Wayne Michael Reich

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Wayne Michael Reich

To Health and Lack. (Gut Reaction.)

“Money cannot buy health, but I’d settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.” – Dorothy Parker

“I always take Scotch whiskey at night as a preventive of toothache. I have never had the toothache; and what is more, I never intend to have it.”  – Mark Twain

Hello, Bitchiteers!

How are you feeling? Happy? Hungry” Sleepy? Sneezy? Or do you find yourselves consumed by the knowledge that life is a never-ending cycle, teetering between rapturous joy and crushing disappointment, destined to hasten our departure and that ever so surely, on the celestial path to discovering the answer to the eternal question we all have always wanted the answer to.- that being, why would a so-called “loving God”, in his infinite wisdom, ever allow a cinematic monstrosity such as Highlander 2 to exist without the end promise of it being eventually smote?

I mean… I’ve always considered myself a somewhat reasonable person even at the worst of times, so my willingness to overlook his previous errors ties in directly with the character traits I’m already respected for, but c’mon man…

In regards to the creation of creamed corn, the flavor that is known inappropriately as Butterscotch, the adulterous train wreck that is my ex-fiancé, and to a lesser degree, every single super-hero movie made by DC outside of the Nolan-directed Batman Trilogy, I’ll turn a blind eye, but even I, cannot possibly overlook that monstrosity, and keep in mind, not only do I have Satan’s direct office number, he’s proudly listed under my phones “ICE” contacts, as well.

Infernal best friends for the Afterlife aside, I find myself these days existing within a sphere of personal transition that I never saw coming, nor could have anyone else, come to think of it. I may have mentioned this before, but if you had told me four years ago, that I’d be a semi-retired partial amputee living the suburban lifestyle just outside a small-town in New Mexico, I’d probably remind you that there was a reason those brownies in my studio’s fridge were marked “special”, and leave it at that.I own a charcoal grill. I have curtains. A dining room table. A weed-whacker. House plants too. And with Odin as my witness, I also am the proud owner of a throw rug as well. A. Throw. Rug. Not to mention, I talk about my front and back yards now. A lot. And while the Gods of Suburbia demand that I become the owner of a Golden Labrador named “Murph”, I never will, due to my GF being allergic to animal dander. Damn. I’m this close to being considered an actual adult, as noted by the numerous solicitations I’ve been receiving as of late from both  Home & Garden and the AARP

However, since Nature openly abhors a vacuum, it tends to throw one a curve-ball when it doesn’t get its way, and therefore, decided to put me and mine to the ultimate of tests, that being, presenting us the option to buy the house we’re currently renting within the idyllic burg we now comfortably call home. Is the thought of being a homeowner awesome? That’s a big “hell to the yes”. Is it the second-most terrifying thing I’ve ever had to contemplate? Oh, you bet your sweet bippy it is, hands down.

Although to be fair, it’s not half as scary as having to sit through this convoluted mess twice:
I just have to know… who keeps greenlighting all these wastes of digital celluloid, and does Adrian Paul really need the money that bad? After all, there’s always the world of adult cinema that he could turn to in a pinch, and at the very least, their plot lines aren’t nearly as hard to follow as the one meandering pointlessly within this dreck.

What can I say? I’m just a man with a taste for the simplistic- give me a tale concerning what transpires between a pizza delivery guy and two cash-strapped blondes who don’t know to appropriately tip, and I’m happier than if I were a Catholic priest chaperoning a birthday party at Chuck E. CheeseNow, while the ramifications of being what might pass as a full-fledged adult these days, is a truly sobering thought, I’d also have to say that no matter which side of the chilled Ding Dong I look at it from, although that’s to be expected, considering I can’t possibly focus on both bank loan applications and chocolatey snack cakes at the same time, as if such a thing were possible to begin with.

Now, while the ramifications of being perceived as what might pass as a full-fledged adult these days, is a truly sobering thought, I’d also have to say that no matter which side of the chilled Ding Dong I look at it from, it’s to be expected, considering I can’t possibly be expected to focus on both bank loan applications and chocolatey snack cakes at the same time, as if such things were possible to begin with.

But all we can do at this point, is to take it as it comes, and hope for the best. Knock on wood with your fingers crossed, placing your bet on the long-shot odds that the vampire who “sparkle’s” is now dead.

And if the wondrous event of us becoming officially land-based Suburbanites does ever come to fruition, we all know who in the end, should truly get the credit for making that happen, even though technically, we’ll be the ones picking up the mortgage.

May I present to you, my assembled ladies and gentlemen, our real estate team:
Sure, they may dress as if they’re in an 80’s cosplay tribute boy-band, performing at a casual Friday gig, but don’t let that fool you for one second. These two can make any nonconforming loan their bitch, and they can do it without getting a single drop of glitter-blood on their matching Members Only jackets. That, my loyal Blogiteers, is what true badassery is all about.

Speaking of which, I find myself yet again locked within the eternal struggle of my own body trying to take me out with nothing less than predatory malice. Where this animosity stems from, I can only ponder, but it strikes me as patently unfair, considering that all I’ve ever done is try to show my body one heck of a good time. And this, regardless of whatever is currently going on within my life at the time. Granted, this methodology has been altered somewhat, as I’ve been willingly off the playing field as it were, for close to thirteen years now, but the spirit of such endeavors remains.

This only occurs however, when I’m not bragging about such to total strangers, that is. Hey, a semi-retired scoundrel has to keep his skillset sharp, and all that, Now, while it may be true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, it’s also fair to say that sticking with the classics that have been proven to work, is also not a bad fallback strategy, either, So, to the best of my limited physical abilities, I do what I can, and I try to do it as much as reality and my physicality allows.

To be clear, this does not imply directly or even remotely suggest, that I’m running around like an Oathbreaker from Lord of the Rings on an extended Shire leave, but I try not to let my perceptibly deteriorating condition limit me, regardless of the situation and what it demands of me physically. Fortunately, the fact remains that while my body is currently treating me as if it were a rebellious teenager at a beer pong bacchanalia, my brain still shows up to work on time, with its sleeves rolled up, and fully ready to f**k some s**t up before lunch.

My body may not be battle-ready by any means, but let me assure you all, that my intellect is always prepared to throw down at a moment’s notice, regardless of the fallout that may occur due to its involvement. And let me tell you, when said challengers arrive, they’re always ready to bring the noise, despite not having even the most tenuous of grasps on the actual facts of the matters currently at hand.

This is not to say that some of these dullards of density cannot be educated, but in order to do so, they have to be dealt with as if you were sleeping with the Spice Girls. Sure, taking them on all at once sounds great in theory, but eventually, it’s not only going to rub you raw, if’s going to break your spirit as well, especially after you discover  and that, far too late, that Sporty Spice is not only totally immune to your argumentized charm to begin with, she’s also been checking out your sister as well, so maybe each one should be handled individually.

Especially when it comes to Scary Spice, as something tells me that keeping a bowl of ice, an oxygen tank, and a pre-agreed upon safe word, either upon your lips, or written down on a placard right next to the bed you’re currently tied up on, may not be a bad idea. That’s only an objective suggestion I’m putting out there of course, because as you all know by now, I live to help others.
Somehow, I’ll eventually find a way to make peace with the fact that I’ve been a very bad boy, and at some point, should probably be punished for being so, Thursday works out good for me, in case anyone named Mel B is asking, and just so happens to have some free time on her hands. And as I said earlier, that’s just an objective suggestion, because if there’s anything I truly live for, it’s to offer my personal help to anyone who may require it.

What can I say? At my core, I’m truly a selfless giver, no matter what any of those people say, or can prove. Speaking of which, when it comes to my team of healthcare professionals currently keeping me alive, it seems the giving never stops. At this point, I’m really not sure if my medical squad is trying to keep me alive by improving my current health woes, or just doing so in a veiled and misguided attempt to create an army of middle-aged snarky clones, as if I were a bargain rack Jango Fett:                                                    Oh yeah. This guy totally nailed the look i was going for.

Nah. I’m sure their hearts are in the right place, unlike their sampling needles, diagnostic scans, and best guesses as to what the hell is actually wrong with me. Perceptibly, I’m referring to my state of physical health only, because if my personal cadre of medical mercenaries ever decided as a group to undertake a deep dive into the Cenobite paradise that masquerades as my psyche, I’m pretty sure that most of my medical practitioners would wind up convalescing within their very own bouncy castle room, talking to themselves in a corner, for quite some time to come.

On no account, should my sardonic assertion ever be taken as any form of directed criticism in relation to the dedicated doctors and related healthcare professionals that are currently working overtime to figure out exactly what are the issues that currently plague me, past the obviously psychological ones that exist, but I digress, if only to move the narrative forward.

