I have some promises I'd like to make to you.
I promise to be with you, through sadness and beauty, whispering funny thoughts, giving hope and joy, infusing our relationship with light and exhilaration, and showing my love through words, thoughts and touch.
I promise to need you, not to fill some emptiness, but to feel a fullness and wholesome serenity, forever sharing moments and silence, gliding smoothly forward with inspiration and love.
I promise to love you, the best that I know how. And when our last delicate dance comes to an end, I'll hold you until the applause rings still, knowing we lived it well.
These promises I give to you, forever.
You're at the sink doing dishes or getting some water when you notice something doesn't look right. Look at the clock, it takes a while to read. It is 12:06. Look at the floor, look at your hands - something is definitely wrong with your optic chiasm or lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) or visual cortex, in general. Driving suddenly sounds like an awful idea. Plans for errands, lunch at Bread Co and a quick run are out. You’re hungry - maybe that’s it. Throw together a quick ham sandwich and have a glass of water. Eat quickly to get some energy. You sit at your computer to pass some time, to digest and breathe (maybe you forgot to), but it’s impossible to read through what looks like a broken camera lens, shattered across the upper 90, blurry, with bright points of pastel running along the cracks - the whole right of your visual field distorted and nauseating.
You close your right eye, but nothing changes. It is some sort of error beyond the optic nerve. There’s nothing to do now but wait. Quickly, you put the ham and mayo back in the fridge, scoop up the dog and head to the bedroom, stopping on the way (experience) to lift the seat of the toilet. Your right shoulder bangs against the door frame. You’re clumsy now, be careful with the dog. Set the dog on the bed. Change into pajamas, awkwardly. Close blinds, pull the curtains, slam the doors. You lay, pillow over head, dog nuzzled in your side, with blankets. You Wait.
Within minutes a small point of pain develops in what feels like the lower, middle part of your brain. It is just left of center. A concentrated, shooting pain. As if your LGN is calling out to explain the problem with the right side of your visual field. A sequence of pain, numb, pain, and numb. Then it shrieks.
This isn’t the worst migraine. It isn’t one that consumes your entire head, but it is far from pleasant. You writhe. You wish for sleep. You try little tricks to soothe. You masticate (maybe the old TMJ triggered it?) you hum loudly, hoping to vibrate the small part of your brain that is screaming - Nothing. Different pitches – Nothing. Your dog wakes up, confused. You stop. It is time to lay still and wait with whatever will block out the most light over your head. Thank God it is quiet.
Thank God you’re at home.
You wait for the nausea. Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time you won’t vomit. That ham sandwich was delicious. You didn’t eat White Castle for years after that One Time. It would be a shame for a pesky migraine and uncontrollable vomit to ruin future ham sandwiches.
You wait for what seems longer than usual. Maybe you won’t vomit (mental high five). The dog changes position which seems like a good enough idea so you, too, roll onto your side. The liquid in your stomach shifts. Instant mouth watering, denial. Pillow off head, denial. More saliva, blankets off. Acceptance. Four long strides to the bathroom...
(This paragraph left as an exercise for the reader)
Rinse. Wash face. Towel off. Back to bed.
(Repeat previous 2 paragraphs 4 times)
You sleep, finally. You wake up and feel, off. Not much pain, but there is an aura, almost. At the least it is Just Not Right. You imagine this is what it feels like right before a seizure. Should you call someone? No. Just try to sleep.
For the next few days you feel like a small part of your brain has a tremendous hangover while the rest of your brain is saying, “WTF?” You order a ham sandwich from the deli and it is delicious.
I was walking down the sidewalk, late for work as usual. With my man-purse on one shoulder and a snowboard case swinging from the other, I was hoofing it toward my cube. The plan was to wake up early and drop the board off at the UPS Store on my way to work. That didn't really work out. The new plan was to lug the board all the way to my cube then ship it during lunch. As long as it was on the truck by 2pm it would arrive in Florida on time.
I heard a car accelerate behind me then come to a quick stop. I was on a dead-end street so that wasn't quite right. I turned my head and saw a campus police car poorly parked with its driver's side door hanging open. A campus cop was hurrying my way.
"Sir! Excuse me, sir! Can I talk to you for a minute?" He was a good looking guy, young for a cop.
I stopped and turned around slowly. I looked him straight in the eye, cocked my head and said, "Sure, what's going on."
"Were you walking around here with that case on Friday?"
"Yeah, my flight to Colorado left at 7pm, I took the metrolink straight from work. What's up?"
"Can I ask you what's in the case?"
I kind of felt like I was going to get kapped, "Errr... it is a snowboard, I was in Vail all weekend and I'm shipping the board back to its owner today during lunch. Why?"
