Letters to Holly

Saturday, June 30

Drug-Induced Weekend

We met up with Kathy and Travis for dinner at the steakhouse. I ate gingerly. Just fries and mac & cheese. The two of them couldn't believe I wasn't wearing an ice pack or downing pills like Pez. I traded out the pills before I slept and slept no better. So it's not the hyrdo- or oxy-. It's the codone. After waking up really, really early, I stayed awake enough to try a run. I managed to start right at 8 (the same start time as the race Wednesday), and I completed a 5k run within 28 minutes. No side pain, no shortness of breath. Either the drugs cut my usual run discomfort, or I've lost enough weight to make a difference. I tried to forgo pills at all today to clean out my system. My heartrate is elevated, I sweat at night, and I'm impatient. I don't want this.

We had breakfast before shopping for new office desks for Your Sis. She's redoing her office, and it involves a floor-to-ceiling demilitarized zone. I ate-- again, gingerly-- at another restaurant but it included small burgers. My mouth feels like I have to cloves on either side. My upper jaw is not a problem at all. I did have to take an Advil to cut the lower jaw pain, and I'll take two tonight before going to bed. I can syringe the back of my mouth with warm water to clean out the wounds starting tonight. I might get to brush again by Monday.

I developed a fever Saturday night and stayed in the sick bed. I was fine the next morning after Naproxen and Advil. Also got my first full night of sleep since Tuesday. We tried to buy a desk at Office Max and were told the one she wanted must be special ordered but does include free delivery. Should arrive Tuesday. I did not run Sunday, but I'll need to today, rain or no rain. And it's rained very day for a week now. We found out Travis and Kathy's buddies will run, and I'll join them if I can keep their pace. They are very healthy, fit folks. Luckily, they'll run with their 12-year-old daughter, and she might slow them down enough for me to stay with them. We're hoping to hold a cookout with everybody for dinner.

The potato plants are blossoming with tiny white flowers.

We decided to try Washington, DC for our hopefully annual summer vacation. We bought travel books and checked out a bed-and-breakfast online. I've never been.

I finished off Stephen King's Cell this weekend. It's light-weight king horror, like he tried to slip on the old horror-maven clothes, and they didn't quite fit. His novella Gingerbread Girl in the latest issue of Esquire is a better read.

I ate homemade pizza and soup with just a bit of mouth pain. Again, the cheek gouges are worse than the extraction sites.

Picture of the Day
It's rained so much that the neighborhood is crawling with rabbits looking for dry ground.

Friday, June 29


Your Sis delivered KFC for me last night. The mashed potatoes and gravy are always divine, but getting an actual meal was the highlight of the day. I can't sleep through the night, and I suspect the oxycodone is acting as a stimulant for me. I awake about six hours after the last dose, sweating and alert. I'm going sans pills tonight. I also gave up on the elevated pillow; I can't sleep that way either. I'm still taking the anti-inflammatory though.

I'm at work again and feeling OK. A little tired, of course. I plan to run tomorrow. I have less than a week before the race. I emailed the race organizers asking for a race map as we have yet to know where we're running. That's kinda crucial. They pulled this last year too, and runners veered off course.

Picture of the Day
Sunset over the Pacific.

Thursday, June 28

The Day After

The anesthetic screwed up my short-term memory. Your Sis insists I was chatty and cracking jokes just after the operation, although I recall none of it. She thinks this is adorable; I think it's a bit spooky. I also have the knowledge that we went to CVS for the drugs (the lovely, magic drugs), but I have to take her word for it. I do vaguely remember us going into the local bookstore to kill time between submitting and receiving the prescriptions. I looked at the graphic novel section and bumped into a few endcaps, but it's all swimming like a dream. The few hours of our return home are fractured too.

I ate some Jello, mac and cheese, grapes, and tomato soup. I swapped my gauze a few times. We watched some House, and, well, something else I can't remember right now. The anti-inflammatory pills work the best so far. I started to nod off around 8:30, with the sun still up, for crying out loud. I slept until 2:50 a.m. and couldn't sleep for another 2 hours. I swapped some more gauze before going under and woke up around 9:30 this morning. The pain is virtually gone except where the lower gum scars touch the lining of the mouth. I'm still groggy, but I intend to go back to work tomorrow.

In the News
Egyptian archaeologists claim they found Hat-Shep-Shut, the influential pharaoh queen . According to the NY Times, "scientists said this was the first mummy of an Egyptian ruler to be found and 'positively identified' since King Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922." I remember reading about her in art history classes. She has quite the legacy.

+ + +

The Benoit coverage is dwindling as all anyone can do is wait to see what drugs may have been in his system. The murder-scenario rumors are disturbing as they are all based on wild speculation. One says the son, hopped up on human growth hormones, killed the mother.

