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Since the ex-Mrs.Dr.Malamud has chosen to revert to her maiden name, in a bid to make her seem more human, from this page forward, I will refer to her as Hanna-Marie Malamud
Saturday... I'm at my Moon Valley Starbucks with all the beautiful people: if not in countenance, then, at least, in attire. I heard one of them talking to another about zoning issues and I thought to myself, "She knows about as much about zoning as I do about putting on pantyhose."
I just walked in from a cool post-monsoon day haircut at the 'european' barber shop. What the cold, wet, towel wrapped around my head meant, or did, or symbolized I do not know. With the deserved tip, my haircut cost me a twenty and will soon enough will have to be re-cut.
Not because thick black hairs burst through my skin like some 21st Century werewolf basking in the light of a full moon, but because I told the totally bald Ari, to leave it long so it did not look like I recently got a haircut.
Those instructions were given and the haircut performed because I am kinda, sorta, planning, to go job-hunting, Monday the 14th.
More and more, even though I'm closing in on 60, I am delighted to observe that my brain, my spirit, my soul, my whatever you call it, continues to honestly believe it is still a young and hot-headed 25 years old. But thank God, the hot-headedness is calmed with a cooling flow plumbed by continuing to accumulate knowledge and the wisdom that accompanies aging.
Ever wonder why many 'old' people are so calm? That's most likely because they've lived through a whole lot of things and they know the worst thing that can happen is death and it's assured anyway.
Maybe that's why I continue to be optimistic in my own life, even though there is basically nothing to look forward to--only because I won't do anything so rash as to do something.
Like the other day when I got the obvious invoice from my psychologist, I feared it would be a bill for all the charges Cigna did not allow. But instead, it was a bill for missing my last appointment. I had carefully filled out the next appointment card myself after my last session, and had just as carefully written down the wrong month.
I'm really afraid that my mind may be going south--there's that optimism again. I hope my mind-mess is the effects of taking two different SSRIs at the same time.
Speaking of bad news, while my father did not get cataracts until his late 60s, or even early 70s, Dr. Rubegoldburg explained to me my developing cataracts was why at night it seemed to me everyone was driving with their bright headlights on.
He said (as an Opthamologist,M.D. who, after almost 40 years in practice, continues to read all the medical journals) that science doesn't really know for sure what causes cataracts. But he said my multiple knock-outs in karate class and my half-dozen or so T.K.O.s, racing off-road motorcycles could certainly be a cause. (One time I hit so hard that I actually had amnesia for about six hours.)
Last night, on my day off, I really, really, needed someone to hug. Not that anything was wrong, just that I sorely missed being able to hug someone who loved me unconditionally. It went through my mind (again) as to how anyone could live life as a single. Not me.
I went to the eye-doctor because my vision was so blurry at times, I imagined my obesity had advanced into diabetes and begun to ruin my eyesight. However, it turned out that my prescription had changed mightily. And that change alone was causing my looking-through-a-glass-of-water vision.
"Whictor", actually Victor, my favorite independent Optician from China, via Canada, legally, had not seen me since my divorce. And Whictor knew both Hanna-Marie and myself.
I recited a Campbell's-condensed-version of the almost five year sob story divorce saga.
He acted as amazed as I was myself. Hearing that I occasionally imagined Hanna-Marie wasn't doing all that great herself, he filled-in my unspoken dream, as he sincerely wished for our reconciliation.
Thursday... This is a first. With my normal seven Sweet & Lows tossed in like a fire-jumper shoveling dirt onto a flaming bush, and a mere three ounces of Half & Half creamer, my Starbucks coffee actually tastes good. Tastes woody? Right after my mug was filled I heard one barista ask the other, "How long has it been since you brewed coffee?" Of course, put in a spray bottle, Pikes Place is still strong enough to clean the baked in spills of any oven, anywhere.
I saw my psychologist again yesterday and made another discovery.
That was after she volunteered to rescind her $75 missed-appointment fee. What had happened?
