Thank God For This Toothache.

1.200 bucks?  I'd rather suffer eternally.

1,200 bucks? I’d rather suffer eternally.

It’s been kind of a shitty few weeks here at Trudge Inc.  By that, I mean not my version of Heaven on Earth.  Which I realize is a tall order.  But this version didn’t even come close.  Not to what I’d prefer to orchestrate.  As my version.  Which, although perhaps a little complicated to arrange, wouldn’t cost very much.  Except maybe in hurt feelings.

Anyway, this was something very else.

Some low-grade depression, some ass-kicking physical pain, and a sprinkling of mid-ranged irritants.  All culminating with an ill-timed blow-up with my mom.  The day before her birthday.  Yeah I know.  I’m the worst son ever.  But I don’t want to brag about my ranking.  Fact is we fired at each other at point blank range with armor-piercing rounds.  And that seems to have brought up all these unpleasant feelings.  For both of us.  Go figure.

Ah well.  What’s done is done.  Very cathartic actually.  I’m sure after we spit out the mouthfuls of depleted Uranium dust and rebuild Fallujah, we’ll be just fine.

And maybe when I…(cough-cough)

…get somebody to remove…(urgh)

…this cinder block from my spine.

Better than a mother's love.

Better than a mother’s love.

So as I was nursing my self-inflicted wounds, trying my best not to figure it all out, I remembered the toothache.

A few weeks earlier I got a toothache.  On a Friday of course.  That way I’d have to wait until Monday to make my dentist’s car payment.  But in the meantime I’d get to celebrate a tooth-ache week-end.

And not by soaking and swishing it in scotch.  Or rubbing my gums with Civil War-era Laudanum ointment while crossing the border into Mexico with six hundred dollars of “fun money” and the phone number of a good taxi driver.

No, this would be alternate doses of aspirin and Ibuprofen.  War documentaries.  Ice Cream.  Petting the cats.  Trying not to hate life too much.

At one point it’s hurting like fuck.  I’m thinking about going into the garage, grabbing some pliers and really going Civil War.  Just start humming the Battle Hymn of The Republic while twisting out teeth until the pain stops.  It’s really the only manly way to handle this.  Just makes good horse sense.

Okay, but before I employ plan A, I need see if there are any options.  Need to wrap my head around this.  See if there might be a better solution.  One that doesn’t require vice-grips and Anbesol.  Or something even worse. expiration date.

Hmm…no expiration date.

I have this thing about mastering my misery.  Having dined on such heaping helpings of it, as an alcoholic, and as a human being, I’ve come to believe that suffering has to have some nutritional value.  There has to be some good from pain.  Otherwise everything I’ve endured, would just be fucked up shit that’s happened to me.

Because life sucks.

And death is probably worse.

Which as a concept, I don’t have a problem with.  It’s just that if I agree with it too much, I’m told, I become a drag to be around.  A real bummer boy.  A Downer Danny.  And I don’t want to be a Downer Danny.  Do you?

Besides, I tend to make bad decisions when I hate life.  That’s why I try to think the opposite of my favorite way and remain somewhat upbeat.  Just so I don’t bring Lori and the cats down too much.  Why should they pay because my tooth hurts?  Even though it only seems fair.

Okay, gratitude is a go-to.  I know being grateful has a positive effect on the personality complex.  Clinical studies have proven that grateful people are less of a pain in the ass to be around.  Gratitude also seems to be some sort of component for successful recovery from various maladies of mind and soul.

I know.  Insane.  That one’s attitude towards something would make any difference.  But apparently so.

But this is a toothache.  Can I be grateful for a toothache?  That’s really getting tin-foil.  That would be some seriously un-hinged Rasputin shit.  The howling of a madman.  Really clawing at the moon there.

That was all I needed to think.

“Thank you, oh merciful Creator, for this pain–this pain that’s radiating up through my jaw and jack-hammering into the top quarter of my skull–making my right eye water.  I don’t know why I should, but I’d like to thank you.  For this most generous gift.  I don’t know what I did to deserve it–I mean I have my suspicions–but thanks.  Anyway.  Amen.”

Yep.  I did it.  I gave thanks for my pain.  I really did.

Not snorting lines of Darvon off the belly of a Tijuana stripper will make a man do crazy shit alright.

Or, so it would seem.

What did I have to lose?  I was fucked anyway.  At least until Monday morning.  I’d consider it an experiment.  Maybe it will help me delineate where the power of gratitude runs into a brick wall.  And the friendly staff at La Farmacia Sureño need to take over.

Say, this is good shit.

Say, this pain annihilator is good shit.

Well, the pain didn’t magically go away.  But it did start to go in and out.  I’d get these small breaks when it would subside.  And I was genuinely grateful for those.  Anything to keep me out of the garage.  Or the liquor aisle.  Or heading south on I- 5.

I kept taking the aspirins and Ibus and rode out the waves of pain as best as I could.  Tried to have fun in spite of.  Tried to not let it ruin my weekend.  Or bring down those around me.

Well, it didn’t, and slowly the time between waves grew.  By Sunday night the pain was gone.  Stayed gone Monday morning.  And since.  No more toothache.

Interesting.  I’ve never had a toothache go away.  Not without having the dentist’s foot push off on my face.  Or had a hole drilled through my wallet.  Never.  I’m sure there’s such a thing as temporary toothache.  I’ve just never had one.

Not one that lasted all weekend.  Then went away.

But I’ve also never made a point of being grateful for having one.

Coincidence?  Maybe.  But a noteworthy one.  So I should forget about it right away.  Which I did.

Except now I remembered it and wondered if I could concoct another pain-relieving coincidence for this shit with my mom.  What if I gave thanks for this pain?  That would be pretty pathetic.  And desperate.

“Thank you, O merciful Creator, for bestowing me with this bounty of painful childhood guilt complexes triggered so effectively by your angelic worker, the mother of my life, the woman that delivered me to this terrifying orb of earth…that I have been cast down upon… for some horrible transgression I’m sure.  Because You, my Eternal Father, know best, that when it comes to being a good son, I’m the worst. ”

I have to admit, thanking for the toothache was easier.  That’s why I think it came first.  To help me ramp up speed for the leap of sanity required to be thankful for all this bullshit now.  But I did it.  I gave thanks–for all the bad feelings I was having.

Now this may be another coincidence, but I woke up the next day feeling better.  Lighter.  Nothing external in the situation had changed.  Just the way I felt about stuff.  Better perspective.   Better attitude.  Still some shrapnel in the guts, but less.  Decidedly.  I felt more waves of peace then I did of dread.  Eventually, things got better between me and my mom, but more importantly, between me and everything else.


Okay, let’s write it off to the power of suggestion.  I’ll take it.  Look, I’m an alcoholic trying to stay sober.  I can’t afford to be too picky how that happens.  I have to be ready to go to any lengths not to take that first drink.  If that means kissing the dusty feet of some Voodoo priestess while she blows powdered alligator liver on my head, or mind-gaming my cognitive thinking, if I can “suggest”  myself out of drinking, it’s a miracle.  One I should try to keep repeating.  If that means believing certain crazy things, and then acting on them, I’ll do it.

(To be fair, I was always good at that)

Anyway, that’s how I  “came to believe.”  I fucking had to.  I no longer had the luxury of being cynical.

Trying to connect with some invisible otherness was something I had  to do.  I got to a point in the train wreck when that was all that was left.  I had destroyed all other options.  It was that or die.  You know, Plan A.

So when you grasp that last straw, and it starts to grow into a stalk of wheat, like in the ergot-fueled finale of an Elysian mystery rite, you’re grateful.  And your life is never the same.  Which is a big relief.  And it’s the beginning of a new relationship.  Between you and everything else.

Slowly you start to see.  You start to understand.  No matter how bad something looks or feels, there’s something good behind it.  Something holy.  Some gift.  It might take an aeon or two before you see it.  But you know it’s there.  And that’s all that matters.

Whether it’s having a fucking toothache.

A fight with your mom.

Or being an alcoholic.

It’s good to give thanks.

Before you even know why.

Mrs. Winslow, you're trying to seduce me.

Mrs. Winslow, you’re trying to seduce me.











107 responses to “Thank God For This Toothache.

