Reading bedtime stories to my aloe vera plant, Paco, is incredibly relaxing and soothing – well, at least for me. And I know what you’re thinking. (Remember, the Chief is cyber-psychic. Who in the hell would name a plant Paco? I mean…that’s so Mexican! Okay, aside from me, Paco is the only other living being inside my house! Even introverts must find a sense of humanity!
As of 1:15 a.m. Central Standard Time U.S. this past Tuesday,
November 5, the Chief turned 56. It’s
not necessarily as big a deal as, say, turning 55. And I remember years ago thinking that, once
somebody reaches the half century mark on life’s odometer, ensuing birthdays don’t
really matter. But I’ve learned every
birthday matters. It’s another year
forward and another chance to improve oneself.
I feel I’m doing that with my writing, as well as more practical moves,
such as joining a new gym.
This year’s birthday was rougher than expected. I got sick – again. Allergies that usually plague me with the
change of seasons (the summer to autumn transition is generally the worst) hit
me harder this time around; thus prompting a visit to my doctor for a trio of
anti-microbial, germ-phobic medications.
My eyes showed the wrath of the usual culprits: ragweed and mountain
cedar. I confirmed my sensitivity to
them some 15 years ago with an appointment to an allergy specialist. Visits to the refrigerator, kitchen cabinets and
local stores had long proven ineffective.
Ragweed and mountain cedar ranked at the top of my allergy reaction
list, along with other suspected villains – oak and cat dander. I’m also allergic to stupid people, but aside
from working outside the home and driving, there’s no definite test for that.
But my eyes looked as if I’d been ambushed by a swarm of killer bees or came out on the wrong end of a boxing match. Still, the drug cocktail – which did include the ubiquitous screwdriver – eased my angst. And then, the little microbial fuckers resurfaced, like dental appointments and property taxes. They assaulted me with their ecological mainstays: watery eyes, congestion, coughing and the tendency not to use Spellcheck. Misery! Misery, I tell you, dear readers! Joining that gym last month was a much-needed lifestyle change. Since the late 1980s, I’ve pretty much been a gym rat. I even wrote about it six years ago. However, when I signed up to this new place, it had been roughly eleven months since I’d been to a gym to lift weights. Note to the wise and health-conscious: do NOT take nearly a year off from lifting weights and expect to be back to normal in a single session. But, at that last gym a year ago around this time, one of the senior staff apparently had an issue with my attire. I wore an old sweat jacket – one I only wear to the gym. Admittedly, I’ve had it since high school. Some 35+ years ago. Okay, it’s a man thing! You wouldn’t understand, unless you bear that rare Y chromosome! The zipper is twisted, and it’s shrunk. I often keep it unzipped during workouts. No one had ever had a problem with that. Until November 2018.
The man – either a lost Viking or an intense Grateful
Dead fan – literally got up in my face and ordered me to “zip it up.” He then walked away. And so did I.
I re-racked a curl bar and left; canceling the membership once I got
This new gym has no such qualms about ratty, decades-old
sweat jackets. It doesn’t cater to GQ
cover models or suburban soccer moms – no offense to suburban soccer moms! It’s an old-school gym – where men can go shirtless,
women can wear sports bras, and dogs run around the front office. Literally, the owners have 2 massive and very
friendly canines practically greeting people when they enter. As a certified Wolfman and canid aficionado, I
love the idea of dogs almost anywhere!
I was determined to visit the gym on my birthday, as I’ve
done with just about every birthday for as long as I can remember. I even did so last year – before the Sweat
Jacket Incident. But I just couldn’t make
it this past Tuesday. Again, those allergies. Or maybe the flu. Or I’m being punished for not completing my
second novel by now, as promised. Perhaps
internalizing all those angry sentiments from work and driving had finally caught
up to me. But then again, I never was
too keen on the idea of being a serial killer.
That doesn’t look good on your Linked In profile.
