Saturday, June 30, 2012

43- Making Imperceptible Haste

Autumn 2011

As I begin my trek down what seems to be the longest hallway the hospital has to offer, I have to extract all of the will, and strength my body can provide.  Right now, the source of all my determination is all, but exhausted.  I am relearning to walk.  Check that.  I remember how to walk, yet I am unable to communicate the process to my limbs.  I wonder how many drinks it took for me to fall into an alcoholic paralysis.

I was already walking by the time I was nine months old.  Now, 447 months later, my muscles are nearly in a full state of atrophy.  The combination of being bedridden, and not digesting what little food I can eat, has made my muscles vanish.  I have always been thin, but now I look as if I am a man who is sick, but in his upper 60s.  I am 38 years old, and this was not supposed to happen this fast.  Alcoholic cirrhosis latches on later in life, so I still had time to quit.  I surely wouldn't have, though.  This had to happen.

Friday, June 29, 2012

42- Pursuit of Swagger

Autumn 2011

I don't have much time to get over the recent communication problem with my cheese master.  My physical therapist has arrived, and she is chipper as ever.  It amazes me when someone who is supposed to be a motivational tool is merely another element of the hospital that irritates me.  She is like a cat burglar when she darts into the room, and startles me a bit.  I need to show some improvement today, if I ever want to get out of here.

The physical trainer (PT) is chock full of energy, as usual.  She claps her hands in front of her torso, parallel to her forearms like a college cheerleader.  I think of my time at Clemson, and all of the fun we had on Saturdays at the stadium.  She is has a bob, dirty blond wisp to her hair, and is fit.  I can tell she works out, but she is no bodybuilder.  Her black clothing is tight enough to exercise, and is conservative enough to wear in a hospital.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Initial Wisecracks

Initial Wisecracks

"If names are not correct, language will not be in accordance with the truth of things."
— Confucius

Throughout my life, my name has been one of confusion, disarranging, befuddlement, amusement, bemusement, companionship, ridicule, familiarity, and improper 'shortening'.

When I was a child, my family called me Buddy. It became apparent to me later that this was because I was my father's little Buddy. Moreover, I didn't like the name Donnie at the time. None of the other kids in my classrooms ever had the same name as me. Additionally, if our teacher decided to call on us in alphabetical order, my last name was Todd. As most things, this was a big deal in a child's mind, although, I didn't lose any sleep over it.

Simultaneously, The Donnie & Marie show was popular, and I was consistently asked where Marie was. Again, not a big deal, and when someone makes that reference now, I am quick to point out they are showing their age.

Unsurprisingly, when I was an early teen, the insults began to arrive. Donnie Wayne Toad was a popular one to say the least. Again, this is not something that would bother me in adulthood, but a boy going through puberty can have a bit of a time with the jabs. Unfortunately for my first girlfriend, this nomenclature stuck around a bit in high school. Since she was dating me, she was known as Toady to some.

However, during this time, my high school cross country coach began to refer to me as DTJ. It was a reference to the fact that I was Donnie Todd, Junior, and was proudly accepted by me. Once in college, the movie Donnie Darko came out, and of course it was mentioned extensively. I refused to watch the movie until this year, since I was so tired of the whole thing. Its not insulting, but tiresome.

Of course, the movie Donnie Brasco had the same effect. So much as, I learned that a bartender that served me on a regular basis thought my name was Brad Sco. That's right. Finally, in The Big Lebowski, John Goodman's character, Walter repeatedly suggests to Steve Buchemi's character, "Shut the Fuck up, Donnie", or "Donnie, you're out of your element!"

Then, working in the bar, and restaurant business, my initials were fair game, and made for quite a few laughs. DWT = Doesn't Wash Testicles, Drinks Wild Turkey, Donnie Wu Tang, and even DWTeabag. Some get the joke behind DWTeabag, some don't. It is both foul, and hilarious, in my opinion.

All of this comes to mind, since my name has been used with greater importance due to my hospital stays. These include, my initial 2 days when I was in a coma. My first identifying wrist band said that my name was Donald. At times, people assume that this is short for Donnie. This is not the case, not to mention, Donald has six letters, and Donnie has six. So, I don't get it.

One of my current gripes is the results Google provides when entering my full name. Usually, the fourth choice is a mug shot. It is dumb luck that the fellow's name is Donald Wayne Todd, and he was arrested for alcoholic mishaps. Since, almost all of my series are related to granddad's old cough medicine, this is to be expected.

