Hello Darkness My Old Friend

When you live the Night Shift Life, darkness really is your friend.  Its either darkness or nothing.  Most of your friends work a traditional pattern, meaning working during the day and sleeping at night.  Even second shift gets home in time to sleep a few hours and then get up later in the day before work in the afternoon.  So there some semblance of a social life.  Night shift has no such luxury.  You’re there to essentially make sure that the building doesn’t go up in flames and to do all the catch up work that the previous two shifts could not accomplish.

This of course leads to an awful amount of resentment between the shifts.  Being a person that has experienced all three shifts, I can break them down easily here with an Expectation VS Reality segment.  For first shift, the expectation is that all 14 people come in to very little work, so that we can plan parties and hang out talking.  I do acknowledge that day shift has the nurses and the manager there to keep them occupied with project work and all kinds of aggravation.  But then, that’s why you have so many people to share the workload.  The reality is that sometimes third shift just can’t get whatever work was left over done.  For numbers it’s a simple equation.  14 people on days, 14 people on second, and 7 on third.  So third shift is supposed to work super hard to get everything done so that first shift can come in and hang out, talking to each other about their day and their lives.  Second shift comes in, and first shift has everything caught up within their ability.  Of course, that doesn’t account for the pile of work left to be completed in the back, work that has to be processed and put out for second shift to accomplish.  Throw in several newer employees and take out the retiring/out sick ones, and it doesn’t work out too well.  Still, they do have the numbers to get most of it done.  Reality on second shift is that their leader is booged down by demands from the manager.  Our manager means well, but is often very inept at determining best course of action pertaining to what we do in our day to day activities.  We get the work done, so kindly leave us alone.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  And there are a few second shifters that get to do whatever they want, shunning the so called rules of attempting to get work done.  Third shift comes in, and sometimes it looks great.  Sometimes there’s a bit of work to do.  and sometimes it looks like a frathouse after Cinco de Mayo.  There is stuffed piled, stacked, strewn and thrown everywhere.  Nobody knows where anything is, there are three people missing, and the new guy just puked on his shoes.  Reality is that third shift comes in, regardless of what lies ahead of us, and immediately begins to work.  The process repeats itself every day.  And yes, first shift thinks that third didn’t do anything all night.  Second shift thinks that First didn’t do enough. And third just comes in and does the best that we can.

It seems that the best we can do is not good enough here lately.  There was an incident where a member of the first shift crew came in complaining about how third shift is lazy and never does any work.  How we are essentially paid to sleep at night and contribute nothing to getting the workload done every day.  Not just complaining, but berating the staff that are actually doing the work.  Then the conversation turned to me as the third shift leader, saying that I am a sorry excuse for a leader and that everyone would benefit greatly if I were to leave and they received some other person to lead them.  All of this was brought to the manager’s attention, and the employee received….absolutely nothing.  A slap on the wrist.  A wink, wink don’t do that again, but if you do, we will do absolutely nothing about it.  I just have to laugh, considering the source of all the negativity.  It’s an employee with a history of disciplinary problems and constant complaining.  I have been in the same position for going on twenty years.  I’d like to think I might be somewhat proficient at what I do.  Yet all it takes is this one pissed off degenerate to make management and everyone else question whether or not I am good at my job.  Apparently there’s no such thing as loyalty anymore.  If anyone wants to come and hang out on the “sleep shift” for a week, I will gladly take your place on days.  Come in an see exactly how overworked and underappreciated you are on the shit shift.  The Garbage Man shift.  You’re supposed to get everything done for two whole shifts with a complement of 28 people, and you have seven.  My math is a little fuzzy, but I’m just not sure if that equation balances correctly.  Then to be told, amid this so called investigation, that my shift is actually four people overstaffed.  For the record, there are five stations that have to be manned during all shifts of our job.  So if we take seven and subtract four, that leaves three.  So which two station don’t get covered?  And then those first shift employees that relieve on those stations, will they come in and berate third shift staff as well?  Might as well, since there’s no consequences for being a flaming cunt in our workplace.  Just come in and talk to whoever you want however you want, and we’ll take care of you.  Because you’re day shift, and that means you’re special.  The rules don’t apply to you.

That leads me into announcing my candidacy for other jobs.  ANY other jobs.  I have put in a transfer where I currently work, far from that department.  That way I don’t have to carry someone’s piss bucket and shit shovel any more.  Someone else can do all of their own project work, or send one of their precious lackeys to complete the project.  I will also entertain any reasonable offer for employment.  No night shift, and no position within my current department.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be heartbroken if the building burned to the ground…with everyone in it.  If my transfer doesn’t work, and I feel that my manager will make sure of that, then I will find a suitable replacement job.  If I have to work on the back of a garbage truck or bag groceries at Harris Teeter, so be it.  By 2020 I will not be in my current position.  You heard it here first.  And if anyone has any leads on a job, hit me up.  I’m not really good with much of anything, but I am a quick learner and I can fetch and tote items.  And I don’t mind you taking the lead and listening to you, especially if its something I have no idea how to do.  Just don’t listen to day shift, cause they’ll tell you I’m incompetent.

