Can you repack minutes into a continuous loop so they can be relived, reexperienced as moments devoid of phone calls and conference calls and Skype and contract negotiations and paperwork and financial planning? Or wouldn’t it be nice if one could reuse minutes, throw moments in the wash, wring them out and pass them again in restful pursuits? I like the work, I love the work. I am grateful for the work. Yes! But, on the phone with my business partner, I am also aware that those minutes are floating away like dandelion seed wisps, I can see the minutes, fluffy and white, drift around my head and dance out through the walls of my office, disappearing into the past. And I want to jump up and catch them, dash around madly grabbing at each tiny tuft of time and hoard them in my pocket. Lord, please let me line every inch of my office with discarded minutes, files of moments that I can dust off and try again, live again, Recycle. I want to open my botanical garden of moments and people will drive for miles to visit me, to walk down the paths of my minutes with me and imprint them anew with laughter and storytelling and friendship. Together we’ll be gluttons for rerecording fragments of time by cutting the flowers in this garden and ingesting new colors, new fragrances, new arrangements for the endless varieties. I am building a business with talented people. But I want to take their hands and draw their attention back to a moment before the handshakes and the signing on dotted lines and say: Let’s try it again on a glider, jumping from a plane, diving into a warm sea or running down a beach at night when the cool winds coming off the water challenge the sand still hot from the sun’s daylong beating. There is so much to sense. Put it in our business plan, in our every negotiation — this time we spend together is full of possibility. Let’s not waste a nanosecond.
It’s a nutrition chart the doc hands me, a stapled mass of copied pages with information from, I’m guessing, 1965. The chart rates foods by their levels of oxalates and ash and calcium and sodium. The ratings are from high to low. The doc writes another prescription for a diuretic, shakes my hand and says, “Okay, you’re all set.” And that is the story. No appointment with a nutritionist. No why or how or search for an underlying cause. Just a handshake and a handout.
You see, I finally peed out a stone. Yep. I was at the toilet and I felt this odd muscle contraction in my dick followed by a clink sound in the toilet bowl. I look down through the only mildly yellow water (I drink tons now, remember, so like a good scientologist, my pee is clear) and a small dark, spiky speck stares back up at me. I just reach down through my foulness and pluck it right up. I don’t care. I’ve been through too much to worry about some piss on my skin. Oh boy, it’s crazy. It is black!?! This tiny object that caused me so much pain and trouble and money looks like a minute mace. It is barbed all over its surface, jagged, it IS a weapon and my body created it which must mean I am officially an organic arms manufacturer. I can’t believe this medieval torture device issued forth from my johnson. Or I can believe it given the immense PAIN I experienced because of its month long interrogation of my ureter. But was I vengeful? Was I ruthless? No. I wrapped it gently in a paper towel and put it in a small tupperware container and took it down to the doctor’s office so they could pulverize the son of a bitch and discover what made it tick. And that’s how I got the list of foods…
I came in two weeks after the pulverizing and the doc had the results up on his computer screen. Your stone is an oxalate stone, very common and you also have hypercalcemia which means you have too much calcium in your urine/blood. And then handout, prescription, handshake and out the door.
I don’t know what to do. If I follow this list I will essentially be eating lettuce and air. I’m standing in the parking garage running through the foods, trying my damndest to make sense of the information I’m seeing and I realize, well, that’s it, I am now officially vegan. Well, thank God my hair is already long and I’m pretty slim so at least I can look the part! I don’t like to be told what to do. Are you getting that yet? And this is a HAVE to. Even worse!! That stone may have been only 4mm but right now it is the asteroid size proverbial stone on my LIFE. I’m behind the wheel of the car grinding my teeth. I’m trying to figure out how I can get out from under this one. I’ll be goddamned if these kidneys beat me. Stay tuned….
“….surprisingly deep analysis of suburban hell.”
I throw my keys down on the box I use as a nightstand and very gently sit on the edge of my bed. It is mid afternoon, the roommates are out working their snow cone stand, my door is closed and the sun is feebly trying to fork a bit of Vitamin D into me through the narrow slits of the blinds. My penis is steaming mad at me and refuses to show itself, sliding it’s neck back up inside my pelvis like a peevish turtle. I don’t blame him. I put the poor thing through an ordeal. I wouldn’t begrudge him if I woke up tomorrow to find that he had packed up his tea bag and hopped a boxcar headed away from ME. At the very least, I know I won’t get anything out of him for at least a week. This room is probably 10 x 12 and right now it is the trash compactor room in Star Wars; but this Jedi ain’t fighting to get out. I want to sue that doctor. I feel violated. I want to eat ice cream right out of the tub and watch sentimental movies. Yep folks, I’m there! There’s not permanent recovery from this junk torture. It is an indelible memory that will never, EVER be removed from my brain. I will be at the gym one day, for example, and as I stand at the urinal and drain my tube, the prodding and catastrophic insertion of the pee doctor will flood back into my mind and, my friends, we will have tears.