Finally, this week I received a notice from an unknown company addressed to Donnie Wayne Todd, Sr. He has been deceased for nearly eight years. The notice was related to the water supply on my property. I don't own any property.

All of these are petty annoyances, but get under my skin, nonetheless.

Yet, I do have this. In English, Todd refers to a fox. Sly, clever, and sneaky.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Dyadic Life

A Dydadic Life

"The entire substructure of his brain
is eaten away with rum."
-- Hunter Thompson

For a number of years, I crossed your path, and you crossed mine.
We frequented the same places.  We knew the same people.
Maybe we sat next to each other.  Perhaps we spoke.
I cannot recall. 
I had vodka.

Some time later, our introductions came.
You were her friend.  I was his buddy.
I lumped our meeting with the rest.
Just one more face.
I had vodka.

Then, there was the game, and we were the third-wheels.
We made a connection, and smiled, and laughed.
While exchanging numbers, you were pulled away.
You were told to avoid me.  That I was no good.
We would meet again.  No big deal.
I had vodka.

On our next meeting, we tossed a football.
You threw the ball hard, and broke my finger.
That's OK.  I had vodka.

In the fall, we met once more.
You noticed something was wrong.
You told me not to drive.
I listened politely, and motored on.
I had vodka.

Suddenly, there was The Incident.
You refused to believe it was me.
I had aged twenty years, you said.
After the coma, you came to my aid.
I couldn't tell you what I needed.
My mind, and body were all but lost.
It was the vodka.

Months later, you paid me a visit.
I didn't merely survive. 
I was just as I was before The Incident.
One day turned into seven.
Two lifetimes of stories, told in a week.
We laughed so hard it hurt.
"Wait a minute", you said in stitches.
We can have fun while we are sober.
We don't need vodka.

It all seems too perfect.
It cannot be this easy.
Maybe I didn't make it,
and this is our own.
No use for vodka.

There is so much left to do,
with our second chances.

Photo: First Sunset
By:  DWT

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Limitless Sky

Limitless Sky

There has been due concern over this summer's weather.  Excruciating heat, and humidity as thick as a morning fog, are among the complaints we have here in The U.S.  In addition, the seemingly never-ending drought that has its grip on most of the nation's soil has afforded sufficient worry.  However, the late evening, and early morning horizon, never fails to impress a watercolor of artwork for all to see.

Recently, I have found my camera lens, and contact lenses, have been holding fast to the skyline.  It has not been a matter of whether I should capture any photos, but when to stop clicking.  I have always been enamored with sunrise, and sunset, and the vivid colors they provide.

Lately, I have given more attention to the moments preceding the rising sun, and following the settling light.  Dusk and dawn accommodate more than the colors of the rainbow, but a cornucopia of pigments, and blends, that only The Earth's sky can provide.

Cherry, honey, and tangerine hues are to be expected.  Often overlooked are the white, silver, and granite colors melded together.  Salmon, pomegranate, and a kaleidoscope of blue shades are always in the mix, as well.

There are numberless aspects, and perspectives of the canvas of skies on our lovely planet.  Coastal South Carolina provides an abundance of dazzling and elegant panoramas twice per day, and I find myself in awe every single time I gaze.

All in all, looking up is not a bad trait to have.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

41- Indignation Incarnate

Autumn 2011
The nurses are already waking me up, and it is still dark outside.  I can't remember the last time I had any sleep that was worthwhile.  I have accumulated enough hours of sleep deprivation, it should be illegal.  I know its not healthy, although they wake me to check my vitals, and I have to keep riding this merry-go-round until I don't know when.  I am beginning to wonder if they are ever going to let me out of this place.  "You need to show some improvement before we discuss your discharge", they keep telling me.  Discharge.  Bl-eh.

All of my oompa-loompas are in place, dancing around with their needles, washcloths, thermometers, and blood pressure cuffs.  My entourage's questions are raining on me simultaneously, while I am trying to handle my personal cloud, encompassing my brain like a thick morning fog.  At times, it feels like they have performed a lobotomy while I was out, yet on some occasions I am completely frustrated, and grouchy, and I am not a nice person to be around.  Or, I could be over thinking, I guess.

