Friday, February 28, 2014

Bob is an Asshole

An old and familiar friend has come to visit. A friend I’ve had for years and I am with every day of my life. Although recently he has not been present and his absence while noticeable has not really been missed. You see, he is an utter and complete asshole who makes me miserable every waking and sometimes non-waking hours of my life. But, like a lot of relationships in life, you get used to it. The little quirks and inside jokes you share become as second nature as a person’s morning constitutional or even what one may enjoy for breakfast.
            In recent memory, the last time my friend disappeared was back in August of 2013, I don’t really remember much of him being gone but I do remember when he came back. That is to say, I remember now, I don’t think I remembered the exact moment or what transpired upon his arrival. I do believe I’ve blocked that memory from my swiss cheese like mind. But now I do. All of this because of one simple act of self survival and the foolish decision that led to the act, I am more aware of my old pal every morning I wake and throughout most of the day.
            My friends name is Bob and for most of you my dear readers he is no one new. But to some, he is so I will quickly explain what I’ve been talking about. You see, I suffer from Degenerative Disk Disease in my neck. (I literally have a pain in the neck! HA!) What this means is the disks between certain vertebrae are deteriorating causing the bones to rub together and pinch nerves causing the rare and wonderful “Bi-lateral” tingling and numbing of my arms, hands and fingers. Not to mention what goes on in the other parts of my body due to this extremely irritating condition.
            What occurred last August is once occurring this February, which is to say, I went to my doctor and got my pain meds. Little white pills of the strongest nature. Pills that not only one is not allowed to operate machinery with but also make one feel quite… loopy and numbly, and the only reason I went is because the pain was getting so bad that I was having trouble with everything. Aside from the posted side effects of these miraculous tablets I am soon learned of another side effect I was not quite aware of, that is to say, an effect I had completely and utterly forgotten about.
            The pain. Yes, the reason I got the pills was to reduce the pain but when the affects wear off… the pain I had been living with, been used to, my old pal and chum, my constant companion, well, he was pissed and he let me know it in no uncertain terms. So what did I do? Simple, I took more to get rid of the son of a bitch. And guess what happened when those wore off? Yup, BOB was back and madder than a bag full of cats.
            Now I’m in a quandary. Do I stop taking them and become used to my pal once again, so used to him that most of the time I ignore what is going on inside of me? Or, do I succumb to the blissful feeling of a life filled with taking high grade pharmaceuticals at a discount price? (I have insurance.) Although, there is a third option, I suppose I could just shelf the opaque orange bottle with the warning stickers on it and only take them when I am in dire need, but then I open myself up to the wonderful world of waking up at two-thirty in the morning with stiff joints, numb arms and tingling fingers. Wake up in fear of rolling over and breaking my arms and staring at my radius and ulna as the protrude from my flesh and my bodily fluids slowly leak out onto the bed covers and drip to the wooden floors below. (Yes, this is a viable fear to me. One that keeps me awake at night.) I guess there is the fourth option, which is to let the surgeons have their way with me. Cut me open, scrape and claw at my flesh and bone, then use some magical wand to make my three discs one disc, then sew my body back up and hopefully leave nothing inside of me. Nah, I’m trying to put that option off until the week before I die. I’m not a fan of being cut on. It’s happened in the past, I didn’t like it then and I don’t like the thought of it now.
            In conclusion… Bob is an asshole and I don’t like him and don’t want him around but the alternative is more distasteful to me than being water boarded. So for now I’ll occasionally partake of the drugs my doctor readily gives me and hope that Doctor McCoy from the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) will eventually show up, slip me a blue pill or better yet wave a salt shaker across my body paying particular attention to my neck area and I will be as good as new.

            Have a great week.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hypothermia and Prejudice can lead to Death

