Sleeping through it all

I figure when the end times come, I will sleep through it all. I can usually sleep through quite a lot of conflagration, especially if I am in a moving vehicle of some type. The best sleep I’ve ever gotten was in a train, many years ago when I was a kid and we used to visit my grandmother by train. The Sunset Limited, which ran a route across the Gulf Coast and I believe all the way to California. It fell on hard times when AmTrack had a better way (not) of providing rail service, and then it derailed in Alabama a few years ago because a barge hit a bridge that it had to cross. That was a mess, but as far as I know, the route is still active.

All that time ago, when I rode the train regularly, there was a dining car and conductors and pullman porters. We never had to spend the night on the rails, but I knew even back then how important the pullman porter job was in the Black community. Those were high paying and honorable jobs back in the day, and the men who held those positions did so with pride. They were among the first to settle the neighborhood where I grew up, one of the first subdivisions in the nation that provided opportunity for African-American families to own property, and live in safe communities. Those were the days, my friend…we thought they’d never end.

Those days are gone, but there are new days, some better and some worse. That’s the way of it. It does us no good to compare today to yesterday, or to focus our energy on restoring yesterday. If yesterday seems to be a time when things were so much better than now, that’s only because we’re pretending to be victims. We, collectively, created today and until we accept responsibility for that we can’t build a better future. Believing that bringing back yesterday is the solution to all our problems is merely delusional thinking, the kind of delusional thinking normally evidenced by dying people. It’s the dream of water in the desert, the fantasy of an emerald city on a hill where all dreams come true. In reality, that ain’t happenin’.

So, here we are scrambling. Scrambling to get people out of Afghanistan, scrambling to pass a Federal budget, scrambling to escape the predictable scourge of a corona virus that really doesn’t give a damn about our politics or our income levels. Scrambling. It’s only paranoia when they’re not chasing you, and they are chasing us. All of the monsters under the beds, all of the past bad deeds, all of the bad Karma that has accrued from those bad deeds of the past. I don’t know if we can run that fast, and my feeling is that we just need to take our spanking with grace and dignity and be grounded for a couple of weeks.

People are still carrying on about refusing the COVID vaccine. First, a lot of the resisters said they didn’t want to take it because it hadn’t been approved by the FDA. Well it’s now fully approved, at least the Phizer product, so…you were saying? Hospitals are clogged up again, so elective surgeries are being cancelled. Someone on my FaceBook feed said her mother needs an blood infusion, and can’t be admitted because there are no beds available in the hospital. People would rather take a veterinary de-wormer rather than a vaccine that millions of other people have taken, with no ill effects. What the hell is THAT all about? It makes no sense.

I have spent the past two weeks as a gratefully masked person, not just out of caution for virus transmission, but seeing as how I was awaiting dental reconstruction. I was about ready to pull the damned broken tooth out of my mouth with pliers if I’d bitten down on my inner lip with it one more time. Fortunately, I got everything repaired yesterday, and thank goodness. It cost less than I had figured, but still a chunk of change out of my pocket. Regardless, I feel as though I can safely give up my gig as an extra in the movie “Deliverance” or maybe “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. People make all kinds of negative judgements when you have obvious dental issues, although at this point I have nothing nice to say about such people. You just never know why someone is in a position that leaves them with broken or missing teeth, discolored teeth, decaying teeth. You never know, and shouldn’t judge. But they do. So…screw ’em.

Anyway, I had a lovely nitrous-oxide trip for the procedure, which involved repair of the tooth next to the broken tooth and, more importantly, mega shots of novacaine. I am not good with needles…and that’s why I’ve never been able to make it to a tattoo parlor. When I’m under nitrous, I go places. It’s like a meditation session on steroids…with pleasant vibes and sometimes communion with non-physical entities. All is well, and that feeling of warm fuzzy cosmic vibes goes away as soon as the gas stops flowing. I usually remember it all, though, and find it a good prompt for reflection afterward. Regardless, it’s all over now so on to the next one.

My dog had a small health crisis, last week. Last Thursday morning, she very suddenly was not able to empty her bladder. She was straining, but nothing was coming out. I couldn’t tell if she was in pain, or just confused. It had to have been somewhat uncomfortable, I guessed. So, I called the vet Friday, and off we went yesterday morning to let them observe her and run tests. A few hours later, the vet called and said she had a bladder infection. $200 later, I had her back at home with antibiotics, and life went on. After a couple of doses of the antibiotic, she is doing much better and I saw urine coming out of her when she squatted to pee-pee earlier. She must be relieved, no pun intended.

