Archive for February, 2016

Letter From New York 02 28 2016 A day of almost unending travel…

February 28, 2016

As my train heads north out of Penn Station, the setting sun glints golden light off the towers that have sprung up over the years on the Jersey side of the Hudson River.  In the relatively balmy weather, runners are trotting up the paths that line the Manhattan side of the river while traffic on the West Side Highway is bumper to bumper.  I am skimming by it all.

This is the second to last leg of my trip back from Greenville, South Carolina, where I visited friends.  From their house to the airport, airport to Newark, the Rail Train to NJ Transit to Penn and now from Penn to Hudson, then by car to home.  I think I will be tuckered out by the time I get to the cottage tonight.

It’s the Academy Awards tonight and Lionel and Pierre are having folks over to watch on their large screen television.  I’ll go there but am not sure how long I will last.

The individual who has been showing all the qualities of lasting is Donald Trump, the much mocked man of the combover has defied his critics and all the pundits and the Republican Party is starting to realize he probably has a good chance of being the nominee.

He has stepped into some trouble [when hasn’t he?] when he refused to disavow the support of David Duke, the former head of the Ku Klux Klan and by failing to disavow the KKK itself.  His opponents, of course, jumped on it.  Rubio declared this failure made him unfit to be President. 

As usual, Trump backpedaled on Twitter once he got a handle on the fact his foot was in his mouth.

Will he live to fight another day?  Of course.

According to many reports, the Republican grandees are horrified, frightened and desperate to stop him and have no idea about how to do so. They have been losing their grip on the party since the Tea Party genie got let out of the bottle and now this…

Clinton, as in Hillary, is gleefully delighted in her win yesterday in South Carolina.  She and Sanders are on the march to Super Tuesday from which she hopes to emerge with a daunting delegate lead. 

The game is afoot, would say Sherlock…

An Ohio Baptist minister was shot to death today as he was walking back to the pulpit as the choir sang. The shooter may have been his brother.

In Indiana, three young Muslim men were shot “execution style” and the police are working to understand what has happened and how it happened.

In Baghdad, seventy have died from suicide bombers linked to IS.

In the European Refugee Crisis, 70,000 may be trapped in Greece next month as borders are closing.  Spring cannot come soon enough for the refugees.

36 Russians have died in a methane gas explosion in a coal mine.

The Syrian Truce is fraying as the army has attacked and the Russians have been sending out airstrikes.

I could go on.  The litany of bad news is seemingly endless.  And while there aren’t a lot of “feel good” stories today, the sun in the west is glowing red orange as I move north.  Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

In the room at my friends where I stayed there was a pillow that was stitched with the phrase:  old friends are the best friends.  That’s very true.  Old friends are old friends for a reason.  We have endured and are still there for each other.

My mantra of gratitude was said today as I rode up the escalator at Penn from the NJ Transit train.  A little late but not forgotten…

Letter From New York 02 26 16 As the beat goes on…

February 26, 2016

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m sitting looking out the windows of my friends’ rental in Greenville, SC where they are living while their new home is being built a few blocks from where I am sitting.  The apartment is gorgeous and their new home will be even more beautiful.  They’re liking Greenville and I’m happy for them.

While we were touring the construction site of their home, my phone made one of the noises it does when a breaking news story pops up.  Governor Chris Christie has endorsed Trump while continuing to harass Marco Rubio. 

Talking politics is always touchy and I can honestly say, as I think almost everyone would agree, that we haven’t seen anything like this in politics during our voting lifetimes.

It’s been a busy week and last night I slept for nearly twelve hours and that was after a two hour nap.  I am still worn down it seems.   So I am, as my sister suggested, listening to my body and resting when it says to rest.  Which is relatively often…

It’s cool here, though very bright and sunny. 

My brother has been in Honduras and is on his way home.  He texted me this morning and I was glad and will be gladder when he’s home.  He goes once or twice a year to give medical care to those living in the back of beyond.

In a quiet little Kansas town, Hesston, not far from Wichita, 38 year old Cedric Larry Ford was served with a restraining order.  90 minutes later he shot 17 people, three of whom died, and among the fourteen others, several are in critical condition.

And the beat goes on…

Former Mexican President, Vicente Fox, told Trump there was no way Mexico was going to “pay for that f**king wall.”  Trump asked for an apology.  He only got a verbatim repeat from Fox, on live TV, on Fox Business News.   

