The billing lady brought bagels to work today. I like to believe random acts of kindness still pack a punch. This same morning I brought in a bag of ‘Autumn Mix” to fill the office candy bowl with seasonal sweets for the same reason. As I ate a sesame seed bagel with schmear I remember my English teacher explaining “King Lear” would be totally appalling and pessimistic if not for the many little acts of kindness sprinkled through the play.  Of course not everyone is appreciative of the brought-in refreshments.  Two people took umbrage. One announced she is ‘gluten and sugar free” so she felt left out – and told us so – while the other remonstrated she is on a diet and it isn’t nice to bring things that could tempt her. I held my tongue to tell the latter the story of Mae West: when reporters asked her how did she feel about people complaining her radio show was vile, she replied: ‘Well, they could have turned it off”.

I find it frustrating – and somewhat rude – when deeds done out with good intent are criticized or execrated. I think Miss Manners would back me up on the axiom when someone offers you something you don’t want the proper response is ‘No thank you’ not a treatise on why you won’t/can’t take the offer (“Let me tell you the evil natures of white flour” ) or why they feel insulted. The other day I was exiting the lobby just ahead of a woman who seemed bogged down with her package. Out of habit I held the door open for her. She told me not to patronize she’s capable of opening a door herself.* My first impulse was to trip her up as she went by, but Miss Manners advises never to return rudness with rudeness. This is called ‘shaming them’ or ‘not stooping’ or ‘setting a good exmplae”. These aren’t very satisfactory but they are the meager weapons allowed to a gentleman.

In the end one should never judge the efficacy of random boy scout maneavers on how people appreciate them or how karma rewards you for your gallantry. Indeed, most of the time you know you’ve done “good” when you get screwed for it. I don’t know why this is so but there it is. This evening I plan to do something simple and nice to some random someone in the grocery store when I stop in to pick something up for supper. No doubt I will be punished but I won’t regret it.

*She went through it anyway without a thank you.

man_covering_his_earsAt the Mesa office the halls are filled with radio music to create an ersatz white noise lest people hear what’s happening in the rooms. I’ve remonstrated for years about the station setting, which is ‘classic rock’. The cacophony it creates doesn’t go well a place for healing.  Michael Jackson’s “Killer” just isn’t good for those coming in with anxious conditions. The repertoire adds further irritation as it seems to be only a handful of tunes, played over and over, and repeated in the same day.  Thanks to this exposure I now despise many songs if not the whole genera.

My chief bette noir is “Don’t stop believing” by Journey. This dreadful tune is played at  once and often twice a day. If Mr. Perry et. al. meant it to be a song of encouragement than it has backfired. The opening notes are enough for me to pull my own head off. I’m not the only one who gets up to close their office door against it.

I used to like Katy Perry. Hearing her continually shouted songs echo through the halls has sapped any savor I once had for the artist. By now all her tunes sound alike. There is a song with something about the eye of the tiger and another about teenage dreams, but they are now lumped into the common category of Katy Rants.

Mr. Jackson (may he rest in peace) has many inimical tunes that reverberate in our hallowed halls. His boyfriends Phil Collins and Prince are frequent flyers as well.

What I want is something new-age or classical to resemble a spa. If the point of all this boisterous music is to drowned the hallways in noise let’s do so with something soothing.   I have hope. I hope the new manager is amenable to changing the setting to KBAQ.

And don’t get me started on the day after thanksgiving when the same station switches to nonstop cheap Christmas trash tunes. Oh the horror; oh the pain.

I invite Spo-fans to leave in the comment section the names of the tunes they would sooner eat rats at Tewkesbury than hear.

For some time now the twenty-year-old refrigerator has been in decline. I don’t know if this makes it old in ‘fridge-years’ but it sure is acting like an ancient. The ice maker stopped working; it periodically wets itself by dribbling water down the inside of the freezer and making puddles out in front. The GE white two-door hackney periodically stops working all together and I have to provide CPR. Last week I hung up a ‘Do not resuscitate’ advance directive on its front via a refrigerator magnet.

Every cloud has a silver lining. I recently came into some money for a consultation job – just as the freezer was raging, raging, against the dying of the light. (1) Someone and I started the long process of looking for a new and functional fridge.  We read Consumer Reports; we measured the dimensions of the space; we ran around town to several stores.

Refrigerators sure have advanced since I last bought one. The modern ones have fancy iPad-lik panels mounted on their fronts which have more bells and whistles than my laptop. All I want is something functional, simple to use, and puts out when I press its lever. (2)

Sorting through this morass I remember why I give my patients a few options rather than a plethora. I find it quite overwhelming sorting through the myriad of choices. The variables are legion: stainless steel or not; side or bottom freezer (3);  dimensions and options abound. The ice dispensers have evolved to resemble the control panels of cockpits.