These include, but are not limited to; being a partial amputee and the concerns that come with being one,, bouts of unexplained fatigue, random fits of neurological pain, erratic muscle spasms, severe gastric issues, and disturbingly frequent episodes involving my vision, muscle strength, and an inability to increase my weight and overall stamina. Fun beyond compare, let me tell you.
Sadly, this state of affairs is not a new development, as I’ve suffered through numerous misdiagnoses ranging from cancer scares to incompetent predictions of my imminent death, a slew of errant test results that challenge the outcomes of other tests that declare the opposite, and a physiology that I’m quite sure, has instigated some of my doctors into contemplating taking up the pursuit of alcoholism as a dedicated hobby, if not an outright career change,

The latest carnival-ride-from-hell that I’ll be undertaking next, is a procedure known as an Upper Endoscopy, which is described as such: “An upper endoscopy is a procedure used to visually examine your upper digestive system with a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube. A specialist in diseases of the digestive system (gastroenterologist) uses an endoscopy to diagnose and, sometimes, treat conditions that affect the esophagus, stomach and beginning of the small intestine.”

Or for those of you who just won’t be able to go on without seeing a disturbing visual in regards to such, don’t you worry about it, because Bro? I’ve totally got your back:
Hopefully, for those of you who’ve always wondered what the combination of an unwanted prison shower interaction would look like if the face-hugger attack scene from Alien was thrown into the mix, you’ll find your intellectual curiosity to be now fully satiated. As for me, I can’t believe that I’ve gone my entire life without willingly allowing a strange man to shove something down my throat while drugged, but hey, life is an adventure, and I guess I need to embrace that,

And while the procedure is considered relatively safe overall, there can be a few potential complications, which may include: perforation of the gut wall, adverse reaction to the sedative used in the procedure, infection, bleeding, as well as Pancreatitis resulting from an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography procedure, also known as an ECRP.

This is a procedure by the way, that uses an endoscope to examine, and then x-ray, the pancreatic duct, hepatic duct, common bile duct, duodenal papilla, and gallbladder, something that I honestly can’t believe has never been deliberately scribbled into the margins of both my personal to-do and bucket list. Weird, that.

But since you’re now clearly emotionally invested in this, my latest tale of things you never thought you’d be interested in, you’re probably asking yourself just why I’m willingly about to undergo a process which at best, reminds me of an impromptu audition on the way to becoming the most popular person in Cellblock H. It’s simple, really. I’d generally prefer not to feel like I’m choking to death whenever I eat or drink something, and this particular problem has been vexing me for far too long at this point.

In essence, I’ve got some annoyances in my ledger of physical well-being, and I’d like to wipe them off the metaphorical spreadsheet for good, or at the very least, delay them to a point further down the road, as it were. You know… right before I download my consciousness into the sexiest of male robots, and thereby, cheat Death out of acquiring her so-called prize?

Although to be honest, I might need to go back to the ol’ design workshop, and rework this concept first, way before I decide to set any of my long-term plans in concrete. But then again, maybe if I need to plug myself in every now and then to literally recharge, it might prove to be far more advantageous to my quality of life than the one that I’ve currently got going on.

This is not to say that things have gone askew to the point of being truly worrisome, but I’d be lying if I also pretended that everything was, or is going to be, 100% okely-dokely without a concerted effort being launched in tandem, either. And in my case, that apparently involves happily swallowing a diminutive camera without the chivalrous act of being bought dinner first. Sure, I may have a well-deserved reputation for being easy, but I’ve never been that easy.
However, after close to three years of invasive testing, jabbing, prodding, and questioning, if not consistently sampling everything that either goes in or comes out of my body, I’ll offer up my belief that I don’t get nearly enough credit for not grabbing the nearest clipboard, forcefully inserting it into the closest lab technician, and defending the unprovoked assault as nothing more than satisfying my intellectual curiosity as to whether or not said clipboard, could ever be turned into a piece of functional Origami.

Spoiler; it truly can’t. But on the upside, once you rinse it off, you can totally reuse it.

Fortunately at the moment, I’m lucky enough to be the possessor of some fairly good insurance, so ideally, maybe I can get my health concerns under some form of consistent control, and that, long before the State of New Mexico drops me for forcing them into having to declare Chapter 13 bankruptcy. I’m kidding of course, but I do find myself at this moment in time, slogging through the bureaucratically demoralizing mire that serves as the path leading towards being acknowledged as medically disabled.

In an ideal world, I would neither require, or actively seek out such a designation, but given the particular circumstances that Life, with all of its quirks has opted to deal out to me, I simply have no choice. For now, anyway. My ultimate endgame is to repossess whatever shreds of good health remain accessible to me and my medical ninjas, and eventually, get back on my feet.

Well, my one foot and the remaining ¾ of the second one, that is.

Positively, if I do qualify, I could (under the rules) still legally work part-time, so at least I’d still have the option if only theoretically, to reestablish certain career facets once more. And yet, some of my more cynical peeps, earnestly thought that my dream job of being the lead singer for a Sigue Sigue Sputnik tribute band was dead, and out of my reach. Nay, says I, to you, the denizens of little faith.

And the best part? Minus a hair color change and a bulk order of mascara, I pretty much already have everything I’d need to get up and faux posing, and as you might have already guessed, that does include the totally fly formal jackets as well. Now, if I can only find a practical use for all those multi-colored parachute pants and British flag tee shirts that I still have in storage, I’d be as right as rain.

It’s at this point that I’m going to present an awkward and possibly inarticulate transition, and I swear beforehand that it does fit into my story, so please bear with me, if you will.

The maxim “as right as rain” is a direct reference to one’s personal state of well-being, and is stereotypically defined as: “In good health or order; feeling or working just as someone or something should.” Now, if one were to apply this distinction to the diagnostics that are currently defining my state of health, not only are they not as right as rain, they may be as wrong as David Duke being invited to give a speech regarding cultural diversity to the NAACP.

What some people fail to understand, is that one of the more annoying things about Diabetes and its resultant side-effects, is that they don’t present themselves as being visibly notable. By that, I mean there’s (as a whole) no evidentiary form of the disease being prevalent, unlike other afflictions that one might associate with the severely ill. It’s not like I want to have skin discolorations, uncontrollable muscle spasms, and seeping wounds, but it would nice for people to stop assuming that I’m “perfectly okay” or “milking” my condition for sympathy, as one of my happily now former doctors once suggested, just because outwardly, I appear to be fine.

Say what you will about lepers, but at least when they go out in public, people in general, give them the courtesy and space they require to get on with their day. But when it comes to my particular disorder, not so much. Granted, when I’m walking with my cane, people are nice enough where I live to move aside and even open doors as a courtesy, but in a move I find to be quite irritating, as soon as they discover that I’m diabetic, they’ll also irritatingly, offer free medical “advice” I didn’t ask for, and wouldn’t accept anyway.

It tends to be irksome only because, you know… they’re not actually doctors, so much as they’re means-well morons who think that sitting inside a pyramid-shaped tent “cleanses” your chakras? A heads up, as it were: if you look like you’ve been following the Grateful Dead for most of your adult life, and your name has any part of the word “beam” in it, with “Sun” or “Moon”, preceding it, not only will I not take your advice, I’m most likely going to make sure that every time I run into you, I’ll start complimenting Big Pharma just to annoy the living f**k out of you.

And keep in mind, I think that the insulin-pricing cartel is one of the most abominably repugnant cabals on planet Earth. It’s just that I’m sick and tired of people suggesting that I wear crystals, go vegan, swallow cinnamon capsules, meditate with kittens, or in a personal favorite of mine, suggest to me that I ingest dried saguaro cactus in order to “recalibrate” my “chi”, and by doing so, finally kick my Diabetes to the curb. And no, I am not making this up.

This conversation actually happened. With a person. Someone who as far as I could tell at the time, did not appear to be wearing a human skin-suit. But in my limited defense, I may have been too far distracted by their tie-dyed sweatpants and fluorescent mushroom tattoos, to be paying the attention that was required to assess the finer details regarding their passionate implorations. C’est la vie, and all that.,

When I first moved to this, my newest Lair of Snarkitude, it was mentioned to me by a fellow creative that the place I was now set to call Home was, and I quote: “the perfect place to either hide out or reinvent oneself”, and after close to three years of living here, I have found elements of truth in the dual aspects of that casually uttered thought. And in an unforeseen twist, it seems to be a message of relevance that I needed to hear, and more importantly, take to heart.

If you’re in my intimate inner circle, and ever decided on a whim to line up my past life in Phoenix, with the New Mexican one I’m currently living, you’d definitely notice some major changes within yours truly, and only a handful of these can be attributed to my incorporation with Suburbia and all of its deliberately manicured perfection. These include my new approach to what I now write about, as well as my social interactions, of which I’ll delve into further down the literary road.