  1. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t read your work in some time, or if the moon’s insidious pull has thrown me off, or if it’s because I haven’t had my first cup of coffee yet, but this has to be one of your best, Mr. G (may I be so informal? Has our friendship come to this level of familiarity? The French “Tu” instead of “Vous”? Please advise). You took a toothache and scrap with your mom to new levels (low and high). The Pleasure Principle, as Janet Jackson would amplify to the world many years ago.

    Gratitiude. Who knew? Better than waiting for Charlie to zing a slug in you from 90 meters away. Gratitude often gets me out of pickle. Maybe not with alarming alacrity, but at least gives my soft brain a chance to stop puckering and squeezing the joy out of the day. I loved the line about it only seeming fair to inflict pain on Lori et al. It *does* seems fair at times, doesn’t it? Since we’re clearly the Center of the Universe, it’s only right and just that others feel the wrath that we may incur as being the One and Great Only. I mean, why not?

    Oh but wait – there’s that whole ego vs. Jedi mind trick thing. That empathy thing. That “get your shit together” thing that crops up. The whole “clean your side of the street” motto they came up with in Ho Chi Minh City. So I guess we have to do the adult thing (waaaaaaa!!) and fess up. Act as if we are happy to have pain. Eat self-induced crow (with buffalo wing sauce) and then ask The Imperial Poobah to help us. *That* thing.

    And you shine, Mr. G (may I?). You illuminate the dark corners of our collective mind and show us how it’s done. And the rewards that come from it. Willing to believe is the only crack in the soul that we need. Better than a crack in the molar. Thanking the Universal Mind for our pains seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Then again, chugging a 40 oz bottle of vodka doesn’t exactly go with what the Creator had in mind for us (maybe I’m wrong)…so what the hell, why not go for it? We lived much of our lives going against the (80 proof) grain.

    So it was that or die. Hmmmm…what are my door options again, Monty? ok, I have absolutely nothing left, I’ll take live. But with the caveat that I need that invisible otherness running the show. Alright. You win. Yet, I win too now. I get my life back. My family no longer has an asshole who is comitting suicide by instalment plan anymore. No mas.

    You’re a great man, Mr. G (can I?). You have shown us the light within. You have laid out the great plan, and it has nothing to do with you other than you submit to it. Many of out kind go out in horrible ways because they don’t see the plan. or choose the other door.

    Absolutely brilliant post. Freshly Pressed material. Well, all of yours are. But this has a shine on it that I can’t put my finger on.

    Better I don’t know or understand. Works out that way, Mr. G (too bold?)

    Big squishy squeeze,

    • Big squish back, Pablo. And no need to observe any formalities with me, good man. Please do not let this hobo crown I’ve fashioned from a twelve-pack box of Tecate intimidate you into any unnecessary reverence. Yes, I am a king among tramps…er…men, but only one–among many kings. Kings of The Road, if you will. And if you look closely, you’ll see this ermine cloak of mine is but a white bathrobe with cigarette burns. Yes, beneath my regal majesty, a common heart doth beat. The heart of a shivering cur dog tied to a stake in the rain. So du, tu, or you will do. I am simply incapable of taking any offense to informality among dear friends.
      Especially ones from The Lost Brotherhood of The Grain.
      I am most glad that the right combination of circumstances conspired to yield any added enjoyment from the perusal of this piece. Be it lack of morning stimulant, or the novelty of spying anything new from me, I am grateful for their synergistic effect.
      You never know how something will go over. Until you push that button. Eh?
      And off it goes. Typos and all. Into unretractable cyber space. But to what kind of reception? One can only tremble with wonder. My insecurities sitting on the edge of their stadium bleacher seats.
      So it means a lot to me, Paul, to get your thumbs up. A lot. More than I feel comfortable admitting.
      Wow. I kind of just did right there, didn’t I? With that last little thing.
      Anyway, writing these days has felt like pulling teeth.(!) So please forgive my lack of commentary over at Message. I don’t know what my problem is. I guess lots of distractions with this whole life being in session business. Sure it’s given me a lot of material, but it’s data I have to sift through, before I start hammering words. I’ve lost my journalistic ability to run and gun it in real time. So events pile up faster than I can write about, and then I have that thing that happens when you lose touch with a friend. The longer you don’t correspond, the more there is to catch up on, and the more likely you are to put it off. Sometimes, for me, having too much to write about is as bad as not having enough. Either way, it’s a piss poor excuse for not doing the work. A cowardly shirking of duty. A buckling under from crippling self-doubt.
      Or maybe it’s just taking a creative in-breath.
      Sounds better.
      Can’t decide. Can’t decide. One crucifies me. The other gets me off the hook. Still can’t pick. Door number…wait wait, I didn’t go yet, Monty!
      Like you mentioned, be open to the goodness and mercy of life…or die a miserable death. It’s quite a pickle.
      Well, be that as it may, I’m glad you picked door number 1, Pauly.
      Even a lifetime supply of Rice-a-roni beats the guillotine any day.
      That’s what I always say.
      Warmest regards,
      PS While I’m not holding my breath about being Freshly Pressed, I do appreciate you throwing my bowler in, and thank you for the kind sentiment.

      • Gee, look who got Freshly Pressed 🙂

        What’s that about in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king? Perhaps that’s you, Mr. G (thank you for allowing me to be so informal, your mid-ness). Or perhaps we’re all blindsided in one way and you got something else figured out that the rest of us slovenly folks still need to milk out of life. Then again, we’re all in the same kayak.

        I am with you on the creative in-breath. We need that before the exhale. The taking it all in thing. Then we breathe life into the words. That’s how it goes. Sometimes they get stuck on the off-ramp in our minds. Gotta get some off duty cops to manage that traffic. Give them some juicy overtime pay. Let the vehicles dart off one at a time, get some flow you know? then we hammer out what we need to hammer out. Hammer time.

        And speaking of hammer time, enjoy your sun-time here. I hope that others get to see what I get to see on a regular basis – one of the finest writers I know doing what he does best and illuminating us in his incomprable ways.

        Canadian love,

      • Oh yeah, how did that happen? I suspect a Canadian was behind it. You know the rule. First suspect the Dutch. But be on the look-out for Canadians.
        That’s right. Don’t let their cozy Pooh bear exterior fool you. Bears kill people. Just so they can get their dirty little paws in the honey pot. Or an Igloo cooler of sandwiches.
        Of course, I’m not averse to accepting aid and support from any nefarious neighbor to the north. Let’s just say that I chose my allies pragmatically. Which almost rhymes with Machiavelli. It’s an industry truism that the more dangerous the people you’re dealing with, the wider the profit margin. If you live, of course.
        So bring on the Canucks I say. Who knows, maybe one of those scoundrels can jump start my writing again.
        Stranger things have happened.
        Anyway, Pauly I just wanted to check back. Thank you again for nominating me to be freshly squashed. Very cool thing to do. And I don’t forget when people do cool things for me. Another rule in the industry. Now I’ve got to start answering some of these comments, before the people pleaser in me panics.
        Don’t want to run out of writing gas, and then have no balloons to hand out to the kids.
        In-breath, Marius. Breathe deep.
        Okay. I think I can do this…

        You rock, dude. May you also roll.
        Great love,

  2. I’m with Paul here, brother. ( I know I can call you that, as we were conjoined twins in one lifetime, and I became you’re treacherous brother in the in the next.)
    So you know how I feel about gratitude. It keeps bringing me back.
    But I need to remind you of that truth we shared when conjoined in the womb – there is no plan and no higher order. We are it. If we have to come to terms with that by placing our self somewhere higher, somewhere seemingly distant, so we can approach ourselves without tripping the ego trap, then fine. It’s only words. And they are always inadequate as we know… (although, I think your words here are pretty damn fine). But you are it pal. The shit and everything in it. Embrace yourself like the king of the world, while knowing, as the song goes, ‘that we’re not as smart, as we like to think we are.’ That’s when the real gratitude starts to flow. Knowing that we’re inherently stupid but being able to love ourselves all the same. That’s where wisdom sublimates the ego. or rather flips it on its hardened back! Sutemi-waza! Brother. Sutemi-waza!

