Tag: Writing

Have you been in a time machine?

Why haven’t you written for your blog? 

-Well, I was working on two new novels. I did finish them, so I now have written three books. 

Are the books any good? 

-Yes. The 1920s Paris and baseball connected to artists and writers. (I’m a nerd and I love that book. Yes, I’m either a crazy writer, or I’m a hidden mole.) The middle book is about basketball, Ahab, and a college team that is traveling for a bunch of games in the winter. It is about 50% true and 50% irrational. My most recent book is about everything from El Salvador to North California. Did I steal The Canterbury Tales? Umm… well, not really. 

You could write something for your blog. Are you a slacker? 

Not really. My plan was to write a few things here and there to add to my blog. In 2017, I lost a bet to write about el president tRUMP and had to write a comment every day for a year. I wrote for a year and then I was planning to write on my blog… but I had a little accident on March 18, 2018.

Why did you stop writing?

I fell about 20 feet as I was working on my roof. My ladder ended up somewhere and I guess I landed on my cement walkway. I don’t know what happened because I hit my head on the hard part of the ground. 

This is where I fell. Those are my legs. My head hit the cement. I fell about 20 feet.

Did you walk to the hospital? 

I guess I thought so but one of my neighbors said I should lay down and call the ambulance. Two ambulances arrived at my house and put me in an ambulance stretcher and drove me to Port Angeles’s hospital. 

Did your wife see you fall?

Um… not really. I tried to work fast because my wife was taking a shower. I figured I would be fast to do my job and not get caught. I guess my neighbor knocked on the door once the ambulance rolled me into the ambulance. 

It is possible that El Presidente tRUMP pushed me from my house. (If you are a QAnon person, you probably have read a bunch of websites of QAnon information…you could move to Alaska and see those Russians.)

What happened after you fell? 

(All of this is inaccurate because I don’t remember anything.) 

  1. I hit the right side of my head onto the cement. 
  2. I didn’t get up until one of my neighbors had done work with ambulance injured people before. I woke up and tried to stand up, but I was dizzy, and blood was coming out of my ears. My neighbor probably helped save my life. 
  3. Two ambulances showed up to my house. I was tucked in  a cuddle and they drove me to Port Angeles’s Hospital. 
  4. The Doctors used lots of stuff to examine me. Apparently, I was in bad shape. I guess the Doctor’s thought I was about to die. 
  5. A helicopter picked me up in the hospital and flew to Harborview Hospital in Seattle.  
I’m pretty sure that the helicopter flew in a straight direction.

Well…there is Harborview. The helicopter landed just above the parking lot.

What did they do to you in Harborview when you showed up there?

I have no idea. (This is almost three years now, so I know a little bit.) I had some broken bones like Evil Knievel. Evil Knievel probably wore a helmet…I should have. The Doctors could see that my brain was growing like a peanut pushing against my cranium. The Doctors knew that my brain was squashing and would cause me to die. So, they gave me a nap and began surgery. They cut off a chunk of my cranium and put it in the freezer. (About three months later I told people that my cranium and half of my brain had been taken off and put in the freezer. I thought I was being truthful, but I guess I was wrong. I was sure my brain was about to be removed and I would be back to writing and working.) 

How many surgeries did you have? 

I have no idea. Somehow, I ended up in Harborview hospital. I do know that part of my head was removed and put in a freezer. Although found out later that part of my brain wasn’t removed just the cranium. 

I guess the surgeons had to do a bunch of work on me. Legs, arms, feet, right chest, shoulders, and some ex-rays on my head and body. 

How many days were you in different floors were you in?

I don’t know. I don’t remember anything for a few weeks. I did find out later that there was a 10th floor, and a 7thfloor. The 4th floor is the first one I woke up. 

What did you say when you started to talk?

The best thing to explain my writing is on the 10th floor and the 7th floor. Is to look at my picture. It’s kind of a mass. I guess I did write some things. I guess I was angry and needed to write some ideas down in the hospital. What I ended up writing during that time is kind of like a mass that doesn’t even include words or ABCs or anything other than dark markers. So technically I wrote some things but technically I wrote like a 2-year-old child.

