Mississippi Homeboy Throwdown: Chapter 1 (Politically Incorrect Version… consolidated… expanded… edited….)

Sitting outside the local Vietnamese restaurant… Pho Shizzle… enjoying an iced coffee… made fresh at my table…. Soaking in the oppressive heat and humidity…. Hoping my shirt is soaking up my sweat…. But it’s starting to tickle just a little bit… running down… there….

I feel a little embarrassed at the moment… but not as embarrassed as I probably will be when I stand up… looking like I just went… SOMEWHERE… in my shorts….

Anyway….

Oppressive heat and humidity ALWAYS make me reminisce about home….

So… I worked on consolidated and expanding the lyrics to Mississippi Homeboy Throwdown: Chapter 1 (Politically Incorrect Version)….
I wrote a bit last week that I was afraid might be perceived as being offensive to some. So… I left it out of what I posted….
Certain events of this weekend suggest I should not be so timid….
So… here it is….

Mississippi Homeboy Throwdown: Chapter 1 (Politically Incorrect Version).

07 May 2015 0808-0956
07 May 2015 0648-0807
07 May 2015 1019-1025
07 May 2015 1100-1210
11 May 2015 1017-1122-1522

Well… just for some perspective… I sure LOVE to clown around….
I was born in Mississippi… and this is MY Homeboy Throwdown….
Suppose I should just kinda warn ya’ll all… you know… about my Home Town….
While I throw down these Beastie lyrics… and lay down this Phat Sound….
First… let me tell ya’ll all just a little ‘bout myself….
I ain’t gonna invade your home… drink up all the Hennessey U got on your shelf….
(Nothing. Like. THAT!!!)
My first name is Johnny and my daddy’s J.N.
I ain’t no John or Jonathan… so let me say it again….
My first name is Johnny and my daddy’s J.N.
Those is the names my momma gave me and his momma gave him.
I ain’t no Hip-Hop artist… not even Old School….
And I ain’t signed with Def Jam Records… Nope. I’m just some old fool….
So I sure ain’t no Gangsta Rapper. I don’t wear my pants low.
Cuz showin’ off your underwear just ain’t cool way down in Shady Grove!
(Shady Grove, my little love,
Shady Grove, I say.
Shady Grove, my little love,
I’m bound to go away….)
Yep, I was once a Mustang… went to school in Soso…
And when we really wanted to get WILD… we’d cruise on out to Gitano….
(That don’t even rhyme….)
So… was I ever in a gang…? Well… I sure ain’t no Blood or Crip,
So… this may be my Throwdown… but don’t confuse me… with Busta Phat-Lipp….
Now… I ain’t no politician… so I can drop all ya’ll some TRUTH….
As Mr. Shakespeare might say… harken up to this Forsooth!

Well… I was born in Mississippi down in that Free State of Jones;
Down here we’ve got two County Seats cuz we just can’t seem to get along.
I’m Southern and I’m Christian and ExtrEMELY Wright-Wang.
I think Ronnie was a Commie. That’s just the way I schwish-ZWANG!!!
(Liberals can’t understand: It’s a Conservative thang.)
Well… I schwANG to the right, and then I swang to the… right….
I never swing to the left. I guess probably just too uptight….
Now if I want to hold on to my gun and Bible, that’s my Constitutional Right.
And if you don’t try to force your views down my throat, then we ain’t gotta fight. (Swallow THAT!!!)

Well… I ain’t agin no Muslims and I ain’t agin no Jews…
I ain’t agin no Atheists… I just think everyone should be FREE to choose….
So… I ain’t agin no Hindus… and I sure ain’t agin no Jains…
And though I’m Christian & Conservtive… I think I should just treat EVERYONE the SAME!!!

U C… I ain’t agin Hispanics… and I ain’t no Blacks….
But we’re all in this boat together… so we can ALL drop our attacks….
I KNOW I’m a pasty white boy… and I know some of us are jerks…
But we ALL need to get more learnin’ so we ALL can get TO WORK!!!

Now… WORD to Left-Wingnuts… we ReDNeX all ain’t the same….
We’re all believe in HARD work… and some… even have some brains….
We all love our COUNTRY… and some love our guns….
Some love our God… but ALL of us LOVE to have fun….
(Let’s get REAL… bad….)
If police profilin’s so bad… then why ain’t that rule applied to ALL
Cuz when YOU claim all of us are stupid… you’re just pinnin’ our profile TO YOUR WALL!!!
So… you can STOP all your h8n… blovi8n… and SHI-zzle….
While I drop this bacon in the fryin’ pan…. Ah-h-h-h! Just listen to that SIZZLE!!!

I may not float like no butterfly; I sure don’t sting like no bee.
I may be just a phew pounds phatter than Michelle thinks I ideally SHOULD be….
But I love my Ward’s Chili Cheese Dogs and my PDI shakes…
And I pick up the bill for all Barack’s golf and all Michelle’s Hawaiian Clam Bakes.
Yep, I’m paying for her well-planned meals. I’m even paying for her chef….
I think it sure would be nice… if she’d let me help myself… to what’s left….
So now… I’m gonna thump my Bible and my Bros gonna grab some guns
And all my posse’s gonna saddle up and we’re all gonna have some fun….

(Hey, Sheriff! Wait up! We SUPPORT Law Enforcement!
Wait UP!!!

Hmmmmmm….
Wat DIS…???
Mmmm-MMMM! Fam’ly pic-ah-nic-ah! That’s what I’m talk-n ‘bout!
N da HOUSE!!!
N da yard.
Down da street….
Whatever….
Yo…! Aunt Play-N!
Gimme a heapin’ heppin’ of some of Aunt Hospital-I-T’s Straight Gangsta Mac & Cheese…. An’ summa Aunt Ain’t-Too-Slim Shady Grove’s 2-Chees-E E-Z Grits & Groundhog Gravy…. An’ summa Baby Girl Double-D Tata-Z’s Xtra-cur-V Cute Curly-Q Franch Fry-Z… wit a whoppin’ dollop uh dat mAY!-YO!-nAzE…. NO! Not that taste-free low-Phat shizzle!
Do I KNOW that’s about 20 servings of starches an’ about uh whole BUTT load uh triglycerides an’ utter phats…?
Uh-HUH!!!
I ain’t touchin’ dat Bar-b-Q-D Sum-kinda-sump’n-sump’n meat-on-a-sheet…. Wud is dat? Smelz like Polecat-R-Sump’n-Sump’n an’ he’s way up dar in Tennessee!
Who died an’ elected U Michelle O-mercy!
And if that clogs up my veins… I’ll just go 2 Community 2 C ol’ what’s-his-name…. That bald heart doctor….
Dr. Drea-D Big Need-L.
Yeah!
An’ Dr. Got-2-pAY!K-ash sUrE-kUrE….
YO-LO!!!

Dang! Forgot to get the Chili-Cheese Fries….)

And… More Frustration….

Practiced frailing…. Just in case a situation in which frailing may be necessary arises….
Or… just in case frailing may even come in handy as a practical solution….
Somewhere in that mythical… mystical… magical place… known as Milo, Mississippi….
Or… as it is currently called… Shady Grove….

Feel pressure to move forward… to produce… at least some part of Mississippi Homeboy Throwdown….
The work is so large already that it will require multiple parts….

One possibility is a collaboration with Jones County Chapters of the American Cancer Society… American Heart Association… American Lung Association… American Rifle Association… Jones County Bptist Association… South Central Mississippi Regional Medical Center… Mrs. Yount’s Kindergarden Alumni Association… something….
Uncle JAY-ohn-nAY Cash-Mon-AY claims he might show up…. If the money is right…. And he’s paid in cash….
If we presenting it as a Cancer Awareness and Smoking Cessation Program kick-off, then maybe we can entice the North-by-Northwest Jones County’s own Burnin’ Man Butt Stompers involved… because those hoodlums just LOVE runnin’ up to people and rippin’ those cancer sticks out of young people’s mouths… throwin’ them down… and stompin’ some butts….
And… it’s all for a good cause….
Cause they LOVE to stomp butts….
And… while we’re speaking about uncles…. Maybe Uncle Kracker Bar-L can make it, too….

First… got to re-work… and consolidate the lyrics… so the stories are more… functional….

Cognition and Reality: More Things my Family is Teaching Me.

What I am about to say is just an idea. Not even a hypothesis. I have been nurturing the idea for a long, long time. I began thinking about this when I was trying to come up with ways to teach doctors to perform procedures more safely and effectively. More sagely. But… I have looked at the conceptual foundations of the ideas very recently… in light of my father… and my mother… and my daughter….

Let me start out with a simple question….

What is reality?

The question may be simple, but the answer is far more complex.

Many, many people today work under a fallacy: a false assumption. They espouse the idea that I have my reality and you have yours and that’s OK… just as long as I get what I want….

That is an incorrect and asinine assumption. It is completely fallacious. That assumption simply means that that person refuses to accept anyone else’ authority over their lives. That person lives in what is defined in the abuse literature as Reality 2: an alternate reality designed and defined by controlling abusive person that is outside Reality… but allows that person to be unchallenged in obtaining the desires of their heart.

Reality 2 is not reality at all; Reality 2 is simply a perception. Actually… a misperception.

Reality is world on which our sensory perceptions… and emotional manipulation of those perceptions as based…. Not the fantasy inside our brains that our neuronal discharges construct… but the real world outside… which provides the stimuli that are thus interpreted. There is a definite difference between REALITY… and our individually formed… and distorted… concept of Reality. We ALL get it wrong. Because we all inject our biases and limited knowledge on to the image we create of REALITY. Reality 1 is an image that generally meshes with the interpretation of other humans in the same general vicinity; however, even Reality 1 is construct… not actual REALITY.

My mother lives in Reality 2: a carefully constructed world in which everything serves her needs. She refuses to see… explore… understand… Reality 1. Reality 1 does not exist for her. Reality 1 is far too threatening to her emotional well-being. She will not be swayed. She is very unrealistic. She lives in a fantasy world… and calls that fantasy world Reality.

We ALL do to some extent….

We all refuse to admit that truth, too…. Too emotionally threatening, I suppose….

But… that’s an aspect of Psychology that I do not intend to explore today….

Now… I’ve defined reality. I can begin presenting my postulate….

The way we humans functionally define Reality… is by comparing what we see and hear and taste and smell and feel (sensationally and emotionally)… to our preconceived ideas of what Reality should be: the Reality inside our head. Our own Personal Reality. We perform this testing constantly. In order to do so effectively we have to have effective memory, because that is the basis for comparing. We use our entire bank of memory: short-term all the way through long-term.

What do I mean?

