Sunday, June 29, 2008

Motorcycle madness... a couple thousand bikers, mostly riding Harleys, invaded Where The Ghetto Meets The Sea.

The first any of us knew about it was, naturally, the noise. They filled the road that runs along the ocean...

This was not the relatively small crowd that regularly patronizes a local beer joint, but a variety of motorcycle clubs, some of whom came from as far away as Northern California for the gathering...

Not given to obeying the laws governing motor vehicles (or courtesy), some parked -- and rode -- along the sidewalks....

The police were there, but with only four or five cars, two motorcycles and a helicopter...

Frankly, for reasons I refuse to discuss (but think I know), the local cops wimped out. Had the regular bikers we're used to around here ridden as some of these did -- and on unmuffled machines, to boot -- The Man would have been all over them like cheap suits. Instead, the cops escorted them along, using red lights and sires at times, turning a blind eye as some did wheelstands on city streets, blared along in an objectionably loud manner, weaved around cars, rode in the wrong lanes, blew stop signs and generally acted like jerks.

My respect for the LAPD went down several notches. They seemed to have had enough advance knowledge that the bikers were coming to close off a couple of streets to residents, but projected such a small, ineffective presence that the bikers walked all over them.

At one point when I was driving, I was damn near hit by several riders who accelerated onto the street without looking. I pointed this out to one of the officers and was essentially told to cool it and be on my way. Had I not exercised more than average care, I would have collided with a couple of them.

I'm not saying all the bikers were reckless creeps. I talked to a few, and they were okay people, as the majority of bikers are. But I resent having my neighborhood taken over, even for an afternoon, by people who ride like hooligans, make far more noise than legally allowed, and wantonly endanger others.

And I sure as hell resent the police for caving in to such behavior, when I know damn well they come down like a ton of bricks on locals for far less dangerous activities.

They're gone now, along with their entourage and camp followers. If they or any bunch like them come back, I hope the fools at the police department show some spine and enforce the law. Otherwise, someone is liable to get hurt.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In some ways I wonder...

...if going down to visit Juan and his new "family" was such a hot idea. Not because of anything they did, of course, but because the contrast between them and my situation is so appallingly vivid.

No. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Even if it was my only shot at spending time in the kind of environment -- and with the kind of people -- I find in my (few) good dreams, it was worth it.

Besides, there were moments just too cool to miss. Think about the sheer weirdness of watching someone having his blood tested while dogs bark -- and, occasionally, cats mew -- in the background. Go watch the video on his site.

Here are my good and much-appreciated hosts, Juan, K., and M. in front of their delightful cottage*...

People, dogs and cats thrive there. What more need be said?

For me, the descent continues. I had to deal with a new doctor today and found it a frustrating and somewhat humiliating chore. The only bright spot was that medication is controlling my sole physical issue (at least as far as the doctor was concerned) well. The rest was a real bust. In fact, I stopped talking to him after a few minutes. He wasn't listening.

The romance between me and my potential employer seems to have cooled. I was supposed to hear from my contact this week, and did not. Nor did he respond to a "just keeping in touch" email. Oh, well.

I get the advice everyone else does from various people. Right now, the general opinion seems to be that I shouldn't just cave in and wait for the next boulders to fall on me, but should -- as Richard Nixon used to say -- "fight 'em, fight 'em, fight 'em."

To which in earlier times I would heartily assent. I have neither the energy nor any ideas how to do that now. Too many options and possibilities have been beyond my reach for too long. And the few potential turns in the road need to be approached at a pace slower than is good for me. It's like sneaking up on soap bubbles: I have to be deliberate and delicate, while the wolf-pack, not forced to be deliberate at all, gathers to strike.

There are two "mes" right now. One sees unhappy people I want to console and support, be happy for a few people who are enjoying well-deserved happiness and have, if possible, more work than I can handle; the other just wants to curl up in a ball, have someone else hold my hand and make me believe everything will work out.

The second "me" can't delude himself that way any longer.

* I suppose it's too large to be called a "cottage," but it has a warm, comfortable aura that brought the word to mind, so I'm stickin' to it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A one-day reprieve...

...involving a longish drive down South to visit -- and meet in person for the first time -- my friend Juan.

It was the most relaxing day I've enjoyed in, well, one helluva long time. What I expected after several years of correspondence and phone conversations is what I got in person: interesting, honest, fun and simply a good guy.