I have to go back for another appointment in a week. My urine is slightly pink. I was told this is normal and will pass. There will be more test results and dietary restrictions and more medicine and an appointment with an internist. And so it goes. I have entered the age of medical mayhem. I have passed into prescription land. My body is no longer my own. I am one step away from the Monday through Sunday plastic pill container. I am nearing the stage where I sit down in a restaurant and ask the waitress if there are any low sodium options. I am sliding into the era of eating dinner at four p.m. I am DECAYING!!!!!! PETRIFYING!!!!!!
And my earlobes and nose will grow larger and my nut sack will stretch to my ankles.
And then I feel an explosion inside me. The doctor is squeezing my junk, his tool is up in my tool, the pendulous nurse is close to hyperventilating all over my neck and, BOOM, an 8 on the richter scale cracks a pain tremor through my loins. And I am shot like a rocket into hallucinatory space. I am immediately thrust back in time, five-years-old and I’m flying up on the swing in the backyard. All sound is muted but I can feel the wind blasting my face as I pump my legs and swing myself up higher and higher, trying desperately to see if I can wrap the swing up and over the top of the set. A game my brother, Jody, and I would play: go as high as you can and then jump out to see who could fly the farthest. I see my grin widening, my cheek skin rippling from the rush of wind pounding my open mouth. One more deep pump and I swing up level with the top bar and I let go, I push out. I am floating weightless, a million tiny fingers carrying me through the air. My eyes are open and the blue sky brightens and shatters into shards of crayon shavings that fire down like missiles all around me. All color drains away and I am in deep space, the trees and the grass of the backyard morph into neon supernovas and quasars. Gravity is dead and my breath smokes out of me in clouds of ice. Frost grows on my skin, covering me in a spiderweb crust; I am encased, immobilized in my own filigreed cryosphere. And then…
I hit the ground, my body blasting from the impact. A thunderbolt crashes through my left hand. I lift it up and a long rusty nail stabs clean through my palm attaching its rotted board companion to me. Nothing moves. The world stops. I stare at the nail turning my hand in the air, feeling the weight of the small board against my knuckles. A few drops of blood pool up around the point of the nail. I’m smiling. I love this. I’m the King. Jody just jumped but I got the nail! I lift my arm up high in the air at my brother displaying my nail in triumph like its the F’n Stanley Cup. That’s when I hear the banshee screech as my mother slams through the back door running at me with the scared animal eyes of someone whose hair is on fire. She scoops me up in her arms, dashes for the station wagon, throws me in the passenger seat and is off down the drive way rushing toward the hospital faster than Usain Bolt ever dreamed of sprinting. I am shreiking now, not in pain, but because I don’t want anyone to take out my nail. I want to keep it. It’s my trophy. I want to wear it to school and show all my classmates how cool I am cuz I’m the only motherfucker with a big metal nail through my hand. It’s my mini crucifixion and that spells COOL at school! Mom, driving like she’s on the Autobahn, has managed to bring along a large bottle of hydrogen peroxide with her. With one hand on the wheel, she throws a tea towel down on my lap, opens the bottle and pours peroxide on my piercing. White bubbles fizz out across my palm and my brain short circuits from the sudden seizure of earth shattering PAIN!!!! I raise my face to the sky and rupture my vocal chords in a SUPERSONIC CRY. AHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
And I’m back. Paper gown, fat nurse, the junk doctor. He slides the long slender instrument out of my dick. PLOP. An intense rush of burning fires through my johnson. Doctor Smug smiles and looks up at me with his magnified eyes, “Got it. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
(Left hand balls up into fist, tip of index finger gently tapping the old scar.)
