Monday, April 9, 2012

Day one - July 12, 2007 My Birthday on the road

I have been doing this blogging thing off and on for many years. In an effort to consolidate some of the older posts on different blogsites into this one here is a post originally placed;
Thursday, July 19, 2007
On day 3 we went to the 2007 version
I did take a jet to S.F about 10 years ago just to have taken a trip on a big plane. The worst part of that trip was the short hop from Bakersfield to LAX in a 30 passenger Turboprop airplane. We flew over the mountains through a big storm the plane surging and dropping several feet at a time the whole way. When I was a kid my Uncle Cal had a single prop 3 seat Cessna. He would take us kids up and cut the engine or do wing tip turns to scare us. This did not prepare me for the first trip over the mountains to LA. Since I didn’t make arrangements soon enough the cheapest I could get was on united by way of LAX on the turboprop.
The new airport in Bakersfield is really nice. Named for a red and powerful politician who has pumped a lot of money through the area over the years and needed a tribute for his retirement. They are even widening the road from Hwy 99 to the airport but not on to the other terminal for the flights to Mexico. (that’ll teach the Mexicans to vote democrat)

So the adventure begins technically on the 11th. As I check my bags the big one with clothes and a small one with my CPAP machine. I bought a pair of cool bags with lots of zippers and built-in wheels and retracting handle. The second wheeled bag was my carry on. My first time through security. What a gyp! The United website said nothing about 3oz or less of liquid. I had to give up my shave cream and couple of other items. I got them at the 99¢ store but geez, I could tell me and security check points were going to ‘have issues’. “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” (Benjamin Franklin) but I digress.

6:41 PM I board the plane, window seat, smooth ride, nice. Even had time to read a little of the owner’s manuel for the Zoom H4. That crisscross double arch landmark thing at LAX seemed to be cloaked for some reason. With a couple of hours at the airport what else is there to do but eat and drink. Most of the restaurants and shops were closed. In a place like that how do they decide when to be open? Why did I order the chili fries?
Plenty of time to contemplate the morality of using so many natural resources just for the entertainment of one person. Henry David Thoreau my personal favorite naturalist, transcendentalist, tax resister, development critic, and philosopher was also born on July 12, but in 1817. So as not to ‘bum out’ the trip or ‘harsh my buzz’ I decided all this commence provided jobs for people and there seemed to be quite a number of pretty women to look at anyway. The bigger question was about becoming one of those people who fly places. This is not something my biological family is known for. Even Uncle Cal flew in small planes. What if I like it? A lot of people do it. That doesn't make it right. It is an upscale activity and I am not comfortable with living beyond simple means. Not so much an upper/lower class thing as a lateral distinction. Oh, well at least it’s safer that driving.

10:45PM Oh great 2nd group to seat, that’s because I’m in a window seat for 5 hours or so. Neat. The plane was kind of new, A320 they said flat panel monitors glided down from the ceiling to show us the safety features. A couple of pretty young gals were seated next to me. One of them freaked out a little and started to cry when we left the ground. I wanted to say that the real danger is landing, but somehow thought that wouldn’t be helpful. They served us soft drinks and pretzels and offered a box of snacks for $5. I had a sandwich in my carry-on but after the chili fries I was good with a few pretzels. The movie was dreadful, not even a fame name in the cast. I tried listening to the pilot chatter but is was sparse and didn’t tell me where we were in the dark. I turned 50 somewhere over the midwest at 30,000 feet stuffed into a metal tube. Slept a little. Tried to hold it so I would only have to ask the girls to move once so I could use the toilet. Then suddenly as we approached the rising sun there were rivers and cities below. Forests. Fasten seat belts because we are landing. She did much better on landing.

