Tag Archives: Heart

Playing God

The snake convulsively curled and uncurled around the mass of pulped organs that used to be its stomach.

It wasn’t a big snake, maybe a foot and a half long at most, which probably explains why it lost so badly when it went up against a car tire while trying to cross the road.

I found the snake at the end of the nose used by Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, as he sniffed his way through his latest walk.

The snake didn’t look good at all. Most of its middle was smushed along one side, as if the car had only crushed one side of it as its massively heavy weight rolled over the small reptile.

My heart broke for the snake.

Yes, really.

I’ve always had these strangely timed bouts of empathy. Which goes a long way toward explaining the Incident Of The Flounder On The Floorboards.

See, I’d gone river fishing in St. Augustine with my Dad and a dude I’ve known since grade school, who I’ll call. . . um. . . John.

Anyway, we were pretty successful and managed to pull in a couple of pretty good eating fish. The prize of which collection had to be the A flounder is a fish with a bit of a mutation concerning its eyes. Because it is a bottom dweller, the flounder faces danger only coming from above so it evolved to have both of its eyes on the same side of its head so it can look up all the time.nice flounder I pulled off the bottom of the river and into our boat.

To keep the fish alive, we slid a twine into their mouths and then out their gills, effectively leashing them to the side of the boat, while still allowing them to breathe enough to survive. Eventually, we’d caught enough fish and headed on home. We put the string of fish on the floorboards in the car and headed out.

And I kept looking down at the Flounder and it kept staring up at me. With both eyes at the same time. Flounder are creepy that way. My heart broke for the flounder. So I took a wet towel and dropped it over the flounder, not to hide its face from me, but to give it enough water to keep it alive for a bit longer.

To keep it alive. I was trying to keep alive this fish that we were about to gut, then cut off its head and then fillet it before cooking it and eating it. No, I didn’t think it through all the way, that’s for sure.

All of which flashed through my brain when I stepped up next to the snake. There was no way the reptile was going to make it, especially considering that the midsection of its body was, essentially, glued to the cement by its own body gunk.

The only thing it could do was to die slowly, in agony, writhing on the hot cement of the roadway.

Buzz, The Garbage Disposal That Walks Like A Dog, was bored. Since I wasn’t going to let him eat the snake, he had wandered off to sniff some bushes and maybe scent a few himself.

I stayed with the snake, lending it some of my shade, and thought about the flounder. Buzz tugged at the leash harder and harder, impatient to get going.

I picked up my foot, ready to turn and leave, when the flounder’s face flashed through my brain again. Good? Bad? Indifferent? Right? Wrong?

Did it matter in the face of a short lifetime’s worth of unending agony? My heart broke for the snake.

 

I slammed my foot down onto the road, crushing the snake’s skull.

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I (Heart) You, Babe

St. Valentine’s Day come round again, bringing with it the pure joy and sense of togetherness that is love.

It surely wouldn’t bring with it feelings of inadequacy, panic, anger, frustration, sexual frustration, crumpling under pressure, performance anxiety, fervent desire to be somewhere — anywhere — else. Surely.

Ha, don’t call it Shirley.

I’m not sure if it’s a difference between dudes and dudettes, but the men I know really have no special affection for Valentine’s Day. To us, it’s just a day where we used to get candy in school and (at least for me) that inadequate feeling when the only Valentines in your bag were the ones that got given out to everyone in the classroom.

Even when I ostensibly grew up, I never saw all that much reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day. I probably got it from my AlohaDoc, aka my dad.

I can’t remember how many times he told me the story of how, when he was a young dude himself, he used to break up with whoever his girlfriend was at the time right around the first of February. That way he didn’t have to go out and purchase a gift.

Women, on the other candy assortment, seem to love Valentine’s Day. I found this out during the first Valentine’s Day I spent with the lady who would become my wife, known to me then as She Who Must Be Having More Fun Than Anyone I’ve Ever Met Before.

