Thursday, December 31, 2015

Post-Birthday post

My birthday was yesterday. Mostly I spent it feeling poorly, the victim of chronic Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome, which may or may not be related. Yay, I get to have one of those issues where no one can really help you. Many doctors have told me that doctors are really good at telling you what you haven't got. I suppose if that list is long enough that could be helpful, but in practical terms, not so much.

Another thing they're keen on is just treating symptoms. This seems a tad shortsighted but if that's all I can get, I'll take it. By being my local pharmacy's customer of the month every single month, I do enjoy respites from the fairly constant back and neck pain and crushing fatigue. But only if I limit my physical exertion, stress, etc. All this might sound like a massive set of issues, and they are, but they're what I've been stuck with and there just doesn't seem to be a lot I can do about it. So here I am.

I still have all my hair, though it's a bit grey at the temples and the red in my beard now comes in white, which just encourages me to shave more frequently, and my stomach doesn't hang over my belt buckle. I still wear the same sized pants I wore in high school, my weight is the same as it was in college (though I don't have the same muscle mass so it's probably hiding in a little bit rounder or lower set of places), and I don't look ill, chronically or otherwise. This is actually sort of a curse because no matter how rotten you feel, too many people just don't think there's anything wrong with you. Which is fine, unless it's a doctor.

So my body's a wreck. I had knee surgery in July and everything was going well until it started to not go so well. Hopefully I can get that turned around fairly quickly because one day soon I'll take the dogs for one of their walks and they're the only ones that will make it back up the hill that is our driveway. I just had another set of MRIs done on my low back and neck. Nothing horribly abnormal, they say. Then why the pain, the cracks, the-- you get the idea.

Maybe the idea of having a birthday is more than just a personal proof of life. Maybe if you have enough of them, you finally get to the point where you just have to excuse all your physical problems. What do you expect, you're like a hundred and twenty, you're supposed to hurt. Unless you're really just forty.

My son gave me a book yesterday because the best thing you could give me, other than a timely prescription refill, is a book. This one is about the operation in WWII where the allies took a dead body and dummied it up with false information and let it wash onshore so the Nazis thought the Allies were about to invade Greece. Silly Nazis, we landed in Italy and got started with boots on the ground in Europe.

Sabrina, my daughter, had been knitting something since before Thanksgiving. It turns out it was a hat that was supposed to take her a couple of hours. She messed up and actually did twice as much knitting as she needed. Apparently she was in tears the other night until my wife figured it didn't have to be a Dumbledore-sized hat but that they could double it up and make it normal. So now I have a really thick winter hat, which would be great if I could ski this year. This would depend on the state of my knee and whether or not New England actually sees snow this winter. This week, at least, the signs have seemed promising although it's damned nice snowball weather out there right now.

For the coup de grace, my wife, along with Gary Shulze from the Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis, got me a signed first edition hardcover of the classic, classic, classic "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" by George V. Higgins. For those of you unfamiliar with the book (or even the movie with Robert Mitchum) this is one of the most influential crime novels ever written. It may be as high as number three, behind Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" or Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon." And we know how everyone agrees on lists.

So that's a wow present. And my son pored over my Amazon wishlist to find something he thought would be special and my daughter had that whole accidentally sit on the knitting needles thing last week that didn't turn out as bad as it might have. Overall a wonderful evening, even though I had to sharpen the kids' skis with a really, really dull file. It was topped off with pad thai from the only Chinese restaurant in town that make it, and I ate too much because you know, as I get older I just don't eat as much as I used to. I suppose I could but then I'd have to memorize new pants sizes and that's too much work.

Lastly, I got a great review from the Bookgasm site for "Truth Always Kills" to go along with ones by Booklist, Bill Crider and the ever tough-grading George Kelley. I need to post more links or something on my newly revamped website. I also need to write that damned next book, though I'm at that point sixty some thousand words in where I'm just not quite sure how to structure the rest of it and am convinced I'm falling flat on my face. Which I clearly am. The trick, as most writers know, is to make it seem like you were always in complete control of the story once it's done.

But with a short deadline, I'm feeling the stress. Which locks you creatively, aggravates the chronic everything symptoms, and settles a kind of mental paralysis over the mind. And I'm another year older. I got that going for me. 


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