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Sign #13 That You’re Officially An Adult…

As you age there are tattletales that let you know you’ve officially crossed the threshold into adulthood.  Some of these are fussing about health insurance, buying a mattress and a sudden natural avoidance of retailers playing music on their store’s overhead speakers so loud as to not being able to understand the mouth breathing acne-riddled teenage sales associate explain that their out of the size running shoe you’re looking for.adulthood-dvd-launch-drive-video-127

Another marker on the road towards inevitable death is the sudden onslaught of bodily pain.

As we get older our bodies tend to break down, because we as people have a tendency to use them every day.  We use our bodies in various ways depending on the types of people we are.  Some use our bodies for a certain purpose while others tend to let themselves waste away through means I couldn’t explain to you in less than a thousand words.  Regardless, as we put the necessary mileage on our bodies, things tend to not work so well as they did when we were younger.  I like to think of it as Death scratching his long withered finger down our backs to remind us that he’s right there, waiting.

Or at least that’s what it felt like the other night.

Roughly twice, maybe thricely a year I throw my back out, and it’s fucking painful.  My back, particularly my lower back, has been my Achilles’ Heel since about high school.  Even as I write this, sitting at my office desk in front of the computer, my back is still achy, despite mine, and my wife’s best efforts.

It doesn’t help things that I was born with a fused vertebrae – my L12 and T1 or something or other are stuck together and have been since birth.  And apparently that’s somewhat normal (one out of every 8 or 9 people?), according to the quack chiropractor I saw half a dozen times during my senior year of high school.  How did I know he was a jackoff quack shaman?  The license plate on his Mercedes said ‘Thanks.”fused_sm

Regardless, he took X-Rays and pointed out that there was nothing chiropractic care could really do for me, since those two bones in my spine were stuck together.  What compounded things was that I had been somewhat injured at some point growing up, and I never allowed the muscles around my lower back to properly heal.  I can think of two possible incidents that occurred that could be these injuries, but I won’t get into them in this article.

Given that, there’s little I’ve ever really done to correct the problem of my lower back, and as I’ve been getting older, the pain that seems to come with my bi or tri annual bouts has only intensified over the years.  As a college kid, I’d catch a quick muscle spasm, wince, and then go on with my day being a little stiffer until my back decided to play along with the rest of my body and come to its senses.

However, the other night was especially rough, to the point that when my wife asked if I wanted to go to the ER, I actually considered it.  And did I mention that the ER was an hour’s drive away, and fucking terrible by western medical standards?worame1_233901s

I had been dealing with a sore back for a few days already when the Last Great Spasm took place on Tuesday night.  I’m not exactly sure on what exact event triggered it this time around, as I’d been doing a lot of heavy, awkward lifting over the last few weeks, leading up to the LGS.

Our dog Ivy has a hard enough time getting up from the floor let alone into the cab of my truck.  When she’s with me and we’re going for a drive, I’ll walk her over to the passenger side of my F150 and open the door for her.  She wiggles her hind quarters and looks up at me with a dumb grin almost to ask “hey, are you fucking kidding me?  Do I look like I can climb up there?  Have you seen me climb the steps up to the apartment?”

So I squat down, trying to keep my back straight, and scoop her up into my arms and lift her 50 lb body into the truck cab as she’s wiggling around and grunting with exuberance.  Doing this a handful of times over the previous weekend might’ve brought on the LGS.

I’m not blaming the dog, I’m just saying.

So fast forward to Tuesday night, where for the last day and a half I’d been walking around the apartment like fucking Frankenstein; a sour disposition, stiff legs and jerky movements – grunting and mumbling when I spoke, that sort of thing.  I’m sitting on the couch with Ang watching “Zoolander” of all things, when I see something on the floor off the side of the couch.