    • Sutemi-waza? Dude. I lost to a girl in a judo tournament to that very move. All I had to do was draw and I would’ve gotten a trophy. But she flipped my ass in seconds flat and I was out. Sutemi-waza. Yeah. That hurts. Bad.
      I’m sure you didn’t mean to bring me down so hard. But I’m glad you did. So the next time I disappoint you, I can throw Sutemi-waza up in your face.
      And then be even.
      But moving on. Sorry this reply to your comment is so late but your mention of Sutemi-waza there at the end of it, kind of sent me into a tail-spin. Just personal stuff. Deep painful personal stuff. Stuff that just ripped me apart.
      When your sanity is a fragile as mine, and it’s trying to ice skate on a rolling barrel, it doesn’t take much of a shove to wreck.
      I’m not blaming you for my breakdown. I’m just saying you played an important part in it. That’s different.
      Anyway, the sanitarium I was confined to take my rest only issued us crayons. “This is your internet,” they told us.
      Heh-heh, I bet when you woke up this morning, you didn’t think you’d run into a passive aggressive super hero. Did ya? Well, I’m not the best, but I’ve learned from some of the. Best you run along now, feeling all guilty and shit, totally forgetting about how long it took me to reply to your comment. That’s right.
      On the more serious, how are you, me droog? Happy to hear that gratitude still drags you by the heels, dear womb-mate. Are you still bored out of your skull? Neck deep in the profane and inane? Senses dulled by the dull?
      Why I’d say your a candidate for Dr. Mojo’s magickal elixir tonic. It’s a proprietary blend of herbs and mushrooms in a tincture of grain alcohol and opium tar. Guaranteed to make everything interesting as fuck. Maybe even too. You’ll wish you were bored.
      Ah, but I get it, Johnny. The boredom. It’s what I sandwich my terror between, to snack on while stretched out on my king of the world throne.
      Fuck it. It’s plug.
      I have to disagree with you about there being no plan or higher order though. It’s just that nobody’s seen either one since they went out to get cigarettes. I’m sure they’ll turn up. It’s like intelligence. Everybody talks about it, but you never see any. So you keep going to parties hoping it will suddenly show up.
      In vain, of course. But isn’t it about the hunt? The hunt for intelligent life on this planet. Can you imagine if some day you discovered it?
      Think of the headlines.
      In the meantime, there is that love option you mentioned. I’ve certainly found it easier to be loving than intelligent. So we’re on the same page there.
      And real love is the ultimate ego kick-in-the-balls. A real Sutemi-waza, if you will.
      Oh God. There I going again. Crying. Hard.
      I’ll be okay. (snuff-snuff)

      Loving your pirate grin,

      • Us Cancerians – oh so sensitive. There was nothing but compliments in there! You big prickly genius! Sutemi-waza is what we do, submit and then kick our opponents onto our backs because they think we’ve fallen. Gratitude for pain is the best move ever. (A thank-umi-yowza!) Helps you sneak up on the higher power (that has gone out for smokes) and stick your finger up its sorry ass. Just to let it know that YOU are still here, working at it, even if IT has other dimensions to deify up.
        Yep, I’m not so bored any more. Started writing a Dickensian children’s novel, which is quite long and involved and helps me poke back at ‘the nothing’ that seeps in when I’m not working. Plus the birds are singing in my back garden again – seems they were nesting and just being quiet to avoid predators at this vulnerable time.
        Apart from almost splitting up from ‘Me Julie’ and the usual crappola, I’m alive and almost well.
        Thug-bruther to hug-bruther, mwah x

      • I know you meant well, Johnny. I was just running with it. The judo flip that chick pulled off on me was Sutemi-waza. I described it in One Judo Chop Mother, but I doubt you read that one, and if you did, would never remember the description of it, to know it was Sutemi-waza. Hell, I didn’t even know it until I looked it up. “Sutemi-waza? What the fuck is he talking about?” Well you can imagine my surprise. And delight. To have a hook for my comment reply. Call it Kismet.
        Okay, so that beats that horse a little further past dead. But did I mention that I lost a trophy because of it? To a girl?
        Oh, by the wayo, wide-o, I can not wait to read your kiddie tale. Christ. Just the idea. Yes yes, I know it will be cute and good and the perfect primer for little souls to sink their teething gums into, but knowing what I know about you…and your…past, well it’s a scream to think about. It’s perfect really. If I were to pick out a brain I wanted to imprint young little minds, yours would be right up there, Johnny.
        Think about that.
        What that says about the whole project, Mr.Beatthemtodeathwiththeirownshoes.
        Proceed with extreme recklessness.

        Thug-hugging and shot-mugging you, my fraternal other.

    • Why thank you, L, and congrats on the Freshly Pressed deal. I was very happy to see that. They picked right, alright. But it only got you, what fifteen bazillion comments? Well deserved.
      People check it out–
      Well, I have no emoticons to give you, but how about a clammy handshake that seems to last forever? I’ve got one of those handy right here.
      Enjoy your heady success, you maniac.

      • How pleased I am to find you on Freshly Pressed this morning! A very worthy post to deserve such an honor! Now, thanks to that toothache, you can enjoy your own heady success. Many congratulations!

      • Very good. Heady success indeed. Thanks L. Speaking of being Freshly Pressed, seems like somebody else got squashed too. God Drugs and Thugs. Fucking great name. I’d steal it if I knew how, and wouldn’t sit up late at night feeling guilty about it. But I don’t on either count, so I won’t. And you can continue to enjoy the kick-ass name. Kick ass blog, too. Fresh. Edgy. Real talk about recovery. Messy beautiful.
        People could do worse than make a new friend like you. Check it out folks.
        How was that for a pimp? Pimping a ping-back. Spreading the word.
        Just another late night here at the Trudge office. Lots of work piled on the desk.

        Congratulations to you as well,

  3. Wow, agree with Paul on this. What a great piece of writing. You sold me, man. Immediately after you had me thanking the Universe for all sorts of shit I had been cursing it for only moments before. Thank you. Seriously. This is what I needed to read this morning.

    • Thanks Reb. Thank you for thanking me for you reminding you to thank more. Now, you’ve got me doing it! Oh the wonder of the wheel of life. Around and around its cart wheels gently roll… over the crushed carrion of our days. Anyway, I also want to thank to for the ping-back plug. Don’t think I didn’t notice. Very cool of you. I don’t know what to say.
      Oh yeah.
      I always forget.


  4. Pingback: Monday Morning Pages: On Acceptance - Sunny Sanguinity

  5. There are different ways to perceiving the why’s of being grateful for a toothache, right now I am lucky enough to not have any teeth, so when I am complaining that I can’t enjoy steak without running it through a food processor first, I think at least I won’t get a toothache. wah I want my dentures. First fitting tomorrow.

    • Ha! “right now I am lucky enough not to have any teeth…” I am pretty sure, JR that that is the first time in the history of the planet anybody has ever typed that. Sure I can see “I was lucky that they didn’t have any teeth.” But being grateful for your own gums is grateful indeed. And a holy attitude.
      And I know you’re no slouch in the holy attitude department, Frater. Surely you’ll be blessed with some well-fitting choppers soon. And then you’ll look back on your days of eating meat paste with an almost nostalgic fondness.
      Talk about reducing food to it’s most primary unit of plug. I kind of like the idea. Yeah. You’ve really got me thinking here.
      I don’t know if you know, JR, but I consider the act of eating a pain in the ass. It’s just not of one of my life’s pleasures. I am the opposite of a foodie. I know it sounds weird, but I’d love to just shove a tube of meat putty down my hole and be done with it. Move on to something more interesting. Something more mischievous. Oh, all the time I’ve wasted–eating. You don’t get it back either. All those precious hours eating salad and bread sticks. Bullshit entrees. Having soup. Gone now. Forever.
      And what do I have to show for it? Besides physical existence. It’s a con alright.
      Just kidding, God. I am so very grateful for having food to eat. No joking around. And sorry about the belly-aching earlier. That was just schtick. Okay?
      (I hope okay)
      I need to start saying grace more. That’s it. That’s the message here. Thanks, JR.
      You were always the practical one. Telling Pauly to start setting his alarm so he wouldn’t be late for his appointments. How do you come up with this shit? See folks, you can always count on the Eastern Orthodox to ground you in common sense. And yet, they’re also very adept at soaring mystical flight. They bring the best of both. Those guys.
      Gotta love them for that.
      Well my Byzantine brother, I hope your dental situation improves quick and easy. And thanks for reminding me to be grateful for having any teeth. Hurting or not.
      Hope your Easter was appropriately joyous. Wishing you a heart-load of love.