In the end we got an LG (whatever that means). It is a sturdy stainless steel lovely that has a button which allows you to open the entire door or just the front of the door if you are in a hurry to get to your beer. The ice dispenser is relatively simple; it dispenses whole or crushed ice and locks it all up lest burglars break in some night and desire something cold to drink. That will show’em.

And how did we settle on the one we purchased?  The Lovely Neighbor likes her fridge which she bought at Spencer’s, so we went there too. The salesman was quite amiable (compared to the no-help Home Depot staff).  Someone and I found a fridge whose shape and style we liked ‘by the looks of it”- one that did not even appear in Consumer Reports or on the list of well-researched appliances. It’s amazing how word of mouth combined with personal service still trumps all else. (4)

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(1) The loss of the refrigerator light was the final straw.

(2) Like my men.

(3) I like a bottom.

(4) For 300$ more we got either-or door option. We live but once.

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I seem to be more distracted and inattentive than usual. I have a lot things I want or should be doing but none if it is getting done. It’s Saturday and I don’t know how the week whizzed by to quickly. Perhaps my mind is going. Maybe Psyche decided my There’s-work-to-be-done list is inimical so it decided to blow the fuses to prevent me from running around. Who can tell.

Being a Space Ghost with a long list of chores to do is a lot like being a perfectionist who can’t get anything right. It is times like these when I wish I had Adderall. Taking it I suspect I would quite focused and the crowned heads of Europe* would be amazed at my transformation into productivity and ability to listen and sit still. It is said coffee is the “poor man’s Ritalin” to wit caffeine helps one to be alert and focused. Alas, with me the devil’s brew merely helps me to do stupid things faster with more energy.
People with hummingbird-minds like Urs Truly often make lists to keep them focused. Someone recommended I make mine using the “Notes” app on my cellphone but this backfires as more foudroyant apps easily distract and lo! twenty minutes later I have still not folded the laundry etc.

In the end it is amazing I get anything accomplished and I should be grateful I get something not nothing done. Now I am off to iron shirts for twenty minutes, dictate the last of the new patients evaluations, and tidy up the kitchen. In that order. There will be NO  internet surfing or Pavlovian responses to noises from the cellphone announcing I have email. I might make a cup of tea while ironing which is the best I can do at multi-tasking. Tea may not keep me focused but it is oh so lovely to drink.

* Or Someone.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections – or so I am told – sent a text message telling me my recent posts were ‘too doleful and disconsolate”; please write something more cheerful. I am dubious as The Board a) doesn’t know how to text and b) couldn’t spell doleful or disconsolate to save their life.  I suspect they got The Norns to send the message for them. Whoever it was, they have a point. It’s time to lighten things up.

I have a lot of Spo-shirts in various stages. Todd sent his back for alterations and I have several in various stages:

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I’ve promised Kelly this rainbow shirt for what seems like ages. It should be completed by this weekend. I like the yoke and pocket combination; I hope he does as well. 

 

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This one is for Urs Truly; it will be done soon after I finish Kelly’s shirt. The fabric has irregular bars and stripes. I am particular proud of the pocket for the bars line up with the ones on the front. It reminds me of Crate&Barrel furniture. 

 

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This one is actually finished ! I need to pop it in the post for the man who requested it. I made it extra long, apropos for giraffe types.

 

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Every year friend Doug debuts a new shirt at his bug convention- except this year when he wore a repeat. There was talk. I better get cracking lest that fashion faux repeat itself next summer.  He recently sent me this moth-eaten fabric. I suspect the moths are genuine. He will be the toast of town. Think of an actress on the red carpet with a designer dress on her back with the press in hot pursuit. 

 

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Here are three fabulous fabrics for future features. 

Unfortunately the nephew ended up going to That Other School in Michigan; I better get another three yards more apropos. 

The lobster and blue striped fabrics were bought in Prince Edward Island.

Laurent wants the blue one.

I don’t know who gets the lobster but I may keep it for myself. The red matches my eyes.

I am slowly editing my entries in anticipation of publishing.  I found this entry from August 2010. I thought I would repost it. I am not one for reruns, but I thought the newer Spo-fans may enjoy it.

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When I was a boy, there was a walk-in closest at the top of the stairs. It was more like a tiny attic. I remember it full up with boxes and hanging garment bags, which were stuffed with moth balls. I never knew their contents; I don’t recall my parents every going into them.