I know I keep teasing about a story.  The truth is that most of my ideas for stories have long since departed.  I chalk that up to a mix of procrastination, writer’s block, and plain old depression.  You get told time and time again that you are never good enough, and will never be good enough, even at something you’ve done for two decades.  Tends to have a negative effect on your outlook.  This too shall pass.  I will get rid of all of this and jettison the extra weight of a shitty job.  Once that happens, hopefully the skies will be the limit.

It’s been awhile I guess

Man, it sure has been awhile since May. So much has happened since then, so let’s get right to it.

Work-no change whatsoever. Our workplace has been put on the auction block, in the hopes of recouping the CEO a fat Mercedes or two and a big stack of cash. What this means for us is nothing, other than consultants will come in and assess if our jobs are worthy of inclusion in the grand scheme. As long as I get a decent severance package, I say let loose the hounds. Twenty years is long enough.

On the entertainment front, I did get to attend the Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach in June. If you’ve never been, it’s an absolute blast. Just be prepared to stand the whole time, or sit on the ground. But there’s food and drink, and enough dudes and chicks to keep you from being lonely. Three words…Bojangles Mobile Kitchen. And it’s a great way to see multiple bands at once…well, over four days anyway. And it’s whoever is touring at the time, so starts like Dierks Bentley and Thomas Rhett. And Alabama was there this past year. #bucketlist.

While that was going on, I was dealing with other medical issues that keep creeping up. Namely, the combo of medicinal cocktails and alcohol resulted in my being out of it most of the time. It got to a point where I was dizzy and nauseated all of the time. Add to that a little free bleeding, and it was great to behold.

The worst came on a night about three months ago. My wife and I were going to do karaoke with some friends, for the first time in a long time. I don’t know what possessed me to start drinking at the house, but I was eight beers into a high-octane IPA 12 pack of 9-12 percent alcohol beers before we left. So naturally my decision making skills were somewhat diminished once we hit the bar. I started buying Jell-O shots and liquor drinks, as well as shots. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do liquor on the regular. I was a beer dude, through and through. Still, I plowed ahead because our friends were late. This left time for more drinks and shots. I did finally get up to sing, and my wife thought I was going to fall, as I was teetering back and forth. I’m sure the crowd was hoping I didn’t fall, as they would have to get me up. The last thing I remembered was falling asleep/passing out at the table. But apparently I got up and danced and sang, and drank other people’s drinks while they weren’t looking. I remember being helped to the car and puking on myself. I slept that whole next day.

I think, in hindsight, that fate/God was showing me the truth about my alcoholism. It showed me that every time I drank, I felt like shit for days. And the alcohol doesn’t mix with the meds I take. So suffice to say, I haven’t drank in almost three months and I feel better. I still have those days where some random joint hurts for no reason, and you can’t close your hand all the way. It happens. But a clear head gives you a fatter wallet and keen perspective on situations. You start to see things and patterns of behavior that you were too drunk to see before. I haven’t had even a sip in almost three months, and the truck is simple. I just think about how that Fireball tasted coming back up, and I’m good.

I did promise to work on a story, and I am wrapping my head around one as we speak. If I can get over my own criticism, maybe I can put a few chapters on here fir comments. No promises.

In a Holding Pattern

So here we are again, in the same place as last time. I touched briefly on the futile attempt to switch things up on the work front. Specifically, how scientific studies have shown that third shift ages you prematurely. And how not getting enough quality sleep sends you to an early grave.

My response to all of this was a giant muddle finger from my employer. You would think after twenty years of loyal service, that you might get a break for your trouble. Not so much. It reminds me of how my father worked. He worked 20 years at one mechanic shop, and they fired him because they were tired of paying him more than everyone else. I’m sure the other hotshot guys were pissed when they got crap raises, but then there were other glaring differences. Namely, that dad’s stuff never came back after a week and had to be re-fixed. Then of course dad figured out that this is what management wanted. They wanted repeat business, so they wanted you to break something while you were fixing something else. With the guys dad worked with, I really think they were just clueless when it came to auto repair. Meanwhile dad could tell you over the phone how to fix your car. Dad wouldn’t play the game, and he got canned. He went to another shop where he worked for another 15 years. But this time he had an owner that recognizes my dad’s wealth of knowledge and paid him accordingly. He worked there until he lost his leg and went on Disability.

