the condition of my heart


Dad is in the hospital tonight.  It’s not close enough for me to drive and visit him in a car.  I’d have to take the train and then a taxi or the subway.  It’s not a plane flight but it’s not close.  I’d honestly be feeling better if it we traded placed.  I can handle it better when it’s me all the doctors are poking and prodding.  It’s the feeling of helplessness that overwhelms and destroys me.  All throughout dinner tonight I couldn’t think about anything else. 

They said…

“This stew is great Mom.” 

“Thanks kiddo.  I’m so glad you like it.”

I heard…

“He has a high fever.  His blood pressure is elevated and we don’t have the results from the MRI back yet.”

“We’re going to keep him overnight for observation.  We won’t know anything until the doctors review his chart.”

After calling twenty or thirty times I finally spoke with Mom.  She’s trying to hold it together but is obviously, and justifiably freaking out.  Fortunately we have family out there so she’ll have a place to stay.  I tried calling them too.  It rang and rang without going to voicemail.  They were probably on the other line with some other family member telling them the same story I got from Mom.

I want to be there.  I want to do something.  Do anything.  I know I’ll just be taking away oxygen from other families in the waiting room, but the pull in my gut…  I could at least provide some support to Mom.  Granted, none of our health is very good these days.  My surgery was less than six months ago and she’s close to going on dialysis any day now.  Still, we need to be there for each other. 

I feel panicky, palm sweaty and shaky.  My breath is short and rapid but it’s not from my heart condition.  It’s from the condition of my heart. 

Hopefully I’ll sleep tonight. 


Scotch Tape Wisdom


Ninety-nine percent of the time I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.  I bet you don’t either.  We all pretend we do though.  We don’t want to appear ignorant or stupid do we?  We want to look cool.  Not Knowing = Not Sexy.  Right?  So I stumble forward hoping to fall on my face as little as possible. 

Sometimes I pick myself up, rub some dirt on it and get back in the game.  Most people will thankfully avert their eyes and pretend they didn’t notice.  If only for the fact, that they themselves still have some mud on their face.  It’s easy.  I do it all the time.  I’ve been a musician my entire life and I still don’t know how to play.  I call myself a writer because on odd occasions a couple of words I line up in a row might actually make some sense. 

Of course there are times when the scrapes and scratches cut much too deep.  My ego is doused with the inexorable blood of failed attempts.  My burdensome pride clings tightly to these fresh wounds that drive me deeper into the murkiness of self-doubt.   

I have a handful of quotes taped next to my computer monitor.  I hate to use the terms “inspirational” or “motivational, so I’ll simply say that I put them there to kick me in the ass when I need it.  By no means is this a new and revolutionary concept, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be helpful from time to time.   

I’m lazy.  Just being honest here.  If I had to choose between the sweat and heartbreak of exercise and hard work or sitting around on the couch and all day watching bad Sci-Fi… Battlestar Galactica would win every time.  I do want to leave more of an impression on this life than my ass print on a sofa cushion though.  

So here I am.  At the computer yet again.  The cursor blinks on and off.  On and off.  On and off.  The emptiness on the page after each flash is a razor slicing through another layer of confidence.  I have the story here in my head.  I know it.  I told it to myself over and over again until I felt sure that it might be something worthwhile.  I know who the characters are, what they sound like and how they react in almost any situation.  But they refuse to talk to me today. 

Isn’t it strange that I’m actually encouraging voices in my head to speak up?  I want them to talk to me.  I want the narrative to develop and give them life.  But today, like many other days before, when the electrons bouncing around between my ears choose to remain quiet.  What’s that?  How can I be writing this if there is nothing going on in my head?  Like I said before, I really don’t know what I’m doing.  

I figure if I keep pounding letters out, maybe they’ll jar something loose from way back in the shadows and get my juices flowing again.  I even started working out again today, mostly because my wife called me on my shit last night (deservedly so I might add), but I’ll try anything at this point.  There are some dishes in the sink that need washing, laundry, gotta walk the dog, take a shower, call my doctor, write a letter to the school, etc. etc.  

Right now though, I’m looking at the annoying quotes and trying to learn from the flashes of knowledge and great wisdom held up by Scotch Tape right in front of me.  They are so…inspirational.  Woo Hoo.  Be Inspired!  Be Be Inspired!  I’d do the splits but that would not be very attractive, or productive really.  Besides, there’s nobody around to call 911 and get someone over here to pull me up off the floor.

The only artists who refer to themselves as “Artists” are the one’s that we all consider arrogant.  Most people know what they don’t know and are working very hard to learn more about what they don’t know they don’t know.  You know?  I know I am anyway.  In the meantime I’ll keep on pressing keys, plucking stings, slapping wooden sticks on layers of plastic and brass.   Maybe tomorrow I learn one more thing than I know today.  I hope so.