Friday, September 2, 2022

More Tedious

Alright.  O.K. I am going into full "anti-pandemic" mode.  That doesn't mean I'll be amongst the throng courting everything from the flu to Monkey Pox.  I just have to change my slothful existence.  Retirement and lockdown have done me in.  I get nothing done in a day.  My routine has been the same for years now.  I get up and read the news.  I timed myself this morning.  Even without reading so very many stories, and those usually not fully, but simply reading headlines, opening and closing paragraphs, etc., it was an hour. And that hour probably has the most deleterious effect on my overall being for the day.  It is usually the most mundane writing I ever read, often formulaic and rote.  

Then I write for another hour--blog, texts, emails, and "notes to self."  That's o.k.  It is an hour well spent.  

Then it is time to move.  I put on some music, make some breakfast, and try to shake off the arthritic stiffness that plagues me.  As my head re-enters the everyday world, I try to make a plan for the day.  Where will I go with a camera?  Which?  Will I develop film today?  Will I try some new chemicals concoction just to see?  Then I'll make a shopping list.  Are there any chores I could stand to do?  

And then I dress for the gym.  A quick half mile stumbly walk around the block to get the old blood flowing, then into the car to drive to the gym.  And hour and a half there.  Drive home.  Oops. . . stop for gas.  Home.  Lunch.  What the hell--with wine.  That has been a "Covid" addition.  A shower and other ablutions.  A nap.  Wake up at two-ish.  Muzzy headed, I check emails and texts.  I call my mother.  I think of all the things I had planned to do, make some edits.  All I have time for is a trip to the grocers.  Maybe I'd have time to take my car to the car wash.  Home by four.  It is time to go see my mother.  Shit. . . I should at least load the film in the developing tank so that I can soup it when I get home.  A trip to the garage where I run the now ruined printer, get into the tent and load the film.  Four-thirty.  I drive to my mother's in traffic and sit with her for an hour, an hour and a half.  I drive home.  Set the t.v. to record the six o'clock news on different networks.  Grab the chemicals, get them to the correct temperature.  Rinse, develop, rinse, fix, rinse, rinse, rinse.  Hang the film to dry.  The news it beginning, but it is recording.  Fix a drink, go to the deck, feed the cat and sit with her while I chill.  Make phone pics of my cocktail and send it around.  Cat leaves, I go in and start dinner.  By six thirty-ish, I am in front of the t.v. scanning the news, eating a small meal with wine.  Dinner done, pause the t.v. and put the dishes in the sink to soak.  Pour a giant after dinner scotch and undo pause to watch the news.  Tire of the news, pour another drink, and watch some YouTube.  Maybe cook up an image on the computer.  Eight o'clock, drink and binge watch something.  


I have become hideous.  Don't judge me.  Just look away.  

Yesterday, I was more active.  I woke earlier and finished at the gym earlier.  More day.  When I got home, I decided to change the burned out light bulbs on the second floor front of the garage apartment.  I grabbed two bulbs and went out to get the ladder.  It wasn't there.  Usually it is lying against the wall of the garage in the alleyway between it and the neighbor's house.  Maybe it was behind my house.  Walking around the property, I couldn't find it.  It was gone.  

Motherfucker.  Somebody stole my piece of shit double ladder.  Unbelievable.  They had to be creeping around the house to do it.  

I went back to the house and put the lightbulbs back.  O.K.  Keep working.  I grabbed a piece of thin cardboard and some paper towels and went to the garage for a futile attempt to clean the printer head.  That was a process, but after a couple bad tries, I had the paper towels filled with cleaning fluid under the printer head.  

Walking out of the garage, I smelled something like fiberglass epoxy.  Was it coming from the shed?  I opened the door.  Yup.  Something must have exploded or corroded.  Shit.  I was going to have to empty the shed and find it.  Wait--what?  There was the double hung ladder.  

I went bak to the house and got the lightbulbs, then grabbed the seemingly hundred foot piece of crap aluminum double ladder and headed to the front of the apartment.  

Before the accident, I was braver I guess.  I wasn't as afraid of a twenty foot fall.  Yesterday, setting foot on the shaky aluminum piece of shit, I had to psyche myself to climb.  

"Jesus, you pussy, WTF?  What are you going to do, hire someone to change the bulbs?  Rent a lift?  You shaky-legged sissy--c'mon."  

Of course, the ladder shifted slightly scaring the Jesus out of me.  When I got to the top, I still had to stretch to reach the light fixture.  Hand above head, I could not peer into the fixture and had to set the bulb by feel.  I was sweating.  My knees felt weak.  Stretching hand above head, I couldn't get it right.  Then I did.  Done, I moved the ladder to the next one.  Ibid redux.  

I was glad to be back on the ground as I left it.  Taking down the ladder, I felt myself a righteously accomplished worker man.  

