Category Archives: In A Word

My thoughts in a word

It is Spinning Out of Control

In a word: Vertigo

Picture it! Sicily, 1912. You are sitting down reading a book, when suddenly an urge for a drink comes to you. It is a thirst that must be quenched immediately. You jump up and quickly turn towards the kitchen when an odd feeling you have never felt before, at least not like that. It feels like a rushing of water, an intensifying fluid-less water, growing with depth and intensity within your head. Your ears hear a static like an old radio television show. Then, just when you think it was odd and uncomfortable enough, the room turns slightly to the right, then rushes back spinning to the right almost a complete 360 degrees! Just when you think it will complete spin you around, it spins back, and then agadizzyin the other way! Your body and head try to accommodate the changes, moving and flailing arms to grasp onto something as your legs turn different directions and eventually lose balance, falling, sideways and then backwards to the ground. For about 30 seconds, maybe even a minute this goes on whether you are lucky enough to have caught yourself on a chair or are lying on the floor, hopefully not injured from the fall. Then, the tide of rushing, fluid-less sensation recedes, your ears regain a clarity in perceived sound, your eyes can finally focus, and the room is still and silent. This has been my life for about a month and counting.

It is a symptom of many conditions generically called vertigo. It is dizziness with an extreme prejudice on the body’s senses. This symptom, not to be confused by the film by Alfred Hitchcock, is one that often involves issues with the inner ear to make your body think there is motion or that it is not sufficiently balanced. Instinctively, one when they are about lose their balance or perceive that they would lose said balance, would move to steady themselves. With this, however, there is no issue where the body is actually losing balance, so any said movements would actually cause the body to fall or lose balance. It is painful, difficult to manage daily life, and I would go as far as saying it is dangerous.

This issue is a somewhat common issue among people with certain ear conditions or infections. One common condition is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). Some people have it for reasons other than ear related such as blood sugar imbalances or blood pressure drops. It is something I have heard about, but it is in no way something I could imagine.

The many causes and conditions with this debilitating symptom aside, it is something with limited treatment for some people. Rest, motion sickness pills, and sometimes medicine or surgery for the specific conditions or diseases that have this symptom. For me, I think or hope it is an inner-ear infection. The doctor is uncertain, but it can be ruled out that it is blood pressure or blood sugar related.

So, if you ever meet anyone with a similar symptom as part of a condition, do no dismiss it simple dizziness. We all, including myself, have been dizzy from illness or other reasons. This is significantly more intense. Hopefully more can be understood about this with my description. Hopefully, of the many issues this 2016 I plan to handle, tackle, and research, this is the last time I need to mention it.

Home Sweet Home, Where Art Thou?

In a word: Home

The word home has several definitions, however, the definition to which I am referring is the one which defines it as a place of residence. It could be a city, a state, a country or it could be a planet (for our alien friends in the galaxy). This definition falls a little flat for me because while it can be a place or maybe even a situation, to me it must also invoke a feeling. The other definitions of home at thefreedictionary.com or other places such as the dictionary covered in dust on your bookshelf. .

Home is difficult to find when I am constantly searching for it. I am a “ramblin’ man” of sorts, like the Allman Brothers Band song, and I do hope everyone I meet understands. It is not them, it is me. I have not found home yet. I keep looking for a place or situation in one breath and a feeling for it in another. I am not sure how I feel about it, but I haven’t found it yet. I hope I get that feeling someday.

Home, the word and definition of it, sounds easy to explain. Music comes to mind for me when I think of home. Much of my thoughts and feelings I often relate to phrases, quotes, and songs. I bet many people think this way. Ever say something, maybe about an event in your life, and then think: what song does that general line come from? I do. Normally I’m incorrect with the words of the song or poem by a word or two or all of them.

I was thinking about how I have been looking for home and considering a job in another town. Then I think about how I have been running from my past and the cold winters, figuratively and literally, in the northern United States where I was born and raised. It is cold in the winter. Then I think about how I really want to leave where I am at – a temporary place – to somewhere else. Old Crow Medicine Show and Bob Dylan wrote a song which seemed to explain how I felt when I moved to North Carolina with the song “Wagon Wheel.” Like a wagon wheel I wanted to roll on down and run from the “cold” or the lack of the “home” feeling in New England. I am thinking how I have been running from the cold, like it mentions in the song, to find the warmth somewhere all my life. Anywhere.

For me the music is important in a home. The music in Western North Carolina is great. The scenery is great, too. I love the mountains. I have been out of the area for a little while, but the mountains and the music are calling me. Then again, as I often do,  I need to get moving on.

