Par for the Pitch

29 10 2018

Wiesbaden

As you all know, and as luck had it, my first rehab appointment with my English speaking American physicians, who practice in Wiesbaden, was the day after the Hessian state elections, of course right here in the state capital.

Like I said, until and if I show physical improvement, and that’s up to fate whether I ever will or nah, there’s nothing physical rehab can do for me, which means doing so is pointless.

Which means that rehab these days simply means cognitive testing, to see which direction if any my cognitive function is going.

During my last tests back in St. Louis before I moved, I got hard copy evidence of what I was internally sensing, that I made some sharp and noticeable improvements.

Likewise, today confirmed my instincts that I haven’t made any improvements since then.

And of course I saw an internist for my other general run of the mill issues, and he topped me off on my scripts.  Which are filled by an American jurisdiction pharmacy here in Wiesbaden and sent to me wherever I am by DHL, it being the German Post Office’s logistics division.  DHL tried to break into the American logistics market some time ago, but UPS and FedEx proved too stiff competition.  Though today, since I was already in Wiesbaden, I just picked them up myself, in contrast, the pharmacy had to DHL them to me in Munich almost a month ago, and in most cases, it will have to DHL them to my Cologne address.

I don’t have a regularly scheduled next rehab appointment, even though I do have one with the internist, the usual six months from now.  At this point, there’s no reason for it.  If I feel some sort of significant change either cognitively or physically, then I’ll call and have an appointment made.  Until such a time, every day is going to be the same par for the soccer pitch that was the previous one.

Before you knock it, remember this:  That which caused me to be in my condition also set in motion a set of circumstances and events which resulted in me being here in Germany today.

 

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Willkommen Bei Meinem Ausgebürgerte Sonnenaufgang (Wish You Were Here)

10 09 2018

Cologne, Germany

Well peanut gallery, here I be.

I rode into the sunset after Labor Day.

And you might have feared that I was gone forever, or that I wouldn’t write anything around here for months on end.

But the thing you have to remember about sunsets is that after every sunset eventually comes a sunrise.

Welcome to a new day in a new life here in the Rhine-Ruhr Region (“the Region”) of Germany.

Welcome to my expat sunrise.

***

Even though this post is dateline Cologne, because it happens to be the somewhat dominant even if not totally predominant city of the Region, I may or may not actually live in Cologne. Though I do happen to be here as I write this, at lunch time on Monday, September 10.

I could live in Dortmund, or I would if I wanted to live in a big super giant open air gym. Maybe it’s Essen, the world headquarters of Aldi?  You have to deposit a quarter if you want to to have an official residence in Essen.  (Rimshot)  Perhaps Düsseldorf, which would make me a düsseldork. How ’bout Bonn, which would be très bon, as the next door neighbors would say. Chance it could be the coolest city name in the Region, Mönchengladbach.  I dare you to say Mönchengladbach twenty times in a row really quickly.  Very outside chance that it could be Aachen, which is somewhat out of the way and not officially defined as part of the Region, even though I will say now that I bought a very small piece of real estate in Aachen near a creek. I call it: Oh my Aachen bach. Yeah, I know, corny as hell, and I dare not kick it in public, especially not in or about Charlemagne’s own city, otherwise they’re liable to throw me out of the country. Either that, or ole Chuck will come back to life just to impale me. There’s Wuppertal, which makes me think about Tupperware for some reason, I thought that when I was a mere tourist in the summer. Leverkusen, if I wanted to live under the shadow of a big super giant neon aspirin tablet, indicative of Monsanto’s new owner, yet another personal and ironic segue. A big chemical conglomerate in a Kraut industrial river town bought out another big chemical conglomerate in a Kraut industrial river town, quelle surprise.  To put it another way, I moved from Monsanto to Bayer.

If it’s not one of those cities, it’s in one of the lesser known and smaller cities in the region.

But I definitely do live here in the Region.

