Sanity, Of Sorts

           It’s been a tough year ( “hectic” is probably closer to the truth ) and when  things pile on quickly I tend to get down on myself, and eventually I get a little depressed. I begin to dread dealing with people, dealing with problems that shouldn’t be all that big of a deal. Finally I don’t want to talk to people at all, I just want to mull whatever problem or challenge is on my plate until I over think it and make it into something huge and monstrous. Luckily, that’s usually when I remember one of the wiser things that I’ve heard come out of Dud’s mouth: “Badger’s Drift, you ninny,” he said. I had asked him how to get out of the funk I was in and he let loose in a flash: “Just go to Badger’s Drift for a while, and it’ll all start to make sense, again!”

          “But that’s a fictitious town,” I said. “Charlotte Graham created it in her Midsomer County mystery Novels.You can’t just GO there! It’s mostly just become the Midsomer Murders series from the BBC Network.

          “Of course you can, dummy, up here!” He tapped his forehead with his thumb and it slowly dawned on me what he was saying. “You said you thought it was a neat place as described in that TV series you go on about; so GO there in your head. Or to that amusement park you liked as a kid (Waldemere Park), or even that hunting camp you saw in that magazine. That’s what I do when things get me down: I go off in my mind to somewhere I couldn’t possibly be depressed for long, and before you know it reality doesn’t seem so bad. I mentally come home and start seriously working out what needs to be done.”

          Now, Badger’s Drift isn’t specifically what I use to straighten myself out, but I’m almost certain it would work. You see, it’s not the “memory” of a happy time or place that helps, it’s the joy and comfort that was felt there. It’s the knowing that there were conflicts and problems back then as well, but I was able to compartmentalize things and enjoy the good while not really ignoring the bad. I usually find that what brings me back to the here-and-now isn’t the escaping from conflict and trouble, it’s actually the LACK of those things that make “Living” in Badger’s Drift lose it’s attraction very quickly. Midsomer County is a lovely, idyllic place where head-scratching mysteries abound and beautiful scenery and people flood the senses. But ultimately you know the solution to the mystery, you know what ride you’ll like best at the park and you know what joys the hunting and fishing have in store for you. It’s all right there in your own head, and you can’t really make yourself wonder how any of it will turn out.

          Without really intending to, Dudley had shown my how to retake control of moods: By placing myself (for just a while) in a place where problems are eliminated, I start to see the value in them. I begin to realize that life without conflict is dull and becomes unattractive quickly, and that actual worries – however vexing and even maddening they can become – are what keeps the heart beating and the juices flowing. Badger’s Drift is at it’s exciting best when I’m watching a new episode and really DON’T know the solution. The real world is full of depressing, upsetting things. But it’s also part of the fabric of our lives. And yes, we can and should find a place like China or Salt Fork or a West Virginia river that was MADE for kayaking under huge bridges – any of which we can retreat to for a break. But as long as we see that simply reliving a happy memory doesn’t make NEW happy times, I think we’ll be alright.

          This, anyway, has been working for me for some time. If it ever stops helping I don’t know what I’ll try next … but I’m pretty sure I’m not likely to tell all of you about it. You have your own problems.

vince katarzynski

 

 

 

 

 

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Dudley on Safari

          The sudden, distant “snap” sound as I was trying to get to sleep reminded me of a rather unusual (I was going to say “odd”, but what follows involves Dudley, and is therefore always odd) conversation I had with my pal Dudley some 20 or more years ago. Dud, like me, had been a hunter for a good part of his life, and we were talking about our “old timer’s” view of hunting. This involved ammunition ads in Field and Stream  and other magazines where men in red plaid shirts sat smoking pipes next to a quaint fireplace (always lit and warming, of course) with ancient bamboo fly rods and lever-action carbine rifles readily at hand. That was how my generation seemed to see the “outdoorsman’s life”.

