Tag Archives: Relationships

A morning on the VA medical launchpad

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I don’t know a lot more about my health this afternoon than I knew when I awakened this morning, but I know a good deal more about other interesting matters than I once did.  Went through the television interview with some people somewhere else asking about various health issues.  This evidently resulted in checkmarks going to a file telling them what testing to do afterward in the lab.

Judging from the tests the interviewers weren’t discounting a hyperfunctioning thyroid, though they  were closed-mouth about any opinions they formed during the interview.  They did hint at the possibility I might want to take it easy and not do anything particular until I’ve seen the doctor on the 20th of December.

But hanging around that waiting area was worth the price of admission.  Discovered what a huge percentage of the circa 1965-1975 US Army, AF, Navy and Marine Corps who end up getting health treatment from the VA have discovered they were point-men infantrymen, snipers, and other non-company clerk in Danang, personnel or supply clerk, cooks, or motorpool monkeys in Siagon [folks comprising 90+ percent of the Vietnam jobs of the time].

Which is to say, when you’re an old bastard and find your life hasn’t been sufficiently interesting, you can sit in the waiting room at the VA and blow smoke up the asses of a lot of other old guys.  And if you do, some others will crawl out of the wood work to provide an atmosphere of reciprocity and mutual ex post facto revisions of history.  I’ve got a feeling the non-vet practice promiscuously using phrases such as, ‘fought for our freedoms,’ or ‘fought in Vietnam’  brings the incentive.  If you were in Vietnam and never heard a shot fired in anger along with almost everyone else in Vietnam, how do you reconcile it with someone accusing you of ‘fighting for our freedoms?’  Or, ‘fought in Vietnam’?

Lordee what a needy bunch of sons of bitches we Americans are in our dotage.

Old Jules’

Joined at the hip

Good morning readers.

Hanging around an RV during a week-long ice storm is a good time for a person to boil down blessings and scrape them off the bottom of the pot.  I’d been doing a lot of reading nights before the water froze, but reading requires a level of involvement I was decreasingly able to maintain what with various uncertaintainties nagging for my attention.

So when I went in to Andrews to get my new tires put onto the ground I swung by an Alco store, which is the be all and end all in Andrews for certain types of purchases.  Bought a box of movie DVDs called Nifty Fifties for a few bucks.  50 movies from back when.

Nights if my attention span doesn’t feel up to reading I watch a movie.  Saw one a few nights ago with Sydney Portier and Eartha Kitt, him being an African firebrand leader named Obam, which was worth the price of admission.

But last night I saw Chained Forever, or something of the sort.  Two sisters joined at the hip, a Vaudeville singing act, trying to make lives of themselves in a world where the rules of behavior assume a lot about the rule-followers not being joined at the hip.

One of the sisters ‘falls in love’ with a marksmanship act guy who might have returned her affection had it not been for the party of the third part they’d have to drag along.  All manner of difficulties with laws, also, trying to get marriage licences for the party of the first part and the party of the second part while ignoring the party of the third part without any bigamy issues.

Fun movie, though daft.

Fact is, being joined at the hip just ain’t that uncommon.  Jack and Bobby Kennedy became joined at the hip at some point during the late 1950s and nobody even noticed.  George Bush Sr. and George Bush Jr. were joined at the hip similarly but it mostly just manifested itself in wars in Iraq and other matters.

Hillary Clinton, Janet Reno and Bill Clinton were all joined at the hip though nobody noticed until the Army, National Guard, FBI, and a million television cameras bunched up around Mount Pleasant outside Waco, Texas.  The joined-at-hip condition became more obvious afterward at Ruby Ridge, various real estate shennanigans, CIA importing cocaine into Arkansas airstrips for the trio, etc.

In fact, when you think of it a lot of modern life is dedicated to snooping out people who aren’t yet joined at the hip to something, or someone, and getting the knot tied to reduce the amount of trouble anyone’s likely to cause.  Sending them off to penal institutions for certain factions, joining the military for others, becoming rabid fans of this or that celebrity, music genre.