7:04 AM Newark airport has a different look than LA, different restaurants, shops mostly closed as well. Once my bags tumbled onto the carousel I was looking for the shuttle I booked on-line. I found a courtesy phone punched 18 and the lady told me 30 to 45 minutes. An hour later I called back ‘So what do your shuttles look like?’ She put me on hold to find him, assured me that he was 7 minutes away. They pompously don’t have places to sit outside but I needed fresh air and propped myself against something till I heard “Brian”. The guy lead me back through the building to a side entrance. I piled in and we went a little way then stopped to wait for other travelers. On our way to the Holland tunnel the engine began to cut out. The driver could restart it but steered us to a gas station. As we waited the guy next to me (a talent agent from West Hollywood) chatted it up with the family from Vale on their way to switzerland with a 6 hour layover wanting to see a little of New York. The agent suggested Times square for a short visit. As we waited for a replacement shuttle those people couldn’t wait and shared a Gypsy Cab for $30 to Times Square. This left me, some other guy and four nice looking black ladies from Baltimore who were staying at the same Hotel as my peeps. Woo Woo. Into the tunnel and out and finally ME IN NYC.

I was exhausted, the anticipation and my shitty job left me with little sleep the week before. I got dropped off at my hotel the Americana Inn. It was 10am and check in time is noon. They at least let me check my bags. Two hours to kill. My sister Sandy asked me to call before I left but I missed it. The weather was great 80 degrees and dry, even a little breeze. The New York Public Library was only a couple of blocks away. I walked down 5th Avenue past a place called Lord & Taylors. A fancy clothing shop I recognized the name. In front of the library are 2 statues of sitting lions. I made my call. No answer, she lives with my niece, I left a nice message for them to hear. Right away I found one of my favorite places in New York, Bryant Park. 3 or 4 acres surrounded by fences made of those big bricks 1’ by 2’ that look like ancient stone with wrought iron on top. Even some gilding it looked like. Big trees and plenty of chairs. Nice. I was hungry so I walked around till I found a place that sold portobello paninis. I had resolved to drop the vegan thing for this trip to get the full flavor of New York. I had never had a panini and figured that was an exotic enough first meal, that and a cannoli and lemonade.

Time began to move quickly. I was up on the 5th floor in room 516. The 5th floor of this place was still under some renovation. I read about this in one of the review web sites. It smelled like paint in the corridors. More like cheese made from old varnish inside the rooms. I could almost touch the walls with my arms outstretched. There might have been room for a small night stand next to the double bed but a sink was in that spot. It was very clean, that was nice. Lengthwise it was maybe 14 feet 2 of that next to the door was closet. There was a desk with a TV on it and a big mirror over. I didn’t wait to unpack before lying down. I clicked on the window A/C. God it was loud, but I was tired and with pillows over my head began to pass out. My cell phone rang, it was someone in Wasco who had a problem with their newspaper. “I’m sorry you should have called before 9AM”. Finally asleep. My cell phone rang, “Brian are you asleep?” “Yes. Sandy, talk to me later” click. I got the feeling that New York was telling me who was in charge. Sleep is an issue with me it’s either 3 hours a day or all the time. Seldom something comfortable. At 3:30 I was up and unpacking.

Enough of this room, I went down to the street and began to walk towards Times Square. Only a couple of blocks away, I was soon in the midst of all those signs and crowds of other people looking at all those signs. I thought I’d look for the free Charmin toilet or the half price ticket booth. Street food. Better start with something easy in case I didn’t find the toilet. A big ol pretzel with the big salt crystals and mustard. It was crumbly and dry and half of it fell on my lapel leaving a splotch of mustard. That was a disappointment. I threw most of it away but kept nibbling on it for several moments. I didn’t want to let go of my first authentic NY street food. Then I saw it, a store with nothing but M&Ms and M&M merchandise 2 stories tall. I need souvenirs, later with Laurie and the other there probably wouldn’t be time. I searched and searched and searched for anything bigger that 2X . Nothing. Then to my amazement was a 3rd floor. No bigger sizes there either but a free mens room. Back on the I did find a couple of 3Xs but not the best designs. Every color and flavor all mix and match, Sylvia would love this. Selfish pig, why didn’t I get her some? I got myself a brown cap with an M&Ms logo?
Then I felt kind of into the too touristy zone when went to the Hard Rock cafe and got a T shirt. They had 3X, not loose like the 4Xes I like especially after washing but they usually fit. I changed into it and used my mustarded shirt as an over shirt hiding most of the mustard stain.

