Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Letter to Nissan (Jackie's Accident)


Carlos Ghosn
CEO of Renault and Nissan
Nishi-ku, Yokohama

Dear Mr. Ghosn:

This is my wife. Her name is Jackie.

For the past two years, she has driven one of your 2012 Nissan Sentras, like this one....

She loved this car.  For two years she used it to drive the fifty mile round trip to her job in Albany, NY and then home to our house near Saratoga.  We used it on short and longer trips, glad for the heat when we needed it and the cool air when we needed that, and to listen to tunes wherever we went, as sure as an oldies or country music station would be on when she pulled into the drive way,  and then she'd open the roomy trunk and we'd get all the groceries out, and we'd let the car have the rest of the day off, all doors closing tight with that thunk and the toot of the horn locking the Sentra for the night.

She took very good care of the car.

And then last week, she drove the car into a telephone pole.

She did not mean to do this.  We're still not clear of all the ins and outs of what and why it happened, but what is sure clear is after the car struck the pole and the driver's air bag popped up, and sparks were falling around the car from loose wires, that Jackie opened the driver side front door and got out.  She walked over to a crowd of people who always seem to be at accidents and they watched the Nissan burn.  Here are some pictures of what it looked like later....

From within the car, after the flames were doused, we were able to retrieve just about all the important papers and personal property, all of which, by the luck of this lady I've been with for 30 years, had slid under her car seat, and aside from being a little wet, were fine. Music CDs not touched. Alas, among the lost was one iPod, favorite workout pants, and an umbrella.  All these have been replaced.  And one more thing.  In the fourth picture down you see a iced coffee cup from Dunkin' Donuts (you may remember the stores in Lebanon and there is a store in Okinawa).  That cup survived the heat from the flames that warped metal and charred plastic.  And when I showed my wife that, she smiled for the first time in a few days.

Mr. Ghosn, I am not here to complain about the Sentra in any way (no lawyers, no nothing, just me and my Mac).  I am here, sir, to thank you and your employees world wide for building a car that would give itself up for my wife, the person I treasure most on the planet, but right now I think the Nissan family is pretty great, too.  Jackie opened the door and, aside from a few bumps and bruises, was fine.

While we did not choose Nissan for her next car, as I am retired on disability and moving in and out of autos is getting more difficult, we remain staunch supporters of Nissan and will always consider returning to Nissan sometime.

Thank you, Mr. Ghosn  and to Nissan Worldwide - ありがとう!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Walking Decrepits...( A Walking Dead Parody)

Sheriff Rick Grimes and his annoying son Carl are sitting in the sanctuary of the CDC (Center of Disease Control) in Atlanta.  The rest of the survivors are showering, eating actual food, and enjoying  comfy beds and clean toilets.  Dr. Edward Jenner is sitting at his com site watching the action on the large video screen before him and the Grimes.  MS people (called Mizzers)  stumbled around on the sidewalk just outside the CDC.

"What's wrong with that one?" Carl asked as he bit down on a Twizzler.  

Dr. Jenner leaned forward in his chair.  The walker on the screen was shuffling along being pushed around by other walkers.  The walker stopped and looked around, as if searching for a door.

"Oh, yeah," Dr. Jenner said. "That's a whyer."

"A what?" asked Rick.

"A whyer," the Doctor said, recognizing a teaching moment. "It's an Mizzer that walks around, but can not remember why it is there, or that maybe he should be someplace else.  The women ones are always looking in car windows for their car keys.  They don't last long because - well, see her there?"

Rick and Carl squinted at the far corner of the screen. A slow moving white van with a disability license plate was heading for the decrepit woman who had been gazing in the window of a blue Prius.  The van was going fifteen MPH and had its left turn signal on.  It slammed into the woman and then rolled over her as the van settled into the handicap parking space in front of the Prius.  The MS zombied man opened the door  to the van, placed his parking sticker in the van window, and walked to what once had been a pharmacy, since emptied, for Depends for Men, pain pills, and sleeping aids.  
The man called out in that weird despairing cry of the Mizzers as he saw he that the only remaining Pampers were for newborns, and yet stuffed the box into the front of his pants, and then fell over.
No one would pick him up.

