Thursday, October 24, 2013

Wherein Your Humble Servant Has a Busy Day

Had a full slate yesterday, and all of it good.

Went to see my pal The Corporal, who has been home lately, while convalescing from a particularly vicious MS attack that left him unable to use the right side of his body. Some hospital time, some rehab, and now some home care. So I went to see him, to pick up his spirits with the insipid yet oddly endearing brand of buffoonery for which I have become noted.

As it turned out, he was more or less fine. He woke up Saturday morning to find that his ability to walk had drastically improved - to the extent that he and the Mrs. took a walk around the reservoir behind his house, took a shower standing up, the whole bit. So our visit was light and full of laughs, which was enormously gratifying.

If my little medical misadventure has taught me anything - besides to take care of my health, that is - it is not to underestimate the power of a visit to the sick or the healing. Really. When you give your time to someone who is laid up, it's a gesture that he will never forget. Trust your Uncle Crafty on this one.

After his visit I thought I'd go see my mother at The Ancestral Manse. But I couldn't raise her on the telephone. I went to the house anyway, just to make sure she hadn't broken her hip or anything, and hung around a bit waiting for her, graciously helping her by doing her crossword puzzle and fucking up her Sudoku. I knew better than to raid the fridge - I know where that goddamn fridge has been. But I had something to drink and left, apparently leaving every light in the place on, much to my mother's later consternation. Despite the fact that I left a note ("was in the neighborhood, thought I'd stop by. I took a leak in the brown bathroom. I thought you should know.") and splayed the newspaper on the kitchen table, she was sure that the house had been broken into, and the burglar, taking nothing, instead left all the lights on and left, locking the door and the deadbolt behind him.

Ma's a little touched.

Anyway, after that I headed over to the Very Josie's, where we all went to our favorite Chinese restaurant (Bali Hai in Lynnfield, for any of you Townies that might happen along this little chucklefest). "All" in this case meant the entire VJ clan, including Cricket, whom I hadn't seen in forever, and Ursa Sucrosum, who is turning into a man in front of my very eyes. Great grub as always, even though Josie complained that my shrimp smelled a bit fishy. Also as always we had a lot of laughs.

From there we went to our old pal Noodles' place to have an evening of poker and conviviality. The Mayor was there, whom I hadn't seen since the stroke at least, and Butchie was there too. He's most noteworthy in my life for giving Tootsie the nickname "Thumbs," for reasons that are, alas, lost to the four winds.

So let's see, me, the Very Josies, Cricket, the Mayor, Noodles, Butchie. I think that's everyone. Ohhh yes, I did miss one.

The dog.

Noodles has a little terrier-type dog named Theo. I'm sure Theo is a good dog. Somewhere in that walnut-sized brain of his lies the ability to be calm, and to be silent; of this I am absolutely sure.

That ability was not on display last night.

Yap yap yap yap yap, all night with this goddamn dog. When someone would get up to get something to drink. When we would hit the crapper. When we spoke. When we DIDN'T speak. When we shifted in our seats. Yap yap yap yap fucking yap. At least 70% of the time we were there, canine silence failed miserably to fill the room.

This constant barking took its toll on Jo. God love her, she's a cat person, like I am.  Dogs are not high on her list. And you could just see her wilting as the night went on, like old lettuce at the salad bar. When the second of our mini-tourneys were done, she looked around the table and said, "we're not fucking doing another one of these, are we?" She did not state it like a question.

So - cues taken, we decided to call it quits for the night. Neither one of us finished in the money, but as this was a friendly (soccer term), it didn't really matter. I spent more money on snackies for the table, I think, than I spent on buy-ins.

But it was good to see everyone, that's the stone cold truth. My cheeks still hurt from the laughing I did. I have to tell you, my poker table is fucking awesome. I can't wait to do it again. I think next time, though, Josie's going to be bringing ear protection, or perhaps a dog whistle.

Thanks for listening. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Giuseppina Ginger

To Rob and everyone else who remembers her fondly: Josie indeed says hello, and as per her comment in my previous post, is indeed now a flaming redhead. Forthwith then a picture of Josie as the ginger that, in my heart, I always knew she had it in her to be:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vitally, Perhaps Critically, Important Post

This morning early I was awakened to the unsettling feeling of my cat, Maya, licking my armpit.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Open Letter to Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Feinstein:

Not for the first time, you have disappointed me today and, I believe, let your country down.