Time was joining at the hip was simpler.  People just got married.  But that was back before the age of enlightenment and marriages tended to last longer.  Now for any duration the joining at the hip has to cut a wider swath.

The way the Democrats and Republicans have blazed the trail for joined at the hip inclusiveness might well be the wave of the future.  Imagine.   Everyone finally agreeing at the bottom of things they’re just following the mandate of their hips, pulling the same direction despite themselves.

Old Jules

Hitch-hiking from Beatnik to Hippiedom

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

When I got out of the Army, summer 1964, I had a lot of ideas about my bright future.  Shopped around the Portales area for a while and found a quarter-section cotton farm I thought briefly I’d buy and become a starving-to-death farmer, which fell through.  Worked meanwhile, for Abe Ribble at his cement operation, and applied for the Peace Corps, knowing I wouldn’t hear from them for several months.

I was hanging out with a number of other young guys who were at loose ends, drinking coffee and walking around town, sitting on benches around the courthouse trying to figure out the meaning of life.  Going out with a waitress out at the truckstop when she got off work at midnight.  A young woman with goals, and confidence that no matter what a man might want for himself, she could mold him into something more to her liking.  Once she got him nailed down on all the corners.

The World Fair was going on in New York that year.  I could feel the walls of Portales trying to close in on me, and the guys I’d been spending spare time with were mostly thinking of themselves as beatniks, to the extend a person could be a beatnik in Portales.  A slight beard and a beret went a long way in that direction.  Sketchpad and a piece of charcoal, or a lot of free-verse poems jotted on cafe napkins were the tools.

So another aspiring beatnik, Stan Sexton, and I, decided to hitch to beatnik heaven.  Check out the World Fair.  Visit a couple of New Yorker weekend beatniks who went to Eastern New Mexico University, but were home in Westchester that summer.

I’ve told elsewhere on this blog about that summer, about sleeping on the Brooklyn Bridge, about catching the freight-train out late-August, jail in Rochester, and eventually hitching, driving the school bus to California, etc.  About all those would-be beatnik women and the “Eh?  YOU don’t believe in free love?” pickup line that always worked.

When I was accepted for Peace Corps Training and headed out of New York I had no idea I was seeing the dying gasp of the Beatnik phase everywhere.  That a year later everyone who was anyone would be Hippy.  That Greenwich Village would be replaced by San Francisco as the center of ‘what’s happening in America’.  Kids would be burning their draft-cards and taking acid trips.  Doing ‘Love-ins’ in the park.

By the time I got back to Portales to spend my time waiting for the Peace Corps India X training to begin in Hawaii the world had begun a sea-change, though it didn’t know it. 

But at least some of the pressure was off in Portales.  The waitress had found someone else with better prospects for a bright future.  Cotton farmer, he turned out to be, if I remember correctly.

Old Jules

These damned ego-warts

Hi readers. 

Although most of you probably figure I’m just a quiet, well-adjusted old hermit living out in the boondocks with all the ups and downs of life fairly settled quietly into my guts, I’ve revealed parts of my life here to suggest otherwise.  I’ve lived through enough emotional storms and shed enough skins to force me out of a lot of the usual hideyholes, to hold things up into the light and examine them.

But some things still come out in the dark of night.  Some things are still damned difficult to accept.  Pride, ego, and self-worth are powerful forces.

Around this time in 1992, I left a 25 year marriage and a 20 year career behind, along with dozens of long-time friends, pals, hunting partners, acquaintances, and both sides of a joint-family.  I began a new career in Santa Fe, a new life.  All secure in the knowledge the extended family and friends remaining behind were part of my life in which I’d been and remained, important.

All of which I eventually discovered was an illusion.  For 2.5 decades I’d believed I was a vital part of those interactions and relationships.  Kids, young adult nephews and neices  I’d coddled and bounced on my knee peeled out of my life like layers of an onion.  Most I never heard from again.

I was a long time realizing I’d merely been tolerated, been a piece of furniture in their lives.  Tolerated because of my proximity to my ex-wife.

