I have a talent for inventing excuses to skip out of work early, but today I’m guilty with an explanation. There is literally nothing for me to do today. Our dictation system is down for maintenance, and there will be no ex parte orders for me to type, since the Hearing Officers are in an all-day conference. So, I stayed for an hour and then my boot heels were a-wanderin’.
So, I left at the stroke of 9 with a clear conscience. Usually, when I leave before 5 p.m., this Peanuts cartoon comes to mind:
I’m back at home, with the music going (Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue” at present), sitting at my cluttered desk. (I did think about cleaning off the surface of the desk from the clutter of bills, paperback books, pencils and pens, and empty Snapple bottles, but that may be a post-blog project.)
In this respect, I’m more like Sherlock Holmes, I suppose. I’m on a Sherlock Holmes jag at the moment–I bought a Nook from a friend two weeks ago, and I christened it by downloading the entire Arthur Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes canon, all four novels, all 56 short stories. But how do I resemble Sherlock Holmes? Certainly not his pharmaceutical habits, nor his powers of observation and analysis, but:
a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece.
(This is from “The Musgrave Ritual.”)
Since I last posted, I was very happy that Susie was here for a week-long visit. Her composition class at Eastern Florida State College ended, and she had a brief hiatus before her senior year at Merritt Island High School began, so she flew here to see me (and some of her friends, of course.) Just having her here was special enough, so we didn’t plan any special activities.
We did see a special guest and friend the day Susie arrived. We had dinner with novelist and attorney Mike Nevins (biographer of Ellery Queen and Cornell Woolrich). He was in town for PulpFest 2014, driving in from St. Louis. We introduced him to the cuisine of the Blue Danube, and he imparted writing tips to Susie, and rebuffed Susie’s and my theory that Hamilton Burger (the prosecutor on Perry Mason) was the most incompetent attorney ever admitted to the American bar. Mike reminded us that Burger only lost cases on Saturday nights.
As usual, I spent a little too much money at PulpFest. One of my prize catches was William Bernard’s Jailbait (Popular Library 392), one of those lurid-covered novels that sold for $.25 and sold quite well in the 1950s as reactionary people wrung their hands about how comic books would herald the demise of American youth. These were the works that gave paperbacks such a bad name for a long time. (In The Boston Strangler (1968), two detectives discuss how many details of the murders they should release to the press. One says, “People like to read about it,” and his captain replies, “Let them read paperbacks.” And Gordon Lightfoot’s song “If You Could Read My Mind” contains the line, “Just like a paperback novel/The ones the drugstores sell.”)
Yet another semester rush has come and gone at the Columbus State bookstore, the Discovery Exchange (DX). I was glad that it began once Susie returned to Florida, because then I wouldn’t have to juggle spending time with her with 12-hour work days. I was in my element shelving books. I admit I was a little less so when it came to assisting customers–customer service is not one of my talents.
I have not written much about the aneurysm of late, mainly because I can go days before I’m aware that I still have it. However, one Sunday morning last month, I was in the shower when a bolt of pain shot through my rib cage on the left and all around the entire circumference of my chest. Once I was dressed, I took the bus to Riverside Methodist Hospital (I didn’t think it justified calling the squad). While I waited, my friend Chris texted me, asking if I was free for lunch. I replied by telling her where I was headed, and why. She very generously offered to meet me at Riverside, and stayed with me in the E.R. cubicle all the way up until I was admitted to the Observation Unit.
After X rays and an MRI, and keeping me hooked up to monitors, the verdict was no cardiac issue–although there was no consensus about what did cause the pain. I saw a cardiologist at Ohio Cardiology Specialists later in the week. Almost at once, I asked him if we could go ahead and operate on the aneurysm, because I was fed up with having to worry about it. It is in no way dilated to the point where it poses a threat, but I learned that if it were to burst, I would likely be dead before anyone could call 911 and be en route to an emergency room.
The doctor minced no words: “No! And any doctor who would do it should go to jail.” The aneurysm is not at a danger point, and at this point surgery would be more dangerous than the aneurysm expanding. He made an appointment for me to see him next February, which I’ve already logged on my phone’s calendar. (The phone’s calendar, I’m sorry to say, seems to have taken the place of the appointment diaries I’ve used for years. The red one I received from The New York Review of Books is mostly blank.)
So, I think we’re pretty much up to speed on what has happened since I last posted. I won’t insult my readers’ intelligence by promising to be more faithful in writing in here; all I can say is that I won’t fight the urge when I think I need to post.