to my Danish, an indulgence.  I also know every argument has been posed to me in support of vegetarianism, and still I fry up ground cow flesh to put inside my enchiladas.  I have to wonder, what could I gain by seeing teapots and hot sauce bottles as" accessories". Bong tells me for herself that her faith is borne of philosophy, not religion.  She doesn't muse over the metaphysical value of prayer, or the dreams of an afterlife.  Her goal really is to" be here now".

As I struggle with my own issues -as shown in my indulgent purchases of sugary treats and animal flesh- I have to ask myself what I truly want.  Could I really confront my own illusions, and find my way past my own impulsivity?  On this question alone, my eye drifts back to the coffee pot, and my unfinished package of Danish, to realize how much further I have to go to find my peace.  My thumb runs across the cellophane package.  I realize that I've been satisfied sufficiently for now, but my questions remain.  I guess I'm okay with that. I have to be okay with that.

thank you for reading.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bringing my Legs Back to Life

It is 1 AM and I'm still awake.  In the past week I have started swimming again.  Is a strange experience, and I feel excited by the possibilities.  I think the last time I went swimming was within the last eight years, and I really only spent a few minutes hanging out in a  hot spring, just long enough for a photo op.  I can't remember any time within the last fifteen years, or if ever, that swimming has been an active part of my exercise life.

I suppose I like good sale jobs.  As a person who once worked as a salesman, I seem to work well with being sold.  Friends, physical therapists, and occupational therapists have done little to sell me on the concept of swimming as a therapy.  As with all the exercises my therapists have offered me, my interests only lasted as far as the vision they could create with their recommendation.  But therapists are not salespeople.  They never tried to sell me on the idea of my improvement.  Am I depressive?  What kind of failure has kept me from trying to sell myself on my own recovery?

Somehow, swimming has always stayed on my mind.  It was always the last thing on my mind, but it was  there.  One year ago I inquired about a membership at the YMCA.  Six months ago I acquired that membership, and last week I put on my swim trunks for the first time.  Every exercise of therapist is try to offer me has had a purpose.  I understand that now, and I even knew that somewhat back then.  I wonder if I don't have to keep selling myself on my recovery.  It seems like I have to get myself excited all over again every time I want to make a new progress.

Last week my friend and I went to the gym I took off my shoes, socks, and T-shirt.  With my chair positioned side-by-side with the swimming pool lift, my friend directed this three people transferred me to the chair lift, and then they lowered me into the pool.  Feeling the water was amazing, and with slight trepidation I pulled away from lift chair.  Using my arms with little forethought I floated out to the middle of the swimming lane.

Even today, after two years of limited use, my legs are still more bone and muscle  than they are fat.  It never occurred to me how little inclination they have to float on command.  The moment I stopped actively wading, my head started to dunk under the water.  I did not gulp water, and I didn't start coughing, but I did start to have a clear realization that my body really does not work as well as I thought it would under these circumstances.  Grabbing the wall, I made my way over to where the three men wearing lifeguard T-shirts were talking, and I called out to my friend telling her that this was not working out quite the way I planned.  Almost immediately, one of the YMCA employees came over and told her that maybe I should be wearing flotation belt.

After 10 min. I was exhausted.  I got out of the pool and was not sure what I would ever accomplish there.  But my friend Cheri, seemed determined to bring me back, once again without a plan.  Yet this time, I had the flotation belt, I got on the chair faster; the moment I entered the water I started to move with the deliberateness that was exciting.  I started to see how I could use my body to move in an organized way, and within seconds, I was doing laps across the entire link to the pool.  This is the experience people wanted me to have.  This is the experience I needed to know about.  my entire body felt tired and peaceful that night, and yet I stayed  alert the entire evening.  The experience was incredible!

I can now see how using this swimming pool can advance my therapy, improve my circulation, heal my heart, and prepare my body for surprises in the months and years to come.  Well, will go back tomorrow, and we'll see what happens.

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Home Again

A friend of mine contacted me from very far away.  She wanted to know how everything was going now that I'm living in my new apartment.  It's a strange thing.  I am enjoying a wealth of freedom and privacy in this two hundred thirty square foot apartment.  Even without the refrigerator and stove, without the countertops, this room is still smaller than my old bedroom at the house I just left.  Of course, that's not why I left.

