El Loco Demented
March 21, 2021
Significant Changes Happening
It seems as if I have hit some sort of new phase in all this, in that my memory is failing more rapidly, almost approaching a steep ascent, or descent, depending on how one looks at it.
I am having increasing difficulties recalling significant items or memories. An example is that after a lengthy trip to purchase new hearing aids for me by car (about a three hour round trip, an easy drive), I put it in the garage upon return, as always, and proceeded to do a number of projects around the house, which of course included a bit of time sitting on the outdoor patio enjoying the warm sun (which has not been seen in that form since last summer). After a bit I got up and went to the garage to do some work, and the car would not start.
The battery was dead; I had just returned from a long trip, and those two facts were inconsistent. I searched for the problem, and the keys were in the ignition and it was still turned on, although the engine was not running. I had forgotten to turn it off. And of course the battery was dead, and I had screwed up badly; I was devastated and angry with myself. In the past, I would have proceeded to fix the issue; but in this case it was a sure sign iof impending doom. Of course there are solutions to such an issue, but another gong had hit the proverbial bell that tolls for me. I have no jumpers, but do have a little device that serves as one, avoiding a significant charge to hae the cavalry ride to the rescue from some auto shop many miles away in Santa Fe.
And to my mind, that was yet another reminder of my failing faculties, and given my Irish disposition, a certain reminder of impending dementia and of course coming death. Contextually, this was not a big issue; but given how my brain works, it was as if the gates of hell had just opened and a little devil was beckoning me with a wry smile and a glint in his eye. I did not handle this news well. I suppose the world will restart its turning again (along with my car) later on today, but some line had been crossed, and I was unable to erase it from my enfeebled mind.
July 12, 2021
Much time has passed since my last posting, I am further down the road, memory is worse, and it mostly presents itself in greater difficulty in writing this, due to more problems with continuing not only my train of thought, but surprisingly also in formatting. Appearance and neatness count to me, as our teachers used to say.
I am struggling to describe what it is like to not be able to trust one's brain any more, as I have much I want to do, and do not desire to vegetate and do whatever it is that vegetables do. I want to interact, create and write and discuss and engage, but it is becoming more difficult, I have high standards, and I am not meeting those, and it causes me distress. Yet, there is nothing to do but laugh it off, move forward, and take what comfort I can in continuing to contribute to our life out here on the prairie.
I am still quite physically active, and the stopping of alcohol consumption over the past three months has made a huge difference in not only my attitude, but my ability to dance with the disability, make light of it, and press forward as much as possible. I find that my mind is much sharper, and far more agile than when I was drinking, and I am able to take adversity lightly and not worry about it. I seem quicker, happier, more open, yet can react sharply when the situation requires that. Liz is somewhat surprised at the change, as it has changed the dynamics of our relationship. I can change my mood almost instantly, something that has eluded my much of my life, and I seem to lightly dance with whatever happens, shrug it off, and let it go quite rapidly. I am more human and more of who I am is now available. I am quick to anger, and much quicker to let that go. It is not a bad way to live, except people seem to expect the old me, and are finding the new me quite different (I believe).
It is becoming harder to create and maintain websites as that requires a flow of memory and attention that is more difficult now, as I lose my train of thought and have to retrace some steps, to my consternation. Formatting using the Wix software that I use seems to increase in difficulty, since somehow I have not figured out the intricacies; it is quite different than typing on a standard typewriter. Part is due to the abysmal internet speed on the prairie, and I find myself correcting what I write far more than before.
And so I will likely gradually decrease my postings, the quality may suffer, but I still have some things to say that might be useful.
The major change is the impact of alcohol cessation. I am stunned at my mental quickness and ability, even with the memory issues, as my brain works differently now. Thoughts, ideas, concepts, all seem to effortlessly flow into easy-to-see patterns that make sense, and the previously jumbled thoughts now form a more coherent reality than before.
I do intend to continue, although not quite as frequently as before, and so we shall see how that intention plays out.