As my daughter drives down the road, she compares the changing scene constantly. She has a set of reactions– skilled responses– that she stores away in her memory so that she doesn’t have to make up a new maneuver every time she encounters a new situation, because the situations are often quite similar. She should not need to go through the entire process of creating a response on the spot… while she is distracted… because the inherent delay in doing so… and the distraction from the process of driving… would be dangerous…. Is dangerous…. Very dangerous…. For young drivers. That is very effectively proved statistically. Young, inexperienced drivers are FAR more likely to die in an automobile accident than more experienced drivers. Is that Darwinian? Survival of the fittest? No. That is a combination of two things: experience and maturation of cerebral functions. Our frontal lobes are the last parts of our brain to mature… and some brains mature more quickly than others… so executive functions are affected…. Of course, some people never “mature”. That’s why experience is not always a good teacher. Experience is only capable of teaching people who are equipped to learn. That may be a Darwinian driving component….

What does that have to do with our inherent need to constantly test… and prove… reality…?

My daughter THINKS she has driving down. She desperately desires to drive without supervision. She does not see anything wrong with not having plans in place… or even recognizing threats…. That is what defines youth: having no clue… and having no clue that you have no clue… and being good with that….

My daughter cannot adequately perform tests of alternate realities to her own… because she cannot entertain the idea that they even exist. She doesn’t see the need to check her mirrors for dump trucks with trailers carrying backhoes cutting her off… because she knows where she’s going…. She doesn’t need to adjust the car to the curb so others can pass… or look before she opens the door and gets out… because she’s the only one in the world…. At least in her little world. She lives in her own little Reality 2… where other people… and danger… do not exist. All that exist is her desires. Experience may be an ineffective teacher when Reality is tested only based on one’s desires….

My father is different. He has dementia, so his memory is impaired. He also has macular degeneration, so his vision is very impaired. And otosclerosis, so his hearing is impaired. So… his ability to test Reality is severely impaired, but he does not understand that. His long-term memory is good, because the chemical and electrical connections that constitute those memories have been nurtured and reinforced and maintained for many, many years. Those connections are essentially permanent. They are structural. Hardwired into the system. New memories are software memories: they take time and reinforcement to become repeatedly backed up to the point that are redundant. That takes a lot of time… and a lot of energy… that could be better utilized serving other functions….

Let me put it this way: next week… will you need to know what you ate for lunch today? Probably not. And… you do… you should probably write it down.

Most immediate memories do not need to be put down in any permanent way. The connections can be trimmed and the chemical and electronic connections recycled to make the system more efficient….

Now…. I will circle back….

Testing the new memories… comparing them to old and new memories… is a much more efficient way of operating. The new memories do not need to be constructed in concrete. They can be made our of disposable material and compared to other memories. The most useful can be reinforced… and the no-longer-useful can be chucked and recycled….

That’s how our mind works: we constantly test what we see and hear and taste and smell and feel (physiologically and emotionally) to what our current concept of Reality is. Then we adjust. We either automatically throw away the new material that doesn’t mesh with what we hold as Reality… or we adjust our concept of Reality.

My daughter cannot yet conceive of how to adjust her concept of Reality while driving… because she doesn’t have enough experience adjusting her concept of Reality to efficiently and effectively do so….

My father cannot adjust his concept of Reality because his dementia and visual and auditory impairments… the chemical and electrical workings of his brain and sensory organs… no longer work effectively. So… he is no longer able to adequately test his concept of Reality. His concept of Reality is fixed. He tries… but the visual that actually represent his current Reality look distorted… and unreal…. His long-term memories… and even his hallucinations… look much more like he remembers Reality to be… so… obviously… that is the Reality he chooses to believe….

My mother cannot adjust her concept of Reality… because to do so… would challenge her delicately constructed emotional concept of self. Her comfort zone. The walls that protect her fragile ego.

Realize that this is a greatly simplified version of what is really happening… and is not at all an accurate picture of REALITY in any way, shape or form….

This is simply a basis for beginning to think about REALITY in our own lives… and in the lives of those around us.

I first conceived of this idea of Reality Testing while I was examining how Neurointerventionalists inject Onyx into the brain: we look at multiple screens… and we form a mental image…. And… when what we see on the screen… no longer matches our mental image… we have to figure out WHAT is different…. Whether what suddenly manifests itself is good… or bad… or indifferent….

I realized this morning that is what was happening when my daughter was driving to school.

I recognized the issues with my mother last Summer and with my father last week.

Hopefully, some of this will resonate with some of your own experiences….

My Daughter I Never Knew: A Freakin’ Horrorshow.

WARNING: This story contains some vulgarities that may offend some people and ideas that may offend even more. Do not feel compelled to read this story if you are offended by course language or adult situations. This story is written for mature readers.

About 12,000 words.

