Friday, May 2, 2014

On 67

©2014 by LeeZard
How to write about turning 67 without sounding sappy and/or maudlin? I’ll take a stab at it because, for one thing, I can’t believe it! People tell me I don’t look 67. I sure as hell don’t feel it, think it or even act it – although I do let my inner adult out when I need it.

I was 33 when my Dad was 67 and he seemed really old. I look at pictures of Dad around that age and he still looks older than I do today. That alone is amazing; many of you know the hard life I led for many years. I like to tell people a lot of bets were out that I’d never make it to 65. But, here I am.

A dear departed friend of mine – the venerable Jim Moss, who died at 90 – used to say in his later years, “At my age, it’s good to be anywhere,” when people asked how he was doing. Even at a relatively young 67 I now get that.

I call my life a miracle for many reasons. First and foremost is my 16-years of sobriety. As I’ve said so many times, if I could do it after 33-years of drinking and drugging, anyone can if they want it badly enough. Secondly, many of you know I’ve escaped death at least once – when an inept doc accidentally and unknowingly snipped a bit too much during a supposedly simple day surgery. I almost bled to death internally without anyone knowing it and a three-day recovery turned into an eight-week ordeal.

Many of you don’t know how much I used to love getting drunk and weed high simultaneously and hitting the road in any weather to drive as far and as fast as I could. This included “commuting” to work for five years 210 miles between Bellevue and Tri-Cities, WA. Thank god I didn’t kill myself and/or others![1]

Most of you don’t know I certainly could’ve died a few years ago when my lower intestine inadvertently twisted closed and 36-hours later miraculously untwisted without surgery. My dearest doc and favorite Deadhead visited me in intensive care shaking his head. “You must have nine-lives,” he mused.[2]

I really haven’t made a big deal about recent birthdays and I’m not sure why I feel the need to write about 67. But, here I sit at my keyboard on May 2, just three days before 67, chewing my ruminating cud.[3]

I can’t (or won’t) sit here and tell you it’s been a good life – so far – or a bad life. That is for others to decide, I suppose. I can tell you it’s been an adventurous life, some of it my own doing and a lot of it simply the roll of the dice.

In my 20-years as a broadcast journalist I had a front row seat for historical events: the original Woodstock; half-a-million people converging on Washington, D.C. to protest the Vietnam War; marching with anti-war protesters outside of Richard Nixon’s 1972 GOP convention; Judy Garland’s funeral and the WTO riots in Seattle to name a few. I’ve tasted tear gas and partied with Peter Tosh. My journalistic career also gave me the opportunity to make my community better, something for which I am eternally grateful.

Frankly, I know I’ve made many more bad choices in my life than good ones, many of them fueled by alcohol and/or drugs. I have to live with that and, where I’ve injured others, I’ve taken responsibility and tried, where possible, to make things right. That, too, is part of living sober. So is being of service to others and I like to think I do that fairly well, especially with those nearest and dearest to me.

I guess the real reason for this meandering monologue is to take a look at where/who I am at 67. As is often the case, it’s nowhere I ever imagined. Thankfully, I can honestly say I feel that I am a good man at heart. I hate clichés but I can also say I am comfortable within my own skin, aware of my faults as well as my strengths. I care less what people think and merely try to do better each and every day.

I never thought I’d be living in virtual poverty – at any age but, again, here I am. Despite that, I can honestly say I am not unhappy. I’ve learned to live and manage within my modest means and can still cherish the many blessings I do have; dear friends and family, a true and loyal canine companion, relatively good health, my ability to write and communicate well and, above all, the ability to appreciate the beauty in the world around me without letting its ugliness overwhelm me.

Finally, I must write about the saddest thing in my life and, it’s something about which I’ve never written. I grieve every day for my two estranged children and, as a result, at least one grandchild. I’ll spare you the details. I will only say I’ve done everything I can to try to close the chasms between us and so far have failed. They do know if/when they want to reopen communication I will always be ready to listen.

