Forgive My Rambling. I Am A Gnarly Oak.


I’m going to ramble here today. I’ll switch subjects often, which is likely considered even more of a sin for a writer than switching points of view in a way that confuses readers.

But then, I’ve always been more of a rambler than a writer. Writers make up stories. I just talk with a keyboard. Most of what I scribble is not fiction. Twirled and rearranged to suit a more balanced overall structure, yes. But it’s all me inside here, trying to escape the bounds of tangled branches and insufficient words.

I will ramble and twirl, yes. But I will not, however, apologize for my sometimes unpopular opinions. In late life, I discovered the value of being unpopular. Polite people have — and need to express — their opinions, even their unpopular ones, but they might best do so without employing mealy-mouthed prefaces, or subterranean apologies.

The gnarled oak trees you see decorating this loose excuse for an article never apologize for becoming bent over, never close their knotted holes in shame as they grasp for each other’s company, only to become entangled and unsteady in their final years. If I watch and listen to those twisted oak trees, I take away the lesson they offer. We are brothers.

So if I confuse or upset you, please stop reading. You might even next leave me a comment, telling me that my rambling style today turned you toward the kitchen, there to make Italian meatballs fit for throwing at me. I’d feel uplifted and uber-grateful even for such a garlicky comment. I’d attempt, of course, to catch those meatballs to eat for a late-night snack. Sicilians do not waste food, we eat it. Just as Sicilians do not get mad, we get even.

At least then I wouldn’t feel so all alone. You see . . .

I’ve been confined to my bed most of the time these past few weeks. I’m not complaining, just stating facts. My bed is comfortable.

My spine is slowly crumbling. The vertebrae began to fall apart some years ago. I lived a risky, foolish life, one that led toward misery and failure.

My risks cost me greatly. Among other parts of my body that I destroyed, I caused my already osteoporotic bones to deteriorate fast. Major surgery a little over a year ago meant that the surgeons had to split me wide open and pull my rib cage till some of my vertebrae began to weep, crackle and fall in upon themselves. This left me shorter even than I was before the surgery. Consequently, I avoid the company of those friends I love. Difficult enough to look up to them in a figurative sense (most are far better writers than I). But looking up to them by craning and cracking my cervical bones seems just too much to bear.

So, rambling back to the nature and purpose of beds; many other people are today and tonight sleeping on cardboard beds laid down in smelly alleyways. If I owned an extra bed, I’d give it to someone who needed a softer spot on which to sleep and there to dream of ways to help himself out of Hell. There are plenty of people who want to leave Hell and would do so with some help (not just cash). There are homeless people who want to and would rise again if given a proper lift. There are, as well, mental patients on the streets, there because our mental care facilities are too few, too inefficient, overwhelmed and ineffective when faced with the large population of people who suffer mental diseases.

But I’m not here today to argue in favor of the nonsensical suspicion that all people who sleep on cardboard beds laid down in malodorous alleys, want to improve their situations. For some, owning a home is considered a needless burden. I understand that idea. I hate having to call repairmen and then to pay them exorbitant rates. For the love of Mike, I wish I could hit a nail straight into a board, or connect two pipes together so the total drainage system wouldn’t leak. But I’m not masculine that way. Most women I’ve known – I’m heterosexual, not that that fact matters much at my age – they expect a male partner to be at least an amateur repairman. I can repair computers, but the last time I tried to hammer a nail, instead I hit my left index finger. I broke the last phalange of that finger. She now points westward, no matter the direction the rest of my body travels.

Side Note Interruption  #1: (I told you I’d ramble): While growing up – and dodging the beatings my mother dispensed each and every day – I oftentimes heard my dad, when he was frustrated with my crazy mother, utter the phrase, “FuhDuhLuvUh Mike!” A few days ago, for whatever mysterious reason, I wondered, Who the hell was Mike? I ran a simple search and discovered where Dad acquired the phrase. Interesting bit of history. You might want to run that same search. Or not.

So, rambling back to the homeless person’s plight; whatever a homeless person’s sad circumstance, I admit that I’m just the kind of old fart who wants a roof over his head anytime snow or rain might wet my wrinkled face or seep down my shirt collar, there to freeze my sagging tits. Old age has turned me soft. I lived a bad man’s life, one filled with events that encouraged and made my body highly susceptible to infections.

