The girl behind the counter just yelled energetically.  “I’ve got a yummy, yummy mango smoothie.”

A couple days ago, I read Found Poem — Tribute to Pete Seeger, composed of his songs and lyrics by Shawn Bird.  The poem was moving, and enlightening.

I was moved to leave a comment, and enlighten my ignorance.

Not sure on the exact meaning of a found poem, I looked it up.

Makes me wonder.  Is yummy, yummy mango smoothie an example of poetry found?

Perhaps when sung to the woman who paid.


Lately, at home in the evenings, usually.  I think about my writing and where am I going.

Fog clouds my next couple-three steps.

In the story of me writing a book, I am just a little stuck.  I can’t decide.  Do I not understand what next I need to do?  Or am I having some trouble with the idea I am striving to communicate?

This is how it feels right now.  It’s not a loss of confidence at all.  It’s just a feeling of befuddlement.

Recently I wrote an absurd thought in my journal.

Just write.  Just get ideas down.

And yet, right now, it is so hard to do.


=== 4:36 PM ===


Yeah!  I got the writing table at my favorite coffee shop.  So called, because many write.  Here, over all the other tables.

I should be writing my timeline.  I had discussed it with the guy who evaluated my functional capacity.  Today he reminded me.  My timeline will help fill out his evaluation.

My timeline from my journals.  I have five years.   In them I discuss all my experiences.  Once I realized.

Their value.

Journaling keeps me sane.  I have found.  It works best if I pour my soul.  Lavishly, on the page.

And, that’s what I did.  Starting before it ever occurred to me.  Maybe I should discuss what I notice with my doctor?  The notion was vague, that the state of ship was amiss.

They cover everything from my thoughts on life and death, to the detail of each day playing out.  The ones worth remembering.

When I started using my cane.  How I thought.  Still.  That it wouldn’t get too bad.

Too soon.  It got worse.  And I discussed everything, from why I plopped onto the couch and fell asleep, right after work, to the pain that woke me in the middle of the night.  What else to do when I can’t sleep, but write?

And these journals also describe the sick days I took.  They agree with my former employer’s records.  How I never took many sick days until the last two years.  And how they grew in frequency.  And why.

I also have to write a cover letter for the evaluation report.  To the bureaucrats of the insurancy.  I want to make myself perfectly clear.

Don’t contest this any further.  You will lose.  You have no valid arguments regarding my case.

That’s essentially what it is.  Right?  Will my case stand up in a court of law?  That’s gotta be how they evaluate each one.  If we drop him, with the evidence we have seen so far, will the lawyers win?

In a suit?

So, my cover-letter needs to detail all of the evidence I have.  Just to be perfectly clear.  They will not!

It was the insight that allowed me to stop worrying about the situation.  My weakness is the strength of my case.

I need to spell it out, in my own unique way.  Because I am not merely providing the insurancy my evidence.  I am telling them how to see it.  Without ever stating my intentions directly.

I want the power of language.  Spoken.  Honestly to paint.  A picture in their minds.

I want them to see it.  From my position, they lose.

In a court of law, they have no case.  They will see it.

When I crush their collective will.


My growth as a writer comes from realizing new things.  For instance, I notice when people write well.

Each time I encounter something new, that I like in others, I have to ask myself.  Is that something only to be envied?  Or can I be more like that?

When I notice these things, I have to try them out.  To see if they work for me.  And, then.

I have to ask myself.  Yes.  It works.  But, is this me?

It’s me, when it comes on its own.  It’s me, when it slips in, beyond the notice of my internal editor.

Still later, I’ll read it again, with my editor’s hat on my head.  That’s when I decide whether I keep it.

And, sometimes I leave that hat on for too long.  I have ruined decent pieces by dwelling to much on every last detail.  If I believe the piece originally had merit, I’ll set it aside, and work with it when I can see with new eyes.

But, maybe, sometimes.  Overworking a piece is the only way to discover it lacked something all along.  This is the point of journaling.  And it’s also why I still don’t post every day.  I’m working up to that level of consistency.

