Before 7 in the Morning

The ache in my left shoulder has matured into pain. Are cricks restricted to the neck, or can one have a crick in the shoulder? If so, I think that’s what I have. A crick in the shoulder. I do not know whether to blame the mattress or the horizontal posture of the guy sleeping on it. Maybe the two unknowingly conspire to contribute to the pain. Yeah. That’s it, an inadvertent conspiracy. Whatever the etiology of the discomfort, I think I could be made more comfortable with a form-fitting heating pad or a 10mg injection of morphine. As I have neither laying around the house, I will plan to soldier on. Coffee may help. Maybe holding a mug of hot coffee against my shoulder will help.

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Yesterday afternoon, at the regular time, I drove to the rehab facility to visit my wife. Her sister came along. When we got there, we looked through the open blinds to see my wife sleeping soundly. I tried calling her. Her phone, sitting on the overbed table, lit up when I called; I could barely hear the phone sound through the window. But my wife did not awaken. After a few minutes, I called and spoke to the nurse, who said my wife had eaten both breakfast and lunch. We decided not to have the nurse wake my wife; I asked the nurse to let her know, when she waked, that we came by to visit. There was no point in rousing her from a sound sleep, only to spend a few minutes with her and leave. I will be back this afternoon. Today, I will plan on waking her if she is asleep; I don’t want her to think my visits are imaginary.

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My sister-in-law brought DVDs over the last two days. Day before yesterday, we watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; yesterday, we watched The Big Lebowski. I had seen the latter, but I had seen only trailers of the former. Both of the films were good diversions, transporting me for a while from the combined sensations of stress and boredom. Lasts night, I began watching Unforgotten, a British drama series originally recommended to me by my other sister-in-law. I had looked for it on Netflix, to no avail, but discovered it is available on Amazon Prime. The Unforgotten character of Cassie Stuart is played by Nicola Walker, who I was sure I recognized from other British film and television; the only other television and film I have watched, in which she starred, though, were Collateral  and River. I know she was in Last Tango in Halifax (I’ve seen trailers but nothing more), but I felt sure I had seen her in other parts; I cannot seem to figure out what, though. I am not sure why I am interested in knowing more about her acting career; I have never had much of an interest in knowing who is playing a part…only in the character being played.

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I am not particularly enamored of the idea of driving into Hot Springs to go to Kroger this morning, but I may do it anyway. I want to buy more Kroger brand diet tonic, which I drink straight out of the container when I am the only one in the house, and medium-grind black pepper. I really like the store-brand diet tonic much better than the more expensive brands like Schweppe’s and Canada Dry. It’s nice to prefer the cheaper stuff sometimes; I feel an undeserved sense of superiority for my innate frugality, the same way I feel when I buy the cheaper versions of Argentinian malbec wine because I like them better than the pricier stuff.

I’m sure there’s more on my list (if I had a list), but other wants escape me for the moment. Driving 30 minutes more more, one-way, to buy tonic and pepper seems absurd and wasteful. If I can’t come up with more justification than that, I will delay the trip. I use this blog, sometimes, to talk myself into (or out of) taking action. Better beforehand than after-the-fact.

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Last night, for a time, I felt emotionally empty. Not emotionless. There’s a difference, though I cannot seem to adequately describe it. When I try to find other words to capture the sense of how I felt, I keep latching on to phrases that are equally inadequate. Painfully hollow. A balloon encased in plaster of paris, no longer able to either expand or contract. I was quite conscious of the sensation of emotional emptiness. It felt to me like I had entered a perpetual state of extreme emotional discomfort that had no anchors; it would leave me forever unable to become untethered to a vague sense of guilt and longing.

I should have written, then, about how I felt. Probably I would have been better equipped to put into words my emotional senses while I was feeling them. This morning, it seems close, but still too distant to fully comprehend.

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Accidental loneliness can be a byproduct of intentional isolation. Maybe “intentional” is not the right word. Maybe “safer” fits better. I wrote, just a few days ago, of my general preference for the company of women to the company of men. (That’s not absolute, of course; there are plenty of men whose company I find extremely gratifying.) At any rate, that general preference can present difficult challenges. I do not intentionally isolate myself from women whose company I enjoy, but it’s safer to avoid inviting them over for drinks or conversation, especially when the expectation is that they will come alone, without their husbands or boyfriends or whoever (that is, people whose company I do not necessarily think I would enjoy). Given the propensity of some people to be jealous and distrustful (there I go, being judgmental), the safety of avoidance should be understandable and obvious. This is a very strange discussion. It’s the sort of discussion I might expect in a group counseling session (though I’ve never been in a group counseling session, so my imagination is working overtime, here), not the sort of thing I would expect to find on a publicly available blog. But here it is. These are the sorts of topics that can cause cricks in one’s neck.

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I just scared the hell out of myself. Feeling the need to stretch, I held my elbows out to the side of my body and slowly raised my arms. Suddenly, I felt someone gently touch the underside of my left forearm, halfway between my elbow and my wrist. To say I was startled is a gross understatement. I did not scream, only because the sound would not escape my mouth. In less than an instant, though, I realized it was not someone’s touch I felt; it was my arm coming into contact with the metal shade of a floor lamp next to the desk. One of my brothers would jokingly say my startle reflex was the result of feeling an intense sense of guilt. I would say the reflex was the result of stark fear that someone had quietly broken into my house and was about to kill me. I can breathe again, thankfully.

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I just read a blurb about a new film set to be released in early December: Nomadland. I want to see it. Here’s a snippet describing the film, from the BBC.com, referring to the main character, played by Frances McDormand:

When Fern is widowed, she can’t afford to live in a house of her own, so she packs her few belongings into a camper van, and drives off into the Nevada desert. She soon discovers that she isn’t alone: there is a large community of senior citizens who have been forced to live on the road, supporting themselves with short-term jobs along the way.

One appealing aspect of the film, to me, is that nearly all the people McDormand meets are real nomads who recount their own real experiences. The film is called a “hybrid of documentary and fiction.” I wonder when it will be available online?

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I believe small groups of people could, if they let themselves do it, change the world. They could do it by making radical changes to their own neighborhoods or towns, then sharing what they did with other small groups of people in nearby neighborhoods or communities. Tiny efforts could spread like a virus, transforming cities, counties, states, countries, and continents. But we give ourselves reasons that such efforts would be pointless; they would fail, we tell ourselves, so we don’t take action. I get angry with myself when I think such things. Rather than try to change the world, we should try to change the block on which we live or the strip center near us. So says me.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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