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By Verruca Vulgaris, M.D.
8 January 2014 0900
19 February 2014 1208
20 February 2014 1942
10 March 2014 1522
13 March 2014 1448
19 May 2014 1308
20 May 2014 1202
26 May 2014 1342
12 June 2014 1672
27 April 2015 1442
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I. Prologue: The Writing on the Wall.
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וּפַרְסִֽין תְּקֵ֥ל מְנֵ֥א מְנֵ֖א (WordPress arranges Hebrew out of order!)
Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin
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If you’ve never given life; if you’ve never taken life; if you’ve never weighed someone’s life in the balance; if you’ve never yourself been weighed… never been found… wanting… then maybe… you just can’t comprehend… the real value… the true value… of life.
And… if that’s the case… then this story… probably won’t mean much to you….
I’ve given life. And I’ve taken life. And… I know….
Anyway… the text above… “The Writing on the Wall”… well… it’s a message…. About money. Small change. The most direct translation is probably: “A mina. A mina. A shekel. And a half-mina.”
Traditionally the meaning is considered to constitute a message about Divine Judgment… or… Divine Retribution: “God has numbered your days; you have been weighed in the balance and found wanting… insufficient; as a result… what you have will be taken from you… and divided.”
Many people who think they know the meaning don’t understand the monetary part….
What does that have to do with my story?
Nothing.
Much.
I just found it intriguing….
Or… maybe… the meaning… is occult….
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I hate to interrupt Storytime… to interject… but I’m about to do just that….
Seems sometimes we mere mortals have the propensity to get ourselves into trouble….
To bring about… situations… in our lives… that can best be described as… desperate….
Times when we are in despair.
Times when we feel hopeless.
Times when we feel abandoned.
Times when we feel like we are trapped in a personal Hell of our own creation….
That’s the crux of this story. This story is about one of those times….
Ok. Commercial break over. Back to the story….
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Of course… I realize that this is no way to start a story. No proper way. To start any story. Except… maybe a Horror story. And… I guess… that’s really what this one is…. A Horror story. A horrible story. A real Horrorshow of a story. Like Alex and his droogies would say. Speaking in Nadsat. A post-apocalyptic industrial amalgam of English and Russian constructed into a language called Nadsat by Anthony Burgess in his classic dystopian novel of the not-too-distant future A Clockwork Orange. Love that book. And the movie. One of my favorites. And Horrorshow is one of my favorite words. Nadsat words anyway. Horrorshow is similar to wicked. In the Improper Bostonian vernacular. Means “peachy”. Comes from the Russian. Хорошó. Pronounced Khurashó. Meaning… Good. Well. That’s great! Something like that. Groovy.
Only… this isn’t some post-apocalyptic tale. Of society gone wrong.
No. This is the pre-apocalyptic part. The bad stuff that happens before the bad stuff that happens… after… a decadent society… rips… itself… apart.
Ba. Da. Bing!
This Horrowshow… is about yesterday. And about tomorrow. And about today. Near-future. And not too distant past. And… the hear and now. If any of you just happen to be listening….
In this story… the setting… is… here. And the time… is… now. The twilight… before the black knight….
The eve of the destruction of this current version of the Kingdom of Camelot… and all that is good… in our own eyes….
As we… who are all-consumed with ourselves… distracted by our own desires… sit twiddling our collectively misplaced thumbs…. All atwittering….
Immediately before the approach… the arrival… of… all-consuming darkness. The Crepusculation Towards the Apocalypse.
And… it began a long time ago. With decades of decadence….
Now… that time is upon us….
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I woke up this morning. Flipped on the coffee pot. And proceeded to hover somewhere between vacillation and vegetation.
As I so struggled, I plopped myself down into my favorite Sunday morning stretched-out shape on my extremely comfortable leather couch in my extremely energy efficient and even more extremely comfortable modern home filled with all the modern conveniences in my extremely up-scale neighborhood in somewhere North by Northwest of suburban Boston… in order to separate… insulate… granulate… myself from the work and worries of the outside world.
Granulate…. Ain’t life sweet… when such a word can be used to describe… recalcitrance…?
Now… I should probably tell you that I view myself as an outsider. Something of an outcast. A Rebel in a Yankee world.
Because I live in Lexington, Massachusetts: the Cradle of the Revolution… and certainly the Cradle of Democrats… if not the Cradle of Democracy. And I’m not from Boston. And… as “they” so aptly say… you can’t get their from hear….
But Boston… this whole part of the country formerly known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony… has… evolved… socially… and morally… and financially…. The Reformed Puritanical ghosts of the founders of this long-running experiment in Social Engineering have long since been silenced in their graves….
As I sat… somewhat dazed… I pondered a poem by Edgar Allen Poe….
“O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?”
I suppose Poe was simply obsessing over golden grains of sand…. Attempting to constrain… control… the sands of time….
Anyway….
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Let me try a different approach. Perhaps something more… literary. Some purple prose. A touch of mystery….
A different… beginning…. Maybe… we’ll even wind up with a different ending….
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II. A Dream Within a Dream.
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Steam spewed in clouds and streams, puffing it’s way out of the spout in gasps and gouts as the coffee pot burbled and coughed its way towards the ultimate completion of its task. The staccato crescendo into sudden silence awoke me from my musings.
Sometimes… unexpected silence… can do that….
The misty vapor flowed over the brim of my mug as the hot, brown liquid swirled into the cold, white cream. (No sugar. Gotta draw that magical… mystical line somewhere….) I stared vacantly at the rapidly dissipating cloud… lost in inconsequential thoughtlessness….
Drifting….
Dissipatedly….
As I sat carefully ensconced well within my comfort zone, in my usual place, following my usual routine… without further thought… I never even considered that the unusual… may soon manifest itself in my life… like some horribly overstated invasive insect species.
Interrupt my carefully calculated routine….
Leave my leisurely day in chaos….
And leave me in utter confusion….
About that time… as I sat… staring into the mist ascending from my mug… an image formed….
A… hazy… crazy… image….
Those misty vapors congealed to create a macabre… imagining…. An intense… impression. A curious… presentment…. An iconic image…. An image that reminded me of dread portends emanating from the dark and mysterious Sibylline Oracles…. Occult scenes of swirling sulphurous smoke… obscuring lakes of flaming brimstone…. Suggesting otherworldly tortures…. Retribution…. For past sins….
My mind deviated quickly towards the descriptions of Dante’s Divine Comedy…. Il Inferno….
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”
Many translations get that phrase in Old Italian wrong. Many translators claim it says: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.”
It doesn’t.
The phrase is best translated: “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
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Il Inferno….
“Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
Obviously… an ill omen. If you get my meaning.
I really don’t feel capable of appreciating the comedy in that… divine… or otherwise….
Irony…? Certainly….
Comedy…? Not so much.
I mean… now…? I can laugh. At myself.
However….
At the time….
I didn’t….
Anyway…. I hung there. Transfixed. Suspended in SpaceTime. At least in my mind….
Pondering….
Is all that we see… or seem… really… nothing… but a dream… within a dream…?
Nothing…. But… turtles… all the way down…? One turtle… stacked on the back of another… stacked on the back of another… ad infinitum…? Or… is life… the value of life… even more elusive…? The meaning of life… even more… nebulous…? Does the very transience of life… promote intransigence… rather than transcendence…?
Or… in an effort to embrace the perception of political correctness… do we all too often swing the pendulum the other way… towards unreasonable… irrational… and even unacceptable… compromise… in an effort to slaughter… to satiate ourselves… on other people’s sacred cows?
In essence… I suppose I was pondering the question: What is the essence of life?
Amidst my musings… this limpid… ephemeral… unreality…. This inscrutable imagery…. Pulled me back. To the present. Or… to the past…. And… at the same time… revealed itself to be something far more unsettling…. Something far less… unpleasant…. Something far more satisfying…. Than the harsh reality it sought to replace in my mind…. Or… my imagination….
That image… that memory… teleported me back… to two… disparate… disjointed… disconnected points in time….
One seemingly recent….
And the other… definitely distant….
Almost three decades… and 1,500 miles away….
One… seemed… real…. Exquisitely… real… but… perhaps… in reality… was nothing more than a dream…. A vision…. A delusion….
The other…? Definitely a nightmare…. But… also… definitively real…. A real… harsh… reality…. Yet… seemingly even more unreal than the event that I knew to be historically accurate…. That event shattered all my illusions of reality. Stole my life. Sucked all desire out of the depths of my soul…. Left me nothing more than hallow husk… bereft of anything… but disillusion….
Both left me haunted….
But the latter haunting… was by something… stranger….
As if… I were… haunted… by some… stranger….
As if… I were hunted….
Pursued….
Stalked….
By my daughter….
I never knew….
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Still….
I don’t know….
If she’s real…. Or… not….
Something really real…. Or… something… really unreal….
Imaginary…. Unimaginable….
Something…. Or… nothing….
Nothing more than just some twisted dream….
Some… apparition…. A ghost…. Some demon… shrouded in smoke…. Or… something… someone… else….
I don’t know….
Still….
I’ve thought about that.
And… I’ve thought about… that!
That scene…. That vision….
Replayed it in my mind….
Replayed it over in my mind….
Over… and over… and over…. And over….
And over….
And still….
I’m not sure….
No matter how many times I analyze…. Rethink…. Ruminate…. I can’t seem to digest….
IT!!!
The scene…. The event…. The dream…. The… vision….
If that’s really what it is….
Really what it was….
If any of it…. Of… that…. Of… THIS…. Is really REAL….
I’m not sure….
I’ve really never been more sure…. Less sure….
Sure. Period….
Even now….
I cannot… comprehend… completely… the context…. The stark reality…. The confusion…. The illusion…. The fragility…. The unreality…. The ephermerality…. The immortality… or… mere mortality…. The morality…. Or the lack thereof….
Passion…. Compassion…. Changing fashion….
It’s all a blur. Certainly blurry. And… not just at the edges… of unreality….
All I know is… suddenly… I became aware….
Of what…. Of… where…? I have never been sure….
Could never be sure….
Can never be sure….
Even now…. I’m not sure…. Of anything….
Except… that vision… of HER….
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III. The Vision.
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White. White! WHITE!!!
White… piercing light…. Purest…. Brightest…. White light. Seemed to emanate from… everywhere….
Everything….
Except…. There really wasn’t… much… of anything….
But light….
Bright. White. Piercing. Light.
Penetrating….
Uncomfortable….
Disquieting….
All around… me. Surrounding…. Me….
Beside…. Behind…. Below…. Above….
Both sides….
In front….
Inside….
Me….
Nowhere to hide….
Whatever it was….
Wherever it was….
Wherever I was….
Everything… was… pure white….
Like fresh snow….
Purest white….
Unimaginably pure white….
Light.
Inexplicable.
Pure.
White.
Light.
Incomprehensible.
Pure.
White.
Light.
Effulgent.
Pure.
White.
Light.
Piercing.
Penetrating.
Prescient.
Purposeful.
Light.
Extending to the most distant ends of… whatever… wherever… I was….
A pure white… fluffy… comfortable… beautiful… inviting blanket…. Like fresh snow…. But warm…. Like a down comforter…. And it was… covered… shrouded… in thick white mist…. Obscured… by a haze…. Like a cloud….
Flother. Snow. Flake. Falling….
Like fog….
Dense… white… fog….
And the air… was… clean…. Crisp… and cool…. Pleasant…. Like a brisk Fall morning…. Or the most beautiful Spring afternoon you’d ever experienced…. But hazy….
I was surrounded… overwhelmed… uplifted… by pure peace…. Intense joy…. Immense Bliss….
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And then… there… she was….
A vision…. An apparition….
An angel…?
Standing. Silent. Stunning.
Demure.
Head turned. Chin almost resting on her shoulder.
Face almost hidden. Almost. Almost….
Bright blue eyes peeking past an alabaster shoulder…. Through amber tresses…. Slightly tussled, but not quite out of place….
Picture perfection…. That was… her….
Standing before me…. Silent…. Stunning….
A shimmering sylph…. Radiant beauty…. Piercing, pure, crystalline celestial azure eyes….
Slowly… thoughtlessly… she pulled one lock down in front of her face… and twirled that strand around her right index finger….
Slowly….
Turning….
Twisting….
Oscillating….
Rocking….
Rhythmically….
From her hips….
Ankles crossed….
She was beautiful.
Young. Very young.
Late twenties. Early teens. Something like that.
Blonde hair hanging down…. Past her shoulders.
Thin. Athletic.
And then… she untwirled her finger from the tightly
spun hair and blew it off of her face.
Pffft!
Then… demurely… her eyes… fell upon… mine….
Just like….
#
No. Can’t be.
Impossible….
She’s….
Dead.
#
She looked up. It looked up.
The vision. The apparition. The… angel…. For lack of a better word. A better idea. A better understanding. A better… descriptor….
That young… beautiful… woman… looked up….
Looked at me….
Looked through me….
As if… she knew me….
Intimately….
Had known me….
Still knew me….
Would… always… know… me….
Always….
And… in all ways….
Penetrating…. Inescapable….
Lustrous blue eyes.
Sheepish smile. Or rather… impish grin…. Hidden. Revealed only in her pure blue eyes…. Like Spring water…. Only… more pristine…. More… natural.
And then… she spoke….
#
“Father….”
#
What?
Me…?
Was she speaking to me…?
Or… to someone else…?
How could that be…?
Can’t be…! No way…!
She’s not my child!
She’s not my daughter!
That’s not my… name….
Not to her….
I don’t know her….
#
And yet… she looks… so familiar….
Feels… so… familiar….
Like my daughter….
Like… my wife….
But that can’t be…. That’s… impossible….
My wife is dead. She died not long after my other daughter was born.
Breast cancer.
She should have lived.
Been cured.
But… she didn’t….
She wasn’t….
And… she died.
Maybe… she said…. Maybe… she meant… flother…?
But…?
No.
#
Maybe… it was nothing more than a dream….
Or… a vision….
Or… nothing at all….
#
Anyway…. I didn’t see it…. Any of it…. Not really….
I felt it…. If that makes any sense…. Even if it doesn’t….
Even if it… did…. Even if it… does….
It…. Doesn’t…. Matter.
That’s the way it was…. The way we were….
And that’s the funny part….
#
Baring one’s soul never seems to be easy….
I feel foolish…. Exposed…. Naked….
And… I suppose… then… at that merest moment in SpaceTime… for once… I really… truly… was….
Completely….
Naked….
Not physically….
Emotionally….
Spiritually….
Completely open. Exposed. Unprotected.
Nowhere to run.
Nowhere to hide.
From the all-exposing… all-revealing… pure… white… light….
#
Maybe I should clarify something. About angels.
Maybe some of you are Christians….
Maybe some of you are scholars….
Maybe some of you are Christian scholars….
Maybe some of you know… that humans… are not… and never will be… angels…. That dead people remain dead… until the Second Coming….
But… then again… maybe some of you have no idea what I’m babbling about…. And… that’s ok, too.
So… what I’m trying to say… is… that I was simply speaking figuratively… when I said… she was… an angel…. She looked like an angel. Appeared… to be… an angel…. Or… how I imagine… an angel… to look…. How I… expect….
Anyway…. She surprised… even frightened me…. Caught me off guard….
#
Still….
Father….
Spoken softly… expectantly… as though she were searching….
But yet… like… she… knew….
She wasn’t asking. She was stating. A fact.
Father….
That phrase…. That word…. The expectation….
That haunting… accusation….
Spoken with such… conviction….
Spoken with such… innocence….
Disarmed me…. Initially…. Then….
Struck me like a slap across my face….
Struck me like a shot across my bow….
Struck me as… exceedingly formal….
Yet… at the same time… struck me as… exquisitely… excruciatingly… intimate….
#
Where am I…? What is this place…? Why is she saying that… to ME???
Maybe…. She’s speaking… to someone else….
Maybe… she means… something… else….
Flother. Perhaps….
#
But…. No….
No one uses that word. No one knows… that word.
And….
She was looking at me….
She was speaking… to me….
She was definitive….
And she… and I… were alone… together….
#
And then… it hit me….
That slap….
Struck me….
Like a stone….
From a sling….
From far away….
In time….
And… like a slung stone… it suddenly hit me….
From out of the blue….
Hit me.
Right.
Between.
The eyes.
Her age…. Her face…. Her hair…. Her eyes….
This wasn’t really as much of a mystery as I initially thought. Wanted to think….
There… before me… stood… my daughter….
My daughter I never knew.
#
#
IV. Language Adrift.
#
#
Well… that was the first thing. The first event. That happened. Or rather…. The second. The event that happened… unexpectedly…. Such a long, long time… and far, far distance… from the first….
About twenty years.
About 1,500 miles.
As I think I said before….
I don’t really want to get into what happened.
Back then.
Not really.
It got… messy.
Real messy.
REALLY messy….