There is a degree of satisfaction I get in being able to prepare my own meals, make my own coffee, and decide what time of day I will shower.  Living where I was living all of that was gone.  It's a care home.  As far as care homes go this one is actually pretty damn good.  The house was always immaculately clean, and the meals were well-prepared.  On those accounts I have no complaints.

Living the way I do, is easy to forget the problems I had when I moved into that house.  Coming out of surgery on my spine, I was unable to effectively move out of my bed, or even lift my head off the pillow.  I had a neurosurgeon that told me I had no symptoms that day that I didn't have the day before my surgery.  On that account I would say the man was insane.
So I embarked on thirty days of rehabilitation in the Valley medical Center spinal cord rehab unit.  I learned about my spinal cord injury, and started learning about how to live effectively with my problems.

one piece of hardware I left behind at the house, a unit paid for by Medicare,  is a specialized hydraulic lift my caregivers used to pull my body out of bed, into my chair, into my bath chair, and back to my bed again.  With the strength and abilities that I've regained it is hard to remember that I was living so helplessly just a few months ago.  Over the last two years I've dispensed with most of that stuff.  It would be insane for me to think that I would need to live in that environment any longer.

So, when my friend e-mailed me from Indonesia to ask me how I am enjoying my newfound privacy and freedom, I feel a little bit overwhelmed.  It is strange to know that after two years of having virtually no privacy, I now have all of that back.  Having minimal control over my diet, I now have the ability to prepare all my own meals, and control my portions as I wish.  Well I live in a complex surrounded by people immersed in all kinds of drama, I am still able to sit here in complete quiet, untouched by any of it unless I want to participate.

In response to my friend's question about privacy and freedom, I was afraid that I might mislead her with my response.  I went to the lady who runs the office here at the apartment complex, and I told her how much nervousness or anxiety I feel in the absence of all the chaos that I lived in before.  (That is not to say that I want any of it back) there was plenty of people at my house that wanted to take control of my decisions, control my actions, and interrogate me about the minutiae of my day-to-day existence.  The apartment manager said that if I miss any of that, there are many many people here in this complex that can fill that need.  I assured her that I would call her if I decided that I need her assistance.

Today, one month after moving out, I had a refrigerator full of vegetables.  I'm finding many obligations to keep my time.  I exercise on a regular basis, and I'm already losing weight.  Clothing is fitting me that hasn't fit me in a long time.  as a spinal board patient, I still have difficulty doing a few things I have a caregiver who comes into my house and helps me a short ten to fifteen hours a week to help me with a few items that I can still can't attend to myself.  That emptiness and anxiety is leaving me.  With time, I may even find a way to decorate the small little home that I'm creating for myself.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Day Closer

"I found your nose today.  It was stuck in my business again."--Spotted on a T-shirt on the 25 bus in Willow Glen, San Jose

Everything I have to move in preparation for Saturday needs minimal organization, and will fit in just a couple boxes.  For all the satisfaction I feel about moving, I am still feeling a little apprehensive.  This change will be a big one.

When a mind is strong as mine, I always imagine that based on willpower alone I could resist someone's efforts to diminish my self-confidence.  I was wrong. I have watched for the last two years as people would come here to interview to live here, and think to myself, may God help you to see your options to more clearly than I have mine.  I believe all the good food prepared here does little to compensate for the unnecessary negativity of the management here. How sad to think that I, or any adult, should Be subjected to the yammering of an idiot, puffed up over time by some unrealistic, and wholly undeserved, sense of self-importance.

Two years ago, back from my Spinal surgery unable to walk, stand, or actively transfer myself to another chair, I felt completely  incapable of effecting control over my own life. I've since been able to develop my strength, balance, and confidence to where I'm no longer as dependent on others for my daily needs. Now, I accept that as an adult I should be able to live with some small degree of privacy, and not have strange people prying amongst the minutia of my daily affairs. Last month I found application to an apartment complex, and started to prepare myself to  live as a normal human being again.

I mean this concern goes way beyond my dislike of living with other people.  Every man is certainly entitled to have opinions about his fellow man.  Even with my strictest observance of Scripture, it can be very hard for this man to avoid judging his fellow man.  I know I do my best.  But I do take note that since I decided to quit drinking alcohol twenty years ago, I had a group of people, my friends, that taught me the value of staying out of other people's concerns.  I have a vested interest in keeping my attention focused onto my business.  I suppose it is this fact that, conversely, makes me impatient or intolerant, when someone else wants to get overly involved in my life.

