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Questions

Why is my father so tired? Is his liver failing, or is it his refusal to use the oxygen? Is it the depression that he denies experiencing but which vests itself so clearly in his affect and actions (or lack of actions)?

Why do I cry so infrequently and so briefly?

Why can't dad come to terms with his impending death?

Why am I such a coward? Why can't I discuss death and dying with him? Why do I suspect that he'd like me to take the first step?

And why, in the name of all that's good and right, is my mother choosing now to act out in such a despicable and childish manner such that it pales in comparison to anything she's ever done in the past?

How on earth, at a time like this, can I possibly solve my problems with mom and simply forbid her to invade my personal space/business/life?

Why am I playing Rachmaninoff on the stereo instead of Oscar Peterson?

Pardon the pun, but why do I sound like a broken record?

Answers

Dad's going to die and it may be selfish but I honestly sometimes wish he'd get it over with.

The "Anger" stage of grief is in full swing right now. I nearly got myself arrested the other day for verbally assaulting a customer who was refusing to pay for what he ordered. (Luckily, the customer was so ignorant he didn't realize that my tirade qualified as an assault under the laws of the state I live in.) And I've engaged in the childish and dangerous behavior called "road rage." Oooh, this business of confessing gives me the warm fuzzies. I've hurled racial slurs at several people under my breath (a truly cowardly thing to do, if you ask me).

I wish it were me. I've come to terms with my mortality (heart disease and several near-death experiences can do that to a person). Call me suicidal, but I'd trade places with him in an instant would it were possible. Worse, I wish it were my mother. I'm certain that the stress of forty-nine years of life with her gave him colon cancer in the first place and will end up killing him. Couldn't she just go away and leave him alone?

My mother put the "fun" in "dysfunction." I guess her "excuse" is that she's an ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic). Ecch, I can't believe that I'm being so fucking Politically Correct. I guess the thing that frustrates me so much about my mother is that she's really, really screwed up but I can't just point a finger and say "oh, she's {choose one: a) an alcoholic, b) a drug addict, c) a criminal}. If she were one of those, we could all of us get together hunky-dory and have ourselves an intervention, send her off somewhere and "detach with love." But no, no, no. She's just weird and fucked up. And boy it's hard for me to talk about it 'cause I'm weird and some of my behaviors are fucked up but at least I realize it. And then of course there's the part of me that's missing having had a mother who cared a whit about me. Boy, do I envy the folks I know whose mothers love them unconditionally. Boy do I envy the folks I know who talk to their mothers every day (not because they feel obliged to, but because their mothers are people they like). Is it a sin to "covet thy neighbor's mother?"

The Happy Ending

I've met some of the finest people I've ever met in my life in the past months.

Wealth is no longer measured in dollars by me, but by the number of good friends I have - and if friends were gold my brother would be the mother lode.

"What doesn't kill us makes us stronger." = True.

"Live each day as if it were your last." = Great advice.

Joy can be found in most places, all one need do is look hard enough.

Lessons can be found everywhere. Lessons beat despair hands-down.

Life goes on and when I think of the alternative, I guess life's pretty good; no, make that very good, after all.

Falling - A Story About Love
Thrown Away.

Calmly, for the first time in forever, I sit here. I can't stop thinking about her, but I didn't expect that to go away. Even the air reminds me of her. I'm taking deep breaths, remembering exactly what she smelt like. Breathing in, wondering if she's missing my smell. Wondering if she regrets ending us to save us.

I doubt it.

It's as if she cut my heart in two, but keeps picking at the stiches as if she doesn't want me to heal. Every time I see her or hear her, I feel like I could die because I know what I've lost. What I'm missing. But how can I forget? She did more than just jump into my life. She changed my mind. She changed the way I think. The way I look at things. I don't remember ever finding beauty in hearing someone breathing or crying out of sheer joy, not until I met her... How can I forget that? Why would I want to?

Because I need to escape... I need to get away from whatever I'm stuck in. I need to be able to think, to live in a world without her. Every day, I see her. She won't go away. It's not as if she's invading my world, she belongs here too... But I don't want her here. Not if she is going to slowly pick apart ever last defense I have.

People keep telling me that this feeling will pass, that eventually, I won't want her in my life. Well right now, I don't care. I WANT her in my life. I want to be hurt, I want to scream, I want to cry until my eyes feel dry and sore. You don't let someone who changes your life, just pass by. You don't just forget them. You don't just leave them be. You hold on to them for as long as you can.