No matter where my life goes from here, I do know this:

“I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way

[1] Yes, I know, that’s a lower case ‘g’ in god. I use the term god for lack of any other way to describe my spiritual, not religious, higher power. That is for another discussion.

[2] I believe I’ve survived all of that because I’ve yet to fulfill my ultimate purpose in life. That, too, is for another discussion.

[3] As usual, many thanks to the Mexican government for the national holiday.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Greetings From a Nursing Home in Asbury Park, New Jersey

©2014 By LeeZard

In a recent interview with AARP Magazine, Bruce Springsteen revealed that he is reworking the lyrics of some of his classic songs to reflect his aging and that of his fans. LeeZard has gained exclusive access to these lyrics (and the cover art!) with no permission to publish brief snippets.

Leezard has also learned the new songs will be released this summer on a new album entitled “Greetings From a Nursing Home in Asbury Park, New Jersey.” Here we go!
Cataract Ranch
Cataract, cataract
Blurry and dark, things are going black,
Open up my eyes, trying to see more
Oh my god they’re tearing, I feel like a dinosaur.

Pee All Night
When I lost my prostate honey sometimes I think I lost my guts too
And I wish God would send me a libido, send me something I thought I’d never lose
 Lying in the heat of the night like we never made love all our lives
I get shivers down my spine and all I wanna do is keep myself dry.

I swear I'll pee all night, I’ve got the prostate blues
I have to leave your tender arms.
And I just gotta pee all night or else I’ll do us harm.

Throwin Up
I stood stone-like at midnight, suspended with my irritable bowels
I combed my hair till it was just right and bundled up some towels
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a nauseous zone and came out with my towels untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd, but when they said, "Sit down," I threw up
Ooh... throwin' up.

I’m Goin’ Down
We sit in the car outside your house you're quiet
I can feel hot flashes coming 'round
I go to put my arm around you
And my arthritis tells me you’re way out of bounds
Well you let out one of your bored sighs
Well lately when I look into your eyes
I'm going down, down, down, down
I'm going down, down, down, down, down.

The Rangers had a homecoming
In Harlem late last night
And the Aging Rat drove his rolling chair machine
Over the Jersey state line
Very old girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm milk in the soft summer rain
The Rat pulls into town hikes up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance
And disappear down Viagra Lane

Well the Maximum Lawmen run down more Viagra
Chasing the Rat and the aging girl
And the oldsters round here look just like shadows
Always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails
Tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand
Down in Viagraland

My Body’s in Ruins
There is a blood red circle
On the cold dark ground
And my blood pressure’s falling down
The ER’s door's thrown open
I can hear the organs’ song
But the medical team is gone
My body’s in ruins
My body’s in ruins.

Up All Night
I had my colon cleaned and checked, had her line blown out but it’s achin' like a turbojet
Propped myself up and the bed felt like concrete blocks, I reached for my meds and received a shock
Drank ‘em down with my mouthwash, checked my drawer, there were no more drugs. 
I'm goin' out tonight I'm gonna rock the 24-hour pharmacy.

Yup, That's QE II!
Looking for the Queen of the Supermarket
There's a wonderful world where all you need
And everything you've longed for is hard to grip
Where the bittersweet medicine for your wife is on your list
Where aisles and aisles of lotions and creams await you
And the cool promise of no more dry skin fills the air
At the end of each working day she's waiting there  
I'm looking for the Queen of the Supermarket
As my addled brain turns blue
She’s waiting to help me in aisle number two.

Pile Driver
Rode through forty nights of the hemorrhoid pain
My butt’s like a howlin’ dog
And Preparation H it was in vain
I was down where the itching grows wilder
Baby get me a pile driver.

Well if something on your butt feels a little unkind
Don't worry darlin'
It probably feels like mine
I'll be your gypsy joker your shotgun rider
Baby let me share my pile driver.

Shingles of Fire
When the night's quiet and you don't care anymore,
And your eyes are fried and you can’t stand the pain any more
And you realize you wanna let go
And the weak meds and the cold towels you embrace
Eat at your insides and leave you face to face with
Shingles of fire.