And… I don’t mean just the cold wind… and the blowing snow… and the hard ice…. That was one cold… hard… indiscriminate… Winter….
#
But… before I go… farther… backwards… maybe I should just say a little more… about how I felt… about the second… lighter… more proximal… event….
I’ve been looking for a word to describe my feelings… at the time… recently. Regarding… that… event….
While I was looking I came across a different word. Another word. A word I wasn’t expecting. A word… out of the blue. A word that seemed to fall out of the celestial blue sky….
Flother. Supposedly a synonym for “snowflake”.
I suppose Tomita might have titled his iconic album Flotherdance. Had he known….
Maybe I should explain. About flother. As best I can….
#
Flother is a hapax legomenon. In this particular case, an English hapax legomenon: A word that can only be found one time in the entire body of English Literature prior to 1900. In a manuscript written around 1275. Something similar to nortelrye. Middle English. Most likely means “education”. Chaucer used it once. Or Slæpwerigne . Old English. Appears once. In the ancient Exeter Book. “Sleep-weary”. But that particular hapax legomenon can be a bit confusing. Because… we assume the word can mean either: “weary for sleep”… or “weary from sleep”….
Language drift.
Like “wicked”. Usually means “bad”. Or “evil”. Unless you hear it here in Boston. When it means “good”.
Sometimes words do that.
Change meaning.
Sometimes concepts….
Drift….
Sometimes… whole societies….
Drift….
Search for….
Find….
New meanings….
#
New lamps for old….
#
Flother. Nortelrye. Slæpwerigne.
Yup. Guess that just about sums it all up….
Sums up what a hapax legomenon is….
Sums up my feelings….
Sums up the situation….
Unique.
Mysterious.
Nebulous.
Confusing….
#
#
V. Of Residences and Residencies… and Bulls… and Bullshit….
#
#
Now…. I suppose I owe you some sort of story. Some kind… or unkind… explanation. About… that… earlier… event….
#
We were living in Saint Louis at the time. My wife and I. In a small condominium right next door to the huge Medical Complex on Kingshighway. The first major purchase we ever made together. And we were so proud. Third floor walk-up in a sketchy part of town, but still…. Our castle.
The place had parquet floors, a balcony, a washer/dryer… and a parking spot….
Sometimes… it’s the little things.
Sometimes… not so much….
Anyway….
We were both doctors. My wife had just graduated from their very prestigious Medical School and was starting her Internal Medicine residency in a premier program. Working her way up the rungs of the ladder to the life of her Dreamworld…. Climbing hand over hand…. One rung after another….
#
Academic Medicine….
Her dream….
My dream….
Our dream.
We were living the Dream!
Looking back…. At least… we shared that….
I was in the middle of the worst part of the most hellacious Neurological Surgery residency in the entire history of Planet Earth. Unearthly intense. Although… not in any pleasurable way.
Painful. Abusive.
That kind of intense.
And I loved it.
That intensity….
That pain….
That… brutality….
That… humiliation….
That abuse.
At least that was what I’d been told.
What I was being told. As… I was being brainwashed….
And… of course… I believed it…. I bought in…. Became a dutiful soldier…. A successful soldier. Goose-stepping my way towards becoming an insanely rich soldier….
The chairman passed out a little trifle of a pamphlet called “Message to Garcia” that we were all told to read. Apparently it was written in about an hour. It was initially published in “Philistine” magazine. The story is about accomplishing a difficult task. And… not asking a lot of questions. Period.
Success… has many… different… definitions….
Many… different… delusions….
#
By anyone’s standards, we were successful. Living our lives right on track.
Busy being just exactly who everyone thought we should be. Busy doing just exactly what everyone else thought we should do. Living our ostentatious… yet… meaningless… lives in the Fast Lane. Searching. For meaning. Flying down the tracks of life on an Express Train to Success. Our lives… our careers… were on rails.
No reason to look up.
No reason to look out.
And… no reason to look in….
#
In pursuit of that dream, my wife went away to present at an Internal Medicine conference…. Prestigious, I’m sure. D.C. Chicago. Somewhere. Gave a ten-minute talk. Presented a poster. Something like that. I don’t really remember exactly what. Maybe something Endocrine? I’m not sure. About the specific topic.
Still…. Something….
Inconsequential.
To me….
At least that’s what I remember thinking at the time.
Made my wife happy. Made her feel successful.
The rest… was mere formality.
The rest… didn’t really matter… to me….
The subject… didn’t really matter… to me….
In retrospect… my wife… didn’t really matter… to me….
Nothing really mattered to me. Not then.
I already had the Surgeon’s Mentality. And a bulletproof ego….
So… I figured I had sufficient reason to be a bit of a snob towards mere mortals…. Even lesser gods…. In the immortal hierarchy of Medical godhood.
I guess we viewed it as a game.
Garnishing respect….
Propping up the pecking order….
Hashing out the hierarchy….
Establishing and maintaining the Caste System….
I was at the very tip top of the food chain. A Brahmin. Up in the stratosphere. Above the holiest of the lesser gods. The Holy of Holies. The Holier-than-thous….
And… Medicine residents…?
Fuck’em!
I did.
That may sound cold and hard. But… it was the truth….
And… I see no reason to sugar-coat the bitter pill….
At least we were married.
And in my mind… that made it all OK….
At the time… I thought it was my right….
And now… I know… I was wrong….
But then… I was ignorant….
I was obstinate….
I was obtuse….
I thought… well….
#
Maybe I should mention something about the mentality….
Among men… real men… relative godhood is defined by two qualities: length and strength. Real men prove ourselves by the tasks we perform. The most god-like men walking amongst us prove our supremacy by completing the most difficult task. Herculean tasks. We were considered messengers of the gods when we carried that Message to Garcia. Without asking questions. Something less when failed. Something far less when we questioned.
#
Another thing…. I was on call all the time….
And when I say all the time… I mean ALL the time….
That’s just the way it was.
My Neurological Surgery training was extremely long and extremely hard. I averaged about 120 hours a week in hospital. Sometimes more. Much more. Spent 200 out of total possible 216 hours in house over one nine day period.
And… that’s the way I loved it….
That’s what I was told….
That’s what I believed….
That’s just the way it was….
Only actually fell asleep while performing surgery once. But… I was just assisting.
See…?
That’s what impressed us.
That’s what impressed… me.
Be… all that you can be….
Sacrifice.
Everything.
Else.
For GLORY!!!
That’s not just the way it was; that’s the way it had to be….
The longer….
The harder….
The better….
We would be….
Maybe that helps to explain why elite Surgeons tend to be such cocksure pricks.
Maybe that helps explain why gods love to live exclusive lives in exclusive communities.
We accepted that hard work… herculean effort… is necessary…. To earn our stripes. To ascend the throne. To be the best of the best….
The problem with being on call every other day is… you miss half of the interesting cases….
But being on call all the time… affects a man…. Effects a man. Changes him. Changes his chemistry. Changes his goals. His desires. His relationships.
Guess we kind of blithely overlooked the principle of cause and effect….
Be all you can be….
See what you want to see….
#
Let’s face it: Residencies are stressful….
All residencies are stressful….
And… marriages… are stressful….
And our marriage was even more stressful than most….
Because my wife was also a doctor….
Because my wife was also in her Residency….
I mean… in many ways… my wife and I were equals.
Equally brilliant.
Equally perfect.
Equally stressed….
And… all of that brilliance… all that perfection… all of that stress… equaled a recipe for disaster!
All the stress… and the incongruent call schedules… were a considerable strain on our relationship….
Because… long… hard hours… and lack of sleep… lead to a little known phenomenon I like to refer to as… Testosterone Storm….
#
I’m not sure whether or not women under the same conditions undergo the same physiological… and psychological… phenomenon: I think not. But in men… at least in me… and other Surgeons… stress and lack of sleep tended to trigger a sudden surge of testosterone.
And… testosterone gives a man a certain sense of… entitlement….
A certain sense of inevitability….
A certain sense of infallibility….
A certain sense of invincibility….
And… that attitude of inevitable infallible invincibility can certainly become infectious….
Affected….
Even unbecoming….
Sure… such aggression can be attractive in certain social situations….
Such as… on the floor of a hospital….
In the Emergency Room….
In the Operating Room….
In a bar….
On a first date….
In the short-term….
But on a day-in, day-out basis… in a long-term relationship… or in a marriage… that aggression can be daunting… rather than attractive…. Seem threatening rather than any source of security….
Like I said: we Surgeon-types tend to transform ourselves into cocksure pricks…. Stress and lack of sleep tend to unmask certain… character flaws…. Which… I suppose… may lead to a certain level of… objectification…. When a man feels that everything around him must reflect his own greatness….
The Ancient Greeks called it hubris….
We never had a name for it. We never even considered it. We never needed to…. We just lived it…. Just part of the lifestyle….
#
#
VI. Trophy Lives.
#
#
Try not to be distracted by my unvarnished… my… unflattering… objectivity…. Try to focus on the bigger picture….
I do.
Objectivity is important for my job. And… I’m just trying to tell it like it was….
Really. Was.
Really. Is.
Sans sugar coat. Just the bitter… jagged… little pill.
At that time… my wife was… just that….
Just my wife….
Just an object.
A trophy. A Home Entertainment Unit. Nothing more. And that’s just the way it was. Butt… certainly a beautiful one.
At that time… I was going to be a Surgeon….
And now… I am one….
A Neurological Surgeon. With an impeccable pedigree. Trained in one of… in THE… premier program on the face of the planet…. And… the most brutal…. And… at the time… that all seemed ok…. That was what seemed to be most important….
I’m not desperately seeking sympathy. I’m just trying to tell the truth.
My wife was a doctor.
And… she was a Trophy Wife.
And… Trophy Wives are objects by definition.
Status symbols.
That’s why successful men… and especially Neurological Surgeons… are so prone to trade up on what seems to be a whim.
Because that’s a misrepresentation. A misunderstanding.
Because it’s not a whim.
Because it’s really important.
Because Trophy Wives are nothing more than expressions of how much such shallow men love themselves.
How much we love ourselves….
If you’ve never walked in the boots… you’ve never been in the Army. You really don’t know what it’s like. You really don’t have any knowledge… any authority… to criticize….
But don’t let that stop you….
#
I pledged the fraternity. I’m guilty as charged.
For someone who aspires to be a top flight Surgeon, a top wife is a whole lot easier to get into than a top residency program. Especially after finishing training. That was the mantra we chanted.
That’s what we were told.
That’s what we were sold.
That’s what we believed.
That’s what we were told to believe.
That’s what we chose… to believe….
But my wife was exceptional. Superlative. Even in the realm of top-sitting Trophy Wives. She was beautiful and smart and accomplished. Successful. In her own right.
Of course, Neurological Surgeons can be trophies, too.
Objects of affection. And self-affectation.
Sometimes love can be inconvenient. Especially when it comes to loving others.
#
#
VII. Impersonating an Impersonal Elvis.
#
#
So when my wife came home from her trip….
Well… let’s just say… I missed her….
Parts of her anyway….
Some parts… more than others….
And all I saw was a tight window of opportunity… in a wall of otherwise conflicting call schedules…. And… I’ll admit… I wasn’t in a real talkative mood….
Cue the Elvis, please….
A Little Less Conversation….
A little more… action….
Like I said before… sometimes… love can be inconvenient….
That’s another thing about chronic sleep deprivation…. Tends to make men stupid…. Or… more stupid…. More primitive…. And… essentially… aphasic….
Even smart men.
Maybe even especially smart men….
But… maybe not….
#
I missed my wife. Specifically… I missed her… sex….
And then… about three weeks later… my wife missed something….
Her period….
And then… about a 28 days after that… she missed another….
And we both knew what that meant….
And… we both tried not to think about it….
So… she scheduled an appointment….
At the clinic down the street….
She filled out paperwork…. And I tried to be supportive….
And in retrospect… I probably wasn’t too terribly successful…. In fact… I know I wasn’t. I may have even been terrible. Certainly felt terrible. But I definitely wasn’t successful….
Not when it really mattered….
Not that it really mattered….
Like I said before…. Nothing really mattered…. To me….
Except what I ladled out onto the plate I had sat before me…. Life was a banquet…. A buffet…. A smorgasbord….
And… I was hungry….
So… I gorged myself….
And… I found out… that in fact… I was insatiable….
But… of course… I could not find that clarity at the time….
I mean… I really didn’t think of myself as a pig….
I mean… I really didn’t even think of myself as a god….
I mean… I always thought of myself as some kind of a White Knight… on a White Charger… rescuing damsels in distress…. Doing the work of God…. A Paladin….
I was good!
Or… at least… good enough….
I mean… I thought I was….
I mean… I was told I was….
I mean… I believed… I was….
I mean… I believed… I knew what mattered…. Really mattered….
I mean… I believed… my life… really mattered… to me….
And my wife’s life really mattered to her….
And staying on track with our lives really mattered to both of us….
And what people thought about us really mattered….
Social status and what-not….
And she wasn’t ready….
And I wasn’t ready….
And we both had things to do….
Things we wanted to do….
Things we needed to do….
Things we told ourselves we needed to do… to accomplish… what we needed… to be successful….
For my wife… and me… to be… Successes….
Just another day enjoying the sunny skies at Sonova Beach.
And… looking back… I guess… we thought life was about nothing more than sitting by the pool…. Swimming…. Sunning…. And… sucking cesses….
I mean… that’s sure how life tasted right about then….
I mean… in retrospect… I guess when I say life really mattered… I was really lying….
It didn’t….
Not really….
Not as much as other things mattered….
On the relative value of life scale….
Life really held a value of absolute zero….
#
Before I go on… please let me explain… what I learned… about my actions… my reactions… my performance… in the Clinic Visit I described so… clinically… above….
I was ruthlessly efficient. Clinically detached. Which in medical situations is usually great. But in this particular situation… defined failure. Spousal emotional abandonment. Dereliction of husbandry duty.
Now I know. Now I understand. Now… I comprehend….
The full extent. Of my abject failure.
That is the harsh reality of my brutal self-appraisal.
#
#
VIII. A Life of Virtue… at Least… Virtually.
#
#
I know what you’re probably thinking…. My wife and I didn’t fit… don’t fit… the demographics of Abortion.
We were married.
We were well-educated.
We were successful.
And… we were WASPs.
We were Conservative Christians….
Not the kind of people who usually show up on the sidewalk outside an abortion clinic…. Except maybe as protesters…. Or… providers….
And… the elephant in the room…. We were both doctors.
So… we should have known better….
Planned better….
Planned parenthood….
Performed better….
You’re right. We were. We did. We could have. And… we should have.
I would have thought we would have….
But we didn’t.
I’ll get to all the excuses in a minute, but first… I’ve got a joke for you. Coulda, Woulda, and Shoulda walk into a bar…. Coulda and Woulda got slammed…. Shoulda walked out…. And got hit by a train while he was trying to cross the tracks…. Oops!
I just made that up. Not very funny. I know.
Not really meant to be funny. This was serious.
But real humans make mistakes, too. And that’s not very funny either a lot of times. Especially to the people making the mistakes….
#
Qué serà, serà, I suppose….
I used to think that expression was Latin. Or Italian. Or Spanish. Or Spanglish. But apparently… the phrase doesn’t actually exist in any language… other than popular song lyrics composed in American English.
I suppose I could have said. Non me arbitratur militem, sed mulierem. Roughly, “He doesn’t think I’m working out as a soldier: he thinks I’m a woman (or a girly-man).” Racism, sexism and homophobia hadn’t been acknowledged in Academic Neurosurgery at the time.
But… I guess that’s another topic….
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#
IX. Inexcusable Excuses.
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#
Ok. Now… the excuses. Just like I promised.
We tried to plan ahead. Be smart.
But… she couldn’t tolerate the pill. And cervical caps didn’t really work… unless the woman had already birthed a baby from down below. And Elaine on Seinfeld had a monopoly on Today sponges. And IUDs were considered dangerous. Could possibly lead to sterility. And she wanted… we wanted… children… eventually…. At some nebulous… convenient… future time….
#
Time.
Isn’t that always the issue with “successful” people?
Time….
#
And besides… all of that took time…. Interfered with passion…. With raw intimacy…. And we were married…. And unprotected intercourse was just… a sperm of the moment decision….
And… in retrospect… a bad decision….
A momentary lapse of reason….
We were swept away…. Or… more honestly…? I was swept away on the tidal surge of emotion associated with Testosterone Storm….
I guess maybe I’m human after all….
I know. That’s just an excuse.
Hindsight may be 20/20. But… so is Mad Dog….
And Mad Dog tends to be much more… intoxicating….
#
#
X. The Horrorshow.
