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Friday, September 20, 2013

The Famous Writer

Whatever I did out on that dance floor Saturday night is painful and scary.  The pain is a sharp ache, if there is such a thing, and it is constant.  I think I managed to do significant damage to my hip.  This afternoon in the shower, I noticed a large bruise on that side.  Yes, a bruise.  My hip bled internally and probably is still bleeding some and I didn’t even strike it on anything.  All I did was shake my moneymaker, hard.  Tomorrow I’m going back to urgent care to get a referral to an orthopedist.  The pain pills continue to make me nauseated and I vomited violently yesterday afternoon.  With all the vomiting and itching and fuzziness they cause, the pills don’t stop the pain.    

Wednesday afternoon I fetched The Famous Writer from Bennet House, the assisted living facility where he is living for now, and we went off to do his errands and eat some lunch at a place called The Brewery.  We had a little trouble finding the place because he wasn’t really sure where it was, but we stumbled on it with a little help from Google.  He seems a bit foggy at times and I think it’s because he was treated for Parkinson’s (which he does not have) and for some unidentified psychosis for a while and the drugs messed with his brain.  He’s always been crazy but those drugs were not what he needed.  

We settled in and he had a glass of Guinness and I had some Glenlivet on the rocks while we chatted and caught up.  His life is pretty much in chaos, but he seems resigned to it, at least for the short term.

According to The Famous Writer, his ex-wife, went crazy and divorced him a few months ago and that’s why he’s living at Marsh View.  He says she’s been throwing crazy all up on him via emails and texts and he is pretty aggravated about that.  I expect he's thrown a little crazy her way, too.  She kept the car.  He hasn’t bought himself another one yet but he has a line on a Toyota with only 100,000 miles on it.

Some years ago, The Famous Writer made a deal with the university in College Town to house his considerable archives after his death.  Since his divorce from Susan, he got in touch with the librarian who is in charge of archives at the university and offered his things now.  The librarian is pumped at the idea and is sending a crew to gather up all of his notes and interviews and memorabilia.  Most of the things are in his office at Susan’s house, which used to be his house too, but he has some things in his cell, as he calls it, referring to his tiny room at Marsh View.  He was unclear about the time frame for all this, but he is going to College Town later this month to have dinner with the university president and some dignitaries who will be funding the project. 

It turns out that The Famous Writer is good friends with Colonel Bruce.  He’s the man we went to Coastal Kitchen to hear on Saturday night.  I didn’t know they were friends when, as soon as we arrived, I told Celeste, my roommate, that we should have brought The Famous Writer with us. I'm not surprised, though. He knows a whole lot of people in the music world.  

We went to the bank and the drug store and to a liquor store down at Exit 44 where they keep his favorite sauvignon blanc in stock for him.  He bought a case, which it what he usually does, and when we got back to his assisted living facility, he produced a tote from the leather bag he always carries around and we loaded it with six of the bottles.  He took them inside, and after another trip the whole case was safely in his cell.  He reminded me more than once that it was okay to have that much wine in his room.  I said I didn’t care.  What he drinks is his own damned business.

He needed to go to the drug store to question the amount they charged on his credit card.  Turns out someone else has been using his card number - to the tune of nearly $900.00.  He got all that straightened out and was feeling considerably less poor when we left.

We sat on the porch and rocked in the cool afternoon breeze and talked some more.  He remains in touch with the members of the band he wrote a book about.  He told me he has a new book in the works but that because he has chronic pain, it is difficult to write.  He has an appointment with a pain specialist next week.
In his own words, “I can’t write with all this pain, and if I’m not writing, I’m not me.”

I was reminded of a quote from Franz Kafka, “A 
non- writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

My hip was throbbing so I said I had to come home.  We kissed and said good-bye.  I can’t wait to bring him over here.

God, how Clint would love that I’ve found The Famous Writer after all these years.  He would just love it.

© 2013 cjschlottman

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Fat Man Made Me Do It

I’m blaming it on the fat man.  I mean, the scrawny man with the glasses is not at fault here.  He’s just the reason I ended up on what was making do for a dance floor.   

