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Yesterday while mopping the floor I tripped and stumbled into the hallway only to fall on the tile onto my R hip.  I was on Facetime at the time and not paying attention to where I was going. I tripped on a throw rug that was not usually there.  While trying not to fall I was only half paying attention how to do this with the least damage as I was distracted by concerns not to drop the phone.  The person with whom I was speaking must have seen and heard an awful sight as the phone (and Urs Truly) went down screaming expletives with the phone flying in front of me.  Oh the pain; oh the embarrassment!

The cliché of ‘life flashing before your eyes’ is true; in the seconds it took me to realize my situation and complete the fall my mind flew to the worst case scenario and its dire consequences. I was about to break something probably the hip and enter into that awful and decrepit realm of ‘someone with a hip injury” and all it entails. I was home alone at the time which conjured up another cliché of lying there unable to get up. As I lay there in pain the signs were such nothing was broken besides my dignity.  There was a temporary projection this was the fault of my phone and/or the Facetime caller. This is nonsense: it was all my g-d fault for not paying attention where I was going. After I crawled to retrieve the phone (also not broken) I was tempted to throw it as far as I can but but restrained myself.  I called my friend back to explain what had happened and to apologize. *

Today I am only mildly sore and I count my blessings. It could have been a lot worse. This dark comedy had a funny insight it was another realization I am growing old. A young man when he falls does not worry about fractures; older guys do.

The incident reminds me to continue resistance training (weights) to keep the bones strong and for goodness sake DO NOT WALK AND USE A PHONE AT THE SAME TIME.  Go thou and do likewise.

 

 

*When I called him he was walking on the sidewalk while taking my Facetime call. I told him he was as foolish as I was. An hour later he texted he too had had a fall and his arm was hurting like billy-o.  Fools !

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I wrote a brilliant entry the other day at work (Phoenix) but I forgot to post it. Alas Bablyon! I am at the other office (Mesa) today and I have no idea upon which to write. Sometimes as an exercise i look around the room and/or wait for The Muses (or somebody like them) to insert into my consciousness some random thought like a mustard seed.

This morning on one of my many morning podcasts “Omnibus” was discussing the history of Cincinnati chili. I have never heard of such a thing let alone its history. It sounds rawther delicious – and just in time for February’s   ‘Soup of the month”. Straw-splitters may take umbrage at this. I have expanded ‘soup’ to include ‘chili’ which opens up countless possibilities with the advantage Someone will eat chili (he is not fond of soup).

Oh what a deep and treacherous rabbit hole when it comes to chili! Not only does C. chili have various recipes each version is attacked and defended as which one(s) is the ‘proper’ one. People get awfully queer as well about what is chili. The articles and  comments resemble 17th century European religious wars and they are almost as deadly.

Mother made awful chili. It consisted of hamburger meat, tinned kidney beans with tinned tomatoes, and some chili powder. That’s it. Father did not like spicy or complex foods. In contrast I love chili recipes that are complex, spicy, and nuanced – like my men.

I like chili with beans in them and I am a very fond of a recipe from The Vegetarian Times titled ‘Big bowl of red’ which as you can tell is sans meat (that means without). I can already hear the howl resembling an orchestra of scorched cats emanating from Spo-fans at these culinary blasphemies. I recently found a chili recipe with the bold title “The only Texas chili recipe you’ll ever need”. It goes out of its way to show it does not have beans and those who think to add some will be shot.

Now that I’ve poked around the internet I am uncertain if Cincinnati Chili counts as chili let alone meets the criteria for ‘Soup of the month” but I will make it anyway.

If Spo-fans have a must-try chili recipe I would be grateful to have it. I am not picky. Once upon a time I even made a chili with shrimp in it. Mercifully there was no shooting.

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Note: The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections wasn’t clear if this one is or isn’t serious. They are not quick to catch onto tongue-in-cheek humor. I was asked to write an introduction clarifying what is the point of  all of this but I won’t.  Spo. 

