Monday, November 30, 2009

Tales From Advantage Island

I may not get all of the facts straight here as in times of crisis things are interpreted in different ways to different people and things are heard how you want to hear them.

Case in point (Snippets from a Conversation in the Emergency Room)

My Lovely Wife (talking to her semi lucid loopy Mother) -Mom you might go home someday in the near future.
Her Wise Ass Brother James - Mom do you understand what we are talking about here.
My Lovely Wife - Mom some things are going to have to change when you get home.
Marilyn (GG) - breathe gasp breathe gasp silence deep breath I know
My Wife like drinking and smoking
Maralyn (GG) - breathe gasp breathe gasp silence deep breath I know
My wife How does that make you feel?
Maralyn (GG) - PWERHORIFUL (It was unclear the answer)

James heard -Powerful
Jenna heard -Strong
Mark heard -Horrible.

To make a long story short my mother in law has been on her death bed for somewhere between the last 9 nine days or the last 3 and a half years how ever you want to define it.

Well to be more specific the last seven days have been without a moment of levity since she decided to call the paramedics and have an ambulance take her to the hospital. One would think three weeks of not holding anything down would be a hint, but who are we to judge until we have walked a mile in their colon.

I have not seen her for various reasons that are beyond the scope of this introspection. I am not going into the details of the 20 minutes before going into the hospital as they were very funny for our own reasons that are between myself my wife and her brother. We were tired and we were giddy.

So we get into the hospital and James and Jen ask me to wait in the waiting room just to get me clearance to the emergency room. (They warned me that their mother was not in a pretty state (IE New Hampshire)). I sat in the waiting room and read Yoga magazine. As I was viewing a photo of a delicate woman with a yoga mat in a hut in Liberia, James came out with a deer in the head lights look on his face. He looked at me with a WTF look and said his Mom looks better than she has looked in days.

I walked into the room and GG did in fact look much better than I expected and to top things off she was talking. Jenna asked where she was and who was in the room with her.

She said Mark and James and Jenna and curiously Phil. (None of us were able to actually see this Phil person, but we are fairly certain James later ran into him at Starbucks) Jenna asked her where she was right now.

She said she was on an island in Ireland called Advantage Island. Wondering how her mom would interpret the many tubes, machines, nurses that surrounded her, she asked - then who is Justin and why is he here with us? (Justin was the ICU nurse) Her mom replied - he is my therapist. Jenna asked her, "so you travel with your therapist?" Yes.
Jenna's mom despises therapists. We all looked at each other with a collective WTF.

She then said that she wanted a drink.
Jen asked her to repeat that.
She then said that she wanted to drink.

I interpreted that she wanted some wine and La Familla Bruner thought she wanted some water in her dry mouth. Happilly La Familla Bruner were used to this ritual.

Later that night James asked the Nurse on duty to confirm that she did not know where she was.

Nurse -Marilyn we have gone over this before, What has happened to you.
Marilyn (GG) -I had my tummy worked on.
Nurse -What hospital are you in.
Marilyn (GG) - St. Vincent
Nurse - Where is St Vincents
Marilyn (GG) - Beaverton

Apparently she was pulling our legs.
Or you have to know what questions to ask.
James as were walking out. (somewhat to himself) -Hell of a time to spin a tale.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

19 things that I am thankful for

Health , Friends and Family are a given but a shout out non the less.

In the last year I married a wonderful woman, Max is blossoming with hiccups, Marina is at peace on a blessed path and Riley enlightens everything she touches.

1. Patience
2. Music
3. Portland Timbers Games
4. Public Radio
5. Portland Pilots Woman's Soccer
6. My neighbors -We are blessed with great ones.
7. Our neighborhood - Hollywood district in Portland is fantastic.
8. Fences that most of the time keep bad beagles in the yard.
9. Morning Star Farm sausage patties
10. Autumn
11. The McKenzie River
12. The Wild Wood Trail
13. Learning with my Wife
14. My job is stable and somewhat fun.
15. Chutney
16. That grey blanket we got as a wedding present.
17. The fireplace.
18. Going for a walk with my wife.
19, The new tragically Hip cd.
20 . Spring Onions

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another Case if Ill Fated OutSourcing

Starry-eyed children writing letters to the jolly man at the North Pole this holiday season very likely won't get a response from Santa Claus or his helpers.
The U.S. Postal Service is dropping a popular national program begun in 1954 in the small Alaska town of North Pole, where volunteers open and respond to thousands of letters addressed to Santa each year. Replies come with North Pole postmarks.

