Enter At Your Own Risk

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A few days ago I took a hike through the concrete jungle of Washington D.C. where invasive weeds–highrises that blot out the sun–are expanding their foothold unchecked everyday, and so called “nature paths” are a lawsuit waiting to happen.   

In the shadow of a twenty-story condominium, my children and I read the trailhead sign, “Caution: proceed at your own risk; this is a nature trail.”  We glanced suspiciously around at the watershed area protected–or maybe contained–by a chainlink fence and ventured forth.  This was the shortest part of our hike.  If I had been texting my partner at the time to ask if I should enter this apparent natural hazard, I would have missed it.  

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One of the most beautiful aspects of the forest, though, is that it never ceases to move me toward lighter and freer thoughts.  Leaning on the black iron railing that ran the length of the nature trail, my children and I were overcome with laughter as we faked slipping off the path to our death or pretended to be ravaged by mutant squirrels.  To be fair, we did identify one spot where a natural outcropping of tree roots would have caused Stephen Hawking to slow his wheelchair as he passed over them.  We even took a photo in case we wanted to sue later for the emotional trauma we suffered.

img_4706Another part of my D.C. hike included a forest I couldn’t see for the tree.  In the middle of a construction zone, workers had sectioned off a space the size of a vending tent and posted it with signs that read, “Forest Retention Area.”  Here I am forced to look up the word ‘forest’ to make sure I’m not crazy.  “Forest: a large tract of land covered with trees and underbrush; woodland.”  Ah, but what can I expect in a country that gives us names like “Citizens United,” a Koch family-funded political action committee that supports corporate interests in our government. Or The “USA Freedom Act” that weakens our rights to privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

A few days before, I couldn’t wait to get to D.C..  As a hobby-anthropologist–otherwise known as a writer–I find D.C. a beautiful melting pot of every culture on earth, a pot that one can be nearly starved for while living in Vermont’s homogenous gene pool.  D.C.’s taste in clothing aside–which ranges from gray to black–our nation’s capital is not just diverse, it’s an inspiration to principles that seem in short supply.  In the Library of Congress, I found a plaque that gave me hope because it wouldn’t be easily removed no matter how many times our Bill of Rights or scientifically proven facts were gutted by political and religious agendas.  It said,

img_4786“The inquiry, knowledge, and belief of truth is the sovereign good of human nature.”  

The idea that the search for truth is the highest ideal of humankind will need to be remembered when our current political wave has been sucked back into the dark vacuum from which it came.

Despite its good points, hiking in D.C. can be annoying. When I left, I was ready to cinch my boots tight and hike without waiting at a traffic light or standing in line for a bathroom.  I wanted to be immersed in frigid temperatures as I marched up a hillside and felt that I was stronger than the weather, bolder than the mindset induced by fear mongering signs, and more clever than the fog of mistruth that surrounds our government and media right now.

My time in concreteville told me my thick skin was more translucent than I thought, though.  I needed a break from the human dream that we are collectively imagining.  Carried forward by our herd mentality, we humans have a need to join and be like others in a way that seems far more influential than our need to be clear about what is real and what is not, what is good and what is not, what is ultimately fulfilling and what is not.  We have no grounding point in a sea of ideas other than the dynamic general consensus.  When that sea is being bombarded by people with self-serving agendas that we–in our human condition–are predisposed to trust and believe in, what do we firmly hold onto that tells us if we are okay or not?

Me? I hold onto the forest.  Among the trees, I find peace and solace in an upside-down world.  So just remember, if you’re daring to venture into a Forest Retention Area, you fail to do so at your own risk.

 

Adam’s Approach

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I took a hike today, a two hour excursion. I had dropped off my youngest–2 yrs old–to my partner and kept driving up the road; a mere fifteen minutes and I was out in no man’s land. I took a wet and rocky road up a mountain with the Sub. It scraped bottom a few times and I think I finished cracking off the front bumper–the under part that had smashed into sidewalks and snow banks left by plows at the end of our driveway.

Driving through town, it was a mild day of 40 degrees and most of the November snow had melted. A woman waddled down the street, her neon blue big gulp in hand, well on her way to a self-induced government-subsided case of diabetes. My sympathy dies when l see those kinds of choices, but then I think about sugar being eight times more addicting than cocaine and I have nothing to say in defense of my asshole opinion.

