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Thursday, October 11, 2007




Every morning I awaken to two surprises: one, I'm still alive. Two, I can still see. But it's despite the efforts made by myself and others to bring an end to one or both of these daily events.

Now I don't want anyone to go overboard with sympathy about the decades-long battle with my vision. There have been certain compensations. Like my local VA hospital has granted me my own personal parking space since I go there so much. It's approximately 1.5 miles from the hospital, but hey, you can't have everything.

Due to budget cuts, eye surgery at the VA now utilizes some rather unorthodox techniques. Instead of expensive anesthesia, your IV carries your choice of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, or Bacardi 151. Then they have the chupzpah to advise you not to drive after surgery. I think driving drunk AND blind is pretty difficult to say the least. However, that 1.5 mile stagger to the car sure sobers you up.

Back when I had private insurance I had a good surgeon in Raleigh. I told him I was losing sight in one eye and couldn't understand why. He responded with the disheartening fact that he had just replaced all four tires on his Ferrari and to take that into account when I started whining about my eyes. What a kidder.

A vision-impaired situation places you in the position of being dependent upon others, and that is the worst. I was describing this to my wife ("trying to communicate" I think they call it) one day while we drove down the interstate. Always busy, she was brushing her hair, drinking coffee, listening to music, applying eye shadow, and polishing her nails. Oh yeah, and talking on the cellphone.

The fact that she was driving made me a little nervous. Her opinion, though, is that that's what those little asphalt strips on the side are for: you know, the ones that make that "runh runh runh" sound when your tires start to leave the road. Apparently it is the responsibility of other drivers to avoid a collision.

I'm not saying she speeds, but every car she's owned is white in color. That is to allow the Shuttle tiles (bought surplus) to blend in with the rest of the vehicle. They are quite helpful during the reentry phase.

Did I tell you she "drives" a schoolbus? At the start of each year she is saddled with a group of obnoxious, loud, and incorrigible teenagers. Within two weeks every student is a quiet (from shock and awe) religious fanatic. The school principle loves her on the job; she converts a two-hour bus route into a 20 minute dash.

One of her secrets is that she has the kids use a large rubber ring out the bus door. Like Navy Seals, the students must grab the ring and be flung onboard like a snared fish, gulping for air as they crawl their way to their seats. That's in the morning. Afternoons are simpler...they are instructed to keep their legs together as they're booted off the bus. At least she slows down.

There is a teenager in the house. He's 15. What readers don't know is that my nastier political posts come about after an encounter with this kid. I mean, when he was 9, 10,11, or even 12 he was a real chatterbox. Full of questions, full of comments, and VERY intelligent.

He's now in that limbo between childhood and adulthood. Like me, he'll probably never fully make it to the other side of the Maturity River. All I know is that this huge metamorphasis has taken place. Thirty years after enduring a college review of Franz Kafka's story I now know for sure that Mr. Kafka had teenagers. Imagery, my ass.

His hair used to be short, but like Samson I guess he has to let it grow for strength. The fashion now is to let it hang down in front of the face sometimes. Thank God I never used LSD because looking at him during a flashback would push me over the edge.

Communication is the real problem. They say that by age 5 the average human child has command of something like 5,000 words. Well, they all disappear for about 8 years. Most of what can be squeezed out of him is like a looped recording, "Huh?, Kewl, Maybe, I guess, Dunno,Whatever Dude."

Once I peeled him away from the Xbox to help me rake leaves. First, I had to explain which end goes on the ground. Then I had to help him over the disappointment that a rake doesn't have batteries, OR a remote control. Life is so cruel.

One Saturday night around 9 o'clock we heard someone being badly beaten in his room. After calling 911, we crashed into his room...his mother with a baseball bat and me with the shotgun.

It was his stereo. He'd made that quantam leap from Pokemon to Depraved Savages. He explained that the group was cool (kewl, sorry). ????? He spends the money he's allowed on trash like that? The "performer" is right out of one of those California-style scream therapy lessons. I vowed then and there to guide him on wiser purchases with his money. For things like Craftsman tools and LED flashlights. Don't kids understand ANYTHING?

Well, the cops were sympathetic. It was their third screaming music response of the night. They suggested earplugs. We suggested taking him with them for the rest of their shift. They smiled and shook their heads; they'd fallen for THAT one before.

I suppose I have things to be happy about. It's difficult, but I've tried to let those positive spirits lift me above the quagmire of my reality. So I started singing in the shower. Our neighbor didn't appreciate my meandering from baritone to trainwreck, so she took out a restraining order. The same cops showed up with it, and threatened to Taser me if I gave them an example of my repetoire.

So you might understand why I am particularly critical of President Bush sometimes. Okay, maybe he's got good eyesight and I've got the brains, but the unfairness for me lies in another direction. I mean, this guy has his own private toilet off the Oval Office that he can leave up all he wants and has all those Secret Service agents to keep his family away from him.

If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all. :)

Cross posted at Michael Linn Jones

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Blogger Lefty said...

What a great post. Well written funny and true to life. Dave Barry watch out!

I'd tell you to hang in there but my oldest is 12 and you've just scared the hell out of me!

7:32 AM  

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