Monday, August 6, 2007

I Am Back, One

It's been a while since last I posted and as the words flow, I'll explain why. Before any of that, I thank those of you who "nudged" me to wakefulness during this several weeks slumber. You may never know how your simple question "What's up, Dickie?" made me feel important.

A month ago, I mentioned that my cancer numbers were discouraging, indicating that the drug treatment I was receiving wasn't working. My visits to two separate oncologists told me that I should stop the treatment and clear my system of the drugs. With a clear system and a blood test to prove it, I could then apply for what's known as a "clinical trial." A clinical trial is basically a live human test of a new drug for any purpose.

If a trial is successful, meaning the drug does what it's supposed to do, it's one step closer to FDA approval and sale to the the public through medical community. Of course, there are always risks with these trials among them death. In my case, the risks as described are worth whatever it takes to overcome this cancer.

The two drawbacks are that the window of application may close before my six week cleansing process is complete and the trial compares the new drug or treatment with conventional chemotherapy. Since a computer marries the method and the patient as a condition of the trial, neither the patient or the medical people know which treatment is being administered. I'm worried that I might miss out on the opportunity with the sign-up deadline looming before my body is cleansed. At the same time, I am opposed to chemotherapy on my fine specimen of a body. As I thought about the deadline, no continuing treatment and looming chemotherapy, I slowly went into a blue "funk."

I was depressed. I started losing interest in most everything. If a TV show started moving faster than I could keep up with, I changed channels. I changed channels a lot. In fact, TV became a constant companion. I stayed away from the news most of the time. I liked house make-overs, "American Chopper," "Deadliest Catch," "Good Eats" and my favorite "Take Home Chef." I watched the America's Cup and Le Tour De France at 2AM. I fell asleep many times with the TV on and it watching me. I was so dragged out because of my almost all-night TV that I napped during the day. I slept a lot though it was an hour here, two hours there.

I was too tired to cook are even prepare what might be good for me like salads or vegetables. I did buy lots of easy cooking things like pizzas or breaded chicken. McDonald's was a convenient stop for me though I did manage to avoid the heavy meats, most of the time. I cut up potatoes and roasted them. I found artichokes and steamed them. I read that tomatoes and broccoli were a great combination to defeat prostate cancer and loaded up on them. Then, the same publication said they had it wrong, there was no medical evidence of any prevention. As I continued toward a simpler diet that suited my declining preparation abilities, a new phenomenon came on me.

Almost immediately after I finished a big salad or a any meal for that matter, I was hungry. I couldn't figure this out although someone did suggest I might have an ulcer. When I looked up ulcer symptoms, hunger wasn't one of them. Stranger still, these hunger pangs started occurring while I was eating, maybe half-way through the meal. I tried different foods even resorting to McDonald's, Korean and Chinese foods and even Zippie's and nothing changed. I always got hungry. The only answer I got was from my acupuncturist, who said I had too much "heat" in my stomach. That didn't change much, not even my understanding of what was happening.

I thought I might have some sort of stomach acid problem through a self-diagnosis and administered my first-aid. I mixed some baking soda and water, drinking that. Surprisingly, the hunger pangs went away, almost immediately. Whenever I began to feel these pangs, I drank my concoction and felt relieved. I began to depend on this solution to the extant that if I was hungry at all, I drank. I didn't have to go anywhere or cook anything. If I woke up hungry at night, I drank. When I watched TV for miracle appetite-loss cures, I thought I had something worth advertising. But, there was a downside to this miracle--distress in the lower tract, if you know what I mean. Suffice it to say, that what went down as food came out with much greater vigor than I was used to, so fast that several times I wondered if it wasn't a good idea to just go ahead and sleep on the toilet seat instead of sprinting to it at night. "Just In Time" is not just a manufacturing term, I can tell you from experience.

Surprisingly, the food I most wanted to avoid--Mickey D's, Kal-Bi, Lemon Chicken--comforted me the longest, something I still puzzle over. One would think that all that salt and MSG couldn't possibly have anything to do with satisfying an appetite. Perhaps it was the bulk of each of these meals: the bread in the Crispy Chicken sandwiches or all the rice in the others that lined my stomach. I still don't know for sure but I think I have an inkling. Years ago, someone said if I felt hungry after a meal, it was because I was not getting enough fruits and vegetables. The adventure continues as I add a plethora of fruits and wait for the results. I'll keep you informed.

Through this past month, I've been undergoing acupuncture and massage and the results have been remarkable. For one thing, a hip pain that had me limping for almost a year disappeared almost completely. After about five massages, it reappeared with a vengeance, this time involving the entire leg with pain shooting from my thigh to my toes. I lived on Ibuprofen. I had started a gentle excessive program during the month as I was no longer limping but, that came to a screeching halt since I could bare roll over in bed. I was so disappointed with this turn of events because I was looking forward to slipping on my shoes, hat and sunglasses and going for a morning stroll around Nanakuli. I was feeling stronger, lighter and my unswollen ankles were proudly showing veins and tendons. Now, I was back on my butt, or rather my back, feeling sorry for myself. That was a feeling that gripped me the entire month to which I'll get shortly.

The acupuncture has affected me in ways I never thought. I did feel very tired after my sessions which was explained as normal since acupuncture releases a lot of energy and I wasn't used to that. I might be in bed the entire next day, recovering. One effect was on my diabetic "neuropothy." These are pains in various part of the body caused by nerve endings firing off at will. These pains were typically in my thighs, knees, calves, shins, toes--in short all over my legs. But, they found other places, too, like a finger or an elbow or the side of my head. In the past, I found relief by drinking copious amounts of water along with taking non-prescription pain killers. The pain was usually intense and brief, a lot like someone using pliers deep in my body. Other times, it was like hitting my funny bone only the action was in my finger or toe. Sometimes, the pain throbbed and lasted for 24 hours. In any case, acupuncture seemed to have an affect on this as the frequency and intensity subsided almost immediately. It hasn't gone away completely but we're on the right track, I think.

Another effect was on my diabetes. Right after I started these treatments, my blood sugar started changing for the better, so much so that my insulin injections were giving me trouble. I discovered the change when I woke up in the morning with my blood sugar so low that I had to find candy, maple syrup, anything sugary to allow me to function. I was near fainting. My insulin was driving the blood sugar too low. What was happening was that the acupuncture worked on my pancreas which released my own insulin and that, combined with the shots, had my body using up all available blood sugar to satisfy the insulin. My primary doctor reduced my daily level of insulin and changed my injection time to mid-evenings. I continued to check my blood sugar and found to my amazement that when I forgot to take my shot, my blood sugar levels were normal anyway. I began experimenting by not taking the injection at all to see what would happen; nothing did. My sugar levels normalized. I can only attribute this to the acupuncture. My diet is just as screwy as before. My exercise is off and on. All hail acupuncture!

More, next time...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Some News

The latest news is: The cancer is coming back. After some 7 months of
relative quiet, my PSA (prostate cancer activity measurements) are
elevated and rising rather quickly. In March I was at 7.9 (not
necessarily healthy but better than the 48.5 when I was admitted.) At
the end of May I was at 22. That’s alarming because it’s about half of
what put me in hospital and could mean a serious operation.

I lay this increase squarely at the feet of my response to the “idiot”
and all she did from March until the end of May. I have said that this
was the most despicable person I have ever known and the stress caused by dealing with her antics—I believe—triggered this episode.

I’ve done several things to handle this. I made a follow-up
appointment with an oncologist who is running a clinical trial of a
prostate cancer vaccine that involves getting my immune system to eat
my prostate cancer cells. If you’ve seen much news about prostate
cancer lately, you may be familiar with a new treatment called
“Provenge” for which the FDA is delaying approval. This regimen is
similar to that. I think it involves 12 injections a week for 6 to 12
weeks. When I first applied in April, my treatments—such as they
were--had not failed which was a prerequisite for inclusion in the
local trial. This same doctor prescribed hormone treatments of
excessive estrogen to overcome my male hormones, which typically drive
prostate cancer growth. Other than my watching “Oprah” and “All My
Children” religiously, asking everyone if I look fat in my jeans, doing
my nails incessantly (yes, toes, too), constantly cleaning the bathroom
and yelling at my roommates when they don’t let me know if they’ll be
late for dinner, I haven’t noticed any side effects from the extra

But now that treatment is failing so, other than chemo and radiation,
on to stronger stuff.

