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long week

January 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Wow what a week. I have been on the go in a way that I wouldn’t have imagined was possible. I have made pervasive changes to my life and moved into a, if not frenetic, a one thing after another from rise until bed kind of being. I have certainly been this way before but not for a long time. Feels good in some ways, put a pep in my step, but had a hard hard week at work and its left me a little rung out.

I’m tired, which is good. When you don’t sleep and your not tired, that way madness lays. Fido misses me. He was acting out, chewing leaves off the kiefer lime tree. Yesterday I walked him to the dog park and spent a fair amount of time there for a cold day. There were the regulars and I am getting much better at introducing myself to strangers and chatting people up. People like to be listened to and everyone has ideas about how things ought to be better.

Chris, a guy with a Great Pyrenees named Harry (he had another Chester but he passed on recently) had tried to walk an older lady down the side of the ravine but she couldn’t hop across the icy rocks to get across Bear Creek. I asked if he was heading back that way if I could walk with him always wondering if there was a back way in. Gave us a good chance to talk and he told me about the history of the park. It used to be all an off leash areas. The city at one time wanted to fill in all the wetlands and put in soccer fields but the neighbors organized and stopped it. But eventually they rounded the dogs up into a smallish fenced in area. Probably good for the water fowl and such but we could use more space and some solar lights perhaps.

The trail was pretty cool, snakes through the woods leaving the dog park following the creek. The river crossing was a little hairy with one rock completely covered in ice so a little leap was involved. Probably wear my water proof shoes next time and I won’t be so nervous. When John and I were kids we would go down to “the creek” [actually a drainage ditch to my adult eyes, memory is a funny thing, or maybe kids just see better] and play on the ice. We often stayed until one of us broke through and we got “a soaker” and we would have to wrap it up. It was always a cold walk back to the house with one or two wet shoes in the winter. Now there’s goretex.

This morning I went to a legislative update with 3 state reps. I introduced myself to Chris Kelly who is my favorite Missouri politician. He was a judge and I was in his court a number of time with clients and he was always funny and fair. He used to be in the state legislature and when term limits devastated wiped out the population of experienced legislature he came out of retirement to show the kids how to pass law. He’s a democrat in a state with a Republican super-majority and he still got a committee chair. He’s the master of the political compromise. They just passed a cap on spending bill so that if revenues go up again the extra goes into rainy day and school funds so we get out of this boom or bust cycle. He got some nice concessions from the Republicans and was the only Democrat to support it. He’s that kind of guy.

In his speech he railed against the Governator (Nixon of all people, Missouri’s funny) for his 12% cut to higher ed this year even though Nixon’s a Democrat. He praised the Republicans in charge and then raised the question why he’s not a Republican. Then he said “the crazy train” is leaving the station and they will pass laws about prayer, guns and bullets even though no one is threatening those so they can hide the fact they’re selling out the state to big corporations. None of the Republicans countered it. It was amusing.

I also introduced myself to Joe Bechtold of “Truck Stop Missouri”. I told him I was a fan before he had a reality show and told him about Dad being a truck driver and we would visit there and sometimes stay in his hotel, go the restaurant and bar and make a weekend of it. He seemed touched even though he carries himself like a bit of a rock star.

After work I went out for a happy hour at Ragtag with Trevor and an improbable assemblage of former Peace Corps Zambia folks (five, would have been six if Lisa wasn’t baby sitting). I had a Schlafely barley wine which was really good. Since I probably only slept a couple hours last night I was spun on a glass. We had good conversation and I chatted some people up. Got word on a possible housemate. An artist and hipster gal I think highly of. Might to a full or partial labor swap and see if I can advance some projects. Might not, you never know and Fido and I are pretty content.

Well Fido’s not. He just pulled the squeaky out of his cheap ass donkey I got him for Christmas. Its been leaking stuffing all week. Gonna have to take him toy shopping soon. I have had two offers to hang out with him. I should brush him. I have a photo shoot tomorrow and I am going to take him to see if he will play with the photographer’s Newfoundland puppy. Maybe he’ll get his picture taken.

 

step one part three

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Welcome back faithful reader. Its been a busy week and I am to tired to work on the campaign or clean house and the rabbit ears only get in the Christian channel tonight, its encouraging me to tell people about Jesus. I do want to talk about God. I’ve been excited about my literacy project of breaking down the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous (NA) into simple, concrete English, with hearing references removed. Its my second pass at the subject, the first in writing and I feel its going well. Glad to have good feedback from my sister Brenda who is steeped in recovery. As a full disclaimer I am not, I am a treatment person not a recovery person but knowing the steps is a good thing for everyone. I feel like a good translator in that I haven’t agreed with everything personally but am trying to capture the spirit of the test which is powerful and has more beauty then I first gave it credit. (I prefer the AA Big Book for sheer literary power).

Anyway I was talking to Chris about the project as an NA guru and genuinely good guy I appreciate his input and I was telling him I had to throw out Higher Power when I was getting down to concrete English and explained God was concrete but Higher Power is abstract. He said “OK, just so you tell him God is other people”. Early recovery people identified Higher Power to make it more accessible which is cool and essential for a lot of folks. But when people believe it just makes it easier to stick to the more real “God”. Its early so I hope to finish the first step tonight and still give my DVD player one more shot at playing a movie.