From time to time I would go into the closest, shut the door, and experience darkness. It was the only place I knew with a complete black out. I often went when things were quiet so I could not hear anything as well. It wasn’t necessary to do, but I would close my eyes. I would wrap myself in a blanket, and experience Nothing.

Sometimes I went there to get away from it all. Sometimes I went because I hoped to go somewhere. I was thrilled by the stories of “Alice in Wonderland”, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, and “The Phantom Tollbooth.”  I was waiting for one of these retreats to open Time and Space revealing some other dimension.

I liked the Nothing. I imagined while in this state I had ceased to exist. Nobody could remember who I was; I had never been. It was calming and thrilling. The curious thing was I do not remember experiencing this as Death. What I was experiencing was something different.  It was a total sensory deprivation, long before water tanks were conceived.

I never made this journey alone; I always brought one item with me. It was often my teddy bear. Sometimes it was merely a familiar blanket or toy. Apparently this anchor kept me safe for the journey that I would not completely dissolve into Void. My transitional object would allow me to return, if I wanted.

In these Journeys, I don’t remember thinking about anything, nor was I scared. As a boy I liked a night light, as the night time dark was unsettling. This total darkness was an ineffable something else.

Nobody ever knew I did this. There was no ‘Where have you been hiding? We’ve missed you!” to greet me when I came back.

Once in a while, when I am having a sad or painful day – or when I am just curious – I will enter the present walk-in closet, shut the door, and stand still.  While there is dark, there is no sensation of Nothing. To do this replication now feels foolish. There is a sense of disappointment. There is no sensation of a possible time warp, no door to another place (either external or internal). I am a middle aged man obliged to stay where I am. There is no need for a teddy bear or any safety object, as I am firmly anchored here; no chance of dissolving away.

I would give a lot to re-enter that  childhood closet at the top of the stairs.

I never told anyone this, not even my analysts.

Urs Truly is sitting in front of a fire. I am watching the flitting flames and hearing the crackling staccato of the burning wood. It is quite peaceful and I am quite relaxed. Unfortunately none if this is real: the flames are a video recording; the sonorous sounds of sizzling embers is white noise app.

I miss real fires.

When I was growing up in Michigan, our houses had proper fireplaces. Fires were seldom lit except on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I suppose this is where my positive associations for fires start. My brothers and I were mesmerized by fire. I guess there is a little pyromania in most boys. Father had to supervise us lest we poke about and make a mess or singe the carpet. The warm glow of fires inside were counterposed with the cold dark snowy outside. It made a pretty picture. I especially liked either end of  the life of a fire: the inchoate blaze accelerating from one humble match and the red-grey embers of a fire in decline. I could lie for hours in front of a fire, not doing anything.

When Someone and I moved to Ann Arbor I insisted on a house with a working fireplace. I lit as many as I fancied. The first fires were on All Hallow’s Eve to commemorate the bonfires of yore. I made these using last year’s Christmas trees, which were cut and stored from last December. The living room did not contain the TV so I could sit or lie in front of the fire in peace, the only sounds were the organic ones emanating from the heath. Nothing was so blissful as watching a blizzard outside while sitting near crackling flames while drinking cocoa (snorts had not yet been discovered).

There are no working fireplaces in Arizona. My current house has an ersatz fireplace, which is behind glass,and gas-driven. You turn it on with a switch, like a lamp. There is no redolence of burning pine; no crackle; no embers. It lacks an inglenook; the TV is next to it to spoil that setting. Frankly it is too hot to use the fireplace. Ironically, when it becomes cool enough to consider turning it on, a ‘no burning’ ordinance due to the winter-associated pollution.

If I am ever to retire I want to do so in a colder climate, one with snow and certainly to a place with a proper fireplace. Meanwhile I content myself with the fireplace app.  If I close my eyes the app does a decent job evoking ardent memories. I am beginning to nod as I finish this; I feel at peace. And I don’t have to worry about closing the chute.

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David recently suggested to bloggers they try writing their own obituaries as a lesson in self-discovery. It sounds a most fascinating exercise. I like the notion of writing your own – if only to get the facts right.  One can go over these things with a diving rod and not find yourself.

I don’t care much for obituaries. They follow the same formula of listing the deceased’s many attributes and accomplishments and the sorrowful devoted relations left behind.  If you know the person, then you readily know what is NOT being said. At times you can see through the threadbare phrases, the inane expressions of sympathy, and the cautious words used to conceal the details of something ignominious or sordid.

