Friday, March 30, 2007

In like a lion, out like a sonuvabitch

It's been a rough week.

And it shouldn't be this way, really, because the weather is turning beautiful (it seems like a whole month early), and I see more and more people walking in the park. It's like when the geese return, honking their way back North: people "come back," too, as do the robins and the daffodils and the blue sky.

The trouble started first thing Monday morning, when I woke up with an itch in my throat and arrived at work to find my Dell Dimension 8400 was DOA. Two strikes in the morning that not even that first cup of coffee can fix, no matter how strong.

It's crushing to a creature of habit, finding his home or his workspace or his main instrument of art in disarray. I seem to crave stability as much as the Red Chinese, and having my good friend and companion since the winter of 2004 fail due to a corrupt hard drive...well, I sympathized with Job.

Our IT department's scorched-earth policy ("It's junk - we'll set you up with a pitiful replacement") didn't fly, so I grabbed the diagnostic discs and ran Repair multiple times - my shirt sleeves rolled up, my dress slacks dirty from crawling under my desk - to no avail. My hard drive failed all the tests I could throw at it.

And so has my health. That scratch I felt early Monday morning turned into a full-blown Nuisance. Not even a warm-night's walk with Katie to the Parlour for ice cream helped. There were some nights this week I couldn't swallow, my throat was so closed, and I would wake up with terrible fits of chill and heat due to fever. I couldn't understand what my body was telling me, so I drowned it in expired prescription drugs - hold-overs from a 2003 ear infection my first summer on the job.

Then my dad called. It seems my only stable childhood home, my grandmother's house, was bein sold. My dad bought it after my grandpa died, paying off all four of his siblings for the right to keep the house in the family. Now he can't afford it.

I remember spending endless summer weekends there, catching butterflies and going fishing and riding the old, creaky bikes my grandpa repaired and sold on the front lawn. He earned enough extra money to keep him and my grandma comfortable, and they even afforded an annual trip to Ocala, Florida, every winter.

After my grandparents passed, and my dad bought the house, I felt like I still had at least one thing from my childhood I could hold on to. It's the one thing in my life that has always stayed put, no matter how much I moved around, but now my dad was selling it because the other house he bought and fixed wasn't selling. "I can't afford two mortgages," he told me on the phone. "So we're going to try to sell the old one."

Unlike his son, my dad never was a sentimental man. Nor did he have the bond with that old one-acre farm house property I associate with so much happiness. So I can't imagine the decision to sell my grandparents' home was a tough one for him. And the worst part is he wants me to help him move.

"Don't do it," my grandma said. "You don't want that to be your last memory of that house."

She's probably right, but how can I say no to a man I see maybe once a month?

But maybe things are turning around. I woke up this morning and could swallow effortlessly, with little pain. The green tea and honey help. Today I got my old computer back - with a new hard drive. Really, anything would better than the measly 256k RAM machine I worked on this morning.

Tomorrow friends are coming for my annual birthday bash, and that makes me feel good. I tend to celebrate my birthday for an entire week, and tomorrow will be the kickoff. Andrea and Jimmy and Cowboy and Sarah are all due at 7 p.m. Then I have next Friday off, and Don and I are traveling to see Type O Negative at Harpo's. The week after that will be Orlando.

So maybe this is a trial period; I'm going through a tribulation so that my soul will be cleansed as I hit the big two-six. March is a terrible month, weather-wise. Maybe it should be life-wise, too.

This week I've gained great new friends, perhaps lost one, had my emotional life mixed in a blender (on "HIGH"), reached out to coworkers and Rotarians in the never-ending quest to Get Things Done, and laughed out loud at the story my grandma shared about my mom getting her ass kicked out on a busy Jackson street.

It's the little things, right? They can lift you up, but they can bring you down - much like everything else.

Hope springs eternal. Here's to a better week.

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