***

Over the weekend, I had my first recreational outing.

I took a cruise of the Middle Rhine, from Cologne upstream to Wiesbaden/Mainz and back downstream, the part which goes through the gorges, and the part where the riverside castles, forts, fortifications, and ruins thereof, are visible. There’s even a castle on an island in the middle of the river at one point. We were told that, in its day, it was basically a big super giant fancy toll booth. The Upper Middle Rhine is so castle-intense that, once you see one, you don’t quite have enough time to ooh and ahh and make goo-goo eyes at it, and then here comes another.

Now you know why I bought new binoculars before the move.

You may recall that during the summer voyage, we took a direct autobahn route from Frankfurt to Bonn as we started out in our general clockwise trip around the horn, that route does not follow the Rhine. So, this, the cruise, everything south of Bonn, was new to me. I’m not huge into castles and fortresses like that, but I was oohing and aahing nonetheless. Just as I oohed and aahed at the ones I saw during the summer. And the section with the castles and fortresses was yet another subtle reminder to the answer of my own question I asked here in this space on the final full day of the voyage over the summer, that being, how it came to be that Germany is not the world’s hegemon today. All these castles and fortresses weren’t built just to be centuries-later tourist traps, you know.  The cruise hostess told us in her standard spiel that the Middle Rhine inspired Richard Wagner to write and compose Götterdämmerung, and from what I saw, the Middle Rhine has to be one of the world’s best cures for creative block.  The irony of that is that, back during the summer, we were told that, when we toured Neuschwanstein, that Ludwig II of Bavaria out of his own pocket had it designed and built as a tribute to and as a residence for Richard Wagner.

While Wiesbaden and Mainz, which I took the opportunity to have a peek and look-see around while there, as, again, we did not go to either during the summer voyage, so both were new to me, are directly across the river from each other, they are in different states, Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz, respectively, and both are their states’ capitals. Until that point, I presumed both were just satellite cities of Frankfurt, and to an extent, there are lots of people who live in either and commute to Frankfurt for work. However, both cities also have their own independent long-standing cultural cache, to the point where they would still be what they are today even if Frankfurt didn’t exist. Wiesbaden, aside from also being a spa town (“bad” in the name), in fact, one of the oldest spa towns in Europe, also hosts the HQ of what remains of the U.S. Army’s European operations, and is the home base of the German equivalent of the FBI, (Bundeskriminalamt, or BKA), though it’s of a country that has had bad experiences with centralized nationalized law enforcement in the last century, and therefore, the BKA rarely engages in direct flesh-level law enforcement; instead, it coordinates with the state police agencies (Landespolizei) when needed and relevant. In Germany, domestic law enforcement is a state, not a local, function, (unless the locality happens to be a city that is legally bestowed state status, the only such three in the country are Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen), meaning that, where I live, if necessity arises, I will dial 110 and someone from the Nordrhein-Westfalen Polizei in one of their teal-blue cars (evenly split between Benz, BMW and VW from what I’ve seen) will show up.  Since that’s the same agency that did its best to cover up the Muslim Middle Eastern Merkel’s Boner gang rapes in Cologne on New Years Eve 2015-2016, I’m just hoping I don’t need their help that often.

***

This was the first of what will hopefully be much memorable and special work and play travel, and the start of a very worthy and hopefully professionally fruitful and impactful life journey. If I’m ever really destined to matter to this world, it’s now or never, this is a last chance that I’d never thought I’d get to do that, especially after last year. Ball’s in my court. Bottom of the ninth, sacks jammed, two out, trailing by two, and I’m up to bat.

During the fall, I’m figuring on doing the Clock Route, Aachen (because Charlemagne), and wait until I tell you after the fact where I’m going on my first long distance business trip, though I imagine it will be easy for some of you to figure it out. This coming weekend, I’m going to do the Wine Route, corresponding with the second of two weekends of Wurstmarkt in Bad Dürkheim.