          Well, Dud was saying how he missed those days at hunting camp, and the associated adventures we had there. “And I still have a hunt every fall,” he said, “even though I gave up the camp and quit going to the woods.” Obviously I had to ask how he hunted without going to the woods. “Mice.” He was actually straight-face and serious when he said this, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

          “Oh, yeah!”, he said. “Every fall the damn things come into the house from the field across the street, and they scare the bejeebers outa the wife!” He got that far away look in his eye that meant a story was coming and I had to hear the rest. “So, missing the fall hunt as I do, I grab the kid’s old BB rifle and park my butt in a corner of the kitchen and I hunt ’em.” He was actually enjoying the mental image  as he related the details. “It’s me against them,” he said. “I sit real quiet and after a while the critters think I’m gone and begin to move. They’ll stick their nose out from behind the stove or the cupboard just far enough to look around.” He was seriously into the story by this time: “I studied them over the years, and they always do the same things. They smell the food and water in the kitchen, and that’s always where I get  ’em.”

          Now, you have to know Dud to understand this, but to him this all seemed like a mini hunting trip and he was glad to recount his adventure. “I hate to brag, (actually Dudley LOVES to brag about just about everything) but even with the simple sights on a kid’s BB gun, I usually managed to get them all. I even got seven in one season two years ago!” He was absolutely beaming at that marvelous feat! “Damn wife still sets the traps, so I sometimes don’t get them all myself, but most years it’s down to me to outsmart the things and get rid of them.” (I should say here that I’m sure that, except for Mickey – who made Walt Disney the Donald Trump of  comic books, I believe Dud could outsmart any mouse I ever met.)

          He went on to explain how he’d sit for two or three hours at a time, waiting for his quarry to show itself. His wife insisted he was insane (which she still often does), and once accused him of trying to kill her with the BB gun when a ricochet tapped the wall next to her. His son also thought he was crazy, but he was a teen when he said that and all teens think the old man is crazy. But apparently this annual hunt for the dreaded mice went on for several years until it was noticed that one of the rare(?) misses had hit the gas line running to his stove and his wife said she’d leave him if he fired it in the house again. She was afraid he’d blow the house up if he hit the gas line in just the wrong way. It was useless trying to explain that the lead pipe running gas to the stove wasn’t likely to be damages by an air rifle.

           And so ended Dudley’s last desperate attempt to keep the sporting life alive. He doesn’t talk about it much, and I probably won’t tell him my trap has bagged three of the critters this “season”. And at least once one of the sly little creeps has eaten all the peanut butter off the trap WITHOUT setting it off. That, of course has MY wife speculating about evolved, intelligent mice who can outwit man-made traps. I don’t want to tell Dud about her theory, because he’d bring a lunch and set up a stand in my kitchen and we’d have to eat out for weeks until he was convinced we were rodent-free. Sigh! I guess once a thing is romanticized and gotten under your skin, it will always be with you.

Vince Katarzynski

Prescription Sun Glasses

          Prior to moving from Erie, Pa. to Toledo, Oh. I had cataract surgery on both eyes (not simultaneously) and found a “deal” on two pairs of glasses, with blended bi-focal lenses, and had one of the two tinted to make them sunglasses. (I remember calling them “shades” as a smart-guy teen, even though “tinted windows” would have been much closer to the truth.) Well, in the hectic days before moving the dark glasses predictably disappeared. Left, I thought, somewhere in the old digs for the landlord’s crew to find and toss in the trash.

          I spent the best part of the last 3 months trying to remember where I might have put the extra pair, hoping to find I’d actually had the wits to pack them with other must-haves to move with us. Now, at 72 and still getting older (thank God) I didn’t have a snowball’s chance of remembering where they were. I even went through boxes which we’ve still not emptied and found nothing. I gave myself a good talking-to about the folly of buying prescription sun glasses at my age. The EGO! The out-and-out self-indulgence of the thing began to weigh on me. And now they were gone, as if someone “up there” was teaching me a lesson.

          Well, if you’ve ever moved to a new town in a new state you’ll realize the disruption it causes in everything you do. 3 1/2 months later we’ve come nowhere near settling in and finding a “normal” for ourselves (wife Marge and I) and almost every day I find myself changing a long-held practice to accommodate either the new apartment or the new geography I find myself in. (Yes, I know about that infinitive!) And that’s why yesterday, after grocery shopping, I decided to try my wife’s idea of putting the items in the trunk of the car instead of the back seat as usual.