      In spirit,

    • Eye-color copy that,’Ski. I’m working on it. The whole Will with a cap business is determined by the degree of one’s surrender to the Universal. But you have to let go with both hands, pally. That’s the rub. I think that’s how we got ourselves into trouble before. You know. Back in the day. (shab-shab)
      We did a half-surrender. Raised our hands, but kept a Luger in our underpants. Then wound up accidentally shooting off a ball, and going Klingsor.
      or Caligula. You capture just enough genius to get yourself into deep shit. Remember Stalingrad, mein herr.
      Not this time though. I’m all in.
      Unconditional surrender.
      If I go down in flames, let it be on this Viking ship I’ve hewn from the Timber of the Gods, the Trees of Eternity!
      Now you can cue the Wagner.

      Love, of course,

  6. Your writing reminds me of how grateful I often find myself for the ability to use the tools I have learned in the program to re-direct my perception of life and how I think it occasionally sucks. Before, I would have used all of these painful attacks on my miserable life as an excuse to alter my reality with drugs and/or booze. Now I know that by getting out of my head and being grateful for all of the life I have, I can experience the pain and emotionally grow.
    I was bitching about the east wind this morning, turned on the news to finish my coffee, and witnessed the devastation by the tornadoes in the mid-west. Now that’s wind to bitch about!
    Thanks for always being honest about our human condition. You are a gift!

    • Same thing happened to me, Ace. (we live in the same town) I woke up to a hot wind blowing under my sheets. I got up, opened the window and saw it was hot and windy outside, too. Fucking hate the Santa Anas. Too many positive ions in the air, which have proven to have a negative effect on the temperament.
      I went downstairs, poured some coffee and turned on the computer. Read about all the dead from the twisters. Became less concerned about the positive ions in the air.
      Beats having bricks and trees in the air. Or your neighbor’s Tuff Shed. So yeah, a little gratitude check there.
      I’ll be grouchy with a sinus headache. Instead of dead from mailbox in my skull.
      Most days, at least. Depends on how bad the headache is.
      Well this brings us full circle doesn’t it? How to deal with pain without wanting to kill yourself.
      Or somebody else, eh?
      Since that’s pretty much off the table too.
      Sure sure.
      Better to lift weights. Get in some bag work.
      And pray.
      For rain.

      You’re the gift, Ace.

    • Far out. Glad you dug it. Thank you for the thank you. Too. I do plan on keeping on. Will continue to drag my sagging ass around the bases, long after the crowd has gone home. I have nothing else to do. But run around. The proverbial bases that is.
      Onward and in a generally upward direction,

    • You and me both, brother. You know how often I’m grateful for having clean water to drink? What’s less than zero? That number.
      Forget about it.
      I’m the worst. Or second or third worst. I’m down there. Then I wonder what would happen if I found myself in a situation where I had no clean water to drink? Wouldn’t be feeling like entitled Mr. Fat and Sassy about having glasses of water available anytime now would I?
      Check this out–right now, I’m holding a bottle of Trader Joe’s Sparkling Mixed Berry Mineral Water in my hand taking hits off of it, like it’s the water of the gods. When before I was mindlessly drinking off of it while trying to type. Totally taking it for granted.
      Now that is nothing short of magic.
      A buddy of mine lives in Long Beach New York. He said that after Hurricane Sandy, the toilets didn’t work. For two weeks.
      All of a sudden, the fact your career isn’t on the fast track has to take a back seat to a more immediate concern.
      I don’t know about you, but that’s an easy one for me to remain grateful about now. I’m grateful that my toilet flushes. A lot.
      Thanks to my friend Johnny having survived Sandy.
      So you see. Little by little, my friend. We can pull ourselves out of our dumps. We just need to take an accurate inventory of our situation. And apply liberal amounts of gratitude.
      Keep our focus on the half-full part. Let the rest of the glass fill itself.
      I don’t know how it works. But it does. I just need to be reminded that it does. Glad I could do it for you this time. You remind me next.
      Spiritually spit-shaking on it,

  7. It is no coincidence that I was having just the same conversation yesterday. Well not exactly the same, but the same general topic. About being grateful or seeing the good in the impossibly bad. Thanks for writing such a great post.

    • I am more than happy to unknowingly facilitate any synchronous moment The Universe was choreographing for your learning entertainment. You know you have to pay attention to that shit. “Hey, that’s the fifth time I’ve heard that today from five different sources. I wonder if there’s something I’m supposed to…nah!”
      Oh yah.
      Love the term “impossibly bad.” Gonna use it somewhere. Thanks. “Today I shall be grateful, for everything, even the impossibly bad.” See, I can pray if it’s like that. Not all Illustrated Children’s Bible. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I can’t start getting all Illustrated Children’s Bible with my prayers. But I have to be in some really deep shit. You know. On the knees. Hands folded. Eyes rolled upward in pleading.
      But like I said, I have to be in some major torment. It’s embarrassing, but I’ll cop to it. Why not? I’ve done worse.
      (Feel free to skip around in the archives if you need examples.)
      I just really don’t like thinking about myself like that. Praying like some Hummel figurine. It’s like seeing a fat picture of yourself at somebody’s wedding. You don’t want the image burned too deep in your brain. Or your confidence will suffer.
      And I don’t need any more suffering in that department.
      So yeah. However we do it. Whatever words we’re comfortable with. We just have to be willing to start some sort of dialogue. With a power greater than ourselves or an irritating neighbor. We’ve got to start talking. Or things will only get worse.
      At least in my humble experience with things getting worse.
      Better to pray like your ass is on fire. Before it actually is.
      Just makes good horse sense.
      Hope your web catches lots of juicy flies, Spider Girl.
      You deserve them.
      Thanks for reading.

      Loving right at you,

    • Thank you, Justine. You had me at brilliant, entertaining, and powerful. But the rest was good too. Hold on. I have to wait for my ego to deflate. Okay. Now I can’t see the screen.
      This thing with being grateful for the shit is a fairly new angle for me. I always felt like I was already doing a sloppy job with being grateful for simple good things. Like I mentioned earlier in the comment section, stuff like clean water. A warm bed to sleep in. Stuff I know I should be grateful for, but forget to be. But this thing seemed even harder. It’s certainly more proactive. Being thankful for things like pain or sadness. That’s fairly uncharted jungle for me. But I’m pretty sure there’s a City of Gold buried somewhere among the vines. It requires a well-funded expedition. And I’m ready to don my Conquistador cap.
      I figure if we can get a bunch of people joining the exploration, then reporting their results, we might know if we’re on the right track.
      Or just attacking Spanish windmills.
      So everybody now, we are going to be grateful for everything. Including all the awful stuff.
      Oh man. This is nuts. I’m so excited.

      Thanks for reading,

    • No, thank you. Glad to hear you got something out of it, even as a normal person. Sometimes I wonder if I do have any cross-over appeal. So it’s good to hear.
      But it’s not like I don’t try hard either. I have friends that read my stuff, friends that aren’t warped beyond recognition. (How they remained my friends is a testament to the forgiving power of Love. On both of our parts.) Anyway, I always try to make some of the stuff relevant to them. That whole broad appeal thing.
      I know some of the more woo-woo stuff must make them smirk, but fuck it. I’m just calling it like I see it. Which we all know is “different.”
      But when the dimensional veils of Reality start to thin, and all of a sudden, Aztec pyramids with human sacrifices start to pop up in parking lots, they’re going to come to me and say, “Hey man, you were always into weird shit. Just what the hell is going on here?”
      And I’ll just nod and say, “Beautiful shit, man. Beautiful shit.”

      So yeah, thanks for not judging me, R. I love you for that.

