Monday, May 22, 2017

I'm Collecting Spit

I haven't posted in a week because I started writing another short story that took on a life of its own, expanding upon me, like those novelty items that kids drop in a glass of water so they can watch it swell to 25 times the size it was before they dropped it in.

It has 10,000 words already and will be moved to a side-page called "My Short Stories," that will have its own tab at the top of my refurbished blog as soon as I refurbish the blog. The Tulip Story will be taken off the posts page and will join it there.

Emergency Situation

Serious Ear Issue: First Missed Busking Due To Health Concerns
There is also the very serious issue of my ears.

This really should be the whole topic of the blog post, as my loss of hearing caused me to knock off Saturday night after my first hour of playing and having the people listening to me tell me that I sounded good, and putting their money where their mouths were by tipping 49 bucks. There were a couple 20's folded together and shoved way down in the bucket.

It could have been a 100 dollar night. I took this ($49) as a sign that I needed to take some time off to heal the ear.

I could hardly hear my guitar unless I pressed my lower jaw to the top of its body, whereupon it became quite amplified, through the bones in my head. I could get a decent mix like this between the harmonica and guitar, but it was a pretty awkward way to play, and I didn't want to damage my "brand," by being out of tune. I could imagine someone walking past who had heard about me and had finally come by to check me out; maybe even a blog reader who was in New Orleans and curious about me. It wouldn't be worth the extra money I might have made the rest of the night to have even one person walking around saying: "I went by there and checked him out, he sucks!" Maybe that was my pride getting in the way of making money but...

Stuff a finger in each ear and then sing your favorite song; it's quite manageable, if you focus upon the pitches; and you don't have to worry about "blocking everything else out."

But, now imagine that you are singing along with a guitar that you can't hear. And then that a small group of people are applauding and you can hardly hear them. Are they just being polite, or did you sound good?

When I got home, I put my stereo on, wondering why I wasn't getting much volume out of it. I made sure the output gain on the Audacity interface was up, and that the output to my headphone jack that I plug into was up, and that the volume on the amplifier for the speakers was up.

I blamed it on the original recorded signal being weak, thinking that I would have to run the "amplify" effect upon it.

Then, I did hear the banging of a broomstick or something on the floor, or ceiling or wall or wherever it was coming from. They must have been banging pretty loudly; it was about 5:30 AM.

A week ago, after submerging my head in bath water infused with Epsom Salts and lavender, which eventually found its way into my ears, I was unable to shake the water out of my right one by doing the "swimmers" move of tilting my head sideways and then hopping on the leg on that side.

I didn't try to get a Q-tip or a tissue in there, thinking that it might do the ear good to have Epsom Salts and lavender in there for a while longer.

This was probably a mistake, as, the water also contained all of the "dirt" that I had washed off my body. This very well could have included bacteria from under the fingernails that I had used to clean Harold the cat's ears out with.

Not having any Q-tips, and seeing Harold scratching excessively at one of his ears, I put honey on the tip of my pinkie and then (I'm not easily "grossed out," having been a medic in the Army, and a nurses aide in a nursing home; wiping diarrhea off the hairy legs of bed-ridden people, etc.; but this is about the grossest thing that I do these days) screwing it into Harold's ear canal to get at any mites that might be in there -the honey is a remedy that I got on line.

So, I might have had cat ear infection bacteria in my bath water.

I went out and played the next night, hearing the whole world as if it was to my left, and being able to play and sing well, on one ear.

But, the ear remained plugged, and then, I bit into the cherry skin that caused the gum to become slightly infected with something that moved to a neighboring tooth and started to become abscessed, complete with cold/flu-like symptoms of chills and swollen glands with a soreness that could be traced from the tooth along the jaw to the neck and to the back of my head.

This, I attacked with Ibuprofen and the contents of a bottle of antibiotics that I had left over from a toothache about a year before that had cleared up after I had taken only a few of them, even though the instructions on the vial said to take them 3 times a day until they were gone.
From My "Kratom Series"

Then Rose helped out; and that was what I started to blog about when it turned into a 10,000 word and growing, story.


It bears mentioning, since I had never used Kratom in my life, and also had never had such problems (that seem to stem from a weakened immune system) that it might be a side-effect of the Kratom.

