"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman
Wednesday, August 25, 2004
a story about a car: sea change ii
the first section of this story is here.
there are discontinuous images in my memory of the moments that followed. trying to recall it all in detail is like flipping through a pile of snapshots that have been dropped and scattered across the table top. they tell the tale, but not linearly. there are facts that only became known later; in the absence of these bits of knowlege, our ignorance bred both fear and fury.
there is the smell of the deflating airbags, the sight of angel back against her seat, fighting for breath but otherwise appearing unhurt.
checking the backseat for the dog, who is shaking uncontrollably, but that means he's alive.
looking through the back window, grateful to see both lanes of traffic stopped, terrified of being plowed into from behind.
calling 911 on the cell phone. the operator telling me the accident has already been reported. how much time could have possibly passed?
angel telling me she can't breath. reaching past her to throw her door open.
asking a stranger to take the dog to the shoulder.
the thin trail of blood snaking from angel's nostrils.
the police, emt, fire engines.
realizing the station wagon we hit is gone. realizing the impact threw it another 50 yards done the turnpike.
trying to get angel out of the car.
her screaming in pain when we moved her.
firemen tearing the door from the hinges.
four of us carrying her out of the car in a sitting position so she can fight for breath.
the ambulance leaving. not being allowed in.
the police asking questions. trying to stay calm and answer. wanting to chase after the ambulance.
fire trucks leaving.
the police refusing to take me to the hospital after angel. because i have a dog with me.
the tow truck.
asking emt, fire fighters, police to take me to the hospital. no, not with the dog.
the last fire fighter, a fire chief, telling me to grab my dog and get in his truck.
a trip to the hospital that took forever.
she's in emergency. they'll let me know. no, the dog cannot come in.
there is no where for the dog.
she's being examined. she's been sedated. for the pain.
the fire chief. he'll take the dog. here's his number. the dog can stay at the firehouse.
angel on the gurney. still. no blood. thinking, she must be ok.
watching them wheel her to x-ray.
thinking that this was the last damned trip we'd had to make. the last one.
calling mom and dad. not understanding why they won't come when i tell them what has happened. they are 100 miles away. it is night. i am alone and my angel is unconscious. but the cell phone is full of static. they can't hear me. they think angel has broken her wrist.
i'm saying 'ribs,' the doctors think she broke her ribs.
the doctor coming back from x-ray. with the news.
yes, she has broken her ribs, on her left side.
all of them.
angel has almost no body fat. at less than 100 pounds, there was no cushion to absorb the impact.
her body has exploded from the inside out. she is bleeding to death internally.
calling eldest stepdaughter for permission to have the emergency operation. having to explain everything.
calling mom and dad back. telling them 'pray.' this time the connection is clear. they are coming.
waiting for the trauma operating room to be available. waiting for the 'specialist' to arrive, to assist.
a plastic bag with her clothes and jewelry.
trauma is ready. kissing her.
it is a busy night in the emergency room. the flash flood caused over a dozen accidents in a ten mile radius of ours. one of them has already been fatal. by morning, a second one will be, too.
the waiting room. the family of the man who had a cardiac in the restaurant. he will survive.
the family of the woman who slipped and fell down the stairs. she will die in the emergency room.
good god, people really die here. it can happen.
mom and dad arrive at 1 in the morning. they demonstrate once more why they are the best parents in the world.
a nurse arrives, brings us upstairs to the trauma waiting area.
the doctor returns from the operating room. she will survive.
he and his team have reassembled the blendered jigsaw inside my angel.
she is small, and she is not a teenager. she will take a very long time to heal.
i don't care. i will be there.
she will be there.
Friday, August 20, 2004
hot enough to skillet-fry a cat
the temps here have finally broken the 90's, so i guess the next ice age hasn't arrived after all. i have mentioned that i have a rather large cat. apparently the coolest place in the house today is the stovetop, since he has taken up residence across three of the four burners. good thing tonight's dinner is in the crockpot.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004
a spanish town with a french name
no lights on in the room
the sounds from outside spelled fight or perhaps revelry
a shattering bottle, a woman's laughter
sipping tequila from a plastic cup
'though he'd sworn off drink long ago
it all reminded him of her:
the laughter, the drink,
the broken promise
outside more explosions of laughter and glass
someone breaking hearts and bottles
moving to the naked window,
the dress blossoming, the dark hair dancing,
and of course it was not her
it couldn't be
it could never be
drinking tequila from the plastic cup
sweating it out into the heavy night
by the time it had grown quiet outside it didn't matter -
the roaring in his head blended with the roaring of the train behind the motel
as it shook the empty cup from the nightstand
like she used to shake the bed
like she used to shake his beliefs
like she used to shake
when she stopped cold
drinking tequila from the bottle
and waiting for the next train through
waiting to be with her
waiting on the tracks
drinking tequila from the bottle
waking between night and dawn
between the empty bottle and the empty tracks
and having missed her again
he faced the day with eyes dry as dust
Monday, August 16, 2004
and my thanks to blogger for shoving that ugly behemoth wart of a "navbar" up there at the top of the page. ("navbar". what jr. exec is getting the bonus for that brainstorm?) i enjoyed seeing what fun keywords google picked to generate its context-sensitive ads. now i have that eyesore scarfing down real estate and forcing me to edit my template.