Around 4 Laurie called. They were at the airport and going to the Roosevelt Hotel. I was still in Times Square, they were going to at 45th and Madison. Down 4 streets over 3 Avenues. “I’ll meet you there”. I got as far as the 42nd street Parfumerie looking for some shampoo before the phone rang again “Where are you?” They must have gotten a better ride from the airport.

I met Tommy and Dyanna outside the hotel. Laurie got to the street, she had shampoo in her to replace the shampoo TSA got, their room was on the 8th floor. We waited a while for Dan and Sylvia to arrive but they seemed to have gotten on a shuttle like mine. No matter, they can settle in and meet us there. Across the street was an entrance to Grand Central Station. Hey that was on my list of things to see. So it’s just about rush hour and we need a map to show which subway to take to little Italy. At that information booth in the middle of that huge marble room with the cool ceiling that you see on TV they have lots of maps to carry away. We bought $20 metro cards. Went down some corridors and got on the train that said Brooklyn Bridge.

One of the more charming things about Laurie is how easy it is for people to talk to her. And how easily she can talk with strangers and draw them out. It’s gotta be more that the big boobs. As an ardent admirer and a metaphysician I say it’s a special kind of energy. Then on the other hand it seems to work on men especially well. No matter, it works. One strange old guy who was hitting on her in the train advised that we get off at Canal St. Unfortunately we missed that stop and had to exit, walk up and over and back down to catch one going the other way.

Once on the street we headed for Mulberry street where all the Italian restaurants are. The one with all the real life gangsters ‘Luna’ that Steve told us about looked like it had been closed for some time. The door man from the Roosevelt told us to go to Angelo’s, ask for Jimmy and tell ‘em Sal sent us. (Is that New Yorky or what?). Trouble with that place is that the dinners start at $21.50. We kept walking as Laurie began coordinating with the other who were to join us. (I am not looking forward to my cell phone bill with all those roaming minutes, her has got to be outrageous.) We looked a number of interesting places and settled on Caffé Palermo I think it was on Mulberry and Grand. We had to wait for a table for 8 on the street but we had time before the others would arrive.

I mentioned how I was kind of disappointed that I had been there for almost 12 hours and hadn't encountered a classic rude New Yorker, Tommy reminded me that there was the one woman who decided not to go around me off the subway and said in a direct voice “exit the train sir”. I had to swim back through the crowd to get back in the same car. That was good but not quite what I was looking for. I also noted that everyone seemed to have the same midwestern speech as all of us do that were raised on TV. The only accents were the new immigrants. As we sat there sipping an Australian Shiraz (we decided it was fruity but not sweet and didn’t have that metallic taste some reds have) my wish was granted. A parade of classic New York Italian stereotypes passed by. ‘You nevah met my brahtha? le’me introduce ya’. Wanna be wise guys and even a couple of what seemed to be the real deal wise guys. One guy strutted by in a cream colored silk suit like he owned the world. No socks, he must have been from the old country.

Michael and ChouChou arrived, like me, family friends but of Bob and Doris. ChouChou gave me a little birthday present. A swiss army knife in the form of a card you can put in your wallet (remember it it will resurface). Michael did some small fit-in-your-pocket magic tricks. They were kind of clever, he seemed to exaggerate the shaky ol dude thing as part of the misdirection. (if not, sorry Michael) Passers by began to gather for one of them. Funny. He even struck up a conversation with a dentist that does the same thing. I can picture the dentist doing magic in his office, but Michael as a psychiatrist, not so much.

The bread and butter was awesome but as by the time Dan and Sylvia got there I was ready to order. Dyanna, Tommy and Laurie hadn't eaten since breakfast. They had one chef in a small kitchen blazing away so the food seemed to come in shifts. I finally got my Lobster, shrimp, clams, oysters, and calamari over linguini. (Hey, it was my birthday.) It was fabulous. I couldn’t eat it all.

Laurie struck up a conversation with this guy Joe who seemed to be hovering around. He claimed to be an investment banker who lives in Denver and just happens to bike around the same lake as Laurie does. He lives in NYC weekdays and stands around the old neighborhood in his free time to soak up the locals. He’s the one who pointed out the real wise guys. Dan seemed to think he was a cop of some sort. I tend to agree. I asked him about what I had heard, that the old meat packing district had been repurposed as an arts district. He said yes but that at night it was packed with young peoples night clubs.