July 13, 2021
I think it important to describe the clarity of my new space, not to brag or pat myself on the back, but to document this so that when the inevitable voice whispers to me in my ear that a small glass of wine or vodka would simply relax me, provide some solace for the day, and allow to reflect on the wonderful being-ness of it all. After all, I deserve it.
I have had that voice speak to me before, and it has always been the beginning of a slippery slope, gratefully welcomed by me, and wondering what all the fuss was about.
That is The Devil speaking to me, in her soft purring and lovely gentleness, reminding me that I should relax and be easy on myself, and besides, I deserve it due to (fill in the blank). And I am always right, as usual, and I welcome my newly found wisdom and tolerance, and do finally realize that I should be gentle on myself. The devil is a crafty son-of-a-bitch.
And so it is important to describe this new space, as a good engineer would do in proper fashion:
I feel great in the morning. And in the afternoon. And at night.
I like myself better.
I am sharper, more able to tolerate adversity, solve problems, and things done quickly.
I can remember more easily.
I am humorous and whimsical.
My humor is kinder and less self-deprecating and far less biting.
I do whimsy much better.
I tolerate fools, idiots, grifters, con-artists, and for that matter, all the rest of humanity.
I rarely criticize myself, and if I do, it is short and sweet and I move on.
I am far more human and forgiving and much less judgmental.
I even understand other points of view without considering those who hold that view brainless idiots.
And so the question is: What's not to like?
July 14, 2021
I am on a roll now, mostly out of necessity, and because much is happening that will forever change my life. A lot of changes are in the offing (or is it future?).
I'm noticing more and more difficulty with accessing and retrieving information from my always previously excellent storage bank in what passes for my brain nowadays. The information is there, but I cannot find the exact location, sort of like the computer that the brain allegedly is. It seems to be increasing in speed (the change) much to my consternation, and with major damage to my now highly fragile male ego. And so I am writing as much and as often as I can while I am still able to do so, and hopefully make some sense. And I am making more and more mistreaks, yet have a perspective and sense of humor to withstand anything . . . . I think.
Some examples of what is happening, not necessarily in the order of importance:
a. I had trouble reconciling my bank statements today via Quicken, then when I went to the Wells Fargo website had trouble getting in there, several times. Used to be a slam-dunk; not so now. Later on I got an urgent message from Wells Fargo that my account was overdrawn - again.
b. Formerly easy tasks now take more time, since I make more mistreaks (er, uh, mistakes), and I am NOT a happy camper about this.
c. Most importantly, this morning Liz handed me a document (carefully drafted in advance, and unbeknownst to me, by our lawyer and financial adviser) which, to make a long story short, gives her complete control over all my affairs, including financial. I chose not to see this as a death knell, but only another opportunity to move forward. It is called whistling in the dark.
d. Finally, and most importantly, my computer will not now easily follow my simple keyboard inputs, and insists on doing things its way, as opposed to the way God and I intend.
But I still have a quick mind, and immediately assessed the situation, and realized she is right and it is the right thing to do. Not that I had any choice, but I was always a quick study. I admit I quickly considered all the alternatives with what was left in my cognitive mass laughingly called my mind. I know all the protagonists in this little drama, and trust them. Nevertheless, it is a major turning point in my life, and I am still dealing with all the ramifications of this, yet I know it is the proper course to take I also realized that I have never completely trusted anyone in my life (perhaps some exceptions here and there on a temporary basis), and so this is new territory on foreign lands.
My greatest fear is that I will gradually lose my ability to inflict my thoughts upon the unsuspecting universe via my computer, and all that vast wit and knowledge and humor will be lost forever to eternity, to its detriment.
The good news is that my dog Giordi and cat Bella know nothing of this, and still treat me as if I am sane (with a few reservations here and there).
My respite remains my website, along with talking to the desert cactus and desert reptiles that populate the prairie, who answer me just the way I like it: Affirmation, then silence. And of course the ever-suffering Liz, who now sees a different me, and I do think she likes it, with occasional bouts of sadness and terror. (All in my head, of course, as is everything else in the known universe.)
So as long as I have this perspective and totally inappropriate humor, all will be well. Beyond that, who knows? Perhaps I will give up my ever-present self-deprecation, and present a new face to the world.