“Oh, that’s where that went,” ‘that’ being an old dog leash that the ferret’s had decided to hide on us a week or so back.  I leaned over the couch to grab it before one of the little furry bastards could re-hide it on us, when suddenly Ang shot me in the back.470_126937

At least that’s what it certainly felt like.  A hot shiv raced between my discs, its piss-and-shit-soaked tip severing my spinal nerves, shifting everything out of place, causing my entire body to lock up like I was running Windows Vista.

I yelled in agony, my outstretched arm turned into a statue’s claw, my eyes watered up, my tongue swelled, my throat closed.

“Ah, ah-ah-aahh…” I managed to say.  My wife popped up concerned, asking me what was wrong.  I think all I could do was point to my back and try to slide backwards into the couch.  As I did so, it felt like I was sitting on an electric fence.

She moved into medic-mode and secured me on the couch (not so secure that I couldn’t grab for my iPhone when she left the room) with my legs propped up.  She quizzed me about the yoga moves she showed me how to do to help with my back spasms the last time this happened a few months ago and frowned with disappointment when I answered “no” to “have you been doing them?”

Soon I was face down, head hanging miserably off the side of our bed, attempting to realign my spine.  Ang warmed up a heating pad, and sensing that something was wrong with daddy, Ivy came padding over and licked my face.

Pushing her away only emboldened her, as she then decided it would be a good idea to try to lift my head with her body.  She squatted under me and pushed her furry, shedding back against my face, so that the sticky dog spit I was covered in would collect her shedding blonde hair, giving me a patchy bearded look of a high school kid who’s just begun growing out his facial hair.

Ang took a video, of course.

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September 4, 2009 Posted by | Getting Older, Shameless Self Promotion, The Great Indoors | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Problem(s) with Our Parking Lot

As I’ve likely noted before, where we live is a total rat’s nest.  One of the major problems with where we live is that our parking lot is woefully small, to the point where it’s nearly pointless to even bother to keep an extra vehicle on the property and try to get a good night’s sleep.

The lay out works like this:  There’s pretty much one spot per apartment, which is fine if you live by yourself and don’t expect company, what-so-ever, which is reasonable because no one in their right mind would bring anyone to this giant horse turd of a building.

The problem with “one spot per” is that people tend to cohabit, ie, live with their spouses, have “license-aged” kids, etc, and the average family owns at least two cars.  Gone are the days where mother spent her days in the kitchen, baking pies and dropping opium under her tongue to pass away the day until father came home in his old Studebaker from the office in “the city.”

No, now-a-days both people in the marriage, coupling, what-have-you, work, have errands to run, lives, etc.  Two cars MINIMUM is a necessity if people plan on being productive in this day and age.  To deny otherwise is akin to literally putting a chain on one spouse’s ankle and connecting the other end to a stove.

So, this whole “one spot per” bullshit needs to be deaded, real quick.

This morning I awoke to come into the office under a cloud of shame, so my day was already starting off on the “bad foot.”  I went downstairs to the parking lot only to find myself blocked in by another car.

Like most of my mistakes lately, I brought this shit on myself, so my demeanor was relaxed and almost apologetic.  The space I parked into was one reserved for an apartment that is 9/10s the time vacant due to it’s owners living off Cape and only spending a few weeks in the summer “down here.”  So for the rest of the time, the particular spot is kinda a “gimmie” like “free parking” in Monopoly.  If I can get that spot, which is right next to the door to the building, I fucking grab it.  It’s something the smelly Haitians and I have in common.

But at some point last night, the people who actually “own” that space came into town, effectively blocking me in.  They were kind enough, however, to leave a little note on my car’s windshield wiper that simply said “E4”, the apartment they were in.

So at 520 in the morning, here I am, knocking on someone’s door to be let out of the spot, like one would let the dog out.  I kept my ear to the door and waited til I heard the shuffling of feet and the eventual unlocking of the eight or nine locks on the other side of the flimsy plywood door.  What poked it’s head out from around the corner looked like Martin Scorsese’s mother from “Goodfellas.”