          So here I find myself in a very familiar place. Sitting on my front porch after a long day with seventy degree weather. A day filled with friends, family and countless miles under my two wheeled chassis. All in all it has been a very good day. Yet, deep down inside of me I know I promised you, my dear and faithful reader a new blog. A blog which I had written but was unable to access through nefarious means of electronic censorship, now, I’m not saying there is a conspiracy afoot, because in truth there is not, what I am saying is that over the past few weeks the flash drive I kept one hundred percent of my writing on disappeared and my back up drive seems to have become suddenly unreadable. So, what did I do, besides have several panic attacks, I went out and purchased a new portable drive so that I could continue to communicate with each and every one of you.
            How do I know this new drive will work? I don’t. I take it on faith that it will. How do I recreate the most perfect blog ever written and then stored on a device that refuses to relinquish such secrets, I can’t. All I can do is offer a humble apology and try to once again do what I do. Which is to say. Here is a new blog and since last weeks blog fell prey to the ones and zeros of the blue nowhere, I can only try to convey a message that is as clear and accepting to all of you.
            So, here goes…
            I know I will never be able to re-create the previous blog. I can’t unless I have a copy of what I’ve written sitting next to me as I type this. I can however tell you that it was about me, and two separate but similar experiences I had. The first experience occurring almost thirty years ago and the second not a few short weeks ago, which I find quite unsettling.
            You see, I have always tried to pride myself on the fact that I learn from not just my mistakes but the mistakes of those around me. Yet, when I wrote the blog it became apparent that I did nothing of the sort. It seems that in 1986 I fell victim to not just hypothermia but my own hubris in the form of me being too damn cocky about cold weather because I was from Wisconsin. Yeah, that thought just about killed me.
            Then, in the midst of an arctic blast, this crazy assed Polack decides it’s a good idea to ride his motorcycle in thirty degree weather. You can see where this is going… can’t you? Yeah, I suffered from a mild case of hypothermia, only this time, no giant knot on the skull do to a five hundred plus foot long ship zigging when I was sagging above the arctic circle. (Which is a story for another day. But I will say it is damn impressive and I was successful in defeating Death once again. Let’s say it was my fourth time and leave it at that.)
            Yes, I was cold, my body core temperature dropped inexplicably and dangerously low. Yet I survived, without the help of the rude, uncaring and myopic folks of a 7-11 in which I tried to seek some warmth, comfort and hot coffee in an attempt to keep myself alive. (Okay the rat-bastards kicked me out of their establishment after I bought a cup of coffee to warm my hands and was standing near the hot dog counter trying to warm up. They said I need to buy more crap in order to stay inside… I refused and they tossed me out. Sure, I look like a hoodlum but they were more than happy to take my two buck for coffee and then said “Please leave unless you are planning on buying anything else.” I almost wish I had died just so that someone, somewhere would sue the pants off these asshats and make a million or three dollars off of them.) But… I digress.
            Yes, I didn’t learn from my mistake so many years ago when I was but a youth. A neophyte if you will, but I still managed to survive. I don’t chalk my survival up to anything supernatural or extra-planetary, I simply recognized the symptoms and sought shelter and warmth. In other words, I paid attention to what was going on in my body and tried to rectify the situation by removing myself from an equation where the answer was zero. I sort of succeeded as evidenced by the writing of this blog. Without the help of a calloused and predjudiced society that thinks all long haired, bearded bikers are out to steal from them, rape their kids and break any laws that get in their way of living. (Ok, that is just how I felt by getting kicked out of a 7-11 store and it may not be reflective of all 7-11 stores but the one on Military Highway in Chesapeake, Virginia it sure holds true. Yeah, I’m calling them out, the rat bastards.)
            Fact of the matter is, I made it to my destination without succumbing to any ill effects of the “arctic blast” the greater southern regions of the united States of America had/has fallen under. But better yet, after two hours at my destination (Church) I managed to ride almost twenty miles, in very similar weather, to my other destination with limited if not few effects of the cold. Yeah, I’m a Polack and I don’t learn easily, but I do survive.
            So, that is it. That is this week’s blog in a shorter more convenient manner. I know I’m still a bit wordy and I’m trying to work on that. But my point is, and it is a very important point, “Never judge a person by what you see on the surface, people will always beguile you and rarely are what you think they are.” Lastly, if you have the opportunity to visit a convenience store and have a few moments to spare, just hang out in the back and see what happens.