Back in June, I wrote down the next visit date wrong. Instead of writing "6" for June, I wrote down "7" for July, and missed my June appointment. It didn't strike me as odd that the next appointment was a long six weeks away even as I filled in the blanks on the next-appointment card.
How did I make a mistake like that? That's what I'm asking myself. And all I come up with, that being on two different SSRIs, my thinking is a little bit scrambled. And hence I am writing down a lot more things that I formerly simply 'remembered'. As the Chinaman said, "The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory."
Of course, being the negative-thinking half-German, half-Finnish, that I am, I imagined, just like my early-arrival cataracts, that I am coming down with the Alzheimer's that killed my father when he was almost thirty years older than I am today.
Albert Ellis the highly influential psychologist (one of the saddest & angriest persons I have ever met) termed this type of thinking, 'catastrophising'.
In any case, I talked with the doctor a little bit about Hanna-Marie, and I began to tear-up as I told her of the impossible situations between her and I. I was especially touched as I explained how Aili and Mainio try very hard to shield me from their many separate contacts with Hanna-Marie.
I told the Doc, that as a grade-school kid, I could clearly remember my mom driving me home from school, when with a soul-numbing shock, I realized that she didn't love me. That she had too many traumas that kept her from loving her youngest son. Me. (I think when I told that same story at the 'funny farm' years ago, I was crying pretty hard.)
Then the Doc asked me if there were,
"...any adults around to love you? Grandparents, uncles..." And I made another discovery, as I realized that all of my grandparents except for my dad's mom were dead. I told her, "All my grandparents were dead and my uncles lived in Wisconsin. But when they came out to Arizona they acted so differently from my parents. And now that I think about it, that difference, that openness, the hugging was because they loved my two older brothers and me unconditionally. Something my own parents could not do."
The big hubub around Starbucks currently is whether they will or will not continue their warm sandwiches. Maybe, they will continue them, only without the meat billionaire Lord McCartney now abhors. "Hey! Can I have a tofu, lettuce and tomato sandwich here?"
Being a vegetarian really helped his first wife didn't it? (Maybe if she'd seen real doctors right away, eh?) And then I heard his second wife's pegleg was eaten through by termites, and they are 100% Vegetarians, so there.
At 9pm tonight, I squeezed my Michael Moore-like bulk out of my POW cell-sized apartment and headed over to my Moon Valley Starbucks. A Starbucks that isn't listed as being there in Google Maps, or even Starbucks maps. I'm fairly certain it is in The Twilight Zone. Baristas there have two-tone hair ... and wear 'promise' rings.
Personally, I don't eat anything with a face, a mother or a root system.
If I'd had my hermit's druthers I'da stayed home and worked on my web pages, napped, and watched part of a movie before I napped again. I wonder if I have turned into a cat?
I must get out and amongst people, or I'll always be alone. Although I'm feeling pretty good emotionally, my physical body is turning into the mush that is the reward of twenty years of motorcycle racing. Buckets of finisher pins, plaques and trophies, along with concussions, cataracts and torn cruciate ligaments.
Not certain I can wait around, like I typically do, for some red-headed lovely to pick me up. Gawd, I may just have to approach a female--but I don't really feel all that great about my looks. But then again, except for my massively handsome countenance, it is up to me to mold my almost six decade old torso into shape. I guess a 'pregnant pear' shape is a shape isn't it? But not too attractive. Unless you're an embalmer and you get paid by the pound.
I am again writing with the pen I found in the street. What kind of life is that? But the pen does work fine. Why it hardly ever misspells a single word.
I think it's the fact that I'm finally getting enough sleep--but it could be the anti-depressants--but emotionally I'm pretty level. And I've stopped drinking alcohol, which I found out literally does rot your teeth. Ouch.
When I want to get depressed--Come on fellow depressives, you know you can feel comfortable being depressed--When I want to get depressed, I bounce off an invisible emotional barrier, like the nets strung beneath trapeze artists, that prevents me from dropping into a dark depression. And that's nice
Only problem is, that I can't seem to stay excited, or on track about anything except staying in the same rut I've been in for the past four years. And again, I believe that is a function of the anti-depressants. They limit your lows and they limit your highs. They put limits on your emotional participation in life.
