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Posts Tagged ‘death’

Cheating Death, Again, and Again, and Again

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on January 4, 2015

Got knocked down by a car the other day. It made me think about all those times in my life when, but for one thing, I would have died. As an infant, and later as a two-year old, I had pneumonia. I was saved by penicillin, by science, technology and society, twice. Before penicillin, I would have been dead as an infant.

As a six-year old, I fell into a house under construction. The incomplete basement had no concrete yet, the floor was mud with pools of water. Me, my brother John and Eddie Knight were bringing  the biggest stones we could find and carry, climbing the foundation wall, and dropping them into the pools of water. The object, of course, was to get a huge splash. We dropped in our stones, enjoyed the splash, and set out to find bigger stones. I dropped a nice one in, hit the water nicely, and turned to see Eddie plop the biggest stone I’d seen all morning on the floor level of the foundation, so he could use both hands to climb up. Somehow, I couldn’t help myself. I ran over, grabbed the stone, and dropped it in. I think it made a big splash. I say think, because all I remember is perhaps a sense of movement. Eddie, pissed off as all hell, had come charging at me, I think. The details are vague. Because I was standing by the edge of the hole in the floor we were using (it was for the stairs to come), I must have gone right over. I woke up some time later. Two adults were carrying me through tall weeds in the huge field behind my house. I had cracked my head against one of the stones, maybe even Eddie’s big one. Lying face down in the muddy water, I would have drowned. My brother pulled me out. Eddie, meanwhile had gone for his parents, who were carrying me home. I never saw Eddie again. He never came by. I would guess that he felt guilty, or his parents simply forbade him to play with us again. Life saved by my younger brother, although medical science repaired my cracked skull.

Lutheran Hospital I turned eight years old during my stay at Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland (formerly the Hebrew Orphan Asylum). My appendix had ruptured, and I remember being told later that I had peritonitis (literally an inflammation of the stomach lining), although today the term used is blood poisoning, or sepsis. In septic shock, weak, and barely able to shamble, with support from my mother, who drove me to the hospital in a borrowed car, the staff there knew I was in trouble from my blood work. An x-ray did not show cause, so I was taken for exploratory surgery. The appendix was hidden behind an organ, and hadn’t been visible on x-ray. Again, medical science, through surgery and chemistry, had saved my life, although I was hospitalized for four weeks, and convalesced at home for another week. Happy Birthday!

Soon after that I developed bronchial asthma, and survived by using steam and a towel over my head, or a prescription inhaler. Sometimes I simply couldn’t catch my breath at all. I didn’t know where it went or why it was running away. The asthma attacks went away sometime after my 12th birthday.

Of course, not everything I did was life threatening. I slipped trying to repair a leaky roof in a tree house and fell to the ground, breaking my arm. Excruciating pain came with that one, and a cast on my arm, and notoriety at school. It was hard to brag about falling out of a tree. I was just embarrassed.

I must have developed an acute sense of caution, because I didn’t get hurt again until I was an adult. I got creamed by a huge beast of a car as I had been pedaling down a nice hill. It hit me broadside, and dragged the bicycle across the street, but I had been thrown forward by my own momentum. I bounced, and passed out. Passers-by thought I was dead. I heard them say so as I came to. They’d already given up on me and were comforting the driver! I was in shock, didn’t know who I was or what had happened at first. I was thoroughly amazed that I’d survived, because my last thought before the impact had been that I was going to die. Traffic had been thick and heavy, and I could have easily been run over by some other vehicle. As it was, my own momentum had carried me in a high arc straight forward, and the car was so big, a Lincoln Continental Mark III, Lincoln that it had blocked enough of the lane to keep the other drivers away.  Saved by the eighteen-foot car length. Nothing broken this time. I had a major sprain on the top of my left foot, which had been hit by the car. The heavy Schwinn bicycle pedal arm had been bent, back into the spokes.

Bicycles on highways or city streets are accidents waiting to happen, and I had a few more. Once my shoe was simply ripped off my foot. Once I skidded on gravel on a mountain road and slid down a long section of blacktop, taking a lot of skin off my chest and stomach. Ouch. Another time, a car side-swiped me as I pedaled down a city street right on the edge of the road. It appeared as though the car had passed another car on the right, illegally, had not seen me up ahead, and clipped me. The impact left a huge bruise on my ass and thigh muscles. I was stunned at first, and lay on my back, staring unblinkingly into the light rain that was falling. I worried that I was paralyzed. The driver didn’t stop, but someone else did after a few minutes, and an ambulance took me and bicycle to a hospital. Bruised and scraped flesh was all I received then, but it could have been worse. Somehow I had fallen without breaking my neck. Somehow the car hadn’t broken my hip or run over me. Little things.

Given my history, buying a motorcycle was not a very smart thing to do, but at least it put me out into the drive lane at speed, instead of paralleling the other vehicles, riding bicycles in the gutters full of storm-drain grates and broken glass. It didn’t take me long to lay the bike down: the first time taking a corner in the rain, slipping on icy roads, or hitting a crazy dog on a curve. I was never hurt, but I went through a few turns signals and mirrors which stick out to the sides. I learned to anticipate accidents, to always brake the front and rear wheels simultaneously, and even ride on icy or snow-packed streets. I got good. However, as I neared my house one fine day, I decided to pass in front of  a stalled car blocking my lane, and he hit the gas microseconds before I got there. I t-boned him, and sailed over the car hood. The bike was totalled. I was sore and bruised but none the worse for wear after a few weeks. Everyone in the neighborhood said I must have said my prayers. I didn’t pray anymore, so that wasn’t it. Given my moral turpitude at the time, I could have thanked the devil instead, if I’d still believed in such things.

Years passed with my replacement motorcycle. As I was near home again, in a different house with a wife waiting for me this time, I misread a red traffic light. I thought it was still green, but the sun was directly behind it as I topped a hill. I sailed into the large Route 66 intersection at about 40 mph. There was a pickup directly in front of me; I looked up – the light was red. Never even applied the brakes. Totalled that bike too. I was again bruised and scraped up. My arm was a bit sprained, so I wore a sling for a short time. The driver of the pickup told my insurance company that I had bent his truck frame. Really? Well, no matter. I got another bike, number three in a series, and I never wrecked it. Since it was old and leaked oil, and always needed repairs, I finally traded it in.  Success! I had ridden a motorcycle the entire time I had owned it without damaging it or myself. However, the newer bike was not so lucky. Within two weeks I had laid it down, negotiating a turn, I didn’t understand what had happened until it happened again. This time I took it in to a shop. They found a spacer missing from the front axle. Such spacers keep the wheel centered on the axle, but without one, the wheel was sliding to one side as I turned, causing the wheel to lock up.