      • I am far from normal – just too much of a control freak to be addicted to anything. Addiction is something that is very near and dear to me. My dad is a recovering alcoholic and my brother is a recovering drug addict and I see how the people I love struggle every day. My first internship in graduate school, many years ago, was at a drug rehab facility and the struggle became even closer to my heart when I began to understand it on a scientific and psychosocial level. I was simply commenting on your incredible gift with language and letting you know that I admire your honesty, intensity and intelligence, despite the fact that the subject matter is something that I have not experienced myself. I try to be as non-judgmental as possible because I am aware that at any given time I can be in a situation that I didn’t expect to find myself in and I may be judged, and I would hate that. With that said, please keep doing what you’re doing because you’ve got a unique talent.

  8. i’m sitting here laughing with ouchy tears in my eyes

    I am thinking about doing that prayer. I don’t want to. Why the fudgebuckets(no i’m not well enough yet that i said that, just enough not to type it in comments) should I pray in thanks for–fill in the blank with a giant shovel. And then…your words had me remembering grabbing onto the chair or the phone, maybe while on a dirty floor being glad for this or for that and how different the quality my issues –both real and perceived, have now. Thanks for another day that I even thought or bothered to notice and then to try and to do the next right thing. Da**, now I have to go and change my socks the pity pot overflowed on them.

    • Okay, Ms. Potty Mouth. I won’t have you come into this sordid den of iniquity and have you pollute the moral environment with almost cuss-words. I run a dirty establishment here. My customers expect filth and by golly I’m going to do my darndest to provide it. Dang-gummit!
      Oh my God, you’re adorable. Fudgebuckets? Too fucking cute. I want to squish your head I’m so cuted-out.
      You ever get that? My cats have to endure it a lot. I look at them and just overdose on how cute they are. Then I want to bite their furry little heads off. But not really. Because that would be beyond gnarly. So instead I pet them extra hard and they get irritated and walk off. That’s usually how that love fest ends.
      Why am I telling you this? Oh yeah. The cuteness thing. And wanting to squeeze out its juice.
      That’s what your comment did to me. Yours and Maggie’s, which is the next comment over.
      Squish both of your heads, I would. If weren’t legally considered some sort of assault that I’d wind up doing time for.
      “What are you in for?”
      “Got cuted-out and vigorously squished someones face in the palms of my hands while biting down on my lower lip.”
      “Did you kill them?”
      “No, they were killing me.”
      Forget that. We’ll stick with communicating the intention of fond regard through warm words.
      Which I would do right now.
      If I could think of some.
      Time out.
      (cigarette break)
      So if I intuitively read between your lines, besides having Virgo ascendant in your Lunar house, you’ve been exposed to some elements of recovery. I hear you using certain catch-phrases that are bandied about by gang-members. If that is the case, Then please feel at home here. The spare key is under the bleached cow skull by the potted Jade plant. We keep money in a envelope by the phone if you need to borrow any. Fridge is full. Feel free. I think that’s it. Oh yeah, you have to push the cable button on the remote first if you’re going to change channels. And the cats can come in and out all night. Sorry. I live vicariously.
      There’s also spare socks in the drier.
      Nice to have you here.

      • oh good god no virgo lies ANYWHERE in my chart ewwwwww lol

        yay the evil–i mean happy, giggles and cackles even before the morning tea

        my cat bites me if there is even a hint of unexpressed and unacknowledged impending cat squish

        I don’t watch television so i’ll just sit over in the corner reading and occasionally raising the furry eyebrow on a stick at something/one

      • Yeah, I was just talking out my ass (what’s new?) about the zodiacal diagnosis. My knowledge of astrology is limited to what I read in my mom’s Linda Goodman books as a kid. Love Signs was one. All I know is that she was right about the characteristics of Cancer/Scorpio sexual relationship. Every time.
        I also know that every Virgo roommate I ever had mad me feel guilty for being a slob. Not on purpose. Just by them being them.
        So there may be something to it. I don’t know. Not really a special interest of mine.
        Except for the Scorpio women part.
        Sorry to hear about your cats’ telepathic powers robbing you of a good squish. Louie really squirms and scratches. Bugsy just goes limp until I run out of steam.
        I wonder what sun sign he is?
        Anyway, give that eyebrow on a stick a wiggle from me and thanks for stopping by again. You’re always welcome here.

        Neck deep in fur,

  9. Please forgive me: You don’t know me and I don’t know you and I’ve had a glass of wine which is probably something I should not admit and I think I have some social anxiety issues, not to mention tendencies toward some un-named autism spectrum label… but I cannot stop myself from posting this because I have had not once, but TWICE spent exactly the same kind of weekend in an Ibuprofen haze because of a damn toothache.
    Both times, the nerve was dying. At least, that’s what the MDD told me. Both times I needed root canal.
    Just what you wanted to hear, right?
    I really enjoyed this post and I congratulate you on your freshly pressed-ness. And thank you for the lessons you have to teach me.

    • “Please forgive me: You don’t know me and I don’t know you and I’ve had a glass of wine which is probably something I should not admit…”
      I don’t know if I’ve ever heard sweeter words from a woman. Ever.
      I mean you just know things are going to get even better.
      “Hey hey, baby. I don’t judge if you need to get your juice on. Relax. Sit over here.”
      Well anyway, you have my full attention. First off, I’m sorry you’re struggling with some social anxiety. It’s a bummer I know well enough. After all, the best part about drinking was how beer vaporized any social insecurity. Allowed me to run free through the streets like a bull in Pamplona. So I get that.
      I am also thoroughly intrigued by your exotic and mysterious form of autism spectrum label thing. There’s usually big veins of genius ore in that kind of landscape. Like I’ve been hammering on about. Some hidden gem to the condition. Some nugget to polish. Along with high overhead costs too. I’m sure whatever it is, it’s got some pain-in-the-ass along with it for you to wrestle with. I hope it’s not too difficult.
      Anyway, I wish you success with uncovering the jewel that you are.
      As is.
      That’s the thing. Not “once I’m less this, more that.” Perfect. Right now.
      Can you imagine cutting yourself that kind of slack? (I’ve never done it) What would happen to a person? If they stopped trying to fix themselves. And were grateful for who and what they were.
      I think we would all die a horrible death. Right? Nobody does it. That must be why.
      And why world events are so awesome.
      Now I have to ask, what kind of rock are you hefting in your photo? What makes that rock so special? It looks like just a chunk of whatever. But I’m sure after you tell me a little more about that rock, I’m going arch my eyebrow impressward. See? I’ll know a little more about it, and start to see it more special-like.
      So it is with all of us.
      The chunk of rock doesn’t need to become more interesting, we need to become more interested in the chunk of rock.
      Anyway, Maggie, I’m interested in you. And your rock. Feel free to stick around. You know where we keep the spare key. The money. How to use the remote. Cats come in and out. That’s it.
      Now how about I get you another glass of wine?


      • Marius!

        Oh wow, was this worth the price of admission, or what!?

        No, that is faint praise.

        Take two: I feel that I have fallen down the rabbit hole and landed in a strange and wonderful place. Thank you for your delightful response. I teared up. Such a maroon, I am, eh?

        You sir, are gold. And a delight. And I repeat, thank you for the lessons you have to teach.

        To wit: “Can you imagine cutting yourself that kind of slack?”

        Nope, I cannot. As a matter of fact, I’m just beginning to realize how thoroughly I have bound and gagged myself.

        I will stick around, and yes, I know where you keep the key.

        Mwah. Cyber-smooch.

        PS The rock: it’s mica. I wrote a piece about it.

      • Interesting piece, Maggie. And it confirms my theory about knowing more about something makes it more interesting.
        Now, you’re not just holding a big chunk of rock. That’s a motherload of mica! C’mon guys, the stuff they make furnace windows out of! My friend, Mica. Flaky but strong against the heat.
        Just like me.
        Now about the slack-cutting, or in our case, the lack thereof. What do we intend to do about it? I mean, we’ve spent a lifetime strangling ourselves, how do we change? I don’t know exactly how, but I vote for a little bit at a time. So it’s not too hard. However that way turns out to be.
        Unless it’s really fun. Then we should do a lot of it in as short a time possible.
        Here’s the thing about beating myself up–if it worked, if it really lead to lasting change, I’d be down with it. But it never does. It just makes me feel bad. So bad I have to act in the way I beat myself about. To take out the sting.
        I smell a scam.
        A scam only slack can bust.
        How about this? We make a deal. For the next three days, when we start to get on our own case about something, we call Three Day Week-end. Tell whatever self-criticism it’s going to have to wait until after the holiday. Let’s give ourselves just a small-sized break. For a few days is all.
        Then we’ll report back and compare notes. See if we feel any different.
        But I’ll only do it if you do. Hell, I’m not going to be going around forgiving myself for shit, gently accepting myself, all by myself.
        Fuck that.
        You have to. Too.
        Or it’s a no-go.