I felt like an asshole, momentarily, for waking this poor old bat up from her sleep at just after 5 in the morning, but chasing that thought was a sense of aloofness; she blocked me in, probably not thinking that I, the owner of the giant truck, had to be up and at work so early on a holiday that most everyone else has off.  She could’ve came and knocked on the door to my apartment last night and asked me to move, no sweat.  So she gets what she deserves.

Sheepishly she moves her car from literally underneath my truck.  The old bitch parked so close to my truck that her front end, roughly three inches of it, was under my rear bumper.  There was no damage to my truck, nor the woman’s face, due to my restraint from kicking it.

Bottomline, this shit is unacceptable.  I refuse to have to play a game of Chinese-fucking-Checkers whenever I come home, and I refuse to have to be delegated a “guest spot” in my own building, if I get a spot at all (when this happens, I’m forced to park my truck behind my wife’s car, double parking in a spot, which will bring the Meth Zombie from whatever crypt she dwells to tell me it’s a fire hazard, to which I promptly slam the door on her crackpipe burnt face).  I have also been made to find alternate arrangements to house my motorcycle as I do not feet it safe from tampering/vandalism/accidents in my own parking lot.

I’m giving deep consideration to contacting our negligent landlords and having whatever I end up paying for storage, deducted from the rent.

My solution:  Burn the buildings down, pave over everything, and turn the whole fucking track of land into a goddamn parking lot.  It’d be an improvement.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About, People I Hate | , , , , , | 3 Comments

In His Prime

An oldie but a goodie, I bring you back to 1982, when Michael Jackson literally was the King of Pop.  ….Sigh, if only he had cut this album (or maybe Bad too) and died in a fiery plane crash along with Lionel Richie, which would have cemented their fates as Pop Music Gods…

Anyway, here’s “Thriller”, directed by John Landis and featuring a voice over by the late Vincent Price.  Epic video, especially by today’s standards.  Enjoy.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Gay Shit I Know Too Much About, People I Love, The Great Indoors, Why Am I Watching This? | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ok, Let’s Try That Again: Fear and Loathing at KMart

Yesterday I was a wreck.  If The Lady gets around to it, she’ll post the embarrassing Gchat that proves it.

I had come to the office from the other office at about 1030 in the morning, and after considerably taxing errands and slamming my already bruised and scabbed knee cap into a heavy piece of wooden furniture, I decided I wanted a drink.  A “drink” being three quarters of a litre of Canadian Mist whiskey, straight, when I usually have it with at least half a dozen ice cubes.

In a matter of minutes I went from stone sober James, to past Slightly Buzzed James, Flirty James, Drunk James, to Dark and Brooding James all while sitting at my office desk, glowering at the computer screen like the sole black guy at a Hank Williams Jr. concert with the ominous task of putting out an article about how I’m going to take out my roommate with a garden spade.

This all started around 0630 in the  morning when I was pulling the early morning shift at the office, mixing Rockstar energy drink with Gatorade AM, while reading an article in the local paper online about a woman who robbed another woman at gunpoint in a Wendy’s parking lot, and wondering why I let The Lady talk me into locking up all my guns.  A few listless hours passed by as I wrote a few cursory articles about the music industry and Sarah Palin when my roommate came into work and stuck his head into my office.

He’d been warned as of late not to bother me, especially at work.  We haven’t been getting along and it seems that we can’t talk to each other without either one of us exploding.  I was tired of this, of course, so I told someone to tell him not to come knocking on my door anymore.  Any need to talk to me about the apartment or whatever should be done through an intermediary or in writing like email or notes.

But he stuck his head in my office, and it was early and no one else was around.  He wanted to talk and being that my heart isn’t completely made of stone like I wish it was, I invited him in.

Out the gate he starts off with the fact that he threw out the shower curtain.  When I asked him if he replaced it, he said “no.”

I sat behind my desk looking up at him.

“So what’s going to happen when Ang wants to take a shower this morning before she goes into work?”  I ask him, trying to hold down my rage.  I seethed and clicked some random shit on my screen so I wouldn’t have to look at him.