Now you also know why I never wrote the voyage travelogue, and probably never will. Not only for time constraints, but because I would have been writing mostly about a country I knew was going back to in order to live and work. Which would have made me feel some kind of way.

Beyond that, in spite of the fact that I was able to provide you my first post as an expat only a week after my final post from St. Louis, you should definitely not expect any more posts here from me for quite awhile.  I have really started to hit the ground running, (or, in my case, rolling), in the new line of work.  That, and just as I’m getting settled in to my new residence and my new city, come the 19th of this month, I’ll be out on the road continuously until October 22, when I’ll finally be able to return to what now serves as home.  A home, mind you, where I happen to have another handicapped American expat as a roommate, to share the expenses, and when I say “expenses,” I mean expensive.  We’ll be roommates in the sense of hello I must be going but just make sure you’re all paid up on your half of the relevant bills.  Long and short, it may be upwards of a month before I can write anything in this space.  So, hug me now, because I’m about to disappear into the wind.

***

I’ll wrap this up by giving a shout out to the lord of the manor back at the secret rehab hideout.  You know how these things can be:  After being ecstatic and jubilant at first, the closer you get to having to carry out the thing, the harder it gets to do it.  The July 26 sort of “I’m really going to do this” was a lot different than the August 26 sort of “I’m really going to do this.”  Just when he saw the slightest tinge of doubt and second guessing in my eyes, he assured me I was doing the right thing.  And now, I’m here doing it.  Yet and still, leaving home was the hardest thing I ever faced.

Otherwise, for all of you:





I Am a Part of All That I Have Met

3 09 2018

Your Blogmeister’s Secret Hideout

Well peanut gallery, this is it.

On one of the regular business days this coming holiday shortened week, I depart.

All the logistics have been ironed out, all the I’s dotted and all the T’s crossed.  Any and every thing, big, medium, and small, that needed to be worked out or could have been an issue, has been finalized.  Overture, curtain, lights.

Among the many physical items I’ll be taking with me, I’ll be taking two flags of the city of St. Louis. Because I already have in mind one maybe more instances where I’ll carry one around on a stick or pole for the purposes of civic pride. Don’t worry, I’ll tell you here after the fact, it’s the kind of thing that I probably won’t have to keep secret.

***

I told you back on Thursday about a surprise I already knew that was coming my way over the holiday weekend, and that I thought it was going to be something along the lines of a going away party.  That it was, in fact, two different parties, one Friday night, the other Saturday night, and quite a few people I either all but forgotten about or totally forgotten about came to them.  I even went to church on Sunday where I ordinarily went back in the days when I was actually a bipedal creature, and this is the first time I’ve physically been to my home church since the accident.  I now think I’ve truly said goodbye-for-now and maybe forever to everyone around here I could have conceivably wanted to.  At that, I am at peace, and will have no regrets if this is forever with some or all of them.

Also during August, and speaking of forever goodbyes, my father died.  I held back on writing that here in public when it happened, just to keep my tracks well covered.  Such as it is, he had been gone in all-but-reality for years, hadn’t been compos mentis for years, had been virtually bedridden for almost all that time, and this was a matter of an impending when-not-if.  Just waiting on the mercy of death that finally came.

During the Venn diagram crossover between my lifetime and his functional coherent vital lifetime, he was a semi-interested and semi-involved father, (I have my mother’s last name), and as time went on, I came to realize how fortunate I was that he was even semi-interested and semi-involved, but also how much I missed that he wasn’t a true blue Ward Cleaver.

This also continues the “tradition” in my life for the second half of July through all of August time period of being a really bad time of the year for people I know dying.  As damned near happened to me last year. I’d like to think the timing of my father’s ultimate departure was an omen that cosmically communicated to me a justification of my big decision that I’m about to carry out, except my rational side, the part that believes in the existence of coincidences, won the day.

