Sippican Cottage

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I thought I should say something, lest you all worry overmuch.

I am getting better now. The hospital I mentioned called me last night, and offered me the prescription I had begged for a week ago, and admitted their mistake. I told them I already had been given one from a competent doctor.

It’s boring being sick and boring hearing about it I’m sure. I have friends on these here intarnets who have much more serious troubles than I do, many that have no end. My thoughts turn to them.

I love and adore my wife. She cared for me while I was ill, as she does always. It is a marvelous thing, to find a person who says the words at the church and means them. It seems rarer than it used to be. Find yourself such a person, and cleave to them, and return the volley they send every day over your net.

What a cool hand she has on my fevered brow.

The River

The fever was on him again.

It was his old friend, now, and he knew it best just to give yourself over to it. He laid like a dead thing on the litter in the bottom of the canoe, face gone white. Paler even than his lobster back coat, worn to a sort of cheesecloth here and there, and faded from the sun and rain to a kind of translucent pink that reminded him of the scales of a fish.

Everything that drifted by was a marvel. The British Army thinks everyone is good for everything. He boxed the compass of mediocrity. He didn’t even like the killing much. He did it like the others when it was required, and shrugged and stopped when it wasn’t. No enthusiasm, his officers said. But he cooperated, in his fashion, and they decided his fine fist made him just the man to collect the samples of every damn thing they came across in the Americas that looked like you wouldn’t see it out the window of a coach going from Newcastle to London. After a while he gave it up and simply gaped at it all like an idiot. Pressing a cornflower in a folio and writing some half believable prevarication about where the hell you were when you found it was like sitting next to beautiful woman at a dance and staring at her ear all night, and only asking her about her motions. He was looking down the front of the dress and dancing with a whole continent now. Or he had been, anyway.

First it was the heat of the kettle when you forgot the rag mother kept by the hod for the handle. Then it was shivering like the snow from the kirk roof sliding down the slick grey slates on the roof and down your collar after Christmas Mass. It was the shivering he hated. It made you look silly, or worse, like the drunks in the lane, sleeping off the night’s gin in a pile of straw and offal and a puddle of their own functions gone crazy. His comrades carried him and cursed him, until they were no more. Who did they curse, really?

No, he wanted the heat. It surged through you and enervated you so completely you could just lie there and sweat and not care if you lived or died. You weren’t a sick man any more. You were a baby again, given over wholly to the care of another, unable to do more than sigh and gesture. He embraced it. Everybody else was always searching for something. He just roamed along with them, cataloging or killing as required, and looked for something to look for. It had found him.

The savages were his mother now. He lay on a sort of matt woven from supple branches of some sort, like the wattle of a sty at home. His hands brushed the gossamer sides of their boat, made like sorcery from the bark of a tree, and as thin as paper. He could feel the river pass by him through it. Sometimes the sun would come low on the horizon and the banks of the river would temper their angle and the trees would open up and the sun would light up the boat like a lantern, and you inside it. The copper backs worked the paddles deliberately in front of him, one magnificent looking brute behind him, and never wearied or paused. They sang the song of death, the song he heard them sing before they waded into the last of his mates like a plague and killed them without mercy. And with weapons he couldn’t kill a barnyard fowl with. Then they had stood over him, talking in their fashion. They didn’t look anything like the Hottentots or Arabs, but like how he pictured his own brethren, centuries before—Picts; Jutes; Angles; Celts; grim and powerful men painted for battle and living among the beasts they covet. They opened the box and looked at the crazy whorls of his writing and fingered all the little talismans of their home he had collected before he had become bored of it. That, and the Sergeant had begun worrying too much about seeing home ever again to bother him about it. They spared him in his sickness. Or perhaps for the remains of their life’s objects he carried and blessed with his runes.

There is no understanding them. But they sing their song of death for him now, for he cannot, as they search for the place where he must go; where they would go if they were him.

***insert blogpost here***

(I am grateful for the expressions of concern about my health from one and all. Thank you all, and I hope you all have your inhaler at all times.)

***funny opening line***

***obligatory reference to hectic nature of blogger’s jetset lifestyle***

***insert excuse for meager writing input here by tangentially referring to obligatory reference to hectic nature of blogger’s jetset lifestyle illness***

***if dire emergency, post pictures of adorable children or pets here***

***childless bloggers with dead pets insert random cameraphone shots of surroundings in the manner of Japanese tourist in Disneyland parking lot***

***utilize hardy perennial reference to received knowledge about political figure to cadge 600 words from autotext***

***mock Microsoft/Blogger/Opposing Political Party/French here***

***describe quotidian activities in excruciating detail here***

***best to edit out throne/magazine/candle details from previous item- not funny***

***post YouTube video your brother sent you of Ray Charles and Van Morrison for no apparent reason except it’s terrific***

***mock Billy Joel in front row–you are so not Van Morrison, dude***


Paging Doctor Howard, Doctor Fine, Doctor Kafka

I shouldn’t write today because I’m sick, and I’m tired. In every sense of the words. And ranting isn’t really going to help anybody, you included. But I got a glimpse, as I do from time to time, of the world gone mad that the average person inhabits, and I don’t like it.

I spent the night in the hospital. You can’t have a fever for 30 days with a few precious breaks in it and not go. My son was still in school the last time I felt well. So I went.

Everybody yelled at me. They talked endlessly about Health Insurance. The laws of supply, demand, arithmetic, physics, chemistry, and several other disciplines have been not only suspended, but have entered a sort of Bizarro Universe where no one cares about anything except we all sit there clutching a scrap of paper with mystical healing powers. It must be the insurance card that does it. There’s not a lot of medicine going on.