Stay tuned for updates. You likely will have to occasionally check back without prompting - you are now officially on your own without my prodding. You have hereby been formally warned and put on notice. I make no long range promises at this point. I intend to change the date on the main page of this website when changes are made, in order to eliminate all the work of accessing the last page to see if there are any changes.
You may file any complaints with The Big Guy. And finally, it's all good.
July 15, 2021
Veterans Administration Exam
I had my first direct and extended experience with the Veterans Administration today in the form of an entrance physical exam with the doctor at the local VA clinic, about 20 minutes away in Santa Fe. His name is Doctor Lax, and I'll leave it at that.
Liz has been pushing for over a year to get me into the VA system, since it provides a backup to my Medicare coverage and their hearing aid benefits are far superior. This has been a process over several years. It consisted of primarily discussions about my various ailments, and the lab work was previously been done through the VA (urine specimen only). The building is a newer stand-alone building with the requisite flagpole outside, and you could eat off the pavement, as I believe I had mentioned before. Very spit and polish, with mostly Vietnam vets sitting around social distancing with masks and ball caps and very silent.
I like to chat with them if I have time, and many are in pretty bad shape inside and out it appears, but all welcome the conversation. The exam itself was mostly a review of my health records, recommendations of the usual sort (stop this, start that), quite relaxed, and there seemed to be no problem brought up about having coverage under two medical plans, with of course the civilian one being primary. Hearing aids are another thing altogether, and are the major difference, and we have a referral to get better hearing aids at Liz's insistence (in Albuquerque) at some point. This hearing is related to my military experience working around construction equipment during my length 2.5 year military duty, of course. Hearing aids are rarely covered in civilian medical plans. That way I can hear Liz better when she calls me for my latest chore, which somehow my current aids seem to be adequately permit.
The most important take-away for me was the somewhat short and truncated memory test the doctor gave me with Liz there which I passed with flying colors. I hope this is some comfort to Liz, but she did not seem to be pleased.
I actually like my current aids, as I can control them in many ways surreptitiously through my smart phone, which allows me to discretely change the perceived volume for extraneous noise in a variety of frequencies, including female human speech, which can come in handy, if you catch my drift. Liz is aware of this, hence a day's drive twice to ABQ to get the new aids installed at my expense so I am more readily available, and far more easily. Just wanted you to know that your tax dollars do help veterans and their families achieve badly needed peace and quiet, among other things.
In addition, should the bottom drop out in any way, I am qualified to go to the old vet's home in Santa Fe (there is also one in Prescott, which I happened to notice by accident) so there are fringe benefits. I suppose if I ended up there I would have to manufacture some Nam stories to entertain my buddies, rather than my old and weathered tales of falling off a bar stool at the officer's club in San Francisco, or war zones in the Mediterranean Sea.
My takeaway is that the VA system is far more user-friendly and spit-and-polish than civilian medical systems for normal ailments, and likely far better for PTSD. And they have an American flag out front proudly waving, which counts for a lot in Santa Fe (likely the only one).
In my next posting, I will outline how we all can cooperate with each other, sing Kumbaya, and become as One to make this country more efficient, livable, less violent, and more user-friendly, but I'll have to get back to you on that. Here, hold my beer.
July 16, 2021
What follows is a difficult yet important self-assessment along with some stunning realizations which I hope are untrue, but which need to be explored. As I have previously indicated, my now-normal state of sobriety results in my awakening early and laying in bed viewing what has happened, is happening, and may be happening. Today's was somewhat stunning and very uncomfortable, yet I feel the need to write about and document it for reasons that will become apparent. I hasten to add that I am not particularly attached to these thoughts as representing reality, but as an evidence based engineer with a relatively high IQ, some things are happening which seem to fit a pattern.
Liz has been pushing almost relentlessly for my entry into the VA system, which has been achieved, and follows the progress far more than my more common and mundane issues. The exam by VA's doctor yesterday was a huge relief for her as it means that I am now "in the system" which includes not only hearing aids, but other assistance should I not have Medicare coverage, including access to the VA Veterans Home in Santa Fe should that be warranted. This was a huge load off her mind, understandably. She has been very insistent on having a copy of my VA card, which I think, but am not sure, that I have now given her several times.