If we think we are our problems and don’t see our problems are part of being sick we won’t be able to see things right. Addicts are overly sensitive to what is going on. We can’t leave things alone. We have problems because we want to know stuff and fight for stuff but we believe things that are not true. We forget how confused we were when we started to use drugs. Forgetting stuff, confusion, and having trouble doing stuff is normal when we first stop using drugs even if we used to be good at stuff. We get back into life when we stop being confused.

What we see and how we feel is still controlled by drugs when we first get clean. People in NA say, “Give it up to God”. “Take it easy”. “Keep coming until God heals you.” “Keep coming back”. Things like this help us not to be selfish and to accept life as it is.

Recovery helps us live. Recovery is like food. We get into trouble when we don’t let people be free. Addiction keeps us from seeing that what we do makes what happens to us. Recovery is looking at the world as it is. We stop fighting and life is fun and interesting. We can finally be happy because it seems real. Not looking at the world as it is keeps us sick. Only if we admit we are powerless over drugs and give it up to God can we feel better. People who plan on using drugs and won’t admit they are powerless over drugs will keep on lying to themselves. Some people are not addicts and they should get help somewhere else. Addicts can learn about recovery at NA.

Addiction has been around a long time but recovery is pretty new. At first it seems normal and right. In meetings we see other addicts who have stopped using drugs. Then we have doubt and think it is to good to be true. We are trapped because we are afraid to change. Doing drugs makes us think bad things about people, gets our feelings hurt and tells us we can’t be better. Everyone in NA goes through this. We give things to God and then go back and act like we used to. If we don’t want to use drugs we figure out what is going on before we use drugs. If we stop wanting to be clean we will use drugs. If we use drugs we have to  get back in recovery.

What we say and what things mean to us makes us do stuff. When we give things to God we don’t have to act on our desires. Going to meetings and hanging out with addicts makes us stop thinking like a drug user. We can look at things in a new way because we are living different. In recovery we try to be sane. Early in recovery we do what people suggest because our thinking is crazy. We need to trust more. We have to accept other people to be in recovery. Then we start calling anything that keeps us from God “crazy”. If we feel bitter about the past we have to make it better. We have to separate fixing ourselves from trying to fix other people. We have to have peace about the past.

Peace can’t come from other people but they can help us have peace. We are a tool of God when we care about other people. We feel like we are connected to people again. Being sane is letting God do things we cannot do. When we run away we take our problems with us. To really escape we have to change.

When we change better things happen to us and we learn new ways to do things. One person said, “We are thankful for this step it means hope, commitment, honesty and freedom. We have to understand this step to understand NA. Knowing God is important in NA. NA makes us free to learn.

If you have problems you can call someone in NA for help. Try not to get discouraged or feeling like you are not doing enough. Ask questions to more then one person. Talk to everyone and learn from everyone. How you understand this step and NA is up to you. You have to own it for it to work.

Every step has helped us understand better and we want it to be great for you. If you get angry or depressed or want to be a rebel, pray, go to a meeting, make list of things you are thankful for, or call someone. Thank you for joining us in recovery. We love you totally with no exceptions.

 

 

 

step one part two

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Living alone has forced me to really think about food. Its really inconvenient to live by yourself if you like home cooking. Been making tasty soups I can eat for days and days and realizing I need two thing, because I can’t eat lunch and dinner. The minestrone soup has been good. For lunch on my late day I made hamburger gravy over mashed potatoes so I added some peas, corn, and brie and am baking it for shepherd’s pie.

I have as long as it takes to get done to post. I am going to go back to my paraphrase of the NA Steps in clear, concrete, simple language with all references to hearing removed. Original text is also beautiful, spare and powerful,  from Cyber Recovery. I read the first part to get into the flow and it sounds really good I think. Maybe I’ll strip down all my writing, its kind of powerful and adds to clarity of thought.

In recovery what we call success changes. When we were using drugs we were planning to get high or getting over being sick from being high. Success was staying out of trouble. In recovery success can be staying sober and going to meetings. Some people just do that for a long time. Staying clean is success. Working the steps can be success too but really its about knowing God. That way we can get clean physically, mentally, and spiritually. If we know God we learn how to live. We are honest, help other people, and learn how to love. We love people who don’t even love themselves. Going back to school or getting a job can be success too. Some people think money is success. Recovery does not depend on what we have or what we know. Recovery is being free and not thinking about drugs or wanting to do drugs.

Being sad over not doing something we said we would do teaches us about failure. Being curious about what we can do helps us grow. If we can let ourselves fail we can try to do stuff. When we are clean we have to be brave and try new things. Thinking things are better then they are or worse then they are is like when we were using drugs.

Wondering what other people feel and think, especially about us looks  like a problem. This helps us think things over and get advice. It helps us learn about God. Learning more about what is good and what is bad helps us know God. We don’t believe old lies we heard or be afraid of things we don’t understand. Learning about God is important in NA.