Of note in all this mayhem is that I paused in June of 2013 to have a minor heart attack. The large descending artery on the right side was partly clogged when I first got to the heart hospital, but within minutes, the clog had moved to completely block the artery (sudden minor pain). Fortunately, I was already hooked up to an IV and heart monitors, and my wrist was prepped for sticking a balloon up to my heart to clean it out and leave a stent behind. They went ahead and did that, and I felt relief immediately. Recovery was rapid and complete. Four months later, I ran a half marathon in three hours exact. A year later I ran it in 2 hours, 46 minutes. Cheating death. Again. Heart before

So, I’ve dodged any motorcycle accident for many years now. I am very aware of my surroundings. I always know where other vehicles are, and I keep a constant eye out on side streets and pedestrians. I hit nothing, and nothing hits me. I have a car now also, and my motorcycle habits have transferred. I have no accidents, because I am always acutely aware of my surroundings. So, it came as a shock last Friday evening to find a moving car pushing against my body, again.

I was crossing a street at a slight angle to reach my car. It was a cold night, and I was worried about an approaching storm, so I had opted out of riding the bike. I was in the southbound part of the street as I saw a car approach the intersection from an eastbound lane. I sped up so I wouldn’t be in its path. It was about 50 feet away, so I had plenty of time to reach my car before it even reached me. Wrong. She had turned wide, and sped up as she straightened out, but not where she should have been. She was squarely in the northbound part of the road. Her right fender was pressing hard against me. I noticed the rest of the car was ahead of me, instead of behind me in the empty southbound lane. She never said what she was doing. Was she just turning wide? She later said she only saw me at the last moment before hitting me. Had she tried to avoid me? swerving around me? She never said much else. Liability issues, I’d guess.

Fortunately she did see me plastered against her grille, and stopped. I was thrown forward and hard onto the asphalt. It hurt. So, there I was again, lying in the street again, wondering how the hell I’d misjudged that situation. How the hell had she caught me? I hurt all over it seemed, but I thought I should get up. My right hip area had impacted the street, and it was in considerable pain, but after a few minutes, the pain went away. We exchanged information. She is an artist with the gallery whose open house I’d just left.

I went home, took two Advil Liquid capsules, applied some Blue Emu cream, ate a late dinner with some chokecherry wine, and got some sleep. The pain was back next day, but so far, so good. The hip only hurts to the touch. “So don’t touch it!” I know, I know, but sometimes ya gotta roll over in bed, or ya bump against the side of a chair. It’ll heal. There’s skin scraped off again, but no bruising. The pain seems to be deep, and just behind the hip bone that juts out there. Worked hard yesterday, did a lot of heavy lifting and shoving at the winery, with no pain, so I think I’m OK.

Again.

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Posted in humor, Life, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

An Explosion of Blackberry Wine

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 16, 2014

IMG_0160 I feel like this is my last night on Earth. Almost one year ago I had a heart attack – on that day, I felt doom, oddly like the end of the world, or at least my world. I honestly felt like my life was finished, like I was going to die. If I hadn’t gotten myself to the heart hospital, I’d have been dead – so they say. At the hospital, I was shown an echocardiogram of my heart. The main right artery was nearly completely blocked. Only a trickle of blood was making it past the clot. The doctor convinced me that I needed balloon angioplasty, where they would break up the blockage with the balloon-tipped catheter and leave a stent in place. I asked about options. He said I could undergo drug therapy, but he didn’t recommend it. He seemed amused that I was unconvinced that angioplasty was my best option. I said to go ahead. They decided to insert the catheter via my arm, instead of my groin, after they shaved both areas. My groin may not have been the best choice since I hadn’t showered since the morning of the day before. They asked my if I’d taken Viagra. I had, on Saturday night – it had been a nice night of sex with a woman I knew at the time. It was then Monday. They probably thought I’d not showered since then. In actuality, I’d showered on Sunday morning, but masturbated Monday, that very morning, and washed up, but had not had time to take a full shower. I had had to rush off to pick my stepdaughter up and get her to work on time.
I felt fine that morning, and, in fact, donated a pint of blood after I’d dropped my stepdaughter off. My blood pressure was OK, and my pulse steady, and all seemed fine; my cholesterol levels have always been good. They told me to go eat a big breakfast. Taking them up on that, I stopped at a breakfast buffet. I had a pile of bacon, a little bit of scrambled eggs, some carne adovada, a small waffle, some fruit and coffee. I felt great. I went home and relaxed, played around on my computer: checking the status of things I had for sale on eBay, reading email, looking at my blogs on WordPress. I picked up a book and read for a while. It was then that I felt the weird pressure in my chest that wouldn’t go away and kept getting worse. Nothing I did helped. The feeling of doom crept in. Death. An ending. It’s over. All that went through my mind. No pain. No numbness. No nausea. Nothing but the most unusual sense of impending doom, and the pressure in my chest. I survived.
No heart attack now. I’m off most of the medications. I’m supposed to keep taking aspirin every day for the rest of my life. I’m still taking a statin drug to keep my cholesterol down. It’s lower than it’s ever been in my life. I also take a drug to fight off acid reflux. It helps. However, I don’t feel like taking any more drugs. I checked my blood pressure the other day, and it was higher than it’s ever been in my entire life! Way higher. I never had a problem with hypertension before. I started training for a half-marathon shortly after the heart attack, and ran it in October: 13.1 miles in three hours. Slow, but I made it. I had never run before. I’ve been running since, but not lately – I’ve had too many conflicts, what with work at a winery, and being on a movie set, and hiking sometimes in the mountain. Somehow I am busy, even five years after I retired from my day job. All is well.
Psychologically? I don’t know. I came back from visiting a friend who just had cancer surgery a few days ago. She had her thyroid removed, and her parathyroid relocated. We visited a bit, and she said she was tired, and wanted to nap. I left, but later saw that she was on Facebook, and at dinner with friends. She hadn’t mentioned that. I’d offered to take her out, or pick something up, but she’d said no. Well, that felt odd.
Watched a movie tonight: The Secret LIfe of Walter Mitty. Great movie. Easy to identify with the main character. Just before it ended I heard a muffled explosion from my kitchen. I was engrossed in the movie and didn’t want to get up. But then, I heard the sound of water running, and dripping, and I had no idea what it could be. I paused to see what the hell it was, and discovered my kitchen cabinet leaking. A bottle of Blackberry wine that came from the winery I work at, but had been opened by my stepdaughter, and recorked, had exploded and was pouring out over the countertop. She hadn’t liked it, and had given it to me. I grabbed some towels to mop it up, left them in place and watched the rest of the movie. Since then I’ve cleaned up a little, taken most everything out of two shelves and wiped up all the wine. I still need to wash it out. My whole house smells like wine now. It’s past time I should be in bed. I need to get up in 5 hours to drive to Santa Fé to work with the film crew. It’s the last day, day 13 of filming. It is a Sci Fi TV pilot. Whether or not it will ever be seen by anyone but ourselves, I can’t say. It’s an excellent concept, and everyone has worked hard. Very low-budget. Most of us worked for free. As extras and crew we’re not paid (except coffee, donuts, fruit, cheese, water and pizza). The actors are paid, although not much.
It feels like the end to me. Running through my head is the idea I can’t shake: that this is my last night ever, that tomorrow is my last day, ever. I don’t know why. I’m being melodramatic. I’m foolish. I know better, but not much inspires me to write anymore. This does. What if this is my last night?