In the meantime, I applied for and received a medical “grant” to pay
for massage therapy and acupuncture which aren’t covered by my
insurance. My first sessions were this past Thursday. Let me ask
you, why did I wait so long? The results from both these first of ten
sessions were immediate. For the longest time, I’ve experienced pain
in my left hip so bad at times I literally crawled to the bathroom.
I’ve had little feeling in my extremities because of the diabetes
slowing down my circulation. I could only sleep for two hours at a
time before rising to urinate. I tell you, all that went away within
48 hours of those treatments. The massage was relaxing for sure but it
worked on the pain somehow, which is now gone. Some feeling is
returning to my feet and hands because of the acupuncture, which also
addresses my liver and pancreas. I slept for more than five hours at a
stretch last night; an absolute delight!

The acupuncturist asked if I was afraid of needles but, since I’ve been
injecting insulin daily since last year, I fear nothing. In fact, I
didn’t know they were inserted until I looked for them in my hands,
legs and feet. She said most men are afraid of the needles and most
women aren’t. I may be more of one gender than the other because of
the hormone treatments but it doesn’t matter. I just want to be cured
whether I’m wearing pink and chartreuse or lovely white Guess jeans…

Anyway, this is just to keep you up to date, “Dahlings” (Damn that

Friday, June 22, 2007

I Think About You

“When I am alone,
“I think about you.”

I remember looking at you as you glided toward me
Thinking of the graceful walk and the loving smile

As you came to me.
I see the gentle curves of your body and raven hair flowing across your shoulders and away from your stately cheeks
As you ease your way into this space we call our own.

I see your soft, ivory hand reaching for mine as you settle
Next to me and I look deep into your rich, mahogany pupils;
Transfixed am I by you no matter where I am because for sure

“When I am alone,
“I think about you.”

“When I am with others,
“I think about you.”

Their chatter means nothing to me, their joshing and
Good-natured ness is of no comparison to your soul

And how it envelopes me or your sigh of contentment
At our being together. I envision you moving among

My friends so easily, charming and warming them
With just a comforting word or a knowing wink so

Simply dispensed and so devastating to those that hunger

For your appreciative nod and your accepting them into your world.

I am suspended in thought among their jostling energy for no

Matter how hard they try to hold my attention, surely they must know

“When I am with others,
“I think about you.”

“When I am with you,
“I think about you.”

I feel the gentle touch of your fingertips on my temples
Your palms on my cheeks as you bring my face to yours

And your lips lightly brush against mine for what must be

An angel’s eternity even though this brief moment is just that.
I know the rising passion from just that simple encounter

And slide my arms around you vowing to never let you go into

Any other time zone without me, to always breathe in your rhythm,

To honor the soft tremor of your voice with nothing louder,

To listen to your heart, to hear your ministering, to accept you,

To protect you and bless you, for surely you must always know

“When I am with you,
“I think about you.”

Friday, June 1, 2007

And, So It Goes

The judge turned to me and said, “Mr. Hoyer, in regards to your Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), you as the plaintiff will have an opportunity to tell your story and the “respondent” (the Former Female Tenant) will tell hers and then you can ask her questions and then she will ask you some questions. Do you understand the process?” I answered that I did and said, “Well, Your Honor, it all started about a month or so after the respondent moved in…”

“But Judge,” blurted the Former Female Tenant (FFT), “What about my TRO against him? I called the court and they said it was okay to file it close to my home and then they said it was wrong to do that but I want my TRO against him to be heard right now at the same time; how come I can’t get that done?”

The judge replied that this was not about her TRO against me, this court was in session to hear my TRO against her and in any case her TRO was not even here in front of her. “Besides,” said the judge, “If you wanted your TRO to be heard at the same time as Mr. Hoyer’s, you would have to file it here in Family Court and then we would have to find a schedule that would permit hearing both at the same time; is that what you want?” “Yes,” said the FFT, “That’s what I want!” “Court is in recess for a moment,” said the judge. She conferred with one of the court officers about the possibility of such an arrangement and was told that it would be near impossible to make it happen. The judge then turned to the FFT and said, “It’s not going to happen that way. We’ll proceed with Mr. Hoyer’s testimony. Mr. Hoyer, you may begin.”

“But Judge,” said the FFT, weeping now, “He broke the law when I was there picking up my personal belongings. He had the entire household watching and laughing at me and he was taking pictures of me; doesn’t that count for anything?” “Not right now, Ma’am; Mr. Hoyer, do continue.”

“But Judge,” interrupted the FFT, “He says he has cancer and that he only has only a year to live. How come he’s asking for ten year duration of his TRO against me if he only has a year to live?” Again, the judge turned to her and said, “Well, maybe he’ll beat the odds and live longer than ten years.” “But, what if dies in a year, what happens then?” At this point, I thought I’d get an edge in word-wise and said, “Then the entire subject is ‘moot.’” “Yes,” said the judge, “If he dies before the ten year limit expires, then the TRO is moot.” Moot?” said the FFT. “What does moot mean?”

The only sound next in the courtroom was the thud of my forehead hitting the table top. This was a question posed by a person who purported to hold a master’s degree from somewhere and had taught somewhere else for eighteen years. Surely, I thought, the word “moot” would have turned up in her lexicon at some time during all that study toward an advanced degree and the spreading of precious knowledge on her hundreds of students during eighteen years of teaching. But, no, in a living room-sized courtroom with a surprised judge, a bailiff, several court workers and myself—all of whom knew the meaning of “moot,” [irrelevant]—the FFT was admitting to ignorance and displaying it nicely.

It’s long been my opinion that the FFT was not a complete idiot since she never finished Idiot School as a background check revealed. As well, I learned to hold another opinion of her which was I could always tell when she was lying because her lips were moving. With these two thoughts uppermost in my mind, I took things in stride for the balance of the TRO proceedings. I must admit that I laughed a lot during it all.

Consider this exchange:

“Look, Ma’am, if he does die before the TRO term is exhausted, I can’t order him not to approach you from ‘The Great Beyond;’ it can’t be done.” “Well,” said the FFT, “You could if you believed in the life ever after.”

I had prepared some 40 pages of evidence and testimony prior to this hearing. All of it was in front to me, including the TRO I filed against her following her physical attack on me. I was ready, though, for this entire episode to be concluded and was pretty near ready to agree to almost anything to get this woman out of my life for good or at least for ten years. The judge then proposed that we agree to a ten year “mutual” TRO wherein the FFT could not approach me closer than 100 feet or 100 yards from my home or workplace and the same conditions would apply to me towards her. There would be no findings of guilt included in this mutual TRO, my 40 pages notwithstanding. All we had to do was agree to the ten year moratorium on contact with each other and the hammer would fall with court adjourned. I immediately understood this would end it all—no more courtrooms and no more dealing with the FFT. I said yes right away. I told the judge I had no problem with disposing of the papers I presented and also that I completely understood what I could and could not do with this proposed compromise. The judge asked the FFT, if she understood and her response was, “But Judge, what about my TRO against him?” I pointed out to the judge the court documents I had indicated her TRO had been “terminated” (meaning dismissed) three weeks ago and she said to the FFT, “Look, Ma’am,” all this ends today if you agree to stay away from him as he has already agreed to stay away from you for the next ten years. How about giving us a decision?” The FFT said she would have to call her lawyer and reached for her cell phone. The judge said, “Not in here; make your call outside in the lobby. You have five minutes.” “Well, Judge,” said the FFT, “I may need more time. I mean what if his line is busy?” “Court is recessed for five minutes,” said the judge.