His hosts/friends were charming. He has written nice things about them and is guilty of understatement. Like him, they made me feel as if I had known them for years.

We had much fun without actually doing much of anything. I hope he posts video of a few of the stranger moments; I'd hate to spoil it by attempting to describe the scene.

I'll only say there were animals around, which is always a good thing for my sense of well-being...

Yes, the cat was just about to yawn as I snapped the picture. I didn't take it personally.

I'll also say my Mexican lunch was superb, perhaps better than Juan's. Delicious.

I felt very much at home.

And I spent the drive home -- just under two hours -- thinking optimistic, happy thoughts. I felt as if I had been granted a peek at what heaven ought to be like: Friendship. Beautiful, comfortable surroundings. No stress.

It was as if I had been granted eight hours of compassionate leave from the prison my own life has become.

Thanks to Juan, K. and M., plus assorted cats and dogs.

I needed this.

Back to hell in the morning....

Monday, June 23, 2008

I'm thinkin' about this...

...idea, which you can read about here.

It seems one Ian Usher, a Brit living in Australia, decided to put his life up for sale on eBay. The winning bidder gets Usher's house, car, motorcycle, clothes and friends, plus a tryout at his job. Usher plans to take the proceeds and head off into the sunset in hopes of being able to set up afresh.

The impetus was, apparently, the breakup of Usher's marriage.

So for, the top bidder is offering almost $300,000 for the package.

I can't offer the goodies Usher's throwing in. No house, no car, no motorcycle.

But I'm willing to offer up everything I have:

A vast magazine collection, including several hundred magazines featuring my stories;

A pretty good library;

Clothes, mostly old, but all clean;

A mountain of debt;

Contact information -- some current, some not -- for all the women who have rejected me;

Contact information for all my clients -- some of whom are still in business -- who will, I'm sure, be glad to give you a shot at doing my work;

A bicycle, in good shape but sitting on two flat tires;

Miscellaneous junk, including videos, CDs, vinyl records, toys, etc., etc.;

Lots of memories: some good, too many bad.

Any bidders?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A strange day... which I started on the wrong foot (so to speak) by heading out for a walk. I was motivated by anger: back pain has more-or-less crippled me recently, and I've simply gotten tired of sitting around waiting for the next jolt of discomfort.

Walking didn't help. I found that I had to be very careful about my posture. A single misstep brought agony, several times. So did the heat, which combined with low-lying fog to make the air jungle-damp. I was a sweaty mess after a mile and a half.

And my back hurt. Still does.

I was somewhat amused that someone mentioned Wayne Dyer in a comment on my previous entry. Dyer was on George Noory's show Friday night. I was hoping for UFO, Project HAARP or chupacabra news, and got Dyer's message instead.

The first thing that caught my ear was Dyer's mention of having given away his possessions to spend a year trying to live with the teachings of the Tao. Cool, I thought, until he completed his sentence: " Maui."

And this struck me as the root fallacy of the "let go" movement, the self-help gurus who advise not thinking about material happiness or mourning what you don't have. Give me a nice six- or seven-figure bank account, and I'll cheerfully discard those few things I haven't already had to give up involuntarily, bet your ass.

When you are caught on the ugly downward slope, getting advice to simply "bag the fear and wait for the inevitable good stuff the Universe can provide" from people who have amply padded safety nets is not helpful. My acquisitiveness has been considerably revised over the years; the square-footage of this planet I feel a need to occupy and the number of things I wish to house within that space have both diminished considerably.

I do, however, feel a need to receive value for value given in order to "enjoy" a certain basic level of survival.

I am not at all angry about those -- government, individuals, corporations -- who wish me to pay for the space, services and goods I consume. I merely have a major issue with those who make it impossible for me to uphold my end of the bargain, while thriving from my labor.

So when someone lounging on a tropical beach says I should toss everything away and embrace "goodslessness," my sole comment is both short and unprintable.

If the world wishes to stop collecting rent, demanding payment of utility bills, grocery bills and taking money for gasoline and other necessities that keep me working and alive, I'd be all for it. I'd calmly and cheerfully wait for the end of the rainbow to plunk itself down right on top of my roof. Then I'd trot up and collect my very own pot o' gold.