He shook his head and let out a deep, genuine laugh. It was enough to make me wonder just what the fuck was going on. I had a cop laughing about something that made no sense at 8:30am... So weird.
He said, "Just after 5pm on Friday we got a call from a frantic woman who said she saw a man in an orange coat" - He pointed at my jacket - "struggling with a large camouflage rifle case in the parking garage.
"She said that the man was getting off the elevator and headed toward campus. The captain put the entire force on a manhunt until 8pm. They had me and another officer sitting in the Dean's office that whole time waiting for some psycho to come through the door and shoot the place up."
I picked my jaw up off the ground, "No shit?"
"No shit." He paused, "I know who you are, I mean, I recognize you and that coat. You work here, right?"
"uhhh.... yeah, I work for cardiology in the NWT. You want me to put the board back in my car?"
"No. I'll let everyone know in case someone else freaks out and calls. Just be sure to get rid of that during lunch."
"Can I go?"
"Oh, yeah, sure, have a nice day."
I'm a perpetual early adopter. So, of course, I began preparations for the impending doom of GD II two years ago. I got to work early hoping I could test out a few of my ideas before the world really went to shit.
A unique opportunity arose where I'd be alone in my house for 11 days. Even the pets were taking a vacation. Best part is, it was dead balls cold outside. It was time for my first taste of GD II.
Seriously, our gas bill in the winter is recockulous. If some economic shiz really went down, there'd be no way we could pay and they'd eventually shut us off. So, I picked up a wrench and got to work on the gas meter (WARNING: Do not do this. Trust me.)
I went inside and called my dad. "Hey, dad. I'm saving some money so I shut off my gas. How do I keep my pipes from freezing."
After some silence, "You did what? What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm wearing a coat and asking you how to keep my pipes from freezing."
More silence, then he said, "Drain the whole system."
"I can't. I'm staying here. I just want to..."
"Jordan, you're going to freeze and your pipes are going to burst. Turn your heat on."
I'm annoyed, "No. There has to be some way."
"You could leave all the faucets on just a trickle."
"Does that work?"
"It works 20% of the time, every time."
I laughed, "Like Sex Panther?"
"I have no idea what you talking about" - he really wasn't quoting the movie.
"Good Enough!" I hung up the phone and turned on some faucets. Remember, I'm trying to save myself in an economic downturn, not the environment. Just wait till I write about ways to burn used motor oil for heat.
I just so happened to have this bright idea during the 4 coldest days of that winter. It took 3 days for the house to cool significantly. With no hot water, I had to take showers at the gym. I "slept" under an electric blanket cranked to 10 and wore full snowboard gear every minute I was home.
The 5th night I was laying in bed pondering my decision when I heard, BAM! then rushing water. I shot out of bed and ran downstairs to turn off the main water line.
Goddamm frigid water was everywhere and I was shoeless. Lucky for me, the pipe that burst was close to the outside wall and about 3 feet away from a floor drain. Damage was minimal. I thought for a minute it might be interesting to turn the basement into an ice rink, but I didn't. This is GD II, not party time.
I changed socks, put on some boots, went outside and turned on the gas main. It took a while to relight all the pilots. An hour to repair the copper pipe, and 2 days to get the house warmed up.
I worked my way through high school/early college as a guitar teacher at a local music shop. What a GREAT frikin' job for a kid. The money was good and I got to practice ALL the time. I got influenced by all kinds of people I normally wouldn't have had contact with (that old guy down the hall, the REALLY old trumpet teacher, the metal head, etc.) It made me a pretty good player.
Most of my students were kids that were terrible and didn't want to practice. This one student was a girl from my high school. She was a piano player who wanted to learn a little guitar. So she decided to take lessons from me for a few months. It wasn’t anything too exciting or spectacular. I mean, she practiced and she showed up. That was about it.
One of the other teachers was learning how to tie balloon animals one day. I was sitting in the showroom waiting for my student to show up (they were always late... all of them..) so I say, "Can you tie me up a black cat?" He did. It looked just like the dog, the hamster, and the alligator he made for the other people in the store... except mine was black.
A student finally showed up so we went back in the studio and had a lesson. I put the cat in my bag and taught more lessons.
A little later the girl from my high school showed up. About 10 minutes into the lesson I could tell she was having a terrible day. I, trying to be nice, decide to cheer her up.
"Hey, it looks like you're having a bad day. Do you want a present?"
She looks at me like I'm nuts and says, "well... sure."
I pull the cat out of the bag and say, "Here! It's a black cat balloon animal."
She immediately bursts into tears... Big, sobbing, snot running tears...
A few minutes later she pulls it together and says, "I'm sorry... I'm a mess. My cat died this morning... she was black."