I was told to sit in the specified “Plaintiffs’ Area” until the session reconvened. Five minutes later, the bailiff came for me and I returned to the small courtroom, sat down and waited for the FFT to be escorted in. We all paused while she parked three bags off her shoulder, her purse and an orange and black wheeled case with two beach mats protruding from it into a corner, smoothed her hair and sat down. The judge asked her if she would accept the terms of her proposal and she responded, “So, this takes the place of my TRO? Can I still file one against him?” The judge told the FFT that she would dispense no legal advice from the bench regarding whether or where any TRO would be filed; she was only interested in the FFT’s decision regarding the mutual TRO—yes or no? The FFT mumbled that she would accept the terms.

The judge repeated the terms of this mutual TRO including one section that prevented either one of us from possessing firearms. “But Judge, does that mean I can’t own a firearm?” asked the FFT. “Unless you were a member of the armed forces and needed a firearm in the course of your duties, you would still have to get permission from this court to obtain a permit.” “But Judge, what if I applied for a security guard job and needed a gun; what then?” asked the FFT. “Same conditions apply,” said the judge. Surely, any security guard company would carefully examine anyone to whom they issued a firearm and equally anyone as unbalanced as the FFT would never be sent to guard a crate of oranges much less a nuclear facility.

Court was finally adjourned and I awaited the paperwork. I had been in the courthouse since 7:45am and it was now 1:00pm. When the court officer, Tia, presented me with the final papers I simply said thanks and concluded with, “I don’t wish her ill, Tia. I only pray that she can get some help, somewhere. She may well be intelligent and possibly useful to society, somehow. So many people have asked me if she was on medications of some kind and I’ve had to say I didn’t know. Perhaps I was too close to the situation and unable to be disinterested to say for sure. In any case, Tia, this is over which is all I care about.”

I’m told the FFT now lives on the beach close by Nanakuli. She is on welfare and food stamps presently.

And, so it goes. What goes around comes around.

I wish her well…

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

One Very Lucky Man

I have seen your smile,
That infrequent smile,
That smile of immense proportions,
That smile of stellar qualities,
That smile that stops time and makes me feel
Breathless and stunned but, I know
That someone else has it bestowed on him limitlessly and,
Whoever he is, he is
One very lucky man.

He knows that smile, that smile that brightens any place
And any time of day,
That smile, the one that arrests him and makes him a willing prisoner
Of affection and love,
That has him gleeful and giggling at any hour, anywhere,
Even when all he does is close his eyes when he’s away from you
To remember what your smile does to him, and
Whoever he is, he is
One very lucky man.

He’s known the touch of your smile
From across the room or across the meadow
And how his step falters as that smile falls on him
And it seems the full brilliance of the universe
Is all around him and,
Wherever he looks, he sees only pure beauty,
Only splendor,
Only grandeur,
Only richness unknown before that smile enveloped him, and
Whoever he is, he is
One very lucky man.

He’s felt your fingertips on his cheek,
Your forehead against his neck,
Your soft, gentle breath across his collarbones,
His own smile stretching across his face,
As you laugh with him, again.
He’s watched your eyes sparkle
As your smile lifts across your face,
He’s seen the way you tilt your head
As you laugh with him, again
And stopped his heart, again, and
Whoever he is, he is
One very lucky man.

I’ve wished and prayed for that man
To be me,
To be that one very lucky man.
I’ve endlessly hoped and thought
That it might be me who birthed that smile,
And who bathed in its magnificent depths,
Cleansed of all my sins,
Raised to heights unknown before that smile fell on me but,
Alas, it is and will always be--it seems,
That someone else is benefiting now and will forever and
Whoever he is, he is
One very lucky man.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Update From Far West Oahu, Act III, Scene 1

Act III, Scene 1

Monday, 5am came and I shut off the clock radio. It had been a fitful night; sleep escaped me, exchanged by rabid thoughts of what could go wrong in this, my Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) presentation against the Former Female Tenant, FFT. I was groggy but sure I would make it to the downtown Honolulu courthouse in time for my 8 o’clock docket. I just wasn’t entirely sure I would prevail since the FFT was no longer living in the same house anymore. I thought that might be a leading factor in my own TRO being dismissed as she was no longer a direct threat to me.

I worried too much…

The express bus stopped in front of me and I boarded it at 6am. This was the worst ride I’ve ever had on “America’s Finest Bus System.” The driver had a lead foot both on the accelerator and the brake, alternatively rapidly hitting the gas and the brakes, almost like she had one foot on one pedal and another foot on the other. I think my abs got a great work out but I was really tired when I finally stepped off an hour and fifteen minutes later.

I arrived at the courthouse a few minutes later and sure enough, here comes the FFT, plopping herself down on a stone bench about ten feet away. My TRO says she must be 100 feet away from me at all times. She didn’t move, so I called 911. They promised to send an officer but, when the building doors opened at 7:45am, I went in, figuring the police were not going to show up. I laboriously climbed up two flights of stairs—remember, I’d had virtually no sleep—and checked in at the bailiff’s desk. They took my driver’s license and handed me a court ID badge to wear directing me to a hallway, which had courtrooms on the left and right, the end of which was reserved for TRO plaintiffs. I took a seat, acknowledging several people who were in my TRO class a couple weeks earlier. It was 8am. A cop called my name to ask if the FFT had done anything but sit a few feet away from me. He said the courtyard of the courthouse was a “common area” and that the FFT had to come there to get into the court. He did say that if she did anything else, he would help me “make a case against her.”

I asked a few of the other TRO’ers how they were doing since last we met. Some were still strong, some had weakened and were nervous that they might be arrested, since they themselves had violated the terms of their TRO’s by making contact with the defendant. Mine specifically stated—as did everybody else’s, I’m sure—that I was not to contact the defendant in any way, verbally, through someone else, by phone, email or semaphore flag, for that matter. Yet, in some cases, not only did the plaintiff make contact with their “terrorizer,” but the TRO was actually withdrawn not two weeks after the initial service. One guy, who was a plaintiff himself and who had worked within the TRO program as a volunteer for eight years, gave me some disturbing insights into the system.

He told me that the emotions and actions leading to a divorce or final imposition of a Restraining Order had the plaintiff leaving a marriage, as in a separation, or leaving a live-in relationship and issuing a TRO only to rescind it six times. He said the statistics were the same, whether people were married or just cohabitating a place. He told me of one woman, of Asian birth, married to a European-born man, who endured 40 years of abuse before finally coming to court. Not a week later, she dismissed the TRO and a week after that was in a dentist’s chair having her two front teeth replaced because of a blow by the husband.

He went on to talk about the people working in the system. Many “burn-out” after a few years. He said that their hearing the same stories, day after day, or seeing the same clients coming in month after month just got to them and they had to move on to something else. He also said that the TRO courts had the lowest burden of proof of any court in the land. In went like this: if the judge didn’t grant a TRO in what seemed a minor case of two people merely disagreeing with one another, that might be the very one case where death resulted and then the state would be sued for negligence.

I then sat next a university student, majoring in zoology, who I agreed to call “Stella,” after the character in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” We struck up a conversation immediately, covering a multitude of topics, one of which was her reason for being here this day. It seems her roommate in the college dorm was heavily into drugs—ice, cocaine and pot. Stella turned her in after the roommate threw a full bottle of wine at her during one of her binges. When Stella called the campus police, she was told to stay out of the way and say nothing. They were ineffectual in removing the roommate, even though campus rules forbad illegal drug use and so she called the police. The police told Stella later that the campus police are usually as lackadaisical as she just experienced but, they then got the girl out.

Stella was delightful to talk to. It didn’t matter that she was just two years into school and I was entering what for most is retirement years. We chatted like two friends who hadn’t seen each other in a while and were just bringing each other up to date. She was an artist at heart though she was studying how to care for animals, not as a veterinarian, but more like a zookeeper. She received dozens of art scholarship offers from many prestigious universities and art schools but turned them all down to follow her parent’s instructions: find something you can make money with; art won’t do it. I can’t understand how parents can ignore offers of a tuition-free education from people who recognize great talent and then tell their children to go for what they identify as a “sure-thing.” Stella admitted she was an animal lover and that from six years old she had naturally cared for sick and injured pets and wild animals with some success. Her heart though had always been in art and even showed her art teachers new ways of seeing and doing things, with several now teaching Stella’s methods. All too soon, Stella’s court time came and she was gone, leaving with promises to call or email me for a shared lunch.