It stands to reason that there must be a trade-off for the improved focus and concentration that has me playing well enough to make 50 bucks an hour, and has me writing 10,000 word stories, only stopping to stretch my wrists.

Excerpt From Original Post: Wednesday Night Off

I'm in my room on this 17th day of May, it is a Wednesday night, a night upon which I have probably averaged about 11 bucks over the past few months; I'm taking it off.

The XML programming undertaking took a giant leap forward yesterday, when I was able to download a very capable "IDE" which is basically an editor with a bunch of built in tools which make it easy to write programs (highlighting where you left out a semicolon, for example).

The XML book, which I've had out of the library so long, I'm afraid to ask what the fine on it is (It's $4.50 I just checked) uses the "Jedit" IDE for all of its examples, and to be able to follow along closely (and get the most out of the book) it was propitious to have been able to download the "NetBeans" editor at appropriately enough, Starbucks, which is comparable.

The whole reason I'm studying the XML is because some day I would like to be able to get "technical" and know what the heck I'm talking about. (How come, when I save a file with Audacity, it saves it in one particular directory, but then when I want to open one, it looks for them in a different one? Would a professional computer programmer be able to sleuth out the problem?).

But, last night, I studied almost all of chapter 4, played around with the examples until I understood their inner workings, and then knocked off around 5 AM, with a renewed hope that I might finish the book.

It seems that, as with the Mel Bay Modern Guitar books, I have finally learned how to learn at a much more efficient rate. 

With the latter it involves not leaving any lesson material until being able to play it at a high level. This might involve taking one particularly problematic measure and repeating it for several minutes.

This does many things; for one, it forces you to go from the last beat, back to the first (like a snake eating its tail) without losing any time. 

This last note of the measure is very often different from the one which precedes the measure in the piece of music. So, you develop the ability to jump to the start of the measure from anywhere in the piece pretty efficiently.

Frank Zappa used to audition musicians by giving them a piece of music that was intentionally written to sound horribly dissonant; if they played it "right."

This is supposedly the hardest challenge for a good musician, whose fingers have been trained to seek out the sweetest sounding notes his whole life; to be able to unflinchingly hit a note that he instinctively knows is going to sound like crap. I guess it has to do with blocking out everything else and focusing upon your part.

Excerpt 2 From Original Post: 15 Dollar Thursday
I woke up Thursday evening, after the sun had gone down, feeling pretty beat and starting to realize that Kratom, while kind of dialing me in and focusing me upon the mechanics of playing, and giving me a "I can do this for a while longer" attitude, leaves me pretty much drained "the next day," or whenever I wake up after having slept it off.

It was Rose (of Rose and Ed fame) who woke me up with a phone call at about 8:45 PM, wanting to borrow 5 dollars. I wound up lending her 6 bucks, at no interest rate.

She has been very helpful with the stuffed up ear that I have been having, and the toothache of the past couple of days.

The tooth that was bothering me is one that had become abscessed maybe a year ago, but then, after only having been drained by a doctor, had been fine the whole year since then. Stand by to see if there is any correlation between Kratom and a weakened immune system.

But then, I mentioned to Rose that I had a toothache.

She sprung into action, bringing me a vial of what she referred to as "spearmint spirits," to apply directly to the painful area with a Q-tip. This, I did, after trying to determine if it contained alcohol. It could be that ingredient that does the numbing, just like it's the 40% alcohol in some cough syrups that are so effective at putting kids "down" when they are sick.

Mention of my right ear, which has been plugged up since I submerged myself in a tub full of Epsom salts and lavender, 4 days ago now, produced two more vials from out of her copious medicine cabinet, one with isopropyl alcohol, and the other containing an expensive, prescription only, ear drop solution (Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfates and Hydrocortizone Otic Suspension, for those of you keeping score at home). She also offered me Ibuprofen, if I needed more.

I decided not to charge her interest on the money, in light of all that.

Rose and Ed seem to be those types of people who are in a constant battle against medical conditions and ailments.

Just as being paranoid doesn't mean that everyone isn't out to get you, being a hypochondriac doesn't insure that you aren't going to get all kinds of diseases, I guess.