Even for a confident human being such as myself, it was a tough pill to swallow.  I gradually rebuilt my life with a far deeper skepticism than I’d previously enjoyed concerning my own worth and my place in the lives of others.

Which resulted in my becoming a hermit.  Or at least, contributed to my becoming a hermit.  I no longer assume I’m important in the lives of other human beings and get my satisfaction in knowing I’m at least important to the cats.  Because cats, though sometimes dishonest, aren’t capable of the depth and duration of dishonesty humans indulge constantly.

For me, all of this distilled emerges as a statement I spent at least 25 years of a 70 year live being insignificant in the lives of others.  And a painful awareness that life is entirely too important and too short to be wasted in insignificance.  A determination in the direction of significance measured in teaspoons of reality, as opposed to 55-gallon drums of  dishonesty and self-delusion.

Teaspoons measured in contracts with cats not equipped to lie.  Teaspoons, I find, don’t spill away as much life in the discovery when they’re found to be just another ego-wart of pride and self-importance.

Old Jules

The nightmares of acceptance

high water

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Probably I was four years old, must have been 1947, I was a kid with a recurring nightmare.  I was walking along a raised roadway with my mom, my granddad, and my two sisters.  A deep gravel pit reached alongside the road and my feet slipped, I fell and began sliding into the pit screaming for help.  None of them looked around, none paused, they all just kept walking and I kept sliding and screaming until I’d wake.

With all these decades of hindsight I find that dream of a four-year-old amazing.  I had no business knowing that much about people, about life, about my particular gene-pool at that age. 

At the time my mom was between marriages and we were living in Causey, New Mexico in a two-room shack with no running water, an outdoor toilet, maybe no electricity, though we might have had electricity.  I can’t recall.  My granddad’s presence in the area was the only thing to draw us there.  My mom was doing anything, seamstress work, pulling cotton, trying to operate a miniscule variety store in the house to earn a living. 

A deeply troubled young woman with three kids and almost certainly more nightmares of her own to keep her company than anyone purely needs.  Her financial woes gradually improved when she married again, but my thought is her mental processes turned concurrently to lies and manipulation.  Maybe they’d never been otherwise.

Such a woman!  I don’t believe my sisters ever recovered from the experience of having her for a mother, of always being caught in the vice of ‘love your mother’ and that mother being a destructive, master manipulative sociopath.  I believe I did recover, but it’s just me believing it.  I do know that when she died a couple of years back and I heard the news I felt nothing but a sense of deep relief, of peace.

I suppose it was the neighbor got me thinking of this.  He came down bringing a cup of expensive coffee before dusk.  As we sat he told me about some trial in Florida of a man who killed someone who was beating him up in a parking lot.  An angry tale of violence and racial politics and justice.

As he described it to me I remembered something else he’d told me a while back, off-hand and matter-of-fact, about how his father had murdered two, maybe three people he [the neighbor] knew of.  One a whiskey salesman who didn’t get his purchases for the bar he operated delivered.  Beat him to death on the sidewalk in front of his bar.  Another salesman he beat badly might have lived, might have died.  I can’t recall for certain because when I heard the story I was still digesting the first salesman.

The next homicide by his father he was sure of involved a Mexican [or at least a Hispanic] who did farm work.  Evidently screwed up a switch on an irrigation pump.  That night the neighbor says the father took his .22 pistol and went out somewhere.  The next day the Mexican farm worker was found dead on the railroad tracks shot nine times with a .22, then run over by a train.

The jokes around town proclaimed it to be the most elaborate suicide ever.

When he told me this story it didn’t include any value judgements, no overtones, no repudiation, no anger of the sort contained in the story of the trial in Florida.

I suppose an infinite number of monkeys pounding an infinite number of typewriters will indeed eventually write the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, as someone claimed.  I’ve seen enough families and enough parenting this lifetime to accept that some families and some parenting must fall within the ‘normal’ part of the bell-shaped curve.