As for the rest, I’d assert that the cause can be divided equally between my current health crises, and the fact that at this particular moment, I’ve found myself being able to “breathe” for the first time as it were, in 25 years or so.. What I mean to say so by this, is that here, nobody has a clue who I am. Not one soul. Therefore, I rarely have to deal face-to-face with the truly toxic, as I so often did with the brigade of art poseurs that willingly contributed to helping turn Phoenix’s once mildly interesting, so-called art scene, into the equivalent of a glass of room temperature milk.

Served with a plate of generic vanilla wafers, of course, as we wouldn’t want any of those slumming    Scottsdalians feeling directly challenged by work that they’d have to reflect upon with an intellectual pause. That is, when they’re done ignoring it in the first place. The cultural impact of the Phoenix Art Scene (aka: the PAS) to its supposed base of patrons, is akin to what passes for high-end dining in the town I currently live in, except at least here, I can strategically defend the necessity, if not the practicality, of a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast platter.Concerning which plate of overly salted pretentiousness is far more palatable, is still a query that remains open to a measured debate, but if I’m going to go out of my way to make myself sick, then rest assured, I’m going to make sure there’s some form of actual bacon involved, and not just a putrid pile of rehashed pork, thank you very much.

After nearly two-and-a-half decades slogging through the venomous mire of personal arrogance, marketing incompetence, and a level of artistic presentation and ethical quality that I could only charitably describe as half-assed at its best, for me to say I don’t miss it at all, is quite possibly the understatement of the century.

For the sake of clarity, I’m not bagging on the many positive aspects that have come out of the tempestuous chaos that once underpinned my life, the obvious ones being friends, knowledge, and professional respect, but I’d also have to call attention to the fact that almost everything I worked toward building in the PAS, has either been torn down and covered in concrete, or seen an overpriced and badly-filtered homage to the architecture of downtown Los Angeles built on top of it.

By that measure, why in the name of all that’s unholy, should I ever condescend to remain an advocate, far removed as I am, for what its very own soldiers have willingly allowed it to become? Granted, while I still support certain peeps and organizations within the PAS, it will literally be a cold day in Phoenix, before I ever dip what remains of my toes back into that cesspit of impotent posturing as an ally of any note..
Those who know me well, aren’t surprised at what I just wrote, but for those who don’t, well… you’re about to learn some new things about me, and some of them, if tradition holds, are most definitely going to tick you off. I didn’t get the reputation I have for being caustically blunt, by engaging in sycophantic sugar-coating, and I see no reason to turn over a new leaf just because I’ve found myself relocated both physically and mentally, far away ffrom the lands that I once stalked unimpeded.

But you keep those spirits high and that chin up, because as GI Joe loves to say;Truer words have never been spoken by a fictional character in a Korean-produced cartoon, let me tell you, and I say this as someone who watches a lot of animated TV and movies. You know, for artistic inspiration and research purposes, just like any other unmarried 52-year-old man in poor but slightly stable health does. So glad to see that you agree, since it’s already problematic enough that when I go to a theater playing the latest PIXAR movie, I have to borrow a friend’s kid for the afternoon, just so I don’t come off as one of those guys you see lurking at the edges of a child’s playground

Speaking of playgrounds, it’s also known that when you change yours, you also invariably change the playmates who will be populating it as well. This, in and of itself, is neither that shocking, or to be considered a negative overall, but it does have the advantage of altering your perspective regarding a great number of things you may have previously regarded with what you felt was true clarity. In relation to this POV, I can only attest that over the last three years, there’s been an ever-increasing tidal shift in what I consider important and what I now deem as irrelevant, be it either the situations I find myself in, or the people I interact with, as I do so.

When I lived in Phoenix, I was always out and about. Going to shows and openings. Dropping in on fellow creatives in their studios. Consuming Diet Cokes and chai lattes within the local coffeehouse culture with a frequency far more than any rational human being ever should. And let’s not forget, my specialized penchant for lighting small literary fires within the PAS, and then emptying the contents of a gasoline tanker truck directly into them. Good times. Busy schedule. And nary a thought given to the concept of personal relaxation.

I may be one of the few people on this floating hunk of space rock, that looks at a two-week vacation as an opportunity to do even more work, albeit with far better scenery and unfamiliar foods.

By way of example, if I ever got the chance to check Prague off my bucket list, I’d most likely spend the majority of my time photographing its architecture, immersing myself in its street cuisine, talking to its citizenry as a means to gather story material, and dividing the remainder of my stay equally between the briefest of cat naps, and the completion of my pilgrimage to visit every single shooting location prominently featured in Blade 2, starring Wesley Snipes.In short, while I don’t believe in the “Work/Life Balance” bullspit that modern-day corporations promote as an alternative to a thriving wage, I oddly do seem to follow its tenets, and I do so happily. For those who may not know what W/LB is, I’ll boil it down for you. In a nutshell, it is the amount of time you spend doing your job, compared with the amount of time you spend with your family, and doing those things that you enjoy most, such as hobbies or in my case, filling my home’s crawlspace with dead clowns

Of course, when it comes to the corporate take on this, they’ll as a whole, try to convince you that your work “family” is as equally important as your actual one, a concept which at best, is almost sociopathic in its inception, if not its implementation However, there are some overlapping commonalities are at play here, the first being that like many of the former coworkers I’ve had to endure, I can’t stand the majority of my remaining family either, save for my older sister.

Case in point? I routinely tell people that both my parents are dead, when in fact, they’re still very much alive, and I do it with a giddiness that some might inadvertently, construe as a fully-clothed orgasm. Due to my ongoing health issues, my past near-death experiences, and my general sense of alienation from that which most people take for granted, I find myself consistently rethinking, if not retooling outright, a majority of my interpersonal relationships.

And at the top of my list, if I may be allowed to take a diversionary side road to the topic at hand, involves clearing the air about why I have some serious issues with my immediate family. What can I say? It’s far cheaper than paying for a shrink.
Now, I’m hoping not to turn this screed into a very special episode of Punky Brewster or a therapy session masquerading as snarky commentary, but I will say this: neither one of my parents should have been allowed to raise a Chia-Pet, much less breed and attempt to raise three kids.

My father, who overall, is a stereotypical hard-working self-made blue-collar guy, is also a fatally clueless and slightly racist curmudgeon, who, when given a moment of supremely undeserved grace to explain himself and his actions betraying my trust and respect, that being the end result of an abominable lie foisted upon me, chose to throw deflections instead, as if he were Donnie Yen flinging shuriken.

Throw in an unhealthy measure of paranoid self-absorption, and it will become perfectly clear to you as to why his emotional range vacillates from Russian permafrost to Antarctic glacier. The best aspect of this stunted sensitivity is that if you ever need a drink chilled, he can do it by either holding it for 30 seconds, or by dropping in a piece of ice chipped from his soulless outlook regarding the world entire.

However, my mom is so not all that. Instead, she’s a blatantly palpable dissembler, who’s sense of evil timing could almost be considered as a talent on loan from Lucifer’s massage therapist herself. Now, while my mother doesn’t share the same paranoid and often ignorant worldview that my father does, she compensates for it by making sure that you’ll always feel like you’ve been trapped in a “Saw” movie. The difference being that unlike the films, you’ll be the only one getting maimed by her mind games.
Whereas my father chips away at your psyche via a campaign of disavowing the legitimacy of what you’re passionate about, which in my case involved the choice to pursue an art-based career., my mom on the other hand, just chooses to ignore what it is you do (and you) to the point that the only time you’ll exist in her world, is when she needs a favor from you, a message that metaphorically got hammered into my skull after my near-death experience, back in 2008.

It’s almost a shame that insufferable self-absorption and mental abuse aren’t ever going to be considered as Olympic events, because if they were, my dad would be Bruce Jenner, pre-Caitlyn era of course, and my mom would easily qualify to be a stand-in for Nadia Comăneci. And don’t you worry, I’ll provide prime examples for both approaches to systematically destroying your children’s self-worth, because I’m cool like that.

As I noted, my father deliberately eschews all that makes other people happy, such as hobbies, outside interests separate from his work, and most importantly, the inclusion of a tangible base of friends. While I used to be somewhat sympathetic regarding his particularly insular lifestyle, I can heartily now attest that this once free-flowing well of charitable acceptance in relation to such, has since run dry. To be fair, while it was a singular action that finally tripped my personal off switch, it’s also justified of me to claim that it was literally the last knife my back would ever accept from him at that point.

