Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Aging”

Is it Next Year Yet?

I HAVEN’T WRITTEN MUCH ABOUT BASEBALL THIS SUMMER. Why? Because it’s hard to keep from swearing while I have tears soaking the page.

It has not been a good season for my Giants. Things weren’t very good last year either, but with some sterling offseason acquisitions it looked like 2018 was going to have the Giants in the hunt for the Pennant once more. Appearances can be deceiving.

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Somedays…

 

“HELLO, MY NAME IS JOHN AND I’M A LUMP”

“HI, JOHN.”

That’s how I would introduce myself at a meeting of “Lumps Anonymous.” Some days are like that. Yesterday was one.

I don’t want to say that I had a lack of energy, but I felt the need to put a mirror up to my own mouth just to be sure that I was still breathing. Rolling out of bed was easy. It was the getting up off of the floor that took a while.

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In The Soft Orange Glow

 

WHAT CAN I TELL YOU? I love rooting for my team. If the San Francisco Giants Baseball team is playing I’m going to be tuned in. My passion is like the fans of the FIFA World Cup and the way they feel about their teams – (Go Upper Volta!!). And if you think I’m a fan you should meet my wife. She makes me look like an Atheist in the Vatican.

My wife, the lovely and True Believer, Dawn, was not born a Giants fan. I infected her with Giants Fever. She has always been a Baseball fan. She grew up watching and listening with her Grandfather as he tuned to KMOX broadcasts of St. Louis Cardinal games. She recalls that he sat in a darkened room with the only light being the orange glow from his old console radio and the glow from the tip of his cigarette. His imagination brought him the play-by-play of the game as clearly as any HD television would today. Dawn was made into a fan like so many of us were – in our mind’s eye.

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “My Butt Is Dragging”

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “My Butt Is Dragging”

My Butt Is Dragging

drunk-man-sleeping-park-27785199

GOING UP AND DOWN STAIRS is difficult today because my butt is dragging and it makes a disturbing sound as it bounces on each step.

SHH-Thump, SHH-Thump, SHH-Thump

I’m in recovery from our vacation that covered 1600+ miles in one week, more walking/hiking than I’ve done in years and that, as of yesterday, I am one year older.

No wonder my butt is dragging. It may take a week of intense sleeping for me to get my sedentary mojo back.

Last night when I plopped down in my favorite chair I could swear I heard it whisper, “You’re home!” I was touched that it remembered me. The Rip Van Winkle Memorial Chair and I go back a few years. It knows that when my cheeks hit the upholstery that, while I may say I’m there to watch some TV, I’m really there to sleep.

Another reason that my butt is dragging today is the fallout from the feeding frenzy at the Red Lobster last evening. I think I might have inadvertently tricked my body into thinking that I was a bear loading up for hibernation. I ate more than enough to keep an 800 pound Kodiak bear alive through a long Arctic winter.

I mentioned our trip to the Red Lobster in yesterday’s blog and I have already gotten a number of comments suggesting various diets to help me get rid of this excess weight. I think the best way is for me to be selective about what I eat and to stay away from that evil Red Lobster. No offense to Red Lobster, but…

I guess that, now that I am no longer a “mere yute,” to borrow a phrase from the movie “My Cousin Vinnie,” I think that my recovery time is slower – considerably slower- than when I was in my twenties. Back then, in the Dark Ages, I could be out until the Clubs closed at 2:30 AM then go out with a few of the other comedians to some all-night cafes to let the adrenaline come down before heading home to sleep. The sleep was never more than two or three hours until I had to get up and shuffle off to “the day job.”

Nowadays, I find myself cuddling into the Arms of Morpheus before the 11 o’clock news begins. I have gone from being the hip dude about town into the old dude in the easy chair.

My plans for the 4th of July Weekend do not involve fireworks – unless the yutz who lives down the block decides to spend all night re-enacting the Battle of Tarawa in his driveway. I did see him parked outside of the big temporary fireworks store next to the Kroger’s.

