Friday, March 30, 2007

Steve Goes Deep... Let's You All In On A Secret

Reach for the Sky

Hey Guys,

Having a blog is one of the most wonderful things you can have. Really. Everyone should have one. The readers you catch, make friends with and... well in a sense make friends with and then connect with sort of, become the commentary you may seek from your psyche. (Let it rip Tina) I think if you start a blog like I have and write like I do, you seek assurance, redemption or even the compliment of knowing that your conscience actually has an answer or comment or question into your daily life. I write this as my cat, Jack, kneads his way into the comforter for a night long sleep. Something about that kneading really makes you wonder.

I sat down the street tonight with some of my wife and I's friends for my wife's Japanese club thing. I stayed after my wife went home with Elijah for another glass of Mark West Pinot Noir. (great wine, light and bold...good fruit tones... smooth)After I talked with them for a while I headed home. I live 3 or 4 blocks away from this place so I headed out. Then I had to pee real bad. So I started to hurry a little. What happens next was interesting. This happened literally 15 minutes ago so I am still soaking it in. My trot turned into a run. My run turned into a sprint. My sprint turned into the World's Fastest Indian. I was flat out booking. I covered a quarter mile in seconds. I ain't kidding. And for about 5 seconds... but it seemed like an eternity, I reached euphoria. I was calm. Breathing slow... Centered. Complete, all at one time. It was like I was numb. Like the air around me, whispering around my ears was a sense of total calmness. I swear I reached what we all intend to some day get to.

Then it all just stopped.

First it was a shock. Then it was a crack. My shoulder, my leg, my hip... my back. What was once a well-oiled, German, tuned machine went to cheap American crap. I stumbled. I collapsed and thankfully there is that cyclone fence that runs down the other side of the street, I had something to grab onto. What the hell just happened? I snapped. I'm broke. No more. I'm out. Pain takes over and I see the whites of it's eyes.

I am 33 years old and in a couple of weeks I have the scariest doctor's appointment of my life. So I think. I cannot shake my pain. It's with me 24/7. And if there is that chance where I feel like I am healed, it always ends in some sort of misery. As I write this, I feel like I am typing a million miles an hour. It is right from the tip of my tongue, the fore-front of my mind. It may sound a bit humorous, even light hearted at first but it comes from someone that hurts and hurts bad. I can't stop it. It won't stop. It's always right there jabbing me, punching me and has me in it's GI Joe Kung Fu grip. I asked my doctor for the test... The test whether I have MS or not.

It's been over a year. A year since I left a golf course in pain. Not the worst pain I ever felt but pain that seemed to consume me. Pain I live with all day. It stays on my left side. It causes me to limp. It cause my leg to feel weak, lazy actually. It changes my moods. I am so consumed so perplexed by it, I don't know where to begin to think to even treat it. It's in my toes, my knee, my hip, my leg, my shoulder and especially my back. MRI's show nothing... nothing physical that is. I have reached the point of either or. It's this or it that. It's in my head or it's not. Pain psychology had taught my one thing, I can treat what's in my head... the rest is my body. It's my body.

Maybe this is something I finally had to let out... something to tell the world or whom ever listens. I felt tonight in those few seconds when I was running faster than I ever, ever, ever could push myself before if the pain was really, a reality, I could deal. It's the blackjack hand I could win... as long as I know my chances. My chances still favor me.

If it turns out it is MS... even as the last two fingers on my left hand go numb from typing. I'll adapt. I'll overcome. I will prevail.

Thanks as always, for listening...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cold War Kids: Great Band and Great Music

Hang me out to dry...

I'm totally groovin' on this stuff lately. If you end up with the cd or if you are one of the those sick people who download things illegally depriving the artist of his/her ability to profit off of their creation (Stupid Democrats!), check out the song Robbers by these guys. Great stuff. Cool video.

