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|Thursday, February 14th, 2019|
|Sometimes it's the little things ...
Well, yesterday I got "permission" from the Orthopedic group over at Northwestern to "start transitioning" from the boot I've been wearing since they got me out of the cast and into a regular shoe.
Last night I went out IN ACTUAL PANTS. Since October 19, when I fell and broke my ankle and fibula, I have been living in sweats, shorts, or just undies ... and I've never
been a sweatpants fan. So, it was quite a thrill to get back into my jeans (folded up since arriving in the ER), and put back on the right shoe that had likewise been sitting around for nearly four months.
been doing a good job of weight loss prior to busting my ankle, but I'd spent a good half of that time pretty much stuck in bed, so, while my jeans
fit OK, the belt (bought following the aforementioned weight loss) was a bit of a challenge. Going to have to work on getting out and getting some exercise in, again.
I think the nicest part of this (I didn't do much, went across the street to catch the #151 bus, took it down to the new Dollar Tree, wandered around the store ... 2-3 blocks worth? ... then walked up the block to the bus stop to head back home) was having pockets for my wallet and keys. I have a belt pouch that I usually have my phone in, and for the past few months, that has been the home for these, on a lanyard, with my phone relegated to a shirt pocket. Having everything back to where I habitually reach for them was a treat ... sort of feeling like everything (well, a very limited "everything") was again right with the world.
Small victories ...
|Thursday, January 31st, 2019|
|Record breaking cold ... yadda, yadda, yadda ...
So it appears that my wanting-to-post drive (such as it is) isn't up to the task of over-riding my angst/ennui which leads to non-posting.
However, there was this very cool video, shot from a balcony on a building just a few blocks up from us, showing the amazing stuff the lake was doing when the air temperature was 50 degrees or so colder than the water temperature (from WGN's Tom Skilling's post
I actually went out
on the first day of the sub-zero cold, having a Dr.'s appointment, and various other errands that I tacked onto that, but it was only heading
for sub-zero when I was outside, although the last block (coming back in from the fifth bus ride) was pretty brutal, as it was maybe -1°, but with a raging wind coming up Sheridan Rd. ... froze my face up real good.
|Monday, December 31st, 2018|
|And, so ...
2018 was a horrible
So many of my fears were realized, and in ways that were far worse than I imagined.
As those of you who have been paying attention may have noticed, after numerous years of writing dozens of book reviews, I managed just one
this year, back at the end of January. This arose from a number of factors, all conspiring to silence me. Of course, I did make a valiant effort to at least blog something
during July and August, doing daily posts over those months, and four days into September, but that also suddenly stopped, with just a couple of echoes happening in the week following, up until now.
Again, those “following along at home” for a while will realize, the core issue was that we finally “lost our home” (or, “had to sell”, which I guess is a different thing, but less emotionally accurate), after my having dreaded that coming to be for nearly a decade.
The dynamics of this were truly horrible. I have always been a “keeper” of things, needing the physical reminders to keep the past alive. I also (as one might imagine) had built up quite a library over the years, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,500-3,000 books. My wife was quite adamant that these were not going to be moving with us when we relocated, so I spent a great deal of the first few months of the year getting my library boxed and transferred to a storage locker, along with my photography (about 24 linear feet of binders), and music (both records and CDs).
I was still working on sorting and boxing things the day the “junk” people came to haul out everything that I hadn't been able to get to storage. This (the last weekend of March) was when it really got ugly. I had been putting things that “really meant something to me” (out of the thousands of items that had enough significance to me that I had kept them for years) into a couple of boxes, and had done a box of books I'd read but not reviewed yet (more on these below), books from my to-be-read stacks that I wanted to get to next, and some key bits of “must save” items such as my only copies
of my first six poetry collections (and their Library of Congress forms), plus a couple of racks of my favorite CDs.
None of those made it here.
There I was, standing in the destruction of my office, trying to grab the last few shards of my past, and seeing everything I cared about unceremoniously dumped
into big trash bins. There were two closets full of stuff that I'd not even gotten to yet, and much of my old writing was hiding in there. Now it's all gone.
I knew the process was going to be bad
, but I had no idea just how
bad it was going to be. Frankly, I had a plan sketched out for suicide last new years eve, as I really didn't want to be around for what was coming. However, I was “too busy to kill myself” then, but the concept was high on my list, and I made the mistake of discussing it in the wrong room, which got me a trip to the ER for a psych evaluation. They didn't “keep me”, but I lost four weeks or more in assorted intense therapy situations, which would have been much better spent getting they key parts of my past to safety.
On April Fools Day, we officially were out of our home (in a building I'd lived in for 37 years), and into our new place, nearly seven miles north of my neighborhood of four decades.
Needless to say,I'm still in shock. I've lost almost everything that anchored me to my personal history. In addition, it appears that both my reading and writing were in large part connected to the parks and coffee shops where I felt comfortable. There have been no replacements found up here. I have tried to develop a sense that I'd been through some natural disaster, a lava flow, a hurricane, a meteor strike, or what have you, that destroyed my home and forced me to evacuate to some totally unfamiliar location with whatever I was able to drag with me. While this puts the level of loss in some sort of conceptual frame, it doesn't really help with the emotional impact – especially given that the key piece in the “disaster” I suffered was my inability to find paying
work over the past nine (soon to be 10) years. The level of rage I have percolating under the surface around this taints everything I experience.