          As I put the first bags in,I noticed two things: First, the pocket on my golf bag where the shiny new white golf balls are kept (I don’t get to keep many of them long enough for them to get dirty), was partially open. Second, as I reached to close it I saw that there was something black showing through the opening: It was the eyeglass case I kept the tinted windows in! I’d actually put them in the place I’d need them the most – with my golf clubs. But in the turmoil of moving and adapting to a new world, I haven’t played golf this year! At all! And so sat the sunglasses, waiting patiently to be found. Sadly, it’s November 6th, with overcast skys predicted until some time in early May of next year. Dudley, my closest friend, thinks all of this is a scream. He laughed so hard when I told him that I had to loan him my handkerchief (yes, I carry one) to dab away the tears. “Serves you right for ever moving, ” he said. I should mention that Dud still resents my move, even though he pick-up and followed me to Toledo.

           Oddly, the sunglasses aren’t the only “found” thing in my life right now. For some 23+ years I worked in the Pennsylvania Liquor stores. Not a career I’d recommend to anyone, but a career none-the-less. Well, it was clear from the start that I’d have to find work here in Toledo to make ends meet, so I dutifully filled out job applications on-line (they all seem to insist that you apply on line, and that opens up another can of worms which will undoubtedly be the subject of my next blog post.) And I was delighted Kroger called me for an interview. I was tentatively offered a “shopper’s” job, and asked about work history. The next day I received a training schedule in (you guessed it) the State Liquor store attached to (leased to) the Kroger store. After rejoicing some 11 years ago that I’d never deal with another drunk, or another obvious alcoholic with that specific attitude, here I am! I’m working 4 or 5 days a week part-time, doing the same old thing. I feel like the glasses: Free for a good long time, only to have my nemesis find me hiding and start the whole thing over again! Maybe I should have left the sunglasses where they were until next season!

 

vince katarzynski

Life in The New World

 

Moving to a new place is always a shock to the system, but it seems more-so when your “of a certain age”. Strange differences between cities, States, even geographic areas can be startling, even though they are – in themselves – of little consequence. Some differences are jarring, totally unexpected, others just surprising and a pleasant change.

For example, the City of Toledo seems obsessed with speed bumps. There are speed bumps in parking lots, apartment complexes, even some side-streets are strewn with the annoying things and can cause serious damage if you’re not looking for them. One such street near my new apartment had me literally bouncing off the ceiling of my car before I even saw them. There are at least four bumps (possibly five) on that connector between major east-west arteries. I’ve learned to avoid it because of this, but what a shock to find myself bouncing wildly on a simple city street!

Another jolt to the (my) system came on a simple search for our evening meal. I am partial to meatball subs, and one evening my wife felt poorly, so I decided to get a meatball sub (she hates the things) since I’d be on my own that day. Marco’s, a name I’m familiar with from Erie, Pa., has a shop about a mile away so I called to order my treat (I have always liked the Marco’s meatball sub especially well). But when I called, I discovered that Toledo Marco’s restaurants (Toledo is the original home of Marco’s) do not offer meatball subs! Stunned, I called several other pizza shops in my area, only to find that NONE of them sell meatball subs! You’d think I was asking for caviar-stuffed scorpion tales! But what can you expect from a town that has never HEARD of pepperoni balls, ox roast sandwiches or Smith’s hot dogs and ring bologna? Greek burgers would be like asking for the moon!

Sure, all of these things rattle the system. But there are compensations: I find that Toledoans (Toledans?) almost universally drive much more safely than Erie people. The City speed limits are slightly higher here, but drivers almost always adhere to the limit, so one feels comfortable complying. Also, they show a much greater willingness to make room for the other guy and seem to take the “new guy’s” indecision much more calmly them Erie folk.