The eaglet in Juneau has fledged, and it was beautiful. It stood there for a few minutes, alternately preening and flexing its enormous wings, then bobbed its head and took off. It was pretty graceful for an inaugural flight, although the legs hung down for a bit longer than seemed usual. But, landing gear down or not, the bird came back to the nest a while later with nearly a crash landing, but…nobody died. It’s been a few days since the fledge, and the young’un has been back and forth to the nest on their own may times since then. Mama and papa are still providing food until the little one (who is now adult-size) can begin hunting and foraging for itself. It’s an incredible thing to see, because these birds operate entirely on instinct. There is no intellectual or logical component to how they do what they do. They are guided by instinct, not sentiment.

I can’t quite tell whether humans have lost their instinct, or whether instinct has lost the battle with sentiment. I’m not sure it matters. We have certainly arrived at a point in our evolution where comfort outweighs nearly all else, at least in First World existence. We have come to feel entitled to comfort, and even opulence, to the point of false pretending that such is normal. I enjoy my creature comforts as most people do, and am the first to admit that I would absolutely suck at surviving in a world without those benefits. I am not ungrateful for air conditioning in my humble abode, gasoline in my horseless carriage, and modern contrivances that allow me to make food and beverages in an instant. I do not, however, think for one minute that any of that is normal, because I’m in a numeric minority of people who enjoy such things. Most people on this planet live without such things, and they know it, and I know it. So i cannot presume that how I live is normal, nor am I entitled to it. Everyone doesn’t have what I do; some have more and some much, much less.

I don’t quite understand our fixation on the past, which is viewed in largely selective fashion by the most passionate amongst us. We cannot simply return to a time we remember as good, and wholesome, and safe, and more comfortable. The rest of the world has changed, and as I keep telling people in organizations struggling to maintain themselves these days, you can’t run a 2021 operation with 1955 rules. It just doesn’t work, and it shouldn’t work. We cannot edit or rewrite the past, even the past of 5 minutes ago. But still, we try and many contend that if it was good enough for their parents back then, it’s good enough for them now. This, however, is complete and unadulterated hogwash.

But I digress. Right this minute, this is where I am. I don’t feel it’s necessary to dissect every aspect of this moment’s reality, although I would really love to know what the eff is wrong with people denying the need to be vaccinated against this seemingly insurmountable viral pandemic. But, I will probably never understand that, and it does me no good to be angry about it. My instincts are telling me to stay low, continue wearing a mask in public, don’t opt for larger gatherings of people indoors and without adequate ventilation. So that’s what I’m going to do.

I somehow ordered meal delivery from a service without realizing I had done so. The other day, a soggy box arrived (it was raining outside, and I am hoping that’s why the box was soggy) with the fixings for three meals. I truly don’t remember ordering that, but here it sat. The meal selections did look somewhat interesting…shrimp with couscous and zucchini, baked-potato-style chicken with potatoes and corn, and something else I haven’t tried yet. There was only one hitch…after I’d unpacked the box, the proteins were not included. There was no shrimp, or chicken, and I wondered if that meant I had to provide those main ingredients. I was a little perturbed, and wrote it off to being a bait and switch type advertising scheme.

Regardless of the missing proteins, I did manage to perform the minimal actions for the first meal, which was the chicken sans chicken. The potatoes and corn were actually quite tasty, I must say, and I thought it would have been really delicious with the chicken. I was looking forward to the shrimpless couscous. A day or so after the potatoes and corn, I decided to dispose of the now-dried shipping box, and for some reason thought to remove the now thawed ice packs. As I was pulling out those packages, I discovered something very interesting. THERE WAS A SECOND LAYER TO THE BOX, and the missing proteins had been sitting (and spoiling) at the bottom of the box for nearly three days. Dammit.

I wish they’d included an invoice that said “your box should contain the following” and listed all of the packages included. Or a simple page with an arrow that said “look below this partition” or something like that. I repeat…dammit. So, I wasted chicken and shrimp on this virgin attempt at not eating every meal outside my apartment. I just ordered a second shipment to do the service the justice of preparing the meals as intended. I must say that what I’ve eaten so far is pretty good, so maybe this will reduce the pizza delivery frequency and the Door-Dash expenditures. We’ll see.

I have a doctor’s appointment on Thursday, or maybe it’s tomorrow. I’ll have to check. I’m not looking forward to it at all, because I really don’t want to hear her carrying on about my weight and sending me to some other racket of a weight loss program. I’m not interested at this point. I know I’ve gained, but the compulsive eating spurt is beginning to wane. I have been wondering these past couple of years whether or not there is some seasonal and innate trend that my body follows, where I gain weight in the late spring into summer in preparation for winter. Come to think of it, though, last summer was a little different although we were in COVID response and the weather was not as brutally humid as it is now so I was able to get out and walk with the dog a bit more. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just looking for excuses, but this past 18-month period has been an aberration of nearly every pattern or trend that I know. And I don’t want to hear this new doctor whining about it. Not having it.