“Buy One – Get 7000 FREE!”

Indiana and Terre Haute (That’s French for “Let’s watch the kid blow off his thumbs.”) have very lax laws and regulations about fireworks. Any idiot can buy “fireworks” that the detonation of would be an act of war in most countries. Every July 4th and for a few days afterward this town sounds like the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key would have felt right at home inner-tubing on the Wabash River and seeing the “bombs bursting in air.”

So, on the days that I need the most rest I will have to contend with neighborhood noise levels comparable to the jet wash of a B-52.

I’ll be fine. I know that. I just might be a little grumpier than usual and more likely to nod off in mid sentence than I normally do, but I’ll be OK.

So, if you will now excuse me I am going to walk around in a circle a few times and curl up on the carpet for a little nap.

I Have Lost Count

 

OH, GOOD LORD. TOMORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY. I will officially be older than dirt. I remember when Noah was in short pants and Methuselah was a teenager pestering his old man for the keys to the camel.

I have one of these birthday things every year or so it seems. As far back as I can remember I’ve been having them. When I was a kid it was kind of a big deal. I think that 16 and 21 were the biggies. I wasn’t too keen about 40 and after 50 I just stopped counting. The certifiable number for this year is both a mystery and a secret. Even I don’t know for sure. It is somewhere between 51 and 212. No…212? That can’t be right. That’s the boiling point of water and my boiling point is much lower. Let’s revise that and go with “Between 50 and Dead.” Of that much I can be sure.

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Krafty Pops A Wheelie

 

HOW ABOUT A LIFE HACK that, while it isn’t exactly wrong, it isn’t exactly kosher either?

My wife, the lovely and aeronautically savvy, Dawn, and I have just returned from another excursion to Texas AKA The Surface of the Sun. When the temperature would hit 95 degrees people started saying, Oh, good. It’s beginning to cool off.”

We were ready to fly home as soon as we dropped off our rental car – a Kia “Soul.” (BTW – it is a Kia “Soul” not “Sole” because nobody with soles or feet would ever fit into the back seat. Double amputees only could ride there.)

Our scheduled flight from Corpus Christi to Houston was delayed for more than an hour by bad weather in New Orleans. Once it arrived we had a quick 35 minute hop to Houston, but our once planned 75 minute layover there was now reduced to ten minutes. Uh, Oh.

We landed at Gate 25 and our plane to Indy was sitting at Gate 51. In Houston that is a distance similar to that of the Earth to the Moon. Big Uh, Oh.

This is where the “Life Hack” comes into play.

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Theoretically Speaking

 

TODAY IS THE FIRST DAY OF JUNE. I’m sorry, but didn’t this year just start a week or two ago? How can we be closing in on the halfway point already? I know that time can slip away if you don’t pay attention, but I have been keeping my eye, both of them actually now that they are cataract-free, tightly focused on both the calendar and the clock.

Hmmm? Is something fishy going on around here?

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Throwback Thursday from April 2015 – “It Ain’t Gonna Happen. Don’t Even Ask”

“It Ain’t Gonna Happen. Don’t Even Ask”

Moms Body Shop

OK, I’LL ADMIT THIS UP FRONT – today’s blog comes under the heading of “Geezer Rant.” There is no great social content, no thunderbolts of wisdom, not even anything that might be worth putting on a T-shirt.

I want to talk about tattoos.

I am of a generation that looked upon tattoos as something you saw on sailors on leave and guys doing hard time. And Popeye – who, while he technically was a sailor, he was, in reality, nothing more than ink on paper.

That was about it. If my mother was walking down the street and saw someone approaching who had tattoos who wasn’t in uniform she would clutch her purse a little bit tighter. “Nice people” just didn’t get tattoos.

News Flash! Times have changed!

