Brains, Mouths, and Fists

The big one; er, the big one in front, not the one who was holding my elbows behind my back, leaned in. He needed a breath mint. Or twelve.

“Look, wise guy, we can do this the easy way—”

“Wait, don’t tell me—or we can do it the hard way? Am I right?”

I think he pushed my solar plexus into my elbows, which, if you’ll recall, were behind my back.

I do so wish my mouth would check with me before taking the driver’s seat.


A Good Trip to the Desert

15-year-old Joel wanted to tell a story today.

On Friday when I dropped off a leftover paper for Cindy (she was looking for a job, and I always seemed to have a spare paper at the end of my afternoon route) her mom Jean answered the door. When she mentioned they were driving out to the desert to see the spring flowers bloom, I thought what fun, and asked if I could go along.

She thought about it for a moment, and then said how nice it was that if you waited you could always depend on a man coming along or something like that. I found out what time they were leaving so they could pick me up in the morning.

My mom was surprised I was going. When she’d talked to Jean earlier, all Jean had said was they had plans the next day, but Mom didn’t get invited.

After they picked me up in the morning we stopped for breakfast with the rest of the group. The other moms and daughters seemed surprised to see me. I still thought my mom could have come along, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable.

We got out near Borrego Springs, and the flowers were beautiful. After lunch (I didn’t pack anything and had to go into the deli to get a sandwich) Cindy wanted to sit in the sun. It was warm, and the rest of us were in the shade, so she had to go way off to be in the sun. When I tried to talk to her, she was so far away she couldn’t hear me very well and after while I think she might have fallen asleep because she stopped answering.

On the drive home, she was still sleepy. I think she slept all the way home, like two hours. It was a long drive and I knew Jean must be tired, so I said I had my learner’s permit now and if she wanted me to drive for a while I’d be glad to. I think I even mentioned that my driver’s training used exactly the same kind of car she drove. But she didn’t hear me, so after a minute I said it again. I could tell she was really tired, because she still didn’t answer. After I said it the third time and she still didn’t answer, I decided she was too tired to think about it, and I just let her drive.

It was a fun day, being out in the desert when it was cool, all the flowers blooming, spending time with friends.


Some Words from Jake

This is the opening of the third Jake Calcutta story. See? I am writing.

It was quiet in the pub. Jake had expected boisterous noisiness, drunkards singing loud at the next table, loose wenches wrestling with the less drunk at another table, music and feasting and all manner of brash and brazen behavior.

But it was quiet. Once he was past the mild surprise, he thought he’d make use of the peace to review his brief.

He didn’t. What he did was sit, drinking a mug of mild ale he found himself quite enjoying, nibbling on a plate of bread and cheese.

“We all know the Bard did the writing; we just need some kind of evidence to wither those Bacon and Marlowe naysayers. So get it.”

Felicity Bruttenholm’s voice in his ear was brisk, even strident. She took this stuff seriously, and when he was on missions she wasn’t shy about giving him a kick in the proverbial (or would it be metaphorical? maybe both) pants if she thought, as she often (okay, always) did that he’d skimmed the mission brief rather than studying, even memorizing it. She’d nagged him for five long minutes as he walked to the village. Every so often she’d say “If you’re nodding, I can’t hear you” and he’d grunt something that she could take to signify agreement, but which he suspected she realized was just a meaningless noise to fill his tiny space in the conversation.


Jake, Web, and Mom

I don’t know how long ago I promised the third Jake Calcutta story, followed by the third Irish Adventure From the Fog but reports of my writing, as they don’t say, were greatly exaggerated.

We’ve been home from Wisconsin for two weeks and we’re still not back to our regular routine. Another week and we should be more or less recovered. Gustave Flaubert wrote to Gertrude Tennant, “Be regular and orderly in your life…so that you may be violent and original in your work.” (Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire…afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres.)

Don’t believe the hype about the wild lives of writers. The wild life is what goes on when they’re not writing, or because they’re not writing, or they’re not writing because of the wild life, or something. Without an orderly life, truly creative work is difficult.

Here’s to an orderly life and robust originality in my upcoming artistic works.


They’re Just %#@$& Words

Ruth, the love of Bob’s life, leaves him for Chuck.

Next time he meets someone named Ruth or Chuck, will they just be names to him?

A father calls his teenage son ‘stupid’ when he can’t find the right tool.

A suitor says to his intended, “I love you.”

They’re just words, right?

Every time I hear someone excuse their use of profanity that way, these are the things I think about. Is it reasonable to place all the burden of effective communication on the listener, to make them decipher what the speaker means (or does not) by their language choices?

I think not.

If your goal is to convey the coarseness many people still associate with certain language, that’s your choice.

Claiming that others have no reason for offense is not.


Home

52 hours ago we were in Wisconsin.

Day 1 took us from northern Wisconsin to Liberal, Kansas, in 18 hours. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas.

Day 2 took us the rest of the way home. Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona.

Do not do this.

If it weren’t for the fact that our planned 10 days in Wisconsin turned into 5 weeks, we’d have taken 4 days driving home, with an extended stop with friends in Kansas City.

Nope. After 5 weeks of the physical and emotional exhaustion of moving my mom into assisted living, we agreed to the insanity of 1,740 miles in 2 days.

Last night, after arriving at 10:10pm, we slept 9 hours. With, on my part, frequent trips to the bathroom, during which I lost, I kid you not, 9 pounds of water. Overnight.

And all those numbers mean I’m about 66% today, shooting for 100% later in the week.


Since My Whole Life is Moving Mom…

Saturday, the day it didn’t rain we moved Mom’s stuff from her apartment to the assisted living facility. It was easy, which is becoming the norm on this project. Couple young friends did the heavy lifting, and we were done by noon.

Now if the company responsible for moving her hospital bed can actually get it done, she can move in Wednesday, if the convalescent home can figure out how to discharge her without a social worker on staff because theirs left recently. That is, as long as someone at the doctor’s office gets her prescriptions transferred to the assisted living pharmacy. (They’ve had two weeks to organize all this, with Best Beloved riding herd like a deranged cattle rustler, so I’m not sure what’s up other than the severe ponderousness of bureaucracy.)

But it’s looking like maybe we’ll be heading home come Monday.

One more week. I can make it one more week. I can.

My sister Lynn and my wife Sue Lynn, 25 years ago



It’s All One Post

Somewhere in Neil Young’s live album Year of the Horse he yells “It’s all one song!” I’m beginning to feel that way about my posts lately. Guess I write what I know, eh?

Today we learned my mom was accepted at the assisted living facility we loved and hoped for.

H’ray!

We also discovered that there’s more than $700 missing from her bank account, and the most likely explanation is, sadly, the abuse of trust. Another reason we’ve been putting all legal docs and records under the control of one of her children instead of the wrong people having too much access.

But, she has a new home, and we can start moving her soon, and clean out her apartment.

And then I can go home.


The Shrinking Moving Mother

with my Best Beloved on the Sacramento RiverIn the time since Mom disappeared and reappeared, it has become obvious to her that she can’t live on her own anymore. This was obvious to us a year ago when we started discussing it (fruitlessly) with her.

A trip to the emergency room and two months in a convalescent home has her convinced. She’s excited about moving into a good-smelling (this is a big deal) food-oriented (another big deal) assisted living facility.

That means she needs to downsize. By about 75%.

It’s going to be a challenge for everyone involved. I’m thankful every day we’re here for Best Beloved and my baby sister who was able to join us.