Sunday, December 11, 2011

I survived.

I’m still back in New York (which I still call “home” when I am in Virginia) and away from my beloved old, over-handled, poorly maintained, bindings broken paper library from which I gather most of my inspiration for this evalovin’ blog. I’m a witness in a trial, which I won’t really talk about except to say it is sad to see a family disintegrate, but it is all too common over a parent’s estate, even when it is the last thing the parent would have wanted. Yccchh. I say again, yccchh.

A political update is due (my own self-imposed monthly schedule) but I don’t much feel like it. So, I’ll just say, as follows about politics:

Though I do not buy the Trumpian or tea partyish view of the president that he is not a patriot, that he is crooked and at the same time a Muslim and a bad Christian born in another country, I do think he is ill suited for the presidency in most respects and that he shares at least enough with socialists to believe that more spending, taxation and government are the answers, that our money is really on loan from the government and that the equality due us is not of opportunity but in assets and income. Leaving aside that Republicans are almost as bad as Democrats when it comes to these misapprehensions, I do want to see him lose the next election. But, I don't want Newt Gingrich to win one either.

Newt Gingrich has surged the last few weeks, for the most part based upon the fall of Herman Cain from the lead, of which now only the most die hard partisan or supporter can deny is likely true. But, Gingrich was already gaining a little bit when that happened. Cain supporters who need a new home will most likely look to Gingrich and that may give him what he needs to win Iowa and possibly New Hampshire and South Carolina. As has been pointed out many times by others, we pay the most attention to Iowa and New Hampshire because they come first, but South Carolina determines the nominee. However, the past is the past and every election something new seems to happen.

But, while my predictions for who would run and who won’t have been very good, I was wrong about Gingrich running and wrong about how he would do. That’s one self-aggrandizing reason for wishing him to fail. My second reason is because he is, in my view, a religious bigot and no believer in the first amendment, which, also in my view, is the number one reason we have become a great country. My third reason is that he is way to partisan and narcissistic, even for a politician, to be president, and last, I think if nominated, Obama will be president for four more years. Conservatives, led by Rush Limbaugh have insisted they want a real conservative and only a real one can win. This is not only ironic, because Gingrich is hardly a conservative in the mold of Rush Limbaugh – he has more in common with liberals than Romney – but he will also lose the general election, because he will turn off a lot of independents more than Obama will. I still am calling Romney to win, because you can't credibly switch every time someone new takes the lead.

But, none of this is what I am writing about today. Instead, I want to go autobiographical (which some of my few regular readers seem to prefer) and write about something about as personal as you can get – the number of times I have almost offed myself. I mean accidentally, as, leaving aside a whimsical notion of blowing a cooling hole in my head with a shotgun when I had a bad migraine headache on a few occasion, I have never had a suicidal thought in my life. But, sometimes when driving along and having nothing to read I do think about how many times I have come close and for a long time have thought about a post recollecting them for posterity. For otherwise, when I go to the big buffet in the sky (my secret hope), this crucial information will be lost forever. Some of these you may have read here before, but this is the first complete coverage.

1.           Once upon a time, when a mere youth, sometimes in the 60s, I was climbing a willow tree in my backyard. We had two willows, both of which were beautiful. Eventually, perhaps as proof how sayings are just sayings (the willow bends in the wind but does not break), both of them broke in the wind. But, the one furthest away from my house was a frequent destination for me when I was young and imaginative, and I loved to climb it and imagine. One day, alone in my backyard, I began, slothlike, to inch my way upside down along a big branch, away from the main trunk. I can’t say how high it was – it’s just too long ago – but I doubt it was less than 6 feet or more than 10 feet off the ground. Suddenly, the branch clean snapped off and I plummeted to the ground head first with the branch over me. I landed square on my head and felt my neck bridge under me. I didn’t break my neck. It just hurt a lot. But, however old I was, it was old enough to realize that if I had hit a little harder, or my neck was a little more extended, I would have killed myself or paralyzed myself for life. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone this before. But, I survived.