Starting in the late 1970s I think we began to see tattoos appearing on people outside of the aforementioned groups. It was also about the time that Popeye disappeared from the public consciousness (Strictly coincidental, I’m sure).

Rock musicians started sporting more tattoos. Then they started popping up on Deadheads and other fringe elements of Fandom.

Little by not so little, more and more people began to dive into the ink. It came to be viewed as a bit of sexy rebellion. Tiny butterflies and hearts were showing up in places where they would only be seen by lovers and gynecologists.

Then, over the ensuing decades, the territory expanded into what has become known as the “Tramp Stamp.” That is an unfortunate label, but I didn’t make it up. Fashion and tattooing merged and soon the only piece of skin that wasn’t considered available as a canvas was the face. Well, that seems to have changed as I see an increasing number of people with those permanent reminders of a temporary idea on their mug.

OK…here comes the real Geezerism part.

Putting a tattoo, of whatever variety, on your face sends only one of two messages to the world: 1) I’m going to reject you, world, before you reject me! or 2) “Screw you, Mom and Dad! How do you like this?”

Actually both messages are pretty much the same when you get down to it.

I seriously don’t anticipate seeing anyone on the cover of Business Week who also has marijuana leaves tattooed on their forehead. I don’t expect them to see them in any job that doesn’t require a hairnet and a paper hat.

I used to know a woman who ran a tattoo parlor on Haight Street in San Francisco and we chatted about this one afternoon. For a person who made her living with ink and needles she tended to agree with me. She was loaded with tattoos herself, but not on her face or her hands. She advised her customers to not get anything that couldn’t be covered up for the workplace.

She encouraged me to get tattooed. I declined. I did told her that I didn’t like needles and, if I were to ever sit in her chair, I would get a tattoo of my name and address so, that if I was found unconscious, my rescuers could at least send me home. She suggested that I add the line “Return postage guaranteed.” Clever girl.

I think that it must be a generational thing. I have ZERO desire to get a tattoo – no matter how drunk I might get or desirous of being considered cool. It ain’t gonna happen.

In fact, I’ve been doing a little speculative research and I think that tattoo removal will be a major growth industry over the next few decades. When today’s rebellious billboards see those multicolored eagles on their chests starting to look like badly bruised pigeons and the Tramp Stamps disappear under the muffin tops, there will be lines around the block at “Mom’s Laser Tattoo Removal Shop.”

My friend who owned the tattoo parlor told me that getting a tattoo removed was time consuming, expensive, and “It hurts like hell.”

Alright, we have reached the end of my Geezer Rant for today. Far be it from me to tell anyone what they should or should not do. If you are old enough to get a tattoo and you are ready to live with it forever – go ahead. I won’t stop you. But, for crying out loud, don’t put a picture of Popeye on your face.

Remember my motto for Life: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Throwback Thursday From March Of 2015 – “Congratulations, You’re Still Alive!”

Doctor visit

Throwback Thursday From March Of 2015 – “Congratulations, You’re Still Alive!”

I WENT TO SEE MY DOCTOR this morning. I see him about every three months. He likes to keep tabs on me because of my high blood pressure and the veritable buffet of meds that I take.

The last time I saw him my BP was 120/60 – which is pretty darn near perfect for a human being. This morning it was 110/60 – a tad low. Compared to what it was a few years ago when I first went to see him, he is happy. Back then it was something like 180/170 – not bad if you are a cheetah chasing down a springbok, after having had a half dozen espressos and a pound of licorice.

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Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “Stop The Freakin’ Presses!!”

monk mummy 2

Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “Stop The Freakin’ Presses!!”

“THE AMAZINGLY INTACT REMAINS of a meditating monk have been discovered in the Songinokhairkhan province of Mongolia, according to a report in Mongolia’s Morning News.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I want news from Songinokhairkhan province, I turn to the Mongolia’s Morning News.