But to go a step further and suggest there’s enough ‘normal’ floating around among the father and mother components to celebrate seems to me to be a possible overstatement.  I count myself lucky my nightmares were only my own.  When Bobby Dylan’s song offered to let me be in his dream if I’d let him be in mine I was never tempted.  Still ain’t.

Old Jules

Learning to trust dishonesty

liberty

Me:  “Okay Tabby.  This has gone on long enough.   Time we had a heart-to-heart about whatever’s bothering you.”

 Tabby:  “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Me:  “That’s obvious enough.  But the fact is, I’m holding all the cards.  We’re going to work this out, or you’re going to find yourself out of a job.”

Tabby:  “I knew it was going to come to that.  You’ve never liked me.”

Me:  “Well, it’s true I didn’t pick you to be part of the clan.  You’ve never been one I’d have deliberately selected.  But I’ve tried my best to be dishonest about it consistently and not show it.”

Tabby:  “The other cats have never liked me, never accepted me.”

Me:  “Yeah, you’ve bullied them and they’ve bullied you.  I’ve had to pull you off Niaid, and I’ve had to pull Hydrox off you.  I’ve tried not to show a preference.  I even used to have to pull you off Shiva, your own mother. 

“But I’ve also held you upside down, sweet talked you, petted you, treated you as affectionately as all the rest of them were treated anytime you’d allow it.  You quit allowing it.  I didn’t quit trying.”

Tabby: That’s because I finally realized you’re a liar.  That you were being dishonest.  That you really don’t like me at all.”

Me:  “Yeah, but I’ve been consistently dishonest.  I’ve tried to hide the fact I don’t like you much during those times I didn’t and I worked hard at liking you.  If you want to stay around here and be a part of the ‘us’, Hydrox, Niaid, you and me, you’re going to have to trust me to keep on being dishonest.”

Tabby“I’m not sure I can do that.”

Me: If you can’t you stand a good shot at me starting to be honest.  I’m an old Jellicle cat man from ‘way back.  You’re a Tabby.  I learned to love your mom, even though she’s a Tabby.  I’ll keep working at it, and meanwhile I’ll keep being dishonest.  But don’t push it too far.  The clock’s running.”

The Centralist Texasist RV Magnate

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Feeling a bit blundery here.  Got involved in a book around 10pm and around 3am discovered it was 3am and I still had 75 pages demanding my immediate attention.  Decided what the hell.  Storm came around 70 pages later so I was up scurrying closing everything open to rain on both vehicles.

The attempts by modern civilization to snag me into negativity and stall the process of my registering the 1978 wossname, Holiday Rambler, failed and I dotted all the necessary eyes, paid out a few hundred bucks, only had to be the tiniest bit of an ooocher of legalities.  That Ford RV is now legally a resident of Texas, standing up on its hind wheels and whinnying.  Next it will be wanting to vote.

This staying up all night reading without intending to is something the law ought to insist younger men do.  Screws up all manner of habitual behaviors for cats and men my vintage.

Anyway, nice little rain last night.

The financial drain of all this has me thinking I’ll be online a lot today chasing through the available gate guard and pipeline guard for oilfield jobs.  I need a spurt of wealth to undo what’s been done to my wallet with all this.

My friend Eddie keeps track of such things as this and tells me the gate guard think is doable, sent me some links, and when I mentioned it in town to a couple of people a couple of them gave me some email links.

A few months of that would provide the friends I owe money to a relief of the burden of me owing them money [Keith and Rich, I love you as brothers and am eternally grateful for being there when I needed you].   And the weight of not being financially solvent robbing my macho, mainly, because neither of them’s hectoring me with anything but positivist enthusiasm.

Jules

I might be forced to find me a woman

Don Giovanni

At least for a while.  I’ve been kicking it around in my head a lot lately.  If I’m going to do any serious trekking into the high mountains for more than a few days I’m going to have to have someone looking after the felines.  And if I want to spend a season work camping somewhere they almost always require couples, as opposed to singles.

