Sunday Paper Story About Passports

I was glancing at the front page of today’s Dispatch and saw that, as of tomorrow, you need a passport to travel to Mexico and/or Canada.  Yet another step in the War on Terror (which Gore Vidal says–quite correctly–is about as realistic as a War on Dandruff).

I’m just happy it didn’t occur 22 years ago.  Psyched by repeated viewings of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, I was determined to go to San Francisco for spring break 1987.  (The crew of the Enterprise time-travel back to 1980s San Francisco to recover humpback whales in that particular installment.)  I had been to California in 1983, by bus from Boston to Los Angeles, to spend a week just outside San Bernardino, but I had never been to the Bay Area before.

I had an enjoyable trip, fell in love with Moe’s Bookstore in Berkeley, had a good visit with a friend with whom I had corresponded since 1979, and decided to take the southern route back to Ohio.  (On the way out, I went from Athens to Columbus and then took I-70 most of the way west.)  I had a three- or four-hour layover in El Paso (There’s a literary allusion there–answer it correctly and impress me for life.  Open to all but Hilligoss), and realized that right there across the Rio Grande was Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.  I walked across the LBJ Bridge and about 1-2 blocks into town.  My only purchase was a fifth of Dos Gusanos tequila at a liquor store, which cost me $1.10.  (I apologized for only having American money with me, but the proprietor was quite happy to take it.)  When I came back, the border guard asked me how long I had been in Mexico.  I told him, truthfully, about 15-20 minutes.  Did I buy anything?  I held up the brown paper bag with the bottle in it.  (Brandishing a bottle of liquor in a brown paper bag–It doesn’t get any more O.U. than that!)  He pointed to a small booth nearby, where I paid an $.85 duty, and then headed back across the Rio Grande, which looked like chocolate milk, back into Texas and the Greyhound station.

That type of spontaneity won’t be possible as of tomorrow.

On this day in history:  On this date 340 years ago, Samuel Pepys discontinued his diary because of his fear (which turned out not to be true) that he was going blind.  Here is what his entry for the Great Fire of London looked like:

Back to the Sleep Doctor, Back to Lithium

I went to see my sleep doctor this afternoon for the first time since about January.  I told him that I’m not having exactly gleamingly positive results from using the C-PAP.  Even when the nasal mask isn’t constantly causing my nose to itch, my sleep ends for the night at 3:30-4 a.m. when I do use it.  The Seroquel that I take at an hour before bedtime does definitely work.  I’ve actually dozed off during SVU, which is 100% out of character for me.  (It wasn’t all that noteworthy to doze off during CSI: Miami, as anyone who has seen David Caruso’s acting can testify.)

I mentioned to the doc my overall flat mood and affect, which pervades even when I’m doing things that I would normally enjoy–such as typing entries in here, for instance.  He has been giving me Carb-Levo to keep the restless leg syndrome at bay, and it’s working (for the most part).  Long-time readers of this blog will remember that I went off lithium two years ago because of the side effects.  The technical term is dyskinesia (increase of involuntary movements, diminishments of voluntary movements, like a tic or chorea), and Steph first noticed it when I was having trouble controlling my hands during lunch.  My hand was shaking like a tuning fork while trying to pour a glass of water.  I looked in the PDR and on Medline, and saw this was a common side effect of lithium.

Carb-Levo was originally created to minimize the effects of Parkinson’s disease, so I asked the doctor if, since I’m taking Carb-Levo, could I resume lithium?  He thinks that might work, so he wrote me a prescription for 300 mg of lithium, to be taken at bedtime.  I’m not wild about going back on it, but I need something to elevate my mood.  It’s been very humid here in Columbus, and the outside weather has been reflecting the overall state of my mind and emotions.

Right now, I’m at the Whetstone Library with Susie while Steph teaches piano and voice at home.  Freer of distractions here than I am at home, I thought I’d actually take the time to sit down and write in here–can’t write in the holographic diary, since I left it at work.  (I’m flattering myself to think anyone would be interested enough in me to read it.

My time draws short on this machine, so I will post it and then go pick up my reserves.

Some Lift in My Mood

As we’re heading into a long weekend, I’m hoping that my mood will improve and my lack of motivation to do anything will diminish.  Right now, I can say that I’m pretty much in the same low level of mental energy and motivation as I was the last time I posted in here.  Our Wi-Fi service was DOA for most of the weekend, so I didn’t post then, but I didn’t have much urge to do that or anything else.