Valentine’s Day is not a major holiday at La Casa de Spo. We don’t exchange cards or prizes nor do we give each other chocolates and imperial tidbits. We avoid eating out that night as restaurants are crowded with couples who I sense are doing this more out of obligation than romance. This year we are invited to a Valentines Day party. I forget what is the point of the party. I suppose it’s ‘to have a good time’ over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and chit-chat. I cannot remember when we were last invited to any sort of social soiree; I hope I can remember how to do them.  I am somewhat a shy person so party mingling makes me self-conscious.  I am aware of ‘The Spotlight effect’ so I no longer worry that everyone is watching my every move.*  If I don’t make a conscious effort to reach out at parties I will invariably stand in the corner undisturbed by all others. 

I am a wiz at interviewing people so it is easy for me to hide my social phobia behind a series of rehearsed questions. Getting people to talk is better than trying to talk about yourself and I am good at that. My psychiatric super-powers help me override my usual role at parties which is to become invisible within minutes of making an ingress.

I seldom ask people what they do for a living as this is usually of little to no interest. Finding out how someone knows the host(s) is always a good starter question, as is what is their opinion on what they are eating or drinking. Another good question (call it my party trick) is  ‘What’s your story?” This is open-ended enough to see which way the wind will blow.  Most folks respond with their work but this can be manipulated to get them to talk about other areas of their life.  Invariably someone asks me what I do for a living. I usually dodge this with one or two equivocations about my hobbies and recent reads (“And what have you read lately? Anything good?”). Invariably someone insists no really what do I do for a living.  I take a deep breath, I utter the “P” word, and watch. Few people remain neutral in reaction. I watch which of the usual responses will happen: anxiety, anger, horror, or erroneous fascination.  I remember one woman looking like I had just confessed to being a mass-murderer. She turned around promptly left the party.  

I hope two things will happen when I attend a party.

#1: I hope I won’t leave feeling I had acted the fool. It is easy for me to go into The Clown Personae at parties. This ‘works’ but leaves me with the feeling I was being an ass.

#2  I hope to have met some folks I would like to see again.  Apart from the couple who invited us this Friday Someone and I have no friends in town so it would be nice to have some. I make it a point in any gathering to talk to at least three people who are total strangers. 

I admire people who ‘just go’ and natter without worrying about all this rubbish. My way is rawther exhausting.   I suppose if I had more party-practice it would be easier and more enjoyable to do. 

Group of friends alcoholics people at a bar illustration.

*The spotlight effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are being noticed more than they really are. The reason for the spotlight effect is the innate tendency to forget that although one is the center of one’s own world, one is not the center of anyone else’s. In other words, unless you are doing something outrageous no one is watching you.

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Sometimes I fantasize about moving back to Michigan (Land of Perpetual Snow and Ice) but then I spend some time in a proper winter and I have my doubts. My time this weekend with the cousins was splendid, however it was continuously marred by worries about the weather. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised given it is February and I am in Colorado.  Blizzards and threats of mountain highway closing didn’t seem to faze the others. After all they live here and drive monster vehicles the size of snowplows. Snow is lovely – if you don’t have to go out into it. During winter my Nordic ancestors did not go out for months at a time other than to tend the animals. Otherwise they sensibly stayed put. Yesterday while we we making out descent on I-70 from Lake Dillon to Denver in the roaring snow I wondered why the others were out. It was Monday yet it was bumper-to-bumper.  I felt sorry for the trucks although a trucker friend assures me they are used to it; let us hope so. 

I must have been a refugee in a previous life for nothing vexes me more than being at the airport and (due to snow) the flight it canceled and I must die in some foreign city without my meds. I now pack a days’ extra blood pressure Rx which is either a good Boy Scout move or (more likely) a talisman against such a calamity.  Happily it is clear as a bell this morning and the sun is shining. All the same I am getting to the Denver Airport hours ahead of time lest there is a crisis.  Why bother traveling when it always comes to such neurotic grief?

Next month I go to Palm Springs which is a safe trip sans snow sans airport sans TSA. Palm Springs sounds a better place to retire than Michigan but the trade-off is the place roasts in summer time and there are enough tired old queens there anyway.  One cannot win. 