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Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

Throwback Thursday from Jan. – “Memories Are Made Of This”

ONE OF THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS that we, as humans, have is a memory. memory 1Our memory can keep the span of our entire lives and bring back to us people and moments long past. We have our memories, but how we remember something or someone may vary from the long-past reality. Our memory of time spent with a particular person may tell us that things were better or worse than they actually were.

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Life Happens On The Road

 

BACK TO TEXAS – FOR THE TIME BEING. We have been home for Thanksgiving, but we will be lining up for flights heading south again for Christmas.

Ho. Ho. Ho.

As anyone over the age of 12 can tell you, family trips are no vacation. That’s just a law of Nature. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and being with the fine members of the family. It is that “grown-up matters are the primary function of such trips. Life.

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Fiction Saturday – “Boxer”  – Part One 

 

Boxer

by John Kraft

 

“Our words and deeds, Good or Evil, are the dishes we put before the Lord.” 

—  Pope Severinus – 640 AD

The light shining in Doc’s kitchen was the only light on in the neighborhood. It would do. It always has before. In a couple of hours things on the street will begin to percolate, but now? Nothing good happens at three in the morning.

“I think your hand is broken, Terry.”

“No, it’s not, Doc. It’s just scraped up a little. I’ve broken it before. I know what that feels like.”

“Uh huh.”

Every knuckle on Terry’s right hand looked like he’d tried to knock down a brick wall.

“I just need you to clean it up, Doc, and tape it to keep the swelling down.” He held out his hand like it was a sledgehammer that needed repair.

 “Uh huh. What was it this time, a bar fight or what?”

“Business. Just business, Doc.”

“I swear, Terry, you get busted up more now than you ever did in The Ring.”

“Yeah, well, I gotta earn a living, right? In The Ring there were rules. Now, not so much. Different rules. I tell you, it gets hard for me sometimes to understand what the rules are.”

The peroxide washed over the scraped and bloody knuckles, stinging like hell. Nobody winced.

“What you need is a tetanus shot. You should go to the clinic for that.”

“They ask too many questions. This’ll do, Doc. This’ll do fine.”

He wiggled his fingers, testing for flexibility, and could he make a fist?

“You know, Terry, that I’m not a real doctor.”

“Yeah, I know. You went to medical school for a year or two. I heard you tell it all to Dutch, my old corner man. I remember.”

“Two years. I had two years of medical school, Terry. That’s all.”

Doc was a tall and sickly looking thin man. Skinny was more like it. His kitchen was his office and, on occasion, his surgery. This morning it was a little of both. He didn’t have a license to practice medicine. That dream died after two years and a weakness for gin. He drained away until all that was left was enough knowledge to pretend. Knowing enough to earn the nickname “Doc” that stung every time he heard it.

The gin introduced him to a different level of the culture and he got himself hired on as a “cut man’ for prize fighters. His job was to stop the bleeding and make things look not so bad when the referee came to their corner to assess the damage.

Doc knows only to blame himself. One night when he can’t hide in a haze he will open a vein and leave the mess for someone else to clean up.

“I can patch you up, Terry, but Jesus, I can’t keep putting you back together forever.”

“I don’t need forever, Doc. I just need tonight. Now tape me up and I’ll go.”

“Boxing is real easy, Life is much harder.” —  Floyd Mayweather Jr.

 

Terry Jarosz, 36 years old and at one time a boxer. Middle-Weight Champion for about five minutes, a punching bag the rest of the time. A guy who struggled with the world of rules and laws.

After too many fights the damage to his body didn’t want to heal up fast enough and he couldn’t get any more matches. Permits were denied and that was that.

A guy who played by the rules in The Ring was thrown out of work by the rules from outside The Ring. He had to make a living.

Terry had to work, but it’s hard for an ex-fighter to find any work that doesn’t call on his only skills – hitting and hurting other people. At that he proved to be better than most.

He took work where he could find it. “Lift this.” “Carry that,” and more and more frequently, “Hit him. Break that.”

