Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Upgrades, Downloads & Defaults - Austin

I've downloaded several upgrades lately and it got me thinking -- what if my wife decided upgrading was in order for the character who shares her bed?

Scheduling might change. Her model is a night-owl and she gets up early. Her model's cravings are often ill-timed and poorly communicated. He's the word guy but has gaps in his vocabulary. So -- a better dictionary with an illustrated section on romance outside the bedroom would be appreciated. Besides flowers more than once a year, communicating that the vacuum cleaner works in the corners of a room and that "Yes Dear" includes eye contact would be helpful definitions to hold in internal memory. She would also appreciate a change in the default mode of audio sensors. She is wise enough (after much life experience) to ask him to repeat what she has just said if his fingers continue to tap the computer keyboard as he "listens" to her. She is not into computer jargon, but somehow the message seems to blink across his forehead as he stares blankly: "Too little memory. Please close some files."

Visual sensors show deterioration. She is generous with her thanks when his hands are in the dishwater. But she sees spots without her glasses that he misses with his. The barbs are gentle as she returns things to the sink. Since Dr. Smalley makes much of the "wall of conflict" in the growth of a deep and mature love, this marriage shows much promise if other glitches do not undo the gain.

She is quite willing to put up with the mature look but there are aesthetics she would gladly change. Why does he grow hair on his ears but reflect more glare from the top of his head? Why does he get up from the table or the couch slowly, stooped and stiff like an old man, yet five minutes later swing the grandchildren over his head? And why can she count on him complaining of a backache the next day? Is she really expected to feel sorry for him?

She wasn't quite sure what she was getting when she married him. Architect wannabe defaulted to pig farmer, then construction worker, then Bible Bookstore employee, poet and author. A trade-in on a newer model has been mentioned. But there seems to be little after-market value to her present model. Plus, three daughters who have newer models all report many of the same quirks and romantic shortsightedness outside the bedroom. They don't report from inside the bedroom but keep adding grandchildren. So trade-ins seem to hold little promise.

Migraine isn't the upgrade she would have asked for, though used by God to bring medical doctors down a notch or two. She'd tell you that God doesn't single doctors out. He finds effective ways for others, even writers, when they get a bit too full of self-importance. But migraine has a way of defying easy diagnosis. Migraine with visual aura is even more baffling. Being a brilliant writer with a vast command of language, it only took three years for her model to come up with the magic words that triggered an "instant" diagnosis. A tiny pill a day does wonders. It's not so common now that her model "sees through broken glass," though he still can't see the spots on newly washed dishes. Dull headaches and visual distortion have been reduced, with frequent headache-free days thrown in as a bonus. Visual distortion is rarely so bad that he cannot read -- just bad enough that when font size and distance change he struggles. Reading prices and counting money are his biggest daily challenges. A minor nuisance really, since people take their money so lightly. Perhaps it's the guessing at the cash register that drains him, for even with the medication he leaves work exhausted. However, he claims to get his best sleep behind the wheel so there are benefits.

Her model has given notice at the Hanover Bible Bookstore. For almost 12 years he has worked at a job he loves. But it would seem useful to have someone behind the cash register who can read prices and count money. It might prove useful at home too, but she prays for bigger miracles.

The guy who shares her bed has been a "professional" writer for years. She thinks "profession" should buy groceries. He likes to think positive too, and weight-loss plans do generate good income. BUT -- he has trouble seeing well enough to balance the books these days, so will just enlarge the font on his computer screen again and keep on writing.

On good days there is little or no headache and he's only aware of visual distortion when he reads or drives. Bifocals just aren't what they used to be, although large print Bibles are a treasure. On bad days, which fortunately never come more than seven days a week or last more than 24 hours each, his wife offers to shoot the guy who comes home from work -- and he offers to load the gun. (Teamwork is critical to a good marriage.) He never used to be a liar but he's told 40 people he is "fine," then played with their credit card while pretending he can see the numbers he's punching into the machine. He's something less than a Knight in Shining Armour when he stumbles in the door those days.

Upgrades, downloads and defaults. . . She has given wonderful support. It's only when she offers to help speed a certain poet's career advancement that he wonders if he should worry. "Poets are only famous after they're dead," is one of her quotes. Still, after putting up with him for more than 30 years she has earned the right to tamper a little -- so he'll let her push buttons now and then. Every once in a while she pushes just the right ones -- and -- well -- some things are still possible in shared beds, even for guys with headaches and poor eyesight.

Just so you know -- the character my wife continues to put up with has had his eyes checked several times. He had a doctor's appointment today. The lab siphoned him of blood. He's supposed to increase the dosage of Norvasc, and he's booked for an MRI. If they don't find anything between his ears you can send sympathy cards to his wife.

The headaches are rarely severe. Visual distortion wears him out but the pain is quite manageable. The right hand image below is a pretty good representation of the worst distortion. Fortunately that is limited to two or three hours a week. If it is your credit card he is playing with during those two or three hours -- well -- there are verses about not laying up treasure on earth. He can actually manage to function even when visual distortion is at its worst. If you look carefully at the right hand image you will see two characters still in focus. If necessary he can punch in the 13 digit ISBN number and he can convince the debit/credit machine to take your money. He just wants a nap after each transaction.

Somebody needs to tell Heidi not to trust this guy to count money at the Write Canada bookstore next year.

This bar code belongs to a treasure picked up at Write Canada 2009. Don't send sympathy cards. Identify the book and send your credit card. If your card is billed but the book never arrives -- well -- he's been practicing this excuse long enough to almost believe it himself. The book is well worth the purchase and a slow, thoughtful reading, so if you decide to obtain it from a more reliable source he will understand,


Peter Black said...

Brian, what a great tongue-in-cheek-piece. The humour still carries your poetic edge, yet doesn't cloud the transparency of your journey in its current phase and challenges.

Jenny Burr said...

It's so important for us to keep our sense of humour despite what life presents to us. Thank you, for this reminder. Although I do not have headaches, I can relate with the stress and fatigue when I suffer from dizziness and vertigo. Indeed, our spouses are a great support, even if they feel like they're ready to trade us in. God in His wisdom and grace blessed us with humour.

Judith Millar said...

Great humour + great honesty = a great read, Brian. As one who suffers from ocular migraines, I feel for you (literally!).

Kimberley Payne said...

I remember the day I suffered my first full-blown migraine at work. I was critiquing resumes and the letters started to scramble. Then I couldn't even see the right side of the page. I thought I was losing my eyesight! Scared I called my optometrist and he asked a few questions. He recognized the symptoms and told me to get home right away (I had a 30 minute highway drive home).
I thank God that I've only suffered a handful of migraines since then.

Alanna said...

So, I'm sitting at the computer, the kids are asleep and I think - I'll try to find those blogs dad says he's been posting. I've been reading through from the earliest ones - they're all good but this is my favorite so far! I'm giggling in my kitchen at my goofy dad making light of something I know isn't as easy as he's making it sound. "Poets are only famous after they're dead!" If that's not support, I don't know what is!! I hope you let mom read this!

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