  One of the nurses discovers that I no longer have a catheter.
"Oh, they took the condom-cat off", the caregiver asks?
I technically don't lie, "I don't need one anymore."
"Alrighty, then", she shrugs.

Another nurse approaches my bed and asks,
"What would like for breakfast, honey?"
"Bacon", I blurt out.
"Ha.  No.  You're on a diet.  I just remembered."
"Shit", I mutter.
"Grits, eggs, toast, coffee..."
I cut her off, "I don't drink coffee.  I have been saying that for two weeks, or however long I've been here.  Can I please have sweet tea this time?"
"OK, sweetie.  Its alright.  We'll bring you some iced tea", she says as she crosses a word off from side to side.
"Sweetened", I reiterate.
"I gotch you, baby."

The head nurse lays out my itinerary for the day, in no particular order, as if there is any chance I will remember which scanning, stabbing, sampling, or manipulation they have planned for me.  For every RN, that injects medicine, or collects blood, there is a student who misses the vein.  During that time, the off target assistant conveniently has a superior over their shoulder watching, who seems more like the school bully teasing, "Ha, ha.  You missed it."
"Ha, ha.  That's hilarious", I say sarcastically. 

When my breakfast arrives, my expectations are low, and the food runner places each item in front of me individually.  First, one bowl of grits, that is clumped into six or seven, asteroid-shaped clusters, all on top of what looks like fire ant eggs, is presented to me.  Then, my plate of yellow eggs, with white stripes throughout, that look like miniature rubber chickens, and are about as chewy.  Followed by, my cubed, hunter green gelatin with some kind of fruit floating inside the jiggling nourishment.

To accompany my delicious, and exquisite breakfast in bed is my, "Careful, this is hot", coffee.  Damn it.  It isn't rational that anything should upset me, but it does.  Besides, this steaming cup of Joe could pass for a mug that was used as an impromptu ash tray last night.

"Hey, sorry, but may I please have some sweet tea instead of the coffee", I plea?
"Yes, sir.  I'll run down, and get that for you", she replies.
"Oh, and some cheese for my grits", I add?
"What kind of cheese you need?"
"You know.  Shredded cheese.  Cheddar, maybe", I suggest.
"What's that look like", she asks?
"What?"  I'm confused.
"We've got white cheese, or orange cheese", she says kindly.
I unintentionally smile at her, "Hm.  Orange, please."

As the request comes out of my mouth, the head nurse walks in.
"Oh, no.  He can't have the orange cheese.  He can't have salt", she corrects the assistant.
"Alright, can I have the white, please", I rasp.

Finally, we have reached an agreement, if not an understanding.  I question myself again, because so many bizarre episodes keep occurring, that it has to be me.

When the cheese lady returns, she has forgotten about the tea, but fulfills my request, "white, shredded, cheese".
As I look at it, I pinch some out with my fingers, and sprinkle it back into the ramekin.
"I can't have salt, right", I state.
"That's right.  I'm sorry", she says sincerely.
"No, don't be", I tell her.

Its Parmesan.

Appalachian Sunset 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

40- Combustible Fortitude

Present Day

 "If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day."  -- Alex Noble


Not too long ago, in Unknowingly Exhumed, I wrote about a forgotten blog that was brought back to my attention.  Below, is one of those postings.  This is where I was at the time.  Each morning, when I would get home from that bartending gig, I typically would have a couple of more hours before I went to sleep. Either to wind down from the adrenaline of the job that night, or just wait for my pulse rate to go down a bit.  This usually led to listening to music, talking a bit to myself, or posting something like this.


December 7, 2007  6:10 a.m.

Hi Senior. Happy Birthday!

     Hi there.  Happy birthday.  Already 58, huh?  Pretty hard to imagine that we got here so fast.  I've been following your footsteps.  Hell, everyone that knows me calls me your full name.  That was to be expected, though.

  Yet another year that we should be celebrating; and we're not.  Such fucking bullshit.  I'm sorry that the marker isn't even right yet, but I'm also thinking you'd be telling me to stop worrying about it.  We can't help it though.

    It still pisses me off that I'm not allowed to introduce you anymore.  However, this past Monday, Dec. 2nd, I almost repeated that shit with our family.  I am just like you.  I just used another one of my lives.  I fell asleep at the wheel - as you did- for the second time in my life.  However, this time, a 2 by 4 came through my windshield and almost took me out.  --I was going 24 as opposed to the 55 you were going.

