Sunday, October 28, 2012

A New Pillow?

It's past midnight.  I'm wearing a tuxedo.  Everyone else is in bed.  It's dark.  The leg lamp from A Christmas Story is lit.  Perfect time to write a blog...wouldn't you say?  I am not going to tell you that my tuxedo is much more like a Donald Duck shirt and a pair of running shorts.  I only know that they are for running since it says so on the tag.  I was actually coerced into writing by a group of people I spent the evening with. We had a great time of laughing, eating, playing Bocce ball, and (for some strange reason) talking about how buying a new pillow is not an effective cure for carbon monoxide poisoning.  True story...

When it came to the tail end of the night and people were looking at me funny (and looking at Sylvia sympathetically) over some odd thing that I had just said, my friend Rand told everyone that I wrote a blog.  He then said a complementary thing..."37 degrees!"  Just kidding, I love math jokes that 8 people will get.  He said a very complimentary thing about my blog, "It is very much like Dave Barry's writing."  I'll have you know, Rand, that I have two things on the mirror next to my side of the bed.  A picture of Sylvia and a post card Dave Barry sent me.  To be mentioned in the same breath as him, and his writing prowess, never gets old.  Thanks.  (your check should arrive in the next few days)

Well now people actually are going to maybe go looking for something that I have written.  And I haven't written in a while.  I better get to work on something fresh.  Something now.  Something hip with a groovy kind of beat that all the cool cats are digging these days!  That's right, in an effort to keep it real I have decided to write about Mozart!

No, I am not going to write about some dead guy who wrote music.  Although I can tell you what he is doing  (empathetic letters to Sylvia can be sent to....)  No, I am not going to write about that stale old composer from the 1700's...I am going to write about a stale old movie from the 80's...Amadeus.

Call me an uncultured slob if you must, but I have never seen this movie in its entirety.  I have never been a huge fan of movies that depict other times.  I believe they are called period pieces.  I just call them boring.  That may be a rather narrow-minded and unfair stereotype, but it is what it is.  (I cannot believe I just wrote that expression.  Someone please make sure I never do it again)  Something happened that has made sure I will never watch this on in particular.

I do have a story to offer as proof to my theory that these movies are not terribly exciting...and that is what I am finally going to write about today.  It's a short story, but one that always makes me smile.

It was 1985, it was a crazy time.  I was out of school and owned a car.  My buddies and I would get together and play poker until late at night and I would come home, open the door quietly, and go to my room.  I didn't have a TV in my room, I didn't have a smart phone, I may have had a Commodore 64 computer but I wasn't about to turn it on since the Bzzt Bzzt Bzzt Bzzzzzzzzt of the dot matrix printer warming up would have awakened everyone on the block.  No, my plan was to go to bed and sleep.

On this particular evening, however, I got a bit of a surprise.  When I drove up in front of the house I saw that there were lights on in the kitchen window.  I hadn't stayed out til the cows came home but it was still later than I would have expected to see lights on.  My dad drove a truck and usually got up around 4:30 A.M. if memory serves.  He then worked painting houses in the evenings.  He had more energy than me (I just got winded typing those two sentences about what he did) but he went to bed at a reasonable hour...usually.  My mom was a night owl compared to him but usually only made it about an hour and a half later than him before she went to sleep.  It was past her bedtime!  By the way, if you could keep an eye on my mom until she started doing the "I'm tired and I want to stay up, but my body is going to sleep whether I like it or not" nodding of the head, it was pretty funny.  If you could catch her just beginning to do the nod/jerk awake/nod thing you could ask her some of the craziest things.  And she would answer!!  Those 'conversations' alone would be enough for a book, but I want to be respectful to my mom...even if she too was up way past her bedtime.    And then I rounded the corner.  There was a little orange car in front of the house.  My sister was home.

Sue went away to college and when she came home she toyed with everyone's sleep patterns.  I think it had to do with phases of the moon, barometric pressure, and time zones...even though she lived about 20 minutes away in the next town.  She would call me at 3 in the morning just to see what I was doing.  "Sleeping...goodnight."  If her car was here, of course the lights would be on.  And at least mom or dad would be up.  I went in.

When I opened the front door I looked and saw my dad snoring away on the couch.  Understandable.  He worked hard.  I went in a little more.  There was mom, snoring away on the couch, just on the other side of dad.  (My mommy doesn't really snore but for the extra humor I added it to the story...wink wink) and amid that snore symphony I came a little closer to living room and saw my sister in a very relaxed and noisy state.  Sitting on the love seat and leaning her head back over the headrest portion, mouth wide open, and snoring like a rusty chainsaw, was Sue.  She could sleep anywhere and why make mom and dad's couch an exception?  Then I looked at the TV and saw why they were all asleep.  There on the TV playing from a newly rented VHS copy was the movie Amadeus, in all of its snore inducing splendor!  I started to walk in to the room to turn off the television and scoot people off to bed when I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  There, on the chair that no one sits on, (we all have them...admit it) was a guy who was roughly my sister's age sitting there and obviously on the worst date of his life.  He looked a little meek.  He didn't seem like my sister's type so maybe he was just a friend.  Didn't matter, he looked at me with wide eyes like he was a deer and I was a headlight.  No, there was more terror in his face.  He looked at me like I had just put on my leather mask and started up my chainsaw.

