Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Change

Change

Hurtful things
Done over and again
Make my sorry
A quiet fuck you.

If I could stand on stage
with an audience of those I'd harmed
Throwing bricks at me until their arms tired,
The sight of my wounds
would but allow for me,
A time a quite pleasure.

What depth of feeling is asked of me then?
When this path has been worn to rock and stone,
And all feeling twisted dry by repetition
And pain the place I hang my hat.

What new promise would allow flowers
To bloom in a salted field?
If the promise were the only seeds
And the field lay edging a well worn path?

No thing or man can change its self.
The cycles soar around our will
And the circle always comes around
And the better has to be enough.

Change is not a sonnets turn
That meet itself to sum the lines.
It's a loudness taken suddenly,
Till the weight and force of habit's  born.

And then lost as if a madness;
As if a smell or a thoughtful crime
Until the wheel revolves
To rub again,
On rails that run
unbent by favored chance
sliding on against our will.

Mike Brady 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Getting Old



As a nurse, part of the job was to get a history on our patients when they were admitted to the hospital. This consisted of pulling up a stool next to their bed and asking them a structured series of questions – previous hospitalizations, allergies and medications -- that sort of thing.

Many of my older patients would bring all their medications with them – usually dragged along behind them by patient and broad backed significant others. Many times I got shopping bags full of pills to inventory as a part of the process.

Shopping bags full of pills…

I remember thinking – how did they get to this? Regimented dosage schedules with pill cutters and alarm clocks; Medications to counteract medications; Temporary single shot therapies cloudy with age, but kept for, I guess, superstition, or a possible unimagined relapse when every minute counted.
I thought it was probably a slow process -- aggregation over time. It never occurred to me that it could begin on a single day that could be pointed to, in retrospect, as the omega of being old.
I have been going along, minding my own business, when I developed back pain. A quick trip to the doctor pointed out multiple maladies that all needed treatment. The treatments all revolve around changes to my body that I used to slough off as a day well spent, but know find that not treating them with pills and potions will involve an actual change in my lifestyle.
And, unusually, it’s either or
.
I’m fat – 250 pounds. I’ve been this weight before and knocked down things in my way and gave it a thought only when people said fat jokes around me.It didn't slow me, and people got out of my way, quickly.

But now, it’s making me diabetic, have a fatty liver, damaging my pancreatic thingy  and making me short of breath.

And the funny part is – a big part of the problem is the medication I take for my depression has a side effect of weight gain. I’ve only consistently been on an anti-depression med for the past year, because, now that I’m older, I can’t handle the ravages of a depressed and tortured artist.I guess fat and happy isn't a choice either.

I smoke and need to stop – nothing more needs to be said, really, like a Phillip Roth book – no words need to be added to explain my love of the drug and the anti-socialism of the habit.
I’ve arthritic hips – mild at this point, but I’m only 54 and god knows I might need to walk again come the revolution.

All of my problems and all of the medical solutions (pills, tests etc.) revolve around habits that got me here – eating for relief, couch potatoing for sloth, free-basing nicotine for sport.

So – mark the date, it’s a slippery slide to the shopping bag of pills, or a gradual change of youthful extravagance into something different and unknown to me.



Who in the voice talking to?

"There Is A Voice Inside Of You That Whispers All Day Long, "I Feel That This Is Right For Me, I Know That This Is Wrong." No Teacher, Preacher, Parent, Friend Or Wise Man Can Decide What's Right For You- Just Listen To The Voice That Speaks Inside."
- Shel Silverstein

Who is that voice talking to?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My visit to the Doctor



Back to the doctor again. The results, at least what I heard him say:
“This is an obese man trapped in a fat guy’s body. His triglycerides are high enough to make random dogs lick him while he walks down streets. His liver is fatty in a goose pate sort of way, and he has Ricketts.
He is diabetic and has hip spurs of arthritis that look like small Abe Lincolns. His cholesterol continues elevated, but this is the least of his problems.
I recommend the following: ultrasound of his liver, medication for his triglycerides, a portable walker with tennis balls on the front feet, and a private duty nurse to turn him when he sleeps.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Who am I?

