Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sorta Silent Sunday: It's KINDA Silent, But Still Deadly


I say 'Sorta' because I need to explain what Sorta Silent Sunday will be. In my efforts to continue to build separate and unique, not sure what you call them...compartments, to the blog (and admittedly to finally, after months, to hit double digits in posts within a single month), this is another one of those types of regular things I'd like to try.

Here I'd like to just post some of the photos I've been taking lately, or maybe not even lately but maybe I managed to scan some material in and haven't really done much with it, and not bother with a lot of words. I know...me not writing a lot of words seems rather alien. But like I said...this is me trying to find a new voice for this blog, while still talking about Bennett and his journey and the world that surrounds us.

Maybe new isn't the best term. Maybe refined is...better. Who knows? In any case, I have always tended to do my talking and thinking out loud in this space. This is no different. This round is so Bennett heavy because I am trying to show how FRIGGIN' hard it is to get a shot I like of him in one round of photos...he is a tough little dude to shoot. Carter? He just doesn't cooperate out of sheer will. Bennett doesn't because he doesn't know any better. ;)














OUT.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Inside Of An...OMG!?!?


So you see some changes happening here. Along the side, along the top. Nothing major yet, just some refinements.

I am slowly trying to turn this ship around. There are so many things left to do. From the back going forward? By that I mean, from Post 1 moving toward today? Going from that point and restoring ALL the broken links to photos that are no longer there.

What happened?

I was an idiot and did not renew a URL that I should have. Needed the money, or to save it rather, and the hosting had to be cut. Figured I would spend some time relinking or just go back and get the URL, but some asshat bought the URL and like a bitch is squatting on it, wanting to get PAID to let it go. I...don't think so. Pappa don't play that game, son.


It does give me an opportunity to clean up old content in more ways than one. I can prep older posts for the newer feature called Wayback Machine, but I can also go in and maybe tweak some language if I want and re-configure some photos. I recently was reading some stuff about copyright infringement and I...well, let's say I am a bit too liberal in my use of other people's photos here, and that needs to just stop.

I do rely on the photo as a humor tool, so I need to figure out how to do that and still not kill a certain style I have developed, but that's just something I have to overcome. I don't want to start getting contacted by people who would be rightfully upset. It's long overdue.

PLUS, as I was looking over some statistics a few months back, I started looking at what draws people to come here. I really don't know much about keywords, hashtags, any of that shit.

Much to my shock and AW CRAP, I saw that there was one particular phrase or phrases that keeps coming up again and again and again. Believe it or not? Has nothing at ALL to do with butts. I'm not even going to WRITE it, because I don't want to continue drawing these creepy freaks in like moths to school girls. I'll let a couple of non-described screen caps do the talking.



See? And if you mention the words in the comments, I'll delete it. That first one is back in JUNE.

This is almost every time I LOOK in the stats. EVERY TIME! I mean, I've started to get more concerned about things like traffic now that I have decided I want this blog to expand and grow and maybe turn into something that can be used as, I don't even know yet, a springboard to something, I haven't figured that part out...but this is NOT the direction I want it growing. So I need to revise that old post and make sure I am a wee bit more careful about how I describe certain things in the future.

Who knew?

OUT

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lest I Forget Another


I forgot one anniversary this month, nearly forgot two others.

Been under a tremendous amount of stress. And no...not gonna be talking about this particular wave of stress. Gotta ride this one out somewhere other than here.

5 years ago today? Bennett had his head opened up and a tumor cut out. 15 years ago today? The lives of two people would be forever changed. One was mine.


The other? Jennifer, the woman who would one day become the mother of that very same boy. She met me for our very first date in a parking lot of a Meijer store after having encountered me in an online dating service and talking to me on the phone for around three weeks prior. The date moved elsewhere, I suppose that is noteworthy of mentioning. The parking lot was just a place to actually MEET. Neutral territory, as it were.

The rest, as they say, is history.

OUT.

Wayback Machine: Kung Fu' Fightin'


Welcome to what will be the first of many 'new' segments on this blog. I'm hoping to roll them out over time, and then just integrate them as regular...I don't even know what you call them in the Blogoverse...features maybe? The goal here is to have sustained, repeated content that I can rely on. I want to get this thing cooking in my life again. Been going through a LOT of changes lately, and this is just one small part of it...getting back to doing things that make me happy.

This makes me happy.

Wayback Machine will be revisiting old blogs I have written. They may have been written here, or on other blogs that I used to partake in like Grey Matters, maybe further back like Made in China. Basically I turn back the clock and re-post, but also add in some new commentary or insight into said content.

What once was old is NEW again. Love it. Figured why not? Since I have to go in and fix a SHITLOAD of broken photo links since some asshat stole my old creatusmaximus URL when I forgot to renew it and is squatting on it LIKE A SISSY BITCH and wants money that I am not gonna pay. Otherwise I would just renew the URL, load all the pics in, and everything would be RESTORED. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....some turd needs to try and make a few bucks for DOING NOTHING...

I love America and free markets and all that, but squatting on a URL? That's just a shit move.

Now...let's get in the Wayback Machine...

Originally posted on blogzilly: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Been friends with Jerry Macaluso since 1998, at least that’s the year he reminded me of in a recent note. Those were the early days in what might be considered my entrance into real adulthood. That's a whole nutha story since I was THIRTY at the time. I got started way late. (The career in toys was a fallback career that I was super lucky to get. I failed TOTALLY at breaking into the comic book industry. And I tried HARD. But after two years I had to give it up.)