I cleaned my hands and made some lunch--leftover chicken soup.  Not just any chicken soup.  My mother got a bad cold, so I had made her some chicken soup with garlic and love.  I pressure cooked a chicken with celery, carrots, and garlic in white wine (and some water) with salt, pepper, and red pepper.  When the chicken was done, I pulled it out of the InstaPot and set it on a plate to cool.  Then I shredded the chicken and put it back into the pot's liquid full of fat and collagen.  I dipped half of it into a container and took it to my mother.  

"This will make you right," I told her.  I gave her some NyQuil to go with it.  And indeed, that pretty much set her on the path to wellness.  

Of course. 

So that is what I heated up for myself.  Clean up the kitchen.  Shower.  No nap.  

Rather, I headed out for errands.  I returned a pair of shorts from Amazon to Whole Foods.  That was a bigger ordeal than I planned.  I had to set up the return online and get a scan code.  I don't do so well with that stuff on my phone, but within fifteen minutes, it was done.  

Next stop, REI.  I needed a new pair of running shoes.  The store was fairly empty, so I browsed a bit.  Everything was on sale.  I decided to try on some things.  The nice tatted lady let me into the fitting room with the usual big mirror and bright lights.  Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ--Brando and Welles had nothing on me.  I looked like the Great White Whale.  Why oh why oh why had I done this?  But it wasn't me.  No. . . it was Covid and lockdown.  I'd been sitting for two and a half years.  I'd been narcotizing myself with booze.  Mother of God, help me.  What was I going to do?

Nothing fit, of course.  They only make clothing now for tall, thin people.  Any shirt that would cover my girth hung to my knees.  I didn't want to try on the shorts after all.  I put everything back and went to the shoe department and stood for a very long time.  Finally a woman came over to help me.  I told her what I wanted and she ducked into the back to see if they had them.  They didn't.  But she could have them shipped to me.  

"But I need to try them on," I said.  

"You can try them on at home, and if you don't like them, just bring them in and return them."

And I said, "O.K."

She looked up a bunch of numbers and wrote them down on a piece of paper.  

"Just give this to the fellow at the checkout." 

Oh, those checkout people at REI are chatty.  They liked to hear all about their customer's lives and desires, children, etc.  

Finally, I was out of the store.  Why running shoes, you ask?  Oh. . . I had tried a slow trot on the treadmill at the gym that morning.  I started sweating like a pig ready for slaughter in mere moments, even at the twelve minute mile pace.  That's right.  So what?  I ran a six minute half mile and felt like I might be able to trot a bit again.  I immediately felt livelier and younger.  I needed new shoes.  

It was getting late, but I had time to get my car to the carwash.  I was stunned by the lady who dried my car.  I mean, she was really pretty.  She went at it like a champ.  What was her story?  Was she on some prison work-release?  It wasn't making sense.  Her face was starting to get rough, though, probably a combination of alcohol, sun, and crack.  Or whatever.  She probably had a tatted up criminal for a boyfriend.  There had to be a story there.  

But she was done and I was off.  When I got home, I grabbed two rolls of exposed film and went to the garage to put them into a developing tank where they would stay until I got home from my mother's.  

She was feeling much better.  We sat out in her garage and watched a tremendous squall blow in.  It was violent.  Tree branches were breaking and littering the street.  

"More wind than rain," I said.  We had to partially close the garage door.  

When it was done, I drove back home through the carnage.  

Before anything else, I cooked up the film.  After the final rinse, I hung them in the bathroom.  Disappointing, of course.  They looked like shit.  

I had accomplished my goal to be more active that day.  Sitting had cause me to spread, I thought.  I was just melting.  The dressing room mirror convinced me of another thing, too.  There was no wine with lunch, no cocktail when I got home.  There was no wine with dinner and no whiskey afterwards.  All of that was foremost on my mind, of course.  

"I'm not drinking.  I'm not drinking." 

I'd need to make it through the night.  I took half a Xanax.  After dinner, I had the A.A. staple--chocolate ice cream.  It can't be helped.  It is what the body craves through alcohol withdrawal.  

The Xanax made me sleepy.  I was in bed by 9:30. 

I didn't sleep well last night.  That is understandable.  I had drunk a lot of tea in the course of the evening. I got up to pee and drank some water.  I got up to pee and drank some more water.  I got up to pee.  I got up a last time before five.  

Whew.  That's over.  Surely.  I have an early start on the day.  I will stay on the move.  I will be productive.  There will be no afternoon wine, no napping.  I will not sit and melt another day. 

That's the plan, anyway.  The best laid plans of mice and men. . . .

An afterthought.  I watched some of Biden's platitudinous speech last night.  He is as bad a public speaker as Bennie Thompson.  His delivery, no matter what he is saying, makes me want the other thing.  Last night, I figured out who he sounds like--James Franco in "The Disaster Artist."  


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