(Now before you give me a bunch of shit for tagging their video to my blog, to which I do not make a feeble attempt of selling anything on, think before you steal it for your iPod. 4200 songs, all bought and paid for. Majority of it was my existing CD collection I created by myself over the last 20 years. Funny, when my wife and I got together and merged the collection of CD's we ended up with like 1000-1200 with only around 100 doubles, which mostly were the Cure, Depeche Mode, REM, Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins)

I have that guitar that the guy jumping around with.... I love their sound because it is so different and yet so recognizable. I love that chiming full sound of the hollow body electric. Where Chuck Berry and BB King got their sounds, hollow body guitars. Very "White Album/Abbey Road" late Beatle sound with some new wave beats and grooves. Sounds a bit like Talking Heads too. That song Robbers I mentioned came on shuffle last weekend. Something about the peace and beauty of a great song. Robbers is by no means as good of song as their one here "Hang Me Out To Dry". But Robbers has such a subtle song that just sort of stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. Kind of like, Redemption Song when I first heard it from Bob Marley. It attacked the soul. Robbers has this brush military style drum beat with this lightly sung tale that sounds like someone walking home from the bar after drowning their sorrows of stomping all over someone to get ahead.

Screw it, here is the video for Robbers:

Okay... enough with music reviews. Las Vegas sucked this week. Down 80 bucks but I really didn't play. That's good though, I won't be back there until May where I plan (yes darling wife) to hit it a little harder and see what shakes out, but staying conservative in my betting. I am seeking a $2000 blackjack win which is really hard at 10 bucks a hand but I believe it is possible.

Impeach Alberto Gonzalez!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Journey through Middle America

I made my first trip through middle America this week. I had been through Nebraska before by car but it was too quick to remember. This time, I landed in Kansas City and then traveled west across some small towns into the middle of Kansas, up north of Wichita.

I should say first, what a great part of the country. Farm towns, old architecture and rolling farm land. The amazing thing to me was the geology. The flat expanses of limestone turning to flint stone (slate)underneath all that green grass made for grazing cattle.

That area of the country was settled a bit earlier than California. It was interesting to see the vast differences from our big cities but the striking similarities to the small town I grew up in California. A lot of it was like traveling up the central valley of California. Railroads along the highway, small towns with a "community center" based around a small grocery store, gas station or diner.

I saw my first Amish community. I didn't think they came that far west. A horse and buggy on the side of a little highway. Never seen that before.

What is also interesting, a lot of the houses in the mid west have no fences around their yards. You see houses built together in new tracts but no fences separating the yards. Kind of interesting because you would not want to live in California without fences! You wouldn't want your neighbor to see through your backyard. Besides, there is a lot more crime.

The more obvious thing I noticed though was the people. People there are just different. Not in a bad way just different culturally. I was in a bar and I just sat and watched people. Politically they are different than most of America, different even than me with some of the conservative views I have. There was a natural friendliness that is rare. They way they greet you. The natural hospitality of offering you drink or the better seat. I am used to Californians just taking and grabbing and moving so fast. Time seemed to slow down, while at the same time we got where we needed to go without the stress. The perception of traffic on the roads was even much different in that, what they saw was bumper to bumper would be a joy to see mid morning in Southern California. Nobody was in a hurry.

I guess this is why however, we are so different in this country with our views. Different experiences lead you to look at things differently. Amazing if you think about it. No wonder our politicians can't always agree or someone like Stephen Colbert can rip someone, Democrat or Republican from the mid west in his regular "Know your district" segment on his show.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Your Lips Move... But I Can't Hear What Your Saying

Play while reading... (Easiest guitar solo in the world)

Chronic Pain blows especially when you want to try and remain active. Like doing the yard, playing with a seven month old or even taking a swing with a golf club. I am 33 and I have a very youthful attitude towards like. I am like one of those kids who has to jump and touch that high spot in the middle of a parking garage. A quick 10 second sprint across the street... still there but dude...

Give me an illness like the stomach flu or a simple cold (which just turned into bronchitis because I couldn't cough without pain)and I'm freaking dead. It just rips every part of my body.