Things has not been helped by my having a real bad year on the physical level (man, that new years' eve plan looks like a real missed opportunity
), with much of the summer/fall being taken up with surgeries, radiation therapies, and, for the past couple of months, dealing with a broken ankle/fibula that I still
am not supposed to put any weight onto.
Anyway, as to that box of books … I spent a lot of time over the past 8+ months churning over how to deal with not having those available to write the reviews. Of course, every time I started thinking about “getting to it”, the emotional
weight of the over-all loss would come in and make me psychologically “run away” into almost anything else. However, since I've not gotten the 2017 collection of reviews done, I figured I'd combine it with 2018, and hence I'm writing this post.
The books that disappeared were:Who Moved My Cheese?
by Spencer Johnson, M.D.Drop the Rock
by Bill P., Todd W., & Sara S.Idiots in Paris
by John G. BennettObama Zombies
by Jason MatteraThe Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects
by Alexandra David-Neel & Lama Yongden The Enlightened Gene
by Arri Eisen & Yungdrung Konchok Ask and It Is Given
by Esther and Jerry HicksMy Father at 100: A Memoir
by Ron ReaganSoundscapes
by Paul RobertsonPep Talks for Writers
by Grant FaulknerOne Question
by Ken ColemanThe Start-up of You
by Reid Hoffman & Ben CasnochaMasters of Wisdom
by Edward Abdill
That list would have been a bit longer, but I still had two books in my bag that I would take out to go write at the Starbucks at Rush & Oak (where I did most of my reviews), so those are in my now somewhat refreshed to-be-reviewed pile.
What I am going to attempt to do in this (sure to be overly-long) post is to do at least minimal reviews of all of these, on recall alone. As you can imagine, this is going to be a difficult thing, and will be necessarily missing the block quotes that I like to build my reviews around. Honestly, as I put in that list, there were several books which I have only scant recall of, which means that I'm going to either have to “tap dance” extensively, or rely on others' reviews to spark my memory.
One thing that losing that box made clear to me is that I really ought to write down the info on books as they show up in my to-be-read piles, as I know there were several titles that I was quite eager to get into (heck, some I paid retail
for!) but are now only hazy memories. Unfortunately, some were books on which I “owed” a review, which is a problem.
The worst par of losing that box was those early poetry collections of mine. Last year I'd put out new editions of my second
six chapbooks, and was fully planning on doing the earlier ones once I'd fished them out of whatever nook or cranny of my office they'd gotten to (I knew I had a shoulder bag with copies in one of the closets – that I didn't have time to get into). Losing them has been one of the deepest cuts to my psyche.
OK, not wanting this to be 100% woe-is-me … let's get to the reviewing: Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
by Spencer Johnson, M.D.
I'd been aware
of this title for quite a while, but ran across something somewhere that was highly recommending it, so picked up a copy. Now, as regular readers of my reviews know, I have very little patience with “parables”, but being one of those sorts of things (it deals with mice in a maze) it's a reasonably painless read, with some fairly worthwhile bits and pieces. Of course, no longer having the book (and my bookmarks pointing out the good parts), I can't reference these, but it struck me as a worthwhile title. Drop the Rock: Removing Character Defects - Steps Six and Seven
by Bill P., Todd W., Sara S.
This is a book in the wider A.A. Canon (hence the use of last name initials for the authors), and deals with two of the 12 Steps that only get passing mention in “the big book”, Six (“were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”) and Seven (“humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings”) … which follow the Step 4 “moral inventory” and Step 5 sharing of same. The title refers to releasing elements in one's psyche that are related to long-maintained “defects”, and it's a helpful expansion of these parts of recovery work. Idiots in Paris: Diaries of J.G. Bennett and Elizabeth Bennett, 1949
by John G. Bennett
If I still had this one, with my notes, this would be a very
long review. I had wanted to get a copy of Idiots in Paris for a long time, and only recently (well, in relation to when I read it) scored a used copy. I've read/reviewed a lot of the Gurdjieff material, which has included a number of memoirs of his followers … this is certainly in that niche, but far more intensely so. John G. Bennett was one his main students (and became a famed teacher in his own right), along with his wife Elizabeth Bennett whose notes comprise more than half of this. One of the main differences of this compared to the other memoirs is that it covers a very brief period – the last few months of Gurdjieff's life – and deals with the Bennetts being called to be with G. in Paris at that time. I had a lot
of little bookmarks in this, with “juicy” bits highlighted to share with you, as the narrative here is so direct and raw that it throws a whole new light on Gurdjieff's teachings, with many rather remarkable revelations (and re-contextifying framing) on what had been somewhat murky points. It is also a fascinating look at the thoughts of the Bennetts as they dealt with the demands leading up to Gurdjieff's passing. Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation
by Jason Mattera
I hated the previous administration, and so any book casting them in a bad light is likely to be of interest to me. I'm not sue how this one got into my hands (dollar store?), but I looked forward to getting into it. Unfortunately, it primarily served to get me pissed off, with the slimy tentacles of that vile crew getting into every interest area of the younger generation and driving their falsehoods into “common knowledge” territory. I had a lot of notes in this one as well, but it would have just ended up as a rant more than a review. The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects
by Alexandra David-Neel & Lama Yongden
Over the past few decades I've read a lot of Buddhist material, and especially Tibetan material, so the broad strokes of this book were not unfamiliar. The author was a mystic seeker and adventurer who sought out “hidden knowledge”, and ended up reporting fairly straight forwardly on what she encountered. The title here is not really representative of what's in the book, which is more of an “explanation of Mahayana Buddhism” (to use Alan Watt's description) than “secrets”, oral or otherwise. The Enlightened Gene: Biology, Buddhism, and the Convergence that Explains the World