        Awaiting your reply,

      • I like the little bit at a time approach too. Like Houdini. Bound wrists can become unbound by the slightest of movements. Unless that’s a myth. But I’ll buy into it for now.


        Three day holiday starts





      • Ok, I guess I just let my big mouth right a check my ass is going to have to cash. But I’m in.
        Hey, it this is going to require vigilance and control over my thoughts? I’m not too good at that. I spend all my time trying to control what others think.
        Oh well, here we…
        … GO!
        (okay, that last self-deprecating remark was my last one for three days. Kind of like having a shot for the road)

  10. A very enlightening piece… You are very right about expressing gratitude. When we start giving thanks our body starts reacting to it so does the universe… Keep writing… A very compelling piece

  11. Wow… I too have a bat shit crazy mother and have spent the past several days in intolerable pain. Thanks for putting me back on the right path. I’m usually much better at this, a “glass half-full girl” if you will. Recently though, I’ve been in a slump. So tonight I will bring back gratitude. I find that when I am struggling to find the right words for gratitude, I just become thankful that it’s not worse (i.e., Dear Baby Jesus, Thank you for blessing me with a mother who is bat shit crazy, and not a bat shit crazy cyclopes. Because, being a cyclopes is likely hereditary and I’m glad that I’m not a cyclopes either, Amen.)

    I wish you the best. Thank you for this post.

  12. Good to read that you remained “positive”, while your tooth pulp was on its last legs and finally ascended to heaven. Should keep you in good stead for the upcoming root canal…

    • One can only hope. Anything to soften the hammer blow that still hovers over my skull. Ah, I don’t mind root-canals all that much. Not as much as the time before getting one. That bites the large.
      I do hope my pulp went to heaven. Instead of…you know…the other. Oh well, it’s out of my hands now.
      Before my pulp passed, it specifically told me not to mourn it’s loss. Said I should instead celebrate our life together. Eating rock candy. Un-shelled pistachios. Opening beer bottles. To remember the fun times.
      Easier said then done. My maxim has always been “If you can remember it, it wasn’t all that fun.”
      But I’m learning different.
      Amazing blog, by the way. Stomatological facts and trivia. Very unique. And a little crazy.
      And I love unique and a little crazy.
      Now excuse me while I pour off some of my 40. “To Pulpy, my bro forever!”


  13. After my stroke I experienced pain. It ran up and down my legs and drove me crazy. Fortunately it subsided after some agonizing months. I understand the concept of pain.

    • Oh Barry, man I am sorry to hear you had to go through that. Glad you made it. Hope your health is okay these days. My girlfriend is a speech pathologist. These days she’s been working with stroke victims. So she tells me all about what you guys have to go through. Really tough.
      Hang in there, brother. I’ll send you a prayer. (no charge, ha-ha)

      A fellow history buff,

      • actually it saved my life. Pain is a great healer. You avoid it. Because of that I lost ninety pounds, worked out, now work at Legoland for the physical workout and watch what I eat. I have some residual problems but I take medication. At sixty eight I outdo a lot of other people. I now want to kick myself for allowing myself to go so out of whack.

      • That’s a great story right there, How a Stroke Saved My Life. Beats my toothache tale hands down. Glad you’re back to your fighting weight and still in the game. You’re an inspiration that’s for sure. Right on, man.
        Even more power to you.

      • Loved history. Some of the blogs are really great on history. I am writing a history novel on the Jews and the turn of the nineteenth century. A kind of Fiddler without music. If you want some chapters just ask. Barry.

      • I’ve been watching the PBS special on the history of the Jews. Talk about a rich and amazing history. So yeah, I would love to read some of your work. Sending you my e-mail.

    • Thank you very much for the re-blog. But when I click on the link, it says “page not found.” Hey, for me it’s all about the thought that counts. So grateful for the solid anyway.
      Peace out.

  14. Pingback: And Now The Boy Is Ours | Message in a Bottle

    • Thank you, Doctor Judene, for the re-blog. And for the speedy and reasonably priced diagnosis. Reversible Pulpitis,eh? What is that worth? Like 20 Vicodin?
      I guess it depends on what kind of opera the patient puts on at the office. I’ve known some drug addicts that could really win Oscars with their performance. Unfortunately the waxy sheen on their complexion usually gives them away. The shaking hands. Paying with dollar bills and couch change. Asking specifically for E/S.
      Little things.
      Well, here’s to hoping my pulpit doesn’t start reversing any time soon. Don’t want to freak-out the choir and congregation. Also need time to pay down the credit card.
      Heartfelt thanks again for the promo.

      Wishing you an abundance of health and happiness,

  15. I loved this. It was painful though. The part about your mom, how you “fired at each other at point blank range with armor-piercing rounds.” Been there, done that, with my son. But yes, gratitude. Funny how it works. We should all do it more often.

    • Sorry to hear I hit a nerve. As some attempt at encouragement, I can say that my mom and I are okay now. It was rough, but we got through it. I just made sure to make it clear to her that regardless of my irritations with her, or hers with me, there is love underneath. And it’s not going anywhere. When both parties really realize that, things heal fast. Okay, maybe “faster” would be more accurate. They heal faster.
      The other good thing is that as mother and child, you guys are hard-wired to love each other. Even when you hate each other. It’s just another of those wonders of Nature.
      Good thing Nature always wins.
      Sending out a prayer for peace. For your heart.
      And his.


    • Well, really really you’re welcome. Give my regards to Australia. My family was supposed to emigrate there after World War 2, but they wound up in New York City instead, thereby, no doubt, creating a void in your country that’s been tough to recover from.
      But Aussies are tough people.
      You’ll endure even this.
      May the Commonwealth last a thousand years.

      An almost-native born son,

    • I don’t understand what “Nalla irukku” means. But, I’m going to assume it’s something very nice.
      You can set the record straight if you want to.

      Eagerly awaiting translation,

  16. Amazing how things work. Almost as amazing as how they don’t work.
    I’ve been in the rooms, on and off (mostly off) for 20+ years. My 25 y/o-8month-pregnant daughter is currently residing at treatment. Remanded, thank God. In order to visit her I must attend two meetings prior to the day of visitation. To say, “I’m emotionally raw.” would be tragically understated… and one more meeting to go, tonight.

    Perhaps one day I will learn that when the kick & scream reflex is tripped, it’s best to surrender. I’ve got years of gratitude work (where’s my gold watch?) completed… but sometimes the answer to the chronic question: “Can I appreciate even this?” is, kiss-my-ass. I’m over my own resistance, for now, but I’m challenged by my (lack) of sincerity in being grateful. Even though I’ve performed the experiments with conclusively positive results.

    I am, however, extremely grateful to have checked Freshly Pressed this morning in my reader. Congratulations, Sir. On many counts. And thank you for this most eloquent post (beautiful writing); and thanks to the loving Canadian, too, for assisting the WP Universe.


    • Victoria,
      Yes, I owe many thanks to my Canadian Connection. He’s a good operative. I understand he used to have a drinking problem but now is on the straight and narrow. But not so straight and narrow that he can’t hang out with the likes of me. So thank God for that.
      Sorry about your recently piled-high plate. Must be rough going. I can only imagine. And, for the record, I wouldn’t blame you for having a hard time mustering any weighty sincerity behind being grateful for it all. Like I’ve been saying, I have a hard enough time being grateful for the good and easy things in my life. Much harder to give thanks for the shit-storms. So it’s not like I’m saying “C’mon everybody, let’s jump for joy…for our sadness!” Because that’s just too nuts.
      Even for me.
      I guess my biggest point in the piece was that my prayers for giving thanks were strained–that a large part of me was resistant, and doubtful about any benefit.
      And yet, somehow, there seems to have been. Big time benefits.
      All I can say is keep hammering at it. Even our smallest efforts have an effect. More effect than doing nothing. (Which I am a huge fan of, by the way)
      Have you ever been frozen into inaction?
      I sure have. It’s really neat-o. House burning down and I can’t lace my loafers.
      Good times.
      Anyway, the only way I can do anything these days is to stay focused on The Next Indicated Thing. I have to do life in bite-sized pieces.
      Otherwise, I choke.