As well, I witnessed miracles. When I was young, I camped with only a pup tent and a sleeping bag somewhere on the Outer Banks off of Carolina’s coast. While there, I once watched the sun rise in the east, over the watery bed of an imaginary horizon formed at the non-existent edge of the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean. Today, I miss The Atlantic. I wish someday to own good enough health to return, maybe even to end my life there.

The major surgery I underwent a little over a year ago, extended my life for however long a period of time the uplifting, yet tremulous and doubtful, notion of a merciful god who guided my surgeons’ hands and now guides my depressed spirit decides to allow. That merciful god has in my mind completed medical school, served his time in internship Hell, and has then earned the full title of Doctor. Doctor God.

Doctor God roams somewhere within the fog-brained cloud of side effects my brain incurs by swallowing my prescribed pills each morning and evening. Together Doctor God and those now digested medications demand that I rise from my mattress, forget the pain induced by my crumbling spine and the weave of nerve cells that remain caught between pieces of bone. Together they demand that I rise and hobble toward the bathroom in order to save myself the kind of embarrassment usually reserved for babies’ diapers. I touch walls and bookshelves that help me keep my balance while I walk first to the toilet and then back to my bed. Holding on and touching, I feel almost as if my gait were sure and steady. Thank you bookshelves. Thank you steady walls.

Back sitting in bed, I try to re-read portions of books I once loved, but I give up when a series of pages disappoints me. Occasionally I pull my laptop up to a pillow that rests on my own lap, and like today, I tap tap tap here, or I scribble onto a scrap of paper. I scribble or tap whatever thoughts arise from my drug-stimulated nightmares (i.e. prescribed drugs only).

Side Note Interruption #2: This day lives near the end of an election season in the USA. So I posted the following few paragraphs on one of today’s favorite Social Networks just this morning. Many folks seem to consider voting a “civic duty.” In my mind, jury duty is a civic duty, because refusal to take part in a jury pool is against the law. But voting? Not so. At least not yet. It is my right as a USA citizen to vote. But it is, as well, my right not to vote. Below, I suggest that in today’s oligarchic political climate, voting has little effect on the direction our country’s leaders choose to travel, dragging us citizens behind them.

I understand and respect those many who hold different opinions. Below are mine.

NoVoteI Didn’t Vote, And I Will Not

IGNORE THIS POST if mention of political realities offends you. My intention is to state my beliefs during this election season in the USA. Up until recent times, I prefaced every statement I made in order to please those who might be offended by my sometimes unpopular opinions. Now that I’m old, I’ve learned that being unpopular is sometimes okay. Needless apologies (if I’ve done someone wrong, I apologize) strip a person of dignity. The silent sycophant gathers around himself people with whom he cannot be honest.

Rather than reading further, you may either pass this post by, yell a flag-waving retort, “unfriend” my rebel self, or look at the photo of me at 2 years of age. I was, even back then, a rebel.

I did not vote this year, and I *will* not. I reserve my right, as a USA citizen, not to vote. The USA, the country I love, has become a corporate oligarchy. The cash these mega-corporations wield in congress supersedes our votes.

Many years ago, another time arose in this country, a time when a citizen’s voice in opposition to our government’s policies had *no* effect on the decisions our rulers made. I should say *many* citizens’ voices.

A war expanded, and so more people were maimed and died. A war that had nothing to do with protecting our borders, but had much to do with protecting our economic interests and the international balance of power. I was young and strong enough back then to participate in the actions necessary to restore power to the people. We — many of our groups’ members were veterans of the unjustified war we sought to end — we went to the streets. We challenged authority in a direct way. We had more of an effect there than inside the voting booths. J. Edgar’s shiny-shoed foot soldiers kept a file on me and on many of my friends.

I am today too old, too weak, and far too ill to challenge authority in such a bold and physical way, but many other citizens are healthy enough and willing enough. The Occupy movement was just a beginning.

Meanwhile, I refuse to take part in what has become a charade. Let them vote, say the CEOs and the politicians who depend on their money to remain in office. Voting will no doubt make them feel better and therefore feel encouraged to forget about the topsy-turvy nature of our economy.

Love back atcha all,


AVT didn’t dare move from that chair for fear of a beating.

12 thoughts on “Forgive My Rambling. I Am A Gnarly Oak.

  1. Anthony, during the same years of that unjust war, in the middle of a turbulent time when I thought I could and should make a difference, I wrote to myself in a journal titled Ramblings. It became the first title for my blog. It remains a major category of my blog.

    I ramble to make sense because I believe that nonsense makes perfect sense. I feel for your pain and that your body no longer takes the commands the mind issues. When once we could have a thought and the body snapped to attention, later our bodies can no longer work in concert with our desires.