There are two pivotal points that I remember in ,my long-troubled relationship with my so-called father, and they, in my opinion, sum him up far better than I ever could, The first occurred almost a lifetime ago, back in1987,which for many of you loyal Bitchiteers,, was long before cellphones, streaming services, and the evil juggernaut that would eventually become known as the World Wide Web, were ever a thing. An era where the music we listened to was off of a cassette, smoked clove cigarettes, British flag t-shirts and Members Only jackets were worn with pride, and the belief that the higher your hair climbed, the closer to God you actually were, a theory that i still somewhat ascribe to.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that if you ever want to really know who may have single-handedly helped destroy the Earth’s ozone layer, my pal Kelsey here, might have some personal insights regarding the root cause as to why there’s now a permanent Aqua-Net layer just above the Mesosphere.

Getting back on track, I had made the mistake of informing my father that I had won several awards in an art show hosted at my high school, which at the time, was one hell of a shot to my sense of self-esteem, given the fact that as a child of divorce living with the nicotine-addicted equivalent of a crazy cat lady, was not only timely, but exceedingly crucial to my then ongoing campaign not to slit my wrists over the living and social situations that I had found myself  continuously marginalized in.

I’m not kidding either, mind you. If I had ever been granted the opportunity to be awarded a dollar for every time that I seriously contemplated suicide in high school to get away from the stressors of my life, both of my parents being key to this feeling, I’d currently be entrenched on my own personal island constructed from Ding Dongs and Sno-Balls, with a complement of Milla Jovovich clones as my side-gals.

When informed of my artistic accomplishment however, my mother as usual, couldn’t care less, but my father to his credit, took a unique approach to issuing what other dads are able to do as naturally as they breathe- that being the dispensation of some recognizable form of patriarchal praise. But when it comes to my so-called dad, he prefers to be a trendsetter, apart as it were, from the maddening crowd.

Whereas other fathers may have said; “Good work, Son”, or even maybe the singular classic, “I’m proud of you”, my dad chose o aim it right down the proverbial middle, and go with the soul-lifting refrain of: “Huh… I wasn’t aware they gave out ribbons for faggotry.” Let me tell you all now, nothing makes you feel quite so good as when your father, a guy who hasn’t picked up a book since his high school days, and has less culture contained within him than an empty and sunbaked container of Chobani, gives you his esteemed opinion, am I right?

Of course I am. How could I not be?

However, the second (if not final) nail in the coffin of our relationship happened just a few years ago, when an issue I had apparently dovetailed nicely as a solution to an issue my father was having at the time, and of which I was not informed of until much later, although to be clear, the source of said info was not my father himself, as telling me the truth of things, is so not a Reich family tradition. You know… because being honest with others generally requires some form of an integrated spine to begin with?

While my dad is superb at detecting, notating, and never forgetting faults (both real and imaginary) that he sees in other people, that perceptive ability fails when it comes to his numerous and glaring foibles of character. Weird how that works. If my dad’s memory ever managed to become more selective than it is now, he’ll be regaling us all with stories about how he dumped Sophia Loren to marry my mom.

If you ever were ever forced to listen to my father’s cherry-picked litany of his successes, he’s always the one that rushed into the burning building, and saved the kitten and orphans trapped inside from a gruesome death, regardless of the facts that say otherwise. Newsflash, Daddy-O? You don’t get to take credit for saving anyone, when you’re the one who supplied the arsonist with a case of matches, a pile of oily rags, and a Citgo gift card to begin with.

Case in point? The aforementioned issue I’m about to discuss.

It all began after discovering that my well-loved 1993 Isuzu Amigo, which just so happened to be emblazoned with its full-blown graffiti paint-job, had failed it’s AZ emission test, due to the fact that I needed to replace the fuel system, from stem to stern. This in and of itself, wasn’t insurmountable by any means, and as far as such repairs go, it would have been relatively easy to fix, as my car was more basic than a Karen complaining about her local Whole Foods policy regarding face-masks.

Sigh… I miss you, my spray-painted lady.

I mentioned this state of affairs once and only once, to my father during one of our rare phone calls, and since I didn’t ask him for any help regarding it, I forgot that I had brought it to light. almost as quickly. My dad on the other hand, saw my minor dilemma as a timely fortuitous opening to benefit himself, as is his way. Turns out, my father’s GF was in the midst of suffering from Alzheimer’s, and in order to qualify for state assistance concerning her very exhaustive care, had to “pay down” his personal assets, in order to qualify. Nothing insidious there, to be sure. 

After all, it’s just another sad reality of what passes as the American healthcare system these days, unfair as it is. However, I get a phone call from my dad a few days after this conversation occurs, telling me not only to wait before getting my car fixed, but that he was en-route to AZ as well, with his Alzheimer’s afflicted girlfriend IN THE CAR WITH HIM. Granted, her care aide was traveling with them as well, but who in their right f**king mind takes a multi-state road trip with a mentally-afflicted individual who every ten minutes, forgets who and where they are?

Can you just imagine just how goddamn terrifying that must have been for her? Every one-sixth of an hour, she literally woke up in an unknown place, with brand-new-to-her scenery, seemingly trapped inside a moving vehicle with two strangers. I’ve seen 80’s slasher movies with a far less chilling plot than this, and those at least, made some sort of logical sense, by way of comparison.

Shocked into silence by this revelation, I was then whiningly informed that he could only “make about 400 miles a day”, due to her medical concerns, which I guess, presented itself as a personal affront to his plans, given that he decided to selfishly travel with the human equivalent of an imprisoned goldfish, if you would so kindly pardon my acidic descriptive of the situation then at hand. Continuing, he then lets me know that he’s going to help buy me a new car, an offer of generosity I had not asked for or expected,

To note, this is suspiciously out of character for my father, whose personal purse strings are so tight, that they could be used as a garotte, and let me assure you, that in the not-too-distant past, they have been.

Repeatedly.

A Day or two later, on a Friday, to be exact, my father calls me, and asks where I am. When I mention that I’m at work, as If I’d be on vacation when I have bills to pay, he seems shocked by this, and actually says; “I didn’t know you actually had a real job”, which of course, wasn’t insulting at all to the owner of the picture frame shop I had been working for the last seven years or so. And you thought I was kidding about him being clueless?

Even my then boss who overheard the phone call in its entirety, declared that my father sounded like, and I quote: “An absolutely unaware and conceited idiot.” See, Dad? It’s not just me, and those who already know you, it’s also the people who run into you randomly as well. I guess viral marketing really is a thing after all. Who would have guessed?

See, when it comes to my dads’ POV, my being a Creative means that I have no work ethic to speak of, nor could I actually be holding a job to begin with. Funny how he was never bothered by what I did for a decent living whenever he needed something along those lines, but I digress for now, if only for the sake of my therapist’s bank account. As it turned out, he had bought me a car. Without asking me. And I might add, without seeking any previous input from me either, because… why should he?

He does know best, and all that, which is why he bought the artsy guy driving a car used for back-country photography shoots and hauling artwork to shows, a four-door sedan with the storage capacity of a flattened catheter, and designed for a well-seasoned demographic that is in bed by six pm. You know, the one I didn’t ask for, couldn’t use, and obviously did not want? I know they always say “It’s the thought that counts”, but give me a break, for Christ’s sake, because for this maxim to be relevant, one actually has to be thinking first.

And for a refreshing change of pace, not about themselves, for once. Gritting my teeth, I then calmly explained to my brain-dead benefactor, as to why what he had decided to purchase without my involvement, was highly inappropriate for my needs, leading to a universal decision that a meeting set up for the next day to go down to the dealership to pick out something else would generate a far better resolution for all parties involved.  

At the time, this solution to the problem he had created did not present itself as an issue, but it soon would, which is also sad to say, a Reich family tradition, as is my parents both having the emotional maturity range of a candy-denied three-year-old. For when I got home that night, my father felt the need to ring me back up and issue forth an unbridled and delusional harangue, regarding the “deal” we had never discussed previously, and had not made concerning his purchase of the car I hadn’t asked him for to begin with.

Ahh, arrogant and unfounded victimhood, thy name is Wolfgang Oscar Reich. Keeping in mind that despite all the time my GF and I had been dating, this was the first time she got to experience who my father truly is, because she could him screaming vulgar inanities at me on the phone from across the bedroom. Way to make an impression, Dad. You always know how to upstage Mom, and that’s a definitive plus, no matter what the members of my weekly therapy group say.

He ends the call with the affirmation that he’ll see me the next day at the dealership, and that if I don’t like any of the cars that were up for sale, the “deal is off”, because there was no way in Hoboken that he’ll help me fix the ride that I was hoping to make road-worthy again. Or as he so deftly phrased it, the “piece of s**t” I was currently driving. You know, the car that for close to five years had consistently gotten me to work, to no less than six states, and God knows how many art shows and personal obligations?

