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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Vacation Time

           So which is it? The above or the below? In just 2 days, I have no clue where I am.

            Outside of my window, the snow is falling down, and I am on vacation from work and the have to do things in my life. Fortunately, I knew about this unplanned vacation yesterday afternoon as the school I tutor at decided mid-afternoon that the blizzard heading in from the west was not only going to be real, but it was going to dump a ton of snow our way. If nothing else, this allowed me to sleep in this morning until 1030 after staying up most of last night to read Motley Crue's biography. With regard to what snow we received, I’m not sure by looking at the table in our backyard that it’s a ton of snow, but it’s definitely the first real snow that we’ve had all season. Prior to this, Friday's mini snow included, we were away for every snowstorm we had. Mind you, none of these were anything to write home about.
            That's always a good thing.
            Perhaps, I could be confused as the 40mph gusts of wind might be relocating the snow that’s been falling for about the last 15 hours (author’s note – now that it stopped, we have half to a third of their predictions, so I'm not).
            This vacation is a really good thing. Somewhere in the course of life’s have to do missions, I found myself overwhelmed in prep-work, back-work, volunteer work, house work, and extra “I care a lot about you making the Mendoza Line” work where it seemed like I was struggling to get others to care as much as my bosses and I felt they should. If not for the honors and independent work I'm doing (where both parties involved are exceptional), I'd find myself caught in the gears of that winter into spring struggle to get people to keep the pace.

             Nevertheless, this struggle to keep the pace is understandable. I feel and have felt consumed by the have to’s and the sickness (GI crud into allergies with 3 weekends of nothing to show for it as I hadn’t been hiking in forever since the Sportsman Show, which was only walking through a huge arena complex for miles and miles of aisles). Looking at it from outside of my brain, something has to give, and that’s not things like my colonoscopy appointment from last Monday, where I practically starved myself, save orange Jello (no red or purple allowed), for the better part of 2 days so they could determine if my family history of colon issues was going to smack me down like the Parkinson’s, Lyme, B12, and all of the other issues they’ve looked for and found. On a good note, it didn’t (though I did have another polyp), but such was my first day of spring break, which I was completely off, shot to pieces.

            That said, vacation wasn’t all have to, though with still teaching at one school, I was still grading and doing all of their have to stuff (unlike now where I push off some of the have to do stuff for tomorrow since I’m already off tomorrow, too). Between drafts, final copies, and redos, I’ve been mega busy with all the things I need to do to get paid. As a result, I have very little time to write, and when I do, it’s a choice between blogging the current state of my life with regard to my neurological state, which will someday become my future Parkinson’s memoir, or writing my supernatural novels.
            Because of so many things, I felt it was time for a little vacation from my condition and the blah feelings I was going through (especially after not taking meds to colonoscopy prep, something that had my dopamine and serotonin levels off). That might sound weird since my left hand shakes all the time when I’m awake. My left foot shakes a lot, too, and I’ve got restlessness in the right leg. I have other issues (especially hearing, which is next on the list to check out), but somehow in the new normal, I had quite a few days in there when I didn’t even think about being PD guy. This definitely worked.
          So yeah, it was definitely a nice vacation from the constant, “Hi! I’m Dan, and I’d like to get to know you, so let me just start by saying that I have Parkinson’s disease.” We all need days apart from the nonsense we’ve been dealt. Thinking about it 24/7 just keeps us from being people first.