Fine people work with me daily to remember the peace and calm that comes from just managing my  life, my own business well.  It is with this in mind that I finally decided to leave this home, and move to a place that has a lock on the door that I can lock, and guests typicallyt will arrive here only if invited.

Tomorrow, once my family and my friends have helped me- all my clothes are hung up in the closet, and all the boxes have been unpacked- I'm quite certain to leave my home To seek out my friends. Aside from the caregivers that will be managing my home and personal needs to my precise specifications, I think I'll be quite content not inviting anyone over, perhaps for a long, long time.

With this new arrangement, I am quite excited to say that I will now be able to write my own menus, and sauté onions and garlic on a regular basis (no one here cooks with sautéed onions and garlic) and make sure that my refrigerator is stocked with a bounty of fresh vegetables and greens.  standing in my steaming frame more regularly will magnify my strength and they'll be able to go to the gym and start swimming for once.  This is going be the starting point for much more exciting existence.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Counting the Days by Candlelight

I have one week left to go. Sitting in this home- constant care, good food, and no privacy- some people might feel that I am torn about my decision to move. I'm not torn. I crave my privacy, and I enjoy knowing that I'll soon be in more control of my day-to-day activities. I received notification yesterday that my apartment has opened up

 I can't say that my home here is not interesting. I glance at our elderly cat, Sherbet, and am pleased to note that since his trip to the groomers, he is already starting to grow back his hair. He's now made the transition from looking like a sickly Chihuahua, to looking like a shorthaired cat with a fuzzy tail. I found a brush that I don't use the ran that across his back, and he enjoys the attention pressing into the brush with his face, his chin, in his back.he's enjoying a lot of extra attention now that he's getting old.

 Someone is watching the Smurfs movie on the big screen television. Next to me, on the coffee table, someone has replaced this morning's orange rind candle. The orange was sliced in half, and the fruit was extracted from the rind, leaving behind an empty shell with the pithy core of the orange rising up as a makeshift wick. I've already watched this process once today, and it's amusing to see that someone wanted to re-create it. The only point of contention I would have over this process, is that they are using olive oil as the fuel for the candle.

 I can find no justification for that. It may be exciting to watch Rachael Ray on television, and watch as she sprinkles her EVOO on her food products, but olive oil was not meant for combustion. This, of course, is in my own humble opinion. I stare at the olive oil- a light, flavorful, monounsaturated oil-and can only think of its expense, and how it relates to its limited potential as a fuel. Indeed this candle is only an experiment, but if I'm to watch this repeated more than this one night, I would have to protest. For a far lesser expense, they could invest in a polyunsaturated fat, far more hydrogen rich, then this olive oil; this candle would be a sustainable experience, that would definitely give us more bang for our buck.

As I have listened to Dr. Bill Wattenberg, I know this is the path I have to take, and I must fight the good fight. But, in a week this will all be a moot point. I am packing up my boxes, switching up the addresses for my magazine subscriptions, and hoping the best for that little kitty who will live out his final months here. I will celebrate my independence, and I will start writing my own menus.

 I will not look back to the fine people here, the good food, or their general concern for my well-being, with any kind of longing. I am grateful for the assistance that I'm getting here, particularly their assistance in helping me move. Yet, when I move it will be unceremonious, and without regret. For as long as I  lived on this planet, I have Truly come to like many people. I don't believe that I like anyone enough, though, to want to live with them. I believe this change is a good one, well overdue.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, March 23, 2012

preparing to move

I am on a quest to find Apple boxes. Apple boxes are the perfect, free packing boxes for anyone that needs to make a move. After twenty months  living in a board and care home, I finally decided that my sanity depended upon me living alone.  It's not that I don't like people.  I just don't particularly want to be around them at home.  So, I searched my soul,and decided to get an apartment rental application.

As a spinal cord patient, making this decision was not easy one.  I can remember June, almost 2 years ago, when I moved to the board and care home.  I have to remember that's coming out of spinal cord rehab, my attendants needed to move my body using a Hoyer lift.  A sling was placed underneath my body and attached to a hydraulically powered lift the and drug across the room to drop me into my chair, or into my bed.