That’s my dad’s take on things: if it’s important to you, it means f**k all to him, unless he can use it to curry favor for himself, just like any parent deserving of their child’s respect would do. Personally, I’m not planning on having any kids, but if I ever do, I’m going to be a rockstar at it, compared to the example set forth by this mentally-curdled urinal cake of a human being. And no, I’m never apologizing for laying this pixelated punition down in public. It is what it is, as the kids like to text.

But the fun was just starting to ratchet itself up, because until a set of keys was in my hand, and I was on the freeway ensconced within my new (gently-used) Chariot of Snark, there was no way in Delaware I was going to allow myself to relax. How could i? This was my dad I was dealing directly with after all, and the man’s moods are more mercurial than God’s on the best of his Old Testament days.

To be fair though, God at least is actually omnipotent, whereas my dad just thinks it’s his birthright to believe think that he is, despite all evidence to the contrary. As it tends to do, the next day arrives, and as my GF and I arrive on the agreed upon time at the dealership, an hour away from our house, we discover that not only is my father not there to greet us, he’s also not answering his phone, either.

Correction: what I meant to say is that he wasn’t answering MY phone calls, even after 30 minutes, but when the dealership calls, he picks up theirs on the first ring. I’m sure there’s nothing to unpack there, right? Of course not.

As it turned out, he wasn’t running late, mind you, he was still kicking back at his hotel, naturally located on the opposite side of town, an HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES AWAY, because… f**k you, that’s why. This discourteous display of parental authority leads to my GF and I going to a megamall half an hour away and grabbing lunch, where she spends the entire meal advising me to keep my temper in check, because if I did, I’d have a new car at the end of it all.

Calm woman dating a getting increasingly angry man, and all that. Sometimes, you just gotta take your redhead’s advice, play it cool, and accept the fact that she’s way smarter than you, and typically, fortified with a far healthier course of action than the one you’re currently espousing as foolproof.

Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it. Mythical Lord knows, i have.

So, with my temper management Redhead firmly in tow, we return to the dealership and greet my father who at this point, I haven’t seen in the flesh for a number of years, and whom had also never met my GF in person, as noted previously. After the brusquest of introductions, he then proceeds to studiously ignore my GF’s attempts at conversing with him, most pointedly whenever she talks about how well my career as a magazine writer was going at that moment.

A subject which he obviously had zero interest in discussing, or even hearing about, because once again, what I do is not a “real” job. Nice work, Dad. Good hustle in regards to laying down that frosty charm that Germans are renowned worldwide for. Sure, my Gf may have literally saved my life half-a-dozen times, and is the one I‘ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with, but why show her any respect? You had one job to do, you self-absorbed son of a bitch, and you couldn’t even do that.

Heads up, Daddy-O; if it ever comes down to who gets in the last rowboat with me, and the choices are you and her, get ready to eat some serious oar, because you’re going to be shaking hands with Davey Jones long before I ever grant you a seat.

Faking interest in other people’s lives isn’t all that hard, Dad. Just ask Mom. She obviously had been doing it for years concerning your marriage, so maybe you should have taken some notes and asked her for some useful tips after the divorce became finalized. Advice for another day, I guess. But as my Ginger ninja had so diplomatically stated over lunch, at the end of this groveling suck-fest was a new car, so I steeled up, and took it all in stride, as artsy badasses are apt to do.

As my GF and I walk outside to see the choices available for purchase, I’m informed that my father had been in contact with the dealership about getting me a car long before I had even told him about the issue with my car, a fact which becomes crucial later on in my story, so tuck it away for later retrieval, if you would be so kind.

Fortunately, one of my options turned out to be the exact same year and model car that my GF already owned, (albeit a different color) and as i I was already familiar and totally dug her car to begin with, the selecting of it as my new Snarkmobile was literally, one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make, next to deciding that while yes, James T Kirk will never be the Starfleet officer that Jean-Luc Picard is without question, he’s still a far better captain than Jean-Luc could ever be, hands down.

At that point, all that remained for us to do was get through the point of sale paperwork, and I would be home free, as long as my dad didn’t make it difficult to do so, which of course he did. As we sat in the office, my father who up until this point, had been doing his best impression of the Sphinx, suddenly found the on switch for his mouth, and started upon a litany of free-form complaints and random thoughts, none of which by the way, were relevant to what was currently being discussed.

Nevertheless, we were making progress, and to be quite honest, until the time he actually signed the paperwork transferring the car’s title over to me, I was inherently convinced that he’d pull the rug out from under me, and renege on the deal that he and the voices in his head had made. Providentially, he did live up to his end of our one-sided bargain, thereby lifting a weight off my chest that my father had placed there without so much as a passing concern for my state of mental health.

But I wasn’t free of the psyche shredder yet, no siree Jim-Bob. Reading the tension still prevalent in the room, the dealership rep tosses out the following joke as a way to ease up the pressure: “Well, now that you’ve got a new car, you’ll need a bumper sticker for it- I’ve got an old one on mine that says:”To which, my ever so culturally-sensitive father responds ever so jovially to the salesman who just so happens to be of mixed-race; “Yours must have been talking about that dumb bastard Obama… “he”, [meaning me] thinks he’s just great.”

I once read that it takes water an average of forty-five minutes to one hour to freeze solid, depending on the efficiency of one’s freezer and the paradoxical influence of the *Mpemba Effect, but this twenty-something salesclerk managed to form an ice crust in less time than it took for me to slip a stripper my business card back in the day.
*[The Mpemba effect is a catch-all term for possible cases in which hot water appears to freeze faster than cold water. Science! Like Magic… but Real.]

With mythical God and my GF as sole witnesses, if that kid had shuffled the ownership papers into their complementary folder any faster, he would have been able to generate a Class-% hurricane without even breaking a sweat. And did my father even notice that said salesperson was giving him a glare that could freeze lava?? Of course, he didn’t, because other people’s feelings don’t register when you’re a raging narcissist. All I could do was telegraph with my eyes that I was so sorry, and in return received the universal head nod that states: “I get it. He’s an old white guy.”

However, the chill emanating out of that kid at that moment towards my clueless father, made me, felt as if I was streaking down the frozen foods aisle at the Anchorage Albertsons, whereas my father walked out as if he were on a beach in Florida. But in the end, I did get a relativelycar, so all’s well that ends well, right?

Well… not so much actually, for a few months later, I was engaged in a conversation with my older sister, who is literally the only family member I still talk to these days, and she shared a somewhat interesting factoid with me- seems that at the same time he bought me my car, he had also purchased my niece and her hubby a brand-new and fully-decked-out, truck as well, despite their protestations they didn’t need that much excess bling on their new (and as in my case) unexpected ride.

And in yet another out of character move, he hadn’t even tried to haggle with the dealership regarding its price, which echoed his actions while he was in AZ, arranging our transaction. Now, as to why this is odd, keep in mind that my father is the type of man that would try to negotiate the price of a Happy Meal, so his tossing out piles of cash willingly, is akin to my calling up my ex-fiancé, and asking her out to a five-star lunch date on my tab.

In other words, it’s quite literally the epitome of a “Hell has frozen over” moment. But iut got even stranger, because concurrently, there had been a severe windstorm that had blown don the fence around the house my niece was renting from my father at that time, and despite his recent run of distributing cash to used-car salesmen named Todd, he refused to pay for the required repairs, despite hi clearly defineds legal obligation as a landlord to do so.

This, despite the fact that my sister, ever the crafty one, had managed to set up a deal with a fellow churchgoer who did carpentry for a living, and who agreed to fix the fence for what amounted to essentially the cost of materials, with an almost insignificant percentage fee tacked on the back end to do so. Essentially, my sister had managed to get the work done for nearly a quarter of the standard price, which, let’s face it, was a smoking deal, and yet, my father still refused to accept said bargain.

So, paying out over 24k for two vehicles was easier than slipping on greased ice, but shelling out 1500 bucks for a new fence was going to break the bank somehow? And that’s when the motivation for his seemingly unchecked spending spree became clear as a crystalline snowfall to me- he wasn’t being charitable or acting out of some form of parental or grandfatherly concern, he was, once again, manipulating a crisis of fortitude in order to protect what he considers to be the most valuable ting in his life, that being his own egotistical self-interest.

Remember what I had written earlier: “Turns out, my father’s GF was in the midst of suffering from Alzheimer’s, and in order to qualify for state assistance concerning her very exhaustive care, had to “pay down” his personal assets, in order to qualify.”

Obviously in retrospect, this was the plan my dad was laying out, and insultingly, without informing any of us about his true intentions, but there was an additional detail that he also let somehow slip his mind as well, that being, it wasn’t his money he was spending so freely, it was his afflicted girlfriends’ assets that were being distributed instead.