Trump, who is against immigration, uses a lot of immigrants at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida private club, mostly from eastern European countries.  He also settled out of court a suit about use of illegal Polish workers on the Trump Tower in New York.

Netflix’s new “Fuller House” got panned by critics.  Now I have to watch an episode, just to see what the critics are talking about.

98% of Facebook employees are white.  Apparently some of those folks have been scratching out “Black Lives Matter” on Facebook walls and replacing it with “All Lives Matter.”  Zuckerberg has told them to stop.

The Americans and Russians have brokered a ceasefire in Syria and it’s one which doesn’t include the Nursa Front or IS so I wonder just how ceased the fighting will be?  Hopefully, much needed supplies will reach the desperate and there are lots of them in Syria.

Certainly, it is not desperate here where Jan is prepping shrimp and grits, to be served with a good white wine and where I will shortly raise a martini to friends not present. 

Including all of you…

Letter From New York 02 22 2016 Silent stars and a good day…

February 23, 2016

Outside, the world is dark, though the moon is full and bright and big overhead.  It has been a clear, sunny day with temps in the mid-40’s, pretty perfect for the 22nd of February. 

Yesterday, I went to church and then to Albany and by the time I got home, the stuffing had been knocked out of me and I tumbled into bed about five and ended up falling asleep somewhere around nine.  Going to a party up there exhausted me.  Carrying a crockpot up a small hill was nearly impossible.  I felt old and fragile and I was not happy.

Today, I woke up early and it has been the most active day I’ve had since I was out of the hospital.  I was doing just fine and then, about twenty minutes ago, the wall was hit and I sank back into bed.

My sister, the nurse, has been telling me to listen to my body and I have been.  When it says rest, I do.  I stretched too far yesterday.

So here I am, propped up in bed in my sweats, jazz playing and my laptop in my lap.

It was a good day.  Good class.  Isaac Phillips, a young entrepreneur, Skyped in from Mexico City where he is working on an app for the Latin American market.  This sounds promising.  Ads delivered to your phone in exchange for your data bill being paid.

Isaac is a really good young man.  And he is not much older [and younger than some] of my students.  He spoke about following your passion also meant suffering for your passion.  It was a great dose of reality about what it takes to make it in the high tech world.

I also showed a short film about the history of media which featured a poster of “The Jazz Singer,” the first talkie.  A lifetime ago I had lunch with May McAvoy, who was the female lead in “The Jazz Singer.”  She and three other stars of the era  talked of the ’20’s as if they were yesterday and were a window into a world that was gone.

One of the other stars that was there that day was Leatrice Joy, who was divorced by John Gilbert so he could marry Greta Garbo, who left him at the altar.  She was one of my mother’s favorites.

Esther Ralston was another, top billed over Gary Cooper in her day, who talked about having to beat off her husband with her umbrella when he tried to push her into the Grand Canyon after the stock market crash so he could collect the insurance.

These were women who had lived and were still seizing life when I met them.

On Twitter, I posted an article about the controversy between Apple and the Feds over unlocking a phone used by the terrorist couple in Riverside who killed fourteen and wounded many more.  Apple is not wanting to do it; the Feds are demanding it and everyone is thinking about it.  I have made no decision about it and was a bit surprised when my post brought forth strong comments on both sides of the issue.

And then I realized it was really important and how we decide this is going to be important going forward.  How does a free society remain free in a time of terror?  I don’t have the answers but appreciate the questions being asked.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz has fired his spokesman for a tweet, inaccurate, about Rubio.  Cruz is getting a slimy reputation and he is trying to shake it.  He’s not shady but he hires people who are…  Excuse me?

Jeb Bush spent $130,000,000 running for President and has now bowed out of the race.  I actually thought he would be the candidate; it seemed logical.  My friend, Jeff Cole, picked Rubio.  I think Jeff is smarter than I am.

In Kalamazoo, Michigan an Uber driver shot eight people, killing six and picking up rides between the killings.  Officials are describing it as “unexplainable” and it is but then so much is “unexplainable.”

Russia and the US have agreed to help implement a ceasefire in Syria, which is great if it works though it doesn’t include the Nursa Front or IS so who knows what actually will happen.  Hopefully, some relief for the tortured souls living there…

Also tortured, but not as viscerally as Syria, is Yahoo, a tech giant who has lost its way.  In 1999, it was the Google of its day.  Now it’s not and there is lots of talk about dismembering the company, selling it off in pieces.  Marissa Meyers may well be its last CEO. 