Posted in depression, Life, medical, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts, wine | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Killing is NOT the Same Thing as Murder

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 24, 2013

Why is that?

Killing It is so, because murder is a legal term for killing not sanctioned by society. If all killing were murder, then executions would be murder. If all killing was murder, then any death in wartime would be murder: killing the enemy? murder. Friendly fire? murder. collateral damage? murder.  Because we sanction those things, we do not define them as murder. Recently I came across the comparison of the fines and penalties for harming the eggs of protected species, like Eagles, and human fetuses.  fetus The argument appears to be that if it’s wrong to destroy eagle eggs, then it is wrong to kill human fetuses as well. This does not follow logically. The Eagle, for one, although recovering, is an endangered species, and the fine is an attempt to allow that species to continue. Does anyone, really, anyone, believe that abortion is killing the human race? That we are in danger of dying out as a species because of abortion? No, of course not. Hell, we continue to proliferate, for now. What does threaten the survival of the human race is pollution of the air and water, and eradication of too many animal species. Life on Earth is a balancing act.

When we kill off entire species, we remove an element from the balance. For example, animals are usually either prey for some other animal, or prey on some other animal, or are both. If a species goes, its actions in the balance of things go too. The result can be overpopulation of that animals prey, or an absence of prey for others, whether it was mammalian or insect, or aquatic in nature. Sometimes, another animal can fill the void, sometimes not. Sometimes, the death of a species results in the death of many other species. Some argue we are in the middle of just such an effect now, where the death of so many thousands of species has reached a point of cascade, wherein it is impossible to stop, and we will be left with only humans, for a short time. For, regardless of whether one is vegetarian or not, humans are dependent on animal life for our survival.

There are so many interactions between animals and plants, between animals and insects (another animal, but I’m making a point here), between animals and the air we breathe and the water we drink. Humanity would cease to exist long before the last animal species was wiped out, because it is a co-dependancy. A good example of co-dependancy  is that between wolves and deer. Too many wolves, and the deer are removed. Not enough wolves, and the deer overpopulate, then overgraze the available resources and die out en masse from starvation. Huntings laws help keep that balance, but hunting laws are not going to keep us alive when all the predators are gone, or when all the prey is, or when all the bugs are gone. There are billions upon billions of interactions in the world that result in life for humans, and we can’t imitate them all.  That’s the reason for endangered species laws.

Be all that as it may be, however, I’ve strayed too far from the point. The point is that killing is not murder, legally. abortionAbortion is NOT murder, legally. There is a movement among Evangelical Christians to define life as beginning from the moment of conception, frivolous and stupid idea that it is.  Does the world celebrate birthdays or conception days? Most of us know that life begins at birth. No one wants to see a baby killed. However, killing living, breathing human beings is almost universally illegal, except for executions, and in war, or self-defense, or by accident. Killing is not and cannot ever be considered murder in all cases. Killing a fetus is just such a case.

Killing a human fetus, is not, for the time being, murder. There was a time when it was. Murder is a relative term, depending entirely on what the society making the laws believes.

For, if killing a fetus is murder, regardless of the law, then so is execution, war, and accidental death. We don’t seem to agree on this. A number of fundamentalist zealots want life defined as beginning from the moment of conception, so they can justify making all abortion illegal. However, almost all of them accept execution, and war, and do not want those things to be illegal. It is a very inconsistent, illogical and convenient. Is all killing murder? or not? Does a woman who slips and falls, kill her fetus? or a woman who is involved in a car accident or other such incident that results in the fetus’s death kill that fetus? Are they murderers? How many exceptions will the believers accept in order to make abortion illegal again?

But then, there is that other question. If one is opposed to all killing, and all killing is murder, then eating animals is certainly murder, for animals are often cruelly killed, tortured and abused in the process of becoming what we refer to as meat. meat Dead animal flesh is dead animal flesh. The animal had to be killed for that. If killing is murder, than eating meat condones murder. Hah! you say? animals are not human. Why is that? Very convenient. We can kill, that is, terminate any life we want, as long as it isn’t what society defines as human. Funny how most animal fetuses, including human fetuses, look exactly alike in the womb at some point. It is in the development that a fetus becomes an animal or a human. So somehow, people argue, animals and people are not the same, and it is OK to kill animals for food, even if they resemble us, because well, they are not human – by law. Again, it is a legal fiction that animals and people are not protected from killing in the same way. There are animal cruelty laws, but those usually apply only to pets, and ranch animals like horses, which often are a kind of pet. Slaughterhouses kill every day, and we don’t blink an eye at that.

So again, I have to ask, why is a human fetus, unborn, not yet even breathing, more important than a living, breathing animal? The historical answer has always been: the soul. Biblical teachings have it that human beings are special, and are thus endowed with souls. Animals have no soul, therefore, it is legal to kill them. And, kill them we do, in the millions every day, and yet it is not murder, because we do not define it as such. So it is with abortion: when it is legal, it is not murder.

So, the whole question of abortion as murder comes down to this soul, a religious belief that sets humans apart from animals, for the purpose of allowing us to kill animals without shame or repercussion.

Some people do not believe in the concept of souls.

Some people believe that all living things have souls.

Some people selectively believe that only humans have souls.

So, what life-begins-at-conception laws and anti-abortion laws really are, are an attempt to impose, legally, the belief on all people, that souls exist, that a human fetus, alone of all creatures, has a soul, and therefore cannot be killed. This attempt is only possible if one does not care what other people believe. Lately, I see all these complaints from the politically-motivated-religious right that they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Somehow, it is persecution to resist their attempts to force their beliefs on those of us who do not share those beliefs. This has happened throughout the history of religion. Those who believe have killed those who do not believe the same things in the same way. “That was in the past,” they say. Bull. It is happening again. This same group of self-righteous religious fanatics wants to make providing access to abortion, or having an abortion a Capital Crime. Again, those motivated by their belief that they are right and the rest of us are wrong, want to kill everyone who does not accede to their beliefs, and they want it to be legal to do so.

That is the essence of religion: do what I say, or you will die, for I am right, and you are wrong. And you seriously think I shouldn’t be offended by that? You seriously think I shouldn’t fear your blatant attempts to legislate your particular brand of morality? to make everyone follow your beliefs by law? Christianity

THINK AGAIN.