Annnd I’ve rambled into a tangent. It happens. There’s always a lot rambling around in my mostly empty brain box. It’s usually movie quotes, malted hops, music and how to beat that one level of Call Of Duty. There’s an occasional thought in there, but boy is it lonely. Anyway, I was making the point about working back then versus working now. When dad started at the shop, they rewarded his loyalty. Hotshot mechanics, straight out of mechanicin’ school, would stay a few years and then move on. They would cycle through, and dad would still be there. I can use this example in my current situation. I have, for most of my career, simply come in and done my work and went home. It was only recently that I figured out with responsibility comes more money. I took a third shift position at the behest of my manager, who wanted a leadership presence there. And now that I am there, I have figured out that I will never be anywhere but there in the current department. Couple that with not being able to transfer out, and one certainly has a very dim view of their working situation. You would think after 20 years that you had some value to the organization. Think again. They can hire someone new and pay them much less. I guess I greatly overestimated my value period.

To that end, my wife has been pushing me to get serious about writing. She apparently thinks that these stories I come up with are pretty good. My problem is that I’m my own worst critic. I don’t feel worthy. But something has to change, and it’s not going to change without flipping the whole thing upside down. This blog is supposed to be a sample of my writing style. So hopefully I can craft at least a short story length blog for you guys to read. I’ll work on that for next time.

Fell on Dark Days

I did kind of fall off the planet for awhile. I’d love to say it had any real significance or importance, but the reality is that I’ve been down for awhile. Depressed, upset, not happy at work. Whatever you want to call it, I haven’t been myself. More on that later.

I have had a recurring nightmare lately that flashes back to when my father passed away. I remember the moment, when my father was lying there passing into the next world. I was there with my mother and grandmother, as well as the Hospital Chaplain. I’m not ashamed to say we were all in tears as my father made his way to Heaven. It felt like eternity, but it was really less than a minute in duration. Flash forward to now, and my nightmare comes full circle. I see it in third person, where I’m the one lying lifeless in the bed, and my wife and girls are in the room crying. It’s been a dream for awhile now. I just wonder if there is self awareness on the other side, or do you join a happiness collective where the problems of the world no longer apply to you. I suppose I will find out in the end, but it breaks my heart that they all will be out through that. I know how I felt, and I hope that no one ever feels that way.

In other news with me, I have been a little salty lately. I had an incident which was documented on Facebook. While not divulging any details, an incident occurred with me and a former friend. This friend confided in a close friend of mine details about their personal life. My friend then told me of said problems, because we were all supposed to be friends. This friend then got upset because I reached out to them during their time of need, offering my services to help with their problems in any way possible. Instead of telling me that they did not appreciate my involvement, they ran back and tattled to my close friend. Of course, this caused a rift between me and my friend. So the moral of my story is DON’T HELP ANYONE. If you ask for help, I’ll see what I can do. It sucks for a lot of people, because I always put their needs above my own. But no longer. And as for the individual with the problem with me…I don’t care if your house burns down with you in it. Don’t.Call.Me. EVER.

I am still recovering from all of my medical issues. There is still soreness at the surgery site, coupled with the usual pains of being forty plus and doing manual labor most of your life. The Doc says I will probably never be 100 percent again. But with help I can be as close as possible. I am trying. Beer will always call to me. I just have to ignore it sometimes.

I am also trying to convert from night shift back to days. It’s not that I love working days at all. But night shift is different when you’re in your 20s versus in your 40s. In your 20s, life is good. You can sleep 2 hours and be up for three days. In your 40s you need a bit more sleep and recovery time. That and your time is mostly spent alone. You are up when everyone is asleep. Then when you have a night off, you fall asleep at 10 on and sleep til 3am. Then you’re awake, watching movies and drinking beer, and possibly working on a new blog post. It’s a lonely life, and it needs to change.

So fear not, dear readers. I am alive and well, just going through some dark days. I will attempt to write more on the regular, but no promises. Til then…

It’s Been a Long December…

Well, New Year’s is almost here. You are no doubt sitting in a swirling vortex of leftovers and shredded wrapping paper, wondering why people brought fifty pounds of homemade cookies to your house when you had enough left over to feed Ethiopia for three weeks. The best part is the after-dinner movie, either Christmas Vacation or the immortal Christmas classic Die Hard. You always fall asleep clutching your superfull belly, but hey, you’ve seen this movie a thousand times.

I did hear recently that Drake and Kanye were Twitter beefing about whose the better rapper. Can I take neither on this? I even thought of a great Christmas present for the people of Earth. I now openly challenge both Kanye and Drake to a fist fight. One million apiece. If either wins, they get one million. If I win, they quit doing music and have to resign from all social media. You’re welcome America (and Canada for all you Drake fans). This challenge is also open to Adam Levine of Maroon 5, another asshole that needs to disappear from the airwaves.

It’s not that I hate all male pop stars. I think hanging with Timberlake or Bruno Mars would be great. They seem like cool dudes that haven’t been changed by fame. The others seem to use their fame to treat other people like garbage and be dicks to people, and then get away with it because they are famous. Hence the taking fame out of the equation so that they can shut the hell up about their incessant nonsense.