Colonel Bruce was jamming it up at Coastal Kitchen on Saturday night so Marnie and I went to hear him and his band.  Old Bruce was singing and playing that guitar of his and laying his soul out for all to see and we were hanging out on the porch just dancing with ourselves.

Then I saw the scrawny man with the glasses dancing all alone right in front of the bandstand.  He started pleading with a table of stuck-up women to come out there with him but they didn’t have any time for him.

Okay, I might have been wanting to dance with a live person pretty bad.  So I went down where he was and started shaking my moneymaker.  He was jumping around like a chicken but he would occasionally swing me around.

I guess the fat man didn’t want to miss out on the action because before long he appeared out of nowhere and stepped out there with us and started grinding his rather abundant booty around and waving his arms, kind of like a hippo on speed.  Jesus.  I was dancing in a zoo.   

I swear to God I was not gyrating hard enough to throw anything of joint.  I swear.  The pavement was uneven and when the fat man lost his rhythm while we were doing a sort of bump thing, I stepped on a brick and threw out my right hip.  I felt the crunch.

Embarrassed and not wanting to look like an old lady who couldn’t dance a little while without injuring some body part, I stayed with it for about a minute more.  I have to say the pain pretty much took my heart out of it.  My hip was screaming at me to stop so I did and after a while Marnie and I came on home.  We were both tired and I needed to put some ice on my hip and pray nothing was broken.  I worried that I might be dragging her away from the band but she insisted she was ready to leave.

I didn’t sleep much.  My hip was hurting pretty bad and I couldn’t get comfortable.  Honey was outdone with me for flopping around from side to side all night and she settled at the foot of the bed instead of on the pillow next to me where she usually sleeps.  Who could blame her?  A dog deserves a little peace and quiet in the middle of the night.

Sunday morning finally came and I got up and made some coffee and looked in the phone book for the number of the urgent care place that is so conveniently located about half a block from here.  I called and found out they didn’t open until twelve o’clock and then waited and watched the clock until noon.  I somehow found out I could walk without a lot of pain if I flailed my right leg (the injured one) way out to the side.  It wasn’t pretty, really looked like I had something shoved up my ass, but it worked.  I tried a cane and it helped some but not like the leg flailing thing. 

Marnie took me over to urgent care and while I was waiting she went to the nail salon to fetch my iPad.  I left it the other day when I got a manicure.  That’s the kind of thing I do all the time - leave my important stuff around town.  I have to do business with people I can trust.  I once left my debit card at The Players Club in Macon.  They all just sighed and put it in a safe place for me.

When I got in to see the doctor he ordered an x-ray and I am pleased to report that nothing is broken, which is not to say that nothing hurts.  The doctor explained to me that I have a severe hip sprain, probably some damage to the muscles and tendons.  Hell, I didn’t know a person could sprain a hip.  An ankle, yes.  A hip, no.

So he gave me a prescription for some pain pills and muscle relaxers and said if I were not a whole lot better in four days I should come back and pick up my x-rays and he would send me to an orthopedist.  He said I should rest in bed as much as possible.  It wasn’t hard to follow his instructions.  Every time I took a step I wanted to scream. 

Here it is Tuesday night and I have to say if it weren’t for the pain pills I would have pulled out all of my hair by now.  I can actually walk without the flail and be pretty comfortable but when the drugs wear off, the pain starts up again.  There’s a down side to those pills, though.  They make me nauseated and itchy.  My nose is red from me scratching it.  My skin feels hyper-sensitive and itches too.  I’m foggy in my brain and slow to react.  I can’t think of any reason anyone would want to take Lortab for fun.  

Tomorrow afternoon I’m supposed to go to Brunswick and pick up Stanley and take him off to a pub so we can have a proper visit. I haven't seen him in over ten years and I intend to keep that date.  Ever since I talked to him on the phone the other afternoon, I’ve been excited about seeing him.  