The doctor, who I recognize from a trip to the ER with my wife, is younger than I. And yet he feels comfortable berating me about how foolish I was not to immediately go to a doctor if I was ill. I drank water and took aspirin. That’s it. He assumed that since I wouldn’t go to a doctor, it must be because it wasn’t paid for by others. In his bizarre universe you go to the doctor whether he can help you or not, or never go if you have to pay for it yourself. Doctor, most people used to be like me. You’ve all flown off into the ether.

I am a criminal in the hospital now. The former governor made Health Insurance mandatory, and then the legislature made catastrophic insurance illegal in this state five minutes later. It’s over a thousand dollars a month if I got it, and it covers nothing, so I’d pay, the same as I’m doing anyway. I will have to pay a fine on my state taxes of $1000 dollars for being uninsured. That should make it easier to afford taking my children to the pediatricians, starting a G spot in the hole. And I cannot seem to make these people understand that the problem is that I’m sick and cannot work properly and there is no magic bag of money. If I don’t work, my children starve. Help me you bastards.

He ordered tests for dozens of maladies I assured him I could not have. He ordered a chest x-ray I manifestly did not need. I entered feverish and exhausted, and I was made as uncomfortable as Torquemada could devise for the convenience of the staff. I cannot grok how imperious they will become when they all work for the government.

The hospital seems to think I wish to watch disturbing loud things on television while freezing externally and boiling internally in a waiting room wearing a dwarf’s nightdress, backwards. I don’t watch TV, so I see it with fresh eyes. I watched an immensely obese person of indeterminate sex, waiting also for an x-ray, watch some sort of show that consisted of hiring dullards for menial jobs, setting up a camera, and pretending to horribly maim their co-workers. The idea was that this was somehow “spooky” or amusing or something. The dirigible person watched it like it was Henry Fonda in Twelve Angry Men. Sick or not, I could have killed the host and everyone involved with my hands, but they were not handy. Perhaps tomorrow they’ll strap a hunchback down and have Paris Hilton throw vegetables at him for sport. It’s all that’s left.

The doctor would ask me questions, over and over, trying to determine some great secret I was hiding. He could not ken the existence of a person that generally cares for themselves, or is cared for by their family, has no medical problems, eats properly, does not smoke at all or drink more than one beer at a time. He kept asking me if I was a junkie or I had sat next to an A-hole lawyer that coughed a lot on a plane and so forth. The truth wasn’t good enough for him. If I was normal, I’d have the precious card; I saw the wheels turning in his head. He didn’t want to find anything mundane, and help me; he wanted me to be exotically sick, to amuse him.

And after six hours of this misery, the doctor turned into a jailhouse lawyer for the bugs that manifestly are hiding in my body, but he couldn’t prove it with his off-topic tests, so there would be no course of treatment offered. He who had literally raised his voice to me to berate me for not visiting him sooner, told me to go home and drink water and take Advil.

I was too tired to strike him.

Usetabee Enters The Lexicon

I’ve been ill. It’s pointless to talk about it because no matter what, I’d get better. Some people have things from which they do not recover.

I’m getting older now. Old enough to report from time to time that I usetabee things.

I usetabee a musician. By that, I mean I did it in a substantial way, often,and made money from it. I guess I’m still a musician. I mean, I still own the things. But I was never any good, just fairly succesful as those things go, and the time for me to do it has passed. Almost.

I am required to play a couple of times a year. The dates are cemented on the calendar from years –or decades– past and must be met. And last weekend was such a date.

We play in midsummer at Lake Winnepesaukee in New Hampshire, in a little community called Far Echo Harbor. And it doesn’t matter if you’re sick or busy or an adult, or what, you go because a lot of people depend upon you to go.

I get the use of a house a few hundred feet from the lake for the whole week. Of course I don’t live in the world of a week off, so two days it is and then the spiders have it the other five. It was enough.

They plant us on a big deck with the benches removed, right on the sand, have an enormous barbecue right there, and then 250 people or so dance in the sand as the sun goes down, and boats from across the enormous lake tie up just outside the swimming ropes, and the people make their own fun. We are just their prop, and willing to give them what they want. They are the nicest people in the world.

My little boy, just four and very quiet, got up on the stage and sang into the microphone. My older boy, eleven, danced with teenage girls so achingly beautiful that men as old as me are not allowed to look directly at them. My wife sat in a beach chair and was beautiful and happy and… away from home for a day. Big, that.

The guitarist’s son and his mates played, and they are better than us now. They were just children having an amusing go of it in front of their friends just a few short years ago. And then the old men got up and showed why they used to be something.

They all come up and thank me and shake my hand after. I don’t know why. It’s me that owes them something, for allowing me to put usetabee away for a day. I can never repay it. It has to be enough, to show up.

I Wanna Go To Las Vegas

Actually, I don’t. This person does. There isn’t room in the whole town for both of us. Besides, I’m self-employed, and that’s all the gambling any soul could ever need.

I offer this as a window into my soul; no offense, but this is exactly how I picture every commenter and author on every page on the internet until they prove otherwise.

I don’t know what they pay policemen. It ain’t enough.

Unemployed Man’s House, Morgantown, West Virginia, During The Depression

(click the picture to enlarge)

At least he didn’t have to sit on IKEA furniture and look at concrete block walls and trod on nasty vinyl tile or tatty cheap plastic-feeling wall-to-wall carpeting, while looking at milky gray sunlight through a lexan window.

I know that man’s mind, I bet. Self-employed people wake up fired and go to bed unemployed every day. Some contagion put me right where he was for a moment: willing but unable to work. It is a terrible thing. Do not go there, children.

Month: July 2007

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