And that’s the last I can do for today.  I am worn out.  Need to quit now and allow myself to fall asleep watching something good, start tomorrow all over, hopefully as fresh as I felt today.

Letter From New York 02 20 2016 Thoughts on a Saturday night…

February 21, 2016

It’s a wild Saturday night here in Claverack.  The creek is illuminated with floodlights.  I am having one of the first martinis since I got out of the hospital, now almost two weeks ago.  My body is working very hard to be normal; I am not as tired as I was and while there are still some tests to be done I think Dr. Paolino was right:  I was sick and now I am better.

On Pandora is Hipster Cocktail Music, a channel I added by accident but thought I would try out.  What I am discovering is I’m not a hipster.  Probably time to change to another channel soon.  An interesting experiment.

Life is an interesting experiment.  Cooking certainly is.  I have been cooking for the last three hours, prepping dishes for an off the train, train party.  Those of you who know me, know that our train community is tight knit and we party off and on the train.  Tomorrow, Loretta, who is one of the conductors is throwing a party that will include her family and friends, which includes those of us from the train. 

In the slow cooker, I have BBQ ribs cooking and I have in the oven something I have never attempted before, a casserole.  Never in my long life have I cooked one so I thought I would attempt one.  This one is ham and rice and vegetables and who knows whether it will work out or not.

All of these have been diversions from the real world.   Or what we think of as  “the real world.”  Hillary has narrowly won Nevada, which she needed to do and Trump, God Help Us, has won South Carolina.  He is now in for the long haul.

Trump may very well win the Republican nomination.  I suspect it will be as catastrophic as Goldwater was in 1964 but in this campaign, all bets are off.  Everyone I know is, as the Brits would say, “gob smacked.” I know I am.  Like many others I thought Trump would burn out by end of summer but here he is, stronger than ever.

Spring is on us.  [It was 63 degrees here in Claverack today.  No need for the winter coat I wore when I left the house.  People were in shorts.] And Trump is with us more than he ever was.

Look, it’s Saturday night and people are out celebrating whatever they do on Saturday night while I am tucked away in the cottage writing and thinking about world events.

And while I am sitting here, still listening to Hipster Cocktail Music, I noticed that the last survivor of Treblinka, a Nazi concentration camp, has died.  His name was Samuel Willenberg, a man who said he survived “by chance.”  They are leaving us, the witnesses to that incredible, horrible time that was World War II.  The unspeakable horrors of that time are being resurrected in these days, with IS and its atrocities. 

While they boggle our mind, they continue.  There is no World War to stop them.  All is fractious politics in the Mideast. 

It is sweet to be here in the cottage, my dining room table a mess of papers from my teaching, the lights illuminating the creek, music on Pandora, the hum of my dishwasher in the background, plans to redo my bathroom. 

All the lucky things I enjoy because of the moment in time and place in which I was born, coupled with the luckiness that my life provided me.  When I wake in the morning, I work to take time to say my mantra:  thank you for this day in which I find myself, thank you for the resources to live through this day and thank you for the luck that has brought me to this place, cozied in my cottage, surrounded by friends and living a magical life.

Letter From New York 02 17 2016 A dose of our better angels…

February 18, 2016

Since being in the hospital, I have developed a taste for tea.  No coffee has passed my lips since my release from the hospital.  My fellow patient, Anthony, called what they served “jail coffee” and I think he spoke from experience.  It certainly tasted like the only place they would serve it was somewhere where you were for punishment.

I get up in the morning, brew a cup of tea and crawl back into bed to sip it and read the NY Times on my phone.  Very civilized, I think. 

Today, I taught.  Larry Divney, an old, old friend who was my boss for about forty- five minutes at A&E, gave a guest lecture today.  Almost as soon as I began reporting to him, he left for the Comedy Channel which then merged with Ha! and became Comedy Central.  The rest is history.  He became Comedy Central’s President and then retired.  That lasted four months.  The he “un-retired” and became President of Ad Sales for all of MTV Networks and after a few years of that, he actually did retire.

We reconnected when our mutual friend, Chuck Bachrach, told each of us one day we must be close to each other because, I mean, how big was Columbia County and we were both there?  That day, we ran into each other at Walmart and have celebrated most Thanksgivings and some Christmases together.