But the wolves are gathered around the door, howling and extending their paws to be crossed with silver. If not fed, they will bite. And it won't be much longer until I feel the fangs on my flesh.

Should you happen to read that I am miserable because I can't buy a new Bentley, please feel free to remind me that things do not bring happiness. I do not, however, take kindly to suggestions that I should somehow feel happy and fulfilled even though I can't pay my freekin' phone bill.

If I manage to extricate myself from the mountain of excreta that's pinning me down, I may think about embracing the way of the Tao. Probably from someplace like St Lucia or Tobago or Jamaica, though. Maui is too crowded.

Bitter? You could say so, Jim.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hot and cold...

...pretty well sums up my day. Cold is easiest to explain: I went to the chiro today and, among other things, I have to put an icepack on my by back -- in two places -- for 15 minutes five times daily. I'm up to Number Three right now. Ugh. Not comfortable.

Hot? It was 104 degrees where his office is located, and it's hot here. I don't like that any more than I like the cold on my spine.

The chiro was interesting, if difficult to put up with. He is a zealot for chiropractic, an evangelist who touts it as a potential cure for many disorders. Hell, almost everything I've ever complained about will be dealt with as soon as my bones are in alignment.

It was almost as if I was facing Dr John Harvey Kellogg. All that was missing was a lecture on the evils of "autointoxication" plus, perhaps, an enema to "exonerate" my bowels. I guess having a "subluxation" will have to do.

Granted, I'm not the one to approach this with an entirely open mind. My mother was in the medical field and viewed practitioners of chiropractic with something like the disdain she would have shown had I come to her with a tale of visiting an Obeah man.

Still, rather than telling me to lie down and subject myself to a series of contortions and forced cracks and pops, he took a series of x-rays and made a big production out of explaining why I was in pain. Then we got around to the cracks and pops....

PARENTHETICAL THEM'S-THE-BREAKS THOUGHT: One of the x-rays showed a broken (and fully healed) bone in my right shoulder. I had no idea! Never had a car accident serious enough to leave me in pain, no sports injuries in school school, no nothin'. Weird.

I get to go back for more Monday. Somehow, I've never been to any kind of medical person who has said, "here, this will fix you up and you won't have to come back for a half-million follow-up visits." I sense that this is going to take a while, and cost me far more than I can afford.

And damn, my back still hurts....

I'm not in the mood for this.

Meanwhile, the downward spiral continues. No checks, no offers of anything that would give me even the slightest break from the pressure I feel. Every time the phone rings or I run into anyone, my first thought is: what will they demand/take from me?

I did get an email from the editor to whom I sent a story this week:

"Uh, you NAILED this story. Put simply, it is beautiful. Few have impressed me the way this one does, and this after 11 years.

And what an easy edit..."

I still got it, Jim. Me and Tiger Woods.

Well, no, I ain't still got it. The writing took me more than twice as long as it should have, and I was wracked by angry and indecisive moments all the way. One of the bad hangovers of That Awful February 29th. That seldom happened to me before. Besides, what it all adds up to is a small check in two or three months. Doesn't even begin to help with today's crisis. Tiger? He needs surgery, but he's got a zillion dollars to pay the bills and suffer through the necessary downtime.

I suppose I should be grateful. Mark Twain didn't write a word after he died, so far as I know. Neither did Big Ernie Hemingway. Makes me unique.

You know what? This is all self-pity, and I understand that and am not proud of it, but I'm tired of rolling that damn rock up the hill over and over, only to have it roll back down again and get heavier when it does so.

I could tell you what I feel I need right now, but why? I dare not feel the slightest optimism that I'm going to get it.

No matter how many bones the chiro manages to re-align....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strange days... what feels like a headlong rush straight into a brick wall continues.

At least it begins to look as if a few of those too, too solid bricks are falling away before I conk my noggin on them.

Maybe, anyway.

First, a very dear friend -- sometimes referred to as Red Hot Riding Hood, which is a bit of an inside joke between us -- emailed me about a job opening she'd seen. She thought it might be something for me.

I got the email first thing Monday morning, and applied before I'd finished my coffee. I had a reply within a few hours, had an email exchange with the guy posting the ad, and a phone interview last night. The guy still seems positive, and we'll talk again next week.