We disagree on the question of gun control. That's ok; I have a lot of friends, and some family, who share your views on the matter. I like to think I have the facts on my side, but that is truly a discussion for another day.

My issue with you today is the press release you put out yesterday, calling for a renewal of the debate on gun control in the aftermath of the recent shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

We may leave behind for the moment that the breathless reports - reports which you chose to pass along, in the utter absence of proof - that the shooter used an AR-15 rifle to wreak his havok were totally false. We may also leave behind your repetition of the same tired falsehoods about the AR-15 being a "military-style assault rifle," when in fact it is a consumer version of a military rifle, that can not shoot automatically, as "assault rifles" do.

What I cannot leave behind is the fact that you put this press release out as soon as you did. In a sickeningly literal way, you could not muster the grace to wait until the bodies were cold before you pounced upon an opportunity to forward a political agenda. I find it hard to think that a savvy politician such as yourself could strike such a tone deaf position; instead of providing whatever comfort you could in a raw moment, you chose rather to stir the pot in a calculating way that, if I didn't know better, I would dismiss as the act of a political dilettante.

As the dust settles we find that the shooter wrestled with significant mental health issues, had multiple arrests for crimes involving the combination of anger and firearms, and was somehow able to bring a shotgun into the Navy Yard. The failures on an institutional level that allowed this rampage to take place were staggering: He should have never had WNY clearance, he should have never passed the background check that he took and passed on Sunday when he purchased his shotgun, and for heaven's sake he should have never been able to bring the firearm onto Navy Yard property, clearance or no.

What we do not find is any mention of these facts in yesterday's press release, or for that matter any subsequent ones.

If you would really display a bona fide desire to prevent the next Navy Yard, or Aurora, or Newtown - as you claim to want to do - you would at barest minimum acknowledge the common thread of mental instability that binds the perpetrators of these unspeakable acts. You would lend some of that single-mindedness with which you pursue your agenda towards enforcing existing laws regarding who can purchase a firearm and who cannot.

Or, you may just carry on as always, and not let pass a single opportunity to make political hay, whether or not the facts of the matter are represented.

I would like to think that the American people are smarter than that; you may find that this approach will backfire on you, as the recent recall elections in Colorado have proven can happen.

I suspect, though, that you will continue with your ever-more-shrill rhetoric about how the only problem here is guns, guns, guns, and how the best way to keep guns out of the hands of the criminal element is to remove them from the hands of the law-abiding.

Because, as I have stated before, you have disappointed me, and you will very likely do so again.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

10 Ways to Know A Loved One Smokes Pot

  1. They gain an appreciation for good music, specifically Pink Floyd.
  2. They get stopped for doing 18 in a 55 mph zone.
  3. They drive by a dead skunk in the road and close their eyes and say, "mmmmm...."
  4. They can spend 20 minutes debating the merits of moon-pies vs. Twinkies.
  5. They are better than MacGyver and Michael Westen combined when it comes to making a pipe out of anything at hand.
  6. Suggest anything cosmic, like "dude, think about this: we could all just be one tiny speck in the thumbnail of a giant being...and we could also have a universe in our thumbnails" and they will sit, stunned and silent, for the next forty minutes.
  7. They lick the top flap of a burrito before they close it.
  8. They pray for glaucoma.
  9. They can out-think an aircraft engineer in matters of air-flow.
  10. They could survive a fire in a tire factory and never cough.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fruit Fly, Don't Bother Me

Drosophilia Melanogaster. The common fruit fly. And currently, the bane of my existence.

If you'd like to make their acquaintance, here's all you have to do:
  1. Have a wife find a wonderful farmer's market with amazing produce, fresh fruit, and THE best tomatoes to be had in New England. 
  2. Have her leave a basket of blackberries on the counter in anticipation of eating them later.
  3. Watch as hordes of fruit flies overrun your kitchen. What fun!
Yes - fruit flies are tiny. No, they're not very smart. You'd think it wouldn't be anything near a fair fight. And you'd be right. The little bastards are EVERYWHERE, and they're elusive as all hell. Their extremely diminutive size works to their favor in a dozen ways: You don't see them unless they're flying into your eyeballs, for one, and for another, when you swat at them, the cushion of air that your hand creates as it whirrs through the air is enough to push the little bastards safely on their way.

