Socks: innocent undergarment or covert killer?

The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime

Freaking socks! Who knew?

Well, apparently you knew.

Dammit man! Why was I the last one to know THAT useful nugget ‘o wisdom?

Actually, socks are a handy suspect right now. The alternatives – and there are a lot of them, especially if you have an anxiety disorder – are not so easily fixed. Socks? Heck, you take ‘em off or you put something else on over ‘em. Problem solved. But the alternatives….

I’m careless on stairs. Well, we can throw that one out right away. That’s something a careless person would do. My mommy always said I was perfect, so that can’t be true.

It was a fluke. I like this one. It means I didn’t do anything wrong. However, this was the second time I’ve failed to stick the landing since we’ve lived here. You know… fallen, taken a bad trip, used unconventional means of descending, suffered from deceleration sickness, failed to yield to gravity, or yielded when I should have stood my ground. Yeah, left that important piece of information out of the last post, didn’t I? I might have even implied or outright lied about it being a rare occurrence. In my defense, it was rare, if you count the other forty-odd years of my life. But, twice in a few months (possibly even weeks) sounds a bit more like a pattern. Finally, we all know chance is everyone’s favorite patsy, and… DANG GUMMIT, IT WASN’T A FREAKIN’ FLUKE! (Like I said, I liked that one.)

I’m not as physically gifted as I thought. I don’t like to brag, but I tend to be better than average at a number of things (sports, etc). I’m not great, or even particularly good, mind you. But if you plucked folks at random off the street and picked a sport out of a hat, there’s a good chance I’d at least hold my own… or not embarrass myself. How’s that for a humble brag?

We interrupt this post for a little bit of bragging

One area I tend to excel: anything involving endurance. My lungs can move a lot of air. One of my primary care doctors, years ago, wouldn’t take my complaints about wheezing seriously because I’d blow the needle all the way to top of his peek flow meter (the furthest a plastic arrow would travel in a slotted track), and hard enough that it would make a little clicking sound. Two doctors later I learned a couple things: 1) a single measurement of peek flow doesn’t mean much, and 2) even when my lung capacity (as measured by a more complicated device) is down 1/4 to 1/3 when I’m having an allergic reaction to something, it’s still WAY above average. There’s a lot more to endurance than how much air your lungs can take in and out (your body has to be able to do something useful with that air), but by most indications it hasn’t hurt me.

We now resume this post, already in progress

Wow, this is beginning to sound like I’m rationalizing. Maybe I am just clumsy. Coordination is something that gets worse with age, but I don’t think it’s something that goes quickly. That brings me to the last item on my list…

There’s something else wrong with me. I’m not sure I really want to talk about this one. My mind goes here naturally, all on it’s own. I’ve noticed more falls lately, but I don’t know if I’ve actually been falling more, or I just notice them because of the pain in my neck/back/head.

For the time being, I’m going blame perception – and socks.

That said, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment coming up (several, actually). This topic will come up. I’m not really worried. I don’t know why. This is exactly the kind of thing I normally worry about. Maybe the therapy I’ve done was more useful than I thought – that or my mix of meds hit a sweet spot.

Neither shaken, stirred, nor concussed!

All right!

So, I was on my way downstairs to write you a post. I’d been upstairs thinking on this one for almost an hour now. You know, that time on the weekend when you don’t have anything you have to do, you’ve slept-in like a teenager, and you’re awake but you don’t feel like getting out of bed… so you don’t.

Sorry, I know I’m mostly speaking to adults here. I don’t mean to brag.

Well, it was that kind of morning. I spent some quality time thinking up a great post, filled with some old-school nonsense and JK style humor. I was walking down the stairs with a little bit of hop to my giddy-up, and now I’m writing this post instead.

I did something I haven’t done much in my life, mostly due to a lack of opportunity. I really should have guessed by now. Stairs are not your friend. They should always be treated with respect. NEVER take them lightly, especially when you’ve got a little hop to your giddy-up.

I fell down the f…ing stairs. F…! Effing Ess! Frack me and the %&#@ing slippery socks I walked in on!