Posted in crime, current events, faith, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, politics, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, religion, war, World | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Sometimes it takes a good swift kick in the heart

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on June 11, 2013

There have been many times over the last five or six years when I thought I was ready for death. My life didn’t have much meaning, but it didn’t have to, I thought, since I had lived a good, and a long life already. I mean, what’s the point of just living? Life needs to be lived, and I mean lived, enjoyed, relished, savored. It doesn’t matter what the mix of good and bad is. A really good week makes up for a bad day anytime. An exceptional day makes up for a bad week.  However, since my days were one long string of bad, mediocre, or really crappy times, I couldn’t figure out why I was still alive.

Sometimes, I felt like I was dying. It seemed to me, day by day, that my life was winding down. Sometimes I had trouble hiking, and I could feel my lungs struggling to bring air in. Sometimes I felt pain in my chest. In my mind, I suspected I might have a heart attack anytime, or simply stop breathing. I was old enough. The idea didn’t bother me. We all have our time, and it seemed mine had passed. A few times, after I’d fallen asleep in my recliner, I’d awakened to find myself half dead, my brain fuzzy, my thoughts chaotic. It was as if I hadn’t been breathing for a few minutes. I would get up and walk around, but even though my lungs were moving, there was no oxygen in my brain. My brain felt dim, and dark, as though I was trapped underground. I mean, what is more symbolic of death than that?  I asked my doctor about it, and she said those were panic attacks. Well, you’d panic too if there was no oxygen going to your brain. I believe I actually did stop breathing each time, probably not for long, but long enough to trigger my body’s desperate attempt to reboot. I envisioned a time when I would be found dead at home, probably days or weeks after the fact. Who would check?

When my step-daughter had experienced her brain tumor, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and more radiation and chemo, that had been really troubling. I didn’t want her to die. She survived, and the joy I’d felt then had been true joy, unbelievable happiness.  However, my marriage ended shortly after that. There was no further contact, no hope of reconciliation. I had a friend I’d known for years, and asked her out. She was horrified at the idea, and gradually pulled away too. I retired from my job of twenty-five years. I lived alone. It all seemed pointless right then. Was I depressed? Sure. But, eventually that passed, but I could see that I wasn’t really living, I was just marking time. It was as though I was in a waiting room, killing time, only I was just waiting for death to tap me on the shoulder, even though I was occasionally having good moments.

stainless-steel stent

Stent

So, a week ago, I did have a heart attack. I suspected it might be a heart attack before it had hardly begun. I had felt something odd in my chest, a tightening, or pressure, on and off for months. It never lasted long, and I could simply sit down and rest a bit and I was fine. I don’t exercise enough, so I attributed it to my less-than-perfect stamina. Hiking in the mountains here, once a week, even for 5 to 9 miles, is not really enough to stay in good shape when you’re old. When the day came and the pressure wouldn’t ease off, and I felt anxious, was sweating like a pig, and foggy in my head, I thought, yeah, maybe this is it. For years, I’d believed that I would welcome it. I debated going to see my doctor, the newer one who had diagnosed exercised-induced asthma. I was breathing OK. I had no pain. However, something was wrong. At first I thought I would get over it. I took two aspirin. I tried to relax. Increasingly, I felt worse. Suddenly, I had to make a decision: do or don’t. I decided to act. Got help. Heart attack verified. Angioplasty performed. Clot destroyed. Stent placed in right coronary artery. Stent 2

For someone prone to hypochondria, this was actually vindication. I knew I was sick, and I was. More importantly, I made the decision to live. If I had just sat down, or gone to bed, I would have reached the point by myself, as I did in the cardiac lab, where my heart went into arrhythmia. I would have died, painfully, all by myself.

So, I had decided to live on. I took steps to get help. I survived. I am on drugs for a while to help get my body through this experience. I signed up to train for a half-marathon. It feels good.

Posted in health, Life, medical, My Life, rambling | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

He was survived by two cats

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 30, 2011

I have such an odd feeling, as though I have no future. I have cleaned up my house, put things away, and find myself thinking that it is ready for the estate sale after I die. It keeps running through my head that I haven’t much time left. Last night I even thought that my due date is coming up sooner than later. All bills are paid for the month. Rent check, book I sold, and Netflix movie are all in the mail.

I watched The Man Who Wasn’t There last night.  Perhaps it influenced me too much. In identifying with the protagonist, I ended up being depressed. Of course, I never have to dig too deep to find such feelings. Been that way for some time now. I don’t feel sad as such. I just have this gut feeling that I will die soon. I kept getting the idea running through my head last night that once I leave my house today I will never return. That could mean different things, but it’s hard to imagine not returning to my house if I’m still alive.

I hope someone takes care of my cats.

Posted in depression, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

pɐoɹ ǝɥʇ ƃuıssoɹɔ ʇsoɥƃ ǝןɐd

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 7, 2011

˙ǝɯ punoɹɐ sɯɹɐ ǝsoɥʇ ɟo ssǝuʇɟos ƃuoɹʇs ǝɥʇ sı sɹǝʇʇɐɯ ʇɐɥʇ llɐ ˙uǝʇʇoƃɹoɟ sı ǝɔuǝıɹǝdxǝ ɥʇɐǝp-ɹɐǝu ɹno ˙ɯlɐɔ ɯɐ ı ˙sǝɥɔuı ʎq ǝʇoʎoɔ ǝɥʇ ssıɯ ǝʍ ˙ǝɯ sǝʌɐs ʇɐɥʇ ǝɔuǝsǝɹd ɹǝɥ sı ʇı ˙ǝɯ sɹoɥɔuɐ ǝɥs ˙ʎʇıɹnɔǝs ˙ʇlǝq ʇɐǝs ɐ ǝʞıl ʇsǝɥɔ ʎɯ punoɹɐ sɯɹɐ ‘ǝɯ puıɥǝq ɐʎɐɯ ˙ɹǝʇsɐsıp ɹɐǝu ˙ɥdɯ ǝʌıɟ-ʎʇɟıɟ ʇɐ ǝlɔʎɔɹoʇoɯ ˙puɐs ɟo ɹoloɔ ǝɥʇ ‘ǝʇoʎoɔ ɐ ˙pɐǝɥɐ pɐoɹ ǝɥʇ ƃuıssoɹɔ ʇsoɥƃ ǝlɐd