"Ed has to have two surgeries next week," said Rose.

Of course Ed has to have two surgeries next week...

"It's to remove those lymph nodes that are the size of golf balls..."

Don't lymph nodes swell up due to their working overtime in order to produce histamine, because of the presence of some allergen?

My own glands will swell if I'm taking in too much (whatever can trigger histamine production) and I will eventually develop eczema that can be traced right to the swollen glands, if my intake goes unchecked.

If I were to go to a doctor who recommended surgery to remove those glands, so they wouldn't produce histamine and, hence, wouldn't cause my skin to itch, I would tell him that he was out of his mind.

After that operation, when I encountered an allergen, I would be spinning the wheel of fortune to see where the symptoms would find an outlet. brain is telling the glands to make histamine but the glands aren't there anymore, so that part of the brain is developing a tumor... That's OK, we can schedule the tumor surgery for the week after; and the pain meds that you'll be bringing back to Sacred Heart Apartments will be out of this world; you'll come home a hero, for sure.

They say that tonsils are removed from children when they become inflamed because they are not necessary and are relics from an era when we humans ingested a lot of grass and rocks in our diets, and needed the tonsils to secrete some kind of super lubricant or something to help "digest" the grass and pass the rocks. The gall bladder is in this category, too. But, they are just guessing, and snipping away.

Will they discover, in my lifetime, that tonsils play a role in the overall health of a person? "...their becoming inflamed in a youth is an indication of an imbalance between X and Y.....and the inflammation leaving the tonsils is the best indication of a return to this balance, thus they are very useful organs to have...." type of thing.

But, Rose knew all about "swimmer's ear," because she used to get it as a child.

Of course she did.

She was, most likely, that pale, plump, weak little girl who was always sick; couldn't take the heat, or the cold, or the dry air or the humid air, or the sun, or the wind, or the moon.

It's one of the only diseases that one can contract from swimming, besides drowning, and so, sign Rose up, I guess.

"Plus, I used to burn, because my skin is so light..." added Rose.

My First Encounter With Hospital Culture: 1986

I knew a young lady, back when I was in my mid twenties, who seemed to be very accident prone. She would fall down the stairs and bang her head, or sprain an ankle, or cut herself with a kitchen knife, etc. every other week, it seemed.

Then would arrive an ambulance, whose driver, instead of being given a street address had been told "It's Meador, again."

And there would be like a reunion: "Hi, Diane, what happened; did you fall?"
"Oh, hi, Michelle. Yeah, I tripped over my sandals and fell all the way down the stairs. It's so good to see you. How's your little girl, Suzy? See, I remembered her name!"

And then, all the "You're gonna be fine. We're gonna take care of you. Let us know if you're in pain. Can you bend it? Does it hurt here? Would you like us to raise your pillow?"s would be the sum of attention (and love?) that she may have gotten that whole week -or since the last time she dropped boiling grease on herself, or something. The E.M.T.s, the nurses, the doctors...they were kind of like the only people on earth who paid any attention to her, more than any other "family" that she may have belonged to.

And she sure seemed to be accident prone.

Diane Meador was the first "hospital culture" member that I had ever met.

10 years later, there would be another one; my girlfriend, Angela, but her, I will save for "The Angela Story," which might just be one chapter in the larger story that I am working on.

The story was initially a sidebar to what I was discussing in the blog post (Rose and Ed).

It's probably about 10,000 words and still swelling.

It started out being about my girlfriend in 1997, Angela, and the apartment complex where I moved in with her that was pretty much filled with people who had medical disabilities. It had a theme about race relations in the south, as I was encountering them "up close," for the first time.

It was a foreshadowing of Sacred Heart Apartments.

Then that story had its own back-fill which was about a woman named Pat Rose whom I had encountered in 1988.

Then, I realized that the Angela story was a piece of an even larger story, and needed something before and after it.
When I did acid for a bit in the early 80's, I became good at finding symbolism and hidden meaning in the universe.

My Great Novel is going to have the symbol of the rose at its heart. 

The anecdote about Pat Rose didn't come up apropos of Marissa Rose (which is Rose's actual name) but it's funny how one story led to another, within which I was reminded that Marissa is actually the second woman name "Rose" that I have met.

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