The Hoyer lift remains in my closet, and reminds me of the progress that I've made, the progress my body has made.  Whenever I get disgusted over the people with whom I share a house, I have to remember the humble state I was in just two years ago.  Two years ago, before my spinal cord surgery, I did not have the strength, the knowledge, or skills needed to safely move about my home.  I should stay grateful for the patience I learned living with others.  Now, I'm ready to reclaim my peace of mind.

Where I lived before the surgery, I had a number of friends.  One was my friend Jack, a man of known for almost 20 years.  Deciding reapply at this complex again, the thought occurred to me to call Jack, and see how he is doing.  Today was my appointment, and I came my identification, my bank statements, and my general good sense of humor.   I sat with the lady for less than half an hour, filling out and signing various documents.  I went outside to find many residents I knew from my previous time living there.

Because I knew they had ADA apartments on-site, I wanted to know what it would take for me to gets on the waiting list for one.  Apparently, the wait for a standard apartment is about three or four months.  The lady asked me if I wanted an ADA apartment.  Looking down at my legs, my hands, my power wheelchair, I smiled and told her that that would be splendid.  She told me that in that case, there was an ADA apartment available and ready to rent.  Maybe this process of moving is going to move smoother than I realized.

My desire and need for lowered countertops and a role in shower, has shot me to the top of the list.  I checked out the unit ,  I thanked the apartment manager, and went out into the courtyard to say hello to old friends..  I got to share with them that I was moving back in, and that I'd seen the unit that I'll be moving into.  Someone asked me," what unit will be moving into?"  I told them number 415.  He looked over at someone else and asked," wasn't for fifteen good unit number of that guy jack who died a couple months ago?"  And in the next 5 minutes I got to find out that not only is my friend passed away, but that as a result of his passing, I now have a place to live.  I copied down lots of phone numbers in my cell phone.  I happen to know that his is there also.  I guess that's one number I won't get around to using.

Thank you for reading.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Embracing Utlity

every once in a while, someone will walk up to me, share with me some value as if it's some clearly verifiable fact, when in truth the value is totally arbitrary and cannot be verified by any source. Estimates are funny that way. For example, when I was a kid people used to talk about nuclear arms, and say crazy things like" there are enough nuclear arms to blow up the world ten times over." Unable to determine what is even meant by the phrase " blow up the world" these estimates are useless.

 Still, people tell us these things perhaps to inform us, but were likely to arouse some kind of emotional response. But, I did a Google search on the number of advertising messages a person sees a day. While there is no real system to get an accurate number on this, most people accept that the number is rather large. The Google search I did came up with estimates of anywhere from 500 to 5000 advertising messages or images a day.

  I do love technology, but historically I've been slow to adopt it. I even once said that I would only accept technology that is at least five years obsolete. Once again I throw out an arbitrary value of my own. Who knows why I picked five years? Yet, I am not absent from this world. I sit on the Internet, I do watch some television, and I am out in the world every single day. Even I come face-to-face with hundreds advertising messages trying to burrow into my brain. Even I fall under the evil influence of advertisers. I know it's shocking to hear me make such an admission.

  I wanted to build an image of myself. I liked the image I had of myself as being technologically resistant. Forty years after the writing of Toffler's future shock, I enjoy putting the brakes on change in my life. I watched the television show Monk, when a woman asked Adrian," you don't like change much. Do you"? He said that he doesn't mind change; he just doesn't want to be there when it happens. I sometimes feel like that.

  I enjoy my Samsung flip phone, my old IBM Lenovo laptop(with the Windows XP OS), my MP3 player, in my small room filled with surge protectors, Chargers, transformers, and single-purpose tech devices. Funny however, I acknowledge my limited mobility. I see that issues that come from my limited digits (fingers) in this digital age. I have become sold on the utility of multipurpose devices. In short, I want an Android. I'm talking about a tablet. My little fingers hate holding books. Backpacks are a mess. People up in hitting me up to buy for myself a book reader device.