What do I base this opinion of mine on, you ask? Considering that my dad may be the only person on Earth who still thinks that picking up a dropped penny is worth the effort involved, his willingness to purchase new vehicles without questioning the terms set forth, is not only an out an out tell, it’s also the last nail of damnation regarding the sweet discount he was being offered to rectify the home repair that he had found himself legally on the hook for, and yet, was refusing to accept.

What do I base this opinion of mine on, you ask? Considering that my dad may be the only person on Earth who still thinks that picking up a dropped penny is worth the effort involved, his willingness to purchase new vehicles without questioning the terms set forth, is not only an out an out tell, it’s also the last nail of damnation regarding the sweet discount he was being offered to rectify the home repair that he had found himself legally on the hook for, and yet, was refusing to accept either the responsibility or the exit out being presented.

See, I have no issue if my Dad had envisaged the notion to utilize my then ongoing concern in order to subtly f**k over the government, or that he was going to be spending someone else’s money to do it, as those are two of my favorite things to do anyway, but when it comes to deliberately misinform me that this was his veiled game plan all along, I tend to take a rather dim view of both his lack of testicular-based spine, and conceited readiness to make me a centralized pawn within his scheme.

Weird, that I would, when it gets down to the brash tacks of it all. Misspelling definitely intended. I know it does strike strange that despite my getting a “new” car out of the deal, I’d cut off all avenues of communication with my father, but this, the latest straw in an immense pile of them was finally the one that managed to break the proverbial whipping camel’s back. Don’t like what I do for a living? Who gives a f**k what you think? It ain’t your life, Pops, and it’s not like you’ve ever done anything of note to contribute to it, past the point of providing me with examples of what parenting should not be, that is.

But when you outright f**king lie to me….

Well then, apparently, you’re in in the market for experiencing a class of fuckery that would give the mythical God himself, eternal nightmares. Or you would be, if you were actually worth the effort to begin with, and my dad is so not that. Why should I waste my limited energy just to throw good after bad?

I was hoping beyond all reason, that I’d be able to present one semi-functional parent to my GF, and I did honestly think that my dad had the potential to truly be the dark horse winning that race, but instead, all he managed to do was embarrass me and himself publicly, and give me a serious complex regarding the blue-light-special DNA I sprang from.

So, how did my father handle being excised out of my life, in a manner far harsher than he thought he didn’t deserve, because as we all must remember, nothing is ever his fault, so the problem must be me, the entirely ungrateful child who for some anomalous reason, didn’t appreciate having his trust being played like a mandolin at a Mumford & Sons concert. An opinion, I might add, that I vehemently disagree with, given the narrative I just laid out for y’all.

But leave it to my father, who just so happens to be a man of somewhat considerable financial means, to bring the full weight of such to bear on the sensitive issue of reconciliation that stared him dauntingly in the face. Marshaling his forces, he then proceeded to come charging out of his metaphorical castle keep, and did what all men of noble character do, when they’re confronted with an emotionally sensitive situation of their own making- he made three phone calls over the space of three years, and then considered his reunification tour a success, I guess?

Spoiler: I’ll never know, because I have as much interest in finding out the answer, as you should wanting to undergo the process of having a catheter dry-fitted when you’re fully lucid, as a rule. Seriously. If the option ever arises, tell your medical team that you’ll pay for the anesthesiologist, and if that fails to get things moving in the right direction, say something so vulgar, that’ll cause one of them to take offense, and lay you the hell out atop a pile of Sham-Wows.

Trust me about this. You’ll be glad you did.

My father and his bulls**t now set aside, that just leaves my mom to be discussed, and mercifully, her story-arc is far less requiring of detail than the menial monolith that was the tale that was my dad’s. When you look at it objectively, it’s almost as if Christmas came early, albeit with the option of drunkenly forgetting that it gave the gift it brought you to its Uber driver in lieu of an actual tip.

Now, to be brutally transparent, my mom has far more successfully perpetrated turns of abominableness on record than my dada does, but if I were to start going down my personal laundry list of the mental and physical abuse she engaged in from the time I was a child up to my late teens, not only would it horrify you, I’m also fairly certain that somebody would try to make a Netflix series out of it.

And mythical God knows, nobody needs to see that.

Funnily enough, if you ask my dad about this particular topic, not only will he claim the innocence of ignorance, he’ll also downplay the stuff that he cannot rationalize or explain, such as my consistently having obvious finger-bruises around my throat, after it was told to him that I, forever the congenital klutz, had once more, “tripped’, ‘fallen”, or my personal favorite, “ran over and into” a variety of items so varied, that NASA themselves would beg off from compiling a comprehensive list.

My grade school at the time though, did nobly express to my so-called father, their concerns regarding the blatant signs of physical abuse that several of my teachers had observed, and his paternal response to their fears was a classic. He just ignored it completely because of its inconvenience, and the problem magically went away, like such things are apt to do, if you just forcefully shunt them to the darkest of crawlspaces and choose to not see them for what they truly are.

A hell of a lot, that’s what.

Between my father’s lack of involved parenting skills, and my mother’s disturbingly sociopathic and overbearing ones, my current state of recall in regards to my childhood is definitively not the depiction set forth by authors such as Maurice Sendak, but it does align nicely with the rawest of work from Roald Dahl, if he were both tripping on Mescaline, and taking stylistic writing cues from Clive Barker.

Don’t misunderstand me here- while my mother was the main transgressive assailant relative to the majority of the abuse I endured as a defenseless child, my father is just as equally culpable, whether he’ll admit it or not. He may have never hit me, save for the 3 times I actually “deserved” it, with one of those being right in front of the Lincoln Monument no less, his willingness to make excuses for my mom, while concurrently launching his own virulent form of mental abuse towards me, cannot be discounted by any means or measure.

As I said earlier, I do have a laundry list of sorts, and while I did promise not to go into exhaustive detail in regards to it, I can offer up this one crucially vital tidbit of advice: choking out an eight-year-old child by wrapping a lamp cord around his neck just because you had a “bad day” is most certainly an ethical no-no, regardless of what the ghosts of Bing Crosby and Joan Crawford may choose to say to you. To this day, my intimates know that if you want to find yourself introduced to the floor face-first, all you need do, is try to grab me by, or around, my neck

And here I was, thinking my parents had given me nothing, save past a burning sense of hatred and disgust at their collective failure at being both dependably responsible parents and fully functioning humans. Turns out, they gave me some severely impactful trust and anger issues as well. Which of course, my friends would happily note, hasn’t really affected me at all.

But as the saying goes, “Misery loves company”, and when it comes to my mom on particular, there’s plenty to go around. Especially where one of my oldest friends is concerned.

When I had told him over a few soon-to-be-emptied bottles of various spirits about my mother contracting uterine cancer, he simply said the following with a wistful smile: “How unfortunate for her.”, a response that sent his then-girlfriend, and now wife, into what could only be charitably described as a state of personal shock.

This sense of offense soon passed however, after my friend regaled her with a truncated opus vis-à-vis all that he had personally witnessed over the course of our friendship, which had been established since eighth grade. And let me tell you, when others start expressing feelings of sympathy for a utilized tool of Death which others would normally be set against, it does nothing less than validate what you’ve been screaming harder than f**k to the empty sky for the last twenty years or so.

Take note that in no way, shape or form, am I trying to be purposefully disrespectfully flippant, but I’d opine that she doesn’t have cancer, the cancer has her, and I for one, can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to stop myself from sending said malignancy a card expressing my sympathy for its unfortunate assignment. Regardless of the sad fact that Hallmark most certainly doesn’t make a line of pro-cancer greeting cards to begin with. But someday? Who knows.

However, since there is a required test for obtaining a driver’s license, and not one for siring progeny, I have come to believe that for most of us, the family you wind up with is no more than the randomness of a celestially quirky game of back-alley Craps at best, and if you managed to score a parental duo that make Carol & Mike Brady look as if they had just stepped out of a V.C. Andrews novel, then good for you, my fortunate bastards.

Given the dynamic and history of our family, my siblings, as well as I, have become convinced at this point, that the dice my parents used to win the game for themselves alone, surely had to be “loaded”, because there’s no way in Hell that their fellow human beings would allow them unfettered access to the act of raising children, unless some form of side-betting was involved. And in this case, betting on the House to succeed as parents of any note, was most certainly the wager of a sucker.

I’m sorry. I promised you a short snippet regarding my mother’s last great flameout with me, versus this rambling stream of thought therapy session, so here it is, in all its asinine detail and self-absorption, that to be fair, could have only been birthed in the now-rapidly-failing brain that lives inside my mom, AKA: Joan Theresa Timko-Reich, who’s ability to be both a martyr and a monster, is truly wondrous to behold.

