Wayne Michael Reich

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The Road Still Ahead (Beyond the Toe-path)

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”- Isaac Asimov

“My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already.”- Milton Berle

Hello Blogiteers!

What a short strange trip it’s been regarding my settling in to our new life here just outside Silver City, New Mexico, and what a cache it’s generated in regards to my writing- I don’t think I’ve torn this particular size of hole in my writers block for quite some time now, and it feels great, just great. Granted, what “inspired” it was a horrific experience to be sure, but hey- the muse strikes when she strikes, and you’ve just gotta roll with the punches as they come, I guess.

On a more domestic note, we finally have all the living room furniture sited relatively where we want it, so the minor tweaking to be done here and there means that eventually all the books and art currently stored out in our one-car garage will come inside the residence and find their for-right-now homes, now that we know where those homes will be. Thank God, our kindly rent by the hour handyman was willing to give us a hand, or all of this would’ve had to wait until I was able to stand up and walk like a normal person, which could still be several weeks from now.

Somehow, I’ve managed to not let all of the aggravation of being incapable to fully unpack and finish what needs to be done, get to me. How, if truth be told, I’m not entirely sure. Oh wait, I do know- this town has three medical “green” dispensaries, and the product pricing is fairly competitive. All non-kidding aside, there is something about New Mexico that definitely causes one to cool out like a penguin on a glacier, and while I’m really not sure what it is, I don’t seem to be fighting this current circumstance with my usual fervor, as for some unhindered reason, my psyche isn’t really tugging at me to do so, which is a uniquely fresh occurrence for me to ruminate on whenever time here gets slow.

There’s definitely an established pace here, and it’s literally whatever speed you feel like, as long as that velocity is set squarely at chill. I never thought I’d say this, but minus all the personal medical drama, I’m really enjoying being able to breathe and even theoretically relax, for what seems like the first time in years.

No art scene drama (as of yet) no second-handers* up in my grill, (as of yet) no mewling Artlink sycophants (because they thankfully don’t exist here) and you have no idea how bloody refreshing it’s been not having to write about Phoenix’s faux arts advocacy group Artlink, it’s cravenly leader, [the very epitome of a second-hander, in my opinion] and all of it’s bullspit. Heck, I’ve even started waving hello at perfect strangers here, because that’s what us disturbingly friendly locals do.
*[A second-hander (taken from Ayn Rand’s writings and philosophy) is a person who is primarily concerned with being esteemed and valued by others, at the expense of forming his/her own independent worldview. A person who derives their decisions from the worldview of others; with the sole metric of merit based off of how others will recieve and accept their decision not based on merit or truth but on popular perception.

They’re also notorious for taking the solidly virtuous ideas of others, and cocking them up, primarily due to a toxic blend of personal arrogance and Ego, which describes Artlinks’ procedural abilities and some of it’s board members [IMHO] to a “T”, as the cliché goes.]

As someone who’s somewhat notorious for having what was once benevolently described as “a mouth full of razor blades”, it’s definitely extraordinary to find myself surrounded by what on the surface, appears to be genuinely decent people, which so far has kept my bladed-tongue to some extent, fully sheathed. I’m sure given the law of averages, that eventually I’ll run into someone here that will set me off, and if you’ve read the first part of my New Mexico saga, that sort of already happened, albeit on a minor scale, but so far, when I’ve run into a true jerk, they’re either a tourist on vacation, or just briefly passing through this hamlet on their way to somewhere else. And while I seem to be easily coexisting with the vibe of this place, I’m still holding onto that inherent and magnificently cynical snarkiness of mine that we’ve all grown to… well, let’s just say “love” and move on shall we, if for nothing more than the sake of the narrative.

Given the fact that I’ve seen subtle little changes in regards to my outward attitude, I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure every morning that somebody hasn’t swapped me out for a Stepford-brand Android as I’ve slept, by going through a standard check list:

Do I still think Annabella Lwin, Debbie Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Milla Jovovich, and that one blonde girl from the old Pore Strips commercial are smoking hot? Check.  Do I still know in my heart that Ding Dongs are the far superior snack cake? Check. Do I still believe that Highlander is a near perfect movie and it’s sequel is an abomination unto the lord that should be sealed away forever inside one of those salt caves where they store nuclear waste? Check.