The fortunate part is that it happened before I have to leave, and all the funeral arrangements were made quite some time ago, even if the timing did set me back a little bit in terms of planning, packing and logistics for the move.  So it was for me just a matter of getting dressed up then showing up, and, because I’m his primary coherent functional next-of-kin, also being the emcee of the visitation, which was a first for me.  He married another woman not my mother when I was five years old, but never had children with her, and she in fact is herself bedridden and halfway out of it these days, so obviously she wasn’t able to show up to anything. If anyone has told her at all that her husband is gone, the odds are better not than so that she can even comprehend the message.  She and I have never seen each other in the flesh and never will, going back to what I figured out as I got older and was really able to put two and two together was a long-ago agreed-upon three-way collusion between her, my mother and my father that I would never meet her, so as not to drag a young me in the middle of what were probably very thorny and difficult interpersonal politics between the three of them, and also to box her out of any chance of developing a stepmother role, or, to put it another way, boxing in my actual mother as my only possible mother in life. She would always be “away on a business trip,” or “out of town visiting or tending to relatives,” or some excuse. The way I figure, by the time my mother and father figured that I figured out on my own the time of day and knew the score, my father didn’t feel the need even to feed me excuses any longer.

Back to my father, he was in the Army for four years after Korea ended but before Vietnam kicked up, so while he was no Audie Murphy, he was entitled to a final resting place at Jefferson Barracks.  Another fortunate circumstance about the final service and final resting place at JB is that he joins my three uncles (mother-side) who are already there whom I visit every Memorial Day.  I made it my business to pay them a visit while there, because I anticipate that I won’t be able to visit them or (now) my father on Memorial Day 2019, as I’ll be rather far away.  It will be the first MD since 1988 that I won’t be able to go to JB to visit somebody.  (Even if my father didn’t die, I had already planned on paying the other three a visit for that reason.)  I have already thought of a really special historic way to make it up to them, in a round about way, and in a way they would all appreciate.  I’ll drop this hint now:  Very near Memorial Day next year, there will be a very special anniversary of a very impactful event in a really hollowed place, tangentially involving an American veterans’ cemetery, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to go.

One difference between my father’s final service and the previous three I’ve experienced at JB is, because I was his most direct next-of-kin in attendance, I was the one who received his ceremonial folded flag.  That flag and the preservation encasement it’s inside is also packed away in one of my several suitcases, and is going with me.  The old saying that a boy doesn’t truly become a man until his father dies?  That’s another bit of prose that, at the moment I was handed a folded flag, suddenly went from being a just a phrase I’ve heard every now-and-again to a soul-deep experience, and at that instant I came to understand what it really means just beyond the literal definitions of the words.

In the years and months leading up to his passing, and the visitation, then the actual service, I speculated in my own head that I really wouldn’t have been that broken up or distraught or despondent over the inevitable passing of a man who has pretty much been dead for years and wasn’t the father that I thought he should have been.  I was always figuring on his actual passing to be anticlimactic.  When it actually happened, I took it a lot harder than I thought I ever would.  That’s the thing about life — It’s a binary function, just 0 or 1, and when 1 turns into 0, it’s staying there, for good, can’t ever go back to 1.  I guess we’re never truly mentally prepared for even a less than ideal 1 turning into 0. When I could finally let my guard down and let all the emotion fly out the night after the burial and then on and off over the next few days, I was mourning the lost opportunity in life more than I was the ending of life. Which made me really mindful of this opportunity that I’m about to take.

Now, as for the other half of my parental contribution, my mother, as you all know, is in assisted living, and her dementia is getting worse.  But it’s not yet so bad that she doesn’t understand that I’m about to move quite far away, and neither is it so bad that she doesn’t have the foresight to put up a front that she’s nothing but happy and not at all sad.  But I’ve known her for more than 41 years, so I know it’s going to hurt, and I know she’s going to do a lot of crying once I’m out of sight.  The first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, and I’m not there, will also hurt.  I will most likely miss her next birthday, which will be her 80th.  As far as that goes, I’ve thought of a way to make it up to her.  No, it won’t be cheap. I also worry that all this hurt is going to hasten her inevitable departure.

