Monday, April 7, 2014

as i crawl beneath the rug, and retune my piano...

I've been avoiding you, Dear Reader.  That's something of a compliment, as the avoidance is based on my assessment of your acumen.

It is no secret, my modus operandi in writing most blog posts.  There are a few topics whose past treatment requires continued treatment:

  • CRPS breakthroughs
  • CRPS in daily life (including humorous leitmotifs about do-it-yourself amputation and the joy of suicide) 
  • Any findings in the case of lost child Lindsey Baum 
  • The reliable turdification of José Ochoa (lately, I've investigated the immense amount of money wasted on him by government grants, but gastrointestinal responses have precluded publication of this research) 
  • The scam CRPS / neuropathy treatment CALMARE / ScramblerTherapy (again, I've a half-written post on the hilarious background of its inventor and his woo-science, dedicated to the creation of a machine that spews electricity like a Fountain of Youth -- never mind the obvious idiocy of mixing water and electricity) 
  • Oh, and should my nausea subside, I am overdue in checking in on where the good Dr. Scott Reuben is malpracticing, and in what way

For a bit, I would regularly rag on Phil McGraw and some of his weirder acolytes, and while that was a gratifying release for simmering undercurrents of sadism, I'm trying to stop feeding that easy-peasy awful part of myself.  Now I just follow their shenanigans when late night efforts at mindfulness and distraction via YouTube cat videos fail.  Besides, one day my vision cleared, and I discovered my gratitude for the Unweird friends made while cavorting with McGraw's Chronic Pain Support Group.

By the way, Dear Reader, you've no need to feign shock at my admission of sadism.  On a good day, it makes me something of a Juvenalian satirist.  On a bad day, okay, I get a slight titillation from asshats getting their due... but not to the extent of paraphilia, or a personality disorder. Ignorance drives me batty and I am daily thankful for my innate, unfailing superiority.

It's also no secret that my navel-gazing can get in the way of what might be decently mediocre pseudo-journalism.  I write more about suffering due to CRPS, osteomyelitis, lupus, and osteonecrosis -- all hilariously related -- than I do my ardent political leanings, or other areas of ardor.  Do I wish my knees were worn from kneeling at some other altar than that of the personal?  Oh, yes!

Referring to your acumen, again, Dear Reader, it's clear that this blog is an attempt at therapy, written in as lively a way as I can pull off so that no one will wander the side halls of detritus.  I am writing my way through the remains of a life, deeply sorry for having wasted it so, and therefore frequently embarrassed by my strung together words, the over-estimation of serendipitous thought caressing circumstance.

There are circumstantial caresses that became blessings -- some fleeting benedictions, some amazingly enduring beatific guffaws. People I've met online, mostly.  Writings I'd never thought to have read had not some virtual friend made of them succulent, enticing fare.

One of those blessings is my friend "Peaches," an actual author, a man of the world, familiar enough with life to inflict suggestions as if it were his prerogative (by virtue of being so old, I tell him.. or dream of telling him, one day... one sadistic, wonderrful day!).

Yes, that's right.  I want to meet Peaches.  As much as I want to meet TW, Carol, Diana, Joyce, Benita, Tom, Betty, Fresca, T, and even some who have wished me ill, but in an inspirational way.

Peaches calls me Irene.  I call him "Peaches" because of a phrase that someone stuck into mine head years ago, in a late afternoon patio conversation at a Telegraph Avenue trattoria.  My memory is muddled, but I believe we trampled over Shakespeare and T. S. Eliot before someone declared someone else, glass raised, "a prince, a peach, a pear."

Since that chilly afternoon, spent over perfect antipasto and ignored obligations, I've found no higher praise to offer other beings than that they were "a prince, a peach, a pear." Roasted peppers and marinated artichoke hearts, spiced meats and bursting tomatoes, there was neither peach nor pear in the offing on our rickety cast iron table, rocking the red wine.  So the phrase is of even more value, its provenance being so wondrously lost.  Sadly, it casts its own restrictions -- I never use it to praise, or shower with abundant love, women deserving such approbation.  It has become a sort of obscure pillow talk, the pillow partners more in tune with its vast smooch galore than with its elusive ancestry or culinary provenance.  The role of the house red, delivered in a series of carafes, probably merits further investigation.

I remember the walk home, to a brand new private apartment on one of Oakland's first streets to cross Telegraph, leaving behind Sather Gate, crossing Bancroft and the cafés, book stores, tables of dangling earrings, poseurs, beggars, travelling to home, paper trash swirling, our awareness of danger waking, coffee our first plan before grading.  Funny, but the guy walking with me never was candidate for prince, or peach, or pear.  A good writer and sometimes great poet, he was a fraud, and the essence of the laudatory phrase lies in the genuine.


Peaches lives in New York City, the old fart.  He is a faithful friend, but that means, of course, frustration at my "here today, gone tomorrow" nature, a nature unaltered even by friendship or blood relation.  I've been under the radar, or, believe it or not, quite concise, these past few weeks.  Still, Peaches fires off an email every few days.

Like today:


In the dark here.... How're you doing?