First we conceive the “I” and grasp onto it.
Then we conceive the “mine” and cling to the material world.
Like water trapped on a waterwheel, we spin in circles, powerless.
I praise the compassion that embraces all beings.
—Chandrakirti
“Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.”
Billy Corgan
I used to have a red-eyed mouse that sat in a cage near my bed. At night he would get on the stainless steel wheel attached to the frame of the cage and run from dusk to dawn. The squeak of the wheel would keep me up and down, so I moved the cage to the far side of the room. He seemed to put even more effort into running and squeaking until I finally put drops of machine oil on the rubbing parts of the wheel. I never saw that mouse run again -- It was nothing without the noise and the commotion it caused.
Countless forms of fear run us and distract us from seeing what is real and inside ourselves.
We fear losing what we have or not getting what we want and think we need.
We distract ourselves with anxiety caused by alternating the holding on and grasping.
And what are we distracting ourselves from?
I went backpacking with my Uncle as a young man. We hiked two days out of Bishop, straight up into nowhere. It was spectacular; the stars at night infinite, the color or reflections off granite blinding. On the third night we sat around a small fire and everything left me – the distractions of what I do, where I live, what I owe, what I want and what I need. It was as if I had a list on a chalk board of all the things I was:
Father
Nurse
Brother
Son
Handyman
Driver
Decider
Buyer
Seller
Addict
Thinker
Dreamer
Lover
Fighter
Friend
Multi-media addict
Phone caller
Movie goer
Sports nut
Talker
And more
All those things that made me me – that took up space and occupied weight – all of them left me as if at once
And I have never been more afraid and alone then I was at that moment..
And the question – what are you if you take away the list?
And what happens if you stop running?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Somali Pirates

Breaking News - Somali Pirates in Talks To Acquire Citigroup

( I got this email from my lover and think it's very funny-- and I wish I had thought of it)

Somali Pirates in Discussions to Acquire Citigroup

By Andreas Hippin

November 20 (Bloomberg) — The Somali pirates, renegade Somalis known for hijacking ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup.

The pirates would buy Citigroup with new debt and their existing cash stockpiles, earned most recently from hijacking numerous ships, including most recently a $200 million Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The Somali pirates are offering up to $0.10 per share for Citigroup, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said earlier today. The negotiations have entered the final stage, Ali said. “You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to offer the shareholders anything,” said Ali.

The pirates will finance part of the purchase by selling new Pirate Ransom Backed Securities. The PRBS’s are backed by the cash flows from future ransom payments from hijackings in the Gulf of Aden. Moody’s and S&P have already issued their top investment grade ratings for the PRBS’s.

Head pirate, Ubu Kalid Shandu, said “we need a bank so that we have a place to keep all of our ransom money. Thankfully, the dislocations in the capital markets has allowed us to purchase Citigroup at an attractive valuation and to take advantage of TARP capital to grow the business even faster.”

Shandu added, “We don’t call ourselves pirates. We are coastguards and this will just allow us to guard our coasts better."


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Bridge, The Cross and Prescott Az.

From the archives -- (This is one of the first things I wrote as an adult -- night shift at St. Louise Hospital)

-->
So, I was at the Bridge concert Sunday, and as the dark came over me I had a vision of what god wants me to do next. Not so much an eyeball kind of vision, but more a "just there" kind of thing. (Please note that I am NOT religious in any way, shape or form; and have really never spent time in a structured church.)
What I saw in a blink of an eye are the following directions:

Get a hair shirt, and walk with a large cross to Prescott Az
.
I tend to over think things, so I started making bargains with god-what I like to think of as working the details.

