when life becomes worth living

i don’t want anyone to get the impression the my life is perfect.  far from it.  but pain is no longer a motivator to give up.  the new prescription of  extended release oxymorphone is actually working.  My pain, though not “gone” – is typically a level 1 or 2 on the infamous 1-to-10 scale.  i’m sleeping again.  say the doctor yesterday and he said i almost looked happy.

sleep is a wonderful thing.  i recommend everyone give it a try.

of course, i’m still jumping through hoops here at work getting authorized to be on a narcotic medication while at work.  i suppose that’s what i get for working at a hospital.

but for all intents and purposes – i am pain free.  or close enough to call it pain free.  and for the days of “break through pain” – i have percocet standing by waiting to help me out.

amazing.

i almost don’t mind getting up in the mornings …

struck down … again

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to stand back up after being knocked down.

My boss has this thing during staff meetings – everyone has to give a “happy thought”; something they’re happy about that day.

Well, with my depression, i don’t always have one and i refuse to say something lame like “I’m glad I’m alive” (doubly since some days i’m NOT).

My boss dinged me on this during my performance review a couple months ago.  Then this morning, he starts the meeting with his “happy moment”.    And with this big grin he says “And we’ll start with Marc”.

Well today i don’t have a “happy thought”, and i say i don’t.  So he says i can leave the meeting and return to my desk because he only wants people willing to participate.  He humiliates me in front of my co-workers because i won’t bow and kiss his…  well anyway.

Right now i don’t know what to do.  But if i didn’t have one before, you can bet i sure as hell don’t have a “happy thought” now…

This is what i get for getting the meds straightened out and my shoulder working and life looking good again.

sometimes i wonder why i even try to climb out of the pit.

moving forward into the light

So I’ve been on 12-hour extended-release Opana (oxymorphone) for the pain.  And, shock of all shocks, the stuff is actually starting to work.  I am weaning off the percocet … which has been painful in its own right – but it’s working.

As long as I don’t over-extend or try to lift anything heavy, the pain is under control.  So much so that when I’m busy, I don’t even notice it …

wow

I may have a life yet…

riding the medication roller coaster

Start with percocet.
Stay there for a few weeks.
Increase dose and frequency.
Ride the slow climb up, up, up …
Then dive for the bottom
Where, after four months
They decide you are becoming addicted
And it’s time to drop the med.

That’s ok – there are others – long acting ones

Morphine — allergic

Fentanyl — allergic

honestly there’s a couple others I can’t remember …

New slope – opana (oxymorphone)
Start this next weekend.

Hopefully I can exit this ride with this latest med…

I’m running low on the percocet.

did it my way?

and now … the end is near … and i must face … the final curtain

SIGH

if only – but not.

now that the novel is fully posted – and i still don’t know what’s happening with my shoulder – finding drive to do anything is next to impossible.

Second Chances – Chapter 14

Long, strenuous, painful week.  SO glad it’s over.  On a good note – finished up the chapter.  Another short one – VERY short, in my opinion – but I think it covers what it needs to …

14 ~ Resolutions ~

“You wanna run that by me again?”  I looked at Jared incredulously.  “You quit?”

“Yep,” he answered with a grin.  “Gave my notice this morning.  In two weeks I’m gone.”

We sat on the deck outside my house, drinks in front of us, bottles and ice at the ready, each of us smoking.  The large ashtray in the center of the table was half full of cold remnants.  The sun was just about to set; the air had cooled slightly and there was a breeze off in from the hills.  A calming end to a warm summer mid-week.

“I thought you liked your job.”

“I do.  Did.  Have always loved it at the ‘Labs’.  But …”  He paused, the imp shone bright in his eyes.  “As the saying goes, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

“So where are you going.”

Jared leaned back and took a slow drag off his cigarette.  I knew him too well to push for the information; he was in his “game mode” and would tell me when he was ready to.  Any prodding for more would just delay my answer.

He took a long sip of his drink, watching me over the glass.  I was becoming infuriated, wanting to reach across the table and slap the silly out of him.  At last he ground out his smoke and looked me square in the eyes.

“I’m going to run sound for Mike.”

“Seriously?”  The pang of jealousy rushed through my veins.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  In all honesty I did not regret turning Mike down, but the old second-thought demon flared its nostrils deep inside me hearing my best friend was leaving for a related gig.  “He must overpay his crew.”

The words were out of my mouth before I could catch them.  My friend looked at me sadly.  “You could have been coming along,” he jibed.

“I’m happy for you, Jer.  Really.  Not gonna be the same without you around to pick me up when I fall flat on my face.”