Yet our relationship continues to decline, in my opinion, as evidenced by her seemingly constant anger and upset at almost every interaction we have, no matter how trivial (to me, of course). I seem to not be able to engage in normal discourse without incurring her anger and wrath, sometimes rather vehemently. I try to talk to her about this to no avail, and of course it is always my fault, yet to me I am easier and more present and more open and kinder than I ever have been. It seems as if the better I am at what she says she wants me to be, the angrier she gets.
She has three children in their mid-fifties living in Santa Fe (all artists of one sort or the other, which in Santa Fe is a euphemism for unemployed, in my ante-deluvian mind) and while they have different views of the world, they do make money and live here with their mates (none are married), and all have grown children. They rarely come to our house, and Liz goes to theirs instead; I have merely assumed it was because of my politics, which I rarely discuss with them, and they know my views. All were born when Liz was here in Santa Fe when a young woman, and married to a Native American (as is Liz) who eventually hung himself in the barn (near our house) where his son would find him, and then had to cut him down from the barn rafters where he was hanging. This was obviously a horrible and traumatic experience for all, and I cannot imagine what scars that leave, and no one ever mentions it, for likely obvious reasons. All this happened several miles from where I now sit typing this. I will further add, so as not to be misunderstood, that they are all successful according to their standards, are well known in the artistic community in Santa Fe, and live happy productive lives. We should all have it that good!
Her fourth child was from a later marriage in Boise, Idaho, to a lawyer, and they had a female child who was the different from her previous children (she is now 38, a blonde knock-out, married into a successful Hispanic family in Denver, and they are in the restaurant business, much by virtue of small and minority business set-asides at the Denver airport). All her children are happy with their lives, and thrive on what they are doing. It does not get any better than that, to me.
Liz has been able to set aside a nice sum for her children to inherit upon her death, such that they will be set for the rest of their lives. That money is in a joint trust owned by Liz and me, with her children the beneficiaries. All our assets are in that joint trust, drawn up by a local prominent female lawyer, the same one who drafted the not-yet-notarized document that Liz presented me first thing in the morning several days ago giving her complete power-of-attorney.
Further, Liz almost always introduces me to others, and explains for clarity, that I have Alzheimer's Disease, presumably so that they will understand if I suddenly forget what I am saying, start drooling, or become un-social, which is her term for my almost constant and sometimes biting humor.
And so I'm wondering if I am entering a stage of paranoia, or am I just seeing things clearly for the first time? When we have arguments, which are more and more frequent, I often will offer to leave the marriage, and only ask for access to my approximately $45K in my part of the joint trust, which is managed by her financial advisor, who also helped prepare the document which gives complete power-of-attorney to Liz. My well-researched alternate plan is to go to Prescott, where there is a VA home should I outlive my money. Prescott is very conservative, Santa Fe is very liberal.
So last night I began thinking the unthinkable, and could not sleep the rest of the night. I am in a bit of a quandary, and know that I have to open up this can of worms for discussion, yet Liz gets angry when ever I bring up a separation and division of assets.
So I wanted to simply write all this down so I can go back and review it and assess my mental state and see if perhaps I am simply paranoid. And so I will, but thought writing this will help clarify things to me, and maybe to a very few others.
It is now later in the day, I have reviewed what I just wrote, wonder if I am losing my mind, and have once more settled down into our daily lives and come in off the figurative ledge, for now
Saturday, July 17, 2021
As The World Turns
Last night Liz had an "event" at our home involving inviting about ten neighbors (widely scattered on the prairie) to a presentation by the two owners of a museum/store/gathering place in nearby Cerrillos, Todd and Pat Brown ( www.cerrillosstation.com ). Todd and Pat came out west together in the sixties as did many others on Route 66, and became the titular and unofficial head of the community, which is a very loosely knit and highly varied yet countercultural assembly of free spirits surrounding an old western town (Cerrillos) which has been used in numerous western films starting in the 1940's. Many of the scenes of the old west shown in the movies look like Cerrillos, since they were filmed nearby. We live up the road (Highway 14) several miles.