This is good. Also bad. It's my kind of work, but it involves a major relocation, in itself not a bad thing, but somewhat problematic in several ways. I'm not talking about conflicting emotions, but rather some major practical issues I'm not sure can be resolved.

It's something I would have jumped at at age 28 -- and in fact did, moving 1200 miles for a job -- or even at age 38. Or age 48, comes to that.

But at age 58, it looks like just another major hurdle, and I'm tired.

I have cheerleaders, bless 'em: "RHRH," of course, and my friend "Juan," who has actually uprooted himself and set off down the road with remarkably positive results.

But they're not here at 3:00 a.m., when I wake up wide-eyed and wonder how the hell I can manage what seems simply impossible to me.

Enough of all that. I have a few days to ponder the whole thing before my next interview. Who knows what'll happen in that time?

I do. At least three things. First, thanks to the generosity of an anonymous angel, I'll do some major grocery shopping. In today's mail, a gift card for a market -- not the Happy Hindu -- along with a cute photo book and a card with a comforting message. Another person on a lengthening list of people to whom I am so grateful. I'm only sorry I don't know who she (I think) is so I could thank her personally.

Tomorrow, I'll drive D. to his oral surgeon's office so he can have a couple of teeth extracted. Can't drive himself home when he's drugged out.

And Friday, I'll be visiting another chiropractor, this one recommended by D.'s girlfriend, Nurse S. X-rays and therapy. I hope this works; my back is ready for amputation.

So these are good things, yes? Well, they are. But I have been facing that brick wall long enough that I am wary of good things. My problem, of course. But it's an all-too-genuine concern. I know that, given a shot, I can take a good run at getting things back together. It's simply that the "shot" hasn't materialized up to now. And I worry that I'm less capable of getting things right; I'm older, and lonely, and close to feeling defeated by the events of this year.

Doesn't mean I won't try. But the vicious circle has me surrounded, and I can't allow myself to hope to manage a breakout. Right now, anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sleepless night...

...even though I gave up on yesterday early and tucked myself into bed circa 9:00. I'd had enough, let me tell you.

At 9:15, just as I was starting to doze, the phone rang. It was D., the photographer. Could I drive him to the emergency room? He was having chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.

I was dressed and out the door in minutes.

It's 21 miles from my place to his, and a further 17 miles to the chosen hospital. There just aren't that many ERs around here these days and S., his girlfriend, works at this particular hospital.

All together, I made the 38 miles in 36 minutes.

He was admitted, and I sat. And sat. And sat. Emergency rooms are never fun places, but they seem especially busy on Saturday nights. I have previously managed to avoid sitting in an ER for any length of time. And I don't remember a hell of a lot about my last visit to one.

S. came down during her breaks and checked on him. Checked on me, too, and took me to the cafeteria for some much-needed coffee. D. has had a gammy ticker for years, and is diabetic. His blood sugar dropped while he was under observation; the resulting sweating worried the nurses, as that can be a sign of heart problems, too.

In time, he was stabilized and, when the doctor was certain he wasn't having a heart attack but just symptoms that have become somewhat normal for him, he was released.

It was 2:30. On Sunday-freekin'-morning.

So here I am, back at my place and unable to sleep, though I'm going to try again in a few moments. I'm glad I was on hand when my friend needed me, especially glad that it turned out not to be a serious as first thought.

But I can't help thinking Someone Up There is flinging just a bit too much dung, a wee tad more stress than I can handle, my way these days.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


A few nice people seem to feel a need to know how I'm doing. They've suggested that they want to know what's going on around here.

No they don't.

I don't really want to go into ugly details, but things are coming to a head here, and the prognosis is not especially promising.

Let me make a few points, as cryptically as possible:

1. I'm now quite convinced that the hospital stay in late February/early March left me with some lasting changes. I wonder, in fact, if it took longer to revive me than I've been led to believe and that popped a fuse or two in my head. No matter the cause, I've lost some critical faculities, and they negatively affect my ability to do my work;

2. What little work I've got to do isn't helping. Frankly, it's all crap stuff, interesting enough if I had a flow of the "normal" writing assignments I've grown accustomed to over the years (all of which seem to go to other writers) but impossible to deal with when it's my sole diet;

