I'm Just the Deaf Ear

Today's my birthday and I didn't do shit except:

(1) Mountain biked;
(2) Painted my finger and toe nails blue and slept in the sun naked on the chaise lounge;
(3) Mowed part of the lawn and almost got bitten by a copperhead snake;
(4) Played on twitter and blogged a little;
(5) Fought with Apple about the defective 11" Macbook Air. 2 Times;
(6) Celebrated late afternoon at The Bake House at Kauneonga Lake with Jane and apprentice baker, Amy, who's leaving to return to her studies at the CIA. We had fresh cupcakes and champagne. I got stoned off the sugar, drunk on the champagne and cadged 2 cigarettes from Amy;
(7) Fought with Apple, this time the Executive Office; and,
(8) Turned off the water because the hot water pipe burst under the house.

The phone is an implement of torture I use as a last resort, mostly for complaining to AT&T, Time-Warner, NYSEG and my nemesis, Apple. And the occasional business/medical conversation that can't be texted.

Right now, there're only two people with whom I spend extensive time on the phone. My bud's phone conversations are mandatory because he part-times as friend as well as award-winning graphic artist for all my book covers, images, etc. And my gf, La Bella who doesn't mind that most of the time I say, "Huh?" "What?" "Bad reception - it must be YOUR phone, it can't possibly be me!" She laughs, thinking I'm joking. I'm not: my perpetual state of denial about the condition of my hearing.

All phone convos are conducted through an ear bud I mangled to operate in one ear. Locked away in my bedroom, tucked under covers, I block outside sounds. Still, the tinnitus in both ears shriek, rage and scream at this intrusion into my otherwise quiet existence. An existence that's interrupted when the summer people boat and cavort like fucking lunatics. Those sounds drill through my brain for hours. I time my personal convos late at night so I can collapse afterwards, exhausted, into my version of sleep. Listening, for me, is a physical activity that saps all my energy.

Talking to La Bella is a joy. She's fun and funny and we recap the events of our lives from the last time we see or talk to each other, usually a two-week clip at a time. Even though I'm considerably older - old enough to easily be her mother - we're similar and our birthdays are one day apart.

The infrequent times I venture into NYC, I visit La Bella. Sometimes it's a social visit, oftentimes it's mixed with my need for quiet. Her office is a veritable cone of silence and I hole up in there for hours when I'm overwhelmed with auditory sensation, a customary occurrence. My last visit, I ended up at La Bella's home for three hours to fortify myself to take the 2 hour bus ride back.

At least La Bella knows I'm not full of shit about my quirky neurological deafness. A topic that still gets considerable mileage.

"So what're you doing for your birthday?" she asked last night. My birthday's smack dab in the middle of the week. It doesn't matter - no one comes up from NYC to visit me anyhow because they've lives and kids and tight schedules.

"Nothing," I said. "But, man, do I have a story for you!" I heard that quick intake of air signifying the lit cigarette. No doubt, La Bella readied herself for a few minutes of a strange diatribe. 

I love kvetching to La Bella because she gets my humor. Most people tend to walk away. Or even worse: stare at me. During my recent reading this past weekend of a humorous tale about my family around the kitchen table, I stopped for a moment to look at the audience and was taken aback: there were puzzled looks etched in disgust and grimaces. At the podium, I had the time of my life trying NOT to roll over in laughter. Go figure.

"Did I tell you about my birthday celebration last year?" I prefaced. Hearing her "Nope," I continued, "My girlfriend, Latice, wanted to come up here and celebrate. But, she wanted to spend the weekend with her boyfriend. Of course, I said yes and we arranged for the weekend before my birthday. A few days' before, she cancels because her boyfriend had something else to do and tells me, 'let's do it the following weekend.'"


"I said: the purpose of your visit is not to shack up with this guy gratis in my guest cottage in a resort area, but to celebrate my birthday." I asked rhetorically, "You know what she said?" I paused for effect. "What's the problem, it's a few days after." I sighed. "It's always about her convenience, her life. But, I got another tale."

"This better be good," said La Bella.

"She phones me up a week after I was last in NYC. I'm still recuperating and lethargic and sick. She says, 'Wanna be spontaneous?' I knew I was doomed."

What happened was that she got free tickets to a rock concert at Atlantic City and invited me to join. I demurred, "No, I can't."

"Well, you're the first person I thought of because you don't work," Latice informed me. That took me back quite a bit.

Yes, I don't have a job, not that I don't want a job; the economy and my special needs don't make me a suitable candidate or contender. However, as an author, I write at least several hours a day, market and promote several others. When I tally all the hours, I'm hunched over the laptop like a semitic dwarf for over 14 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The past two months have been consumed with fighting Apple and correcting tons of manuscripts corrupted by the defective hard drive that went kerflooie. I've published two ebooks that required extensive work to digitize for many platforms with different criteria and then the subsequent marketing, networking and press releases. Not to mention all the articles, short stories, editing, revising and digitizing a new book to come.

However, in Latice's mind, I'm dicking around. Her sentence gave me a glimpse into how she views me. And my writing. Talk about a slap in the face. She then went on and on, trying to convince me to drop everything, drive five hours, go to a concert and then drive five hours back.

I interrupted her. "You do realize I'm deaf and the sound from this concert would kill me." Evidently, the fact that I consistently complained for a year and a half failed to register outside of her needs.

Latice and I have history going over twenty years. At one point I considered her my sister. Today, I'm much older and changed a lot over the past decade or so. We're in different places. What I found acceptable no longer suffices. It doesn't make her a bad person, it's just that life experiences have altered my perception of who and what I want in life. Given my new deafness, I'm still undergoing an adjustment period and that has reduced my tolerance and my already shortlisted patience.

Latice first offered to take me out to dinner this year in NYC during the week. Since she works late, that would mean we wouldn't eat until nine at night, but I'd have to race out by ten to make sure I don't miss the last bus. It didn't sound like a good offer to me. She then offered to drive up here, eat dinner and drive back. Of course, I wouldn't allow that. So, the topic of my birthday celebration came to a halt.

This weekend La Bella will visit. Then we'll celebrate our back to back birthdays in style.

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This blog and all its posts are a work of fiction. Names, character, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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