Thursday, September 14, 2017

Signal Transmitted, Message Received...

Things that are weird:
 --Meeting the first man you called "dad" for the first time in 44 years.

--Learning that your mother up and fucked off to Palm Beach with her boyfriend in 1972, taking the kids and whatever she could carry, while that man--her husband--was attending training in Georgia for Church's Chicken.
...and 2 weeks to the day after the divorce was final, she married Boyfriend.

--learning that she screwed him out of $10,000 by typing her own name into a deed for 40 acres of land deeded by his parents to him.

--learning that you've got a plot of several relatives in the cemetery down the street. One of them is his grandmother. I have a picture of her and my mother, with an infant me in mom's lap. She died the year after I was born.

Turns out my mother was a conniving bitch who sanitized everything pre-1972 out of our lives and cut my adoptive father's parents off.

This isn't really a surprise--well, the conniving part wasn't. She had a hell of a reputation in local Creek Indian  circles. Maybe I'll try to find someone willing to talk dirt up in Atmore. Bad blood with the Poarch Creek folks, something about her and some legal paperwork she did for them.


So. Yeah. He came over from Crestview yesterday and we sat and talked for a couple of hours or so. I showed him pictures and gave him a couple of me around the age he last saw me. I learned that he was a cop from the late 50s till 1995 (aside from those 2 years with Church's Chicken). Drove community transportation for another 21 years.

We have a lot of catching up to do.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

CPAP Elephant.

I've been using one of these for the past 3 weeks. Not nearly as fun as this guy makes it look.

I got saddled with the CPAP thing after a couple of sleep studies showed me having a high rate of anomalies.

I got saddled with the sleep studies because I've been feeling exhausted. My main doc figured I wasn't sleeping enough, or not sleeping right, or whatever. He prescribed Ambien and referred me for the studies.

Screw the Ambien. I'm not having TROUBLE sleeping so much as having trouble maintaining it. Ever since Aorta Day 7 years ago, I sleep at most 3 hours at a time. Maybe I'll go back to sleep in a few hours, maybe in 12 or more. I never know, but once I'm awake I'm wired awake. I went from doing 8-9 hours overnight to "who the hell knows when?"

So. This CPAP thing is supposed to help me sleep better--hold my soft palate open in back.

So far, all it's doing is waking me up after an hour or so feeling like I'm suffocating.

"That's normal," the discussion groups all seem to say. "Stick with it."

"That's normal," the medical company's 'coach' tells me during his weekly call. "Stick with it."

"That's normal," the medical company's respiratory expert told me. "Stick with it."

When I've had all I can take and make it stop breathing at me, the little bastard machine at the other end of that elephant nozzle shows me how long it was forcing air up my snout, then shows me how this session rated against yesterday's. I've got to do a minimum 4 hours in every 24.

There's no slacking or cheating, either. It listens to my every breath and snort, writes everything down, then calls the medical company each day to tell them about it. The medical company makes up a report and sends it to Medicaid.

Nobody likes a tattletale.


I was calling this thing the "Snortmaster 3000" I'm leaning toward "Puffaluffagus." Or "Huffaluffagus." One of them was funny 10 minutes ago.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Message in a Bottle...

Mailed off a card to my...father.

Man, that sounds weird. I've spent most of the last 44 years with an entirely different man in that role. I considered the Old Man my step-father, especially during the times I was on the outs with him over his bigotry.

BUT...I never really thought of Mr. Emery as my real father, either, probably because I barely remembered him. I couldn't tell you what he looked like back in the early 70s.

One of my earliest memories is sitting on his lap and watching "Felix the Cat" on TV.

Him giving me a sip of his beer. I seem to remember puking it back on him.

Toys. There was one day--birthday? Christmas?--when I was sitting on the floor playing with one of the big G.I. Joe guys...I remember
">SSP/SST racers and a boxed Cox P-40 Warhawk. I don't know if these were gifts or maybe attempted bribes from one angry parent trying to lure my affections away from the other.
My mother married and divorced this guy twice.

Two weeks to the day after the second divorce, she married the Old Man. Husband number four. She was with him longer than the previous three together, so there's that.

I remember crouching in the bushes at the front of that one house, though, holding onto that toy plane still in its box. There was a small white car, I think a 60s BMW with small round taillights.

Couldn't say when that was, other than more than 44 years ago.

Kept the note plain, simple, enough to fill one leaf of a blank greeting card and part of the next. Contact info. The rest is up to him: I don't have a map for the rest of this hike.

[photo by Liana Joseph]

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

What do you say to a father you haven't seen in 44 years?

I was adopted at birth; I never met either of my birth parents...but this isn't about them.

This is about my adoptive mother's 3rd husband. When I was born, the two of them adopted me. I was named for him: Charles Richard Emery, jr. --actually a third, since he's named for HIS father.

I was a Charles until sometime after April 12, 1973, when they divorced. I was about 5-1/2 and only vaguely remember him.