But in the 98-99 period I began my career in an official way, by getting a job at ReSaurus, and also happened to start dating the woman who would become Mrs. Lilly. Interesting…the two ways we define ourselves, work and family, both getting their first real pushes in the same general period. Probably happens to most people that way. Maybe it is a maturity thing, you end up ready for real responsibility and ready for a relationship. (Interesting that my career and my family would remain so intrinsically linked, and both start to become undone by the other. After Bennett's incident and that Summer of Seizures & Surgery, there was no going back as far as career was concerned. We were bound to Ohio, and it to us. That meant the career would always be taking a back seat to the family.)

Anyway, I bring that up because it was actually Jerry who prompted me to start blogging again. (I did NOT remember that!) He is in charge of a new gig, called Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, which does not have its own website yet I believe, so that's a link to his MySpace page (MySpace...LOL!!! Obviously the link was broken.). In case you don't remember, Jerry was the founder and creative force behind SOTA Toys, a company which he has since sold, but whom I worked with a ton early on at ReSaurus, which is, in the late 90's, where our friendship really bloomed.

Pop Culture Shock isn't doing action figures (sadly), but the product is still as cool as it ever was, they are making 1/4th Scale Mixed Media Statues, from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers. Check out a couple of these bad boys below. (Pssst...I got to actually help on one of them! - I keep no secrets on this stuff NOW...I did a rough sketch concept design for the Cammy statue. It was only marginally good. The sculptor really beefed up what I had done. I recently located that sketch and will post it in the PCS Folder on my Creatus Maximus Facebook page.)




So, he and I talk a lot about Street Fighter, and a week or two ago I showed him some images of an Akuma Mini Bust that was sculpted at ReSaurus, but never got produced. And it was something that was probably never shown around much, because Capcom shut down the deal early, the sculpt was done, frankly, because near the end there wasn't all that much to do.

It might have occurred after I was laid off and gone to Palisades, since ReSaurus stuck around for a year (maybe two) plus after the first round of layoffs.

He suggested I show it, I told him I would, but that meant starting a new blog. What the hell, right? (I started this blog with the intent of it being entirely about toys and collectibles. Remember this was the VERY beginning of 2009. I was still hoping somehow to resurrect my career after Creatus Maximus had failed and there was still a soft option of leaving Ohio. I had NO idea that a couple of weeks after starting the blog that Bennett would start having Infantile Spasms and EVERYTHING would change.)

So here it is...I think Jon Matthews sculpted it, pretty sure Chris or Tony painted it.


Pretty cool huh? Always wished that Akuma had been produced. It was one of my favorite Jon Matthews sculpts.

Fast forward to late 2012...and Jerry contacts me and asks me if I am interested in working for him. I told him I couldn't do it, no way can we move because of Bennett, he has to stay here because of his benefits and a special deal he has worked out with the state - that's complicated. Jerry said it could be from my house, part time, and we'd work out the details later. Just wanted to know if I was in.

You bet your ass I was in!

OUT.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dude...I Don't Know What To Say


I knew that this day would eventually come. It always does.

That day when you forget to honor someone's memory appropriately and you spend the next couple of weeks beating yourself up on the inside because of it. I have not mentioned the anniversary of Eddie's death on other year's in this blog, but I have always remembered it somewhere. Facebook, internally via some personal thing....SOMEWHERE.

This is the first year I fucking spaced and...did...NOTHING. And what makes me extremely sad and angry is this is the first year I see that on his Facebook page on August 12th? No one wrote anything. Not even me. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!!! I want to cry and scream and break shit over my face.

EDIT: I need to make something very clear, as I saw something unfold on Facebook and I want to be very specific here. My frustrations over Eddie's page are all about me and my own forgetfulness. I know that everyone, especially Eddie's family, but everyone who knew Eddie, honor Eddie's memory in their own way, and my expressions of anger here are directed at me. I'm mad at myself...my statement that no one wrote anything is misdirected. I am angry that I didn't. That's why I want to break stuff over my own face. I consider this my own personal failure. No one else's.

If there is anything I have learned here in the middle chapter in my Book of Life it is this...there is no Book of Life. No real one. There are no manuals, no guidebooks, no PDF's, no top ten lists of any kind that encompass everything that Life is going to throw your particular way.

Everybody is going to have a different experience.

Everybody.

So you do what you can to muddle through the mud and the muck, you do what you can to make the most of the joy and the laughter and hang on to that too, because you never do know how fleeting the good times will be. And they are just that...fleeting. No one tells you that when you are young.

And why would they? Who wants to be the guy who poops in the swimming pool? Not me. OK, maybe me. But not YOU, right?

It seems like, over the past oh, I don't know...let me count it out here...the past 40, maybe 46 years or so...I have spent my whole life making mistakes, and the rest of my life trying to recover from those mistakes. And that, by the way, is not really all that BAD, mind you. I have always believed that it is OK to fail. As long as you learn something from it, and move forward with some new knowledge and build off the fuck-up.

But wow...with the raw quantity of mistakes I keep making, and with that philosophy, one would suppose that I should be the wisest man on the planet, right? Instead, why do I always feel like such a fucking idiot most of the time? :) I guess once I figure that out, I can stop writing in this thing and go home.

No chance of that happening any time soon.

Eddie, brother, I forgot about you. My mind was so wrapped up in Bennett's MRI that I just fucking forgot. I'm sorry...I still have it in my calendar, I still knew it was coming because this year I actually went back to San Diego Comic-Con, the last place I ever saw you in the flesh and got to hug your squeezable self. And yeah, you came up in a LOT of conversations. Especially with Jerry and Steve.


