The Waiting Game

Waiting Game is a hit song by the English pop group, Swing Out Sister. Rumor has it that Swing Out Sister was the only thing the members could agree on when they were trying to come up with a name for their group, and all of them agreed that they hated it.

SOS has had a number of hit songs over the years: Breakout, Surrender, Twilight World, and my personal favorite, Am I the Same Girl?

The answer is: Yes I am, yes I am. Just in cases you were wondering.

Their songs have catchy melodies. And Corinne Drewery has some serious pipes. I have several of their songs in various playlists. You can find their videos on the YouTube® if you’re interested. Or bored, which is highly probable.

My lovely supermodel wife was so bored yesterday that she washed both of our cars. It’s something she hasn’t done in more than a decade.

* * * *

How’s it going out there in Quarantine Land? Today is the 175th day of the month of April. Yeah, that is what it feels like. And I actually like staying at home. Vehicles equipped with loudspeakers have been cruising the streets here in the Lakeside Area broadcasting messages in English and Spanish, telling everyone to stay at home. But if you must leave your home, you better have a facemask on to avoid infection, fines, and death.

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Have a nice day! ¡Que tengas un buen dia!

Lea made masks for us a couple of weeks ago. She said they were easy to construct, and she was happy to do it. Good thing. We might be using them for the rest of the year. Maybe longer, you know, like, the rest of our lives.

The world has changed, has it not? And when this whole Coronavirus thing ends, it will not return to the way it used to be. I don’t think any of us can yet see the full impact this is going to make, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be significant.

I was skeptical about the Coronavirus initially. I thought everyone was overreacting when they started talking about social distancing, isolating at home, quarantine precautions, and cancelling every interesting sporting event on the planet until further notice.

I’m no longer skeptical, but I am bummed out that March Madness, the Masters, and, yes, every other sporting event for this year has been cancelled, postponed, or will be rescheduled for a much later date. Even the Summer Olympics!

Many of the articles I’ve read talk about extending the precautions, not shortening them or, God forbid, ending them. I’m sure this will all end someday, but I’m no longer sure that it will end soon.

We’ve been planning a trip back to the States. We were originally hoping for April. Then we were shooting for May. It’s starting to look like June, but it might not happen until July or August the way things are going.

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These advertisements sum up the current state of affairs very succinctly

A couple of our friends were planning on coming down to visit us this year. Maybe they’ll be able to get here by September, but possibly, not until next year…

* * * *

One of the things you have to adjust to when you retire is suddenly having a lots of idle time on your hands. I guess some of you could think of this time as a preview of what your retirement life will be like. If you find you’re not enjoying it much, do yourself a favor and start rethinking your plans for the future now.

Todd, Lea and I have been trying to keep ourselves busy with various projects and hobbies. Todd has been working on several goldarn things in the workshop. I know because he’s been using a variety of power tools.

Lea has reading books on her Kindle®. A lots of books. And she instituted Operation Opossum. She feeds the herd of opossums that stroll through our backyard at night. Fortunately, opossums eat almost anything, so they’re easy to feed. She even named two of them: Ollie and Opie.

If you want to know anything about opossums, ask Lea. She’s probably read two books about them by now.

* * * *

Todd created Operation Oranges for Orioles. He started by hanging oranges in the tree where Lea has her hummingbird feeder. That worked great, until the goddamn squirrels started devouring the oranges.

So we built a small wooden platform and put it in the triangle garden at the far end of the swimming pool. The birds are happy. The squirrels don’t dare come that far into the yard.

Mischief managed.

* * * *

Todd and Lea have been cooking their asses off in the kitchen. Let me tell you something, it is hell having to be quarantined with two chefs!

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The Swedish Chef and Christy Turlington. She really does look like Lea

Kind of by accident, I started listening to cooking shows on TV. I’ve listened to all the home improvement shows multiple times, and I was getting bored with them. I don’t actually do any home improvement, so it’s not like I needed to master any of the things they do. I don’t actually cook either, but Lea and Todd started watching the cooking shows. And they say things, like, Ooh! That looks like that would be fun to make!

Maybe it wasn’t an accident…

* * * *

I’ve been making sure everything is clean and tidy, and running smoothly here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We’ve had a couple of issues with the pool. All I have to do is call our property manager, Jaime Mendoza, and let him know something needs to be repaired, and he takes care of everything else.

The solar heater for the pool seems to be about as reliable as the LG refrigerator we used to have. It’s been repaired once already this year, and needs to be repaired again. The guy who installed it, and already repaired it, is supposed to be here today. We’ll see if he actually shows up. Then we’ll see how long it takes to get the heater running again. And finally, we’ll see how long this repair will last…

We’ve been hanging out on the patio a lot lately, and seeing how we’ve all been spending so much time out there, Todd and I put our heads and resources together, and we constructed a stereo system on the patio to listen to music while we do stuff outside.

I had an Aiwa® receiver/CD player, but no speakers. Then Todd remembered he had a big box with two sets of Sony® speakers and a subwoofer, somewhere. All we had to do was figure out where he put them.

We did. The patio stereo sounds pretty damn good, but I think we need at least two more speakers to make it perfect. Four would be better, but I’ll settle for two. Todd hasn’t had anything to say about my idea because Lea thinks I’m out of my fucking mind, and he, wisely, doesn’t want to do anything to piss her off.

* * * *

For me, this quarantine experience has been like unto Retirement 2.0. I have idle time that I can’t fill with any of the activities I used to do because I had nothing else to do. Like, golf. My golf course closed at the beginning of April. It will reopen again when the lockdown ends, whenever that might be.

I’ve had to resort to gardening to fill the hours until we’re given the green light to resume our lives again. I’ve written about my experiences with gardening before. In short, it involved drinking beer and playing in the dirt.

Now, it’s just playing in the dirt. And it’s become a bit of an obsession for me. It started innocently enough. I repotted a few plants on the patio because I hadn’t paid enough attention to them and they were more or less dead.

That’s on me. I never should have ignored my responsibilities for my plants. Our maid, Monica, waters the plants when she cleans the patio, but I think she’s kind of hit or miss when it comes to watering. Her main focus is cleaning.

I’ve got my mind right now. I’m refocused, and I won’t falter in my duties again. I replanted the patio plants that weren’t completely dead in the backyard gardens, and it all went downhill from there. I spent all of last weekend working in the gardens, which was just about the stupidest thing I could do.

My back and my right knee filed for divorce from me on Monday.

* * * *

My back has been a major pain in my… back… for about the last week. Normally, it’s my lower back that bothers me. Now, it’s almost my entire spine from the third thoracic vertebrae my to my sacrum and coccyx.

I can’t sit for more than a few minutes. And moving around doesn’t always do much of anything to decrease my level of pain. I eat Motrin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It helps, but nothing makes the pain completely go away. Swinging a golf club appears to have been doing my back far more good than I realized.

I’ve been working on this post for five days because I can only write one or two paragraphs at a time, and then I have to take a break. If I’m fortunate, I might finish it sometime this week.

* * * *

Okay, back to gardening…  I’m not a master gardener. I’m more of a Chance the Gardener — from the Jerzy Kosiński novel, Being There. It was also made into a movie starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine.

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If you’re not interested in reading the novel, you can watch the movie. I love it

For those of you that don’t know, Chance was the original Forrest Gump. They’re both slow-witted, kind-hearted guys, and they both unwittingly influence everything that goes on around them. I resemble two of those three attributes.

I’m not a smart man, but I know a couple of things about playing in the dirt. Annual flowering plants are a quick way to add a lots of color to your garden. If you buy mature plants. And in a temperate climate, there’s a good chance these plants will automatically reseed themselves from year to year.

Further proof that I’m neither smart, nor a master gardener: I didn’t buy plants. I bought a bunch of packets of seeds. I’ve had some impressive results with marigold  and delphinium seeds down here, so I figured I’d have equal success with other flower seeds. All you have to do is sow them and abracadabra!

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See? I told you

I don’t know what kind of flower seeds I bought. The descriptions were in Spanish, and I was too lazy to translate the words. But the pictures showed pretty flowers. And that’s what I wanted. Pretty flowers with a lots of splashes of colors.

I picked three prime spots in the gardens, and I call them prime because other flowers were already growing around them. I cleared the areas, carefully planted my seeds, and watered them daily for a week. And not one flower sprouted. It’s probably closing in on two weeks as I write this, and I still haven’t seen anything that looks like unto a fucking flower shooting up out of the ground in those areas.

Todd says it’s possible they’ll sprout later this year, or even weirder, next year. I don’t doubt that he’s right, he knows far more about this stuff than I do. However, marigold seeds do not behave thusly. You throw them in the ground and they start growing immediately! All I know is that I’m incredibly bummed out right now.

Seeing no need to make any special preparation for my remaining seed packets, I picked a neglected corner of the gardens where nothing was growing – not even weeds – and dumped all of my remaining seeds on the ground, and watered it periodically.