#
#
Please excuse my obliquity…. My meandering course….
But… brutal… emotional… honesty… is… often… difficult….
Especially for those of us who for professional… and personal… reasons tend to be… a bit… emotionally detached….
#
The clinic was right down the street.
About a block.
Maybe two.
Maybe a few more.
But not far.
Not too far.
We could have walked, I guess. But we didn’t. I drove. So my wife wouldn’t have to walk back. (Even though she still had to climb the backstairs. Third floor walk-up….)
And… protesters were marching and shouting and carrying signs with horrible pictures showing dead fetuses and blocking the sidewalk and the door to the clinic… and snapping our pictures… and calling her names….
And… it was a bad scene….
A really… horrible… confusing… emotionally destabilizing… gut wrenching… bad scene….
A bad dream…. A real nightmare…. A seriously… surreal… Horrorshow….
Not in any good sense.
In the not good sense….
As in the sense of… definitely… not good!
Revealed to be stunningly… starkly… unforgettably… unforgivably… real…. Harsh reality…. Glaringly displayed in the harsh light of hindsight….
And in my experience… the 20/20 vision of hindsight… mixed with Mad Dog… and the unflattering light of inescapable reality… has a strong tendency to make me look like an ass…. A mirror reflecting my internal ignorance. My pathological personality defects. Reveal my arrogance and insufferable intelligence for what it truly is: nothing more than insanity… inanity… and… insatiable stupidity. Petty superficiality. Supreme selfishness….
#
#
XI. Clinical Sterility and the Hard Hike Back to Never-ever-againland….
#
#
This is kind of hard to explain….
The Abortion Clinic made a negative impression on my mind….
Not negative in any normal sense of the word….
Negative in the sense… that it almost wasn’t there.
The Abortion Clinic exists as a ghost… haunting my mind….
I remember that the clinic was across Euclid Avenue from the old Forest Park Hotel… which still had an ancient elevator that required an elevator operator…. And a new deli where we enjoyed eating.
I remember thinking that maybe we’d drop by for a late lunch after the procedure, but that didn’t work out.
I remember the protesters marching on the sidewalk.
I remember driving into the parking lot.
I remember the scared forest green steel door.
I remember the blonde brick façade and the round coke-bottle green blown glass tiles configuring the corner and the stark stainless steel awning that jutted out over the sidewalk at an odd angle….
I remember the utilitarian… almost pedestrian construction….
I remember the institutional green tiles lining the walls and forming the floors…. The white grout. Institutional green.
I remember wondering why the walls of medical clinics were almost always that same color. Not Federal green. That would be too bland. A slightly deeper green. Almost mint. Almost mucous. Almost snot….
I remember wondering where the inevitable reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World was hidden….
I remember thinking that the Abortion Clinic reminded me of my old dentist’s office at the end of Main Street in Waynesboro, Mississippi… except that he had a very large reproduction of Charles Allan Gilbert’s All is Vanity instead.
I remember I was always fascinated by that picture.
And I remember that his office smelled more of ether. Rather than the overwhelmingly offensive sterility of isopropyl alcohol and chlorine bleach….
But I don’t remember much about the office.
And… I don’t remember much about the procedure. Not even the informed consent.
I do remember how oppressively sterile the Abortion Clinic… the entire situation… felt….
I remember the feeling of stares. And quickly averted gazes.
I remember the stark silence. Of lips that started to move. To speak. But didn’t….
I remember that I said nothing.
I remember my wife said nothing.
I remember the doctor said nothing.
I remember the nurse said nothing.
I remember nobody said nothing. That was the most silent… most sterile place I ever remember being….
I remember it was all so… clinical. So… sterile….
Consummate… all-consuming… clinical… sterility….
Nothing could possible survive that sterilizing silence.
No thought.
No question.
No remorse.
Nothing.
But silence. Isolation. And the sterile… silent… smell of isopropyl alcohol and chlorine bleach.
And then… I heard the tin lid of a specimen jar ring closed.
And then… we were done….
I gathered up our meager belongings, and helped my still-groggy wife back to the car.
I cranked it, yanked it into drive and drove the three blocks back down to the parking spot in back of our condo.
And… no one was the wiser.
At least… not me.
#
#
Needless to say, the walk back up the three flights of the back steps to our condo was… difficult.
Dismal. Detached.
Silent…. Secret…. Shattered….
Frightened…. Forlorn….
Insulated…. Isolated…. Inconsolable….
Both of us….
But… I focused on my feelings….
I was distraught.
I was destroyed.
And… I assumed… so was she.
#
My wife climbed the bleak rusting black backstairs essentially alone in the glowering darkness. I think I tried to help, but I’m not really sure. She stared gloomily at each steal step as she slowly dragged herself up towards our bed.
Silent.
Pale.
Listless.
Sedate.
As if still anesthetized.
My soul felt as if it were being ripped out of my body…. Ever. So. Slowly.
Figuratively….
And… my life… destroyed….
Literally….
Everything I had always told about myself…. Everything I had always told myself I was…. Everything I had always believed myself to be… was in that instant… revealed to be a lie…. All my grandiose ideas of Noblesse Oblige… were revealed… in an instant… to be false….
A prick exploded my balloon of self-adulation.
Suddenly… I realized… I was no White Knight in glimmering armor on a fine charger…. And… I never had been…. Anything…. More than merely a peasant….
And… I felt much more likely a demon. Maybe even Satan himself. Or… worse…. But… certainly far less powerful.
Like Icarus… I had flown too high… and came crashing back to Earth…. In a ball of flame.
Ouch!!!
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XII. Tenebrous Enlightenment and Sacrilegious Confessions.
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I’m not really big on expressing my feelings. Not good at expressing emotions. But… I’ll admit… looking back… that bad scene… the protesters snapping my picture… calling me names… shouting at me….
I took it personally.
Made me feel like a criminal.
I mean… I tried to ignore them. Bit my tongue. Hid my face. Shuffled to the door of the clinic and held it open for my wife.
I can only imagine how my wife felt….
No. I take that back.
That’s a bald-faced lie.
I can’t even imagine how she felt….
Her head. Her heart.
Her hormones….
Her feelings of loss. Guilt. Remorse. God’s vengeance.
All… magnified….
All… intensified….
And… those feelings didn’t go away when we got into the car and drove away….
What had once been glorified… and sterilized… was now gorified… and stultified…. Utterly grotesque.
The Real World can be like that. A dose of reality seems always to be an extremely bitter pill to swallow; no matter what you were told to expect.
“It’s just a bee sting,” mockingly laughed the huge prick… through a calloused smile….
#
One more thing before I wander away from the subject….
Nobility…. Royalty….
Loyal subjects….
Medieval knights in shining armor…. Riding fine white chargers….
Dungeons…. Dragons…. Demons…. Damnation….
Damsels in distress….
Church…. Rituals….
Sacraments….
Salvation….
Healing….
Forgiveness….
I don’t know about your feelings on such matters, but I found it hard… still find it hard… to sit still on a church pew… when I feel guilty…. Everything feels harder. Especially those cold… hard… pews. In those cold… hard… churches….
At the time… and for a long time thereafter… I felt like I was an accessory to murder….
A murderer….
A monster….
A God-forsaken baby butcher….
Cain himself….
Only worse….
Lucifer fallen. Satan. The Lord of Lies.
Worse than that even….
A impenitent child killer…. Slayer of Innocents….
If any such specimen actually exist.
Any innocents.
In the context of Original Sin.
God knows.
I don’t.
But… doesn’t matter what I think about… other… sinners….
So… going there… to church… seeking compassion… seeking comfort… from the comfortably perfect… from the disturbingly uncompassionate… didn’t really seem too terribly comforting…. Lost people living their lives outside the Church… out in “The World”… the cold… hard… harsh… Real World… seemed far less judgmental… less damning… than our fellow Conservative Christians… carrying signs… calling us names…. Shouting condemnation…. Screaming for their own form of justice…. Showing no mercy….
I don’t know about my wife…. But I certainly didn’t feel loved.
Not by Christians.
Not by God.
Not by my wife.
Not even by myself.
I felt judged….
I felt ostracized….
I felt cursed….
I felt convicted….
I felt… Damned.
By Christians.
By God.
God-damned.
Literally.
And… that’s a horrible feeling. Especially for someone like me… who had compared myself favorably to other Christians for my whole life….
Suddenly… my Sin… my ugliness… my filth… my unholiness… was readily apparent.
To me.
To God.
And… I felt… must certainly be clearly visible to everyone else.
I felt lucky I wasn’t flayed…. Burned…. Crucified….
How could I ever be loved…? By my wife…. By my self…. By anyone who ever found out…. By God…. And… certainly never by such flawless flippin’… self-serving… self-righteous… hypocrites….
So… I decided… I would never give any of them the chance…. To ridicule me….
I knew….
I didn’t need any help.
I was guilty.
My eyes had been opened. I saw myself for whom I always was…. For whom… I always… would be….
Now… and ever more….
Eternally….
Bereft….
I felt like crawling into a hole. So… mentally… and emotionally… I did.
#
So… we Christians say that God is Love…. Incomprehensible…. All-abiding…. Love….
And… we sing that they will know we are Christians by our love….
But… then… we spew hate….
Divine Wrath….
Our wrath….
My wrath….
While we claim… we represent… God….
While I claim… I represent… God….
Divine Love….
Divine Wrath….
Divine Retribution….
Co-mingled….
Like the Blood of my Savior….
Can’t we comprehend….
Can’t I comprehend….
That our hypocrisy….
That my hypocrisy….
Confuses… God’s children… whom he is trying to save…? Confutes…. Obfuscates…. Misrepresents…. Undermines…. God’s… message… to mere mortals.
I am shattering the illusion of Love….
I make my Savior gorgeous face… ugly… when I display my own wrath…. My own rage…. And… call that… Divine Love….
Maybe that’s why Jesus got disgusted with the filth and disease of the doctors who washed their hands of their responsibilities to the poor…. To the dirty…. To the despised….
Maybe that’s why Jesus… the Great Physician… decided to hang out his shingle… choose to hang out… to associate… to eat… with the ritually impure… the ceremonially defiled… the unclean… who knew… they needed to be cleansed….
Who accepted that they needed to be healed….
Who recognized they were Spiritually sick….
Steeped in Original and unoriginal Sin….
So… having been on that spit…. Having felt spitted and spat upon…. Having witnessed the vindictive Wrath of the ungodly Goody-goodies…. Those who claim to fear God… and vow to spew the venom of their fear-filled god…. I feel like I must ask: How can Christians who spew such hatred expect anyone on the other end of those words to hear… God’s Love…? Do we not drown out God’s message with our relentless droning…? Continually pounding our War Drums…?
I say that in love….
And… I say… sometimes… “love” is inconvenient….
And sometimes… some of us… aren’t able to express our “love” in ways that is intelligible to other people that we claim we love…. But… that never seems to stop us from expressing our heartfelt feelings…. Sometimes violently.
I wasn’t externally violent. But… if I’m truthful… with myself… internally I was. Emotionally. I beat myself up pretty badly. And… I’m sure some of my self-loathing must have sloshed over the brim of my cup.
My cup runneth over.
With wrath….
Sometimes… love seems terrible.
And… sometimes… acts of true love… are intangible.
#
#
I know I can’t speak for my wife; she’s dead.
I mean… maybe she didn’t remember…. Maybe the anesthesia gave her amnesia….
I sure hope so.
But I doubt it.
She wasn’t asleep….
Conscious sedation is the technical term.
But whatever she thought….
Whatever she felt….
She never said.
She never spoke about any of it. Not out loud….
She kept her feeling inside.
Suppressed them.
Repressed them.
So… I don’t know….
Whether she ever thought about… that day….
About that child….
About the whole hellish deal….
The whole hellish ordeal….
She never said…. Anything….
About any of it….
And… I never asked….
I just grieved….
For myself…. For what I’d lost….
Tried to bury my guilt.
Over my child.
That I killed.
And never even buried.
I just shut my mouth.
Tried to shut my mind.
And that didn’t work.
#
Another thing…. While I’m confessing…. Trying to get things off my guilty conscience….
I never even knew the sex of that fetus. That child.
I never bothered to check the sex… of my baby….
Because I was scared….
Because… I never cared….
Not really….
Didn’t matter….
Or… at least I thought it didn’t….
Not at the time, at least….
I didn’t even have enough respect for that child I had helped to create… through my lust… to bury… her…. I just my daughter be thrown away…. Like trash…. Like garbage…. Detritus. Offal.
Nothing more to me than Flotsam….
Jetsam….
And… Jizzum….
Shipwrecked sex.
“Clean-up on Aisle 3!”
Guess I should have used a condom.
Pregnancy is… at least in some sense… a venereal disease…. And… thus… preventable.
Through the proper application of rubbers. And plastics. And other moldy things.
Ideas.
Attempting to mold and shape the results after the event seems to be a far less effective strategy.
In retrospect.
#
That’s cold. I know.
Now… I know…. The TRUTH!!!
That child of my loins….
That child of my lust….
That… living… child.
Our child….
MY child….
My daughter….
My daughter I never knew…. Because I never cared…. To know….
Until I met her… face to face….
In whatever….
In wherever….
THAT place… was…. That place is….
But at least, now I know.
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XIII. Of Blinders, Blind Men and Blind Guides.
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Maybe I’m oversimplifying, but to me, abortion is a deeply personal issue. At least that’s my personal experience.
What politics seems to miss… from both sides… is the transcendent personal horror of abortion. The tremendous sense of personal loss. The feelings of guilt. Of shame. Of humiliation. The emotional holocaust.
Loss of self-esteem.
Loss of self-love.
Loss of selfless love.
Loss of self.
Loss of life.
Abortion is a horrible thing: a decision of utter desperation. And… I feel… personally… that such horror… such abject personal despair… should never be politicized.
But… at least for me… even the abject horror of abortion may have some kind of silver lining…. When hard lessons are learned… and become a part of our very fiber…. Our being….
To me… that abortion… was a revelation… about myself…. About my values…. About my relationship…. About my marriage…. About my beliefs…. About my Spirituality…. About my self….
#
Maybe I should at least attempt to explain.
Christian Marriage is supposed to be a vehicle for raising Godly children. Not simply a means to an end. Not even a mechanism to find self-fulfillment.
But… Christian Marriage is ultimately… ideally… at its core… at its heart… and in our souls… supposed to mean more than that. Christian Marriage is supposed to be about sacrifice. Of self. To God.
Christian Marriage is supposed to be a journey two people embark on together in love towards a common goal. Towards Unity. Towards Oneness. At least ideally….
And ours wasn’t….
Ideal. In any way. Except… superficially. To others….
And we both… KNEW… that….
We both realized that we were growing apart. Falling apart. Being pushed apart. And… pushing apart. Existing independently…. Occupying the same residence…. Instead of truly living… together….
Instead of loving one another.
Instead of creating a new life… together….
Essentially our marriage became an object lesson in marriage equality: we seemed to spend all of our time fighting for our independence… working towards a feeling of mutual equality… but… in the process… we became relationally aloof…. Emotionally detached…. Spiritually separated….
Separate… but equal….
And we both believed that was just the way it was….
The way it always would be….
The way we were….
That we couldn’t do anything about it….
Because that’s the way we wanted it to be….
The way we wanted to be….
And… then… we gave up….
Or rather, I gave up. I wimped out.
Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually.
I can’t speak for my wife. But… I took the path of least resistance…. I chose the easy path…. The path of blaming anything and everything… and everyone… else….
The pathetic path of victimhood….
You see… I saw myself as the victim….
I blamed circumstances….
I blamed my life….
I blamed my wife….
After that abortion… I saw her… chose to see her… view her… as an object. Like a sports car commercial on television. As something… once valuable… but now… tarnished…. Blemished…. Blighted…. Ugly…. Tainted….
So… I flipped the scenario. Change the channel. Turned her off. Because… now… she turned me off.
I suppose our lives fit perfectly into our consumer-driven ideal of a perfectly disposable society….
I didn’t want her….
And… she didn’t want me….
I didn’t trust her….
And… she didn’t trust me….
She didn’t want to have sex….
And I… did….
I mean… I didn’t want to want to, but I did….
I suppose I could blame raging hormones….
I suppose I could blame Testosterone Storm….
But… I didn’t….
I blamed her….
Especially during episodes of elevated sexual appetite associated with Testosterone Storm.
And… I’m sure… that must have scared her. Scarred her.
I know I shouldn’t have blamed her…. Now.
I know I never should have blamed her. Now.
I know I should have known that then. Now.
Maybe I should have blamed myself. I don’t honestly know. But I do know… that I… should have taken responsibility for myself…. My contributions…. My desires. My choices….
Instead of constructing walls to protect my fragile ego….
Instead of walling out my wife….