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getting tired, looks like there will be a step 3. Thanks for checking this out and sharing it if you do. Its cool stuff and I am blessed to have been asked to get to know it more deeply. Your comments are requested and appreciated.

step one part 1

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Introduction:

I’ve had the great pleasure to get to teach the 12 steps of recovery, specifically Narcotics Anonymous over the past year or so. I am a treatment person not a recovery person so I do not usually presume. The Steps are supposed to be worked by a Sponsor. Someone experienced in The Program who has worked the steps themselves. For people with multiple challenges Recovery can be an arduous path and unique accommodations must sometime be made.

If an individual speaks only a foreign language or is deaf and only speaks sign both NA and AA graciously make interpreters available but only for meetings not to meet with sponsors. Using deaf as an example you also have the unique challenge of concrete thinking, translation, and lack of all reference even through metaphor for hearing. I just looked the steps on line(cyber recovery)  and translated. And its been cool. One of the most interesting therapeutic approaches I’ve ever tried. Has made me really have to understand the text.

Someone requested I write it down for them. I told them it would be a lot of work but it may be of general interest so I would share it.

Step 1

“We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable”

Not understanding the first step makes people use drugs. Addicts have other problems besides using drugs. People in NA can only help others by caring about them and living life as it is not how we want it to be or fear it to be. NA just focuses on not using drugs.

Using drugs makes you selfish and step one helps that. If we are powerless we don’t have to stick up for ourselves or try to do stuff we can’t do. When we used drugs we tried to hurt ourselves, not because we wanted to but because we were sick. Our sickness is because we can’t remember what has happened or learn from other people. We lie to ourselves and can’t see how things are. Sometimes people wait to make decisions until they’ve been clean awhile and they’re better. Recovery is confusing in the beginning and waiting to make decisions helps. We can’t do that forever as we get better in recovery if we want to grow.

We can’t give it up to God without understanding other addicts. We do what other addicts who have been clean longer suggest. We read, study, and ask questions when we can. We share with others so we don’t plan to use drugs. We try to understand we are sick and can’t get better alone. The most important word in the first step is We. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. We are not alone we are in a group in NA. We don’t have to do this step alone.

When we were using drugs we felt the strongest when we were making our biggest problems. Sometimes it almost killed us and ruined our life. We thought we were strong but we could just make people do stuff we wanted. Other times we felt weak and nervous. When bad things happened we would admit we have a problem and things would get better. “We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable”. Then we can keep getting better forever, unless we decide we’re powerful.

Most ask “Tell me how it’s done? Show me what to do. I am afraid to try.” In NA we see people like us who have gotten better. We wonder if they are like us how can they do good? They do things we don’t think people can do. As we get better we learn that how it was when were using isn’t that way anymore. We are no longer dazed by drugs. We have meetings to go to. We learn new positive thoughts.

We learn to catch ourselves and slow down before getting caught up in things. Almost anything, even important things can wait five minutes. Taking time to think doesn’t mean we can’t do some things. It helps us not to feel hurt. Sometimes we don’t have to do anything and we can give it to God. Then we think of good things to do, people to call, and good things happen when we pray.

Some things remind us of drugs. Sometimes it does and we don’t see it and we don’t know why we want to use drugs. Some people make us think about when we were kids or when bad things happened or like they are the cops and we want to get away. This keeps us from getting better. Learning more about what reminds us of stuff lets us change it. Intense anger, fear, or shame for no reason shows you have a problem. We have to give everything in our life to God. When we remember we are not in control problems go away. Without giving it to God we can’t get better and we will do what we used to do. Part of giving it up to God is remembering we made our lives small. We did bad things and bad things happened. We get confused because we did drugs and need other people to help us. All addicts feel nervous sometimes but they help each other.

We have to look at what we do in recovery. We do stuff for a long time and we don’t think about it. We don’t remember why we do stuff we just do it. The longer we are in recovery we can do things better. We ought to think about what we do especially the stuff we were doing when we were using drugs. They make our life like it used to be. We are afraid at red and blue lights because of the cops but we aren’t breaking any laws and don’t have to be afraid.

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had hoped to finish but will call this part 1. The steps can seem daunting but they are front loaded with length and depth. Most of it is really clear. Occasionally I am lost by a thought. In talking with a translator I was told “clarity” was the essential quality. I am curious of what people who know this material better then I think. I enjoy abstraction but its been cool to lay it down for awhile. In the concrete there is room for God but not a Higher Power. If the New York Times said God is dead  in the 60s for this exercise Higher Power is dead killed by vagueness and abstraction.

11 weeks

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Coming to terms that I need to be doing campaign stuff every day, though Trevor recommended keeping a day of rest and that seems like good advice. I don’t want to feel pressured by expectations of what a candidate ought to do. I feel like what makes me a good candidate is who I am as a person so changing that more then is necessary seems foolish.  The transition music on Christian television is ear shattering. Reminds to surf the other 3 channels and see what’s on. Caught some great Bob Newhart show earlier, it was a nice change from campaign filing requirements. Seems relatively straightforward. I have a lead on an experienced treasurer who has done some campaigns. Also have a lead on someone to handle media stuff and I have a draft of some literature I’m thinking about:

My name is Michael Trapp and I am asking you to join your neighbors in making Columbia’s Ward 2 and Columbia a safer, more vibrant community by electing me to City Council. As your city council representative I will advocate for Livable Streets, Good Governance, and a Future Focus to create a city that is a better place for our children and their children after. As someone who lives and works in Columbia’s Second Ward I am passionate to make our neighborhoods stronger. As a substance abuse counselor at Phoenix Programs, and a former case manager at Columbia’s domestic violence shelter I have insight into the lives of struggling people. If we create city services that are accessible and meaningful for the least amongst us we will have a city that works for all of us.