Those are the first words I wrote.

What was bad?

  1. I bit my nurse on her hand when she was brushing my teeth…I was kind of like a crazy bad dog. I was locked down every single hour because I would move my arms and legs and I was kind of violent because I would yell. I did pull out my tubes on my chest that kind of screwed up a whole bunch of my right chest and lungs.
  2. That is three years ago. My chest still hurts. I can’t breathe as well as I used to. Kind of a dumb mistake. 
  3. I did write on a pad for a couple of days. When I started, I don’t know what I was writing until I saw it later and it was kind of just a crumbly mass of words they weren’t even really words. 
  4. I guess I would cuss frequently I’m not much of a cussing guy, so I guess I got kind of used to it. 
  5. When I look back on that time, I don’t remember anything I don’t remember even where I fell. I don’t remember going to the hospital I don’t remember the ambulance I don’t remember the hospital the helicopter. On the 10th floor and 7th floor, my wife and my parents did see me there and according to doctors I probably would not improve. In other words, I’m lucky to be alive. 

When did you notice your helmet?

I’m not sure when my helmet appeared. At first, I thought the helmet had arrived from my friends that they had given it to me, like a gift. I thought it was an ugly helmet. It did have some cool stickers, but the inside was missing next to the padded soft parts of my helmet. 

One day my mirror showed my head looked like it was curved a bit and kind of off. I thought everything was jim-dandy about my head. My assumption was that I had a dizzy knock on my head. I did not notice that my cranium was sitting in a frozen igloo at that time.

When did you see your cranium was gone?

Well, that is when I went to brush my teeth and took off my helmet to look at my face. That was the first time I noticed my cranium was soft and squishy. I touched my head on the left side like a chunk of French bread. 

That is when I thought part of my brain had been removed and left in the freezer. I did tell some people that my brain was in the freezer and I would get it put back in my skull. It would probably take some time to be like a frozen chunk of beef in a freezer. I thought my memory, speaking, and writing again would be back. I told my mom that I would be back to normal in a few weeks. I told my mom that she was wrong. When I talked to my wife, she said that my brain was not frozen, it was in my head. It took me a couple days before I believed my brain was sitting in my head.

What was it like in the hospital?

I don’t remember a month. When I was moved onto the 4th floor I began to see and remember things. It felt odd. I couldn’t smell and I couldn’t taste anything. (I pretended to act like I could smell and taste, but everything was gone. It will never come back.)

I was locked down in my bed at night. There was a long thick belt around my belly so I couldn’t stand up to do anything. If I needed to go to the bathroom, I had to call the nurse and have someone walk me to the toilet. A couple times I had to sneak out of my belt and go pee. The nurses were mad at me. I didn’t realize how dangerous it would be for me to fall. 

What did your head look like in two months?

It was like a smashed pumpkin at had been left outside and rotted away.

What was your first day you remember in the hospital?

I would see nurses in the morning. I’d see my wife; she would bring me a coffee.

What was positive in your days?

I would have a breakfast delivered around 7AM. I would eat my ordered food and then my wife would normally arrive around 8AM. I’d watch TV on the news. (I would see things and hear things, but I wouldn’t understand much. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t using my eyeglasses.)

The nurses would show up and check my food, my pills, and then my questions. 

            “What is your name?”

            Jon

            “What is your last name?”

            (I would know the word in my head, but I couldn’t say the word.) Ask my wife.

            “What time is it?”

            I don’t know. (I couldn’t see the clock without my eyeglasses.)

            “What year where you born?

            I don’t know.

            “Who is this? (The nurse would point at my wife.)

            My wife.

            “What’s her name?”

            She can ask you. (I couldn’t remember my wife’s name.)

            “What did you eat for breakfast?”

            I ate breakfast. 

            “What food did you eat?”

            Breakfast stuff. 