I had the same problem with Christmas that I had with birthdays. Do I provide a gift bag if the dude is getting a giant bag of gummy worms and a fifth of Jameson? Luckily my wife is more cultured than I, and she placed the items in a festive bag. I would have opted for the brown bag provided by the liquor store. That’s why my wife and I are so good together. She gets me. And she covers my glaring deficiencies. Although it was fun to watch people open gifts at Kat’s house. Wrapping paper torn to shreds and tape in your eyebrows, as you eagerly tear open the box with your teeth to see what’s inside. Suddenly you’re a kid again, opening presents from Santa on Christmas Day. The sad part is the dog got more presents than anyone. Well, he is the baby after all

I would like to take this time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year. And if it happens to be your birthday in there, then Happy Birthday as well. And what better way to celebrate than to give a Top 5 of Christmas Movies.

5. It’s a Wonderful Life. I know this movie is a little cliche, but it does have a great story. Black and white makes it that much better, and it’s Jimmy Stewart at his best.

4. Miracle on 34th Street. This movie shows you that Santa can be terrifying. And miracles do happen.

3. Bad Santa. Clearly the funniest of the movies so far. Not for the faint of heart, Billy Bob Thornton embodies everything wrong with Christmas. But he wins out in the end.

2. A Christmas Story. The Red Ryder BB Gun. The Leg Lamp marked “fra-Jil-ae”. The infamous tongue on metal pole scene. This movie teaches real life lessons.

1. National Lampoon Christmas Vacation. Was there ever any doubt? Chevy chase doing the physical comedy that made him famous. Cousin Eddie cleaning the shiiter into the gutters. Enough electricity to power a third world nation. “We’re the jolliest assholes this side of the nuthouse.” Add in the part with Elaine from Seinfeld as the yuppie bitch next door, and it’s all comedy gold.

Honorable mention goes to Die Hard, which was set during Christmas but actually came out in Summer. Also nods to Polar Express and Four Christmases. Great movies, but not in the top 5. If you’re looking for any Hallmark/Lifetime movies on here, you’re in a place where you need serious help.

The only other news to report is that I have started a diary. That’s right, I keep a journal.. of beer. I recently discovered that Lowe’s Foods has a Sixer Mixer you can purchase for $10.99. They have cold beers you can purchase in a six pack. I can try six different beers and see if they are good or not. And I keep track, because they change up beers about every two weeks. Don’t want to buy the same beers over and over. And the beers run the gamut from Brooklyn to Wicked Weed. So I put if the beers are good or not. So if you see me at Lowe’s, that’s why. Have to make another 12 journal entries.

That about covers it. Hope the holidays treated everyone right. We had Kat’s vegan Christmas dinner, and it was delicious. Vegan–not just salad anymore. Be sure to enjoy family time and treat each other well.

As for Kanye, Drake, and Levine…I’m still waiting

November Rain

I know it’s been awhile since the last post. I actually skipped over the whole month of November, but so much happened to keep me busy. I haven’t had a chance to catch up with my faithful readers. There is one advantage to working nights. When you are off work, you have this free block of time at night. So here we are, in the throes of insomnia updating you guys on what’s going on.

For starters, I have returned to work after a brief 2.5 month absence. Work has not changed much. Same old place, same old job, same old workers. The only thing that seems to be different is me. Lying on your back for almost three months gives you a bit of perspective that you can’t get any other way. Let me explain. See, during my sick leave I slept on our couch. I did this with the idea that, should my gaping second anus leak or drain, it could drain into the puppy pads lining the couch. That’s right, I used puppy training pads to keep drainage to a minimum. The point being that, as I slept on the couch, my peaceful slumber would be disturbed at about 630 every morning by an old woman rummaging around for coffee to go with her cigarettes. So by 8 am, I was up and getting my day started. This meant that by 11 pm or so, I was ready to hit the hay. And after that long, I got used to it. Now my schedule is back to third shift, coming in at 9 pm and getting off at 730 am. So obviously there’s a conflict there, as sometimes I sleep great and sometimes my body wants to stay up after I get off work.

I also am dealing with the very harsh reality of my own physical limitations. I can’t go at things like I used to anymore. I can’t go all day, get an hour of sleep, and be good for ten hours at work anymore. And the tell tale sign of not getting all the groceries out of the car in one trip. Now I take a few trips to get it done. I know, shocking. I can’t go gangbusters at any activity to too long without a break. But hey, breaks are great. As long as it gets done, right?

I have resumed drinking, albeit in less quantities. It was more of a spite thing with my “medical professionals.” You see, I was trying to get my prescriptions from the original doctor at the hospital refilled, and the jackasses I go to for medical care couldn’t figure out if they were supposed to fill it, or if it was another doctor’s job. It was the most infuriating game of Tag ever, and so I just quit taking the meds. I haven’t had any side effects, so screw all of them anyway. And I have cut the amount of alcohol tremendously. Not drinking for almost three months showed me exactly how much I was drinking, and how much it had taken over all aspects of my free time. Now I drink in a more normal fashion, in social settings and some on weekends. Not the three plus cases of beer like in the past. It was just too much.