Today my head was filled with numbers and problems but no solutions and my mood felt like a molding slug. Being a writer or any artist really sucks sometimes, and trying to make it pay sucks even worse. But the moment of writing is like sucking on a big gulp, I guess, so I was in search of the answers that would keep that cocaine on steroids a part of my daily life. I knew I could find it if I just got my blood moving.

I finally reached an area I didn’t dare take the Sub. Like trump with a model, I was abusive but not out to kill her–at least not so far. Besides, the road split and the branch where I wanted to go was blocked off with both a gate and a river. I marked it as a waypoint on my GPS. In the future I would bring my bike and cross the river with it–loggers had smoothed it out pretty well.

To cross, I settled for a balancing stick and a fallen tree followed by a scramble over stone. I was in sneakers and I didn’t want to get them wet. The climate was different here from town. An inch of snow remained, but everything was white washed and clad in beauty. I’d waited days to be out where I couldn’t hear chainsaws or truck motors–or for that matter other people’s voices. I was alone.

I nearly ran up the road like an exuberant elf. A short ways in, I found a forgotten homestead by the river’s divide. All that remained was the thrusting foundation of a house and the bones of a large ninteenth century barn–at one end was an indent that may have held water where it would be kept from freezing in the winter. The farmer was ambitious, or maybe inspired. The area was a small haven, forest and wildlife on every side, this glade a sizable field, with enough water nearby to run a mill. I was looking for similar inspiration, but some leading to a longer legacy.

I kept walking. The snow was getting slowly deeper. I wish I had worn boots, but I knew I didn’t have long to hike before I needed to return to family responsibilities and avoid the early darkness. I had half-an-hour more. I put all that junk out of my mind. I looked at the GPS. I was hunting for an “easy” way to the top of Adam’s mountain that was short. So far so good. The road was bikeable here. Even if I didn’t bike up it with a full pack this spring, coming down would be quick in case of emergency–like ripping my leg open because I was practicing my yogini’s tree pose on the edge of a precipice.

Whatever problems I thought I had dissolved into the wafer-brittle cold air when they were sweat out. I came to a halt later than I should have when the snow was plunging over the top of my shoes, but it was okay; I’d found what I was looking for. To the south west, the woods opened up into sparse deciduous trees climbing a reasonable slope towards Adam’s Mountain. The ridge above would provide an unmistakable guide to the top some other day.

On the way down, blood moving, my brain found the first step toward untwisting the life puzzles in front of me. Answers, adventure and health all in a two hour hike that didn’t cost me a dime. Not a bad deal.

Candy-Coated Election

President Chump

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I know a lot of people are trying to candy-coat the election – chin up, move on, put our best foot forward, teach love by giving love, reach across the aisle – and that’s where I falter. Let’s not forget that the Grand Ol’ Party stone-walled President Obama on every single thing he tried to do whether they agreed with it or not. When he reached out, it taught them nothing. “Grand Ol’ Party” is the nickname of the Republican Party for those who didn’t know what GOP stood for – I confess, I did not, but now that I know, I guess I can loosen up and have a good time….

Right. No. No, I can’t. I tried for two days. I thought about how my life would be better now that the Grand Ol’ Party had swept the nation on Tuesday and how I might capitalize on it – ’cause God knows I’m not going to be spiritually uplifted, even by a party that claims to be Jesus loving. As I sat in the woods with my chainsaw trying to find a reason to get up and get working, I suddenly didn’t feel like embracing the candy-coated attitude about this election because I was struck with this thought:

Our new President-elect is a racist, a sexist, and blatant liar. He’s not even a good liar. He will lie knowing he’ll be found out, but he doesn’t care. There is evidence that he is such a pathological liar that he may not even be aware that he is lying. The lie has become his new truth. That’s pretty fucking scary to anyone who can add two and two.