But other distractions arose, particularly with this
aging house. Bathroom and kitchen sinks,
roofs, foundations and various and sundry attributes boast large repair price
tags. I relish the thought of living in
the house where I grew up. I don’t have
to fight for parking space, deal with noisy upstairs neighbors and getting rent
paid on time. I have the joy of dealing
with aging bathroom and kitchen sinks, roofs and foundations. Aaah – suburban life!
So this birthday wasn’t the best. But I made it to another year! I’m always thankful for that. The alternative is not pleasant.
The other day a friend posted a drawing on Facebook of
someone hugging what looked like Jesus Christ with the verbiage: “The best part
of going to Heaven.” I thought, if there
is such a place, the first person I’d want to see is my father, who passed away
3 years ago and who I think of and pray to every day and night. Nearly 5 months later, when my dog died, I fell
into a mortal depression. When I marked
my 53rd birthday that year, I honestly felt I wasn’t going to make
it much longer. I was ready to give
up. I still truly believe my father
returned to get my dog; in part, because he absolutely loved that pint-sized,
four-legged monstrosity, but also because he simply wanted the dog to be with
him. I could understand my 83-year-old
father’s demise; he had been sick off and on for years with gastrointestinal problems. His body could no longer take the
punishment. But then, he came back to take
the dog?! Oh well…such mysteries are not
for this world to understand.
Yet, as morose as I felt at the end of that year, I realized
I had so much I wanted to do. I still hadn’t
published my first novel and I have other stories I want to write. I realized I couldn’t give up. It certainly wouldn’t be fair to the people
who care about me, but it wouldn’t even be fair to me. I’ll die, and the sun will still rise in the
east the next morning. Some people I’ve known
actually think it won’t, if they die!
So, here I am at the ripe slightly-passed-middle-age of
56! I’m still writing and still fighting! Now, I just need to find a new way to assassinate
these allergens and get back into the gym.
James paused before stepping onto the patio. Juan Miguel followed.
A crescent moon hovered above. He heard voices – and music. He looked around, as the voices became louder; people talking and laughing, while gathered along the walkways in the yard. Then, he noticed the orbs of light amidst the trees – lanterns. Along with the moon, they lit up the area. The chatter and laughter continued, as the orchestral music grew stronger.
“She’s out there,” James said. “She’s waiting for you. She loves you.” He receded into the house and dropped into a chair. The blue-eyed cat hopped onto his lap. He began caressing it, as the animal laid its head upon its paws.
Juan Miguel peered into the foliage through the opaque light of both the moon and the lanterns. The laughter – it sounded so good. Nights made for lovers. He smiled, as floral aromas swarmed around him, and light winds cavorted with the trees.
Remember, my debut novel, “The Silent Fountain”, is available in both print and e-versions. It’s the perfect gift – birthday, Christmas, retirement, a month without a road incident – for anyone on any occasion, especially those who like their romance a little on the creepy – I mean, surreal! – side.
“Just grass,” Juan Miguel mumbled. Just flowers. What kind of flowers?
Yes – lilacs. I don’t know much about flowers. Lilacs, orchids… He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Love that scent – fresh grass – lilacs – her. Her scent, her soft skin. He opened his eyes, as sunlight spilled through a gap in the ceiling and bounced off her auburn hair.
“Ay, que simpatico,” she crooned, as if seeing him for the first time.
He grinned modestly, realizing how he must look: half naked and sweaty with matted hair. “Gracias,” he finally chirped, feeling like an awkward teenager – again.
“Es verdad.” (It’s true.)
He didn’t know what to say. How did she manage to do this to him? Her dark green eyes still bore that strong sense of love and admiration – and hurt. Why? Why do you look so sad? What hurts so much?
The print version of my debut novel, “The Silent Fountain”, is now available. The e-version has been out since December 21, 2018. Today, January 14, 2019, also happens to be my father’s 86th birthday. That wasn’t by design, but I also don’t believe it’s purely coincidental either.
As always, thanks for your continued support, my good followers!
Keep writing and keep fighting!
“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.”