            Have a great week and know that you will be hearing from me soon enough.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winding Home

            I don’t remember the first time I ever heard the song “Imagine” by John Lennon, I wish I could because I love the song and the sentiment behind the lyrics. It is perhaps one of my favorite songs of all time by the former Beatle, however; it is not my favorite Beatle song. If I had to pick one of the many brilliant tunes by the Fab Four it would most likely be “Long and Winding Road”. (At least lately it is.) Matter of fact, I’ve probably listened to that particular song a dozen times in the past few days.
            In case you haven’t heard the song or have the ability to recite the lyrics from heart and memory, the song is about a man (at least from my perspective) who is pining for his lost lover. A lover who is gone, whether the lover is dead, moved on into another relationship or has filed a restraining order against the stalker standing on the doorstep singing a sorrowful song with full orchestral accompaniment I don’t know. I do know that Paul McCartney’s performance is delivered with an almost tearful choke in his voice. He conveys the loneliness and sorrow one feels when they are left alone pining for someone who can never reciprocate the love they are compelled to share. An unrequited love that leads a man on a journey to an empty house that he believes is the only place he can call home.
            The person portrayed in the song is a sad and lost soul searching for the only place he felt safe and comfortable. Home. Which I believe is what we are all searching for and when we find it, we hold on to our homes as tightly as we can. Not a house, a home. A place where the monsters of the world are unwelcome and are not allowed entry.
            I’ve lived many places in my life and I’ve even called a few of them “home”. A place of comfort, security, joy, madness and strife, and the longing conveyed in this song brings forth a sentiment, nay, a hunger for simpler times where happiness is experienced in the joy of knowing you are in a secure place filled with the one(s) you love.
            It’s funny, now that I think of it, the day I graduated High School, went home only to discover all my worldly belongings were sitting on the porch, the locks to the house were changed and I had nowhere to go that this song was on replay in my mind. I trudged through the streets of town, carrying a stack of albums, my blanket and a change of clothes. All my other items I knew I could live without. When I came to a pay phone I called a buddy of mine and he offered me a place to stay for the night. Hell, he even came and picked me up.
            While I waited, the Beatles kept me company.
            While we drove back to his house, with Van Halen telling us to “JUMP” through the house speakers wired and stacked in the back seat of his Gran Torino, Paul McCartney’s tenor drowned out David Lee Roth. At his house, packed with the recent graduating class of 1985 doing their best to wash away the last four years of their lives in purloined booze and drugs, George Harrison’s reserved strumming filled my ears.
            Days later, when I was being awoken by a screaming middle aged man in a khaki uniform at 4 a.m. my mind still looped “Long and Winding Road”. Maybe it was my ID at the time telling me to stay the course that everything will work out and eventually, if I’m faithful I will get to where I need to be and find the elusive “home” in the song.
            Over the years, I’ve changed the lyrics a bit… from “Long and Winding Road” to “Rough and Tumble Road”. Only now, as I look back with crystal clear vision do I realize that my home should not be dependent upon who I’m with or even what I have, my home should be where I’m comfortable and what I can make of it. This song, which as a youth I thought was about a man trying to get home only to discover no one there is really a love song about losing the one thing in his life that made him comfortable. I can understand both those sentiments and I have walked in both those men’s shoes for more than my share of miles.
            But all that is now in the past and I’m left to listen to a song that brings forth a plethora of memories and feelings. I’m home now, it’s a good home and I’m glad I’m here. After all, it’s been a long and winding road. (C’mon, you had to have seen that coming!)

            Happy Valentine’s day, have a great week!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Auto Pilot