So when you're up against an enemy, you have to fight with YOUR advantage, against HIS disadvantage. That's military strategy 101 - you don't need to read Sun Tzu or Machiavelli to know this. And what advantages does H. sapiens sapiens enjoy that D. melanogaster does not? A giant brain, an opposable thumb, and the use of tools, among many others. So I knew that if I was going to beat these tiny little shits, I was gonna need to use my brain, tools, and yes, my thumbs. 

I contrived what is, modestly, the single best fruit fly trap to have ever been invented. And the flies have already started flocking there in droves, never to return. And I watch them, imagining as the fruit fly version of panic sets in as they realize that what they thought of as fruity utopia was in fact a crypt, a house of horrors where they will stay until they die, while a fat guy with a beard looks upon them and laughs.

This is how you make it. And no fake, this works.

A big brain
Two (2) opposable thumbs
The ability to use tools
A knife
Packing tape (scotch tape will do in a pinch but you really want something thicker)
A length of string/twine/jute

  1. Take a plastic soda bottle. Drink the soda. Reflect on how yummy diet Mountain Dew is. Make sure the bottle is empty.
  2. Take the knife and cut just down from the neck of the bottle, where the sides just turn straight.
  3. Take the decapitated bottle and put a piece of fruit in there, like, oh, I don't know, maybe a bit of blackberry that fruit flies have already shit on?
  4. Take the piece that you've just cut off the bottle, turn it upside down, and put it back in the bottle. Tape it well, so that there's no way for the little bastards to escape.  You should now have something that looks like this:
  5. turn it upside down so that the open bit is now on the bottom. Make sure the fruit doesn't block the hole.
  6. Take some string, or twine, or jute, and tape it to the top of the trap so you can hang it. By now you know where the evil fuckers hang out - put it wherever they are. The flies will smell the fruit, fly through the hole to get at it, but because their brains are so very tiny, they can't fly down out of the hole to freedom. 
  7. Watch them as they caper about, absurdly pleased with themselves for their find of bountiful feast, until the slow realization dawns upon them that their little fruit fly lives, already so short as to be pitiable, will be spent in their prison, where they will die well-fed but unfulfilled. 
  8. Accept the praise and adulation of your spouse for your ingenuity and your uncanny ability to use a knife without cutting off a finger.
And that's it. Now you, my seven faithful readers, now have the ability to rid yourselves of the scourge of the 21st century. Not global communism - that was the 20th century. I'm talking about fruit flies. Know how to build one of these and your problems are solved forever.

You're welcome. Go to a doctor if you haven't been recently.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

In Which Your Obedient Servant Begins His Misspent Youth

I have absolutely no idea what put this memory back in my brain, but one summer evening when I was about 4 (I had yet to start school, I know that at least), my dad was chasing a yellowjacket around the dining room with a rolled-up magazine and an attitude. I made the mistake of either bugging him, or perhaps getting too close to the bee, but whatever it was, it caused my dad to...


to yell at me. And I wasn't hurt, or embarrassed, I was PISSED. I decided that I'd had enough of living in this house, where even though every one of my needs, and many of my wants, were met, fuckin' nobody yells at THIS dude and gets away with it. I was going to extract my revenge for this unpardonable insult to the glory that was me.

In an eye-blink instant, I knew what to do, and I did it.

I ran away.

I will admit that, in the heat of the moment, the practical realities of a 4 year old boy being on the road, without transportation, food, shelter, fire, or protection had yet to impress themselves upon me. None of that mattered though: I had escaped from under "Daddy's" oppressive thumb and was my own man. Or, at least, my own boy.

That is, until the magnitude of what I had done, the sheer weight of it, came down upon my shoulders like a ton of Frosted Flakes, which was at the time the densest substance I had any experience with. I had run away. Jeezum Crow (remember, I was 4)! What in the heck was I gonna do now?

I sat down in a patch of grass where I had been walking and put my head and arms on my knees. The more I thought about it, the more I realized what kind of an untenable situation I had put myself into. I wept a little for the hardness of the world, fought off panic as best I could, and wondered what I was going to do with myself. Could I even find my way home?