            “Okay, today you are going to walk around the circle at 9AM. Then you are going to read and speak in the small room at 10 AM. Then you will go to the workout room at 11 AM. They you can have lunch. You’ll do another reading and writing part at 12:30 PM. Then you need to do open more time to exercise in the work out room. Can you tell me what you are doing today?”

            I’ll follow the rules. 

            “Can you say what you are going to do today?”

            Work and eat. 

            “I’m going to put your rules for today on my list of information to work today.”

            Okay. 

            My nurse would write the words down. “Tell me what you will do today?”

            That stuff. (I would point at the words.)

            “Can you say what to do today?”

            I will do it. (Over weeks I began to see the words and speak the words. I was slow.)

How do you feel now?

Well, I feel lucky. There are times when I get upset that I can’t do what I used to do like teaching, writing, and reading. But what I have found out is that I can either give up or work hard at what I used to be able to do. So, writing a little bit can be making notes with my pencil and then working through those short notes into sentences is that are then put into paragraphs. That sounds kind of odd and stupid but if I examine my three years of where I am versus where I used to be, I’m slightly rebellious. I’ve never been someone who gives up on challenges. Sometimes I learned through sports like basketball I may not be good at a specific type of basketball, but I’ve altered and changed things to be better. Which is exactly where I am with writing, reading, and work. 

Are you different now?

This is kind of odd because there are two ways that I look at this. One of them is thinking that I will be able to do what I used to do, but it has been challenging to change and get better. The other part of me is having a heart that pushes through the pain and closes things that hurt. I could spend my entire day watching television. One of the things that I have discovered is that headaches connected to TBI or brain injuries are painful. If I work too hard my head will hurt for at least a day. I must sleep and I can try taking pills, but they don’t help my pain. (Actually, my new pill does work well with headaches.)  Yes, my chest is going to hurt forever that’s because I pulled my tubes out. I probably should have just let doctors do their jobs instead of pulling everything out of my tubes, my connected lungs, and my chest. It hurts but just like rolling in ankle it hurts I’m used to it I’ll get over it.  

Do you write now?

Writing has been one of the more difficult things. There are times when I think I’ve got it all, type everything on the Internet or on the computer and think I’ve got it. I’m writing things exactly what I want and then about 1/2 an hour later I’ll go back and look at my words and I see words that aren’t connected, ideas that aren’t connected and odd words that I’ve spelled incorrectly as words should make sense. The more difficult part of coming through the words are the parts of my left brain and my right brain tells me everything is normal. My left side is a disconnected jumble. Aphasia is common for people with a brain injury, but different connections to your head are different for every person who’s had a brain injury. It’s very different than playing a sport where you might need to have some surgery on your knee. You would go to the doctor they would fix everything up you might have some more pain for six months and later it’ll be back to feeling normal. The brain is not like that at all the brain is like little connections from the different parts of your brain and if they are hit by something like falling off your house and hitting your head on the cement that can affect you in many ways. I’m lucky that I can move my feet and my arms I’m lucky that I can shoot baskets and play a little basketball by myself. I can hit golf balls, but my right chest hurts because somebody pulled out their tubes. But, I never knew that with a brain injury the assumption was that other people will figure it out and it will be fixed. That is not what happens with your brain injury.

How are you doing these days?

Overall, I am happy. I must think of the moment instead of thinking of the past and the future. I don’t need to worry about my past and my future, things will simply work on themselves. Yes, my nickname was “Smily” and “The SuperHumanWonderstructure”… I think those are great nicknames to return.

Most Inspirational

At every high school awards dinner there is a moment set aside for the kid who never got in the game but stayed on the team waiting for their moment of greatness. Anyone who has been on a team knows these kids are the glue that hold the world together, they show up to every practice, give their best, and know that after the buzzer sounds they will not have to shower. The award these kids receive at the end of the year is: Most Inspirational. (I was the Most Inspirational player on the 1981, JV basketball team in Lemoore, CA. Not bad for someone who averaged .02 points a game.)