I’m mostly all right. No broken bones or torn ligaments. No brains were concussed, overly shaken, or stirred. Cheryl was kind of wound up though. This wasn’t the kind of mishap that happens on stair 8 of 10, where the potential energy is rapidly diminishing. This started at the top, man! A tumble may have been involved.

We’re eagerly waiting to see how my neck and back will fare in the hours to come.

Breakable

I wasn’t aware of this until recently, but my children treat me like I’m old and frail – like my bones are made of glass and my internals pop like a soap bubble. I don’t remember doing this with my father, but then this may say more about me than my son. My dad always seemed fairly rugged. Mind you – and I think he’d admit this himself – he’s not what you’d call a physical specimen. Folks don’t walk down the street, look at my dad, and say: “that dude’s more likely to break me than get broken.” But if we were out playing catch and he fell, I wouldn’t rush to his side asking (worriedly), “are you ok?”

Two weeks ago I got out my old Aerobie. I dove for an errant throw, rolled through a fall, and slowly got up. Adam did the worried-rush over I described above. Incensed, I turned to him and said, “Adam, I’m not that fragile.”

Of course, much of this week my back and neck have been killing me, but surely that’s just coincidence.

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Sitting in the dark

Empty LakeA month or so ago, I posted a picture to Facebook with the caption: “in over my head.” I think it sounded like I was lost, or any number of things other than what I intended, without the context of the pictures I posted before (which I suspect slipped past many folks). We were on a camping trip, visiting a place that goes much of the way back to me and Cheryl’s childhood. The first time we visited this large state park, out in the middle of North Florida Nowhere, we were students at UF. It was one of the few places I could go with Cheryl and just sit, relaxing.

She’s not one for sitting around, that one.

This recent trip was nostalgic – and incredibly sad. What made the park a wonder was the interaction between the land and water, the contradictions that make Florida ecology a delicious, but acquired taste.

In spots, relatively high land can look dry and tortured – both by the semi-arid conditions and the periodic fires which sweep through. But hike a quarter mile down and you might find yourself stepping carefully down into a ravine, the temperature just slightly cooler… the air just slightly more humid… and the land MUCH more green and lush. Coming to an abrupt end, clear water trickles from spots in a steep, shaded hillside, which has eroded backwards over the years, and accumulates into a clear stream at the bottom. As simple and unassuming a place it is, few places on Earth look (or make me feel) more alive. Follow this stream a couple miles into the park and you find the lake in the picture below.

Well, there was a time you could.

So here’s what I was trying to say with this picture: I was standing in what was once a lake bed, and (almost) twenty years ago I would have been in water over my head.

Pretty deep, I know.

Sorry.

As is my way, there were a bunch of things I was saying silently to myself. No amount of context would have dipped you into that stream of consciousness. I’ll get to my inner dialog in a second, but if you would first indulge a little cathartic swearing… fuck me. Take a look at this picture, taken in roughly the same direction, from what was then (in 1998) the lake shore:

Full Lake

Yep, there’s a lot less water flowing over the surface of northern Florida. The morning was filled with scenes like this (the first picture, not the one with all of the water), and I was in mourning. As the sun rose over a much drier Florida than I remembered, my mood felt darker – though not just because of that morning. I think it’s something that’s grown steadily worse for about the last seven years – though it got MUCH worse this last year… and Jesu Fucking Cristo, God help me worse in the last couple of months.

Go back and ask the November 2008 Edition of Me about the state of things, and I would have been really worried about the economic rubble strewn around me, but I couldn’t have been much more optimistic about the state of society as a whole. Heck, I was thinking about going back to church – and did, for a little while. A black man had been elected President and I thought human kindness had turned a corner.

The November 2016 Edition of Me felt like human kindness had been tortured, humiliated, and tossed into a dumpster fire.


I’d hoped to write more than this, but that’s about all I can take right now. I’m gonna go hide for the rest of the evening/night, and see how I feel tomorrow – JK

CRAP!

