Does someone want to tell me how the hell it’s the 30th of September already? I’m serious, goddamnit. Who the hell authorized this? I’m feeling a little bit like somewhere between moving and playing road warrior, I’ve somehow managed to miss most of 2007. I have vague recollections of doing things, but the actual coherent memories are few and far between. That’s probably not a good thing.

It could be a little foggy…

One of my oldest friends will be in town this weekend. Not to sound too much like a twittering school girl, but I’m like soooo friggin’ excited! We all get caught up in how serious and important we are. This weekend is about stripping off that veneer and being loose to roam the streets, hit the bars, and chase loose women (with apologies to his wife). I’ve needed this weekend for a while now. If any of the stories are fit to print, I’m sure you’ll see them here.

Remember that time I bitched about taking too much time off?

Yeah, I don’t usually bitch about that. I’m a lot of things, including a bit of a workaholic, but I’m a firm believer in using your leave instead of giving it back at the end of the year. I took a day of sick leave on Monday quite frankly because I didn’t get home until 1-somethhing in the morning and the 0530 wake-up call just wasn’t going to happen. Today I took off at 1:00 to go to a doctor’s appointment. Friday I’m taking leave so I can meet some repair people at the house. Next Thursday, I’m scheduled for a dentist appointment in the morning and a stress test in the afternoon. Friday I’m scheduled for a physical first thing in the morning. It’s all just ri-goddamn-diculous. What I want to do is go to work so I have a chance in hell of catching up from all the time I’ve spent on the road in the last month. Plus, I have to get up at 6:00 in the morning on a Friday so someone can play with my twig and berries, stick a finger up my ass, and not even get laid in the deal.

So yeah, this is why I avoid doctors like the plague. Once you see one, it’s like a never-ending cavalcade of office calls and follow-ups. There is always one more test, one more specialist, or just a few more minutes on the devil’s treadmill.

All I want to do is go to work and be left alone. Is that such a crime?

A funny thing happened on the way to the emergency room…

OK, well maybe it wasn’t so much a funny thing as a ridiculously painful thing. After putzing around the yard most of the afternoon and busying myself shoving furniture around the living room, I noticed a dull ache that seemed to be centered around the bottom of my sternum. No big deal, thought I… I probably just pulled something heaving the couch into its new position. Grabbing a cold beverage and Tylenol, I started making dinner. Well, that lasted about 15 minutes before the pain started moving up and across my chest. Now, I’m not a fancy big city doctor, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn’t a good thing. After putting it off another ten or fifteen minutes, I knew it was time to go.

Having a bit of a “typical man” streak, I loaded the address of the local emergency room into my Garmin and set off. I certainly wasn’t in enough pain to justify calling an ambulance… Yet. It’s a quick drive to the ER, especially on a Sunday night, but when the waves of nausea set in, a 5 mile drive seems like it takes hours. Every stop light becomes a personal affront to my sense of order and well being. By this point, I really feel an overwhelming need to toss my cookies. Drawing up a reserve of determination not to spew all over my car’s interior, I drove on. By the time I get to the hospital, I was feeling more or less like someone was busy sticking me in the chest with an ice pick. It’s absolutely as much fun as it sounds.

After five hours of poking, prodding, having blood drawn, getting chest x-rays, EKGs, and meeting with 2 ER doctors, they decided that what I actually had was a bad case of acid reflux. There must be something to their diagnosis, as after giving me some ass-tasting meds and filling a prescription for Nexium, I was feeling much better. Although I’m feeling better and enjoying the unexpected day away from the office, now annoyed at the thought of what’s going to be a ridiculously large bill for a case of heartburn. I’m even more annoyed that I have to take more time off tomorrow to go visit my new “primary care” doc, who I was conveniently referred to by his friend running the ER. He’s supposed to be a specialist in stomach stuff and one of his partners is apparently a hot shot cardiac guy… so two birds with one stone, I suppose.

Returning to regular programming…

The last few days have been an effort to clear out the photographic backlog I’ve managed to build up. Happily, I seem to have gotten through all of the at this point, so I am free to get back to my first passion… bitching about random subjects here on the internet. It’s good to get back to basics.

My alarm system is obviously still on the fritz, my dentist is trying to micromanage my health, and it’s a pain in the ass to get a doctor’s office to return your call in this town. Other than that, just a typical early Sunday morning working through a backlog of mail and bills. As you can see, it’s another exciting Sunday on tap here on the banks of the Big Muddy.