Now, when I say her brain is “rapidly-failing”, it’s because at this time, my mother so-called, is ensconced safely within what I can only assume are the soft-pastel-toned walls of an assisted care facility, located somewhere in the bowels of New York State. You know, the type of place you send your relatives to when their overall grasp on Reality gets softer than a wheel of Camembert: inadvertently left inside a Phoenix-parked SUV in July?
While she may now be pardoned {somewhat} from future personal consequences because of the onset of karmic dementia, does it now imply that she is also to be absolved of her past transgressions due to such? I think not.

 And to be quite honest, that’s a judgement that anybody faced with the same set of factors should be entirely comfortable embracing openly, if not proudly. In a just world, one doesn’t get a hall pass just because they’re no longer mentally or physically capable of hurting others, and you sure as f**k, don’t get entered as a contestant for canonization, either.

I don’t believe in God, Angels, Heaven, Hell, or even the construct of eternal damnation for one’s earthly lapses of morality, but if anybody could provide me with concrete proof that my mother would spend her afterlife cosplaying as a rotisserie chicken, I’d be occupying a pew praising the deity of whatever church, mosque, or temple wound up delivering the goods to my lair.   

Strangely enough, her last parental act of disinterested self-absorption was almost benign, considering the horrific abuse I endured at her hands as a child, but as the saying goes, it was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”, that finally allowed me to seal the familial crypt, hide its entrance, and salt the earth above it for the benefit of all future mankind. And for the rest that I could not accomplish, Nature was nice enough to step in and short-circuit her brain, as a means of doing me a solid.

Back in 2008, due to complications arising from the mismanagement of an infected tooth and my diabetic condition, I found myself in the ICU, literally battling for my life, suffering from a disorder known as *Ketoacidosis. Obviously, it was a skirmish that I fortunately won, albeit with some gravely resultant scars left upon both my psyche and my person.
*[Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones, which I can assure you, ain’t your friends.]

My mother, who lived no more than twenty minutes away from the hospital, and worked a late-night shift from 10pm to 6am, deigned to visit me only once during my unforeseen stay, for a grand total of less than ten minutes, because as we all know, time is money. Providentially at the time, I just so happened to be enjoying the infinite void of what would eventually turn out to be a four-day long diabetic coma, so I’d have to offer my celestial thanks that I was graciously spared seeing her go-to performance as the devotedly suffering martyr mother she always claims to be.

Nice work Odin. I’m dead serious. Not only can you banish Ice Giants from the assembled realms, you’re pretty good at getting rid of Ice Dwarfs from the ICU ward as well.
Long story short, after a brief stint as a guest of this Spa masquerading as a death watch, I was discharged in order to go live my life according to no plan save my own, a course of action that I was more than happy to put into play. As for my emotionally compromised and ever so dedicated mother?

Full-on into the dark, as if she were shot-calling a mission for Seal Team Six. Well… for two weeks, anyway. As I may or may not have indicated, both of my parents forget that they actually have kids, until either they need something, such as ego validation or in my mom’s eternal case, a “small favor”. Which is of course, what you should obliviously ask for when you haven’t checked up on your still recovering son for the length of a fortnight, am I right?

Of course, I am. It is me, after all. However, at the time of my alleged mothers call, I was on the road to Utah with my GF for a vacation that had been planned several weeks prior to my hospitalization.

As we were taking a moment to enjoy a delightful lunch comprised mostly of Navajo Fry Bread, courtesy of the Cameron Trading Post a tourist-trap wisely situated on the border of Utah and AZ, my phone rang, a moment that my GF later stated in which, I apparently viewed the caller info on my screen with a revulsion one normally reserves for having a nauseous hagfish that’s been unceremoniously dropped into your Star Wars Underoos as you sleep.

Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case, go forward and live your truth, because I have no right to question the parameters of your chosen morality, given that mine could be personified by this guy:-29plasman-
But hey… who hasn’t come back from Mardi Gras with a story so scandalous that they swore a blood oath to never reveal it upon pain of death or the possibility of being subjected to repeated viewings of Howard the Duck , which when you get right down to it, is kind of the same thing, minus the overpriced popcorn.

Getting back on track, the conversation I was about to be subjected to within the confines of a space where the liberal use of profanity was most certain to be frowned upon, went something like this:

AB: “Hello?”
Mom: “Oh hey… I need a favor.”
AB: “I’m fine, Mom- thanks for asking.”
Mom: “Can you come over? I need you to…”
AB: “I’m not at home Mom. We’re on our way to Utah to see Ashley’s’ family.”
Mom: “Oh. (pause) Is Ashley with you? Maybe she can come over and…”            AB: (rolling eyes) “No Mom, she isn’t. I decided to drive 13 hours by myself to see Ashley’s family, the majority of whom I haven’t even met yet. I’m sure it won’t be awkward at all.”
Mom: (giggling) “Oh yeah… that makes much more sense if she’s with you.”
AB: (muttering via telepathy) “Gee, do ya’ think so, you self-important bitch?”
Mom: ‘Anywho… maybe your friend Cale could come over and…”
AB: (sharply) “My friends are not your personal servants, Mom, they’re…”
Mom: (cheerfully) “OK… I’ll talk to you later, bye!”

And with that, the Sicilian cow who, on paper at least, legally qualifies as my mother, hangs up. And I don’t hear from her for another six weeks, give or take a day. Until of course, she needed me to do yet another favor, and one that she could easily do herself, if she didn’t suffer from a perpetual martyr queen complex, or as certain members of my estranged family liked to call it; “The Passionate Pity Play.”

I can attest, and that without fear of reproach, that my mother is so good at playing the victim, rogue forensic teams follow doggedly behind her as she walks, reverently laying down chalk outlines, as if she was the High Priestess of the Nazca Lines on vacation.

As a side note, I am aware that this screed started off purportedly dealing with my ongoing issues of health, and wasn’t supposed to devolve into a Lifetime dramady playing at 2am, but I swear, I’ll get this juggernaut back on track before you know it. As with most things in my world, it’s path is circularly aligned, and it will all amalgamate cleanly in the end.

Trust me. You know I’m good for it.

So, as you may have surmised, some form of proactive progress had to be made in regards to the strain on both my physical and mental health that I was experiencing with the DNA donors that Mother Nature had puzzlingly deemed worthy to serve as my parents, and that, right quick. I’m fairly confident that if I allowed the metaphorical floor to be opened concerning what I should have done to improve my relationship with this toxic duo, I’d foster a guess that some of you might be tempted to go with the notion that we should work it all out in some form of group therapy, a proposal to which, i would politely say: See, what most people tend to forget, is that in order for an individual to enact change, they must have to want to change in the first place, and rest assured, neither one of the Replicants currently posing as my parents wants to do that. Not because they’re incapable of doing so, but because collectively, they see no reason as to why they should to begin with.

My father is a by-product of a by-gone era, where people could safely do business based on nothing more than a handshake, a time wherein corporations felt obligated to take care of their workers, and where he alone, could buy a modest house on the 1962 minimum wage, so dragging him into the light of today’s reality would be akin to Van Helsing buying Dracula a four-post tanning bed.

And my mom?

Well… as noted earlier, my mother is currently cosplaying as a Chia Pet at the moment, so perhaps the less said about that, the better. I can’t expect genuine remorse and the salve of of hoped-for closure from a person who offered none prior to her brain melting like Velveeta in a microwave, so that theoretical door, if there ever was truly one in place to begin with, has most definitely been hammered shut.

However, since I truly don’t believe in a higher or supervising deity to settle my mother’s well-deserved karmic bar tab, the only gratification that I can hope for at best, is that for whatever cinematic loop is currently playing in her head, I hope it makes The Exorcist look like a PIXAR movie. And no- I will not, nor will I ever, whether it’s in the present or the future, apologize for saying so. If that brands me as an “ungrateful son”, so be it.

Much like my stance regarding the wholly mythical “God”, I refuse to give praise or allegiance to a trivial duo of narcissistic tyrants who demand incessantly that I do so, based on nothing more than a quirk of amalgamated genetics. Those very same genetics BTW, that have turned my body over the years, into an amusement park run by a sugared-up demon with a medical fetish.

And if I may be permitted a side observation, any so-called deity that lays out ten inviolable rules as a compass for morality, yet taints four of them with insane and contradictory ultimatums on just how to “properly” worship his sociopathically petty ass, is never going to get me to willingly eat one of his zombie crackers ever again, Even it they so happen to be Sour Cream and Onion flavored, which quite honestly, is a marketing opportunity that I feel, the makers of Pringles have totally dropped the ball on.