Livable Streets. With livable streets comes a greater opportunity for outside activity. This  puts more eyes on the street and contributes to public safety and neighborliness. We all benefit from safe sidewalks. Those with modest means need good sidewalks and bicycle paths even more.  Sidewalks improve traffic safety by moving pedestrians off busy roads. Bicycle routes and paths tell drivers and riders where to be on the street for smooth traffic flow.  Livable streets promote a culture of snow and ice removal. They foster cultural opportunities and neighborhood events to decrease isolation. I support greater use of school crossing guards to monitor on-street parking regulations thus ensuring safety near our schools.

Good Governance: I bring common sense decision-making in the best interest of the City and the ward. I am a good istener so Second Ward voters can expect excellent constituent service. Maintaining fiscal responsibility and solid reserves. Passing laws in a deliberate and proactive manner. Avoiding costly boondoggles like Garagezilla.

Future Focus: We will be judged by the city we pass on to our children. Measures of our success will be how we considered future constraints as seen in our transportation planning, school and utility siting and other intensive infrastructure. Decisions should be made with a future focus and a cautious respect of the enormous power of bad decisions that look good in the short term. Protecting our community’s health and safety should always be our highest priority. Maintain what we like about Columbia but position our city to continue to grow into the future.

 

Mark your calendar for April 3.

Choose Mike Trapp for Second Ward City Council

Paid for by Corporate America. Dick Cheney, Treasurer*

*for purpose of satire only, the internet is still free

Yesterday looked over the budget. Looks complex how projects get put forward there’s a process. Only 3% of the city budget on sidewalks. Not a lot of projects in the Second Ward from a cursory glance. I was asked by the Tribune reporter about getting up to speed and I downplayed that but I know a lot of what I don’t know now and I have a much healthier respect for the learning curve. Ultimately its about applying values and people are stepping forward to help me. Which is good asking for help is not a strength. I have a healthy maybe overhealthy tendency towards self reliance.

I am thankful for unasked for support. Kahlil Gibran says, at least how I remember it “To give when asked is good, to give without being asked, out of knowledge is better”. I am a little nervous. Did get my mind off of it and walked Fido to the park. Mentioned my candidacy to one person not to another. I don’t want to campaign all the time or be on the make, even for votes. Fido got some good play with Robin and Miley which is awesome because their people are on the same schedule. Its staying light out later, that’s going to be nice. The stress of work has become a bit of a sanctuary. It is terribly engaging and demands you to be present almost all the time. Its amazing how things change with perspective.

I want to end with a story. A counselor was asked why the state spent so much money on prisons and so little on treatment in a group of struggling folk. The counselor said “The whole premise of the question is flawed. Your assuming that the state acts under reason and common sense. I have never seen any evidence of that. How things work is that older people vote more then younger people so the electorate skews old. Those folks, your grandparents, aunt, uncles, what have you are pandered too by politicians who promise to make them safe with tough talk about criminals.

They don’t mean you, your well meaning but scared relatives. They think they are these “Criminals” out there, not you who just fell in with the wrong crowd or made a couple bad decisions. Politicians don’t want to look soft on crime and they sell you out. You can’t even vote them out because we have created this permanent group of second class citizens called felons. But things are getting better. The state can no longer afford to just lock people out, there’s not enough money and alternatives are going to have to be looked at. Hopefully one day the Department of Corrections will not be the largest mental health provider in the state.” We can respond to people’s legitimate concerns about personal safety without sacrificing our children to penal serfdom.

sublime day

December 28, 2011 1 comment

Well we made it back safely from our holiday travels and I have successfully transitioned back to going to work everyday. Starting the week on a Tuesday certainly helps, after all tomorrow is Thursday already. Its kind of compensated for getting home late in the rain and not really having an easy time getting the car unloaded and things put away. An empty house needs attention, a dog with a day in a car needs some exercise. I tried to stop at an Indiana state rec area west of Circle City as Dad liked to call it, astute readers may recall, but I couldn’t find the entrance and spent our hiking time driving around some fake lakes.

We stopped at a hunters check in and walked down to a dock but I kept hearing all these guns going off and then it dawned on my road addled mind that I couldn’t really be walking Fido through woods full of armed strangers hoping to shoot who knows what. Fido didn’t understand why we would drive all day get to the woods and then get back in the car and drive all evening. If that dog would learn English I would explain shit to him. Easier I guess just to do things that make sense. All in all he’s a pretty reasonable critter with a healthy philosophy of life. A little more but sniffing and shit eating then I care for but he seems pretty well adjusted and less estranged perhaps then I usually am.