I’ve always thought of America as a country built on principals and occasionally good sense, but I’m feeling a “bigly” vacuum of both. This election taught me that both education and parenting in this nation are substandard (that means “sucks” for those of you who are confused). Only ignorance of the principals of democracy and a complete lack of manners could account for our president-elect’s rise to power. Yes, I know, the forgotten middle class; we can’t eat dignity, right? But…

When someone degrades your women and lies to your face, then tries to sell you magic beans to fix all your life’s ills, do you trust him? You do? God, you’re stupid! I have never been more ashamed of being an American. Worse, I’ve never been more ashamed of being a white male who’s American. Yuck! My kids have to grow up in this shit! [please excuse my lack of manners there]

As I said to my daughter, “It’s okay, Trump didn’t win the popular vote, so less than half of Americans are insane.” I can breathe easy knowing that.

So, I’ve decided to do two things:

1. I’m going to speak up. I’m not going to be all peace and love with these people until they give me a good reason. If they are going to continue to support policies that poison our drinking water, block policies that could mitigate climate change, grow our prison economy for people of color, submit our women’s bodies to federal control, and continue to centralize the money to the very top percent, then I am going to consider their grand fucking party an act of war against my person and my tribe. It may not sound it, but my tribe is the one who believes in Love over Fear and Diplomacy over War, but also Intelligent Knowledgeable Awareness over Blind Insensitive Stupidity. I am not going to Love you if you Hurt me, and I will not be Apathetic if you try. That’s where I stand.

2. I am going to embrace one thing that the Grand Ol’ Boys will be proud of. I am going to monetize and capitalize on this presidency the way comedians capitalized on President Bush, starting with this T-shirt I designed (see image). Want one?

I can swallow this election, but it’s a bitter pill.

Off-Center

The HollowThe transition from blitzkrieging carpenter to contemplative writer is tripping over your own work boots and falling on your face into a swamp.

At the central core of most carpentry projects is the body fueled by adrenaline and the mind sharpened like an unforgiving fireman’s ax as it cleaves through past mediocrity, realizing the client’s vision of the future one cup of coffee at a time. If you’re having emotions about your building project, get out of the way! With heavy-metal blasting in my ears I feel like a Marvel God descending to earth as I rip out walls with my mighty sledge hammer. I like it, but I don’t love it. I will never stick around milking the job dry. In. Out. Home.

My relationship goes in the crapper when I work as a carpenter because I am an unfeeling juggernaut who coldly engineers solutions and heatedly moves objects by force. Sex is an earthly pastime that helps mitigate the coffee, adrenaline, and alcohol soup in my brain as it desires to be shut up and shut off. Not very romantic.

I embrace those induced walls, though, because without them I would be Auguste Rodin’s the Thinker (in clothes) made not from bronze, but some kind of new age mood gel. I would wonder if today was a good day to use the 16oz hammer on finish nails, or, if my friend was right, the 20oz hammer with the bigger surface area makes it more likely to hit the nail. Are the dents in the trim less deep with the larger head? With my aching shoulders, do I even want to sand that crap? What grit sandpaper should I stop at? Will the homeowner notice or even care? Do I even FEEL like doing this aspect of the job right now? Yes, people would be surprised if the Thinker suddenly exclaimed, “Get ‘er done!” More likely he would hold his head and say, “Make it stop!”

Ah, carpentry!

Writing, on the other hand, calls to me like a siren, waving its naked limbs, luring me in with its neptune kissed lips, singing the melody I’ve wanted to hear for weeks. Down I go, drowning in the depths beneath the ocean’s surface. And yet, I am surprised that the liquid filling my lungs contains so much oxygen I continue to breathe. I am experiencing emotion and becoming acutely aware of the people around me and yet I’m not dead. What’s more, I finally tune into my own emotions–yes, I have them!–but that’s where things get scary…

The day was fine. I was driving through the Hollow until I found a place to stop. I love the Hollow. I think about how a whole neighborhood used to live there, and now it’s too far off the beaten path. The stone foundations of cellar holes languish amongst the trees, stone walls run counterpoint to the road, and the strings that are supposed to connect all things seem to be severed in that place. The busy cantankerous din of civilization is only an echo there.

My coffee haze is gone. I feel days tired. I sense the passing of my own ego needs, and in their place the world is talking to me. I want to weep. I don’t admit that lightly. I can FEEL the mood of the people who built these foundations in the Hollow. Hope. Joy. Appreciation. In the work they found a quiet contentment. They watched the passing of seasons and moose with wonder. This place acts like a vacuum. Nothing pushed at me for its attention; instead everything pulled at me, creating an inner need to respond. Yet, I felt the chains that bound me to the clock, to the dollar, to responsibilities–some I love and some I could discard without regret.