I believe some writers have gifts.  But, good writers grow.  And, it matters less where I start my journey than where it ends.  But, I can only make progress by trying new things.

This, I can tell you. It’s true.


It is difficult to determine.

Anymore.  Whether.

The things I think are true.

It probably has something.

To do with age, I see my grandmother.

In me.  Right now.   She walks, unsteadily.

With a cane, the folds of skin.

That once contained a plump woman.

Shaking.  With each step.

Around the arm.  Holding her stick.

It also might have something to do with my muscular dystrophy.

I have read that this form messes with the executive.

 Function.  Of the mind.

That seems to be my experience.

Oh, Word Location, you bedevil me.

But, it definitely seems.

Due to the many times.

In life, I have had to shift my thinking.

To which, of the many minds I have been?

Does this line belong?

I know I once believed this.

But, was that an illusion?


A couple weeks ago I mentioned my problems with an insurance company.  This is the latest on the story.

I previously posted twice about the matter.  Here is the first.  And the second.

I rely on my disability policy from my last place of work.  I won’t name the insurance company, yet.  But, I will if it gets ugly.

They sent me a letter, two days before Christmas, telling me to go back to work.

You lazy bum!  I kept thinking the letter contained those exact words, as I read it again and again.

Yes.  I took it personal.  At first.  But, then, as I researched, I began to see.

Disability fraud is rampant.

For example.  In a couple counties bordering Kentucky and West Virginia, as much as 15% of the population receives some form of disability.  One lawyer handles most of the cases.  At 25%, this guy must be very rich, even after paying off a judge and some doctors.

My insurance company needed to know that I am not one of ‘them’.  So, as they paid my short-term disability claim, they also demanded a physical evaluation by my doctor.

But, my neurologist wouldn’t help me.  As a policy, he doesn’t provide help with disability claims.  His secretary was adamant.

I have heard hospitals and clinics commonly refuse to help with claims.  They must think it is outside the realm of medicine.  So I had to take my records back to my primary-care physician.

She had not seen me in almost two years.  I remember her smile as she asked, “What’s new?”

“Well, I have muscular dystrophy.  Here are my records from Mayo Clinic.  Will you help me?”

I saw her at least three times over the summer, as my insurance company kept hounding us.  They wanted more evidence.  Phone calls and letters.  Follow-up exams and forms.  I can see why some medical institutions won’t waste their time.

Evidently, they were never satisfied.  They were just biding their time until they could drop me.

We don’t believe you.  Go back to work.

I consulted with an attorney.  He was friendly and sympathetic.  Then we discussed fees.  He wanted 25% of the lifetime settlement!

I kept thinking, This is all I have left to survive on.  Why do you get 25%?  It’s a straightforward case.

I asked him how he thought his fee was moral.  He never answered directly.  Instead, he told me what other lawyers charge.

But, after some conversations with the insurance company, I learned what they wanted.

So, this past Monday I paid to have a functional capacity evaluation.

A functional capacity evaluation is typically performed by a physical trainer with special certifications.  A subject is put through a battery of physical examinations, as well as tests designed to simulate the type of work performed.  The evaluator summarizes his findings in an objective, legal-medical dialect of English.

In my case, there was an interview, and a review of medical records.  Followed by strength and agility exercises.  He pushed me to the point of failure, so he could to accurately describe what he was seeing.  He also took lots of photos.  As he escorted me out, afterwards, he told me what he saw, in the dialect spoken by insurance bureaucrats.

I try to see insurance professionals as people.  But, I had no sympathy for them on Monday.  By the end of the exam, I was weak and shaking.

About six hours after it began, I left for home.  Muscle spasms left me too tired to do anything.  I just tried to keep myself awake until bedtime.

Tuesday, I was still in too much pain.  But, yesterday, I started writing.  Today, I have enough energy for editing, but not much else.

I don’t, yet, know the final cost.  I will get the bill before I receive the report.  It will be somewhere between $1200 and $1600 for everything.

