September 29, 2007

Still Not Nice, and Now Very, Very Annoyed

[ALMOST BACK (October 12): Profuse apologies for my continued absence. This has been a very, very bad spell; I've been capable of almost nothing, other than sleeping. But I'm very slowly gathering a bit of strength again, and I've started writing a few essays that I had outlined some time ago. So I hope to have at least one or two new pieces posted over the next few days.

My apologies once more -- together with my immense gratitude to all those who have been so remarkably kind.]

[PRETZELS AND BEER, AND A SICK BED: But as of Monday, October 8, I'm still here. You know how that one goes. And do you know -- well, you most likely don't -- I saw the original Broadway production of "Follies" three times, or maybe four; I'm not sure now. Definitely at least three times. It was spectacular; flawed, certainly, but spectacular nonetheless.

So, the equivalent of pretzels and beer for this boy, and also a sick bed, to which I've been confined for almost all of the past week. While I was sleeping (or trying to), and letting my body attempt to overcome a series of infirmities, a number of you were being incredibly generous. I offer my most heartfelt thanks. I'm very sorry for my absence. It will take another few days to gather my strength, and try to figure out what the hell I was writing about when last we met. So I hope to be back in a few more days.

Your wonderful kindness means that basic bills are taken care of for now, for which my deep gratitude once more. With the helpful advice of a friend, I'm attempting to put my computer back in full working order. It now has Spyware Doctor, Registry Mechanic, and a fully updated Zone Alarm super-duper anti-virus program (plus other assorted stuff). I've run all of them several times, and things seem to be basically okay again, although a few oddities remain. But I think the computer is all right now, those little quirks aside (may they remain little, please). At least all the insane flashing of numerous screens and menus has stopped, along with the need to restart the computer every hour or so. I want to avoid paying several hundred dollars for a computer technician if at all possible; that money may well be needed for other things, including a visit to the vet for my oldest cat, who turned 14 in July. She seems to have a few, hopefully minor infirmities of her own, and I'm riddled with guilt that I haven't been able to attend to her needs yet. As you know, the kids always come first.

In any event, I hope to be back in a couple of days with the next installments of a few ongoing series, or perhaps I'll begin with several simpler entries, if some stories strike me as being of special significance. I'm still catching up on what's been happening while I was laid low, physically and mentally.

I cannot adequately thank all of you who have been so kind and generous. I'll try to deserve it, as soon as I can.

To return to Sondheim's memorable lyric for that song: Lord knows, I was there. Indeed I was. No regrets. None at all. And I'm still here, baby.]

I just spent close to five hours working on the second part of this series, which has become more complicated than I had first thought and will therefore be longer than I had planned. My computer has become increasingly erratic over the last ten days. Among other things, various things start flashing on the screen even when I'm doing absolutely nothing. It's not ad popups; it's a start-up screen, and a whole series of different menus and God knows what. It also starts closing various windows I have open, sometimes before I can save them. Now I have to restart the computer before it will work normally again, at least for a few hours. So that essay is completely gone, and I'll have to rewrite the whole thing. I suspect part of the problem might be solved by Ad-Aware, so last night I downloaded their latest program. For some reason, although it identified close to 1,000 infections (yikes), it won't delete or quarantine them. I tried to run the scan again, and now it won't work at all. So I'll have to try downloading it again. Since I have a dialup connection, that takes a while.

So I need to call one of those computer services that come to your house and "make things work." (As you may know, one company is, in fact, called "Make It Work.") I estimate it would cost at least $100, probably closer to $200 (or more, God forbid). I don't have the money. Many of you were very generous in response to this post toward the end of last month, so I have half of my rent money for October. But I'm $400 short on that as well.

I'm very sorry that I can't post essays more often. I do the best I can. But I have to husband my energy very carefully given my generally rotten health and, as you can tell from the above (and I hope from the many articles here), writing essays of the kind I do takes a lot of time -- not just the writing, but research, reading and, hardest and most time-consuming of all, thinking. Nonetheless, I do think the three essays from earlier this week are pretty damned good.

I indicated a while ago some aspects of being very poor. One other aspect is this: when you can't afford to get any decent medical care for major health problems, you definitely can't afford to go to the dentist, for years on end in my case. One result is that your teeth finally rot and begin to fall out -- literally. For the past week, pieces of one rotten tooth have been falling out almost every time I eat. I eat very, very carefully now, mostly soft foods. The tooth doesn't hurt, at least not yet. This is on top of two fillings that fell out several years ago, and that I can't get fixed. One of the resulting holes gets infected every two months or so. When that happens, it lasts for about ten days. During the worst two or three days, the left side of my face swells up to the size of a small apple. I can barely open my mouth, so I usually just suck up soup or mashed potatoes until it passes.

Yes, it's a great life. Anyway, if you're able to help out with any of these problems (rent and the computer being the most pressing ones for me) and want to do so, I'd be profoundly grateful, as always. The generosity of many of you continues to amaze me. I'm deeply sorry that I still haven't written to all the donors individually. I keep intending to every day, but I'm so tired so much of the time that I try to save all my energy for writing-related tasks. I figure that's what you're donating toward, but it still is remarkably ill-mannered of me not to have thanked everyone on an individual basis. I'll try to get to that as soon as I can.

After I bang my head into the wall for a few hours, I'll attempt to write that essay again. The same thing almost happened several days ago, but I managed to save the draft in time on that occasion. No such luck today. Oh, well.

Many thanks for your attention, and for your kindness.