We were all tired and headed back to the hotels. The subway took us back to Grand Central. I was ready to walk over to my hotel but our fearless leader Laurie suggested I take the purple 7 train west to 42nd st. Oh-ka. I walked down a small ramp to some stairs to another ramp and some stairs. I’m 3 and a half or 4 floors down, how is that climb up all those steps supposed to be better than 5 block of flat? Whiney whiney. It ended up being just two up to the street by Bryant Park.

I slept all night, haven’t done that in a while.

The day before Bob's Big Birthday Weekend Events

Day two - Friday July 13th A day in the Park

It seems I have been doing this blogging thing off and on for many years. In an effort to consolidate some of the older posts on different bogs into this one here is a post originally placed;Thursday, July 19, 2007

The thing I didn't mention before is that in my hotel the bathrooms are shared. That means that for each 4 rooms is one bathroom. Not a big deal except that as you may recall my floor was still undergoing some renovation. There were workmen and equipment and painting going on. Oh and two of the bathrooms on my floor were out of service. I took it as all part of the adventure, taking the elevator down a floor to shower. I never did see another guest except in the lobby so no awkward moments with a towel and bag of toiletries in hand.

Today was the brunch at Bob and Doris’ place. I don’t remember what I did first, perhaps I’ll come to me. I think I got my first full night’s sleep in months. I haven’t seen any pictures yet but I think I was wearing my brightest tie-dye. Back down to the subway at 42nd St. and over to Grand Central again where I found a coffee place and ordered something I expected to be sweet but was not. From there I went to the street (I don’t know how many time this weekend I would walk out of a building or stairway and walk a block or two in the wrong direction and have to back track) I walked to Madison Avenue to get a bus uptown (or is it downtown?) I saw that on some of the signs in the subway but it just said ‘downtown’ and not if that’s where i was going or where I was at. Figuring north is up hmm . . . Okay I googled it. I was going to the upper east side. Toward Harlem but a mile or three short.
Things were to get going at 11AM and I got to the street just in time. I was looking for 140 something as I recall it was between Lexington and Park Avenue (woo woo). I got to where it should have been but it was a dry cleaner or something. Was I on the right street? I looked at my printout of the eMail. I gave in and called Laurie. “Where are you?” she said. She said she’d go onto the roof and look for me. “I’m next to a store that says . . ” “Oh I see you, look up” I looked up all around till I saw her on top of this huge brick building. “ hey there you are, I’ll be up in a minute” I went into the next block. I grumbled to myself about how back home each block got it’s own hundred block. Soon I was in front of a nicely painted building with an impressive front door. I tried to open it, it was not moving, when a voice said to push harder. Nice lobby, I found the elevator, the voice came from it’s operator. He said “Penthouse?” “Yeah, are there many people there yet?” “a few” At the top there were 2 doors I picked the likely one and knocked. Waited and let myself in, me and my quaint country ways. Nice entry, hardwood floors, nicely appointed. Wow and honest to goodness New York Penthouse. Someone guided me to the living-room where there was Grand piano and many people all talking it up. Cousins from Israel. Some from Florida and so on. A nice buffet in the dining room. I don’t usually do coffee but one more won’t hurt.

I walked out onto the roof. It was a kind of deck that went on 3 sides of the penthouse. Everyone was gathered on the side where you could see the east river. Focus was on a rooftop below were a woman was sunbathing topless. "Bob, you even got us entertainment". Harry said. Harry and Nancy and a couple of their friends from Arkansas where among the onlookers.
The outside of the penthouse building seemed to be covered in metal and painted deep green that had oxidized to the color of a chalkboard. You could write on it with just your finger. I mean that’s what I saw someone, who I don’t remember who, doing. I met more new people and got up to speed with some others and in no time it was 2 hours later.