See, this is the thing. I’m wearing a tissue-thin paper smock that’s sticking to my sweaty parts and this 60-something urologist is grasping my little mister in his rubber gloved hand so tightly, uh, I mean SQUEEZING FOR LIFE like he’s dangling over the edge of a skyscraper and my dick is the only thing preventing him from falling to his death. OWWWWW!!! And then, get ready gents, he shoves an implement up my pee hole! I blurt out, “That’s not an entrance!” He does not think I’m funny. I’ve got my right hand balled up in a fist ready to punch this guy in the face, (anger and instinct), and the gargantuan nurse takes my fist and begins petting it, stroking my fingers loose and purring her mayonnaisey breath in my ear, “shhhh, you gotta hold still.” There’s supposed to be some kind of numbing medication involved but it ain’t enough. He’s got a camera stuck up my Winnebago on a search and destroy mission for a rogue calculus and I don’t get any better than a topical anesthetic? Like F’n Orajel? I can feel his probe snaking it’s way up higher and higher inside me. I buck against him and blurt out, “You know, you should be paying ME for this!” He quickly darts his eyes up over his bifocals and squints at me. “This isn’t a game, Mr. Krainz. Be still!” Apparently, I’m a naughty toddler in time out. Add that to the pain, the embarrassment and gigantoid nurse Hellman’s getting off on the peep show and, well, my dignity is like the sound of Pac Man dying. I kind of dissociate for awhile and float on a cloud of pain transcendence. And then….
You gotta get some Percocet and some Flomax. Yes, my dears, FLOW MAX! As in, keep the piss running through, please, or the barbed little blah, blah millimeter stone will be digging its talons into your delicate, “you only get one of these in a lifetime” pipeline. So he scratches the prescription across the pad and tears me off a dilemma. You see, this Flomax ain’t cheap. I hightail it over to the CVS and find out that keeping me open is going to cost 90 bucks. That’s with the insurance. Now that may not sound like a lot of money, but, let me tell you, I’ve been living on about 600 dollars a month (I’ll explain later) and after rent and utilities and gas and a few sad trips to the grocery for the dollar aisle comestibles, well, I’m wiped out. I argued with the doc, by the way. Told him I couldn’t afford medication. And he tells me I couldn’t afford the surgery if I didn’t take it. (Doctors really don’t understand the reality of the world outside their offices; it’s like they have reality amnesia). So I’m freaking out cuz I don’t want surgery through my junk. That’s what they do, they thread a long foreign object up through your penis and blast the meteorite somehow and, no, no, NOOOOO!!!! I’m pacing up and down by the dentifrices banging my brain for a way to pay for these goddamned pills. I don’t want to borrow money from friends, I hate that. I’ve done it before and it just makes me feel useless, like a huge pile of crap on a stage with a bright spotlight blaring down. So, you know, of course, I call my friend, Cathy, who, of course, offers to pay and gets mad that I don’t want her to and threatens to grab me by the testicles and drag me to the pharmacy herself if I resist her assistance. BUT. There’s got to be another way, a way that I can find FOR MYSELF. So I start searching all over the internet for coupons or discounts. I check every pharmacy I can think of. I remember Wal Mart has a program for 4 dollar prescriptions, so I call and they tell me that dear ole Flomax is not on the cheap list and it will cost 60 bucks. Better, yes. But I don’t have that either. But I’m on on the right track, right? I call more. Target, ’bout the same at Wal Mart. More and more. I’m calling every damn place that sells pills legally, that is. Finally, I stumble on an article that talks about how Costco has some incredible deals on pills cuz they struck some deal with manufacturers or something and, maybe I read it wrong, but I call the local one and, fucking, BINGO! 13 dollars for the bitch. THIRTEEN! When I heard that, I really wanted to storm back into CVS and punch the pharmacist in the mouth. (I know it’s not his fault but I wanted to punch somebody!) So I get the pills and I’m finally on track to getting this asteroid out of me without invading my kitchen with weapons of mass and painful inappropriateness. Oh Man.
You think we’re done with this saga? You got another thing comin’. Things get ugly, folks. Let’s just say, Hades has definitely not left the building.
this mattress sucks. but i’ve got 2 bucks in the bank so these metal coils digging into my sciatica are going to be my companions until my proverbial ship comes in, yeah, bullshit. this is one of those days where you think, “I am going to really get it together. I am going to write a hit play or a hollywood blockbuster and wave bye-bye to this lousy box of a room.” ‘course five minutes after those fantastically positive thoughts, the room closes in and the blankness of your head eradicates any coherence left lurking in the creative centers. could be the kidney stone i’m luxuriating in lately. i wake up one night about a month ago with a pain in my back like the ninth level of hell, like Hades himself had erected a tent and set up his burning camp in my left love handle. i live with it for about three hours until it occurs to me that maybe this pain isn’t normal and i wake up the roommates and beg them to “Get me to the Emergency Room.” I walk in the self opening doors, huddled over with my hand holding the pain and the nurse looks up at me and says, “You got a kidney stone.” Great! Aren’t I too young? Isn’t that for geezers? “Wipe that smirk off your face and stick me full of Vicodin or Percocet or Oxycodone or whatever the hell you use. Just DOUSE these flames!”