Fido is being pretty chill for it being my late night because Olive has been over all day. She is Amy and Michael’s dog and Fido’s best friend. They’re the same age and have been playing regularly since Fido was 4 months. He is thrilled to death and doesn’t need much from me at all. A little dog butlering please and he wouldn’t say no to a treat but he’s content. Olive is a character, closer to a default dog her mongrelism is hard to classify. Probably some pit because she’s brindle and has some muscles in her forehead, but she’s got a boxer’s chest and stance, some floppy hound ears with a bit of a bay to her bark as well. She’s a good dog. Energetic and pretty good with Fido. She does hump him some, but he puts up with it and sits down or lays down if he gets tired of it. Plus he was doing it to this puppy at the dog park yesterday. I try to stay out of dog politics, they generally work it out better if left alone.

Being my late day they had several hours to work out their biggest exuberance outside. I have a nice sized yard and first thing we did was put a fence up [white picket even, I am so conventional these days] so they have a good space to play. Got to have coffee with Amy before work. I had slept in a bit having Malavika and Isaiah over last night to play some games and get caught up. It was fun wish I could remember the name. Amy got to see my before coffee demeanor which you usually have to live with me to experience.

I roasted more coffee this morning after Amy left. I did an Ethiopian medium/dark and am looking forward to it. Been drinking dark roast Honduran and gave the rest of them away. They were popular presents and got to teach some people about coffee. The herbal skin cream from Erica was a big hit as well. We all remembered my Grandma’s having New Skin by her herb doctor Doctor Kaylor and it generated some reminiscing. Betty has a bit tucked away I wonder if you could analyze it to see what was in it, we all remember it as miraculous. Uncle Mike remembered it was brown and it definitely wasn’t as scenty as Erica’s. I’m thinking it was comfrey.

Busy day to day. Did a suicide awareness/prevention training. I’d done it before with this group so I was challenged to dig deeper into the phenomenon. Normally talk about attempters versus completers and did again but challenged the group to try to address the potential completers who may be passing through our orbits at any time. I read from David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” with one of his characters being on a psych unit for a hardcore overdose and really eloquently talks about her motivations. Since he later committed suicide I theorize it gives some insight into the mind of a completer, something usually isn’t possible.

He talks about wanting to end how he is feeling versus wanting to hurt himself, the euphemism we all want to use. He talked about horror being the dominant feeling, life turning lurid. I used those points to talk about the sublime. How to connect, provide hope, open the door to talk, provide meaning, normalize. I put my money where my mouth is and tackled the subject head on and tried to do that in my process group. Everything but the sublime part. Everyone is not ready for sublimity. Its an important word that we overuse/misuse. This lamp is sublime. No its not. Sublimity is overcoming the horror to something transcendent. Mostly though I just didn’t have the time, I get very few words in a process group which is intrinsically peer to peer. But I’ll work it in. Maybe do an education group on the topic.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks for reading this far and thank you for your comments and your likes and for subscribing to my rambles if you do and for your own blogs and sharing your stories and your wisdom. It makes me a better person and inspires me to keep doing this.

 

Categories: books, dogs, feelings, travel, work

Holiday Letter 2011

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well its been a tough year on Leslie Lane but Fido and I are resilient if nothing else and still found some joy worth sharing this holiday season as we recount the events of the year for our family and friends. I use the “we” pretty loosely as Fido is sacked out on the love seat with his head on a pillow as his cousin Shadow, “a little human in a dog suit” taught him to do. He rarely much to these narratives so I will plunge ahead without his active input.

Currently I am sick; scratchy throat, sore, chills and tired. Came on last evening, I couldn’t sleep for the congestion, got up and took some Nyquil and almost slept through the time to call in. As I alluded to in my last post and if your a new reader you may not know but we had our share of tragedy this year, Fido’s man died in April and if being sick brings a little solemnity to the narrative, its entirely appropriate; snot riddled and a little tearful looking back on the year that was.

Dad and I celebrated the holidays at home last year. Usually we travel and the year before in a hotel in Monroe Michigan it struck me that I have a perfectly good house with a lovely Christmas tree at home why am I spending Christmas in hotels and campgrounds year after year. I worked Christmas Day and came home to celebrate with Fido and the Popster with the exchange of gifts and holiday cheer. We celebrated the New Year with Dad making a pork roast in the slow cooker, you have to eat pork on New Years to” root ahead” as Grandma Trapp would say. If you eat chicken you’ll scratch all year and beef leaves you standing still chewing your cud.

We had a bad Winter with lots of snow and cold. Since I live only a block from work I was one of only three that made it in and one of two that stayed. We had fun doing all the groups and accommodating ourselves to the weather. I walked Fido a lot. He would have a good time even when the snow was deeper then he was tall. He kind of jumps and swims like his moves to get through tall grass. We owned the Bear Creek Trail that winter.

I made my first road trip of the year in early Spring when Dave Smith won some free tickets to see The Pogues at the Royal Oak Music Theater. It was nice to reconnect with Dave and see his new place and visit family and friends who I’d missed on the holidays. The green  truck did not survive the trip however with the timing chain rubbing its way through the engine case. I landed on my feet and Betty and Bill were kind enough to loan me there car for my stay and rented one for the drive back.

