Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Woundless care

I confess. I was stupid. I'd taken a shower, saw a bit of loose skin on my foot, and thought it would come away easily if I gave it a gentle tug. I mean, my skin is so dry that removing a mere flake is common enough. This time, however, the tiny piece of skin decided to drag a much larger piece off with it. This probably occurred because the site is nothing but scar tissue. Diabetics scar easily and poorly, making the skin far more delicate.

As luck would have it, I had a week's worth of Bactrim and Levaquin on hand. Cuts on my feet get infected. They always do. So rather than waste time at the doctor, I started taking the meds immediately, as well as dressing the wound as I'd been taught during previous wound care.

There was just one thing missing from my wound care supplies. It's called "Adaptic." It's gauze with a Vaseline coating to keep it from sticking to the wound. I tried to dress the wound without it, using Silvasorb gel to draw impurities from the wound. Alas, Silvasorb can dry out and act like paste. It essentially "glued" the wound to the gauze, causing me to rip off the scab when I tried to change the dressing. Thus, I switched to Silvadene antibiotic cream, which would keep the wound moist, but also prevent it from sticking to the gauze.

The week of antibiotics was up last Wednesday, and there was still bad "stuff" coming from the wound. I decided that the time had come to have it examined by the wound care people. I made a few calls, got the referral I needed, and set up an appointment for today.

It should be known that I don't do mornings so well. I never have, and probably never will. I can recall family vacations, in which everyone was up and getting ready to leave the motel, and I was doing all I could to roll over and go back to sleep. In the last few years, I've come to realize that regardless of the hour, I need two hours to become a functioning human being. One hour for meds to kick in, and another to "become human." Knowing that I had a 9:00 AM appointment, I set my alarm to wake me at 6:30 so I could be ready to leave by 8:30.

This...didn't work out so well. I mean, I went to bed around 9:00 PM, but didn't actually fall asleep until almost 1:00 AM. When my alarm woke me, I was in no mood to move with any kind of speed. Bricks move faster than I did this morning. By the time 8:15 rolled around, I knew there'd be no shower for me. I cleaned myself up just a wee bit, tossed on some fresh clothes, and headed for wound care...

...without having examined the wound for a few days. "Why didn't you examine it, Rob?" Well, I was running low on wound care supplies. This was yet another reason why I needed to go see the specialist. When I last saw the wound, it was a dark hole in my foot that appeared not to be leaking pus, but it still seemed too big. It needed care.

Or so I thought. Once I was taken to the examination room and the dressing removed, I found myself wondering why I was there. I could easily have picked up prescriptions for the wound care supplies at the front desk without seeing anyone. Instead, I sat there, looking at the tiny pink hole in my foot, apparently having shrunk to half its size in only a few days. I was virtually woundless.

I got what I needed, with four refills waiting for me should I need them. One can always hope that I won't, but I seem to end up chasing one hole or another in my skin. Such is life as a brittle diabetic.

* * *
Aside from this typical adventure, I've heard from my old friend Bryan via Facebook. He's married and has two daughters, one of which was born only last May! G-d bless him. It would seem his life shaped up rather nicely after so many years of being in a kind of limbo. I had no idea what path lay before him, but I prayed it would be a fruitful one. As it happens, my prayers were answered, as he seems to be doing quite well. His sister is also married, with three kids of her own.

G-d...When did all of us become grownups? Oh well. It's probably for the best, as we're all too big to remain kids. Mind you, we can all maintain that youth still struggling to play with toys and other kids, but becoming responsible isn't such a bad thing.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wow, that hurt more than I thought

Facebook is an entirely new kind of evil to me. Sure, I could head to Google and search for old acquaintances, or even seek them out on Classmates.com. But it seems everyone and their mother is on Facebook, and finding people has never been easier.

I have reached out to Jackie, and there's a part of me that's actually nervous about that. As I mentioned yesterday, she looks no different than when I knew her all those years ago. Father Time, it would seem, decided to ignore her as he worked so hard to age the rest of us. She's apparently been doing a lot of belly dancing, which I vaguely remember as being something she was interested in. But it would seem she now does it around the world, which is awesome.

Ah, but Jackie WAS a problem for me. Alone, during an intimate moment while I was with Perlin, I was drifting off to sleep while Perlin was...ummm...It's probably best that I not say what she was doing. Anyway, while she toyed with me, I moaned in my sleep, "Mmmm...Jackie." That I actually had nothing going on with Jackie seemed to mean very little; I still got in a lot of trouble for it.

Jackie was one of the greater loves of my life, even though we never dated. And that she looks no different just shoves all kinds of memories into my head that I thought I'd forgotten.

Now let me be clear. I love Becky with all my heart. No one will ever tempt me away from her, as she's the first and only woman to hear my laundry list of issues and say, "So what?" She's also extremely sweet, loving, beautiful, adventuresome, fun, funny, intelligent, a bibliophile, and a gamer. She's everything I could ever want.

But getting in touch with some of these old ghosts from my past...I'm just terrified that we'll be alone at some point, and the romantic mush will be flowing heavily, and that's when I'll softly mutter, "Mmmm...Jackie."

For that matter, there are a number of names that could slip. I mean, remember little Lizzy, whom I've written about several times? She's the girl that was dying from leukemia when I met her. She's 19 (as of 29 Aug.), and looks like this:

That ain't no cute little 12-year-old. That's a gorgeous woman who knocks men over with a glance. And for the record, that's REALLY her, and not some image swiped off of some modeling site. It's hard to believe that she really was on the cusp of dying when I met her. Thanks to a bone marrow donation, she's alive and as well as one could hope.

Ah, but Facebook gave me a glowing hot blade to the heart when I did some looking around, only to confirm what was only suspicion. Classmates.com left me thinking my one-legged ex, Robin, MIGHT be married. Well, it turns out that she is. And on her page, instead of a picture of her, is a photo of two boys, whom I assume are hers. One looks to be rather close to around eight years old, and that's when I started doing some math in my head.

Robin and I broke up 16 January 2000. For her to have an eight-year-old son, she would have had to have given birth in 2002. Take off nine months for the pregnancy, which pushes the date in my head back into late 2001 an the most. Now subtract time for courting, engagement, and wedding, and...

One of two things happened in January of 2000. Either Robin leapt into the arms of someone else immediately and rushed headlong into the romance that would turn into her wedded life, or...Robin had already started the relationship before we'd broken up.

Great. Just what I needed. More paranoia to add to my existing trust issues. Did I have ANY faithful girlfriends in my life?

Becky and I frequently talk about how in love we are. What we say at this time is that we simply can't imagine life without the other. In fact, thoughts of losing the other for whatever reason is extremely painful. But life has taught me the unfortunate reality that people change. Perspectives change. There was a quote on Robin's profile that read, "When your ex says, 'You will never find anyone like me,' and you reply, 'G-d, I sure hope not.'" While I never said anything like that, I somehow think such a sentiment was aimed at me. And there was a time when Robin supposedly loved me as much as Becky does.

Or perhaps she didn't. More than anyone in my past, I feel the most loved by my sweet, beautiful Becky. When confronted by my issues, other women in my past reacted with frustration, annoyance, concern, fear...but never love. Becky responds with love for everything, and that's simply amazing to me.

As a prime example, I'm due for more surgery. I'll be seeing the orthopedic surgeon on 7 September to discuss if my next surgery will be my right elbow or my left knee. This surgery, whatever it will be, should occur after I return from PA.

Now as it happens, Becky has worked out a way for us to have more time together. Instead of saying goodbye on 30 Sept., she'll board the bus with me and come to KS for a week or so. And one of her DESIRES is to be here for when I have the surgery. She'd like her face to be one of the first things I see, aside from nurses and doctors. Then she'd take care of me for a bit before heading back to PA.

What makes all of this so different is that she wants to spend time with me while I recover. There's no discussion of finances, working, school, or any other responsibilities. She just wants to be here for me. It's NEVER been like that in my past. When I was struggling with my very first ulcerated wound on my right calf, Robin confronted me about work, the bills, what needed to be done, and the stubborn idea that "if this happens again," to which I reminded her throughout the conversation that "if" was out of the picture, and it was "when." Becky is aware that my life is a series of "when (insert medical issue) occurs..." And she's said, even before we were officially dating, "It's a good thing I want to become a nurse. I'll be able to take care of you."

*sigh* I don't know. My head is scattered. There are dozens of thoughts screaming through my skull, with a lot of emotional pain and frustration. I so desperately want this relationship with Becky to be different. I want it to last forever. She IS my home, and I want wherever we live to be a place filled with love and happiness. And I pray that that's not asking for too much. Because all other outcomes...they hurt entirely too much.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This soul is SOLD!

Well, I did it. I finalized my contract with Satan and signed up for Facebook. I immediately began seeking out old friends, and was surprised to find so many lurking about. I was also surprised to see certain connections remaining intact.

Like Bryan having Perlin as a friend. That one kind of hurt. I mean, that woman drove me to the literal brink of insanity, and he's friends with her? Well, there's no accounting for taste at times, and he was likely as nostalgic as I was when he added her.

I also found the INFAMOUS Jackie. She looks no different than she did all those years ago.

So...Friend requests were sent to a few people, as well as a few messages...

* * *
We interrupt this post with news from my housemates. We are screwed.

We've been living lean due to the fact that Cody is only employed part time and Ray is on unemployment. Ray has been on unemployment since I got here. There's only so many times you can tell someone to get a job before you say to yourself, "You know what? He's a grown man. He knows his responsibilities. He says he'll do the right thing, and he will."

But he didn't. He waited. And he waited. And now that the last minute is here, now he's trying to do something. Still not what he should be doing, but he and Cody are gathering up things to sell in an effort to have some kind of money here in the house.