Rarely am I truly surprised about the honesty that spews forth from my mouth when I’m asked a question and caught with my guard down. Such an incident occurred this past week. Now, I’m not going to identify my inquisitor but I will give you my answer and his question just as he posed it to me.
            There were six of us in the garage, I was puffing on a nice cigar and had just taken my leathers off and set them on the back of a chair to dry from the pissing down rain outside. This is when one member of the gang looks up from his beer and says “Skip, how do you compare yourself today to when you were a kid.”
            “I’m sixteen years past my expiration date.” I answer without giving much thought to the question as I fold myself into the chair and stretch my legs out so they are closer to the kerosene heater in an attempt to dry my pants off.
            What followed was the sound of several people saying “What the hell does that mean?” I looked up from my cigar and realized half the people were staring at me, one was grabbing the clicker for the television in an attempt to turn the volume down while another walked to the fridge and started grabbing beers for everyone. The last person pulled out a foldable chair and sat down and stared at me. I scratched my head, puffed my cigar and said what I’ve been saying most of my life.
            “You see, when I was a kid I always knew certain facts about my life. One of those facts was that I would travel the world. Another fact was that I’d be in the Navy. And a third fact was that I’d be dead by the time I’m thirty, right now I’m forty-six so in my twisted Polish way of thinking, I’m sixteen years past my expiration date.”
            One gentleman set his beer down, lit a smoke and said “Just because you believed something as a kid doesn’t mean it will come true in your life.”
            “Look man,” then I realized I was addressing everyone “Okay, guys, to me my beliefs I had as a child, not all of them mind you, but some of them… like me knowing one day I would own a Harley. That one day I would travel around the world and also serve in the Navy…” I paused and was immediately peppered with more questions. When this happened I turned my brain off and just went on auto pilot. I had other things to think about other than answers of who and what I am and how I became the way I am.
            Well, to me it was mind numbing. Many years ago I came to terms with myself and who I am and I put to rest my past just so that I could have a piece of mind about my present and hope for my future. Once I managed to do that, which was much easier than it sounds but extremely rough to actually walk away from the trash of one’s past and leave it sitting in a soon to be desolate and lonely world of the ones history. I managed to pull this remarkable feat off with few hic-ups. The freedom from the bondage of a youth filled with misunderstandings, pain both self inflicted and inflicted by others, angst, sadness, anger, hatred and pure rebellious spirit is an amazing feeling. Although, I’m not sure if I would have been able to perform this minor miracle of human growth if it had not been for factors beyond my control and without the assistance and patience of others in my life: in fact I know I would not have been able to succeed like I have.
            As my mouth moved in answer to the questions and my auto-pilot flipped through its many files of historical fictional facts for my mouth to deliver the answers, my primary mental processing had moved on to another file. My “Why” file. It is where I store questions I want, need and HAVE to eventually have answered in the course of my existence. This particular evening I placed a new question into the “Why” file. The question is “Why and how did I manage to live past my expiration date?”
            Sure I have plenty of answers but none of them feel quite right to me. I’ve been exploring the events and actions of the past sixteen years of my life and I realized that while I lived at least two full lifetimes of adventures and shenanigans by the time I was thirty, all of that pales in comparison to what has happened over the past sixteen years. It all started fourteen years ago when my daughter was born and I became responsible for the life of something I had a hand in creating. Which is one of the reasons why I believe I am still here so long after my self imposed expiration date. Yes, I know my offspring is only fourteen which puts my age at thirty-two when she was born, but you have to understand, for over five years prior to my child’s birth, my wife and I had been going to weekly fertility treatments. (Maybe I’ll write about that someday.) So, for all my mathematical fact checkers, I and my bride were three years into fertility treatments when I believe I should have died.
            Now, some of you may say that performing acts like giving daily shots in some persons butt in order to trick that person’s body into thinking they are fertile and have their ovaries release some eggs just so some lady with a syringe filled with my DNA can inject it into said body parts in a sterile room with five other people is a pretty hopeful act.
            To which I say, “Sort of but it’s not even half as romantic as you may think. After all, how many times must a person be left alone in a cramped bathroom with out of date porn just so they can become a father?” My answer to my own question…”Once is a hundred times to many and a million times more embarrassing then being run naked through the streets of New York.”
            In my mind I’m not sure if my family is why I’ve outstayed my welcome or not. I’d like to think it is but sometimes I just don’t know. Maybe I’m not finished learning and growing into what I’m supposed to become. Maybe there are still some dreams of an eight year old Skip that are still repressed but I’m on a course to fulfill. Or, and this is a good possibility, I’m just a long forgotten character in the great and epic tale of humanity whose very existence is due to the fact the manufacture of the tale has forgotten about some of the cast and crew in the novel of humanity. (I don’t think this is true but I like the thought of it. Imagine, an absentee landlord of the universe… creepy good chills are running up and down my spine just thinking about it.)
            All of this and more passed through my miniscule skull filled with even less gray matter than an ant in the course of a few minutes. When I finally gave up chasing the rabbits of my life down long lost holes of history in my brain I realized my mouth was still moving and they were still listening. I tuned in to what I was saying… apparently I was re-telling a long forgotten tale of riding dirt bikes, stealing cigarettes, cigars and beer from various friends parents and then sharing them in the woods when we weren’t tearing up sand dunes, mud pits or exploring the mysteries of the young ladies who seemed to hang around us when they weren’t sitting in rooms talking about us. (Yes, I know they did this because I have sisters who did this to their guy pals when they were young.)
            When I stopped talking everyone went back to chitting and chatting about this and that. I finished my cigar and stared blankly at the television. On the flat-screen box men and women were traversing swamps in search of ancient amphibians. The humans had ill intent towards the lizards… and vice versa. I quietly rooted for the amphibians and then let my mind wander back to my own Jurassic period in search of answers.

            Have a great week.