Life in the Real Desert: A Moment in Time

Picture of green meteorite
Taking time to sort my site out for inclusion into more places on the Internet, such as Alltop.com which is a pretty good place to find websites that specialize in certain things, and trying to fix a backend problem, which is actually a whole lot less personal than it sounds, my blog portion of my site has suffered. Add to that a big dollop of “I feel sorry for myself” along with fighting the ever increasing heat and I’ve been focussing on movies, television and the odd celebrity news instead of my more personal views of the world.

All of this kerfuffle is taking place among the amazing “real” life in the Arizona desert and two nights ago a “moment in time” caught my attention and fired up my imagination; bringing out my inner child for a frozen space of time. Reminding me that all of life is made up of moments in time, some more beautiful than others.

For a week, after the sun has gone down, the mercury has not. Temperatures stay at over 100 degrees and the wind that blows from the south is hot, arid and around 11 to 12 miles per hour, if not into the 20s. Riding back the night before last, my eyes were streaming tears non-stop as it felt like I had a hair dryer blowing directly into my exposed sockets all the way home.

Getting into the house after the ride, my eyes were sore, gritty and hot. I pondered getting some goggles to replace my glasses, that were lost in Las Vegas and fell asleep seconds after setting down.

The next night, the temperature dropped to below 100, around 97 and the weather site stated that it felt like 93. (Every time I think of the temperature I hear Pvt. Hudson from Aliens in my head stating with forced, and fake, jocularity “Yeah, but it’s a dry heat!”) Wind speed was only around 9 miles per hour and did not feel like it was being sent from the gates of Hell. With my shirt off it was a pretty pleasant ride back home on my trusty Schwinn.

At the midpoint, around three miles from home, I stopped for my congratulatory drink of water. Silence surrounded me broken only by my permanent tinnitus and I looked around at a desert lit by the small sliver of moon and one very bright star.

Off to my left stands the deserted house that I’ve yet to visit and take pictures of and as I peered through the night in that direction, I saw it.

A meteorite that could only have been a quarter of a mile, or less, away was streaking down diagonally to the desert floor and only about 50 feet from the ground. It was large enough that as it burned bright green and red it lit up that portion of the hardpan. At the exact moment I spied this visitor from space even my tinnitus fell silent. The entire incident took place in muffled quiet and time spun out making this tiny incident feel much longer than the few seconds it really encompassed.

Standing there in awe I pondered that if I had not been there in that exact spot, where I stop every night on the way home, this marvel would have been missed. I also had an epiphany of sorts. Life, I decided is a series of moments in time, each insignificant on their own but when added up equal an importance of earth shattering magnitude.

I got back on my bike and peddled into the faint warm wind and, looking nervously at the sky over my head, also realized that luckily, I was over on this section of the desert when the thing from space plummeted to the ground. At the speed that thing travelled, had I been “over there” I’d never have known what had hit me…

Joys of Withdrawal in the Real Desert

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Screenshot
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 

Keeping to the theme of writing about my new, temporary, abode in the great Southwest desert, or the “Real Desert” as I like to refer to it, I’m now dipping into the less fun aspects of my refuge from the criminal element of Las Vegas and the Internet. The above title is a bit of a misnomer, anyone who has gone through withdrawal knows that there are no joys involved.

Just a lot of suffering.

This is not a complaint, just a fact. While the discomfort is not fun, it is nothing compared to the original ailment that required the painkiller to be prescribed initially. Regardless of pain levels, as any addict will tell you, getting off any drug, or pharmaceutical medication, is damned hard. Even more so when the tapering off procedure is inadvertently bypassed  because you have run out of the substance  that has taken up residence in your system for far too long.

Years ago, when I was taking a plethora of pain medication for a back condition that was finally sorted out with surgery via the NHS, I became addicted to several medications. I was naive back then; despite reading about various celebs who were all “fessing up” to being hooked on prescribed medication, I thought that becoming addicted had to do with illegal substances like, crack, heroin and so on.

