Excited Utterances

Twice before 4:30 a.m., screaming alerts from the NOAA weather radio jolted me awake. Though the warnings did not apply specifically to Hot Springs Village, they applied to sections of Garland County. The radio’s settings, I gather, call for the device to emit piercing shrieks when weather warnings involve even an acre in Garland County.

Though the alerts did not say the “areas impacted” included Hot Springs Village, the bright lightning, growls of storms in the distance, and occasional much louder cracks of thunder close by worked together to convince me I should get up. And so I did. The first cup of coffee sits beside my computer and I sit staring at the screen.

The sound of rain hitting the roof and the deck is constant. This is no light mist; it is pounding rain, occasionally accompanied by wind gusts that cause waves of water to slam into the glass door leading to the deck. I love listening to and watching Nature’s fierce capabilities, despite having first-hand experience of what it can do. When the wind and rain and thunder and lightning express themselves as unbridled fury, I recoil in fear at the same time I am attracted to them, as if they were strong magnets and I a flimsy piece of iron. That same repulsion-attraction drew me to the front door of my parents’ house in Corpus Christi at the moment Hurricane Celia began tearing off the roof. When that storm had subsided enough for us to venture outside of what remained of the house, my family’s brief experience with homelessness began. After a sleepless night on wet church pews, we all found places to stay until my parents were able to rent a house, but I remember the sensation of being adrift for a little while. Crud! I can’t even finish a paragraph without wandering down a path leading to nowhere.

Among the many career paths I considered when I was young was that of meteorologist. A friend of friend, a few years my senior, was a meteorologist. Conversations with him about weather, especially about how storms develop and how (at the time) weather forecasts were made fascinated me. I think one aspect of the discipline that convinced me to look elsewhere for a career was its heavy reliance on mathematics, especially calculus, and physics. Those subjects frightened me because, unlike every other subject I had tackled in school, I did not easily comprehend them. I wish I had been fortunate enough to have had a good math teacher who could not only show me how the logic of math works but also could have generated in me an enthusiasm for the subject. Had I learned to love math, early on, I suspect my life would have taken me in an entirely different direction than it has. Another paragraph, another dead-end path.

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I finally got tired of waiting for a phone call to schedule my PET scan, so I called my oncologist’s office. I was referred to the scheduler in another office, the same scheduler who screwed up the scheduling of my lung-mass biopsy in November 2018. She behaved as if she was simply waiting for me to call her. I am on the schedule for mid-day on Tuesday. Nothing by mouth after 7:00 a.m. The day before, I am to be on a high-protein, extremely low-carbohydrate diet. No sugar, no alcohol, no bread, no fruit, no pasta, etc., etc., etc. I should be on that diet every day. My weight would be lower, my face would be thinner, my stomach would be smaller, and my skin might even be healthier. So why am I not on that diet already? Good question. The answer is complex, though, and not without a fair amount of interpersonal difficulty thrown in.  Ah, well.

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I just realized my appointment with the pulmonologist next week conflicts with my wife’s appointment with her physical therapist. One of us will have to change our appointments because I do not want my wife to try to drive; her leg strength is not adequate to the task. I doubt the pulmonologist will have anything of any real value to say to me, so I should be the one to cancel, I think. Although, I think I might have a harder time getting another time slot. Little things can wreck one’s schedule and cause heartburn and stress.

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Thursday, I’ll go back to the oncologist, who will tell me the results of the PET scan. With luck, they will not show any “bright spots” that warrant biopsy. If there are reasons for a biopsy, my schedule will be further wrecked and the problem of transportation will become more acute because I will be sedated and not permitted to drive. I guess it’s pointless to worry until I know more. On the other hand, it’s better to have a plan than to scurry around at the last minute, causing even more stress.

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Monday afternoon, we will have a Zoom video-conference with old friends from Chicago, Don and Val, a couple who I’m afraid we have not kept up with much since we moved away thirty years ago. We have been in touch on rare occasion, but I don’t remember the last time we spoke. Both of them are still working, despite being at least a year or two older than I am. I am so glad I retired early. Well, I’m glad I got out of association management when I did. I really wanted to start something else, but just haven’t gotten around to it. At 66, I doubt I will. But I still have that entrepreneurial ember burning in me. Or it might just be heartburn.

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On a whim, I looked at my May 8, 2019 post just now. In it, I mentioned a “soon-to-be-available” documentary film entitled “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Story.” It will be shown on Independent Lens locally on PBS on June 17!

About John Swinburn

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