Originally several people were to ride bikes with us through Central Park. Then just Laurie, Bob and myself. Then Bob decided not to go but walked us a couple of blocks to a bike shop that had rentals. It’s my nature to always find-out what something costs before diving in. My adopted family may be Jewish but I am still mostly Scottish when it comes to spending money. (two ethnic stereo types in one sentence cool) I’m on vacation, going with the flow, doesn't matter what it costs ‘cause I was bound to say “okay”. They brought out 2 bikes a ten speed and a mountain bike. At first I choose the mountain bike. I figured with my great size and all. It turned out not to be tall enough. I can’t remember how many years or decades it’s been since I was on a ten speed. I never did get the thing about shifting back in the day. My old bike always jumped the sprockets. For Laurie of course, bikes are all the time. She’s one of those people that do all that kind of thing with the biking and the racket ball and the being healthy.
The street next to the bike shop was going away from Central Park so we went around to the next block and toward the park. Flying past those row houses on tree lined streets. It was all so picturesque that feeling of being someplace completely different. We had plotted a course to an entrance where a road intersected, 90th street I think. We stopped at a cart vender selling ice cream and popsicles. Laurie wanted a Big Stick and would settle for nothing less so we went on. The main road was blocked off to traffic so it was open to bikes and service vehicles. we went a ways on this road over some little hills and found another vender. It seems they all sell the same brand ‘Good Humor” so no big stick. We got water. You know it is just like they say, big and parkish not like a forest exactly because there is so much grass. little trials here and there. All right in the middle of miles of city. So beautiful. We got off the paved road and onto a large dirt road. We got to the reservoir I remember from the movie ‘The Marathon Man’. The fence around it was 10 feet high of dreary gray chain link in the movie. Now it was a nice wrought iron. We stopped at a group of benches were roads met the reservoir. In real life I am a poster child for the sedentary life. One reason for driving around bundles of newspapers all night is that at least it requires more movement than computer work. I was out of breath again and sitting was a nice choice.
I was concerned that riding with me was not challenging enough for Laurie, she had to go so slow. She was great about it though. Just the week before I was told that biking in central park without having been on a bike in years was madness, just didn’t make any sense at all. I tried not to be put off by the lack of confidence in me. This is where Laurie was so amazing not only was she providing the kind of companionship and friendship that had been lacking in my life for sometime but she never doubted my ability to do this ride, was kind a and patient with me and served as tour guide to boot. Again I wondered why everyone was being so nice to me. I remember in the days I did massage putting in the extra bit of compassion not included in the fee was always my pleasure to serve. It must be something like that.
We had been looking for a castle she knew was somewhere in the park, we were chatting and I teased her about being able to talk to strangers at random. She walked up to an old englishman on the far end of one of the benches. He was a tourist also but reckoned the castle was over in that direction (he pointed to a path and a bridge). We mounted up again and diverted onto a smaller path. Not sure of the directions we stopped a small maintenance vehicle with a couple of guys that seemed to be park employees. They told us we were looking for Belvedere Castle it was over in that direction, they pointed. Just then we saw the old englishman walking that direction. Off again and soon we were to a corner of the castle and the road was just too steep for the bike so we walked them the rest of the way. Now this was neat, made out of large stone blocks. She insisted that she didn’t want her picture taken but I should climb up inside so she could click off a couple. On the way back down we met the old englishman again and I guess this is the other side of being easy to talk to because he felt compelled to tell us (well Laurie) his life story. We rode off and was stopped by this goofy guy in a uniform who told us that the tails were for foot traffic only. We got off and walked to the next rise and then rode on.
Then we were back on the city streets and in front of what on the maps is The Metropolitan Museum of Art but the signs out in from said something different. There were lots of people just hanging out on the steps lots of activity. All the activity was invigorating so i lead the way back to the bike shop. At one point careening around cars and trucks on Lexington Avenue. Not bad about $15 each for 2 hours.
There were plans for dinner at this special place but that was hours away. “What do you want to do? have you seen, the statue of liberty, ground zero, the Brooklyn Bridge?” “ I don’t know if there’s time for a trip to liberty island, ground zero ahhh . . . , how about the bridge?”
I don’t know how we got from there to the subway but soon we were on our way down to the Brooklyn Bridge. I’d seen a couple of TV documentaries about it, those workers that got the benz and all that.
By the time we got there I had to pee something fierce. We were near city hall and there was a kind of booth thing with a police woman inside. I asked for directions. She didn’t know of any accept inside the building and maybe security would let me in, I’d just have to ask. I recalled the security at the air port taking my shave cream and having to remove my shoes at LAX. This wasn’t so involved, the usual but your things in the tray so someone can look at them through X-ray or something then walk through the free-standing door frame scanner thingy. Err, Err “What’s this?” Remember ChouChou had given me a little present of a swiss army business card? In it was a little letter opener with a blade less than 1” in length. Suddenly I am a security threat and I picture myself languishing in GitMo. Actually the guy thought it was amusing but needed to keep it while I was in the building. For such a big and busy, full of people city this part of city hall was empty, and kind of seedy even spooky for a place with 22 foot hight ceilings and marble floors. Mission accomplished i went back down stairs and got my weapon back.
We walked out on the bridge as far as the first tower. Did I mention how nice the weather had been. cool and a little breeze? Couldn’t see the Statue of Liberty from there. I began to think it was a something for a different visit to the city. We got hot dogs and sat on some grass under a big tree to relax. I had been there for 32 hours and hadn't met the abrasive, superior new yorker yet. What’s up with that? Back to the subway and midtown where our Hotels were. Notice how I am getting used to the lingo.
I really needed to freshen up but i don’t recall there being time. The next stop was dinner with the whole group, many of the people from the brunch and then some. We were rejoined by Dyanna and Tommy. The time was getting late so we got into a cab, I sat in front next to the driver. A guy on his 50s or so with a long white beard and turban. Laurie asked him if he was from India, he said yes. She said she had been ther recently and decribed how much she liked all the temples. Her favorite deitey was Kali feminine powers and all that. (I dark figure as i recalled seeing somewhere). He said that there were many faiths and questioned what she believed. She finaly said “ Are you hindu?” He said “No” I said “ You’re a Sikh, aren’t you?” “Yes” “We have a lot of Sikhs where I come from” “Where do you come from” “ Bakersfield, . … California. ther are a couple of temples there” We were running late and he was driving fast. I had heard about New York taxi drivers skill, when he said to buckle up i did it. We had a little trouble finding it, Diana had written down the address. 24 First Ave of we went to 1st and 2nd and needed to go to 1st and 1st. Lucky Cheng's, the original drag queen restaurant. Yikes!
It was a little hard to find as the entrance was narrow and up some steps.