Well it seems the Postal Service has decided to Out Source this still popular Service. For awhile they were going to go the traditional route and have this done in China or possibly India. Spokesperson Clave Cliffin, says of the move "we do not have the expertise or manpower to cross that religious divide. Christmas is all about religion and Christ and giving those to a non Christian country would be sack religious.(sic).

Well Cliffin expanded on this and has told our sources that they intend to hit the ball out of the park with their new out sourcing option So apparently Jesus him self along with some of his disciples will be filling the role this year. Bartholomew, the self centered wacko disciple has opted out as he will be at the his sister in laws house in Bethlehem Pennsylvania. Jesus seems quite pleased with his new found duties. He says he got some great paper and some great ideas for heart felt notes. "Jesus Christ how hard could it be" he added.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oprah and Aristotle sitting in a tree

These lyrics to a song by Low
I'll stay out all night
Looking at the sky
I'll still have my sight
Yeah, I'll still have my eyes
And we will make love
We won't have to fight
We won't have to speak
And we won't have to lie
And I'll stop writing songs
Stop scratching out lines
I won't have to fake
And it won't have to rhyme
When I go deaf
When I go deaf
When I go deaf
When I go deaf (etc)

Now thats a unique way to avoid miscommunication.

This is what the fat Lady Sings

They (so called experts) sum up in three "acts" the breakdowns and breakups of most relationships since the beginning of time:
Act 1: You hurt me.
Act 2: Because you hurt me, I now hurt you.
Act 3: Because you hurt me, I now hurt you and so you hurt me again and so I hurt you -- and downward spiraling we shall go.

Aristotle says: "Anybody can become angry -- that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way -- that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."

I am not a couples expert but this seems so on the button.

Gottman's 3 conflict strategies:
• Avoidance/stonewalling (the worst)
• Fighting (better than avoidance, but still not healthful or helpful)
• Validation (the winning method -- which means really trying to see things from the other person's point of view, and sharing all views with kindness, and the goal of finding a win-win compromise!)

So I think Aristotle had it partially right but something in my memory tells me that he lived in a different time at a slower pace with less technology and he may have been gay (like that matters but 2 people of the same sex seem to fight more fair) but he is a bit on to something.

But trying to see things from the other persons point of view is so darn essential and if you simply ask your self in the middle of that conflict “I wonder how that makes her feel” no matter if you are wrong or you are right you well along the road to “sane discourse”.

We all want to be right, but its okay to be wrong gracefully. Its an art form and work on perfecting it.

But what makes Aristotle so smart, or for that note, me so smart or my wife so smart. Well you appear smarter when acting out of kindness.

There is a lot of literature out there that we reward kids for too many things, ie participating. Those so Called Experts (TSCE) say we should be rewarding them for winning. Boy that kicks conventional wisdom right in the teeth and at times other places. As we age and mature it is not always about winning or being right.

And by all means listen. Perfect it. And listen to your self.

Listen and Silent have the same letters in them.

On a side note some times I perceive our therapist needs more help than we need help and Oprah and Aristotle would have had nice babies.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Not Half Slow or Half Full or Half Fast

My oh my there are a lot of bad news out there. I just learned a very dear friend has been diagnosed with a grim out look for what is left of her life. It is times like this I wish life was
a bit more fair and I had a little more faith.

Last weeks headlines were of shootings in Fort Dix. Yesterday a gunman in Tualatin and
today a family in Bethany is erased from what can be a lovely planet.
One of the kids at my son's school came home from out door school to learn that his mother and sister had been shot. Holy shit, talking about real life knocking you silly and numb.
I have my own personal belief about guns and personally abhor guns but I do not believe guns are the core of the problem.

We as a society in the United States have very little compassion for those in need, for
those with a lack of hope.

For now I am just going to list a few great things in life.

1. The love of friends and family. It might be a cliche of sorts, but its a shame if it is. The simpleness of friends and family should be cherished, nurtured and not taken for granted. Take a few minutes to just reflect back on that. Its beautiful simple thing.

2. Movement - A body in motion is a mind in motion, use them both as they are at your core.

3. Music - If if sounds good it is good. If it moves you get moving.

4. Listen -it has the same letters as silence.

5. Change - 2 months ago the trees were green, the days hot and sunny and tomatoes were hanging on to the last rays of summer. Today we had thunder and lightning and the sky was brilliant hue of angry purple. Both beautiful in its own regard. Each day is unique and beautiful if you let it be.