I saw your brother. And I avoided him. I shouldn't have, but I did. I cannot believe what an open wound you still are to me. I can only imagine a teeny tiny infinitesimal FRACTION of how he feels. And yet to talk to him face to face? As much as it might help to heal that wound for me, for him too maybe what the hell do I know? But I am so afraid to do it. Freakin' coward I know.

Sorry about that too. I feel like I let you down, man. In more ways than one. I hope that somewhere, somehow...you can be cool with that eventually. And I hope that somehow...I can get my shit together about it.

By the way...Comic-Con without you? Not the same at all. It would have been weird for a lot of reasons, but not seeing you there? Made things very, very strange. And monumentally sad. You would have dug our booth position, right next to The Walking Dead booth. Of course that didn't help us NOT think of you all weekend. :)


If I still drank, I would have tied one on for you. But I don't. I found a quiet spot one afternoon and drew something for you instead...that's all I could do. Hope you liked it.

That's all I got. Talk to you next year bro...hopefully with my head REMOVED from my ass.

OUT.

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Social Media Skills Are Lacking


Though my parenting skills, at least tonight, are FRIGGIN' AWESOME.

I should always launch everything from here, and I forget to. Oh well...I loaded this into YouTube, then linked it to Facebook, then remembered there are people here who are aware of my existence on neither.

I have NO concept of how to manage Social Media. At all.

Anyway...having a good time with Bennett tonight...he is having a good evening, and I am trying extra hard with him. It helps that there are minimal distractions around.

His ride home was a mess. Total mess. Which is weird. I thought tonight would be a waste because of it. But I found something that helped me move forward and give it a bigger than average second try and, well...let's say there are more movies than this, but I'm saving them. ;)

OUT.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Clear with an Ever Present Danger


Just to get the news out there, disseminate it fast, yes Bennett's MRI was clean. No tumor regrowth.

And that creepy image up there isn't him. Weird though ain't it?

Getting the news that his MRI is clean? That's the part where I am supposed to celebrate. To high-five and say all the right things about how grateful I am. About how glorious God is for giving us more time with Bennett and celebrate His Wisdom and His Generosity. Here is the part where I am supposed to be jubilant. Reverant. Joyful.

This is the part where I fail everybody.  Where I disappoint. Everybody. God. My mother. My spouse. My friends. My kids. My neighbor down the street with the hideously ugly over-saturated lawn ornamentation. And myself.

I can't do those things. I can't BE those things.

Wanna be. I think. Sometimes. Maybe. Dunno.

I asked Jen a question during the drive home, kind of like Butch in Pulp Fiction. Strangely she answered much the same way Marsellus Wallus did. Though she had NOT just been violated in the bad place (the back of a station wagon?) and I had NOT just gutted some redneck with a samurai sword.


'So what now?'

'What now?' (DAMN I wish she'd said 'Let me tell you what now.')

'Who do we go to now for answers?'

'What answers?'

'About what is going on with him? His regression, the peeing in his pants again, the violent behaviors, his stammering, the fucked us shit on the right side of his brain that no one seems to be able to tell us shit about over the last five years? The fact that since his surgery he really doesn't seem to have come all that far, at least not the way we expected him to.'

'What way did you expect him to?'

Damn...she got me. Sometimes, despite the way we often get off track with each other, there is a mutual understanding of Bennett that we have that does attempt to help the other stay on course. Didn't matter in this situation though. I was way off the rails, and she knew it. I just kept going, flailing blindly by now, swinging at shadows, feeling like an idiot the whole time.

I didn't care anymore. I just needed to vomit words that had no meaning.

'I don't fuckin' know! Who do I go to for an answer on how to live this life? How to help take care of him? How to manage all this shit? Who do I go to that's going to teach me how to make all this shit...OK!?!'

I didn't have to say it, she knew what I meant. I knew it too. There was never going to be an OK for Bennett. At least not as far as I was concerned.

Ever.

I remembered something his surgeon said to us the day before he was going to cut open Bennett's skull and go after that tumor like a fat guy going after the last piece of pizza at a bachelor party. He said that surgery was a very direct thing, there wasn't anything vague about it. But there was a lot of fog and uncertainty after the fact when it comes to most surgeries, brain surgery in particular.


Oh. Perfect.

There was no way to know how the brain surgery would affect Bennett. What outcome he would have. How he would be afterwards. Just no way. But it was, in his opinion, Bennett's best option.

His BEST option.

I used the perfect line already, right?

And we had to go into it having specific goals in mind. We had to go into it with the idea that we just wanted to get rid of the tumor completely so that it had as little possible chance of ever coming back, and to kill the seizures...forever.

Nothing else could matter at that point in time. And frankly, I remember that point in time. I can go back and READ about that point of time. I was more tired then than I am now, and I am really exhausted now.

But the truths is...why SHOULD anything else have mattered?. I could not see the future. I didn't want to. I wanted that tumor gone, I wanted those seizures gone, I would have done anything to get them gone.

I'd have sold my soul.


Sometimes, it feels like this is exactly what I have done. This hollowed-out feeling, this emptiness that I feel when it comes to the wreckage that the entire experience has wrought on all of us, you can't escape it. Not when Bennett continues to struggle as much as he does. And I absolutely at that time would never have made any different choices. It is safe to say that those...actions we took were not choices at all, they were just things that we did, if that makes any sense at all.