I soon found out that when the stuff the good doctor has shoved in your system, via pills and potions, runs out, addiction is not so close minded or choosy. Whether the drug of choice is cocaine or valium, or Tramadol (a man-made morphine substitute) or Percocet, when you run out or try to wean yourself off the bloody stuff, life becomes upsetting and pretty unpleasant.

My retreat into the joys of withdrawal in the real desert started with giving the wrong address to the VA, after inadvertently either suffering from numerical dyslexia or just “old man idiocy” I swapped out the last two numbers in the temporary PO Box number I now have. As a result, my pain meds, and more importantly, one of my heart medications was kept for four days at the local USPS and then returned to the sender. Through a series of misinformation and a non-caring Hitler-ish type woman who runs the local post office and a ticking clock, I have been without one of my heart meds for over two weeks and my pain meds have been drastically cut down from my usual 300 mg per day to nil.

Ironically, I went in the day before the meds arrived and asked about the medicine coming in and since I  could not open the post box, could they please check for the parcels. Firstly, she refused to look in the actual post office box and then she went back in the sorting area, stood in plain view of me and the rest of the customers looking blankly at the room behind the service desk and announced, “There’s nothing back here.”

I went back a couple of days later, when my medicine was there (according to the tracking numbers) and got the same song and dance, even after explaining about my getting the PO Box number wrong, so “please, can you actually look for the parcel.”  No dice,  the woman lied to me and did not care that my heart medication had run out. I’ll deal with that later, especially since the “big” USPS office told me that the packages should have been kept a week at a  minimum and not four days.

My heart meds came in today. My pain meds are yet to arrive, but hopefully will be here tomorrow. I’ve got to take my hat off to the beleaguered VA. I rang them yesterday, the first day after President’s Day and reminded them of my plight, the lovely lady I spoke to said she would pass the details of my dilemma onto the pharmacy, who by then had my “drugs” with them.

On a side note, as stated above,  my heart meds arrived this afternoon. They’d actually been posted on February 13, the day I first rang, quite panic stricken at my dilemma, before I rang yesterday to see if they were paying attention. Way to go guys!

While the heart pills are not helping me to cope with the Tramadol withdrawal, at least now I know that I can, if needs be, exist without the heart meds for a pretty extended period of time.

I have also learned that living in the real desert, with no car, a bike out of commission, and miles away from the nearest VA facility, or bloody town for that matter, is not the best of all situations. I am away from the greedy vampire that was and is GLV and now different problems are cropping up.

On the bright side, and there is one, the weather is warm and my feet and ankles, which were so swollen from the ride back on the bike with the flat tire, have deflated from their Bugs Bunny hugeness and I can again wear something on them besides flip-flops. They still feel swollen and uncomfortable so my six mile trudge to town will have to wait for one more day.

There are other stresses that I am ill equipped to deal with, but that will change. Once the joys of withdrawal in the real desert are overcome, this old man will once more be able to deal with things that, right now, are urging a temper tantrum that would make North West at her daddy’s concert look like a fan.

Hopefully, the muscle twitching, nausea,  headache, weakness, cold symptoms and inability to think along with the struggle to not turn into a homicidal, foul-mouthed, maniac will cease by tomorrow, or the day after (Please? Big Guy?). Oh and before you ask the question of why I haven’t just gone to the local quack and gotten a prescription, answer me this, how would I pay for the visit and the drugs? Even if the VA sign off on using a non VA treatment arena, it is still co-pay. While these folks, Veterans Administration,  only charge me afterward, the doctor’s office will not be so obliging, not to mention that the stuff  not provided by the VA is damned expensive.

In the meantime, I’ll say a big “Thank you,” to the Nevada VA;  you guys rock and give the USPS another nod of thanks, they called me today, not the Hitler lady who runs Quartzsite, but the bigger more professional postal people,  to confirm that the VA had my drugs. To the large lady who runs the local USPS, I give you fair warning, address me in that tone of voice again and you’ll be amazed to see that there is an old codger who can vault your service counter and kick some manners into you. I’ll even wait calmly for the police to arrest me, from what I’ve heard from other customers, no judge in the local area will convict me.

