Like, Bridge over, Troubled Waters

Bridge as a healing force in a time of division.

I breezed through my freshman year at Marietta College. I carried five subjects—math, chemistry, physics, English and geology, 18 hours of credit—and ended up with a 4.5 average. Naturally, I emerged from that experience just a little bit too cocky. I also had decided to be a GDI and not pledge. As the next fall rolled around, I acquired a freshman girlfriend; I’ll call her Debbie. I discovered bridge through Debbie, and I went wild. I did love to play cards, but bridge was not a game that came with my family. Those games were canasta, poker, and pinochle, games at which my parents, uncles and aunts were masters. Unfortunately, Debbie went home to the East Coast at the end of her first semester, and I was a contributing factor in that eventuality. Decades later, I would encounter her on TV by chance channel surfing, and I was glad to see that for all appearances, she had made a successful life for herself.

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Riding the Bus in Sedalia: a Window into a Community

(This is in a series of posts about my trip to Sedalia, Missouri May 31-June 2, 2018)

I knew I would enjoy all the ragtime virtuosity that is almost continuously on display at the International Scott Joplin Festival in Sedalia, Missouri, but an unexpected adventure unfolded for me on Sedalia streets. It all went back to my decision to take a train ride. Stephen and I moved to Kirkwood, Missouri in April of 2017. The downtown area of Kirkwood, which includes an Amtrak depot, is less than half a mile from our home, and so I found myself walking there often. One day, quite unexpectedly, the idea popped into my head: Before I die, I want to take the Amtrak train from Kirkwood to Sedalia for the annual ragtime festival held there in late May.

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Jim’s Jolly Junkets

One way an almost octogenarian caregiver created a space to be himself.

(This is in a series of posts about my trip to Sedalia, Missouri May 31-June 2, 2018)

It had been 9 years since I had a true respite from Stephen’s caregiving. Months of preparation went in to my get-away. It has been tough for Stephen: operation after operation, stroke after stroke, leaving him only able to walk with a walker. To be clear, Stephen is no pathetic creature; his indomitable spirit continues to bless those lucky enough to interact with him. Likewise, I am no pathetic creature: I rise to the caregiving, and I continue to create my life.

It has been tempting just to continue this Siamese twin existence. Even given infirmities and confinements, we aren’t just existing, we’re thriving, with full participation in various communities. But I’ve gradually come to a significant conclusion. I must occasionally disconnect the flesh and sinew binding us together, and solitary Jym must fly on their own—for a day, for a weekend, for … whatever. Any primary caregiver for the severely disabled knows this fact. When you take up the slack in another person’s capabilities, you eventually loose capabilities of your own. Or at least, you’re just not sure any more what it is like to just be you.

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Why is this happening to me?

About the middle of June I wrote my first reflection on caregiving for my partner, Stephen. Here we are four months later, and Stephen is about the same, maybe a little worse. No need to go into the details of the illness, his basic problems are pain management and staying mobile on a walker. Also, it’s very likely that the situation is chronic. I think that Stephen and I have been doing a pretty good job of dealing with this situation effectively. Of course, Stephen does get discouraged and frustrated from time to time, but most of the time he still manages to summon up the courage and determination that he is made of. For my part, I have discovered surprising emotional stability and physical capability.

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Lifting another Manhole Cover to Blogspace

An explanation of Jim’s past for years with iBlog and why he finally moved to wordpress.

I can see that I have my work cut out for me. I’ve been blogging for 4 years using an almost defunct system called iBlog. This was the blog with the somewhat off-putting name Of Course It’s Boring, Idiot. I really had fun with that forum, even if I only attracted one other regular reader in 4 years. For one thing, I made 134 posts in 16 categories with neat names like What in God’s Name for my quasi-theological thoughts. So I found out in retrospect what I was thinking about. But I also had to admit that I wasn’t really blogging in the social sense of the word, because of the low readership. 

Still, I’m not ready to give up whatever this blog-like thing is that I’m doing and have even reflected about on occasion as in the post, Blogging Is Having To Say You’re Sorry for not Blogging. After months, even years of half-hearted searching for an alternative to iBlog, I see that I’m going to need to learn a new system, and it looks like wordpress is it, intimidating as it seems on initial encounter. So I’ve made my start, some links to my old blog, several trips to the wordpress help page, and a sinking feeling that this is initially going to be a lot of work. But I’m hopeful that in a few weeks or months, I will be back to doing what it really is that I love to do—expounding on some topic of interest to my imaginary audience, and waiting, as I’ve always done for the last 70 years, to be discovered. Yes, Mr. DeMille, I HAVE been ready for my close-up for quite a long time, now.