Sometimes All You Need…

…is a brand new guitar!

I definitely didn’t see this one coming but hey, I guess I’ll roll with it.

So I went over to Guitar Center on San Pedro here in San Antonio looking to demo any one of two Taylor 12 string models – either a 362ce or a 562ce. I had these models in mind for many specific reasons – small body shape (easier to handle) 12-fret neck-to-body joint (fuller tone) short scale length (less tension), and a mahogany top (warmer/less bright). I wasn’t looking to buy either one (as I’m not a fan of cutaway body or electronics, but Taylor doesn’t make those without the ce so I was going to demo and, if I liked what I heard and felt, request a quote for a custom build).

In the general section of the acoustic room they didn’t have any of those but they did have a few low end Taylor 12s – 150e models. I picked one up to fiddle with it, and it was OK for the price. Went to ask about driving it through an amplifier and they took me to the back room to do so. As I was testing the electronics, I looked over and saw one lone 552ce in a locked hanger. The only difference between the 552ce and the 562ce is the former has a cedar top instead.

So I asked an attendant to get it down so I could test drive it as it were. They readily helped, and apparently it had been forever since it had been played because it was so out of tune. I tuned her up and played a few chords and was instantly enamored – each course rings loud and true with ample volume (surprising in fact for such a small body), it’s very comfortable to hold and it plays like absolute butter – just as easy as a well set up 6 string guitar. That’s no easy feat on a 12 string.

I probably played that thing for 15-20 minutes, both plugged and unplugged (the ES2 electronics actually sound fantastic, making me actually want to keep the electronics in case I ever play live anywhere). I also decided I likely preferred the cedar as the mahogany top would have probably been too muffled for my taste (and thus cedar is a happy medium between spruce and mahogany) as well as for aesthetic reasons. My heart was set but I still wanted to see if I could get a custom build without the cutaway.

I went to ask the clerk about that and financing and he advised me that asking for a non-cutaway special build would likely be more expensive as it’s not a production model, even though a non-cutaway is generally less expensive. Well damn. The guitar sounds fantastic as is, so I figured what the hell, I’ll try to figure out a way to walk out with it that night. Applied for GC financing and was approved instantly (this is why it’s important to take care of your credit!) for 48 months same as cash/interest free financing. It was a no-brainer. The guitar was mine.

(Note: the following day I was actually glad I kept the cutaway as this guitar is a 12th fret neck-to-body joint as opposed to a 14th fret so accessing the upper frets would have been extremely difficult on a non-cutaway.)

So that’s the story of how I wound up with my dream guitar. No doubt it’ll get lots of use. It’s an absolutely incredible instrument. Even if you don’t normally play 12 strings, this one should be accessible to you. It really did blow me away with the sound quality and ease of play.

Anyway, off to enjoy my guitar some more. Have a good day!

Is It Detox?

OK, let me preface this post by saying I’ve felt like T-total shit all week. It kind of started on Monday but took hold Tuesday into Wednesday when I’ve felt just totally gnarly. At first I thought I had contracted another upper respiratory and it was the precursor, but when I didn’t develop any upper respiratory symptoms (nor any GI symptoms for that matter!) I was at a loss.

I consulted with Laina as I always do in regards to these matters, and she suggested my body might have entered into detox mode. I guess it would fit with a lot of what I’ve noticed – fever/chills, heavy/skunky perspiration (we’re talking soak the bed at night heavy and man does it stink), pissing like a racehorse, “power shits,” a headache, you name it.

Yeah, not exactly pleasant but I guess necessary. I was feeling so icky last night that Laina out of the kindness of her heart kept me overnight at her place for medical observation, and she went the extra mile to tend to the little one while I was in only a partially conscious state.

After throwing back some water this morning, some trace minerals and having a good shower, I’m starting to feel somewhat normal again. I’m still not 100% but I’m much better than I was – maybe 80%-ish or so.

The question is what triggered all this? I’ve not started any supplements or anything to trigger a detox, but simple lifestyle changes might have brought it on – going gluten-free/dairy free (the two big food reactions I have), increasing fiber intake, healthier food choices in general, reducing consumption of alcohol, tobacco and caffeiene. If that’s enough to start the detox process, then I guess so be it.