Stanley Booth is a writer of some note, having written Rythm Oil: A Journey Through The Music Of The American South, not to mention The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones, which has been translated into just about every language and remains popular since its release in 1985.  It was re-released last year.  Also last year, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Smithsonian honoring his work.  There are other books as well and he has written articles for GQ and Rolling Stone just to mention two well respected magazines who have published his work.

He’s about the best story teller I ever knew, and the idea of missing an afternoon with him because of this fucking dancing injury is out of the question.  I will be there.  Stanley will talk and I will listen and forget about my hip for a while. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Denzel Washington

“Well, hello there, Miss 202!”

The voice rang out from across the atrium in the doorway of 201.  A handsome and animated black man in his Mailman uniform hurried over to my side of the walkway.  He was wearing those cute Mailman shorts I like so much.

“I was wondering where you are.  Have you been in and out since you moved?  I have some mail and a package for you.  I worry when I can’t get my mail to my folks.”

His teeth are as white as any I’ve ever seen and his smile is wide and contagious.  I smiled back as we got on the elevator to go down to the garage where the mailboxes are.

I stuck out my hand.

“Hi, I’m Claudia.”

“Denzel Washington,” he said with a straight face as he gave my hand a firm and friendly shake.  There was a glint in his eye that made me want to hug him.  

“My name’s really Melvin.”  

“Well, it will always be Denzel to me!”     

“I was out with shoulder surgery for a while and just about the time I was ready to come back to work, somebody busted the other one. I missed you moving in and I've been trying to catch you since I got back.”

I decided not to ask any questions about his shoulder.  After all, it was our first meeting and the idea of someone hurting this man makes me queasy.  Maybe he will tell me about it later.

He showed me how to open the big box in our mail stack where he puts packages.  I wondered what the extra key in my mailbox was for, and now I know.

He handed me the package.

“Here you go, Missy.  Be careful.  It’s heavy.  Must be full of money.”

I laughed

"Bye, Miss Claudia," he called as he climbed into his mail truck and drove off to deliver a few smiles someplace else.

“Bye, Denzel!”

I stood a moment and watched him pull away.

I love it here.

© 2013 cjschlottman

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nobody's Gonna Steal my Happy

I just got a call from Judie McEwen.  She’s a visual artist and a blogger and I met her online a few years ago when I was doing this online meme called Saturday Centus.  Jenny Matlock conducts the meme if you have any desire to check it out. Judie’s blog is called Rogue Artists.  She says she has been slack about posting but it’s worth a visit just to see her blog.  I’m still planning to build my own domain but that has taken a back seat to all this moving and unpacking and settling in.

I knew from her blog that Judie had been uprooted from Tuscon, Arizona, to Brunswick, but I somehow didn’t think of it until yesterday.  I looked her up on Facebook and sent her a message and now we are probably going to have lunch on Thursday.

The amazingness of this move continues to, well, amaze me.  I’m so full of myself I went out yesterday to get new lenses put in my glasses and ended up buying a red pair.  And they are red.  And they look good on me and they make me feel sassy.  

This whole change has made me feel sassy and sure of myself and creative.  Even with all these boxes yet to be unpacked and all these things sitting around waiting for me to do something with them, I feel empowered and strong.  

Honey and I are walking over a mile twice a day on the fitness trail down the road.  It’s woodsy and wild and cool and filled with bugs.  I have all natural insect repellent and I spray it on both of us before we leave the house.  It works.  Yesterday a snake slithered across the path in front of us but Honey was so busy with her nose to the ground, she didn’t notice.

There are usually some young people playing Frisbee golf on the course that’s laid out among the oaks on the bluff.  They take it very seriously and that makes me laugh.  
I guess I’ll never stop feeling like I need to tell everybody how happy I am.  At least I hope I never stop.  Not even the business I post on Madness, Mania and Muddlement can steal my happy.

© 2013 cjschlottman  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Brain Vacation

Why do you suppose there are times like this when I sit down to write and can’t find my voice?  It’s not really writer’s block because I don’t have any trouble writing down my words.  I just feel disconnected from them.  