These days I spend a lot more time in bed. Soon after supper I want to retire; 8PM might as well be midnight. This happens every January through February. After dinner I do the minimum of paperwork and tidy-up and it is off to bed for the rest of the evening. Outside it is cold and dark as a winter’s night in Russia while inside I am snug and warm under flannel sheets and blankets. * Harper joins me; she is better than a warm water bottle. Being in bed by eight o’clock doesn’t mean I go right to sleep though. Piled up next to me (or surmounting my head) is a pile of books, journals, and other reading material.  In bed I abjure blue-light of the Kindle for dead-wood proper books which are read by warm ambient light. Alongside the books sometimes a glass of water stands on the nightstand and with it (in a whim) a bag of Goldfish crackers or nasty chips to munch.  What more does one want in bed than this? 

These vespertine indulgences paradoxically speed up the endless dark night hours. My iPhone chimes six bells in no time.** I don’t have insomnia  rather I have sleep avoidance: I don’t want to fall asleep. To do so means 5AM wake up will come. It is just and dark if not colder than night but the difference is I have to get up. Marschallin-like I want to stop the clocks and forbid the morning. Alas I may as well trying holding back the tide. Even the best books and most intriguing audio-lectures can not stop Mr. Sandman from his nightly task of putting us straight to sleep. Harper goes first. I keep a bookmark handy knowing I won’t remember where I literally dropped off the night before. 

Then there is the silence. All I hear right now is the slow steamy hiss of the humidifier and Harper’s rhythmic breathing The laptop makes an irregular soft tap tap taping sound as I type. This is only interrupted by faraway sonorous sounds of Aunt Marion’s clock chiming in the office. It tells me it is a quarter to, but what hour? Who can say. I am dozing off as I write this. I will close for now and  read a few pages of “Bless me Ultima” and fall asleep hoping to dream of waterfalls and ice cream.  

ourssieste

 

*I exaggerate of course. “Cold” is a relative term. This week we are getting freeze warnings.  This is positively gelid for my desert thin blood. 

**11PM. 

Stephen Fry is presently pursuing The Seven Deadly Sins in a podcast.* Mr. Fry’s witty and thoughtful reflections on them got me thinking about my own foibles in these areas.  It turns out I’ve been meditating on them already as the current president seems to have them all in spades. Pride is the often thought to be the worst of them but I wonder about Envy. Envy is the only Deadly Sin that doesn’t have a good feeling to it.  The other six can be jolly good fun but not Envy. Ovid’s portrayal of the goddess Envy captures its horribleness: 

Godfried_Maes_-_Illustrations_to_the_Metamorphoses_of_Ovid,_Minerva_at_the_House_of_Envy

Minerva visits Envy

 

“The object of her visit sluggishly 

arises from the ground where she’d been sitting, 

leaving behind her interrupted dinner 

of half-eaten reptiles. Stiffly she advances, 

and when she sees the beauty of the goddess 

and of her armour, she cannnot help but groan, 

and makes a face, and sighs a wretched sigh. 

Then she grows pale, and her body shrivels up. 

Her glance is sidewise and her teeth are black; 

her nipples drip with poisonous green bile, 

and venom from her dinner coats her tongue.”        – OVID

 

My Briggs-Myer profile seven deadly sins profile is as follows:  I am low on the rating scales for pride, avarice, and anger; I am moderate on gluttony, sloth, and lust** but envy is my bete noir. It is still far too easy for me to hear about another man’s lot in life and think gee I wish I had that. Mind! I don’t want the fortunate fellow with the ‘haves’ not to have it, nor do I relish his loss if that should happen. My Envy is “Envy-lite” viz. I want that as well. My envies are not intense nor are they toxic but they are numerous. I thought of writing out a list of what makes me experience envy but why bother really. Seeing guys at the gym or reading the happy lots of Facebook friends pings Envy more than I care to have. Fortunately I am cognate of it so when it happens before I turn green and drool I say to myself oh give it a rest and just move on. This works yet I wish it wasn’t there in the first place.   

So much of Envy arises from a sense of insecurity and when we compare our insides to another’s outsides. The in-shape guys at the gym may be struggling with depression or financial instability. Facebook friends looking to live the life may be mere Potemkin villages. After the raw emotion hits and passes Envy can a teacher. Sifting through its confused signal it can guide me towards purpose and decent ambition and if there is anything really missing from my life.  “Nah, I don’t really ‘want’ that”. 

Now that I’ve knocked down Envy a bit, it’s time to work on Gluttony. I hope Mr. Fry has some tips about nasty chips.

 

Loser

 

*A handy mnemonic for the 7: PALE GAS < Pride; Avarice; Lust; Envy; Gluttony; Anger; Sloth. 

