Sunday, February 15, 2015

Knickers and twists

Today’s post may be short. We have guests coming to celebrate a friend’s becoming recently a U.S. citizen. Fortunately, my wife has the energy required of entertaining. I have been in a fog all week; at one point I was standing in a parking lot staring blankly ahead with not a thought anywhere between my ears, which, ironically, is the nearest I get to meditation in the crowded thoroughfare of neural activity that is my usual level of awareness. I assume it is the meds I’m getting as a participant in the drug trial at UCLA.

The highlight of the week, if you care to call it that, was going to the DMV in Palm Springs to get a new photo ID now that my California license is expired. It all went fairly smoothly, as I had made an appointment online and needed to wait only two weeks for it. My wife simply drove me to the front door and dropped me off. The place was crowded and there was a pervasive air of nervous expectancy, which must be true of DMVs everywhere.

A gate is hung in the patio for bougainvillea
Braced for an ordeal, I was met instead by smiling, friendly employees, one of them, Mindy, who, bless her heart, offered to pray for me—though wearing a cancer skullcap probably gets me more sympathy than the average person. I managed to get upbraided by only one of the staff, who saw me texting on my cell phone as I waited to have my photo taken. Where someone could be using a cell phone to get help on an exam, there’s a rule against that. That error in judgment basically put me at the back of the line for a while and, when I complained, earned me a lecture about waiting my turn. 

Afterwards, thanks to the mental fog I’ve been in, I discovered that I had left my shoulder bag there, and we had to make a return trip across town to retrieve it, Meanwhile, my wife, exhibiting the patience of a saint, and worried that I’m losing my marbles, was wondering aloud about how to help me do a better job of remembering  simple thingslike closing the front door behind me when I step outside for something (we have a dog, alert to any opportunity to venture out on her own to chase cats or consort with coyotes). Or like putting on a T-shirt or sweatpants without a maddening struggle.

A copper bracelet from Tibet arrives
I have discovered that what maddens me most is how I turn everything I do into a test, when I hate tests, and hate failing them, which means that if I have to sit down to dress myself, I’m angry that I can’t do it standing up as I used to. So much stress and aggravation I create for myself because I’m trying to prove that I’m still the Ron I was before cancer. I can literally get my knickers in a twist trying to step into my underwear without getting them front to back, inside out, or both feet down the same leg opening. Which, if I muster the mood can turn into a laugh worthy of Laurel and Hardy.  But only then.

Not to mention the countless times during an ordinary day I am reminded of how much the sense of touch in my left hand has been impaired so that merely turning the pages of a book or holding a newspaper is a frustrating challenge, and I can angrily lament the loss of an ability as simple as spreading peanut butter and jelly onto slices of bread without (a) covering my fingers with one or the other (b) forgetting that the lid I just unscrewed from a  jar is still in my hand, (c) taking more than one plate from the stack in the cupboard to put my sandwich on and (d) failing to hold the plate level as I leave the kitchen so the sandwich doesn’t slide off onto the floor. 

Westbound at sunset
Still, the hardest thing is not being hard on myself for failing this test of dexterity. It being Sunday morning, I now need to fill my pill dispenser for the week, a job my wife has to help me with because I can get so stupefyingly confused. Thankfully, one of my prescriptions is for an anti-depressant.

And so it goes.

I’m closing again with a jazz video, this time by Brazilian pianist and singer, Eliane Elias. This one is a rousing version of the classic “Chega de Saudade,” from a concert in Marseille in 2009. Listen, as usual, for the music of the spheres.

Anyone with a favorite of their own, let me know.

Previously: Busy, busy, busy


  1. Oh, Ron - you old guys -- I'm always nagging my husband Jay to sit down when he puts on shorts and jeans, afraid he'll lose his balance and fall; but he staggers about in defiant acrobatics until he can look me smugly in the face as he zips up.

  2. It was nice to run across Mindy and to have her offer of carrying in the impersonal world of the DMV (which, if he was alive today, would be a setting of a Kafka story). Loved the jazz

  3. Always a struggle to hold on to what we have. I seem to be fighting it quite a bit myself these days.

  4. Ron, sometimes when I'm anxious or stressed I experience a mental fog and I forget things, and then I have to literally shake it off me. I try and do this by taking my thoughts toward a new direction and telling myself, as the mystics advice, "Whatever happens, happens!" I can't say I succeed always. It's easier said than done.

  5. I'm sorry, I smiled when reading that they sent you to the back of the line.

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