by Arri Eisen & Yungdrung Konchok
This was a LibraryThing.com “Early Reviewer” program book, so I really regret losing it and my notes on it. This grew out of the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, with half of it being the science side trying to engage the Tibetan traditions, and half of it being a Tibetan monk learning the Western scientific model. It was a fascinating read, and I was sharing bits from it with friends while I was working my way through it, so I know I had a lot of bookmarks in there highlighting “the good stuff”, which I wish I could be bringing to you at this point. Ask and It Is Given: Learning to Manifest Your Desires
by Esther and Jerry Hicks
A friend of mine is deeply into the whole “Law of Attraction” thing, and highly recommended this title to me. While my cynical mind has a hard time with the genre in general, I found that reading this was not the battle that it often is with this sort of book. Frankly, I found a lot of concepts/tools in this appearing quite useful, and am quite miffed not to have it and my notes on it anymore. Because of the nature of this (sort of a self-development workbook), it has a reasonably good chance of being something that I might buy a replacement copy of – which is high praise indeed, coming from me. My Father at 100: A Memoir
by Ron Reagan
I was a bit hesitant to get into this, as I'd heard that, unlike other
reviews, Ron Jr. had been “not too kind” in addressing his father's legacy. I was pleased to find that, while not wholly glowing about the elder Reagan, the book was in no means an attack piece. In fact, the first part of the book was more of a genealogical survey of how the family found its way from Ireland, and got established in the U.S., before tracing his dad's growing up in various contexts, from sports to early jobs (including pics of R.R. as a teenage lifeguard), to discovering acting. What stood out most to me were tales of his early years, with the younger Reagan doing road trips to experience the places where his father was from. Soundscapes: A Musician's Journey Through Life and Death
by Paul Robertson
Another LTER selection, I have to admit that this was one that I was a bit hazy on the recall of. It's not that the book didn't get
to me (I actually ordered a CD of a piece mentioned in it), music is something that I have never quite figured out on a conceptual basis, and the author here was a musical prodigy, who basically lived
it. The basis of this is his surviving a died-on-the-operating-table experience, including recall of hallucinations he had while in a long-term coma. It has reminiscences of his childhood, his musical training, his career (he was a violinist), and various other flotsam of his life, including other dream/hallucination stories. It's an interesting read, but one of those books that's not satisfactorily in a particular niche (I take it that it was a bit too weird for those looking for a “musician's memoir” title). Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo
by Grant Faulkner
This LTER acquisition didn't make much of a lasting impression on me. That's not to say that my now-missing copy didn't have a bunch of little bookmarks pointing me to useful stuff, just that it didn't stick in my head. Obviously, with 52 chapters there must have been the thought that one would work on a chapter a week … not a bad idea ... and some of these deal with major writing issues (snagging from the Amazon “look inside” view of the TOC): “Embrace Constraints”, “Treating Imposter Syndrome”, “Sleep, Sleeplessness, and Creativity”, and “Trusting in The Absurd
”. The author is the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo – the National Novel Writing Month – and much (as it's coming back to me now) of this is tilted towards fiction writing. One Question: Life-Changing Answers from Today's Leading Voices
by Ken Coleman
I seem to recall that I didn't care too much for this dollar store find. The author is a radio interviewer, host of his self-named program, and evidently gets to chat with a lot of interesting and semi-interesting folks. This book covers three dozen of primarily the latter, nearly all noted to be a “New York Times Bestselling Author”, of which I recognized about a third. In the Introduction he notes that “Occasionally, someone asks the right person the right question at the right time in the right way and magic happens ...”
, which seems to be the thesis of the book. I guess the “magic” exhibited is a question of personal taste. The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
by Reid Hoffman & Ben Casnocha
OK, I have no
memory of reading this book. I just bought it off of Amazon last fall, and evidently read it in the chaos of the early months of this year, but the more I dug into other reviews of it, the less I could place it. How odd. The author has recently been in the news for having funded some really sleazy election shenanigans. Currently, that's the most focused thing I can say about it. Some of the other reviews mention it was about running your career like a start-up, but I guess one might have been able to get that from the title. Masters of Wisdom: The Mahatmas, Their Letters, and the Path
by Edward Abdill
An interesting delve into the Theosophical materials … which is likely best taken with the proverbial grain of salt. The “Mahatmas” of the sub-title are the beings who produced missives to Madame Blavatsky in variously colored crayon, as well as notes to other Theosophical Society folks. The first half of the book deals with these entities, and their communications, while the second half is a very lucid outlining of “The Path” as envisioned by the T.S. … which is certainly worth the cost of the book. This is another of the lost titles that I really wish I had back, as I'm pretty sure the stuff that I marked in it was not only info that would make for an interesting review, but material that I'd like to have floating around in my wet storage.
And, so, those are the books that I'd read before the move, put in a box (with other “best of the to-be-read piles” books, and some essential files, that ended up getting into the hands of the junk haulers rather than into mine.
Sorry that I've sort of fallen off the map this year, but things have been so terrible, that I often find myself regretting not
throwing myself out the windows of our 46th floor apartment, or going through with my more complicated plans for offing myself a year ago tonight.