Do I still taste the glaring variation between a Mexican Coke and it’s far uglier American stepsister, Pepsi? Check. Do I ever see a time in my life when I’ll walk by a Star Wars toy display, and not grab a lightsaber to do imaginary battle in the aisle as my GF pretends not to know me?

Hell, no, but also, Check.

I’m happy to report thus far, I still get overly annoyed at how long my tea-water takes to boil at this altitude (6K feet above sea level.), am vexed by the fact the sugar is in an area where it’s hard for me to get to, and I get sincerely cross over experiencing that while Almond Milk poured over Frosted Cheerios is the bomb, the Cheerios always stick to the sides of the bowl when I’m trying to get the last of them out. In fact, I spent almost ten minutes cursing out the news feed on my Twitter this morning, a considerable amount of time griping about the dogs barking next door, and wrapped it all up with a treatise on why putting artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes on formerly unsullied Pizza is akin to a constitutional crisis.

I find myself routinely annoyed by the trivial and unimportant, so yeah… still me.

And since I am still me, I am required to do “still me” things, such as going to see my surgeon in regards to how well my post-surgery wound is doing. Unfortunately, since I’m still using the walker, it’s a little bit more complicated than just getting in my car, and popping on over to the ol’ out-clinic [http://southwestboneandjoint.com/] for a stereotypically brief chat with reference to some supplementary medical advice.

As I described in a previous blog: “Every time I go to hoist myself, it feels as if I’m dead-lifting a city bus- American Chicago, not Red London double-decker, that is. Just for those of you who like to keep track of such trivial things. Considering my normal weight fluctuates between 185 to 205 pounds, part of me wonders if I need to stop fretting over my diabetic-related weight loss, and embrace it for a change, because if lifting my severely underweight ass hurts my arms and shoulders this much, I can only imagine what that extra thirty-eight pounds would feel like.”

But before this inescapable workout day from Hell can even begin to manifest itself, like those three self-righteous ghosts of Christmas, there are some truly vital things that need to be addressed as preceding events.
First, there’s the issue of getting myself dressed, a process that starts with cautiously sliding off my colorful lounge-pants, then sliding on my jeans even more guardedly over my bandage-wrapped foot, then attempting to put on a shirt, warily minding the pain and mobility issues involved there, and finishing off by attempting to use my nerve-damaged hands to zip said jeans, and button up. My jeans, that is, since some days can present a minor sum challenge, depending on how much my hands want to contribute to the cause that day, and also because I tend to wear graphic tee shirts, and not their more formal buttoned cousins.

So after wading through that fashionistas fjord, I deck myself out with my customary regalia of assorted rings, (8 in total) a single bracelet, and a watch and necklace that suits my mood for that day, I then have to put on a single sneaker, because of the one foot being bandaged up like Jocelyn Perisset Wildenstein* on a Tuesday, grab my walker, hobble down the mercifully short main hallway of my house, pickup my keys, and head for the front door.
*[Jocelyn Perisset Wildenstein is a Swiss-born American socialite best known for her extensive (and somewhat disturbing, IMHO) cosmetic surgery. Her nicknames run the gamut, from the obvious: “Catwoman”, to the somewhat of a stretch: “The Lion Queen”, and to the downright rude: “The Bride Of Wildenstein” a moniker given to her by various “news” outlets. After her divorce from her billionaire husband, she once calculated her yearly telephone bill at $60,000 and food and wine costs at $547,000, which is not too surprising, given the cost of “British Banquet”.

“British Banquet”, is a so-called luxury cat food for the “insanely rich”- that being the cat’s bad decision making owners that is, not the cat. It contains Arenkha caviar, line-caught Scottish salmon, hand-caught Norfolk lobster, and locally-sourced Devon crab. Each gourmet pack also includes organic asparagus, quinoa, and saffron for that “extra touch of luxury and refinement”.