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Back to the Mainstream

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 3, 2010

Fishing is religion to many people.  Fishing in New Mexico is like that – it’s a spiritual experience.  Rick loved fishing.  He also liked to drink, and he liked to party – “Ajua!” – and he liked to grow and eat the hottest chiles you’ve ever tasted – “Yesss!” – but he loved just a few things: his wife, his sons, and fishing.  There probably isn’t a river or lake in the whole state that he hadn’t fished.
“Rick’s dead.”  That’s how I got the news.  Linda repeated it, because I just stumbled out a “What?”  “Rick’s dead.”  “Yeah, but, but, you mean, Rick, Hilda’s Rick?”  “Yes.”  “But, how? when?  Was he in another accident?”
Well, anyway, Rick was dead.  The deal was this: he was at home, “evaluating,” a friend’s gun to give his wife, Hilda, for her protection.  The reason she needed protection is a family secret.  Rick didn’t know if he would buy it yet.  The story we were told was this: while Rick was loading the gun, Hilda left him to call Damien, one of her sons, and ask him about the value of the gun.  Rick didn’t know if he would buy it yet.  Rick, who had just the month before wrecked their truck, and who had broken an arm here and a leg there, having a habit of being not quite careful, dropped the gun.  The problem with an automatic, however, is that, as it’s loaded, that action cocks the gun.  The gun went off when it hit the floor, and the bullet, well, the bullet found Rick’s heart.  It had to pass through the sofa cushion, then it severed Rick’s scrotum, and traveled up through his stomach, where it managed to hit a valve in his heart, and no one could save him.
Hilda was devastated.  I don’t recall ever seeing a woman’s face so utterly deflated with sadness.  All of the skin in her face seemed to droop.  She cried, sobbing between spasms of crying.  Of course, her family was soon with her, as were Rick’s and Hilda’s friends: those that fished, and those without that particular religion.  Everyone came, and we all brought food and beer.  You come together to try to accept what has happened, you sit together, you talk, you eat, you drink.
Just days before the accident, Rick had one shot from a new bottle of tequila.  He had said he wanted to save it, to make it last.  Now, since he was gone, everyone crowded into the living room, the room with that bullet-holed sofa cushion, and shared the rest of his bottle.  It was our last chance to share a drink with him.  Martín, Hilda’s brother, sang a corrido in a great full voice laced with sadness.
Curious, I looked at the cushion.  Someone had turned it over so the hole was not so visible, but it was there.  I put my finger in it. I couldn’t imagine how it had happened.  I didn’t know at the time that Rick’s huevos had been blasted off, or I wouldn’t have touched the sofa at all.  There was, curiously, no blood, as if the cushion had not been under Rick for long after the bullet passed through it.  Perhaps he fell over onto the floor.  If there had been blood on the floor, it was gone now.
Eventually people hugged, and cried some more, and went back to their own homes.  There had been a church service earlier, but Rick had long ago insisted that there be no funeral, and no coffin for him.  He was cremated.  His ashes had been brought from the church, and rested in a jar in the hallway.  In the morning his family and friends took the ashes to Rick’s favorite fishing spot in all of Nuevo México.
It was a long drive from Albuquerque, past Bernalillo, traveling highway 550, through Cuba, through Aztec, and on and on near the Aztec ruins, almost to Colorado.  Five trucks convoyed behind Hilda, in the lead, because only she knew the place.  We pulled off the road, and plunged down an embankment to a sudden stop near the water.  There was a short hike along a thin, almost overgrown path.  Damien poured Rick into his fishing hole, a slowly revolving eddy alongside the swift flowing San Juan.  The ashes whirled round and round and round, some of them heading briefly upriver, where they slowly sank.  We all tossed flowers in the water, and watched, and waited for Rick to join the mainstream.
As the ashes and flowers slowly spiraled towards the deep rushing water, Rick’s family stood on the yellow sandstone rock that balanced over the eddy.  I thought the whole thing might just topple into the water, and the entire family drown, what with the aunt, the cousins, the sisters, the sons, the dog, and the friends standing or sitting on that cantilevered rock.  The sun is mercilessly bright when there are no clouds, and creates silver highlights on the surface of water.  The swift splashing water has shadows between the ripples.  Perhaps that helps explain what we saw.
Damien saw it first – a fish, probably dead, swirling with the ashes and the flowers.  It listed in the water, but wasn’t clearly dead, so Damien poked it with a stick.  It swam away! but only for a few feet.  It remained there, lazily pulled this way and that by the competing currents in that watery grave.  Someone said, “It’s drunk,” and it was almost certainly true.  The ashes and flowers had been followed by brandy, and beer, and tequila.  Rick was known to take a sip from time to time, well, probably more times than not.  The fish was drunk.
It wasn’t long before someone decided that the fish was Rick.  It made sense.  Rick had been coming to this spot for a long time, and he had just returned for the last time in what was left of his human form.  The fish wouldn’t go away.  It kept reappearing at intervals, and drifting, drifting, drifting, like it was waiting for something.  It seemed to be watching us watching it.
The fish told us that Rick wasn’t dead, that he would travel the San Juan now.  That he would hang around the fishing holes, drinking the beer and tequila that slipped from the hands and lips of  fisherman down the length of that river.
Gradually, the tears dried, and the sobs quieted.  People laughed about the fish.  The dog barked at it.  The shadows were creeping down the bank, moving over the edges of the water.  It was time to go.  The fish became more animated, swimming faster, reappearing less, and moving closer to the central current.  Finally, he disappeared into the shadowy, reckless middle.
Rick had joined his compadres in the water’s mainstream, and we felt relief.  Rick was free.  Rick was home.  I swear I heard something in the splashing, gurgling water, as we watched the river flow.  I swear I heard, “Ajua!”