Blogging is a hobby set aside for weirdos, egomaniacs, and the Illuminati. Bloggers sit in a little room, or a Starbucks if they are an egomaniac, and type words onto a screen and then at some point they hit a button that publishes their ramblings into one of the internet tubes connected to their home. I have operated this blog for a couple of years now and it is not what would be called a wildly successful blog, but like all great things in life, my blog is an acquired taste.

Scott Nagele is a man of fine taste who operates a blog from a secret lair buried deep in a bunker somewhere in the upper midwestern part of the United States. How do I know Scott has fine taste? Well, he nominated my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogging Award. If you haven’t read Scott’s blog because you are hidden in a secret lair buried somewhere in the upper midwestern part of the United States, or you live in Kentucky where reading is considered a “special talent” then I suggest you check it out: http://snoozingonthesofa.com. Scott has three young boys, a very understanding wife, and a funny blog. Scott and I share a love of writing, reading, and walking faster than anyone else in our family.

Scott broke almost all the rules of the blog award and so I will continue this tradition of anarchy. According to the rules I should write seven things about myself and then nominate 15 different bloggers…is there anyone who reads 15 blogs? No, I mean really reads the blogs, not just hitting the like button like most bloggers do to maintain the illusion of following the blogger. (I refuse to play this game, so if I follow you, I really follow. Which is probably one of the reasons I run a highly unsuccessful blog.) Oh, I have also decided to write seven embarrassing facts about myself instead of seven facts about how awesome I am.

Seven Embarrassing Facts About Me:

  1. I once told some of my friends that The Fine Young Cannibals’ album The Raw and The Cooked was the greatest album of all time.
  2. I cry every time, EVERY TIME, I watch Life is Beautiful. The first time I saw the movie I was supposed to meet some friends at the theater, I bought my ticket, found a seat, and my friends never showed up, so I was in the theater by myself crying like a junior high girl at The Fault in Our Stars.
  3. I spent three years refusing to wear socks and never tying my shoes. This might have been okay if I was two, but I wasn’t.
  4. When I was about 13, I thought I had a pretty good singing voice. To test out my thinking I got a tape recorder, put on headphones, hit record on the poor tape recorder, and sang along with Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton as they belted out Islands in the Stream. What I discovered was that I did not have a pretty good singing voice.
  5. I tried to sneak into a thermal springs in Rotorua, New Zealand with a large group of Japanese tourists. Everyone at the hostel told me to just blend in with a group and walk through the gate.  I’m 6’6″. It didn’t work. The the big Māori guy at the gate was not impressed.
  6. For two years in high school I got my hair permed. I would go to the beauty parlor every two months and get my hair put in curlers. Then to up the stupidity I decided that I wasn’t going to comb or brush my hair any longer…my senior pictures are pretty special.
  7. I had a choice to take piano lessons or play little league baseball when I was 11, I took piano lessons. I still think it was the lesser of two evils.

If you can blog with one of these machines you are a inspiration.

If you can blog with one of these machines you are an inspiration.

My 15 Blog Nominations (Where I live the blog exchange rate is 4 to 1). 

Now, all four of these blogs are actually successful, and therefore free to ignore this nomination, but I thought my loyal reader might want to see what a real blog looks like. (These folks also have offered much kindness during my son’s illness so they were bumped up from good bloggers to good people.)

Up first is Andrea’s blog. Click here to be magically transported —> http://www.handandtheheart.com  Andrea has a way with words and has one of the most honest writing voices you will find. She is also pretty nice in real life.

Next is Bill’s blog. Click here to go there —-> http://pinklightsabre.com  Bill can write. He writes it all: poetry, short stories, opinion pieces, gut busting humor, and probably recipes too.

Ross runs a blog and lives in Canada (therefore, constitutionally required to be nice to Americans). Here is the linky-do ——> https://rossmurray1.wordpress.com Ross kills it. He is the funny, insightful, and one of the most supportive blogging friends a blogger could want.