And, when I heard that, I thought, sure.  If that’s the cost for a report that will hold up in a court of law,  I will pay.

It’s also more palatable than what a lawyer would leave me to let me live on, in exchange for his services.

So I gladly antied-up for Monday’s torture.  I can afford the cost, both financial and physical.  And, after a week I can forget about it.

I made the decision a couple days after my second post on this matter.  And I spent the remaining time, until Monday, blissfully writing.  It was definitely worth it.

I enjoyed each productive day.  Essentially, I feel like I bought myself a two-week writing vacation.

A worry-free mind is priceless.  Especially when it is affordable.

I’m hoping this will be enough.  Common sense tells me it will be.


On the porcelain throne, just moments ago, I began to imagine my book as a novel.  Again.

I keep coming back to that.  And then, I have second thoughts.

A lot of ideas seem to be coming together for me.  The book-as-novel does not, yet, make sense.

When it does, I will feel it.  This odd piece of the puzzle.  It never seemed to fit anywhere.  Suddenly, it will either slip into place, with a click.   Or, I will reach a point where I am done.

And the novel was never necessary.


Yesterday.  Though.

Another epiphanic moment.

I began the actual book.


That’s how it felt.  I slipped into voice after a mere two or three sentences.  And I switched from writing a journal entry, to writing the opening to the book.

It is raw.  It needs to be cooked, or polished.  Maybe both.  But, I can imagine the book in that voice.  And the opening reading similar to yesterday’s words.

And after I wrote.  And even as I wrote.

The book began to open up for me.  I have a sense of the form of the narrative, from start to finish.  It meanders.  And in the end, it makes sense.  But, in the moment, the reader will only have questions.

I want it to read as a series of questions, building on each other.  I want it to read like it doesn’t make sense, until the end.  And I want the reader to read with confidence that it will come together.  I want the reader to trust the voice of the story to eventually make a big, epiphanic, point.


A beautiful day in Tempe.

Desert sky.

Winter’s bright blue glare.

An easily love affair.

I will now observe a moment of silence. 

Shorts and a sweatshirt.  

A mid-January,  Arizona,  fortune.


I’m feeling better, too.


I haven’t published anything in over a week, although, I have been writing every day.

The effects of my MD are inversely related to my ability to think and operate lucidly.

On my bad days, I write.  But, personal therapy is not for sharing.

I write because I know.  I will feel better, again, soon.

And because yesterday’s experience will help me navigate today.

The benefit of daily of journaling is the mindful comparison of this effort to my previous.

And of this effort to my best.

What went well for me today?  What did not?

What did I do to contributed to the result?  And, what did I do to undermine myself?

Were my behaviors conducive to my goals?  Or was I a destructive influence on my own audition?

And, what lessons can I categorize into a general understanding?

An approach to life.

Going forward — should I shift my stance?

My biggest growth as a writer comes from my journal.  It is the playing field where I hone my craft.

As a child I spent many afternoons hitting pitches and throwing and catching balls.

I never thought of it as practice.  I was playing and improving.  They are one and the same in the presence of mind.

It’s a biologically programmed behavior.  Boys play without even realizing, someday soon, success might win the attention of a girl.

But, we don’t play because we want to be noticed.

And, when it’s not fun I am noticed for the wrong reasons.

Now I write, because swinging a bat while remaining on my feet is too difficult.

But.  Also.

Writing is fun.


Fun, for me, is learning about myself, and preparing for success on a given day.


Success is not hit-or-miss.  Success comes from aiming, followed by a hit or a miss.

Then stepping back.

And assessing.

When I learned team sports, the coaches would always have us stretch and warm-up before practice.

But, on my own I learned that stretching was typically easier after the workout, with muscles already limber.  And the benefit of the stretch would last longer.  Typically deep into the following day.

I didn’t notice then that I would also use the stretching to meditate.

On what I did, and how I felt.  I was judging, during my cool-down, how I performed.

What went well, and what surprised me, if anything?