Here is Laurie with our waitress. He/She said she was saving up to complete the conversion to female.
Bob's Big Birthday Weekend Events lots Happened that day

Prologue - the back story

It seems I have been doing this blogging thing off and on for many years. In an effort to consolidate some of the older posts on different bogs into this one here is a post originally placed;
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I told someone that I hadn't ever taken a vacation. That isn’t really true. I’ve had many happy holidays in the San Francisco bay area when CL first moved there in the late 80s. Dad and I took a week to visit some of the places he worked after WWII as far north as Eureka just a few weeks before he passed away. Once I traveled as far as Eugene, I had always heard nice things about Oregon as a nice place for people like me to live and figured I had better give it the once over.  (Eugene/Springfield seemed a bit too much like Bakersfield/Olidale the rest of the state is pretty and green).  Another vacation-y thing I do are the one or two camping trips a year my old buddies and I go on. When I said I had never taken a vacation what I meant was that I had never gone farther east than Denver just as a get away. And certainly never on a big airplane.
I have been going through a lot of depression and medical reverses ever since Dad died in 98. Things just got worse in 01 when I went into the hospital with blood sugar over 1600. Over 600 is supposed to be dead, so I should be grateful. Doing a lot of sleeping and nothing in particular in my little house with my two dogs has been pretty much my life the last few years. Oh and buying six or nine hundred newspapers at 1am everyday to sell and deliver in and around the countryside in Wasco ca.

About a year ago a friend told me about taking drastic steps to change her life. I was inspired by her determination and courage. She is very beautiful and charming and such a dear friend that I wanted to be a part of her new life. At least that’s what I thought through the haze of tranquilizers and SRIs they had me on. First thing was to quit taking those pills. They warn not to stop them too quickly. The SRI (wellburtin) stopped easy enough. The tranquilizers (nortriptyline) took a bit more time. I think it was addictive. In a few months I was clear of those and even eating vegan most days after reading the book “The China Study” . It became clear that my friend didn’t need me and my problems in her way as she rebuilt her life, later who knows?