I should have held myself accountable…. For not being a good leader…. For not being a good enough leader…. For my family….
And… looking back…. I certainly wasn’t kind. Certainly not kind enough…. Not understanding enough…. Not loving…. Not enough.
Not nearly enough….
Not considering the circumstances….
Consider this: I fucked my wife. Literally.
I didn’t give getting what I wanted at that moment a second thought. I felt entitled.
I mean… my actions never threaten everything I always wanted. Everything I had worked all of my life to accomplish. To achieve. To earn. My impetuous, imperious actions never imperiled my dream.
I threatened hers….
I threatened her….
My wife. Whom I claimed to love….
And I blamed her. For being weak. So that I didn’t have to blame myself….
Because… she threatened… my self-esteem. My ego….
See… I was looking out.
For myself.
My fragile ego.
Not looking in.
At my heart.
I should have been honest. With myself.
And I wasn’t.
#
But… before I made that choice… to abrogate my responsibility to my wife… and… my child… I deceived myself…. I lied to myself…. And I knew it.
And… all of that… led to our… misconception….
Still… I convinced myself that I couldn’t stop her…. That I shouldn’t stop her…. That I had no say…. No choice…. It was all hers…. All her.
A woman’s choice was all that mattered….
But really…. In reality…. I never even tried…. I just shifted the blame onto her…. Took the bait…. Told myself it was her decision…. Not mine…. That I really had no say….
Her life….
Her dream….
Her decision….
I shouldn’t interfere….
So… I didn’t interfere….
And… I didn’t talk…. I kept my thoughts to myself….
Even convinced myself I was being a good… caring… husband….
I convinced myself. That I had no rights to impose my desires on her body… except… of course… my conjugal rights….
But… in my heart of hearts… I knew….
And… that knowledge killed me…. Slowly…. From the inside….
And… my wife must have known, too.
Because she died….
And our relationship died….
And… we just let it happen….
And… like I said… abortion is nothing more than a symptom of a moribund relationship….
And… Death….
Darkness.
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XIV: Impure Desperation.
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In my experience… at least in my life… Abortion… is a Doorway unto Death…. Abortion is a desperate act taken by desperate people who feel they have no other viable options. Abortion is a desperate choice: who lives; and who dies. Desperate mothers feel that they must choose between their babies’ lives… and their own….
And… that is what they are told…. By seemingly well-meaning… and well-informed… medical professionals….
Reminds me of my own indoctrination….
What I have said may seem harsh to many. Maybe even to too many…. But… for anyone who knows… it’s nothing more than the pure… unmitigated… TRUTH….
I will say only one more thing about religious… stuff: I sincerely believe in life after Death. I know it exist. Because I’ve experienced… forgiveness….
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XV. Of Damn Lies, the Damned Liars Who Tell Them and Damning Statistics.
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Now…. I expect that what I’m about to say will make an enormous number of people enormously uncomfortable. Enormously sad. Enormously mad. Some people will be shocked. Some people stunned. Some people will judge. And some people will simply dismiss my statements out-of-hand as the calloused musings of a Madman….
Some people will feel disrespected… and… in return… diss me…. Without ever listening. Without ever trying… to understand.
Some will be sorely temped to stop reading…. But… I encourage each of you to continue…. To finish….
And some… will know… that every word I speak… is absolute… unabridged… unmitigated… incontrovertible… TRUTH…. Those folks will know that I’m talking the talk only possible by someone who has walked the walk…. Those who have descended into that dark… personal Hell of his or her own making…. Packed to bleeding brim with demons of his or her own construction…. Surmounted those unquenchable flames of that purifying fire…. Only to emerge from the cracked crucible… scared… scarred… and sacred…. Burned to a crispy.
Then… they will know…. Because they have experienced… the Pit of Despair….
A lot of people say a lot of things about abortion.
That abortion is a woman’s choice.
That abortion is murder.
But… for the mother… and the father… abortion… is an act of desperation….
Abortion… cannot occur with wreaking carnage.
Destruction. Desolation. Dissipation.
And the carnage… the destruction… the desolation… doesn’t end whenever that pregnancy is terminated…. Because abortion isn’t about an unwanted fetus: abortion is about a broken relationship. Abortion is a symptom of a relational disease…. Of a decadent… dying… decaying… relationship….
And… abortion isn’t an end.
No.
Abortion is a beginning….
Abortion is a doorway…. Unto Death…. Into Death….
And… the death that ensues is infectious: it goes on… and on… and on… and on… and on….
And nobody ever tells you that…. Nobody ever tells you the truth…. Nobody ever informs you of what happens once the afterbirth has been pulled free from the womb…. And… thrown out. Disposed of.
And nobody ever cares….
About your baby….
About you….
About how you feel….
Really feel….
In your mind…. In your heart…. In your soul…. In your conscience….
When that baby’s… your baby’s… heart stops beating… your own heart stops beating…. Stops feeling…. Becomes cold and hard….
At least for a while.
And… nobody cares….
Because… at that moment… you… and your baby… become statistics….
And nobody cares about statistics….
Statistics are objects….
All most people think about is politics….
All most people care about is politics….
People care about subjects… not objects….
About people. Not statistics.
Living. Breathing. People.
And… power…. Because politics is really about power…. And that’s what people represent to politicians….
Power…. Control….
Disconsolate mothers are discharged. Dismissed. And disconcerted fathers are disregarded.
And… dead babies are thrown out in the trash….
Or salvaged for useful parts…. Research…. Money….
Dead babies and disconsolate mothers become statistics as soon as they are no longer paying patients. Abortion is nothing more than a business…. A ruthless business.
And disconcerted fathers…?
Were never more than a fucking afterthought to begin with…. Just like the afterbirth…. Even less…. A mere genetic necessity…. Sperm donors…. Some fleshy appendage pre-appendectomy…. A hunk of meat. A bit of fun… before the cold… hard… fact… of pregnancy…. In the final equation… the male is nothing, if not generally meaningless…. Meaning his opinion generally means less than nothing….
And… the babies…? Well… the babies have absolutely no say. Because aborted babies are dead….
Because dead babies don’t vote….
Besides… dead babies know no guilt…. Know no shame…. Have no feelings…. Show no emotions….
Dead babies feel no pain….
Dead babies have no heartache…. Know no heartbreak….
Dead babies are no longer a headache….
Dead babies no longer exist….
Not on our televisions….
Not in our magazines….
Not on our Social Media….
Not in our Social Conscience….
Not in the real world….
Not in our real lives….
Only in our dreams….
And often… not even there….
But… disconsolate mothers and fathers do….
Feel pain. Guilt. Shame. Heartache.
Because we live on…. Limp along…. In some sense of the word…. Life….
And… no one thinks about the real victims… of abortion….
I know….
#
A lot of people say a lot of things about abortion.
And many… maybe most… of those people… speak lies….
Maybe some sincerely believe in what they are saying. Believe they are being objective.
Even helpful.
But… they aren’t.
They’re really doing nothing more than reciting talking points that someone else made up and drilled into their narrow-minded little brains. Unknowing… uncaring… soulless people seeking political purchase to further advance their political purpose….
And… that’s… what defines… their conception… and their misconception… regarding… and disregarding… life….
So… when people scream insults at one other with vehemence… extreme prejudice… while claiming the moral mountaintop and proclaiming LOVE!!! When one side screams “It’s a woman’s choice!” and the other screams back “It’s MURDER!!!”… Brother and Sister… I’m here to tell you… it’s both….
And… I’m also here to warn you… that the carnage… and the desolation… doesn’t end… whenever that pregnancy is terminated….
No. The inexpressible… inescapable… inconsolable… pain is just beginning….
And it goes on… and on… and on… and on… and on…. And nobody ever tells you that…. Nobody ever tells you the truth….
And nobody… ever… cares….
About your baby….
About you….
Or about how you really feel….
All they care about… is politics….
All they really think about… is politics….
No one thinks about the real victims… of abortion….
I know….
Been there. Done that. Not good.
Definitely… not good….
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XVI. Ridiculous Remorse.
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I stared into her bright… questioning… eyes….
I stood… stunned…. Dazed…. Confused….
Ridiculous….
Guilty….
Shamed….
Ashamed….
Full of remorse….
Silent….
When she stared into my eyes….
When she stared into my soul….
As I looked into her eyes… I cried….
I feebly tried to form phrases…. To explain….
Say something…. Anything….
“I…. I…. I…. I…. I…. I….”
I failed….
#
Then… suddenly… a flash of insight….
I….
That was it. That was all I had.
I….
Nothing more….
The sum total of my “successful” existence… was… I….
#
Suddenly… I realized… I had lost all belief… in the sanctity of life….
I objectified my child… just as I objectified my wife… and everything else… in my so-called “life”….
Suddenly… I realized… I loved nothing but myself…. My life.
And then… I realized… I didn’t even love that….
I couldn’t.
Not now.
Not. Any. More.
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XVII. Hapax Legomenon.
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And… I suppose… that… brings me back… to this….
Flother.
I know. I keep saying that. Word.
Like… it’s important.
Like I’m some kind of damned fool.
And… maybe I am. A fool.
But… now I understand… that I’m certainly not damned…. At least not by my daughter. And not by God….
Maybe I should explain. The significance. Of flother.
Flother is a hapax legomenon. Guess I’ve said that before. Means… unique. In the sense that the word only occurs one time…. Guess I’ve said that before, too.
Flother… for instance… means snowflake. And… each snowflake… is unique. Even though each snowflake is composed of nothing more that frozen water. A phase change.
Every snowflake is made up 100% of the same… identical… substance….
And… every snowflake forms a six-pointed star. Precisely. A shared pattern. Every one.
Yet… each snowflake… no matter how much it might resemble every other snowflake superficially… is unique. Each six-pointed star… is spectacular… in its attention to detail. In its differentiation from every other shimmering star. In it differences. In its uniqueness.
Flother.
And… each of us is like that. Similar. Yet… different.
Unique.
Each baby.
Each mother.
Each father.
Each… and every… human… born… and unborn….
Alive.
Dead.
Or… yet to be conceived.
Each of us… even identical twins… even octuplets… are unique….
Even though we share the same number of chromosomes. And 99.9% the same DNA…. And even though our mitochondrial DNA is passed on only from our mothers… and even more highly conserved….
Each of us is different.
Each of us is unique.
None of us will ever be truly copied. Not even as clones….
When we are gone… however we go… something much more important than the Dodo Bird or the Tasmanian Wolf… is lost… forever….
Yet… on this Earth… each one of us… is transient….
Each of us… is in some symbolic way… a snowflake. Each of us… is… flother. Never to be repeated. A snowflake hovering transfixed in a nanosecond of SpaceTime… dangling… betwixt Heaven and Hell.
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XVIII. Like Clockwork.
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Bear with me. Another aside… that hopefully will aid to understanding….
#
Most people are blissfully unaware that A Clockwork Orange was published in two versions. The American version… the one Stanley Kubrick used as the basis of his screenplay… and the English version….
The American version ends after chapter 20.
The English version… the complete version… continues… through chapter 21.
The last chapter is left out of the American story. The American version of the story ends with Punishment. Pain. Retribution….
The American version of the story is more… puritanical….
The American version of the story… omits… Redemption….
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XIX. True Understanding.
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Then… she turned. Looked into my eyes.
She stood there. Silent.
And then… she smiled….
A smile that said: “It’s OK. I’m OK. I understand….” And many more things….
A smile that said: “I know. I know you. I forgive you.”
A smile that said: “I love you….”
A smile that said: “Father!”
#
BOOM!!!
That smile…. My daughter’s smile…. My daughter… I never knew… her smile… hit me. Right where it hurt.
I was… emasculated. Castrated. Impotent.
Accountable. Responsible. Reprehensible.
And finally… I blamed… myself….
As I always had…. In my heart of hearts. In secret.
Successfully secreted. Deep. Within.
I accepted full responsibility…. All of the accountability that I had previously worked so hard to avoid….
Finally I found what I’d always been seeking….
Acceptance…. Love…. Affirmation…. Forgiveness.
My daughter… whom I never knew… loved me…. Loves me…. Forgives me…. Embraces me…. And… is in a far better place that I could ever have provided for her…. Could ever even have imagined. For her.
The perfect place….
As I stood there… staring into my daughter’s eyes… our daughter’s bright… blue… eyes… I wished my wife could have felt some of that… profound… intimacy…. That… compassion…. That… forgiveness…. That… love…. Before she died….
I hoped my dead wife could feel… would feel… our daughter’s… and our God’s… eternal love…. Forgiveness.
And… somehow… at that moment… I knew… she had…. I know… she did…. I know… she does….
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XX. The Harsh Reality.
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#
I know I said that dead people are dead. And… that’s what I sincerely believe. Dead people… even dead babies… don’t somehow magically or mystically transform into angels. The dead aren’t lounging around somewhere in Heaven. The way I understand it… nothing substantial happens until after the Second Coming….
Would certainly be nice to tell you something different.
Would certainly be nice to believe something different.
But… I’ll simply stick with what I believe Scripture says. Sorry.
So then… how can I say that I know my wife feels Forgiveness…?
Let me give this a shot.
Eternity… can be a bit hard to understand…. Hard to imagine. Definitely hard to explain. So… maybe I should just say… that Eternity… at least as I understand it… is a very, very long time. Long enough that past… and present… and future… all time… lose all meaning….
#
I knew that she had felt… experienced… forgiveness… not the kind you get from eating some cracked cracker-flat unleavened wafer and drinking some kind of divine grape-flavored Kool-aid….
Or even Welch’s Concord Grape Juice.
I knew I had.
I know I have.
And… that knowledge… opened my eyes…. Enabled me to stare into the stone-cold abyss… the harsh reality of my life….
#
What harsh reality…?
I loved myself… my lifestyle… my dreams… my future… much more than I loved my child….
And so did my wife….
The consequence of my blind self-love…?
In my mind….
At the time….
She wasn’t a child….
She wasn’t a life….
She was a choice….
I bought the lie….
My wife bought the lie….
We bought the lie….
We chose to see what we wanted to see rather than what we knew to be the truth.
We wimped out… rather than searching for Truth.
We sought convenience. We bought complacency. And getting caught up in our own lives… how we chose to define “success”… we chose to become complicit….
True love is never complacent….
True love is never complicit….
But… true love can be inconvenient….
Very inconvenient….
And… I realized… as I looked into her bright blue eyes… that… I still love myself….
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XXI. The Not-so-Grand Finale.
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As I stood…. There…. Enshrouded in the ebbing… flowing… ivory mist…. Awash in white light….
As I stared into the beautiful… pristine… crystalline… pure… peaceful eyes of my daughter I never knew….
As I considered her blissful smile….
As I pondered the serene setting in which she resides….
Bright. White. Piercing. Light.
Penetrating….
Pleasing….
Illuminating….
Effulgent….
Cleansing….
Bleaching out every stain….
As I stood there… staring… I realized that initially… I had felt hunted…. Haunted…. By ghosts…. By demons…. Of my own making…. Hidden in the cracks… the crevices… the shadows of doubt… in my mind…. But… never… really… there….
See…. I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist…. Focus on my shortcomings…. My failures…. My embarrassments…. My insecurities….
I guess maybe I had felt hunted all along…. Been haunted… all… along….
Unresolved issues can have immense power over a man’s mind sometimes….
Finally… as I confronted my demons… I came to understand that I was truly successful….
That… I… am… truly… successful.
That finally… I felt… finished…. Complete…. Whole…. Because… I felt wholly forgiven….
Though not necessarily Holy….
Certainly not anything close to saintly.
I was good enough…. I am good enough….
And… I realized… wide-eyed… yet reluctantly….
Remorsefully….
That the life my wife and I destroyed… when we walked through that throng of protesters… and into that Abortion Clinic… on that dreary… cold… harsh… Winter day… was not that of our unloved… and unknown child….
Now I understand that we didn’t destroy one life.
We destroyed two.
The lives we destroyed… were our own….
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Τετέλεσται·
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Things My Father Is Teaching Me: Dealing with Dementia… and Other Important Lessons in Life….