I won't promise anything for the new year. I still have no comfortable place to read, no functional place to write (my reviews). I'd love to get back to doing a daily post like I managed for two months earlier this year, but that met a sudden end when the pointlessness overwhelmed me, and the level of baseline depression I live with, the emptiness, feeling adrift, hopeless, makes any plan iffy. We'll see what comes.
|Tuesday, September 11th, 2018|
|Here again ...
It may have been LiveJournal's finest hour(s).
Early in LJ's existence it had some remarkable moments, the 9/11 attack in 2001 being most notable. Firstly, LJ was only two years old at the time ... with only (I'm guessing) tens of thousands of members. But those members coordinated as an information grid to help find folks and get their message out (as the phone service in NYC was spotty at best in the aftermath).
Now, I first heard of the Twin Towers attack early that morning ... I had gotten my coffee and turned on the TV. One of the morning shows was premiering a new rooftop deck set, and they were featuring a story of a plane hitting the WTC. I probably got no more work done (that was when I was still actively running Eschaton Books) for a week.
It was soon after that I switched over to the computer, and jumped in here. It was an amazing time. Oh, and speaking of amazing ... does anybody else recall The Lone Gunmen
spin-off series from The X-Files
, that ran one season? I was thinking about its pilot episode
this morning, and how bizarre that "coincidence" is.
|Sunday, September 9th, 2018|
|Too cruel ...
Well, that was ultimately quite unpleasant.
After all these months of watching The Bears move into a new phase (firing Fox, hiring Nagy, etc.), with draft picks, trades, and most amazingly the trade a week or so back for Mack, I was kinda sorta hoping they woudn't suck.
After all, Trubisky looked in his rookie season like he might actually be the "franchise quarterback" The Bears traded up in the draft to get ... and Nagy's new offense seemed like it had promise in preseason.
So, for the first half of tonight's game, it was WTF?! WTF?! WTF?!, etc. The Bears weren't supposed to be as good as they looked in the first couple of quarters. And, hey ... it looked like they managed to break the Packer's QB!
But no. Nooooooooo.
Not only did Rodgers manage to limp his way back on the field, he then proceeds to, on one leg, tear up The Bears' defense, eventually erasing the 20pt lead we'd been (excessively) enjoying.
Take one overthrown ball in the corner of the end zone (resulting in having to settle for a field goal), a gimme
interception dropped by one of our defenders, and a coverage scheme that appeared to have nobody at home at all over most of the field, and when the dust settled, The Bears had lost, by one measly point ... 23 - 24.
None of the prognosticators had given The Bears any chance of beating the cheeseheads, so starting out 0-1 is no big surprise ... but the first half of that game teased us with a vision of what things might
be like ... only to have the ever-cruel universe right itself with a punch to the collective Chicago gut.
In the old days I'd be lying on the floor in my living room playing dirges on my bass ... no longer have the apartment, no longer have the bass, but still have the emotional vulnerability to be deeply wounded by a loss like this.
Yeah, sucks to be me.
|Tuesday, September 4th, 2018|
|OK, that was different ...
Sort of back to some semblance of my "normal" today ... but still feeling "a bit off my feed", so really hadn't eaten all day.
I didn't make it out to the Tuesday afternoon meeting that I sometimes go to up by Loyola (... met her in a club down in North Soho
... oh, wait, that's different), which often includes a run to the Taco Bell that's up there, but one of those five buck boxes was definitely still on my mind. I opted to shoot for the 8:30 down at NTAC with the "grab bag" format that's an interesting variation (rather than the 7:30 at a walking-distance church that I've been to the past couple of weeks). Much contrary to my usual "out at the last minute", I was ready to go two hours before I needed to be down to Belmont, so I had food options. I had contemplated going to Subway and trying to get some reading done around scarfing down a sandwich, either up here or down by NTAC, but that had all sorts of baggage with it (I hate
getting pan-handled while trying to eat in
a place), and I wasn't much in the mood for that kind of crap. So, I figured I'd take the #147 up to Loyola and get Taco Bell, then hop the El there and get back down to Belmont with plenty of spare time.
However, the transit gods interfered.
A month or so back, we all went out to see Ant-Man at a theater up on Sheridan, where the #147 should
go, but we found ourselves on one that terminated at Devon & Sheridan, instead of heading north from there. The movie night was a pain, as I had to drag my gimpy knee a half mile or so from where the bus let us off, and one would think
that I'd learn to check the destination display on the bus (like the #151 that in the evenings has some buses that only go to Foster), but nooooo.
I had been kicking around for a month or so a hankering to go back to this amazing Pakistani place, Ghareeb Nawaz
, which is up on Devon, a block past Damen. If they weren't "cash only", I'd probably have made it one of my regular places, but tonight I knew I had a ten on me, so this was a possibility. So, there I was, having been dumped out at the bus stop for the #155 Devon bus, with plenty of time, and a rare supply of sufficient cash. Hey, I can take a hint.
I'd forgotten how huge
the servings are up there. Pictured are my $5.49 order of Green Chili Chicken Biryani, plus my 75¢ side of Tandoori Nan. Yum! If I hadn't splurged on the Mango Lassi (at a whopping $1.59), this meal, that I could only make it about half-way through, would have come in at under seven bucks! Such a deal!
Anyway, I dragged my extensive leftovers out with me, caught the #155, took it on back to the Red Line stop, and got down to NTAC with about 20 minutes to spare. One advantage also of going to the earlier meeting is that I get in at a kinder hour than some of the late-nite ones.
Now I just need to triangulate having cash on me more often ... would like to make Ghareeb Nawaz a more frequent dining spot!
|Monday, September 3rd, 2018|
|Well, that's an interesting way to spend a holiday ...