    I completely totaled the car that you never got to ride in, but I still have my life.  "Don't matter what I got, as long as I got life!" (*I am not sure where this quote is from.  I very well been quoting myself.*)   We do miss you, but you are here.  Donnie Wayne Todd is a name in Charleston, SC, and you know it.

    Everything is not what it could be, but when is it?  I thought for a minute that I hit a new low.  That's not even close.  I've had a series of mistakes to learn from.

    I remember when you were my age, you really focused on getting yourself in shape, and trying to take care of your asshole eldest son in your own way.  --Don't forget, I knew everything.  Yea, right!

    I have met a few companions.   You met a couple.  I just wish you had seen me follow through.

    I started a new job in August.  Within a few days, I went to meet a prospective co-worker.  -- I still remember the very first words.  That's because that's the way MY family taught me.  You all made it so easy to talk to anyone, and figure out who is who right off the rip.  (She's still an amazing friend by the way.)

    Whoever I hug today will be for you Donnie Wayne Todd, Sr.  Feel it!  I know you're short, but get over it.  You were short by the time I was 13.

    Just don't forget to keep feeding me your advice, dreams, and visions of all of us at 409 South Pandora Drive.  Me, you, mom, Tim, Tinker; maybe Sissy, if you want to get real early, and that's just the beginning. (*Tim is my brother, and Tinker and Sissy were two dogs from my childhood.*)

    I'm ranting.  I miss you.

    Help me tell them all to stop sweating the small stuff, and watch whats going on.  You never know if you're not going to be able to later...

D. W. T.
December 7, 2007  6:10 a.m.


When I wrote this, there is no way I could ever imagined that I would end up on my bedroom floor, almost five years later, bleeding to death.  Yet, I hadn't changed much, the amount of alcohol it took to get me drunk had increased remarkably.
This all comes back to what I just wrote a few days ago in The Long Chat -2, comparing the ages we both were, when events like these went down.

My birthday is June 16, which occasionally falls on Father's Day.  This weekend has been an extra crunch on my mind, and psyche.  Yes, I did quit drinking, but not that long, ago.  On October 17, 2011, I was unknowingly on my bedroom floor for the second day.  I was sent home with my mother, and stepfather in November to die.

Thank God, I survived, yet, this weekend, I have a undercurrent of fear, and emotion, and worry about dying for the first time since February.  I am really not sure if I would have been found yesterday, if I my physical collapse was this weekend, and not last fall.

It would have been assumed, that I was just partying on my birthday, if I didn't answer all of the loving posts I received, yesterday.  Its human nature, and it would have been a correct assumption. 

Living life as if it is your last day is a hard sell.  I am starting to think that unless one is threatened by Death, they never will have the perception that I have.

For me, this was not just any other weekend, however my point of view is unique to myself.
It is a painful reality that all things have returned to the typical way of living.
Work, school, shopping, laundry, children, showers, sleeping, and calling your father
merely because it is Father's Day. 

If that is too big a drag,
then there is Facebook.

My mind is a firestorm, run wild,
and there is plenty of fuel left to burn.
Photo:  Carolina Wild
By:  DWT

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nil Communication

Nil Communication

"Mr. Watson, come here -- I want to see you."

-- Alexander Graham Bell makes the first telephone call on March 10, 1876. He was speaking to his assistant in the next room.


Just imagine what auto correct could do with this.
That first phone call set a precedent in misunderstanding words.
Mr. Watson's journal says that the first words were,
"Mr. Watson, come here, I want you."

That first, simple statement was mixed up in its transition
from sound to paper.

The sound of a voice, can mean something different,
when not heard.

39- The Long Chat- Part -2

Autumn 2011

“Happy,” I muttered, trying to pin the word down. But it is one of those words like Love, that I never quite understood. Most people who deal in words don’t have much faith in them and I am no exception—especially the big ones like Happy and Love and Honest and Strong. They are too elusive and far too relative when you compare them to sharp, mean little words like Punk and Cheap and Phony. I feel at home with these, because they’re scrawny and easy to pin, but the big ones are tough, and it takes either a priest or a fool to use them with any confidence. 

-- Hunter Stockton Thompson in "The Rum Diary"

My friendly nurse who loaned me the Thompson novel is still listening.  At least, she seems to be.  I continue to speak incessantly, answering her short questions with long winded descriptions of my pathways that led me to this moment.  I apologize repeatedly telling her, "I'm sorry, I'm talking your ear off", simultaneously branching to the next tangent of an already in-congruent flow of thought. 