I have no regrets.

DOGDANCING brought up something in a comment yesterday that she considered so delicate that she deleted it. I consider her one of my good Imaginary Friends so I asked her about it and requested that she consider re-posting the comment because I wanted her to know I was not offended by it. She was kind enough to reconsider, and did.

In it she wondered if I had ever wrestled with the 'dark thoughts of of wanting the tumor to be back so there could be an end to this journey? We don't talk about that as parents, because we get slammed. But I know those thoughts are out there. I can't be the only one who's thoughts goes there. Then have to spend a few minutes fighting within, wondering why my brain would go there in the first place. To finally talk myself into the notion that its not a selfish thought, but one of compassion? Parenting with mental health issues...why are there no books out there?'

My first thought is WOW...that shows some real guts to come out on a limb like that and post that comment. I respect it a lot. Not many people would have that kind of courage. Says a lot about a person, to me. My second thought is...I don't consider the thought to be dark at all. I consider it to be one of the most normal to have in these most awful and terrible of circumstances.

You never want someone you love to suffer. Ever. And if you think that perhaps they might suffer less by not being here? Sure, you might go down that road every now and again. And I have. It is usually triggered by one of his more violent episodes. And it is usually followed by being able to find me somewhere in the house, curled up in the fetal position, crying until I get one of those snot headaches and can barely see out of my swollen eyes.


Mainly because the tumor coming back is such an awful way for him to go out. Such an agonizing thing...I have to catch myself when I ever think that. I mean, what kind of Dad can I be? I'd probably choose meteor or something if I had options. Hence, the kicking myself in the face as often as I tend to do. For that and so many other things. Despite my defense of the normalcy of the thought process overall, Still, I don't know...I still would like to believe that somehow, someway...I could learn my way out of this.

And I haven't yet. So I hate myself for it. From time to time. Do I think I can? Learn from the harsher bits, the darker self so to speak and learn from the good parts of who I am, toss them in a blender and somehow pour out a better man?

Yeah I do, or I wouldn't allow myself to sit here, writing it all out, taking this journey, chronicling it. I wouldn't keep hacking away at it if I didn't believe that somewhere along the way I am going to find more small chunks of gold to put in my pocket, and that eventually there will be some kind of pot (mmm...pot) at the end of some metaphorical rainbow that I can dump all that gold into.

Hey, as long as there ain't no creepy leprechauns? I can live with that.

OUT.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Journey to The Center of The Brain


I struggle all the time with trying to categorize things. Why I find this an overwhelming necessity in my life I am unsure.

Perhaps it is part of my own mental...issues. My desire to seek order in a world I find chaotic. Or maybe I just need to know where things are, or how they fit, since I never felt like I belonged when I was a kid growing up, either in Middle School or moving into Junior and Senior High.

I blended, I was one of those hybrid kids. Not quite geek, not quite popular, not totally ugly but not stud-muffin material either. But I was able to, like ze ninja, move quietly from one group to another, or at least this is what I told myself, and somehow I guess I made shit work well enough.

I blow it in all kinds of ways now though.

As a father, a husband, a friend. And a lot of it comes down to just not knowing who in the Hell I am anymore.Where DO I fit in? Where do any of us?

For so long now, I have always brushed aside so many aspects of Bennett's disabilities. And I don't mean I forget about them and their immediate impact here. But I don't saturate myself enough with them. This might surprise you. Some would say I champion Bennett with ferocity.

I don't see it. I wish I did but I don't.

If I did, why can't I devote this blog entirely to him? Why cheapen it, sour it, SOIL it with talk about comics, Scarlett Johansson, or my butt? And why do I hide deep within myself and never really study the nature of what an Oligoastrocytoma is?

Tomorrow is MRI day. Cleveland Clinic.

It is the first time I have ever had real fear that his tumor might be back. The return to diapers. The regression. The word stuff. And the study of the tumor itself. Why can't I accept that there is a 30% or something chance that it will come back? Why?

Because there is a 70% chance that it won't.

I hate this hope. I HATE IT. And yet I have it. All the time.

This may make no sense to any of you. And it rips away at me. But it's the truth. Because it is both good and bad all at once. It forces me to be optimistic and always fight for him, but it never prepares me for any of the worst of the possibilities. It never allows me to categorize Bennett. It never allows me to figure out how he 'fits' into the big picture. Is he a child with Autism, is he a child who is a Brain Tumor Survivor, is he a child with Epilepsy who has not had seizures in several years, is he a child with an unknown condition on the other side of his brain as yet undiagnosed and unidentified, an anomaly that baffles everyone who sees it?

Or is he just ...Bennett?

He is, but not finding the right groups to join and ACTIVELY participate in, the right causes to champion, makes me a worse Dad for him. And that's the problem with all of this. How do I figure out how to be in so many places at once, especially when I want to explore different treatments and options, and need to spread myself even more thin than I already am?

Fuck it...I am just having a bad day. I get like this a lot when MRI day comes. Who am I kidding, I get like this a lot PERIOD. These are the ups and downs of trying to be his Dad. And I haven't even begin to talk enough about Carter...my God...for every step I take forward with him I fall five steps back.

I just don't know what the Hell I'm doing.

Sometimes, I write blogs like this, and I never hit post. I have a shitload of unpublished blogs, a sea of them. But I have to stop doing that. Even though these are just momentary lapses of reason, I have to purge them. Otherwise they jam me up too much on the inside, and I carry it around inside.