Just shoot me.
It appears that the fancy-schmancy deli potato salad The Wife picked up at Marianos was "off", as after I had some last evening, I was dealing with pronounced gastric distress. I really wish
it had progressed to puking or pooping, but nooooo, it just sat around and made me miserable. And, sitting around and being miserable was pretty much the theme of the day, except that I was asleep for the vast majority of Labor Day.
I don't typically sleep more than 5 hours or so, so it's notable if I'm sacked out for long periods. I tried to get up and functioning about 8am, but ended up dry heaving, so opted to crawl back into bed. Every time I woke up, going back to bed seemed the best option, so I pretty much stayed under for most of the day, eventually feeling good enough to try to do minor stuff on the computer around 8pm. Needless to say, I did not get out for a meeting today, adding to the whole self-loathing load, since what kind of a pointless sack of shit doesn't
force himself to press on with scheduled intents despite feeling ill ... what are these feelings
doing running my maggot-like existence?!
I guess, however, I did not miss much. I was sufficiently cognizant of the outside world that I registered the fact that we were getting pounded with thunderstorms, and I had at least a glimmer of "gee, it must suck for those planning outside activities" run through my mind. Not that I had anything planned (other than going to a specific meeting).
Still, it was very strange getting that much sleep. I'm in much less discomfort now, but don't have much of a "second wind", so will probably just head back to bed. Mighty exciting post, eh?
|Sunday, September 2nd, 2018|
|Nothing much to note ...
Well, was at least able to get myself out of the house for a bit today ... went for lunch up at China Palace (yum!), then ran down to the dollar store, then back home for a bit before making the easy shot back and forth on the #151 down to the Rec Room for a meeting. Pretty much lump-ish otherwise ... sort of like Lady Miss Kier locating the groove, but in my case it's more like "the lump is in the heeeeaaad".
Wish I could locate a groove.
|Saturday, September 1st, 2018|
1. : a piece or mass of indefinite size and shape
Or, what I've been doing a pretty good impression of today. I had wanted
to get out of the house, but the hours just reeled off, and it was too late to make a lunch special, too late for meetings that I'd been contemplating, and heck, when it got to 10:30pm, I simply gave up
on getting myself to the 11:11pm meeting at NTAC, opting for more "sitting like a lump" in front of the computer. Pretty much all day has been spent at the keyboard, or in bed, or sitting on the bed ... generally determined if I was interacting with the PC, the tablet, or the phone.
In my defense, I did
get at least a toe into a couple of projects that have been sitting around waiting for me to have the emotional solidity to get moving on them. Good thing I waited, too, as both parts were "Mongolian CF's" with tech issues that I have yet to solve. I suppose at some point (when I've gotten everything worked out and set up and OCD af
), I'll spew about them in here (and yes, there will be links
Anyhow, I was a lump today, and so there's precious little to bother anybody else with. The Wife was asking if I was going to be leaving my room at all (depression, ya know), and my only target (once I missed all the earlier stuff) was that late night meeting that I just had no ooomph left in me to proceed to walk to the El, take the El, walk to NTAC, sit through the meeting, and repeat same in reverse. No, I figure I'd stay pantsless and crank out this missive instead.
Lucky you (?).
|Friday, August 31st, 2018|
|Well, hope that's all for that ...
So, last week I had the stent pulled (literally - not a happy procedure, albeit brief) following the third of the kidney stone operations I've had this summer, and today I was back down at the hospital for yet another CT scan, to see what's what on my innards (hopefully showing they got all the gravel out and won't be having to go in again).
As I have noted repeatedly, I'm incredibly lucky that I managed to have nearly no "kidney stone" pain during this phase, the stones were noticed in scans, the decision made to deal with them, and the procedures scheduled as needed (the initial
plan was to have it all taken care of the first time, but that didn't work out). Now, I had a good deal of discomfort/pain following these, but nothing like having a full-blown stone passing involves (well, except for last Wednesday night ... something was wrong in there and it was approaching that sort of pain).
Since I like to go to the Friday night meetings down at St. James, which is just a couple of blocks from the hospital, I got the latest slot for the scan, 4:45pm, and figured I'd grab a bite in the food court, and then just wander over there for both
the 6pm and 7pm meetings (see last night's post about doing multiple meetings). However, the #147 bus was not cooperating today, showing up about 10min later than the projected arrival at my stop, and then encountering a massive traffic back-up about a third of the way down the drive somewhere between Belmont and Diversey. On light traffic days, it takes as little as 7 minutes to get from Foster & Marine down to Michigan & Delaware - certainly the speediest option - but today we got into 2-3mph traffic, which sucked. Fortunately, I'd left a LOT of flex in my schedule, and ended up at the scan place just ten minutes later than my appointment (and I'd called to say I was running late), so my fears of having to reschedule were relieved.
The "grab a bite" part of the schedule was messed up, though ... as I figured I'd be late to the early meeting if I actually sat down to eat something, and the stuff I like (or am willing to afford) there is not conducive to grab-and-go ... which was not a "happy thing", as I'd neglected to eat anything since the early morning. Most of the meetings I go to are not in the traditional coffee-and-cookies mode of AA, but this one, thankfully, was - so I was able to take the edge off with more cookies than I would have typically even considered
eating, which tided me over until I got back home.