Lord knows I’ve been in a decades-long need of a good detox. I was born with a heavy toxic load. My mother worked in a dry cleaner while she was pregnant with me AND smoked while pregnant. Those two things alone should tell you how many toxins I was exposed to in utero. Combine that with admittedly having a totally unhealthy diet for however long, drinking like a fish for the past few years of my life (starting with my stint in Dallas which was miserable and thus I had nothing better to do), among other unhealthy lifestyle habits, yeah, I was destined for either this or a very early death, whichever came first.

I guess we’ll just roll with the punches for now, as unpleasant as it might be for the time being. Laina swears if I can power through detox I’ll come out feeling better than ever at the other end. Right now it’s hard to see. I am not a person of any kind of faith whatsoever, but maybe it’s time I take something on faith, because I know that’s what I’m having to do right now. I do, however, have some evidence in that Laina has showed me a couple of her driver’s license pictures – one at age 23 and one at age 30. She actually reverse-aged during that time. She swears the same thing can happen with me.

Time will tell, of course, but for now, I guess I have to keep on keeping on.

Little One Goes to the Vet

Sorcha had her first vet exam this morning, and I’m pleased to report she seems to be in good health.

Things started around 10:30 when we gently coaxed her into the cat carrier for transportation to the vet’s office. Luckily she didn’t put up too much of a fight when we lured her in with a rabbit’s foot which kept her entertained inside the carrier. She also did great on the drive over – not so much as a peep out of her while in transit.

She was, of course, quite nervous once we actually got to the office and then the exam room, but otherwise she did fine. FeLV/FIV tests came back negative, as did the test for intestinal parasites. She had had fleas at the outset, but a dose of Frontline seems to have taken care of that issue as no live fleas were observed during the physical exam. Heart/lungs sounded good and overall she seems well-developed save for being a little small.

Of course, she got her first round of vaccines today, as well as a nail trim and her rear end examined. The only issue we see is that she has a slight rectal prolapse. Where it came from we don’t know, but Dr. H (the vet, who came highly recommended) wants to try some conservative treatments at first. Surgery might be required, but hopefully it won’t get to that point.

By the time we had gotten back, it took Sorcha no time at all to emerge from the carrier and picked up right where she left off – snuggling, purring, you name it. Sure, she’s a bit tired but that’s to be expected I imagine.

Other side notes – she has started sleeping with me in the bed, either beside my feet or my head as of a few days ago. We’ve been doing flea-extermination procedures in my unit after Laina and I both wound up with a number of flea bites ourselves, but that seems to be reigned in now. The only remaining home issue is little one seems to like to piss in my bed at night, just before bed. Why I have no idea as she uses the box normally during other times, but I guess we’ll figure that out.

I guess time will tell, but so far so good.

My Strange Attachment (Pun Fully Intended)

I do have attachments to some of my personal belongings. I know, weird. I’m not what I’d call materialistic but some stuff is kind of sentimental to me, but none of those things have the bond I have with this guy.

Everyone, meet my longtime friend Kirby:

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Yes, my strange attachment is to my vacuum cleaner – a 1995 model year Kirby G4. My great-grandmother bought him new back in the day. I remember like yesterday the in-home demonstration the gentleman did using our old vacuum cleaner and then this beast showing how much off-the-shelf vacuum cleaners leave behind. It was very impressive. I remember being absolutely fascinated with it as a kid, even to the point I did the vacuuming around the house because I was just so enamored with Kirby. Even my parents found it weird how fascinated I was with a goddamned vacuum cleaner – but of course now we know why I had such an interest.

When my great-grandmother passed away, the vacuum kind of became mine. Mom and dad got other vacuums along the way (mostly bagless because they didn’t want to deal with changing bags), but when I vacuumed I always insisted on using Kirby. The others just weren’t the same, nor do they have anywhere close to as much suction. A Kirby will out-suck just about anything else out there.

