Friday, July 28, 2006

When In Doubt, Blog About Sports

NFL training camps started this week, so I checked in with my Birds to see how it's going. I find some guy named Mo who has a blog. He manages to blog every single minute of his day and say absolutely nothing. I can achieve this by blogging weekly, ands with much less expenditure of time and effort. The Falcons look...well, better this year. Roddy White is going to be a great wide receivcer. Maybe if I say that enough it'll come true. Vick will learn to plant his feet. Vick will learn to plant his feet.

The offense might be suspect, hinging on the mercurial Vick, an aging (but brilliant) one-cut-and-go running back in Warrick Dunn, and the recuperating Crumpler and Duckett; but the defense will be good, maybe better than good. The addition of Lawyer Milloy in the backfield and John Abraham on the line is huge. Funny, though -- they couldn't stop the run last year so the strategy this year is to dare teams to run at them? Hmm. Just win ten games, guys. That's all I ask. Win ten games and get a wild-card spot.

In other NFL news, this sucks, whether you give a damn about the Browns or not.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I Sleep Late, Yet Get Shit Done

Mom and I met today with LB and I'm feeling somewhat reassured. We tied up loose ends re living wills and POAs, and I noted with naive satisfaction that the accompanying files, most of which we never touched, made a pleasingly thick two-foot stack on the conference table. It's been my experience that the more burdened with files an attorney is, the better your representation. Ever been standing before a judge when your court-appointed schnook comes flying in late, holding a blank legal pad and a ballpoint pen? I have. That's a bad feeling.

Mom was in a sunny mood despite the sweltering heat. She ate all of her hamburger and stole half my fries at lunch. I saw her sneak a splash of sweet tea into her iced tea on the way out the door, but I figured she's taken her meds for the day and I've combed her house for sugary snackitude, so I let her pull one over on me. Sometimes it does a body good to feel like you're getting away with something. I hadn't intended to dine chez Ronald, but we got a late start and I wasn't exactly sure where LB's office was, so I wanted to allow enough time to get lost in the wilds of the Tiny Kingdom. Homewood, actually. Then I drove right to it and we were twenty minutes early. Oh well. On the way, we passed a sign directing people to The Islamic Academy of Alabama, which I didn't even know existed.

So I pick up a copy of US News & World Report as we settle in to wait and I see this article, positing a link between Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Interesting. Everything is connected.

Now I've got to start packing this house, a dreadful prospect that brings out the packrat AND the neatnik in me so I agonize over throwing everything away versus saving and labeling it all in logically organized boxes; this leads to the worst of all comprimises, where I just start stuffing shit randomly into whichever box will hold it and then hope to sort it all out later, which of course never gets done and leads to an attic piled with dusty boxes marked "Books and Skillets" or "Bathroom and Patio" while downstairs I spend a vexing week looking for my favorite spatula before giving up and buying another one.

Of course, I have the luxury of not really having a timetable, and I can take the time to do it right. In fact I'm blessed in many ways. We have an attorney, long-term care insurance, a house that's paid for, and enough residual income to keep the lights on and the phone bill paid. Things could be a whole hell of a lot worse.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Until Inconvenience Do Us Part

I think I'm about to be single. Or, at least "separated". Lady declines to join me when we hafta move back into Mom's house.

"I can't be a nursemaid, and I can't bear her times ten following me around and digging through my stuff," she sez.

Overwhelmed by her empathy and compassion, as well as her can-do spirit and commitment to our almost 13-year-old marriage, I say little. Inside, I fume.

I could write a caustic diatribe on how this is a betrayal on every significant level, but I won't. I won't point out that when she was diagnosed with MS I took it in stride. I won't mention that in one of his last acts on this earth my dad had a wheelchair ramp built around the side of the house for her, anticipating the day that the house would be ours. I won't point out that Mom made the down payment on our nice little condo as a late wedding gift. I won't point out how fucked-up and selfish it is to abandon the person you ostensibly love right when things get tough.

