Dad is home

September 29, 2008

Dad was released from his inpatient rehab this past Saturday.

When I saw him a little over a week ago, he still seemed upset and negative. Apparently, he got much better this week, and got a lot better attitude about his treatment. His counselor reported to mom that he is doing a lot better, and that they might ask him back to talk to other patients if he stays sober for 90 days.

Mom, seems upbeat and positive. She reported that the two of them had a long talk, and that she is optimistic. That’s as good as anything I suppose.


Up the (Chicago) River

September 27, 2008

Today, my friend Ed and I made up a long standing appointment that I had been looking for.

He had invited me to join him in a canoe trip up and down the Chicago River, and I thought it was just what I needed as a “try something new”. I hadn’t been in a human powered boat since … I dunno …. since before I was ten.

So, we rented a canoe at a local outdoor store near his home in the swanky part of the Western Suburbs, and drove downtown to Chinatown. After a short search, we found a launching point behind the parking lot of a seafood restaurant on the Bridgeport-Chinatown border.

Up the south branch of the river we went, with Ed giving me lessons on proper technique with the oar. Surprisingly, there was little to see until we reached the innovative River City, a swanky condo complex built on top of a marina. After that the landmarks came quickly: Smith and Woelinsky’s, Morton’s The Steakhouse, the Sears Tower, Untied HQ, Boeing HQ, The Lyric Opera House, the olde Post Office, Union Station, the Merchandise Mart, Trump Hotel and Tower, NBC Tower, etc. We paddled about 10 miles, hanging a right turn into the main river, and paddling to Columbus Avenue. The next stop was the locks and Lake Michigan. With darkness already fallen, we turned and paddled back. After a quick shrimp dinner (shared with many disgruntled White Sox fans catching dinner after another loss), we headed home.

All and all, quite a day, even if I cannot lift either of my arms over my head.

edit: I got cut off a bit last night as it was late and I was tired. I cannot say enough how fun this was. I thought I had seen Chicago every way there was to see it; I’ve even been on the tour boats on the river before, but this was totally different. I strongly encourage folks to give something like this a try, provided of course the proper safety rules are followed (don’t go alone until you get experience, and know what to do in an emergency) …. you need to bring lights to mount on the boat after sundown …. life jackets are an absolute must).

I was also surprised at the number of times our picture got snapped by boaters going by or people on the various bridges. While we saw no other rowers or paddlers on the river, I didn’t think this was a rare event that would prompt a photo op. With the number of restaurants with on river seating, I kind of thought w should have gotten a little cash back for providing part of the ambiance …. either that or a complimentary steak dinner.

The saddest part of the trip, something so easy to ignore when you are standing several meters above the water on a bridge or on a river walk: the state of pollution in the river is not very good. I would like to think that the various bottles and cans we paddled past got somehow blown into the river, and were not just dumped there by idiots. I’d like to think that.

The only regret: I have not been working out lately. I was actually shocked that over the long trip, I only stopped to rest three times, and otherwise kept paddling. I wished I had been in a little better shape. The paddling is one thing, but you also have to lift the canoe on to and off of the car, and tie it down. That alone is a bit of a chore, but in no way turned me off from doing this again.

White Sox implode

September 26, 2008

So, after an inconsistent season that nonetheless had promise for the post-season has officially imploded.

I know, some will say that the Sox still have a chance with Minnesota losing tonight. It does not matter. In reality, even if the White Sox find a way out of this and win the division, the result would be anticlimactic.

The byword for the season is “inconsistency”. It started with the starting pitching not doing well, but the bullpen, predicted to be a follow up of last year’s horror story, being among the strongest in baseball, while the hitting was as anemic as every early spring for many years.

When the starting pitching picked up, the hitting didn’t. As the hitting started to pick up, the starting pitching went south. As the starting pitching came back in the end, the bullpen collapsed. With the exception of a few stretches of games, the team was never on the same page.

It is, of course, a myth that the 2005 team relied strictly on Ozzieball …. there were plenty of home runs flying out to help the team, but it is also true that in 2005, the team could run produce beyond the homer ….. which carried the team through power droughts as invariably occur. Since 2005, the ability to run produce has evaporated. This feeds inconsistency on a team by attacking the integrity of the team’s batting average and defense, not to mention the ability to manufacture runs.

The problem is: the White Sox now have two issues to deal with: bullpen and speed. Had the speed issue been addressed more readily over the past two seasons, the bullpen would not seem as daunting a task to fix. Now it seems there are multiple issues to address.

I can only hope that this get s addressed in the near future ….. the team still has some core players producing: Jermaine Dye had a great season. Carlos Quentin was fine. Jenks, Danks, Floyd were fine, and Linebrink was fine until his injury …. given rest he might be OK. Alexi Ramirez was a pleasant surprise.

I love Jim Thome, and I hope that the Sox will find a way to keep him with the team after his retirement. But you cannot have a DH batting that low. Ken Griffey, Jr: time’s up. See ya in Cooperstown where I hope your plaque will read “one of the greatest all-around players in the history of the game”. It’s the truth. Swish: loved the attitude, not the BA. If you cannot bunt and keep your batting average over the .260, you gotta go!

The White Sox are still trading a bit on their more recent reputation, which is greatly improved from years ago, when players couldn’t wait to go anywhere else. In recent years, players seem to be more willing to stay. A few more years without a post-season appearance, and that could change.