Whatever the look, in that instant he silently pleaded with me to get him the heck out of there.  I woke everyone, told Sue that the movie was boring and everyone fell asleep, and went into my room...laughing my posterior off.

I never saw the unnamed young man again.  Legend has it he invented a pillow that keeps you from snoring...and cures carbon monoxide poisoning!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Will Someone, Please, Answer That Phone!

Every once in a while I am struck with an event so starkly that I think, "I better just sit down and write about that."  Today is the day.  Unfortunately, every other once in a while I am thwarted by things external forces that make it difficult to focus enough to write.  I am going to try to fend off the forces of thwartdom today (it's a word).  I feel I need to tell you though, that I have already misspelled four words that needed to be fixed, I have hit the CAPS LOCK button more times than a pinkie should be allowed, and I had to wrestle the carcass of a doomed sock out of the jaws of our new puppy.  This first paragraph may be all I am allowed to write., two, three...OK, I'll continue.

This morning was a morning where I didn't need to get up and go do anything.  No alarm was set.  No plans were made.  We forgot to inform the puppy...and his puppy sized bladder.  In true, "I love you honey and I appreciate that you get up all through the week to go to work" fashion, Sylvia got up and let the dogs out.  (Which can finally answer the question, once and for all, Sylvia let the dogs out!...WOOF, WoofWoofWoof!) ...but I digress.

On certain Saturdays I am able to fully grasp this weekly gift and fall back asleep for a short time.  There are times when even an extra hour can make you feel like standing in a stadium full of people with a microphone reenacting the "luckiest man" scene from the Lou Gehrig story.  Today it was not to be.  I rolled over, adjusted my pillows, and reviled that cursed condition known as tinnitus.  (if you didn't already, please go back and re-read that last sentence using two syllables for cursed...I think this occasion calls for curse--ed)

If you are unfamiliar with tinnitus, allow me to elaborate.  Wikipedia states that TI nih tous (or tin EYE tous) is a condition where there is a perceived internal sound in the absence of a corresponding external aural stimulus.  And we know that Wikipedia is always correct so we will move on.  (As an aside, I had no idea that Mother Teresa was actually killed in a drive-by outside of Chicago!  Thank you Wiki!)

Jeff-i-pedia states that tinnitus (pronounce it any way you want...I can't hear it) is actually a way of making you feel like you have just walked out of a concert where the band bought their amps from "Spinal Tap" (you can turn them all the way up to eleven you know).  It is always worse where there is no external sound and, apparently, on Saturday mornings where extra sleep is possible.  On any given day it can range anywhere from barely noticeable to 'will someone answer that damn phone!'  I have talked to a lot of people who have had their ears ring for just a couple seconds, for no reason, and then go back to normal.  Mine do that all the time.  Someone I used to work with said that he figured it was just an alien ship checking on the implant they put in his head.  You know, to download all the things that he had thought since they implanted it.  I used to work with frightening people.

The ringing makes it difficult to understand others at times.  I have been tested for hearing loss on a few occasions and have been told, "You have substantial hearing loss due to exposure to noise." "You have moderate hearing loss in your right ear." and "Your hearing is actually very good."  The opinions happened in that order.  When I asked why I felt like everyone was mumbling things to me the doctor said, "As you age" (don't you just love that?) "you are more susceptible to weaker processing.  Which means that hearing more things at one time gets harder and harder."  This explains why I am deaf as a post when you go to anyplace noisy?  "Exactly."  So with my constant ringing, it's like I am at a noisy place all the time?  "Could be."  Super.

This morning, still laying in bed, I thought, "Wow this ringing is really bad this morning!"  I had noticed the other night that I was having a bout of really loud imaginary sounds, I thought this was a continuation of that, but it was really annoying!  I actually thought, wouldn't it be funny if there was a timer going off and I thought it was my ears!  It could happen.  There is no eliminating the noise.  There is no cure.  They don't know what is causing mine.  I can mask it with external sound.  Should I turn on the radio?  TV?  No, that would mean admitting that I was going to have to get up.  So I just tried to shut it out...for a half an hour.  Sylvia was up in the front of the house with the dogs, her coffee, and the latest in the book series she is reading.  I thought, I will let her read undisturbed for a while.  I decided to check my phone and see if anyone had said anything funny on Facebook since I last checked ten hours ago and when I turned to reach for my phone off the night stand, the ringing got louder.

When you have ringing in your ears, constantly, for more than thirty years, you never really get used to it but you do notice some things.  I can predict that I will have an awesome night's sleep when we stay somewhere near running water.  I know that it will be worse after I leave a moderately noisy environment (party, restaurant, me, if I ever get dragged to a concert I wear protection like I am going to a military artillery range).  I also have noticed that I cannot, ever, make it get louder or softer within the span of a few seconds...and never ever because of something I do.  When I turned my head it got louder?  Really?  So I got up.  Louder still.  I walked down the hall.  Louder still.  I walked into Kristiana's room.  Louder still  Kristiana is away at a conference this weekend.  Sylvia was up front.  Jake is a teenager so there is no rousing him before ten on a Saturday, and I assumed it was just me who could hear it...until now.

I walked over to her desk, moved a stack of magazines, and turned off her alarm clock!  Hooray!  Now I just have to listen to the usual constant ringing in my ears!!  Wait, what?