I know for my actress friend Sofia, that she became more or less a zombie on Paxil. However, she was still remained outstandingly beautiful (and oh so vulnerable) so her performance didn't matter to the men in the attendance who were all wishing they were me. Har!
Once again, it's simply the case of attitude, for I'm getting ready to find a decent job, (or a second job) and I get all pumped up to where the job statistics don't matter. I've never fitted into any kind of statistic anyway.
Thursday... This time I'm at Borders Books & Music and I'm writing not with a found pen, but with a stolen one. Stolen from the psychiatrist's office. Of course 'they' want you to steal them. This one is especially nice, but it is not equipped with the usual ball point pen clip for a shirt pocket or the collar of a tee shirt.
I feel winded. Like I've finished a grueling four hour motorcycle race and dumped out of each boot the cup of sweat that had accumulated there. Then eaten and showered. I'm simply beat. My heart is gradually spinning down to its normal rhythm, and like a cat, my nerve endings are retracting, pulling back in.
You might have guessed by now that I am not recovering from a sexual tryst with my female shrink (as is the not-so-secret-yearnings of virtually every male patient). But I am recovering from what we actors term, a 'discovery'. A simple discovery unearthed during my counseling session.
And it seems such a little thing, maybe an obvious thing, probably something the prescient Hanna-Marie said to me many times.
But this discovery struck me so hard--why do these things always come at the end of the hour--that I was cold-cocked and stumbled around the below ground shaded halls of the medical office complex until I went into the light, and up the stairs to the parking lot exposed to the nuclear-explosion bright Arizona sun. There, I found myself sitting on a low wall under the shade of an acacia tree. A shade whose temperature was nearly 110F degrees.
As I sat on the wall, not knowing when I would attempt the fifteen foot journey to my car, a scream of Wolf-Brand-Chili-generated foulness blasted out the back of my Levi's and stabbed into the empty street behind me. At the tail-end of my ass-screech, I heard the unmistakable clicking of high heels coming towards me across the same street. It was a lady from a nearby office building walking to her car left in the covered parking of the complex whose wall I had just scorched. Apparently she was from the Middle East, because as she stepped into my view she had already donned her Jewish Defense League approved gas mask and appeared to be in no danger of passing out.
So what was this discovery? Well, to many it will almost seem silly--and maybe it is. But as the son of a man who left the Malamud homestead and earned his electrical engineering degree using a slide rule and his second language of English, and did it in three years, only to be ready for the 1929 non-existent job market. A man, who in 1941 could not be trusted to kill his German ancestors, but instead was chosen to help engineer the first atomic bomb. A man who retired at the age of 67 with an inflation-adjusted monthly income of over $30,000 per month and lived another fifteen years to enjoy it. I had quite an achiever for a father, with all his Baker's Dozen of brothers and sisters performing likewise. My favorite uncle retired in the 1950s and lived, and lived well, into the 1990s.
And the simple discovery, maybe more acceptance than discovery, was, that I am not my father. And I will never be able to do what he did. It's too late. I'm too old. I'm too tired. I'm not either equipped or driven as he was.
But yet, without realizing it, (and hearing my mother tell me that I, of the three boys, was most like our father) without in any way wanting to emulate my father, knowing that I could never equal his feats but somehow knowing that I must. I was stuck. I am stuck. I've probably been stuck for the last seventeen years.
A burden seemed to lift from my soldiers, I felt lighter, I felt free, I felt very much confused and lost. I felt like a slave let free, not knowing what to do.
Friday... Since more and more I'm mourning less and less over my lost love, my writings will probably read, begin to read, like any other boring blog found anywhere.