It will be a long winter on the good side of Chicago.

Titanic, Footloose, Dirty Dancing …. Spider-Man?

September 25, 2008


Oh yes …. the greatest hero of fictional New York is landing on Broadway, and not to see poor Mary Jane get ripped by the critics ….. he’s got a show of his own coming in 2009!


I can only hope that the theme song to the original cartoon is incorporated.


Given that David Cronenberg recently turned “The Fly” (1986) into an opera …. I wonder if it would do better there.

What’s wrong with America: #2,134 & 2,135

September 24, 2008

The statement is one thing. I think you will figure out the other.

Note the web address from the local news station. How brain dead do you have to be for the short name of the news story about you to be “dumbass”.

saw dad yesterday

September 21, 2008

He is physically looking better (according to mom). He was able to talk, if not more soft spoken. He said he was glad to see me.

The new crux of the problem: dad is scared to death about work. He needs to work for a few more years before retirement. He currently works for a Japanese company, and is scared to death that his credibility will be shot if they find out he is an alcoholic (I know there is this belief in Japan that alcoholism is a weakness, but I also know this belief has been changing over time). His boss just thinks that he is being hospitalized for depression, though given the amount of drinking he was doing, my mom and I are pretty certain that everyone at his work must at least suspect the nature of his current hospitalization.

Dad is currently getting my mom to arrange the proper letters from his doctors to confirm that he is under their care, but is not certain he wants to apply for disability, as that would confirm the nature of his hospitalization. It may not be possible for him to keep his job without doing that, and he is really panicked.

Mom and I are convinced that he will never get better unless (at the minimum) he comes clean at work and confronts his fear over this. He is trying to find ways around this, but I have to agree that unless he addresses this fear, he will never get better. His previous boss was a jerk, though as I understand it the new boss is far better, and far more likely to understand.

Mom is doing her best, but she feels that dad is no longer honest, and cannot be trusted. She is looking to get a breathalizer to test dad every time he comes home.

Dad is hoping to get out after next weekend, though I am not convinced that this will give him enough time to work out his problems. The saga continues.

Bad to worse

September 15, 2008

Dad is not doing well.

He has been hopitalized since Thursday. One of his doctors dropped him, citing his inability to remain sober. Today, the social worker gave him one choice: inpatient treatment for a month. My father asked to think about it. The social worker told him that he has no other choice.

The problem is that he is physically weak, despite spending all of these days in the hospital. There is no concern that the damage to his body and brain may be permanent. Tomorrow, mom will call work and inform them that dad will be gone for long term hospitalization.

Mom is going through hell right now, though her conversations are something like this:

(insert bad news)

What can I do?

Oh, nothing, I’m fine (in that tone which means: “I’m far from fine”)

It’s given me a lot to think about this past weekend.

1. Given my father’s age, health, etc, it is possible he won’t survive this. That may sound a little negative, but I’m starting to wonder if he has the will to live at all. I think for all that he is afraid of dying, he is more afraid of living at this point. I’ve never understood my father, and I understand him even less now.

2. Let this be a warning to parents: do not EVER start giving your child bad news that so obviously does not make the situation fine, and when asked “What can I do?” or “How are you feeling?”, lie to their face. It was bad enough when I was 16, I have not appreciated it more as an adult. This has led me to confront something pretty savage: I love my mother. She has worked hard to make me feel guilty my whole life (I’m talking stereotypical mother guilt here). My mother has been very good at being a victim her whole life. Now that she really is a victim, I find it harder to feel sorry for her. That hurts the most. I know my father has a medical problem: addiction. His ability to control a lot of what he does is not really his to control. My mother on the other hand is just impossible to deal with. Take for example:

M: I’ve tried talking to the doctors, they won’t talk to me.
Me: Have you left a phone message?
M: No
Me: Leave a phone message, that way they will call you back.
M: I can’t.
Me: Why?
M: The only time I can talk to them is at work, and I can’t talk to them at work (mom works for a doctor)
Me: Why?
M: All the patients will overhear.
Me: There’s no place to go where they can’t hear?
M: I can step outside, or go into the doctor’s office.
Me: Do that.
M: I can’t
Me: Why?
M: Who will pick up the phones?
Me: There’s no one else there?
M: There’s a nurse, but she refuses to touch the phones.

Yadda, yadda.

The begs to question if I have lost my ability to empathize with others. I don’t think it is that. I even wondered if this is one of those classic defense mechanisms: stop caring about something so that you don’t get hurt. I don’t buy that this is the case. I just think after years and years of my mother making me feel bad, I’ve finally gotten to the “I’m not going to let it affect me anymore”.

Frankly, I haven’t even thought much about dad. When I have, I couldn’t help but wonder that his no longer being around would make everyone’s life a lot better. I wish I hadn’t thought that. I’ve just been thinking more and more about the place I’m at. Of course, that instantly makes me think that I’m being selfish focusing on me instead of my family.

I think that being away from my family has done wonders for me: I’ve been able to feel less guilty, been able to get more in touch with who I am. The more and more I am around my parents, honest to goodness, the less healthy I feel. A meal there, a small family party there: fine. Dealing with this drives me bananas! Of course, I’m back to feeling guilty again because I’m thinking about my health vs. my family’s needs.

It’s a vicious circle.