I am posting this for two reasons: as an update for anyone who knows my dad, but also as a discussion of some of the therapy modalities that are available for people with dementia and other impairments of memory, etc.

Often we feel sorry for our loved ones and want to “help” them by doing everything for them and thus relieving them of the burden, but what that actually does is accelerate the process of loosing function when we do not allow them the opportunity to think and try to do things for themselves. That accelerates their loss of skills.

We are spending a lot of time reinforcing “orientation” to him. Normally we are oriented x 4: person, place, time and situation. He is oriented x 1: he usually knows who he is. Sometimes he is even confused about that. But… with repeated reinforcement, he does better. He is brightest in the morning when he wakes up, and less bright when he is tired and in the afternoon. He is frankly confused after sunset and especially in the evening when he is tired and getting sleepy. He does not know where he is or the year or why he is where he is… but he knows that he is not at home. When he IS at home, sometimes he does not know he is there. In the morning he knows he has two sons and can sometimes say our names. He does not recognize me. When he is tired and it’s dark, he doesn’t recognize my mom. When he says “Mother”… he means HIS mother. During the morning and early afternoon and evening when he is not too tired, he asks where his wife has gone. At night, he talks about Mama… and uses different word patterns. He remembers his brothers and sisters, but not his children… and often not his wife…. At night he has no idea he has children and confuses his brothers and sisters for his own children. He confuses the idea of father: his being a father with his not really having known his father because his father died when he was very young. During the morning he can tell about how his brothers helped his mother raise him. At night he cannot. He hallucinates and delivers rambling soliloquies. He also develops word-finding difficulties. But on formal recall testing… he had excellent immediate recall… so there is something there to work with to reinforce and develop.