Maybe it’s physical fatigue.  Maybe it’s mental fatigue.  Probably it’s both.  It's a little brain vacation.

Joey and Shannon packed up the Teens and the Littles and Kristy in their big square Ford hybrid and were on the road by noon.  The energy in the flat changed immediately and Honey began to emerge from the funk she got in while they were here.  I keep forgetting she’s 10 years old and not a puppy any more.  The Littles didn’t do anything wrong.  The only thing they did was be themselves.

Late yesterday afternoon, Kiki and Marnie and Jacob and the Littles I all went to the beach at the old Coast Guard Station.  Kiki is Kristy’s grandmother name, and it suits her.  The tide was high and the waves kept knocking the Littles around.  They didn’t care.  They retreated momentarily then waded back in to be knocked around some more.

I tried to body surf but the waves were short and I only got in one decent ride and that took forever.  More than a couple of times the rough water turned me into a pretzel knot and kept busting me back down every time I started to get up.   

The rest of the time I spent at the edge of the water with Kiki and the Littles.  We took a break and started making sand castles but the tide kept coming in and dissolving them.  The Littles squealed in dismay every time it happened, but they wouldn’t move.  I could tell they secretly enjoyed the destruction.  I showed them how to make a drip castle and I made one on my thigh so the rising water couldn’t get to it.  It kept falling down anyway.  

If I weren’t on steroids, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed this morning.  I think everyone should get a Dose Pack on his or her birthday every year.  It makes me feel all full of energy and really smart, which is probably why athletes like steroids so much.  God knows they need to feel smart and all that extra energy doesn’t hurt either. 
So much for my Dose Pack theory.  My brain is shorting out and I'm going to bed.  

© 2013 cjschlottman
09/03/13 @1:00 AM

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Love Letter

My Darling Clint,

I’m home.  After all that time thinking I would be too sad to come back to The Island without you, I returned and it is right.  I know you are smiling.

You would be happy to be here this Labor Day weekend.  Kristy is asleep on the other side of the bed and the big boys are on the white sofas and Abby is in the bed with Marnie.  Drew is in the room with Shannon and Joey and I am the only one awake in the whole house except Honey, who is giving me the I-need-to-go-outside look that she has perfected.  I will be right back.

I’m awake because I woke last night with back spasms and had to go to Urgent Care this morning and get a Dose Pack.  I’m riding high on the ‘roids.  The pain in my back is gone and my sore and swollen left knee feels better.  

Okay.  I know what you are thinking, so I’ll just say it for you.  I’m not as physically strong and powerful as I once was.  This move has cut me down a notch or two.  It’s not a bad thing.  I’m old enough now to slow down when my body starts snarking at me with pinches and aches and sharp pains.  In some ways I have grown up.

I have a purple streak in my hair and I love it.  You probably wouldn’t love it but you probably wouldn’t hate it either.  It is who I am right and it might be who I am for a long time.  It’s my badge of courage and strength and freedom.  You would love it after you got over the shock.

Cuz has cancer.  There.  I said it.  He has lung cancer that has  metastasized to his brain and forearm.  He will follow you before I do, but in so many ways, like John, he is planning to die living instead of dying.  We have been exchanging emails about all this shit, and I want to put his last one in this letter.  You will be proud, so here it is:

This cancer may kill me, but it is NOT going to consume the rest of my life. It will be a fact in my life, but it will not BE my life.  I refuse to give it that power over me and I am not praying to be cured, but rather to have the strength to live my life with dignity and grace. I can't stand to be around complainers and I refuse to be one.

I met my radiology oncologist (radio doc, I call him) this morning and was impressed with his manner. I like him already; he comes highly recommended by my doctor friends and actually had bought one of my prints at a charity auction a couple of years ago. He had his nurses check out my web site so that they would know something about me when I met them.. I thought that was a very nice gesture on his part.