Yeah, I guess another entry into the "nobody freak'n cares
, you moron" file, but that's what's up with me.
|Thursday, August 30th, 2018|
OK, so long-time readers of this space know I have a bit of the old OCD ... necessitating my making lists, spreadsheets, and idiosyncratic filing systems for many, many things.
One of these manifestations has been the track of my A.A. meetings. To refresh your memories: despite having quit drinking in the Summer of '85, I did not
toe the line and avail myself of the AA support structure. This was largely due to the "God thing", which if one can't figure out an angle on, pretty much screws up the steps starting with numbers 2 and 3. However, a couple of years back, I was in such a deep depressive funk that I was pretty much grasping for straws, and I guess recalled the "restore us to sanity" part of Step 2, and ended up at a meeting instead of throwing myself under the El.
That meeting spawned a second meeting the next day, which ended up with me at a third meeting the day after that, at which a highschool acquaintance strongly encouraged me to do a "90 in 90", ninety meetings in ninety days. I am now about 780 days into that, but, due to the medical stuff this summer (and situations like last night), I have fallen a bit behind, being about 14 meetings short on my "meeting days" count (I have a long text file with all the meetings I've been to listed since 7/17/16), which, of course (via my OCD), makes me kind of twitchy. I have a number of opportunities during the week to attend multiple meetings (where meetings I like are back-to-back at the same location), so I need to start thinking more about those if I want to get "caught up".
Anyhoo ... I'm pretty sure nobody
cares about the above, but it's heavy on my mind tonight (I just got back from my regular Thursday 10pm meeting down at NTAC), so I figured I'd spew about it here. Lucky you.
|Wednesday, August 29th, 2018|
|Perks ... and their cost
So ... wasn't planning on any big adventures today, but ended up getting a call from my Evanston client when I was on the train to a therapist appointment this afternoon. She was wanting me to ride shotgun on a shopping expedition out to the suburbs, and we set things up to have her pick me up down by the doctor's office, where I'd be waiting outside at 3pm.
And I waited. And I waited. And I went into the Starbucks on the corner and waited. And eventually the client appears. It seems that there had been some events in downtown Evanston and she'd had a hard time getting going, and there was other traffic down by where I was. At that point she'd pretty much had it with traffic, and scrapped the "going to the suburbs" part of the agenda, shifting to the "going out for Korean" item on the to-do list (she'd wanted to revisit a place we'd been to out in Niles on a previous junket). I was assigned getting on Yelp to find a place to eat ... at 4pm. We tried on place, but it was closed between lunch and dinner, tried another and it was just a Korean soup/stew place (we were looking for BBQ), and eventually ended up at San Soo Gab San over on Western.
Since we were betwixt and between meal times (either having a very
late lunch or a quite early dinner), went fairly light on the ordering (the client likes having a lot of leftovers usually), with Chop Chae noodles, Goma-Ae (disappointing), and Bul Ko Ki (yum!) ... which, of course, came with a dozen or so pickled side dishes (click on pic for bigger image).
As our agenda for the afternoon was blown up, we were deciding between just having her drop me off at home, or going back up to her place for projects there. I didn't want to have the day "wasted", so opted for the latter, as she had four small bookcases waiting to be assembled, which I figured I could get done and still make a late meeting. The bookcase assembly went pretty much as planned, but things dragged, and by the time we were mobilized to get back in her vehicle, it was pretty clear that I was going to be missing the 10pm meeting, so I just had her drop me back here.
A jumbled day (that I had no vision of going in), but a nice nosh.
|Tuesday, August 28th, 2018|
|That was some storm ...
This evening I was headed over to a meeting by Sheridan & Catalpa, when I found my path blocked by this. At a distance I'd thought that somebody had been trimming
trees over by the El overpass, and had left a pile of stuff in the sidewalk. But nooooo ... it was a tree that had come down (click pic for bigger image).
Strange weather today, this must have happened in the brief storm burst we had in the late afternoon. I wasn't out, but heard a loud bang of lightning hitting nearby (this tree?), then a bunch of wind coming up, and then 10 minutes or so of torrential rain before clearing up again. Later in the evening (thankfully, well after I got back in) there was once of those "bloody scythe" looking radar images where a storm front was sweeping through with intense red returns on its leading edge. Those are fascinating, as they don't last long, but you sure don't want to be out in them (and on a "heavy sigh" note, I'm reminded of how I could watch
those sweep across the city in my old place).
For the previous 40 years I'd not been in places that didn't have central air, so one of my new "weather indicators" this summer is how the rain hits on the airconditioning unit in my room ... and that was going full Animal
on and off through the evening. Glad I was able to get out, do a meeting, run some errands, etc. in the time between when the stormy weather was hitting!
|Monday, August 27th, 2018|
|Baby you're much too fast ...
Ah, the Bánh mì ... Vietnamese sandwiches ... how you tease me.
Down by the "old" Dollar Tree in the little strip mall below the Berwyn el stop, there is the Little Saigon Baguette shop
, which I always find tempting going by (due to the large pictures of their sandwiches up on the windows - along with their very reasonable prices). However, once one gets into the descriptions
of what's involved in many of these (I'm no fan of "head cheese", and I'd really have to work my way up to a whole sub featuring shredded pork in fish sauce), one ends up approaching this a bit more gingerly.
I did stop in there this afternoon, when I figured it was already too late for my other lunch options, and got a #12 featuring pork belly. This appeared in yet another
form than what I've had previously ... sort of like sliced bacon, but more red like BBQ pork. This topped with a bunch of shredded veggie items, lending an odd, yet distinctive, taste to the whole.