Wednesday, June 27


A Mexican dinner followed by ice cream, and then I couldn't eat until after the procedure. After eating, we watched the Tuesday night wrestling show. It started with Vince McMahon deflecting criticisms of Monday's tribute to Benoit. He said the details that have come to light mean Benoit's name will not be mentioned again on the WWE, and the following show would help with getting past by being entertaining. And it was, I suppose. The networks are gunning for the "roid rage" angle, but the WWE wisely points out that this murder-suicide stretched over three days, demonstrating deliberation and not the tell-tale sudden outburst. The cable news networks found two out-of-work performers to poo-poo the WWE, the expected workload, and the use of steroids to become successful.

I'm still trying to reconcile the words "Chris Benoit" with the news. My mind can't grasp it. And occasionally, I have the urge to breakdown again, for the entirety of this horror. The press conference details were gruesome and clearly point to Benoit as a deeply troubled person. I put away my Benoit shirt and action figure. When I unearth them again in a few months, I may burn them. I can't enjoy what this man was, not when his character was so indistinct from himself.

I am devoid of three wisdom teeth.

I managed not to eat anything for 13 hours before the operation. I decided on using the knockout drug, administered through an IV. I sat in the chair and the plugged me in. I was given a blood pressure cuff, a finger pulse monitor, and three EKG patches. They stuck a needle in me and then hooked that up to the IV drop. It was saline initially, but then the dentist added some syringes of drugs to it. I first felt it in my empty stomach and then the back of my head. I don't remember anything after that. I was out within 30 seconds. I woke up cleanly with a mouthful of gauze 45 minutes later.

Your Sis drove us to the CVS for the prescriptions (Oxycodone and anti inflammatory). I took out the gauze and had soup and Sprite. My tongue was a dried out wad, and my lower lip is dead putty. It made drinking and sipping difficult. I took my first Oxy and am now changing out the gauzes after 30-minute applications.

I feel clear-headed, but my lower left tooth area hurts. It feels like a jaw ache. But otherwise, I feel OK. I'll post teeth pictures later.

Tuesday, June 26

Horrible and Sudden News

EDIT: I won't be online tomorrow as I am having wisdom teeth yanked out. Might be away Thursday too.

One of my favorite wrestlers has died, and police are calling it a murder-suicide.

Chris Benoit was one of the guys who, in the mid '90s, brought a new degree of realism and intensity to rasslin at a time when it was flush with cartoony characters and gimmicks. He was a product of the fabled Stu Hart Dungeon, a basement training center run by the patriarch of Canadian wrestling. Benoit was small and quiet, and that kept him from advancing beyond the midcard for many years, but the fans took to him because he never coasted through a match or a feud. He always showed up ready to play, and his matches would often steal the show from the main event, even if it included Hogan or Rock or Austin.

I first noticed Benoit when he moved to WCW, the Atlanta-based national promotion. The organization had the financial backing of Ted Turner and later Time-Warner and was able to sign and maintain a huge roster at high salaries. Benoit and his smaller compatriots were deemed the "Vanilla Midgets" backstage by the larger boys who ran the show. They were considered unmarketable because they relied on performance and choreography instead of catchphrases.

It wasn't until the bloated budgets and diva tantrums threatened to sink WCW that Benoit was given the world belt. But because the talent had largely soured on the management and backstage hierarchies, Benoit and his popular running buddies walked out the door not 24 hours after he won the title. Management let them, saying anyone who wasn't happy at WCW could leave with no financial entanglements. Within a month, they were on the WWF and working in a significant storyline.

Benoit was placed against the Rock for his first singles feud and worked the main event on consecutive PPVs. He held the tag belts and the Intercontinental title before finally getting the WWF belt in 2004. This was not long after he was sidelined for a year with spinal fusion surgery; his hard style of performance had ground away at his neck. But even after that, his style remained the same. He never changed his repertoire. He had just been moved to the WWE-owned ECW roster to capture that group's world title and bring respectability to a floundering franchise. He was going to win the belt this past Sunday.

But he no-showed, saying he had a family emergency. Word spread that his one-time tag partner in Canada had died, and it was assumed he was taking time off (even from a world title win) to pay respects. But late Monday, he was found dead along with his wife and son in their Atlanta home.

Even plugged in online as I am, I heard nothing of this until I turned on the weekly Monday show. It was supposed to be a three-hour special devoted to the storyline that owner Vince McMahon had died in a car bombing. We were going to see a cloying tribute to the character and watch as the feds investigated the matter backstage. But when 8 p.m. rolled around, the show began instead with the now-traditional memoriam screen, and it was naming Benoit.