blogger blogger blogger blogger blogger blogger blogger blogger
that ought to get someone's attention. like jason shellen, maybe (who does very nice templates - mine is based on one of his). hey jason! do me a favor: go up behind the navbar dude and slap him upside the head for me, wouldja? thanks.
lies and the lying liars who tell them
srah, sarah, and the sugar v can play poker with me any time. the rest of you correctly picked number 3 as the fahhhbrahhkation. the home drug tests are available at your local walgreens. ours did come up positive, too. but i can't even eat powdered donuts without coughing and sneezing; no way jose will i willingly put anything up my nose.
thank you for playing, we have some lovely parting gifts at the door.
Sunday, August 15, 2004
for the record . . .
angel hit me in the head tonight with an onion. she was demonstrating her (lack of) juggling skills.
Friday, August 13, 2004
bob gets stoned
pot never really did much for me. actually, pot never did anything for me except help perpetuate my distaste for inhaling the byproducts of combusting leaves. in high school i tried it a handful of times (and a small hand at that), none of which were memorable. except one.
i lived happily between two social strata in high school. i was smart enough to take one or two "advanced honors" classes, so i was in with the intelligentsia. i could attend school rallies, float parades, and parties and be accepted as a member of the moving-on-to-college crowd. i was also oddish enough (plus i had longish hair and listened to tons of floyd) that the slackers and stoners naturally considered me one of their own.
when SAT season rolled around, the honors crowd spent weeks preparing, taking special classes, pouring over practice books, quizzing each other mercilessly. i took firm grasp of the fact that the SATs were supposed to be the type of test for which studying made no difference. it was a good excuse not to put any effort into studying, and thus take away from time better spent drinking beer and listening to dark side of the moon. but i did register for the exams.
the night before the exams, all of my ivy-league friends were locked up, cramming as many facts and theorems into their heads as would fit. so i ended up with chris, one of my closest slacker friends. chris's sister had scored some 'fine columbian' as the song says, and chris insisted i share it with him. being the buddy i am, i complied. of course, being the non-smoker i am, i chose 32 pony bottles of lowenbrau to chase away the burning. and being the fine columbian that it was, it eventually brought on kingsize munchies. which lead to massive consumption of junk food.
which, the next morning, led to a rather unpleasant hangover. a stomach churning, railroad spike through the head, shower-defeating stinky hangover.
i dragged my sorry sodden ass to the gymnasium for the SATs. i excused myself once to use the bathroom to worship the porcelain goddess. i somehow made it through the math and english and back home to pass out for the rest of the day.
weeks later i received my test results. a combined 1530. the highest score in the school.
bob does mescanline
so i'm hanging out with greg one high school night and he offers me a tab of mescaline. neither one of us ever having done this before, we decide to go to the movies, drop it there, and see what happens. about an hour into the film, greg is tripping and i'm feeling nothing. nada. it's like pot, but more expensive. so greg gives me a second tab.
about 5 minutes after the second tab, they both kick in.
it's impossible to stay still in the theatre, and the lights are too much for us. we exit the theatre and walk four miles to the golf course so we don't have to worry so much about people, because we're both getting really paranoid. laying on the grass looking up at the trees and the stars is great. to this day i'll never know how much of what i saw in the sky was really there in the form of shooting stars and airplanes and blowing tree branches, and how much of it my mind invented.
unfortunately the paranoia was getting the best of me, and i was also really worried about going home in this state. greg is already coming down, and he tells me i can crash on his living room couch. i spend the night paranoid and halucinating in a strange house, and i'm thankful (but still tripping) when dawn comes. greg comes in to tell me there's a note on my car windshield. it's from my mother, who passes greg's house on her way to work. i have a job interview at 8am at the local supermarket.
it's around 730am. no time to shower. no change of clothes. and i'm still sorta trippy.
i manage to make it to the interview for the glamourous position of bottle-redemption-center clerk. i think there was one lady interviewing me; i know i saw three, sometimes two sharing three heads. i have no idea what she asked, or what i said.
it must have been ok. they hired me that day.
bob does coke
angel and i returned to the apartment after a weekend away to see what damage the two teenage kids had wreaked. they had done a decent job of cleaning up after the inevitable party, although the trashbags of beer bottles were still sitting in the hallway. at least they admitted they'd had a party. when i was a kid, my folks could always tell that we'd had a party because the house was too clean when they returned.