Some 30 people were waiting for court times and one by one they were called in. I had been in this lobby since 8am and now, at 11:30am there were few others left, mostly just waiting for court orders to be written up and handed back. Finally, at 12:30pm, my name was called and I entered Judge Fujikami’s chambers.

The clerks told me to sit down at the end seat fronting the judge’s raised bench. This was a narrow room, almost like a hallway had been converted into a courtroom. The paneling was a soft mahogany, the seats comfortable as I took my place, opening my manila folder of TRO information in front of me.

The FFT entered next and took her seat on the opposite end of the room. A court clerk sat between us.

The judge then apologized for calling us in so late but there had been some difficult cases ahead of us that took more time than expected. He went on to say that because of court rules, he could not hear my case today and would have to “continue” (postpone) it until May 30th. He asked me if that was okay with me and I said sure. Judge Fujikami than said, “Unless you can come to an agreement right now.” I asked him what he meant and he asked me what I wanted with my TRO. I replied that I expected it to remain intact; I was changing nothing. When he asked the FFT what she wanted, she pushed a fully stuffed manila envelope toward the judge say she wanted to enter the contents into evidence. The judge told her “not now” that she would have to save it for the trial on the 30th. With that, he adjourned and I went to back into the lobby to wait for my paperwork.

When the clerk came out, I asked her just how I could enter further information into evidence. I had a 15 page log of the FFT’s actions and behavior and pictures of these that I wanted to provide. I also had a statement pleading with the court that my TRO be unaltered as although the FFT had moved out she was in a room in a house nearby in the same neighborhood. Since she hadn’t even returned her house keys she could still conceivably harass me within my home if she so desired. The clerk explained how to include this into the trial and off I went.

Frankly, I can’t imagine what evidence the FFT might have against me. I’m sure it is specious at best. Yet, judging from some of the results of other TRO’ers, something might come up that alters the judge’s view of things that has him changing the terms of the TRO, possibly against my interests.

Oh well, maybe he won’t commit her to a mental exam as I requested and that would certainly be a loss I could swallow.

More in Act III, Scene 2 after May 30th

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Update From Far West Oahu, Act II

As best I can reconstruct from my notes, the FT was attempting to get her combination lock to work so she could enter her room. Her room was hard by the front door and the light through that open door gave her just enough illumination to see the numbers clearly. As no one was going in or out of the house, I asked another roommate if he would kindly close and lock the front door. For some reason, the sudden lack of light caused her some consternation as she rushed toward me—of all people—(while I was standing in the kitchen) with her right arm extended downward and her fingers curled as she was going to “cup” or grab something; my genitals, perhaps? When I felt that grasp tighten, I broke free and called the police, who wrote up an assault charge on her and told me how to file a TRO against her and—for all our sakes (including theirs)—to do it soon.

These same cops had been out to the house numerous times on her behalf, I would later learn. She called them to throw out one roommate who had allergies that kept her awake. The FT told them another time that one roommate swore at her. She reported missing panties from the clothesline. If the cops could be called at all, they were, I found out; no reason was too small. They were kind enough to give me a phone number card to Family Court and even told me what to say when I connected.

I set an appointment for the following Monday and answered the court clerk’s request to describe the FT by saying she looked like a bowling ball on chopsticks and, as far as I was concerned, had the same intelligence. I went over some of the many actions she had taken against me and he suggested I had a case and to “come on down.”

When I arrived that Monday, I waited in the lobby for my name to be called and met one woman who was also intent on filing a TRO against her boyfriend, who was languishing in jail at that moment. I asked her why she was here and she told me her story of grief and anguish. I’ll spare the details of her horrific tale and just say I asked a couple questions of her. I asked her what was her first thought when the first bit of violence occurred. She said, “Oh, he didn’t mean that.” I then asked her did she ever think she deserved the violence as it recurred. She responded, “Oh, yes. After all, I was making mistakes, sometimes the same one more than once. Sure, I thought I needed correcting after time.” She went on to say that she finally realized what a mistake she made with this guy; that the pain was no longer acceptable when she watched him attack his own mother, subdued later by the police.

I asked others within this circle of “TRO’ers” what their experience was and much the same responses came forth. They forgave the first hit, accepted their on-going punishment and then reached a point of no-return. I am befuddled by these responses. I can only surmise that a weak self-image coupled with a self esteem dependent on someone else’s assessment brought many of these women to this courtroom. Somewhere, thankfully, they saw some value and worth in themselves, either on their own or through the intervention of some other loving person (a sister, in one case) and made a fateful decision to end the violence. Not that the TRO is an immediate solid wall of protection against the perpetrators of this violence; it can keep honest people honest. A TRO is only as good as the speed with which a cop can get there. In the main, it may even prevent an escalation of violence but the prevailing thought—as I observed it—was that it was a first step of many toward resolution.

I completed my presentation and awaited the judge’s decision as to whether mine would be approved. After about 20 minutes, the clerks returned and called out several names; they were to follow along to the second floor. It turns out these women were the most intensely in need of counseling and even physical relocation into shelters. The rest of us were handed our approved TRO’s. We shook hands and hugged each other in much relief and even exchanged our landlords’ home numbers if we needed to move to a new place. Although this TRO still needed to be delivered to the nearest police station (Waianae) to be served to the FT, I was ecstatic. My first foray into the judicial system and I felt victorious. It was only a matter of time now and the FT would be out of my life.

I just didn’t know how the clock would turn: in my favor or not?

I rode the bus back home and drove down to the Waianae Police Station to drop off the TRO. They asked if I had a picture of the FT and I presented one of her and an investigating officer as she blocked the front door to keep me from talking to him. That photo was taken on Sunday, the day before I filed the TRO and after she temporarily kept me hostage in the house. The desk sergeant said the patrolling officers generally kept a copy of the un-served TRO in their squad cars and would come by the house and see if she was there. I was to keep a copy with me at all times and to call 911 if she showed up. She did on late Monday afternoon. I immediately called the emergency folks but she was too fast—in and out in minutes. I followed her to the bus stop, keeping a running commentary going with the operator of her movements but the cops were too late; she was gone.

On Wednesday morning, at 4:30am, one of the roommates came to my room and told me the police were looking for me. I grabbed the copy of my TRO and met them at the front gate. They told me that the FT was entitled to return to the house within 24 hours of being served the TRO to retrieve personal items, like clothing. I told the police she hadn’t been served and showed him the “defendant’s” copy of the TRO over the fence. He muttered something and went to where the FT was sitting on the curb, returning with the actual served and acknowledged TRO to show me. I knew that her coming to the house was at my agreement and permission and I could have spared my roommates the disruption of her visit. I decided I would get this over with and invited the police to bring her in.

The officer told her she had 15 minutes to gather some clothing but, she ignored him with a high protesting voice saying she had to get her “things.” She dragged out a full suitcase on wheels, several black 50 gallon garbage bags and three or four flattened boxes. All the while, she was either muttering unintelligible phrases, identifiable prayers or accusations against one wheelchair-bound roommate that he “…brought young girls and boys into the house for the rest of them and even tried to prostitute me, Officer!” He responded by saying she had 10 more minutes. She wailed and cried out loud while packing as we watched. She begged the cop to help her. She slipped on one of the plastic bags and screamed out for an ambulance. The cop said she had 5 more minutes.