"Poor bassterd," Rick mumbled.

"Why do you sound like an Australian?" Carl asked, offering the Twizzlers around.

"Sorry, sometimes I forget I'm an American." Rick stared off, seeming more interested in the mouse in the far corner that was just standing there, twitching,  first his right leg, then his left rear leg.  The mouse squeaked, urinated on the floor, and moved to the right of the small pool he just created, and waited.

"Oh, no you don't!" the Doctor yelled at the mouse. "I am NOT cleaning that up.  You had your Mighty Mouse Depends, and you would not wear them. Too bad."

Carl took out his Berreta 92, and blasted the mouse to twitching parts.

"Why'dja do that?" Rick asked, not hiding his admiration for his son's aim.

Carl shrugged.

"It's a walking decrepit, Dad. Mizzers die, right? -

Doctor Jenner raised his hand in the classic "Halt" move.

"You know, Carl," he said. "That is not necessarily true. Studies have shown - OK, you've got the gun.  I'll  shut up."

Carl nodded and turned to his father

"Besides, Dad, Mom's been doing a little twitching, too, if ya know what I mean."

"Carl, she's pregnant. Pregnant people do that."

Carl turned his attention back to the screen.  "We'll see," he mumbled.

"Hey, check this out," Dr. Jenner said.  "Look at this old guy with the beard. Looks like Santa is a little early this year."

The man was dressed in jeans, work shirt, and boots.  His white hair and and beard a bit lengthy for the summer, but he had a nice smile.  Jenner turned up the sound so all three men could hear the show.

"Now I got the cure right here, " the old man said in a professional South Carolina accent. "It's right in my car.  Come on, now."

All the Mizzers stopped whatever random thing they were doing, and turned to the white haired man. Those Mizzers that could still talk mouthed something like " Give them money." Those who could no longer speak just reached for their wallet.. Those in wheelchairs tried to rise from their chairs and join the fray, but just tumbled to the road. They crawled.

The Santa kept stepping backwards, drawing the Mizzers to him.  Rick placed a call on the speaker system to everyone inside the CDC.

"There's some guy outside who is gonna give himself up to the Mizzers.  We can make a run for it!"

Over the speaker system, all he could hear was....

"Too hot....Too cold....My legs, my legs.....Can't walk...."

Rick dropped the microphone, making too loud a noise.

"They're all infected," Rick said.  He collapsed in the chair.  On the screen was the white haired man with a slight limp.  "Handicapped Parking!" he cried, "Where's mah sticker? You don't look sick!"

"Welp, it ain't that bad," Carl said.  "knowing MS may not be genetic."

"What about that?" Dr. Jenner said. "What is genetic?"

Carl smiled and picked up his gun.

"Bipolar disorder, Dad.  Ask Mom."  Carl just started laughing.  A little too long.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ringo and the other guys and their songs...

"Every time I see your face,
It reminds of me of the places we used to go,
But all I've got is photograph,
and I realize you're not coming back anymore..."

                          Photograph, Writer(s):  Richard Starkey, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison
Copyright: Startling Music Ltd., Sony/ATV Tunes LLC, Startling Music Ltd. c/o Bruce V. Grakal.

We were at the Ringo Starr concert Tuesday, and so I get to say that we saw a Beatle, and its getting harder to be in that club nowadays.  We've only two left, and Paul isn't feeling well as it is.

So Ringo comes out and does a few songs, and then each member of the band who had hit songs in other bands would do their songs, with Ringo on drums.  More Ringo songs, and more hit songs. The sold out theater crowd is up and dancing, and we wrap up with "Give Peace a Chance".  Wonderful!

Part of the enjoyment of the whole night for me was the range of songs from the sixties through the 1980's that I still have on my iPod, and that have a personal meaning for me.  You've no doubt got some of your own.  Here are a few I heard Tuesday night...

Ringo - It Don't Come Easy

"Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,
And you know it don't come easy.
You don't have to shout or leap about,
You can even play them easy.