My regular Tuesday night 12-step meeting ended a little while ago, and we were talking about old behaviors, and what to do when they rear their ugly heads. My contribution involved my frantic Sunday afternoon, when a friend came asked me to have lunch. She was in from out of town, and we had lunch Friday as well, and I agreed to go on Sunday. Almost as soon as I had sat down in the restaurant (we sat outside), another friend called asking for a huge favor. She needed me to drive her grandson two hours to the East, where they would meet us and take him two more hours to their home to say goodbye to a dog they were going to have to euthanize.

This is not a 12-year old kid but a 20-something. My first thought was if the dog needs to be put down, don’t make it wait four more hours to be put out of its misery. I said I would do it, although I had another meeting at 7pm and it was past 2pm when they called. I kept trying to make that happen, even though I was going to have to rush in order to make it all work out. I had lunch with the first friend, who then wanted to go over to the church to see the memorial inscription for her mother and father. So we did that, and decided to use th bathroom while there.

That was a most unfortunate idea because I somehow set off the burglar alarm. The police called and asked for the code. I thought they meant the alarm code, but knew there was a break-glass code, so I gave them both. The operator said she couldn’t take both, so what was the code. I gave her the alarm code. She said thank you but called the office administrator to report that I didn’t know the code. *sigh* The police were on their way. My friend was in the bathroom, and I had to go, but my anxiety was so high at that point that I couldn’t think straight (or in a sensible fashion, at least. I never think straight.) After talking to everybody involved, we left – the alarm finally went silent and I was able to arm it again. Locked the door, said goodbye to my friend, and tried to calm my nerves.

I pulled out of the church driveway, and was about a half-mile down the road when I saw a police car turn into the driveway. I headed back, after dodging a spontaneous flurry of traffic, and pulled back into the parking lot. The officer got out of her car, and she so cute I was nearly speechless. I somehow managed to explain what had happened, and gave her my driver’s license so that she could write her report. I was in no hurry. All too soon, our business done, I pulled out of the church driveway for the second time, still intent on ferrying this grandson to points East.

On the way to the thoroughfare that would take me to the grandson, I ran into a massive traffic jam. That was unusual for a Sunday, and it took me nearly 30 minutes to travel only a couple of miles. The dual travel lanes were merged into one, with fire trucks lined up on the should of the road, nearly every police car in town double-parked next to them with lights flashing. Police officers were in the road directing traffic. There was an unbelievable accident on the on-ramp to the highway business loop, with a full-size pickup truck on its roof and a passenger sedan inserted into the truck’s passenger window. The truck had hit another car, apparently from behind, and it had in turn hit some other vehicle. The car hit from behind had been propelled into the other vehicle so hard that it had crumpled in accordion fashion into a space less than half of its normal body length. If somebody wasn’t killed in that incredible fusion of twisted metal I will be surprised.

After seeing that crash, and realizing it would be a suicide mission to pick up the grandson and drive like a mad person for the next two house, I decided to call it quits. I hated to do it, and felt as though I was reneging on a promise, but every fiber of my being felt as though it was a bad idea to continue trying to make that trip. I came home. They understood, and thanked me for being willing to try, but I still felt badly. As usual, I needed to be the hero. When will I ever learn?

I can’t be the hero so much any longer. I need a hero, or at least I need to be my own hero. Maybe that’s what aborting that rescue mission was all about – I needed to care for myself more than I needed to make the impossible happen so that someone would be pleased with me. It was difficult to make that decision, and still feels as though Atlas has let the world roll from his shoulders. How dramatic.

Another box from the meal delivery people showed up today…I thought it was coming tomorrow but *poof* there it was today. The delivery person didn’t even have the good grace to walk it up the stairs – they left it on the first floor in between apartments. I just happened to notice a familiar looking box and went over to inspect the address, and it was my order. I had to lug the whole thing up the stairs, while trying to maneuver the dog on her leash (she was preoccupied with another dog that was being walked in front of the building). I’ll go in to unpack this latest shipment in a moment, and hopefully not throw away half of it this time.

I want to put a bumper sticker on my truck that says “Back off. I’m trying.” That’s how I feel lately…I’m trying, so cut me some slack, back up. Back up and get off my back. I have nothing to give you right now, because I have been depriving myself. So don’t start anything with me. Don’t be mean, don’t be cruel. If you don’t want to experience me, then don’t. There was a sign on someone’s Zoom square at the meeting tonight that said, “There are three places you can go for free – your own lane, out of my business, and away from me.” True dat. I’m not sleeping through any of this.

Sometimes the winds blow and the waves are high, but the sun rises and sets anyway.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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