Yeh, I’m a baby. They stick me on a gurney and stick an IV in me and a male nurse waltzes over to me and laughs, digging it in to me, “Yeh, I had one once. Fucking killer, idn’t it? Heard women say that pain is worse that childbirth.” (cackle, cackle) I want hellfire to burst through my urethra and burn this ass’s face off!
Doc shows up. FINALMENTE!! Again, another smirk and a knowing laugh (what is it with these jerkknots?) He orders something I can’t pronounce and the fat turd nurse waddles out and comes back much too much later and injects something very cold into the IV bag. I am pacing at this point, it feels slightly better than lying down. I guess most stone people pace (knowledge gleaned from the smirky male nurse sucking on corn nuts). Suddenly, I feel a hit. A “Jesus, I’m going to topple over” hit. I sit down and the next thing I remember, it’s two hours later and a Filipino nurse’s aid is shaking me awake. “You really out. We need get you CAT scan.” HUH? I don’t have a cat! I come around. And begin to comprehend. Shit, I had hoped it was a lucid dream. Nope! I wipe the drool off my face and promptly puke all over the gurney. The Filipino rushes out to grab a wet one, I guess, but in my mind I’m thinking, “That’s what you all get for being so smirky.”
I get wheeled down to Radiology and a chirpy, obviously ex-con throws me into this round machine, sticks a triangular pillow under my neck and roars, “DON’T MOVE; YOU HAVE TO BE STILL.” I don’t think I could move if I wanted to. What was in that injection? I’m like a limp washcloth. He lumbers off and I hear this series of clicks as they irradiate the hell out of me (I’m sure Hades loves this part) and I pray to God that I will be a much better person if He will promise that this scan won’t give me crazy body cancer. The attendant from OZ stomps back in and I’m flying back down the hallway, back to the little curtained area where I started. My roommates are slumped over in chairs, it being like 5 a.m. by now. “Aren’t I lucky,” I think, “I’ve got attendants like a goddamned king!” I slip in and out of consciousness for over an hour and, the doc floats back in with another smirk and a prescription for Percocet. “You can go home; nurse’ll have a DVD of your scan for you to pick up later. Drink lots of water.” (Ha ha ha) Am I just one big fucking punchline?!? JESUS.
The roommates each take an arm and carry me out of the hospital, pour me into the car and toss me in bed.
Oh god there’s so much more…but I’m tiring myself out. Next time, I’ll relate the ordeal of how I scrambled to purchase the meds to relieve the pain and the hellaciously expensive pills to force my tubes open so the stone didn’t rip through me like a piece of shrapnel. Oh and see, I did write. Ha. I’m so accomplished!!!
(He immediately grabs new stainless steel water bottle and chugs like a dehydrated hamster.)
I got a new bike. New as in the neighbor of a friend of mine gave me her husband’s bike because she’s packing up and moving out. The bike is blue. I decided it’s blue because it is sad about the impending separation. So I took the bike to the fix it guy and got new tires, new cables, greased up the movable parts; all so the bike would feel better about itself. I know all about the fragile nature of esteem. I didn’t really have the money for the beautification but I have no car and at least a bike takes some of the time off the usual walk-a-thon that is my life. Lord knows I could use the extra time to write. I’m working on a play now. I decided that writing a play would be a nice break from the screenwriting. Something light and funny and just plain entertaining. I fool myself, of course, because I am sitting here on my bed staring at the computer and the narrative is laughing at me, jumping out of the way and hiding as soon as my fingers hit the keys. Slippery little fuck this bastard narrative. I had it all written out, all outlined. But the story slid into the costume of a greased pig in a state fair and now I’m chasing it around trying to hold on to that squealing pile of slick and bemoaning my inability to put two damn words together. What am I doing? Empty pockets! That should be motivation enough to finish this thing! The blue shiny bike stares at me from the corner; it wants a new seat. So much pressure…