I love her more than I've ever loved anyone. (Not true. I loved Laura Billings more, but she's dead, by all accounts. Lupus. I have a knack for picking the afflicted, I guess.) But still, I love my wife deeply and sincerely, but this pronouncement makes me question everything. Maybe she's off her meds. Maybe she's just on the rag. How sexist is that? Yeah, well.

I was implicitly counting on her help. I need her. For her hands and back and brain, sure, but also for her delight in the Simpsons, her love of the New York Dolls, the smell of her hair. For the way she makes the best coffee on earth. Her unerring ability to locate anything I've misplaced, a trait we attribute to "the homing uterus". For 13 years of in-jokes and do-you-remembers.

At the moment, I'm kinda numb. In a way, I feel liberated. Unfettered. But I also feel very, very alone. I've become accustomed to being half of a dyad, and this is going to take some getting used to.

I love her. I wish her the best. But without her, I'll be better able to make snap decisinos, to suffer minor indignities, and to grit my teeth and push on through.

So I tell myself.

Roald Dahl Puts It In Perspective

The life of a writer is absolute hell compared with the life of a businessman. The writer has to force himself to go to work…. Two hours of writing fiction leaves this particular writer absolutely drained. For those two hours he has been miles away, he has been somewhere else, in a different place with totally different people, and the effort of swimming back into normal surroundings is very great. It is almost a shock. The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze. He wants a drink. He needs it. It happens to be a fact that nearly every writer of fiction in the world drinks more whisky than is good for him. He does it to give himself faith, hope, and courage. A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom.

Not that I'm a writer or anything. But it's cool to think about being one.


I spent more than one hundred hours playing The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.

This guy beats it in under ten minutes, no cheats used.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Grumble Grumble Grumble

Bush's decision to veto the stem cell bill is politcal hypocrisy of the rankest sort, distasteful and amoral in every way. Thousands of frozen embryos are destroyed every year by fertility clinics. Each one of those embryos is a source of human stem cells. Either mandate that fertility clincs keep their frozen embryos in perpetuity, the morally rigorous position (and the end of fertility treatment); or, since you've already allowed the sixteen extant stem cell lines already propagated to continue, admit that the use of these embryonic cells for medical research is the right thing to do.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Hey, I Know, Now I'll Lose My Job

Fuck 'em.

I can make more oney grubbing for aluminum cans on the side of the road, if it comes to that. Fuck 'em, fuck 'em, fuck 'em. I just can't deal with that clusterfuck for one more minute. Took yesterday off with an eye infection and was told I needed a doctor's excuse to return to work. Sure. Can I afford to go to a doctor without health insurance? I don't think so. So.....fuck 'em.

In other news: townhouse for sale by owner, great location, 3 BR, 2.5 BA. Close to schools, churches, shopping, and interstate. Quiet community, great nieghbors. Priced to sell! Owners must go!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"I Think I'm Going Crazy"

My Mom has Alzheimer's disease.

We found out two weeks ago. I was at work and I got a call from my wife. She said, "Call your Mom. She's acting funny, and it kinda scared me." So I called Mom (hey, look, I used the work phone to make a personal call. Fire me, asshats!) and asked her what was up. She said, "I was going to the store and I backed out of the gararge and then I couldn't figure out how to close the garage door. I think I'm going crazy." I asked her if she lost the remote. She acted like she'd never heard of a remote control. She was concerned that if she got out to close the garage door, then she'd be locked in the garage and the car would be running on the other side of the door. Without stopping to unravel the knot of irrationality contained in THAT statement, I told her to leave the car where it was, go in the house, and I'd be right over. When I got there she was flustered and upset. I calmed her down and put the car away (and took her car keys). I asked if she'd been taking her medicine, and again she looked at me like I was speaking Chinese. "I'm not on any medicine," she snapped, somewhat affronted by the suggestion. I went to the cabinet and looked at her meds. It looked like she'd been ignoring them for days, if not weeks.

We scheduled a doctor's appointment for the next morning, and he took one look at her and put her in the hospital. She stayed three or four days, and came out feeling better, with her blood pressure under control and her blood sugar regulated. A CAT scan showed moderate brain atrophy consistent with senile dementia.