Well, the answer to that one was yes, as I was still on my front lawn, but I think the fright was none the less real. After all I had still done the deed - my status was "runaway," for when I was, I don't fuckin' know, caught and sentenced, but that's what I was thinking. I was a runaway. And starting now, I needed to provide my own path through life. I took a deep breath, steeled my nerves against the difficulties ahead, and formed a plan.

I had to find shelter for the evening. It would be dark in, I don't know, maybe five hours, and dinner was sooner than that. Think long-term later, Gary. Now's the time to address the basic needs, and we'll deal with the rest as it comes.

Like a trapped animal, my eyes started scanning my surroundings, looking for opportunity. And an opportunity was found, as if Divine Providence Herself had presented it.

This opportunity came in the form of my across-the-street neighbor, Mrs. D----. My tender age prevented me from grasping the subtle dynamic of the relationship between our two families (they hated us like poison, and we hated them like tax forms and dental work combined); all I knew was that she was outside, painting a wall that used to be a 2nd garage door, and could help me. And she was across the street, and she was a woman, and I knew she could help me. She would succor me in my hour of need, I just knew it. I would just present her the facts, and she could make no other ethical decision. It was going to be a triumph of logic and reason. I would conquer my emotions. I would swallow my pain. And hopefully some of her American Chop Suey.

I walked across the street. I looked both ways.

I had slipped the surly bonds of my property. I was officially on foreign soil.

Taking a direct approach (I had yet to develop the finely-honed sense of subtlety that has marked so many of my subsequent human interactions), with purposeful stride I marched right up to her. It was now or never. In life, you never get what you deserve, Gar. You get what you ASK FOR. I opened my mouth to speak. I knew just how much was riding on this. I needed to strike the proper tone.

"Can I stay with you?" I asked. BOOM. I had done it. I exhaled in relief and the removal of the weight from my shoulders. Sweet triumph! I had procured shel--

"No," she said, and went back to her painting, not giving me so much as a pitiable glance.

I was officially out of options. And I was now alone, scared, and hungry, with no prospects for a place to fill my belly or lay my head. I knew what I had to do.

I turned around, defeated, and turned my face towards home. I was a sadder boy, but also perhaps a wiser one. My thoughts were occupied with what I was going to say to walk back my searing anger, to swallow the injustices heaped upon my young body.

I walked back across the street. I looked both ways.

I was back on native soil, and whatever else could be said for having a daddy that yells when you get too close to a bee, at least there was a bowl of American Chop Suey and a bed waiting for you.

Total time, front door and back again? Less than four minutes. Dad was still chasing the goddamn bee with a rolled-up magazine. He didn't even know I had left the house.

All was not lost, though. I learned a valuable takeaway from the whole experience: namely, that Mrs. D---- was a douchebag.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Update, and some news

Rightly or wrongly I think every post should begin with an update on my health. So this update is: mostly positive. I'm heavier than I should be, but I've kept the weight off that I lost while in the hospital/rehab. I've stopped taking any kind of pain medication - no tramadol, no opiates, no nerve pain meds, nothing. That was, in truth, an ugly couple of weeks, and a month or so of light sleep, but I just decided I'd had enough, so I gritted my teeth and just fucking did it.
It was the anti-cholesterol drugs that were making me feel fatigued and dragging, so I stopped taking them. My doctor prescribed fenofibrate, an older, non-statin type of anti-cholesterol drug, and though that had the same side effects, they weren't as pronounced as with the statins. If I take one every other day I can tolerate it reasonably well.

As for the effects of the stroke itself, it's pretty accurate to say that there aren't any. I'm playing the guitar again, not quite as well as before but not like a 2nd-grader either. I can hold a gun straight again, and I'm slowly - glacially slowly - rounding back into good shooting form. The operative phrase, I reckon, for the stroke is "no appreciable permanent damage." That's not only good news, but apparently almost never happens. The National Stroke Foundation ( has a sobering set of statistics on the matter:

  • 15 percent of stroke survivors die shortly after the stroke
  • 10 percent require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • 40 percent experience moderate to severe impairments requiring special care
  • 25 percent recover with minor impairments
  • 10 percent recover almost completely

There's nothing I can say to imbue those stats with an additional sense of gravitas or drama; they speak, I think, for themselves.

So anyway, that's that. Wow, that was more detailed than I thought it was going to get.