      Sending positive waves to you and your daughter, and the so-to-be newest addition to your family,

      • Thanks, Marius. I know you weren’t saying “C’mon everybody….”
        I completely got the message, clearly. Which is why I had to comment, and state my genuine appreciation for your honesty, and sharing, with grace, I might add. The timing was just right, too. Thank You for the positive waves, too. Wishing you a most excellent weekend.

      • Oh yeah, I wasn’t implying you missed my gist, Victoria. I was referring to your wanting to say “Kiss my ass.” Trust me, this is no foreign impulse. It’s actually a natural default of mine.
        I guess what I was clumsily trying to clarify (mostly to myself) was that I used to think, when people suggested I be grateful about whatever shitty situation I had cloaked myself in, that they meant “be totally psyched-about.” And that used to irritate me. Because I thought they were really saying I should be happy, when I clearly wasn’t, and had no reasonable time-line before me as to when that was even a possibility.
        You know what? Kiss my sweet can’t-hold-up-a-pair-of-pants little white ass!
        Now, I understand that it’s okay to feel pissed, irritated, bummed, whatever. If I am I am. No point in lying that I’m not.
        But all that shit is only a composite of unpleasant thoughts and feelings. And they will pass.
        All I have to do is try to remember that they will. And that I don’t have to do anything dangerous to make them go away.
        When I do get through to the other side of some sewer pipe situation (by cleverly not resorting to self-destruction) I always find myself in a better place. Not just compared to the shitty situation, but even before it hit the fan. Some sort of evolution/wisdom thing will have taken place. My understanding will have grown. And greater understanding leads to greater capacity for joy.
        And I dig joy. Call me Joy Boy.
        So I guess, keeping that fact in mind, is my version of being grateful for shit times. “When I get through this, things will be better than before.”
        Actually giving thanks to whatever oversees this process is just going that little bit extra. Nitrous-injects the concept through my understanding. So to speak.
        Anyway, I’m sure you understood all this too. I just wanted to make sure…
        …I understood.
        Just doing a little journaling here in the comment section. Giving myself a little pep talk.
        And now feeling embarrassed that you walked in on me.

        Thank you for your kind words. Love to you and those you love.

    • Thank you Pendragon. I don’t know how substantial it was, but apparently it was enough. Things are going pretty good these days.
      Big whew there.
      Love your laughing owl profile photo. Absolutely delightful. Beautiful blog, too.

      Wishing you a peace unutterable,

      • I think it was substantial because you lived it the way you did and for the reasons you did.
        I wish the same peace for you.


    • Thanks Christy. Big yes to the peanut M&M’s. Hopefully I can crack a molar. I’m telling you, this toothache business has been gold, Jerry, gold!

      Much love, as per usual,

  17. Outstanding post. I especially loved this: “So when you grasp that last straw, and it starts to grow into a stalk of wheat, like in the ergot-fueled finale of an Elysian mystery rite, you’re grateful. And your life is never the same. Which is a big relief. And it’s the beginning of a new relationship. Between you and everything else.” It is paradoxical but the act of suffering engenders gratitude when it subsides and brings us closer to our merciful Creator. 🙂

    • Thank you Ms. Marilyn, glad you liked. and thank you for reading.
      I realized that the reference to that particular psychedelic Elysian initiation rite would be a little esoteric, but if anybody was interested enough, they could research it. And even if people didn’t know what I was talking about, it still reads well. An intuitive one could still suss out my gist.
      As a writer, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not typing up the instructions for putting together a barbecue grill. I don’t have to spell everything out. I can leave some space in between. Some room for the reader’s mind to breathe.
      I can see I didn’t have to spell it out for you. You summed up this modest effort well. Our suffering brings us closer to The Merciful One.
      Sooner or later.

      Here’s to sooner than later,

  18. Hi again, Marius. I couldn’t see where to reply under your last comment, you know, the one where I walked in on you? 😀 Just wanted to say “thanks” again, because when we work at our own understanding, it assists us all in understanding. And, like you, I really dig Joy, too! One of the biggest lessons for me, was to accept myself however I showed-up. Accept whatever emotions I was experiencing as totally “ok”. Rather than make my situation worse by kicking my ass (instilling guilt) for feeling the way I did. (Years of being told that I was hyper-sensitive…. but, I’d rather feel too much than be completely desensitized.)

    So, at soon-to-be-52, I’m still working on self-acceptance. And honing my skills at being “ok” with how things ARE, and focusing my less than joy-full energy in a creative, productive way. Because, attitudes, energy, emotions… they’re all contagious. For me, what’s worse than being in the direct aim of the Shit Fairy, is spreading my personal dis-ease, and bringing other people down. Unacceptable. 😀

    Thanks for working it out on paper… it helped me out, too.

    Much love and hugs to you and yours.

    • Victoria, that was an awesome comment. It made my neck hurt from agreeing so much. Nodding up and down aggravates the whiplash from all the car accidents.
      Being okay with how things are is the key alright. But not always easy. Especially including myself–with those things. That are alright. As is.
      Maybe it’s something us soon-to-be 52ers are all having to learn. We sure seem to be enrolled in the same course. How not to dog pile on your shortcomings with vicious self-hatred. I must have played hooky from that class somewhere along the line. Now I’m working on the G.E.D. equivalence while doing time.
      We’re talking remedial stuff. Ah well. Better to start somewhere.
      My sister once asked me, “You think that being super self-critical will make you a better person. But how do you think a child would thrive under that kind of incessant criticism?”
      “Are you kidding? He’d grow up totally fucked up.”
      “So why do you think it’s good for you?”
      I didn’t have an answer. I knew that houseplants would wither when in proximity to my self-directed death ray. Which made for a good party trick. But now I began to wonder what possible negative effects standing under its direct blast, for decades, might have.
      Might mutate a malady or two. Into some kind of monster.
      Hmm. She might be on to something. She’s been right before. All those every other times.
      So I’ve been trying to cut myself some slack, like you said, working on accepting myself, however I show up.
      Messy hair. Burned eye-brows. Confetti in the cuffs of my mustard-stained pants. It will have to do.
      At least I showed up. And hey, I don’t see what’s-his-fuck around. He said he was just going to drop off the rental and meet us. I think he bailed.
      With all the money.
      I have to admit though, letting go of the ray gun of guilt hasn’t been easy. My fingers seemed to have frozen around the trigger. I’ve needed help from others to help pry them off.
      But now when I feel bad, I just have to endure the original unpleasantness. I don’t have to complicate it with too much resistance.
      “But I don’t WANT to feel like this? What’s wrong with me? What kind of piece of shit can’t make this feeling go away?”
      That way I can really feel bad. Worse than even before.
      Who needs it? Life is hard enough without getting on my own case. Besides that, I’m not any fun to be around while disintegrating from Deadly Orgone Radiation.
      And you’re right, people don’t need to be exposed to it. Look at what it did to that Ficus.
      Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed your comments here, Victoria. Thanks for being fun and wise. It’s a killer combo. I hope you stop by again. And I hope your 52nd rocks.
      Mine is in July.
      Oh God, I’m too young to be this old!

      Love sloshing over the sides of wheelbarrows.

      • Your sis’ instinct is spot on…if you’re ever in doubt re how to treat yourself…treat yourself like you would treat your child; or in your case I could say, ‘a child’ because you’d treat any child like the baby Jesus..

      • Oh, she’s been right alright. Some times ago.
        And how she turned out to be such a wonderful person having had an older brother like me, is a wonder.
        Maybe I wasn’t 100% the worst. 100% of the time.
        As for treating her like the baby Jesus…I guess, if that means reading comics to her while she was in her crib.
        I think I would’ve done the same for Him.
        Why not? It’s boring in there.
        Anyway, I always loved her. Right from the start. I remember I couldn’t wait for her to grow up so she could start walking around, and become my programmable fun pal.
        Which she did. And remains.
        No so programmable anymore.
        But still a very fun pal.