A great change of scenery for a few hours was that Pat and I went to Cleveland on Saturday to see Allan Holdsworth perform at The Winchester, a bar/club in Lakewood.  He and his trio performed wonderfully–I liked this show even better than the one at The Thirsty Ear in Grandview last year.  A third person on the trip, Dave from Powell (he goes to the UU Church with Pat and me) was quite taken aback by Holdsworth and his guitar finesse, and I was blown away by the trio that opened for Holdsworth’s trio.  (I’d include it here, but I’m at the Whetstone Library right now, and I don’t have the ticket stub with me right now–the opening band’s name was printed on it.)

It may be that I am still sleep-deprived from the Cleveland trip.  We left Columbus not long after 4, and drove up via Powell to pick up Dave.  (I had already had a busy morning, going to get food and picking up a new pre-paid cell phone card for Susie, so I had been in perpetual motion since my feet hit the floor.)  We were in Lakewood in time to eat a very filling meal at the Shamrock Tavern, which is 2-3 doors down Madison Ave. from The Winchester.  Very dark and gloomy inside, state-of-the-art TV screens both showing sports (baseball on one, golf on the other), no music blaring.  The food was wonderful.  I wasn’t even tempted to graze on junk food the rest of the evening.  So, if you’re on the west side of Cleveland, I definitely recommend the Shamrock Tavern.

The sure sign that it was an old peoples’ concert was that Holdsworth played one encore and ended the show at 11:30.  He said that this was the last leg of the tour, and he and the other two members of his trio were exhausted.  (Holdsworth is 62 or 63, and I got the impression that Pat and I were among the young’ns in the crowd.)  We had a front-row table, so we were no more than 10 feet away from the stage.  We left after the encore, and as we were driving down Madison on our way back to I-71 south, we saw Holdsworth outside holding court with his many admirers.  (As a non-guitarist, I definitely was in the minority.)  I was home shortly after 2 a.m., although it took me a little while to get to sleep.  I did manage to get undressed and into bed without waking Steph, which is a major triumph for me.

Susie will be returning to public school in the fall.  Yesterday, we toured Dominion Middle School, which will be where she is come September, and we were quite favorably impressed.  She’ll be in a college-prep program (of course) and she chose drama as her elective for the winter semester, which didn’t surprise me at all.  She wants to work on the newspaper, and join the chess club–which will make her the lone (and, I think, the first) female.  We still have forms to fill out (I faxed a couple from work today) and records are in transit from Burroughs Elementary and St. Mary Magdalene, but we think Susie will be happy there. 

Trying to Emerge from a State of Cafard

That was a word that I had heard a long time ago (I forget where), and had almost forgotten about it.  It jumped out at me when I was browsing through The Journals of John Cheever, and it perfectly fits my recent state of mind.  (In case you’re wondering: ca·fard (kȧ fȧr′) noun melancholy, boredom, listlessness, etc.  This definition is courtesy of, by the way.)

Susie and I went to a used-record event sponsored by Colleen’s Collectables (sic) last Saturday.  It was held in the social hall of Ascension Lutheran Church on Morse Road, and it was a textbook example of violation of fire code.  There were just too many people crammed into too small a space.  Several of the customers rode electric scooters and wheelchairs, and for the life of me I don’t know how they managed to maneuver.  Susie and I are both able-bodied, and we felt claustrophobic.

I showed admirable restraint in my purchases.  Susie did well for herself.  She bought an American Idol CD, a $4 Discman, and a deck of Elvis playing cards.  I bought Steph several Osmond and Tom Jones LPs, and for myself I bought Jazz Impressions of New York, a Dave Brubeck Quartet recording that has yet to make it to disk.  (I’ve played it several times.  My favorite cut on it used to be "Autumn in Washington Square," but that was quickly displaced by "Upstage Rumba.")

Susie came home sick from a wedding party that night, mostly upset stomach and lots of sneezing.  I stayed home with her Sunday instead of going to church, and once Steph got home from teaching Sunday school, we presented her with gifts (Japanese incense from me, a vase from Susie).  Steph and I watched The Shawshank Redemption while Susie rested upstairs.  (On Saturday afternoon, Steph and I watched the 1967 Valley of the Dolls.  I’m wondering if that’s what contributed to Susie’s general queasiness.)

