Saturday, February 28, 2015

And To Stardust We Shall Return


We all feel the same, Sheldon. RIP, Leonard Nimoy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cray Cray Shit

When you're strange 
Faces come out of the rain 
When you're strange 
No one remembers your name 
When you're strange 
When you're strange 
When you're strange

"People Are Strange" - The Doors

Benders tend to reveal some truths that are a bit strange when reviewing them in the bright light of the stark, sober morning the following day. The mind is quite strange. Especially under the influence of mind-altering drugs like alcohol.

I woke up minutes ago after experiencing my equivalent of a nightmare. Was it about the boogyman or vampires or other such creatures that go bump in the night? Was it more realistic fears like something violent, being in peril, or just dying? No I don't really have those dreams.

I was simply losing my mind.

In the dream, which was really just a snippet of a dream since there was no plot or other characters, it was just me and even in real time it mustn't have been more than a few seconds long. I "woke up" in my dream only to find out that several boxes and items from my closets in my house were piled by the front door. Perplexed, but assuming I'd been drinking and blacked out when I did this since no one else was around to have done it, I begrudgingly just took the time to put every item back in its place. No sooner had I finished cleaning up, I again "woke up" to find the stuff all back in front of the door. Again. Not all the same items though. Some from other rooms like the kitchen and bathroom. All placed by the front door. WTF?!

IRL, I actually have woken up to find odd things. Some of these I've written about here in this blog like the time I discovered I'd pissed on my stove top during a drunken blackout in my little converted garage home in New Orleans. Other times I'd discovered a cash register receipt from a totally forgotten beer run; evidence of driving fully loaded to resupply my monkey. But these examples are blackouts and the strange behavior is somewhat excusable due to drinking. In my dream, though I thought I might have been drinking, it's revealed it wasn't a factor. I was blacking out and doing weird things with an unadulterated mind.

At the facility I work, residents are always doing stuff like the shit in my dream. One guy takes little pieces of paper that he's ripped out of magazines and notebooks, puts a dab of feces on each and arranges the smelly torn papers in a pattern on the floor of his room. Another guy writes about the coming four horses of the Apocalypse and the burning of the infidels in his almost-illegible chicken scratch, over and over and over on the worn pages of his numerous spiral notebooks he stores in huge piles around his room. Another has an impeccably furnished apartment which looks absolutely normal except that each night she delicately props a tambourine against the base of her front door so that she'll hear if the Mafia tries to break into her room while she sleeps.

I could go on and on about the bizarre behavior of the mentally ill but I think you get the gist. The scene I dreamed is the cold and mysterious reality for a lot of seriously crazy people.

My subconscious has been dropping pretty obvious warnings to my conscious over the past few years. Sometimes I heed the signs, most times I don't. Stuff like my recent bouts of nausea shortly after I buy beer or wine, way BEFORE I actually start to drink it. The dank and very real depression that sticks with me for days if I take even the tiniest toke of weed. The feelings of awkwardness and depravity I get when I'm buying 12-packs at 7:30 in the morning at the neighborhood Publix as the elderly cashiers and baggers look at me with a mixture of pity and disgust.

And now this dream. A reminder, perhaps, that indeed, like the egg frying in the cast iron skillet, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hardwired Horribles

Memories are weird with me. Perhaps with everyone else too. Sometimes I can be having the time of my life, and, if that happy occasion included drinking, well, poof...goodbye memory of that event. I have to hear about it from someone who was there who didn't black it out. How sad. Other times, it can be the smallest of occurrences...a glance, a bad thought, a snippet of a shocking story...these can linger, year after year, unerased and unfaded by time or desire, for the rest of my life.