My friend has a few precious weeks to live and as far as I know I have many many two weeks to live. I am grateful for that.

Just listen

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sometimes Music Hits The Ear Just Right

Fall is a time I generally trend toward classical music. I have no idea why and in general I really do not care all that much. I still remember the first time I heard Edward Elgar's music I was sitting at my desk working a dull cost accountant job for Godiva Chocolatier. It was early fall and was the same time period ironically I was also introduced to the Tragically Hip, The Cowboy Junkies and 10000 Maniacs. It was a time when my musical curiosity was exploding but I kept taking sojourns into classical music. To be honest, I may have initially listened to it because I could listen to it at my desk and not offend too many people. Ironically I remember a few years later an obnoxious co worker being offended by Mozart's variation on a theme. Accountants are not all that cultured.

Anyway back to Elgar.

Completed in 1919, the Cello Concerto was Edward Elgar's last major work for orchestra, and his most confessional. In spite of fleeting moments of idyllic release, it's dominated by disillusionment, by a sense of suffering that at times cries out against life, yet more often speaks in quiet anguish. Elgar had been ill, and he was deeply depressed by the Great War's destruction of the world he had known. All of this he poured into a concerto for the cello — not such an unlikely instrument, considering its rich-toned yet brooding personality and its searing, dark timbre.

As Peter Shickley often suggests, if it sounds good, It is good. In this case Elgar's piece always means autumn to me. Its a simple expression of the human soul and for me coming to terms with the darkness and rich beauty that comes with autumn. It also hints at hope as I envision a simple yellow leave fall to the ground only to fertilize the ground for next spring. Give it a listen here if so compelled. It sounds good Mr. Schickley.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Texting From a Unicycle - A Dangerous Novel

---Note this is Purely Fiction as Part of National Book Writing Month--

There is no such thing as a perfect fall day, but if there was today was one of them. The winds were whipping like crazy and the sky was clearer than I can remember. But to be quite honest I am not the the best at remembering things. My forte is actually forgetting things.

How in the world did I get into this business. I used to have this great corporate job with a drawer full of paper clips and assorted colored sticky notes. A pay check came every other week. It just showed up in the bank. And now for a living I have short circuited that loop. I now rob banks for a living.

And in today's newspaper the local paper has front page head lines of a serial bank robber on the loose. Damn not great timing.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The FBI calls him the Fantasia Bandit for allegedly robbing the Fantasy Adult store on W. Broadway twice. But on Tuesday the armed robber was fingered for the fourth Hollywood-area bank heist in three weeks, according to FBI spokesperson Beth Anne Steele.
The MBank branch at 3636 NE Broadway was hit just before 2 p.m. “No sooner did I get back from lunch I noticed there were quite a few police cars canvassing the area,” said Bryan Andersen who works across the street at Mackin’s Auto Body.

Not a great day to be a bank robber. It looks like I am going to have to take the day off. Well not take the day off, but rather think about making an honest living or at least a living that won't have me ending up in jail. But I love the thrill of it. What fun was it stealing paper clips and note books from my more conventional job.

But it was a steady income. And being a border line substance abuser and non successful gambling addict I need this second job. But for today I just stroll down 29Th avenue admiring the remaining golden maple leaves that dot the Northwest skies. It's an ever changing sky and today the sky in in its brilliant black and purple hint at chaos.

When did we as a society get obsessed or taught to be obsessed with things such as erectile dysfunction and pissing too many times in a day. Its nice that spam marketers have as a target market a certain part of my body.

I remembered I had three beers in the frig, a half pound of ham and 4 bags of those Tostitos which I have nothing to scoop up. The little bills I had I have paid in cash but things were running rather thin. My head pounded from the soberness of it all. The bright after noon sun made my eyes heart and my mouth was dry.

The idea of robbing banks was glamorous to him, but looking at his hierarchy of needs it was food on the table and a few bottles of beer in the refrigirator that where the utmost concern to him. A cozy dark bar sat on the south east corner of the intersection where he now stood.

For a second he pondereed, walking into the pool hall. The pool hall and the seemingly happy people milling about brought a quiet comfort to him; he hated to admit it but at his core he was quite lonely. He also remembered that he had little money on him and this constant reminder hung over him like the constant threat of rain in the Pacific NorthWest.

The laundramat on the opposite corner was almost as inviting with its constant humming and warmth eminating from the dryers.