Sorry for the potty mouth, but I just realized my last few updates from yesterday somehow didn’t make it online. I didn’t mean to leave you hanging – like it seems I did – and I feel bad. I did most of this from my MacBook (trusty MarsEdit), but I switched to the WordPress app on my phone after I left the lobby/waiting room.

Everything I did on my phone somehow didn’t make it. Worse, the changes I made from my phone this morning (adding a link to a new post this morning) seems to have erased these updates. Well, here’s what I wrote… for what it’s worth (now), as best as I can recall.

I’ve also updated the post from yesterday here – so you can see the updates in their context.

 

2:06 p.m.

It’s been a long day yet it seems it’s only a little more than half finished. Cheryl’s sleeping for the moment and I’d really like to do the same.

I’m ready to call it a day. I’ll post something brief tomorrow to let you know how she’s doing.

 

1:45 p.m. (recovery)

The bandages are striking. I’d like to post pictures but Cheryl’s likely reply (if I could ask) would go something like this:

Divor… no… death… would be too good for you, and not nearly good enough for me.

If I DID post a picture without asking would likely involve something I can’t discuss on a family website.

Alas, I give in to temptation.

 

1:15 p.m. (recreated from memory and post fragments I could pull from my phone)

I finally got the call. She’s in recovery and awake enough for me to see her. I’m on my way up.

Going home

Cheryl is going home. Without going into too many details, the doctor had to cut more, the surgery took longer, and there’s more pain than expected. That said, this procedure was purely cosmetic (to cover the larger than expected hole in her head), so the prognosis is excellent, and she’ll have hair over all of the spots on her head where you’re supposed to have hair.

Best of all right now, we’re going home soon. She’ll be in pain the next couple of days, but hopefully it will start to subside sooner – and mostly, she’s managing it now.

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Live-Blogging Cheryl’s Surgery

The promised update

2:06 p.m.

It’s been a long day yet it seems it’s only a little more than half finished. Cheryl’s sleeping for the moment and I’d really like to do the same.

I’m ready to call it a day. I’ll post something brief tomorrow to let you know how she’s doing.

 

1:45 p.m. (recovery)

The bandages are striking. I’d like to post pictures but Cheryl’s likely reply (if I could ask) would go something like this:

Divor… no… death… would be too good for you, and not nearly good enough for me.

If I DID post a picture without asking would likely involve something I can’t discuss on a family website.

Alas, I give in to temptation.

 

1:15 p.m. (recreated from memory and post fragments I could pull from my phone)

I finally got the call. She’s in recovery and awake enough for me to see her. I’m on my way up.

 

12:41 p.m. (…)

Here’s the patient status, according to the hospital: “Citrix receiver is unable to make a connection to the server.”

DOAH!

 

12:36 p.m. (staring at a piece of lint)

Staring or starring. That is the question.

Dad! Are we there YET?

 

12:31 p.m. (…)

Help me. I can’t take another minute of Divorce Court. The lobby staff tell me to wait another 15 minutes or so and they’ll call up for Cheryl’s status – if I haven’t heard by then.

 

12:10 p.m. (impatient)

There’s still no word on when I can go up, which is clearly NOT cool. Don’t they know this is about ME? Yeah, yeah. Cheryl had surgery. She got to sleep all this time. How ’bout a little love for the folks who had to spend all of this time listening to morning television. Come on, man!

 

11:16 a.m. (back from Starbucks)

What do you call two cups of coffee, an energy drink, and a big-ass coffee from Starbucks?

Breakfast AND lunch.

I’m on campus (something I’ve done not more than a dozen times since graduation) and I just heard from an old college friend for the first time in 25 years (mol). That right there is pretty cool, but I can top it. I got word from Cheryl’s surgeon. She’s out of surgery, awake, and doing well! It didn’t go perfect and she may have to spend the night as a precaution, but things sound pretty good.

 

10:18 a.m.

Did I just hear there’s a Starbucks? Good Lord, I need me some coffee.

 

10:15 a.m.

As luck would have it, right after I made my comment about asking permission, I got a reminder why I should. In between entries I’m researching IP blocking, while thinking about it’s ultimate futility. Good times.