I brought back Johnny Watson for a working vacation here in CoMo. He put in a new floor and tile in my kitchen to replace the crappy linoleum that was cracking even though it was new when I bought the house. The disruption and dust was hard on Dad and it was only a little before that that I saw Dad was struggling to get through his routine and that I was going to have to step up my game and start helping him with laundry and making his bed and real basic shit like that. I cried when Sarah asked me how I was doing the morning I realized Dad couldn’t make his bed anymore. I wondered how I would manage the house on my own and caregive for Dad and work all on my own.

In early April Dad couldn’t catch his breath and I took him to the ER. They gave him a breathing treatment, which eased him up and they almost sent him home, but decided to admit him. I went to work and came back after and he was struggling to breathe. I got on the nursing staff to get him some breathing treatments ordered and went home since he couldn’t visit. I missed a call in the middle of the night and awoke to a voice mail they had Dad on a ventilator.

I called family and pretty much moved to the hospital. Bob was on the road within hours and bedside that night. What a blessing family is. They took Dad off the ventilator to see if he could breathe on his own and we were instructed to get his final wishes. As he was coming out of anesthesia I said “Dad, Dad its Mickey [my childhood nickname]”. Dad licked his lips and said “Mickeys in the wide mouth green bottle, Rolling Rock…” and I could tell he was thinking of beers in green bottles and after a pause he said “I’m not an alcoholic”.

Well he couldn’t breathe without mechanical assistance and that’s a shitty life my friends so we stopped the machines and started the best friend of the dying, good old Morphine. Morphine relaxed him and got him some lung action so he could push out carbon dioxide again and gave him a few good days, to visit and say goodbye and give more family time to come and make peace.

My friends went into action, hosting my family, cleaning my house, walking my dog so that I could be at the hospital full time. They visited and offered support and got us the things we needed. Boone Hospital Palliative Care were beautiful. We drank rum and cokes, Dad had lost the taste for beer with his gluten free diet, but enjoyed a good drink with family and friends and was his charming and engaging self. We snuck Fido in one night and he lay at Dad’s feet while he slept. Dad woke and said “I’ll be damned”.

It was good for Fido who had never been apart from Dad for more then a few hours in his whole life and he seemed to figure out what was going on. Dad hung on for a few days, the price of doing business when your tough as nails. One of the last things he enjoyed was listening to the first two chapters of “Last Stand at Papagos Well” by his favorite author, Mr. Louis L’amour, read by yours truly.

Dad passed and family returned home and Fido and I were alone in our grief. I decided to do the funeral service myself out of respect I didn’t want to hand the chore over to a stranger. I had a small memorial service in the backyard that weekend and sprinkled a little of his ashes on Fido’s predecessor Myrtle’s grave. I wanted to make sure I could get through the thing without breaking down before I did it for the full funeral the following weekend. It went well though my progressive friends wondered how it would go over in the heartland.

It went over really well, people liked hearing his story and having a theologically unique approach was validating to many and offended few (at least they were quiet about it). It gave me a chance to connect with a lot of family as I am normally quiet at such affairs and no one knew I could write and deliver a speech. I submitted the service to the New Yorker but ultimately just posted it on my blog.

I thought I would be alone in the house but this guy Kevin who used to live in Columbia contacted me about renting a room and John came back to stay with me for close to six months which was great having him around. John got some projects done putting in a dog waste compost system in the back corner and building a raised bed frame and a cold frame out of some of the old windows.

The garden was largely a bust this year, tough weather with lots of rain early and then a month long hot and dry spell. Ultimately it got nice but green tomatoes were about the only thing I had in abundance. I fried some, made and canned chutney, and ripened a bunch for homemade tomato sauce several times. Put the last of them in my turkey soup yesterday.

It was a good year for floating, though not on The Big Muddy which was closed for much of the year because of flooding. Michael, Trevor and I floated both the Lemine and Locust Creek. The Lamine was slow and Locust Creek involved a lot of portages due to debris which was new to me. I floated the flooded Overton Bottoms twice. Nothing like canoeing through the woods. My best float though, John put together a full moon night float on the Gasconade on my birthday. That was incredible.

John and I also vacationed in the Appalachians. We stayed in Sieverville for a couple days and daytripped into Great Smokey National Park. The hike to Laurel Falls was probably my favorite but we also watched a mama bear and her cup snacking and lazing about in a gum tree. It was very cool. We dropped south of the park and did some guerrilla and dispersed camping in the Nantahala National Forest. We hiked in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Grove and saw some great old growth trees and hiked to some more waterfalls including another Lauurel Falls. On the way out we camped in the Pisquah, pretty much skippable. It was a great trip though and I got another mile of the Appalachian Trail and my total stands at 157. I pledged to go back and start north just north of the park, but not this year.

Ultimately John moved back to California and my housemate Kevin bought a house and moved out yesterday, so as of today its just me and Fido. We’re content with that, though the house seems big for me and a little dog. In the Spring if a housemate hasn’t turned up on their own I’ll start looking. I expect someone will just show up, its worked so far.

Lets see, entertained less, but some. Had a nice blow out for Thanksgiving, with a local pasture raised heirloom turkey and Kevin made some excellent sides. We had a collection of strays from my neighbor Henry, my buddy Harry originally out of Toledo, Kevin, his new girlfriend, and a couple of professors from the university from way out of town (Italy and Estonia). We had lively conversation and drank some good wine and enjoyed our lovely meal snug and grateful.