There are two aspects of dealing with dementia and how WE respond is very important. HIS response is “normal” for his situation. If I get upset because my own father doesn’t recognize me, then I am not going to be able to make decisions that benefit HIM. He needs reinforcement to remind him of what the world he lives in NOW looks like.

My dad also has Macular Degeneration, which compounds the issues because he cannot see well. Essentially he sees in splotches and even those splotches are blurry and distorted. He also has formed visual hallucinations and scintillating scotomata (specks of flashing lights). Because of his dementia, he cannot differentiate between what he sees and what he hallucinates. He also has Otosclerosis (hardening of his hearing) and misinterprets sounds… as well as having auditory hallucinations at times.

Now… let me try to explain his World….

“Reality” looks like a Van Gogh or Impressionist painting to him. But the visual hallucinations look perfectly real. “Reality” is filtered via his faulty retinas…. But his visual hallucinations are formed in the parts of his brain that ordinarily interpret vision… because they are not getting used… because of his faulty retinas…. So… they fill up with chemicals… and spill chemicals… that trigger PERFECT pictures…. And… he doesn’t have the memories and reasoning abilities to figure out that the Impressionist art is real and the real is imaginary…. And… then people… some who claim to be people he knows… but who don’t LOOK like the people they claim to be… because they are older… and their features are missing or distorted… try to tell him that they are important people in his life… and that what he sees as real… really isn’t… but they don’t look like who they say they are… or even like humans at all possibly…. Well… no wonder he gets confused. Especially when he is tired and taxed.

The best answer that we can come up with is to try to constantly reinforce where he is, the day and date, and the situation. We can see a flicker of a light. It’s like a spark when you’re trying to build a campfire. This may turn out to be a very positive experience. If nothing else, it’s helped us define a trajectory moving forward into the future.

One more thing…. When a doctor or nurse or therapist asked your loved one with memory issues a question… don’t be too eager to jump in and answer. Don’t correct the answer. Not allowing the examiner to examine… will lead to missing significant findings… and likely impede the care of your loved one…. The answer isn’t all the examiner is looking for: they are looking at the processing as well. Your loved one also needs to exercise their mind as much as possible. Being patient can be frustrating.

God is good.

Creativity… and CompartmentaliZZZZing!

I posted earlier about Compartmentalizing….

The Three Bs….

Follow-up….

My dad fell and broke his hip yesterday. Had hip replacement surgery today.

I compartmentalized….

If you look… observantly… you will see people compartmentalizing in times of extreme stress….

We humans focus on unimportant… or even frivolous things…. We obsess about meaningless minutia… in the grand scheme of things….

Like the food for the family to be served at a funeral. Who sent flowers. Who visited. Anything. Everything. To distract us from our grief….

We very rarely see out families… especially extended families… except at family events…. As we get older… those events tend to trend towards funerals…. Or hospitals….

Grief is a very strong emotion. And a very strong driver of human… experience…. Of human… direction….

Grief is VERY strong. Grieg affects us. Grief effects us. Grief changes us.

Because grief is strong enough to lift us up… out of our rut…. Out of our comfort zone….

Grief is strong enough… to change our lives….

Even when no one else notices. Even when no one else knows….

Even in our shame.

Grief and shame tend to go together.

Even when our grief… and our shame… are internal. Even when all of our scars are invisible to prying eyes… because they’re on the inside.

Compartmentalizing can be good; or… compartmentalizing can be bad.

Compartmentalizing can form an eschar. A truly hideous scar that prevents any real healing. Then… the wound needs to be debrided. The dead… corrupting… tissue… needs to be removed…. So that REAL healing can occur.

That’s what God is Good is really about. Examining hidden wounds…. Debridement….

My Daughter I Never Knew, too.

Don’t forget to examine your heart.