My nuking will start next week and run for 10 sessions over two weeks, starting with the brain and arm tumors being treated simultaneously. Doc said he expected me to look a whole lot worse than I do based on my reports. Hey, I really feel fine except for the arm. Blessed again.”

Isn't he something?

I don’t have to tell you that I have lost just about every important man in my life, and I am not looking forward to losing Cuz, but the fact is that I will probably outlive him just like I outlived Daddy and Harry and John and you.  I am sick to fucking death of men dying on me.  

I’m handling this just like I handled the others.  I am believing Cuz will live until someone proves otherwise.  It’s the only way I know to operate.  

Last Sunday, I got a speeding ticket when Sophie and I were returning to Macon for her to reclaim her life and for me to close on the Canyon Road house.  Yes, she came down with me on moving day and stayed and helped me get unpacked and she made my bed the way she does.  I don’t know how I will do without her making my bed.  She doesn’t know how she will do without making my bed.  She does it just right and wants all the sheets and pillowcases to match or at least coordinate.  But you know all that.  And she makes it so tight she would shame a soldier in boot camp.

Back to the speeding ticket.  I was driving at 90 miles per hour on I-16.  It was my fault.  For a while we cruised with a pack of cars going about 85, but I decided to pull ahead because my car really likes to go 90.  I set the cruise control.  Wrong.  Stupid.  I even told Sophie I hadn’t had a speeding ticket in years.  Wrong and stupid.  My car has a thing called collision protection, and when the cruise control is not on, if I lift my foot from the accelerator, it pulls back.  I had engaged the cruise control, and when I rounded a curve, the Treutlan County Sheriff’s Deputy who was waiting in his big old sheriff’s truck had me dead to rights.  I slowed down a little but made him earn his pay.

When the Deputy finally pulled me over, Sophie just sat there and acted like I got stopped for going 90 miles an hour every day.  She's that way, calm in a crisis.

“Ma’am, is there some good reason you were driving 89 miles be hour in a 70 miles per hour zone?”

He was young and very tall and about 50 pounds overweight but he had honest eyes, fair eyes with a glint in them that endeared me to him.  I could have lied like a rug and gotten away with it.  I could have said you were still dying or something or Shannon was having another set of twins or that Sophie had appendicitis and I was trying to get her to the hospital.  

“No, Officer,” I said.  “I like to drive fast and there was no one out here on the road with me and I set my cruise to 90 so I wouldn’t go any faster.”

He smiled.

I said I just told Sophie it had been years since I got a speeding ticket and he smiled some more.

“Well, Mrs Schlottman, you are about to get another one.  I clocked you at 89 and I can’t let you get away with driving that fast.”

His tone was folksy and I knew he was just doing his job so I didn’t get mad.  He was the kind of kid it is hard to get mad at anyway.  Hell, I was the one breaking the law and I thought I might as well take my medicine.

I don’t know what it will cost me, but I know I won’t be that stupid again.  I don’t intend to stop driving fast.  I just don’t intend to get caught.   No more cruise control at 90.  That was really stupid.

You can tell I have my groove back, can’t you?  I thought I lost it forever, that it was cremated with you, but I was wrong.  You were right all along when you said I was strong and would be okay.  

Tomorrow morning we are all going to The Sandcastle for breakfast and I will miss you more than ever for a while.  Then I will be infused with all the innocent energy that is Abby and Drew and all the craziness and fun of Shannon and Joey and Noah and Jacob and Marnie and Kristy and me.  I will be content with what I have since I can’t have you.  I will love like I have not been able to love since you died.  I will make you proud and I will love myself enough to make me proud. 

I will never stop loving you.  Even if the right man comes along and I fall in love at first sight again, (and what are the chances of that)? you will live in my very core until I breathe my last breath.  If some fool comes along and falls in love with me he better be in love with you too.

I will be Your Fat Girl forever.

PS - Last week I finally emptied the pockets of the last pair of trousers you wore.  I found your pocketknife and I’m saving it for Drew.  I also found four neatly folded one dollar bills in your money clip, and I am saving them for Jacob.

© 2013 cjschlottman