After months of sorting out emotional crap I was to a point where I could re-enter society and the people who walk the earth during daylight. I got a small but worthwhile part in a production of Macbeth. After all that time with just a few friends or only the sound of my own thoughts the hyper verbal cast of Macbeth was just the change I needed. (see the other blog ‘Theater as Therapy” for details, that reminds me ‘add details to T as T blog’)

I was talking to Laurie on the phone one day when the subject of vacations came up. She reminded me that Uncle Bob’s 80th birthday was in July and everyone was coming to New York for the event. The newspaper biz, you may have read (or more likely seen on a screen) is in decline. The newspaper company makes sure that we on the street level also feel the pinch. I don’t have savings as such, but have always lived an austere life financially. Opulent by Cambodian standards but not by most of middle class America. I searched to figure out financing.

Breaking away from the grind, the house, the town, the old worn out life. Just the thing to snap me back or forward into a new mind set. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The next thing

I am often struck by the hubris of blogging. I use it as a means of keeping a journal and it gives me a static way to sort out my thoughts. It helps in giving perspective and because of the way my brain works also a way to off load some thoughts that get stuck in a loop. Still it is nice to think someone, hopefully a sympathetic soul, might read my posts and relate or in the best case gain a useful insight. The stats part of the blogger site tells me I have had 35 page views of the latest entry. Older posts have been looked at too. The part that tells where the viewers clicked from lists 3 odd sites. One is google images that links to a picture in a an older post. Most are from eastern Europe and Russia for some reason. None are from facebook which is the only place I left a link. Hmm, even the 3 or 4 people that 'liked' my link didn't follow it. Hmm. As I said this is mostly for me anyway.

Changing my eating habits wasn't that difficult at first because I had been so miserable for so long. I started with plain oatmeal to start everyday. In my case each day starts around 1 or 2 PM. I get home from work around 5 AM and usually go right to sleep. Soon I added raisins and a spoon of brown sugar to the daily routine. It was good. The bloated and sick feeling began to fade away. The sleepy dizzy feeling that followed most meals also didn't happen as often mainly because I limited myself to small servings of one thing 2 or 3 times a day. On days when I was able to actually use the CPAP machine for more than 4 hours straight I felt pretty good. I began to have hopeful feelings for the first time in a long time.

When the Dr clued me in to GURD and gave me Pepcid AC she also gave me Gemfibrozil for cholesterol. As I said in earlier posts statins for cholesterol had ruined my life for several years and I am still recovering from that. I did the research and Gemfibrozil works on a whole different principle so I gave it a try.
While my general health was on the upswing because of the bland diet other things began to happen;
I sit all the time. Sit at home in front of the TV or computer, sit behind the wheel at work. Part of my decline of the last year or so had me in a situation where standing for more than a few minutes was painful. My big belly sticks out so far forward I have to lean back when I stand, putting the stress on the muscles in my legs that are not used to doing that job. They become tired and painful very quickly. Not doing any standing or walking has left them weak also the GURD kind of poisons multiple body systems.  For several months some kind of trouble in my left hip causes my left leg to feel tingly like it is asleep when I stand. It started getting worse. Sitting was giving me pain in my butt. I finally got a special seat cushion for the mini van that is great, the rest of the days was still a problem. After doing the Sunday paper which involves a couple of hours of hand work assembling the parts of the paper I was having what felt like arthritis in my hands and arms. As other parts of me were working better my ability to move and work was dwindling down. Finally all of my joints were aching when it occurred to me what was going on. Gemfibrozil. The statin drugs not only scrambled my brains but made me weak and I knew where to go for a great seat cushion because this had all happened before. Some people's body's simply function with a higher level of cholesterol at all times. For some reason lowering these levels artificially with medication causes the muscle fibers to disintegrate. I am one of these lucky people. I stopped taking Gemfibrozil and within a few days the constant pain began to subside.