18 February, 2015

70,000 and Rising! Thanks!

70,000

This will be a short post. (The idiot that is my sense of humour, wanted to stop the post there!) A lot has happened to me since I started blogging on WordPress last year. I’ll do a very short recap for those of you who came late to the party.

April last year, I started posting on WordPress. I’d been posting things on Blogger and Tumblr but wasn’t too happy with the amount of views I was getting. I switched to WP and the first article I posted (a review of Stake Land) garnered over 2000 views. I knew then I’d made the right choice.

While I’ve never matched that phenomenal view count on any of my other posts, I’ve reached a lot more people and gotten an amazing amount of folks following my little old blog.

2012 was the year of injury and pain. I got injured at work in February after two lads decided to have a fight at lunch time (it was only with extreme self-control that I did not say “feeding time”) and when I attempted to pull the attacker away from his “attackee” and the officer holding him, we all fell to the ground, with moi on the bottom. Cue two more days of intense agony as I shuffled around work and responded to a couple of alarm bells.

Finally, after a 12 hour shift, I drug myself to the doc’s and found I had nerve damage in my lower back. Enter six months of time off work with me hobbling around like a 100 year-old with arthritis.

I then just started back to work and took couple of weeks off for a steroidal shot (two actually) at the end of the first week. Big mistake. The shots hurt worse than the nerve damage and roughly six days after the shot on 30 August, 2012 I had my heart attack. I’ve written all about it in a previous post.

I also forgot to mention that in between the steroidal shots and the heart attack, I got Freshly Pressed! Despite Tyson’s “gut feeling” that the heart attack was brought on by my getting FP’d, I don’t think they are life threatening to everyone!

It’s now going on 11 months since that “life changing” experience (that resulted in two “emergency surgeries” that kicked my arse) and in that short time, a lot of things have changed.

I no longer work in a job where getting assaulted was a daily risk, but I do miss a lot of the folks who I worked with and still feel like a Prison Officer despite my ill-health retirement.  I now work for a Las Vegas newspaper The Las Vegas Guardian Express as the Deputy Managing Editor and Senior Entertainment Editor.

And I’ve just finished a project working in front of the camera for the first time in years.

Thank you all

I’ve also made some wonderful friends through the WordPress blogging community. Natasha “Tash” Harmer over at Films and Things; Meera Daji over at Meera Daji Film reviews & other interesting posts; Katie-marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr over at Katie-Marie Lynch (Film Punk), Fiona Lockwood over at Fionalockwoodyr1; Marilyn Armstrong over at Serendipity; Tyson Carter over at Head In A Vice; and so many others that if I mentioned them all, this post would be, if not novel length, at least novella length.

I want to thank all you folks that I’ve mentioned and whom I haven’t the room or the time to mention. Misty Layne over CinemaSchminema also deserves a special mention, it was through her I got to write (for all too short a time) for Rogue Cinema, thanks mate, your support has been terrific.

But to Marilyn and her wonderful “other-half” Garry Armstrong – who has met and interviewed the world’s rich and famous, among others, I want to really thank as they’ve both been there for inspiration when my days felt pretty damn bleak.

Tash, Meera, Katie, Fiona, I love you all, you helped an old actor discover he could still do it. (I’ve just re-read that and thought of you guys’ references to another type of short film!) And any time you young ladies need an actor for anything, do not hesitate to call me, I owe you.

Now I must stop this long, and somewhat self-serving, post and get busy. I had many days of “too much time on my hands” and I’ve swung to the other end of the pendulum and now seem to have more things to do than time. I prefer the latter. So in closing, I’ll just say that I’m grateful and pleased and a bit shocked that I’ve gotten as far as I have in the blogging world.

I’ll also leave a link to my employing newspaper, The Guardian Express Las Vegas just in case you’d like to see all the articles that I write for them.

I raise my metaphorical glass to you all, “Here’s to another 70,000 views and posts!” Oh, and I lied about the length of the post…sorry!