There was so much I felt compelled to say standing there, and I had to wonder if everyone else would feel the same in their own shoes, standing in this spot. Weighted down, over pushed, under listened to or misunderstood, driving forward until they took their foot off the gas and found they were actually on the tram riding along with friends and strangers. In the driver’s seat a non-descript clone is doing his job, unconcerned about your desire for meaning or quest to follow your bliss.

The source of all the words I wanted to say is the scary thing. I found it on my own, in the back corner where nature still holds the upper hand. It’s truth. A reflection of all I feel about the life I’m living held in contrast to an image of the life I want where my emotions are less turbulent. So much less, that I don’t need to block them off.

Imagine.

How long does a person allow themselves to be knocked off-center before they cease to be themselves, having begun to revolve around a new core? I don’t really want to find out. As far as I can tell, that is the road to chronic disease, when your actions become unaligned with your heart. So, having been lucky enough to trip over my own boots into the swamp, I will pick myself up, brush myself off and try to stay walking the right path as long as I can.

A Lesson in Etiquette from Stoners and Drunks

picnic table remainsA couple days ago I was up stupidly late when I heard a voice outside. I live in the sticks, so this is unusual. I turned out the light and slipped outside with bo stick in hand–yes, I watch too many of those shows when I’m too exhausted to move, but too awake to stop the mouse wheels in my head. After a moment, I heard a stoner’s hacking down the road followed by a loud drunken rap, subject matter revolving around “that damn bitch.” I could hear hip-hop in the other direction emanating from a car parked by our spot of the river and the party was happenin’.

I was in my pajamas. Evening had ground well past midnight. I decided to spare them my “I don’t care if you party here, just don’t leave any trash behind” speech. I enjoy drunken fools, even hostile ones, but I didn’t even have energy to find my shoes–which is why I was standing in the wet grass in my socks listening to another passed over artist make his way up the road.

In the morning the kids and I went to see if our guests left us any presents. They always sign the registry with the usual burn marks, spinning tires tearing up the grass as they exit. Their donation to the tip jar was equally common, a miserly fifteen cents in returnables, with the other portion of the donation burned or broken in the sacrificial fire. Superstition is alive and well, it would seem. However, they added a special caveat I hadn’t seen before.

I believe in the “make it better when you leave” philosophy, but I felt outdone by my unexpected company’s etiquette. After carrying my picnic table a hundred feet for something to sit on, they decided that its slowly rotting frame and crumbling paint job were finally in need of replacement. They must have been moved by the images painted on the picnic table by my children of hearts and rainbows with words like “love” and “peace,” those age old axioms of empathetic humanity.

Out with the old, in with the new? If you want something to come into your life, make room for it? Grow new seeds in tilled dirt? IDK? WTF?

This is why their customs challenged me to open my mind:

1. When I am a stupid drunken fool, I tend to burn branches. I identify with branches. I grew up around them. Despite this, when I looked around the dead fire in the morning, all I could see were signs of my sylvan neglect; undisposed fallen branches were everywhere. Yet here were people whose experience was more “refined” than mine. They identified with furniture, aware that it possessed flammable qualities, and were willing to sacrifice their place to sit to do me the honor of burning my picnic table. Wow and huh.

2. Their spirited dedication in honoring me was further demonstrated when they left evidence behind. No, I’m not talking about the sales slip identifying them as people who bought Corona at Scumbies on October 1, 2016. It’s the illegally burned painted boards arranged around the fire’s perimeter like the spokes of a bicycle wheel as it breaks apart from sonic speed. That’s what happens to my mind when I try to think fast enough to comprehend the profound wisdom of my guests, and all I get instead is “duh…..” To be bold enough to do me such a favor while dodging the deft grip of law enforcement AND flaunt it in their faces by leaving evidence behind! Incredible.

Taking Up Space

notinmynameDo you ever have those days when you realize you are just taking up space and sucking up air? Let’s not forget burning money, creating need, and consuming food. And to justify your existence…there is nothing. You have not contributed to the world in any way or made it a better place. Maybe, just maybe, by your own passivity, you have not added to the endless pool of hate mongering and ignorant divisionists in the world. And there it is! You have done your part.