The news that I referred to in the title of this post is this: After over a year of inactivity, I've updated my other blog, Peace, Love and Ammo. In that blog, and again here, I promise to update that blog a deal more frequently than this one.

Well, that's it from me. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

On Second Thought...

Fuck that. I'm not giving up without a fight.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Miss My Guitar

There, I've said it.

Since the stroke I've tried to maintain an at least partially philosophical attitude towards the lack of fine muscle control in my left hand. As artifacts of the stroke go, it's pretty minor. I had to lose something or else the lesson wouldn't have stuck. If I were given the choice on October 2nd to take this very outcome or roll the dice, I'd take this outcome and be grateful. I've heard them all. I've said them all. At one point or another, and to one degree or another, I've believed them all.

But goddammit, I miss playing the guitar.

I've had a guitar in my hands since I was 12. And I was terrible for years, but that didn't stop me from playing. I played little three-section three-chord pieces and slowly stretched my musical knowledge, my library of chords and which go together euphoniously, my technique, my ear, and my voice (the biggest challenge of all).

Lo and behold, one day I found myself playing for the sheer entertainment value of playing, and I knew I had taken a step. One day I figured out my first song by ear (Livin' After Midnight - I didn't say it was a difficult song) and I knew I had taken another step.

Poker night chez the Very Josie's was enhanced by the fact that there was a left-handed guitar on the premises - so I could for once pick up someone else's guitar and entertain people. You right-handed people have no idea how lucky you are in this regard, by the way.

I practiced even harder after that because even though I was little more than noodling around after I got knocked out of the tournament, I was playing for an audience, and I wanted to be good for them as well as me. Most weeks I would make sure I had a new number for them, so they could hear something fresh from me.

One day after playing "Things We Said Today," by the Beatles (of course), every person in the room I was in started clapping. For me and my mediocre playing and sub-mediocre singing. And I knew I had taken yet another, quite big, step.

I was a guitar player, more than 30 years invested in my hands, my ear, and my throat, and though I certainly wasn't great, and maybe not even good, I was solidly mediocre, and that made me happy.

I liked acoustic pieces, and I was good at songs where you had to pluck the melody along with the chord changes (like Norwegian Wood, by You Know Who, and for which a recording exists of my performance). I developed a quirky little number of my own invention that was born of a strumming-hand exercise, whose chording could be done with one finger - my name for it was Single Digit because of that. My next project, a song that was well within my grasp as a player, was the transcendent Allman Brothers song Little Martha, a tune that pulls at the heartstrings of every guitar player around the world:

(It's not as difficult as it sounds; it's in an open tuning which really does a lot of the work for you)

I was a guitar player, more than 30 years invested in my hands, my ear, and my voice.

And it's all gone now.

I tried to get it back. I would keep my guitar in my hands all day - fall asleep with it - forever trying to regain that elusive control of my left hand, my strumming hand, my picking hand - and never making an iota of progress.

It's all gone now.

It's gone and I am in that category of people who used to play something. Not so much due to any exercise of free will, but because of the 10,000 small yet catastrophically bad decisions I believe I've already discussed to death on this forum and elsewhere.

So here it is: it's 4:00 in the morning and I'm going to fill you in on a secret.

Yes - I have my health. Yes - I have my independence.  Nobody needs to do anything to me or for me, to live my life. Yes - the story has, on balance, a happy ending. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

But god dammit, I used to be a guitar player. Was part of my identity. Was something that I was proud of.

And I miss that. I miss that a great deal.  And some days the platitudes that I tell myself to salve the pain of that loss ring a little hollow.

Thanks for listening. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Poker Game, the Winning Dame, the Hands Are Lame

A big weekend for your Uncle Crafty, after a week which did not start off at all well.

One of the members of my erstwhile poker game, Noodles, lost his wife on the evening of April 8. I found out about it the following morning. She lost a battle against cancer and heart disease and left behind a grieving family. She was 52.

I was pleased to see that Noodles' friends rallied around him the way that they did, and if there's ever such a thing as coming back from something like this, he's got the infrastructure around him to do it.

I tagged him with the name Noodles, by the way. It's what we used to call someone who wasn't all there upstairs. One day Josie's sister Cricket insinuated as much to him and I suggested hell, why don't we just call him Noodles and have done with it. It stuck.  A propos of nothing, giving someone a nickname and having it stick is one of my most sublime joys, so I was quite happy.

