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San Francisco Journalcon photos
San Francisco Carnaval parade

November 17th, 2002

Even Then....
Saturday. Looking at what I brought home from Safeway yesterday, I realize I need to make another trip. Paper towels. I don't normally use all that many paper towels now that Mr. Wuss is gone, but with this thing Monday, three rolls in the cupboard might not be adequate. Wuss could go through three rolls in a week. Who knows how many rolls a man might want with stitches in his stomach? Same with Cheerios and Raisin Bran. I had Cheerios for lunch. Two bowls for lunch. I'm thinking cereal in the morning, good roughage and all that for a man who wants to keep his colon quiet. So, I'll buy more. Same with the frozen dinners. More is probably better just in case Al-Qaeda should strike Oakland while I'm flat on my back. Hmmmm, except for the electricity, of course. Sterno, maybe. An ice pick.

I've had two people ask about the Bose radio. The question was, how does it sound? Like five hundred dollars? I realized I've got it sitting on the desk beside the bed with the sound turned down low listening to people essentially talking. Then I looked at my Visa statement and thought, they've billed me for two of them. Then I looked at the ad I'd ordered it from. No price listed. Then I looked at their web site and discovered I hadn't ordered the little bedroom radio/CD unit, but the larger twenty-eight miles of acoustic tube folded down into a bread box sized container CD/radio. That costs twice as much. And is twice the size, particularly sitting on the base they threw in with it.

I am obviously frazzled, but I suppose I'll move it into the living room for now and see how it sounds at something more than a bedroom whisper. I should not admit that I have done this. I should be embarrassed. I should return it, but I won't because I've thrown away the shipping box and I don't want to go through the hassle. A sure sign the mind is going or I'm buckling under unusual pressure? Can't tell you how the smaller unit sounds. Don't know.

Sunday. Shopping done. Forgot the paper towels, but bought plenty of cerealSan Francisco Carnaval parade and frozen dinners. Even bought a couple that looked healthy. Some thoughts about this operation. I've had two operations in the past twelve years, one, the moving of the jaw forward to cure my sleep apnea, and another, the removal of a foot or two of my small intestine, because they thought it was giving me trouble. Turned out it wasn't. Giving me trouble. Both required a number of hours on an operating table, the small intestine operation requiring a month of recuperation. Both operations were straightforward. I remember being wheeled into the operating theater, wishing everyone luck (their luck was my luck) and waking up in the recovery room somewhere out on the edge of the world. The experience was trying, but not that trying; the outcomes were positive in the sense I was soon up and around. The jaw operation I wouldn't do again, although I don't regret it (my mouth is still numb and sensitive) and if they recommend you have a section of your small intestine removed, get a second opinion.

The thing that seems to make this different is the fact it involves cancer, the most common and, fortunately, the most curable form of cancer, but the dreaded disease itself. Am I worried about the outcome? Yes. Am I unduly worried about the outcome? I suspect not. I will be sixty next year. The lesson, one of the lessons you seem to learn at sixty, anyway, is the reality of your own mortality. I have seen friends and family die over the years, the first when I was seven and we lived north outside of Seattle. A boy my age cut his leg, a scratch. It became infected. I met him but once, a friend of other friends, an afternoon with maybe a dozen of us playing in another friend's driveway. Nothing special about it until we were told the story.

All of them, the automobile accidents, the illnesses, the strokes, the cancers, those I knew killed in Vietnam, were never quite real because somehow the reality never quite penetrated. There was an emotional closing, a facing away, a getting on with things, a kind of nose to the grindstone, don't think about it, keep on trucking that is probably built into all of us. Until you turn fifty or sixty and begin ordering acoustically complicated radios.

So you're going through this "death is real" passage?


Is it horrible, horrible, horrible?

Yes and no. Don't like it much, but they say it doesn't last. If this thing doesn't get me, and it probably won't, it will fall to the back of my mind with the rest of the stuff I dredge up only when necessary because if I thought about it all of the time it would drive me crazy. Crazier.

So I'll post again Thursday or Friday and I will then undoubtedly go on and on until somebody tells me to stuff it. And even then, even then....

The photographs were taken at the San Francisco Carnaval parade.