          Most pleasant of all is the way one is treated in local shops, stores, restaurants, ect. When the bank teller I encountered this morning said: “Thank you for choosing Huntington Bank” this morning, I got the distinct impression she actually meant it! She seemed to appreciate the fact that I was there. Now, I AM aware that this was a canned utterance and that she says it a thousand times each week. But for some reason the average retail or public contact workers in this area seem to have been schooled in  making their greetings seem heartfelt and honest. And it seems to be almost universal in the area. Hell, I worked in retail for 28 years in Erie, and was always provided with a standardized opening line. But never in those years was I told to make it sound real. I rattled it off in wooden monotone, and no manager/trainer ever corrected me.

           I’m trying hard to get used to the new environment, and I suspect I will succeed one day. I may never get used to the flatness of the area – the complete lack of geographic features – but that’s all right. I can find most places as long as the battery in my phone holds out, and despite the fact that Toledo is not the absolute N/S – E/W grid I’m used to I am getting the hang of this place. I just pray to God I’m not in the same zip code the day friend Dudley discovers the meatball sub thing.

vince katarzynski

He’s Here!

          He swore he’d never make the move, but friend Dudley has packed up his Pennsylvania digs and carted the whole lot to Toledo. He says, of course, that my moving here with my wife to be near grand-and-great-grand kids had nothing to do with his move. He claims he likes the fishing in this part od Lake Erie better, and that he is an avid Detroit Tigers fan and wanted to be close enough to day-trip to the games. Whatever. He’s here! And he’s in rare form.

          He stopped in to let us know he’d moved, and immediately tore into “what’s wrong with Toledo”.  “It’s flat,” he said. “You can look all day and never see a mountain or hill, or even an interesting dip in the landscape!”  I told him that was (however slight) an exaggeration, but he’d have none of it: “You could test fire Ronnie Reagan’s laser gizmo in Toledo, and you’d probable burn the hell out of some poor sap’s butt in Cincinnati! Nothing to stop it!” He even claimed total shock at the idea that rivers Maumi, etc. in the area actually flow somewhere. “There’s no hill to flow downhill from!”

          Then he went on to the general difference in state regulations. Dud, of course, lived in Pa, near me in Erie. There, for example, auto titles are registered and issued through the States Notary Public system. Take your information to the local notary and they notify your lien holder to release the old title and Pa. returns the new title to them. “In Ohio it was a 2-week process, involving separate fees for everything from a ‘VIN inspection’ to an issuance fee, to a ‘convenience’ fee, all for the privilege of letting them overcharge for a process they – themselves – screwed up TWICE and made me wait while the corrected THEIR error!!” (He was in rant mode here, so I tried to deflect his attention.)

          “Did you know there’s a Jeep convention going on in Toledo this weekend?” I asked. “You own a Jeep , don’t you? You should enjoy that!” “ARE YOU NUTS?”,he screamed. “Who would be proud to have built that #@*^$% lemon? The only convention I’d attend is one where they gather to cuss the day they ever saw a Jeep and stone the front door of the Jeep plant!” He turned redder than I’ve ever seen him, and he couldn’t talk for a few minutes. Finally I suggested a quick 9 holes of golf to get us both some air, and he agreed. I won’t say how we did, but there’s usually one-or-two shots per round for most golfers that keep us coming back…shots we wish had been recorded to prove they actually happened. Well, this time, in 9 holes, there wasn’t a single shot that either of us would ever admit to having made. It was dismal, and did nothing at all for Dudley’s mood.

          But in spite of it all , it is good to have a friend in the new surroundings. He might be cranky, but he’s also a bit of the old home come to stay. I expect to see Dud a little more often, of course, because neither of us knows a great many people here. I have family to visit (and great grand kids to spoil) but outside of that it looks like Dudley will be the alternative for a while. And that’s OK. I’m certainly used to him by now!

vince katarzynski

Moving Month

          It’s here. Like a freight train the day of our move to Toledo is barreling down the track at us and we (wife and I) are like Siamese deer in the awful lone headlight coming at us. In two weeks our wonderful Samaritans (family all) will have us packed into a rented truck and headed to a new world. There’s no stopping it, and no way to change our minds. We’ve changed addresses at the appropriate places; we’ve sent the change notice to the USPS branch near us; and even said farewell to co-workers and bosses and officially resigned. That train is here.