“She can just point the nozzle at the wall, or something” he came back with.  There were some more words exchange, but it basically came down to this:

“You must’ve known what you were doing when you did that.  There’s no way you would’ve not been able to see that by taking down the shower curtain you’d prevent someone else from taking a fucking shower.  Admit it, you did it out of malice towards Ang.”

“No, I didn’t,” he says, and we’re both getting heated.

“No, that’s not how it works.  Either you intentionally threw out that curtain so she couldn’t shower this morning, or you’re a fucking idiot.  And I find the latter hard to believe,” I shouted.

“Call me a fucking idiot again,” he spits back, oblivious to the fact I just said that was hard to believe, “and Ang can move the fuck out!”  At this point I was half way out of my chair, leaning towards him.  The only thing between him and I was a bank of computer screens and telephones.

My entire life, I can count how many times I’ve been moved towards physical violence on one hand.  This was one of those times.

Luckily, Rog walked in and told the RM to get out, after hanging outside my office door for a few minutes to see where the argument would go.  In a huff, the RM walked out and I sat back down.

“You ok?”  Rog asks.

“Yeah,” I was shaking, and all I wanted to do was run or exert myself somehow.  What I wanted to do was pound that little fucker’s head in until it turned into a pink mush.

“Just calm down, he’s not worth it,” Rog added, as if reading my thoughts.  I got up and paced around my office in a donut, wringing my hands, flexing my calf muscles, cracking my knuckles and neck vertebrae.  God, I wanted to kill him.

A few hours later, I had calmed down a bit.  I know that when I first tried writing this piece I mentioned something about a presentation about cultural heritage or something.  Forget I said that, it never happened.

Fast forward and I’m driving my truck home from the office.  It’s roughly 1000 in the morning and I can’t decide which exit to take that’s going to put me closer to the KMart side of town.  Exit 9 is closest, but I’ll have to drive into town and then back out, and I hate backtracking.  Exit 10 is further away, but it’ll put me at a straight shot into town, where I can just swoop into the parking lot at the KMart and then back out to the apartments.

I opt for the latter, not knowing that there was going to be a three mile long snarl of stop and go traffic; not just regular, garden variety traffic, but head pulsing, construction equipment laden, dickwad, oblivious Massholes behind the wheel, don’t turn their signals on until they’ve pretty much already stopped and are holding up traffic because they want to turn against the on coming lane, asshole traffic.

I again, do my best to remain calm and not murder anyone, though at this point I feel given my legal expertize that a defense of insanity would pretty much cover any felony I decided to commit while sitting and listening to Michael Jackson’s “Pretty Young Thing” in time with a fucking jackhammer two feet from my truck’s door.

I manage to snail my way to the KMart and park.  I realize then, or maybe it was one of the last times I was here, that KMart is one of those places where the old and/or morbidly obese go to die.

Like the great Elephant Graveyards of lore, ancient giant beasts slowly roam this parking lot, waddling in small packs, their neck fat jiggling with each mammoth like step they take.  There are other places like this, where the elderly congregate in great numbers:

Hearth and Kettle…

Christmas Tree Shoppe

Old Country Buffet

Middle Afternoons at any Cluckies.

Wait no, I’m getting my field notes confused.  You see, I have terrible penmanship, and if given an ink rollerball pen, I tend to smudge and smear my hack scribe.  The middle afternoons at Cluckies is for unemployed mid twenty black males with baby strollers.

Regardless, I was in the KMart, the bastard older cousin to Wal Mart, and the tragically uncool step daughter to Target.  I wandered inside and saw depression of the highest ranks behind carriages lined with Alpo dog food and jeans with expanding elastic waists.