 This ridiculously costly future feces pile contains no preservatives, additives or artificial colors, and is also GM-free, because that’s really important to an animal that coughs up hairballs, and eats it’s own acid-chowder, am I right? It is not only fit for humans to eat, but tastes “absolutely wonderful”, claims it’s manufacturer Green Pantry. A month’s supply costs nearly £750, ($982.50 noting current pound to dollars conversion of 9/2018) which equals a morally obscene  £9,000 per year, ($11,790.00) £12.50 ($16.50) per serving, or about £1.25 ($1.75) per mouthful.

First point of contention- no way in Hades is an animal that licks itself, ever going to eat better than me, ever. And second? If I do become ridiculously wealthy, and I go to buy this, please just shoot me in my fkng face. I’ll totally understand.]

Arriving at said egress point, I face three challenges, the first being getting it open, (easy) the second is trying to get outside without tripping over the sill, which is way harder than you might think as there’s a step down that due to the angle, throws my balance off, and third, is managing to grab the door that’s now behind me in order to lock it.

Having never taken gymnastics in my youth, due to the fact that I’m not a small Russian pryzhki devushka*, nor considered flexible by any means measurable, I’m not entirely sure if my feral gyrations would qualify for competition, but I’m pretty convinced at this point, I could seriously challenge Simone Biles in the Balance Beam portion of the program. And while I might not take home the Gold, Silver’s definitely going to be my bitch.
*[Pryzhki devushka means “jumping girl” in Russian. You’re welcome ]

So at this point, if I’ve managed to successfully accomplish all three tasks without crippling or outright killing myself, it still leaves the issue of getting to my car, which requires slight maneuvering down a somewhat uneven (for me) and steep driveway. And if it’s this fun for my bad foot in good weather, I can only imagine how truly delightful it will be if Winter decides to show up for the party early. And Winter would do this, because sometimes it just takes joy in being a complete and total dick.

Now, let’s surmise that I’ve managed to safely get to my car, somehow gotten past the awkwardness of opening the heavy car door, firmly planted my underweight keister in the driver’s seat, deftly folded up my pimptastic chromed ride, and with Tetris skills on loan from Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov* himself, managed to wedge it in the passenger side floor area, and then close the door. Out of the proverbial woods, right?
*[Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov is the Russian video game designer and computer engineer who developed Tetris while working for the (wait for the mouthful) Dorodnitsyn Computing Center, a subsidiary of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, which not surprisingly, was a government-founded R&D center. He only started to see royalties fom his work when in 1996, he co-founded The Tetris Company with business partner Hank Rogers.]

Well, not exactly. As I’ve noted previously, I can’t bear any direct weight on my wounded foot at all- I can pivot and put a modest amount of load on my heel, but it’s awkward and generally makes me feel even more off balance, which has led to some very close-calls in regards to my almost falling down. [As if I could fall up?] In order for me to drive, I had to provide some serious padding for my left foot, even though my current car’s an automatic, which is fortuitous, as my last one was a stick-shift, albeit it one that had a sick paint job.

Upside of this car? I never lost it in a parking lot, it was pretty good on gas, cheap to fix, and on those exceedingly rare occasions when I’d get pulled over by the cops, the look on their slack-jawed thug faces at seeing a middle-aged, blond, blue-eyed, suburban white boy with a hardcore love for graffiti behind the wheel was priceless.

Thank the stars I have two lawyers on speed dial. But getting back to my compact, totally sexy Honda- at the moment for me to be able to drive while striving to keep my foot unharmed, there’s effectively close to three inches of folded towels to keep it safe from any bumps or pressure as I drive. I can’t even imagine how my old car would have worked out with this injury, and I get the feeling that my local Uber driver and I would have gotten to know each other really well over these last few weeks.

Because I really need to make some friends here, and that just might be the best way to do it. After all, who doesn’t want to hear about how somebody else solved the problem of storing their dead clowns when faced with limited crawlspace?