He spoke today about his career and how he dealt with people, with honesty and integrity, which he always has and he inspired some of the people in my class.  It was great to watch him do the Divney magic with my class.

Honesty and integrity – so important, no matter what you’re doing and occasionally not always in the forefront of people’s minds and actions.  They always were for Larry and I like to think for me, too, when I marched through the world of business.

This morning in something I read there was an exegesis of Hillary’s relationship with Kissinger which she has been touting recently.  It has made me think less of her.  Kissinger was/is a bad apple.  He didn’t, as far as I can tell, play honestly or with integrity.  He was an opportunist of the worst sort.

Once, in New Delhi, I was in a restaurant, Bukhara, then considered the best restaurant in the city.  Might still be.  He was there with Nancy, close enough I could almost touch him.  We were all laughing and enjoying ourselves but there was a heaviness to his part of the room.  It was darker than where we were.  I still remember thinking about that, even now, all these years later.

He is not a good man.  And Hillary hurts herself with her association of herself with him.  He has the blood of many from the Vietnam War era on his hands.  He could have forestalled their deaths but I don’t think that mattered to him.  It was all politics. 

My friend, Greg Harrigan, was one of those who died in Vietnam who might not have had to if Kissinger had not fiddled with the peace process.

Am I bitter about what I know about the past?  Yes, a little…

Things did not have to be the way they were if men like Kissinger and Nixon had been men of integrity and honesty. 

My friend, Bruce Braun, messaged me on Facebook; all politicians have been cut from the same cloth, all the way back to the Romans.  I responded:  further back.  There were Egyptian politicians, Babylonian ones.  All of them about what was “necessary.” And “necessary” did not always mean what was honest but what was expedient for those who held power.

I’m getting old now and there will be a moment when I pass away and I will think:  I made it through.  My god, but I made it through this interesting thing called life.

However, I am still here and will be for awhile longer and since I haven’t quite made it through yet, I will still write and think and postulate about life and the future.

Today, in the Times, there was a report about the fact that while it is all quite wretched out there what with IS and Syria and Iraq and everything else, it is still so much better than it has been.  We are rising from the darkness more than we have ever been despite the horrors of the world.  Fewer people are in abject poverty.  Technology is empowering us.  We have not had the nuclear destruction of the world we feared during the Cold War.

Our better angels seem to be speaking, despite all the horrors that surround us…

Letter From New York 02 15 16 It’s our nuts…

February 16, 2016

Columbia County  Ben Franklin  Pandora  Antonin Scalia  Obama  Mitch McConnell  Oil Prices  Saturday Night Live  Cruz  Rubio  Trump

Outside, a light snow is falling and I am sequestered in the cottage, where I have been all day.  It’s very chill though tomorrow we are supposed to hit the low fifties.  We are all rolling our eyes about this winter which seems unlike any winter I have experienced since I’ve been up in Columbia County.  For the most part, it’s been like a long, chill fall and not like winter.

There is a fire in the Franklin Stove though I have the door closed.  I am not after aesthetics tonight, I am after heat.  There has been a chill to the cottage all day and I am seeking to counter it with the stove, which could almost heat the house when I keep it stocked with logs and the door closed.  Good old Ben Franklin; a fount of inventions…

Jazz is playing on Pandora.  I am getting better so I am no longer feeling the need for silence.  It is the first day I haven’t spoken to my sister since this began.  I’m healing but am still so tired; I sleep a deep sleep every night and usually for nine to eleven hours.  Ah, “sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care…”  My sleeve has been raveled and needs knitting up…

Several friends have called today to check on the state of my health and after I have assured them I am on the mend, our talk seems to go to politics and all express a dismay at the political world we are living in.  Scalia is dead and McConnell has sworn to delay an appointment until we have a new President.  And, frankly, I rolled my eyes at that.  Somehow, it seems the Republicans think of Obama as an eight year constitutional crisis and I don’t understand that. 

I haven’t always agreed with him and I don’t think he is a constitutional crisis personified.   I have never understood what seems a pathological hatred for the man by Republicans.

After a discussion of Scalia, we immediately go to Trump who has caused the campaign for the Republican nomination to resemble a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch. 

And yet it’s all very real.  And the vitriol between the Republicans is so unseemly.  I am appalled.  But they are taking it very seriously.  And that’s more than a little frightening…  Cruz, Rubio, Trump are espousing the politics of fear and hatred from what I see.  Where is hope?  Belief in the future? 