And now, a gift-giving guide. I was recently confronted with buying a gift for a dude, and realized I didn’t know the proper etiquette. It was two bottles of liquor that he really likes. As I bought these, I tried to figure out if they needed to be wrapped. Is a gift bag in order? Or do I, as a dude, hand another dude his liquor and just say cheers? Sensing that I was the more senior adult in this situation, I opted for the gift bag. Of course, one of the handles broke when I handed it to him. Strangely, it didn’t affect the taste of the gin or the whiskey. PS Pinnacle makes gin and it’s delicious. And just try Jameson if you haven’t. You won’t be disappointed. Which brings us to the gift guide. For all dudes who drink, a six pack of his favorite suds, or a decent sized bottle of the good stuff will suffice. Gift bag optional. And for those dudes that do not drink, I’m sure a gift card to his favorite sports bar/steakhouse will suffice. Or a six pack of soda/water. The poor sap has to drink something.

Another Day, Another Year Older

I have a riddle for my readers out there.  What do these songs have in common?

Rich Girl by Hall and Oates

Margaritaville by How Can You Seriously Not Know Who Sang This Song?

Night Moves by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

Heard It In A Love Song by The Marshall Tucker Band

Hotel California by The Eagles

I’m Your Boogie Man by KC And The Sunshine Band


Are you stumped yet?  No clue?  They were all Top 100 hits in 1977.  As I alluded to not so subtly in the previous post, my birthday is quickly approaching and might be upon us by the time you read this.  Reading this list just gives me one thought…damn, I feel old.  Reading some of these song titles, I realize that I not just feel old…I am old.  For those of us that failed remedial math, I will be turning 41 on Friday (the 19th, for those who are calendarly-challenged).  As I sit and compose these thoughts to all of you now, I can absoultely say that I never expected to live past maybe thirty.  I thought 32 was pushing it, given my laissez-faire attitude toward simple concepts like managing diabetes and not drinking my weight in alcohol whenever it suited me (News Flash, it suited me ALOT).  There’s a song that’s not from 1977, a little tune by Montgomery Gentry of country music fame.  It’s called I Never Thought I’d Live This Long.  It basically talks about a guy that lived fast and free and wondered why he was still alive.  And yet here I sit, doing all of this living stuff despite all probablity.

There are different schools of thought concerning getting older or reaching a certain age.  Some people want to stay young forever, which is what keeps hair salons and dye companies in business.  I have known men and women who dye their hair into their 70s.  My aunt gave up when she was at the hair salon once a week to reapply dye to her hair.  I prefer the Just Let It Happen approach.  If I’m going to lose my hair, or get gray hair, or get wrinkles…well, all that stuff is supposed to happen anyway.  Father Time catches us all eventually.  So why hide it?  Show off the gray.  If you go bald, shave the head.  Don’t have that thing with the bald front and then long hair for the other half of the head.  A half-mullet just screams Guy In Panel Van With No Windows Offering Free Lollipops At The Playground.  Don’t be that guy, and don’t look like you’re that guy.

People always tell you that as you age, you’re turning into your mother or father.  Most people don’t respond kindly to these observations, but I think that’s pretty awesome.  My father was my hero.  He led a very troubled childhood and rose above it all.  He volunteered to go to Vietnam, only to be held back because of the Saving Private Ryan Rule.  Any only male children, and only children, were not allowed to be sent to the front lines in any branch of military service.  To do so required that the parents would sign a waiver relinquishing their rights to sue the government in the event of said child’s death.  So Dad ended up guarding a section of the Berlin Wall in Germany.  He had the opportunity to work on all types of military machines, from airplanes down to lawn equipment.  He could tell you what was wrong with a car just by you cranking it up and him listening.  I’ve seen him diagnose a car over the phone to someone two states away, and tell them how to fix it, all while imbibing quite a few drinks.  He fixed one lady’s car with the inner tube of an ink pen.  Take that, McGyver.  His skills exceeded far beyond auto repair.  When he was young, he built houses on Wrightsville Avenue with my grandfather.  So Dad could build a house from the foundation up.  He could pour concrete, hang drywall, do roofing work, and do it all accurately.  This from the guy that couldn’t figure out how to text on his new cell phone.  So yeah, when someone tells me I’m turning into my dad, all I can do is hope and pray that one day I can fill those shoes.  Well, at least the one because Dad was an amputee.