His stories are amazing, mostly about the turquoise mines and the interactions between the Spanish, the Indians (er, uh, Native Americans), and the Gringos. He has lots of old slides, told some very interesting and little known stories, and it was a great night. People remarked that is was quite unusual to have such an event in this areas since most people keep to themselves, live at great distances from one another, and the whole atmosphere reeks of the old west as portrayed in the movies, since in fact it is exactly that. Billy The Kid used to hang around here in the good old days, among others and it was one or John Wayne's favorite locations.
Many of our neighbors are urban refugees, as we are, and keep to themselves, with the community centers being the Lone Butte Feed and Hardware Store, near the Lone Butte Service station and Mini-mart, about two miles up the road from us. And so this was an unusual and eclectic gathering for this area. I found I liked it very much, and sat on the floor during the slide show petting my wonder dog Giordi, sipping water, chatting and joshing and joking and in general having a peaceful and happy evening.
In my past, I could not have come close to imagining my doing this in this way, in this place, at this time, with these people. And here I was having one of the best times in my life.
What a difference a day makes, as the song goes.
Sunday, July 18, 2021
A Step Forward
With Liz's encouragement, I have decided that I will convert this website blog into my second Kindle and call it Journey Of El Loco, or something similar. The first Kindle book was called My Search For Peace, and was based in a somewhat similar way on a website blog I had created earlier in the same way I am doing this. This was at an earlier stage in my spiritual and emotional evolution, and it is discernibly different although with somewhat similar themes. I suppose my next step is to get a wooly cardigan sweater and a pipe for the obligatory author's photo alongside my faithful dog for my varied book appearances on my first world-wide tour. I sure hope it comes soon so I can remember what happened, when and if it does happen. I'm not sure yet what to call the combination, other than perhaps My Journey, or maybe Journey Of El Loco, but I have not yet decided. Decisions, decisions.
I have also found that creating these soon-to-be world masterworks on my laptop in my studio has become more difficult with Liz's artistic tin-work, through which she creates quite beautiful and intricate works of art, and even sells a good portion of them to a waiting audience. I am very proud of her in this endeavor, and the only suggestion I would have, which I do not make for obvious reasons, is that she use a foam hammer rather than a hard rubber one to pound on the tin, so as not to disturb my artistic word-smithing in the other part of the somewhat small studio. We did put up (more accurately, "had put up") a curtain that separates the two parts of the studio, but the sound has a way of travelling around the curtain the 16 feet from her workbench to my writer's desk.
Her workbench was originally in the garage, and more easily accessible from the attached house, but is was quite warm in summer and cold in winter, and when she suggested she move into my studio, I of course welcomed that as any good and sensitive husband would. No need for accolades, I do it in service to the artistic community and to ensure a place to continue living.
I should also mention that the studio was originally constructed to house my Sn3 narrow gauge model railroad over three years ago, but that was demolished to create this current studio space. The railroad was featured on my website at www.turquoiseline.com, which is dormant. It was my finest and last model railroad, but it was time to send it to model railroad heaven and do more appropriate things, such as writing. I'm still looking for an appropriate wool cardigan sweater and pipe.
July 20, 2021
An Experiment and an Experience
Being scientifically trained and an engineer by vocation, I thought yesterday that it would be interesting, purely in the service of science, to revisit my relationship with alcohol, which I gave up over three very long months ago. Those three months have been wonderful, and I did not have a desire to retrace those steps.
However, Liz and I had an "interesting discussion," which the diplomats would call a "frank exchange of views" regarding certain activities that I thought were really good ideas, but which Liz thought were sent from the devil to disturb our placid life and lead me once again to a life of ruin, damnation, and excessively stupid behavior. At this point, it did not matter what the specific activities were, but to me they were very important, and to Liz they were the worst ideas ever foisted upon mankind.