Right now, when I listen to the news, I think “Oh my God, these people will never stop killing each other.” Why can’t they just be cool? Why can’t they accept that they will always feel insecure around strong women and then just suck it up? What’s the aversion to “shit happens” and “let’s forget about it” and “I was wrong, I’m sorry” and sometimes just “I’m okay.”

I think most jihadists need to get laid and have a drink. I think the CIA needs to stop meddling in other countries politics because they obviously suck at it. I’m thinking Bin Laden and the rise of ISIS here, both of which they had a hand in. Dig further back and you find more CIA mistakes, lies, corruption, manipulation of “we the people,” and serving and answering to corporations not our elected officials. “I’m sorry, Mr. President, you don’t have a need to know.” Ah, who’s in charge, then? Apparently, not a person elected by the people.

I know I’m rambling. I haven’t had much sleep–babies, ya know? So unpredictable. But speaking of babies, I watched a video of this kid my son’s age after most of his family was bombed. He seemed level headed, smart, angry and asking the same questions every other person on this planet is asking who doesn’t have their head up their ass or are watching FOX news (maybe the same thing?) and that’s “WHY?”

Whenever I see bombs drop, I hear the money sound in my head–Cha-ching, cha-ching–and I wonder who just paid for a new yacht or political campaign? Making big money is the main factor in our world contrary to common sense. We know statistically that bombs make jihadists, yet we keep dropping them. Hmmm. I love money, but I think it is made out of the same stuff that’s in the sun. If you have some, you get a big warm lot of fun. If you have too much, it collapses in on itself and forms a black hole. And that’s what we have, too many people with black holes where their warm heart of fun should be, sucking all the light from the planet.

This may seem like a tangent, but hey, like I said, I haven’t had much sleep. I listened to this commentator on the Global Climate Summit in France. His voice shook with suppressed rage, stating that he was from the only government there that had a faction determined to undermine anything that came out of the summit–no matter what it was. What is that about? What country would have a powerful faction determined to go against 99% of the world’s scientists and ignore their recommendations for change? Who would be so arrogant as to disregard the conclusions reached by “all the nations of the world?” Who should be tarred and feathered, run out of town on a rail, or…sorry…how about simply going home and getting out of the way? Nothing violent. Nothing angry. Just go home and try to connect to your compassion.

Stop thinking your ideology has all the answers. Stop being a black hole. Stop killing the innocent. Stop being such fanatical fundamentalists–I’m talking about the Republican leadership here. Chill out. Relax. Do some yoga. Be cool, man, be cool.

Building Seven?

WTC7_in_FreefallThis morning I was looking for the medium sized pot lid and I had to stop and think. Since I had looked everywhere, it could only be one place: right in front of me. That was exactly where it was. I am surprised at how often this happens, but I think it is allegorical to the human condition. How often do we dismiss what is right in front of us? Of course, the answer is we have no idea.

In my writing The D Generation, I am faced with this truth over and over. I have researched many topics from alternative energy sources, 9/11, shadow governments, to the existence of aliens. That’s right, the fringe. I have run into a lot of facts, the kind that are like elephants—no, mammoths—in the room, and I think “How could anyone ignore this?”

Yet, it’s really easy to ignore it, miss it, or forget it. That’s the way our minds are engineered. If some bit of information isn’t repeated it gets downgraded until eventually the cells holding on to that information die off without being replicated, or the neurons that once fired to connect to that knowledge are dead. And this is especially true if people want to ignore it. Think about one thing you’ve asked your partner to do or change in their behavior that’s so obviously wrong to you and still they continue to do that thing their own way (and totally screw it up, of course). You would scream at them, but you know it’s just habit, and habits are hard to break.

This is a small and personal example, but let’s look at a really big one that effects millions.

What happened to building seven? What the @#%& is building seven, you ask? You are not alone, in 2006 a poll showed that 43% of americans didn’t know about building seven, and I imagine that number has only grown. I even added to the misinformation by calling it building nine in Prussian Blue (I am not proud), which will be corrected in the second edition to come out this month. Building seven was the building in the World Trade Center complex that fell down in free fall during the 9/11 attacks even though nothing hit it. The 9/11 Commission Report didn’t mention it, and the media quickly forgot about it.

