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A Foggy Day in San Francisco

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I like fog. I like the way it makes me feel. I love San Francisco, and the city is given a sense of mystery when enshrouded in fog. When I arrived for work this morning the Golden Gate Bridge was completely covered in fog. The fog moved across the ground like an ephemeral animal seeking it’s prey. You can smell the fog and it has a unique flavor. A foggy day enhances my senses and makes me feel more alive. I don’t mind it at all. By contrast, although I love sunny warm days because it means beautiful women tend to wear less clothes, I don’t like the way it saps all of my energy causing me to just lie around and sweat. I am certain I would like Scotland and other foggy climates. Many of my ancestors were Scots, and I can easily imagine these hardy souls freezing their asses off just for the thrill of it, standing above some fog filled crevice.

We live in such a beautiful world and don’t stop to appreciate it often enough. Ever since my eyes have been restored (actually better than just restored, my eyesight with my new glasses is 20/20 and close to that without glasses) I can see things that touch my soul in little ways. I can’t necessarily explain it, but it bares close resemblance to wasabi. I think that is the right word. This is a taoist concept of when something is perfect just as it is, in perfect balance and harmony. At times I can see wasabi in all kinds of unexpected places. But the tao puts on an especially lovely and intriguing coat on a foggy day.

There is a freshness in the air on a foggy day, and even though it isn’t comfortable I rejoice in my uncomfortableness. I am alive. I play a part in this beautiful play of existence. It seems that everyone and everything has it’s part. I still can see the squalor and sad urban decay both animate and inanimate, but I view it from a different perspective. I marveled at the sight of the little black birds picking their way through the tasty goodies hidden in the grass at Fort Mason while humans frolicked nearby. Each species absorbed in it’s own agenda, and beautiful in it’s own way.

This is why people sometimes seem unaccountably cheerful on foggy days. Even though it is chilly, the world has taken on an eerie, inexplicable quality which excites their imaginations. Or, at least, that is what it does to me. I am reminded of the tourist I saw. He was laughing and taking a picture of where the Golden Gate Bridge would have been if it were not for the fog. He was delighted with this trick played by nature, and decided to get even by snapping his photo anyway. I am often struck by the hardiness of tourists who come out to see the Golden Gate Bridge and are wearing shorts and no jacket expecting warm weather. They are tough, they enjoy themselves anyway. This says something about the human spirit, it’s tenacity in the face of adversity.

I feel like I am in the middle of a really good novel when I walk about on a foggy day. This is the cinematic backdrop to this drama called my life. I have always absorbed the texture and the mood of any place I have lived and San Francisco offers a rich antique, and yet very up to the minute contemporary texture and mood which is enhanced on a foggy day.

Early Morning Epiphany

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So much I’d like to do

But here I sit

Waiting

I wouldn’t say I’m dissatisfied

With my work or home sweet home

It’s just that

My life is passing

And these days I shall never have again

And so I tell myself

Don’t pine for the present

Don’t weep for me

I plan to hug each moment

Whatever it may be

Empty or full of me

No time to write more than this

My early morning epiphany

My Life in HD

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The view toward Alcatraz as I can see it today. In fact this photo isn't as detailed as my present vision.

I never thought that a simple trip to Safeway could be so enjoyable! I could see every detail of every automobile, every sign, every person, stood out in vivid detail. This was my life in HD. All because of a simple lens inserted into my eye, and the removal of those pesky cataracts which had given me a blurry existence for several years. Those cataracts very likely cost me my job, and this time around I had no intention of allowing them to cost me another job. As I type this on a very white screen, I see ‘floaters’, little scraps of eye-stuff floating around inside my eye. They were there before the surgery, and there doesn’t seem to be more of them, so I am not very worried. Also my retina got checked out yesterday and it looked fine. Still, floaters make me nervous. The white screen makes them very visible. But back to the good news!!! I can see at a distance with almost perfect clarity. I can return to my walks throughout San Francisco, enjoying the scenery and the buildings, like I used to do! In fact, I can see better than at any other time in my life. My vision without glasses, as far as distant vision is concerned, is better than when I had glasses and hadn’t yet developed cataracts. I call it HD, high definition, vision, because it reminds me of the way HD television is overwhelming at first, providing the brain with too much detail.