Part of what I am trying to do lately is just change how I do things, everywhere. A bit at a time. Not sure if it will help me or not. But I'm trying new things and seeing what sticks. This is part of that. Not my finest hour as a blogger. But was talking about my rectum for an hour better? Probably not. Which, by the way, was a disaster. Turns out I have blood clots back there. UNTREATABLE. 6-8 weeks minimum of just me and a healthy does of massive discomfort and pain.

Sounds a bit like par for the course. Don't it?

OUT.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Buttface


Yes, I know...you get tired of the butt stories. Trust me. I get tired of telling the butt stories. I especially get tired of the people who find this blog by keyword searches involving the word butt and various other words related to that word. And other less...subtle...words. Oh yeah, I know you're there you creepy perverts. I've seen the analytics. I've seen the keyword searches that lead you freaks to this place.

You fucking weirdos. Go back to your sex dungeons and rub Nutello on your pierced Iguana. Of course, we WANT to believe that right? Truth is, it's probably someone more like our CEO or our 3rd grade teachers doing the searching. THAT is truly more frightening than anything your imagination can conjure up.

But my freakish medical Hell continues, and since like Maximus Decimus Meridius I am compelled to entertain, why not share these fun stories with my Imaginary Friends? Lord knows, I don't have any real ones left. You wouldn't either if you walked around talking about your backside and other TMI type things that many fine folk just don't wanna know about.


Can I help that the nun at the Goodwill doesn't like listening to my stories? I mean c'mon man, have an OPEN MIND! Jeez...Besides, I didn't even KNOW she was a nun. I thought she was one of those Mermans or whatever you call 'em.Last nun I saw? Didn't look like that.

I've backed into this subject a couple of times before. Maybe more than that. Probably. Bottom line is this. I've got some problems with my septic system. And you know what? I'm not ashamed to talk about it openly. Some people might be. I'm not. One day I'll be openly talking about ED. And I don't mean the horse.

There is not a lot that I am ashamed to talk about. Getting my ass kicked. Trying on some women's clothes once by accident, Absentmindedly forgetting I was in a church when when I accidentally fell and just happened to, by total happenstance, have my clothes fall off and by total coincidence there was someone else of the opposite sex that by TOTAL sheer coincidence, the EXACT same thing happened to at the EXACT same time...I mean, I know the odds are extremely small but...it can happen, I was there, I saw it!

Why do I reveal these awful, awful things? Because I am a flawed human being. But at my core I know I am a good man, trying to do what's right, despite all my fumbles and bumbles, and at the end of the day there is that little tiny thing I always remind myself of (this one's for you, Richard!!!)...the man upstairs still loves me, when I am crass or vulgar or funny or late or self-centered or coarse or weird or confusing or poetic or giving or...you get the point.

Yeah I said it. So sue me. I guess I still have a little left in the tank after all.


Even when I blog about my butt because I am bored, have to sit on a special wedged around pillow and can't really get comfortable enough to sit upright and draw to do some of the things I need to get done I can find a spoonful of hope to wash it all down with. Ah...POSITIVITY. WOOHOO!!!

OK, so get this. Few weeks back I get a colonoscopy. No huge bad results, but I am told I have an internal hemorrhoid, an external hemorrhoid (Hey kind of like In Through The Out Door), and some kind of 'pore issue'. A what? I couldn't actually get a read on this one, but apparently it's like the surface of the moon down there. (The Eagle has LANDED!!!)

I asked, during my anal scoping (a procedure you have BEFORE you have a colonoscopy) if this was normal and was told it was, but it doesn't sound all that normal to me. But what happens is this...um...material can sometimes get lodged in these pores and over time build up. So that is what can cause the occasional abscess, which I had been getting lately as well as flare-ups on the 'roids. I asked why now as opposed to before, and the doctor said 'Well, Mr. Lilly, you really need to cut down on all of the anal sex.'

Now, some of you might think that is totally unprofessional. I don't.

This doctor had been talking to me about 45-50 minutes, had sized me up pretty good...made a judgment call about my personality, and didn't just go for a bunt single or a RBI double, he took a swing for the fences.

I laughed out loud.


I mean, you have your ass up in the air, exposed, you've got these strangers in the room (LAUGHING MY GOD THEY ARE LAUGHING), one of whom was really, really cute...and they are all zeroed in on your butt, your dingleberries...it's super, SUPER uncomfortable, and this guy had the savvy to analyze who I was and know EXACTLY what to say to make me laugh and make me feel at ease and know what would not offend me.

I consider that dude a friggin' genius, a risk taker and someone I will be seeing for my problems the rest of my life (if my insurance takes him, of course).

During the actual colonoscopy, Dr. Genius also reveals more of his super-enhanced intelligence. He inquires, while there is 17 miles of tubing jammed up my rectum, 'Hey Ken (by this time we HAD to be on a first name basis, don't you think?), can I ask you, do you have issues with prolonged constipation?'

I peer back, wincing...because of course I opted for minimal drugs because I wanted to experience the colonoscopy ENTIRELY LUCID so that I could be alert and aware during the procedure. I wanted to watch it on the monitor. It seemed important to me at the time that I know what was in there. IDIOT.

'How in the heck do you know that?' Note that I do not curse when I have cable in my butt.

'There is certain type of elongation and stretching in parts of the colon that is indicative of this type of prolonged constipation,' explains Dr. Genius. 'It may not be a problem for you now, but if it continues the colon starts to develop habits and it will get more comfortable as you get older with holding in. So when you need to "heed the call" whenever possible because not to do so could have long-term effect.'