I am a part of all that I have met.

***

Now back to the point.  When I played this song for you three months ago, I told you that I was being funny with the lyrics, because I knew when I’d be back.  This time, these lyrics are for real.  I don’t know when I’ll be back again, or even if I’ll ever be back again, either in terms of a visit or moving back home.

I’m not totally disappearing from this space;  I will check in from time to time, my first opportunity to do that just might be sooner than later and a lot sooner than I initially thought, including being able to say where in general even if not specifically where is this new city.  Our favorite doggy will keep you entertained with a guest post every once in awhile.   But this space’s days as it was, and as you were accustomed to it being, are done, definitely for the near future, and maybe for good.

Something just occurred to me as I finished writing the last paragraph. This blog started on September 15, 2003, but it was a continuation of an e-mail newsletter I wrote going back even further, starting in late January 1998, meaning about two months short of my 21st birthday. Which means in some way shape or form, I’ve been going at this pre-blogging and blogging thing for more than twenty years. Half of my life. And I should say that it’s gotten me through some times. You long termers around here will remember the big events off top. But, whether way up, way down, or just fair-to-middling, through several residences, several zip codes, a handful jobs, a gaggle of girlfriends, a whole lot of life, a serious and as yet incomplete recovery after a close call with death, and my life’s overall general transition from young adult to middle age, this medium has been the one constant. If this is the end for this medium as it has been for the last twenty years, then I have no regrets, and it’s been a really worthy labor of love.

With all of you, too, I am a part of all that I have met.

***

And in case we never meet again, I want to leave you with this:

May you one day come to experience fulfillment and transcendence as soul-deep emotions rather than mere dictionary words.

May you one day come to realize that you have a future because you have a past, and you have a past because you have a future.

May you one day come to realize that life and purpose are one and the same, that having one is having both, and that lacking one is lacking both.

May you one day live such your best life that you dream when you sleep and when you wake up you’re still dreaming.

And may you one day come to experience what it is like truly to come home, rather than just returning to a house.

Or, maybe, just maybe:

***

I’ll see you guys.

And don’t take any wooden nickels.

sunset-ride





Quelle Surprise

30 08 2018

Your Blogmeister’s Secret Hideout

Well peanut gallery, I’m good to go.

I know where precisely I’ll be living in terms of a street address, and all the lease paperwork for it is signed sealed delivered.  That was my last unresolved issue, and that got done on Tuesday.  Yes, it is handicapped-accessible.

I’ve got a bunch of new tech kit, including new headphones and new binoculars, both made by companies not too far from where I’ll be moving.  New camera.   A new sail foam, which got delivered on Tuesday, and I especially need it because my current Alexander Graham Verizon CDMA foam won’t work where I’m going.  I deliberately did not take my current foam with me on the summer voyage, in fear of accidentally using it and raking up a ginormous international roaming bill.  Turns out I need not have worried, because CDMA foams will not work at all anywhere in Europe, except as WiFi devices, and I had my tablet and laptop with me for that.  New laptop with desktop specs, which will be my main productivity device.  New tablet.  I even have a sail foam service provider contract all lined up;  My new metropolitan geography and one of its notable corporate citizens made that choice very easy.  Brought you by the letter T.  I already know my new international phone number, and all I’ll have to do is pop the T company’s SIM card into my foam, and I’m good to go.  I even have something called a “virtual port” or “tossable number” which means that my existing American foam number will ring or text my international number, meaning anyone back here that calls or texts me won’t be running up a meter on their end, even though it will cost me.  Which means it’s a thing I’ll use sparingly and only for important matters.

I know what will be my first weekend’s recreational activity in my new area.  Hence the binoculars and the camera.

I even know where I’ll be going on my first long distance business trip, which will have me out on the road for a month.