          Of course,there are forces against us. Dudley keeps pushing for more long, easy days of eating pizza, quaffing alarming amounts of root beer, and binge-watching reruns of “Midsomer Murders” and “Monk” instead of preparing to move. Every time we try to clear a room or area, something blocks access to it or prevents moving “A” until “B” is out of the way. And old friends and forgotten commitments seem to be knocking or phoning or popping up every second. People my wife hasn’t seen since we met (over 40 years ago) have called and “caught up” with her just this week! My car, of course, had to rear it’s very ugly head in the middle of things, and left us without wheels for over a week. Even my shoulder injury decided this would be a great time to act up and hamper every effort I make to get things done.

          The fact is that we are facing the accumulated “stuff” of 17 years in the same apartment, and 40 years together as a couple, and can’t get the time to discard what we need to discard. Whatever’s left in two weeks is destined to come with us and begin the accumulation of a new pile of old stuff. It’s like sour mash whiskey: the old, soured corn mash makes the smoothest booze, so some of it is saved and used as a base for the new batch. Our junk will probably be smoother, more refined because we won’t have gotten rid of all of the old junk! Seriously, there isn’t time left to go through all of this “stuff” and make decisions. I, for one, will probably just start filling bags and not stop until the “movers” get here. I’ll have to own what’s left.

          And it’s not ALL our fault. We’ve had a special “good-bye’ to attend at church, a freebie gift of an evening on a local cruse/party boat on the lake, and a farewell dinner from a dear friend – all just this week. We have house guests coming Thursday, a family reunion in Bedford on Sunday, and a serious awards dinner  and presentation to attend on the Tuesday before we move (Friday and Saturday is the actual pack-up and git.) Throw in a couple of great grand kids to play with and more bank and card people to contact and utilities to close out, and that’s about all we have left to do. That on-coming train is deafening when it’s this close. I’m entertaining the idea of NOT jumping out of the way when it reaches me.

 

vince katarzynski

Something Isn’t Right

          Sometimes the universe seems to be off…slightly out of phase somehow…and I can never quite put my finger on what the problem is. Right now, for example, nothing seems to be quite right: Dudley’s hated tree, for example, is full of lovely white flowers that really look great. But it’s also in full stink! It smells like cat spray (one of the many reasons to despise cats) and has done for almost a week. It will continue to smell for another week, by which time the beautiful white flowers will have fallen off its branches and turned the entire area into a dirty white mess which clings to shoes and tracks into houses. (The various messes and drippings from the monstrosity will continue ’til late July.)

          And that brings up another glitch: My kids have “informed” us (my wife and I) that we are moving to Toledo, Ohio. (Sylvania, really, but it’s a suburb of Toledo.) But the May move has been reset to mid-July because of availability problems with our prospective apartment. There’s an ad on TV that says: “Change your apartment and change the world.” Well, it’s true. At 72 and 75 we are about to be planted into a world we know nothing about: Not which direction the grocery is, not the easiest way to get to the “Y” or the golf course, not even which direction My great grand kids live in, and they LIVE in Sylvania. Sure, I know how to find these things, but in Erie I can stop at any point and point directly to any of those things (even Toledo).

          Even things as basic as eyesight are off. I made the STUPID mistake of buying “blended” or “no line” glasses, and now the quarter-inch-or-so of “blend” drives me crazy. It even disorients me to the point of making me unsteady at times because the blur gives the impression the I’m somehow off-center, leaning when I’m not. That, coupled with the daily discovery of new aches, pains and subtle loss of function here and there has made the world a fluid, changing thing. Whoever said: “It’s hell getting old…” knew what he was talking about. And for those who don’t know what that means: Wait a minute.

          Even the couple we often spend time with for companionship  with people our own age are now showing signs of dysphagia, too. They  have increasing physical problems that are worrisome and frankly unacceptable. We can’t have them having problems some two hours away from us that we can’t hop in the car and go fix. And don’t get me started on kids who have problems miles away that we can’t soothe.