Now there's technically a problem with writing this here. Ray will see this. However, the good news is that the blog will help me to vent my anger with caution, and having Becky on Skype at the same time is also keeping me from doing that which I want to do most: EXPLODE! I want to be shouting at the top of my lungs until my voice is gone. I want to hit things. I want to vent my anger and get it out of me before it acts like a mental poison. I'm furious, and I'm desperately trying to keep myself under control so that I don't say things that are so hurtful that others don't recovery from it.

I'm off to talk with my sweet, beautiful Becky. With luck, she'll calm the savage beast raging within me.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts of Siege and others

So Ray was driving me to physical therapy yesterday, when I asked about Siege. Ray gave a report of sorts, but was light on the details. This is very strange for Ray, as the man can't help but give DETAILED details for just about anything he says. Like me, Ray likes to talk. Also like me, Ray will not divulge information that may be of questionable content or of an extremely personal nature. The general status report was that Siege was okay-ish, and has been in regular contact with him and Cody.

As usually when it comes to Siege, I felt a little insulted. This is really something that's entirely in my head. Siege has yet to make any kind of direct, serious insult toward me. It's just that he saved me from what was certain doom, rescuing me from the slums of AZ and bringing me to good people in KS, and eventually left for CA to be with a significant other. And...well, I care about Siege a great deal for numerous reasons, my rescue just being one of them. I don't require constant contact, but I'd like to hear from him once a month.

Ah, but Siege knows Cody and Ray for far longer than myself. Regular contact with them is somewhat expected. And yet Siege and I have sat for some time, talking, and have even shared tears from time to time. He broke down once or twice. I did the same. It's not something you do with some vague acquaintance. Then again, the things Ray and Cody endured with Siege around was...far more intimate than a few tears.

The end of my conversation with Ray about Siege revealed a possible job opportunity, but Ray was uncomfortable sharing what the job might be. My best guesses were "stripper," "drug dealer," "prostitute," or "assassin." I kept the fifth idea to myself, which was "a drug dealing prostitute/stripper that was also available as a killer-for-hire." Ray said that it was none of the above. With those less-than-savory jobs out of the way, I imagine the next worst thing for someone as colorful as Siege would be to become...AN ACCOUNTANT! (Dun dun DUN!)

So, Siege...if you're seeing this, please speak up. Either reach out to me with an e-mail, or have the guys permission to reveal these deep, dark secrets. And if you ARE going to become an accountant...It's okay. I support the idea, even if it is disturbing. =P

But thoughts of Siege later led me to become nostalgic. Once again, I found myself wondering where all of my old friends ended up. Bryan, Rick, Terence...I may have vanished from their lives so many years ago, but I still wonder what happened to them from time to time. Off to Google I went, and wasn't surprised to find all three of those guys.

I found some recordings from Rick. The man can still play 1,000 instruments. That was always what amazed me about him. If you handed him a musical instrument he'd never played before at the start of the day, he could be playing it reasonably well by day's end. And, of course, if he didn't want anyone finding or hearing his stuff, he wouldn't post it on a public site, so...here. Check out some original stuff by my old friend. (Hehehe...He sings in "Doing What I Should." Now THAT'S funny.) And, yes...if you hear an instrument being played, it's being played by Rick.

Bryan I found on Facebook. This is just one more nudge to sign a deal with the Devil...Ummm...I mean "joining that site" to get in touch with people. I was able to gain no other information about him.

Finally, I found Terence, the most painful loss of all my friends. It's a painful loss because I was the one that successfully drove a wedge between us, putting him of a mind to never want to speak to me again. Much to my regret, I made him a target for most of the years we were in contact. Now I miss my friend, and the hole I dug with him is far too deep to climb out of. Still, it's good to know that he's doing well as a self-employed writer.

And that's all I have for the moment. I'm off to lose myself in a pixelated world where I don't have to worry about hurting people...because that's actually my job in there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Things we do for love

You wanna get me worked up, just start talking about money and how tight it is...or will be. That's essentially what happened last night, quite by accident, as Becky and I began contemplating what it's going to be like when she's living alone, working part time, and going to school full time. Working it out under the assumption she'll earn minimum wage...Well, things don't look so good.

It started when we looked at some listings for apartments. We'd done this before, but it was always assumed that we would just get an apartment and live happily ever after come some time between March and June. We never discussed the finances. My assumption was that between her part time employment and my Social Security, we'd have more than enough. But if the rent is around $500 per month, we're going to have a few problems.

Becky is investigating today. She'll be making a few phone calls, as we saw plenty of ads that said nothing about how much the actual rent would be. One ad happily announced there were apartments for rent at $350 a month...but there's no idea what size it is, what's included in the rent, if pets are allowed...and, most worrisome of all, what kind of neighborhood it is. That one the landlord probably wouldn't say, regardless of how the question is asked. But it wouldn't be such a dream apartment if it turned out that the neighborhood was a crime infested area.

Ah, but there is a trick to learning about the neighborhood without seeing it. Call your local police station. Mind you, I only learned this trick AFTER I'd moved into my old apartment. Just call the non-emergency line at the local police station and ask how many times they've been called out to that apartment complex. (I think the answer for my last complex would have been, "We're considering turning one of the apartments into a mini-police station so we just have to walk there.")

My thought - the unhappy one - is that Becky will have to work full time while schooling full time. I worked out the numbers, and...well, it can be done, but Becky's going to be TIRED! There are 168 hours in a week. My assumption is that school will match the 40 hours of full time employment, so that's 80 taken up. Then take out 56 so she can get eight hours of sleep each night. That leaves us with 32 hours left in the week as free time. Divide that by 7, and it looks like Becky will have an average of 4.5 hours a day to with as she pleases. And if it EVER works out that simply, I'll be utterly shocked. The reality is that she'll probably have entire days with neither work nor school, and end up with others that she'll be lucky if she gets eight hours of sleep.

What upsets me about this is that I want my lady-love to be able to concentrate on school. The only distraction for her should be when I decide to make her crazy by putting on dress clothes. (Which apparently has her thinking I'm sexy. Go figure.) She can obsess over finances, and that could be a distraction unto itself with her. School...nursing...that's all she should have on her mind.

Relief will come with my permanent arrival in PA. My personal income is now around $800 a month. Add the $4oo a month she'd earn working at minimum wage (after taxes) for a mere 20 hours a week, and we SHOULD be okay. We'd have to live lean for a few years, but we'd be okay. Then she'd have her nursing degree, and we can swiftly run off to start working on that aforementioned happily ever after.

I am, of course, a bit irritated by my own spending habits here in KS. The guys haven't demanded anything from me. It's all been volunteer additions to financial stuff. Of course, when things like the AC conk out, it's in my best interest to help pay for repairs. But I've been buying plenty of extras, even though no part of me needs them. I don't NEED the "House" box sets. I don't NEED another book to read. I don't NEED another computer game, what with there being at least two MMOs I can play. But that's how the money's been spent, and I'm now berating myself after the fact. I should have been saving up for...whatever.

In fact, once Becky and I started talking about being together forever, I should have started acting more responsible with my money. I didn't. And the next few months don't appear to have a great deal of opportunity to save. I'll be seeing Becky next month. I'm financially committed to pay for at least one night on Long Island at the motel, as well as some of the gas and food. (I refuse to let her pay for EVERYTHING.) October and November...? Well, I need clothing. I might be able to save some money by making all purchases at Wal-Mart, but things like diabetic socks will cost a pretty penny. There will also be the usual expenses, which drain much of my monthly income.

Then, come December, I'll be heading to PA again. This time, we won't have to shell out money for a motel, so we'll save there. But it would seem Becky will no longer be in a position to buy bus tickets, so that'll fall to me. In fact, that'll have to be a November purchase if I want to get a discount on the tickets.

Alternatively...Well, December may end up being moving time for me. Becky's gift from me for the holidays will be me in her life permanently. Why? Because the financial in PA will demand my presence. That means I'll only be able to swing ONE more surgery before the move, and then I'm gone from the doctors who know me. Time to start from scratch. But I will do it because my sweet, beautiful Becky needs me. I'll work on having a final surgery, if needed, once I'm there. I may wish Becky could live alone for the experience, but if my love needs me, so be it. I'll make the move while she's off for the holidays.

And the whole thing about the surgeries...It's not a sacrifice of my health. It's just a pain in the butt. With Becky working part time and going to school, there should be time in there along the way to get me to doctors, so I'll be able to re-establish medical care.

Finally, living lean won't be such a bad idea. Becky and I will be able to lose a bit of weight. It's not that either of us is actually overweight. (Stop judging me again!) It's that we could still lose a few pounds and not miss them.

See? A silver lining in every cloud.

My move to PA was supposed to happen next June, and that remains the plan. We've had fantasies about me moving during Spring break, but I've been maintaining a tenuous grasp that June be my moving time. Now it seems that the December holidays may rapidly become the deadline for me to get my butt to PA. Not what I wanted, as I would rather Becky live alone for a significant amount of time so she can get a proper taste of what it's like to come home regularly to an empty house. Still, if my baby needs me, then my baby will have me.

And, hey! Asking someone to marry you during the holidays tends to be rather romantic, eh?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oops. Did I do that?

In yesterday's post, I finished with a compliment to Becky and made a complaint that I don't believe she's been complimented enough. I said this with the intent of Becky seeing it, since I tend to point it out to her whenever I've made a new post. I also know Kat reads my blog, and I was hoping to some extent that this would squeeze an extra compliment for Becky.