3. I am, and always have been, lousy at getting anyone to cooperate with me. Quite a while ago, I hatched a plan to get a regular and steady sale of "mainstream" writing going in my field of expertise, but when I reached out to those whose forte is selling (I couldn't sell water on a desert island, believe me, so I thought combining my expertise at what I do with the expertise of someone who knows how to represent a product/service made sense) and even offered what I consider a generous percentage of the take to anyone who could, shall we say, pimp my product, I got encouraging words but no action;

4. Allied with #3 is my inability to find help when needed. This is strange; the hospital told me there were programs out there to assist me in paying/reducing my staggering bill. I contacted the relevant agencies and found, for a variety of reasons including not being totally incapacitated, not having children, not having had a credit card to put the bills on and a couple of others I would be branded a racist for repeating, I'm not eligible.

Some people have helped. None of them were those who can really afford it. I understand that; I've done the same a few times (though not as often as I'd like). Through my work, I have met dozens of people who could easily assist in getting me back on my feet and alleviating my total financial meltdown without even noticing it; none, of course, have stepped up. I guess that's how they got wealthy.

PARENTHETICAL I-HAVE-TO-SAY-THIS NOTE: I fear that the mere mention of the financial woes that make up 99% of my misery right now will prompt those same wonderful people who have previously come through to think about trying to help again. That would, frankly, only increase my misery.

5. The "if-only" factor is weighing me down as well. And this is mainly self-loathing: if only I hadn't made this or that decision (and we can take this back some 30-35 years, at least) I wouldn't be in this position right now, this hole I have spent so many years digging. I can't seem to stop kicking myself for a long, long line of screw-ups. That doesn't help, even if it's all true. I am most bitter about my own failures.

I haven't done much work in recent months. This was not exactly what I'd call a "break" from the routine, as most of the time has been spent berating myself for messing up and feeling ever more frustrated because I couldn't write down the thoughts I wanted to (and, as much as anyone has paid, get paid to) express. Even writing entries here is a far more aggravating and time-consuming process than it used to be.

You're all fortunate I'm not doing a podcast; talking isn't easy for me these days, either. Anything much beyond simple sentences can reduce me to a stuttering, frustrated bundle of red-faced nerves.

PARENTHETICAL I'VE-BEEN-TO-THE-DOCTOR-THANK-YOU THOUGHT: I've mentioned this to the doc, but somehow I managed to pass all the basic tests he put me through to gauge my state. It's strange, and unpleasant.

I suppose I could have avoided all this by simply staying indoors on that February day when I died. I could have not brought my condition to my neighbors' attention; then, they would not have called 911 and nature would have taken its course, for better or worse.

Damn. This is horrible, personally embarrassing and not at all cryptic. I don't even know if a miracle (and who gets those? not me) would do more than postpone the misery.

I may delete this shortly and post some pictures from today so all y'all will think everything is fine.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Always a spectator...

...but at least in this instance the twinges of envy are mild. Feelings of admiration are strong, though.

I've been following the journey of my friend "Juan", who has cleverly taken the money most of us would spend on so-called professional help and faddish drugs to set off into the hinterlands in search of both adventure and a place to call -- more or less -- "home."

If you haven't been reading his story and watching his videos, you should start. Immediately.

Don't read the rest of this. Click on his link above. Now.

I wouldn't presume to get into any deep analysis of what he's doing. Heaven knows, in my current mental state, I'd b*gg*r up the truth anyway. Fuzzy thinking, you know.

Being of an age to vividly remember the fuss made about the books of Jack Kerouac -- and, in fact, of an age to have had fantasies of getting a van or small school bus and setting out on my own -- the pull of "the Road" remains embedded in my mind. So do a host of youthful memories of places "Juan" has visited and will be visiting. Or, in a few instances, will be unable to visit, as they been changed beyond all recognition or have vanished into the dust of Progress.

In one sense modern times have made his trek easier. Instead of film cameras (still and movie) and cassette tape recorders, he has packed digital equipment into his smaller, more reliable and more fuel-efficient transportation unit. Likewise, a computer with mobile internet access beats the hell out of paper, pens, envelopes and postage stamps, all of which were on my fantasy packing lists.

The big difference -- if you ask me, anyway -- is that Kerouac (and I) were devotees of spur-of-the-moment aimless wandering. I detect an eventual destination in "Juan's" travels, and know a lot of planning and forethought went into his mad scheme.