The most recent example came up during last week's staff meeting at work. Helen, the CEO, was, as always, chairing the meeting and, as such, doing the majority of the talking. She was making a point about the importance in communicating when staff would need to call out sick or get last-minute approval for PTO. After some of the management staff conveyed recent snafus that they themselves were involved in (an unusually rare bit of opposite direction contrition, but totally in-line with Helen's "no sacred cows" philosophy) Helen mentioned that she also had made a mistake in the past regarding a managerial decision in dealing with unexpected absenteeism. She recalled that years ago, she and Susan were working as administrators at a hospital facility (TIL: I totally did not know that she or Susan had a hospital setting background or that they have worked together before Lakewood) and one day a nurse who was usually very dependable with attendance didn't show up on-shift. Helen knew she lived alone and worried that she may be very ill, asked another worker to go to the nurse's house to check on her. Unfortunately, that worker arrived only to see through the front window of the nurse's home that she had committed suicide. (Helen didn't elaborate on what form of suicide that worker witnessed but for it to have been visible through the window, it must have been very obvious like hanging or shooting, no?) And that was it. She didn't go on about it, just that she regretted unknowingly putting a subordinate staff in that traumatic situation. But now, since that discussion, I can't get that image out of my head. That poor staff member. What did they see? How horrible.

A lot of these hardwired horrible memories stem from my mother, actually. I remember vividly the time when I was about 9 or so and I was cranky in the back seat of the car at Labonte's Liquor Store (mom was getting dad's supply for the week, of course) I snapped at her saying I can't wait to be old enough to move out of the house. She snapped back a little quip that I took totally seriously "When you're 18 and leave my house you'll leave with nothing but the shirt on your back." I thought of all my possessions, my desk, my pillows, my toys and games, my books, all taken from me as I trod out alone into the cold dark night of my early adulthood. Suddenly I was none too anxious to grow up but also I was horrified that this person who I thought loved me could be so heartless and cruel. I broke down into a crying fit that I think went on for hours.

Another memory is as seemingly meaningless as her mentioning a quirk of hers that for some unknown reason she felt was appropriate to mention in passing to her son. While she and my father were living in Pascoag, on the lake, I had been visiting one day and she mentioned, somewhere in the conversation, out of the blue, that she couldn't poop and pee at the same time but she used the guttural terms of those bodily functions which in this context just seems too gross to type down verbatim. This was really weird and gets stored in my Awkward Audibles section of memory in my brain. WTF! Why did she tell me this?

One of the last horribles relating to my mother wasn't anything she said, or actively did. It's really my father who's to blame for this one, but since my mother has a ton more of these horribles implanted in my head, and many very disturbing, this one gets lumped in her file. What's more, during the incident, I think she may have glanced into my eyes and for a second I thought I saw embarrassment. If she was conscious and aware, I know that's what she'd have seen in mine.

My mother was lying in her hospital bed at Florida Hospital in DeLand and she's been struggling to recover from her second leg amputation due to uncontrolled severe phlebitis. The blood vessels in her upper legs had become clogged with clots and gangrene had set in. The amputated leg surgery went successfully but her body was failing to recover adequately and infections were setting in. The doctor had a grave prognosis and recommended hospice care. My father and I arrived to visit her and she was "out of it." Too drugged up on her morphine drip to really know what was going on. She looked at least 30 years older than she was, emaciated and sickly in pallor. And tiny, of course, since essentially she was just a torso with two sticks for arms.

My father, checked her out saying he hoped "it didn't happen again" but when he pulled back her blankets he realized "it" had. "It" was a poop in the bed, and he said he'd begged the nursing staff to make sure this didn't happen again the last time he'd been here and discovered this. Distraught, he left the room to find the nurse. I glanced over (why?! why?! NOOOOOO!!) and saw a couple of flabby stumps, one with nasty black staples holding the oozing, bloody flap together. A patch of bright orange fluid (Betadine solution or puss?) was staining the white sheet underneath it. Her grey-hair covered vagina lay limp right there, out in the open and a small brown log of shit was neatly deposited in the midst of this scene.

Why did I look! This image is burned into my memory banks. It'll never go away.

I could go on and on. I have a ton of them. Most not nearly as disturbing as the last one described but still. It just goes to show you, dear reader, if you're still young and naive. This is what growing old means. Lots of memories. But like some sick Twilight Zone episode, those memories are probably not the "On Golden Pond" sweetnesses you've been told life would store up for your old age viewing pleasure. Unless you're into horror movies, that is.