Bless his heart, Peaches reached out at a moment when I was navel-gazing, seriously lost, seeing no way out from neurological jokes and jerks, pain bad enough to create tears in a body seriously dehydrated from constant fever.  He just wanted an answer.  I wanted a rescue buoy, garrish orange against the cresting teal.

beware, peaches, i've been avoiding writing anyone.  why?  the proof is in my outdated packets of yeast, my bread that will not rise.  i am in a baguette phase.  i'm also heavily medicated at the moment, which means you should stop reading NOW, content to know that i remain irene. i've been promoted from 100 mcg of fentanyl to 150 mcg patches. the joke is that the pain is stronger but there's just no point in making that known.

but, to answer your concision explicitly:

hey, i am DOIN'.  i am DOIN' (that's southern) the best i can.  

very briefly, last week, fred and i concluded that it was up to each of us whether our respective day would be good or bad.  we crowed and strutted, convinced that no circumstance has the power to inflict a "bad" day.  harrumph -- we don't even know what a bad day IS. complain?  whimper?  moan or groan?  ha!  not us!

that lasted three days and then we took a break.

i'm fine, peaches.  frustrated, sad, guilty, tired -- all of which i shall put aside once the fredster rises from his eight layers of covers to take on the day.  yes, fred is a layer fanatic, something he said he learned about in both brooklyn winters and in the huge temperature variations of the ethiopian desert.

well, there is one thing that sucks.  my eyes are going bad again!  and not in any polite subtle way, either.  i had a brief period of being able to read again and was enjoying the literary send off into sleep, no matter how tedious the novel. we are both working our way through minette walters, a very hit and miss affair. i find her interesting when she lets her inner sociologist sing. when she aims at popular success, she's tedious.
being able to read also meant a complementary tub of plain lowfat yogurt with frozen strawberries. it's become impossible for me to read well without the creamy tang of yogurt and the icy comfort of frozen fruit.

when reading goes, it's a musical bedtime, the lullaby a string of rolling stones' songs -- or, these days, the decemberists and early, easy-breezy, very cheesy brett dennen.  

last night was kind of wonderful, drifting off to phil ochs' "the party," which actually made me think of you... and a few other upper crust sorts, and the cocktail parties you must have both enjoyed and endured.

there's a funny aspect to last night's nocturne, the evocation of monastic hours --  in a completely messed up, annoying way -- beyond the cheapo-cheapo piano, designed to set the teeth on edge.  and then there's phil's voice.  hmm, best i move on, eh? 

some time ago, in asking around about phil ochs' "the party," one of my american lit professors recommended i read... tom wolfe's radical chic & mau-mauing the flak catchers.  

unlike my literati betters -- and that means everyone around me -- i suffered mental origami, a conflation of tom and thomas.  flashes of "golden moments," and so, i have to ask, have you read much tom wolfe?  i realize that the scales tip in favor of look-homeward-ish-ness than anything by the journalist author, who saw himself as a brutally honest zola.  and how many occasions have you had to smile politely at some idjit such as myself, mixing wolfe & wolfe, a heathen playing at americana?

so much happens so quickly in the brain, even a brain seeking sleep.

see? i'm DOIN'.  and while i admire concision, i live for word play... 

"And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano..."

all my best to you and yours, and apologies for ruminating all over your email. it should blot up easily with a paper towel. my last sentence ought to be the first:  how are YOU (and yours), sweet peaches?  


(One hint to how the piano was made even more schmaltzy?  it was a series of plastic toy pianos...)

The Party

The fire-breathing rebels arrive at the party early
Their khaki coats are hung in the closet near the fur
Asking handouts from the ladies, while they criticize the Lords
Boasting of the murder of the very hands that pour
And the victims learn to giggle, for at least they are not bored

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

The hostess is enormous, she fills the room with perfume
She meets the guests and smothers them with greetings.
And she asks, "How are you" and she offers them a drink
The countess of the social grace, who never seems to blink
And she promises to talk to you if you promise not to think

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

The beauty of the hour is blazing in the present
She surrounds herself with those who would surrender
Floating in her flattery, she's a trophy-prize, caressed
Protected by a pretty face, sometimes cursed, sometimes blessed
And she's staring down their desires
While they're staring down her dress

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

The egos shine like light bulbs, so bright you cannot see them
Blind each other blinder than a sandbox
All the fury of an argument, holding back their yawns
A challenge shakes the chandeliers, the selfish swords are drawn
To the loser go the hangups, to the victor go the hangers on

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

They travel to the table, the host is served for supper
And they pass each other down for salt and pepper
And the conversation sparkles as their wits are dipped in wine
Dinosaurs on a diet, on each other they will dine
Then they pick their teeth and they squelch a belch saying
"Darling, you tasted divine"

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

The wallflower is waiting, she hides behind composure, composure
She'd love to dance and prays that no one asks her
Then she steals a glance at lovers while her fingers tease her hair
And she marvels at the confidence of those who hide their fears
Then her eyes are closed as she rides away with a foreign legionnaire

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

Romeo is reeling, counting notches on his thighbone
Searching for one hundred and eleven
And he's charming as a child as he leads you to his web
Seducing queens and gypsy girls in the boudoir of his head
Then he wraps himself with a tablecloth and pretends he is a bed

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

Oh, the party must be over, even the losers are leaving
But just one doubt is nagging at my caustic mind
So I snuck up close behind me and I gave myself a kiss
And I led myself to the mirror to expose what I had missed
There I saw a laughing maniac who was writing songs like this

And my shoulders had to shrug
As I crawled beneath the rug and retuned my piano

-- Phil Ochs

Follow my blog with Bloglovin