At least I promise not to write about my cat. Only because I don't have a cat. However, I may mention Kimmo, my Andre-the-Giant-sized grandchild, now and then. Only because he exudes the energy, the tenacity, the hope, and the love we all were born with--only as we age, the process of living life abrades and scrapes away that same infant energy, tenacity, hope, and love, like the paint being microscopically peeled off the aluminum skin of a commercial airliner by the 500 mile per hour winds it endures.
On the romantic front, I was thinking today that there is a absolutely no one. I was thinking about Piia-Noora, the red head from work, who no longer works. But it's not bad enough that she smokes, she is burdened with the strangest Karma I've ever heard of.
And while I do not believe in auras or even Karma, Piia-Noora suffers from such odd occurrences that are clearly beyond the power of any human to influence. Hey, maybe she's from another planet, eh?
So it's really quite sad, that other than my very real list of the "Next Mrs. Dr. Malamud" candidates, there is no one. No one. Of course I do have a few hippo-sized, but very friendly looking ladies over at the Christian dating site ... and I've never dated anyone in a powered-chair before.
Of course my loneliness is maintained and filled with the fact that my time, other than at my horrible job, is 100% mine. Mine to entirely waste at my own leisure. Which isn't getting me anywhere either.
And that job. What a piece of trash it is, while management treats us with even less attention than actual garbage receives. After seeing my salary plummet by 44% and my hours falling by 24%, I've recently learned that the managing partner of the closely held corporation that deigns to pay me, has apparently purchased a private jet. Isn't that nice?
Now normally, that the boss flies in a private jet means no never-mind to the employees of his corporation. But this is one enterprise where hundreds of workers donate thousands of off-the-clock hours. Off-the-clock hours that are virtually mandated and designed-in by company policies. The employees contribute hardware too, such as microwave ovens and coffee makers in addition to cleaning supplies.
Just the other evening at work, well within ear-shot of the hidden CIA-quality microphones, I said, "In my old industry, if my competitors learned my employees were bringing in their own rolls of paper towels to work. I'd a been laughed out of town!"
Thursday... Pulled into Denny's #6320, the last one with a coffee counter in Phoenix proper. I was greeted by eight separate police vehicles in the parking lot who weren't there for the Summer Sausage Super Slam Breakfast. Such is the wonderful neighborhood I live in.
Once seated, with the counter spaced far enough away so that a four-hundred pounder could safely lower his bulk and then swivel the chair forward while not sweeping with his bloated belly all the condiments off the countertop, I examined the Half & Half creamers. And I saw, that for our safety, they sport an individual 'good until' date badge.
This is while at the same time our nation allows salmonella-infused vegetables to be shipped into the U.S. from Mexico, where it is common knowledge they use human feces as fertilizers. Such is the country I live in.
At 3AM I borrowed Mainio's car to drive downtown to see if Amadeus, my millionaire-Cuban-cigar-importing-businessman-artist friend, was again dragging brush across canvas as he confined his sometimes odd visions (himself as Adolph Hitler, or, himself seated at the signing of the U.S. Constitution) within a wooden frame that cost more than I gross in a week.
Back at the Denny's, in Spanish, I hear the cook ask my server if I was going to eat or not.
Amadeus must venture from his abbreviated three story Biltmore mansion to his suite of offices downtown so that he may burn the mentioned Cuban tobacco while inhaling their smoke, without at the same moment, facing his wife's wrath.
I woke myself up after midnight today to complete a book I started reading at the end of July. A series of newspaper columns written by the author over the past few years had been gathered together and published under hard covers.
One article was about the 21st Century common practice of aborting fetuses that tested for a high probability or certainty of Down Syndrome. It held special meaning for Hanna-Marie and myself, as almost three decades ago the amniocentesis done on the fetus that was to become our only daughter, Aili, came back as the stork delivering a mongoloid infant. A Down Syndrome daughter was thought to be in the nest.
Aili instead was born without defects, equipped with an IQ that bumped up against the top ranges of 'genius', and armed with the same non-stop drive as her grandfather. So at age four, she captured as her best friend (and visa versa) the college-educated next door neighbor lady, mother of three boys, 35 years her senior. Hardly the behavior of a DS kid.