I like the idea of going “home” and being “home,” but just the same, I like the search for home. The search or the travel to “home” is half the fun. As writer Ray Bradbury said, “Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.”There is some beauty in being lost. I am lost in my search for home. The Universe is a big place. It can be easy to get lost.  While searching for home, the journey can be fun. Much can be learned on the journey. It is fun to explore.

A  science fiction master, Gene Roddenberry, captured the beauty of exploration in the space age with his creation called Star Trek.  The explorers in the television program tried their best to make the USS Enterprise “home” for them. They were not looking for home as I am, but they were exploring themselves as much as they were the stars. They were trying to find answers to life and humanity and teach us, the viewers, about ourselves. The answer to life, the universe, and everything is 42, but Star Trek’s captains kept looking anyway.

Maybe home for me has been there all along but I keep looking because I like to explore. Maybe. Exploring is part of being human. That brings me back to how I am a “ramblin’ man.” My inability to sit still makes my ability to find “home” or know if I am there that much more difficult.

Why was I born a mediocre writer and not a traveler? Maybe I should have been a writing traveler or a truck driver. Yeah, truck driving with Jerry Reed and the Bandit going “Eastbound and Down” with a truck full of dreams on a “Highway to Hell” or something. No, nevermind. Not truck driving. No matter what I should have been, it is more important now for me to understand what I can be and where I can be it.

I’m not saying I will not settle down someday. I am looking for that right place to call home and that right job which I can fit into, but I do not know if found I could accept the fact that I’m “home” and not moving. Maybe I will never find it or maybe I hope I will never find it.

To go and find what I need or not and find it here is the question (Shakespeare, anyone?). Should I stay or should I go? Well, that question reminds me of another song by the Clash. Good tune. Funny how my brain works. I’m a rambling man, too, if you have not noticed. Thoughts keep jumping and moving like I tend to do with my search for “home.” The song by the Clash is about a woman, but my “woman” is my current location and situation.  As the song talks about a woman, the dilemma is if the person goes they will find trouble, but if the person stays  that trouble will be worse. The trouble within myself will be double if I am not searching for “home” and taking another path.  As I think of paths, I am again reminded of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.  I worry I may regret not taking all opportunities.

I’m getting fidgety. I have not found “home” yet in the place or the feeling. I guess that settles it. Staying in one place is trouble, but if I die trying in the mountains of North Carolina at least I will be free. For now, sitting still is not for me. For now I must keep moving because I am a ramblin’ man.

Hindsight: Is It 20/20 Back There?

In a word: Hindsight

It is said hindsight is 20/20. I knew it all along. This is a common phrase. If it is 20/20, as in good vision, then would it not be nice to be able do something about it? Time travel? Get a “redo” or something? Sigh. We cannot, but if we take the road not taken, we will always wonder and second guess our decisions.

Hindsight is a word which basically means the perception or understanding of past events. The word has two other familiar words in it as can be seen. It contains the words hind, as in “located at” the back, and sight, the act or ability of seeing. Together, we see it come together as a retrospective analysis of the past. More information, if you care to look it up, can be found at theFreeDictionary.com. You could just Google it.

Now, add “20/20,” as in vision, to our word, and it all becomes clearer. Clear as a rain. I can see it now.

I started thinking about this while sifting through some old poetry and writings of mine. As I read I remembered how I felt while writing this or that, and then I thought about how my life is at the moment. At this point I wondered where I could have made all the right changes or chose the different paths. We all do it. Whether your life is good or bad or happy or sad, just think about all of the roads you have not taken and where they could have taken you.

I started reading more poetry recently. When thinking about this word “hindsight,” I read more. Then I came across one of my favourite poems called “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. If you have not read it, then you probably have been living under a rock your whole life or simply do not read much poetry. You should read it. I read it over and over as a child and young man, but as I look back, I really did not ever read it. After thinking about my life and those people in my life, I came to a realization that this is poem is about everyone who has ever questioned their choices.

Frost’s poem is about a person standing at a fork in a road. We all have been there in one way or another. The person was a traveler. The traveler considered his options, both of which were about the same, but the person chose one path over the other thinking the other could be taken another day. After taking the path, the traveler thought this choice may be questioned some day. This person thought the choice may be thought of differently, and later in hindsight, the other path may have brought a different ending. In the end “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference” the traveler said.

It is not a happy poem. It is, just as the traveler, somewhere in the middle in regards to emotion. The “sigh,” maybe the doubt, the questioning of how we all feel about something in our lives at one point or another. It is a questioning of choices and how life would be different. It could have been better if another path was taken or it could have been worse. We will never know, but hindsight is 20/20.