I am primarily a visual person. I enjoy music and the sounds of nature and even the urban cacophony doesn’t bother me. But the look of things, the architecture, the beautiful women, the lovely landscape, the ocean. I relish everything I see. It was a profound disappointment not to be able to see clearly. It made me inward, more serious, and a bit depressed. Now, I am having to deal with some delicate adjustments associated with the healing process, but I am also thrilled with my new found cornucopia of visual delights. I want to check out everything! Go back out to Alcatraz, take a stroll through Pacific Heights and ogle the mansions, and just take in everyday things in a new way.

I am reminded of how delicate we are as physical beings. A simple blow to the head could cause my retina to detach, leading to almost instant blindness. My heart is dependent upon the stints in my primary artery to the heart. I depend on medications to regulate my blood pressure and cholesterol. We are fragile beings. I do try to be careful, but at the same time, you have to live your life. I can’t just hunker down and live my life in fear of mishap. Life is risk, as I coldly advised myself before this surgery. You have to deal with it, whatever cards are dealt. Someday I will face other health crises, and someday my physical journey will reach it’s end. I will cope as best I can. I am adjusting to my new situation, the inconveniences and worries that accompany the healing process, and the thrill of having my sight restored. With each thing that happens, adjustments occur, even after death. With each adjustment there is fear, uncertainty, a deep dark chasm of the unknown. We each enter this place by ourselves. We can do so courageously or kicking and screaming the whole way. Either choice is a learning process.

 

Compare this post to this past one: MY LIFE IN 2-D

looking towards alcatraz, as I see it.

I had a good morning. I paid off my rent, thanks to the help of friends, one of which I ran into as I stood in line at Wells Fargo.  She looked cute in her stylish hat. It is nice to have friends.

But enough sunshine and daisies, I had wanted to bitch on this post so here goes. I love San Francisco. I came here partly because of it’s unique beauty, and now I can’t really see it! My vision is shot to hell. I don’t care if prospective employers see this, they would figure it out soon enough. I can still do a job. I’ve learned how to compensate. I am still a wise investment. I’ve got a brain and I know how…..Ok Ok!! I’ll stop trying to sell myself. But, anyhow, as I walked down Polk St. to the bay, checking for help wanted signs, and other places where I might work, I was unable to enjoy the city I love. No more 3-D. My life is now in 2-D. Not literally of course, but that is how it feels. Out of focus, with a bit of double vision. I gaze out on the bay at fuzzy dots. Are those boats? It is more than enough to make a cheerful guy like me pretty grumpy.

My life is flat and dull. I don’t have all those sharp edges anymore. It isn’t just because of the cataracts. My brain is dull as well. I have come to accept a lot of things that used to drive me up the wall, or leave me in a deep depression. I thought I would never get used to losing my sight in my left eye. But I did. I accepted that fifty percent of life would be shrouded in darkness. I simply lived my life to the right. There is no left as far as I am concerned. (and I think the same is true of Barack Obama). Unfortunately, when I first began living my life on the right, I was still driving. I almost side swiped another car on the interstate. I was unbelievably close! The other guy’s eyes were so wide! Scared the shit out of me! That guy was living his life on the right and left. So I gave up driving. Once in a while I accidentally ran into somebody. I mean, I literally ran into them. They look at me like I am a total jerk, and it usually doesn’t do any good to explain. I was in the wrong. Even though my left is in darkness, it is still there, and I have to take it into consideration.

The uncertainty and fear I feel could be considered a part of that dark left side of my life. Rather than let it lie in darkness I need to bring it over to the right, so it doesn’t just fester, grow mold and poison me. Awful things can happen in the dark.

So even though I live in a 2-D world, it could be worse. How about 0-D? So I carry on. At some point I will likely get an operation to remove my cataracts, even though I risk total blindness. Seeing well was an important part of my life. I want it to be again. Otherwise all those beautiful sights in San Francisco are going to waste!!