I ended up with two hundred flower sprouts growing in about a ten inch by ten inch area. Yeah, of course that method worked. So, yes, I had amazing success, but no one needs that many flowers growing in a small area in a part of the garden that no one can see without a map and a pair of binoculars.

That’s how I ended up working in the garden for the entire weekend. I spent hours moving random groups of baby plants to multiple areas throughout the gardens. And I water the gardens daily. In a few months, maybe more, our gardens are going to look better than they ever have since we moved in. Maybe better than they ever have, period.

* * * *

Another thing we don’t do is go out to eat at any of the fabulous restaurants here in the Lakeside Area. We did that once after the Coronavirus precautions went into place. Our youngest daughter, Abigail, grounded us. On social media. From Minnesota.

* * * *

Social media has been both a blessing and a curse for me during this time. It’s been a blessing because I can stay connected to everyone that doesn’t hang out with me here in the living room. It’s been a curse because not all news is good news.

* * * *

Our very good friend from Arizona, Nikki Scheidecker, had a stroke last week. That came as a huge, unpleasant surprise to everyone that knows her. She’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and she’s only 45. It was described as a minor stroke, but she spent the better part of a week in ICU on IV medications trying to get her blood pressure under control.

I’m not a real nurse, but this doesn’t sound like a minor stroke to me.

Her husband, Justin, has been sending out daily updates on her status via Facebook. She was moved out of ICU today, and now her rehab can begin. We wish you the best of success, Nikki. And know that you are in our thoughts and prayers for a complete recovery.

* * * *

The other Curse of Social Media has been all of the political posts. I’ve been trying to decide how deep I want to wade into the mud, slime and ooze in this post. I just took a shower, and I’m loathe to get dirty again.

I don’t post a whole lots of political posts, but if I see something funny, I’ll probably share it. I’m not a political expert, I see myself as more of a political dilettante. I despise Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham. And all the rest of the Republicans. But I’m not in love with the Democrats by any means. I think both political parties suck ass, and all of the current members of Congress need to be sent packing.

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I found this newsflash to be especially outrageous, and shared it on the Facebook

The average American household lives paycheck to paycheck. The $1200 stimulus checks that some families will receive is a drop in the bucket compared to what they really need to keep their heads above water if they are unable to earn a living during this crisis.

If you make more than $99,000 to $198,000, depending on how you file your taxes, you’re not even eligible for a stimulus check. Unless you happen to be one of the above noted select number of millionaires.

President Trump fired the man who was supposed to oversee the disbursement of stimulus funds. And he has gone on record saying that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent.

* * * *

I foolishly thought that something The Donald did would have to backfire with his supporters. I figured this would be the something that even they couldn’t ignore.

I was wrong.

Donald Trump owns his supporters; heart and mind, body and soul. He could take a shit on their living room floor, and they would have it hermetically sealed and preserved to proudly display on their mantle. And their friends would be envious.

His hold on his supporters is bulletproof against logic, facts, and the truth because there is only one arbiter of the truth. Donald Trump. And EVERYONE else is lying. I don’t know what he put in his Kool-Aid, but that stuff is 100 proof.

Today, The Donald suggested injecting disinfectants into your veins as a possible treatment for COVID-19. This is his quote: “…And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”

Roll up your sleeves and bend over, bitches. Trump supporters, you can jump to the front of the line. We don’t mind. After all, this is your boy talking here, and he can do no wrong.

I can’t wait to see how Dr. Donald’s Miracle Treatment works on you.

* * * *

There ended up being a fair amount of discussion on my Facebook post, both pro and con. And then the personal attacks began from the Trump supporters. It’s what their hero does all the time, so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same.

One guy chimed in that I live in a shithole country, and I should just keep my mouth shut. He’s never been to Mexico, but he’s heard a lots of stories…

A couple of people wondered if I was going to get a stimulus check. The answer is no, there are people who need the money far more than I do, like, a forty thousand millionaires who need to keep making payments on their McMansions, and their vacation homes in the Hamptons. And they have car payments on their BMW’s and Mercedes.

Someone suggested that I was jealous. Nice try, but I live in a gringo mansion in the middle of Paradise, that came equipped with a gardener and a maid. And I pay less for all of that a month than you do for the house you live in that doesn’t have a support staff.

I covet nothing. I have nothing to be jealous of.

I understand the need and the hardships that people are going through. We’ve made donations to more than one of the local food banks, as well as more than one of the local organizations that are trying to help all of the people that have been unable to provide for their families because they can’t work right now.

Hey Jealousy, can you say the same?

That same person added that some Mercedes and BMW vehicles are made in the USA. They’re probably made in China, too. What’s your point? Our Buick Encore was made in South Korea. It doesn’t mean, or even prove anything.

* * * *

Pop Quiz!

Pick the American car company because you want to Buy American:

A.) Toyota

B.) Mercedes

C.) Chevrolet

D.) BMW

Please take the quiz and leave a comment. I’ll post the results.

* * * *

And then the guy that suggested I was jealous implied that I was having sex with our maid. This guy has been a friend of mine since the 1970’s. We’re probably still friends, but it’s not the same anymore. I doubt it ever will be.

So, well done, my friend. You successfully defended a man who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire. And he sure as hell wouldn’t let you be a member of any of his country clubs.

Big deal! I don’t play golf, so I don’t care!

No, you probably don’t. And once again, you’ve missed my point entirely.

I’m a guy. I might forget that you hit me below the belt, Bill. But I will never forgive you for doing it.

¡Que tengas un buen dia, pinche culero!

This Week Today

Hola, feliz miércoles. 

I normally have Spanish lessons at this time of day, but Planet Janet has fallen ill, so there’s no class today. She has a stomach bug and should recover soon. We’ll resume muddling through Spanish next week. I’ll try to sprinkle in some español and create the illusion I know what I’m hablando sobre.

I should probably thank Donald Trump for proving my assertion that he has no idea what he’s doing. If there was any doubt, Helsinki took care of that. His fans still love him. That will probably never change

I think they all have Battered Idiot Syndrome.

* * * *

It’s been a busy week here. I should clarify that. We had a busy Monday. There really hasn’t been much of anything else going on in our lives since.

Monday was MRI Day. Lea’s orthopedic specialist thought there was a shadowy area on her x-ray. He ordered an MRI, which will give him the best view of what’s going on with her wrist.

I’ve done some additional Interweb research on wrist pain. It seems there’s something called a ganglion cyst that is a frequent cause of wrist pain, especially in women. The shadowy area on her x-ray might possibly be a cyst. The good news is it’s relatively easy to treat, if that’s truly what it is. We’ll probably know more on Friday after Lea sees the Ortho guy.

Lea had the clinic receptionist here call the imaging clinic in Guadalajara for an appointment. The imaging clinic said she didn’t need one. She could walk right in.

Cool, huh?

So we went to the Imaging Clinic in Guadalajara early Monday morning and arrived about 7:30 AM. Lea drove. I was the Navigator. She says I’m a better navigator than she is, which is probably true. But I think she also likes driving far more than she likes navigating. I don’t mind doing either, and you get to do a lots more sightseeing as a navigator. There’s a lots of sights to see in Guadalajara.

The first thing the imaging clinic staff asked us when we arrived was, “Tienes una cita?” Do you have an appointment?

Yeah, not so cool.

There’s nothing like a language barrier to remind you that you’re living in a foreign country. Between the little Spanish we spoke and the little English the staff understood, we explained that we tried to make an appointment, but we were told to just come in.

The staff was apologetic, and very accommodating. The first available time they had was 1:00 PM. We had several hours to kill, so we asked if we could go spend a bunch of money and come back at 1:00. There’s no word in Spanish for shopping. There are a few ways to say spend money, or buy stuff. But you can’t technically go shopping in Mexico.

There are a lots of stores in Guadalajara, so we went to the Walmart Superstore. The Golf Express Store. And Costco. By a spooky twist of fate, all of those places were within ten miles of the Imaging Clinic, and each other.

Driving in Guadalajara is pretty much like unto driving in any other very large urban area. There’s a lots of traffic and traffic jams, and plenty of crazy drivers. But thanks to the technological wonders of smartphones and Google® Maps, you can get almost anywhere fairly easily, even if you’ve never been there before.

We went to the Walmart Superstore first because it was only place that was open at that time, and bought a few items to kill some time until the golf store opened at 10:00. Well, that’s when it was supposed to open.

Golf is becoming more popular in Mexico, but it’s nowhere near as popular as futbol. The only golf store that popped up on my Interweb search is in a nondescript strip mall in an equally nondescript neighborhood in Guadalajara. Then we waited for half an hour until the owner arrived at 10:30.

It’s Mexico. Time isn’t as important here as it is in the States.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I might need some new clubs. Well, they had a lots of new clubs at Golf Express. Very new, fairly expensive golf clubs. This created a dilemma for me because I have relatively inexpensive golf clubs, and I could’ve bought three sets of used clubs for the one club I eventually decided I probably couldn’t live without.

