Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Nothing is Easy.

Over the years I've had people ask me to do things, simple things, things that for people in normal circumstances might take a few hours out of their day.

Dealing with anything Alzheimer's related, I've learned that anything takes a minimum of three phone calls and at least an afternoon. I'm not even factoring in the pain in the ass factor.

Nothing is easy.

I went to Human Services on Monday and laid out my case: My wife has lived beyond our savings. I can no longer afford the $3600 a month I've been paying for the past 18 months. What do I do now?

Wendy, the woman who has seen some redeeming qualities in this broken down writer, said she was prepared to bring my wife home to die. For me, that was saying you take out those zombies, I have your back with this horde over here. This was the apocalypse.

Caring for Jenny in 2014, when her decline mirrored western civilization's with everything on fire and panic in the streets, made me more than a little crazy. It took an intervention for me to let go and find people who could care for my wife all day every day.

One day, one of her new caregivers said, "It takes three people to give her a shower." I laughed, because I remembered all those mornings I did it alone.

Nothing is easy.

Today, I called to get the contact information for the care facility's physician. I need him or her to fill out a form that would allow me to move Jenny from assisted living, which I could no longer pay for, and into a skilled nursing home, where a combination of Medicare and Medicaid would cover the enormous expense.

I got the physician's number. I called. This is how the call went:


I expected a nurse to answer, or a response a bit more professional than an irritated hello.

Is this Dr. Bag?

This is Douche, what do you want? Who is this?

I was taken aback by his tone, I admit, and I stammered out my name and my wife's name, who is one of his patients.

Is this Dr. Bag? You are a physician?

I'm a PA. Who gave you this number?

Caswell House. You are my wife's physician. They told me you're her physician and I need you to sign a form FL-2.

They had no business giving you this number. Whoever gave you this number should be fired. This is illegal.

Always curious as to legal questions, I asked, How is this illegal?

Dr. Bag stammered bit and said, Privacy.

I told him again what I needed and who I was and who his patient was.

They had no business giving you this number. This is my cell phone. I have 405 patients. Can you imagine if every family member had my number? Can you imagine?

I said I could.

Do you remember who gave you this number?

I said I didn't, and wouldn't have given a name even if I could. I went back to the main issue. I needed him to fill out and sign a form FL-2. I then told him I didn't expect this hostility.  I just needed a form.

In the past, before I learned patience with Jenny's illness, I would have flamed this guy. I would have used bad words and wondered aloud about his parentage and upbringing. Which would have gotten me nowhere.

Instead, I asked again about the form.

He backed off a bit, Dr. Douche Bag, PA. He told me he would give me what I needed on Friday when he went on his weekly rounds to Caswell House.

I thanked him.

Then he said, I'll be sorry to see Jennifer go. She's one of my favorite patients, She is so sweet and always has a smile.

I was disarmed. I told him I had been lucky in that Jenny, unlike many Alzheimer's patients, had never been combative, but always sweet and good-hearted. I said that I missed her like a man would miss a limb. I began to cry on the phone with this strange, angry man.

We hung up and I wept for a while longer.

Nothing is easy. Nothing.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Life in America.

My wife has Alzheimer's. From what I can piece together, she's been in decline for eight years and now she's close to death. She is in hospice care and while I can't guess whether we she knows who I am, I know that she's happy to see me. Two days ago she reached for my hand and pulled it close to her. Holding it, she closed her eyes and seemed content.

Today the nursing home called to tell me that Jenny had gotten out of bed and scooted down the hall to be with other people. She can't walk, but she can scoot.

Unless a miracle happens and our Republican administration grows a heart, Jenny will be coming home to die. We are out of money. We did all of the right things. We saved money. We invested. But eight years of terminal illness has taken all of it. Every goddamn cent.

But I'm ready for this. I think. Wendy thinks she's ready for this.

We'll see.

Thanks, Republicans. You guys are so empathetic. You are so Christian.

when will you feel like an idiot?

Trump has backed away from eliminating Obamacare, the great wall, and now his massive deportation.

Do you realize now that you were taken for stupid?

Probably not. Stupid people rarely realize that they're stupid. I see them every day, on their cell phones, piloting a big ass SUV thinking, "I'm winning."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tonight we watched The Crown, episode 4, where they mention the town where I was born, Donora, PA and the toxic fog caused by coal burning.

In the states the health crisis was the beginning of our modern environmental movement. In London it was the end of Churchill's time in office.

Very few admire Churchill more than I do. The Gathering Storm is a brilliant piece of writing.

Why do I mention it here? Because Trump has promised a renewal of the coal industry. This in spite of cheaper natural gas and mountaintop clearing that provides few jobs and pollutes drinking water.

The crisis in Donora inspired me to write the short story, After the War, which you can buy on Amazon for 99 cents.

Today I went to see my wife. She is dying and under hospice care. It cost me $3600 a month. She makes $1688 a month in Social Security. I make $1800.

You can see that even if I lived in the woods off squirrels and berries, the numbers don't add up.

So Jenny will be coming home to die. I will take care of her, just as I did between 2011 and 2015. I will need help as I've gone through all of our savings and our retirement accounts. I am too old to be hired for anything a few bucks over minimum wage. That is the reality. That is not reality television.

For everyone who voted for Trump, know that you voted to throw me, and people like me, away.