Two weeks later, mom married for the 4th time, to the man I called "Dad" but really thought of as a stepfather. He adopted me in 1974, my birth certificate was changed, and my mother got me to pick a new name.

She scrubbed every bit of Richard out of her life--no photos, no letters, his name, probably even common contacts, family...everything. He wasn't even 40 when we left. Now he's 81, married (to a Diana...Charles and Diana, hahahahaha!), and might even have 4 daughters.

I've known where Richard lives for a couple of years; when I started tracing out family stuff, I looked for him online. A few days ago, I deepened that search and decided to write to him.

 What do I call him?

What the hell do I SAY to him?

"Hi, Dad, long time no see, how's tricks?"

I'm hashing it out...but talk about your uncharted territory.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Twenty Years since Number Two

Twenty years ago today, I met the woman I've since nicknamed "Number Two." Probably the most descriptive nickname I've given someone.
I would hope she's become a better person in 2 decades, instead of the mean little emotional tarball she was in 1996. I know she was miserable--bipolar, doc working on her meds, a Norplant stick in her arm, and her emotional baggage from too many bad relationships and parental abuse. She's about 90% blind, as well.
I got stuck in that mess for four and a half months. Happens pretty quickly, even when you're not trying to "save" someone like that. They can still pull you in, then pull you apart. She used the threat of suicide, overdoses, guilt, her disability, whatever she could to try to keep me around or just to get her way.
I helped her move into her own place, from an utterly shitty apartment to a 14x80 trailer with a "rent to own" plan on it. I did what I could to simplify her home life--I did all the cleaning, cooking, and whatever. She went to work with clean clothes and a daily bath. There were some good days...there were more bad ones. I learned how everything was my fault. I learned the many ways that I was WRONG:
--if I worked on my car, I wasn't spending time with her
--if I spent time with her, I wasn't taking time for myself
--if there was a problem with the car, I should have been maintaining it
--I caused her bad day at work
--she had a good day; this was my fault, too.
--If I was off from work, I was supposed to answer the phone when she called to check up on me.
--If I didn't answer immediately, I was probably cheating on her
--had to account for every waking moment not spent at work or near her
--yelled at me for 20 minutes for washing my car.
I had a part-time job at the time, but I was on the hunt for something better, because I had my own plans. I wanted my own place. It took almost 4 months for me to finally secure a full-time job. By that point, that trailer was a cage--and my part-time job was the lock on its door. I finally escaped--Free!--in late December and lever looked back. Like I said, I hope she got better--but there's no way I'm going to look her up to find out.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Clint Eastwood's an idiot.

Clinty says this is a "sad time in history." He's decided that he's okay with der Hair Fuehrer's racism, because it wasn't racism when Clinty was growing up.
Clint, you know what's a sad time in history?
--being a world-famous black woman who can't sleep in the hotel where the just performed.
--having Frank Sinatra browbeat the hotel manager for a room...only to have the hotel management burn all the bedding, right down to the mattress, as soon as you're out, because a black woman slept there.
-- "blacks only" water fountains.
--"separate but equal" schools that aren't equal.
--three white kids murdered and burned in their car for helping black people register to vote.
--black people being hanged for trying to vote.
--black churches firebombed.

"Get over it."
"When I grew up, those things weren't called racist."
 No? Maybe not by you. Things people were able to get away with when you grew up are unacceptable now. You need to "get over it. "
But maybe your Dirty Harry was right: "A man's gotta know his limitations."
 I think we just found the extent of yours.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tonight's bachelor fuel: Beef Stroganoff a la Rice Cooker

--1 box of Winn Dixie "skillet dinner" stroganoff flavor

--1 can (15 oz) Hormel corned beef hash

All the "skillet meals" (Hamburger Helper and the like) are is a box of noodles or rice and a packet of sauce. Not much different from Rice a Roni, boxed mac & cheese, the Knorr side dishes, etc.

You're expected to do everything in a skillet so that you can brown the ground beef or chicken and all that, but any one of these can be done in a rice cooker--and you only have the one pot to clean up.

SO: put your noodles in the pot and add water, about 2" over the top of the noodles. Hit the COOK button and let it bring the water to a boil. You can either let it boil a little and then add the rest of your ingredients, or you can add them now. Doesn't matter.

[edit: make that an inch, not 2, over the noodles; too much water makes the sauce soupy.]

Dump the can of corned beef, the sauce mix, and a cup of milk into the cooker, stir it all together and let it go. Once it's boiling again, you can let it finish its cycle on its own or just cook until the noodles are done "al dente".

Shut it off, let it cool a little, and serve.

Haven't tried any; this is my first time with it; there's always ground beef and stuff like beef tips or whatever, but those would require more than the one cooking pot, which kind of defeats my "one box of this, one can of that" vibe.

This was the first try, with the recipe as I originally wrote it (2" of water); I could have added some more pasta to bulk it up a little and get 4 solid servings.