Forget about the past and all your sorrows,
The future won't last,
It will soon be over tomorrow.

I don't ask for much, i only want your trust,
And you know it don't come easy.
And this love of mine keeps growing all the time,
And you know it just ain't easy.

Open up your heart, let's come together,
Use a little love
And we will make it work out better."

Writer(s): Richard Starkey
Copyright: Startling Music Ltd., Startling Music Ltd. c/o Bruce V. Grakal

First, this was a favorite of mine when it originally was released.  Now, for anyone having to deal with tough times, and I assume anyone reading this has them, you can always leave that slab of lumber in your eye while you complain about the mote in your neighbor's.  Recently we had dinner with another couple, and the other gentleman told us about his cancer bouts, and him and I compared notes on pain, what is working and was doesn't.  It don't come easy, and we all struggle with the day to day, and we need compassion for others and ourselves.  And yeah, I'm talking to you, Mr. You-look-fine-why-are-you-parking-in-a-handicap-spot, huh, bud? We all suffer something.

While the other guys Tuesday night did neat stuff, all music we baby boomers know, there were two other songs that always affected me, and the next one takes a bit of explanation.

Toto "Africa"

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had


Published by
Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

In 2000 and 2001 I spent a lot of time and miles in my car going from home to work to the nursing home where my mother was living out her last few months and then back home.  My Saturn had a cassette player and one of the tapes I'd toss in was some 1980s' music.  On there was Toto. Africa "Gonna take the time to do the things we never have.."

As I listened, and drove, I would think about the guy in the song who, in my version, was really caught up in his work and would stop and do more work while he should be meeting his love flying in to be with him.  The old man the narrator meets reminds him that some things are more important and then our hero runs to the airport and meets his love.  "Gonna take the time to do the things we never have."  At the time my mother was fading, and at my job I had been reminded that as much as I likes what I was doing, it was not my job title sand I would have to do something else.  While I missed my staff (even though they were two floors away) I had to go into this new world, and I was a little resentful about it, and made sure everyone knew it.  Not how you make friends.  But with my mother's passing and the lack of connection with the rest of my family after that, The Toto song still reminded what was important, my life with Jackie and her family and friends.  For my old staff, "gonna take a lot to drag me away from you" but as the people I was closest with there moved on, and my new job started to go where I saw it could do the most good.  And Jackie and I planned out "the time to do the things we never have."  And then both the bipolar and MS diagnoses came in.

Which brings me to the surprise song of the night.  I never really remembered the names of the band members, except for Springsteen's E Street Band, so when Richard Page was introduced as the bass player from Mister Mister, I gave an internal shrug as I had no idea what Mister Mister had done, aside from great hair.  When Mr. Page began his turn and the intro to his song began.. I got it.  Go back to the previous paragraph when the diagnoses were made, and then having to retire early (fortunately an offer was on the table) and now what I do, and how long do I have for it?

The wind blows hard against this mountain side
Across the sea into my soul
It reaches into where I cannot hide
Setting my feet upon the road

My heart is old it holds my memories
My body burns a gem-like flame
Somewhere between the soul and soft machine
Is where I find myself again

Kyrie Eleison
Down the road that I must travel
Kyrie Eleison
Through the darkness of the night
Kyrie Eleison
Where I'm going will you follow
Kyrie Eleison
On a highway in the night

When I was young I thought of growing old
Of what my life would mean to me
Would I have followed down my chosen road
Or only wished what I could be

"Kyrie" was written by Lang, John Ross / George, Steven Park / Page, Richard James.

Kyrie Eleison is Latin for Lord, have mercy.  It's all new now...brain lesions, the routine changed and changed again.  The question for my wife...Where I'm going will you follow... I've read a number of stories in MS support groups on line that partners of MS affected folks up and go, not wanting to deal with a chronic illness.  I don't blame them, but we're still here.  In  the last stanza, the writer wonders if he made the right choices in his life to end up where he is.  Here I am, and here I go.  Kyrie Eleison down the road I must travel.

And yours as well.  Thanks for reading.