However, what I didn't expect was guilt, which is what I think I got. I think Kat read my post, became filled with guilt, and vented to people other than Becky and myself. Why do I say that? Because yesterday evening, Becky received a text from Kat with a heartfelt thanks about the dresses, and then ANOTHER text, but from Kat's mother, also thanking her for the same reason. It's my idea that Kat mentioned my post, or the aspects thereof, to her mother, who was compelled by Kat or felt the need on her own to also make a compliment.

Becky, however, reports that Kat has occasionally said like she feels as though she's not going much to put together the wedding. She sees my lovely lady toiling away to stitch the dresses together and feels somewhat useless. Well, it's my understanding that Kat CAN'T sew. Kat doesn't use sewing machines; they use her.

But that doesn't mean that this bride-to-be is utterly useless. On the contrary, and I'm not sure if I've said this to Kat, I think it's a wonderful thing that she's been assembling her own wedding, personally CREATING the entire affair. This is not an event that will be professionally done at a catering hall. It's going to be inside a church social hall, with all decorations and the like put together by the bride herself. Instead of seeking a professional wedding coordinator, Kat has taken on the task herself, which is no easy feat. Normally, a would-be bride stresses over the fact that someone else is (or isn't) handling the details. Kat is handling them all herself, which I believe will make this upcoming wedding day much more special.

No...What crossed my mind when I mentioned that Becky lacked compliments was the short list of ex-boyfriends she has. I don't understand how it is that I, and only I, have managed to make Becky FEEL beautiful. How is it that there are men in her past who haven't done the same? I have the feeling that all of them thought, Wow...a woman with a great pair of...assets. It's play time! How does a guy get away with thinking like that and then claim to love a woman?

Is it possible that even in my most impure thoughts that I'm pure of thought?

I'll share something with you, much to Becky's dismay, and I hope she'll forgive me. Her home doesn't have central air conditioning, and she sleeps in a second floor bedroom. That room gets HOT! In an effort to be comfortable, Becky will change into clothing that is lighter and more formfitting, exposing a great deal of skin in the process. (In other words, not naked, but tantalizingly close.)

This might make it seem as though it's a great time for a pornographic moment, but it doesn't work like that in my head. Instead, I find myself admiring her, much as an art connoisseur will admire a classical painting or statue. The first two images that pop into my mind, (as I'm not sharing any further detailed images with you... =P ), are Venus de Milo and the sketching of Kate Winslet from "Titanic." Moreso the latter, because Becky will lie there with an arm reaching behind her head, just as Kate did, and...Ugh! It's so hard to properly describe! I find myself staring at the lines of her body, admiring the human female form in general, and how lovely I find her specifically. Stretched out like that, Becky's body forms a classic hourglass, and it's a wonder for me to behold.

Pulling my eyes away from her shapely design, I often find myself gazing at her stunning green eyes. They have an almost mystic ability to shift in color, becoming bluer or greener, depending on her surroundings. And given the proper lighting, they're so bright! Making her eyes more exquisite are those moments when her love for me is reflected in them. Oh, how I melt so easily!

And her lips...As my eyes lock onto her lips, I find myself transported to another time, another place, when I was able to show my affection for her by kissing them. Be they tender, playful, or passionate, Becky's kisses are a marvel.

Setting aside the physical, another compliment I often give her is her innate ability to handle money so well. I'm TERRIBLE when it comes to handling my finances, and I have told Becky that I'm so thankful to have found someone who'll ensure we're not starving. Oh, I have plenty of good ideas as to how money should be spent from time to time. But given any significant sum and I'll spend it all on things I don't need. Becky will be the financial brains of our particular operation.

Smiling and laughing...These are two things Becky does very well, and for a clown like me, she makes for the perfect private audience. A guaranteed subject to get her going is how NOT to rear children. ("Wait...so you're saying that whiskey in a baby's bottle is a BAD way to put them to sleep?") And then there's the imagined phone calls from school, as one principal or another will want to have a word with me about my child's behavior...only to end up wanting to talk to Becky about her husband's behavior.

Of course I know better, but it's fun to make the jokes.

And I'm not alone when making my wise cracks. I think she's actually looking forward to the day when she can whack me upside the head for one thing or another that I taught the kids.

But I still don't get it. How does a guy date her for five years and not make her feel good in any way? Shawn, he last ex-idiot, didn't make her feel good physically, emotionally, or even spiritually. And yet he claimed to love her? Becky, not knowing there was anything better out there, was resigned to a life with him.

She knows better now. She knows MUCH better. I deem it a high compliment when she says, "If anything were to happen between us and we don't end up together, at least I know what I should be looking for." That means that should there be another guy in her future, for whatever reason, he's going to have to compare to me, and I'm apparently a tough act to follow.

These are not just things Becky deserves, but something we ALL deserve. So long as the compliment is true, I think it should be made. Wat's more, it should be made without ulterior motive. There's nothing wrong with approaching a woman, telling her she's the most beautiful woman you've seen all day. Don't stand there and hope for a phone number; just make the compliment ad be on your way. Don't tell a guy he's nice and then wait for the opportunity to ask him for something. Tell him he's a nice guy and let it drop. Say "please" and "thank you" to let someone know their efforts appreciated.

In short, we should all learn how to play nice with all the other kids on the block.

So, Kat...If you were guilted into making the compliment, that wasn't my intent. My mind was elsewhere. What I was doing was making her feel more appreciated, especially after spending years with one jerk or another.

And to the rest of you...Play nice, and be well. =)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dreams of avarice

Every now and again, Becky and I find ourselves with a few extra dollars. Mind you, this happens more often for her than it does for me. When we have this extra money, we “invest” in some lottery tickets. What usually follows is a session or two about us dreaming what we’d do if we were to win close to 100 million dollars. We’ve agreed to split the winnings between us, as well as the idea that if the number was high enough, we’d take the 30-year annuity. So let’s say she and I won 100 million. Split in half, divide by 30, and take out a third for taxes…What would I do with approximately 1.1 million dollars a year? Well, aside from all of the legal footwork that would have to be handled, I’d probably do some of the following…

1: Call all of the appropriate government offices and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Really, that $800 a month from Social Security is now an embarrassment compared to what the Lottery Commission is paying me. And I certainly wouldn’t qualify for Medicaid anymore.

2: Which leads to me getting private insurance. I told Becky I would want the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Platinum Card, which provides for solid gold IV tubes and antibiotics the color of my choosing. No more searching for the ONE doctor who takes my insurance at the local clinic. My doctor will make HOUSE CALLS if that’s what I want!

3: Get a ring with REAL gems in it for my sweet, beautiful Becky. Oh, a ring will be provided, and it’s coming at an extreme discount because Kat can craft jewelry. But I would love for my beloved lady to sport genuine diamonds in her engagement ring. I know she doesn’t need them; I just want her to have them.

4: Set aside an annual amount of about $100,000. Then, every couple of months, call my Dad and ask, “What do you need?” As he lists what he and my step-mom need, I’ll make the purchases. In the short term, it might seem easier to simply send him the money, but then he would face tax issues of his own. Better that I should make the purchases and have them delivered to his home.

5: Send Stu $3,000 a year. Yeah, Stu screwed me over when it came time for me to live with someone who could look after me. If he’d accepted $250/month instead of demanding $350, he’d actually have that extra money right now. The $3,000 represents what he’d be getting from me if he’d accepted my offer. And the ONLY reason he’d be receiving that pittance is because of my nephew. If Stu didn’t have a family, he’d get nothing.

6: This one’s pure fantasy, as I’m simply not mean enough to pull it off. Locate my brother Barry, go to his home, wait for him to answer the door, then stand there and say, “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve become a multimillionaire via the Powerball, and that you will not see so much as a penny.” Then I’d turn on my heel and walk away.

7: To my current housemates, Ray and Cody, I would get each a “new” used car. “Guys, I have $10,000 set aside for each of you. Go pick a vehicle to your liking and let me know. I’ll pay for it in full. After that, it’s up to you to insure it and the like.” I would also probably buy a few extras with any money left over. I don’t think the guys would go berserk with my offer, so there should actually be a few thousand dollars still set aside. I’d probably help them do a few things with the trailer to make it worth more than it is now, allowing them to sell it for a far more reasonable price than the rock-bottom dollar value.

Really, my offer to the guys would be due to the fact that they’re (almost) good to me. Sure, Cody has too much fun scaring the daylights out of me from time to time. But they’ve looked after me, making sure I’m not struggling physically or financially. Mentally…? Well, I’ll ignore that stuff.

8: Move to within touching range of Becky. Being apart is driving us insane. Once I’ve got my first check and we’re set financially, it would be time to get myself to PA to be with my lady. Being unable to hold and kiss her has become increasingly maddening. That, and…

There was a moment during her visit in which she sat on the bed, engaged in a book, while I sat at her computer to write up “our story.” (See those entries labeled “Man of my dreams” on her blog for details.) She would occasionally look up to see me typing away. She would smile, knowing that the dreams she’d been having were, in fact, a reality. In turn, I would look over my shoulder and realize that I’d truly won the affection of a beautiful woman. We were both very comforted by that fact. So the sooner we’re together, the better.

9: Get married. We're holding off on that because a wedding would be a complication amidst her school. We both want her concentrating on one thing at a time, and that which leads up to a marriage ceremony can be too distracting. That even accounting for the fact that she and I are currently planning on eloping. (The stress of Kat's wedding, and the fact that Becky's made all four of the dresses for the bridal party, has been making her insane. So if my baby wants to elope..."What baby wants, baby gets.")

10: Each year, set aside $50,000 in a trust fund for future children. Becky plans of doing the same, and if we have two kids, that'll be a large chunk of change awaiting them for their 18th birthdays. We are, of course, assuming that we'll instill decent values in our kids so that they don;t receive a million dollars and run off to buy a solid cold car. Go to school, spend wisely, and still have plenty left over to start their lives after college. (And if they don't go to college, and become very successful brick-layers, that's okay too, as long as they're happy.)