I explained to him that anxiety does cause me to become constipated. Sometimes for days at a time. He did not seem surprised. No anal sex jokes either. Seemed very serious. In fact, I told him about an experience at the San Diego Comic-Con International around 2004 when I went five days without heeding the call because I was so anxious. I'm a homer, what can I say? I can't stand the idea of bombing Dresden in a strange toilet. And it is a problem.

'This is a problem,' said Dr. Genius. (See what I mean?) 'You must figure out a way to deal with this issue, especially at your increasing age. (Fuckhead!) Otherwise we could have big big problem on our hands at some point in future.'

Guess where I went around two weeks ago?

San Diego Comic-Con International.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And while I have a whole post about that con lined up and how much the show itself has changed, what has NOT changed is how anxious I am about traveling to...well, anywhere. But especially to a convention. Even back when I was at Palisades I felt like a wannabe. I mean, the people around me? These are TALENTED people. I just do whatever it is that I do. But now? With my limited role being back in the toy industry after being gone for as long as I have?

Yeah...the anxiety started REALLY early. I held on to my poop like it was gold bricks, starting Tuesday, and I broke my personal constipation record. SIX DAYS. When I finally heeded the call?

'Big big problem.'

At first, I thought I had an abcess...it was painful, and I had some antibiotics leftover from one I had before, so I started up with those again, but this thing kept getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And the pain? Holy holy holy...Heaven and Earth are filled with Hydrocodone and Tylenol. As the week progressed, so did this...thing. But by the time I decided to act, it was the weekend, and I had to wait until Monday to see a doctor.

I peeked at it in the mirror prior to going. Hey, I was curious. I had to know. HOLY GOD. It was no longer just the surface of the moon. It reminded me of...you remember that Star Trek episode where Kirk, McCoy and Spock go down to some Mining Colony and they have to repair some alien with a sack of concrete?


Yeah...that alien.

But in the center of that alien, imagine a QUARTER-SIZED, rounded bump. It was just awful. What in the world have I done on this planet to deserve the things that come my way, huh? I just do not get it. I was so frustrated, all I could do, all I COULD do, was try to come up with something funny. So I decided to name him Buttface.

Had to see my regular doctor this time, as it would take WAY too long to see Dr. Genius. But it wasn't so bad, because this way I could kill two birds with one stone...I needed to ask him about a shoulder problem I was having.

We have a good relationship too. I guess I like doctors who are open to being real, because I tend to keep those. Stiffies I tend to discard faster than hour-old coffee. I was sitting in the treatment room naked from the waist down with one of those gowns on.

'Hey Doc...why is it you are the only man I see on a regular basis with my pants off?'

He laughed hard. 'Is that a good thing or a bad thing?'

I love this guy. Let's Call him Dr. Regular Guy. Dr. RG for short. Cause that's what he is...a Regular Guy. And I like that about him. He has been my doctor for, wow, maybe what...ten years at least. For doctors in this Age of Insurance Changes? That's impressive.

I give him the breakdown of what happened, for both issues, the shoulder problem (I can barely move it in two directions and believe it may be torn) and the...other stuff. Shoulder? He doesn't think it's a rotator cuff or anything super serious, but he will send me to an orthopedic for a full work-up.


As for the ever-expanding Buttface, Dr. RG explains that he believes it is the external hemorrhoid that Dr, Genius cited in his work-up, just aggravated to the Nth Degree. Though he suggests that I make an appointment to get in to see Dr. G when I can just to be certain since this his not his area of expertise.

I should have known that, because that WOULD be the logical thing, but I love jumping to the scariest conclusions.

Dr. RG prescribes a Special Compound, he calls it. He'll phone it in to the local Kroger Pharmacy, where they know me REAL well. NICE. And we talk about my lipids and my weight, which is actually down, I am under the 200 benchmark, 196, still with a ways to go to hit my wedding weight goal of 180, but it is really difficult to exercise with a disagreeable butt, unresolved curvature to my pelvis and a torn shoulder, an up and down Bennett. And a pissed off Buttface. Always something isn't it?

So the doc and I? We talk about the stress thing too.

I told him I was eating a mostly Vegan diet but not as strict or as efficiently as I knew I could be, and so the odds favored the fact that probably, even with that and the drop in weight? I doubted that my lipid numbers if we ran them today would be strong enough to justify keeping me OFF a cholesterol lowering medication. As much as I hate going on any new medication, as much as I keep wanting to get OFF medications I am taking, I told him I thought we should start the least invasive cholesterol lowering drug now, test in 4 months and really focus on the Vegan Way.

If the results of a new lipid panel are off the charts good? We'll back down on the drug, maybe convert to something more natural. If they are still in a questionable area? We'll know I have a problem that only medication is going to help me with for now.

Play it safe, not stupid.

That should be a motto or something. Probably is. Buttface would dig it.

Got dressed. Went home and pretty much thought that would be the end of the story.

WRONG.

I called the Kroger Pharmacy later that evening since I had not heard from them, and I have it set up with them to have a text sent to my phone whenever a prescription is available for pick-up. Apparently they can't make the Special Compound I need. They don't have the materials. Um...OK. And also, they can't refill the pain medication even though the doctor authorized an early refill. I asked why, and the answer was some long-winded reason I did not understand.

Dr. RG warned me about that. It's how they weed out the drug seekers. Oh well. It's just gonna have to throb I guess. I offered to show it to them if...no I didn't...I just wanted to skeeve you out if I hadn't been already.