The sounds of freedom…

There is no more telling sound of freedom than jet noise… particularly the noise from blue and yellow F/A-18 Hornets executing a perfect missing man formation. The Blue Angels are in town for an airshow this weekend and one of the perks of working on base is that we get a 2-day free show as they practice. Hey, it beats queuing up with thousands of West Tennessians on Saturday, so I’m enjoying it. I haven’t decided if I’m going up this weekend to test the stop motion feature on the old camera. It’s a hellish battle between being a hermit and a growing interest in photography. Changes are, being a hermit is going to win.

Testing… Testing… 1… 2… Pee

As a condition of employment, I’ve always known my position was one in which there could be random sampling for drug use, but I’ve never actually talked to anyone who had had that particular privilege. This morning, I became the bright, shining example of statistical sampling. At 7:30, my boss walked in, chuckled, and handed me a sheet of paper saying, “you are ordered to report forthwith to the address specified below and submit to urinalyses for drug use.” From the time the paper was placed in my hand, I had two hours to report and submit.

I’ve never claimed to be a saint, particularly when I was teaching, and yes, I sampled non-medicinal narcotics on occasion. I never really liked the buzz all that well… something about being that out of control never rested well with me. For the most part, I’d stick with alcohol as my drug of choice. I even admitted my youthful indiscretions in the initial vetting process for work and was absolved of my misdeeds. But still, getting a notice to prepare for inspection, sent the proverbial shiver down my back. Even though I know I’ve done nothing that will get me in trouble, there’s still the nagging fear of what if they mix up my sample with the guy from the next room or what if that poppy seed muffin last week was more than just poppy seeds. It’s totally ridiculous for those ideas to pop into my head, but there they were all the same.

And just for the record, there is something decidedly undignified about carrying a specimen cup of your own urine down a crowded hallway… There really needs to be a better system for that.

August and Everything After…

I just found out that Counting Crows is releasing a “deluxe edition” of August and Everything After on September 18th… Lots of demos and live cuts on the second disk. I can’t actually remember the last time I went to a store and “bought an album,” but I’ll be getting mine on Tuesday. Because I’m a helpful kind of guy, you can get yours from Amazon.

The original release was a big part of the soundtrack to some of the best memories I have… I’m always amazed that everything around you can change, but the music always brings you back to a unique time and place. Listening to this will be like a chance meeting with old friends… OK, old friends from Berkeley… damned dirty hippy friends… but still, it’s just like Frosted Flakes, baby… They’re Grrrrreat!

Big old jet airliner…

Other than the obvious work-related foolishness, there really hasn’t been all that much going on this week. I’ve done a little photography in the evenings, but the light wasn’t terribly conducive to getting the long shots that I prefer. I do have a couple from down around the World War II and Lincoln Memorials that turned out much better than expected, though. Hopefully I’ll get them posted when I get back to Memphis and after I’ve had a chance to tweak the color settings a bit. All in all, it’s been a quiet couple of days here in the District. Good hotel, good food, good work. At the moment, I’m at a loss for things to bitch about… and you know how that drives me crazy. Even with that said, I’m ready to hop on that big old jet airliner and get back to the house.


I wandered out the front doors of the hotel this morning and looked across Pennsylvania Ave at the flags flying in front of the Wilson Building. It was early, I was nursing my first cup of coffee and cigarette for the day (damn Marriott anyway) and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the flags were flying at half staff. It didn’t occur to me until 15 minutes later, over a bagel, that today was actually September 11th. Yeah, I actually had to do that math on that one… It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been six years.

It’s only on reflection that I realized the real weight of the day – What it’s come to mean in our history; The blood and treasure that we’ve poured out on the days from then until now; the schism that it has left on our politics in our collective effort to decide what September 11th really means. More painful, perhaps, is the indifference that most now feel towards those who waged unholy war on us on a clear morning that seems both cavernously distant and painfully close. We were not the aggressor, but the victim of a ruthless attack carried out by cowardly men on an innocent population. We’re quick to forget those minutes and hours that seemed to stretch out forever.

I went to see Lincoln tonight. It just seemed fitting somehow. But the words that stuck in my head weren’t those written to bind up our nation’s wounds. They’re still too fresh for that. All along my long walk tonight, I was recalling Churchill’s words from the frosted depths of the Cold War… “We have surmounted all the perils and endured all the agonies of the past. We shall provide against and thus prevail over the dangers and problems of the future, withhold no sacrifice, grudge no toil, seek no sordid gain, fear no foe. All will be well. We have, I believe, within us the life-strength and guiding light by which the tormented world around us may find the harbour of safety, after a storm-beaten voyage.”

Winston would have understood the 21st Century. Sure, we have different clothes and different music, but it’s the same old world. He’d tell us to never give in and to stay the course. He knew that the only way to defeat evil was to pummel it into unquestioned submission. Winston would have understood.