Aside: Scheduling Note II

We’re okay! (That is, me and mine.)

I hope you and yours are okay too.  There’s no telling what happens next, but for the moment, the emergency packs are going back in the closet.

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Aside: Scheduling Note

For all of you closer to the epicenter and the tsunamis, stay safe.

Next post is scheduled (yay, productivity), but since things are a bit scary here geologically, I wanted to leave a note that the next blog post might be a bit delayed if the earth doesn’t go back to sleep.  Hopes are, my neighbors and I will be well away from any severe danger, but we wait with baited breath and well-packed emergency packs just in case.

Take care, everyone!

Richie

Richie

Let’s not talk about that.

That was two thousand years ago

Let’s talk about something that happening now

Like the grass.

It’s everywhere.

Look at it.

Like hair, like the hair on my head.

 

The problems is people don’t talk about it.

They’ve got fear everywhere.

They run and they get themselves alone all the time.

Sorta like me.

I’d like to talk.

I’ve things to say,

But my family doesn’t talk, they don’t talk.

 

You know there’s times I wish I had a friend,

But nobody out there’s gonna be my friend.

All my girlfriends had boyfriends when I was with ‘em,

And they beat me up,

Then the girls leave me alone

Just like that,

That’s life and sometimes I get angry at it.

 

You know I don’t like to get angry.

My father was angry.  I want a daughter,

A little girl to look after, a kid, but no,

I’m forty-one.

I’ve still got hair.

My father was bald.

But who’s gonna look at a man who’s forty-one?

 

No job, no place to stay.  Over at the mission,

They teach me I gotta get a job.

I can’t get a job.  I got so mad, I tore all my papers up.

So there you go.

Here I am.

You can give me food,

But I’m concerned about what you’ll eat today.

 

If you hand me that juice or that sandwich, or lunch,

I’m gonna have to split it with you.

If you won’t take it back, I’ll split it.

Look at you,

You’re so thin,

Out here on the street,

Helping people.  Here’s a dollar.  Let me be able to help you back.

 

I never had a friend before.

No one ever listened to what I’d say.

And I wanna hear what other people say.

Go on, talk.

People don’t talk these days,

So talk, go on tell me.

I never had a friend before and you’re a nice person anyway.

 

                                    -4/14/07

The Real Life: Blue

My father is home.

It has been a year, but he was finally released.  He and my mother went out to celebrate with friends at their favorite haunt of Dunkin Donuts.  He still must watch his weight, but he’ll allow himself the coffee, the donut, for the celebration of freedom.  Diet and exercise are not enough to survive diabetes.  You need friendship and joy, and coffee. Continue reading

My Lack of Appetite

Another two inches.

I pull the wrapper off the sugar-free chocolate again and toast the horizon and, somewhere, a small New England town.

I don’t say, “cheers.”  In Japan you don’t say that for the sad things

I keep my milk chocolate in the freezer right now.  The summers of Japan are too hot for it to survive on the kitchen table.  It also keeps it out of sight, and somehow this helps (against all proverbial expectations) keep it in mind.

That’s where I want it.  In my mind, it’s close to the other thoughts, the ones that make me careful of it:  Thoughts of my father, still in the rehabilitation clinic, because home is on a second floor and he can’t do stairs.  He’s not been home since the one toe, then the other toe, then the rest, and then the top half of the foot.

And now they’re taking more.

I’ve seen his “footsies” of all end results, taken with his ipad with candid alacrity, on our private family Facebook page, all wrapped up in bandages of course, a nub that should be going farther than it does, that my mind knows should go farther than it does.  Once, there was a troubling spot of blood.  I wait on selfies when this happens, and save them, and date them, with unspoken and untyped fears.

They’ll take two more inches, they said.

Like butchers, I glower at the news.  Like his leg is a hunk of deli meat.  Like they’re paid by the cut, so they’re taking their time, instead of fixing the problem so he can go home.

It’s not a reasonable thought, but it’s how the anger comes, even like it did before, and joins the fear and the chocolate in my head, with that picture:  Ham.  On a slab.  And white aprons behind a glass counter.

How much a cut, doctor?  In a hurry?  You took your time getting a scooter ordered in, didn’t you?  So he had to hobble instead and it got infected again.  And how much insurance did that time buy you?  With all the q-tips and jello and rolls of toilet paper in between?

I fall asleep feeling like my ankle’s in a garrotte.  The next morning it’s just a rubber band, so I try to walk it off.  I wonder if it’s sympathy pain or fear for the future, or prophecy.  The next day it’s the bottom, near the toes, whenever I walk on it, like a bruise.

The anger’s really at myself, isn’t it? I reflect as I limp.  There’s a reason I’m keeping the chocolate in mind.

Word comes that the surgery went fine.  “Fine” is relative when the word “surgery” is close by.  I know there’ll be another footsie from the ipad, but I wait to look at the family Facebook page when its notification pings my phone with the text.  I don’t think my mind has room for it.

I just reflect, as you do past age thirty, when death is not a distant myth.  Death is a truth that makes you selfish, even when your father is getting his foot shaved.  It steals thoughts away from the man who carried you in from the car as a child (because you knew he would if you pretended to sleep).

I sit appalled at how his misery feeds my survival with the good kind of fear, the kind that makes me walk, cut back on the salt, and turn down second helpings.  It makes me do all those things I couldn’t do by myself.  It keeps that bag in the freezer a “sometimes food,” when just months ago half or more was a daily fix.

I still need my father, I realize, in the selfish way that children do.  It’s the kind of need that can’t give back for it.  And I get angry at myself, because I’m an adult now.  It was supposed to be my turn to help him.  There should be grandkids by now.  He should have gotten the chance to carry them.

I go to my room and lie in my bed, and read the IMs off Facebook Messenger, because I’m still shying away from the family page.  My father makes jokes and puns with far more emojis than most people use with three word sentences.  The last, “I’m going under the knife again,” doesn’t get me so much as his, “Love you bunches,” for its extensive use of almost every heart emoji, and then a kissy face.  I’m in Japan.  He’s in New England.  He loves with heart emojis and I love with worried questions about back-alley surgical degrees.  And I don’t know what else I can do.

 

 

Veteran

In the store today, picking up a few things in a land of strangers where I’d come for a wedding, I met a veteran. He mentioned George Carlin when he noted our hesitation to grab the divider for the checkout conveyor belt. “That thing is law.” He was on oxygen, standing to stretch but sporting a motor wheelchair, and wearing a veteran’s cap.

And somehow “George Carlin” was the peace word, in this world where I was wary for the sidelong stares and certain-colored hats. And we talked about Japan and Okinawa and his time there, and he smiled, for the memories, for the stories, and asked that I think of him when I return there. I said I would.

It was only after that I realized what a Japanese request this was, and so realized that this man, now an elder, once a soldier, now a veteran, had been where I’d been, and the touch of Japan on his heart had never left him.

To hold someone in our thoughts in a moment in a place of sacred beauty is to carry that person’s soul with us to that place; and to do so with prayer and with joy is the way of the traveling pilgrim, who reaches that place’s shrine and prays a proper prayer, to lead that soul in need upward on its journey beyond the grave.

This smiling man, warm in sunshine, cunning of Carlin, warm to a stranger, had asked a pilgrimage of me. Perhaps this is the year I must visit the place he mentioned. As the priest in the Noh play often says, I have long been longing to visit the place I have heard the beauty of, and now years have passed and I must see it before I die.