I went to my room and retrieved a Cuban cigar sent to me by a Canadian friend whose proviso was I only smoke it when I was in a celebratory mood. What better time than now, I asked myself. I lit up and made sure the exhaled smoke was full, thick and blown toward the front door, which the FT had to pass in and out of as she dumped her full trash bags and suitcases onto the lanai. What a rich aroma that cigar imparted to the morning dew…

Finally, she was done and dragged her worldly goods across the street awaiting a pickup. What a mess she left behind; a trashed room with a broken glass louver she admitted breaking because someone stole her room key. Sure; like someone her size could squeeze through a three inch high opening into her room. She even insisted on posing by the broken glass for a picture I took to show the landlord what she had done on Sunday, a few days earlier.

I asked one of the officers how they served her my TRO since she never returned to the house. He said when she finished reported me “running into” her with my car, they simply handed her my TRO and told her she was “…hereby served.” By reporting me, she made it easy for the cops to serve her.

There just didn’t seem to be anything more she could do or say that didn’t have us shaking our heads. Or, so we thought…

This past Friday, I was ordered to court to defend myself against a TRO the FT filed against me in District Court in Waianae. I rode the bus into town catching the express at about 6:10am. The court time was for 8:30am. At about 6:45am my cell fon rang with one of the roommates calling me. He said the FT was already downtown walking toward the courthouse. He described her outfit for me and hung up.

Well, I thought, she is actually going to go through with this. I didn’t give much credence toward her avoiding it as; after all, she might even have a stage for another performance. I arrived in town and went to court.

I was surprised to see my landlord there in the same court room. He was there on another matter and I asked if would stay on my behalf after his deal was done and he agreed. The FT came in, saw us and looked as if she was going to join us. The court made it clear that plaintiffs sat on one side of the room and defendants/respondents sat on the other. As soon as she made a move toward us, I said in a loud voice, while pointing to her assigned area, “SIT OVER THERE!” The bailiff looked at me, the court clerks looked at me but nobody said anything. The FT made a hard U-turn so tight a bobby-pin looked loose and sat down. Two people came in, sat down with her for about three minutes and left; witnesses perhaps?

The court went through all the cases to determine how difficult and time consuming they might be and came to our case. I told the judge I was protesting my being here as the TRO was not in my name although I had signed for it in my proper name. He said no matter, we will proceed and directed us to sit down until called. I didn’t feel defeated on this point so I waited confidently until we were called a second time.

The judge asked the FT if she really wanted to go through the entire process of “validating” the TRO by virtue of a hearing and she said, “Yes.” The judge tried reasoning with her saying that he didn’t see much in the TRO of merit and that the hearing might well go against her. She insisted the hearing take place. We were sworn in and asked if we would affirm or swear to tell the truth. I said, “I swear.” The FT said, “So help me God!”

The judge asked the FT to speak first about the recent TRO violation on my part. She said that I almost hit her with my car as she described the incident. The judge turned to me and asked me how I felt about her remarks. Well, he asked me how I felt about her comments and I said, “Flabbergasted!” He quickly grinned and changed the question to have me tell my version of the events which I calmly did, adding that the FT no longer lived at the address. He swung around to her and asked if that was true. She paused and said that was correct. He asked where she lived now and she replied that she was in a room in the same neighborhood. He then asked when was the last time she slept at the house and when was the last contact she had with me. He then said a short recess was in order and told us to wait at the witness table.

The judge returned and once again reaffirmed the dates of the last night at the house and the last contact with me. He turned to me and asked if I accepted these facts and I concurred. He then announced that since some harassment may have occurred in the past the fact that she was no longer in the domicile made continuing this TRO against any future harassment moot. “Besides,” he said,” you filed this TRO in the wrong court; it should have been filed in Family Court. This case is dismissed and court is adjourned.” “But,” the FT blurted out, “Your Honor, I called the number given to me and they said it was okay to file it in Circuit Court at Waianae!” “Well, they gave you the wrong information; case dismissed.’ “But, Your Honor,” she blurted out. “Listen,” he said, “This is my courtroom and what I say goes here. This case is dismissed!”

I was shaking my head as I left the courtroom with my landlord, asking, “What’s the word of the day? D-I-S-M-I-S-S-E-D!”

My next day on court is Monday, May 14th, where I present my case for the TRO filed against the FT. I am confident I will prevail.

More later…

An Update From Far West Oahu, Act I

Some of you have stayed in close touch regarding the incidents at “Nanakuli House,” by phone, Instant Messenger and email. I can tell you your support has been most gratifying and helpful. Some days were darker than others and although this saga has a few more days before concluding your being there was the many bright spots. Thank you…

Before I begin a short history to date, I must take my hat off to anyone involved with resolving anybody’s issues or problems, anybody in the human resources industry. For example, I’ve been working my way through the judicial system as I filed a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the female tenant (FT) and as I responded to a TRO filed by the FT, herself. Without exception, everyone I met and worked with was a delight, helpful and sincere. These court clerks and administrators daily have to deal with horrific stories and--without prejudice--guide abused and shattered people to carefully prepare legal paperwork (TRO’s) prior to presentation to a judge for approval. They do this day-in and day-out. I saw them as kind and gentle throughout the time I spent with them. My hat is doffed.

All I had to do was get my thoughts together well enough to be coherent when I put pen to paper for my TRO against the FT. I was at least smart enough to bring those tracks of words to the TRO “Training” session and put them in between the appropriate paperwork before the judge saw it all. These clerks had to hold hands and dry tears as the “plaintiffs” struggled to describe why they were there. I saw a part of humanity I’ve never been exposed to; indescribable physical, mental and psychological violence between once seemingly loving people. I thought my TRO—albeit containing a reference to violence against me—was just not comparable to the stories I was hearing from others in this classroom. What I found was that violence is violence no matter the source or delivery method. My TRO was approved by the judge as the “kick-out” type meaning should the FT appear on the premises I was to contact the police and they would immediately kick her out of the house.

I waited all night and into the next morning, barely asleep, listening intently for any door creak that might indicate her return to the house and my signal to the cops. I was exhausted from the waiting but mostly from the FT’s aberrant behavior over the last several months which intensified daily. I was eating poorly and what I did get down didn’t stay down for long because of my strained nerves. My concentration was strictly on how quickly I could respond to anything the FT said or did. I thought of little else except how to counter her every word or deed and to protect myself as best I could. I leaned folding steel chairs against the house doors that would crash to the floor and awaken me, warning me that she had returned and I was to call the cops to serve my TRO.

But you sometimes can’t wake the dead from sleep and that’s what happened to me.

I didn’t hear the chairs clatter to the tiled floor when the door opened and I barely responded when the cop was shaking my shoulder as he stood over my bed. I had slept maybe an hour when I was so rudely awakened. He announced he was here to serve a TRO on me filed by the FT. What a wake up call.

The TRO was addressed to one “Richard California.” I pointed out this discrepancy to the cop but he dismissed my comments by telling me the FT didn’t know my last name and just entered my birthplace. I told him I was from Brazil. It didn’t matter to him. I was Richard. He was here to serve the TRO and I was “it.”

I was in a stupor from the lack of sleep, lack of food and the effects of daily medicines I took for my cancer, diabetes and high-blood pressure. I couldn’t think well enough to realize I could reject the TRO because of incorrect name. The cop asked for my ID and told me where to sign. I followed his directions. It was early Tuesday morning and I decided to go to the supermarket and get something to eat.

On returning, I turned into my street from the highway and saw the FT trying to cross from one side to the other—outside of the crosswalk. I stopped my car and waited for her to clear the roadway, watching her every step. She appeared confused as she then crossed in the opposite direction while now at the crosswalk and even attempted to cross the highway as heavy morning traffic waited for her to get across. She turned around and went back to the sidewalk and stood there waiting for a bus to pick her up. I went home.

The next afternoon, cops came back to the house to speak to me. Apparently, by waiting for the FT to safely cross the road, I had violated her TRO against me by “…making contact.” I had to explain my actions in writing waiving my right to attorney which didn’t concern me much. This whole episode in my life was a simple test of confidence and I had plenty of that, I knew.