  A 7 inch tablet is what I'm looking for. The ability to check my e-mail, read my books, surf the net, take pictures, and report to you; it's all too good to be true. The trick is to find the right one. Piece by piece I am actually researching this information. You would think that I've escaped my impulsivity. Yet, sorting the pros and cons of each one device is taking time. It's scary knowing that owning the most popular readers demand that I purchase my reading material through their parent company. Apparently, there is some truth in that statement. I was lost in a moment's reverie, when I discovered that the android store provides access to over 400,000 apps.( the Kindle Fire apparently only has access to 10,000 of those apps . Hmmnnn.)

  All this would be a moot point, if I never walked into Barnes & Noble on that one day. It was a different day, a day with special vibration, and me wandering about with the curious sensitivity. I saw the Barnes & Noble Nook display, held the device in my hand, and asked the salesman many questions. It feels wrong to confess this vulnerability. But luckily, I had no money. The Android people, the iPad people, the Kindle reader devotees, all played a part in this meme that was planted in my soul. Like a sneeze, like a nervous tic, or the aura of an oncoming seizure this meme begs fulfillment. But, I can still read about them, touch them, and visit them. I do not have to have one right now.

  Thank you for reading

Monday, March 12, 2012

This is the Way to Hear Metallica

apocalypse Look up apocalypse at Dictionary.com late 14c., "revelation, disclosure," from Church L. apocalypsis "revelation," from Gk. apokalyptein "uncover, disclose, reveal," from apo- "from" (see apo-) + kalyptein "to cover, conceal" (see Calypso). The Christian end-of-the-world story is part of the revelation in John of Patmos' book "Apokalypsis" (a title rendered into English as "Apocalypse" c.1230 and "Revelations" by Wyclif c.1380). Its general sense in M.E. was "insight, vision; hallucination;" meaning "a cataclysmic event" is modern. As agent nouns, apocalypst (1829), apocalypt (1834), and apocalyptist (1835) have been tried.

This is the band Apocalyptica, starting out as a Metallica tribute band from Finland, I never learned their music until recently. In fact, it was not until I discovered them that I realized an appreciation for Metallica's music in general. Here are the four playing Nothing Else Matters.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

So, last Sunday I went to mass at St. Joseph's Cathedral, and I met this man who was toasting hot dog buns, while grilling hot dogs wrapped in bacon.  These are the things that I like to think about on the first day of Lent.  Our first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday we had a mass led by Bishop Patrick Mc Grath.

I can only imagine how hot dog sales are or are not affected by land I do know that I feel somewhat obligated to stay away from such destruction.  Makes me remember when I used to be a vegetarian.  I had a joyful life dining on pastas, beans, legumes, and fresh vegetables.  So, I asked this man how often he sells his hot dogs in front of the cathedral.  He says he's there every week.  I told him my doctor forbids me to do business with him.

I can't pawn all of my decisions off on my doctors.  I do have to take some responsibility for the decisions I make.  The fact is my doctor really does want me to make some changes in the way I eat.  She was exceptionally compelling when she showed me my latest blood tests.  Once upon a time, I used to exercise a lot, eat well, and could celebrate the many liberties that come from just being younger.

I have to exercise greater caution at this point in my life knowing that heart disease runs in my family, and living in a wheelchair limits much of my opportunities to get regular aerobic exercise.  My latest health fixations have involved building strength, increased balance, gaining mobility in my left leg, and learning how to move safely around my room.  I feel this sense of betrayal that my doctor would be bothering me with discussions about low density lipoproteins and something called triglycerides.

I don't suppose there's anything wrong with the man selling bacon wrapped hot dogs in front of St. Joseph's Cathedral, even if he's leading man into temptation with this product line.  How I manage myself during the Lenten season I suppose is my own business.  Therefore, I shouldn't concern myself with how others are during Lent.  Between my blood work and this season of penitence, I have plenty of inspiration to live righteously.  Let's see how well we do.

Thank you for reading. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oleum Infirmorum: World Day of the Sick 2012

"Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do."-- Anonymous

"The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." Matthew 8:8 (KJV)

Saturday I was invited to attend a very special Mass at Santa Teresa Catholic Church. It was hosted by a service organization called the Order of Malta. Our Bishop Patrick J. McGrath had arranged for this Mass as our annual diocesan celebration of World Day of the sick, as proclaimed by our late Pope John Paul II in 1992. the Bishop wrote to us," this liturgical celebration has become a wonderful opportunity for us to extend the healing embrace of Jesus in the sacrament of the sick to all those in need of healing."