I keep trying to write something to her. To tell her what I feel. To tell her I need to leave. But it's just smeared letters on a page that is slowly getting damp. I'm an actor, a poet and a thinker. But I can't even bring up the words to say good-bye.

Pages upon pages of desperation. Pages begging her to take me back, to let me go, to tell me why. Pages of nothing. I can't write anymore. It's been days since I've been able to have a creative thought. All I think about is the taste of her lips or the beauty of her voice. Even when I try to explain what happened, my words disappear. She's taken all my energy. All of my being is focused into her and I can't let go to save myself.

It's impossible to accept that it's over. You keep telling me that I'll find the right person... But you are the right person. Someone once told me that there is one person out there who you are ment to stay with... I never believed in fate until I met you. I never believed that I could give myself up so fully and completely until the first time you kissed me...

I can still remember it in perfect detail.

It was raining. It was like something out of a movie. Rain soaked our skins, but we kept walking because we enjoyed the company. Your hair fell over your eyes and I could barely see them. I kept running over kissing you in my head. I just kept thinking about it. And, as if reading my mind, you told me not to worry. And then you kissed me. You kissed me and at that moment, I could have died and been happy.

I won't ever forget that memory. Even now, every detail is there still. From the taste of your lips, to the feel of your skin. I remember everything.

Do you remember me at all?

There is love of course. And then there's life, its enemy.
Jean Anouilh

Woo, boy.

I've just had my wisdom tooth pulled.

I'd been sort of dreading today for weeks now, since my last appointment at the dentist. He poked somewhere in the back of my mouth and it hurt. The teeth were all sensitive because they were being crowded by that one wisdom tooth that had appeared some time before. My dentist said it had to come out and we could do it that same day - he's enthusiastic that way. But it being my birthday I preferred to make a new appointment.

You know how when women are pregnant, other women love to tell them all their horror stories of their own labour? How they were in pain for days and about the ruptures and the stitches and whatnot? It's the same with getting your teeth pulled. People love to tell you about the time when the anesthetic stopped working halfway through, how the tooth had to be sawed in half, how the blood spattered on the dentist's glasses...
Really, just what you need to hear.

I've had teeth pulled before. Four of them, to make room for the rest. That was at least fifteen years ago. I remembered that it hurt to have the injection for the anesthetic and that it took some time for that to start working. That it didn't hurt but the sound was very unpleasant. (I also remember that I came home from the dentist just before dinner time, with a huge hole in my lower jaw - it felt huge at least - and my mother had made rice. It kept disappearing into that hole). I expected the same for today, that it would take at least a quarter of an hour.

You know what happened? I got into the chair, I got the injections (that still doesn't feel pleasant), I felt some pulling in my head and heard the same sounds as before. Then there was some business with a piece of thread for a stitch and that was it! All over and done in less than five minutes!

So that was a rather impressive experience. Not because it hurt - it didn't really. But because it was over before I knew it!

The dentist also said I wouldn't need painkillers. Half an hour after the procedure I say he's wrong :) /me goes off to find some ibuprofen

After watching the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, on all major TV networks world wide, and seeing those unfortunate souls jumping from the upper-most floors of the WTC, I've come to the conclusion that there must be a better way for architects to design skyscrapers which would allow everyone to escape more quickly and safely. Sure, it was a deliberate attack by mad men, but what if it was just one jet-liner that hit the WTC North tower, completely by accident? A good example being the B-25 Mitchell Bomber that hit the Empire State Building on July 28, 1945. The result would have been much the same as on September 11, 2001 if it had been just an accident, only involving one airliner. Poor souls on the upper floors would have still had to jump, or burn to death. Such a pity in these days of high-technology. There must be a better way to get people out of these buildings. Here is my idea, for you architects who design these death-traps that stick almost a mile into the sky. With a design that I'm about to propose, the owners of yet to be built skycrapers might even make a buck.

Elevators, and stair-cases are a must in all skyscrapers, they cannot be done without. They are vital in getting people to the upper floors, and down. A third system for getting people down in a hurry is needed, how about a slide?