Work continues to go well. I was demoted to counselor after a minor screw up. Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a more responsive boss and a more reasonable work load. I continue to do staff trainings, education groups (added self control and dreams to my repertoire), therapy groups, and am getting to be a better counselor. I am a more confident public speaker and am even more motivational. I came to realize people need more preaching then teaching.

I continue to eat more local food and now that I’m buying all the groceries my local content should do nothing but climb. Lets see, I also joined the Odd Fellows and I’m glad to be a part of something both storied and ready to play a more important role as our government slides further into dysfunction.

In October I got into the post a day challenge a little late but upped my blogging game considerably. It challenged me to have something meaningful to say daily and I started picking up more subscribers and “Likes” from strangers. I cancelled my Directv and will likely drop Netflix as I blog more and watch TV less. I hope to get into an exercise routine in the coming year. Still single but feel closer to changing that but am still not feeling rushed. Have a couple folks that I think are interested but haven’t followed up on it. I may, or I may not when it comes right down to it.

All in all some good things happened in a tough year. I am not sorry to see 2011 go but it was a time of growth and change and I am not ungrateful for the experiences I have had. 2012 promises to have more joy and less pain and I look forward to building on the gains I have made, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

Krampus Day Eve

December 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Happy Krampus Day Eve. Krampus, if your unfamiliar with him is the Swedish anti-Santa. He beats bad girls and boys with birch twigs and has kind of a demonic cast to him. I have been wishing people Happy Krampus Day Eve and telling folks about him all day.

I have done mine up in style making my biggest splash into the spirit of the holidays yet so far. Kevin and I went and got a tree from the Optimists. I got a longleaf pine this year. I like firs and don’t mind paying a little bit more but I got one last year and thought I would mix it up. Its not my first but we never got them when I was a kid because Mom thought the short needle ones were less of a mess. I like it because it has a shaggy look like something out of Dr Seuss.

I didn’t have it bagged because the truck was close and I thought waste the plastic and that was the right move because it was pretty easy. The Optimists cut off the bottom for you too. I have two tree stands, struggling with crappy stands is not worth the trouble. I used the big plastic one because it will hold like a gallon and a half of water so I usually only have to water every other day to stay out of trouble.

I am going to have a New Years Day party so I will want it looking fresh through that long at least. It has scented up the whole house, much more than the fir I got last year. I considered going to a cut your own place but the Optimists are close and it goes to a good cause. I have the angel on top but haven’t put up lights or anything yet. I still may do that tonight. I will also decorate Mom’s ficus and moved it to the other side of the living room instead of the corner next to the tree so it should be more prominent.

I also went to the Odd Fellow’s Christmas banquet. It was fun. I played door man and wished people  a good afternoon. It seems early to wish people a Merry Christmas and the fellahs who go to meetings I’ll see twice more before the day. Tomorrow is the meeting and I didn’t walk the dog today, maybe I’ll do that instead of decorating the tree. Getting some dinner and a walk would be a struggle.

After the dinner I went to Amy and Michael’s so Fido could play with Olive. They had a good time and Fido is sacked out. He’ll get up for a walk though. Although since he got a good play in he’s probably fine to wait until Tuesday for his walk. I worked pretty much a full day on Saturday so with the abbreviated weekend it might not be a bad idea to just chill. Curl up with a She Hulk comic and relax. I’ve been reading a stretch of hers lately starting at the beginning. Pretty crappy but they’re getting better in the second year, the character is fleshing out and becoming a little more interesting. Watching this growth process has been interesting, certainly a lot more to it that I didn’t get when I was reading them as they came out.

I’m also continuing to read Foucalt’s archaeology of modern thought. I’ve been reading the book off and on for like seven years now so I am certainly savoring it. Currently reading about the dualism of man with the Cogito no longer proving existence because what we know rests on this foundation of the unknown and we know enough about thought to know a lot of it is unknown to us. I’ve been reading 2-4 pages a couple times a week and taking time to let it settle in.

I’ve also been talking about dreams. I did two groups on them Saturday, what they are and how they work and am working it into conversation so I learn the stuff. PET scans have shown which parts of the brain are active, visual and feeling motion, deep centers of emotion with a deactivated volition, propriety, and logic centers. Explains a lot about dreams. To sum it up dreams are thinking but they feel different because of chemical changes in the sleeping brain. We think in dreams about the same stuff we think when we’re awake. You need dreams to solidify memory and they can be used to problem solve, hence the old saw, ‘let me sleep on it’.

What does all this mean and have to do with Krampus anyways? I don’t know, let me sleep on it.

used to read full time

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been getting a lot more “likes” on my posts from other poets and that has been flattering. Its also inspiring me to blog more. I was talking to a co-worker about a clinical issue and mentioned I had recently read of a study in Europe more definitively linking marijuana use with psychoses and she looked at me funny and said “how much do you read in a week?” I thought for a second and said “not counting Facebook and stuff, probably twenty, twenty-five hours a week. That’s down a lot from what it used to be when I was knocking out two or three books a week. (I certainly didn’t tell her about Summers as a teenager when I was knocking out a book and a half a day. Anyway, she said “twenty five hours? That’s like a part time job”. The funny thing is up until I bought the house I used to read full time. I also didn’t mention a fair chunk of it lately has been Fantastic Four comics (I’m coming up on the mid 80s, Sue Richards has this spiky mullet, a new low and the time I was coming of age, how sad).