The celebrant of the Mass was our auxiliary Bishop Thomas A.Daly. I entered the church at 10:15 in the morning . Already the building was filling up for the 11 AM service. Every month our church offers a special sacrament for the anointing of the sick. This day seemed a little more special. This service seemed very special. I'm very grateful my friend invited me to come along.

I suppose the question, then, is one of faith. Here I am in a room with hundreds of God's faithful. I happen to be a man who believes in miracles, miracles supplied by God. I also believe specifically that healing does happen, it is happening all the time. My best friend Jerry leaned forward in his chair and told me to be prepared should the miracle occur today,then I might feel compelled to leave my chair and dance in my newfound liberation.

I accept this talk from my friends, but I suppose having lived in the town of evangelical healers, I grew sour over people wanting to pray for me. Even today I encourage people to pray for each other. I encourage people to pray for me. I say prayers for others. But, I gave up the idea that miracles are available on tap, and that somehow those of us left in our wheelchairs are failed in our faith, because we heard someone say that all I had to do is touch their hand in I would be restored to wellness again. I accept these discussions from others, but I wonder how I'd feel if I heard them say things to other people.

The woman who runs my house, manages the house's finances, and prepares the most exquisite meals, is a C-4 quadriplegic. Through exercise, this woman has learned how to move her arms, feed herself, answer the telephone, when her own doctors told her she would have to director chair using her mouth or her chin. I think it would infuriate me to have some say that her faith in God is insufficient or she would be walking again. So, I tend to be skeptical when people tell me about all of the miracles that they'd seen. I tend to be skeptical when people tell me that they've witnessed the lame coming to walk again, cancers mysteriously disappearing, and expert doctors" baffled" by unexplained turnarounds in a person's health.

Yes, I do believe in miracles. I also believe in exercise, behavior changes, and learning how to move forward in my life making the best of whatever day God has prepared for me. I held up my hands yesterday for my anointing; I thank God from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity to be with those people that day. I thank God for my chance to share in the Eucharist on a beautiful Saturday morning.

But what I'm mostly grateful for is knowing that by being surrounded by people of faith, having friends that love me, I continue to do great things. My doctors and my therapists give me exercises, and they watch as I continue to do better than they had expected. a part of my miracle is knowing that through faith I continue to move forward when others tell me to resign myself to the fate they choose. I can't do that as long as my Universe keeps expanding.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Welcome the Year of the Dragon!

There is excitement in the air. I feel kind of excited about the upcoming year of the Dragon. Learning what I can about lunar calendars, I realize now that they're not all built the same. The Muslim calendar has around 355 days in it. It's holidays take around thirty-six years to get back to the same time and place that they were before. That means that their holidays can find their way into any one of our four seasons here.

That is a little hard for me to wrap my brain around. I am a solar man. Living in the reality of the Gregorian calendar, I just take it for granted that holidays are going to show up at the same time every year, and occur in the same season every year. So, although I know little about the structure of the Chinese calendar-actually the lunar calendar observed by many Asian cultures-I took comfort finding out that the new year occurred on the second new moon after the Winter solstice, except for the rare instance in which it lands on the third new moon after the Winter solstice.

So, I can find this quiet comfort knowing that even though the Chinese lunar calendar may varyin its length, there will always be a one-to-one correspondence between the Chinese lunar calendar and the Gregorian solar calendar. I'm sure that settles your mind also.

Here, in my neighborhood, I'm already smelling the black powder, hearing these firecrackers going nonstop, watching the festive nature building up the little shopping malls. I walk up and down Grand Century Mall, and watch as the bakeries, the gift shops, and the jewelers enjoy increased business, as we build up to the new year holiday. These gift baskets wrapped in pastel colored cellophane make me feel like it's another Easter. Although approaching the mall today, I was holding my ears as hundreds of firecrackers were going off in rapid succession.

(younger children get to play with these caps that you get to throw on the ground that explode. They are nowhere near as noisy as the firecrackers but they do seem to have a lot of entertainment value for them.

I've always wondered about the arbitrary nature of holidays. I realize that enough people getting excited about any one day, kind of makes that day special, whether there's anything new or special about that day at all. I remember a man I used to work with, a self described Jewish atheist once told me," I do all of my drinking on Rosh Hashanah." I've never been very celebratory about any holiday, yet I always love gathering with my family. I also enjoy getting good night sleeps on New Year's Eve (Gregorian calendar).