Picture a large tube, three to four feet in diameter, all stainless steel, very smooth on the inside. This tube coils its way down from the uppermost floor, around the main elevator shaft, down to the basement. Each floor has a computer controlled door one can enter so that when there is an emergency, the doors to this tube will open and people can jump into it and slide down to the basement. The doors leading to the inside of the tube would have to open by computer control; we don't want a person to enter the tube only to be bashed by another person sliding down from above. A huge fan, much like those in a wind tunnel slows your descent, and you pop out in the basement onto a moving conveyor belt which moves you out of the way. You don't want to get hit by the next person sliding down behind you. The wind from the fan would help cool the inside of the tube, (a raging fire could heat up sections of this tube.) The large fan used to slow you down would provide much needed oxygen for people inside the tube and would help cool the tube down the same time. The exhaust from the fan would exit out the very top of the sky scraper. A large grate would prevent anyone on the roof top from entering the slide illegally.

All entrance doors to this tube would be closed and cannot be opened except in the event of an true emergency. In an emergency, these tube doors will not open if there is a person above your floor sliding down. Once that person, or those people slide by, a computer will open the door. Of course, the computer will open the doors of the floor that is having the most problems during the emergency, giving priority to those floors so people on those floors can get out first. On floors not so affected, people will directed to take the elevators, or stairs.

The escape tube could double as the ultimate amusement ride. Just below the roof top of such a building, there could be an observatory deck, restaurant, etc. There will be concessions stand where you buy tickets to ride The Escape Tube, all the way to the basement, if you dare. Picture a slide ride from 100 floors up, if you can. Once you enter, there would be no stopping. The slide ride would be closed, immediately, should any emergency occur, but can be opened by computer control to allow even those people to escape quickly. What a ride it would be!

I'm not an engineer, nor am I an architect. There are plenty of fabulous ones out there, one only has to look at the wonderful structures they've built so far, things that fill us with wonder. As for myself, I would not even enter the tallest buildings of the world at ground floor, let alone go to the top of one. Work in one? Forget it! How do you escape one if there is a fire, or an earthquake, if the elevators are full? I cannot walk down flights of stairs, let alone run down them. There are many people out there sharing my boat. If they had a big slide inside, I would go to the very top of the tallest skyscraper without fear. I would even pay 50-100 Dollars to ride their slide, just one time.
The Bus Driver Part II: Bus Driver Vengeance
I thought it was over. A bus driver honked at me, I gave her the finger, she yelled at me and said she wasn't honking at me, I apologised and that was that. Over, right?

Not over. The saga continues, apparently. And it's such a stupid thing too, caused by a misunderstanding and me giving someone the finger. You'd think I'd drawn a picture of a bus driver wearing a bomb in her turban and had it published in a Danish newspaper. Ridiculous.

To keep things simple I'll call the driver Mary. Here's what happened today:

My wife walked the kids to school today and when she arrived, my son ran off to play with friends and my daughter stayed with my wife. At the same time, Mary pulled her bus up to the school and let some kids and at least one parent off the bus. Mary saw my wife and walked over to her.

Now I wasn't there, so this is here-say, but my wife told me that Mary talked so fast and said so much, she couldn't get a word in edgewise. Some quotes of what Mary said:

"I saw you laughing. I don't like to be laughed at."

"I know where you live"

"You're scared of me"

"Go laugh in your own face next time"

And then she said something about the police, but my wife didn't catch it.

My wife told Mary that she's not scared of her and that she's going to go into the school and talk to the principal. Mary left. my wife didn't end up going into the school. She stood with our daughter until the bell rang and she had gone in. Then she went home and called me.

Again, let me reiterate: This is a stupid thing, caused by misunderstanding and a hand gesture that everyone learns by the time they're in 3rd grade. But telling someone "I know where you live" is a threat and as grown-ups, we're not supposed to threaten each other, right?

So my wife told me what happened and I told her not to do anything until I've had some time to think. She called her Dad (a cop) and he suggested that she call Mary's place of employment. My wife told that to me and that's I did.

First I called the Ontario School Bus Association. In my opinion, this is a useless organization. I think it's run by 3 people in an office in Etobicoke, but none of them are in the office at 9am on a weekday. I called and their answering machine asked me to press 21 for this person, 25 for that person or 30 to speak to anyone. I tried all three. Nobody's there. In fact, all the voice mails tell you to hang up and call back to one of the other extensions if this is "an emergency". Stupid.

So the OSBA was no help. Then I called the Board of Education. From the main switchboard I asked for the Transportation department and they redirected my call to an automated system for requesting a substitute teacher. Somebody needs to educate these educators regarding communication.