When I moved out for college and grad school, I took Kirby with me as he wasn’t getting used by my parents at all by that point. I needed a vacuum cleaner for my place anyway, and if they let me have Kirby that was just icing on the cake. It cost me nothing to take and I wouldn’t have any other vacuum if given my choice.

He came back with me and into storage after grad school when I was living with mom and dad again. I took him with me to Dallas, where he got used in my apartment there, but then went back into storage again after returning to Abilene once again, where he would remain for a year and three quarters, until Laina and I went by the locker this past Sunday on our Abilene visit and recovered him to bring back with me to San Antonio.

Last night I fitted a new bag and fired him up for the first time since February of 2018. Like long-lost friends, we picked right back up where we left off. It was like yesterday. He sprung back to life the second I plugged him in and he’s running as great as ever, save for needing a new self-propelled transmission.

So here we are in November 2019, 24 years and change after it became part of my life. It’s been with me through ups and downs, and we grieved the passing of my beloved great-grandmother together, but he’s still never missed a beat and is reliable as ever.

Sure, I’ve replaced many drive belts along the way, along with a few brush rolls and even a fan impeller, always opting to do the work myself instead of paying for labor (the same will be true when I am in a spot to replace the transmission). Me being how I am (autistic) I’ve always loved to tinker with stuff (even before I knew why), and Kirby was no exception. To me it just feels more personal when I do it myself. Now there will come a point I can’t and I have to send it back to the manufacturer for a full rebuild, but that’s years and probably even decades in the future as these things are built to last.

Anyway, funny story about the fan impeller – I was vacuuming out my car and sucked a huge rock into the vacuum, and almost immediately heard a loud “crunch” and a bunch of pinging. I immediately shut the vacuum off and took the hose off to reveal that the impeller had shattered into about 4 pieces. Of course I wasn’t going to pay someone to replace it, so I just went to the parts store to get a new impeller and put in the sweat equity myself.

Little did I know the G4 was the last model that featured a metal fan impeller – the G5 on up have kevlar impellers which I imagine were developed for that reason. Needless to say Kirby is now retrofitted with the kevlar impeller and we have not had a repeat and I’ve sucked a lot of sizable shit up into him since.

Alas, that’s the story of my strange attachment, 24 years in the making. I almost feel like Rob McGroarty talking about my beloved Kirby vacuum (and kudos to whoever gets the reference), but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Kirby and I do share a special bond that just gets sweeter as time goes on, and you’re free to judge or ridicule if you wish because I know it’s real to me.

My Recent Foray into Home Cooking

I have to admit, I never thought much of my own cooking skills. Yeah, I could do basic stuff (like heat up pre-packaged stuff, using a microwave or toaster oven, etc.) and live, but never did I venture much into cooking from scratch. I just never thought I really had it in me to do so, and the couple of times I had tried in the past were absolute disasters.

Of course, going gluten-free changes all of that. Almost all pre-packaged meals contain something glutenated, not to mention a bunch of artificial chemical shit nobody should be eating! When I look back I’m disgusted at what I was actually eating, solely in the name of convenience and, I admit, sheer laziness!

Alas, here’s where I get my hand forced. Eating out every day is prohibitively expensive (unless of course you have the net worth of our worthless orange-haired shitgibbon of a president!) so here I am having no choice but to learn to cook from scratch! Between that and that Laina is a self-admitted “disaster in the kitchen” (though she does help when possible) well, I’m kind of handcuffed into it.

I always figured I’d have to go on Food Network’s “Worst Cooks In America” to learn anything! I know so many people wonder how anyone can be that genuinely horrible at cooking, but I seriously thought I was. Well, maybe not so much.

I’ve now cooked four meals from scratch (all on Tuesday nights interestingly enough) for Laina and I, with plenty left over for subsequent meals and I have to say so far, so good! Hell, even the stuff I’ve made has been palatable to *ME*, so even own-worst-critic me is giving myself a pat on the back for what I’ve done thus far – from gluten-free pasta to sirloin steaks and everything in between!