By that account, I've always been confused by people who think it's especially important that I get my birthday off from work, or that I should have dinner with my family on Christmas Day, or that I should feel compelled to attend mass on the night of Christmas Eve versus attending the morning of Christmas Day. I believe that what makes these days special has nothing to do with the days themselves, so my family celebrates with me when we can. I just have to smile, and accept that some other people don't understand.

So, should you be celebrating right now, I wish you a Happy New Year!

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Striving for Authenticity!

Every day, I see people (usually marketers), that want to promise me some level of experience that is somehow more genuine than experiences I'm already having.I have to be baffled by this. I cannot understand how any experience I'm having can simply be any more genuine than what I'm experiencing at that very moment. My experience is as genuine as it ever needs to be at any time of the day, under any circumstances. Maybe I'm taking this all a little too seriously.

I don't know when this observation about new experiences, genuine experiences, began to wear on me. But, I think there is a conspiracy to convince us, convince me, that there is something inadequate about the world as I perceive it. This makes me a little sad.

I've been known to eat at Taco Bell from time to time, and I'm not ashamed to say that. Still, I have a roommate who says that the food at Taco Bell is not genuine. I'm perplexed by this. My head starts to spend a little bit, and maybe I am drawn into fits of drama. I know that as I consume my nachos bel grande, or chicken chalupas , covered in cheese and Baja sauce, that fast food is bad for me. The experience however, is still extremely genuine. I do not have to ask if this is authentic Mexican food. I just know that the food is authentic. It is what it is. Taco Bell is genuine Taco Bell food. No further authentication is necessary.

Nowadays, people want to suggest that some sugar is more genuine than others. I see cans of Coke now with the phrase "made with real sugar" and I have to ask myself, why is high fructose corn syrup considered any less real than any other sugar. I guarantee you that if I consume any soda with high fructose corn syrup it will elevate my blood glucose as efficiently as any other sugar. What is more real than that?

Every experience of my life is filled with different layers of authenticity. As I once said it is possible to be satisfied drinking coffee, whether it comes from a can of Folgers crystals, Folgers ground coffee, bagged ground coffee from Starbucks, or whole bean coffee that I roast and grind myself. I could spend my entire life trying to find the truest experiences I can find, or I could delight in the nuances of every new experience I have. I never have to ask whether this experience is authentic or not.

I no longer want my view of the world to be sculpted and shaped by its marketers and salespeople. They do what they do to sell things, and as such, have no useful perspective on what the world is like. They only know how they want the world to be.

I love new experiences. I love to learn from new experiences, and as such I suppose my goal was to find that experience that has not been homogenized for broad appeal. I've been led to believe that experiences as simple as reading a book or taking out the garbage could be plumbed for different levels of understanding. Maybe this is why I celebrate ambiguity. Maybe this is why I should continue writing poetry.

For even in this impecunious existence that is been forged for me, I continue to find delight and wonder in the world.

If still you are looking for the ultimate in authentic experiences (I wonder if it becomes like a contest) we could start with something as simple as coffee drinking. Every experience of your life can be brought down to the barest, grittiest details. So, maybe you feel your coffee experience isn't worthy of bragging. Maybe you want some thing that you could really talk about. You've got to the point in your life paying fifty dollars a pound for Jamaican blue Mountain coffee no longer satisfies you. Today I offer you this coffee experience. I've been thinking about getting myself a chance to to offer this as a travel package.

I'll sell you a flight down to Columbia. I will find the genuine Juan Valdez(or someone who looks like him), and you can walk with him as he picks coffee beans by hand, one at a time. Take pictures. Savor the experience. Remember the moments that you spent scraping donkey excrement off your shoes. Then, after a day of collecting coffee beans, you will process those green beans, scrub them, and roast them yourself. Carefully select the perfect grind, and brew your coffee. If you can keep your eyes open long enough to drink the coffee, you'll have a chance to reflect on your efforts to make this possible. You can sip it is you think, " This is a real cup of coffee".

I savor my own experience of heating up eight ounces of water, and ripping open three packets of Cà phê hòa tan, 3 in 1 instant coffee. Delicious!

Thank you for reading.