Go See MILK; Quite a Sobering Movie

Definitely go to see Milk, if you haven’t already. Since I am such a junkie for real-time news broadcasts from the past, I am posting this from YouTube–the actual coverage of the actual day Milk and Moscone were assassinated.

I was in high school when this happened. In Marietta, Milk was little more than a punch line for a long time.

I love San Francisco, and my favorite San Francisco movie was, of course, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. (I’ll save Bullitt until Susie takes driver’s ed!) I visited San Francisco for the first time in 1987, on my cross-country Greyhound bus spring break trip–Athens, Ohio to San Francisco and back.

That trip became, completely unplanned, an assassination tour. On the way out: Sacramento, 1975 attempt on the life of Gerald Ford; San Francisco, 1975 attempt on the life of Gerald Ford, 1978 Milk and Moscone assassinations. On the way home: Los Angeles, 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy; Dallas, 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy; Memphis, 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.


This will be a quick entry, because we will soon be leaving to see Milk at the Arena Grand Theatre near the OSU campus.  We celebrated Santa Lucia Day this morning–Susie brought us cinnamon buns and hot chocolate in bed.

I didn’t get to see the Pink Floyd concert that I meant to watch last night while Steph and Susie were at their play.  It turned out I waited too long, and the TIVO automatically deleted it.  He who hesitates, I suppose…

One of the small victorious events this morning was that I went to the post office branch in Franklinton Square this morning and mailed back the two Laundro keys with which I had been entrusted.  I think when the owner gets his mail Monday morning, the point will truly be driven home.

I’m about midway through Douglas Niles’ War of the Worlds: New Millennium.  I am not much of a science fiction fan at all, but I’m a sucker for anything War of the Worlds-related, beginning with the Wells novel, and especially the Orson Welles Hallowe’en broadcast in 1938.  I even saw Tom Cruise’s dreadful remake when it came out on DVD.  This story is pretty good so far.

One Less Concern

I have decided to quit the job at the Laundro.  The extra money it brings in is not worth the aggravation of shortened lunch breaks at my "real" job (to balance leaving early on Thursday), getting up before dawn on Saturday, going entire Thursdays without seeing Susie, etc.  I am not abandoning my search for moonlighting opportunities, but I am going to keep my eyes open for something that’s more to my liking and which pays better.  I also do not let myself forget that my last period of intensive moonlighting, in the spring and summer of ’01 at Sears in Westland Mall, resulted in my first psychiatric hospitalization.

The Grant Hospital Sleep Clinic will be honored by my presence again next Tuesday night.  Dr. S., my new shrink, has let them know that I will be needing a C-PAP, so I have to undergo the hell of a second sleep study so they can fit and calibrate it properly.  Something else that comes with the territory of having a C-PAP is that I’m going to have to buy jugs of distilled water for it.  (I had a supervisor that drank distilled water.  I always thought it tasted like steel.)  I don’t want to encourage the delinquency of the bottled-water racket, but distilled water is much better on the C-PAP’s internal workings.

Steph and Susie will be going to a play Friday night, and I’m thinking about taking advantage of their absence to watch the Pink Floyd concert I recorded from WOSU-TV, our PBS affiliate, last week.  I didn’t want to watch it in "real time," since they’re in the middle of their pledge drive.  At least watching it recorded I get to fast-forward through all the pledge commercial breaks.  (WCET in Cincinnati would resort to outright blackmail during pledge drives: For every $20 thousand in pledges, they’d eliminate one day of pledge commercials.)

I remember recording one of the many Barney specials when Susie was a baby.  This was during pledge season, and one afternoon I was in the kitchen, while Susie was in the living room with a Barney tape in (recorded from PBS) to keep her amused.  When the break for the pledge pitch came on, Susie began shouting at the TV, "Go away, ladies!" and, in a panic, came toddling into the kitchen saying, "Daddy, the ladies are on!"  The screen showed two women extolling the virtues of public television, and advising people to open their checkbooks and write checks with several 0s on them.  A quick squeeze of the fast forward button solved the problem.

While I Slept…

I finally met with the sleep doc (who is also my new psychiatrist) this morning.  It was well worth the trip by bus out to Gahanna, since I like this guy and I think we’ll establish a good doctor-patient rapport.

He gave me the results of the sleep study I did at Grant Hospital last month.  It was not a pretty picture, although it was far from the worst he’s seen in his experience.  According to the tracking machines at Grant, during that night I had 15 instances of apnea–when my breathing completely stopped.  I also had 162 instances of very shallow breathing, almost like panting.  That’s to be expected if you’ve just run a marathon, but not when you’re trying to sleep.

What surprised me is that they counted 131 leg twitches, which means we can add restless leg syndrome to the equation.  (He prescribed Sinemet for this.  Sinemet is usually prescribed to lessen the symptoms of Parkinson’s.)  I went to Kroger tonight and filled it–and I’ll be trying it out tonight.

The oxygen level in my blood dropped to 88% several times during the night–anything <90% is not good.  I haven’t been oxygen-deprived enough for brain damage or where my life is at stake, but nonetheless it is something that I need to treat.  The doctor has prescribed a C-PAP machine.  He’s called Grant Hospital to order it, and it should be available next week.  I hope that Steph finds Darth Vader imitations exciting.

As for my caffeine jones, both Dr. S. and I think it’s a chicken-and-the-egg thing.  The apnea probably would have happened even if I had never taken a drop of Diet Pepsi in my life.  He said that lately my excessive caffeination may be more in the interests of keeping myself awake, rather than any drug abuse.