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Deep Creek Youghiogheny

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 31, 2010

With nothing left to live for, no joy in my life, no pleasure in waking, breathing, eating, or even being, I knew I had to just get it over with and die.  I went through all the options: gun placed in my mouth to fire upwards, blowing the top of my head off – way too messy.
Razor along my vein, for maximum loss of blood – too slow, and painful.  What of pain? I shouldn’t care, but, it’s because I tired of pain that I no longer feel anything at all. No sense having pain be my last memory.
Jumping? What if I survive? What if I’m paralyzed? unable to die? kept alive for nothing?
Pills? so I can wake up choking on my own vomit?
Jumping in front of a bus? Same problem as jumping.
I really couldn’t come up with anything that didn’t involve some kind of pain, slow death, or public display.  I didn’t want anyone to know I died, or how I died. I had no one to impress, no one to feel sorry for me, no one to send a message to.  I just wanted it all to be over.
I found a solution: drowning.  I knew it would be unpleasant.  I had a plan for that. Nitrous oxide.  I would feel myself drowning, trying to pull air into my lungs, trying to breathe, but I wouldn’t care.  I’d laugh my way into death, gulping in whole lungfuls of water.  Then peace, with a smile on my face.
The water was deepest near the dam, about 75 feet, so I’d plunge deep into the numbing cold water. I wanted to sink, and sink fast.  I found four twenty-pound ankle weights.  It was hard walking with them, but I practiced until I managed to just look like I was just drunk or high or old. And jeez, was I ever old. Too old for life to hold any interest anymore.
With a small canister of nitrous oxide, I crossed Deep Creek’s concrete bridge leading to the dam.  It was 3:00 am.  I walked, slowly and silently. There was no traffic that time of morning.  I’d been there often enough to know.  I climbed the fence to the dam, clumsily, but without making a sound.    There was a maintenance ladder on the dam itself.  As I grabbed each rung, my legs felt dead.  It took a lot of effort to pull them up with me.  I was sweating in that nearly freezing air.  Those weights got heavier with every breath.
The water was calm, and inviting.  I opened up the canister and let it fill me with gas.  I had a small mask to cover my mouth and nose.  It took longer than I thought.  I hung there on the ladder, a few feet from the top.  My legs were tired. My feet were hooked uncomfortably in the rungs.  My hands, wrists, and ankles ached from the climb.  After awhile, I didn’t care much about the slight pain anymore.  I didn’t care much about the cold night air.  I was really happy, for the first time in many years.  I didn’t feel like laughing, but I was smiling.  I dropped the canister into the water.  The splash was reassuring, calming, a funny preview of my own fall.
I threw myself out as far as I could.  I was taking no chances, but there was little danger of hitting the dam wall, as it curved inward at this point, near the long tunnel that takes water to the powerhouse.  The water flows past the turbines, back into Deep Creek lake, back into the Youghiogheny river, continuing on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  I hit feet first, as I expected. There was pain, pain to my feet, despite the thick hiking boots I’d worn, pain to my knees, pain to my hips.  But the water was so cold, and I was so excited, it didn’t matter.  I sunk quickly.  I opened my eyes, surprised that I’d had them shut so long, surprised that I was holding my breath.  There was not much to see. It was dark, but some light from the power plant was reflected down into the depths.  I had expected to touch bottom, but I seemed to be drifting down incredibly slowly.
It was time.  I pushed my stomach in with my fists, expelling a lot of air.  It blooped out of my mouth and nose.  When it seemed I had no more air left, I held myself still, trying not to breathe until the last possible second, when my reflexes would kick in and force me to.  It was peaceful.  As I faced death, I realized I was ready.  She was gone forever. There was no one left to care for, no one to mourn my passing, no reason for my existence.  I was now useless.  I’d had a good life.  I’d loved, and lost, and loved again, and again.  I’d worked many jobs, some I’d enjoyed, some I hadn’t.  I had done all that I had set out to do, and I was content with my lot in life.  Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t want to die out of regret.  Hell, if I’d still had any regrets, I’d have wanted to keep on living, kept on trying to overcome those regrets for the rest of my life.  No, I had no regrets. It was just time to go.
My lungs burned with the beginnings of pain, so I opened my mouth and swallowed, deeply.  I sucked greedily at the water, blowing some residual water out my nose.  Then, then there was only water, and I was afraid. Fear stabbed at me like an ice pick through my heart.  I wanted to breath!  I wanted air.  My brain felt funny.  It was hard to think, but I kept trying to breathe. There was a heaviness in my head, a feeling of darkness.   My lungs struggled, again and again, for air.  The water was too heavy, too thick. I kept choking.  I started retching, water into water, and water back in again.  It hurt.  It hurt bad.  Worst of all was the feeling of panic, of absolute fear.  I thought I’d wanted to die, but now I wanted to breathe, to live, to think again.
Too late.

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Am I dead?

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on May 4, 2010

What? where? who? slipped vaguely through my barely conscious mind as I came to. There were no answers available.  As I started to lift my head, I couldn’t imagine where I was.  I was lying down; I might be dreaming.  I saw sky above.  I was outside.  I wasn’t in my bed.  I wanted to get up, find out.  In a sudden panic, I realized I didn’t know who I was. I felt like I was still dreaming.  A name, I must have a name.  Now that was scary.  I was awake and thinking, but I didn’t know anything.  I remember telling myself: Just lay here.  Relax.  Let it come. It was like trying to remember something on the tip of my tongue: think of something else, don’t think about what it was I’d forgotten.  I closed my eyes.
I remembered the construction site, being pushed into the hole above an unfinished cellar, waking up to pain, being carried across a field, blood on my face, getting stitches above my eye.  I remembered standing outside the tree house, trying to cover a hole in the roof on a rainy day, slipping, falling, coming to with a terrible sharp pain in my arm, the visiting relatives in our house, the ride to the hospital, the plaster cast.
It came back to me.  Pumping my bicycle down that hill, hell-bent for speed.  Traffic.  Lots of traffic, rush hour traffic.  A whole lane to myself.  I had been keeping up, moving fast.  An unseen car on my left was trying to cut across traffic into a driveway I don’t know was there, just to my right.  It was practically touching me as I looked into a woman’s face: wide open eyes, slack mouth.
So, I was – in the street, still.  Somehow I’d survived.  I opened my eyes to a grey-blue sky.  I knew who I was, forgot that I’d forgotten.  I saw firemen sitting in lawn chairs outside the firehouse across the street.  They appeared to be laughing at something, but I couldn’t hear them.
But, there were vague noises and voices, somewhere else, behind me, yes, and yards away.  I was alone in an empty circle of asphalt.
“I saw the whole thing,” I heard a man say – I could hear an eager concern in his voice – “It wasn’t your fault.  I’ll testify in court for you.”  Now, why would someone say that? I wondered.  I’d had the right of way.
Someone else – I remember a deep gravelly voice – asked, “What about him?”
“Him?  He’s dead,” another voice answered, flatly and certainly.

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Winding down, dow, do, d….

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on February 16, 2010

Emo warning.

Do you know that odd feeling in your throat when you get emotional? It tightens up, you find it hard to breathe, and maybe your eyes water.  Happens from time to time.  Sometimes I watch a sentimental movie and feel that.  There was a time when I felt deep regret over a lost love and I’d get that way.  Doesn’t seem to happen much anymore.  It’s an odd feeling, and only seems to occur with a sense of great loss, or empathy with someone’s loss or near loss.  I remember when my step-daughter survived cancer.  If it had been something I was watching in a movie, I’d have choked up like that, with my throat tensed and a feeling of  being overcome by emotion, regardless of outcome.  However, when Maya survived the surgery, and then again, when I found out the tumor was gone, after a whole lot of radiation and chemo treatments, I felt joy.  It was the purest joy I’d ever felt.  I was happy.  My throat did not tighten,  I did not cry, I did not feel overcome with emotion.  I was, instead, blissfully happy.  I stayed that way for a while.  I am, of course glad that she is fine today, and in complete remission, and it is not the type of tumor, being so rare, that she is likely to experience ever again.   The joy I felt back then was for her.  I love her so much.  I don’t need anything from her, don’t need to have love from her, or anything at all.  I wish her a long and happy life.

Mine is not so happy.   I experienced depression for a time in my life; got counseling, and medication.  It may have made a difference.  There was a change from that deep hopeless depression.  I was sad a lot.  It was sometimes overwhelming.  There was an almost physical pain, tightness in my chest, sighing.  That part is over now.