When he was in The Ring it was nothing personal. It was two men beating each other for the purse, or a part of the purse, after “expenses” were taken out by half a dozen men who called the shots.

Whatever else he was, Terry Jarosz was known as a hard guy who never took a dive when maybe he should have to save himself. He learned too late that in his world being an honest man paid a lot less than the other kind.

People who knew his name assumed, that because he had been a “Champ,” that he was set financially. But people who knew Boxing knew that money had a way of walking out of the door faster than a Ten Count from a crooked Referee. When Terry “retired” he had less than eight hundred dollars to his name. At least he had his name.

That got him some free meals and a few jobs, but after a year or two he became “Terry who?” Fans moved on and real friends, like always, were few and far between.

Now, working as muscle, collecting debts, it always ended up being personal. Sometimes he knew the men that he was leaning on – again for just a cut of the money. He got 5% of whatever he brought in.

It didn’t take long for word to get around that Terry Jarosz would get rough if you tried to snow him. When he first started working as a collector he was easy to fool. A good sob story and he’d end up buying you a drink or slipping you a few bucks. A couple of weeks having to sleep on a sidewalk heating vent fixed that. He learned that in his new world there was no “Loser’s Purse.” He changed. He didn’t listen to the sob stories any more. He didn’t care if your mother was in the hospital. It was either pay up or tell Momma to move over.

“A man’s gotta eat.” That became his motto.

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 -And A Side Order Of Comfort Food, Please

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 –

…And A Side Order Of Comfort Food, Please

LOOKING AT THE SKY THIS AFTERNOON I see what looks like a winter sky. I know that winter is not here, officially, until just before Christmas, but my body does not know that.

I saw an old guy recently who was wearing a T-shirt that read, “Getting old ain’t for Sissies.” I have come to truly understand that that is true, in Spades, a solid gold, cold hard fact. Ya gotta be tough.

As the temperature drops the sinews and skeletal structure of my body begin to react in a way that, if I were a car they would have me up on the rack for a tune up and a check of my suspension – and maybe new shocks. But, since I am not a car, I get a bottle of Excedrin. I’m an old model and it is hard to find parts for me anyway.

Right now my spine is trying to dislodge itself and go to Florida. The attached muscles and other human bungee cords are twisting to counterbalance my spine’s attempts to sneak away when I’m not looking. And, Mamacita! It hurts.

Modern pharmaceuticals offer a variety of substances that alleviate pain, but they do so at a cost. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about side effects. All medications have side effects – ALL OF THEM. Some are innocuous, some are enjoyable, most are tolerable. These side effects are there because all medications are also poisonous – ALL OF THEM. The trick with medications is to have you take them in such a dosage that it will achieve the positive, intended goal without killing you first. You can OD on anything.

I knew a fellow who, for various psychological reasons, tried to commit suicide by taking his entire month’s supply of antidepressants at one time. Doing so lifted his spirits and made him forget about offing himself, but those meds had the side effect of completely shutting down his kidneys. Fortunately, the ER doctors were able to save him and his kidneys, and the emergency catheterization they had to perform made him even sorrier that he had taken all those pills.

When my body begins to ache, and get downright punitive with me, I try to avoid taking any pain medications. Most of the OTC things are no more effective than a bag of M&Ms and not as tasty. The ones that do help either upset my tummy or make me feel like I’ve downed 32 cups of espresso. The happy medium, for me anyway, is Excedrin Migraine. I don’t have migraine headaches, thank you, Lord, but it seems to be the most effective with body aches. Go figure.

I came to the realization, decades ago, that these seasonal changes are unavoidable no matter where I lived, and so were the pains that came with them. I have also accepted that there is not a damn thing I can do about the pain, unless I want to take prescription pain medication and put my brain and personality in a box until summer. Some of those heavy-duty pain meds are the equivalent of a lobotomy in a bottle. Why on God’s green earth would I want to do that when my brain is just about the only thing I have that works?