    I believe that my ramblings have been left to me as a legacy from the crazy Italian family that formed my thoughts and morals. I came from people with a sense of intellect, creativity, of music and art and they left that to me. Where we used to be, who we were and those who made a difference in our life lives in our memory. And when all that is left to us are those memories, we need to find reason and voice.

    So ramble on, dear paesano.

    PS … I stopped voting decades ago as I believe it is my right to be embrace civil disobedience 🙂

  2. Anthony this is such a lovely and loving post. Don’t even think that you aren’t a writer. You’ve written something quite elegant here, something I would struggle with for several days to accomplish. And then probably not manage to string words together in such an eloquent fashion. I’m so sorry you’ve been in such pain for so long. There are so many things I wish–your return to good health is definitely one of them–but one of those wishes is that Bob and I will see you again soon. We miss you both. You and Kathy are important parts of our lives. Love and hugs and keep on writing. I loved this blog post.

    1. Dear Paul, Illness takes me down further each time I visit another doctor. The news is not good. And so my mood follows my body. And so I write less and sleep more. Still, I must tell you that I cherish any comment you offer about something I wrote. Thank you. Love coming your way. Anthony

  3. Seconding the remarks of other clearheaded critics, I find fault with your self-denigrating protests at your non-writer status. You do and so you are. You can and so you do–no, wait, that’s the bathroom part. All in all, a wonderful reminder that you are still bending the earth with your insight. I am glad to be reminded that we could all be greater, kinder and better versions of ourselves, and we should stop pursuing what we feel we lack and give thanks for what we have–like a stiff upper back. Blessings on your journey, Anthony. And thank you for rambling.

  4. lynnkelleyauthor

    I concur with the others, that you are a gifted writer, Anthony. I love your analogy of the gnarly oak and your meatball humor. Made me laugh out loud! I’m so sorry your back is deteriorating and causing much suffering. Despite all your pain, you’re able to sympathize with those who sleep on the streets. It’s truly a shame so many of them are mentally ill and are tossed aside. A well written post with lots of thought provoking rambles you should be proud of. Cutie pie two-year-old Anthony. Breaks my heart to think he’d be beaten. A spanking is one thing. A beating, not good. 😦 When they finally invent time travel, I’m going back in time to pick up that little boy and cuddle him like I do with my darling grandchildren!

    1. Lynn, Thanks for reading. That young boy is gone now, but he would have welcomed some saving grace. My most difficult hurdle was jumping over hurt, and the desire for revenge, in favor of helping those too afraid to yell, “Help me.”

  5. karenmcfarland

    Anthony, I cannot tell you how happy I was to receive your post in my email the other day. Thank you so much for your update. I knew you had surgery, I just didn’t know what it entailed. The back. Wow, my friend, I cannot tell you how that strikes a personal cord since my dear husband suffers from extreme pain because of his back. His pain stems from being rear-ended. The original pain was relieved through surgery two years ago. Only, now he suffers from immense pain from the metal parts that were used on his spine because they are fraudulent. The surgeon that did his surgery, only worked out of one hospital, Pacific Hospital of Long Beach. Well, don’t you know, the hospital was closed down last summer by the FBI and the Justice Department. (It is the largest medical fraud case in U.S. history) The hospital and it looks like the doctor also, were involved in using non-FDA approved spinal parts which were made in a small machine shop in Temecula, Ca. Not made of titanium. They don’t know exactly what they’re made of. We suspect surgical steel, maybe. Needless to say, my husband is in worse pain by the day ever since he had the surgery. Now the battle to get the parts out. After eight doctors, we finally found a good surgeon that is willing to take them out and understands the parameters of the situation. But now the insurance company had declined the surgery. The appeal process starts. Iy, yi, yi! So even though your back problems may be different, I do sympathize with your person trials and perseverance. Every day is a triumph! And I for one am encouraged by your strength! Keep writing Anthony! 🙂

  6. Karen, I am sorry to hear about your husband’s plight. What happened to him was criminal. You are always pleasant and encouraging toward other people; and yet, now I discover that you must daily face a trial of great proportions. My thoughts are with you and your husband.

  7. Paula Hagar

    I cannot get enough of you and your writing, Anthony, no matter what you write; what you say; what you believe (or don’t) – ALL your words are such a delectable stew and I cherish each mouthful, and will for as long as you keep sharing them, and you.

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