Operation Successful (slow recovery mode)

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9:23 pm Thursday April 19 I don't need glasses, but everything is blurry because my eye was dilated earlier.

So the operation was a success. It didn’t hurt at all. I was awake and alert the whole time, and it was quite a colorful light show. I started hurting later as I lay on my bed listening to music. My vision is really blurry right now, so I will undoubtedly need to edit this tomorrow. I probably have a few typos. My eye was dilated earlier today and the retina looks fine. My vision has been restored. Of course, right now it isn’t restored, but before the dilation, I could see in the distance pretty darn well. It was like when you make the transition from regular tv to HD tv. I was overwhelmed by the detail. I will be more excited when I get through the recovery period unscathed. I still need to take it easy, because my eye has not fully healed. It still feels weird, as though it has rocks in it at times.It really felt that way yesterday. Like I had been in a sandstorm. I need to make sure not to overdo it, and take things slow these next few days. I should return to work Tuesday. This is just a short post to let everyone know that I am ok, and the cataract  surgery went well. I will write a lot more tomorrow when I can actually see.

Love and Trust

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I just got through having a long conversation with my brother, David. He called because he saw that I tried to reach him a couple of times recently, and he knew I had cataract surgery coming up tomorrow. We talked about many many things as usual, covering a very wide gamut of subjects. But two things stand out in my mind. Love and Trust. Of course, trust naturally flows from love, so that is a bit redundant. Love is the only thing that matters. Love without definition. Just love. We all know what it is, and only get confused when we try to think about it. It is a simple thing. When David told me he had come to the realization that to love is the whole point, I felt no need to elaborate or clarify. Of course, the whole idea of love drives a lot of people crazy because love has all manner of implications and caveats and whatnot. I’m not talking about that kind of love. That kind of love isn’t love. It is addiction, a soft fuzzy burden which smothers all it touches. Or it is hatred disguised as love. Love with an agenda isn’t love. Love just is. You can’t get it or lose it. Love does not lie outside of yourself, it is yourself and every other living being as well. God is Love.

Ok so all that sounds good but so what. I am about to go into a frightening situation in which I could conceivably lose my sight. How very nice to know that I am loved, but it doesn’t change anything, my skeptical mind complains. That part of myself really hates it when all the ‘love’ talk begins. Sure, I agree, I say to that part of me. I could lose my sight, I could get in a car accident on the way to the hospital, or I could trip on something at home and bust open my skull. Who knows? There are all kinds of gruesome possibilities. But I ain’t worried, because I have trust. I trust the surgeon is going to do his best. The nurses are going to do their best. I am going to bend the quantum mechanical curve, my friends! My positive attitude which does not allow for mishaps or the odd chance of disaster, but embraces the high probability of success, can actually have an effect upon events. Sure it does! my skeptical mind retorts. Retort all you wish, I reply, but I refuse to be rational at a time like this. It doesn’t satisfy my need for magic. I need for this surgery to work magnificently. Of course I am nervous and I worry, but I trust that it will be fine, even better than fine.

Love and Trust are the foundations of a happy, successful life. Magnificent things can come out of simple trust. Someone who is trusted can perform miracles. Love can transform any circumstance into an opportunity for growth. Whatever happens to me in my life I will use it to learn and help others learn. I feel that this is what we are here for. To learn how to live, how to love and to trust. Part of me rebels at all this stuff I am writing. It distrusts my own belief. Beliefs are for wimps. What I am peddling is much stronger stuff, which the skeptical, rebellious part of me cannot fathom. That part of me does not have the language to speak of such things. A belief is but a pale shadow of the thing itself. I am not satisfied with mere belief. I want to be swept off my feet by the truth, and struck speechless by the magnificence of my own certainty. And yet my mind chatters on…..So be it. It is in it’s nature to chatter. I need to go to bed now, feeling a bit of trepidation mixed with the bright light of foolish confidence, and the cool pragmatic logic which provides it’s own form of comfort. Thanks to everyone for their loving concern for my welfare. It is appreciated. Whatever happens I am loved.