“You’ll be fine; you know how to use the phone.  Besides,” he added, lighting up a fresh smoke, “I’ll be back sometimes.”

“How’s that work?”

“Sometimes there are gaps in Mike’s schedule.  You know that.  And I don’t want to let go of my place, I’ll never find another like it.  It will be nice to have a ‘home’ to come to during those times when I can let the suitcase air out.”

“So … when do you head out?”

“First of the month.  Wanted to give the full two weeks to the Sound Labs, and need to make sure everything’s lined up for watching the place while I’m gone and all.  I’ll meet up with Mike in Houston.”

“Houston?  I imagine you’ll enjoy that.”

He winked.  “I plan too.”

“You are one hundred percent hound dog, my friend.”

“At least I still feed the puppy.”

“Uh huh.  Well, I do wish the best for you.  It will just be different is all.”

He refreshed his drink.  “So tell me about Cheryl.  Things still moving ahead with you two?”

“We’ve decided to just back off and chill.  She’s pushing hard for making things permanent and I’m just not ready to settle down.”

“Wait a minute.  You’re the one that’s always pushing for a one-to-one relationship.  And now you want to play the field?”

“Shut up, Jared.  She doesn’t want marriage, just moving in together.”  I drained my glass.  “It’s not for me.”

He finished his drink and stood.  “Your decision, but you could do a lot worse than Cheryl.  She’s alright.”

I followed his lead and stood.  “More than alright.  And I love her dearly.  But I’m not in love with her and I won’t tie myself in a relationship my heart isn’t in completely.”

“I suppose.”  He grabbed the bottles and the ice bucket.  “Let me help you take stuff back in.”

I grabbed the ashtray and dumped it in a metal trash can, replacing the lid.  Placing the tray back on the table, picked up our spent glasses.  “Thanks.”  I headed into the house, Jared close behind.

I set the glasses beside the sink then turned and took the things from him.  “So, you’ll be back by before you leave town?”

“Several times, I’m sure.”  He paused and looked at me, the imp fading away.  “You are my best friend, Paul.  I’m not going to lose touch.  You have my word.”

“I know.  Thanks.”  I pulled him into a hug.  “I appreciate it more than you know.”

“Enough to …?”  He let the question dangle.

I laughed and smacked the back of his head.  “No.  But thanks for asking.”

“Had to ask.  Had to ask.”

I saw him out through the kitchen then walked through the house, locking up.

The end of an era.  Why does this feel like such a definitive end of all I’ve known?

. . . . .

Three weeks later I rummaged through my bedroom, packing up my own suitcase.  I glanced at a hand-written note on my bed-side stand.

Mail covered – check.

House and yard maintainance – check.

Kids told – check.

Cleared out my office – check.

Called Cheryl and Jer – check.

Car packed – check.

Guess I’m ready.

I looked around the room once more, closed up the suitcase, switched on a night-light then shut off the overhead.  I set the case by the front door before walking through, checking windows and doors, ensuring everything was set for me to leave.  I paused only a moment before walking out the kitchen door and locking up.

I slipped the suitcase into my trunk then climbed into the driver’s seat.  Annie and I had always planned on seeing the country – I had the money and now the time.  I needed to start living for me.  The kids had mixed reactions, but for the most part they were with me on it.  At least none of them tried to talk me out of it.

I reached out and turned a small photograph hanging on the rearview mirror so I could look at it.  It had been laminated, hopefully it wouldn’t fade.  Our wedding day.  I smiled wryly as I looked at the one true love of my life before releasing the photo to swing freely and starting the car.   The CD player kicked in and Helen Reddy’s voice drifted through the car as I headed off to parts unknown.

“And when one of us is gone
And one of us is left to carry on
Then remembering will have to do
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you –

You and me against the world”

Second Chances – Chapter 13

Another short chapter.  Sure wish I could get this chapter length thing right.  Or consistent at least?

 

13 ~ All Good Things ~

‘Time flies when you’re having fun,’ or so the saying goes.  For my life I don’t know that it has always been true, but the time in Chicago sure followed form.  Before I was aware or ready, it was our fourth weekend and I was having to make plans for heading home.  The question most on my mind was whether I would be leaving my current employment and going full-time into playing piano for Mike.

Evidently it was on Mike’s mind as well; he hit me up the minute I walked into ‘Spradler’s on Main’ for the final performance in Chicago.

“You’re going home.”  It almost sounded like an accusation.

“I could only arrange for a month off,” I countered.

“Have you thought about my offer to make this full-time?”

“That’s about all I have thought about the past four weeks.”

“And?”

“And I don’t know.  I love playing, you know that.  There’s no way to accurately express how much fun this has been.”

“But?”

“But I also love my career.  And I have ties back home.  Not to mention questions on what to do with the house.  Or whether or not I want all the travel.”

“Sounds like you’ve made up your mind.”

“No, not really.”  I sighed.  “I’m sorry, Mike, but I just do not know yet.”

“Well, do this for me.  Tonight just give me your heart like always – let the music fill you.  To quote Jared, let your soul leak all over the keys.  Don’t sweat your answer, let your heart work it out.”

“Thanks, man.”

He hugged me.  “I’m doing my best to be patient.  I just can’t wait for long.”

“I know.”  I ordered a fresh beer then headed for the piano.

. . . . .

The evening went flawlessly.  And, for the most part, effortlessly.  We took a couple breaks as usual, and chatted with customers.  I had noticed one man watching us very closely during our last couple of sets.  Thinly built, but appeared in fair shape.  The kind of hair you want to lose your fingers in.  And deep set eyes that pierced through your armor and grabbed your attention if you looked long enough.

Before our last number, Mike took time to thank the crowd for coming and said a few words for the owner Christine’s allowing us to play.  Then he shocked me by going off-track and pulling a full open number, meaning each of us got our own adlib solo.  Whether it was the amount of alcohol in my system or just being fully into the music, I surprised even myself.  My fingers just knew where to go, I didn’t have to think it out, just let it happen.  Possibly one of my best performances.  I was elated.

At the end of the night we sat at our usual table, sipping our drinks and ‘talking shop’.  Our mystery fan was walking up to the table when Cal and Perry stood and offered me handshakes.

“Been good playin’ with ya,” Cal said.

“Hope you decide to stick around,” Perry added.  “You may not be Mac, but you’re hot on the eighty-eight.”

I shook their hands and was thanking them when the unknown customer spoke up.

“You’re not a regular group?  I figured the way you guys played you were solid.  Your sound sure is tight.”

I turned and smiled at him.  For a moment the world faded and I found myself getting lost in those eyes.  I could spend hours just looking…  I mentally shook myself out of reverie and responded to him.

“The usual piano player is going through some medical things, I’m kinda just filling in.”

“Really?” he asked.  “Never would have guessed you as a temp.  You from around here, then?”

“Chicago?  No.  Just a working tourist.”

“Ah.  Well then, was good having you in town.  Have a safe trip back to wherever home is.”

I held out my hand but he turned and walked out.  I stood there a moment before sitting back down.  Jared had his impish grin plastered on his face.  I just rolled my eyes at him and downed the last of the whiskey I had ordered after we finished playing.

“You still haven’t decided.”  Mike was clearly displeased.  What his tone didn’t convey, the look on his face did.

“Actually…”  I paused, not wanting to finish but knowing it needed done.  “I’m going to pass on the offer, Mike.  I love you like a brother and playing with you is undeniably magic, but I’m not ready to make that big of a change to my life.”

Mike hung his head a moment then looked up and forced a smile.  “Thanks for letting me know.  Guess my work is laid out now.  I have two weeks to find a replacement.  Have a couple of people in mind – hopefully it won’t take long.  Though replacing you after having to replace Mac sure ain’t something I had hoped for.”

He stood and offered his hand.  I stood and shook my head, instead pulling him into a bear hug.  “Thank you for the offer and for the chance to test the waters.  You are an awesome friend, but more – you are a world-class musician.  I’m sure it won’t take long to find someone willing to fall into place.”

We broke the hug and he looked me in the eye.  “I just hope I can find someone that will ‘fall into place’ and not have to be whipped into shape.”

Jared, true to form, picked this moment to enter the conversation.  “Whip me, beat me, make me…”

“Jared,” I interrupted.

“I know, I know,” he retorted.  “Shut up.”

Mike laughed and shook his head.  He shook hands with Jared, then with me, then walked out looking only slightly dejected.  Jared and I waved goodnight to Christine, then headed to our rental car.  He waited until I was buckling in before he turned to me.

“You’re running away.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Life.  You’re running away again.  Why did you turn Mike down?”

“Because I don’t want a life on the road, Jer.  Things have been too inconsistent and unstable.  I want ‘normal’.  I need ‘normal’.”

“Yeah, sure,” was all he said before starting the car and heading back to the hotel.

I leaned my head against the door and closed my eyes.

I am not running away.  This is the right decision for me.  The right one.