 

9:59 a.m. (waiting room)

Let there be no mistake, I’d drop this little distraction like an ice cube dipped in hot lube, but the television is turned up loud enough to project to the back of the room. I wonder why everyone is sitting back there?

 

9:50 a.m. (surgical waiting room)

F@#!, what I wouldn’t give for a pair of Fox-Cancelling headphones.

 

9:32 a.m. (now I smell like a food court)

I just got word from Nurse Jeanne – the surgeon made his first cut. We’re on our way!

Question: Did I ask Cheryl before I decided to Live-Blog her surgery?

Why would I start asking now?

 

9:06 a.m. (still in the food court)

You asked for it and by golly, I’m gonna give it to you!

Long story not so long: Cheryl had a mild case of skin cancer on her scalp. Now, most folks would have the good sense to have their skin cancer on an easy to reach spot – like their forehead. But not our Cheryl – she had it above her ear, on the side of her head – under her hair.

Before you ask… no, it’s not easy to get skin cancer under your hair.

They cut it out last week but it left a bigger hole than they thought, so they did about what you’d expect a doctor to do after surgery – they left an open hole in her head. It was exactly as fun as a hole in your head.

Thank you. I’ll be here all day.

She saw a plastic surgeon Monday morning who promptly scheduled her for surgery this morning. To borrow a phrase from the movies (the military flavor), it was scheduled for 0:God it’s early.

Now that the cancer part is gone, the goal is to close the hole in a way that won’t leave a tennis-ball-sized bald spot on the side of her head. Personally, I think it would be a bold move. How often do you get the chance to be a trend setter? I’ll admit, covering a tennis-ball-sized spot in the middle of your head is the safe move, but even men with bad genes can grow hair on the side of their head.

 

8:16 a.m. (Shands Hospital food court)

This is going to be exactly the right amount of fun. I’ve got coffee, a personal hotspot, good cell service – and oh, that’s right – a wife in surgery to plug a hole in her head.

All I need now is a power outlet, someone to lend me a few power cables, and better meds. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit taking benzos.

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A secret no more

Here and there, now and then, I’ve been dropping frustrated tweets about a secret I wasn’t keen on keeping. It feels like it’s been months. I think it HAS been months. But starting today I don’t have to keep it secret anymore.

Cheryl got a BIG promotion a couple months ago, but couldn’t tell anyone. She’d been promoted to a pretty high position, but the telling was reserved for someone higher still: the Secretary of her department in State Government. That was when we began to plan our latest move: to Gainesville, FL – a college town in north Florida, and home to our alma mater: The University of Florida. I started working on a transfer within my department, which I got… with a start date a week and a half ago. That’s why you may have seen an increase in the number of pictures posted by me on Facebook. You see, I’m a wee bit excited.

So, that’s the big secret. Only half of it has been much of a secret, with all those pictures I’ve been posting. But to a couple humble civil servants, Cheryl’s promotion is a big deal, and thus a big secret to keep.

Yesterday, she finally got word the move was official. Cheryl is due to report to her new office in early July. It caps a series of moves, promotions, and relocations for Cheryl and our family, which started eighteen months ago when we left the only home our kids had known in Dunedin.

I’m extremely proud of her. She’ll be managing her agency’s operations in the six counties of Florida’s Eighth Judicial Circuit. She’s gone higher, faster, than I thought possible – rising to a position in state government where you don’t submit an application – you’re appointed. (Something not common in Florida.)

Around the time we left Gainesville after graduation – as chance would have it, for Orlando – the talk about returning one day started. I’m not going to say it was our “dream” to return. It wasn’t, exactly. We thought it would be a cool thing to do, but something which wouldn’t be realistic for many years – if ever.

Now we’re here. We’ve returned to a place with special meaning to us. It’s the place where our relationship really stared – and blossomed. It’s the only town I’ve lived in Florida with it’s own sense of place. We’re leaving the congestion of central Florida and the I–4 corridor behind, replacing it with a liberal college town, surrounded by miles of rural roads and great bicycling. Hell, there are even hills here. It’s the first time the altimeter on my bike has registered three digits. Yes, I have an altimeter on my bike. Laugh with my blessing.

