Brain Salad

There are too many jumbled thoughts running through my brain this week, so I’ll just chop them up like vegetables and serve them in a salad.

* * *

I think I may have come up with a (regrettably late) solution to the noise problem in my apartment:  rubber tile mats, 2-foot squares like puzzle pieces that I can mix and match and make into whatever configuration I need for this oddly shaped apartment.  It only cost me $100 and I can actually re-use them once I’m out of here and back in my own house.

There’s been progress on that front as well:  My house was lowered onto the foundation today!  There is an enormous amount of work still to be done – in fact, the entire back third of my house, including the roof, have to be rebuilt from scratch.  The floor supports for the surviving section of the house were like spaghetti, going in every direction, so the contractor has to make everything more uniform and up to code.  They’ll hopefully start the framing this week.  They keep telling me that, now that the house is down, “it moves fast” (an actual quote from my contractor today).  This remains to be seen.

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The house is down!

It also remains to be seen if I’ll have the money to cover it all before getting my final payment from the New York State grant, which won’t come until after the work is completed and inspected.  My financial advisor has loosened up some funds from “65-year-old Nancy” (as he refers to my retirement account), because getting my house in livable, FEMA-compliant and partially brand new condition is an investment that 65-year-old Nancy will surely benefit from in the end.

* * *

Talking about money always makes me a little sick to my stomach.  Speaking of which, my gut was in knots watching that debate on Sunday night.  Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, I want to vomit.  And what comes out of his mouth is nothing but word diarrhea, empty drivel, meaningless, unsupported bullshit (excuse my French).  And yet an inordinate number of people – well, the media, anyway – came out of that debate saying that Trump had held his own, or stopped the bleeding, or actually “won” the first 30 minutes (which is also what they said after the first debate).  I DID NOT SEE IT.  True, I am predisposed to think of him as an ignoramus and anything he says as nonsense, but even reading the transcripts afterward, I could not get over the fact that (a) the man cannot put together a full sentence, (b) he repeats himself incessantly (how many times did he call something a “disaster”?) and, worst of all, (c) he makes statements as if they were true and fellow idiots immediately believe him, despite most of what he says being “fact-checked” into oblivion.  He’s a vainglorious, narcissistic, entitled pig man, and how ANYONE could want him to be the foremost face of our country is utterly beyond me.

This becomes especially apparent after reading an article entitled “The way ahead” in The Economist earlier this week written by our current president, the polar opposite of Donald Trump in every way.  [Barack Obama, “The way ahead”, The Economist, 10/8/16, http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21708216-americas-president-writes-us-about-four-crucial-areas-unfinished-business-economic ].  I’ve spoken in this blog before about my admiration for President Obama, and I continue to believe that he has been the greatest president in my lifetime.  [See “OK POLITICS”, 6/30/15.]  A fantastic quote from this impressive piece:  “America’s political system can be frustrating.  Believe me, I know,” which is a really polite way to say he has done everything in his power to rise above the obstructionist Congress that has made its prime objective to reject everything the President – OUR President – proposes, to the point where they are not doing the jobs for which they were elected and entrusted by the public to do.  And despite that, gains have undoubtedly been made over the past eight years in our evolution as a nation and as a species.  We certainly don’t want to start going backwards now.

The other thing that really troubles me about this election, though, is how vilified Hillary has been.  This is a woman who has devoted her LIFE to public service, who puts herself out there to be slammed and insulted on a daily basis because she wants to make a positive difference in the world.  She may be politically ambitious, but what’s wrong with that, really?  Such ambition would be – and usually is – lauded in a man candidate.  She may have learned, through her decades on the fringes and later at the epicenter of the political world, how to spin her statements so that they sway folks her way – again, as all politicians worth their salt do.  And yet she is portrayed as a liar and a sneak and a crook.  She is a flawed human being, as are we all, but she deserves more respect than she is given.  It boggles my mind when I hear people say that they equally abhor BOTH candidates.  No matter how much you may dislike Hillary, she is the only QUALIFIED candidate in the race, and that alone should be enough to elect her over her opponent. And right now, they’re the only two choices we have (apologies to Jill Stein and Gary Johnson).