Speaking of clowns whom I hope meet their demise via the inappropriate utilization of a plugged in toaster, a wet floor, and a bathtub, we’re going to take a small off-course tangent for a few paragraphs. If you’re a regular reader, you may recall me writing about my firing/dismissal in February of this year by a supervisor who doesn’t (and didn’t) understand that you can’t fire somebody for having a chronic illness. If at this point, you’re not a regular reader, and you have no idea what I’m blathering about, here’s the cut & paste to help you catch up with the rest of the loyal Artbitch legion, and then afterwards, make sure to bookmark this site so you can stay hip to my jive: https://waynemichaelreich.com/2018/04/

Up to speed? Awesome. This is why I tell you to come to the meetings.

And the best part? We have cookies and cake. Seriously, I’m a baking badass, and willing to trade recipes. In fact, here’s the one for my almost world-famous poundcake- it’s a great base recipe, open to variation, and a crowd pleaser to boot. Plus, it has the added benefit of not being healthy at all. I like to serve it with fresh strawberries, but that’s just the way I roll. If you’ve got any good ones to share, email me at darkreich@yahoo.com, with the words “Yo Artbitch: recipe here” in the subheading. Thanks!

Here it is:

3 cups all-purpose flour (NOT SELF RISING)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
*[A nice shake-up: sub out vanilla with same amount of lemon extract. Fold 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest and 1/4 cup poppy seeds into batter].
5 large eggs
3/4 cup milk or evaporated milk

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom, side and tube of 10×4-inch angel food cake pan (tube pan), 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or two 9×5-inch loaf pans with shortening; lightly flour.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on low 30 seconds, while remembering to scrape the bowl regularly. Beat on high 5 minutes, scraping the bowl intermittently. Beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, adding the milk every few seconds (20 or so) on low speed, beating until smooth after each addition.

Pour into your prepared pan(s).

Bake angel food or fluted tube cake pan 70 to 80 minutes, loaf pans 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. After removing from oven, cool for a minimum 20 minutes- after this has passed remove from pan(s) to a wire cake rack if you’re lucky enough to have one. Cool completely, or until such time where it’s totally safe where you can then cram a slice into your mouth. Enjoy!

Getting back on track, as you read in the link I gave you, I allege I was wrongfully dismissed for daring to be a diabetic, and like any good American citizen, filed a complaint with the appropriate agency. In this case, that would be through the Arizona Civil Rights Division, located within the Attorney General’s office. I also filed a grievance regarding workplace conditions with OSHA*, and finally filed my workmans compensation claim** for the injury I had suffered the previous year. What can I say? I’m a big devotee of doing things in threes.
*[Never heard back, so no longer my monkey to worry about. **Seems to be going along smoothly.]

Anywho, The people at the EOCC couldn’t have been nicer or more professional, and took my case under wing, and let me know the process of investigating the case could take six months up to one year, which I kind of expected. As the saying goes, the wheels of Justice turn slowly, but grind fine. So last week, I finally got the call I’ve been waiting for, that being the one from the investigator who’s in charge of settling the case one way or another. Nice lady, right to the point, and no discernable sign of a sense of humor, although to be fair, that might not be allowed to be shown during work hours.

So, my complaint gets summarized back to me, as I’m asked if there’s anything additional I want to/could add, and then the counter response from my former employer is then read with full detail back to me (in sections) so that I can offer either further clarification or dispute what’s being said via a sharply worded retort, which tends to be my way. 

Now, before I get into my description of what transpired, I found it interesting that the owner of the company which is based in Michigan, was never given a copy of my complaint, nor was she ever questioned about it past having to fill out one questionnaire concerning my rate of pay, my length of employment, and a few other blasé boilerplate queries which all in all, were about what you’d expect.

At the present, I never anticipated my former supervisor to be straightforward about her actions, her words, or her gargantuan unprofessionalism that I detailed in my past blog, but I also never expected fabrication that would make espionage writer John le Carre weep, and this blog writer almost turn green with envy… almost.