The rest of the world is ticking on.  The Australians have uncovered a ring of drug smugglers using bras to carry meth.  The WHO is working to figure out Zika. Ehud Olmert, a former Israeli Prime Minister, is off to prison while proclaiming his innocence.  Gas is under $2.00 a gallon in most places. 

The world is nuts.  When hasn’t it been?  It is just this is our nuts and we have to deal with it.

Letter From New York 02 13 16 Intimations of mortality…

February 14, 2016

It is Saturday night and I am at the cottage.  I have just lit a fire and have finished prepping for tomorrow; I am doing the coffee hour after the 10:30 service.  Since it is Valentine’s Day I wanted to do something a little special.  I think I have, once again, succumbed to my mother’s philosophy: too much is never enough. 

Oh well, hopefully it will be fun and it is the first real thing I have done since being in the hospital.  My primary care physician, Dr. Paolino, summed it up:  You were sick and now you’re better.  You still have to see your gastroenterologist but you are on the mend.

And I am, though I am still sleeping a lot and being very careful about what I eat.  My body is working to be normal and I’m grateful.  Amazing things these human bodies, they often heal themselves, sometimes with help but they are wondrous.

My brother is now in Honduras, where he goes at least once a year to provide medical care to the back of beyond, to places who only have medical care when teams like his arrive.  I’m terribly proud of him.  When he is there, I am concerned as Honduras has devolved into one of the most violent places in the hemisphere but every year he goes back, as he has for almost forty years now.

Lionel let me know that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away.  I have mixed feelings about it as he spewed some hateful things these last years, particularly about gay rights and marriage equality.  About six months ago, I read a speech he gave and was appalled at the intolerance, actually shocked.  It seemed so bitter and unforgiving.

Still, may he rest in peace.  As may we all rest in peace when our time comes.

Being ill and in the hospital, summoned intimations of my mortality, heightened by my old good friend, Tim Sparke, diagnosed some three or four years ago with a brain tumor, who is now in hospice, the cancer having spread through his body.  He wrote me and told me he was now serene, something that I have heard comes to people in their last days if they are given the grace to know they are living their last days.

He is younger than me by a decade I think.  Life plays itself out for each of us in its own cadence and only the universe understands it.

The Russian Premier, Medvedev, has declared we have slid into a new “cold war.” Yes, I suppose we have.  I’m not sure quite how it happened but it’s been years in the making and lies, I think, largely in Putin’s lap as it serves him to prop up his power in Russia.  They’re suffering from the collapse of oil prices probably as much or more than anyone with the possible exception of Venezuela.

Months ago, I read something about a dam in Iraq.  It wasn’t being maintained and threatened a half million people with catastrophe.  It’s back in the news and it is in bad shape.  An Italian firm has been hired to repair it and, hopefully, repairs will happen in time or a half million people may drown.  Think Katrina, exponentially worse.

True to form, The Donald is striking out.  Apparently he has called Cruz “a pussy.”  I had to Google it because polite press wouldn’t tell me exactly what Trump had said.  I will need to read more about this but nothing Trump does surprises me.

Back in the olden days of the early Republic, politics was this nasty.  Yes, it was. And now we have returned to it, thanks to the Donald.  Ah, we shall see how this plays out.  Not prettily I think.

It’s getting late. I’m off to bed. I have coffee hour tomorrow.  May your tomorrow be good…

Letter From New York 01 11 16 A temporary peace…

February 11, 2016

Amtrak  Hudson River  Gary and Angel Koven  The Knot  Bernie Sanders  Donald Trump  Hillary Clinton  Einstein  Theory of Relativity  Oregon Standoff  Ammon Bundy  NATO  Syria  Russia  Secretary Kerry  Lavrov  Saudi Arabia 

As I start this, I am riding south on Amtrak, heading into the city to see my primary care physician, who is in the city, to bring him up to date on my medical adventures.

The Hudson is a steely grey, occasionally looking like burnished silver when the sun breaks through the heavy cloud cover.  My friend, James Linkin, is sitting beside me, happy to see me up and walking.

The river is choppy, not surprising as the wind is up and biting, making it feel much colder than the temperature.  I am tired as I often am these days though grateful to be up and out of bed and on the move.

My world feels altered in some way by my sojourn in the hospital.  My friends often describe me as thoughtful and I am more so right now.  The last few days, I have lived in quiet, without my usual jazz playing in the background.  I’ve started to turn it on and then decided against it, preferring silence as my solace.