My house now looks like I raided a pharmacy. A big bottle of Vicodin for pain. Some "relaxation" medicine for sleep. Now... a big ole bottle of codiene cough suppressant, one of those allergy inhalers, some sinus medicine and an anti-biotic regiment.

No... that's okay, I don't need that high ball of Jameson at the moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Elijah Goes to the Zoo

Daddy stayed home sick. Daddy was running a fever. Daddy's back is sore from coughing my lungs out. It sucks. That is daring wife's nose featured on the left. Great weather in Sacramento this weekend.

This is an interesting look on Elijah's face. First off, here he looks like me, one of my brothers and my father. Yet those eyes are definitely my wifes. He's 7 months old now.

The things we do to our kids!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Maybe I Should Drive?

Japanese Airline lands with out front wheel!!!

Okay, so last week I fly to Denver. I get into the plane and all the TV's were on CNN. And the are all showing the fiery crash of an Indonesian plane as it landed. It's totally refreshing to see that as your plane is about to take off.

Today, I take off to Boise. (Saw the most beautiful sunrise above Lake Tahoe as we took off). This is the first time I had ever been on a prop plane. It was a small commuter plane that sat maybe 60 people. So I sat right near the wing and all you see is this huge black prop out the window. I thought this would be cool. I wondered if the plane would shake and stuff in the sky. I love bumps on a plane! I also knew the plane wouldn't fly as high so there would be more to see. (I am fascinated by the vast amount of open space over Nevada).

So I land in Boise and walk by a TV and what do I see? An identical plane, featured in the video above, posted in Japanese for my "faux" Asian wife to translate, on CNN trying to land. I then hear the whole fleet on Bombardier planes in Japan have been grounded to check the wheels. Are they gonna check mine on the way back? If not, can I get that pilot???

Saturday, March 10, 2007

It's A Keeper...


My 914 Porsche

I have talked about this car before. All winter long, I have debated getting rid of this car and getting something safer. I thought about trading in this 33 year old car for a shiny new Mustang or Mini Cooper or even an A4. I had it all planned out how I was gonna sell this for a fat down payment.

I also contemplated the condition of my back. The pain is still there in my left arm and leg. The pain in the shoulder. The tingling sensation in my hip when I depress the clutch. Getting out of the thing. Uggh...

A few weeks ago, I went down into the garage to clean the leaves out of my sump in my basement. Our garage is actually part of the basement and without the sump we'd take in a lot of water during the rains. Just annual maintenance of a 98 year old house.

But there it sat. My Porsche all dusty and dirty... well protected though from the outside world. It was nice that day I was cleaning the sump. So I decided to hop and turn over the engine. Nothing. I jumped out of the car, a la Dukes of Hazzard, and grabbed the power charger to see if I could give it a jump. Nothing. Christ, wasn't it August when I bought the new battery? So I switched the charger to trickle and just left it.

A day or so later, I remember that I left the thing on trickle charge and quickly ran down to the basement, hoping I didn't destroy the battery. I guess it was okay to leave this on for this long. No problems in the engine compartment from what I could gather. I decided to unplug it and roll it all up. No time drive it really that day anyway.

About a week later I went down into the garage to get something. It was midweek and the sun was out but it was cold. I was getting a screwdriver for something upstairs and I was basically getting ready to head out and pick up some dry cleaning. I had my keys on me and as I walked by the car, I decided to lean in and see if would start. It had been about six months since I drove the car and last time I tried I had no charge in the battery. From outside the car, I stuck the key in the ignition and gave it a crank. Right on the first try, without giving the car gas, my little, 125hp dynamo started with a growl.

For some reason, something told me not to sell this thing. Maybe it was the sound of the engine or the little bark the tires made when I toke off in first gear or the sound of the Magnaflow setting off a Civic's alarm or the nimble feel of throwing the car into a hard right turn a few blocks later or the easy stop it made at the signal light. I don't know. I guess my love for the car is back!