I’d like to share with you what I’ve done for the past couple of weeks, taking one base ingredient and preparing it two totally different ways just to demonstrate that it’s OK to think outside of the box. For the base ingredient, I’ve used spaghetti squash – a large squash that literally turns stringy when cooked, like spaghetti. I scored a sale on organic spaghetti squash at Natural Grocers for $0.99/lb so I couldn’t pass up picking up a couple. It’s naturally gluten-free and has lots of fiber and nutrients, making it a great substitute for regular pasta.

For the first one, I took it in a typical direction you’d find – more of an Italian spaghetti type dish. Using one large spaghetti squash (baked at 400F for 40 minutes; split the squash, scoop out the pulp, vent and bake face down), combined with two jars of Whole Foods 365 organic pasta sauce  heated in a crock pot, 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef, and two bulbs minced garlic, one red onion and one portabella mushroom all sauteed, the end result was a healthy, delicious dinner to satisfy even the most die-hard spaghetti fan!

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Then just tonight, knowing the other one would have to be eaten soon but not wanting to do the same thing twice in a row, the gears started turning and I thought “what if I take this in an Asian direction?” After all, noodles are at the base of many Asian dishes. From that seed the idea for spaghetti squash stir fry was born. Baking the spaghetti squash the same as before, I stir fried 1 lb. of boneless/skinless chicken thighs with 2 stalks of celery, two carrots, two portabella caps, a large red onion and diced unsalted peanuts, with some green onion on the side (I’m not a fan, but Laina loves them so I did it that way). Combine this with the squash and 1 bottle each of San-J Thai Peanut and Spicy Szechuan sauces and the end result was a stir fry fit for Genghis Khan himself!

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I have to admit, this has been a blast. I never thought I’d actually enjoy cooking quite like this, but I really am. It’s almost like “you mean I made that?” Damn. I guess I can do this after all. I don’t know what I’ll come up with next, but we shall see.

The Newest Addition to My Loving Family

Every now and then the universe throws you for a curveball and places a certain someone or something in our lives that we could never see coming until it’s right there.

This past Tuesday night Laina was over at my place doing school work while I was slaving away in a hot kitchen making a delicious meal of spaghetti squash when she gets a text from Mr. Kitty: “Does Lynn want a kitten?”

My initial gut reaction was no. I had just moved here, it’s going to be an expense I didn’t need and Mercury is retrograde – making a big decision during the next few weeks is likely to have serious negative repercussions.

Alas, the story unfolded more: their neighbors found her and were feeding her in their garage. I asked the normal questions: boy/girl, approximate age, etc. – turns out to be a girl, approximately 8 weeks old. Laina and Mr. Kitty are at full capacity at their place and so are their neighbors, so aside from going on doors knocking or taking her to a shelter, it seems as though I’m the only one left before resorting to those options.

As such, Laina went to go look at the kitten while I continued cooking dinner and, after some back-and-forth conversation as well as her sending me this adorable little picture:

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I was convinced to let her into my home. Naturally she was skiddish and hid most of the first evening (though she did eat plenty), but she got up and explored a little bit. By mid-day 2nd day she was out and about and actually came up to us, purring loudly, snuggling up into us and marking us as hers.

We started running through possible names, me hellbent on Scottish-Gaelic names. She hit on the Scottish-Gaelic for “stripes” or “striped” – Stiallach. Cool looking name, but was unsure of the pronunciation so I started looking at others and formed a short list, until I found my front-runner – “Sorcha” (soar-kah) meaning “bright” or “radiant.” She is definitely a radiant personality, so I asked her “are you Sorcha?” She immediately meowed back. I asked her a few more times, same reaction. Laina asked her a few times, same thing. She meowed every time we asked that. It seemed to me she was telling us her name.

Meanwhile, I asked a fellow autism blogger about the pronunciation of Stiallach, knowing she’d need a middle name. Her husband is full-blood Scottish so she deferred to him, and it was revealed to me that the pronunciation is “steal-ack” – which made sense once I placed the sounds in my head. Just like that, I had the perfect name – Sorcha Stiallach Blair. It was at that moment I broke down and cried, for I felt the love overpower me right then and there.