If I was down by there more frequently, I'm pretty sure I'd grab sandwiches there more often, as the ones I've had were all winners, and one can hardly argue with the price (which ranges from $3.95 to $5.95). Aside from the sandwiches they have other more "mysterious" offerings, wrapped up in rolls and blocks, that I think one would need a "local guide" to steer through. One thing I really DO need to check out is their sesame "doughnut", which for a buck is a pretty substantial looking piece of fried goodness!
It's too bad that they didn't choose a single-syllable city name (like "Hue") to use instead of Saigon in the title, because "Little Hue Baguette" would scan beautifully
to Prince's Little Red Corvette
(come on, can't you hear the clap-clap?) ... or am I the only guy going around re-writing songs in my head to fit my surroundings?
|Sunday, August 26th, 2018|
|What month was it again?
OK, I'm not one of those people that live for the summer, I'm a Fall guy myself (no, not like that
), and enough of a "fogeygoff" to have a deep affection for the concept that Everyday Is Halloween
My seasonable sensibilities have been assaulted with a one-two punch in the past few days, the first shot being running across a "pop-up" Halloween store getting stocked on Belmont, just east of the El ... TWO MONTHS before Samhain ... which I think is only just on the outer edge of being calendrically OK ...
And then there's the haymaker of CHRISTMAS IN AUGUST
Yes, arriving a full FOUR MONTHS in front of Sanity Clause (a third of a year
), the folks at Dollar Tree already have the Xmas swag out. Really? REALLY??? Who buys this stuff this far out from the holiday?
C'mon ... that's like having the Fourth of July stuff out prior to St. Patrick's day (although, come to think of it ... Dollar Tree might jump the gun on that one equally as much). It's JUST NOT RIGHT. And, after all, it's not like you're saving
by shopping early there ... every freak'n thing in the store's a buck
... sure, you might get first crack at wrapping paper you favor, but what other purpose is there in doing any of that stuff until after Thanksgiving?
Sheesh! Well, pardon my rant, but I was quite taken aback by this all. As usual, clicking on the image over there will get you to a larger version, just in case you wanted to wallow in the horror.
|Saturday, August 25th, 2018|
|Why no new book reviews?
Oh, come on ... somebody
out there had to be wondering.
It's been since the end of JANUARY
since I got a book review up. And I hate myself for it. However, the level of chaos that had been intruding in my existence just shut that down. Hell, since the time of the move, I've only read
thirteen books (see pic) largely because all my places to read
are now 7-8 miles away, and I have yet to find "suitable replacements" up on this end of town - which really sucks.
really sucks, though is the DISASTER that struck in the move. I had boxes ready to go to storage or to get moved over here, but The Wife was hell bent on getting stuff thrown out
and on the day when both
the movers and the 1-800-JUNK guys were around somehow the box that I had my to-be-reviewed books in (and choice picks from my to-be-read piles so I'd have stuff to read here) got thrown out
. Now, this was not the worst
of the losses suffered in the move (not by a long shot), but I went from having 16-20 books awaiting my words of wisdom, to just a couple still in the bag with my netbook (although, obviously the to-be-reviewed stack has regenerated itself).
The other issue, similar to the one on finding a place to read, is that I've not found a place to write
. As I've no doubt mentioned numerous times before, I find it nearly impossible
to write book reviews at my desk. My old system was to grab my "review bag" and go the block from my old place to the big Starbucks at Rush & Oak at around 4pm, and then write on through till when they kicked me out at 11pm. Most of the other folks vying for spots at the big table were orientals working on med school work, or the like ... nice and quiet and focused. Up here, there's a Starbucks a couple of blocks away, but it closes at 9pm, and is stocked with burn-outs and other crispy critters who are more interested in loud arguments about who has the least comprehensible delusions ... that is, when they're not working the room for hand-outs ... NOT an environment to get any work done. :-(
My hope is that the new "library" here will provide the space/environment I need. The old library was tiny, and hardly a good work space, and existed in what had initially been a cloak room in more elegant age. The new library space has been part of the commercial area, most recently the lair of a seamstress/designer, which will include a small "air space" patio. I'm hoping that I can scope this out as soon as it's accessible, and figure out what space in there might work for me, and be the old guy who's always there, clacking away on his netbook. Anyway, I'm hoping that September will bring the reviews back again.
I still need to figure out what to do with the 16 or so books that I don't have on hand (with my bookmarks and notes) to do reviews of. This, especially in relation to a potential 2018 collection
... I'm going to see if I might be able to crank out at least a few hundred words on each from blind recall, or something like that.
Yep. Sucks to be me.
|Friday, August 24th, 2018|
|Almost back to normal ...
I'm still feeling a bit "under the weather", but at least I'm more functional. The right ureter is sore
, something that hadn't happened previously, and I'm peeing out what I am guessing to be small clots (you did
want to catch up on all the details, yes?). I'm back to peeing through the sieve thing so I can catch any stone fragments coming out - but very little has been showing up. The stuff that has been there so far has "smooshed" when I've tried to pick it out with the tweezers, so I'm pretty sure those aren't stones
... certainly nothing like the "gravel" I collected previously
I finally made it back out to China Palace for lunch ... I think the week between meals there was the longest I've gone not dining with them since we moved up here. I was still a bit "off my feed", so ended up going with something I don't typically order, their BBQ Pork & Rib(s) (it's written plural, but on the lunch special you just get one). I'd recalled this as being a smaller
amount of food than it was, but since I was looking to heal, it was providing a boost of protein (and sugar
, which I certainly don't need).