The doctor asked her questions. "Who's the President?" She didn't know. "What year is it?" No clue. Now, my mom reads ten newsmagazines a week, is glued to CNN, and last year could probably have told you the name of the assistant undersecretary of the Department of the Interior. She follows politics like I follow the NFL; that is to say, closely.

I felt ice water drip down my spine when I watched my mother struggle to come up with the name of the president she loathes above all other politicians and then fail. She knew something was wrong. But she didn't know why, or how, or what to do. She looked frail, and scared, and vulnerable. It was wrenching. I wanted to cry. I wanted to hug her and make everything better. I wanted to run screaming from the room.

A trip back to the doctor this week confirmed the diagnosis. After the appointment, I took her out to lunch. The hospital is in a part of town near where she grew up, and my friend Adam recently bought a restuarant nearby that is famous for its fresh vegetables and home-made pies. On the trip there, Mom wold look out the window and say things like, "My first boyfriend lived down that street. He rode a motorcycle and my daddy thought he was dangerous. He died in the war."

"That's the church where your uncle got married. The first time. He doesn't talk about her. It was a pretty wedding, even though it rained. They had the reception at the Elk's Lodge. Can you imagine?"

"The trolley ran through here. You could ride it to downtown for a nickel."

"Don't turn left here. If you go up one block, you can turn on a one-way street that takes us right where we're headed."

Perfectly normal, even knowledgeable. Then she'd ask, "Did we already go to the doctor?"

At lunch, Mom demonstrated that her appetite is as yet untouched. She cleaned her plate (fried snapper, squash casserole, green beans)and hungrily eyed my roast beef until I gave her some. We ate well (though we skipped the pie: Adam, I'm coming back for a piece of lemon ice-box when I don't have a diabetic with me).

Then we went shopping for those items that are perpetually on the list: cat food, kibble, and litter. At the big-box warehouse store where we go to buy cat food by the metric ton, we lined up to wait in line to check out and Mom suddenly becomes agitated. "I lost my car keys! Where are the car keys?" I showed her that I had the keys, reassured her that the car was OK, that I was driving today, and that everything was all right. Then, as I loaded our cart (home delivery of cat food and litter would make someone a lot of money, I think), Mom paid. Twice.

Or, she tried to. The nice woman at the checkout, a zaftig, smiling, round-cheeked young lady with beautiful mocha skin that a supermodel would kill for, looked at me quizzically. I took back the second credit card and put it in Mom's wallet. Mom sighed. "I guess I shouldn't go shopping alone from now on," she said sadly. She looked at me with such unconprehending despair that I think I died a little bit.

"It's OK, Mom. I'm here to take care of you." I tried to smile, but it felt like a rictus and I'm sure it looked as false as it felt. I took her home, got her settled, gave her her meds, came home, told Lady she had the helm, and drank myself insensate. (OK, five beers

So now wheels are in motion. Doctors and lawyers and insurance agents squawking like carrion birds over a still-twitching roadkill. I shouldn't say that. I'm going to depend a lot on these high-dollar professionals in the coming months and years. But as someone who's always believed that the least trustworthy individual on the planet is a white man in a suit, I have a sinking suspicion I'm about to live out my worst nightmare.

Gee, BOP, sucks for you -- but how about your MOM?! How about HER living out HER worst nightmare? This woman watched her sister descend into abject dementia. She saw her little sister go through what she's now facing, and she saw that it was sad and ugly and undignified and protracted and hellish. What's THAT gotta be like?

And when I'm speaking and my words get tangled up or I forget my point before I get to it or I momentarily blank on a name I've known for ages, what's that? Is it the normal blips of aging and wear-and-tear, or is it something much more sinister tapping me on the shoulder and daring me to turn and face it?

My mother met her sister's death with remarkable equanimity. She had been fading for years and the end, Mom felt, was a blessing for her and her family. Mom had already said goodbye, though she continued to visit her and check in and do all that, she knew her sister was essentially gone long before her physical shell gave out. At least that's how she acted. My family reserves the melodrama for inconsequential tiffs, and meets the important stuff head-on with stoic shrugs and determination.

In a very important way, she's provided me a template.

I hope.

I think my blog has a new topic.