            That angry side of the anti-ableism agenda is something I’ve been thinking a lot about as if it was something being handed off on me to subscribe to since I'm now a "Parkie." However, for the fact that people can say some dumb stuff (myself included), most of it is just that: dumb stuff with no harm intended. That said, trolls are trolls, but to demonize the majority of people for using descriptive words just sounds as vindictive as some people feel those others are for casually saying dumb stuff.
             Just be. Ignore it and get on with the living. Turn off their mics, and do what needs to be done.
             Also, with regard to us, the community with disabilities, it should be said that, mentally, we are the same person we were before life handed us crap (at least with regard to people who became this way instead of who were born this way - I can only claim to speak for my side of the journey, and even then, I can only speak for my experiences, but I believe this to be truer). Our minds allow us to deal with it and process it (or not). Our support systems make us feel alive (or come down for the ride with us). If we were going to be angry in life before our condition or feel jealous about those who can do what we can’t and harbor resentment against them not knowing our secret code language we have set up to retaliate against them for making us realize what we already realize, we’ll just multiply our feelings about it with the PC armies behind us to feel even angrier now. Granted, there will be haters and trolls who try to be insulting, but they are the exception, not the rule... even if they are family doing it (and in many cases, these people are insulting to the "able," so it's not disability prejudice).
            As for me, I just needed to escape those confining political thoughts (there's enough nasty political issues out there with healthcare, national parks, and education that are riling me up anyway, and personally, I needed to get away from them and Trump and the Democrat response, too) and come back to the man who is really me and focus on what I can and can't do and make peace with it while doing all I can for as long as I can. I'd like to think that's part of the message in "Harrison Bergeron." Life discriminates. It gives some of us more of A, B, and C, but it takes from our M, N, and O. As for X, Y, and Z, they're total wild cards. That's life. We need to deal with it.

Thus, when I had to force ways to find time to do more things for me, I gave up social media for 2.5 weeks to press forward on my novel entitled The Rules of the Game. It should be noted that I don't miss it at all. I could and should take more time off from it. 
As for my book, this is my supernatural tale of ghostly adventure that seems like a mix of The Walking Dead meets Season1 of Heroes, though truth be told, I’d like it to have a feeling of interaction and togetherness like This is Us, but that might be trying for too much. That said, my wife and I finally binge watched the season (save last week’s episode and tonight), and I must say that it really was that good. The characterization is incredible (like TWD at its best) and the audience level of compassion for the characters is also really good (William and Jack are my favorites). Granted, all of the dialogue is significant and meaningful, and it seems impossible to have a show about someone who is obese without making weight the central struggle and conversation in their life (as opposed to just letting them be "everyday"), but yeah… so many good episodes and characters. It’s definitely worth the time spent watching it, even with minor annoyances.

This characterization is something I would like to have happen with my own story, which I plan on working on tonight and tomorrow. With 400 pages of additional writing becoming several stories (waiting in the recesses of my computer), I just find so much work I could be doing, but I don’t have enough time to write it all. In fact, while telling the story of Colin Jameson, Bart Doherty, and the other members of their Special Forces team (S1) as they struggle to rescue cursed archaeological relics and Colin’s boyhood friend William Jacobs, I find myself pulled to the story of Charles “Chuck” Jones, Chico Gutierrez, Sean “Big Dig” Caruthers, and the Fressineau Brothers as they are pulled between Blanding, Moab, and Blackrock Canyon by the deterministic philosophies that have long since sealed their fates. Maybe this is the fact that it is now baseball season, and Chico was a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks in my book Dead Mouths. Then again, maybe it’s just the feeling of wanting to have him vicariously throw a fastball into a slab of frozen cattle like Rocky did when he practiced for his first match against Apollo Creed.

In Chico’s last appearance, the Venezuelan pitching phenom was being thrown out of his major league debut for plunking wise-ass Edilberto Concepcion (a member of the Yankees based around the personality of Alex Rodriguez) with a brain shot for blowing kisses at him. Now, his immediate fate has been solved in the follow-up book (still unfinished as a whole and thus unavailable), but there’s a place that he has to arrive at and feelings he expresses in the time in between (waiting to be written). There are things that have to happen before he throws his next professional pitch. This place, which was once referred to as the book Intersections, but which now stand as up to 4 separate books, is a place that awaits both him and people like Dave Robinson, Suzie Heilman, and Benson Villaneuva, as well, when the all out battle between good and evil kicks off.
All their lives and stories cry out to me as they weave their plots inside of my head, and I long to put these words on the page. Just like Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, I find myself being lectured by these characters about doing what I have to in order to not abandon them. For this, I see myself continuing to abandon Facebook for stretches of time to spend more of my time with their stories to get back to publishing the tales of Blackrock Canyon.