**Back in my prime Lust used to be beat the others by a good country mile. Time’s done in that one.

lww

Note – The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections nearly vetoed this entry. They couldn’t determine if it validated or negated their well-being. I assured them it was quite the former. They also feared Spo-fans would find it depressing couldn’t I write something else instead?  I said no: this is what came out of my head this morning and Athena-like there was not stopping it. They can send their complaint to The Muses. 

Last week I wrote about my emotional reactions that happen when I learn so-called truisms are rubbish. More than one Spo-fan wondered how I reconcile my love for fantasy given my desire for truisms.  This is a fair question.

Mankind and fantasy have been integral from the get-go as show in the earliest of cave paintings.  Around The Age of Enlightenment fantasy went from being true literally to being mostly metaphor but not as much as you may think.  Jung concluded in his life’s work on the topic not only are we ‘wired’ for wanting fantasy we need it. Humans don’t need fantasy to make life bearable; humans need fantasy to be human. It is vital to our well-being like food and oxygen. The Gradgrinds of history who try such often meet with disaster as well as mere failure.

When our fantasies are found to be not literally true a problem arises. When we learn about Santa Claus and The Tooth fairy we conclude fantasy is a waste of time.  Yes they are lies but they are the small ones we practice with to learn the value of fantasy. Childhood fantasies let us practice so we can later believe in the big ones. This is where and how we get in contact with something to make our lives meaningful and bearable.

What are the big lies/fantasies?: Meaning, Justice, Divine intervention, Karma, Mercy, and Order.  I sure don’t see any signs in the universe these being ‘true’ but we go on believing them.  We so want Meaning and Rightness etc. to be truisms not fantasies because without these what’s the point?*  Fantasy may have a lot of nonsense and escapism to it but it also holds human hope.

Light is both a wave and a particle; fantasy is both lies and truths.  La Casa de Spo is riddled with fantasy creatures. Even as I type I hear the Cup Sprites in the other room moving about my tea things. La Casa even has a ghost albeit not too impressive of a specimen.  They all keep me charged to believe in Meaning and Justice.  Through fantasy I don’t succumb to despair of grandgrindism in a meaningless  universe.

 

quote-everything-great-that-ever-happened-in-this-world-happened-first-in-somebody-s-imagination-astrid-lindgren-105-76-01

 

*That is a topic for another entry someday.

TBDHSR

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections informs me they are not happy with this month’s entries. They write on the whole the month’s items are a disappointment. The thoughtful dears provided a catalog of complaints: my attempts at humor weren’t funny and the profound ones were boring. I replied it is hard to be funny or recondite while witnessing the decline of nation and world while experiencing work stress abd suffering from terrible GI problems. They were not moved to tears. They hoped February would be better – meaning better entries. As is their wont while slapping my back in ersatz empathy they made discreet references to torture if there was failure.

No pressure here.

So this month shall end with mundane matters neither humorous or profound.

The follow-up appointment with the dentist was a good one. The area from which the tooth was pulled is healing and my remaining teeth and gums are in good shape. I wait some months until some sort of titanium screw is inserted and a subsequent cap to complete the process. This weekend I try tooth whitening #2 for they resemble old ivory piano keys.

January was good for keeping resolutions: I finished a Great Course series (History of Eastern Europe), I read three books, I made ‘soup of the month” (albeit badly) *. I lost five kilos although this was ‘cheating via an inability to open my mouth and chew. Let’s see how February goes now that I can open wide which by the way is the name of the dental office.

Mother is not doing well. In her frustration (and probable depression) she is makes despondent and dyspneic phone calls to my brothers (curiously not me) hinting she is dying. This gets my brothers agitated who then call me. It’s hard to get hold of what’s really happening (behind the drama); I think my parents are avoiding my phone calls. Perhaps they don’t want me to poke holes in their denials. When I do get hold of Father he sounds haggard yet he doesn’t process any of this really. He dismisses her as depressed. I am more worried about Brother #3 who sounds quite worn from all his intervention attempts when she/they are upset. **

Today is the first anniversary: 31 January is when we first met (1997). We got hitched 22 February 2-3 years ago which is the second anniversary. This evening Someone works at one theater while I attend Verdi’s Requiem at another. We plan to go out afterwards if were are not too tired for Aviations and a pizza and screw intermittent fasting low-carb rubbish at least for this evening oughta do something to mark the occasion.