When the FT moved in some five months ago she irritated me by never staying on any subject for very long, simply starting to talk about something else literally mid-sentence. Too, virtually everything she said was a commentary on her life, delivered in such a way to have the listener feeling sorry for her. There wasn’t a conversation with her that didn’t have its focus on her. It occurred to me that if an opera were to be written around her self-centeredness, it would be called, “MeMeMeMeee!” I finally gave up communicating with her at all and spent most of the following months ignoring her.

Over the recent weeks her behavior became more bizarre and inexplicable. When I tried to tell others what the FT was doing, virtually everyone asked if I knew anything about her medicines. One cop even suggested I contact her doctor and get him to either “…up the meds or down the meds.” I didn’t even think about prescriptions on her part; I just thought she was weird. For instance, she would turn all the house lights on in every common area at night such as the kitchen, bathrooms and hallways and if any of us—like myself—turned them off, they’d be back on in five minutes. Or, she would turn all the water taps on full so that splashing water resounded throughout the house and especially into my bedroom, which had two bathrooms just out side my door. When the trade winds blew, the FT found a way to prop doors so they would bang open and closed with every gust. How about this one? I toasted my bagel in the toaster oven for five minutes each morning. One day, sensing the five minutes was about up I returned to the kitchen from my bedroom to find that she had extended the toasting time another five minute, scorching my last bagel.

The FT would become active in the kitchen at 11:00pm and wouldn’t let up until 4:30am or so when she would replace the pots and pans banging with KGMB radio loud enough to disturb the household. She wailed and wept as she prayed or read aloud from her bible. She…well, you get the picture—she was not well and I’m a layman.

What I didn’t expect to happen was a surge in confidence to confront this FT at any time. If words needed to be uttered, they formed at my lips and issued forth with my hearing them for the first time as they vibrated in the atmosphere. I thought of nothing when I approached her, I simply watched myself interact with this person, dominating her entirely. There was not a single word or phrase that she could say that was not met adroitly. She just didn’t just meet her match in me, she was so overmatched, so intimidated that she was reduced to tears and statements like, “You’re, you’re no good!” That’s original, wouldn’t you say?

I kept a journal of these behaviors—physical and verbal—and recorded as much as I could remember at the time it happened, even if it was two in the morning. I had an idea that journal would come in handy; I just didn’t know when or how. I even transposed cell phone messages left by the FT on another housemate’s voicemail as a part of the record. The more I wrote down the more bizarre and unreal her actions seemed to become. I’m not sure she wasn’t already doing some of the things I noticed at an earlier time (when I was ignoring her) though it did seem the intensity increased.

By now, she managed to alienate everyone in the house and they all wanted her out. One even threatened to deduct one day’s rent from the monthly rental for everyday in May she was still in the house. That got the landlord’s attention more than the constant barrage of calls from all of us complaining about this nuisance, the FT. All that was really needed was a spark that would light this tinderbox and she could quite possibly be gone.

She delivered that spark to us on a Friday with her attack on me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


This might be a bit graphic so, be aware.

Yesterday was a six month anniversary of sorts, although champagne and chocolates were hardly in order. I refer to the semi-annual replacement of two internal “stents”—plastic tubes, actually—that deliver urine from my kidneys to my bladder. These were put in place in October, 2006, by drilling holes into my back and then feeding the tubes down to the bladder. All this was done while under a local anesthetic and guided by x-ray images relayed to the surgeon. While these have been in place, passing urine has been a “joyful” affair, considering what prostate cancer does to that act for a man.

There are parts of yesterday that made it an adventure and I’ll start with some things that have been ongoing since December. I’ll spare the Dear Reader a blow-by-blow accounting of most of the personal issues I have endured except to provide a bit of a picture of what it’s like to live in a house occupied by five other people, none of whom are related. In this instance, I’ll focus on some odd behavior that, frankly, made me glad I was headed out of the house to surgery for the day. Maybe that is odd behavior in itself, preferring the hospital instead of the comfort of home but, perhaps things will come clear.

I set my alarm for 6:00am as Bill was coming by an hour later to give me a ride into Pali Momi. I was already up anyway long before that as the female tenant (“FT”) approached my room at about 4:30am and announced through my closed—and locked—door, “Hope you enjoy ‘loser’s land.’ I’ll add that to the list!” I have no idea to what she is referring.

This was just one incident in a string of many that shined a light on some of the oddest behavior I have ever experienced. This FT moved into the house sometime in December. There were five men living here. She seemed somewhat intelligent in the beginning weeks, buttressed by her repeated assertions that she had a master’s degree and that she taught school for some 18 years. I found any discussion of virtually any subject with her difficult as she couldn’t seem to stay on the discussion thread for very long, diverting the talk by interjecting other subjects altogether.

One of the housemates took umbrage at her moving in and began berating her for a variety of issues, much of which I wasn’t aware. This relationship—or lack thereof—took a turn for the worse when the FT cried tearfully every morning after these sessions. The rest of us men in the house looked at the situation and deemed it worthy of discussion with the landlord, if for no other reason but to get some calm and harmony within the household. We couldn’t seem to reason with either one of these combatants what with one yelling and the other blithering. Maybe a meeting with those of us concerned with chivalry and a lady’s honor would defuse these circumstances and all would be happy.

What a surprise--we later found out--that we meeting-attendees were as much actual victims as the one portrayed by the failed graduate of “Bad Acting School.” The FT hooked us all into believing she was a “poor thing,” misunderstood and not appreciated by certain segments of society and we should take her side as “gentlemen.” We did stand up for her yet, to this day, not a thank you in word or gesture as ever emanated from the FT. We made things better not only for her but, for all of us.

Or, so we thought…

As the year progressed, the FT called attention to her every act. If she as making morning instant coffee in the microwave, the door would slam shut loudly. If she was heating up a can of soup, she constantly had to borrow a can opener. The radio blared in the bathroom whenever she showered causing other roommates to bang on the door to ask her to turn it down. She would leave the back door open when doing her laundry in the washing machine allowing flies to enter the house en masse. Her response to requests that this habit be reversed was, “I’ll do it when I’m good and ready!” The FT took a liking to one of us and began a hugging campaign on him and even went further by exposing herself to him, completely nude, by delaying her entry into the running shower. She began lifting food from us out of the common refrigerator a little bit at a time and since she was the only one in the house that did not keep anything in that icebox, we suspected her immediately.

She burst into my room from time-to-time to ask my opinion of what she was wearing. When a bowling ball on toothpicks asks me anything in the fashion arena, I turn away.

Her behavior became more overbearing and disturbing. Once, she demanded that I allow her the use of my PC so she could check her email because, “If I don’t do it today, it will all be removed from the server—forever!” I said too bad... She yelled at others when she was bathing if they deigned to flush a toilet or draw some water from a faucet as this lowered the water pressure at the showerhead. She constantly left the kitchen light on all night to give her a “sense of security” when going to and from a ½ bath at 4:30am. When I challenged her about this so-called security at 8:00am, she responded by going outside, slamming the outer screen door and the fence gate and proceeded to shout loudly—in the middle of the sidewalk, in full view and earshot of neighboring homes—that all she wanted “…was to go to the bathroom in peace and security; is that so wrong? At another time, she went out to the roadway and loudly sang “God Bless America.”

She constantly talked to herself while in her room or in the bathroom, usually hurling epithets toward one or more of us regarding our behavior toward her. She loudly played a Christian music station from 4:30am, as well, waking up everybody around her. She would read out loud in the kitchen from her bible while the rest of us made our breakfasts and even tried to reason with her about how inane this all was. The FT regularly posted various brochures about the Christ in the common areas and we regularly tore them down. She seemed to have two personalities, one that was charming and the other that was evil, wicked mean and nasty and she could switch between these two at will.

The FT believed the police could solve anything for her. When she was upset by one of the tenant’s allergy problems (sneezing, hacking and coughing) she tried to get the police to throw him out. When one of the guys called her an unbecoming name, she got the police to respond by saying she was being “attacked.” They advised us to get the landlord to evict her as soon as possible, surely lending that advice after reading three or four pages of an FT behavior log I maintained on a daily basis.