But moving on to the weekend: I played some poker at the ol' Sportsman's Club. We had 18 runners pitching cards all together. Did really well but didn't cash. I got a monster pile when, holding AA, two people went all in in front of me, and the aces held up. It was the third or fourth round of blinds and I was still putzing around at my original stack size, so I was the beneficiary of a massive triple-up and then some. That, plus some good aggressive big-stack play, let me coast to the final table

But, the blinds got big, the cards went away, I got to a point where I had to take a few chances, make a few steals, and nothing worked. I lost a good chunk when I overplayed a weak ace. Bottom line, I finished 6th, two out of the money.

But that's not the worst of it. The player that took me out, the player who would eventually win it all, the one player in the world who has my number more than any other, was none other than...Very Josie. I was shorty short, holding 10-6 as BB, caught top pair, shoved, got called with a higher 10, and that was the story of me.  GG Crafty.

One funny little thing was that my hands seemed to have betrayed me yesterday. I was fumbling cards, spilling drinks, fucking up shuffles...hell, it got so bad I didn't want to take a piss. I've never had such a clumsy day before.

I wonder if this is what it feels like to be clumsy. I've never been hugely coordinated but I've never been clumsy in the sense of fumble-fingered. I guess I am now. Or maybe - hopefully - this was a one-day anomaly. I reckon time will tell.

Anyway, that was my weekend. It was absolutely grand, even though I didn't cash. Had a lot of laughs, a lot of fun, a lot of good food, and being in that club I secondhanded so much smoke it was like I was smoking myself. Ugh, can you imagine smoking yourself? Gross.

That's it for me. Go see your doctor if you haven't lately.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Anatomy of a Con

You probably know, on one level or another, what I'm going to say, so I'm going to wait until the end to say it.

And at the risk of boring you with an overabundance of self-congratulation, let me just say that this one was perfect. It had a little bit of everything - shocking news, a voyeuristic peek behind the curtain, hints of salacious details, and over all, a con job worthy of the movies. To say nothing, by the way, of a textbook primer on how improvisation works, and why it's so effective when executed well.

The idea was born last year - a year ago today, in fact. I tried to run a weak-ass gag past you, when I announced to the world that my wife of (at the time) 18 years was asking me for a divorce. The more gullible among you were hooked like mackerel - stupid mackerel, it must be said - but most of you saw through the ruse with ease. I decided right then that next year's effort would be epic.

I talked to Josie and we hatched a plan (history does not record who had the basic idea) to have a very public, very ugly fight on our blogs. I rubbed my hands together with eager anticipation. It was a perfect plan. She would say something catty, I would overreact, and the fun would begin.

Well, life does in fact sometimes intrude upon the pulling off of a prank, and 2012 saw both of us remove ourselves from the ranks of the every day blogger. For my part, 2012 was a year of some pretty big changes - I managed to screw my head on straight, bury my dad, and point myself in a better direction, at least until October 2nd, at about 9:30 pm.

So when last week rolled around, and I remembered the plans we made last year, I called Josie and suggested that we run the con, with a few changes. Integral to the new plan was that it would take place in March, when guards were down.

I didn't really know exactly how things were going to go; I just knew that I would mention that Jo and I were estranged and imply that I didn't want to give out details. And then something wonderful and magical happened.

In improvisational comedy, there are a few rules to follow if you want things to go smoothly. One of them is, whatever you take, add something to it. Neither one of us had the faintest idea of what exactly we'd be fighting about when I wrote my post - my lack of detail wasn't just me pretending to be discrete.

But then Josie, taking what she got and adding to it, said that she called the cops on me - an absolutely brilliant detail. I took that and added the fact that she was drunk, and that she had given me a bruise. She took that and added the fact that she should have kicked me in the balls, which implied some kind of untoward behavior. I added some very specific details, like the peach vodka drinks (here's a rule to live by: if you're gonna lie, be specific), and a drunken misunderstanding of contact. Through my feigned anger I was chortling with glee.

One detail I think sold the whole thing was that I expressed dismay that details were being let out - that instead of being eager to tell the world of our ersatz set-to, I was reluctant to do so.