Finally, is Dina’s blog. Dina is an American who lives in Denmark (in other words, my role model). —> http://wineandcheesedoodles.com  Aside from the fact that I want to run away and live in Denmark, she is another blogger who can really write.

That’s it kids. Thanks for dropping by and make sure you tip at least 15%.

Brushes with Writing Greatness

When David Letterman hosted the Late Show he had a bit called “Brush with Greatness” where an audience member would recount a time when they met, or saw, a famous person out and about. I loved this particular segment for two reasons: 1. They were standing next to David Letterman who was a very famous person and probably the celebrity the audience member most wanted to meet. 2. I grew up in a town where I was pretty sure I would never run into anyone famous.

Over the years, and through my wanderings, I have managed to have a some brushes with greatness. When I was working as a bellman at a mildly nice hotel in Spokane I had the opportunity to run into a couple of handfuls of famousyish people. What I discovered about these people is that they are pretty much like everyone else, except smaller. I was only star struck once: John Denver. I don’t know about you, but if you are my age or a little older meeting John Denver is pretty much like running into the Pope. I will never tire of telling people that John Denver gave me $5. (I spent it. I should have listened to the advice of Anton Chigurh and  never put that $5 bill in my pocket where it would get mixed up with the other money.)

These days my heroes are confined to the world of writing and since most of my writing heroes are dead there is very little hope of me seeing them on a street corner in Seattle. (I did run into Sherman Alexie in a bookstore last December, so I got that going for me.)

One of my most prized possessions is a signed copy of Seamus Heaney‘s District and Circle.

To John- have a great time in summer school.  Seamus Heaney July 2010

To John-
have a great time in summer school.
Seamus Heaney
July 2006

This is awesome on a bunch of levels, but the best part of it is that I did not get the book signed myself. A friend of mine was fortunate enough to be in Ireland over a summer and was able to meet and spend time with Heaney. I was spending the summer teaching summer school because I am an idiot. My friend thought it would be very funny to rub my face in the fact that I was teaching summer school while he was having fun and amazingly enough got a Nobel Prize winning author to help him.

Three days ago Heaney’s was my favorite author signature, two days ago I found a mysterious package in my mailbox. I was expecting some green tights (this detail is here only to confuse you) but when I opened the package I found this:

Gary Snyder's Mountains and Rivers Without End

Gary Snyder‘s Mountains and Rivers Without End

This package contained a book that I had not ordered and already owned. This was strange. I looked at the envelope again and then it hit me. I opened the book and found this:

 

Signature

A signed copy with my name spelled correctly. Take that Heaney!

How this ended up in my mailbox is a long story with a number of odd coincidences* and I could tell it but instead let me say how much I admire Gary Snyder. He is the only poet I have ever considered writing a fan letter to, I keep a copy of his poem Axe Handles on the wall next to where I write, I memorized his poem I went into the Maverick Bar  so that I could recite it, and he is GARY SNYDER! He hung out with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac modeled the central character in Dharma Bums on Snyder, his books on the environment are so good that they should be required reading for every human on the planet. If people read more Snyder we would live in a much happier world.

Remember how I said I “considered” writing Snyder? The only reason I didn’t was because I did not have his address…well, now I do.

 

*I took my daughter and two of her friends to see Sol (a rapper) in Seattle this past year. At dinner we were all talking and somehow I mentioned that my favorite poem is probably Axe Handles. My daughter’s friend said, “I know him.”–“What? You know Gary Snyder?” –“Yeah, my mom studied poetry with him. I ate dinner with him and his son..”–“Kai?”–“Yeah, at Galare Thai.”–“What? You had dinner with Gary Snyder and Kai at Galare Thai in Sequim?”–“Yep.”–Long pause while I picked up the pieces of my mind that had just been blown all over the restaurant.–Fast forward a few months. My daughter steals my book, gives it to her friend, who gives it to her mom, who hands it off to Snyder, who takes the book, signs it, and sends it to me costing him $2.69 in postage. The world is a wondrous place.

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