Now I am an older man.  And I realize the mental benefits of assessing each performance, from day-to-day, are better than the physical.

I would rather write badly today than not write at all.  I know that tomorrow will probably be better.

And if I do write badly, but identify a cause, I increase the probability.

Tomorrow will be better.

Because I am changing my game-plan as I speak, to handle better handle the contingencies and nuances of life.

I’m no good at that is the mindset of child.

I can get better at this is the mindset of an adult.

And my journal is where I observe myself growing.


=== 6:48 PM ===


One of those days.  I wanted to call Windy Loo, my case manager, today.  Too tired.  I woke up and had a short morning before falling asleep for several hours on the couch.  I woke again this afternoon with pain coming on.

Funny, too, because yesterday I was beginning to notice how good my energy had been the past few days.  Enough energy to be planning my fight with The Demons of Insurance Underworld.

Pinch me, said my cliche.

I finally left the house sometime after 5 PM.  I first went to Harvest of Tempe for some new herb.  I bought two eighths.  One of Black Label Kush, and the other the ‘Platinum’ TrainWreck.

Then I went to Cheba Hut for a meal.  The lunch I never prepared, much less ate.  The dinner I won’t need to revisit later.  One of those days.

And now I’m in the mood to write.   Not sure if I’m journalling, or working up legal correspondence, or something for the blog or the book.

And, I’m thinking.  If I tell the insurance company about the five years of journals backing my case and my claims, are they going to want to see these things?

I’ll have to practice telling them to fuck off.  Calmly.  Confidently.

“Fuck off.  Are you going to honor the contract I have with you?  Or, do you want to be sued?  Those are your options.  You don’t get a look at my journals unless I have to sue you.”

There was a song playing while I ate my Humbolt and chips at Cheba Hut.  I asked the kids behind the counter.  Who is this?  Sounds like Bob Marley.  But, it can’t be.  This tune is contemporary.

Turns out it was Hey Baby, by Stephen Marley.  I think I may make that a CD purchase.  Do I purchase the CD now, confident I can win this case before my savings run out?  Or, do I hedge?

It’s true that everything contributes to the total sum of my expenses, but I don’t think I spend much on anything any more.  Food.  Periodic restocking of the herb stash.  Like today.  First time in a couple months.  The last purchase was November new, or the very tip of October’s tail.

I will look into the CD a bit more.  Listen first, to the song, again.  I’ll order it if I am confident it will keep.  Musical exploration helps me center myself.

Then, I’ll circle back to my case.  When I remind myself that my journals describe all the visits to doctors and hospitals to get an accurate diagnosis, and all of my sick days as I found myself able to do less and less, and the quality of my life the last few months of work, I have to think the evidence is golden.

Fear can be a bitch, though.  Why am I susceptible to fear today?  It seems related to my physical state.  Today I’m weak and in pain.  And fear of a legal wrestling match must be associated somehow with that.  Maybe one triggers the other?  Or, maybe they are similar in biological origin?

Or, perhaps they are mental.  Maybe being physically weak allows fear to take over.  If I were a small kid, I would certainly feel vulnerable facing a bully.  And, even though my weakness now is the strength of my case with the insurance company, it significantly subtracts from my motivation to pursue this.

But, I don’t have a choice.  I know I need to get on it.  First thing in the morning.  No excuses.

Today, though, I didn’t need an excuse until I woke this afternoon.  Exhausted.

And, one last thing.  It used to be when I journaled I felt comfortable during my introspection.  My thoughts are my own, I used to think.

Now, I just re-read today’s writing.  And my mental legal counsel saw the line, Not sure if I’m journalling, or working up legal correspondence, or something for the blog or the book.

Here is my legal disclaimer.  Those are my ambitions.  Those are not all the things I do each day.  Those are my choices.  How will I spend my writing today?  I only have enough energy for an hour or two.  It has to be worth my while.

And now, a message for the lawyers from the strength of my case.  If all I am able to write each day is an hour or two, how exactly am I supposed to go back to full-time work?