This has been a public service message from a middle-aged fuck to any younger fuck. It ain't always pretty strollin' down ol' Memory Lane! The More You Know!

Monday, February 09, 2015

Lucky Devil

So two weeks ago I got a speeding ticket.

This is amazing in and of itself since I usually never speed, not because I'm a goody-two-shoes but simply because I usually never have to. My commute to work is ten minutes away and loaded with lights so speeding doesn't pay off. Plus, in tiny cars like mine, they lack the horsepower for rapid acceleration making a ersatz drag race most embarrassing and besides, I'm way too old for that shit. Furthermore, despite the ten airbags in my car, I think I'd be pulverized in any high speed collision. It's just physics.

But one Friday night a couple weeks ago I was late for work and the roads were clear and dry so I subconsciously went into Speed Racer mode. When the cop who pulled me over said I was doing 59 in a 45 I literally thought he must have been lying. But in hindsight, yeah, it's easy to do that on 17-92 at 11pm and you know you have seconds to make the next light while it's still green.

Being a small town cop (Longwood) and wet-behind-the-ears to boot, this guy didn't let me off with a warning like a more seasoned officer from a larger, less traffic-ticket-revenue-dependent municipality. The ticket came to $206. Yikes.

Reviewing the clearly laid-out "3 Choices" available (1=Guilty. Pay fine, suffer the points on licence and possible increase in insurance premiums. 2=No Contest with affidavit to complete training school. This gets you an adjudication withheld and points erased. No impact on insurance. Still pay the fine, though. 3=Fight the charge by appearing in court. Hope your cop doesn't show up to testify unless you can prove you're innocent. Good luck.)

I opted for #2 of course. Went to the Seminole County Court House (officially the Criminal Justice Center) in Sanford, the county seat. (The same courthouse George Zimmerman was tried in, remember?) Did the fine go down like it says on the ticket and on the web? No, it actually went up due to "processing costs." $216, thank you very much.

So I was scouting out which web-based traffic school I'd attend when, lo and behold, just that week, a sign-up sheet went up at work to take the mandatory drivers education course they were scheduling.

So yup, just by chance, my workplace decided to have all employees (who use company vehicles of course, which includes me) take this class. It was given in one of our campus buildings by an instructor from Florida Safety and we'll be getting certificates. When I present this certificate to the County Clerk of Courts, I'm good to go.

Sweet!

Saves me about $30 if I went through another course provider and I get paid overtime!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Oh Yeah...That Sword Of Damocles

Can I get a PRN of Xanax?
So I was cruisin' down the Memory Lane of past blog posts...an activity I do more and more frequently now since I'm feeling more and more nostalgic the older I get, and I come across a series of posts related to something many people, except for me, are dealing with this time of year: filing their taxes.

If you remember, I don't have too great a track record when it comes to filing tax returns. Um. Not a good track record at all.

As I detail in this post and this one a few years later, I actually am somewhat of a, how shall I put it, um, tax evader. Gulp.

The previous posts hyperlinked above try to explain the rationale and, in the second post, the now apparently re-forgotten consequences for my actions of the past, ehem, 15 years or so. But the real question, or should I say questions, going forward are:

Do I really believe the shit that was exposed by that e-file in '12 has just "disappeared" since I haven't experienced any further communication from the IRS? I mean they had my Bellagio address that I've properly forwarded with USPS during the move back in October. They'd know how to find me.

I still haven't filed in any year after that scare for fear I'd stimulate some more gung-ho IRS rep to take more aggressive measures. So the second question is...when, if ever, will I file again? Every year I don't only makes the debt grow and also makes for a weaker case if I wanted to come off as just a negligent filer. This continued defiance smacks of a determined flaunting of the system.

Here's a timeline of my filing status over the past decade and a half:

Listed by tax year. y=filed, n=didn't file

99y
00n
01n
02n
03n
04n
05n
06n
07n
08y
09y*
10y*
11y(first (and last?) eFile)
12n
13n
14n

*=filed with fudged figures

I feel the flames of the burning sword above me and wonder what will cut the tendril that keeps it suspended, for now, harmlessly dangling there.