I am delusional because I have not seen my reflection, yet, and I have no intention of catching a glimpse of myself anytime soon.  I transition into how I had three solid relationships with three different women.  All of them, five years each, and proof that I can be stable enough to tolerate.  This is a far-fetched argument for any semblance of emotional investment that lasts with me.  It is apparent that vodka was sure to take care of any doubts that I may have had about being single.  Faced with the choice of marriage, or moving on alone, I chose the latter without exception.

I respond to her questions referring to any family history of alcoholism, or what effect I thought it had on me.  My grandfather, on Dad's side died when he was 58 years old, and I had no clue how serious the word dialysis was, but there was a machine next to his bed. I was 5 years old.  He always rested on his bed in the living room, and sometimes with me on the couch.  His breath smelled just like my fathers.

I recount sitting in the back of our car, after seeing Grandpa sleeping amongst flowers, and tears.  I was between my father and uncle because they never let anyone see them smoke.  They had miniature clear bottles, with golden corn colored beer.  The foamy bubbles stuck to the bottle's neck, that had a red X that referred to what time it was.  It didn't taste good to me. 

I fast forward to my father's sudden death brought upon him in a single car accident, although I am still not convinced that he was not forced into the culvert by his maladjusted wife, or one of her family members.  I admit I made a fateful calculation during my father's funeral that could lead to my demise.

Grandpa died when Dad was 29 years old, and I was 30 years old when my father was ripped away from us.  I wondered if my grandfather's early death led to my father's failed battle with alcoholic, and emotional dependence.  I missed his last attempt to call me early in the afternoon.  I was already in the bar, and I didn't hear my phone.  I called him back, and left a message, returning to the full day off, and time for all day drinking that bled into the early morning.  

I was still loaded heavily with red wine, when my girlfriend woke me with monumental tears.  She could barely speak through the sobs to tell startles me, "Donnie!  You're father is gone!"  In an instant, I am tuned in, to a reality that could not be.  By the end of the day, I am at a long time friends house, and his family is doing their best to comfort a man who continuously falls to his knees.

I never sobered up from the night before, and I was firing anything I could into my bloodstream.  
I remind the nurse that I was not always like this, that I really did have a solid childhood.
I don't have a single complaint about growing up.
My parents always pushed my brother, and I towards success.

We are jostled out of my narration by her phone.

"I need to go help someone, and grab your medicine", she says.
"I want to hear more of this when I get back, though."
"No, you don't.  You are just humoring me, but thank you", I tell her.
She assures me she wants to hear more, and stops in the doorway.  She snaps a full 180 degrees, like a Drill Sergeant, and aims her finger right index finger at me.

She is tapping her right toes rapidly when her pointer demands,
"Don't.  Fall. Asleep.  Don't even think about it."

She just made me realize how sleepy I am.  The Attivan, and Oxycodone are having their way with me, again.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

38- The Long Chat Part- 1

Autumn 2011

I am caught red handed.  I am trying to get out of the bed on my own.  I am not supposed to do that, but damn I have to pee.  With luck, it is my personal Nightingale that catches me with my left, big toe on the tile.  She gives me a "What are you doing look?"

"I'm sorry", I say.  "I am going to have to do this by myself at some point."
"I understand that, but you could fall, and I would be in serious trouble."
"You're right", I concede.  "Can you help me then?  I've made it this far."
"OK.  Hold on a second", she says, as she rolls over my coat rack of IVs. "This has to come with you."
"Gotcha", finally.

I slide down the side of the bed, and my hospital gown is in the way, as usual.  It slides up quickly, as if it is wired to the ceiling.  Here I am, again.  Take a gander, and feel sorry for me.  I don't care.  
When I get upright, and on my feet, I am a solid foot taller than the nurse.  She looks up at me, and says, "Wow, you're tall".
"No, you are short, and so is that bed.  Man, I need a longer bed."

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Everything says this is what you like.
Inside and out, and every attribute.
All the unique seeds that you seek.
Here wrapped in one.

You come by, and stay for a moment
on the fence. Just out of reach, you stare.
I peak your interest, but then you fly away.
You have a nest to tend to.

Be careful in the forest.
You may be the prey.