2.           There have been several biking accidents from which I mysteriously walked away from without injury as if providence was intervening. Once when I was in my young teens I was riding my stingray bike (I include a picture here as it is possible, you have no idea what that is, as I don’t believe they make them anymore). I was coming from a small stationary store and reading a comic book (some habits die hard, although I am more attentive now when I read and drive). I rode my bike right into the back of a standing car, flew off the bike into the car at quite a high rate of speed. It really, really hurt. But, I survived.

3.           Later as a teenager I was with some friends returning from Oyster Bay where Teddy Roosevelt’s home was located. There are some very big hills there. We were coming down one (I now owned a ten speed bike) and due to gravity, were going almost as fast as the cars. I estimate about 35 miles per hour. I had a bike lock wrapped around the post for the seat and somehow it slid down and lodged itself between my rear brake pads. It stopped the back tire, causing me and the bike to flip rear tire over front. I came off the bike and began rolling down the hill much as you’d expect. When I stopped rolling, I immediately stood up, expecting a bloody mess. But, I did not have a scratch. Nor, if I recall, did my bike. Odd, that one. But, I survived.

4.           I am in my late teens and at dinner with my fiancée and some other couple (I think a couple who I haven’t spoken to in at least 30 years and have no idea what happened to as she got them in the future divorce) at Red Lobster. I was eating a salad and got it into my Neanderthal head to try and swallow a cherry tomato whole. Sometimes I get confused between grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, so let me make it clear, this was the larger of the two. I did not know at this time that I had a very small opening for food (I learned that when I was about 50) but I had a long history of choking on food, even when I wasn’t being almost preternaturally stupid. So, of course, it got stuck in my throat. While my friends chatted on I quietly sat there, tried to relax, and waited for it to go down, trying to breathe through my nose, which didn’t work so well either. I did not use the international sign for choking, for whatever good it would have done me. Instead, after a while, I took a sip of water. I expected to pass out any moment, when all of a sudden it went down. I think of that every single time I pass a Red Lobster. But, I survived.

5.           Somewhere around the same time, my fiancée and I were at a local community pool. She told me that her brother, who was my age, had done 10 somersaults underwater. So, being a boy, I determined to do 11. And, I did. I also succeeded in making myself so dizzy that I literally could not find the surface. Finally, just about of air, I decided to just dead float and my fiancée, who was right there, would certainly rescue me. She did not, but when I relaxed, my head floated to the surface. I was not happy and asked her why she didn’t help me when I was flailing about. She said she thought I was trying to do one more. Well, that was fair. Anyway, I survived.

6.           I was 25 and in London in 1985. It was my very first day out of the country. I was happily crossing Trafalgar Square, walking from Whitehall and crossing the big traffic circle towards the statue of Lord Nelson looking down upon us, if you are familiar with it. I was the only one in the street and no, I did not look the wrong way. I heard a motorcycle coming around the curve towards me and as it did not look like it was going to stop, turned to face it so that he could go around me. He did not look like he was going so I moved slightly to one side just as he began to turn in the same direction. Then I went the other way and so did he. This happened a few times as he approached – STILL NOT STOPPING – and I realized I might die. I let my arms fall to the side, tried to become loose (I remembered that from somewhere) and he hit me square on. I know I went in the air and that I landed on my backpack. I know I closed my eyes but I do not believe became unconscious. When I looked up there were a group of punkers (if you are too young to know what that is, I have attached an example) around me and I remember joking to myself that I hoped this wasn’t heaven.

What I would call a brownie, that is, a women traffic cop, helped me to my feet and began talking to me. She was Scottish. I was deliriously happy to be alive. But, after a few seconds I said something like – I feel great, but I can’t understand a word you are saying. She helped me to the curb where I was approached by a number of American tourists who had taken pictures. A couple sent them to me, but I can only find one I had digitalized and it is from after the crash. You’ll notice I am covering something with my hand. It is my smashed camera. I don’t know why I thought that necessary, but, after all, I had been run over. I still felt great at this time, but later the pain, and a gigantic bruise that ran my entire lower left leg set in. It eventually turned black and then green and I thought I might have gangrene, but refused to give up my vacation and see a doctor. It turned out it was just a terrible bruise. However, there are some doctors who believe it was the genesis of my chronic leg pain/dysfunction, which began hurting the next year. Who knows? But, I survived.