whilst unpacking in the bedroom, we noticed that the oval floor-standing mirror looked unusually clean. taking a piece of paper, i ran it around the seam between the glass and the wooden frame, and was able to produce a respectable amount of white powder. suspecting the worst, i went to the drugstore and bought a home drug detection kit. returning to the scene of the suspected crime, i blotted some onto the kits blotting paper and sprayed it with reagent, waiting for the tell-tale pink color. to angel's and my relief, the blotting paper remained white. jokingly, i gathered some of the remaining powder and snorted it up my nose, telling angel, "yep, them frosted donuts is a good trip."
just then angel looked at the blotting paper in the trash can. it had gone unmistakeably pink.
i can honestly say that yes, it is a euphoric high. but when you are deathly afraid of recreational drugs, and flying in uncharted territory, it is no fun. at. all. i made angel lock me in the bathroom for the night, after removing all medications and razors from the medicine chest. for weeks afterwards i was afraid of having flashbacks. everytime i sniffled i knew everyone around me knew i was a crackhead.
which, of course, i'm not. but i am a liar. two of these episodes are true. one is not. spot the lie. answers on monday. welcome to obfuscation 2004.
Monday, August 02, 2004
stories about cars
this started out as a completely different post. it started out as the corsica christmas story. but the intro material got so lengthy that i knew no one would make it to the corsica part. so i wondered how to organize it all. and i realized that a lot of my recollections involve automobiles. i've already shared one and a half of them here. i'll get to the rest, i hope, with some semblance of entertainment value, and before the details and facts grow rusty. but in what order to reveal these anecdotes? first, let us get the early years out of the way.
i seem to spend a lot of time in my car. or at least i used to. now my commute to work is 15 minutes, tops. but i used to spend a lot of time in the driver's seat. i like to drive, so that's ok. i don't like to ride, though. i am an uncomfortable passenger. i never know what to do with myself if someone else is driving. i can't wait to get out. if i'm driving, then i'm doing something, i'm in control, i have a purpose, a mission, an objective. if i'm the passenger, i feel like a third wheel (excuse the bad humor) - like i'm just baggage.
until recently, my car sound system was better than my home sound system. this should say something about my priorities. now i have the 5.1 home system, but i almost never use it. i still listen to about 40% of my music in my car. i'm that guy sitting in the parking lot at his destination waiting for the song to end. yeah, that's me.
btw, next lottery winnings go towards the kenwood auto 5.1 surround system. damn skippy.
like lovers, some cars are more memorable than others. my first car is still my favorite. it was a 1976 datsun b210 named yaz pistachio. the only car i ever named. other cars could stop on a dime. this car could do a u-turn on one. i miss that car. i'd trade any car since to have her back, in all her four-speed glory. my two favorite memories of yaz are driving through upstate ny with my best friend, and parking on the side of the road with liz monahan while peter gabriel's 'i go swimming' blared from the tape deck, watching liz play air drums for all she was worth. any guy who doesn't fall in love with a girl playing an air instrument has no heart, and worse, no hope of ever having a soul. it's an indiputable fact that there is nothing more beautiful than a woman caught up in the passion of music, except perhaps a woman caught up in passion itself.
a gazillion years later i had a nissan sentra. a steel car. the last real metal car i owned. it was spoils from the battle of marriage. it was originally my wife's car, a five speed, inherited from her sister. but the wife could not drive a stick, so when i bought an automatic hyundai from wife's uncle, we traded cars. at some point both cars fell into my name. shortly after we separated she seized the engine in the hyundai, leaving me to pay the wrecking costs. but before that, for a brief while, the sentra became my home. hotel nissan. i spent a few weeks in the winter of 1997 sleeping in truck lay-by's off the long island expressway. now my legs go completely to shit on cold damp days.
i had only two cassettes with me during those weeks; if you know me at all you will understand that that was more tortuous than the weather. to this day portishead's dummy and genesis' calling all stations have unusual associations for me.
the nissan got a new trunk shortly after ex-sister-in-law bought the car new. she and would-be husband went to the drive-in theatre (go ask yer momma) one night while would-be wife and i watched tv with future mom- and dad-in-law. sister-in-law and beau came home early. seems they'd had a fender bender. at the drive-in. somehow they'd managed to kick off the parking brake and roll back out of their parking space into the car behind them. seems they couldn't reach the brake. on account of they was in the back seat.
do you know how hard it was to keep a straight face while sister-in-law related these facts to daddy, while beau got tinier and tinier?
the nissan got me to virginia and back to new york countless times during 1998. i lost a headlamp to a deer (who survived with less damage than the car), and eventually lost the whole car to wear and tear.
but this story wasn't supposed to be about any of those cars. it was supposed to be about another one. to ease my way back into the social circles of the blogosphere, i leave the order of the telling to you. i will eventually get to them all, but the choice is yours as to which tale comes first.
there is the honda, of which part of the tale has already been told.
there is the ford explorer.
there is the chevy corsica.
all of these vehicles are gone now, but each has a story of a rise and fall, complete with blood, sweat, and tears. your choice. i'm only the piano player.
Sunday, August 01, 2004
watching courtTV the other day and dale hinman describes a blood spatter as a 'random pattern.'
better late than never
wait by your mailbox with baited breath. you know who you are.