I called back and explained that I didn't need a sub teacher, I needed to talk to someone about a bus. I got transferred to the transport department and the woman there told me that 3 bus companies work in my area and gave me their names and numbers. Go call them, I can't help you.

I called the first company on my list. Now, at this point I don't know anything about Mary except her last name, her address and her phone number. Isn't the Internet a wonderful resource? So I told the person on the phone that I wanted to make a complaint and all I have is the last name of the driver.

Apparently this set off alarm bells over there. She wanted to know why I was calling, who I am, why do I only have a last name, is this something to do with a divorce? "I can't give you ANY information", she said. I told her that I all I needed her to do is tell me if this last name works for that company. If it does, I want to make a complaint. If it doesn't, have a nice day. She looked it up and Mary doesn't work for Company number one. Next!

I called the second company. I told the woman who answered that I wanted to make a complaint and asked who do I need to speak to. She said she was the lucky one and I could tell her. I told her the last name I had and she replied with "Mary lastname omitted?". I said I guessed so. And that's how I learned her first name.

So I explained the entire story to this woman on the phone, leaving out no details, starting from Monday's adventure with the honking and the finger, right up to this morning's school yard confrontation.

"Wow". That's what the woman on the phone said. I started to feel like I was really getting Mary into some trouble, so I tried to lighten things up a bit. I repeated that I had started this and it was a stupid thing and it should have ended on Monday. The woman on the phone said that Mary had acted childishly and that there were at least a few violations of conduct in what I'd told her.

Judging from where the woman stopped me during my story and asked me to clarify, here's the violations I think we're dealing with:

First, Mary left her bus. Were there any kids on the bus? I can't say yes or no. I'm thinking that if there were, that's a no-no.

"Today, when she let kids off the bus, did you say that a parent got off too?" asked the woman on the phone. I clarified and said what my wife told me, that "a Mom" had got off the bus too. I guess there's a no ride-alongs policy.

Then she asked about the threats like "I know where you live" and "You're scared of me", which I repeated. Obviously a bus driver shouldn't be trying to intimidate people.

And that's it. The woman also took down my name and phone numbers and asked if I wanted someone to call me back. I said they can if they want, but it's not necessary. She said that "these violations are serious" and that she'll have to write it up and someone would be calling me back. Fine.

You know, I really didn't want to mess with Mary's life. Before I phoned her company I asked myself, what if she calls my company and bitches to my boss about me? How would I feel? I guess I wouldn't like it, but I don't really mind. It's none of my company's concern really and I doubt they'd care at all.

Before I even called Mary's company I talked to my wife again and had her retell the story to me. What sealed the deal for me was that Mary had said "I know where you live". That's not nice. I've watched enough Judge Judy to know that saying that is considered a threat.

So we'll see how this plays out and I'll keep things updated here. I really don't wish anything bad on Mary. I hope all they do is tell her to stay the hell away from my wife and my kids. And I really hope they don't make her apologise or write a letter or something like that. How uncomfortable would that be? Ick.

Really... What do you collect?

This is a phrase I hear more often than I'd like. I collect odd curios, things like faux shrunken heads, stuff drawn/owned be serial killers, pickled animals, human dentures, several dozen things made and/or carved from bones as well as other things that are just plain wrong. Invariably when I purchase a new oddity, I will get a look from the person selling it to me.

The most recent example of this is when I took a trip down to Las Vegas for vacation. I stopped in at the local reserve on my way back from the Grand Canyon. Amongst the mass produced arrowheads and fireworks was one lone counter with less touristy fare. Above this counter was one of the most unusual things I have ever seen for sale: A large dreamcatcher made from the entire jawbone of a horse.

That's right, someone, somewhere, decided to take the jawbone of a horse, break it into two pieces, reconnect those pieces to form a rough oval, knot a dreamcatcher web inside this oval and attach beads and feathers to it.

When I saw this I immediately had to have it. I called over the young woman working that evening. She removed it from its place on the wall and carried it over to the register. When she took my money she gave me one of those looks I'm oh so familiar with. That look that says "Wow, I always wondered who would buy this monstrosity."

Being curious but not wanting to be rude she asked me if I was buying it as a gift or for myself. I replied that I collect stuff like this. This is sometimes a good enough answer for people. But in the case of excessively unique items like this, the sales person/cashier will invariably reply: "Really.. So ...What do you collect?"

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