First Snow of the Season; Thoughts on Facebook

The first snowfall (other than short-lived flurries) happened yesterday, and it thwarted my plans for yesterday evening.  Last night was the annual Christmas dinner for union officers, and I planned to go–I was even going to wear a jacket, and I went and got a long-overdue haircut and beard trim Friday night.  But my ride chickened out, so I stayed home and luxuriated in the quiet (Steph and Susie were at a party), watched some reruns on Hulu.com, and had a generally unproductive evening.  At the Laundro, I called the owner in Upper Arlington to ask about the whereabouts of the salt and the snow shovel.  I never located the salt, but tried to keep the sidewalk and entrances clear with the shovel and a broom.

I hate to admit it, but I’ve actually been giving my Facebook account, which was dormant for a year, some mileage.  (I don’t even remember signing up for it, but I needed to log into and access it to find contact information for a guy I knew at O.U. and dropped out of contact with.)  Interesting to see how many people are connecting and reconnecting with people from their past.  I am making contact with people I knew in LRY (the Unitarian Universalist youth and young adult group in which I was quite active in my teens), and I’ve even heard from people from my high school.  That’s especially out of character for me.  The roster of people from high school I want to see again is about as long as the Vanilla Ice Fan Club’s mailing list.

Has anybody researched how many lasting friendships have arisen (via Facebook and other online media) between people who will, in all likelihood, never meet in person?  I remember Peanuts comic strips with Charlie Brown and his letters to his pen pal (or "pencil pal," since he was totally inept with a fountain pen), and I have maintained correspondences over the years with quite a few people I never met in the flesh.

The most interesting such friendship I’ve ever heard about involved Robert Lowry, the post-World War II novelist and Cincinnati native whom I befriended long after he was persona non grata in the publishing industry and was boozing away his Social Security checks on Cincinnati’s Skid Row.  He frequently swapped letters with a woman in France.  The way I heard the story, during World War II she had a fling with an American soldier who said his name was Robert Lowry, and she eneded up having a child by him.  By the time she knew she was pregnant, he had vanished.  She wrote to the Pentagon after the war to locate him, but the only Robert Lowry they could find was my friend, the Cincinnati native.  She began bombarding him with letters.

He ignored the letters at first, since he was never stationed in France–he was in Tunisia and Italy during the war, and never made it to France until the late ’40s.  Finally, she began sending him registered letters and threatening legal action, so he replied.  He had to send pictures of himself and copies of his service record before she finally realized he was not the Robert Lowry she was after.  But, even after he had proved to her satisfaction that he was someone totally different, they kept writing to each other.

I’m at Panera, after lunch with Steph, Susie, and a friend of Steph’s from church choir.  We ate lunch at Wunderdaug, and I’m in Panera drinking Diet Pepsi (caffeine-free; I had too much of the regular stuff already today) while waiting for the church’s winter concert, which will be at 4 p.m.  (If I’m too wired, I’ll never sit still during the concert.) 

Mid-Week Approaches

I’ll be seeing the sleep doctor on Monday morning, and I’ll have plenty to tell him.  Seroquel is helping me sleep, but I can’t stand the hungover feeling I have when I wake up.  There are few things as bad as a hangover after having done nothing enjoyable to cause it to happen.

We put up the Christmas tree/Hanukkah bush Sunday night, after Steph and Susie came home from a singalong.  The days of going out and cutting down a live tree are long gone–I heroically brought this up from the basement and Steph and I assembled it, all the while I was wondering if the damn thing was alive after all, since it refused to stay still during the assembly process.  Children’s art projects of the Holy Family and the shepherds hang side by side with Greyhound and Eric Cartman ornaments–the ultimate in inclusiveness.

Earlier Sunday, I watched a Lou Grant episode called "Skids," about a strangler stalking Skid Row in Los Angeles.  I watched Lou Grant religiously during my junior high and high school years, and was grateful when Hulu began posting the episodes extant.  "Skids" was interesting to watch as a onetime lush.  (Go to http://www.hulu.com and go from there.)

The Skid Row type of drunkenness was never the type I could understand.  In high school and college, getting drunk was usually associated with having fun, socializing, seeing bands, etc.  (I was in high school in the late 1970s, where parents would hear about a party where their kids got falling-down drunk, and the response was, "Well, thank God they weren’t doing drugs!")

The most extreme example of alcoholism I’ve personally experienced was my downstairs neighbor in Cincinnati.  He was in his 50s, and lived in an apartment with his 85-year-old mother and equally old stepfather, and you could count every working brain cell in their apartment without taking off your shoes and socks.  (The drunk was known in the neighborhood as Toast.)  He was a permanent fixture on the back porch for hours on end, drinking cheap malt liquor and pissing in a bucket.

One night, when I was working third shift at the Cincinnati post office, I finished work early and came home about 3:30 a.m.  As I came up to my apartment building (the venerable Burwood Apartments on W. McMillan Street), I saw the squad parked out front.  They were bringing Toast out the front door on a stretcher.  Apparently, there was no booze in the house, so our hero decided to partake of his Aqua Velva instead.

I contrast that with a trip I made to D.C. once, seeing a lot of yuppie and dress-for-success types, both men and women, on the Metro subway.  They were singing prep school fight songs, chinning up on the straps, etc.  They were a few sheets into the wind, and my guess is they were just knocking off after a long work week–I remember speculating in my diary that they were staffers who had just sent the latest issue of The New Republic to the printer, or Congressional staff aides celebrating the start of the August recess.  Hard to believe they shared the same condition of a guy so ruined by alcohol that he lacked the strength or motivation to go in and use the bathroom.