Bald Faced Fact

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Ready to face the bald faced fact.

I had a hectic time at SF General Hospital today. I had to go here, there, and wait endlessly.  Because they couldn’t get any confirmation that my heart had been checked lately, I almost had to reschedule the surgery. But it is still on, for Wed April 18 two days away. I’m ready. I am in my bald faced fact mode, characterized by my bald head. I got my hair cut off this afternoon after my chaotic hospital visit. I feel better bald. I feel younger, and tough. Able to endure. Even though for most people cataract surgery is no big deal, it is to me because I am more prone to have a retinal detachment and I am blind in my left eye. But I am not as freaked out as I was last Wednesday. I have come to accept that this is my decision, and it will go well. If not, I’ll deal with it. But I really think it will go extraordinarily well. I expect my vision to be much better. I expect to do much better at my job as a result, and enjoy life more as well. My eye feels tender from all the ‘pushing’ as they call it. I imagined my eye popping like a grape from the pressure. Nice. Why do I insist on making my doctor’s visits horror stories? I can imagine the stuff I will imagine during the operation. Probably that aliens are conducting a probe, and I will receive a nifty x-ray, infrared heat ray capability like Superman. Cool. Worth an hour of extreme discomfort? You betcha! When I had my truly horrific operation on my primary artery to the heart, implanting seven stints, I imagined I was on my bed at home, and my cat was there. I was having a nightmare, tossing and turning. That nightmare was a real life heart attack, albeit a mild one, which occurred during the operation. It hurt like bloody hell, that is considered a mild heart attack, because with a severe heart attack you usually don’t make it, or you are rendered unconscious. The body can only take so much pain before it shuts down. I got through that so I can get through this. I am a tough cookie, I tell myself. But there is a little boy inside that wishes it weren’t so scary and so real. Thankfully the adult is in charge.

I have always had a stoic side that accepts facts, as awful as they may be. I have a tough time accepting death, but I do. I understand tough situations and have lived through many. I prefer the facts, the bald faced facts to any well meaning consolation. I know better. I know it’s a gamble. This time the odds are in my favor, however. But life is uncertain. Underneath that uncertainty is a strange, seemingly irrational certainty that everything will ultimately be alright. I have no idea where that comes from. My parents? I don’t think so. I think it is a part of me that understands what my conscious mind does not. It reassures me. It has gotten me through some very tough times. Some things that I have read have referred to this aspect of the self as the ‘witness’, a part of yourself that calmly observes what is happening without becoming embedded in the event. Surgery is definitely not an event I would want to embed myself in, but afterward it is very important that I attend to every little nuance. Not to the point that I drive myself nuts with worry, but enough to notice when things go awry. I have designated the next two weeks as an awry-free zone. Only a smooth recovery is acceptable.

This upcoming surgery isn’t the only time I turn to the bald faced fact to get me through. I prefer the bald faced fact when I examine the most basic parts of life. In my relationships, at work and at play, I prefer the bald faced facts to any kind of pretension. You never need to sugar coat anything for me, unless we are talking about actual candy. The purpose of this blog is to express the bald faced fact. Sometimes that can be disturbing, or crass. Sometimes it is hilarious, at other times just annoying. So there will likely be a bit of a delay in my posts. If I feel up to it, I may do a bit of writing after my surgery. Of course, on Wednesday, I will be as blind as a bat and unable to blog. It was annoying this afternoon as I waited for my eye to return to normal after being dilated. You cannot read, or write. I get antsy. Wednesday is going to be the longest day of my life. Absolutely nothing to do, lying there with a patch over my one good eye. But that too will pass. Sunny skies ahead. No go tornado! Stay away from my head!

 

Blurry (just another day in San Francisco)

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SF General Hospital, my home away from home. Notice how they have a heart out front so you think it's a fun place? (I don't think it's there anymore. At least I didn't notice it. But then, I can't see!)