She constantly left messages on one house mate’s voicemail of what she planned to do to the rest of us, especially me and another guy, including charging us with harassment, defamation of character, stalking and being peeping toms. She claimed to have filed a report with New Hope Mission (a church), the Department of Human Services and the Kapolei Police Station. We checked through a local prosecuting attorney and no notices were ever placed.

My patience ran out when she stole food from me and then claimed she thought it was someone else’s. When a ½ pizza disappeared from my section of the fridge, I pointed the finger at her and she denied it. She called me a “pervert” and announced I was frustrated and in need of Viagra in the presence of the housemates because I “…stayed up all night looking at naked girls on my PC.”

We reported this behavior to the landlord so often he stopped returning our calls. He asked me to send him a copy of my log and I complied. He said he would use this log as a basis for eviction—along with the more serious failure to pay the monthly rent for a second time. Not a single housemate got along with her except for, believe it or not, the very one that used to harass her in the beginning. But even he tired of her taking his food and lying about it. His opinion of her returned and he began arguing with her, even though I advised him “…never argue with a fool; people may not know the difference.”

When my friend, Bill, picked me up for the ride to the hospital, I told him that she had followed me out of the house, stared at me as I returned the city trash bin to inside the gate and then started reading aloud from her bible, loud enough that I had to get in my car to avoid it.

Our drive to the hospital was most pleasant as I learned more about Bill in those 50 minutes than I had in almost 25 years of knowing him. I got to Pali Momi at 8:00am with my surgery scheduled for 10:30am.

I was perfunctorily checked in by an administration person who needed a dose of charm school, quite unlike those in the medical specialties. Most of the former group has been quite pleasant during my recent visits. The entire latter group has been friendly and supportive in those same visitations. I was puzzled by the seeming difference in these attitudes; perhaps it was the difference in jobs. On the one hand, it’s a day of name, rank and medical insurance cards. On the other, it’s a variety of “procedures” among them the one I was about to go through.

At 10:00am, I was invited into a dressing area to mount into a backless gown and get punctured for my intravenous drip line. My blood pressure (BP) was high enough to alarm the nurse. I was nervous about what was about to happen and I was still thinking about the FT’s recent actions. For sure, this would cause anyone’s BP to elevate so; the nurse got a prescription for some “lowering” salve and applied it to my chest. It worked.

Next, I was wheeled into the real waiting area where I donned a shower cap and snuggled into some blankets because of my shivering. Fear and cold do familiar bedfellows make.

The last thing I remember was watching the overhead tiles and fluorescents whip by above me. When I got into the operating theater, the anesthesiologist said something unintelligible and I was out.

My urologist had earlier explained what was to happen. It was a “grope and grab” through my penis and into the bladder. He would find the old plastic tubes and replace them. He did warn me that if he couldn’t do this in one sitting (I was lying down, actually), then I’d be in overnight for a refit through my back as earlier explained.

I woke at 11:20am, just 50 minutes after going under, with the operation done. There was no pain anywhere probably because of those great drugs they give one. Seriously, I hurt no where. They wheeled me back to the waiting area I left earlier where I dressed and waited for my ride home with Timmy.

I was really thirsty. I think I drank almost a gallon of water and apple juice from 4:00pm until evening news time yet, I voided only a few tablespoons through my new tubes. I worried that something might be wrong since so little was coming out. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to be waking up almost every hour after midnight to urinate most of that gallon back to the environment.

I’m back, folks, better than new and grateful for the skilled hands that carried this off. Every six months, you say? No problem, I say.

By the way, more news on the FT: Today, the landlord set up her eviction. She has until the 30th to vacate the premises. I send her love and no hate. She needs help desperately. We’ll tighten our “Sam Browne” belts and await her further actions.

Stay tuned…

Monday, April 9, 2007

A Failure of Courage, Part 2

The only real solace I found was in long-distance running, at which I excelled. I discovered this lonely sport in the tenth grade when, at an annual school-wide run around the American school campus in England, I came in second to a high school senior who had won the event four years in a row. I stopped trying out for football as a 140 pound tackle and joined the cross-country and track teams. As a sophomore, I led in first place finishes not only against other American schools in England (where we lived as an Air Force family) and Europe but against English schoolboys, too. I was a Big Man On Campus because of my prowess in moving over the Earth at great speed and for long periods of time. Yet, in spite of my need to train, I was condemned if I didn’t replace the time involved to get our house’s grass tennis court mowed or the garden’s rhubarb chopped and readied for canning.

I continued running as a junior and senior in a 4,000 student high school when we returned to the States. I was County Champion in cross country, ran in the Illinois State Finals in track, as well, and was elected Captain of each team. I set various records in several events. I ran in an 11 mile road race against college and older amateur participants, coming in 7th in a field of several hundred participants but, more importantly, was the first high school boy to finish. This personal victory meant nothing at home, of course, because being in this event prevented my scheduled Saturday leaf raking (it was autumn, after all) and since I didn’t do it, I got the silent treatment for a week.

All the while, my courage to talk back or to challenge their words and behavior toward me tapered off to a simmering resolve that I would get back at them, somehow. I would make them feel bad that they had boxed me in, categorized me as useless and my ideas “…not worth a hill of beans.” I would find a way to make my “rebellious” nature real—obviously, I was rebellious if I couldn’t fit into their dreams for me. I would “…show them a thing or two” (as they used to say to me). I would make them hurt. I would get back at them even if I was doing the suffering. I would make them wonder whatever did they do wrong that I turned out like this.

So, I flunked out of college, for starters.

How does anyone flunk out of the University of Hawaii (UH)? I found lots of ways; the main one being: don’t do anything. Don’t go to class. Don’t hand in any assignments. Blow up organic chemistry labs. I didn’t do that, but the small fires I created or the acid I spilled didn’t sit well with the lab assistants. I did well in things that interested me, like English composition or Public Speaking but, that wasn’t enough to save my academic career. By the fourth year of college, I had so few eligible credits that UH gave up on me and reported my status to the Draft Board, who promptly invited me down for a “Pre-Induction Medical Exam.”

I got out of military service because I had asthma as a child and was treated with the drug “epinephrine” after the age of fifteen. I thought back on my early-age asthma attacks and realized they coincided with my dad being away on one of his many military flying assignments. He left and I got sick. He came back and I got well.

More interestingly, I got well right in the middle of a doctor’s appointment. I associated the doctor with being a “father figure” and was so happy in his presence that I literally healed and stopped wheezing and coughing in his examination room. He was kind and solicitous and interested in my well-being; everything I wanted in a “daddy.” His very presence and touch honored me so much that I returned the favor by curing myself in front of him. He’d often look over to my mother and ask why I was here. She would say I was too sick for school so, that’s why we came by. This healing act didn’t last long, though. As soon as we returned home, I was sick again until my dad flew back.

I remember his being away on a trip and coming home with his usual cavalcade of souvenirs for the family. We were stationed in Germany at the time. My mom told my dad that I failed to be “The Man of The House” while he was gone and didn’t do something that fit the title. He looked at me with his cold, blue eyes and said that because of that I would receive nothing and to go my room. I was just seven years old and devastated that I was being held to adult standards already. The pain was intense. Being left out of the “goodies” was a terrible fate. “What did I do that was so bad that I was being punished so brutally?” He later opened my door and handed me something, telling me to quit crying and “act like a man.” Getting the goods alone and not in the presence of the family felt like being picked last for a dodge-ball game.

Slowly, in spite of the rave reviews some of my teachers and other adults heaped on me and told my parents about, truths emerged. I was insignificant and insensitive to their aspirations. I was thankless for all they’d done for me as “first-born” and upon whom the future of the family name depended as the only son. I was told I had no idea how they’d sacrificed for me. I couldn’t “…imagine what my becoming a doctor meant to the family name.” I didn’t understand that I was destined to be the first doctor in the family since my dad had to leave pre-med in college to “…go fight a war on my behalf” even though he didn’t marry my mom until seven years later and I wasn’t even born for another year after that.