It’s a Callaway Rogue Hybrid Fairway Wood. I don’t know if it will be the answer to my golfing needs, but it’s so pretty! And then I decided I couldn’t put my brand new, very pretty and expensive club into the old, beat up, cheap-ass golf bag I had purchased at Goodwill several years ago in Arizona. So I bought a new bag for my new golf club.

On the bright side, I won’t look like a homeless golfer anymore.

After stocking up at Costco, we headed back to the clinic. And I got to do some sightseeing. From my point of view, the most impressive things to see in Guadalajara are las señoritas bonitas. 

I doubt I’m the only guy here that thinks some of the latinas are stunningly beautiful. They are obras de arte. God clearly paid a lots of attention to what He was doing when He designed them. He measured everything carefully, and made sure He had all of the necessary ingredients, unlike when He made me and used whatever He had laying around.

These very special creations look like unto angels, and dress like unto porn stars. It’s a very eye catching, head spinning combination.

At any rate, we were sitting at a table outside of Costco after we finished buying stuff. Lea was drinking a soda. I was packing all of the stuff we had purchased into our insulated shopping bags. When I finished, I saw two chicas bonitas walking through the parking lot toward the store.

They were young, of course. And thin, very pretty and shapely. Their long raven hair was flowing behind them in the breeze. They were talking to each other and smiling. They were both wearing skintight outfits that looked like they had come out of a can of spray paint. Form fitting tops, skinny jeans, high heels. One of the angelic chicas was wearing a lightweight, sky blue sweater that appeared to be struggling to contain the talents she had hidden underneath.

If there had been any music playing, I would’ve thought Costco was filming a music video.

I’m not sure why they started running, if you can call the short-strided scurry that women do when they’re wearing heels, but every guy who saw them stopped what he was doing to watch in a kind of awe, and silently offered a prayer of thanks, even if they didn’t believe in God.

I nudged Lea and pointed the girls out to her. She said, “Oh my. Those are real.” as she watched the chicas scurry toward us, bouncing all the way.

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They were real all right. Real fun.

I might need to go see a chiropractor, preferably in Guadalajara.

The last time we took a day trip there, we went to the Andares Mall. After Lea had made all of her purchases we had lunch at a charming restaurant near the mall called Vincent’s. If you’re ever in Guadalajara, it’s worth checking out. The steak tacos were to die for.

Seated at a table near us were several chicas bonitas. Again, they were all young and ridiculously gorgeous. They were all wearing stylish yoga outfits, like they had just finished working out at the gym. A couple of them had ordered something to eat, but the rest of them were drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. There are very few professions where exercising enough to stay fit, yet drinking and smoking are combined. In fact, I can only think of one.

“I wonder what those girls do for a living?” Lea asked, as if she was eerily thinking along the same train of thought my mind was on. When you’ve been married as long as we have, that kind of thing happens a lots. So I told her.

“They’re strippers. Go ask them if they have any business cards.”

She wouldn’t do that, of course. She doesn’t mind that I enjoy seeing the sights. She even points out a great set of knockers to me on the rare occasion that I don’t see them first, but she has her limits.

As a rule, I tend to not write about anything that requires a lots of research on my part. However, if I were ever planning on writing about the Gentlemen’s Clubs in Guadalajara, I’d be willing to make an exception.

I really think we should go to to Guadalajara more often, like, every day. But I haven’t been able to come up with a reason that Lea will agree to yet.

* * * *

If not for occasions like those above, and updates from my virtual friends, I’d probably be bored into a coma most of the time by now. I’ve been retired for roughly twenty months. After six months, most everything becomes routine. Thankfully, my virtual friends have lives vastly more interesting than mine.

At least two of my virtual friends announced that they are pregnant. One of them is asking for prayers for a daughter. She has two boys already and doesn’t think she could survive having three sons.

Three or four of my virtual friends are on vacation. They’re traveling the world and having a great time.

Several of my virtual friends just started new jobs, and they’re so excited! In six months they’ll be struggling to remember that at one time they really wanted this job. Probably. That’s what usually happened to me.

One of my virtual friends also writes a blog. She’s much more successful than I will ever be at blogging. She has hundreds of people who read what she writes. She just finished her first book, and she just got it published!!

Yeah, I pretty much hate her fucking guts right now.

My virtual friend has become kind of a marketing machine. She sells advertising on her blog site. She always features an image of herself for her posts, and lately she’s started asking this, Do you want to buy this look?

She’s young–early thirties–thin and pretty, of course. All of her outfits look darlingpreshadorbs! She doesn’t look like an angelic pornstar, she just looks like an angel. Everyone seems to agree on that.

There’s one more thing about her. She’s a virgin. She writes about not ever having had sex all the time. I’m thinking a few of the guys who read her blog do so for that reason only. However, she’s also an English major, so she actually knows how to write good. That’s probably why she has hundreds of real fans.

I’ve contemplated adopting her tactics, but there are a couple of mitigating factors. She’s basically everything I’m not. I can’t remember a time when the old, short, fat, bald and myopic look was ever in vogue. I’ve never had anyone ever tell me that I look like an angel. And it’s been a very long time since I was a virgin.

* * * *

I haven’t had any friend requests from kooky young Christian women who want to have a deeply passionate with a benign grandfather figure in over a month. I think the guy living in his parents’ basement in Iowa has decided to move on to easier scam victims. I’m kind of relieved, and kind of disappointed.

They were kind of entertaining. But they were also very predictable.

I’m going to guess they’ll return some day. They’re probably all at conference trying to think up new gimmicks and taglines.

* * * *

There’s a Go-Go tournament at the country club tomorrow. And according to some posts on social media, the world is supposed to end on Friday. If it’s on the Interweb it has to be true, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s next Friday. Either way, I’ll get to use my new golf club at least once before The End.

You know what? I’m going to ask for prayers on the tees for the par three holes. I haven’t had a decent tee shot on either of them since I almost got a hole in one.

I don’t think I can take another six…

Weekend Update

Happy Royal Wedding Weekend!

To commemorate the occasion, I did absolutely nothing. Many of my virtual and real friends got up early to watch all the festivities. They’re all girls, of course. Seemingly, there’s something about marrying a prince that makes girls go more than a little crazy. It’s probably all of those animated Disney® movies…

You could take a guy with the name of Dork Numbskull. No woman in her right mind would want to be caught dead with him, let alone become Mrs. Dork Numbskull. But put Prince in front of his name, and women will stand in line for a chance to go out with him.

Yeah, it don’t get it either.

My fascination with the British royal family pretty much ends with Elizabeth I, and she died in 1603. Seeing how the first Queen Elizabeth never had children, I’m not sure the current royal family is even related to her by anything save position. In fact, I’m not sure Elizabeth II is even human. What is she, like, 190 years old? I think she went to high school with Prince Tut.

And Prince Charles has to be the most disappointed man on Earth. He’s gone from thinking, When I become king to Will I ever be king? Seriously, he’ll probably got dead before his robotic mum does. He may go down in history as the only King of England who was never the King of England.

All the same, I wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joy and happiness. It doesn’t seem that being a member of the royal family comes with much of that.

* * * *

There hasn’t been a whole lots of anything going on around here since my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend went back to Idaho. We crammed a lots of stuff into the time he was here, and as much as I like Todd, it’s also nice to resume my usual boring lifestyle once more.

Not there hasn’t been anything happening in my world. There was another school shooting back in the States. As terrible as this is going to sound, I felt absolutely nothing when I heard about it.

Nothing.

I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. No sadness, no outrage. It’s like unto the part of me that died a little each time this has happened finally got dead from dying a thousand tiny deaths.

Two of my FB friends had babies. Congratulations, Kara and Cassandra. One of my friends is still massively pregnant, and I thought she’d be the first one to give birth.

Weekend Update update: My third pregnant FB friend just gave birth this Sunday morning. Congratulations, Serena!

One of my FB nurse friends just got engaged, and she is thrilled. Congratulations, Ally. I’m sure you’ll be just as beautiful as Meghan on your wedding day.

We had an elegant celebration of Brother Al’s 80th birthday last week. Almost all of our friends were there, and his kids came down for the party. Brother Al is a distant relative of William the Conqueror and the current British royal family. Be that as it may, he didn’t receive an invitation to the Royal Wedding.

Such is life…

I’ve been doing some online therapy with a friend of mine who has been struggling with PTSD, panic attacks and anxiety. I’m trying to help her find a bit of balance. She’ll probably be okay if she ever starts believing in herself. People in this type of situation tend to discount all of their strengths, when in reality they’re just about the strongest people that ever lived.

You need to remember that.

A few weeks ago, I got a friend request from a young woman who lives in Madrid, Spain. I’ve grown very leery of accepting random requests, but she was also a friend of a guy I went to high school with, so her request wasn’t completely random. As a result, I figured she probably wasn’t a nutcase, like unto most of the women who send me requests.

About two weeks ago, she sent me a message. We exchanged a few bits of information, and then out of the blue, she asked me to send her a picture of my penis. I’ve never had anyone ask me to do that before. Back when I was a nurse, when faced with an unusual request, I always asked what is called a clarifying question.

So, let me get this straight. You want me to help you escape from the hospital, is that right? So, you think your wife is having an affair because of a turnip?

That’s a story I might have to tell someday…

Anyhow, that’s what I did with this young woman. So, let me get this straight. You want me to send you a dick pick? Yep. That’s what she wanted alright.

I sent her a picture of Donald Trump.

And she had the nerve to Unfriend me!

* * * *

Some might think that a boring life would be a fate worse than death. It’s not. I was a psychiatric nurse. I’ve had enough excitement to last me a couple of lifetimes. I could come back in my next life as a mushroom and probably still feel overly stimulated sometimes.

Someone once described being a combat fighter pilot as hours of boredom with moments of sheer terror. That’s kind of what being a psych nurse is like, minus the hours of boredom.

In fairness, it wasn’t all terror either. It was actually quite a bit of fun. That’s probably why I loved my job as much as I did. When I first started writing my blog, all of my stories were about psych nursing. I had a lots of stories to tell. Nowadays, I rarely think about my work life. Hardly anyone asks me anything about mental illness or taking care of crazy people, even if they’re just asking for, you know, a friend.

It’s okay. It’s part of the pattern. Unless thinking about your old job is all you do once you retire. Then you should probably go back to work. You’re clearly not ready for this step.

* * * *

Life. One thing happened after another, and before we knew it, we were dead.

That’s a line from the National Lampoon magazine, which was hands down the greatest satirical publication, ever. I first read that line when I was seventeen years old, and I probably laughed for a month. I no longer laugh when I think of that line, but I don’t dispute it.

There’s far more truth to it than the average person can appreciate.

I heard a theory that when we die, the light at the end of the tunnel is the light in a hospital room where we are reborn to a new life. The reason we are born crying is because we remember everything from our previous life, and we’re grieving because we died and we’ve lost everything. As we grow, we forget our previous life and focus on our current life.

But patches of memory remain, and those memories create deja vu.

It’s an intriguing theory. I’ll try to remember it in my next life. I’m not sure I’ve ever had something happen and thought I’d seen that in a previous life. I’ve had plenty of things happen more than once in this life, but I’m not sure that’s deja vu anymore. That’s just the pattern repeating itself, which it has to do, or it can’t be a pattern.

Life and death are subjects you can ponder for a lifetime and still be totally confused by them. Life no longer confuses me, mostly because I’ve stopped spending a lots of time thinking about it. And death is one of those things you can’t truly understand until it happens to you.

At this point, I’m just hoping in my next life that I don’t have to repeat the same mistakes I made in this life. That’s a deja vu that needs to become a jamais vu. Otherwise, I think I really would prefer to be a mushroom.

And I think I’d like a break in between lives. A few hundred thousand years to do some planning, come up with some goals, maybe even learn something. Stuff like that. Maybe there will be more planets to choose from by then, and one of them might be worth checking out.

If I wait long enough, I might be able to figure out a way to start my life out being retired…

Mexico

Hey, loyal reader. How’s it going? I hope all is well with you.

I’m a bit more focused of late, I think. It’s hard to tell with me, even for me. I’ve actually been busy for the last week, so I haven’t had as much time to idly ponder the vicissitudes of life. Or kumquats. I haven’t even been thinking about golf!

I played golf last Saturday with Todd and Phyllis, and I shot the best round of golf I’ve had in probably twenty years. So, I figure I just have to keep doing whatever it was I did on Saturday and in a couple of years I probably won’t suck at golf as much as I do now.

It may not sound like much of a plan, but that’s pretty elaborate for me.

Todd is my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, and he’s back in town. I should probably qualify that statement. Todd and Lea have known each other since junior high. And as Lea pointed out, if I can have three wives, there’s no reason why she can’t have one boyfriend.

Todd and Lea have been good friends for something like unto forty-five years. They never dated each other, which might be one reason why they’re still very good friends. At any rate, Todd came down to visit us last year, and we all had a blast. I told him he was welcome back anytime.

Todd has been here for a week, and he’s staying for at least one more. Lea and Phyllis have a lots of fun things planned for Todd while he’s here. Todd and I are ready to jump into action whenever Lea or Phyllis tell us we’re going somewhere. In the meantime, we watch the NHL playoffs in the evening and talk about Guy Stuff.

It’s something I don’t get to do much of anymore, so that’s been a lots of fun.

Todd lives in Northern Idaho. He’s almost a Canadian, eh. The weather in the Lakeside area has been a welcome change for him from the everlasting winter of 2018. It was 28° in Idaho last Wednesday, the day he arrived. It was 82° here.

Todd has been smiling a lots for the last week.

He brought a lots of goodies from the States. Stuff for Lea. Stuff for Phyllis. And he brought me a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit, which performs perfectly, and balance has been restored to the Force once more. My stereo actually sounds better than it did before.

And there’s one more thing Todd brought back to Mexico. Hummingbirds. We had thousands of hummingbirds at this time last year. My lovely supermodel wife loves hummingbirds. We were refilling two feeders three times a day. Lea thought she was going to spend all of our savings on sugar to feed her hummingbirds.

Then, one day last year, for no apparent reason, damn near all of the birds vanished. We were down to maybe four birds for several months, and my lovely supermodel wife was bummed to the max. But when Todd returned, so did the hummingbirds. We’ve had hundreds of them at our feeders for the last few days.

Todd isn’t the only one who has been smiling a lots of late.

* * * *

In 1975, James Taylor sang a song about Mexico. Maybe you remember it. I do. It was called Mexico. Imagine that. It got a lots of radio play back in the day. I played it on my new and improved stereo system the other day. Unlike Sweet Baby James, in 1975 I wasn’t thinking about Mexico. I wasn’t planning on ever moving here, or remotely contemplating even visiting the place. I don’t think I was even planning on doing either of those things as recently as 2015, and yet, here I am.

Someone at the golf course explained it this way, “Ajijic calls to certain people, and if you’re meant to be here, everything just falls into place for you.”

That was certainly the case for my lovely supermodel wife and I. The opposite appears to be equally true. We’ve met a few people whom Ajijic didn’t call, but decided to move here anyway. They hated it here and are leaving or have already left. Those people are the exception, not the rule. I almost wish Ajijic would stop talking to strangers, but she is a very friendly village…

Mexico is both more and less than what I originally thought it would be, not that I had much of an idea of what it would be like before we visited here the first time. It’s much more diverse than I imagined it would be in population, culture and landscape. It’s a melange of color, music and gastronomic delights. Mexico is like unto the Minnesota State Fair, except it’s like that everyday here.

The image I chose to illustrate this installment is an accurate depiction of the festival life here. Mexico can party with the best of them, and with a style and class that is truly second to none.

But if you think this is going to be a promotional essay on why you should move here, it’s not. You shouldn’t move here. Don’t even come to visit. The roads are terrible. The weather sucks. Everyone speaks an incomprehensible language and they hate foreigners.

Stay wherever it is you are. You’re better off there.

* * * *

We’ve been showing Todd around the Lakeside area, going out to eat at some of the fine dining establishments. You know, actually getting out of the house. I’ve been posting a lots of pictures of the places we’ve visited and the restaurants we’ve patronized on my Facebook page. As a result, I’ve accidentally become a local Google Maps guide, and my photos have been viewed almost a quarter of a million times.

Yes. It’s true. I’m kind of a big deal. Kind of. Maybe.

Being virtually famous hasn’t changed me in the least. I’m still the same self-absorbed, superficially introspective mystic that I’ve always been. That’s because being virtually famous is essentially the same thing as not being famous at all. I don’t have crowds of adoring fans. I don’t have to wear a disguise if I decide to go into the village. I have yet to sign so much as even one autograph!

I should probably thank Social Media for making me the semi-legendary non-sensation that I’ve become, but why?

I’m sure I spend more time on Facebook than I need, but a few of my virtual friends are massively pregnant, and will probably deliver any day now. I wouldn’t normally describe a pregnant woman that way, but I don’t think any of them read my blog. Not on a regular basis anyhow. If I’m wrong, I’ll probably find out very soon…

One of my work daughters and all time favorite people just got married. Congratulations to Nancy and Jake. She was radiant on her wedding day. And that dress…  Holy mutha!

A couple of my friends and former co-workers are going to nursing school. They’ll make excellent nurses once they graduate. I’m happy for them.

I’m becoming less tolerant of the posts I’m willing to be exposed to on my FB page, and I’ve been making the really annoying people disappear. Too much drama. Too much use of the word nigga. I really can’t handle that shit. My generation grew up during the Civil Rights movement. It was a time when a whole lots of people were willing to risk their lives because they were sick and tired of being called that name. It was a traumatic time for my generation and the entire country.

It’s sad to say, but I don’t think some young people now are aware of that fact. And if they are, they don’t seem to care. I find that thought to be even more disturbing than my original disturbing thought.