I could believe like others that nothing important happened there and that is why the media has forgotten about it. However, the investigator in me is quick to spot this anomaly as one of 9/11’s major smoking guns. If you go to a crime scene and you ignore half the clues (or maybe all of them), what are your odds of finding the real criminal?

Now that I’ve said that, what is your immediate reaction? I figure you fall into one of three categories: (1) I knew that. (2) This blog is bullshit. (3) I’ve heard this, but the theories are so ridiculous I’ve dismissed it from my mind.

Well, it doesn’t really matter how you feel about it. This isn’t an emotional question, this is a factual question. Pretend this is high school and your taking a test. Before the test you’re teacher reminded you to do what? Read the question, and then ask yourself “Did I answer the question?”

What happened to building seven?

This is my answer. I have no idea. For some reason I wrote building nine, I think it was due to some kind of mass hypnosis. I think the effects have finally worn off because I am now releasing new editions to all The D Generations, with most (but not all) typos fixed, and corrected covers. The first book never had a title since it was an only child, and now it does. The third book, though I love the cover, never fit the motif of the other two, making it look like it was in a generation of its own. So, I have to live with the Dgeneration of Skyclad’s cover…

…but do I have to live with the Dgeneration of my leaders, my media, my mind, my country, and building seven?

Dgenerates Unite!

skycladSKYCLAD has been released!

The ever popular, if somewhat controversial, The D Generation series continues with volume III, Skyclad, the most electric addition to the series yet.

The Blurb:

2056. The year isn’t over…

The Christians of the Apocalypse have come to bring God to the heart of Vermont, starting with hunting down the pagan James Mann, who left their Reverend Antonio Xaiden, “The Ax,” in a ditch to die.

The Ax is not the only one looking for justice. The Vermont Intelligence Agency is investigating the strange occurrences happening in Randolph, and they’re looking for prime suspect James Mann.

Meanwhile, James’s precognitive visions show him a slice of the future where everyone is happy, only he’s not in it. Does he sacrifice his life to protect his friends and community, draw the enemy away by staying on the run, or is there a choice he can’t foresee?

Where to get it:

Amazon:(paperback $10.79+shipping and kindle $6.99 )

Local: The Three Bean Cafe ($10.00 and no shipping)

What to expect:

Like the disclaimer says, this is an R-rated book. Some pages fall into the X-rated category, but what can I say, I’ve never claimed any purity in that department. The dialogue is natural—if you are a rockstar, carpenter, trucker, sex worker or priest. Subjects range from the absurdity of fanatical religion, the future possibilities of GMO food, family values, the hidden agenda of space aliens, and much more. Some of the concepts are interesting to think about, and hopefully you will get pissed off about at least one. Enjoy!

The Nanman isn’t stuck at home anymore.

Nanman102x160I realized I have been remiss in not talking about the release of the Nanman.  Well, today it was reviewed by Margot Harrison in Seven Days –thank you!!!–and I find the review to be honest (and 99% positive).  Check it out for yourself:

http://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/quick-lit-mannies-and-memories/Content?oid=2325192

On my site you can find more reviews, and the first 5000 or so words.  You can also check out the first ten chapters on Wattpad (including some material not found in the published book) for free.  Please leave a comment to encourage more people to read it–that really helps more than you know!

http://www.wattpad.com/story/9717694-the-nanman

The book can be found on Goodreads, which is a great platform if you read a lot:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18986597-the-nanman

And most importantly you can buy it on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Nanman-Eric-J-Best/dp/1493770225/

This book hasn’t been out long or publicized much so there aren’t any reviews on Amazon or Goodreads yet (hint hint).  I hope you enjoy it!

Frankenfinger (or Oooops!)

On November 11, 2013 I accidentally slid my hand into a jointer. I say they don’t call it a “jointer” for nothing. In a fraction of a second the end of my middle finger on my left hand had been deboned. The bone was reduced to fragments scattered around the workshop, which I have collected and intend to frame in the shop with “Safety First” written across the top.

DSCN6841 DSCN6845

The image above shows a tasteful look at the difference in my hands. I will spare you from seeing under the bandage. My middle finger is now the same height as my index.