11: Do good deeds. I still have it in my head to do a number of things, like support a soup kitchen for a year's worth of food. The one I have specifically in mind would cost me $11,700 for a year, and that was at the last time I asked how much it cost to sponsor a meal. I would help anyone whom I took note was struggling to eat. Like being at a supermarket and noting a mother with three kids who's buying the bare essentials. I would ask if that's all she could afford, and if it was, I'd escort her back into the store to REALLY shop for food. Or when I see a homeless person, offer to buy them a meal. (I hand over cash to no one. Too easy for them to run off and buy something detrimental to their health.)

And there's a scene I wrote for my screenplay, Housebroken. In it, the very wealthy leading lady walks into a mall during the holidays, approaches one of those trees with tags upon which are written the wishes of underprivileged kids, and takes down ALL of the tags to buy what the kids want/need. I would sincerely like to be able to do that annually.

12: Becky and I were talking last night, and we'd like a ranch-style house. Ultimately, we could probably have one built. She and I would like five bedrooms, three of which will be occupied by people regularly. The fourth would be converted into an office for her and I to handle whatever it is we'd need an office for. The fifth would become a guest room. But all of that would wait until we're ready to grow roots and settle down in one place.

13: Pay back to those who've helped me over the years. It's one thing to help someone out with a few dollars every now and again. It's another thing to help someone LIVE. That's what so many have done for me. I repay my debts whenever I can, and until I'm sitting on a fortune, I don't think it'll happen. But if it should, there are a lot of people upon whom I'd bestow the gift of a few thousand dollars. Nicole, Bea, Igor, Jessie, Adam, and Julie, just to name a few. Oh, I can hear the arguments now...

Me: I need your address.
Person: Why?
Me: So I can send you a present.
Person: I don't need a present from you, Rob.
Me: Oh, come on. Everyone could use $2,000.
Person: You want to send WHAT?!?
Me: I want to send you $2,000. Now give me your address.
Person: There's no way I'm letting you send me that money.
Me: Fine. I'll hire a detective to find you and then send it to you.
Person: I won't cash the check.
Me: Fine. I'll send cash in a secure package.
Person: Arrrrgh!

We should all be so lucky as to have that argument, right?

Finally, there are the luxuries in life. Becky and I could probably make a long list of all the "toys" we'd want to buy, but we also have every intention of keeping a careful eye on what's being spent and how much is left to get us through the year. We'll have all the requisite professionals on retainer, including a lawyer and an accountant. (Although Becky is a mean bookkeeper.) All in all, we would like to live VERY comfortably, and we fully support those dreams.

So...If anyone would like to share, tell me your dreams of avarice in your comments. Or pray I win that money, because I'm pretty sure a lot of my followers are on the list of people who would receive gifts from me. =)

* * *
I was talking to Becky throughout much of her day, yesterday, while she toiled away at sewing dresses. A lot of our conversation, which totaled somewhere around 10 hours on Skype, was mostly nonsense and babbling. About an hour before we said goodnight, we went into semi-serious mode, in which we did our "daily gushing" over one another. I told her how proud I was of her for making four fairly complicated dresses for her best friend's wedding. Becky responded with a surprised, "You are?" Although my compliment may have stunned her, it didn't stop her from smiling happily.

This is one of those things that makes me different from a lot of people in her life, and kind of upsets me. Becky will bust her butt to get things done, whatever the task may be, and she receives few if any compliments. I, myself, am indirectly involved in the wedding. I'll be a guest, and I've had to listen to my lady groan whenever there's been seamstress issues. "Where's the zipper? Where are the pieces that go on the thing? It's a cape, not a veil. Kat, hold still! Or would you rather be pinned to the dress?" Becky's patience has been worn so thin that it would be threadbare if it was a rug.

Well, baby...Here it is in writing. I'm SO proud of you! You may have been through a lot to make those dresses, but the payoff is only just over a month away. Your persistence in getting the job done, and getting it done right, is just one more reason for me to love you. =)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's getting bad again...

Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky Becky.

There used to be a time when I would spend a few minutes each day contemplating other aspects of my life. My medical conditions, my family, my frustrations in being unable to work...I don't enjoy wallowing in misery, but I also recognize the fact that my problems won't just go away on their own. They need to be addressed. Instead, all that comes to mind is Becky...again.

This is what happened when her visit was approaching. I was cautiously optimistic, since I'd made plans to meet internet loves before, only to have them turn out to be less than advertised. I don't think my cautiousness showed much in my blog posts. They were all happy-happy, since some part of me was also desperately hopeful. Then my dreams came true. Becky turned out to be as real as advertised, and even more wonderful. I was "crazy-go-nut" in love, and all was well with the universe.

But now it would seem that it's an effort to think past my beloved and get to the stuff I kinda need to do. This afternoon is a perfect example. I use my cell phone as my reminder calender, and an alarm went off to remind me to call my surgeon about my left knee. It's been acting up on and off, and I fear it's going to do what the right knee did. That is, I scheduled surgery for my left arm, the right knee exploded, and by surgery day I was wishing the doc could skip my arm and work on my knee. It doesn't work like that. Different surgeries require different equipment. I would hate to set up my right arm to be worked on, only to have my left knee say, "You fool! You should have scheduled ME to be operated on! Now I will hurt you all the time! Bwahahahaha!"

So I was to call the doctor. The alarm went off. I paused, confused in those moments of just having woken up, and stared at my phone, trying to find the note about WHY the alarm had gone off. And while I'm doing that, I'm reprimanding myself inside my head. Really? Twelve hours of sleep? Is this how you're going to be when you're living with Becky? It's pretty shameful, Rob. And what are you going to do when you have kids? You're going to have to be able to wake up, care for them, watch them, and so on. No more sleeping for half the day. Heck, you might not even get a decent eight hours of sleep. This kind of thing can't keep going like this. That's when I find the note and see that I have to call the doctor.

Oh, but then I see the time and realize Becky will be out of work soon. I should get up and become a bit more functional. Take meds, groom myself even just a little bit, and bring up Skype in case she magically appears and wants to chat.

It turns out that I didn't call the doctor's office until an hour and a half after the time I'd scheduled. Thankfully, I set it early enough that I wouldn't be calling an empty office, even if I was three hours late. But I was late, and it was all Becky's fault!

Okay...Totally not Becky's fault. It was all mine. I have an incurable case of "Becky on the brain."

And this shows in so many of the conversations that have. All I want to do is talk about this phenomenal woman I've met and the wondrous future we're building together. I'm even contributing to "the magic bank account." I believe I mentioned this. Becky has a savings account that yields 400% interest. I started this month, sending her a mere $25 to have it start growing. If I do that each month, we'll have a nice "rainy day fund" in about a year or two.

I told Becky that I'm already grieving for the person who ends up sitting next to me on the bus. Whoever that person is, I'll end up talking their ears off with Becky as the main topic. With my luck, said person will be some seven-year-old who thinks girls are yucky.

So, yeah...I have a severe case of "Becky on the brain." Which I suppose is a lot better than "osteomyellitis on the brain," which tends to become active every time I have a wound on my foot. I think I should blame Becky for all this. I mean, it's totally her fault for being beautiful, and wonderful, and sweet, and kind, and...

Okay, I'll shut up now.

Be well, all.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Countdown

Each day, when I start up my computer, Skype comes up. I usually log off the night before, so I log in and change my comment. Today, it reads "33 days!" That's 33 days until I see Becky again. Although we have to wait, we don't want to. We're constantly talking about the moment we see each other again, which goes something like this...

Having spent 33 hours traveling by bus, I arrive in...ummm...some place I've never heard of. Becky has been waiting there with Kat since about a half an hour before my arrival time. I get off the bus, we see each other, and we embrace one another....and we embrace...and we embrace...and we embrace some more...and eventually Kat comes over with a crowbar, inserts it between Becky and I, and starts the monumental task of prying us apart. Somewhere in there, a few dozen people pass us, each one saying, "Get a room!" (Oh, we will, oh jealous one. We will!)

The rest of our plans are being solidified. In fact, the only thing missing at this point are my bus tickets, and those will be purchased tonight. Becky being the one with the money, she has promised to buy those tickets, (as well as pay for most of our motel requirements). The thing is that Greyhound wanted to charge her an extra $18 per ticket as a - get this - GIFT FEE! A gift fee? Are they kidding?!? Once I heard that absurd fee, I told Becky to send me the money and *I* would buy the tickets directly. The money is in the bank now, so buying is what I'll do.

Right. Tickets will be on their way...all motels have had reservations made, including...

*sigh* Our trip to Long Island is going to be short, but should also be eventful. I'm thinking it's time I sat my father down and explained the facts of life to him. Like the fact that his little boy is far from little anymore. I'm actually much older and wiser than he knows. This "nice guy act" that he seems to think I'm performing at all times is not an act at all. This is who I am. And if he can't accept that, there's going to be a severe reduction in the amount of times I bother having contact with him. I can no longer come away from each and every phone call having regretted I bothered talking to him.

Like last night. I called him to tell him that Becky and I had solidified motel reservations for two nights on Long Island. In fact, we'll be in the same town where he lives. That means Becky and I can get to town, check in, head to visit Dad, and then retire for the night. But when I was on the phone with Dad, it was as though he honestly didn't care what plans I'd made. And since I was on Skype with Becky while I made that call, I hung up and commented, "Don't sound TOO enthused, Dad."

Fine. I'll be the one to look forward to the visit. He can just suffer, if suffering is what he chooses to do.

Other things I'd like to do include showing Becky where I grew up. In fact, I'm hoping the current residents will actually allow her and I inside. The interior will have changed, but my ability to recollect what the old house looked like should be enough proof that I once lived there. And if time permits, I'd like to drive out to Brooklyn and show her where the family auto parts store used to be. (I hope we can find body armor on such short notice.) If at all possible, maybe I can sneak upstairs to see if any of my stuff that was store there is available for me to take back with me. (Becky can hang onto it until I move to PA.)

The only thing I fear about my return to Long Island is having to confront old ghosts. I'm fairly sure my brain will be overloaded with virtual tons of memories. Luckily, I'll have the w3oman that I love at my side to keep me grounded.

And speaking of the woman I love...33 DAYS!!! Just over a month, and I'll be able to hold and kiss and...ummm...hold and kiss my sweet, beautiful Becky! No more reaching for a computer screen to stroke her cheek. I'll be able to do it in person! HUZZAH!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Se7en" the hard way

It would seem that my late-night post, (which I technically finished writing on Saturday around 2:00 AM my time, which is a long time to write a post, except I was busy organizing my thoughts and trying to remember events, but still shows as a Friday post) affected my dreams. And now I'm rushing to get it down, since it was very much so unlike me.

It was the LIKE movie "Se7en," except it starred Brad Pitt in all significant roles, with me as...ummm...Brat Pitt's character, Detective David Mills...except I was, in fact, myself. This dream was out of order, and came to me as though I was in a movie and trying to rewrite the outcome. And when I succeeded, (in an violent and bloody manner), apparently I went back and tried to alter the "film" even further. The oddball traps in my "head movie," however, were also reminiscent of the "Saw" franchise.

Like the trap that had poor Andy Griffith killed. Why Andy was there, I don't know. But Brad and I discovered him in the basement of a decaying house. Somehow, Andy and I ended up with a powder in our eyes from two different sources. When I washed the stinging stuff away, I was fine. But Andy's powder turned to acid and melted his head into a puddle of ick.

Then there was the bendy tree" trap. This tree had grown into the shape of a slingshot. At its two highest points was a victim, one on each side. I have no idea how this trap was set. The two high points were bent in opposite directions, and to cut the rope hold one side would also release the other side, flinging the person there to his/her doom. And the people up there were a husband and wife who were bound and gagged. Well, somehow the rope was cut to free the wife, which sent the husband flying to his death. And the wife turned out to be an exhumed corpse not worth saving to start with.

The motivator to rewrite this "film" came when the killer managed to make it look like I killed Becky. No...Becky and our baby were killed...in a shoe store...that was burning. (Don't judge me! I don't write the dreams; I just write them down!) I stood there helplessly as I watched Becky stand in this fire, her very pregnant belly exposed for some reason, and a little hand pushing outward so that I could see its shape against her skin. As the fire started, people around me that were also watching the fire were blaming me. In the next instant, I was being exonerated for this supposed crime when they saw how much I was crying at Becky's demise. In fact, there was some expression of love that I made that had some other woman comment, "I married the wrong man." (Apparently I'm a great guy in my dreams, too.)

And so it was that a new "police tactic" was made to deal with the brazen killer. Said killer not only managed to communicate with us during the crimes, but was somehow on hand for a few of them. (Just more weirdness for the masses, I guess.) The policy dictated that we kill "John Doe" on sight, regardless of consequence. Thus, when Brad Pitt had my partner, also Brad Pitt, held in front of him as a shield, I didn't do what "good cops" would do. Instead, I kept firing my gun through my partner until some of the bullets penetrated and hit John Doe. Then I chased him to an apartment building, where I finished him off.

For me, when a dream reaches such a resolution, it usually ends. This time, however, events started to replay, giving me the opportunity to alter the way the "film" ran in the first place.

When I attempted to prevent Andy from getting that mystery powder wet, thereby turning it to acid, he ran off and tried to wash it out on his own. So his brain got melted again.

For the giant slingshot, I rescued the husband instead of the wife...but the husband had only been reminded of how much he missed her and killed himself with a knife that was in the cemetery gate. (I told you not to judge me!)

Instead of returning to the rather upsetting scene where Becky died, things moved to what was supposed to be our introduction to John Doe...except that it was a park that was walled in, and we were trying to stop it from filling with boiling water.

Then it was realized that if *I* could go back and try to alter the outcome, so could John Doe. He replaced my gun with a shotgun filled with rock salt. Because it was at point blank range, I ended up killing my partner, while John Doe got away.

And then the nightmare was over, as I awoke to find Nike meowing to get out of my room to eat.

Usually, when I remember my dreams, they're about me having a goal that's difficult to accomplish because of some insane obstacle. But this dream was downright violent, which isn't even my nature. Oh, I have a mighty temper, but I keep a leash on it because I'm afraid of hurting people. I see this particular dream as me wanting an end to things, regardless of who gets hurt or how they get hurt. This is against my great desire to remain the nice guy that I am, or at least try to be. I don't want to hurt my father...but there's a part of me that wishes to remain open and honest and TELL him exactly what's on my mind. His outright refusal to help me come see him came across as a message that he doesn't really want to see me at all. If he could hurt me that way, I can hurt him...Right? Unable to do so in reality, my dreams took on a violent bent.

Oh...and I skipped a few things that...well, they were ALSO not in my nature. Like the business cards with a little piece to put them in your ear and talk to people. (Huh?) Avoiding a rather large, black bus driver that wanted to become romantically involved with me. (No idea.) The family of Mexican/Eastern Indians I was living with toward the end. (What ethnic borders?) And, of course, me sitting in a burning version of the slingshot tree, performing hip hop. (Stop. Judging. Me.)

The absolute worst part of this whole dream was watching Becky in that shoe store. She was standing ankle-deep in a fluid that was on fire, and she REFUSED to let me rescue her. That's why I just stood there in the dream. I stood there and cried, because I knew someone else was responsible for killing the woman I love. It was frustrating and heartbreak, all at once. And I have no idea if tears rolled in reality, as Nike demanded immediate attention and I rushed onto my computer to write all this madness down.

I'm going to go now. Surely there are other ways to vent my bizarre imagination.

Friday, August 13, 2010

"I hate to say it, Dad, but it's your son, Rob."

This is how I felt today after talking to my father. I tend to feel this way when I'm done chatting with him. Somehow, without any great effort, my father makes me regret talking to him.

Dad's been in the hospital because of some medication and pain issues. Both were coincidental. He's on a steady dose of blood thinners because of a mitral valve replacement over a decade ago. The dose of said medication was too high, putting him at risk for internal bleeding. He also took a fall almost two months ago, landing on his rump. When he went to stand, he did something to his back. He didn't know what; he just knew the pain was incredible. It turns out that he had a hairline fracture in one of his vertebrae. They fixed it while he was in the hospital by GLUING the fracture. (Our days of organ replacement las though we were made of LEGO isn't far away!)

I've been in touch with my step-mom, and told her to have dad call when he was finally out. Becky and I have been contemplating a visit to Long Island to see my father, and I wanted to get those plans ironed out.

Mom and Dad don't get it. I just want to see them. It's been several years since I've done so, yet my father kept putting delay after delay on my visit because of one medical issue after another. I'm not even hinting anymore. I've flat-out said, "Dad, I don't care if you're home on in the hospital. I want to see you. You don't have to play 'the good just' while I'm there. Just be my father." Amazingly, he doesn't get it. He keeps wanting to postpone my visits on the chance he won't be capable of entertaining me.

Today, while I was being brought to a cooler place to wait for our A/C to be fixed, (which it has), Dad called. I asked if I could call him once I was out of the car. He said it was. So I did. And I came away from the call feeling as though it was oh so unfortunate that I was his child.

I asked if it was okay if Becky and I came to visit, and he said it should be. I asked if there was any way for him to help with the motel while in NY, and...Well, he refused in such a way that it hurt. "If you want to come visit, you have to do it on your own." I could have sworn that he actually wanted to see me from time to time. His tone sent the message, "If you want to see me, you have to do it on your own power. I'm not that interested in seeing you." And yet he agreed that it'd been several years since we'd seen one another and that he would like me to visit.

Then I got grilled about Becky.

Dad: How are you going to afford this trip?
Me: Becky and I have been working out our finances. If you can't help, we can swing at least one night, and maybe two.
Dad: Is she going to school? Is she working?
Me: She was accepted to nursing school. She'll be starting soon, and I'll be moving in with her some time between March and June.
Dad: How are you going to do that with only one source of income?
Me: She'll be going to school and working, Dad.
Dad: Does her family have money?

Mentally, I hesitated. If Becky wanted money from family, I believe she could get it. There's an apparent agreement between her and her step-father that if she can make it to her second year of college, she'll get (insert small number) thousand dollars. But two things occurred to me. The first was that it was none of my father's business. What SHOULD be his business is that I'm HAPPY. Instead, like a stereotypical Jew, he wants to know if I found a girl with money. The other thing is that I'm not with Becky for money she has or doesn't have. I'm with her because I love her.

Me: I honestly don't know. ("Honest?" I was LYING!) Her family might have money. I never asked.
Dad: Oh. And you're sure you'll be able to afford living together?
Me: Yes, Dad. With my SSD and her income, we should be fine. And nurses get paid pretty well.
Dad: Yeah, but that's a long way off.
Me: We'll be fine, Dad.
Dad: If you say so.

Gee, Dad...Thanks for the vote of confidence.

I'm reaching the point where I think I'm clinging to my father because he's the only relative left talking to me. And he doesn't talk to me out of love. I'm not sure he even knows what that is. I think he talks to me because he feels obligated to do so. And if he could do what he truly wanted, he wouldn't talk to me at all. I'm the son with the most brains who didn't go far. I'm the son who became lazy and filed for disability; I'm not "really" sick. I'm the son who chased one dream after another, only to discover reality worked an entirely different way. And, of course, there's the fact that absolutely none of my relationships have ever worked out. Dad expects my romance with Becky to die quickly and painfully, just like all the others.

How on Earth did my parents end up with a child as emotional as I am? My biological mother couldn't care less about anyone on Earth, other than herself. To my father, it would seem that marriage is a business deal to be made, not a romantic fantasy to be fulfilled. If that's the case, then his marriage to my step-mother wasn't a creation of love; it was made of convenience. And if what I just said is true, then my father is a real piece of...work.

I will marry for love. It sounds crazy, but I never wanted to marry someone because of their job or how much they had in the bank. I certainly never sought the most convenient relationship, because I'd be dating someone here in KS if I did. And when my future wife comes home in the future, I will greet her with a kiss and an embrace, and not, "So...How do the quarterly projections look?"

Personally, I think I'm lucky. Barry and Stu - my idiot brothers - see life as a river that flows through a bank. That's it. That's why I had my falling-out with Stu last year, since I wasn't willing to give up the role of brother and turn into an ATM. And as far as I know, the last time Barry called my father was to ask if my Dad had money. Dad didn't, so Barry, who lives approximately five miles away, hasn't come to visit or called my father again.

This is the family my father wanted to unite?

Hmmm...Don't think I mentioned that one. At a ceremony in which my grandmother's tombstone was unveiled, my father addressed the immediate family. He asked that we strengthen the bond that are supposed to exist between family members. I, being the romantic fool that I am, took that message to heart. *I* was the one who called my brothers and cousins. *I* was the one who pursued familial relationships. Thus, *I* was the one who came up as not being a failure, because at least I tried.

The rest of my family just wants to know how their bank accounts are doing. There's no love to be found, and that makes me sad.

If money is such a great concern for my father, then he's quite the hypocrite. It's amazing how he supposedly has no money, not even to help his son stay an extra night to visit, but he has cable, a car, and various other extras in life that cost entirely too much. I should be a jerk in September when I see him, and offer to not only help him return his cable box, but also help him sell his car and cut up his credit cards.

Ah, but I'm not a jerk. Sometimes I wish I was, though.

So...Much to my father's regret, I'll be seeing him in September. Becky and I will head there on 25 Sept, maybe have dinner with them, then retire to our motel. The next day, we'll try to do lunch, and maybe I'll also show her those places that were important to me while growing up. Then, on 27 Sept., it's back to PA, where I will officially meet my future in-laws. THAT should be fun. And come 30 Sept., I'll be on my way back to KS. But I won't be on my way home. Home is wherever Becky is.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My day in Hades...

...is about to become a night in the same place.

Honestly, I thought AZ was bad. It would get to be upwards of 120+ F, and those days were the ones where you did your level best to stay indoors and hide from the sun. It's been over 100 degrees here in KS, and I now live in a trailer with two housemates, Ray and Cody. You folks probably know this, provided you've been following along. But today...Oh, today was bad. You see, a trailer is essentially a tin can with minimal insulation, completed by a plywood wall that is so "sturdy" one can push a thumbtack through it with ease. In short, during these exceptionally hot days, our air conditioning has been noticeable, but just barely.

Today, the A/C died. It's not that it ceased to work at full capacity. It flat-out died. That means the 107 it was outside was around 115 inside. Cody was off at work for most of the day, but we remained in touch with him as Ray and I tried to get the danged thing fixed. Not that we would dare to try this on our own. No, we may be dumb, but we ain't stupid. Instead, a neighbor volunteered to help us.

His diagnosis, after Cody had replaced one of two capacitors earlier, was to claim that the fan motor was shot, as was the second capacitor. So Ray and I went off to get replacement parts.

When you fix a car, you need parts that are tailored to the exactly make and model. Only an engineering genius can fake it with parts that don't actually belong in the vehicle you're working on. But an A/C unit isn't so demanding. As long as the parts fit the brackets, and the parts can handle the power expected to go through it, you can put whatever will go into it. Since I was the one with the money at that moment in time, I paid for both parts. The cost was around $100, and the usual promises to be paid back for their thirds of the cost were made by the guys.

Alas, the capacitor was the wrong type. I stayed with our neighbor while Ray went off to seek the proper part. Cody eventual came home from work, and standing around finally became too much for me. I went inside to ice my knee and take it easy.

I wasn't there, but I heard cries of jubilation as I also heard various air circulation machinery come to life. I was expecting the guys to come in with smiles and a declaration that we would celebrate by running off somewhere and wait until the house cooled off a bit. Instead, I was told about 15 to 20 minutes later that the thermostat might need replacing, and that they were off to Wal-Mart to get one.

But I wasn't. What's more, I wasn't going to wait in this toaster-over of a trailer anymore. Instead, I asked to be dropped off at Ray's sister's home, where the A/C was working just fine. And there I stayed for over four and a half hours.

So much for being picked up in an hour or two, eh?

I got brave. No one was available to come get me at the time, so I walked home. (Why, yes...It DOES hurt. Thanks for asking. =P ) When I got here, Cody was...Well, the only word I can come up with to properly describe him is "suffering." Cody was SUFFERING. The windows and front door are open, with fans blowing to try and circulate the air. Ray was out with Wyatt, lending a hand at Wyatt's workplace taking inventory. And the summary of the repair story is that there'd been no success, unless one considers that our new thermostat now tells us exactly how nightmarishly hot it is in here. (It's 12:14 AM at the very moment I'm typing these very words, and 90 degrees F in the more airy living room.)

Plans are being made in the hopes of getting this properly fixed tomorrow. Meanwhile, I'm wondering what to do tonight. I suppose I could ask to sleep at Wyatt and Jess's place, but space there will be limited. What's more, Cody is the one that has to work tomorrow. I can remain awake or unconscious if I so desire...although being unconscious due to excessive heat is a scary prospect. I'd go spend a night at a motel, but I only have $249 in the bank to last me until the end of the month. Sure, the guys should be paying my back some of what I spent today...if repairs don't break our bank accounts tomorrow.

And what of our cats. We have Jenny (Ray's cat), Lemmy (Siege's cat that he couldn't take with him when he moved to CA), Nike (my cat), and Random (Cody's cat). When I walked in the door, I headed straight for the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. Nike was lying in the tub, looking like a defeated little kitty. I could probably take her to a motel with me, but I don;t have an extra cat supplies that she'd need for the night. (Litter, food bowls, etc.) I'm somewhat terrified of leaving for the night to find a bunch of cats dead from heat exhaustion. G-d...Nike is lying on my bed at this moment, and I can see she's panting. I wish there was something I could do to make her more comfortable.

Of course, there was also some brief communication with Becky. I tried to tell her as swiftly as possible what was going on. I really missed chatting with her for hours on end, but I couldn't stay here and do so, and to involve myself in a lengthy chat while at Jess's place wouldn't have been very comfortable.

I'll try to keep you folks posted. But if we have to abandon the trailer for a few days until the A/C is fixed, assume any extended silence is due to the fact that we relocated our current positions here in Hades.

Edit: It's now 11:46 AM as I type, and this is what's happened and will happen.

Cody and Ray spent the night at Wyatt and Jess's. While they slept in cool comfort, I stayed here. I took my larger, more powerful fan and propped it against the open front door in the hopes of cooling off the living room. I got the room from a sweltering 90 degrees to an arctic 87. (Yes, that's sarcasm.) Still, the cats appreciated it. They were all gathered in the living room, completely wiped out from the heat, but didn't appear to be panting anymore.

Eventually I locked up the house and went to bed. I did so with a long sock filled with ice around my neck. While it helped to keep me from overheating, I believe I now need a new pillow. The moisture that seeped into the pillow may be turning to mold in this heat, even as I type.

Professionals are sue out here in about two hours. With any luck whatsoever, this will all be fixed and done with...unless the problem proves to be even larger than we thought. Then...Well, I don;t know what I'm going to do, but spending another night in this easy-bake oven is out of the question. I'd like to retreat to a motel for a couple of days, but I'm officially out of "extra" money. Alternatively, it's simply too dangerous, LITERALLY, to stay in this kind of heat.

Have I mentioned...

...that I love Becky? I think it may have come up every now and again, but I'm not sure. I often have a lapse in memory, which means I frequently forget what I have or haven't said.

Okay, I'm being a total goof on that one. OF COURSE I've mentioned my love for Becky. What I tend not to speak about is how utterly shocked I am that I love her. Oh, it comes up often enough during our conversations on Skype, but I don't speak of it at length here. So I thought I'd bring that up this early morning.

It would seem that I have every reason to flee from a deeply involved romance. I've lost count of how many times some woman has made promises to me, only to break her word on many different levels. I mean, when I become engaged to Becky, it will be the FOURTH time I've asked a woman to marry me. Four times! You'd think that by the third relationship sinking faster than the Titanic that I'd have given up completely. Instead, I'm taking the same risk of having my heart shattered as I have in the past.

The first was Perlin. As mentioned, I had mistaken lust for love. Still, I was very attached to her. I had convinced myself that she and I were doing just fine, with the lines of communication wide open. Old habits die hard, I guess, and she couldn't resist the urge to cheat on me, just as she had with the two guys before me. The result was me losing my mind for a while.

The second engagement was with Robin. Once again, I thought the lines of communication were wide open. But when she left me, there'd been no warning whatsoever. Have I even covered this one in detail? I may have, but I'll do so again.

Her parents had split many years before, but her father had come for a visit in Phoenix, AZ. My big plan for that particular weekend was to watch the football playoffs, so when she said she was going to her mother's place to spend time with her parents, I told her to have a good time and settled in to watch several games in a row.

Come 10:00 that evening, Robin hadn't returned. I hadn't heard from her and was concerned, so I called her mother and asked if everything was okay. Yes, everything was fine. Robin was unable to come to the phone. When asked if she would be coming home soon, I was told she was going to spend the night there. That was a little unusual, but not completely bizarre. I mean, her father was in town from NY, so I thought it natural enough to decide to spend more time with her parents rather than drive home exhausted.

The next day dawned, and with more playoff games to watch, I remained unconcerned about Robin and her parents. They were just visiting together, right?

Wrong. They arrived early afternoon with a rented van. As Robin and her parents came into the apartment, I noticed her mother had her hand inside her purse, where I later deduced she had her hammer-less .38 revolver waiting to take down the guy whom she knew to be a pacifist. Robin's father asked to talk to me outside. I went, utterly baffled as to what was going on. He sat me down and explained that the relationship was at an end. Robin was unhappy. Somehow, I was being blamed for Robin putting on weight. And the fact that I was having employment issues due to my failing health was a big problem.

I was in shock. I didn't see this coming at all. So when I was asked to go with them to the office to have Robin removed from the lease, I did so in a robotic state. I should have contested it later, since I was emotionally ambushed, but I just didn't care. And the next thing I knew, I was standing in the apartment, watching her father carry furniture out to a van they'd rented, while Robin's mother gathered up some of Robin's clothing.

Robin and I interacted directly all of three times during the breakup. The first was when she told me she wasn't doing this to hurt me. If that was the case, then why do it the way she did it? Why do it at all? Instead of talking to me about her problems, she was simply abandoning me. If she didn't want to hurt me, then I assume her goal was to actually KILL me emotionally.

Our next interaction was when she tried to take her wedding band. We were close enough to fulfilling our wedding plans that I'd already bought the rings. I told her to give it back, as she hadn't earned that one yet, and apparently wouldn't be earning it from me.

The final interaction was as she was leaving. This was one of those moments when being a writer paid off, as I was able to get of a painful zinger after she said, "Take care of yourself." My response was, "That is no longer any of your concern."

And then she was gone, leaving me with no food, no money, and a kitten to feed. Oh, her mother scribbled out a check for $25 as they were leaving, but that wasn't even enough to get me and the cat through a single week. So I took advantage of the fact that she'd removed herself from the lease. Doing so made everything in the apartment mine. That included all the furniture she said she wanted to come back for, as well as her jewelry. I sold what I could, including furniture and the jewelry she left behind, making about $300, which helped me survive ever so briefly. Then I moved to Las Vegas to be close to Stu...and that's a completely different story.

With engagement number two shot to hell, I thought I'd never get that close to another woman again. But when I got my new laptop after winning a lawsuit, I was in an AOL chat room when I met Ally. She was 17 rapidly going on 18, and I was 34 at the time. Age really was "just a number" to me, but I was also aware of the law. Nothing would happen between us until she turned 18 in November. So I waited. And once she crossed the line to being legal, there were plenty of "adult" conversations, online and on the phone. I was madly in love with her, and couldn't believe that such a young, intelligent, and beautiful woman would be willing to accept me for who and what I was: an older, disabled, perpetually poor man. (The picture of a stunning blonde that she sent was nothing to brag about, in that is was somewhat out of focus and she was not all that close to the camera. From there, I was successfully distracted from asking for more pics.)

And so the plan was made. During her Spring break, Ally was going to drive to NY with some friends. Because they were all relatively wealthy, they would get a hotel in Manhattan. I would take the train and meet them there. And if Ally and I hit it off as well in person as we had online and on the phone, she wanted to drag me down to City Hall and get married. She told me that her father, a successful lawyer, had tucked away several thousand dollars in her name, and now that she was 18 she could access what she wanted.

I was in heaven. And before anyone says, "Rob, it was too good to be true," it wasn't. Her father may have been wealthy and successful, but he was an emotionally abusive jerk. There was also the ex-boyfriend who had essentially coerced Ally into sex. Coercion = rape. Apparently Ally still felt guilty for the death of her younger sister, who'd died in a car accident. (Ally blamed herself for not making sure her sister was properly buckled in, to which I pointed out that that wasn't her responsibility at the age of eight to ensure her five-year-old sister was secured in the car.) There was Ally's best friend, who had a pregnancy scare, to which I spoke to the best friend AND her boyfriend to advise them on how to handle things. It wasn't non-stop happiness. There was plenty of drama to go around.

The day came when Ally was supposed to be on her way to me, and I popped online late in the day to see if there was a message from her. I was expecting something along the lines of, "We're on our way. See you tomorrow. I love you." Instead, I saw Ally was online.

What followed was a dramatic encounter with her father. Ally tried to explain that she tried to hide the trip from her father, but he found out, and was now keeping her from coming to me. He commandeered the computer. I tried to reason with him. He was exceptionally rude, despite me being oh so polite. He insulted me for a good 15 to 20 minutes, then walked away, leaving me to chat with Ally.

I couldn't understand how any of this had happened. And because I was trying to wrap my head around it, I started asking questions. Lots of questions. And before she knew it, Ally found herself painted into a verbal corner. Our chat then turned into something like this...

Ally: Ummm...Rob? There's something I have to tell you.
Me: (Oh, crap, I thought. Here it comes.) What?
Ally: I'm...I'm not 18.
Me: Excuse me?
Ally: I'm not 18.
Me: Uhhh...How old ARE you?
Ally: I'm 15.
Me: You're WHAT?!?
Ally: I'm 15. And when we started talking, I was only 14.
Me: I...I can't believe this.
Ally: And my name's not Ally. My real name is Tori.
Me: Why...? Why would you do this to me? Why would you lie to me like this for over six months straight?
Ally: I wanted to make myself seem more interesting to you. I liked you, and didn't want you to think I was just some kid.
Me: But you ARE a kid! Jeez, do you know how much trouble *I* would have gotten into if you'd actually made the trip here? As it is, there are all those conversations we had. I should turn myself into the cops now and get it over with.
Ally: But you didn't know any different. And none of it was against my will.
Me: Like that matters in the eyes of the law.
Ally: Besides, I really do love you.
Me: Well, isn't that just great, Ally...Or Tori...Or whoever you are. Because the entire world is going to smile on a relationship between a 15-year-old and a 34-year-old.
Ally: I'm so sorry.
Me: I just don't understand why you would do this to me? I've been open and honest with you every step of the way. I mean, who would advertise themselves as being disabled and on welfare? It's not exactly the greatest hook to find women. And you've been lying to me this whole time. Was ANY of it true?

No...It wasn't. None of it was. Not even when I thought I was talking to other people on her end. She would simply type differently so she would seem like a different person altogether. There wasn't a single drop of truth to any of her stories. No rape by an ex-boyfriend. No abusive father. No sister killed in a car accident. She was just a kid who ended up falling in love with a much older man, and didn't know how to stop lying once she'd started.

I was devastated. I contemplated turning myself over to the police, even though our "adult" conversations were a misdemeanor at the most. Still, I might've ended up with jail time, which meant some other prisoner might've killed me when they learned why I was there. And dying is what I wanted to do once I knew the truth I went from utter bliss to completely self-destructive. But she BEGGED me not to do anything, so I didn't. I had a healthy fear of jail, which is why I'd waited for her to become "legal" in the first place. I didn't know she was a child until that night, and it all ended once I knew the truth. Oh, she tried to keep the flame alive, but I firmly explained that she'd destroyed my trust, and promptly placed her on ignore for all chat venues.

That last one had some of the most powerful repercussions. To this day, I still feel like I committed a crime, despite the fact that I had no idea I was committing one at the time. "Ally" was 18. And once I learned "Tori" wasn't 18, everything came to a screeching halt. I've even spoken to several people about this, and NO ONE thinks I actually did anything wrong. If anything, she was the one who was at fault. Some even suggested I try to take legal action against her and her parents, but I wasn't about to start something from which I only wanted to gain distance. I simply sat back and decided that I would place my heart behind an emotional brick wall and never expose it again. And getting engaged...? Well, I'd asked Tori to marry me, she said yes, and then...and then...Oh, how could I let myself be fooled like that?

Well, if one could possibly put a positive spin on Tori's behavior, she was an extremely smart and imaginative writer. She maintained some fairly complex lies over a six month period. Her mistake was promising to come visit me in NY, which was something she was never capable of doing. She outwitted herself.

So here I was, seated behind my emotional wall. I was never going to let myself be suckered by another woman online. If ever I met a female online and she wanted to pursue me, she had to send me a very strange picture. "What kind of strange picture?" you ask. I demended the same one from any female I started chatting with. If she showed an interest, I would tell her to send me a picture of herself holding a roll of toilet paper in one hand and a pen in her ear with the other. When asked why I would ask for such a thing, I would reply, "Who in their right mind would have such a ridiculous picture lying around to share?" No one. In my head, unique = real.

And then there was Becky. Oh, my guard was up, my emotional defenses fully charged and ready to obliterate any possibility of her getting too close. We chatted and flirted on City of Heroes from time to time, but she was engaged, and nothing would come of my pursuing her. Then she was single, but off to meet her dream man in Puerto Rico. So she still wasn't available, and that was fine. I couldn't get close to someone who was spoken for, right?

Alas, my defenses started slipping. Becky would talk about things that didn't make her a great catch. But then I'd look at myself and ask, "What makes you so freakin' wonderful, Mr. I-have-so-much-baggage-that-I-come-with-a-valet?" She was painfully honest, as was I, and we soon found ourselves growing incredibly attached to one another. When the time came for me to ask for that strange picture, we found ourselves on Skype. Who needed a picture when we had video chat?