My eyes are just now starting to adjust. I went to an opthamologist at SF General Hospital and had my one good eye dilated. He was checking my cataracts to see if they could be safely removed surgically. There is always risk involved in such an operation, and in my case that risk would involve possible blindness. However, the doctor seemed to think the chances were one in a hundred of there being a problem. Also, now is the best time to get them removed, and my eyesight would come out better than ever. I wouldn’t even need glasses except possibly for reading, he said. That sounds pretty good, considering that right now pretty much everything is blurry in my life. I have to lean in close to the computer screen to type which is hard on my back. People’s faces are blurry. It makes it hard to keep a job, so if I can get this handled, all the better.

I suspect a lot of my readers are familiar with the dull disrespectful drill involved in visits to a public hospital, which is the only recourse for someone unemployed and dependent on public assistance for his/her health. It involves being herded around like cattle into and out of rooms and hallways, and made to wait and wait and wait and wait and wait and wait a very long time. My appointment was at 2pm and I got home at 5:20pm. Actually that’s not so bad, it felt like six hours. Some poor soul was still waiting his turn when I left. It wouldn’t be as bad if it weren’t for the disrespect. The doctor was fine, but the nurses were short tempered and treated you like just another body to deal with. I understand the work is stressful. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. A lot of people complain endlessly about the wait, which gets on everyone’s nerves. Going to the doctor can be kind of stressful even without all that additional nonsense. But it can’t be avoided. Too many people, too little facilities, too few staff, and you end up with tired, pissed off people all the way around.

And so, hopefully in about three months I will be cataract free, although I may not have an apartment to go home to. I will be able to see my plight more clearly than before. But maybe not. Perhaps something will come through. If I get a job,I could explain that I am getting an operation soon to get my eyesight back. I gotta think positively, right? But that stuff they use to dilate your eyes gives you a major headache, or maybe that is from the stress on the eyes. I hate it, and the checking out was no picnic either, ‘Look right! Look left! Look up! Look down! Really look down!’ and it hurts! My eye doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing and I’m trying to give it the right instructions, but it’s tired and wants to go home. So I’m not looking forward to that drill again. What a whiner I am! There are certainly worse visits to the doctor. Now when you have the money to go to one of those fancy joints you get the friendly nurses who make the whole thing a lot more bearable. That’s my goal, to go to the fancy doctor’s with the cute and friendly nurses. Especially if I need to get my prostrate checked.

Oh, and another thing! The Rain. We need it here in San Francisco, and we got it. It wouldn’t have been bad walking in it except the wind made trying to use an umbrella just plain silly. So I just got wet. So now I will get a cold just in time for when I may be starting a new job, if in fact I get the job (I should find out this week). So let’s see, any other grumpy old man stuff I can lay on you? I was looking forward to working on my blog tonight, but my vision is still a bit blurry, I have a headache, so maybe this will be my only contribution on this blessed thirteenth of March.  I want to thank the people that take the time to read my blogs. I appreciate it. I try my best to check out your work as well. I am seriously thinking of trying to do some Flash animation to depict …..oh I shouldn’t give it away. I am going to try to use even more ways to bring my fiction alive. Perhaps some music as well, if I can get the hang of Garage Band on my Mac. I have a lot of stuff I want to blog about, although if I land a job I won’t have as much energy to devote to it, I suspect. I am so so old. You have no idea how old I am. I can barely see, barely move my fingers, my back is screaming in pain,  I can’t walk too well, and the bathroom is horror incarnate. I am 58 but I feel 75. I may die soon. Seriously!

No, not seriously. I made all that up, except for my age and the part about the bathroom. Actually horror incarnate doesn’t even begin to describe the terror. Right now, as I’m writing this I feel about thirty years old. Sometimes I feel younger and dance around my apartment like a complete idiot. (where did we get this idea that idiots dance? Or do anything? True idiots don’t do much of anything except drool.) Other times I feel old, about 63 or so. Other times I feel exactly my age.

I wish Stock Photo Woman could have been there with me, at the hospital today. Then the wait wouldn’t have been so bad. Oh, wait, she is with me at the hospital in my fictional world, isn’t she?