Part of me was in quite deep despair over this latest set back. The journey back to some kind of general good health and well being has taken over 10 years so far and at every step there have been set backs. Being mostly immobile adds to the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Even simple tasks like housekeeping and home maintenance have gone undone for years now.
To make things worse knowing that any plan to rehabilitate myself must include weight loss, healthy food and exercise, I saved up enough money to buy a 2 year membership at 24 hours fitness. Once the pain started to subside I started going. I knew that for this to work long term I needed to take it super slow. Break a sweat on the bike, a few reps on some machines then on the steam room, pool for couple of laps and some Jacuzzi. All easy stuff and I left feeling loose and good. After the 3rd visit the joint and muscle pain came back in force. That was 3 weeks ago.

Dwelling on sad feelings was part of what was so bad about the way the statins muddled my thoughts. I have done enough self help courses and books etc. that I know for a fact that life in the short and long term is made up of the stories you tell yourself. Nothing more. Sad or discouraging facts can be interesting but the stories are what makes up your life and are limited to the past. At any point any of the stories can change. I was reminded just yesterday about the deeper theories of very serious physicists and thinkers that reality it's self can change and conform to perceptions of it.
For my purposes I choose to trudge along because there is simply no value or good story in giving up or being sad all the time. There are bad days but overall I keep trying to move forward.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Finally, Acid Reflux!

I can't believe I haven't posted in over 5 months. Let's see, what has happened?

November was pretty stressful. I had so much trouble finding people to deliver papers in the early morning. Finding people with a focused mind is hard enough. The ability to focus, be up and alert for 3 hours in the early AM and willing to do it for $30 a day is not common. I ended up hiring back my guy from last time. He costs $40 a day but does it right with no complaints.

Then one of my friends from back when we were trying to develop the massage industry in Californian in the early 90s hit me up to do a promotional post card for her spa. She runs a special every Christmas. I bailed on her last request to do some charts for the State Massage Board so I agreed. It was okay but not my best work. I came down with a flu that ended up lasting over 7 weeks. The week I was supposed to get her files in to the printer I was barely able to get out of bed. She paid for the printing and postage in advance so I haven't even sent her a bill for my work.

Big big news is that after all my years of whining and that post listing all my medical woes I have finally been given clues to a way out. Yeah!

I went to see the latest Dr. at the big clinic near my house. He's one of theses English not as a first language guys from Korea I think (Japan?). Nice enough guy but he's an intern and has no idea what I'm saying.  The need for effective health care overrides the need for politically correct shame at our country being mono lingual. That said he wasn't in the day of my appointment so they gave me a different intern. A nice young white girl from right here in the USA. I went into detail about what had been going on with me. How even after years of using it

I still wake up having slid the CPAP mask off my face. I told about all the years of tests and having this bloated, dizzy & feel-like-shit so I need to lay down feeling I seem to have all the time. Chronic sleep deprivation. About my frustration that it is all getting worse and that I am at my wit's end.

She asked me if I have acid reflux, you know, that feeling of stomach acid bubbling back of in the back of your throat. I said "no, not very often". She then told me that it is not uncommon for type 2 diabetics not to be able to feel acid reflux. I said yeah but one of the things the Kaiser Drs tried was both of those acid controlling things Prilosec and Ranitidine with anti-allergy medication. The hypothesis was that my sickness had to do with post nasal drip making nasty stomach Ju Ju. I did that for 6 months and it didn't seem to make a difference. She wrote me a prescription for Pepcid AC which is similar to Ranitidine but different. Then advised me to eat smaller meals and read up on GERD.

It took me a few days to remember that "Oh yeah, I used to use Alka-Seltzer and stuff like that all the time". My use of those things slowed and my taste for alcohol started to fade away too after I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and I started using the CPAP machine. That's when it all off the rails. Then I started remember my father and his life long (my lifetime at least) struggle with ulcers and stomach upset.

That was around Dec 8th. Since that time I have loaded up on Alka-Seltzer & Tums and read all about the good and bad foods. Breaking my heart is no tomato products or chocolate. Just not eating is making the first part of the day productive. Every week I spend less time just lying down. As a long time fat guy and compulsive eater, not eating is getting pretty nerve racking. Since I already take Adderall for ADD (aka dextroamphetamine and amphetamine or "Speed" grew to fame as a diet pill) it has been helpful in cutting appetite but is not a medication with no side effects of it's own.