Tonight, I will have dinner with my friends Gary and Angel.  They have been married now for four + years and I was at their wedding.  Today their love for each other is as incandescent as it was the day they married.  I recommended them for a shoot for the 20th anniversary of The Knot, a website devoted to marriage.  One of the crew told me they were his favorite couple.

While I have been recovering, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump won their respective races in New Hampshire.  Headlines wonder whether Hillary’s campaign is about to implode and I wonder about the future of the country.  The Trump juggernaut continues and that scares the hell out of me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one.  The Daily News had scathing headlines about his victory saying zombies had come out to vote.  One wonders…

Scientists are wondering less since they have found gravitational waves which fit into Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.  Great scientific excitement and my friend, James, was particularly excited.  He’s a fan of the physicist and shares his birthday with Einstein.

The Oregon Standoff is over.  Bundy, Sr. has been arrested, following son Ammon to jail.  And other standoff chapter is finished and this time, thankfully, without mass deaths.

NATO is sending warships into the Aegean to see if it can stem the flow of refugees, many being transported by human traffickers.  The seas are rough, dozens are dying and the fighting rages back in Syria.

Saudi Arabia is said to have made a “final” decision to send troops to Syria.  That is not going to uncomplicate things.

And while they might be sending troops, they’re not taking in their brethren, rather letting them suffer their fate on water than let them into their own lands.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Lavrov, says this will result in an terminable, never ending war with the possibility of a new world war at the end of the game.  Loverly.

The Saudis might make their move in concert with the Turks, who have been engaged in verbal hostilities with Russia ever since they downed a Russian jet before the New Year.

Secretary Kerry is desperately trying to get the Peace Talks going but it seems hard to get the sides into the same building not to mention the same room.  Well, actually, they have no intention of being in the same room.  If there is any dialogue, it will be through messengers shuttling between rooms.  Could cost a lot of shoe leather but if there is progress, it would be worth it.

The Mideast already seems mired in that “interminable war.”  470,000 have died in Syria since the outbreak of protests against Assad five years ago.  Millions of Syrians are in camps and desperate to get out to a better life, somewhere.

The day has faded.  I am sitting in a deli in the city, sipping a cup of black coffee [I’m not allowed cream yet], looking out into the night that has fallen, the bright lights of cars heading down 7th Avenue, people scurrying from the cold.

All peaceful here.  But for how long?

Letter From New York 01 09 2016 “No man is an island…”

February 10, 2016

It is dark outside; the floodlights over the creek are glistening on the water and the snow from last night.  It is beautiful and peaceful.  There is a fire in the stove but no music plays.  I have lived in quiet all day.  I am thoughtful and introspective, having much to assimilate.

The last time I wrote a letter I was hoping to be “tickety boo” the next day.  I was not.  By 5 on Tuesday I was running a fever and by 9:30 I was 103.5 and rising.  Calling young Nick, he raced to the cottage, tumbled me into a car and got me to the hospital.

They admitted me with pneumonia but it soon became evident something else was going on.  The closest to knowing what that something else is, is that I was suffering from some kind of intestinal infection of an undetermined nature.

On Wednesday, I was to teach but my friend James Green was skyping in so class went on with another teacher as proctor.  It took an hour to compose a cogent email on my phone to the school and James to explain the situation. 

For four days, I was in the hospital bed, being pumped full of IV antibiotics.  They ordered a colonoscopy and the prep for that while hooked to an IV stand was a horror story.

I hoped to be out on Thursday but my temperature wouldn’t stay down.  It was a time of thinking and, truthfully, hurting, great emotion and being touched by the kindness of others.

My self perception is of one who helps and comforts others but is not much in need of help or comfort himself.  My brother is a doctor, my sister is a nurse and I was, for a time, a teacher.  All helping professions…  We were raised to give and not take.

But sometimes we need to receive and the last two months I have been reminded of that regularly, most sharply in the time I was in the hospital.  My brother and sister, God love them, conferred by phone, and my brother guided me through what to ask about and what to request.  He spoke to the doctors, letting them know there was a knowledgeable person watching over the proceedings. 

The respect in our community for our local hospital is, how can I say this kindly, low.  On Wednesday night, when I was feeling very low, and still burning with fever, Nick’s father phoned me and told me that no matter where I needed to go, they would find a way to get me there if I opted to leave where I was.  I started to cry.