The only blemish on this prank was the fact that one of you figured it out, however belatedly. The "inch-high private eye" award goes to...........Cranky! She sent me an email basically saying "heyyyy.....wait just a cotton-pickin' minute here," in response to which I basically admitted things and asked for her silence on the matter. Congrats, Crankster, for sussing out the truth. All the rest of you, you can take the hooks out of your mouths now.

And just for the record, Jo and I are fine. The event we alluded to didn't even come close to taking place; in our long association together I've never once gone out drinking with her. She likes an only occasional drink, and I'm not a tippler at all.

Well, that's about it from me. Hope you enjoyed the bread and circus. And now I think it's time to say what you all knew I was going to say: APRIL FOOLS!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

A pretty weak week

First things first: I'm doing ok. My neurologist is tweaking my meds because he thinks that what I'm taking to regulate my cholesterol is making me fatigued and with no stamina. I hope this comes to something; I'm pretty sick of having just no energy.

Secondly, and I don't really want to dwell on this too much, but it appears as if my friendship with Josie, whom you may remember, is over. I won't go into the details but we each said and did some things that we both regret - well, certainly I regret things for my part; I can't speak for her, and really don't want to. Suffice to say that I'm a little hurt, a little angry, and what I'm getting instead of apology or even explanation is attitude and lip.

Part of the Crafty Southpaw 2.0 experiment is getting rid of the complicating and negative elements of my life, and if that means having no more contact with a friendship that was over a decade long, then so be it. I'm sure I'll miss her at some point, but that point has not yet arrived.

In other news, my general practitioner and my neurologist are of two differing opinions on how to best manage my care. Neuro wants a stress test; GP thinks that's not the best use of time or resources. I told neuro that I had a family history of cardiac issues; he seemed to think that all the more reason to have the test. So I have that to dread in the coming week.

In other other news, it seems that the family gums have finally lost the ability to hold most of my teeth, and I'm having yet another batch removed and having an alveoplasty, a scraping of the bone in my jaw to make for better adhesion for a partial plate. I was told to expect pain in no small quantity. Hey, that should match the emotional pain of this fucking Josie thing perfectly.

Not a good week for the kid.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Open Letter to Memphis Mojo, Who Asked Me How My Rehab Was Going

First of all, thanks for asking. It's nice to know that some people out there still think of me.

To answer your specific question, my rehabilitation is proceeding apace. There were certain things that I can do just as well as I could before the stroke, and there are things that still give me a bit of grief. I still can't play my guitar with any degree of ability, and my penmanship is changed. It hasn't gotten worse, exactly, because it was never good to begin with. But it's a different kind of messy now, and the act of writing is still a little bit unnatural.

My legs are really where I'm finding myself most affected. When I left rehab, the areas where I needed most help were related to balance; walking up and down stairs, showering standing up, and the like were all things that I could technically do but not without some difficulty. My neurologist asked me to walk heel to toe and that was surprisingly difficult as well. Now that's licked but I find my legs stiff and tired almost all the time — both of them in fact. The vacation that I took in December to visit my wife's family put a strain on my legs that I still haven't recovered from. Now whenever I am upright, walking or standing, it's a safe bet that I'm in some sort of discomfort.

I find myself with an overall lack of strength and stamina; if called upon, for example, to move some boxes from hither to yon (my dictation software interpreted that last phrase as "from Hitler to yawn"), I would need to stop and rest way earlier than I would have before.

I tend to look at things philosophically; from a nuts and bolts perspective, I'm in no more discomfort than, say, someone with a chronic bad back. Given the universe of potential outcomes of the stroke, I'll take that any day of the week and twice on Sundays. And, without getting too metaphysical about things, I think that even though calling my recovery from the stroke a "wake-up call" is paying short shrift to the work that I put in and trivializing the whole event, there's something to be said there. I might not wish to admit it, but it really was a wake-up call of one kind or another. I made it a practice to ignore matters of health, and it bit me square in the ass. If I had made a 100% full recovery from this, maybe I would have no reminder of how bad it was before it got better. Maybe I had to lose something for this lesson to sink in to any meaningful extent. Would I have chosen to lose my ability to play the guitar? No. The lesson was a sharp one, I guess; all the better to remember when I feel like not taking my pills in the morning.

Anyway, that's how I'm doing. I hope you're doing well, and everyone else in the blog world, you wacky sons of bitches. Thanks for thinking of me.