7.           Later that same trip I was in Amsterdam and waiting for a tram, which are virtually silent. While waiting, I decided to cross the tracks. As I did, I felt a hand grab my lapel and pull me backwards just before the near silent train crushed me. I never knew who do it, but if you are religious, you might start believing I had a guardian angel watching over me. But, I survived.

8.           A few years later (1990) I went to Greece and Turkey with a friend. We rented motor bikes. We decided to see what was at the top of the island and rode up. We found out what was there. A garbage dump. So, we turned around and headed down. Fortunately going fairly slowly still, my rear tire hit an oil patch and I was thrown off. I was able to avoid hitting my head or face, but tore up my right elbow and left knee fairly badly. I didn’t want to go to the hospital or doctor, so we just continued to the beach where I submerged my wounds in salt water. It hurt. Let me demonstrate about how much. Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! But, I survived.

9.           On the way back to our hotel, my friend was ahead of me as I was now a little timid about riding the motorbike. I crossed a small bridge just as a large bus turned into it on the other side. There was no avoiding it and we passed each other with inches to spare. If I had been hit it would have slammed me into the wall to my right. I did not get hurt at all, and, more important, I survived.

10.           A few minutes later I suddenly felt a terrible pain in my throat near or on top of my Adam’s Apple. I still remember it as one of the most painful few minutes in my life until my throat surgery in December, 2009. I did not want to stop as my friend was way ahead of me. When I finally caught up to him and pulled alongside, I asked him to see if my throat was bleeding. I was actually worried he would think I was imagining things. He reached over and pulled a long thistle out of my throat. It must have been blown along and just lodged in there. I don’t know how close to death this was, but, it is too weird a story to pass up. But, I survived.

11.           A few years later I was with the same friend and his girlfriend in Portugal (I think around 1996, but I could be wrong). We were at a castle on the Atlantic shore. While they wandered off I decided to get a picture of the pounding surf at the foot of the castle. I slowly extended my body over a rampart by hooking my insteps on the inside. I took the picture but then realized I was too far out. My friends were too far away too help. Slowly, like a worm I inched my way back, realizing the whole time that it would be really hard for them to explain to my daughter how I fell off a castle to my death. But, I survived.

That’s all I can think of right now. I have had more lives than the proverbial cat. I have had many car accidents, but none have been serious at all. I have had two surgeries, but both were without complications. I have climbed small mountains and found myself in precarious positions, but always without incident. I have screwed up a zillion times, leaving myself at the mercy of the elements. I have been hospitalized a few times, once for a mysterious disease no doctor could figure out. But, all of these without mishap. My near misses have all been through stupidity or bad luck and not from the run of the mill accident or illness. I notice a couple of times that relaxing when things looked bad was the best thing I could do and I'm grateful for whatever experiences taught me that. I have found that many times in my life doing nothing saves you, and not just in near death situations. Here's a little from Lao Tze:
"Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things."

From the Tao Te Ching, 15:13-19 (1988 Stephen Mitchell translation). Or maybe it was Master Po from Kung Fu.

Do I have a guardian angel? Well, I don’t believe in things like that. All I know is, I survived.

Postscript: I forgot about this one. It is 1978. I am just married or about to get married and have my first apartment. There is a gas stove. Neither of us has ever turned one on. So, I say (I'm not kidding about this either) something like "I think we have to let the gas build up for a while." So, after letting it do so, I light a match and literally blow myself across the room and into the wall. But, that's not the funny part. I straighten up and say something like "Well, it probably hasn't been lit in a while." And I did the same thing again. After my second meeting with the wall, we called her mother, who said that we really shouldn't be allowed to live by ourselves. Too true. But, I survived.


  1. Very interesting. You did survive, and relatively unscathed considering.

    I don't believe in guardian angels, either, but I do believe there are forces unknown in the world. Did they help you? Who knows.

    But you're here to write another day, and that's a good thing.

    PS I hope you're right about Gingrich.

  2. Thanks. Unfortunately, as I am independent, I don't vote in the primaries. I hope you do.

  3. Who took that picture of you with the green mohawk????

  4. Annie Leibovitz.


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About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .