Where to start?
See, this is the part where I should definitely learn a Life Lesson. Namely, post regularly to your goddamn blog or else...
Or else, you find yourself in the situation your now in.
But there it is. This may turn out to be quite the long post, so settle in, folks.
I am writing from the well appointed comfortably contemporary home of my dear friend Alpha in San Diego, California. It's 4:51 a.m., but not to me and my circadian rhythms, which are totally screwed. I flew in yesterday, landing at just after 2 p.m. local time, Alpha picked me up, we came back here, I had some banana walnut cake and iced tea, and after a series of traumatic revelations, I took a nap.
Which your not supposed to do. When you travel to a new time zone, your supposed to tuff it out and go to bed when everyone else goes to bed, thus resetting your internal clock. I didn't do that, so here I am at 4:54 a.m., wide awake in an otherwise sleeping city and household. I think I hear garbage trucks outside. That's comforting in a way. And if the Starbucks down the block operates by the same hours as the Starbucks in good old Bucks County, Pennsylvania, I'll only have about an hour to wait for them.
Well first the Big News. Or at least, the most recent development: I'll probably never see Faithful Companion again.
I know, right?
Last Tuesday, I noticed that Faithful Companion wasn't wagging his tail. It was just sort of there. Like Eeyore's tail. I did a web search and found out that it wasn't because he just didn't feel like it, but because something was wrong. So I made an appointment at the vet for him, and that's where we went Thursday morning. The vet said it looked to him like spinal degeneration, not uncommon among old dogs, and Faithful Companion is a very old dog at this point. He gave me some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and told me to call if that did or didn't work.
Outside the vet, with Faithful Companion nestled in the back of my jeep, I cast my eyes heavenward and inquired of the Almighty, "Really? I mean, really? This is really going to happen twice in my lifetime? Are you letting John Irving take the controls for a while? Are you serious?"
What did I mean by that?
Well, I'll tell ya.
My sister, Kathy, who was thirteen years my senior, died in 1999. She and I were very close. A year before she died, she had been diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension. It's this strange, poorly understood debilitating disease. The only way of effectively treating it is a heart-lung transplant, and they don't exactly move forty-eight year old childless, single women with life histories of alcohol and drug abuse to the front of the line. At one point, she got a colostomy bag, and she hated that. She once woke up and something had become unattached and she was rolling around in her own shit while she slept. Plus, as she pointed out to me, "No one will date me if I have a bag of my own shit duct taped to my thigh. This is killing my love life, so called." Finally, her doctor felt that she was strong enough to reverse the colostomy and an operation was scheduled. And it was a success. Yay!
I was on vacation in New Mexico when I got the phone call. While waiting to be discharged from the hospital, a blood clot moved to my sister's brain and she died. She probably didn't know what hit her. I cut my trip short by a day and flew home to Brooklyn. First order of business when I got home was feeding the animals. The dogs were chowing down, and I noticed that my dear old cat Ned, who was usually first, wasn't joining them. I hunted for him and found him down in the laundry room, lying on his side looking angry and perplexed. He seemed to be paralyzed from below his shoulders. Off we went to the vet. Ned, it seemed, had a blood clot. He died the next day. From a blood clot.
Coming clear? There I am, reeling from the death of my sister, and my beloved cat Ned dies from the same thing my sister did.
Now let's jump ahead nine years. My father dies, after a lot of pain and misery from spinal stenosis. And within a few months, my dog develops spinal degeneration out of the blue that leaves him crippled and in pain?
Such a thing can really happen to a person twice?
It seems it can.
The Baron is up watching over the Ol' Homestead while I take my trip to Southern California. It was evident to him, as well as to me, that every time we took Faithful Companion for a walk, he seemed to be having more and more trouble. I flew out of JFK at 11:10 on Monday morning. That meant, I had to leave for the airport at around 6 a.m. After being up late packing, I didn't get to bed until just after midnight. An hour later, I was awoken from a deep sleep; Faithful Companion was stumbling around in the room in the dark bumping into things. And he kept at it. I flicked on the light, took him, put him on his little bed, stroked him gently, got back into bed, and turned off the light. In no time, he was up and at it again. On went the light again. "Settle down, Buddy!" I scolded, "Go lie down!" (A command he understands.) Off went the light. More moving around from Faithful Companion. I realized that I was looking at four hours of sleep before I had to drive up to JFK. I got angry.
On went the light.
"Okay, that's it!" I opened the door and shoved Faithful Companion through it and closed it behind him.
Well that was dumb.
Lying there in bed, I felt terrible about that. Really really terrible.
So I got up and went out to find Faithful Companion wandering around in the living room while the Baron was getting lost in the internet. Faithful companion would get himself comfy on his cushion or on one of his Special Spots where he likes to sleep, but then struggle to his feet and go find another spot, circle three times, lie down, get up again...
He was hurting.
I took him for a walk, hoping that would help, or at least exhaust him some, and gave him another treat. Then I stroked him and kissed him when he once again settled himself. Then I went to bed, and got just over two hours sleep before I had to drive up to JFK.
And the drive up to JFK.
My trusty 2002 Jeep Liberty.
On Sunday, the Baron and I went up to NYC so I could meet with my SM/Spirituality Discussion Group and the Baron could erstwhile tool around the city. The drive up was awfully eventful and anxiety producing. While we crept through the Holland Tunnel, my trusty 2002 Jeep Liberty overheated. Luckily we didn't stall, and the engine block didn't fuse or anything. We found a parking spot, went for coffee to let the engine cool down, bought some coolant, filled it up, started it, and the needle didn't more into the danger zone. So I guessed that the problem was that I had just run out of coolant.
But yesterday, driving up to JFK so I could get on a plane and come out here to sunny Southern California, Staten Island was a parking lot, as per usual, and I heard that ominous beeping, checked the temperature gauge, and found that once again, my trusty 2002 Jeep Liberty was muy caliente.
On went the heat, full blast, and this seemed to do the trick. While I was speeding across the upper deck of the Verrazano Bridge (I love speeding across the upper deck of the Verrazano Bridge), the temperature went back to normal. So it seems that all I have to do so my trusty 2002 Jeep Liberty doesn't overheat is to not get stuck in traffic.
Not that that should be a problem.
But I made it to JFK, made my flight, was reminded why many years ago I made a rule for myself that if JetBlue doesn't fly there, then I probably don't want to go there, and managed to get to San Diego where my dear friend Alpha met me at the airport. We drove back to Alpha's new digs at the condos he designed and built, dropped off my luggage, blah-blah-blah about the flight and my car troubles, and then Alpha said, "Well I got this phone call from your friend who is staying at your house while you're out here."
It seems that about five hours after I left, Faithful Companion woke up the Baron, yelping in pain, dragging himself around on the floor, terribly distressed. The Baron called my vet, who is fabulous, and he came out, gave Faithful Companion a sedative and a pain reliever, then bundled him into the back of his white stationwagon and took him back to the clinic. And now, today, I have to call the vet. And I know just what that topic of conversation is going to be.
Twice in my life?
And all this would get filed under the heading of On Top Of Everything Else I'm Dealing With.
What? There's more?
Yes. Yes, there is more.
It has recently become evident that my brother and I, very different men that we are, have very different ideas about dispossessing ourselves of the Ol' Homestead. My thinking has been to fix the place up, enjoy puttering in the garden, and over the course of the summer, while some real estate broker or other occasionally brings potential buyers through, perhaps figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of my life.
My brother, on the other hand, wants the place sold yesterday. And anything getting in the way of that--for instance me living there and cluttering up the place with those things that I refer to as My Worldly Goods--are but a nuisance.
It seems that during the yard sale, ordeal that that was, several people expressed interest in buying the place. These inquiries have lit quite the fire of urgency under my brother's butt. I know not why. I think it might have something to do with he and his wife wanting urgently to take this deluxe accommodation tour of Hungary and Romania, including a stop at Dracula's Castle. (I shit you not.)
Now as my brother and I jointly own the Ol' Homestead, I am not seriously threatened by all of this. He can do nothing unless I sign my name to an agreement of sale. But still, I'm very fond of my brother, and his wife, and I hate to see our good relationship put through the ringer and perhaps damaged irrevocably all because he and the Missus want to take pictures of themselves faux biting each other on the neck in faraway Transylvania.
So that's what I'm up against.
My dog is dying. My car is dying. My home is being sold out from under me. All I really have that I can call my own is a job selling toilets at Ho(t)Me(n) Depot.
But here in the well appointed comfortable contemporary abode of my dear friend Alpha in San Diego, California, it's light outside. The time is 6:10 a.m. locally, and I suspect that means that Starbucks might be open.
I'm here for just a couple of days, then Alpha and I are heading up to LA for this design conference put on by Dwell Magazine. Then on Sunday, I drive out to Palm Springs where it's my intention to Get Some Clarity, have some smokin hot ManSex, and sit in a goddamn hot tub looking up at goddamn palm trees.
Off to Starbucks.
Say a prayer for Faithful Companion.
And for me, too.