Being much older now, and battered by forces that prevent me from doing likewise, I can only sit back and cheer as "Juan" makes his way across the map. Even if he doesn't know it, he's making this run not just for himself but a horde of would be road-followers who sense that their own ultimate destinations are Somewhere Out There but can't -- or won't -- make the leap of faith it takes to start (and, more important, continue) the search.

As for Kerouac: I read him voraciously in high school; to say I dug his act is an understatement. Returning to his works lo these many years later, I found his writing less than impressive and his personality (at least as revealed in his books) immature and not terribly pleasant. The guy was a nut, and not in a good way.

Imagine a Kerouac with a good heart, good personality and more mental stability than he credits himself with. That's "Juan."

All this is a roundabout way of admitting that, in what I consider a positive way, I'm jealous as hell of what he's doing.

And I'm rooting for him to find "home" at exactly the right moment, Jim.

Monday, June 02, 2008

When it rains, it...


I was preparing for this afternoon's unpleasantness this morning, when I got a phone call from photographer D.: a magazine we work for is shutting down.

There goes roughly 60% of my income, maybe more. This was the pain-in-the-ass publication that has given me enormous doses of grief over the years -- my first piece for them appeared in 1987, as I recall -- but also a fair-sized pile of work.

No word yet on whether the two or so issues still to appear will use up the half-dozen stories I've done for them. If not, no pay; contributors only get their money when the issue containing their stories is actually published.

I'm speechless. And somewhat numb. It's getting a bit late to build up the energy to start trying -- again -- to line up fresh clients in the ever-shrinking pond.

I'm not a paranoid. Really. But it sure seems as if something out there is working hard to feed me to the crusher.

It's succeeding, too.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Looking at cars...

...on Saturday morning. I may have been near-comatose, but I grabbed a few photos.

At first glance, I was sure this was a 30s-vintage Alfa Romeo, a car of incalculable monetary value. As it happens, it's a clever and intricately detailed replica made in England a few years ago. Impressive, to say the least, and it almost surely cost the man who commissioned it almost as much as the "real thing" would have done...

Farther down the financial food chain, this old Mercury "lead sled" grabbed my eye, if only for the brilliant copper/gold flames painted on the nose -- in contrast to the rest of the body, which was in flat black -- and the acres of chrome...

My Texas friend would probably love this Maserati "Indy" coupe, as he should...

He and his wife would find the interior plush, if a wee bit cramped...

And speaking of cramped, just looking at this sweet little Fiat X1/9 -- apparently a favorite of a Canadian friend -- and thinking about climbing in and out made my aching back muscles cramp in protest...

I have some experience with X1/9s. I had one for a week many moons ago and injudiciously used uit to take a woman out on a first date. Watching me struggle with entry and exit reduced her to such a state of hysteria that whatever else might have happened later that night didn't.

Better I should have had the Maserati. Or the Ford pickup I'm currently driving.

Wait. I take that back. There would be a choice, these days, between paying for a date and buying gas for the truck....

On the edge...

...and still in pain, albeit less so than I was before visiting the chiropractor.

In the learn-something-new-every-day file, I learned on Friday that there is yet another pain medicine I cannot take. I downed one of the pills the doctor gave me and, within a few hours, was feeling even more dull and listless than usual. If that's possible.

The result? After that, insomnia on Friday night, followed by an hour of fitful sleep in the wee hours of Saturday morning which included a nightmare of incredible detail starring people I know, one that rolled a significant number of my own worst fears and suppositions into one horrifying, realistic whole. I can remember it all even now; it had a ring of truth to it that such evil dreams seldom have.

So much for those pills.

Inevitably, yesterday was a long day. I was out of the house by 6:30 to hit the weekly car show -- I had reasons for going that went beyond seeing the cars -- and then an afternoon trek to pick up some info for a story. I was not at my sharpest by then, let me tell you.

Last night was better. I slept, anyway. But the pain continues, now unrelieved by medication; a few bad moves in the night were enough to wake me up.

For the moment, waking life isn't very nice, and sleep is worse. That doesn't leave much respite or refuge.

The next two days are primed to be truly awful. Let it be said that it's not a matter of my attitude going into upcoming events; I seem predestined to get a series of swift kicks to the painful parts no matter how I approach things.

That, dear friends, is depressing.

In fact, I dislike even writing about it. So I'll stop.