I scurried over to the Home Decor (En Casa Decarado) section, noticing how everything was written in both English and in Spanish or Portuguese, it’s hard to tell since the languages are so close together.  I know where I live there’s a mass of Portuguese, however, this trend is expanding in all regions.  For instance, in Maine, you can’t walk into a Lowe’s and find lumbar without learning that it’s also called Lumbar in Spanish.  Half of me sees this as a way that English speaking landscapers and construction foreman can learn another language based primarily on building material vocabulary, and the other half feels that Home Depot is acquiescing to the multitudes of huddled masses outside their automatic sliding doors, screaming !Trabajo! at anyone driving by in a pick up truck.

I find the bathroom section and mull over the lack of choices in front of me.  I know this should be a quick fix, I should be able to just grab anything off the rack, and pay for it, but all the choices are.. well.. just…

Gay.

I finally settle on one I like and start looking at bath mats, but after five minutes of only finding those soon-to-be soggy-with-piss furry mats that go around the base of the toilet, I leave a stack of them haphazardly in the middle of the aisle and storm off towards the registers.

Of course I’m greeted with only one in a hundred fucking registers open, with a malcontent black woman behind it, slowly scanning products purchased by an army of AARP card holders.  The line is snaking around the main aisle of the store and I stare up at the ceiling, hoping that god will drop one of those steel girders on my face and put me out of my fucking misery.

But before that comes close to happening, over the frail and fragile shoulder of who I would be fooled into thinking is Cindy McCain’s mafia-linked father, I see the customer service desk being manned by two horse-faced losers in red vests, with one customer between the two.  With my two items, shower curtain and plastic bath mat, I race over.

The fatter of the two losers is looking at me and I step up without being asked.  Under my breath I tell her:

“I’d just like to pay for these real quick,” and look around to see if I’m drawing any attention to myself.

“Sir, this is customer service,” she tries to sound nice and polite, but it’s coming out forced and exasperated.  “If you have an exchange or return, we can-”

I cut her off with a death stare, the same stare a starving African child would give a missionary as he clicked over in his mind that he’d sooner kill the patronizing bitch with the bowl of rice than take it from her and survive.

“You have a cash register, and I have two items I would like to purchase.  You are customer service.  I am a customer.  Service me.”  I sound like a robot set to kill, and the blubber around this woman’s neck bobbles up and down as she swallows hard.  I’m inches away from swooping down on her like a hawk and ripping her eyes out with my razor sharp talons.  I start to get that frustrated shake in my shoulders, but just then I sense that a member of the undead is approaching behind me, and when I turn over my shoulder I see that John McCain’s gin-soaked father in law has shuffled over, obviously taking my queue that waiting in that other, solitary line is for the birds.

Early birds.  Special.  Get it?

Jabba the Slut reluctantly takes my items and scans them, and I swipe my plastic and she bags them and I leave hurriedly.  Before I know it, I’m home just in time to catch The Lady walking out the door to her job.  I walk with her down the street to her shop, taking notice that she doesn’t let funny, unnecessary things like traffic lights and crosswalks get in her way, as like a Russian tank, she rolls right through crowds and oncoming traffic.

“I think, when I get home, I’m gonna get shitfaced,” I tell her.

“Yeah, you need a drink,” she says back.  I catch her up on all the horrible goings-on, the bad trip, the shakes, the near homicidal rages I’ve been having.  She pats me on the head and tells me to run along to my bottle.

(Note:  We contact The Lady and she disputes that this happened.  Her recollection was something to the effect of “I wouldn’t drink if I were you,” and “make me some damn buttered bagels and bring them back here when you get home, or you can sleep on the couch tonight.” -ed)

I get back home and pace around for a few minutes.  I want to write this article at that point and thought I’d better at least start writing it while sober.  The other half of me reminds me that when I was in college, I wrote some of my best papers absolutely blasted to the nines, and three years later (really six, since I wrote a college thesis shlabbergahsted) I should be able to still do this.

What compounds that decision is walking into my office, sitting down, and slamming my knee into a bit of furniture so hard that I yelp out “FUCK!” and jump up and down, much to my neighbors chagrin, I’m sure.