I’ve gotten my final St. Louis haircut, seen Soulard Market, the Arch, the Archgrounds, and the newly redesigned and renovated Museum of Westward Expansion, and all the big Forest Park attractions, for the last time in a long time and perhaps ever.  I should say now that if I don’t see the new MWE ever again, it will be too soon, because they’ve social justiced out that mofo big time.

Now all that’s left to do is what little packing I have remaining, double check everything, and then actually go, which will be one of the regular business days next holiday-shortened week.

But not before I take in what I have already been told will be a surprise this long holiday weekend.  Can’t be much of a surprise if I already know it’s coming.  I guess the “surprise” in this non-surprise is that I don’t know what it is precisely, though I can hazard a guess that, since it will be held the last weekend before I move away from St. Louis for a long time and maybe for good, it’s probably something along the lines of a going away party.

Some time on Labor Day, I’ll have a very special final St. Louis post here in this space.

And like I always say, look for some big national or international news to drop late in the afternoon tomorrow, with the intention of it getting buried in the long holiday weekend.





Learning German 101

29 08 2018

Your Blogmeister’s Secret Hideout

The German language has a knack for mashing together simple words into a single compound word that’s 87 letters long with nine umlautted vowels and ending in either F or G, and the compound word properly translated almost has nothing to do with the literal translations or meanings of any of the constituent part simple words.





Some Good Timing For Some Good News

27 08 2018

Your Blogmeister’s Secret Hideout

Today I got hard copy physical scientific medical testing proof of that which I have sensed has been happening in the last about a month and a half:

My cognitive functioning has made a measurable improvement.  Even if not a 100% full improvement.  And even if not accompanied by any physical improvement.  What I did today is what as late as February I would not have been able to do, because attempting that kind of cognitive activity caused me physical pain, and also what I was not quite capable of doing when I got my first test after the voyage, even if it didn’t cause me physical pain.

My cognitive condition has improved to the point to where, if I still had my startup, and if I wasn’t on the verge of doing bigger and better things a moving a long way to do them, I would be able to start doing my startup again in terms of its cognitive demands only.  But it was also something of a physically demanding startup, so there’s the non-starter.  And as you all know in reality, I had to sell my concepts and IP early this year because the creditors pushed the issue and I was still in no shape.

Yet and still, this good news is coming at just the right time.  We are now only a single digit number of days away from liftoff.  So I’m going to have a lot of opportunity to put this suddenly restored brain power to good use.

What it also shows is that I continue to creep slowly in the right direction — The more time goes on that I don’t have any setbacks, the less likely it is that I’ll ever have any, and that any change in my condition will continue to be improvements.

However, the same is unfortunately true on the physical end, the more time goes on that I don’t show any improvements, the less likely it is that I ever will.  If I ever do make physical improvements, then that’s when physical therapy can come into play, because I would have to relearn a lot of things from a brain-motor functioning standpoint.  But if that happens at all, it will happen in my new city with my new doctors.

Today was my final rehab doctor visit in St. Louis.  When next I see any physician for that purpose, it will be in the new city.  I already know who those doctors are by name, and where they practice, and also that they and my St. Louis doctors are already talking to each other, and will continue to be talking to each other.  I even have my first appointment with them already scheduled.





Real Life Beckons

22 08 2018

Your Blogmeister’s Secret Hideout

I would really like to grieve some more over my just departed father, but the real world is calling, and I have to get back to it. Still have a few preparations to make and logistic issues to iron out.

I see in the news that the United States of America is about to blow its top and become really unstable. Which is why I’m glad I’ll be physically leaving it for awhile and maybe for good in about two weeks.

Then again, didn’t someone you know predict that the person of Donald John Trump would either be dead or king on November 3, 2020, a day that will also be just another day and not be experiencing an otherwise regularly scheduled event?

For those of you who are stuck here and left behind, do the best you can to stay safe.  Because it’s going to get really ugly.