Every time I sit down to pound out on this QWERTY keyboard how sad and sorry my existence is, instead, like an uninitiated child whacking blindly at a gift-filled piñata hung in the sky, my memories burst open and I am showered with all the blessings I have received.
I end up comforted, humbled and awed that God does cares more about me than I do.
Monday... Your 'Monday' my Thursday, for when I stumble in from work Wednesday morning at 6am, my own weekend begins...
This afternoon, after a blesséd seven-hour sleep, re-using paper towels that weren't quite soiled enough to toss in my trash can, I was cleaning off my kitchen counter and thinking to myself that, "This is the way I'd clean up if Hanna-Marie was coming by." (She's never come by.) And then I thought, for all I know she could be here right now visiting Mainio, our youngest son, who lives in an even smaller compartment than mine a mere 150 Birkenstock-clad steps away with Mikaela, his latest (and possibly final) squeeze.
I can't blame today's inaction on depression, because I'm not depressed. My missing action was in reference towards actively searching out a new or second job. It's so stupid where I'm at now and has absolutely no future and a sliver of a chance of meeting a lover, or even of making a friend.
I think behaving the way I am 'proves' that I'm mentally ill. So that way, when the Sheriff has removed me from my 700 square foot compartment, and I'm sitting out by the dumpster, I can wear a sign that says: "I am mentally ill." Right, that'll work. That'll do a lot of good. I don't even think I have a fat felt pen to write that phrase really big on a piece of cardboard with.
Speaking of the Arizona State Mental Hospital, I heard on the news the other day that our all-knowing government has made my alma mater 100% smoke-free. For both patients and employees. Wonderful, because that is just what those sick people need. Their cigarettes forcibly taken away. To be made criminals simply because instead of being addicted to 'American Idol' they are addicted to tobacco. The inmates have enough problems, they don't need more.
I was thinking that God decides what will happen to me after I make the choice. I should write that God (Who is not bound by time) knows what will happen to me no matter what choice I make. And again Dr. Malamud shouts that He's been so good to me; starting with me having been born in The Valley of the Sun and not Somalia, Pakistan or Detroit.
I always insist to any and all that life keeps getting better and better, even though at the time it may not seem so. (I had to get up and adjust my portable fan to blow directly at me, since I can afford to only cool my drywall enclosed cage down to 84F degrees from the outside's 104F.) Now, what was I saying about things getting better?
However, a main component of my claim is that by living life, by journeying down the path we gain wisdom, insight and increase our awareness of compassion, deepen our emotions, and as life's fog slowly dissipates during the years we are more able to see clearly and begin to understand.
More and more I think of how little time I have left in this life, five, ten, or the twenty-four years my own father had ahead of him at this point in his life. I can still remember high school geometry period when the fifty minutes seemed like a whole summer and the summer seemed like a whole lifetime.
My most hated play was Our Town by Thorton Wilder. Yet God arranged it so that I would photograph (with 800 ASA film that didn't require a flash) the entire play as it was performed at Mainio's private school, while in the same moment, I pondered my own life as I focused through the viewfinder.
As I type this a copy of Edgar Lee Masters book Spoon River Anthology, that I purchased only yesterday, stands staring at me. 'Stands' because it is blocking the artificial breeze from my portable fan which doesn't understand that I wish to be cooled, but I want my mug of freshly made French-Press coffee to stay hot.
Spoon River Anthology, an imaginary list of 'might have beens' recited by residents of a grave yard, is often used by acting classes. God also saw to it I performed the part of the deceased Doctor Meyers: "No other man, unless it was Doc Hill, did more for people in this town than me..." Tears fill my eyes as my heart remembers the months and months lovingly spent in acting class at The Herberger. That's where I belong. On stage. Or maybe back at the mental hospital. Not.
Birthday... As I shuffle over to the Blockbuster outside return slot to stuff Lawrence of Arabia through it, I see the 40-ish male in shorts running from the upscale AJ's grocery store across the parking lot to his appropriately affluent imported vehicle.