'So how do I get this, um, Compound?'

'Well, didn't the doctor's office call you back? They said they would call you back.'

'No, they did not call me back. That is sort of why I called you. If they had called me back I would have received an answer as to how to get the Compound and would have had no reason to call you.'

Silence.

'Hello?'

'Well, maybe you should call them back.'

'Oh...OK, thanks. I hadn't thought of that. I'll give that a try tomorrow when they are actually open. Thanks!'

So I sat back on my special elevated pillow, trying not to put too much pressure on Buttface. He was really angry with me because of the driving and upped the pain and itch factors. Can't say I blame the poor guy. He was definitely getting the shit end of the stick. 

The next day, before I had a chance to call the doctor's office I received a call from a place called Uptown Pharmacy regarding The Special Compound.

Now, you need to understand something about Uptown Pharmacy. It is a very old Pharmacy in Westerville, Ohio. It is so old, that it is basically the only Pharmacy that still is able to make a lot of traditional medicines. Old school. They have forgotten more more about the art of making medicine than most grocery store pharmacies will ever know. They are the place to go when you want a medicine that will get medieval on your ass.

So to speak.

The name cracks me up. I picture a bunch of monks in robes, with Mortar and Pestle, but with the pulsating beat of the Bee Gee's Night Fever echoing through the halls of the Apothecary, and a single, shining disco ball, twirling in the center of the chamber. Going UPTOWN, baby! Woo-Hoo! Time to make the medicine!


Buttface tells me to get my head out from between my cheeks and pay attention to the phone call.

'Hello, Mr. Lilly? Hi there. We have your prescription, and we are missing two key ingredients. One is across town we'll have that soon. The other we had to order it will be here tomorrow. So we should be able to start working on the compound tomorrow which means you'll have it by the earliest tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.'

I'm thinking....Missing two...Thursday at the latest?...WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS COMPOUND!?!?!

I calmly thank the Evil Alchemist and hang up, but my fear over what I am to be sticking up my butt overcomes me and, hands trembling, I call my doctor's office to talk to one of the nurses.

'Well, Ken, they are making essentially a nitroglycerine cream. Did they tell you about the possible side effects?'

'Nitro---, Um...no they didn't. You mean like don't light my farts on fire?'

Strained laughter on the other end.

'No, there is a chance it could burn a little, and you may get some rather intense headaches.' (SUPER!!!!)

'And after application make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.' (WELL THAT'S A GIVEN.)

'Oh and one more thing...it is important that you use this cream SPARINGLY.'

'Waitaminute. You are aware of the size of this thing right? I was thinking of making a fake version of it like a puppet as a gag and doing something funny of it on my blog, you know, for laughs, and calling it Buttface...'

Strained laughter on the other end.

'...so if it is that big...how do I use it sparingly AND cover the whole thing?'

'I think the point is that they just don't want you to glob it on'

'OH I understand. No GLOBBING. Wouldn't want to blow myself up. GOTCHA, thanks.'

OK, I admit, I made that last part up a little. I didn't actually tell the nurse I was going to make a Buttface puppet. Buttface made me write that. But I did question the sparingly part. And she did say the globbing thing.

I am just...exasperated over this. It is the end of the day Wednesday, my ass hurts like Hell, there is still no Blow Your Butt to Bits Compound, I am uncomfortable, and they won't even give me anything for the discomfort because I, by my own admission, went off my prescription and took a few extra doses of pain medication and am a few days short, despite the fact that the doctor wrote a new prescription, called the pharmacy personally, RAISED the prescription amount, and I have no history of doing this.

'THAT'S BULLSHIT DUDE!'

Yeah Buttface, I know. I know. Sorry you have to suffer little guy. Though...you're not so little now, huh? My, you...you've gone and gotten yourself all grown up! Look how big you are. In fact...I've been thinking...you and me...we've been together a long, long time, and it's...well, it's just been real swell. But do you think you're ready to head out into the world, make a fresh start, and maybe start living your own life? Without attachments?

You think you could handle that big guy?

Waddya say, pal?

'Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft!'

Yeah, that's what I thought.

OUT.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Road Less Traveled - Got Change for Tolls?


TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

You've probably at some point in your life read that before. It's a poem by Robert Frost. I'm not what you call a literary guy. I'm no genius. I have some smarts, I can hold my own in a conversation if I have to. But honestly I would much rather talk about why zombies shouldn't be able to run fast than the inner meaning of poetry.

That's just me.

But I will. Talk about poetry. If the need arises. It has. And pre-apologies to those who come here looking for talk about Bennett, or toys, or titties. I just need to get my head clear, and I need to do it with some inner monolog, which in this case winds up being Outer Bloggologging. A really strange practice where I crack open my skull and chest and let the contents of my mind and heart spill out all over the computer.

I was thinking about decisions the past couple of days. About choices. And I pulled up this little ditty and read it again. And thanks to the Internet I did something I never was able to do before.

I researched the living shit out of it.

I had no idea that this poem killed a man.


See, Frost was good buddies with another writer, Edward Thomas. Now Frost's original intent behind the poem was not the serious nature that people have come to place on it. Originally, this piece was just supposed to be a sort of gentle mocking of indecision. Indecision that Thomas had shown on many of the walks that he and Frost had gone on together.

Well, apparently, Frost's poem had a lot of impact. Because when Frost sent an early copy of the poem to Thomas in 1915, Thomas, who I guess thought he was a bit of a pussy or something, took it very seriously and very personally, and he enlisted in the service in World War I. Guess he felt he had something to PROVE.