What became immensely important to each of us is that we must get our way, and no mere partner would ever be allowed to change our constantly hardening viewpoints. The more we discussed it, the more certain our respective views became, ending up with her inviting me to leave our humble abode and seek residence elsewhere, which I gladly accepted, and would have made plans to contact a divorce attorney, except they were all closed for the evening. And so I ruminated, thought, whined and complained to myself about the unfairness of it all, and made plans to go and create a much better life elsewhere the next morning.
Somewhere early on, or maybe in the middle of all that, it occurred to me that the rather large bottle of vodka sitting openly in the garage for her use only would likely be a source of profound thoughts and verbal gymnastics, and definitely add some inspirational thinking, and that it therefore would be really good and wise on my part to utilize the charms of the forbidden liquid, which would enable me to develop even more hard evidence of the correctness of my unassailable position, which any fool could see was a good thing to do.
And so in thinking about this awful situation, I would occasionally go out to the garage during the debate and partake of a swig or three from the bottle to help my gladiatorial and verbal skills, and better prepare me to withstand the onslaught from her with my own rapier-like intelligent response and dry wry wit. It was actually a very good scientific experiment to verify the truth of my thoughts, and would enable me to overcome her resistance with good cold hard facts and a forceful determination to not be a craven coward in this relationship. And, after all, I am a guy.
As I got deeper to the bottle my arguments and reasons and responses got more and more better, and even I was proud of how well I was doing in the fight for life with my belligerent and wrong-headed antagonist. It resulted in yet a second invitation to vacate the premises, with a bit more vehemence on her part, which I gladly accepted, but since it was late at night and I was having a hard time locating the front door, I stayed in bed with her, although the bed had somehow gotten a bit colder during our verbal altercation.
As the novelists used to say, it was a dark and stormy night, and I awakened with a pounding memory of why I had stopped drinking three months ago, and as reality sunk in, I thought it best to rethink my non-negotiable position in no un-certain terms. So I devised a plan to ask for her forgiveness, told her she was right, and that she had won. What a masterful chess move, I thought!
I also proceeded to embellish the story by actually telling her the truth about our relationship, which I rarely do, and I almost never admit to, being a mid-twentieth century southern male. I came clean, told her she was right (it was a choice, not an echo, to use an old political slogan), and to make a long story short, and leave out all the embarrassing parts, today has been the most wonderful day of our relationship, crispy clean, planning great things together, and we are in sync as never before.
I still have the hangover as I type this, and definitely will never drink again, but the relationship has shifted immensely, and I have once again relearned some universal truths, which the insightful Reader can divine from the test above. And I relearned also, this time for keeps. And I sure hope SHE learned HER lesson!
July 21, 2021
It seems forever since the big event described above, and much has happened, which I will summarize as having entered a very clear space, with much aliveness and energy, an almost frenetic excitement about almost everything, and there is so much I want to do and say that might make a difference of some sort, while still relishing the space of peace and contentment in which I find myself.
I also have a goal to publish my second Kindle book to join my first one "My Journey Toward Peace" to complete this work, based on this website, and maybe called Journey's End or some other light, airy, and enticing title. That means that I will have to get to a place where I consider this website complete and then let it go. I do not know if I can do that, which might entail yet another website, then another Kindle book, and so the Reader can easily see the box I have put myself in. However, of all the possible problems I have had, and likely will continue to have, this is not bad at all.
While I do not want to seem gloomy (and I am not), the world in general and the United States in particular, seem each to be quickly going insane and are becoming and more senseless. I no longer recognize this country, worry about its future, and know that old folks like me (now age 78 in my case) tend to think all has gone to hell, and it happens to every generation, based on my reading and research. Except, of course, in this case, it likely has.
And so the only solution to all these monumental problems seems to be that I should finish this website, publish my Kindle volume 2, and start yet another website to piss and moan about the world going to hell in a handbasket. Alternatively, I could write about how wonderful everything is, how lovely it is to be alive, and what a privilege it is to be human (or whatever your particular lifeform is), and to celebrate being and aliveness. Choices, choices, always choices. Perhaps in that phrase is a secret to life, somewhere.
Stay tuned, and don't touch that dial. (That's an old phrase from radio days - you could look it up - that many old farts like me still use.)