So, what would I like in my obituary? I don’t know. David’s challenge first conjured up what I don’t want: a list of my degrees, noble generosities, and all the Spos who outlived me. I suppose these items can’t be left out; my relations won’t disallow it.

What I want are my foibles, doubts, and a few oddities – some things that make me a person.

My great aunt Peg the genealogist liked to tell us stories about our ancestors who were all so virtuous as to be boring. What we kids really wanted to know were the scandals and short-comings, but these have been lost in time. Too bad. I prefer coming from guts not from blood.

Back to the task at hand. I would like some of my failures and how I survived them nevertheless. A few of my fears should be told as well, if only to illustrate the axiom “Be Not Afraid”. Unlike Edith Piaf I will have regrets when I die; I want them posted as a warning to people to live Life and not just get through it.

The best part of writing one’s obituary is making me think what more/else do I want to do. I should travel more and worry less. There should be more time off from work to do things of real value. I want to be less a Good Boy and more The Rebel. I should discover in the nick of time Life is for living.

In my favorite short story “The Dead” Gabriel Conroy learns his wife has locked away in her heart the memory of a boy who had died for her out of love. He wonders what he has had in compared to such passion.

“One by one, they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. “

That may be what I want as my obituary:

“He passed boldly into Death with glory and passion rather than wither away in proper prudence. “

Come into my mind and see some Complexes that vex my Ego so ……

People think I am industrious and I continually strive for improvement and apotheosis when in fact I am a closet couch potato slob. This evokes a constant diligence in Urs Truly about going over the edge into indolence and lead-butt lethargy. Given the chance I surmise I would sit ensconced for days, unshaven, unshowered, eating Cheesy Poofs out of paper bags, and accomplishing nothing – or so I fear.

This worst-case scenario has never happened but it could.

Happily my White Trash Complex is no match for the Inner Police who is on patrol 24/7 looking out for sloth and squalor.  He doesn’t just blow the whistle and tell me to move along but he shouts out “Don’t be a Dweeb!”.  Example: while walking past the ottoman overloaded with magazines I knocked off a few of them. White Trash saw this but wanted to keep going. My Inner-Policeman shouted “Don’t be a Dweeb!”, I turned around and picked them up and proceeded onward.

I am not certain why “Dweeb” works rather than Slob, Jerk, Lazy, or You Stupid Idiot but there it is.  I am not even certain what Dweeb means, so I just looked it up.

Dweeb;(n): a person who behaves awkwardly around other people and usually has unstylish hair, clothes, etc.

Dweeb sounds more clumsy than louche, but as it is efficacious I doubt there will be a change in name calling any time soon if ever.

It isn’t a very nice or efficient system to be badgered by an inner-neat freak.  I suppose I should be grateful, otherwise the recyclables would pile up and my teeth would go unbrushed.

Someone finds it amusing I am constantly getting up to do things, tidy up, and check off things to do when he’s perfectly content to sit in front of the TV for a this-or-that marathon.  If he only knew what I am capable of – or not capable of – as it were.

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Walking the dog

I woke this morning to a sudden swat of a paw across my face. I was in the beginning of a seduction dream (nice) with a patient of mine (creepy). I won’t ever know if I was to succumb to such a lurid taboo as the paw-swat woke me right up. I opened one eye to find Harper over me looking worried-excited, as if it was last call to board a plane. I know that look: time to get up and go for a walk-walk-walk. I put on my trousers, Harper did her pandiculations, and off we go.

After seven years more or less doing the routes you would think it would lose some luster, but we leave home like a greyhound out of the gate. She can’t wait to get to the bushes for her sniffs. Do they elicit euphoria? Do they tell her the neighborhood news?  Whatever the reasons she loves to nose about the shrubberies.

It is getting cooler; our peripatetic morning ritual becomes more pleasant – and more in the dark. Harper doesn’t mind the dark. The one thing she does mind is water. Princess Pooch will walk a wide arc around running water or a puddle so as not to get her paws wet.

Don’t tell Someone but we are getting sloppy in our steps. We should be stopping at every corner for her to sit before crossing the street. In my desire to keep going we plow forward. I need to reverse this lest he join us some morning and be aghast how slattern are our habits.

After the walk, Harper wants a treat. We think she’s gained some unnecessary weight so the doggie-meaty-yummie-stix have been halved. Usually she takes it and runs off to eat it in the living room. Now she swallows the tidbit in a gulp and sits there looking for more. I daresay she sulks some when no more is forthcoming.

Ah well.  The disappointment sure hasn’t put a dent in her enthusiasm for morning walks.

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