He was blown to bits in the Battle of Arras two years later.

That is some heavy, heavy shit.

I had no idea the scope of how much this poem has been analyzed. I found one page in my research that honestly I could spend a couple of weeks sifting through, but for me that would be time not very well spent. It would be interesting, but not fruitful for me. I don't need to know that much about it. I got tempted as I started reading, but I pulled out. Story of my life. KINDA get there....nope...gotta stop.

As an artist...(if you want to call me that, up to you)...I know what it's like to have people put their own meaning on your work. I used to make these sort of hybrid painting/photo/sculptures of my Step-Father and me. This was back in college. I would love to show you one, but this was before digital photos, and I never shot any of the work.

I was a horrible photographer. Not that I couldn't frame a good shot, but I have never been good at the tech side of cameras. I still suck at it. And developing? Forget it. So I videotaped some of it, and I still have some of the videotape, but I don't even have a VCR to transfer it over to a computer.


Anyway, as an artist, you have to put your shit on a wall and listen to people tell you what they think of it. Yeah fine whatever. I say it that way not because it bothers me to hear people say negative things. I say that because in a critique scenario, just like in real life, people just aren't honest with each other. They don't tell you what they really think, how they really feel. They keep all that shit corked up inside out of some unrealistic fear or desire not to hurt your feelings, and what they end up telling you is watered down horseshit that doesn't help you at all.

Or worse, they assign meaning to the piece that, quite frankly, just is not there. 'Oh yeah...I see what you were trying to say here...it's the eternal Father/Son conflict, and this Crimson color represents War and this Aquamarine represents Isolation...'

'The FUCK you say?'

'Have you seen my workstation? I can't afford any other colors you nitwit! I used Crimson because it was leftover from a set I got as a gift last year and I used Aquamarine because it was Buy One Get One Free at Dick Blick's you fuckin' idiot. Go smoke some weed. And bring me some. There's no eternal conflict here, it's about me, just ME. MY conflict with MY father. I'm not making some Universal Statement. It's a personal work, about personal things. And that's all. You don't need to look any further than that. Sometimes a banana is just a banana.'

'I don't see no banana.'

'Get the fuck outta here, shithead!'

Got real quiet in critique after that. I was pissed off a lot in those days. Probably should have kept my cool, huh? Eh...fuck him.


I wiped the paint off my hands with my shirt, pulled my hair back into a rubber band (yeah..it was a LONG time ago) and stomped out all dramatic and shit to smoke a cigarette. (Definitely a long time ago). Do you think, in that photo above, that my old man wanted people to think he won The Masters?

I really wasn't angry with the dude in critique. I was angry at myself. I was Edward Thomas...I had been at so many crossroads in my life up to that point, always making choices I thought were the right ones and inevitably kicking myself in the sack afterward. I spent half my life dodging decisions, the other half regretting the decisions I had made. I have a whole different blog that relates to that photograph above. Unfinished, just because I can't figure out how to tell the tale right.

Anyway, as I progressed, somewhere along the way. I started to get my head clear. I don't know when that was, but eventually, a person like that? You just can't carry the baggage around anymore man...you're arms just get too fucking tired. You start to learn that yeah...you can drop this, and this, and this...and it doesn't feel so bad after a while. I can handle things this way. Just because I've done it this way for so long doesn't mean I have to do it this way forever.

I think it was Tony Robbins who said 'If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.'

What I find most interesting about the Frost poem, other than the fact that it is one of THE most over-interpreted poems I can easily think of, is that there really are a lot of different ways to interpret it. It's sort of a reader's choice, to be frank, even down to how you want to interpret the 'sigh'. Since the author is gone, and hell since it is a poem, you can take whatever you want from it. And truthfully, the same could be said about any 'work'. Just like the dude who clearly had too many hash brownies before my critique. He was entitled to think all that shit. Like I said, my anger was just misplaced.


When I think of the poem, I think of the Cave on Dagobah. (Oh shit...Star Wars again? You fucking DORK!!!) I see the crossroads as a place of influence. Influenced by you, and what you bring to it. Not what awaits along either path. How could that not be so, if both paths are the same?

See, Frost describes both roads as essentially being equal. We think they are different, but they are not. 'Then took the other, as just as fair,...Had worn them really about the same,'

That sounds about equal to me. He only went down the one road because he felt like it. Not because one was more promising or better or would make him rich or give him a happy ending or heal him. It just felt like a good place to go.

The way I interpret it is this...it really doesn't matter then WHICH path you take. EITHER path is the road less traveled by. What matters is what you take with you. You determine whether the road is going to hold promise and adventure and things wondrous and profound, just as you determine whether you will carry all the dark garbage you've been carrying with you on your back all you're life with you as you walk along the new road.


This is the way Life works. Because I also believe that every road, EVERY path, has a crossroads, and new ones appear along the way all the time. No path is designed to go on forever with no way off. That would be sad and twisted and inhuman...and very unpoetical. I've never in my life conceived of anything as dark as one road, one destiny, fixed and inescapable with no possibility of change or growth or new adventure. Seems...wrong somehow.

Life is a series of making new decisions and learning how to be comfortable with making them, learning how to make peace with your demons, learning how to let go, how to continue to grow, to adapt and move forward. Life is coming across two roads diverged in the woods, and loving yourself enough, having the courage, finding the strength....to take the one less traveled by.

Because that? That makes all the difference.

OUT.