At the time, I was prototyping a new line of wooden sword for kids. I was trying to drink less caffeine. Moon was in Pisces. I was being lazy, and instead of setting up my router and doing it right, I was shaping the side of the sword slowly with the jointer using the rail at a 45 degree angle. My eye had strayed to the rail to see if the wood was tight and my hand slid the sword forward an extra inch too far.

The worst part was that my two youngest kids were in the shop with me. I went into a rational state of shock, unplugged the machine, searched for a clean rag, and bled all over the place. Drew later told his mom, “I knew it was serious because dad never freaks out, but this time he said ‘fuck’ like five times.” Gracie said, “is ‘fuck’ spelled F-O-K?”

I told the kids to get into the truck and they didn’t argue, which told me they understood the situation was serious. They still didn’t complain when I peeled out of the driveway before they had their seat belts on and put my foot to the floor. I could see Drew filing away the experience that will no doubt come back to haunt me when he’s a teenager—“Wow, you can go this fast without getting caught by the police or killing yourself?”

I don’t know why I bothered. I got to the hospital, let some very nice person take my kids into the waiting room, and then was ushered to a gurney where I waited. It was at this point, as I tried to get someone I knew on the phone to come and take my kids home, that I realized my hand friggin’ hurt. At least there is a maximum pain level, and thank God. Once you have met that level and can handle it, you’re good. Eventually, they took me down to X-ray where the attendant said she wouldn’t tell me how bad I’d screwed up, which made it clear it was as serious as I thought it was. I’m not sure how long I endured the feeling that someone was taking a blow torch to my finger before I was shot up with a local anesthetic, and morphine. Ah, morphine…

My doctor did a great job and had a fine sense of humor. I like a man who can laugh and talk about good literature as he grinds away at your bone. Needless to say, I kept his email address so I could drill him for information about medical procedures—you know, for my books.

I specifically asked for no Oxycodone and got it anyway. That shit is evil. I went cold turkey after about a week and haven’t been right since. First, my mood plummeted so low I could imagine someone jumping off a bridge feeling like that, except that it would take a certain amount of ambition which oxycodone kills. I know myself well and recognized that these feelings were outside myself, not me, as it were, and didn’t give into them.

I had been scheduled to play congas at the local theatre for a private school’s production of In the Heights. I love latin music, and an opportunity like this in Vermont comes around every decade or so. Monday, detoxing and messed up in the head, I went to listen. I decided even with one hand I could contribute something so proceeded to practice everyday that week to do the show that weekend. The first night after practice I took off my bandage feeling in the heights of my depression and wondered if I was insane. What the hell am I doing? Why can’t I just lay on the couch like a normal person? I had a perfect excuse to be taken care of and I was still dragging wood into the house with stubborn determination and now I’m drumming all night?

The truth is, I am slightly crazy, but maybe not as stupid as I felt after I took the end of my finger off. Music is a healer. The pain that had been shooting up my arm and into my head from cramped muscles went away. My feeling of uselessness gave way to feeling a part of something great; the show came off well and as one of the few members of the band versed in latin music I thought I helped contribute something important. By the time the show was over my detox was over.

…ah…with the exception that I couldn’t sleep. I don’t sleep much anyway, but oxycodone robs you of your ability to sleep easily no matter how tired you are. Frustrating. Did I mention that oxycodone is evil?

Okay, this was supposed to be a short blog, but there’s something else I have to tell you. I’m on week three since the accident and I’ve just started to try typing with it—which was my number one concern the instant it happened. Luckily, the week before it happened I’d been listening to Stephen Hawking’s A Theory of Everything, and in the hospital I decided if Hawking can write without the use of his hands, than I could, too, if necessary. Now, that thought makes me laugh at myself. Losing the end of my finger is a long way from having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. But, I have to say, “Stephen Hawking, you the man!” You not only completely warped my sense of reality, but gave me hope as well.

I have a weird factoid about losing the end of your finger. Your brain still thinks it’s there and it’s waiting for some message from it. Since that doesn’t happen, the message is that the end of your finger is touching nothing, and whatever your hand is resting on must have a hole in it. I think the Police had a song about that…

The ultimate result is that I’m a little slower on the keyboard, but I appreciate everything so much more—my partner Sarah, especially, who has given me a deeper understanding of how important it is to be loved by someone who’s got your back. I won’t forget it.