My instincts tell me that he's not so much in a hurry, but he is anxious to show all of us tubby bystanders how fit he is.
While I was dumping the contents of eight pink packages into my already cream-lightened travel mug full of coffee, I thought I had heard the incoming ring tone (the theme music of the 1988 movie Beetlejuice) of my daughter Aili on my belt-mounted cellphone.
Sure enough, later, as the annoying beep bubbled up from my waistline, I searched my 'missed call' list and there she was.
My Moon Valley Starbucks is stuffed with ... do they call them 'guests'? Many, ignoring the fragile stomachs of their fellow guests, are wearing shorts and revealing naked appendages that should not be seen outside of an autopsy room.
I see one guest leave and immediately, like a bee jumping from flower to flower, another guest pounces on the empty-for-a-second dinner-plate-sized table.
Today is my birthday. I never imagined I'd spend it alone, in between shifts of a job people chortle at, with my home address as a rented apartment not much larger than the master bedroom Hanna-Marie and I silently shared for decades. A home that without me present, finds its thermostat switched to 'off' to save on the electric bill during this 108F degree summer day.
However, God has arranged my hovel to be insulated on four sides by other apartments and even with no air conditioning it never has gotten hotter than 85F degrees. With my ceiling bathed in the expensive refrigerated air of my upstairs neighbor's: who wear wooden shoes with golf spikes and seem to enjoy bowling and rearranging gawd-awful heavy caskets at all hours while scuffling above my head on their hardwood floors. (As I retype this for my web page, they are entering hour eleven of non-stop vacuuming.)
The lad Mainio phoned and said he had plenty of presents for me, but was stuck at work for a rare midnight shift.
Another birthday has rocketed past without a card from Hanna-Marie. The last card I got was in 2003, four months before the Maricopa County court-approved divorce papers made the end of our love affair official.
This is so very odd. I don't remember exactly how I assumed my life would be with only one-quarter of it left, but I'm fairly sure I did not picture this. Maybe I should crack open the diaries I penned in micro-font while suffering through high school forty years ago and check?
Saturday Mainio and I visited the local Harkins theater and saw the movie Hamlet 2. It was a really fun comedy about a Tucson, Arizona high school drama class beset with budget cuts.
Not having been to a sit-down movie since The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, also with Mainio, seeing Hamlet 2 was quite an experience. Even though, due to budget cuts, I was unaccompanied by my usual buttery bucket of popcorn and a sweaty extra-large cup of Diet-Coke, I could again appreciate why people very much enjoy the ninety-minute trip from reality that begins as they step through the portals of the picture show.
Being Hamlet 2 was about an acting class, I found my eyes brimming with tears of joy, which during the climax, almost overflowed onto my cheeks.
Yesterday on the net, I visited the web space of the last acting class I attended. Since I have a tuition credit (I hope) I might be able to attend the morning classes. If I snagged a decent day-time job however, that would negate my possible attendance.
But, if I move in with Aili and Kimmo (another chapter in itself) I would not need a decent day-time job and would face a mere 112 mile round trip to the acting classes that are, at my current location, only four miles distant.
'They' say that when Man (or Woman) is searching for something--for answers--his senses become more acute and that he simply notices things he would not normally. Like the movie (chosen by Mainio) I went to see that involved a drama class, my prior visit to my old acting class web site, my possible relocation so that I wouldn't need a descent job & instead could act, and seeing this acting article in a part of the newspaper I by chance picked up.
An hour and forty-five minutes ago, as I entered this coffeetrium, for padding to place underneath the paper I am writing this on, I randomly snagged a tiny section of today's newspaper. There, front page, and below the fold, was an article about a play being produced by a local professional theatre company. A play which included an actress I was in acting class with long ago. (Sadly, the writer is elucidating on a method of acting, that while it may work for film and television, has not enough depth for the live stage.)
However, I chose to believe I'm being offered alternatives. I believe I'm again being shown the road not taken. Are my dreams yet larger than my fears?