My knee, my right knee, is a total mess right now.  It’s cut up and bruised and covered in blackening scabs.  Slamming it into whatever the hell I slammed it into did not feel very good.

“That’s it!”  I proclaimed loudly, amongst my screams of agony.  “I’m having a drink!”

I stormed out to the kitchen and grabbed the bottle from above the fridge and an 8 oz glass.  Normally I put ice in with my whiskey, but not this morning, no.  I wanted to feel not feeling.  I sloppily poured the glass full and took a long hard chug and drank half of what I poured.  I then topped off the glass, and brought it and the bottle back with me to the office.

I sat down in front of the computer and edited some of my own articles, blowing off my editors.  Soon, luckily, the editing was done and I was starting to feel calm and warm again.  The Lady was talking to me over the Gchat and I was slowly and loosely falling down into a dark pit of alcohol.

Somewhere in there the idea to call the RM surfaced and I dialed up work.  A few minutes later, he picked up and was cold towards me.  I couldn’t tell you what was said, only that I thanked him for making the apartment look nice and congratulated him about something.  He had a lot of “yeahs” for me, his lack of compassion and obvious loathing was apparent and I closed the call.

I kept drinking, and if you drink heavily, you know that drinking is a lot like driving an 18 wheeler.  It takes a little while to get up to speed, and it takes even longer to stop where you want to be at.  You tend to over-shoot things.  At least I do.  And before I knew it, I completely overshot being “just short of full blown drunk” and landed on “holy shit, I can’t feel my legs anymore” wasted.

I panicked.  I called Rog and blubbered into the phone to him about my whole RM situation.  I only get depressed-drunk when I’m well past the light and hearty buzzed.  Normally, I’m a flirty drunk.  But now I was simply just a wreck.

My pants were half off, tangled around my thighs as I sat on the floor with the phone pressed to my head and told Rog how much I loved him.  I told him I was sorry for the shitty state I was in, and how I wanted to work things out with the RM.

“Nigga, you gay?” he said back to me.  He said he was kidding, and he knew that the RM wanted to work things out too.  He was stressed as well.

I parted ways with Rog, but as soon as I set down the phone I felt compelled to call someone else.  I instantly dialed dad.

I don’t remember much of this conversation either, only that I was in full on panic mode, red alert, spinning, literally out of control, because I was fully aware that I was falling further and further into a mean, disgusting drunkness.  The room was spinning and I was crying.  Dad did his best to talk me down off the ledge I was inching out on, but soon he too was growing tired of my insanity and gave me this big hint:

“Jim, hey, listen honey, why don’t you take a little nap, eat something, ok, and uh, call me later tonight when you dry out a little and we’ll talk about all of this, ok?”  I realized then that I had drank nearly an entire litre of whiskey on an empty stomach and was going off of four hours of sleep the night before.  I was losing my mind.

I took his hint and got off the phone.  I flopped across the hallway to the bathroom, hung my head over the bowl and rammed a finger down my throat and puked up orange bile.  I did this three or four times, cursing the fact that my gag reflex was half a centimeter to my trachea.  I then wiped my mouth, left my jeans on the floor, and crawled on my hands and knees back to bed, like a pathetic mess.

I passed out, and I vaguely remember The Lady coming home at some point to get something to eat and then it being 1800.  I slept the entire day away.

I accomplished nothing, only managed to give myself a throbbing headache and upset stomach.

I called dad back and checked in, mom talked to me and was noticeably upset by my shabby appearance on the phone.  Mistakenly I told her that I had “caught something” which must’ve been a bite from the Horseshit Fly, because she saw right through that line of pure bull.

The Lady doesn’t want the RM to be apart of our lives anymore, if this is what he’s going to do to me, and I’m inclined to agree.  This weekend, I’m putting that wheel into motion.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Corporate America Hates You, Fear and Loathing, Gonzo Journalism, Living in an Insane Asylum, Out and About | , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments