Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who Will I Be? (Please Say Bradley Cooper -- Or Whoever Married Zooey)

What has taken longer than "Double-barrel Unemployment," dates back to the midpoint of GWB's second term in office and is about to end? The few of you out there who know me-- who am I kidding - that's pretty much all of you -- know that my weird little midlife array of illnesses - and the subsequent chemical regimen used to treat them - is coming to an end. Specifically, after four years, two months and twelve days, my love-hate relationship with Prednisone is ending. Friday, July 1st will be my first steroid-free day since April 17, 2007. Yeah, I know - Don't Put Deadlines On Your Dreams. Whatever. It's totally happening.

Reading about someone's medical stuff when that someone isn't, you know, you is ghastly boring and downright uncomfortable. "A rash where a sexually-inactive person ought not have one," you say? Wow - that's TWO things I didn't need to know. Whoa - 11:00 already? I gotta... Um... Okay bye. So I won't bother you with details. It's a long time to have been on this stuff, getting weaned off of it is rough, blah blah blah... [yawn, pass out, hit head on kitchen table, slip into coma, end up on news when [Maris] tries to honor my wish not to be kept alive in a vegetative state - like Texas! - ZING!!]

The simple fact is that I have been Steroid Joe for so long, I don't remember how to not be on Prednisone. I have been fixated on - at times utterly consumed by - my ongoing battle with 'roid rage and all those damnable side-effects and my quest to get off of the stuff for over four years. When 7/1/11 comes and I no longer have that war to fight, where will I turn my focus? What excuse will I have for being a thoroughly dark, mean person then?

Who will I be?

I kind of already know the answer, but what fun is it to just blurt it out and say goodnight? So, let's start with who I hope I won't be.

I hope I won't be that guy who can speak of nothing but his triumph over lung disease and Prednisone. That guy is BORING. Plus, I know I could have triumphed over scurvy, explosive hemorrhoids and three kinds of cancer, and the guy next to me at the bar would scoff at my paltry victory and proceed to describe how he beat a cobra bite, five cancers and a cannon wound in his everything - and all without any sissy drugs. So let's not do that.

I sincerely wish not to be a Kardashian. Especially the fat one.

If at all possible, I would like to avoid awaking next Friday morning to find that I'm still sick. OMG can you imagine the profanity!

I don't want to be a guy with a lot of responsibility - or ambition, for that matter. I just don't think I have the energy, right now.

So. Who will I be? Will I be so overcome with joy and relief that I dance from person to person giving out hugs and giggling at everything and soaking up every good atom I can find, humming and singing and smiling like a lunatic, just thrilled to have been given a new lease on life - and pissing off everyone who sees me? Maybe.

Will I be (dun-dun-DUNNNNNN) The Same Raging Asshat I've More Or Less Been For Over Four Years? Yeesh - now we're back to who I don't want to be. It's possible, though.

Will I be David Hasselhoff, sitting shit-faced on the kitchen floor eating manwiches in front of my webcam at 3AM? Hmm... I could kind of go for a nice meat sandwich, right about now. Or a grilled cheese. I'm nothing if not easy.

Will I turn into a mature person - the adult I've yet to blossom into - full of wisdom and a calm, confident balance and, well, grip on the situation? One can dream, can't one?

Maybe I'll be Anton Corbijn or Godfrey Reggio or some other master of the visual arts. Then I can be a little "off" and nobody can say boo to me about it. Again - a man can dream.

Secretly, I'd kind of like to be Russell Brand. Not because of the career and money and pinup girl wife - although those are all selling points - but because he appears to be fairly intelligent and STILL comes across as just constantly having a simply wonderful time.

Here's the answer, though. Two answers, really. I've known them all along. In the immediate-term: I will be on Friday July 1st exactly the same man I was the night before (although possibly a little hung-over). In the longer term: I will gradually just become my old self again.

Maybe a little wiser.

Maybe a little more appreciative of my life and wife and health and the little rabbit that lives in our backyard.

Maybe a little more in love with Vicodin than I was before all this started.

But I'll be Old Joe, four-and-a-quarter years older. Those of you who knew him will be relieved. The rest of you - well, I hope you like me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Domestic Disturbance Results In One Arrest, Bad Singing, Shots Fired, Several French Fries Wasted

June 12, 2011
Germantown, MD

Local police were summoned to the 5200 block of Marley Drive on the slightly frightening side of Germantown at 2:45 this morning to investigate reports of possible domestic violence or, at the very least, a loud and embarrassing dispute between a man and his long-time, live-in drug.

"When officers first arrived on the scene, in response to a number of complaints about a disturbance, they found the drug on the front sidewalk, next to a large pile of what appeared to be her personal belongings. She was hysterical, and was repeatedly throwing items at the front door and at a second-floor window, shouting nearly incoherent demands that the occupant of the home come out, 'Just to talk, just to talk,'" a Montgomery County Police spokesman told reporters this morning.

One officer, who requested his name not appear in this report, said that the drug - later identified as Prednisone - did not even acknowledge the presence of the responding officers for several minutes and that when she finally did, they wished that she had not. "That pill was bat-shit crazy," he said. "She was hurling all kinds of stuff from that pile at the house - articles of clothing, grilling tools, bottles of Citracal and Diovan, a vinyl copy of Synergy's Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra, Pixie Stix, boots, a lawn sprinkler - you name it, she was throwing it. She did this bizarre Hideo Nomo-like wind-up and hit the front door with a fastball consisting of several of those Hoti medallions that come with bottles of Pyrat Rum, breaking the glass on the storm door."

"That upped the charges from Creating a Disturbance and maybe Harassment to Destruction of Property and Battery Against a Dwelling," said a second officer, also speaking to us on condition of anonymity. "She was wearing a soiled, ill-fitting wedding dress over what appeared to be an Anne Taylor suit. She kept screaming at the house - 'You need me!' 'You'll die without me!' 'I can change!' 'Can't we just talk about this?' 'I love you SO much!' 'I'm sorry I made you mad at life, baby!' 'Get your ass out here - you owe me!' 'I didn't mean to hurt you.' 'If you don't take me back, I will not be responsible for what happens!' and so on. I've been on the force for 21 years, so I've seen some very M.O. people, but this was one messed-up subject."

The Police spokesman reported that Prednisone made several explicit threats against the man, insisting that if he ended their four-year relationship, she would proceed to make him hurt everywhere - not just joints, but muscles, eyeballs, head - everywhere - and that she would make his mood swing from homicidal to suicidal to punchy to melancholy and back again without reason or warning.

"Yeah - she said she would like, hurt him like listening to 71 straight hours of 'mm-bop' and make his lung shit come back and kill him over and over and leave his mangled body in a ditch, and stuff," said a neighbor who witnessed much of the disturbance. "For a while, he was in the upstairs window, all like 'You don't own me so stop acting like you do,' and 'I'm calling the cops,' and 'I thought we could both behave like grownups, but I guess I was half-wrong,' and 'Thanks for the life-saving, but you gotta GO now,' and 'Look - I gave you all the Beastie Boys stuff, can't we just call it even?' and 'Don't! Don't you dare throw that panda at the house! That was a GIFT, you heartless bitch! If you don't want it, just leave it on the sidewalk,' and there was a whole lot of 'Just go away, please,' and 'It. Is. Over,' and stuff like that. And she was all throwing stuff at the house and like 'Ohhh, you need me. You won't be happy without me,' 'You can't live without me and you know it,' and whatever. After a while, he closed the window and turned off the lights and the cops came."

Another neighbor, when asked for insight into the situation, responded with a blank look and "Who? You mean the dude with the convertible who never comes out of his house? That guy? No one here knows him at all."

The official report goes on to detail the tense standoff, including a moment near its conclusion when the suspect held a gun to her head for several minutes, sobbing and declaring her intention to kill herself if he didn't come outside, then spinning in place, shrieking "Be my young lion!" and firing as many as sixteen indiscriminate shots, striking several cars and surrounding homes, but fortunately not causing any injuries to police or neighbors.

"That was pretty intense," reported the arresting officer. "But we still felt we had the situation under control at that point - right up until she started singing - howling, really - 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' at the top of her lungs. I swear, that 'turn around, bright eyes' stuff was cracking windshields on our cruisers and putting my fellow officers directly in harm's way. I knew I had to take action. I deployed my taser device, subdued Prednisone and took her into custody without further incident, although she did resist arrest quite vigorously."

No injuries were reported, and charges are said to be pending, as of press time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Excerption To The Rule About Not Posting NaNoWriMo Excerpts

The easiest blog posts are the ones already written. Sure, this bit (haha - BIT!) from my 2010 NaNoWriMo project about undead people eaters needs a little more spit and polish, but whatever. I like it. And yes, Doug is a dog...

He held the cricket bat with his right hand and one of the 9mms in his left, told Doug to stay, then crouched down and crept, cat-burglar-style, across the asphalt to what was left of the body he'd just passed. Please have the keys, please have the keys, please have the keys, he thought. There they were - about five feet beyond the space in which she had fallen and died and been mostly devoured by monsters that until recently had been regular people. Bill tiptoed past her and wrapped his fingers around the keys, scanned his surroundings again and turned back toward the Jeep. As he passed her remains again, he couldn't help but take a closer look at her. That was when he saw it. Beneath her broken, bloody, half-eaten torso - clutched with a mangled skeletal dead hand between her mostly-intact and bloody-sweater-clad breasts - was a baby. Bill glanced around him again, then bent down low and looked more closely. It was wearing a little pink dress and appeared to be in one piece, and it was dead, staring vacantly into the parking lot with dry eyes devoid of life. "Look at that and tell me there's a god," Bill whispered, his voice shaking with a mixture of heartbreak and rage.

After learning that the Jeep had only a quarter-tank of gasoline - since it had become one of his central challenges over the past couple of weeks, Bill had taken to repeatedly saying "gasoline" with an Australian accent, like Mad Max - Bill had siphoned ten gallons from the car directly behind the Jeep. He had brought the small, battery-operated pump from the boat, but still it only had a six-foot tube, so he transferred the gay-zoh-line to the Jeep five gallons at a time, using the big empty paint bucket that had been in the back, behind the baby seat. Actually, it had been full when he found it - just not of paint. It had been full of baby toys.

While the second bucketful of gas was being pumped into the Jeep, Bill took as many of the toys as he could carry over to the bodies of mother and child. He knelt next to them and scattered the toys around. When he reached in to put a ring of oversized plastic, pastel-colored keys under the mother's half-body, close to the baby, it screamed and hissed and wriggled and bit at the keys with ghastly, toothless bites. "Shit! Zombie baby!!" Bill squealed as he jumped back, covering his mouth to prevent any other loud noises from flying out of it. The undead infant was still gurgling and growling as Bill backed away. "Okay, look at that and tell me there's a god!" He ran back to the Jeep, where the pump was sputtering, having already sucked the last of the gasoline from the bucket into the tank. He shut off the motor, tossed the pump and its hose into the bucket and threw put them in the back. The handful of zombies who had been aimlessly stumbling around in front of the convention center was now a fistful of zombies who had heard the baby and/or Bill's screams and now staggered rather less aimlessly in the direction of the Jeep.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Some Notes For Your Next Breakup

To: prednisone@blessingandcurse.drug
From: joe@mostlyharmless.patient
Date: June 5, 2011
Subject: Things I'd really like you to stop doing

Hey you. How's it going? Sorry I haven't returned any of your calls. You know I totally want to, but I just can't. I know by now you know this is not a drill. I'm not bluffing. It really is *over*. And I know that sucks. I know it does. But we are both adults (well, I'm an adult - you're more of a steroid). If we can't part ways as friends - and it is looking more and more as though we cannot - then we need to just part ways. Period.

You say you want to stay friends. If that is true, then there are some things I really need you to do or, more to the point, stop doing.

  • If you're going to send flowers, here's a tip: send live ones. The stuff with which you've been flooding my life of late has been shriveled enough to adorn an Addams Family set.
  • You know I love chocolate. You know from that one Valentine's Day that those sugar-free chocolates are really quite powerful laxatives. Yet, lo and behold, that is what you sent me. I lost a half-day of work and the respect of everyone in my office. Thanks a lot.
  • Do not reenact the climactic scene from "Never Been Kissed" at the Frederick Keys game - especially on a night when I'm not even there. It's just embarrassing.
  • I'd rather you didn't drunk-dial me late at night, especially if you're too drunk to hear the beep, leaving a voicemail of mostly dead air and inebriated steroidal breathing. Or if it's karaoke night wherever you are. Or if you're drunk enough to dial my mom's number instead of mine. Just stop. Get a wing-man or something - someone to take custody of your phone until the danger has passed.
  • You know I love gifts, and you know I like cool toys for my cubicle at work, but seriously dude - a whole case of mortar-and-pestle-shaped stress balls emblazoned with "CADISTA PHARMACEUTICALS" is not exactly going to win me back.
  • Yes, I loved the 1980s - music, TV, movies, Presidents - you name it. But OMG do NOT stand in my front yard holding up a boom box bellowing as loudly as its D-cell-powered wooferlets can bellow, especially if your "come back to me" songs of choice are The PiƱa Colada Song or Fat-Bottomed Girls.
So. Just to recap: Stop trying to stop me from breaking up with you. It won't work. There's nothing you can do to change my mind. I get no joy from seeing you suffer, and even less from seeing you make a fool of yourself, but this is happening. PLEASE do us both a favor and move on. Please?