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Tuesday, December 27, 2011


        eva hesse, drawing


I'm finding myself in a phase of life where my peers are breaking down, ailments galore, dying, what have you. One thing I find is I stay home more, like all the older people I've known. Out running around spending money is a youthful activity. Older, you have other things on your mind besides how you look and the name brands of your clothes. I know how I look. I rarely look in the mirror. Just not curious. I've quit shaving and run over my face about once a week with hair clippers and let it go for another week. Hair same way, though less often. This is something I grew into, like driving up the mountain into a cloud, which on the ground is called fog. The fog is a place of the mind, less active, even at peace, uninterested in confict, long spaces of no thinking, peaceful blank spaces of no mental agitation. Lots of forgetfulness goes with it. Names disappear when you need them. I can see them go away. I think of them running down the groundhog hole. I've seen this natural progression in a number of people I've known well enough to see declines in mental and physical abilities. Almost every one of them was annoyed by being less able to do what they could easily do before.

I have come to take it as natural as baby fat going away or growing pubic hair and all the hormone whirlwinds that go with that period of one's life. My teen years were the ones I'd dislike having to live again. The confusion in my head was opaque. I prefer this time of drifty mind and driving slower than ever. I find I'm driving 45 now in the 55 zones of Highways 18 or 21. Scared of highway patrol too. I can't afford a $50 ticket that will run my insurance rate up so it ultimately costs around a thousand dollars. I maintain the insurance corporations ought to be paying the highway patrol expenses. Insurance corporations get the thousand dollars over a ticket that is $50 for the state. The state is paying the highway patrol for the insurance corporations. Tax dollars from the people that work for a living, not even getting a living wage. Corporate lobby makes laws in favor of the corporations on the state level as well as the federal. This has been going on for so long, they've got us by the throats and they know it. They aim to keep it like that. And they will as long as they're able.

I'm reminded of a joke Dave Vaught of the VWBoys told onstage last time I saw the band. He was speaking of the bass player, Fat Albert Blackburn, who was bald, saying he grew up through his hair. I find myself growing up through the beginning phases of what we call old age. I tend at this time in the life to think of old age when one becomes feeble. Everyone dreads feeble. When I was looking after Jr Maxwell in his old age, feeble hit him hard. I was able to make it not a problem by being able to get him a glass of water so he didn't have to make the effort and end up on the floor. I carried him a few times when his legs could not hold him up. He protested that he was too heavy. I told him he's no heavier than a hay bale. And he wasn't.

First time I scooped him up, his eyes about jumped out of his head when his feet left the floor. It was momentary fright, about like picking up a cat. Some years ago Caterpillar would have a moment of anxiety being lifted up from the floor. From the moment her feet left the floor, her eyes got big and round. I realized when she was a kitten I was probably picking her up so fast it disoriented her. So I raised her from the floor slower and she relaxed into being lifted. Fast, she braced against it. I suspect it made her head swim. I was aware of this in cats and saw the same in Jr. The times I had to pick him up after that first time, I did it more slowly, deliberately, giving his mind that had slowed down considerably a chance to stay with the motion. It was disorienting the first time. But not the second time. I only had to carry him to get him through a doorway in the house when his legs were about as sturdy as wet spaghetti.

I'm growing up through the different phases of old age; first, the white hair, then memory fading away. The latest science says coffee is good for inhibiting Alzheimers. I drink some good Kenyan or Etheopian coffee every morning. Not because of this Yahoo! news bite, which I look at as may or may not be so. But because I like it. This news bite justifies it when I'd been questioning it. I'm not interested in going all the way into Alzheimers or have the mind just go away like it did Jr. I wouldn't want to be in that situation. In a nursing home I wouldn't notice that everything they fed me had the nutritional value of jell-o and ketchup. I wouldn't remember I'd been staring at that ceiling for months and months. Like everyone, I don't really care to drop off the edge into complete helplessness. Considering that's not my call, I really don't believe it's in my future as I grow up through the cloud on the mountain of age.

Everyone my age is looking at this. Some worry about it, some don't. I'm among the ones that don't. I think. When the doctor diagnosed heart failure, he said, "You're gonna die." His actual words tattooed on the vacated drive-in screen of my mind. All I could think to say was, "Duh." The only thing that really bothers me is thinking of the mess I'll leave behind. Australian Aborigines had it. One spear. That's it. I'm a post-WW2 American consumer who would rather buy onions and potatoes in the store than grow them. Hoeing a garden is not what I was put on earth to do. It is not among my talents. I have come to like the gradual changes. When I take the fear out of the changes, they can be fun. Like I'm reversing letters in typing rather regularly now, like whne for when. Sometimes I even leave out words, like the implied "you" in get me a beer. I don't mean that one, but several that are two or three words left out. I understand they're "implied," but no reader would. That's what rereading is good for now. It's ok. Like Jr said, "If it aint one knot in a log, it's ten." There's always something. These are just some of the things we grow into.


1 comment:

  1. There's quite a few knots in that wood.

    When I was a kid, I recall looking at the knots in wood paneling, and discovering the shape and flow of the grain around them, and the dark and obscure structure of of the knots themselves, all black holes in the galaxy of my bedroom walls...

    Fascinating thing knots can be.