Humble Phil #2

Ageless Roth

Have to be fair. Nothing he writes could leave me unaffected, so I thought. I did remember some additional things about the story. But I still didn’t like it.

I read the book on a respite from Infinite Jest, about which more will come later. I have reached page 300 of this monstrous tome, a page of note, because I am reading more quickly and understanding what I am reading without having to reread. In the back of my head, a place readers go with books they hard read, I had traveled off the pages too often into my own experiences, real and imagined, not to mention the travail of understanding what I was reading and seeing the vivid images created by the words. Moseying around at the Fletcher Free Library, I saw two copies of Phil’s book, a book I had not bought due to the less than favorable reviews. Hey, out of sorts actor who lost his skills who has an affair with a lesbian after his wife leaves him late life who cannot figure out if he should die in the fire or put it out, and only 140 pages, what could be bad!

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Humble Phil

Sun Dancers

The Humbling didn’t take too much time to read. It lasts only 140 pages, small ones with big print, thanks be to the publisher who should have put it out in magazine form, possibly in Playboy, with graphics, either ink or photographic of the sex scenes. No more perfect book of recent vintage which would have benefited by images, which as they say can take the place of words. No need here to show my love for or my knowledge of Phil’s work; suffice it to say I have been with him from book one, including his short stories. After reading this book yesterday afternoon in under two hours, some of which I spent ogling at boats and babes, while sitting at the Burlington Boathouse, I can say that Simon Axler does not enter into the main argument, unless it, somehow distends to a discussion of the oldest person to have sex with a woman who left lesbianism to have an affair with a man twenty-five years his junior in which she made him her woman, picked up a drunk chick at a bar for a threesome, and then left him. When he killed himself at the end of the story, if you can call it that because it has a beginning, middle and an end, the book ended. Just in time to go for a walk.

AnnA Smith’s Spider Webb

Spider Webb's Triangle

Bill Nelson took me to the Vermont Bookstore on Main Street in Middlebury to look at his wife, Margaret’s (Peggy) book, Parenting Out of Control. In the stacks, limited as they now are under new management, we met a woman dressed like the characters in the books and cards she had in her hands. Very feminine. A little Gothy.

Overhearing me and Bill talking about the death of the local bookstore, a problem that caused him to drive to Burlington for a copy of “Bitch” magazine which had an article on Peggy’s book, the woman not only volunteered that she was familiar with the magazine, but that she liked to shop at Barnes and Noble, the store where Bill found it.

“Got any ink,” I asked?

“Why don’t you go to the stationary store next door,” she replied.

“I mean ink on your body.” She just looked to me like she had some images somewhere. And I take images of ordinary people with ink.

“I got a web on my arm and a triangle on my back. Its kind of old and fading; I have to have it restored. Spider Webb did it ten years ago.”

“Spider Webb in Woodstock, NY!”

“Want to see it?”

Dog Bites Girl

Dog Unattended

The best camera to have is the one with you when something happens. And you always have to be ready to shoot. Didn’t do so well here as far as taking the gritty, emotional shots but, at least I got a few shots which show part of the story.

On May 26, Sharon and I went for a ride on the bikepath. We went North to the Colchester and then went back past the Boathouse to Oakledge Park, a distance of 12 miles or so. A seriously glorious day for a ride to nowhere in particular, we were just breathing deeply, singing, smiling, just loving the fact we were out and on our bikes.

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Hip Hip For Me

Eric Benz, Hip Doc

A year ago to almost the day, I had my right hip replaced by Eric Benz, MD. Today, he cleared me for activity. The bone has taken nicely with the spike. No gaps or holes. No black marks on the x-ray, a record I don’t usually see against my name. I feel so good about so many things, but at the top, next to my love for my wife, is that I can walk, bike, sit down, stand up, all pain free.