But just as these fictional voices call to me, so does the mindless distraction of the World Baseball Classic, which is raging forward as the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues are preparing all of the other players whose teams didn’t want them to go or who weren’t good enough to represent their country. I can't miss this can I?
            With the Olympics not giving baseball its love, it’s nice to see an opportunity for the Dominican Republic to kick ass on the field year after year. Sure, it’s nice to see America doing well, but it would be nicer if more teams would let guys like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper play. It just doesn’t seem right when teams look at their players as well-paid machines instead of a good will opportunity to stand in front of flags to give their all to national pride in a do or die fashion.
            On the other hand, it’s great to see teams like Israel rising to the occasion like William Carlos Williams’ March flowers, holding up against the wind and cold in their efforts to shine through to an opportunity to continue to play. Standing 4-1 with another game against Japan helping them decide what’s next, their fate is just as interesting a story as who will win when the undefeated teams of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic square off. Here, I have to say that I’d much rather see a team whose country is behind them than a country where baseball isn’t viewed as gloriously as it should be.  

            In not causated events, the time off allowed me to also do things like go out to breakfast with my mom and aunt. I wasn't 100% me, but it was still nice to be there with them.
           Prior to this bonus lottery winnings snow vacation, I was off in Florida on a real vacation, which was also a nice distraction from my work, my Parkinson’s, and winter despite the fact that I felt like I had so much to do otherwise (though I was happy not to do it). On this trip, my wife and I went there to see our friends Will and Heidi from my Air Force days (now over 21 years since I signed the papers to make myself a civilian again). 

             From Thursday morning at 630AM to Sunday night at 915PM, we were officially on the road to and from enjoying the swamps of the Okefenokee in Waycross, Georgia, (which was where my grandparents got married, though they wouldn't have honeymooned at the park, like I thought they did, since it wasn't open until 1946 and they were married in 1942) and Little Talbot Island, which is somewhat close to Jacksonville, Florida, which is where my friends live. For the rest of our time, we did the visitation thing and enjoyed the fact that spring break from my other school afforded me the opportunity to do this getaway, even if my other school wasn’t on break this week. Fortunately, I only had class until Wednesday night, so even if I had a short vacation, I still had a vacation.

            And I got to hike… even if it was just a couple of short hikes. It was neat to venture round the park at Okefenokee and out on these “floating” boardwalk platforms across the swamp to a tower where we climbed 117 steps to view the Spanish moss on the trees and the permanent greenness of the Disney / swamp state. We also got to ride a boat and a train through the swamp to see tons of gators and flowers popping out. Man, the water lilies are beautiful when their little tufts of white begin to float on the vibrant green lily pads floating on the water top. Fortunately, no gators or snakes fell in, and we only saw one black racer in the park. Personally, it annoys me that I pretty much have almost no chance at seeing a poisonous snake like a copperhead, rattler, or cottonmouth. Someday, I will see one again. Oh, yes, I will.

            Until that day, my wife will continue to be a happy person.
            On Saturday, I also got to go for a short hiking adventure on Little Talbot Island in that very north part of Florida. It wasn’t long, but it was hiking therapy, and it felt great to be between the trees and out in 70°-80° weather again. Sitting here with a week to go before spring and piles of snow now burying the flowers of early spring, I consider that vacation to be a welcome relief from life’s responsibilities. The palm trees, sand dunes, and cacti of Florida look so much more beautiful than the skeletal trees and browns of Pennsylvania.

            The good news is that there’s always hope in spring. Having a few more days to hibernate while the temperatures warm up again means that when the bears emerge from their dens, they can let out a big growl of a yawn and enjoy what the new life of spring offers them. Until then, I’ll go back to being me and finish the tales of Motley Crue’s journey from women, alcohol, drugs, and loud rock music to a more mature (for them) place with only some of those things mixed with their own mortality and the death of friends and relatives.

            Mindless joy of life is what vacation is all about.