What I mean to say is… I pride myself on possessing a good imagination, and like to believe that at the very worst, I’m mildly competent at the art of telling an entertaining tale, but my old supervisor should quit where she’s currently slumming, and earnestly seek employment in the Epix writers room for Berlin Station*, because her talents are being wasted on whatever equally s**tty menial labor job her lack of an actual skill-set has got her most likely doing now.
*[Berlin Station is an American drama television series that airs on the Epix network.The story follows Daniel Miller played by my GF’s not so secret crush if I were dead, the amazingly and sadly unattractive Richard Armitage, who has just arrived at the CIA foreign station in Berlin. Guided by veteran Hector DeJean, played by the considerably better-looking Rhys Ifans, Daniel learns to run with the rough-and-tumble world of the field agent.]

Words that were never spoken, scenes that never happened, actions that were never undertaken, and to top it all off, no rational explanation for how I went from being in essence, the asst. manager with full keyholder responsibilities to being the (in her words) goldbricking guy sitting and doing absolutely nothing all day in the back. Shame I used to post consistently on my IG account what I was doing at work, shame my previous supervisor said he’d go to bat for me, and even more annoying still, that prior to her arrival, product returns concerning our warehouse were almost non-existent, and my initials for shipping clearances were on 95% of the invoice slips, and oh yeah- the drivers who delivered our raw material could easily testify to my involvement at work as well.

Darn. Reality is pesky for liars, isn’t it?

All envy aside, I thoroughly enjoyed her depiction of me as a physically threatening presence while I was concurrently suffering at that time from the ravaging effects of undiagnosed diabetic gastroparesis*, which made me nauseous, light-headed, and caused me to drop close to 35 pounds, along with a shoulder injury which had severely limited my mobility. Oh yes, nothing so scary as a human scarecrow who can’t raise his arms above his head or walk upright, as his clothes are close to falling off of him.
*[Gastroparesis, is a disorder of the digestive tract that causes food to remain in the stomach for a period of time that is longer than average. This occurs because the nerves that move food through the digestive tract are damaged, so muscles don’t work properly. As a result, food sits in the stomach undigested. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, nausea, vomiting of undigested food, weight loss, bloating, loss of appetite, blood glucose levels that are hard (see: impossible) to stabilize, stomach spasms, and acid reflux.]

I don’t know about you given the information above, but I’d be scared s**tless, let me tell you. Especially if I was a morbidly obese person who at the very least, weighed three times as much as the person “I was concerned about” at that point. Adding to this asinine absurdity was her overly detailed complaints of my diabetic issues in order to assert she didn’t fire me for being diabetic. Let’s all let that sink in for a moment or two…

She consistently throughout her counter response, complains about my diabetes to prove she didn’t care about my diabetes… does anyone else hear the theme song from the Benny Hill show playing in their head? It also came to light that my former supervisor had no directly expressed hiring or firing authority, a detail which was (allegedly) stated clearly, and that I was “supposed to know”. Unless I’m an as of yet undiscovered mind reader, I’m not entirely sure how I was supposed to be in possession of that information since no one ever told me this, but it was in the counter response nonetheless, mainly as a subtle way for them to claim I just walked out, which is full-on bulls**t.

To be brutally honest, I really have no idea which way this will go at this point, as it’s for all intents and purposes, a literal he said/she said case, and of course, the investigator didn’t give anything away, but I’d like to think that my genuinely derisive laughter at most of the comments she was stating for the record did give her a clue (or a hundred) as to whom was telling the unvarnished truth.

Regardless of how the dust settles here, at least it’s on record, so if the company pulls this crap again, at least it shows there’s a previous track record of abuse, and that’s all that matters. However, there is an addendum that I do find oddly satisfying: it seems that not too long after my departure, my former supervisor gave her two weeks notice, and left for greener pastures, because that’s what disreputable lying cows do, and I’m certain it had nothing to do with her alleged fear of being held accountable by the EOCC, or most likely, her top boss- you know, the one who has no idea what I’ve stated in regards to my official complaint?

From everything I’ve seen in the close to thirty years I’ve been involved with businesses, if there’s one thing top brass loves, it’s being kept in the dark. That’s sarcasm btw, for those of you in the back. What is even more interesting however, is that her counter response contained some comments about my character which may be actionable, and if they are, even at the merest… God help you lady, because I will legally hollow you out like an Easter chocolate rabbit.