I had little problems healing or recuperating. My body doesn’t like tape. As with the first hip, I waited too long to do the second. I didn’t want to miss work at the PD’s Office or, after being laid off humiliatingly, drop out of school at Champlain College. The Defender General erased my sick time, over 500 hours, with a tart too bad, good by. Like star pitchers who go to the mound, I worked in pain. Never did anyone from Central Office in Montpelier ask how I was doing or if I needed some help carrying stuff to court or walking up stairs to my office. They just took me for the fool I was who wanted to do justice. School, I thought I could make it through a semester, but art and computer courses require sitting and walking, too. And Champlain College has stairs and icy pavements. Sharon stopped whatever she was doing and drove me most days. She wanted me to quit and have the operation. When the Spring 2009 semester ended, I was ready, physically and mentally.

No, I am not back to normal. I have to overcome the PTSD that comes from being in pain for so long. I still hesitate to take steps. I walk ramps. I try not to carry heavy things or cross streets when the light is changing. I have pain when I sit for long periods, so I walk around every 45 minutes when I am at the computer. Tough going to the movies. I sit on the bed to put on my pants and use a shoe horn to put my shoes on. No leg crossing. And, I haven’t hit a tennis ball in years, a condition I want to change this summer. “Just don’t try to cover the court,” Eric said.

Amazing how many people I came in contact during this process. One day, I will get over my touchiness at being asked how do you feel?What is your pain level? Never took the drugs I was offered, either. Couldn’t sleep through the night. Had to prepare to face the days. Couldn’t sit. Couldn’t stand. Put on weight by not exercising. But the pain, the overriding pain, I still feel, even though it be gone. I thank everyone who helped me, not just Eric who did the carpentry work.

“Stand up Mr. Duckman, when you address the Court,” Judge Toor screached at me. I think it is in her complaint against me, but I cannot remember and, right now, don’t care to as I prepare to go inactive tomorrow, ending my career as an attorney. “I am doing the best I can, but you wouldn’t care, because you never asked and I probably would not have answered, because you would not have given a damn anyway to know why I wasn’t rushing to court or jumping to attention.” Now had this conversation occurred, I probably would have justly and rightly been held in contempt.

Big day. Off to listen to Jazz at the Flynn. I have chain grease on my leg from a weekend bike ride. Looks good to me.

Erdman at the Marriot

Erdman Fits
Erdman Fits In

Last year, we moved around the corner to a 1,600 sq ft condo in a recently constructed building which sits between a Mariott and a Hilton. One bedroom, one bath didn’t work anymore. Our living room and terrace face the Lake, but our view is obstructed during green season by trees that line the west side of Battery Street. In the Winter, the view extends as far as the eye can see to New York. Not living on a higher and more fashionable floor made the place affordable, a big factor as we head into the last phase, i.e. endgame, of our lives.

Since our arrival, construction of an addition to the Marriott Courtyard has interfered with our quiet enjoyment of the place: truck, machine tools, cement trucks, workmen. Not fun. But, the work crews seem close to being finished, thank God, and have begun to clean up the mess and spruce the place up. Plants, shrubs and a piece of outdoor sculpture by local artist Richard Erdman of Williston have been added to a little garden area making the space seem attractive and classy. He has sculpted a second piece that will be installed near the entrance when construction have been completed. I feel much better about living here now that an object d’art with varying colors and curves will greet my arrivals and departures, as opposed to some deck chairs and potted plants.

Here, the artist measures space between the pedestal and the shaped object during a visit today where he took pictures of his work. He seemed really happy with the placement and the effect of the light off the surrounding areas. “At some point  you think you know what it will look like, but you never know until it is in place. It sorta has a life of its own,” he said.

Light dances off the edges of the shape and the stand. The pedestal provides its own colors and lines. And the object doesn’t just sit on the pedestal, it rests on a pin and can be rotated, changing the angles the light hits the planes and edges, causing more interesting shadows, tones, and hues. Richard wants to keep the kinetic nature of the piece a secret to prevent trampling of the adjoining flowers and possible abuse of the piece. I am almost sorry I know it can be moved, because I have adjusted the sides numerous times and will have to stop playing with it to prevent others from learning the trick.