Today it was beautiful out. A gorgeous day for any season but with the coming of winter a precious thing. My COD group talked me into taking the show on the road and took the group on a walk. It was nice to get out on the trail and there was a universal uptick in mood and a couple of total shifts. Mine was improved and I was feeling none to shabby to begin with. Walks are such a no brainer on a beautiful day with a stir crazy bunch who really need to learn the benefits of walking and being in nature. The downside is you get less direct teaching and there’s a lot of stuff I know that could be helpful so I usually keep ’em in the classroom or at most take the conversation outside. Today we walked and it was good.

After work I shoveled the last of the horse manure on the cold frame and started the surplus pile. Might finish it tomorrow if i get an early start and Fido doesn’t want to hang out at the park too long. I’ve been steady on every other day walks most to the dog park. Olive is coming on Sunday so I’ll get a freebie. I’m going to make a chicken. I was going to roast it but with thanksgiving coming up I think I will cut it up and barbecue it.

Today I planned on cooking for myself. I had thawed cube steaks I needed to cook and tomatoes have been ripening on the counter so I put two and two together. I scalded all the tomatoes that were ripe or mostly ripe. While the water was getting hot I fried 2 pieces of bacon. I poured off half the grease and let the bacon soak out some grease in a newspaper (you can’t do that with the internet). I fried up a diced red onion, 1/2 green pepper, 3 thai chile peppers drying on my window sill in the bacon pan. I added tomatoes when the onions started to carmelize about 3/4 of the cast iron skillet and boiled that down, adding some Mrs Dash & Agave nectar to bring down the bitterness of the fresh tomatoes.

I browned the cube steaks 4 pieces, maybe a little more then a pound and patted them in whole wheat flour. I took rest of the bacon grease and sauteed another red onion, this time chunkier, green pepper 1/2 slices and a few baby portobellos I think and browned the steaks. Added all that to the now pretty yummy cooked for an hour tomato sauce and let that simmer for 40 minutes or so (another hour wouldn’t hurt, could have gotten by maybe ten minutes less, it was gooood).

I made a salad with red lettuce, thin sliced yellow squash and shredded carrots. Probably grand total the meal was literally 97% local topped off with Kevin bringing Uprise sour dough whole wheat and cookies for desert. I also had a Boulevard Wheat when cooking. Sweet.

Well in the never ending quest to get more poetry on the web here is a poem I wrote in Creative Writing back before I could write poetry but I was a little clever and got by. This one is about fungi and is in the 5-7-5 syllable format but doesn’t have a seasonal nature so its not quite haiku:

Ascomycetes

What in the world does it mean?

I know I don’t know

I don’t go to zoos

November 4, 2011 1 comment

Good morning. I am up early drinking coffee, a Honduran light roast that is growing on me. Untold depths I tell you, really tasty. Probably this weekend I will have to get in the habit of having to roast my own. Having a live in expert coffee roaster is a rare luxury but I’m glad John made it home safe and hope is transition back to California living is a smooth one. Fido sure misses him and the dogs. The little guy follows me pretty devotedly now. I am up early, after get the coffee drank we’ve gotta get out and walk the trail and see if there are any sunrise visitors to the dog park. He really played up a storm our last visit. Nothing like a little isolation to bring out the social. He even played with an uncut Dobie that started out pretty intense.

Yesterday I blogged about my first poetry slam in Fayeteville Arkansas and noticed that one of my classic poems wasn’t up. This one I wrote the first stanza when I was crazed and then a couple few years I hacked out the next 2 stanzas rather quickly when I needed another Milk Carton song and that quickly. I tried singing it and Dan suggested I do it as a spoken word number which worked out pretty well.

I used it in the poetry slam, took first place and there was a newspaper write up about the event it was really funny because the biggest chunk of the story was people in the crowd ripping on me. It has an anti-materialism angle that some people found challenging. “No job no house I bet he still lives with his momma” one gent said or words to that effect. It was funny because I did at the time.

I don’t go to zoos

To see the animals in their cages

And I don’t go to work

To see the slaves bring home their wages

Because I know a secret

I know the score

I know that money equals time

And they ain’t making any more.

You can’t get ahead

Playing by the rules

Laws are passed

By the ruling class

And only obeyed by fools

So step back and think about it

There’s only just one you

Do you want to go down

In the history books

Doing what you do?

So why don’t you turn the TV off

And go to the woods for a day

You might just be a little surprised

At what Mother Nature has to say

She might just tell you

To fuck it all

And give all your money away

Sell your house and car

And VCR

And live in a tent by the Bay.

And I don’t go to zoos

To see the animals in their cages

And I don’t go to work

To see the slaves bring home their wages

I know a secret

I know the score

I know that money equals time

And they ain’t making any more.

Categories: dogs, poetry, travel, work