Count on it.

Sorry. Just had to get that off my chest, as I really don’t have the spiritual room or the physical stamina to deal with it’s weight right now. Speaking of weight, I’m trying really hard to put all of it that I’ve lost back on, and the best way to do that out here where it’s cattle country, is to devour some of that cattle, the way God intended, and sadly, also the main reason why Kamadhenu* never invites God to his parties anymore.
*[Kamadhenu, the miraculous “cow of plenty” and the “mother of cows” in certain versions of the Hindu mythology, is believed to represent the generic sacred cow, regarded as the source of all prosperity.]

One of the delights of living where I’m currently at, is the fact that meat here, like the value of life in Froopyland*, is cheap. I’ve been giving serious thought that maybe instead of having an almond milk/protein powder/peanut butter/yogurt smoothie in the morning to help put on those missing pounds, I should just throw two t-bones and a chuck roast in the ol’ blender along with a few baked potatoes and some dollops of butter, and blend them till I get the manly as Earnest Hemingway protein fix that I crave.
*[The Adventures of Rick & Morty’s Froopyland is an artificially generated world created by Rick Sanchez from a collapsed quantum tesseract some time in the 1980s for his only daughter, Beth Smith, when she was a little girl. Rick outright admits that his reason for creating Froopyland was to protect the whole neighborhood from Beth, who clearly showed strong psychotic tendencies as a child (though he immediately makes it clear that he didn’t so out of the non-existent goodness of his heart, but just so he wouldn’t have to clean up any of Beth’s messes).]

Wait a minute… what’s that? Oh. Okay. I’ve just been informed by my GF Ashley that not only will this not happen anytime soon, if ever, she’s now asking where the gallon of vanilla ice cream and three pounds of ground beef went… just be cool, and keep your mouth shut.

Since that brilliantly thwarted plan of mine won’t apparently be fulfilled within my lifetime, I have no choice but to seek meaty satisfaction outside my house, and if you live near Silver City, that so far in my humblest of opinions, means you either hit the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery, or the local burger joint known as Blake’s. Both serve really good burgers, and I’d rather eat local than corporate any day.

The Toad has great service, terrific atmosphere, and is a pretty good-sized space with lots of seating, really good french fries, and is a nice place to bring your friends who are from out of town. Also, almost everybody who waits tables here is really good-looking. Not sure why, but I’m not complaining. Blake’s also has kick-ass french fries, as well as ample seating, lots of parking, a cool sign, and… um, bathrooms, plus both are really easy to find, even if you’re not a local. Obviously the Toad has bathrooms too, but Blake’s is about to get hammered in the “cons” department, so I gave them a charity throw, to be nice.

The Toad is also a bar, which means it gets a little rowdy on the weekends. That’s it. If you like live music, then it really isn’t a “con” by any means, so being that I don’t, I’m willing to concede it’s a wash.

Blake’s on the other hand… terrible customer service the few times I’ve gone- not sure if the staff is really sleepy or honorary members of the Undead, the building it’s in looks somewhat run-down, tired, and is in need of some sort of face-lift, and while the burgers are truly good, half the time the staff forgets requested and paid for items that are supposed to be on said burgers, such as bacon, which should obviously be against the law.

This is the kind of place I would take that one friend who knows all my dirt and never mentions it- I definitely wouldn’t take the future in-laws here, just by way of example. Think of it as a dive bar for burgers, remember to double-check your order, and all will be well.

And with that, we finally arrive, if you remember how we started, at the clinic to consult with my surgeon about how my foot is doing… but I’m 5,217 words in, my shoulders are killing me, and i still have to get this walker out of my car, get it unfolded, and then shuffle my somewhat disabled butt up to the front door, so I think we’ll pause here until the next  thrilling installment, and then take it from there.

And when we come back…

My doctor tells me if I’ll ever play the violin again, I try to organize my studio, and Ashley and I welcome our first of hopefully many stay-over slumber party guests.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”-Jim Rohn