Sigh. I wonder what could have happened if I had taken the other path.  I have definitely made some mistakes. Lost loves, lost time, and other things lost. Sometimes after making a decision I say “I knew it!” as if I had some way of telling the future at the time but did not act. Of course I had no idea. I wondered why I did not act on it at the time if I was in the present certain my past self knew the path was wrong. I looked it up. This is called hindsight bias, and many people feel this way according to a 2012 article on Psychology Today’s website. I love Psychology Today. It helps me understand myself and my brain.

The brain plays some funny tricks on us, and in hindsight, the paths I have taken have made the differences in my life. In hindsight, we all could have taken a different path which could have been better, but would we be the same person? No. Our experiences make us and forms our brains (PsychologyToday.com). Our geography, culture, the paths we take, and all the experiences which come from these shape us and our brains. These paths make the brain connect in the way it does and help us understand different ideas in the way we do.

I wonder sometimes about it all. Where could I be if I had taken another road. I don’t know. Hindsight, understanding our past, is important. Our history shapes who we are and understanding it can help us shape who we become. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We must know our history and understand it so we do not keep making mistakes at every fork in the road.

Sigh. I still wonder about my path. What is behind us is done and cannot be changed. Sometimes it can be mended, but overall, we live with our choices. The road not taken may be the better path. We may never know. Life is what we make of it, and the path we take makes all the difference. Sigh. In a word hindsight is helpful for our future, but even if it is 20/20 it is still behind us.

Pint: Donating a Pint for a Pint

Pint.

Per the website theFreeDictionary.com, a pint is defined as a unit of measurement approximately equal to 16 fluid ounces or about 0.5 liter. This is equal to about two glasses of water, a can and a half of beer, or one-third of blood needed for the average blood transfusion.

The Red Cross has been siphoning off the blood of millions for years. They have been doing it one pint at a time, and I have been a willful and proud participant in the bloodletting. In no way am I suggesting they are in any way associated with vampires because this has been proven a myth simply with their symbol being a cross. They are, as most blood donating organizations, a generally good organization to support especially if it is with your fluids.

Last week I received a call from the Red Cross. The woman was clearly reading a script as she requested my fine red fluid, which is happy to be in my veins I might add, to be donated in a time of need to some people who need it much more than me. Every day their is an accident or some form of violent natural disaster leaving thousands needing precious blood. Per the website, 38,000 people need blood every day and 30 million “blood components” are used in the United States each year. My one pint, I gave graciously, is only one third of the average needed per transfusion. While looking around the room as the blood flowed from my arm into the plastic bag, I saw only 2 other people participating in the process. We three hopefully saved one life.

While my blood is not the most precious Type O which about 45 percent of people have, whether it be positive or negative, it will hopefully be used to save a life. Saving lives may be enough for myself and many others, but these organizations have come to use tactics to lure in people who may not otherwise donate. These tactics include money. Although many I have found do not unless you consider plasma donations, a component of blood sometimes used in pharmaceuticals , they often offer another bait. The Red Cross, on each visit I have made, has offered me a coupon for one thing or another. In the past I have been given coupons for free hair cuts, free car washes, and also free “junk” (pins, stickers) which I consider souvenirs of my experience.

My most recent adventure to the Red cross lasted only 30 minutes, 20 minutes of which was preparation. For me this time was a record seven minutes from the actual prick of the vein with the needle to it the time removed. In the past it had been as much as an hour. According to the woman siphoning it off it was because I had consumed more liquids prior to donation. I try every time I donate to drink plenty of water. This time was no different. I had consumed quite much more water this donation which made for an easier experience.

Following the donation I was given my choice of juice, cookies and chips. The big surprise for me was the “souvenir” for this trip. This time it was an ice cream scoop and a coupon for a free pint of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Ben and fucking Jerry’s, you read me right. Ecstatic as I was I kept my cool.

Some companies offer incentives to donate blood. For one example, the employee of a local utility company receives a maximum of four hours off work for his donation, or the remaining of his shift whichever was most. Whether this is the best incentive to providing a much needed fluid or not is debatable. The truth is it works to lure in the blood bags for a Ben & Jerry’s souvenir.

Following my 10 minutes of drinking juice as recommended by the Red Cross, I walked out thinking of all of the wonderful flavors of ice cream I could enjoy, completely forgetting about the life I saved. In hindsight, the life I saved was much more valuable. Although the reward of ice cream was great, the pint I received was not as important as the pint I gave. A pint for a pint and so much more. Give blood so someone else can enjoy a scoop.