Then came her falling-out with Dan, the stud in Puerto Rico. I didn't have to do a blessed thing; he destroyed his chances of seeing Becky all on his own. And before I could catch my breath at finding myself emotionally closer to a woman that was now utterly single, Becky was telling me that she was coming to KS to see me.

Uh huh. Sure she was. It's not a tale I tell often, but there was a woman who said the same thing when I lived in Las Vegas. Then there was Ally. Now there was Becky, and I would believe it when I saw it. Becky knew my attitude about this, and simply told me to wait and see. Even when I spoke to her from the motel she stopped at on the way, I believe I expressed some skepticism because she could have rented a room in her own home town to make me think she was on her way. "Why would I do something like that?" she asked. Well, what did I know of human motivations? What would make a 15-year-old lie to a man in such dire straights for over six months, knowing there could only be heartache at the end?

Though I was ultimately hopeful, I maintained some degree of doubt, right up until that moment when Becky's car turned on to my street. Then I knew it was all true. And when I wrapped my arms around her, I whispered, "You're here. You're really here." And fought tears, because it was the first time that one of my big dreams had come true.

But have I truly found the one? Is Becky the end of my search for "happily ever after?" G-d, I certainly hope so. Because all of my defenses have been obliterated. The same applies to her. All we seem to do is discuss the present, the future, and all of the hopes we have of building that future hand in hand.

The absolute best are the "domesticated" fantasies we have. One that we share most is something that will occur after we've moved in together. She's had a long day at school, followed by a hectic day at her part-time job. It's not that the day was bad, just very busy. She's exhausted, and all she wants is for the day to end so that she can forget it. And when she walks in the door, I move to greet her, take her in my arms, give her a tender kiss, and simply hold her for a bit.

My further commentary about this particular fantasy to Becky was that I pray we will never lose that sense of love. My parents used to greet one another with a peck on the cheek when my father came home from work, as though they were good friends greeting one another. As time went on, that peck was abandoned, only to be replaced with my biological mother greeting him with a report on how horrible all of their children were that day. Even good news was made to be bad. "Rob got a B+ on a test instead of the A we both know he could've gotten." Mind you, there was once a time when that same report was, "Rob got an A on his report instead of the A+ he could've gotten." With encouragement like that, why bother?

No, Becky and I would like to forever be greeting one another at the door with a kiss and an embrace, with further kisses and embraces coming from our future offspring. We want there to be love in our home; love that is obvious to any and all who are present. And I pray that there will never be a time when we're separated forever, because that may well be the final shattering of my heart.

There's 37 days until I see my sweet, beautiful Becky. Just thought I'd mention it. =)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Rob of the Past: Part 1

You know, there are times when I'm forced to recognize the person that I once was. It's part of knowing the person that I am today. My friends on GitP think I'm one of the greatest things since the invention of sliced bread. Maybe I am. But I certainly didn't come out of the box this way. There was once a guy who had my exact name, my exact birthday (down to the second), living in my shoes who was not such a great guy. It pains me to acknowledge this "other me," but to refuse to do so is to ignore how I came to be the person that I am today.

So I was on GitP today, and was replying to someone on the Depression Thread, when one of my "favorite" stories came up. It involves Mush, his girlfriend Liz (who would later become his wife), Perlin, and myself.

It starts with Perlin and her inability to be sexually satisfied by one man. I would later learn that she didn't just cheat on me with the guy I caught her with, but at least two others, bringing the total to three. I'd thought I was in love. It turns out I was in lust. I mean, "going at it like a pair of bunnies in heat" was practically a daily thing for her and I. And recent studies reveal that humans become addicted to the endorphins that are released when we're in love/lust. When the relationship came undone in an instant, the withdrawals had me giving new meaning to the term "mentally ill."

If you go back in my blog, you'll see my post on 18 October 2008, "Suicidal History: Part 1." I mentioned there that I'd alienated all of my old friends, including Mush and his girlfriend. Well, this is how I managed to do that.

I drove out to Stonybrook University where Mush was working on his MD PhD. During that visit, Liz started up on one of her hypochondriac routines. I'm not even sure what the problem was, but she was suddenly demanding that Mush, still only a med student, do something ridiculous to end her discomfort.

It's hard for me to fully understand how I'd become such a person as I was, but catching Perlin in the arms of another man had sent me up and over the edge. I'd gone from absolutely adoring women to a complete misogynist. In my mind at the time, women should be barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, and silent.

It was that last that pushed me to become extremely rude while visiting Mush. I DEMANDED that Liz shut up already. I then appealed to Mush, asking why he wouldn't silence his woman. I think I went as far as to say, "The men are talking. Why is she interrupting with her nonsense?"

It's not hard to see how I lost friends that night. Liz forgot about whatever was bothering her and became so enraged that she demanded I leave and NEVER return. Amazingly, I still hadn't altered my behavior as Mush escorted me to the door. Instead, my damaged brain couldn't understand why I was actually being kicked out. I was right. Liz was wrong. Mush was "whipped."

I didn't talk to Mush again until many years later, when my father was facing open-heart surgery. Dad was facing a triple bypass with a mitral valve replacement. I needed some kind of reassurance, and the only doctor I knew personally was Mush. I didn't know where to find him, so I located his brother and called him. His brother passed on the message to Mush, who called me at my father's house.

During that conversation, I was distressed to learn that Mush had to talk to me in secret. If Liz knew he was talking to me, there would be a fight. It was only a few years later, and she was still angry about my shenanigans that night in Stonybrook. Marshal was able to quell my fears about the surgery, and then he was gone again. Gone for many years.

I didn't get to talk to him until I went to Florida to see my father. Mush had married Liz, and they had a son. Liz had become a general practitioner, and all was seemingly well. She'd even converted to Judaism so they could marry. And I don't know why, but I was suddenly permitted to not only see Mush, but his entire family.

By this time, I was a completely different person. Robin had been in and permanently out of my life. I was filing for disability. My life was a greater wreck than ever. But now I had an understanding of myself and my body. I knew that when I'd alienated Mush and Liz, I'd been walking around with untreated severe recurring depression exacerbated by the recent messy breakup with Perlin. I'd also been living with the complications of diabetes, which made me feel infinitely more empathic with those who suffered from illnesses of their own.

Once again, I located Mush through his brother, and Mush was thrilled to talk to me. I was able to spend some time with the entire family, including a few minutes alone with Liz. In that time, we had a conversation that went something like this...

Me: Liz...About what happened years ago...I'm sorry. I had no idea that I was walking around with untreated depression.
Liz: It's okay, Rob.
Me: No, it's not okay. You and Mush are doctors, which means you understand the biology behind the problem, but not necessarily the psychology. It's important for you to understand my need to explain what happened, as well as the fact that I'm not looking to have my behavior excused. There is NO EXCUSE for what happened.
Liz: I understand, Rob, and I forgive you anyway.
Me: Okay. So we're good?
Liz: We're good.

I was then able to give her a brief hug, and that was the end of it.

But what also stands out is a discussion I had with Mush. I'm not sure if it happened before or after my apology to Liz, but it broke my heart. Mush explained to me that I was going to be the best man at his wedding. That was how he'd always had it planned in his head. Of all his friends, I was the one that was around the most, following his every move and there to advise him when he needed counsel.

For example, when he was offered the opportunity to enroll in the MD PhD program, he asked if I thought the extra three years of med school was worth it. I pointed out that he was always striving to be the best at whatever it was he engaged in. If he didn't at least TRY the program, he would wonder for the rest of his life whether he would have been able to make it. Rather than live with regret, he should tackle the program head-on and make the most of it. He did. And while he would later claim that being "a doctor of doctors" wasn't worth it, I know he doesn't have the regret of having skipped that once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But back to Mush's wedding...I obviously wasn't the best man. I wasn't welcome in his life at the time. I wasn't around for that...or the birth of his son...or the death of his father. I missed an entire decade of Mush moving forward in his life, with mine moving backwards all the while.

That was "Rob of the Past." "Rob of the Present" knows better than to vent his anger of people and things on those who weren't involved. In fact, I persist on making sure people DON'T take the blame for certain things.

When I'm in exceptional pain, the thing I hear most often is, "I'm sorry." I know the full sentiment is, "I'm sorry that you're suffering." Still, I find myself asking them, "Why are you sorry? Did you cause me this pain?" It then turns into a comedy shtick. "You DID, didn't you! You bastard!" It makes the entire thing silly, and people end up smiling when they hear my exaggerated anger. It's not their fault, and I don't want people being sorry of feeling sorry for me.

And then there's my beloved Becky, who was recently sorry for the fact that she wasn't here to "bring me soup and sammiches" during my surgical recovery. It's only a joke when I "blame" her for living so far away. It's not her fault that we both fell in love while my body was awaiting various surgeries. And so I am left to tell her, "It's okay, baby. I've been getting by a long time without you. I think I'll manage a bit longer."

But only "a bit." Each day without Becky within touching distance is an emotionally painful one. On our Skype accounts, Becky and I are now counting the days until we see one another.

And that misogynist who believed those horrible things about women...? Becky and I wouldn't be building the future we envision if he still existed. Becky will be the bread-winner in our home. I'll be the stay st home dad, keeping house as best I can and rearing our children. Either we will have equal say in what happens under our roof, or we will discuss it until we are in agreement of what should be what. We will be king and queen of our home, not king and slave.

Okay...the story is told, with critiquing included. This is labeled "part 1," but I don't know when other parts will follow. Unlike my "Suicidal History" and "Therapeutic History," this will not be a continuous tale. Instead, it'll come in drips and drabs as they come to my head. And the main point of such posts is to point out that I am not a "saint-out-of-the-box" as some would like to believe. I was far from a nice guy, even if it's a nice guy that I eventually became.