Life is not perfect. It never is. We’ve left family and friends behind before, and we’re doing it again. We left almost everything we had behind when we left Dunedin, and it feels like we’re starting over from scratch in Gainesville. I’m pretty damn excited though. Many people fear change, and to be honest, change hasn’t always been my friend either. But this change feels different. This move feels like the moves of my youth… an adventure. People talk about their youth in the context of life’s prime. I don’t. I didn’t come to accept who I am until these last few years. I didn’t come to accept some parts of my past, or my health, until this year. I think our prime may be right now.

Now you know.

My hero

This morning I was driving to work. An intersection flashed past my window as the Foo Fighters sang the refrain: “There goes my hero…,” and in a flash fantasy: I’m the inspiration for the song.

In the moment I felt like the Shat-man staring down Khan in Wrath of. I sneered at life like I knew something it didn’t: I’ve got it’s number… (I digress back to Khan) or the ship computer’s number. “Oh yeah, that’s right. You might be named after some bad-ass Monguls (or not, I don’t really know), but I’m gonna push this button and your shields are gonna drop like a feather in a vacuum – assuming there’s something with a bunch of mass nearby to provide a lot more gravity than just a feather, of course.”

That’s right. The Shat-man may be cool, but he knows his basic physics too.

In the moment I felt like I was going into battle (as if I’ve ever been in a battle), and the rest of the day was looking back across from the other side of the battlefield. It was an F.U. moment and I’m not referring to Furman University. I was feeling the pain of another morning after PT, but I felt like JT Kirk, drawing a line in the sand with my boot (I was actually wearing a really nice pair of loafers I’d never wear in the sand, but bear with me) and sneering at life. “Yeah, you might make it this far – BUT NO FURTHER, YOU HEAR ME?!?”

Cliche? Sure, but when you’re in the moment life doesn’t wait for you to come up with something better.

But the song ended and with it went a bit of my mojo. But then I remembered what waited for me at the office: coffee – my first dose of caffeine for the day. Those bitter ground brown beans were begging me to brew and imbibe.

Once again I was ready.

I am ready.

Alright Friday, do your best. I’ll be right here waiting for you.

Beating up Facebook and being beaten

Last September I wrote a post about leaving Facebook, but I’d left a while before the post. Not long after I deactivated my account and deleted the app from my iPhone, thinking I wouldn’t be back for a while. I didn’t give anyone a reason because I didn’t want it to be interpreted as a grand statement, but I had one – a personal one.

I was depressed. Big shock, right? I’ve been depressed and writing or talking about being depressed for a couple years. But 2014 was bad. At times it was about as bad as it’s been. If you’ve never experienced clinical/major depression, I can’t make you understand it. It’s beyond my ability as a writer or speaker. It may be beyond anyone’s ability. Part of it was me – the way I’m wired. Another was a combination of events from my recent (moving) and remote past.

I was fighting this battle with my own mind when news broke about Facebook doing research on its members to study emotional response. Or rather – it had done research in the past, and the first we were hearing about it was when they decided to publish.

We could have a long discussion about reasonable (and unreasonable) expectations of privacy, informed consent, terms of service documents, and ethical research practices. We could but I won’t. I was depressed. I recalled my own experience doing psychological research on human subjects in school. Imagine yourself at your most fragile, vulnerable state. Then imagine you found out people were manipulating what you saw to see how it affected how you feel. I got very angry.

End of story.

Well, the end of that story.

I’ve thought a lot about social media. I’ve thought about socialization. I don’t make friends easily, and people don’t stay put, so most of my friends are not local. Depression is not something anyone should suffer in solitude, so cutting off access to my friends (in hindsight) was not a great idea.

Oh, and Lord help me. I bought Facebook stock. I had just enough in my account from Apple dividends to buy one share. So, as is my quirky, market custom – guaranteed to cost me more money than make me (due to transaction fees) – I bought the one share.

I feel dirty, but I couldn’t very well stoop to buying stock and not reactivate my account.

So here I am. You may mock me at any time.