At times, I am surrounded by
many songs, and unsought showoffs.
They can be pleasant, and a chore...
they rely on me for comfort.

I may appear to be
hanging by a string.
Yet, if you study closely,
I am anchored, grounded.

I have time to wait, after all.

Raider’s Luck

Raider's Luck

One day, out of the blue, someone said,
"Donnie, we should take that dog from Grandma."
My live-in girlfriend at the time was suggesting this.
"What dog", I ask her.
"The stray dog that she found a couple of weeks ago."
Hm. I guess this is not out of the blue. Not sure, now.

"I don't think we should", I say.
"Well, Grandma is coming this weekend,
so we can meet Raider."

With that, the name of my first dog was Raider,
and it didn't take me long to fall in love with her.
She was the best you could ask for. She was easily trained,
rarely barked, and was friendly as any pretty dog could be.

A few years later, the same gf told me that
the humane society telethon was coming up.
Her brother was running it, and that meant we were volunteering.

It was for a good cause, so why not?
We just have to promise each other,
No Dog.

There were two floors at the television studio,
and, of course, the programming was showing, throughout.
I was downstairs, and my gf was upstairs, when a dog caught
my eye on the television. I thought, "Wow, that dog looks like Raider."

I was really excited, and started to run up the stairs.
My gf was running down at the same time, and we
met at the switchback. In unison, we said,
"Yeah, I saw her, too."

I tried to say no, and be the strong one, but I couldn't.
She was in the lap of a woman answering the phones.
The poor dog was shaking, and scared.

So, my second dog was named Lucky.
She was Lucky that I took her home.

We weren't quite sure how the dogs would
react to each other, but I had my camera ready.

The picture in the center of the collage is Lucky.
Raider is the larger dog, with the goatee, and red collar.
The dog that is cutting her eyes at me in most of the pictures.
She got over it quickly.

They truly were my best friends.

Not So Fast

Not So Fast

Sometimes, I am mesmerized and drawn to beauty.
Everything is cool. She has her space, I have mine.
Yet, I let myself get too close, and get wrapped up.
I'm afraid, and she seems too clingy.
It begins to frighten me.

So, I run.

Friday, June 8, 2012

37- Excess Plumbing

Autumn 2011

Its the middle of the night the next time I am awakened.  To my relief, the girl ripping the Velcro on my blood pressure cuff is my favorite nurse.  The one that loaned me the Thompson book.  The brunette shorty who is nice to me, and smiles when she speaks.  My friend, who I have grown a bit of a crush on, that probably just feels sorry for me.  She is young, and her career choice has not made her bitter, yet.  She usually visits me at night, and I think of The Florence Nightingale Effect.  I wonder if there is a Betty Ford Effect.

While she is away, collecting medicines and checking on other patients, I begin to feel restless again.  The blankets feel heavy, and I can't move around much.  I squirm uncomfortably, but I keep snagging the blankets on the bothersome catheter.  I've had enough of it, and I don't need it.  They have still been using the 'condom catheter' on me, so its not like I'm pulling one out.  Not this time.

Thursday, June 7, 2012



Although, I was invited to Cowbird only a month ago, I have become emotionally involved. Cowbird is no teenage crush. Whether it is the wordiness of my stories, or my overall time spent here, my self-government is ever changing. My constant use of pinky back-spacing could very well lead to some sort of repetitive stress trauma.

In my want to investigate where every love comes from, and all the new perspectives I can gain, my inbox is beginning to be overrun. When I see a new name, I want to see what you are up to. Its as if I'm trying to stop a levee break with a sponge. As soon as I think I am getting somewhere, a new day is here, and the flood gates are still open.

I have fessed up to a lot of things lately, but I am not a Cowbird addict. This has to be passion, and not just my addictive persona coming through. Right? Right. Cowbird has come to me with such perfect timing, I feel blessed. I appreciate every moment of my time here, and all that you share with me.

Cowbird is just beginning,
and I'm about as green as they come.


The boy in the blue shorts is my younger brother.
Its 25 years ago, but he is still a go-getter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

36- A Wag of Her Finger

Autumn 2011

 Its beginning to slow down in the hallways of my medical compound.  The announcement that always comes to early, crackles from the ceiling.    "Attention all visitors, in fifteen minutes..." it will be time for you to get the hell out.  Yeah, we know your friend is sick, but leave.  At least that's the way the voice sounds.  Its as if they are closing down a department store.  "Please, select your remaining items...", so Kevin packs up, and heads out.  He leaves the radio, and the CD's for me.  However, they aren't in my lap, and in my case, that means they are out of reach.