          I am seeing more idiots on the roads, more rude people in stores than ever before, more stories about shootings, abductions, assaults, rapes, abuses of power, and rampant corruption, (and yes, some of that does apply to the jackass in the white house). But most of all, I think it’s me: I seem to be seeing or noticing or finding more of this out-of-sync world that ever before. Maybe I need nap.

vince katarzynski

Dudley’s Explosion

It seems I’m in serious hot water with my old pal Dudley. He actually stopped at my apartment the other day, and he was red-faced with anger. “I just found out on FACEBOOK that you’re moving to Toledo or Toledo, Pa. or some such nonsense!”, he boomed. He wasn’t about to let me explain that it’s Sylvania, Ohio – a suburb of Toledo. “You never even told ME you were moving, let alone give me a chance to talk some sense into that skull of yours.” (Dud doesn’t necessarily buy the idea that people can do what they must without consulting him.)

“Listen, Dud,” I said, “I had every intention of telling you once I had a date for the move and an address. Besides, I knew you’d see it discussed on Facebook and I’ve been working and trying to organize a few other things in the past few weeks.”

“No! No! No! Don’t make excuses,” he roared, “you were going to slither out of town without even telling me. Where’s your sense of brotherhood, your sense of comradery; your SENSE!?” He stopped to let his blood pressure level off. “We slogged through drifts of virgin snow from my dorm at Edinboro to the Hotel bar and laughed and reveled in the storm as we went! We chased girls and picked fights and laughed at each others bruises afterwards!” he was right, of course, and we’d done a thousand other things we’d later deny to the death.

We fleeced would-be pinochle players out of their lunch money in the old Student Union building. We swiped bricks fron the campus admin. building – Normal Hall – when it burned down, just to have souveniers. And he took me on a week-long pub-crawl when I got back to Erie after almost 3 years active duty in the Navy. (You should have heard the explosion when he found out I joined the Navy Reserves!)

Later I taught him to play golf, and he’s made it a personal mission to beat me at the game I taught him (he never does). In fact he’s the only golfer I know that I can beat regularly. He even plays in the family tournament (the Kflembeauski Cup). He’s never won, although there was one time when he called the engraver (my wife) and insisted that HE had won and she should put his name on the trophy. He means well, he just needs to feel he’s a part of something. Dudley is one of two people on this planet that I would share anything with, knowing that it would go no farther.

But I’ve wandered, here. Dud continued to fume while I explained the reasons for the move and made all kinds of promises about returning to Erie in a heartbeat and having him over ANY time he wanders into the Toledo area. There are so many more memories that flood into my head when I talk to Dudley, but some of them are still just between him and me. I’ll always see Dud when I want to, it’s the times and places we’ve shared together that it will be torture to leave.

vince katarzynski

Will the new year be “new”?

To borrow a phrase from my TV friends in Midsomer, I am delighted to see the back of 2017. Really. This past year has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows that has left me (us, really) exhausted. From the wonderful get-away to South Carolina to my loving wife’s terrible health problems; from visits with our great-grandchildren to our daughter’s health problems; from increased time with two beloved people at our meeting place in Mercer to the final demise of an old  and loved car (and its replacement with a lump), there has been no smooth, carefree time all year.

It seems nothing, even the simplest, most straight forward of events had their twists and turns. I underwent cataract surgery in both eyes – one of the most common procedures for people of my age. Only I had an allergic reaction to the medicine (drops) they use to heal the eyes, and spent inordinate time clearing the allergy. I got a good deal on glasses (I still need them for reading) and got free no-line bifocals. Except I’ve never had the “no-line” lenses before and over a month later the blur between clear top and prescription bottoms is driving me crazy. I use the glasses as seldom as possible be cause that annoying blur actually makes me nauseous and effects my balance.

My wife was especially strained last year. She’s had extensive trouble getting some medications balanced – by trial and error – and is only now beginning to see an improvement in her comfort levels. Our daughter, whom she is especially close with had problems earlier, and has just recently moved out of our area. Marge has lost her best friend, and that combined with these other problems has left her depressed and needing a fresh start, of sorts. I call it reinventing one’s self, and she is definitely in need of it.