        So yeah. I did okay.

        It’s the law,

      • I love this one.
        Revisit it from time to time.

        It’s never the ones we think,
        Or what we think would be the ones.

        Yeah…that did come out in several ways at once.

        😅👺… Nope, it WAS 😄

  19. Oh, yes… that’s the secret password that shows the bouncer-angel to let you in (or out, as you please): “BEFORE you even know why.” Ahhhhh.

    • That’s right, it’s the spiritual equivalent to saying “Swordfish,” into to the speak-easy slot. The gates of heaven open.
      “Thanks before. Thanks before. Thanks before.”
      Forget it. I’ll never remember it. Too many words.
      Yeah man, we talked on the phone about all this, so there’s no need to talk about it here. Even though some our insights might benefit my readers.
      You know what? Fuck my readers. They can discover their own way to magickal treasure.
      Be sure to check under the troll’s balls! They might hide the answers there.
      Of course they might check out the ancient science of Kabbalah. And see what some of the greatest Hebrew sages and holy men had to say about stuff.
      That might be a more fruitful search.
      The Creator, they say, or as it is written, does good to the creature. That’s why the creature was created. For the Creator to do good to the creature. That’s it.
      They don’t make any exceptions either. For things like persecution and genocide. Which I don’t think is because Jews never experienced any of that shit. Right?
      So how can they stand by this belief? It’s not like they haven’t been up on current events.
      Well, that’s where you have to dedicate a little study, to what the sages wrote. Personally, I think they make a pretty good case. And best of all they can lay it all out in mathematical formula. Ones that make sense, even to a remedial math guy like me.
      Basically, The qualities of The Creator remain a constant. 100% bestowal of good. Only the perception/reception of this fact, by the creature, fluctuates.
      I have to totally agree with them there. Mine sure fluctuates.
      Anyway, they lay out how to adjust the lens of this fluctuating perceiver. I don’t want to give away any secrets, but it has something to do with aligning with the qualities of The Creator. Which are…well…pretty good.
      The best part is the game is rigged. The creature can’t be 100% bestowal of good like The Creator, since the creature is all about receiving 100% good. It’s hardwired that way. It needs to be. Otherwise, The Creator wouldn’t have anything to give good to.
      So what to do? What to do?
      How does the creature manage to become a 100% bestow-er of good, while still receiving it?
      Well, the sages have a good answer for that. And it’s a pretty amazing trick. Ingenious really.
      But we already talked about that on the phone.
      So what do you think about all this Kaballah business, frater? Do you think it’s some flash in the pan? Like EST?
      Sure it’s survived several millennia of suppression and distortion, but can it survive an endorsement from Madonna?
      I know it’s not for everyone. But I also know that the more I get into it, the more things make sense. Which probably explains why I’ve been so wary.
      It’s so healthy. So sane.
      So opposite of the direction I would naturally lurch towards.

      But you know that.
      More than many.

      Love all the time,

      • Perhaps the original glitch is simply the illusion of separation. I know that’s no fun…yet it remains a very very high probability.

        There may BE NO separation between Creator and created creature. We may not need to perceive a separation in order to continue to be this specific recepticle, receiver, sensor array.

        I see that in ‘you’ and ‘i’. We see more and more the no separation and yet we easily maintain our individual sensor arrays, our unique thisnesses. I think its because we are (so to speak) helplessly drifting toward Is (as in “I Is that I Is.”) We’re in the same canoe… paddling downstream to…

        Lots of practice…good rhythm. Completely unhindered by the fact that we are listening to different tunes in our noggins.

    • Well, that is quite an awesome thing for my eyeballs to read. Over and over again. So thank you, Gretchen, for making something good go into my brain.
      And putting a little pep back into my step.
      I sure appreciate it.
      More than you can ever hope to know.


      • I’ve just been reading Thich Nhat Hanh who suggests that we appreciate every day that we don’t have a toothache… it makes me think that the suffering exists so we can appreciate the lack of suffering… I read, think, and write about stuff like this (not toothaches) all the time so I love to read other people’s take. Very cool.

      • Love Thich Nhat Hanh. We have a book of his somewhere around here. I remember that he looks like what my buddy, Monk, would look like if he were a monk. A Vietnamese one. That didn’t grapple. Or lift weights.
        What I like about Thich Nhat is his knack (paddy-wack) for breaking down Buddhist ideas so they could be more easily digested by delicate Western minds–ones that erupt in inflammation when having to process a paradox. Of course, the Western mind would have to set aside Candy Crush Saga long enough to read his stuff, which we both know, isn’t going to happen.
        Popped over to the this evening. Wow. Chock full o’ nuts. Very funny stuff. I especially loved your memes, and the restaurant reviews. From a germaphobe. Great angle.
        As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think, how grateful I was that (so-far) I’ve been spared from being a germaphobe. That would’ve been highly inconvenient. Just because of all the gnarly, nasty jobs I’ve had to work at. Washing dishes. Being a busboy at a Denny’s (they get to clean the bathrooms) Plumber’s helper. Clerk at an X-rated bookstore. Strip club manager.
        You can imagine the bio-hazardous waste I’ve had to gingerly step over while pretending not to have seen.
        None of those jobs offered a haz-mat suit either. I was lucky to get rubber gloves. I learned to rely on Lysol and long sticks. And of course, a strong gag-reflex.
        So yeah, being overly concerned about germs would’ve probably forced me into more respectable work, and this blog would’ve never happened.
        But it’s not like I don’t have my own “things” about certain things. Like getting food poisoning from bad mayonnaise. That’s a big fear. Bad mayo.
        Have some potato salad from the picnic table on a sunny day? Forget it. Just no fucking way.
        I’d rather plunge my fist into a dirty Mexican toilet.
        Sorry. I forgot.
        Are you okay?
        You look like you were about to barf on me.
        Which I can handle. Since I’ve worked as a bouncer and a personal trainer.
        I just wish I knew what temperature this tuna sandwich was stored in. That’s got me worried.

        Oh well, any day I don’t have food poisoning is worth a Hallmark card.
        You’re very cool.

      • Thanks Marius! I think I’ve got x-rated bookstore beat… I taught elementary school. Stuff comes out of those kids from every single hole they’ve got… And I have a photo collection of things I found on the classroom floor. I have a picture of a band-aid that MUST have fallen off a dead, rotting body. Ta-dah.

  20. reading it was like eating a yummy gooey warm chocolate chip cookie. made me think of you mum too, has been so long and i wonder how she is doing too.

    am thinking this may be old hat to you but have you read Rumi’s Guest House poem….your writing feels like a modern day version of an old classic

    love and hugs to you gifted writer!

    • Well thank you, Anuradha. That’s the first time my work has been likened to a yummy gooey warm chocolate chip cookie. And I like it. But I think my scribbling is no match against any hot cookie– say, some deliciously naughty Nan Khatai. Forget it. It’s outclassed.
      But as for it being a modern equivalent to Rumi’s masterwork, I have to agree. Except for mine not being surgically succinct or poetically beautiful, they’re pretty identical. Yup.
      Here. I’ll show everybody what I mean-

      The Guest House

      This being human is a guest house.
      Every morning a new arrival.

      A joy, a depression, a meanness,
      some momentary awareness comes
      as an unexpected visitor.

      Welcome and entertain them all!
      Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
      who violently sweep your house
      empty of its furniture,
      still, treat each guest honorably.
      He may be clearing you out
      for some new delight.

      The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
      meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

      Be grateful for whatever comes.
      because each has been sent
      as a guide from beyond.


      Okay, maybe they’re not exactly the same. The message may be similar but his delivery blows doors and leaves me idling at the starting line. If that’s what you mean by the “modern” version. Then yeah. Same same.
      Still, I’m definitely flattered, An. That you would even think about the two pieces on the same day is a great honor.
      But this ex-rummy is no Rumi.
      (rim shot)

      Love and hugs back to you,

      PS I’ll tell my mom you thought of her. It’ll mean a lot. She always liked you.

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