For the first time in quite a while, I returned to evening television recently. Until just a few days ago, my fatigue/exhaustion/extreme tiredness had me in bed, asleep, very early. But I managed to stay awake long enough to begin watching a newly-discovered third season of a Spanish-language series (with subtitles) entitled Entrevías (titled Wrong Side of the Tracks in English). The first two seasons (which we thought completed the program) were riveting. Three of the main actors in the series—José Coronado, Luis Zahera, and Laura Ramos—have become favorites of mine; when I have found programs in which they star or are featured, I have made a point of viewing them. When we discovered a third season, we were delighted. Though we have only watched one or two episodes of the third season, we are quite content to know a third season is available to us. I can do no better describing the set-up for the series than Wikipedia; here is what Wiki says about it:

Set in Entrevías, the poorest neighborhood in Madrid, the series follows Tirso Abantos, a former military man running a hardware store, whose monotonous daily routine is shaken when his unruly and rebellious adopted teenaged granddaughter Irene, of Vietnamese origin, along with her Colombian-immigrant boyfriend Nelson, agree to sell heroin from drug dealer Sandro. While the young couple had planned to sell the drugs and run off together, the plan goes wrong, and she is violently raped by Sandro and his thugs. Tirso then teams up with corrupt police officer Ezequiel to face up to the criminals in the neighborhood.

Just yesterday evening, I watched two Netflix documentaries. The first, Lover, Stalker, Killer, was about a man and his romantic interests who are stalked in an online dating scheme by a woman who made life a nightmare for the poor guy (and his girlfriends) in semi-rural Nebraska and Iowa. The second, a three-part docuseries entitled Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields, explored a series of serial killings of young women in and around the Houston/Galveston area from the 1970s through the early 1990s. Though I would rate neither program as a “must watch,” both were sufficiently engrossing to keep me awake much later than “usual.” I finished the third episode of the latter series around 10:00 p.m. last night, fully three-plus hours later than I have gone to bed recently. Whether that late night behavior continues is yet to be determined; but I rather enjoyed relaxing in bed, with the adjustable mattress at the “zero gravity” setting.

I hope my unexpected burst of energy yesterday afternoon/evening was the beginning of a return to normalcy of sorts, though I’m not going to count my chickens just yet. Today, I’m off again for an infusion of magnesium and more lab draws. The oncology clinic calendar shows me scheduled for two and a quarter hours, two hours of which are set aside for the infusion. One day—soon, I hope—my level of blood magnesium may return to safe levels so I can stop these incessant infusions. Then, if all goes according to plan, I will need only to have regular lab blood draws and infusions of a drug that is intended to help my immune system battle cancer cells. It may be too early to think about those chickens, but I do look forward to a time when fatigue/exhaustion/weariness is a distant and dimming memory.


The unexpected loss of seven pounds over a one-week period recently caused the oncology nurse to be alarmed and led her to strongly recommend that I start regularly consuming multiple bottles of Boost or Ensure to stop the weight loss. I took advantage of her suggestion, along with her tip that I supplement the calorie-laden drink with ice cream, to satisfy my appetite for vanilla ice cream. I learned, though, that the vanilla-flavored calorie-supplement tastes the way I imagine poison would taste. The strawberry version is only moderately more tolerable, but when mixed with vanilla ice cream is acceptable. Since my somewhat-intentional weight-loss began about a year ago, I have lost more than fifty pounds; the nurse, though, says the more recent weight loss is mostly muscle, not fat, so I should not keep it up. That is too bad. I would be thrilled to lose five decades of accumulated fat, while increasing the amount and tone of muscle. I keep looking for the silver lining behind the cancer clouds, only to discover what I thought were shiny reflections are just imaginary. Bah!


There’s something unexpectedly appealing to me in midwestern small-towns; rural and semi-rural places in Nebraska and Kansas and Iowa. I cannot quite pin it down, but the atmosphere I imagine in such places aligns with elements of my personality I did not fully realize were “there.” It is not the conservatism that appeals to me, though there may be certain characteristics I envision such places having that may be related in some ways to conservative concepts. Probably, though, it’s an imaginary attribute that tricks me into believing there exists a degree of “purity” in such places that either is hidden or does not exist in bigger, more cosmopolitan places. I find cosmopolitan places intensely appealing, actually, but I wish I could infuse such spots with humility or modesty to replace or supplement the all-too-common arrogance that seems to grow unchecked in what some people tend to call world-class cities. “Word-class.” Meaningless drivel, in my view. What, exactly, is “world-class?” It translates into arrogance. Bravado. Pretension. Small towns have their own kinds of undeserved pride, though, don’t they? I suspect their over-the-top self-esteem is a reaction to dismissive labeling by people like me who sometimes seem to think bigger and different equate to better. Too often, people are wont to label different as synonymous with better. I do that far too frequently, I am sure. But when I recognize that I am doing it, I feel the shame flow through me, as if my face is flushing bright pink. Does it stop me? Us? No. We too rarely allow ourselves the opportunity to experience humility. I need to explore these emotions in more depth. But not now; my mind is too cluttered with complex and competitive feelings to allow me to accurately assess how and what I feel. That is true so frequently; I wish I could better understand my own emotions. The labels attached to emotions are so often considered “weak,” when in fact emotions can be far more telling and more realistic than the way we feel about emotions. Enough of that.


It’s after 8. Time to stop thinking with my fingers for awile.

About John Swinburn

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