Meanwhile I am trying to embrace my sobriety.  As of August 20, it has been almost two months since I had any alcohol.  I don’t know if you’ve caught my other posts, but this is a huge feat for me.  I was at one time up to about 48-60 beers in a weekend.  I’m not sure what the going consumption rate is supposed to be for mere mortals, but I’m sure it’s not that many over three days.  Hence the not taking care of myself and living wild and free.  One day you snap out of it and realize that you’re 40 and it’s too much to have to recover from every weekend.  Of course, sometimes fate intervenes and gives you a rectal abscess AND a pulmonary embolism for good measure.  You know, in case you’re too stupid to listen.  Message received.  At the same time, I wonder if JImmy the Beer Guy at Harris Teeter thinks I’m dead or something.  I saw him every Friday morning and night, Saturday and Sunday afternoon like clockwork.  Maybe he started a search party.  If you see my face on the back of a beer or wine bottle from the Teeter, do not be troubled for I am alive.  He’s probably just worried that sales are plummeting now.

One place that clearly makes you want to drink is Wal-Mart.  I despise this store with all of my being.  I guess because I’ve been out of work recovering, that I’ve got a slower sense of getting around the store.  What’s the rush, I’ve got time.  Apparently everyone else didn’t get the memo.  There are people zipping by you left and right, then they park their buggy right in front of what you were trying to get close enough to so you could check it out.  Then they have the audacity to look back at you scornfully.  Like you’re the problem.  Geez, I’m just ttrying to get some cheese sticks and a jar of peanuts.  The best are these people that see someone they know, so their turn the cart sideways and block the whole aisle talking to their long lost childhood friend for twenty minutes.  Get her number, you guys can talk later.  I need olive oil and you’ve jammed your cart in the way.  Every time one of them zooms from behind me to end up right in front of me, then stops, I visualize myself sticking my arm out for the old clothesline move from pro wresting.  “CLEANUP ON AISLE 7!  SOME JACKASS GOT CLOTHESLINED AGAIN!”   JUst let me get to my Carb-Smart Ice Cream and nobody gets hurt.

So yeah, I guess getting older isn’t so bad.  If I continue to take care of myself, then it will continue to not be so bad.  I notice my back and knees don’t hurt as much.  I feel better with the toxic Hospital food out of my system.  And the alcohol, well it was poisoning me.  I know I would not have healed properly had I continued drinking.  I am getting older, and despite my best previous intentions, I will be here for the forseeable future.

Unless you lock me inside a Wal-Mart.  Then all bets are off.



Wake Me Up When September Ends

Don’t lie, you sang that title line.  No doubt trying your best Green Day impersonation.  Well boys and girls, September has ended.  I don’t know about you guys, but I was sure as hell glad to see both August and September in the rear view these past few days.

October is a great month in my estimation.  Not just because it’s my birth month.  It’s actually a lot of people’s birth month, in fact.  Two of my best friends were born on October 1st and 24th.  And there is my Kibby, whose birthday is coming up soon on the 7th (happy birthday from Pa Bear!).  There are others, spanning the 2nd to the 31st and everything in between.  You know what this means?  That a lot of people are Libras and Scorpios. and a lot more people were having sex on Valentines Day than we initially thought.

And of course, the important things about October.  It’s the beginning of the Fall season.  So here in North Carolina, that means the end of Hurricane Season.  I’m sure we’re all glad that shit is over.  So much for “It’s just a Cat 1” right?  There are still smashed trees, flooded roads, and other assorted damage.  Fall also means cooler temps after those 100 degree days.  So it will drop to 85 maybe.  Then there will be those sneaky days where it starts out at 50, then by noon it will be 85, and then sub-Arctic temps at night.  Hooray pneumonia.

The foliage is pretty nice, as the leaves turn lovely shades of red and orange.  And speaking of orange, it’s every kid’s favorite holiday in October.  Halloween.  A time when you dress up in a costume and beg candy from complete strangers.  Of course, in recent years Halloween has received a bad rep because of a few assholes who want to poison or abduct kids for their own nefarious purposes.  Not to be outdone, parents have simply kept a closer eye on their kids by having Trunk or Treat gatherings at local churches to keep everyone safe.  Still, there’s nothing like the look on a kid’s face when he bites into a caramel covered onion.

October is also the official beginning of Pumpkin Spice Season.  And I do mean season, because that stuff is everywhere.  Pumpkin Spice Coffee, cereal, muffins, beer, chicken, salad, underwear, floor wax, house paint, lipstick, dog shampoo, perfume…the list goes on and on.  Dudes, chill with that shit.  I don’t want my entire town to smell like a pumpkin patch. And for some people, Pumpkin Spice Season is all year long, or it starts a little early…like February.