How much hair in a hair shirt? Barber shops and super glue? Can I get sponsors for the cross? A wheel at the base? Just how big does the cross have to be? Can I pick the route to Prescott? Why Prescott? Is it important that I know why? Can I use a harness? Can PBS attach a camera to the cross? Is there a time limit to the trip? (40days/nights?)? Can I bring a date? Will meals be provided? What will I do after I get there? Short or long sleeve hair shirt? How much hair to make a legal hair shirt? What if I like the hair shirt- will that take from the lessons gods teaching me? Maybe just a Pendleton wool shirt?

And then I started to reinterpret the dream. Maybe god just wanted me to deliver a cross to some church in Arizona. Maybe just a good drive in my truck with the cross hanging out the bed and a wheel touching the highway as I drove. Maybe just a small wooden cross hanging around my neck as I drove to Vegas.  Maybe just thinking of a clever way of writing down my vision would be enough. I started dumbing down the deal
.
But in my gut, my great taproot of feeling- I know. Its simple-God wants me to get a big fucking cross, throw it over my shoulder and walk to Prescott Arizona. Nothing more, nothing less.

Am I going to do it? I mentally know that this might not be a real message from god- I might be in error-god knows I've never really been a good judge of reality. So- I plan to run it by some good friends and wait for good weather. I will post again when plans firm up....
OK- later- the feedback so far is- Forrest Gump in a Simpson’s episode. Enough said... A good friend suggested that even dwelling on the idea might make it seem even more real -- as if that were such a bad thing. His feeling is that to give time to a crazy idea makes it seem as if it's a legitimate option- when in fact- it's just crazy talk.

It gets me thinking.... How can a person really tell if he is getting a message from god? How do you check bonifides? Is there a litmus test- a password- a spell check for god’s transmission of the WORD?

Part 2

Got some feedback to share:

My parents think I write pretty and have a good imagination.

My cousin thinks that god wants me to write a book.

My Aunt thinks, “Typical Mike”

Some other family members are still shaking their heads with small smiles, eyes down
I’ve also gotten a few great emails of 2 types. One with serious comments and related web sites. One with take offs from the original post. (Substituting “Wearing an Ascot” for “Going to Prescott” was my favorite).

No religious notes from anyone-, which surprised me. Also, no one offered to sponsor me- but I did get an offer to video tape me for later. Also, no offer of anyone to drive a support van for me.

I must say that I think I am getting in over my head with this whole trip. Sure, god told me what to do, but I think I could use a little help with all this. It seems somewhat overwhelming.  I could really use some help with the details- I have a great imagination, but have huge blind spots that others can really help me with. Route planning I think I can handle, but small items and fun spots to stop could be helpful. I plan to travel alone, but would like to feel that others are thinking about me.

I plan to take this trip in 40 days (And nights). Seems sort of traditional to me to do the Jebus in the desert approach. So at 700 miles or so- plenty of walking to do. I plan a light wood cross with a pneumatic wheel at the base- nothing too flashy or heavy. I think a small cart or backpack for my stuff will keep it simple- although I am still keeping my eye out for a support van. I am still up in the air about the hair shirt thing- and am very open to suggestions concerning this.

I think the trip will have to wait until the first warm period next spring- mostly in keeping with the desert theme, and also because I get cold easily. Plenty of time to plan.

I will keep posting updates as they come

11/24/03

Update

I got out of bed the other morning and went outside to get the paper and was so cold that I got a few extra blankets and went back to bed. I think this whole cross thing may have to wait for warmer weather.

Not that I am harboring any bad thoughts about the project, but… I do seem to be questioning the will of god lately.

I have read a bit about Mother Teresa lately. As a young girl she talked to god daily for about a month. God told her what to do and where to go. Whet interesting is that god never talked to her again after that month was up. Not for the 70 additional years of her life. Not once. And it was enough.

Carl Jung writes that when you are having neurotic or obsessional  problems after the age of thirty- that they are probably spiritual problems. That each of us needs to be connected to something bigger than ourselves. That being ourselves can never be enough.