I'm expecting the usual changing of the guard, when I see a long time friend of mine.  She is about to walk past my door, and sees me.  She greets me with a big smile, "Hey, DWT!"  My reaction time to situations like this are still extremely slow, and off.  I think that she is just in the hospital for some other reason, and just happened to notice me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Importance of Variables

The Importance of Variables

Since my scuffle with The Grim Reaper last fall, I have become more aware.
More aware of my surroundings, of conversations, and all of the things that
are very easy to take for granted.

I know it sounds cliché, but that is something I don't want to lose, again.
Before my coma, that is where I was. That is where my friends and family were.
Then, I was sick. Terminally ill, they said.

That's when every conversation mattered. Every chat involved eye contact.

I feel it is human nature to forget how powerful a moment once was.
To fall back into a routine.

I don't want to forget how much better it is, to just slow down a little, and pay attention.

I still have the backyard. All I have to do is go outside. Especially, in the morning.
There is still an early mist hovering in the trees. The birds are all awake, shouting
in anticipation of breakfast.

If you just glance at the forest, and come back for lunch, it is a different scene.
The mist is thick, muggy, humidity sticking to your body.
The animals are quiet because it is too hot.

So, we never know what we are missing, when we don't stop and look.

When stopping to smell the roses, soak in every sense of the moment.
Every breeze, every buzz, every flicker of light.

And notice the one who is not paying attention.
They are about to hit you with their grocery cart.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Friends of Shutterbugs

Friends of Shutterbugs
The natural and repetitive call of a shutterbug is "bear with me".
My friends know this sound. They are familiar and patient
with this wail. My frequent holler is never unexpected.
My head is always on a swivel, especially when passing
by something reflective.
Looking through a window is the norm, but I am always distracted
with the rest that goes unnoticed.
Window shopping with me is an experience that takes some
amount of patience, as I look at a window from different angles,
and usually snap a photo.
Some see a new pair of shoes, or a new outfit for the spring.
Others see, a puddle on the ground that is just mud.
I see pictures. I see what is right in front of us, but often overlooked.
Of course I've run across several photos of this nature here on Cowbird.
Just as in life, I tend to stare at these photos a bit longer.
My story, The Memorial Day Midwest Surge, may not be my most profound story, but it is one of my favorite shots.
All of my friends have grown to expect a camera lens pointed at them.

36- Commonsensical Neurosis

Autumn 2011

My mother and stepfather have been here so often, its easy to forget that they don't live close by.  They live 70 miles south of my Charleston hospital unit, in Beaufort, South Carolina.  The two of them are here more often than not, and I am quite used to them being here.  Yet, I am still surprised, at first, on the few nights they simply can't make it.  Its not that they don't want to, but its not just a jaunt up the road and back.  A daily round trip of 140 miles would wear anyone out.

Kevin drops is to 'hang out' with me tonight.  He brought my CD player, and all of my CD wallets.  I don't have the dexterity, or the mental capacity to attempt to sort through the music.  He sits the player on the floor to give me time to work it out.  In typical Kevin fashion, he has also carried in some movies.  He tries to hook some kind of contraption to the television, but I guess all of the inputs are taken.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Numerous Possibilities


OK. I have this. Compose yourself. Take a breather. Relax. Loosen up. Breathe easy.

This wall is steep, and towering. A formidable skyscraper. A fall is eminent.

Pay attention. Focus. Inspect. Look. Listen. Observe. Survey. Rubberneck.

I must... accomplish. Prevail. Surmount. Triumph. Pull it off. Work. Win. Conquer.

Will anyone... notice? Watch? Observe? Follow? Understand? Have a look-see?
Stay interested?

What if... I fail? I am found lacking? Run aground? Miss the boat? Fall on my face?

Will I be... embarrassed? Rattled? Bewildered? Made a monkey of?

I need to be... courageous. Fearless. Dauntless. Cool. High-spirited. Venturous.

It is... difficult. Challenging. Formidable. Trying. Hard-won. Easier said than done.

I don't want to... grandstand. Make a scene. Exaggerate. Put on an act. Trout out.

I need to... show them. Display my abilities. Bow up. Swell. Put it on the table.