My mom and dad. The gift that’ll keep on giving, even after they become the first corpses whose very own anaerobic bacteriams wouldn’t be caught dead decomposing them. Which, when given some serious pause, achieves a level of shade that can only be thrown by a true Slay Queen. So, with a heart less than heavy, but still somewhat grounded in Reality, I made the long overdue decision to cut off all forms of contact with this corrupted facet of my bloodline, a choice that to this day, I’m still more than comfortable with, despite the inevitable social stigmata that comes with “abandoning” your elderly parents.

Granted, if I were to be truly honest with those select few who think that I’m being an entirely ungrateful bad seed, I’d note that all I’ve really done is return the same level of grace and concern they’ve bestowed upon me from my inception to my late forties, so really… it‘ll all be good when the books are audited. In fact, not having to defend myself, my career, and most importantly, my overall life choices, from unprovoked judgement and condescending contempt, is a refreshing change of pace. And it’s definitely one I can get used to, given the positives it brings,

You know…. like a sense of personal self-worth and inherent happiness? I’ll definitely take some more of that. All jokes aside, to say that my stress went down considerably after getting these inane irritants out of the jangling juxtapositions that underpin my day to life, would be as understated as the reality of just how good Netflix’s “Gunpowder Milkshake” movie actually is, and mythical Lord, knows, I don’t want to do that. 
Mainly, because I have a pretty decent home library, and I don’t want these two f**king it up just because they got mad at my inadvertently making a flippant comment regarding the believability of conceivably winning a gun battle against superior numbers while wearing impractical shoes. I guess in the end, what it all personal victories come down to, is having a positive mental outlook regarding their outcome. And that applies across the board, whether you’re battling an established crime syndicate, or in my case, the complications of an entrenched auto immune disease.

See, as time and the ravages of my afflictions go on, I’ve been jettisoning things overboard in order to keep my metaphorical boat supremely afloat. First, I got rid of all of the no-longer-needed baggage and concerns in relation to the walking punchline that the Phoenix Art Scene has become, and of its own accord, no less, and after those were FedEx’ed back to the gentrified Hell from whence they sprang, I started culling my herd of the two-faced, the useless, and the toxic, with an artic savagery I have not possessed since it dawned on me that no matter what I do, DC will still continue to ruin Batman.
Looking at you, George. And it breaks my heart knowing that you read the script first

Personally, I feel that unless you’ve remained as the caretaker of, or are the actual person inside the defective meat suit that those with chronic conditions convey into society as if it were a crown of thorns, it is impossible for anyone to truly understand the factors in play at any given moment. To be blunter, it’s akin to Carlson Tucker cueing up a Jackson 5 album, listening to one song, and then thinking he’s qualified to posture about racial politics. Oh wait… he does that already, so let’s just skip the analogy portion of this essay shall we?

In essence, and in my opinion, the maintenance of one’s health requires two very critical things- the first being a collective medical team on par with Queen’s performance at Live Aid, and second, an attitude that basically advertises that you’re more than willing to face your disease on its own terms, and if given the chance, you’ll choke it out until it’s face is as blue as a Smurf in the middle of an autoerotic asphyxia session gone wrong.
And you thought my meandering couldn’t come full circle- oh, yea of little faith.

It was once told to me upon my arrival in New Mexico, that the small town I now live just outside of was a great place to either; “hide or reinvent yourself”, an adage I have not only discovered to be truer than most of the things I happen to hear these days, but it’s real value stems from its unforeseen underpinning as a conceptual beacon, clarifying what my future moves could or should be. That is not to say that my current state of health isn’t setting the speed of my current attempts at progressing forward as well, but at the end of the day, everything counts, regardless of the detail size.

And while there has been some improvement in relation to my health, such as my latest AC1 test being under 11 (8.3!) for the first time ever. For those not in the know, an A1C test is a blood test performed to monitor how well one’s blood sugar levels are being managed. Explicitly, the A1C test measures what percentage of hemoglobin proteins in your blood are glycated- that is, coated with sugar. A “high” A1C level, indicates poor blood sugar control, and factors into an increased risk for diabetic complications, such as renal failure, blindness, nerve damage, as well as that whole inconvenient dying thing.

And as somebody who’s already experienced the joy known as a partial amputation, I’m truly in no hurry to collect all of the cards in the set, if you know what I mean. Previous to my acquiring an insulin pump, my numbers would, much like Matt Gaetz at a family BBQ, hover around the teens.

So, what’s coming up on the medical horizon? Well, the aforementioned Upper Endoscopy for one, which comes right on the heels of a successful Transnasal Endoscopy, which determined that I have a now-being-treated-infection in my throat, and one that’s been plaguing me for the better part of the last two years. Because when my body decides to fall apart boys and girls it lets every system get involved. Looking at you to be next, sweat glands, looking at you.

Obviously, I still have quite a long way to go before I can justify strutting around like my old self to be sure, but it is the eventual goal of me, my dedicated medical ream, and not inconsequentially, my insurance agent, who under no circumstances, will ever want to cut my GF a check for my shuffling off this mortal coil.

Hell, I can’t even get a free pen out of the guy, and he’s got tons of those just laying around the office.

With any luck, I’ll have one set of issues soon to be benched, and can then tackle the rest, in order of importance and their ability to either be tightly controlled or fixed outright. What can I say? I’m an optimist, albeit one based in cynicism, and given the fact that I’ve been tested for nearly everything else, the list of remaining possibilities for what’s wrong with me, has got to be whittled down to no more than a few items at this point, right?

To quote Sherlock Holmes, the fictionally lauded “consulting detective” who truly knew how to balance the joys of wearing a deerstalker cap while simultaneously enjoying alternating doses of morphine and sometimes cocaine; “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” And trust me, that’s not just Lady Blow talking, that’s an almost quantifiable fact.

Given this parameter, the choices for what is the underlying cause of my current condition are blatantly clear- either the failure of my body is accelerating ahead of schedule, or the genetic legacy of my true father, who was actually an ageless and all-powerful space alien known as a Titan, is finally starting to present itself in the most vexing way possible:
Think about it. He’s got great hair, a wicked sense of humor and play, he’s totally dedicated, if not obsessively so, to his career, and his name is literally “Ego”, The resemblance, when you look at it objectively, is downright uncanny.

Ego aside, anyone who knows me quite well will tell you, and that regardless of your interest, that one of the big items on my bucket list, is to traverse the vastness of Space, in a craft whose design is reminiscent of the progeny of an I-phone and a white-chocolate-dipped Cadbury Egg, with nothing save for the companionship of a female Asian-alien-hybrid empath, and if for some reason I can’t have that, just give me my own planetoid to rule, and we’ll call it all good.

And if you could see it in your heart to possibly throw in a working pancreatic and nervous system as part of the deal, that would be appreciated too. Heck… if I’m going to have unrealistic goals, I might as well go all the way in, and ask for this as well, and yes… I’m more than willing to accept her in the form of a clone:
I’m not gonna lie here. This may be the fist time in my life that I’ve ever been jealous of a wall. Speaking of which, and in reference to those who seem to be fans of them, especially the fantasy one Mexico was supposed to pay for.let me introduce you to a wonderfully toxic ball of barbed yarn I’m gonna be soon playing wit, in a future screed where I  veil my TMI therapy sessions as the thinnest of entertainment. 

This person, whom I feel is no less than a putrid amalgamation of alleged racism, homophobia, misogyny and a sense of paranoid patriotism mixed with faux Christian delusions, manages on even the worst of days, to make Kanye West appear well-balanced. And that, let’s face it- is an amazing skill-set, no matter how you light it with tiki torches.

Loyal Bitchiteers, may I present to you, one of the more intellectual musings from my newest BFF, Ricardo “Richard” Leyba, who despite the genealogy of his name and the fact he wears his Trump hat as proudly as he wraps himself in willing ignorance, still doesn’t seem to comprehend, that he’ll never get that Aryan membership card he’s been waiting on for the last five years:
I won’t dare speak for all my fellow White peeps, buy it’s so nice to see someone finally acknowledge the day-to-day crisis of identity that us Caucasians fight through, isn’t it? I swear if only those uppity race-baiters could just understand the agony of when Whole Foods runs out of organic avocado mayonnaise, or consistently seeing your name misspelled on a Starbuck ‘s coffee cup- IT’S SPELLED “WAYNE”, DAMMIT!!! NOT “WADE”, OR “DUANE”… WAYNE!!!!!
But this is a Panderers Box to open a tad bit down the road, so for now, enjoy the respite between this moment and when I introduce you to a whole new crop of local Mein-Kampf-Mouseketeers, whose hats, unlike the ones Annette and Frankie used to wear, are sans ears, if not brains.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Jiddu Krishnamurti