I sent an email to the McCormick/Malones and my “niece-in-law” phoned me within minutes and I cried again.

During the endless night, I thought what if I had been a Syrian refugee and this had happened?  I would probably have died.

Being in a hospital is like being on a never ending red eye from LA to New York.  Never quite resting, always being woken by something or someone, inescapable sound at all times.  During the sleepless nights I binged watched “White Collar,” entertaining and not too demanding.

On Thursday, Lionel announced he was flying up from Baltimore.  Arriving Friday early afternoon, he came in time to take me home.  When he walked in, I said that everyone in the World Wide Web of Mathew thanked him and I cried again.

I haven’t felt this vulnerable since my ex and I split over ten years ago.  I had retreated into a quiet place where I could give but found it hard to receive and feel the affection so many have for me.

Nothing like a fever of 103+ to pierce the veil of stoicism.

John Donne wrote:  no man is an island.  And certainly not me…

Letter From New York 02 01 2016 Working to be Tickety Boo…

February 2, 2016

Nick Stuart  Tickety boo  James Green  Hillary Clinton Bernie Sanders  Marco Rubio  Jeb Bush  Zika Virus  Brazil Olympics WHO  Apple  Google  Alphabet  Yahoo  Melissa Mayer  IS Boko Haram  Assad  American Airlines  United 

When I drove into the drive of the cottage, behind me was a brilliant rose gold sunset illuminating the western sky.  After spending the afternoon running a variety of errands, I was grateful to be home.

My very English friend, Nick Stuart, if he is concerned about either my physical or mental well being, will text me a message that says, “Everything tickety boo?”

And tonight, not everything is tickety boo. 

I have been headachy and achy since about noon today and so, once the errands were accomplished, I slid home and lit a fire, changed into comfortable clothes, also warm, and began to rest. 

I don’t want to get sick.  I have class on Wednesday; my friend James Green is Skyping in to discuss digital advertising.  It is not possible to get sick; the show must go on! 

The show that is going on right now, as I write, is the Iowa caucuses and the let the games begin.  The first “showdown” is happening.  Hillary and Bernie are neck and neck.  Trump has a lead over everyone.  Marco Rubio is desperately hoping he will come in third in Iowa.

I am worn to a frazzle by all this.  This campaign will go down in history, I hope, as the longest election campaign in the country’s history.  I can’t imagine anything longer than this.  Shouldn’t the elections be next Tuesday so we can get this all over with?  We have something like another 280 days of all of them slugging it out.

As the caucuses begin, Jeb Bush is on his way to New Hampshire where he hopes to do better.  Once  the wind was in his sails and now he finds himself becalmed.  The son of a President, the brother of another, he seemed anointed.  Not so much now…

While we are bemoaning the campaign cycle [or at least I am], the Zika virus has become worse than originally thought.  Brazil is harder hit than first thought.  The World Health Organization has declared an emergency.  And the world will be traveling to Brazil this year for the Olympics.  Bring lots of mosquito repellant and use birth control while there and afterwards until you’re sure you don’t have it…

For three years now Apple has been the most valuable company in the world.  Today Google became more valuable.  Alphabet, the holding company for Google and its other enterprises, rose sharply as there has been a renaissance in its advertising.  Ah, heavy is the head that wears the crown…

Yahoo, which once wore that crown, is now shedding 15% of its workforce.  Ms. Mayer has not turned the corner.

Oil prices continue to slump and there is a slowdown in manufacturing both in China and the US.  Worrisome.  Pundits are wondering if we are in for another recession.  Say it not so…

IS is working its wrath upon the world.  Boko Haram, which has declared its loyalty to IS, killed 70 in a suicide bombing attack in Nigeria.  Not to mention the trouble in Syria; 3500 have fled into Turkey as Assad’s forces advance.  The Taliban have killed twenty in Kabul. 

And my oh my… Free snacks have returned to American and Untied.  Is this an alternative universe?  Free snacks on planes?  Have I been transported back to the 1990’s?  No, don’t think so. Not until they make the seats bigger.  I’m not big and the seats are a challenge to me.  To get a good seat in economy one must upgrade to Economy Plus, which I usually do.

My fire is burning happily.  I am happy and feeling better, more “tickety boo.”  The flood lights illuminate the creek and I am more ready than ever to crawl into my great queen sized bed and pull the covers up to my neck, watch a little video and head off to sleep.  I need it.

The show must go on!