Next up: A movie. Maybe next weekend.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Happy Anniversary: Here's Some Stomach Flu

(Side note: What the hell is Yoko doing?)

So yesterday was my wife and I's 7th Anniversary together as one, er uh married. And really it was a good thing we made no plans this time around. Last year was Tahoe, the year before that was Sedona, Arizona (see photo blog way back when or the beer tasting post with the stomach flu!!)

And what is it with the stomach flu and our anniversaries. Kristen came down with it on Saturday and to be honest, I did not compute that she had the flu. I honestly was like, "Just put Elijah beside you for his nap." "Aren't you going to feed him?" "I have yard work to do and it is a beautiful day!"

Did not compute...

She was puking and in pain and I am like, so you wanna go to dinner?

I came to the realization that something was amiss on Saturday afternoon when I was holding and playing with Elijah for a couple of hours. I was thinking, "Maybe she is sick or something?"

So yesterday, our anniversary, I decided to take Elijah down to my parents so Kristen could sleep and stuff. What a great day! Elijah played for a couple of hours with his toys and his Opa and Oma. I just kicked it, installing Adobe Reader on my mom's computer. Great day. Nice dinner. A glass of wine. Helped my Dad with his iPod. And then I left...

It's about an hour to my parents house and I totally felt fine on the way back until I turned onto my street. That's when I felt it coming on. The burning in my chest. I dismissed it as indigestion and when I entered the house, Kristen was full of energy and obviously the bulk of the flu symptoms were behind her.

But that indigestion.... ugghh!!! I grabbed some Pepto. It didn't go away. I just wanted to lay down so I went upstairs to crash. I broke out into a cold sweat. I was delirious. I was shaking. Could it be that I was falling victim to my wife's fake illness? I felt like a death row inmate who was facing the inevitable. The ball was in motion. The warden was reading and signing the death warrant. I was going to puke.

So what did I do? I sucked it up. I became a man. I let it go like it was a championship vomiting contest. I let it out like freaking James Brown at the Apollo. There was no doubt left. I totally owned it and my wife could hear everything.

Was it vengeance? No. Karma? Perhaps from the video I tagged here. Yeah maybe, instant karma can get you. My wife was right there though, getting me Gatorade. Letting me know that it is only a day's worth of sickness.

I had around 5 or 6 sessions to a sold out audience at the porcelain God upstairs. I couple of times the show had an opener... Mr. Diarrhea. Above all, it was well done though. I laid in agony on the bathroom floor after the last trip going, "What am I doing?" And from that point, I just stopped throwing up. The little man inside me that I invented when I was 7 made the repairs and the system started to go back to normal.

Then the most unbelievable pain set in. I threw out my already bad back. It freaking killed and I couldn't take anything for it. All night I toss and turned. I grabbed the blankets and ran down to my back chair, hoping to get some relief. It got worse. It hurt. Last night was one of the longest nights (next to my first Prom) of my life! It just would not get later. It was like 10 to 2. Then an hour later it was like 5 after 2. The space between 2:30 AM and 4:30 AM was like a whole freaking lifetime. I half way expected to get up in the morning and watch Elijah head off to college. The pain.... Oh my God the pain!

At 7 AM my wife was heading to work. I had begun the process of phoning it in. The home office is in Central time. I fired up a computer and sent email. All along, shivering and cold. No amount of blankets would save me from the shivering and pain. Thinking my stomach was okay enough (not on solids yet!!!) I took a gamble and popped a Vicodin. The worst case scenario though, I'd just throw it up and get back into that cycle for a few hours. It's been almost 3 hours, no pukey and no trips to the John.

Something really interesting came over me though this morning, while I laid in agony. My mind ran through what I need to do for work but I kept going back to Elijah. It sort of centered me, kind of like when I was watching him being born. While trying to accomplish the futile endeavor of using both a heating pad and an ice pack on my back at the same time, for a moment, I'd just see his smiling face. Him laughing and giggling. I kept going back to him. And while I was having such a rough night, I think he helped me make it through.

It's just something that has never happened before. Wow!