Some years ago I had a nasty case of Shingles and my doctor gave me a prescription for Vicodin. Sweet Jesus! I couldn’t feel the pain, along with my head, my tongue, the Western Hemisphere or the Milky Way. It was like getting hit in the head with a ball-peen hammer. It turned me into a side of beef with shoes. After a couple days with that I opted for the pain. At least that way I knew I was alive.

So, here I sit, typing away, having downed a couple of Excedrin Migraine. It helps, a bit. I think that the best thing I can do for myself, and those around me, is to stay warm, eat some comfort foods, and watch the World Series on TV.

Now, if I can just find a bowl full of chocolate covered endorphins.

Not Today, My Friends

TODAY IS A DAY WHEN I NEED AND RELISH THE ROUTINE. I want it to be a quiet day so that I can think about the past, live in my present, and dream about what I see for the future.

I want my day to begin softly with a coffee or two and not much in the way of conversation. To do this I will have to visit St. Arbucks early, do a little writing, and then leave before the influx of Usual Suspects filter in. If I don’t I know what will happen. There will be anger and high blood pressure all around me. Not today, my friends. Not today.

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That’s My Cue

BE WARNED. I’VE GOT ON MY THINKING CAP.

When that happens the dogs howl, babies cry and milk goes bad on the “Best if used by…” date. And I usually end up with my neck in a wringer.

What triggered my lobes into action was a feeling, a nostalgia, perhaps. I got an email from a local theater group that is holding auditions for their next production. I have no interest in that particular play, but it hit a responsive chord in my heart.

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A Basket Of Brisket

WELL, HERE WE GO – OFF TO TEXAS! Surprisingly our flights were uneventful – which is what you want. Eventful airplane flights make the news and that is never a good thing. Things even went smoothly in our dealings with the TSA aerobic organisms. I think they were having an “On-The Job Slumber Party. They were just waving people through without even looking at them. I bet I could have walked through there toting a Howitzer and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It always makes me feel so safe.

Once we got to our ultimate destination (Corpus Christi) we did what any sensible person would do – we stopped for lunch at Whataburger. It’s a tradition that goes back to the days of the Alamo and Davy Crockett I think. A Family thing, you know.

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Moving On

I CHECKED MY EMAIL THIS MORNING and among the spam and other stuff was a blog posting from a man who was just starting retirement – and he wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s Retirement Day and I finally understand that I mean no more to them than the corner trash can.”

That stopped me in my tracks.

This was a statement from a man who is feeling lost.

From the power of his words I would guess that he was forced to retire, either by circumstances such as health or by a mandatory retirement policy. Either way his world has just been turned upside down. He is being made to enter a new and, it seems, frightening period of his life.

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A Territorial Dispute

LIKE MOST PEOPLE I AM A CREATURE OF HABIT. I tend to want to do today what I did yesterday and I don’t like anybody to mess with that – and by extension – me. His morning I was faced with such a situation

Just about every day I start my conscious activities down the street at St. Arbucks. I get my coffee, as usual, and then I stumble to my table in the corner, as usual. Sip coffee. Take meds. Plug in phone. Write. That’s it – nothing fancy, but critical nonetheless.

Today everything was moving along swimmingly until I turned the corner and prepared myself to hunker down in the corner.

THERE WERE PEOPLE SITTING AT MY TABLE!

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It’s Just A Game To Me

PICKLE BALL? I’VE HEARD OF IT. I’ve never played it. I have no desire to play it. It sounds strenuous and I don’t do strenuous any more. I’ve seen pictures of people playing Pickle Ball and at first glance it looks like a combination of Tennis – Ping Pong – and Cardiac Arrest.

The only reason I’m looking at it at all is that I know someone who is into Pickle Ball in a big way. He is always heading off to play here in Terre Haute (That’s French for “I’d like a Gherkin, please.”) or to take part in some National Championship tournament.

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