I must... continue. Endure. Persist. Maintain. Move ahead. Keep the ball rolling.

Cannot... worry. Have apprehension. Distress. Vex. Look over my shoulder.

Jump. Now. Fly. Free. No care. Have fun. Take a compliment when it is done.



Sixty seconds of earning a living behind a bar.

Every cubic inch of the room is filled with noise.
Music, talking, laughing, yelling, and the
high-pitched screech of girls.
They haven't seen
each other in hours.

Cracks of the cue ball,
breaking glass, popping beer bottles,
and a chest bumping toast from the
boys out by the tables.
They aren't family,
but they are brothers.

Everyone knows my name when they are thirsty.
I swing around, and look for eye-contact, and cash.

Pointing I ask, "What do you need?" I wipe
the sweat from my brow as I listen,
and my hand leaves my forehead
and goes straight to my bar towel.

" tonic! Two beers of the month!
One bourbon and coke! Oh, and four tequilas!" you announce.

I echo your order as I slide to my right. Thrusting the top of the cooler open, I put my right hand on my co-worker, with a "I'm behind you" touch. I hoist the two beers with my left hand, and pull them to my chest. Spinning my bar tool into my palm, I pop the bottles and back hand the caps toward the trash can area. The floor will due.

Turning 180 degrees, I stand up straight. Another bartender passes in front to the left, and one behind to the right. My left hand reaches for two rocks glasses, and I spin back around. I thread the necks of the bourbon and the vodka through my fingers and pour. One, two, three, four.

I fill the glasses with ice, reach for the soda gun, to finish the mix. I never stop turning as I snatch four shot glasses and rim each with salt, one by one, while I reach for tequila. While I am topping off the liquid trouble, I ask, "Limes?" By the time you decide I already have them.

With a creased twenty to signify your loot you ask,
"OK. How much?"

I count inside. 'House liquors $4.50...two drinks, four shots, is six. Four-fifty times two is nine, times three is $27. Beer off the month $2.00, times two is $4. 27+4 is...'

"Thirty-one, please. Out of...forty."
I spin around, and poke the screen.



One five.
One, two, three four, ones.
"Here you go.
Nine dollars is your change.

"Hi", I rasp.

Her first request is a kiss.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Unknowingly Exhumed

Unknowingly Exhumed

I have always scribbled down random thoughts and observations. I saved some of them, but never in any organized fashion. A occasional, composition notebook, or small scratch pad, will show up from time to time. I still have a desk drawer filled with random, loose sheets of pages from a desk, that I threw away long ago.

A lot of these things have been put away and ignored. Especially, in the last few years of hiding my emotions with vodka. Now, that I am sober, I am going through some of these past thoughts. Some of them are quite difficult to read, when I know that it is my hand and mind that wrote them.

In addition, with my recent public offering of all of my thoughts, and personal misgivings it has been easier to follow me. I just tell people, "Google Donnie Wayne Todd, you'll find me." Words I never thought I would utter, but a reality nonetheless.

With that, I recently ran into a problem. Usually, it is someone my mother knows, or anyone that is not exactly up to speed on how to type in a URL. Its just easier to give one instruction to locate my stories. More than a few times, my mother has revealed to me that some of her friends thought my blog was quite disturbing. I thought nothing of it until she said, "The one on your MySpace page."

I was surprised to hear that, since I believed I had deleted it a few years ago. I went to Google yesterday, and there it was, on the first page of links. Not good.

When I opened it up, it was about 10 posts I had made at about five or six a.m. Undoubtedly drunk, or half in the bag, as they say. Alone and emotional, writing things such as a birthday note to my deceased Father about two and half years after his death. The words were angry, not with him, but with the woman who helped him break up his marriage, and lose his life. That's another story.

Most of the postings, however, were examples of the self-loathing, and disappointment in myself that I was going through. How I had not lived up to my full potential was the primary focus.

My point is, I wonder whether it was mentally healthy for me to regress back to those memories. Right now, I am telling myself the answer is yes. As I am digging deep into my mind and soul, there are demons I need to face.

On the flip side, wouldn't it have been pretty cool if Rain's "Kilroy scrawls" were placed in a sort of time capsule? Only after a few years of not seeing my own, it was like I was reading the journals of someone else.

Today, I just know that Rain's stories are just a few clicks away.
That works for me.

Self Portrait
12 years old