I do actually like the Halloween movies returning to the airwaves during October.  From Halloween with Michael Myers to Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, those movies are a great time.  Sitting and watch these family friendly classics, along with some others like the Shining or Children of the Corn, is what Halloween is about as an older man.  Handing out candy is fun too.  I am usually guilty of handing out too much candy at the time.  Some years we attract the bare minimum of trick or treaters, only the truly brave who have their parents in tow.  So we devised a clever formula.  Instead of buying the “Grab Bag Mix” or the giant bag of Dum Dum lollipops for $3, we buy candy that we like.  Resse’s Cups, Hershey bars, and other assorted chocolates line our candy bowl, so that if no one comes, we feast.  No one on the earth feasts on three dollar suckers and those awful peanut butter toffee treats wrapped in orange and black.  They won’t even send those to starving kids in Ethiopia because of anti-cruelty laws.

This October is a little different for me.  As mentioned before, I am still recovering from surgery and a blood clot in my lung.  I have made great strides in re-becoming more of my former self.  But I’m not there yet.  I still have a bandage over a gaping wound that is mere inches from my nether regions.  That wound does still soak through the bandage on occasion, leaving stains of blood in my underpants and my shorts as well.  This bloody bandage does have to be changed five times a week, allowing me the creature comfort of showering so I don’t smell like feet and rotten carrots.  I can walk around a grocery store without passing out now, and I use the bathroom with more regularity than before.  Because there’s nothing more annoying than feeling the urge to use the bathroom, lumber to the toilet, sweat and strain for thirty minutes, and…one tiny microscopic piece of feces falls out.  At least you think it does.  You can’t see it, but you did hear what sounded like a raindrop in the toilet water.  Maybe it was just one of your tears, falling because you know you will never get that thirty minutes back.  And people see you driving around and going to stores and seeing your doctors (multiple), and they assume that you’re all better now.  It’s like the guy that finally gets his GED after twenty years, and then people are telling him he should go to college.  Pump the brakes a little.  Damn, He just got his GED at 40, so obviously high school was kicking his ass.  Same for me.  Recovery is progressing, but don’t sign me up for the Boston Marathon just yet.  Or ever, for that matter.

So enjoy everything that October has to offer.  Horror movies.  Zit-faced kids with no costume begging for multiple pieces of candy.  Slightly cooler temperatures, but maybe dead Pterydactosquitos remaining from the hurricane.  Halloween decorations and hoping your house isn’t the TP or Egg house.  Free candy and raking up leaves from your neighbor’s house that blew into your yard.  And of course, my birthday.  If you’re wondering, my size is Brand New F150.  Now I have to kick back on the porch, relax, as I sip my Pumpkin Spice Latte.

It’s Been a Rough Few Weeks

It’s been awhile since I posted anything on here, but this time I have good reason. A few of them, in fact. It has not been great since at least August, where our story begins…

So I posted last time about working third shift and having Fridays off. This in turn meant Friday mornings are spent drinking beer. Then I would get up in the afternoon and get more beer. More beer on Saturday and Sunday, and the weekend was complete. Of course, with all that barley and hops, your idea of healthy food goes out the window. So eating pizza or takeout Chinese for three days seems like a great idea when there’s 12 bottles of beer swimming around in your belly.

I felt like something was wrong on August 17th. I felt a sharp pain every time I tried to sit down. I thought it had something to do with my steady diet of liquid wheat and processed foods. I finally made my way to the doctor that Wednesday, and they sent me to Wilmington Surgical. I went there Friday, and they confirmed it was a deep rectal abscess.

Now if you are a dude and have dude friends, you know how other dudes are about anything rectal. We are relentless in the ballbusting and picking. I was more concerned with having my first surgery ever. After working at the hospital for so many years, soon I would be a patient.

I was scheduled to have a CT scan of the area that Saturday. My wife went off-script, taking me to the ED instead. Dr. Bebb happened to be the surgeon on call, and within a few hours I was in and out of the OR and in a room on the 4th floor.

Being a patient in the hospital gave me a different perspective. All of my nurses and caregivers were very kind and helpful. Their every four hour rule keeps you from getting too much sleep. After surgery, I rested due to the pain and the location of the wound. I went home after a little over a week, only to resume my steady diet of doing absolutely nothing. I could hardly walk to the bathroom without being out of strength. So I rested up, and that’s where I went wrong.

That Friday morning, early, I woke up to use the bathroom. Thirty minutes later I hobbled out of the bathroom, probably ten pounds lighter. I tried to make my way to the couch in the den, and felt dizzy. Then next thing I remember was waking up face first in the couch. I got myself up and laid back down, only to find out that my heart was pumping in overdrive. There was an extreme tightness in my chest, like two giant fists were pressed together just above my heart. Having no experience with it, I assumed it was a panic attack. I tried to slow my breathing, but it would come back faster every time. Mom was up by then, and she gave me two Valium which did nothing. Terry was up, and she called 911. EMS and a Fire Crew came. Apparently they knew I was 6’4″ and 350 so they would need help. I tried to get up on their gurney, only to faint again. It did nothing for my heartbeat, as it stayed at 150. It scared Terry, as her father was hauled out of their house with a diagnosis of cardiac arrest.