What a happy present to give on Veteran's Day.

If you have ever declared yourself a Christian. If you have ever voted because "character counts". If you have ever voted because you are appalled at our decline in moral values and you voted for this philandering, morally bankrupt, dishonest human being, congratulations, you are a hypocrite, by definition.

Wear the label so the rest of us can know who to blame.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

With the rise of Trumpism, I think it's time to relight the Planet. It may take me a few days, but I need a voice.

Is a blog as old fashioned as the rotary dial? Am I sending out Morse code in the age of the Internet?

I don't know.

But I do know that I am outraged. A horrible human, devoid of character, has seized the executive seat of government.

So I am here. An angry voice in the void.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Full Frame 2011 - a doc lover's 4-day weekend.


Last week Ted flew in and we began our annual rite of Spring, the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

For those deprived souls who don't have a film festival, this is how it works. You choose the films you think you want to see based on subject matter and film maker, neither of which is a sure indicator that the film will be good. The doc you weren't sure about becomes a surprise favorite while the film maker you love and would gladly grip her next project for free, serves up a yawner.

This tricky process mirrors our larger life choices, only with less vomiting and tears. Some films will surprise you, some will disappoint and some you will miss just because you can't see 'em all. My advice is to concentrate on the good films and forget about the inevitable stinkers.

With that in mind, I won't dwell on the disappointments, any more than I would on ex-girlfriends, blog trolls or unsatisfying novels.

In chronological order:

Guilty Pleasures, directed by Julie Moggan, is one of those films that if I'd chosen it on subject alone, I would have passed. I would have missed a great documentary that is not about romance novels, but about love and commitment and sacrifice that, in the end, is more satisfying than any fantasy.

This was the festival's opening film and a great choice for a primer on storytelling, with each character getting their own 3-acts. It was also the American debut.

Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl is a gem. You should search it out. Beautifully shot and edited, it's a solid film with a no-nonsense character at its center. Here's the trailer: www.buckthefilm.com.

The Bengali Detective is another film with a strong character at its center. The film follows an entrepreneurial, self-made private eye as he and his team try to solve three cases, one a multiple homicide. The logistics of shooting in Calcutta alone are boggling.

Burma Soldier is the story of Myo Myint, a casualty of the civil war in closed off Burma. Myint went from being a young soldier to becoming a voice for the democracy movement, which landed him in a Burmese prison for 15 years. Myint made it out to tell his story, captured by film makers, Nic Dunlop and Rickie Stern, narrated by Colin Farrell.

One of the real joys of this festival is the opportunity to meet the directors of the films. In this case, the subject, Myo Myint, made a tearful appearance before a standing ovation at the Carolina Theater. A beautiful experience.

One Night in Kernersville, directed by Rodrigo Dorfman is a beautifully shot short about the John Brown Jazz Orchestra recording in Mitch Easter's studio. Not surprisingly, it won the award for best short at the festival.

Tabloid, by Erroll Morris. Highly entertaining and in Morris' words, “It’s a return to my favorite genre – sick, sad and funny ... It is a meditation on how we are shaped by the media and even more powerfully, by ourselves.”

Corman's World, directed by Alex Stapleton and featuring interviews with Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson and others who owe a large debt to Roger Corman. Corman is the producer and director who, it's said, made 400 pictures and never lost a dime. If you love matinees like Attack of the Leech People then you've seen Roger Corman's work. Great stuff.

Every one of these docs is a class in how to tell a story. Each is different, each has its own POV and voice and each is worth the effort to look them up. You won't be disappointed.

As usual, I missed a number of award winners: Scenes of a Crime, How to Die in Oregon, Pit No. 8 and several others were honored on Sunday. They'll go on my Netflix queue.

A special thanks to archivist Rick Prelinger who screened some fascinating selections like Buddy Can You Spare A Dime?, Strictly Propaganda and America Lost and Found.

Full Frame, I love you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A new web site.

I needed to update my web site so that prospective employers could see my most recent work.

This is the opening page. The design is very simple and the pages few. The tone should be familiar to readers of this blog. Now, all I need to do is slice it up, paste it all into Dreamweaver and link the links. I'll start on that later today and hope to have something up by Monday morning.

In the meantime, I wrote a few hundred new words on the novel. Not great, but it's progress.

UPDATE: It's alive! It's alive! New web site is up at http://www.davidterrenoire.com/

Someone needs a reminder.

I had lunch with a good friend yesterday and we didn't talk politics, because we wanted it to be a good time, right? Because we're all disappointed that Obama wasn't the reformer we'd hoped he'd be and much of what is wrong with where we're heading is still wrong.

Wars, Gitmo, the tax breaks, etc. We all have a list.

But then I think back to 2008 and see what could have happened. Jesus, imagine these two in charge during the greatest financial meltdown of our lifetime?

I said at the time that Obama won't be everything his supporters hope nor his detractors suspect, but still, standing next to McCain and Palin, he looks pretty damn good.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A low point.

Today's been rough. The payout that Jenny was promised is now, after the paperwork is done, only two months instead of three. That means our ability to pay our bills has just been shortened by thirty days.

I continue to work on the novel, which in today's market is like buying lottery tickets, and I continue to update my web site so that prospective employers can see my portfolio.

Which in today's market, also feels like buying a lottery ticket.

But what else am I going to do?