Be that as it may, I haven’t had this many best friends that I’m never speaking to again since I was in grade school. Given the times we live in, I’m not sure if that’s weird or just the way things are now…

* * * *

For reasons that I will never understand, I’m still semi-popular with single, unemployed, seemingly clueless, attractive young ‘Christian’ women of high moral standards who want to have a deeply personal relationship with a married grandfather figure that they’ve never met before. I hear it’s because of the hat I’m wearing in my profile picture.

I’ve become convinced that all of these girls are actually the same person because their stories are all the same. Seriously. Their parents are dead. Their last boyfriend cheated on them, and they just quit their job because their boss was sexually harassing them.

I don’t believe in coincidences, so I’m pretty sure one person is behind all of this, and that person is really a thirty-eight year old guy named Stewart who lives in his parents’ basement in Dubuque. He probably doesn’t have anything better to do. After all, it’s Iowa.

I’m from Minnesota. When we don’t have anything better to do, we make fun of Iowa…

* * * *

Perhaps you’ve noticed this: Life is a series of routines that change somewhat from day to day, year to year, decade to decade. School routine. Work routine. Weekend routine. Marriage routine.

Like it or not, we are creatures of habit. We find comfort in familiarity. We might complain about the monotony of our daily rituals, but deep down inside we’re not dismayed by them. We tend to like our routines, most of the time. Some of the nurses I used to work with actually worshipped them. Those nurses tended to work on the Night Shift.

“How was your day?” My lovely supermodel wife and I had that conversation almost every day for almost thirty years. It’s something we rarely have to discuss anymore because we spend pretty much every day together, so there’s not a lots of mystery regarding what either one of us are doing at any given time. It’s a good thing that we still like each other.

I’m sure I’ve fallen into a daily routine even in retirement. Granted, it’s much less regimented than it was when I was working. And that was mostly because of work. Employers are so unreasonable sometimes. They hire you, and then they expect you to show up and do your job, like, every day!

Almost everything I do now is dependent on whether I want to do it or not. I’ve never been my own boss before, so I’m really liking this new approach to doing stuff or not. I’m married, so, technically, I may still not be my own boss. Spanish lessons and doctor appointments are just about the only things I  go to no matter how I feel about them.

I’m not sure if learning a new language is ever easy. I have never been a slow learner before, but I am when it comes to Spanish. I took three years of French in high school, and I’m not sure I would’ve been able to speak to a French person and be understood, even back then.

I’ve been living in Mexico for roughly a year and a half. I can speak about ten sentences in Spanish now, and I have a buttload of random Spanish words bouncing around inside of my head. I’m getting to the point where I’m forgetting words in two languages. I’m becoming Byelingual.

Like unto my golf game, I figure the whole Spanish thing will fall into place if I don’t try to force it. Everything clicks at it’s appointed time. And if Ajijic called me here, it did so for a reason.

Perhaps someday that reason will be revealed. Hopefully, not in Spanish…  If someone comes up to me and starts rattling off a torrent of Spanish, and that happens more often than I like, I still get that Deer in the Headlights look in my eyes. But now I can tell them, in perfect Spanish, that I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about, which is probably kind of confusing to the person talking to me, now that I think about it.

Oh well, we’re at least on the same level then.

For good or for ill, I’m in Mexico for the long haul. I’m planning on leaving here the day after I die. And even then, I might hang around for awhile. There’s a huge City of the Dead in Mexico. The only downside I can see is you have to got dead to live there. Other than that, it looks like a nice place. I could live there, I think.

Unless you have to be able to speak more than ten sentences of Spanish in order to be admitted…

I hope I don’t have to discover the admission criteria anytime too soon. I’m kind of loving it here right now.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

It’s been a quiet week here in the Lakeside area. My golf wife, Phyllis, is in Phoenix, so it’s even quieter than usual. She’ll be back on Friday, so maybe we can get a couple of rounds in before she takes off on her next adventure.

Thank God I have Facebook to keep my life interesting.

One of my real friends is getting married in about a month. She’s been having wedding showers, and she’s really happy and excited! I used to work with her. She was one of the best nurses I ever worked with, but I won’t be going to her wedding. She’s getting married in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, which is almost impossible to get to from where we live in Mexico.

Seriously. If we took the bus, it’d take three days to get there. If we drove, it’d be about a fourteen hour drive. Neither my lovely supermodel wife nor I have any desire to spend that much time in a car on Mexican roads.

The easiest way to get there from here is to fly to Phoenix, then drive back down into Mexico to go to the wedding. Then we’d have to drive back up to Phoenix to fly back to Guadalajara. At any rate, it’s too complicated and too expensive for us this year. I waited until the last possible minute to call her to let her know we weren’t coming. I think she took it better than I did.

Back when I was a nurse, if I needed some extra cash all I had to do was pick up an extra shift or two. Now that I’m retired, I suppose I could pick up an extra shift of doing nothing, but I don’t get paid anything extra for it…

Another one of my real friends just broke off her engagement. I think she found out her fiance cheated on her. On the bright side, I won’t have to call her to tell her I won’t be coming to her wedding…

Yes, it is all about me.

That’s actually kind of funny because this blog is probably the only area in my life where my opinion is actually a factor.

Two of my virtual friends are traveling in Africa. One is in Nigeria, the other is in Ghana. Well, they were my virtual friends. They asked me to send them money, and I had to say no to them. I did what any good virtual friend would do, and wished them the best of success. And I added I’d say a prayer for them. Neither of them were very pleased with my response, so I suggested they learn how to speak Swahili.

I haven’t heard from either of them since.

One of my virtual friends is a nursing student who was possibly being evicted from her apartment. She also wanted money from me, and I haven’t heard from her either ever since I told her no.

One of my virtual friends is working in the Ukraine. His wife died from cancer, and his daughter is in school in England. We probably aren’t virtual friends anymore either because he wanted me to buy him an iTunes card so he could talk to his daughter, and I don’t do that either.

Why not? You can buy them at any store all over the world! he replied. So I pointed out to him there were probably a lots of stores in the Ukraine. He could buy one himself.

I’m pretty much immune to these kinds of requests from people I don’t actually know. I was a psych nurse. I’ve heard every sob story known to man. And woman. Twice. And there was a very interesting thing I learned about people. People lie, or at the very least, distort the truth all the time.

As a result, I tend not to believe anything my virtual friends tell me until it can be corroborated by a second party. We used to do that all the time in Psychiatry. We were like unto cops. We would call family members, employers, landlords, roommates… Seeing how I can’t easily do that now, I’m probably not a very good virtual friend to have if you actually need any help.

Another one of my virtual friends got dead. She was about ten years younger than me. She has a daughter who is probably twelve or thirteen years old. Alicia worked at a healthcare facility on an Indian reservation in Montana. She was being treated for a heart condition, and had been posting about all of her frustrations regarding her treatment and how lousy she felt, and how she just wanted to feel better and live her life again.

Vaya con Dios, Alicia. I hope you’re finally at peace.

* * * *

We put our kit-ten down a couple of weeks ago. Her advanced age finally caught up with her, so we asked Dr Betty if she would make a house call. We didn’t want to put Samantha through any more stress than necessary. Dr Betty graciously agreed.

That was a very sad day.

I think we’re getting used to the fact that we don’t have a kit-ten anymore. I cleared out Sam’s office, removing her litter box, food bowls and water fountain. But we still look for her, and Lea misses her, especially at night.

Like a lots of cats, Sam slept in our bed. She would cuddle up next to Lea and rest her head on Lea’s arm like unto a pillow. She would purr contentedly and they would sleep like that all night.

Back when Lea used to travel for work, Sam would sleep in bed with me, but she never rested her head on my arm. We were friends, but we weren’t that close.

I sat on the couch next to wife the other day. I hadn’t done that since we moved to Mexico. Sam had essentially claimed the other cushion of the sofa as hers. Maybe one of these days I’ll remember there’s no longer a cat sleeping on the couch and sit there again someday.

We won’t have to share our food with the cat anymore, and Lea won’t have to wonder if what she’s cooking is something kit-tens will like. We won’t have to make sure we bring something home for Sam if we go out to eat.

We’ve talked about getting another cat. Lea even went to the Cat Orphanage in Ajijic last week to look at cats. She’s not ready for another kit-ten yet. Probably later this year, maybe in October. That’s my prediction.

* * * *

I know I react differently to death than normal people do. Part of the reason for that is what I did for a living. Nurses have to deal with death more frequently than most people do on a daily basis.

Yeah, you kind of get used to it in a way.

This is not to say that I haven’t been deeply affected by losing someone in my life. I have been a total emotional basketcase because of a loss for extended periods of time. Like, you know, a decade or more. The extravagance of my reactions has given me reason to question my sanity more than once.

Another part of the reason is my Christian beliefs. If we’re all going to resurrected someday, then I’ll see all of my dead family members and friends again eventually. And then I can tell them how pissed I was at them for dying. In all honesty, I still want to kick my mom’s ass for dying the way she did.

But mostly, I think it’s the whole grieving process. I fucking hate it. And that’s the most honest reason I can give you.

I’m not comfortable feeling uncomfortable. It just doesn’t work for me anymore. I’m not sure if it ever worked for me, but I know enough about me to know I’m a total wuss when it comes to being overly emotional about…anything. I can work through all five steps in the Grief and Loss process in about twenty minutes. And then I’m done.

Be that as it may, I still miss Samantha. I see her sometimes out of the corner of my eye. But it’s not her. It’s something else, and that sucks.

Last night when we were going to bed, I turned off the lights in the living room. And I found myself in front of Sam’s cushion on the couch. I reached down to pet her, and there she was, lifting her head, craning her neck so I would scratch the right part of her ears. And she purred contentedly.

She seemed to be happy and healthy once more. That made me smile.

Vaya con Dios, Samantha Rachel. You really were the best kit-ten buddy ever. I hope there are a lots of lizards to chase in Kit-ten Heaven. And maybe I’ll see you again someday, too.

For Whom the Bell Tolls, Part II

Two people I know, or knew, have died in less than a week. There’s a saying that these things tend to happen in threes, so I’m almost afraid to breathe right now. If that’s true, there’s one more to go…

On Saturday, I found out my cousin, Jimmy Clark, had been killed to death. He had been hit by a car while crossing the street in Rapid City, SD. He was 64 years old.

But getting hit by a car? Cancer, I get that. Heart attack or a stroke, I’d understand those. Getting hit by a car, in Rapid City? That just seems to be the most unlikely way a person can get dead.

I guess they knew what they were talking about when they told us to look both ways before we crossed the street when we were kids.

Jimmy had a great sense of humor. I’m sure he’d see the irony in that if he were still alive to talk about it. And then he’d laugh. He had just about the greatest laugh of anyone I’ve ever known.

Jimmy’s family lived in Wall, SD. It’s arguably the most famous town in the US with a population of less than one thousand people. And its’ notoriety has everything to do with an advertising gimmick, and one small pharmacy.

Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Wall Drug?

Wall Drug hasn’t always been world famous, but it started becoming famous because of a billboard sign campaign advertising free ice water to tourists heading to Mount Rushmore. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I think it was Jimmy who told me there were two kinds of people in Wall. Tourists, and people who hate tourists.

The once humble pharmacy is now a tourist magnet drawing in a couple of million people a year. The drug store has become a mall that includes a cowboy department store, an art museum and a chapel, I think. It’s been a while since I’ve been there. In fact, I’m not sure there’s even a drug store there anymore.

Wall is pretty much in the middle of fucking nowhere, South Dakota. It’s on the edge of the Badlands, and if there was ever an apt name for a terrain, that’s a good one.

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, I just saved a couple of dozen paragraphs trying to describe the Badlands. It’s a wild land that has been shaped by wind and water for centuries. Not much of anything grows there, meaning not much of anything can live there. And that’s where my family would go every year or two when my dad wanted to see his sister.

When we were kids, we’d play King of the Hill in the Badlands with our cousins while our parents sat around the kitchen table drinking a lots of highballs, smoking cigarettes, and laughing their asses off. The hell with Disneyland®. When I was a kid, Wall, SD was the happiest place on Earth.

I was always sad when we had to leave Wall and head back to wherever we were living. And once I grew up, I lost contact with my cousins. Its probably been over thirty years since the last time I saw Jimmy. Maybe longer.

Vaya con Dios, primo. The world will be a sadder place without you. With your passing, I think I become the oldest male on the paternal side of our family. Another reason I’m afraid to breathe. I might be next.

* * * *

The other person I knew was one of my virtual friends. We had never met in person, and now, we never will.

Mercedes was young. And pretty. She was from Canadia. Facebook suggested I send her a friend request, and she accepted. I liked her posts. She seemed to have a lots of energy, and she posted a lots of photos of herself smiling as she traveled around the Great White North. She had a pretty smile.

One of her posts was different from all her other posts. No pictures. No smiles. She stated she was fighting a battle against depression. She said she was okay. She had a lots of friends and family, and was taking antidepressants. She was going to be okay. She just needed some prayers and support.

That was about a month ago, maybe two. I told her I would say a prayer for her, and I offered my services, such as I could. After that, her posts always showed her smiling, apparently having a great time and enjoying her life.

Someone who probably knew her in person posted an update about her for all of her virtual friends today. She was found dead yesterday from an apparent overdose. She was 23.

* * * *

It’s hard to end on a high note when you’re writing about a topic like unto this. Death will come for us all, soon or late. But twenty-three is too goddamn young to die, and it’s even worse when the cause of death is suicide.

Please, think twice before you chose that as a final option. There is help available. All you have to do is ask. I know it’s hard, but do it anyway. It’s only by doing the hard things that you can truly grow.

And look both ways when you cross the street.

The Writer’s Almanac

Before I get into whatever this piece is going to turn into, I’d like to say, Hi, Jane! And just so there’s no confusion, the picture isn’t me. That’s Garrison Keillor. Among his many achievements and accomplishments, Garrison Keillor is a very good writer.

I’ve been enjoying writing lately. It’s a good thing, I suppose. I could certainly do worse things with my time. And if the opening line of this installment leaves you feeling bewildered, welcome to the club. That’s how I usually feel when I start writing.

I sometimes have a very good idea of what I’m going to write about, but more often than not, I don’t. I usually have a topic or theme floating around in my head, and sometimes I have a sentence I like, and want to use it somewhere in my post. That’s about it. It’s like unto taking a sink to an architect’s office and saying, “Design and build a house around this.”

And if you’re wondering, Jane is probably the most ardent reader I have, so I thought I’d acknowledge that.

* * * *

The rainy season has impacted my latest hobby, hitting golf balls. I can’t golf in the rain. But it has given me something else to do. Drain our pool. Our rental house came equipped with an hydropool that we don’t use, so there’s usually no water in it. It’s essentially become a gigantic rain gauge and deathpit for insects. We got about an inch of rain yesterday, but we got an additional four inches this morning.

Rain water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, so I grab my shop vac and suck all the water out of the pool. I do not like mosquitoes. It’s a relatively simple procedure, so I don’t mind doing it. And the pool always looks great when I’m done.

The rainy season has brought forth a whole lots of tiny Mexican tree frogs. They come out at night, and sing in a chorus of peeppeeppeeppeep sounds. It’s kind of soothing, and it’s pretty cool to fall asleep to.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife and I went shopping today. We found everything we were looking for, except coffee filters. You’d think they’d be in the same aisle as the coffee, but that’s not the case at El Walmart.

Esto es Mexico…

I’m sure that news made a couple of hearts skip a beat, but fear not, and be of good faith. Coffee filters are available down here. I know I’ve bought them somewhere down here, probably not at Walmart, but somewhere. Most, if not all, of the retail stores down here go out of their way to cater to the gringo population. We are here, and we are legion.

This place really is the closest thing to Heaven on Earth.

* * * *

A few days ago, one of my virtual friends asked me if I missed the United States, and the simple answer is no. Not at all. There are only two things I really miss. Rosati’s pizza and paved roads. Before my friends get offended, you are not things. 

Yesterday, I was notified by Facebook that I have 650 friends. I might’ve had around 300 friends before I retired, so I’ve been busy expanding my social circle. I accepted a virtual friend request from a gal yesterday, then waited. Within a matter of minutes, I received a message. I almost always get a message after I accept a request from someone.

Thankfully, she didn’t want to send me naked pictures. She wanted to sex chat, I think. I’m guessing about that, mostly because I’ve never been in this swamp before. She asked if I wanted to Skype and we could chat. She said I looked like an interesting guy and she wanted to know more about me.

I sent her link to my blog and told her anything she’d ever need to know about me was in here. I haven’t heard another word from her. I guess I’m not that interesting after all.

I’m not sure why, but I think that’s one of the funniest things, ever. And I should stop accepting friend requests from people I don’t know.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife and I are going out tonight with some friends. We’re going to Perry’s Pizza. He’s making his chicken fried chicken dinner especially for our group. I’m totally looking forward to that. There will be photos posted on my Facebook page.

I love being retired. I’m not sure how rewarding it is, but it’s most definitely a nice reward for all those years of working my ass off toward this end.

* * * *

One of my real friends and former co-workers has been writing something like unto her memoirs. She’s a nurse, and she’s one of the good ones. On her Facebook page this morning she confessed how difficult this process has been for her.

I knew going into writing this book that healed scars would be opened up again and feelings that I haven’t had in years would resurface. I was prepared for that. I was prepared for raw emotions and ready to share the deepest, darkest parts of my journey…  Or so I thought. 

Ah, Tiffany. I know your pain. I wasn’t planning on writing today until I read her post. I accidently ended up writing some Tales From the Darkside of my life after I started writing my blog. Unlike Tiffany, I wasn’t aware of what that can do to your soul, but I would find out quickly. It’s like unto crossing a swamp. It looks daunting when you get to it, but you tell yourself it won’t be that bad.

Look! There’s a little path here! If I just stay on that, I’ll be fine…

But that path will disappear quickly, and in front of you will be dark, fetid water of an undetermined depth and a shitload of mud and muck. Then you’re faced with a decision. Turn around and try to find a way around the swamp. That’s not going to be easy. It’s a big swamp. Or, you can keep going forward and try to get through the swamp as quickly as possible. You almost always decide to go forward. The mud sucks at your feet and legs as you try to slog your way forward, and the water is full of leeches.

That was the paragraph I had in my mind when I started this post.

Opening up old wounds is mentally, emotionally, spiritually and even physically draining. It hurts like hell. It’s like unto passing a fucking kidney stone, and I know that pain, too. Seeing how none of your old wounds were obtained in a vacuum, it’s not just your wounds that end up being opened.

After you’ve decided to go into that swamp once, you know what it looks like when you’re going to venture into it a second time. I’ve been there intentionally a few times. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost at least one reader of my blog by going there. And there’s nothing funny about that.

She was a real friend of mine, probably my oldest friend.

I like to joke about how no one ever reads my blog, but I’ve probably had a couple of thousand people who have at least visited my site, which isn’t all that bad. I follow a couple of other bloggers who are vastly more successful than I am. They have more visitors to their sites in a day than I get in a month.

I have to admit, I’m a little jealous.

But I remind myself that I not doing this as a competition, and those bloggers have been doing this for a long time. Their blogs also have a more specific focus than mine, so their audience is there for a more specific reason.

I originally started writing my blog about my nursing career in Psychiatry, and it has gone off on some pretty weird tangents over time. While I’m sure there were compelling reasons for doing this, though they haven’t always been immediately recognizable to me. It’s one of the hazards of going through most of your life unconscious…

Waking up is hard to do.

I’ve been in the process waking up for about ten years now, and it hasn’t always been pretty. Be that as it may, the life I was living before that was a lots less pretty. I still get flashes of memories that hit me out of nowhere, leaving me wondering where that came from and what am I supposed to do with it now? Sometimes those flashbacks are unsettling and disturbing. Sometimes they’re just annoying. Sometimes they’re really funny, and I laugh out loud. If my life before was an almost endless binge, part of my healing process has involved a fair amount of purging.

And in the process, I’m sure I opened some old wounds that weren’t only mine. Many people have said I simply did what I had to do get all that poison out of my system, You did what you had to do! they said. And I probably said something like unto this at least once, It was never my intention to hurt anyone.

That said, if that’s your defense, you knew someone was going to get hurt in advance.

Life, and its many facets, can be an incredibly beautiful and poignant thing. It can also be very ugly and sordid. Most of the time it’s somewhere in between. Life, for lack of a better description at this point in my waking up process, is what it is. It’s a description I’ve never especially liked because it’s so banal.

And yet…

Life, as messy as it can be, still beats the alternative. And before you get the idea I’m a tortured soul in search of peace, that would be wrong. I’m more at peace than I’ve ever been. I have learned to appreciate all that I’ve been given, and to see the Bigger Picture. I have a more balanced view of my life, and myself.

And I am mostly content.

In the long run, cleansing your soul and ridding yourself off all that unnecessary baggage is ugly and dirty work, but it’s worth it.

Night has fallen, and the frogs are peeping. This seems like a good place to stop. Good night, and sweet dreams to you.

Living in the Virtual World

¡Hola! ¿Que pasa?

Things are pretty chill down here in Mexico. The rainy season is still in progress, though it hasn’t rained for the last three days. My lovely supermodel wife and I are still in love with being retired. We’re still mostly happily adjusting to our new lives and the new culture in which we’re living.

The most significant change we’ve encountered at Casa del Selva has been the hummingbird population. We used to have seventy thousand hummingbirds at our feeders, and we’d have to refill them eight times a day. Lea was worried we’d burn through our pension funds buying sugar.

I wondered if we could claim them as dependents…

It turns out Mexican hummingbirds are migratory, and they go somewhere else to raise their young, probably Texas. I wonder if President Don Jon Un knows about the illegally immigrating Mexican hummingbirds, and how he’s planning on stopping them…

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We’re down to about seven hummingbirds. One feeder will last for eight days or more. Lea is really bummed out. I kind of miss the ravenous horde, too. They were fun to watch, and they kept me on my toes whenever I wandered out on the patio. But I’m sure they’ll be back this fall, and we’ll be happy to see them again.

* * * *

I’ve been working on my golf game by going to the driving range when the weather permits, and playing the occasional round or two. I spent a month working on my drives on the range, and I made a startling discovery the last time I played golf. You only hit a ball off of a tee once per hole.

Some of my drives were so pretty it almost brings a tear to my eye, but the rest of my shots were so abysmal it practically makes me cry to think about it. It took me five strokes to reach the green of the par four first hole. And then I three putted. After that, my composure was pretty much gone, and the next seventeen holes were mostly a nightmare with flashes of brilliance.

The other thing I discovered was I’m not as young as I once was. A shot I could easily make with a five iron ten years ago no longer has the distance it used to. I’ve had to come up with a completely new strategy to play the game I love that doesn’t love me in return.

So this week I’ve been practicing on the range with fairway woods and irons, and I’ve come to the conclusion I’m going to need a whole lots more practice.

My lovely supermodel wife has been coming to the driving range with me this week, and she’s been a voice of encouragement to me. It’s been very sweet, and I appreciate my adorable wife even more because of it.

And then there’s putting. I’d probably be a pretty decent golfer if I didn’t have to putt. I’ve been doing some putting on the practice green. I sank a forty foot putt yesterday, and the best part was Lea saw it. I’m not sure who was happier, me or her.

* * * *

As for the rest of our life, we’re very slowly learning the language of our new country. Our landlord and Spanish teacher is Planet Janet. Back when she worked for a living, Janet taught English as a Second Language and Spanish as Another Language at university in Canadia before she retired in Mexico, so she graciously agreed to teach us when we moved into one of her houses. She charges us $200 pesos for a two hour session, once a week, and donates the money to buy wheelchairs for children whose families wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.

It’s a win/win/win situation. Janet gets to do something she loves, teach. We get to do something we need, learn. And we all get to help out someone in need.

And seeing how Janet’s been here for a quarter of a century, she’s been showing us some of the ropes and helping us find our way through some of the tricksier aspects of living in Mexico.

Legal things, like Wills, Advanced Directives, health insurance and residency visas. She has recommendations for doctors, dentists, mechanics and veterinarians. And reviews of the latest awesome restaurant she’s eaten at.

And then there are the unexpected things that happen out of the blue.

We ran out of water last weekend. Our main water supply line sprang a monster leak a couple of weeks ago, so we turned the main off and called Planet Janet and El Don Padrino. We have two huge water reservoirs under our carport, so we had plenty of water to tide us over until the leak could be repaired

Don and Janet sent their plumber, Mani, over the next day to fix the leak, then he called SAMAPA, the local water authority. SAMAPA said they had to send a guy over to turn the water back on–Mani was forbidden to open the valve–and the SAMAPA guy would come over ahorita.

Ahora is the Spanish word for now, but now isn’t a highly regarded reality based concept in most of Mexico. Even the Mexicans think it’s funny that there’s generally no such thing as now, especially when it concerns the government and some of the utility companies.

There’s another Spanish word, ahorita. It can mean really soon, however, in Mexico, ahorita can also mean something a whole lots closer to never than it does to now.

Well, the SAMAPA guy never showed up, and no one told us our water main hadn’t been turned back on. So, two weeks later we ran out of water, at 9:00 PM on a Saturday night. I turned the water back on, probably illegally, and that solved the problem.

These kind of things happen, and not just in Mexico. When they happen here, we laugh and shrug and say, This is Mexico/Esto es Mexico, and move on. If you don’t like it, leave.

Mexico is not like the United States. Spanish isn’t the same as English. The language of Mexico is an amalgamation of Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, English and Arabic, as well as some words from the fifty-four indigenous languages of the native people who lived here before the Spaniards arrived and fucked up everything.

If you’re wondering how Arabic got thrown into the mix, the Moors invaded Spain in the year 711, and ruled the country for eight hundred years. Spain invaded Mexico in 1519, or roughly about the time the Spaniards finally kicked the Moors out of power in their own country. It took the Spaniards only two years to topple the Aztec empire and steal as much gold and silver from the Mexicans as they could.

Little Known Fact About the Spanish Language: there are probably four thousand Arabic words or phrases that are now part of the modern Spanish vocabulary.

The language barrier is certainly the tricksiest part of living in Mexico, especially since neither Lea nor I spoke any Spanish before we moved here. After almost nine months we can now say hello, how are you, goodbye and thanks, and a few phrases here and there, but we’re hardly fluent, and mostly lost with someone who speaks no English.

It can be kind of comical sometimes.

* * * *

Like unto practically everyone else on this planet, I probably have a form of addiction to my mobile devices and social media. I have a blog that maybe seven people read, including me. For my last installment I posted a picture of one of my former co-workers, and it was seemingly an huge hit. I had a lots of people reacting to the picture on my Facebook page. They loved it! But I don’t know if any of those people actually read the accompanying article.

Oh, look! A picture of Brea! That’s such a cute picture!! What’s this stuff? Eww! Words!! OMG, there’s, like, a thousand of them! Ick!

I have a Facebook page, an Instagram account, and a Twitter account. Unlike our current President, I’ve never figured Twitter out, and I dislike being limited to the number of words I can use. I doubt anyone has ever read even one of my seven Tweets.

My lovely supermodel wife isn’t as addicted to social media as I am. She views Facebook the same way I view Twitter, and I doubt she knows Instagram is even a thing. Or SnapChamp.

Social media has become almost a necessary evil to me, now that I’m a retired guy living in a foreign country. It’s the most convenient way for me to stay up to date with the lives of my friends and family, and it’s the easiest way for them to keep tabs on me.

Before we retired, Lea and I discussed what we’d like to do after we retired. Travel was one of the things we both agreed on, but now that we’ve traveled to Mexico, I’m not sure how much more traveling we’re actually going to do. We’ll see what the future holds. Be that as it may, whether we embark on a tour of the world or not, thanks to the Interweb and social media, the world now comes to me. And so do all of my virtual friends.

I have far more friends now than I did back when I really had friends, people I knew and hung out with and did stuff with. My virtual friends come from all over the world: Canadia, England, Ireland, Spain, France and Italy. Poland, Croatia, Greece, Russia, Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Ohio. I doubt I’ll ever meet any of them face to face. But because of them and our virtual friendship, I get to see what their part of the world looks like, and what their lives are like.

By the way, Ohio is evidently a whole lots more interesting than I thought it was.

Back when I was a kid, the only way you could accomplish something like unto this without being a world traveler was with a National Geographic subscription. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.

My virtual friends post a lots of pictures of themselves, so I also get to see a lots of pictures of tattoos. Back when I was a kid, the only people who had tattoos were drunken sailors, biker gangs and criminals. Tattoos were the mark of low life scumbags and losers.

Nowadays, almost everyone has at least one tattoo, even my lovely supermodel wife, and she’s probably the most conservative person I know. Tattoos have moved out of the darkened alleyways that only a fool would enter, and have become a legitimate mainstream art form of individual statement, beauty and color. Some of them are really quite stunning.

I don’t have any tattoos. I think tattoos look pretty cool on other people, but I’ve never wanted to get one. I’ll admit I don’t understand what the attraction is. For me, the same thing is true of Disneyland®. I have no idea why anyone would want to go there, unless you really like standing in line for hours.

Having a tattoo isn’t a requirement for me to send a friend request to someone on Facebook. I automatically receive an infinite number of profiles of people that I’ve never met every day with the suggestion from Facebook that I might know some of them. Ironically, Facebook will then ask me if I actually know the person I’m randomly sending a friend request to before I can submit it.

I don’t receive as many friend requests as I submit. If a guy sends me a request, it’s usually because he has a great business proposal and he wants me as an investor. If a woman sends me a request it’s usually one of those Click here to see naked pictures of me things. I have yet to knowingly accept one, but I always wonder, Where the hell were these girls when I was twenty? And the answer is they weren’t even alive.

Some of my newest BFF’s that I’ve never met send me personal messages and ask a few questions about me and my life. This always surprises me because it never occurs to me to do that with any of them. Some of my virtual friends disappear from my profile after they discover how boring I am, or that I don’t want to see any naked pictures of them, or I don’t want to invest in a ground-breaking business opportunity.

Many of my virtual friends live what appear to be interesting lives, and their careers run the gamut. I’m still partial to nurses. I have a lots of virtual friends that are nurses. It’s a brotherhood thing, or more probably a sisterhood thing.

A couple of my virtual friends are witches, one of whom does tarot card readings. Another one of my virtual friends sells cars in the GTA. If you’re not an intrepid, sophisticated virtual world traveler like me who watches Canadian television in Mexico, the GTA is the Greater Toronto Area.

Yet another of my virtual friends is an activist, warning the world about every possible conspiracy ever conceived. I used to have two friends like unto this. I could say I unfriended one of them because she was too crazy, but almost everyone on my FB page admits to some level of insanity. And, I used to be a psych nurse, so craziness in and of itself isn’t something that bothers me much.

It was her unstable anger/rage that I found so unsettling. Her rants/raves hit the airwaves every five minutes, and each was more outrageous than the last. I tried joking with her a couple of times to get her to lighten up a little, but she didn’t appreciate my humor. Clearly, we had unreconcilable differences, and something had to give.

I’ve become virtual friends with a whole lots of motivational speakers/health gurus/life coaches. They post videos of their exercise workouts, recipes for healthy meals and daily motivational quotes and videos. Several of them post live feeds of themselves giving motivational talks to break out of your rut and improve your life.

To be honest, I’m not personally interested in most of that stuff. I don’t exercise. I think my diet is healthy enough for me, and I don’t need to make any significant changes to improve my life. If I did, I’d likely already know what it is that I need to do differently. However, I do listen to them and take their advice into consideration.

Mental and emotional health are things that require a certain amount of intentional maintenance. They are perishable commodities. It takes an effort to keep your goddamn mind right. It’s easy to fall asleep at the wheel and end up in the ditch, and before you know it you’re wondering how the hell could this happen to me?!?

So it’s good for me to be reminded of the things I used to preach lest I start backsliding. I’ve worked too hard to get away from that shit to ever want to go back again, even by accident.

* * * *

Before I retired and moved to Mexico, I would occasionally have breakfast with Brian. Brian Leach is the former lead pastor of one of the churches we formerly attended in Surprise. I liked Breakfast with Brian. He’s a pretty smart guy, and he’s the closest thing to a friend/pastor I’ve ever had.

We used to attend a small group/Bible study at Brian’s house. It was Brian who first made me a virtual celebrity by saying something like unto this at one of our group meetings: “I’m not a big fan of social media, but I think everyone should check out Mark Rowen’s Facebook page at least once a day.”

And I didn’t have to pay him to say that.

Just before we departed Arizona, I had one last breakfast with Brian. He spent the last few minutes trying to convince me to do a video blog.

“There’s a kid on YouTube who’s making a six figure income, just by posting videos!”

I replied that the kid was probably smart. And funny.

“Well, you’re smart and funny.”

I replied that the kid probably had a personality. If you’ve never met me in person, once you did, you’d probably wonder if I was ever going to come out of that coma. I don’t have an affect, and my voice lacks inflection. I posted a video on Facebook once. One of my real friends said I sound like Eeyore. Ben Stein sounds like Sam Kinison when compared to me.

I blame my life as a psych nurse for that. When you’ve seen as much strange stuff as I have, it’s hard to be surprised by anything. Also, I’ve been a Minnesota Vikings fan for fifty years. Therefore, I find it almost impossible to get too excited about anything anymore. If the Vikings ever win the Super Bowl, I might get a tattoo…

My virtual friends who post inspirational videos are excited by what they’re doing. They smile. They have a fire in their eyes, and they clearly have a passion about their messages. If you’ve ever read any of my blog posts, most of them don’t have an inspirational message. I’m not sure any of them have even had a point.

In addition, the video blogs I’ve watched are short, or at least, short-ish. My written blogs don’t seem short to me. Even the shortest blog I’ve written has taken me hours to complete. And while I am sometimes spontaneously witty, I’m not a great impromptu speaker. I would probably end up writing a script that I would essentially end up reading, and I’d probably stumble through everything I’d written.

I’m trying to imagine that being entertaining to anyone. I might become the first person YouTube paid to stop posting videos…

It could be argued that if I started making video blogs, I could save myself a ton of time. If I weren’t retired, that argument might carry more weight. But I am retired. If I don’t have anything else, I have plenty of time, and very little of it is scheduled with any recurring activity, except my Spanish lessons.

A real friend of mine occasionally posts The Manitowoc Minute Vlog on his Facebook page. It’s a very funny commentary about life in Wisconsin, which, in retrospect, probably goes without saying. The idea of posting El Minuto Mexicano certainly has its appeal. I could ramble on incomprehensibly in a mixture of Spanglish, Latin and Japanese about life in Mexico.

“Buenas tetas, amigos y amigas! Bienvenidos a mi vlogarito lo que nostrodamos vidas fabulosos en Mexico! Nosotros tiene relocatado de los estados unidos. El gente de Mexico estás las más amable de todos los gente en el universario! Ellos tienen los más paciencia! Ellos dicen, “Poco y poco,” y sonrisa. Beauty, eh. A todo madre, la roma no está hecho en uno dia! Ergo, quid pro quo. Shigata ga ni, es los más awesomosa cosa en el mundo actualmente! No es mentira! Si, es verdad, daddy-o! Entonces, adios y omne datum optimum untiliarmos los hasta luego, y domo arigato por tu atención y de nadamashite.”

Maybe I’ll stick to writing. In English. It’ll greatly decrease the chances of me accidentally starting the next world war…