I, myself, find even familiar things backfired in 2017. The Erie weather is something I’ve long defended and loved about my home. But with my job (delivering prescriptions) I find that the beautiful white scenery of this last winter blast has me slogging through snow up to my ample butt, up steps left icy and clogged, and even kicking mounds of snow away from doors so that customers can get their doors open to sign for their deliveries.

And finally, I’ve been burning to write several blogs on subjects that I have had to re-think and set aside because what effects me also effects others, and sometimes violates their right to privacy. As the months dragged on in the midst of all of these travails, I’ve scrapped at least four urgent posts because I had no right to disclose other peoples’ misfortunes. Even now I’m anxiously awaiting news that my dear daughter-in-law has finally fully recovered from a delicate surgery. It’s not my place to write about it, other than to send her all the love and prayers I can and let her know I’m pulling for her.

So,  the question remains: will the new year really be “new”, or more of the same? There’s no way to truly know, but with all the ups and downs, and twists on the expected, I don’t see how 2018 could possibly be an extension of the 2017 course. We didn’t even play a Kflembeauski Cup tourney last year, and that can’t be tolerated. Oddly, I usually mark the years from my birthday (in August) and it’s sometimes hard to think of January 1st as an end to the old and a beginning of the new. But this year I can’t wait to start afresh!

Seeing (more) clearly

          I’m scheduled for cataract surgery next at the end of the month. That in itself is no particularly big deal. I happens all the time. And when I describe the coming surgery, people involuntarily cringe quite the same way they when you describe the insertion of a catheter. But I don’t, and that’s kind of the point of all this: First, you don’t really feel the eye surgery as you would the catheter. Your eye is numbed and you are just barely awake (thanks to some marvelous drugs) and only slightly responsive to instructions from the doctor. But the idea of this surgery (and necessarily the next one on the other eye) has me literally quite giddy.

          The prospect of reading street signs ahead of time; of following the pristine flight of a golf ball as it soars into the woods; of recognizing faces BEFORE hearing their voices! All of these and hundreds of other sights will again be open to me. While waiting for the cataracts to “mature” enough for surgery, even new eyeglass prescriptions were only marginally helpful , and within a short time would begin to lose their effect as the cataracts further blurred and shadowed my vision. And, trust me, I’m well aware that millions of people are in the same boat, waiting for their shot at having the cataracts removed from their eyes.

          Perhaps the most immediate benefit will be work related: I deliver prescription for a local pharmacy. Some of the ridiculous things I’ve had to do to see the addresses on homes as I work would not be believed. In one instance, six or seven homes in a row had unreadable addresses, and the numbers were not sequential to begin with. I had to look for the last number below the target, then find the next number above the target, and guesstimate where the target address would be and approach the house to see the actual number Turned out I was 2 houses off!) And reading the target address on the delivery package sometimes means stopping the car and bringing the label close enough to read. (Glad my boss doesn’t know I blog!)

          Even personal relationships are effected. A month ago I played golf with a dear friend for the first time. He had to guide me to my ball several times and must have thought I was just too lazy to watch it. My putting has never been any good, but by last month I three-and-four-putted greens that just weren’t that difficult. Now we.re planning an outing on the course the day BEFORE my surgery. and I have every expectation of embarrassing myself further. Luckily, he’s just not the kind of guy who will think any the worse of me, he’ll just assume I’m a lousy golfer – and I am. At least I can use the opportunity to cook him (and his wonderful wing-woman) a nice dinner, or perhaps treat them to dinner out that evening, their choice. I should admit, also, that I’ve driven my poor wife a little crazier than usual with my constantly asking what is clearly printed on the TV screen. IT’s nice to have people who understand.

          With every other surgery os even office “procedure” I’ve undergone there has always been at least a little trepidation – a little anxiety – on my part, but mot this time. In fact, I’ll probably pester the doctor to schedule the second eye as soon as possible. I want to see!

vince katarzynski