As always, I stay busy, even though I’ve retired from work.  I hike, I snowshoe, I read, I watch movies.  I buy things online and in junk/antique stores.  I don’t feel sad.  I eat a lot, which is not good, but it hardly seems to matter anymore. Nothing does really.  It’s not the way I ever thought I’d be: just drifting along.  No sadness, but no joy either.  It is hard to enjoy a movie, a good book, a good sleep.

Sometimes I nap and I wake up nearly suffocating.  It is dark and terrifying.  My throat feels like it has been closed up.  My brain feels oxygen starved.  I feel like I’m dying.  It happens more and more often.   I don’t know what it means for sure.  I’ve no known breathing problems.  I had pneumonia as a child a couple times, so perhaps my lungs are not all that strong, and I had asthma until I was twelve years old.  I don’t feel like there is anything wrong with my lungs now.  My hikes take me up over 10,000 feet above sea level sometimes.  It’s not all that easy, but I survive.  I hiked near that altitude once for 20 miles.

I don’t know what to make of all this sometimes.  I think I will drop off to sleep one day soon and I will just stop breathing.  That doesn’t seem to scare me.  It’s just the waking up unable to think straight and feeling like I’m dying that ever bothers me.  When I couple that with my lack of joy in living, with a loss of interest in companionship or love, and with no enthusiasm for the sex that always made me happy, I wonder if this is it?  Is my life over? Not in any figurative sense, but really.  Is this what it feels like to die, or just to grow old?

I should do something, right? I try.  I have a meeting tomorrow with people who want to change the world of politics.  That used to excite me, but it’s more running on inertia now. I do the things I used to do, and new things too.  I tried out to be a VJ ( a TV announcer/spokesperson), and it was good to try.  Didn’t happen.  I went to a local winery and I will be working there a couple days a week, with flexible days and hours.  I might be serving/selling wine, or helping clear the ditches, or helping with new construction. I may be able to help with some of the tedious paperwork stuff, since I have some experience with maintaining inventory and budgets.  It’s a new place for me. Something to do.

I don’t know if my life will change again.  I tried the guitar, but I’m not doing much with that anymore.  By now I thought I’d have a few dozens songs down.  My photographs never sell, so I don’t know how much I will keep that up.  My stories never sold, and I know they’re not that good.   My poems pale next to most everything I hear or read.  You’d think that would make me sad, but I don’t feel sad so much as tired.  I don’t know what the point of it all is anymore.  Going through the motions, eating, sleeping, doing things, watching things, reading, writing, working.  I just don’t know.   I know that people say, even when they’re dying, that life is a joy, and we can just enjoy every minute.  Can’t say I feel like doing that.

In reality, I think my life is winding down.  I think it may be ending soon.  I can’t say why.  It just seems like it.  Sometimes the brain knows things we don’t consciously admit to, or recognize.  Animals have been observed doing that: preparing themselves to die.  They sometimes seem to know.  Are people any different?

There are lots of things I can do: volunteer to help kids with their homework.  Ask someone out.  I have tried to get interested in other people, but the spark is just not there.  It’s not here in the sense that perhaps there is no need anymore?  If my life is going to end soon, then there really isn’t much point in anything.   I look at that in the reverse direction, and I think, if there isn’t much point in anything anymore, then maybe that’s the sure sign that I am going to die soon.   I have no regrets, no bucket list, no things I need to resolve. Death doesn’t scare me.  Nothing scares me.  Nothing excites me either, so that seems the same as death.

Well, tomorrow is another damn day.  Who knows what will happen?

I had a dream last night: I was moving.  I didn’t want to move. There were other people I was living with, and I didn’t want to go with them.  I stayed in bed while people finished packing.  I got up after awhile. There had been a very young kitten hanging around for awhile, feral, skittish.  I didn’t know where it had come from.  I saw it now, asleep by the bed.  It looked so sweet and happy there.  I went into the bathroom to pee and noticed little bits of cat shit around the toilet. Seems the kitten had decided to stick around.  I thought about sticking around myself, just by myself.  I heard a truck horn.  There were to be two vehicles going. Four guys in one big truck and the two women in a car.   I remember thinking it odd that the women and men were going separately, fearful that the women were going to disappear.  That it was deliberate.

I went back to the cat, stared at it.  I decided it was my cat.  I could stay.  Then I decided to go after all, but the cat was coming with me.


Posted in Dreams, Life, madness, My Life, rambling, Random Thoughts | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Moon Watching, Watching Watchmen

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 6, 2009

moon

The moon, low to the horizon and huge, has a reddish tint to it tonight.  I tried to take a picture when I got home, but it was behind the trees already.

I watched it heading west on my way home at 3 a.m Friday morning, in the western hemisphere, North America.  It was not full, but the light it reflected on a clear night was spectacular.

It reminded me of the scenes on the red surface of Mars in the movie I had just watched. Watchmen.  The only movie I’ve watched in a theater in over a year.  The only movie I’ve ever gone to see the first showing of, and at midnight to boot.  I read Watchman, the graphic novel, many years ago.  Still have it lying around.  Impressed me then, and the movie impressed me even more.  Damn, that was a spectacular movie.   Special effects aside, the graphic depiction of human nature qualifies it as literature, in my opinion, so it ought to be hailed as such.  That was one movie that surely tapped into the words and made them even more visual than the two dimensions of the flat page.  Of course, imagination has no bounds when reading, so the pictures, the colors, the artistic vision are not necessary, and so neither is the movie. Nevertheless, this is how we entertain ourselves, and ideas must be presented as entertainment.  The story, the book, the movie: all are superbly murderous, bloody, violent, tragic, lusty, depraved and, yet, somehow more than that, and much more than entertainment.

Such a story.  Is it a tragedy? It ends with horrible destruction, then hope, and finally, a theme that runs through the entire movie ends it: mankind sucks.  We could do better, but we don’t.  Even the noblest among us would sacrifice millions to save billions, and lie about it.  And the lie provides the hope for humanity, and, in the movie’s ending,  the lie is about to be exposed.

Of course, I had hoped to have seen the movie with Karen.  She’d heard about the graphic novel, but it was out of print.  She hadn’t tried to read it sooner because it was DC comics and, not Marvel.  Growing up, of course, I knew about the superior writing in Marvel comics, the multifaceted characters, the gray areas of truth and right and wrong, and the real life, love and rejection, paying bills, death, and jobs and tiny human dramas on the sidelines of every larger action.  The stuff that goes on even if you’re a superhero. Karen admires that about Marvel and doesn’t care for DC comics. I told her it was worth reading.  By the time I found my copy, it has just been reprinted, and she had already bought a copy.  She hadn’t read it last time we spoke of it, so I’m not sure what she thought.  We have similar ideas about war and peace and science and fiction and religion. We’ve read many of the same books, seen many of the same movies, and admired the best of humanity in all of it.  Unfortunately, the difference in our ages prevents us from seeing something like Watchmen together.