We were about to swap presents when she said, “I love Valentine’s Day. It’s always been so special to me.”

At which point my heart crumbled to dust, sifted out my body and landed in a small, dry pile on the linoleum of her dad’s kitchen floor. Because, being an idiot, I’d managed to get her something remarkably unspecial. Heck, it was so unspecial, I can’t even remember what it was.

What I do remember is the look on her face, the sadness trying to hide behind a really bad poker face. I’ve learned since then. Valentine’s Day is a big deal.

Me? Still not so much. The way I see it, I would rather receive spontaneous recognition of someone’s love for me during the year than have one day where that display is mandated. I mean, is it really special when you’ve got to do it?

I’m not so sure about that.

Anyway, I don’t want to come off sounding all cynical and anti-love. I’m not. Well, not anti-love. I can’t help being cynical. I mean, after all, my eyes and ears do work and I pay attention to the world. How could I not be cynical?

But not cynical about love. Love is amazing. Love. Love will keep us together. It’s just Valentine’s Day I have a problem with.

That said, I still went out and got some very nice presents to hand over to my Sweetie. I’m not telling because she’ll probably read this before I have a chance to give them to her.

The hug’s going to be nice. As for anything else. . .

See you later, dudes.

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Hands In The Air: This Is A Sleep Up!

Dudes and dudettes need sleep.

I know this isn’t a big revelation or anything here, but it’s important that we establish this baseline. We do need sleep. And probably a lot more of it than we’re willing to give ourselves.

Research shows that most people require seven or eight hours of sleep to function optimally. Failing to get enough sleep night after night can compromise your health and may even shorten your life. From infancy to old age, the effects of inadequate sleep can profoundly affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health.

According to sleep specialists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, among others, a number of bodily systems are negatively affected by inadequate sleep: the heart, lungs and kidneys; appetite, metabolism and weight control; immune function and disease resistance; sensitivity to pain; reaction time; mood; and brain function.

See? I told you so. Not that I want to get all high and mighty here, dudes. Because, after all, I’m probably one of the worst offenders, let me tell you. I get up around 0645 every morning, or at least every weekday morning when I was working at Awesome Elementary School. Unfortunately, I rarely got to bed before midnight the night before. Add in time spent falling asleep and, there you go, I’m down in the 6.5-hour range.

And I know I need more than that.

When I started reading that list of organ systems that could be adversely affected by a lack of sleep in a Personal Health column by Jane E. Brody in The New York Times, I started feeling it all. Each and every single symptom. All at once. Dizzying, I tell you. Or was that one of the symptoms?

Poor sleep is also a risk factor for depression and substance abuse, especially among people with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Anne Germain, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. People with PTSD tend to relive their trauma when they try to sleep, which keeps their brains in a heightened state of alertness.

Dr. Germain is studying what happens in the brains of sleeping veterans with PTSD in hopes of developing more effective treatments for them and for people with lesser degrees of stress that interfere with a good night’s sleep.

I’m pretty sure you don’t have to have PTSD to make horrible sleep a risk factor for substance abuse and depression. I can tell you, and I’m sure you know if you’ve ever slept as badly as I tend to do, I feel horrible the next day. And, when you consistently feel horrible, that’s a pretty good recipe for being depressed about your situation.

So what’s the solution?

Seriously? You had to ask?

It’s get more sleep. Even though that might be hard, it’s the best recommendation you can have for increasing your health and making you feel better.

Timothy H. Monk, who directs the Human Chronobiology Research Program at Western Psychiatric . . .  is finding that many are helped by standard behavioral treatments for insomnia, like maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding late-in-day naps and caffeine, and reducing distractions from light, noise and pets.

See that? Don’t nap late in the day. Stay away from caffeine during the afternoon and sleep in a (metaphorical) cave, far from noise and pets.

Easy enough to say. Now we’ve just got to get it done.

See you dudes on the other side.

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