Guilt was the watchword by which I lived. I felt guilty if whatever I was doing felt good or made me happy. If those emotions were present, then I was betraying my parents and their ”love” for me. If I was enjoying myself, I would soon feel their wrath. I had to remind myself constantly that happiness and contentment were for somebody else, not me. As long as I was in their presence, being correct was the guiding principle and if I didn’t know what to do, I “…should know by now; My God, haven’t you been listening?” Guilt heaped itself on me, again.

The little child within me, who only asked to be cared for, loved and nurtured, retreated to a safe place somewhere inside, licking his emotional and mental wounds. He didn’t emerge for a long while and when he did as a man, he was creative, imaginative, artistic, sensitive and joyful if only in short bursts. Even though these times overflowed with positive energy, I couldn’t assuage the feelings of foreboding and guilt that came with them, that somehow I would gain my parent’s diminution simply by doing something well on my own. I remember their taking the credit for whatever I did well. After all, it was their genes or their teachings that gave me the wherewithal for my individual success and achievement.

When I told my dad that I flunked out of college, I almost laughed in his face. I did get back at him. Here was something I did all on my own. I really disappointed him this time. I flunked out so I couldn’t possibly go to medical school now. I couldn’t possibly be the doctor he dreamed of my becoming.

Although I failed in courage to come right out and tell him years before, I had enough courage—albeit a strange application, for sure—to stop trying to be something I didn’t want to be, putting an end to the charade, once and for all. I told him I wanted to be a psychologist and he got back at me, saying they were “…a dime a dozen.” He won again, deflating my hope in doing something at which I did well as exemplified by the “A’s” I earned in those college subjects. That I wrote well and could speak well was backed up by high marks. No matter to him.

For the rest of the time we were a family “unit” in Hawaii, he ignored me except to tell me that since I wasn’t in school and now had a full-time airline job, I was going to have pay rent to help out. We lived in free government housing on Hickam Air Force Base. We shopped at the cheap government food commissary. Even my mom was working. He was a colonel in the Air Force, surely a high-paying job. What did he need with my money?

I decided that since I was going to have to pay rent somewhere, I would at least choose my roommates and I moved out a few weeks before he and my mom were transferred to their retirement home in Florida. So there! A glimmer of courage sparkled although it was dusted over by my leaving home for good. I could never go home again, as has been said. I did miss family life, such as it was. At least the cooking was great.

To this day however, anytime I hear about some group of people being “like a family,” I run the other way. The only family experience I ever had was what I described and no way was I going to repeat that anywhere in my adult life by choice!

And so, I emerged from this family’s cocoon with wonderful memories of things I accomplished outside of their influence (some while they still lived in Hawaii) but, with heavy emotional baggage.

I learned how to sail small boats in record time and went on to be named “Corinthian (Sailor) of the Year” by my yacht club, at 21, for my work developing the club’s youth program and for teaching others how to sail as a paid member of Hickam Harbor. I won two consecutive “Single-Handed Championships,” where I raced a fully rigged 20’ sailboat by myself, winning over men several times my age and with much more experience than me. I won the annual “Dillingham Regatta,” a sailboat race from Waikiki to Kaneohe Bay as the youngest ever in that same 20’ sailboat, “Gay Lady,” with my dad and a good friend as crew. I skippered “Gay Lady” to several islands in races and on leisurely cruises with friends.

My career in the airlines flourished and I married an artist, whose father was in the Navy as a flotilla commander. We moved onto a 22’ sailboat from an apartment, storing much of our goods ashore. It was a sweet life aboard. We could sit in one place and cook, answer the phone, adjust the TV, eat and wash dishes. We had many friends that moved aboard their boats, too, and we sailed as a fleet on almost every Sunday to Waikiki and back.

Life was good but I was bad. I treated my wife the same way my parents treated me. If she angered me I gave her the silent treatment. I put her ideas down if they didn’t agree with mine. I sometimes made fun of her in public. I was rotten and ugly. I felt so guilty whenever I treated her in these ways but, I didn’t know of any other example to follow.

I had wanted out of my family so bad that I proposed marriage before my parents left for the Mainland. I thought she would rescue me from the feelings of inadequacy imbued in me. She was a free thinker, pretty, intelligent, charming and loving. I challenged her with deep thoughts and sexy moves. I thought we were in love enough to marry and we did although my mother insisted we come to Florida to do so. After all, my wife’s mother and father were retired on the East Coast, too, so it made sense.

I was still afraid of my parents, believe it or not, and when my mom complained that my fiancĂ©e arrived on the pre-wedding flight without wearing make up, I went ballistic and confronted her. “How could you fly without make-up? What will people think?”

I write this some 30 years later and still shudder at that last statement, “What will people think?” It has been a thought that hounded me most of my life, up until now. No matter what I did, if it was table manner errors (for which I was often kicked under the table or had my mother’s high heel ground into my foot), a misspoken word or a mismatched pants and shirts, I was always reminded of, “What will people think?”

I was so traumatized by what people might think of me that I began thinking through what I might say or do, rehearsing my behavior, giving up spontaneity for correctness, especially around others. I moved through life as if I was in an airplane cockpit (albeit low to the ground; I’m only 5’7”) and guiding my body-fuselage with available controls over the earth and through my life.

Intimacy was out of the question. To tell anyone what my deepest feelings were risked them thinking I was weird or out of place. Even my two wives never really knew what was beating deep inside me. As long as I could get by commenting on something outside of me like politics or the stupidity of someone else’s actions, I felt safe. I seemed to act spontaneously but I would often review whatever I said or did and wonder how I got away with this or that. Maybe I was louder than anyone else. Maybe I really was original in my words and deeds, saying and doing things no one else thought of. Even as an adult, people seemed to like me and want to be around me. When I got drunk, I was a happy drunk, hilarious to a degree that even years later, others ask me if I remember something I did or said that had them rolling on the floor laughing. I could not remember, of course, perhaps because of being so loaded, though I think something deeper was afoot: hysterical amnesia.

As I grew up I seemed to remember less and less of what went on before. I could remember the pain of living within this family. I could recall the names, the slurs against me uttered by dad and (less often) by my mom. I remembered following one of them around the house trying to get the courage to ask permission to do something like go out with my friends somewhere and needing my allowance advanced. I knew I would get some kind of “no” and yet, I was happy when I did. Maybe I would avoid the turmoil of going out and then dealing with not having done something for which I would be punished. It was almost better to be at home unhappy, than sorry for going out. The good things that did occur, I seemed to forget; unable to recall. While the scientific literature is kind to this condition, saying it usually lasts a few minutes or a few hours, mine has gone on to this day.

Hysterical amnesia usually occurs as a condition of some psychological trauma and is looked on as temporary. It can involve short or long term memory. The two key phrases for me are “psychological trauma” and “temporary.” I’ll admit to the trauma which I’ve described thus far but temporary has me stumped; just how long is temporary?

My sister is the opposite of me in many ways. She is calm while I am excitable. She is thoughtful toward others while I can run roughshod over others feelings. She can remember everything and here I am, hopelessly lost in the land of forget-it-all. My sister can remember if not the full details of any event but, can include the date and what the weather was like. I’m being facetious. Compared to what I can remember about our pasts she is Encyclopedia Britannica and I am a comic strip. I can ask her about our history or more particularly my history and she has the facts and the first and last names of everyone involved. My sister never makes fun of my not remembering, she just answers patiently while I listen, fascinated at her recall.

I asked her a few weeks ago if she and I ever talked with each other about what was going on the family. She said no, we never did. It was like I kept what was happening to me to myself and whatever they did to her was her secret. We often heard, “What happens in this family stays in this family.” We were never to discuss anything on the inside outside the walls of our home. It appears that the two us took that admonishment to mean she and I could not speak about anything inside—inside either.

I’m getting close to the end of my adventure in being down about my past—that which I can remember, of course. Next time on “Brittleliquid’s Journey,” I’ll continue, perhaps with the startling revelations leading to my emotional and actual castration. It won’t be graphic but it will be descriptive.

Until then, peace to you, Gentle Readers.