[aside: ran into Karen at the coffee cart later this very day.  I had to have coffee to stay awake after getting maybe one hour of sleep after this movie.  She smiled and forced a wave to me when she got in line.  I was talking to someone, so I waited until she come over to  sprinkle cinnamon on the whipped cream on top of her iced mocha. Told her I’d seen Watchmen, and she asked me about it. Told her how exciting it was, and the crowds there.  Asked her, since it was Friday, after all, if we could meet for lunch later.  She said she was having a working lunch.  Said she had to go.  The oddest thing of all was that I asked her if she had ever read the copy of Watchmen she had bought.  She got real defensive; said she’d read it two years ago! But I know she bought it only recently, when the second printing came out, and I had even asked her if she’d read it, and she said no, that she hadn’t had time yet.  Now, suddenly she read it two years ago?  That doesn’t make sense. Something is very odd here.]

When I asked her if we could see Silver Surfer together – that’s when she let me know.  She said, “That would be like a date!” with a look of horror or disgust on her face.  “Inappropriate.” That’s the word she used many times.  Inappropriate for me to ask her out, to want to meet her after work, see a movie, have a drink, give her flowers.  Even leaving aside my romantic interest in her, she can not even think of me as friend outside of the workplace.  I rarely see her anymore; we work in different buildings, for different departments, but, occasionally have lunch still.

As intriguing as Watchmen is, I still found part of me wishing I could watch it with Karen.  I didn’t ask her.  I know it’s beyond her to imagine going somewhere with me.  She’d rather go to a play, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail, with her uncle than with me.  I guess old men are OK if you’re related to them.   It’s not even sad anymore to think about. It’s something I’ve had to accept, like my former wife telling me I had to move out, or she’d call the police, tell them her life was in danger.  Very effective.  Very legal.  I could have challenged it later, but by then, I’d have been out, and why would I want to live with someone who’d done that to me?  And Karen.  How nice it would have been to tell her about all that, to have a friend I could talk to, who would listen. She wouldn’t listen – it was also inappropriate to speak of anything personal.  I’m not really sure why.  I could understand a woman not wanting to hear about my disintigrating marriage or the end, when it came.  But, even later? Long after the divorce, she wanted to hear nothing of it.   Of course, sometimes I think it was just because she didn’t want to encourage my inappropriate feelings for her.

But, life goes on. Sort of.  In Watchmen, life goes on, but the underlying tensions are not gone.  Even the deaths of so many millions can ultimately have been for nothing.   I understand the characters in the story who speak of the pointlessness of it all, that we have exactly the society we wanted.  We are violent and selfish and greedy and murderous.  Perhaps we’ll never change.  We cringe at horror, but do little to stop it.  We even participate in our own little ways.

And me? I go on for some reason. Inertia? I don’t know.  I move along with work, with my union activities, with reading, and movies, and guitar, and hiking, and it’s not doing a whole lot for me.  If it were doing something for someone else, perhaps I could accept that as my motivation.  I’m just not really sure I care about anything anymore.  I was happy enough being married to someone I loved, even if not every day was a good one.  I could have gone on that way for a long time, maybe forever.  When it fell apart, and, abruptly it was over, I found myself insanely in love with Karen.  I felt so good, so alive, so ready to fall in love all over again.  It was exhilarating to believe in love, to think I could actually have the “in love” feeling again. That would have given me a real reason to enjoy life and want to go on.  The chances seem slim now.  I feel a great sense of accelerated aging, of death coming soon, but  I don’t fear death.  I would like to be happy while I’m alive, but perhaps it’s just not possible anymore.  I don’t even know what would make me truly happy.  Karen. Well, there’s her, and my feelings for her. I’d certainly be happy being with her, but it cannot be.  So, I seem to be rejecting all possibilities that come my way: the old girlfriend back in my life, the other former lover living close by, the union sister who tried to interest me in dating a friend of hers, or even herself – why am I so withdrawn, so quick to misunderstand, so quick to push people away?

Posted in Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, rambling, relationships, war | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THREE

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 29, 2008

In two thousand and three

three thousand dollars

bought three weeks in China

two 23-hour plane trips

meals hotels and travel

buses, trains, and boats

five more plane rides

Beijing and Shanghai

Gulin, Xian, Hong Kong

Rivers Yangtze and Li

the Grand Canal in Suzhou

markets and pandas

and cormorants too

small concrete towns

terraced hills

and fish ponds on roofs

lacquerware silk

acrobats motorcyles

museums and gardens

flowers and ponds

temples and factories.

Thousands of

the national bird

— the construction crane —

are everywhere.

Curious white masks

more and more we see

worn on bikes in shops

in cars on buses

an epidemic – SARS

Meanwhile —

the USA invades Iraq

no weapons are found

bloody pictures posted

on walls, fences, bus stops

of Iraqi children.

Chinese express sympathy

for us poor Americans

our country is at war.

I wear my peace symbol Peace

on my lapel as I travel.

A soldier stares at it

under Tianamen Square

But, returning home

brings anxiety —

will they let me return?

will SARS close US borders?

is peace treasonous?

But

all they ask is

did I have contact with

anyone, anyone with SARS?

and I have to remove

my shoes

pass through x-rays

and my bag is searched.

I’m home.

O’Maolchaithaigh 2008-2017

Posted in Life, My Life, poem, poetry, Travel, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE DAY I TURNED 50: Dad, a Cat, & Death

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on April 15, 2008

THE DAY I TURNED 50

I awoke on my birthday
The day I turned 50
Cat asleep under the bed
I saw my father
Standing in the corner
Next to the open closet
I was surprised.
He was years dead.
I called to him
Asked him how he’d been
What he’d been doing
He smiled at me
The old superior smirk
He didn’t speak
Moved away quickly
Watching me watching him
Passing by.

I woke up again
Staring at the empty corner
The open closet door.
Under the bed the cat stirred.

I dreamt one morning
I held my cat on my lap
He’s dead too
Died that same month
The month I turned 50
I felt his purring weight
Knew he was dead
Two feet under
I spoke softly to him
Glad to see him
Felt the muscles rippling
Under striped orange fur.
He spoke to me
Said he was fine
The only thing was
He wished he’d lived
In the rain forest.
I didn’t think this strange
Even though his eyes
His eyes were blind
At least he had eyes now
They’d disappeared that day
That day he slept
On the bathroom floor
Trying to get up
His eyes were gunked shut
I tried to clean those eyes
But they were gone.
He went back to sleep
I held him felt him
Stroked him missed him.

He used to be my father’s cat.

Posted in family, Life, My Life, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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