I personally believe she will make a good first woman president (and I’ve said so before; see “I Don’t Know If I Can Take Five More Months of This”, 6/1/16).  And you know what else?  In a weird way, I actually think Ivanka Trump, after going through this whole maelstrom with her father, might make a very good future candidate for president, once Hillary opens that door for her and every other female for whom the loftiest of political goals will now be achievable.  I wonder if Ivanka’s good looks would help or hurt her, though.  I suspect it would be the former, given that we are a sexist society that objectifies and belittles women and doesn’t give them the credit they deserve (although one can only hope that will continue to change – I mean, women couldn’t even VOTE a mere hundred years ago).  For instance, consider House Speaker Paul Ryan’s response to Trump’s rude comments about the females he has man-handled:  He said women are to be “championed and revered”.  Well, that’s all well and good, but how about A FEMALE HUMAN BEING SHOULD BE TREATED WITH THE SAME RESPECT AS A MALE HUMAN BEING, NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS?  That might have worked a little better, Paul.

* * *

Last night I had some weird physical feelings that propelled me into a “fear of dying” cycle.  In this instance, it was a severe lower backache, tummy troubles and a head full of cotton batting.  Flu?  Nah, I had a shot.  Sinus?  That would account for the fuzzy head, but not the back or the tummy.  New medication?  I was warned that it might cause stomach upset, so that could be the cause of that particular symptom.  Backache?  I went to the chiropractor on Saturday and have been sitting at my desk ever since – maybe something is out of alignment?  When I turned off the light to go to sleep, all these thoughts – and worse – swept through my head.  I woke up at 5 a.m. with a raging headache and required another visit to the porcelain throne, but by the time 9 a.m. rolled around, I was able to get out of bed reasonably pain free.  My back has started hurting again tonight (again, after spending most of my day at my computer), but my other ailments seem to have dissipated.

Whenever I have a pain or a weird bodily sensation, I feel a little like Dr. Gregory House, inventorying a whole litany of explanations (as evidenced by my thought process last night/this morning).  The thing I fear the most, though, is a heart attack, given that my father was killed by his sixth or seventh heart attack, on a racquetball court, at age 48, an age which I have long passed myself.  I also have chronic costochondritis, which starts in my back but radiates around to my front left rib cage, and of course my first thought is always, “This is it.”  I start having thoughts like, “When would I ever reach the point where I felt like I had to call 911 for myself?  Would I even be able to?  What would happen if I just died and no one found me for days?”  I heard last week about an ex-partner at my law firm, a woman in her mid-60s, a heavy smoker and alcoholic, who passed away alone in her apartment and wasn’t found for days.  I don’t want that to be me.  I really enjoy living on my own, but the one thing that scares me about it is dying alone and no one knowing about it.  I want to die in a hospital or hospice, in my 90s, surrounded by family and friends (and maybe a cat).

* * *

The title of this week’s post puts me in mind of a seminal ‘70s album in my collection, Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson Lake & Palmer (which actually survived the flood).  The LP — with distinctive cover art by H.R. Giger – came with a tri-fold poster of handsome head shots of the three band members, and I cut it up and hung them on the wall of my college dorm, among the black-and-white photos of football, hockey and lacrosse players from the Trinity College teams that I nicked from the Trinity Tripod office.  They all looked great in those (pre-Photoshop) photos, but my favorite was Greg Lake.  (I even once hooked up with a guy solely because of his resemblance to Greg Lake.)  His former band, King Crimson, was also a constant presence on my college turntable.  So, in honor of Greg Lake, I give you my Top Ten Favorite Rock Guitarists.  (You might notice the absence of Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, both of whom are inarguably virtuosos.  But they are not in MY top ten.  I tend to prefer a guitarist who makes the guitar sound like a voice singing, although I will acknowledge that Clapton played with George Harrison on the ultimate singing-guitar song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.)

In no particular order (apart from the top three):

  1. David Gilmour
  2. The late, great Randy Rhoads, stolen from us too soon (by his own recklessness, sadly)
  3. Mark Knopfler
  4. George Harrison
  5. Tony Iommi
  6. Brian May
  7. Mick Ronson
  8. Greg Lake
  9. Ritchie Blackmore
  10. Steve Miller

Honorable Mention:   Angus Young

This list is COMPLETELY personal to me, so I’d like to hear some other people’s favorites.  Leave them in the comments!!

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