Blessings

Overall, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Jones RocksI seem to be healthy. I say “seem to be” because I don’t go to doctors unless I break a bone, which hasn’t happened in ten years, so I don’t have a professional evaluation of my health. I just know that a lot of my friends are sick or on medication or have had emergency surgery. I have aches and pains, but nothing compared to what my peers are going through.

I’ve complained a lot in this blog about my crummy job, and it is pretty crummy. But at least I have a job, and as annoying as it may be to get up and go make someone else rich five days a week, I’m really glad I’m not yet among the unemployed. I have a steady paycheck and a few side benefits at a time when most of the money in the United States is being reallocated to the extremely wealthy, the middle class is being converted into The Working Poor, and those working poor are becoming, simply, the poor. This hasn’t happened because I am a highly motivated self-starter: I understand it’s just luck. Because of the random way I have lived my life, I’ll probably need this job until about five years after my death. I know they’ll fire me before then, but for now — still got it.

My marriage has held up for nearly three decades. There’s been good times and bad, but we’ve gotten over. I have to say that it was me who caused the bad times and it was the patience and love and good humor of Mrs. Jones that got us through them. Once again, lucky: I had lots of chances to hook up with women who would have provided a lot more drama, and I might be on my fourth wife by now, or just a bitter bachelor. Instead, Mrs. J. and I found each other.

And even at my age, I get to play in a rock band! What I’m doing these days isn’t exactly the way I’d pictured my musical career ending, but still, there’s nothing quite like the exhilaration of playing rock’n’roll for a live audience, getting them on your side, moving them, and getting your rocks off at the same time. Even the rehearsals are uplifting. For example, I started today lethargic and with a nagging pain in my lower back, and after jamming for three hours I felt invigorated and ready for more. And that’s not to mention hauling a ton of equipment, setting it up, breaking it down and hauling it back again. It may be luck that I’m able to do this, that I have the ability to play my instrument and convince other guys to want to play with me. It may be luck, but I hope it’s more than that, that it’s related a little to my own hard work. But whatever — I still get to play in a rock band!

I’ll get back to the whining soon, of course. I just wanted to remind myself of these things.

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11 Replies to “Blessings”

  1. I second Blue Girl.

    But also, it’s good for the soul to stop now and then and take note of the good stuff, even when it’s not the same good stuff you thought you’d have by now. I was going to be a rich, famous artist/writer who spent most of her time in European resorts sipping coffees and being both tragic and gloriously beautiful. Heh… well. What I ended up with is just fine. I do get to sip good coffees, I do write and I do some art. I’m not … um… rich, or famous, or beautiful (at least in the way I saw ‘beautiful’ back then). And thankfully, I’m not “tragic.” But I’m good with all of it.

    Listened to you making your music. You’re GOOD! What an honor to hear an artist sharing his best work. Thanks, Larry.

  2. Hey Larry!

    Glad you’re keeping your chin up over there. Just a note to tell you that I’m still reading every one of YOUR words too, and don’t go thinking I’ve ever stopped lurking. Love to you and Mrs. J!

  3. Back in the day, when I contemplated advertising for a partner (in personals ads), I made a mental list of what I’d look for, which turned out to be a useful exercise even though I never wrote such an ad. One of my big requests? That he had either played a sport or an instrument–because doing either (or both) requires a certain amount of willingness to practice, to suck at something for awhile and soldier on, and possibly to accept one’s own mediocrity but play for the joy of it. So I don’t think the music thing with you is just luck or happenstance or whathaveyou.

  4. In keeping with my new, chipper online personality, I can’t write a post about my broken bone. But I can comment on it. It was actually more like fifteen years ago now that I think of it. I was playing basketball in the park (my last basketball game, as it turns out). I went up for a jump shot and the defender, badly out of position, rushed at me while I was in the air. He was determined to stop my shot, but it was too late for that. He couldn’t stop his charge, either, and he ran into my right side, turning me sideways in the air (that is, parallel to the earth’s surface). I came straight down onto the asphalt on my right elbow, shattering it. I didn’t think it was broken, but I knew something was very wrong. I went home and iced it, but the pain wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. I didn’t have medical insurance, so the next day I got a ride to a walk-in clinic, where they “diagnosed” the break. “Great,” I said. “Let’s fix it.” Unfortunately, they don’t fix things at the clinic. They just diagnose them. They sent me to a doctor’s office to set the bone. The pain was getting quite intense, and every bump in the road felt as if someone was whacking my elbow with a hammer. I waited for a half hour before the doctor’s assistant told me “Doctor will only accept cash.” I had a checkbook and about a hundred grand in credit cards, but they made me go back and get $200 in greenbacks (bumpity-bump down the Road of Agony) before they would set my arm. When I got back and gave them the money, the doctor used some kind of thick tape to wrap my arm. First he soaked the tape in warm water, then wrapped it around the break. As it dried, it hardened into a cast that went from my armpit to my wrist, and the pain was magically gone! I was told I would have to keep the cast for six weeks. I wouldn’t have agreed to such a thing under normal circumstances, but the pain of a cracked elbow will make me do funny things. At the time my car had a five-speed manual transmission (it still does, probably, but it’s not my car anymore), and I was an outside rep for several manufacturers of professional audio gear. I lived in my car (not literally), and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to drive. For about a week I steered and shifted with my left hand. Think about it. One day I tried using my broken arm. It wasn’t graceful, but it worked fine. Later I tested the cast by smacking my arm against a wall. Couldn’t feel a thing. That was good, but I couldn’t take showers — I didn’t want water to get down in there and form a stagnant, reeking puddle that I couldn’t get at. So I took baths, holding my cast up out of the water. I didn’t feel really clean for six weeks. When the doctor finally cut the cast off my elbow was very stiff and I didn’t know for sure if it was fully healed, but the nurse demanded that I put it in a few extremely awkward positions and hold them perfectly still while she took x-rays and called me a crybaby. The x-rays showed that the elbow had healed. The doctor volunteered that it was too bad I couldn’t afford physical therapy because without it my elbow would “never be the same.” Fuck him. Fuck the American for-profit medical system that makes it OK for a doctor — a doctor — to send an injured man off to get cash before he will treat a broken bone.

  5. I’ve been there – cracked ribs, no insurance. And I was lucky it wasn’t worse; ribs generally heal themselves.
    Our system is barbaric, and bizarrely inefficient. We spent 10 – 11 X per capita compared to other industrial countries. And while some doctors don’t behave well – they’re not the problem. I’m afraid it’s the insurance companies and pharma that will fight for every inch of ground.

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