I rolled out of there and just caught the #36 bus to get down to Walgreens to pick up some other pills the urologist was adding to the mix (and re-order my Victoza injectable - wonderful drug, but painfully expensive, and it seems like every month I need to have the pharmacists do battle with both the insurance and the manufacturer ... who is supposed to be knocking the co-pay on that to no more that $20 per "pen", but in recent months it's been coming in at almost twice that).
I ducked a "self hatred" session this evening ... I'd planned on going down to my "regular" 7pm Friday night meeting at St. James, which, if the #147 bus is playing nice, can be just 20 minutes door-to-door, despite it being nearly 7 miles away. However, when I got out to the bus stop with a half hour to get to the meeting it was showing no bus for 15 minutes - which wasn't just "cutting it close", it was pretty much guaranteeing that I would be late, and beating myself up (for not checking the bus times earlier and, and, and, and ...) all the way down there. So, when a #151 bus showed up, I opted to hop that to get down to the Rec Room a half-hour early
for their 7:30 meeting. Not ideal, but I have to grab glimmers of sanity where I can find them.
|Thursday, August 23rd, 2018|
Almost ended up at the ER last night.
There was just something "not right" about the recovery from this latest kidney stone procedure, and yesterday the pain was getting worse instead of better. Sure, the muscle aches were fading, but the kidney was not
happy, and it felt like the stent was digging into it or something. Now, I probably made an error in judgement to go ahead and clean out the turtle's tank, as it was in dire need of my doing so, but the heavy lifting and bending over and stuff like that obviously caused problems in my plumbing.
I could barely walk without shooting pains up my right side, and I was finding it difficult to even lie down without pain ... in short, the stent was acting like a kidney stone stuck in the ureter. My guess was that it was some of the "shrapnel" still left in the kidney from the laser blasting last Friday that had gotten stuck on its way out (given that the stent was filling up the tube), and when my urologist called me late last night, his thought was there might be clotting around the stent that was blocking the ureter. Fortunately, I'd already been scheduled to come down to the hospital this afternoon to have the stent removed, so the doc suggested that I take the rest of the pain pills, and try to get some sleep ... hoping to not have to send me along to ER.
I did manage to get about 3-4 hours of sleep per pill, which was good, since I had a fairly busy day. I had a 10am therapist appointment, following which I took the #151 bus downtown (didn't want to play with the stairs at the Lawrence EL, or the six block walk down to 4th Pres from the Chicago & State EL) and was just a smidge late for the 12:15 meeting there. After hanging out and schmoozing for a while (the 4th Pres crew hadn't seen me in a while), I gingerly walked myself the 5+ blocks down to Northwestern Hospital. I had about an hour to kill before my appointment, so I grabbed fries at GRK Greek Kitchen
(the best deal in the hospital food court!), and then got myself upstairs. It was a LONG wait up there, and I didn't get in until an hour past my appointment. As usual, the procedure to remove the stent was very
unpleasant, but relatively quick. I was expecting that I'd be pain-free in my kidney once that was out, but there must have been some residual damage, because I'm still hurting (although nowhere near how I was yesterday - thank goodness!) several hours later.
Something else to chalk up to the "not fun" file ...
|Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018|
|Tuesday, August 21st, 2018|
Since it was becoming obvious that doing "mobility-based" activities today was unlikely to happen, I opted to do a deep dive into my new cell phone
, trying to get it loaded up with stuff that I was in the habit of using on my old iPhone4S, which up and died last week. Now, I think I've mentioned here that I have a lot of difficulty with processing audio information (making podcasts useless for me), and one of the things I find extremely frustrating is voice mail, as I will typically have play a message over and over just to get the basics. What the old phone had, that I really
wanted for the new phone, was a screen that showed you the number, when the call was, how long it was, and then gave you options for playback. Simple, right? Common, right? I guess not.
I first went to the AT&T web site and dug around in there for quite a while trying to find anything
about this sort of option. Nada. Then I clicked on the help chat button, only to discover that the first level of this is a chatbot that really doesn't know more about anything than what is on the web site, and kept sending me links to pages with little to nothing to do with my problem. To its credit, it eventually kicked me up to a "live body" help chat person ... although said person had no better grasp on what I was looking for than the chatbot had. Again, to their credit, they kicked me up to "expert" help before I had a chance to type in "can I speak with a supervisor?". Unfortunately (and you saw this coming), the new person on the other end of the chat had no more clue of what I was trying to get than their predecessors had, eventually telling me that there wasn't anything like that available.
So, after about 2 hours of mounting frustration, I gave up on AT&T and went to the Google app store, sort of expecting more frustration. However, there were several possibilities there that fit exactly
what I'd been talking about, including one BY FREAK'N AT&T!!! Do you think there might have been SOME awareness of the existence of AT&T Visual Voicemail
on some level of the "help" I was dealing with? A mention on the web site? A page provided the chatbot? Resources provided the live body help drones? No search terms got me anywhere near it on the site, and long chat sessions doing my best to describe what I was looking for (obviously, I never used the right key words, or something) just got me having a discussion of how I'd code it if I had to after being told there wasn't anything
available. Sheesh! That's almost like contacting Coca-Cola and wanting to find info on how they source cola nuts, and being told that they're a beverage company and don't sell nuts. How do companies like this survive
Needless to say, I'd recommend they hire some experienced thinkers ... but who the hell wants those
on staff. :-(