By Monday, both Steph and Susie were sick.  Grogginess, no appetite, anything inside them coming out both ends at warp speed, high fever–the whole nine yards.  I left work at 11 a.m. yesterday to be with them, although I may have taken off early anyway, since there was hardly anything to do.  Steph spent most of the afternoon in bed, and Susie was downstairs, active but draggy.  Both of them stuck to the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) for most of yesterday, so I was sure to eat outside their presence.

Both Steph and Susie have recovered.  Ohio now has its fourth case of swine flu, but the thought never crossed our minds that H1N1 was raising its ugly head in our household.  (I remember the big swine flu scare in 1976, after one soldier at Fort Dix, N.J. died from it.  He was its one and only casualty.  There was a huge drive to inoculate the entire American population, and the newspapers ran front-page pictures of Gerald Ford in the Oval Office getting his shot, and then it turned out the vaccine made more people sick than the virus did.  It faded very quickly from the public eye, scant weeks after everyone was led to believe swine flu was going to be worse than the post-World War I influenza epidemic.)

I watched the post-Palmerfest riots in Athens on Channel 10 Sunday night.  In all my years "studying" and living in Athens, I never saw any gathering, alcohol-fueled or not, get that far out of control.  I still marvel at the fact that no one was killed Saturday night, in between the bonfires and the general unruliness of the crowd.  (Just before I left Athens for good, I remember sitting in Baker Center watching the Tiananmen Square uprising on CNN, on the big-screen TV in the main lounge.  A woman I was watching this with said, "The only thing that would cause O.U. students to rise up like that would be if they banned alcohol on campus.")

I’m hoping that typing this blog tonight will get me back into the mode to do other writing.  This has hardly been one of my more stellar entries–it’s more of a what-I-did-today type entry, but it’s better than nothing.  Even my emails, both from home and work, have been slacking off lately.  Worst of all, I don’t think I’ve written in my handwritten diary for a week now.  (I have numerous issues with 12-Step groups, especially Alcoholics Anonymous, but "one day at a time" is especially applicable with journal-writing.)

Well, this is a start, at least.

A Trip Back in Time

I passed on church this morning to go to a Family Day and open house with my friend John.  He and I have been friends since 1988, when we both began working at The Mail-Order Pharmacy (my job before going to work for the State of Ohio in August ’04).  This was the first time I had set foot in the place since the day I came to collect my final paycheck, and it was quite exciting to come in, eat their food (tuna croissants and bottled water), and see the people I worked with, and saw many people who have come aboard since my departure.

I even went on a guided tour to see how much the place has changed since my departure.  It was just like the tour that I took when I was first hired, walking through what happens to a prescription from the moment the post office delivers it until the filled product goes out the door, en route to the customer.  They scheduled these guided tours, just like a tour of Graceland (except that The Mail-Order Pharmacy doesn’t have as many prescription drugs on premises).

I turned 46 on Wednesday, and I was thoroughly humbled by the emailed best wishes that Steph organized for friends to send me, along with pictures and video greetings.  Susie baked me a spice cake with cream cheese icing, along with a spaghetti dinner so filling they had to roll me out of the kitchen afterwards.  (I left work at lunchtime Wednesday, which marked almost the exact time of my birth.  I left work at 12:30, my birthday is at 12:34 p.m., April 29.)

On Saturday, I plunked down a whopping $5 and bought some new (for me) shoes at Goodwill.  I couldn’t find any books that interested me, and my search for a working voice tape recorder still has been in vain, so I was proud of myself: I went in just to buy shoes, and I did that and nothing else.

Susie and I plan to go to Colleen’s Collectables’ (their spelling, not mine) record show on May 9.  It’s at the Haimerl Center (1421 Morse Rd., near Ascension Lutheran Church).  Now that I actually have a turntable, time to replenish my record collection.  (John was keeping my records for me, and they vanished when his garage was burglarized.)  For more information about the show, go to  This will be the first of her shows I have attended in ages.  I’m a sucker for anything recorded.  In my old age, however, I have shown more restraint at flea markets, etc., than I did in my errant youth.  (I remember coming close to buying a dressmaker’s dummy at a yard sale when I was about 16.  I sometimes wish I had–I understand they’re quite valuable now.)  The last Colleen’s show I went to was when we were still living in Franklinton, and the show was close by, at Veterans’ Memorial.  I didn’t buy much, because most of the dealers were selling LPs, and I had no wherewithal to play them at that time.

Hopefully, I’ll post here before the show.