I was not raised with a religion and so tend to have an outsiders view of the whole thing. Catholics have their Jesus on a stick thing, Mormons their salamanders bringing gold tablets and such. The Protestants seem fairly straight foreword until you realize that their whole religion is a reaction to HOW the Catholics tended things, not why. I have always found organized religion to be sort of tough to get a handle on.

What seems to be the deal involves discipline, practice, and faith. Knowing that something bigger than self exists, and that that something will take care of us. The faith is in the acting as if. We get the present, not the future. We can’t see the plan for us because if we did, we would screw it up. So the faith is in the doing the now as best we can, understanding that we may never see the true consequences of our behaviors. Mysterious wonders to perform, and all that…

I think the old Jews had the right idea when they told us we couldn’t say the name of god out loud- that any attempts to make human the face of god necessarily limited him/her. It’s like you don’t really need to know corporate policy to do your job- just a simple mission statement ought to be enough to get you going. Knowing that it’s really big, and that there is a plan helps a lot, though.
 

Monday, December 01, 2008

Predictions



Everyone lies and everyone makes mistakes.

 (I don’t actually believe this, but using it as a fixed rule on human behavior has never failed me.)
In truth, I believe that there are adults running things, and everyone tells me the truth when asked. I don’t seem to be capable of growing out of this  -- I get fooled all the time, just wading through layers of trust until, astonished, I find myself knee deep on the shores of a gigantic land’o’ lies.
I try not to lie – for important things, it always backfires and I end up getting much more than I got out of it. I practice the old fashioned methods – the classics – of minimize, distract, ignore and deny. Mostly, I just try not to say anything. I very rarely do a ‘big’ lie and expect to get away with it.
I am amazed that other people lie on scales I can’t imagine. Banks saying they have enough money when they don’t, politicians saying they will fix things they know they won’t, people saying they will when they couldn’t possibly. Dumfounded, unprepared and disconnected, I find myself staring into space and without thought every time I’m blindsided. It’s a pattern.
Always, looking back, the signs were there, like termites on a banister that I knew by the softness of the wood – wood I didn’t want to poke. I am too tentative and lacking in the boldness of the blind. So here are my predictions.

  1. World war by 2012 – every nation will have a side. (2017 -- nope)
  2. U.S population will decrease by at least a third by 2013. (2017 -- Nope)
  3. Recession will be called a depression by 2010. Unemployment 15% by 2010. (2017 Yes)
  4. Old people will be the new poor and it won’t get better. Dog food the soylent green for older people. (2017, nope, but soon maybe)
  5. The economy won’t be allowed to deflate – too much money will be in circulation and will have all the problems associated with that – inflation, et.al. (2017 True)
  6. Health care will be outsourced starting in 2010. This will cause a deepening of the depression. (2017 -- yes, no)
  7. Ford will be the only ‘American” car maker. G.M. will sell out to China and close all its operations in the U.S. (2017 -- No)
  8. Obama will not survive his Presidency – Biden will have oodles of goodwill, but will not be able to stop world events. (2017 -- no)
  9. Republicans will win the Presidency in 2012 and do just exactly what you think they will do. (2017 no)
  10. Another major bombing will happen in American in 2010. All pretence of due process will vanish. (2017, no)
  11. Public unrest will lead to political prisoners held in prisons. Most Americans will applaud the government for putting the malcontents away. (2017 -- no)
  12. There will be an alien sedition act by 2011. (2017, sort of)
  13. China will control over 80% of the resources coming out of Africa. It will politically dominate all of the East African nations as well. (2017 -- no, but really hard to say)
  14. The war in 2012 will be caused by scarce resources -- primarily oil, but the spark will not come from the middle east (or Iran.) 9@017 -- no)
2017 ed. -- I was wrong 11 out of 14, and only a little right on the three I'm taking credit for. So not listen to me, I'm wrong a lot.