The paramedics worked to get my heart rate down in the truck, to no avail. I did breathing exercises that were also no help. So away we went, off to the ED. The only thing I could think about wasn’t my heart or breathing, but my sore ass riding that unpadded gurney and hitting every bump on the way.

Once we arrived, I was brought right in and placed in the treatment room immediately. The doc for my section started treatment, and I was covered In electrodes as they attempted in vain to run an IV in my dehydrated blood vessels.

Somewhere along the way, the doc theorized that I had an irregular heartbeat that he could jumpstart with something called a cardio version. It’s basically like jumping a car. You have two large electrodes that they shock you with, in the hopes of rebooting your heart back into the natural rhythm. It helps that you’re high as a kite while they do it. They use a sedative called Ketamine for this procedure. For those that don’t know, ketamine is used to sedate horses and other farm animals.

So they hook you up to the sedation, and after it takes effect, you have no idea where you are. You just kind of drift out there, in space. It turns black, which I assume was the shocking part because my chest was hurting. Then I see darkness with a shadow in front of me trimmed in neon green. I hear lots of laughter, and as I drift back to reality, I realize that the shadow was the overhead light in the treatment room. All I could think about was the song by Afro Man. “I was gonna make my heart better, but then I got high.”

So the cardio version was unsuccessful. The doc sent me for a CT scan close by. After this, he sees that there is a saddle clot in my pulmonary artery. It is the worst kind of clot. Suddenly surgeons appear and want to shove a catheter in my groin to access and remove the clot. I am against this for a very specific reason.

When I had the rectal abscess surgery, a side effect was swollen testicles. It got so bad that the two became one, about the size of a medium baking potato. They in turn enveloped the penis, so that it could not be located. I had to pee using a large bedpan in the front so I didn’t get a urine bath every time. Hence my reluctance to go that route. I had visions of a giant pair of testicles with legs and a head.

Nevertheless, they were all discussing it. Next thing I know, they pump me full of clot busting fluids. I am taken to PACU which also houses STICU. I am pumped full of Heparin along with fluids to keep the blood thin in the hopes of the clot dissolving and moving on. I stayed there overnight, and then was moved up to the 10th floor. The penthouse. Moving on up. I was visited by all my friends during my time there (thanks to you all), and I left that Monday. I had enough of those white walls and the same 18 tv channels.

So after the second stint as a patient, then came the doctor appointments. I was set to attend a few, but then came the Hurricane. A so-called Cat 1 that destroyed our region with wind and rain. We were lucky. Some people lost whole houses, furniture, cars, and 40 years of keepsakes. Our power went out, that was the worst for us. Terry and I spent our anniversary in a hot and sticky sweaty haze waiting for the power to be restored. It finally came back on after a week, and we were all ecstatic. At that point, I would have slept with the power guy if he turned the power on.

So here we are now. I’m waiting on my posterior wound to heal so I can return to work and the hell that awaits there. Things are getting back to normal in town, as most places have reopened and stores are restocked. Gas stations don’t have mile long lines. I can get through the store without passing out. And Terry has an art show at Going Local in Front Street tomorrow evening. Check it out

Bright Nights and Dark Days

Sorry I’ve been away, friends. I recently made the transition from a first-second shift hybrid to full on third shift. Without divulging the details of my work or giving disparaging remarks about management, it was the clear choice for me.

Now I know some people out there are cringing at the thought of working third shift. Going against the grain, so to speak. It’s not the body’s natural rhythm to work at night and sleep during the day. It makes those chipper go-getter morning people shudder at the thought of coming in at night.

First of all, I absolutely hate getting up early. I have never gotten accustomed to getting up early. Even when I had a job that required it, I never got used to it. I always thought I would oversleep the alarm, so I got that patented broken sleep. Sleep for 2 hours, then wake up every twenty minutes until time to get up. Yeah, you get off earlier. But then you have to go to bed early to get up early. Or down a cocktail of Monster, 5 Hour Energy, coffee, and fine cocaine mixed in the coffee and don’t sleep for a week

I should point out that I only work four days a week on the new schedule. Mon-Thurs 9pm-730a. Off every Fri,Sat, Sun. It’s not a bad gig. And it’s super quiet. Our job is way busy in the am, and it stays busy til the evening. All that stress of day shift disappears.

Think of it this way. You know that feeling you get at about 11 am where you want to just take a nap. At 11 am, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m asleep, and you’re on your fourth cup of coffee. Nothing like the jitters and cold sweats to increase productivity.

And it’s always great to hit the store on Friday morning after work. People are coming from the gym to get fruit and yogurt for smoothies. Moms are buying stuff for their kiddos and their lunches. Construction guys are buying water by the case and snack chips. And there I am in line, a case of beer under each arm. Beer:now available at breakfast.

So now it’s time to hit the hay. Be sure to work hard while I’m sleeping.