Fact is, I run across a lot of men who might be a lot easier to get along with than a woman, but most of them have their own ideas about what they’d prefer to do with themselves as opposed to doing what I might wish them to do.  And women tend to be a lot easier to come by in my experience.  The problem is keeping things clean and well lighted, the parties of the first and second parts each knowing where the other’s coming from, and where they’re going.

That can get complicated.  Mainly because one of the two parties is working on more than one agenda without coming out and saying so, figuring the agenda of the other can be modified after the hook is set better.

But a lot of the things I want to do before I die are going to require someone to lift the other end of something.  Finding someone willing to lift the other end and take joy in doing it is no easy matter.  Whatever the object needs lifting, whatever the agenda.

Afterthought:  A woman who owns a couple of mules or a string of pack goats and a few acres of land up near the continental divide might work out well.  Also a stock trailer and something to pull it.  Probably can find something on Craigslist.

Afterthought #2:  I can’t, in good conscience, recommend me to any woman.  In fact, I’d counsel strongly against me as a consideration.  Fact is, I’m a nice guy.  Got an honest streak in me and enough of a century behind to know this whole thing was a lousy idea.  Though fun, in an oblique sort of way.

The price you can get for your kids has skyrocketed.

The National Debt

Time was when parents were reluctant to sell their children.  They could barely get enough to pay a week rent for a healthy, hard working, intelligent kid.

However, luckily in this 21st Century all that has changed.  You can get wars, weaponry,  welfare, superhighways, government grants, retirement for government officials, 87 layers of cops, national health care and a lot more.  All you have to do is sell your kids, worthless, illiterate and unlikely though they are. 

Heck, I guess the kids are all already sold.  It’s the grandkids and the rest of your progeny you’ll have to hock.  But the folks who loan money to the US government are still anxious to buy them.

Especially the Chinese.

Wishing you whatever kind of Christmas you want for yourselves

la cantina antlered head 2

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I sat in a Mexican food cafe in Snora the other morning chowing down on a buffet breakfast I hadn’t asked ahead of time how much would cost.  After all, how much could they charge for a buffet breakfast, anyway?

Well, that’s another story.  What I was going to say was that the table next to me had five men having breakfast together.  Obviously something they did frequently, judging from the conversation.  None of them gave off the physical aura of having missed many big breakfasts for a while.

But these were serious, corn fed Texas men wearing cowboy hats and gimme caps with an air of having shiny new pickups with dual wheels out in the parking lot and weighty matters on their minds.  Men of substance and strong opinions about what’s wrong in this world and how to go about solving it.

Men, I thought as I eavesdropped on them, who wouldn’t sit still for someone telling them what kind of Christmas or New Year to have, because these men were capable of figuring it out for themselves.

I learned a lot as I listened to them telling one another things the others weren’t listening to while they waited for openings to allow themselves to tell the others things they wouldn’t listen to.

But it was all right, because they were all saying pretty much the same things, anyway.

So I waited in a state of fingernail-chewing anticipation to find out whether one of them would slip up and tell the others what kinds of Christmas to have, causing a confrontation, a fist-fight, maybe a gunfight out in the parking lot.  I hurried my meal so’s if I had to duck under a table I’d have already packed my gut with as much as time allowed.

However, strangely enough, they all stirred the remains of their meals around on their plates, finished off whatever each had to say that the others wouldn’t hear, and almost in unison, ordered one another to have a Merry Christmas.  No steely eye squints.  No, “Don’t you tell ME what kind of Christmas to have, Charlie!”

Everyone made allowances, I suppose, for the fact it was breakfast ending and they had serious matters to attend and not enough time to do it.  No time for a fist fight before getting on with it.  Or maybe they just didn’t hear what the others said, as they’d done throughout the meal.  Didn’t realize someone told them what kind of Christmas to have.

However, after thinking it and talking it over to the cats, I think my own approach is to mildly suggest that you readers have whatever sort of Christmas you want to have.  But if you choose not to, it’s okay.  I’m not insisting.

The New Old Jules and the Enlightened Cats