The screen then cut to an empty Texas arena where the show was supposed to broadcast live. Vince was in the ring (the first time he'd appeared onscreen since his character's apparent death) to say the show had been canceled, the storyline has been halted, and the next three hours would pay video tribute to Benoit who was found dead in his home along with his wife and son. I thought initially the family's plane may have crashed on the way to the Canada services. During commercials and match highlights, I checked online. The Atlanta paper would say only that the family had not been shot to death. Message boards claimed that Benoit had told the company that his wife and son were coughing up blood. But today, the paper quotes police as saying he killed them then himself, and the eventually released details will be bizarre.

It's a shock. I'm used to seeing sudden announcements of wrestler deaths. So many of them die after their hearts give out after years of steroids or painkillers. But this obituary is eclipsed by the circumstances. Benoit dead after killing his family. I don't know the guy, had watched him perform for about ten years, but the news hit hard, abetted by the fear that this would be an ugly story, and apparently it is.

His was the first wrestling shirt I ever owned. I still have it. Unfortunately all the performers whose shirts I bought are dead now. And everything I liked about the guy will be overshadowed by what ultimately will be announced about his death and especially those of his family. His wife was in the business too; that's how they met. It became a funny scandal: They were put together by a writer who was also her husband and Benoit's onscreen rival. The story dictated that they would fall for each other and team up against the husband. Then it happened for real. She left the writer/wrestler and took up with Benoit. They got married and had a son. He was seven when he died. Benoit had just turned 40.

Benoit's best friend Eddy Guerrero died within the past two years. His heart failed him after he cleaned up from drugs. Eddy was a fantastic ring performer. He had the gift of gab Benoit lacked. His death was a shock as well, but this is different because of the offscreen events. And I feel horrible for Chavo, Eddy's nephew and fellow wrestler. He's lost Eddy and Chris within such a short time, and the latter through an apparent domestic tragedy.

I'm sleepwalking through the day, saddened and burdened by the whole damn thing. This will do nothing to help the mainstream image of the business, and that's an anathema to everything Benoit tried to give it inside the ring.

Monday, June 25

Go, Team Venture

I rented two films for the weekend, Nacho Libre and Children of Men. Nacho is a kids film, through and through, complete with random fart sound effects. Mildly disappointed with this one. I decided later that Children of Men looks like something Your Sis might like; I put off watching it until she got back.

I mowed on Saturday, cleaned up, and hit downtown. I perused the library periodicals, paid the water bill, tried unsuccessfully to order a coffee behind a pack of elderly tourists (suddenly we're swarming with them), strolled an art gallery featuring works by my first painting teacher, and bought lawnmower sparkplugs and peppercorns. When I got home, I vacuumed the house, cleaned the stove (gas ranges get very messy, much to my surprise), did the laundry, and composted the old leftovers. I'm so fucking domestic.

I rewarded myself by watching the Season One DVD of Venture Brothers, a cartoon that got so much right at the very beginning. It didn't have to find its footing. I have no idea how well this cartoon would work for people who didn't watch Johnny Quest cartoons though. I drew a bit to flesh out the revamped cat comic and went to bed during a terrific thunderstorm.

A wrong-number call woke me up tragically early Sunday morning, and I decided to try to run. And I failed miserably. I ran the opposite direction on the campus, thinking the change of view would enliven the now-routine run. I had initial trouble with the stopwatch function on the iPod, I had to pee almost immediately, and I never found my stride. I was aching within two laps and couldn't complete the third. I bombed out. I suspect now that I was sunburned and dehydrated. It's humiliating, honestly.

I slunk home, cleaned up, and went back out for groceries. As I approached the Starbucks booth, the barista started to recite my usual order. But I had already decided to make a change and shocked her with my order of the double chocolate chip frappuccino. Never had it before and now I may never drink anything else. It tastes like chocolate cake batter. I almost bought Your Sis a welcome-back cake but thought better of it. She's eaten travel food for a week; she may want healthier fare.

She did arrive around 4:30, and she immediately showered so we could go out to eat. OK, there was a small nap in between, but then we hit the pub. And she decided she wanted a cake (argh!), and we picked up a red-velvet half cake from the grocery store as we watched TiFauxed House and Jeopardy.

Picture of the Day
Harrison Ford on the set of the upcoming Indiana Jones film. My reflexive notion is that they waited too long. I remember selling the last film's VHS when I worked at Wal-Mart during my senior year of high-school. Remember the line "it's ain't the years, it's the mileage?" Sometimes it's the years. Indy looks small. Thin, reedy. This is the shrinking of all mature men. This is not what I want to see from my pulp hero. Should they have found another Indy? No. I would rather they made a big-fat CGI film and let Ford voice his character.