She’s making great progress – eating well, out and about, playing. She’s pissing in the box but she’s shitting on the carpet – go figure. Oh well, the latter is easier to clean up so whatever. Will get her into a vet ASAP for an evaluation to see what’s amiss, if anything.

Nonetheless, maybe what was missing in my life was a furry companion. She’s already the apple of my eye. My feline daughter. And I’m her daddy.

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Month 1 in the Books (Almost)

So I’m almost all the way through my first month in San Antonio. I’ve settled into my new place (which is very nice, I might add – small and cozy but nice enough for one person) and gotten into somewhat of a routine that feels right; still making some adjustments but almost settled nonetheless. I should be over the moon, right?

Eh, not really. After the “newness” has worn off I’ve returned to what I will call a baseline. Don’t get me wrong, the baseline I’ve returned to is a bit higher than what it was in Abilene. Overall it has been a good change, an “upgrade” as it were – but not as big of one as I had initially anticipated.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some very big improvements in my quality of life. Being closer to the one who means the most to me has been a godsend and no doubt I come to life when we hang out together. Alas, when we have to part for awhile (be it bedtime, work, etc.) it’s like I’m back to square one – we’re talking Abilene levels of misery (cue this timeless classic song)…

Don’t get me wrong, I realize we both have lives outside of each other. I’m under no illusion that has changed nor am I under any delusion that will ever change. I’m not a needy person at all – I’m more than capable of entertaining and taking care of myself. That said, there is a certain loneliness when we’re apart for a considerable amount of time, to the point it’s almost impossible for me to be happy in her absence.

So where does this leave me? Do I have bits of happiness in my life now? Absolutely. Is it an improvement? Yes, because I had absolutely no happiness in Abilene. It was constant misery. That said, I still don’t have true happiness or joy at my core.

This is leaving me wondering when, or if, that will ever happen for me. Was I meant to just be a miserable person for my entire life? Am I atoning for some major transgression in a past life (assuming past lives are a thing – something which we can only take on faith)? Or does it just come down to a true case of major depressive disorder? Do I need to go back on antidepressants? Is there some other root cause I’ve yet to uncover? No doubt I need a good detox – I probably have a very toxic load given the fact that my mother A) smoked while pregnant and B) worked in a dry cleaner while pregnant.

Let it be known the above rant is not to be construed as suicidal ideation. I have no intentions of taking my own life at this point in the game. Maybe once a few years have passed and I’m in a position to launch Leaf & Barrel things will really start looking up for me (of course, this is all a big “if” depending on what the FDA decides to do in regards to premium cigars and pipe tobacco).

In the meantime, I just have to fight through what appears to be an uphill battle. I mean, if I do bail out early, let’s consider the possible outcomes:

  1. Nothing. Oblivion. Man that would be nice, but am I really willing to gamble on a 33% chance? Right now I’m not inclined to.
  2. Reincarnation. Talk about even more misery next time around (shit, maybe I did commit suicide in my past life, assuming such a thing exists).
  3. Heaven/Hell. As I’m not an adherent to any of the 3 Abrahamic faiths (in fact I thoroughly despise all 3), and given the fact that all three pretty much teach that suicide is an automatic ticket to hell, well, that doesn’t bode well for me either does it?

Whatever the case, here I am questioning my place in this universe and what, if any, greater cause my pain and suffering could be going toward. I guess that will be revealed to me in the coming days, weeks, months or maybe years. I guess I’ll just ride the wave and see, but goddamn I just want a baseline of happiness.

Then again, I wonder how many people truly attain this. On a poll on debate.org about whether or not life was really worth living, 82% of respondents voted no!

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Now, I imagine the voters in this poll likely do not meet the statistical definition of a representative sample, but holy shit there sure seem to be a hell of a lot more miserable people than happy people in this world. One has to scratch one’s head at why this could be. I wouldn’t even venture a guess.

Well I guess I should shut up now. What should have been a brief status update turned into an almost 800 word diatribe. I guess I have a tendency to do that huh? Oh well. Until next time, folks!