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Not a recent photo

*The recipe assured me there was no need to pre-soak the beans prior to putting all the ingredients into the crockpot. Six hours later the beans were hard as ever. It was a disappointment.

**Brother #2 just texted to say Mother’s doctor is recommending going to hospital right away for a tune up and afterwards hospice care. I hope she heeds her physician and goes. She tends to listen to Brother #2. After all he’s a ‘real doctor’.

 

During a visit with Brother #2 his very high-energy dog kept knocking things off the coffee table with her nonstop tail. “This is why we can’t have nice things” he said as he picked up knocked-over objects. Once upon a time Brother #3 said essentially the same thing as his two kids were running around the place doing what kids do. I do not have children and Harper has a tame temperament one;  in theory I could have a lot of nice things. When I look around La Casa de Spo everything seems in need of repair or replacement.  No nice things in view.

“This is why we can’t have nice things” is a useful phrase applicable to tedious situations the result of a bureaucrat’s beadledom or somebody’s shenanigans. Last week an insurance company sent a seven page fax basically saying a prescription I wrote was denied. Seven pages! It was full up with cover-their-butts stuff and how to repeal instructions more complicated than income tax forms. Airports are riddled with rules and regulations done in response to some sort of nonsense resulting in things no good for anyone. Apparently some airline wants to now charge for any sort of carry-on item in response to thems who were bringing on board their entire entourage of luggage. We can not eat peanuts on board lest there is an allergy up front but we have to sit next to ‘emotional support animals” regardless of allergies or aversion to cats.*

“This is why we can’t have nice things” applies to the office kitchens, especially the refrigerators. No one polices these things and everyone forgets what they put there so both kitchens are full up with plastic grocery bags containing goodness-knows-what.

Perhaps it is futile trying to strive for nice things. The second law of thermodynamics combines with human frailty to make a doom more ominous than Ignorance and Want.  The universe is telling me to let go and join The Lotus Eaters of less than luxurious and logical living.  All the same I plan to keep in touch with my inner-Archibald Tuttle to try to get and keep some nice things or at least keep the AC working as it were.

 

*The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections reading this entry sent feedback it looks like I went off on a tangential tirade against airplane travel and I should get back on topic.  Another example of ‘this is why we can’t have nice things” is know-it-all editors fearful of any sort of outrage leashed against composition in the comments.

Thursday last my father texted me. This was extraordinary as he has never me before. At first I thought it was some scam or a brother perhaps pulling me leg but it really was Father. After playing twenty questions with him via text I learned Brother #3 got him a new phone to replace the antiquated ‘flip’ phone which he never used anyway. Now that my parents are sort of dependent on a cellphone at their new place they might as well use one under the careful supervision of Brother #3. I asked Father if he wanted to join the text group consisting of his progeny.  To my surprise he declined. He explained he doesn’t plan on texting much and he likes the phone off more than on to keep away the outside world.*

I admit I am envious. My phone is also my pager so it stays on and nearby even as I sleep lest there is a work matter.  I am continually drawn to it whenever it chirps, buzzes, and rings and even when it is silent just to see what’s there.  As mentioned I am in a few ‘text groups’. These suddenly start and everyone joins in with little if any taking turns until it all drops off as quick as it had appeared. 

My godfather doesn’t have a cellphone; the only means to get hold of him is to call his house and hope he’s home. Someone knows a woman who  doesn’t have a cellphone or email either and she’s proud of such. I can never determine if these types are blessed or downright inconsiderate.  Both are old people so these types are not likely to last.

The worse case scenario justifying my 24/7 phone is not likely to happen. The pager system seldom calls and when it does it is usually ‘no emergency’ certainly nothing that couldn’t wait awhile for me to respond to it. People seem to demand the immediate return of their calls and texts but this doesn’t mean it has to be done. 

I think I will practice putting away the phone this week; I will check in on it less often. Anything less than ‘continually’ is a good first step.  I wonder if I will feel better for it. 

 

cellphone-addiction

 

*Last month when they were living alone it was important to have a phone. Now they live at the assisted center: help is a mere push of a button away.  

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