I Love You, Arugula!!

How I Learned to Stop Wanting to be a Writer and Embrace the Mentally Handicapped Child on the Other Side of the Fence

So, yeah…it’s been a while. I apologize. Wanna know the actual reason why? Too bad. I’m telling you anyway. I can’t find a comfortable position to write in. For decades, I have written the same way: laying on my stomach with a pillow under my ample bosom.

If you follow me on social media, you know my kidneys took a shit on me. Now, the only way to not die while I wait for a new one is some form of dialysis. I chose home peritoneal dialysis so I can continue to work. The short version is that crazed freaks at Banner Desert Hospital surgically implanted a tube in my stomach that leads to my peritoneal cavity. Every night I hook myself up to a machine that pumps the cavity full of sugar water, lets the stuff soak up the toxins my kidneys normally would have taken care of for about an hour and a half, then blows the whole gross mess back out and down the sewer drain. I repeat this process this four times over a 10-12 hour period…every…single…night.

Don’t get me wrong, it beats the heck out of the alternative (dying a slow painful death from kidney failure), but it is a cumbersome ritual. If I wish to get to work on time in the morning, I have to begin the dialysis routine at about 7:30pm. Peritoneal dialysis comes with a high risk of infection, so every night the ritual begins with a thorough handwashing and all surfaces in our bedroom getting a bleach rubdown. It’s like preparing for sex with a germaphobe. I’m in the intimate setting of my bedroom, but everything smells like disinfectant.

Then I take the same vitals every night. I weigh myself, take my temperature, take my blood pressure, take my pulse, and enter all of that into an app (that happens to have a state management problem that infuriates me, which I could fix for money, but that’s a different post). Then I take two heavy bags of sugar water out of two of the dozens of giant boxes that now live in the warehouse that the North side of our our bedroom has become, sterilize the bags and inject them with heparin, put them on top of the machine, and join everything together with a complex assortment of disposable plastic tubes. Again, the whole thing is less than ideal.

When I get up in the morning, I have to scrub up, get my lovely and supportive wife to help me unhook from the machine (because I am also mostly blind due to diabetic retinopathy), drain the bags of any remaining fluid, throw away the complex assortment of tubing, take out the medical trash, recycle the empty boxes from our bedroom/warehouse, and then go to work.

All of this is a giant pain in the ass, but the big problem is that there is a tube sticking out of my stomach. I have to be very careful with this area of my body. My wife and I change the dressing daily. I can no longer sleep on my left side. I can no longer write on my stomach. Frankly, it’s really screwed up the whole works. Right now I am trying to lie on the living room sofa with my left side hanging off the edge of the couch. It’s a precarious balance. I feel like I am going to tumble to the floor right in the middle of a dick joke. Again, the whole thing is less than ideal.

I have spent my life hating my job. Actually, it’s not the job itself. It’s the fact that I have known what I wanted to do with my time on the planet since I was 8, but I can’t seem to find a way to make a living at it. This, in addition to my general mental illness, has been the principal cause of two divorces and one bankruptcy.

I have had more than two enviable, well-paying careers. Everything would have been fine if I could just shut up, go to work, collect my paycheck, and write fart jokes on the side. Believe me, I tried. I just couldn’t do it.

Now, through nothing more than pure dumb luck, I have found a job that I actually enjoy a little bit. I am genuinely connecting with the people at large and helping them. I find myself forced to admit that it is fulfilling work. The opportunity for near endless upward mobility is there in abundance. Coworkers are generally cool and helpful. I even get to work from home most of the time.

My wife and I live in an upper-middle-class townhome community that was nestled into a pretty rough part of the city. It reminds me of a Mexican vacation resort. It’s very nice, the amenities are sweet, and there’s a lot of wonderful people here…but it’s probably against your better judgement to leave the resort. As a result, my life has become very isolated.

I roll out of bed, unhook from the machine, do my morning ritual, go up a flight of stairs, work for 8 hours, go back down the flight of stairs, hook back up to the machine, repeat. I don’t really have any complaints, but for the litany of reasons above, writing and other creative stuff has gone far onto the back burner. For the first time in my life, I almost find myself at peace with this…and then Arugula came into my world.

The back of our property is complete with an 8-foot privacy fence that protects us from the filthy junkies and non-white people that populate the real world. On the other side of our section of fence is a trailer court. Within that trailer court lives what I imagine to be a relatively slow child. This child owns what I imagine to be a bicycle or tricycle. On that bicycle or tricycle is one of those horns where one squeezes a plastic bladder and it responds with AAARRROOOOOGGGAAAHHH!!!

I have never seen this child. In my imagination, they are mentally handicapped. Every day, for an extended period of time, this kid mounts their pedaled vehicle, rides around, and honks to their heart’s delight. My wife and I refer to them as “Arugula”. Basically, the honking starts and one of us declares, “Arugula’s out!”

At first the honking annoyed me. Then I made a connection. Now when Arugula comes out, I am filled with a sort of sad longing. It turns out that I never really wanted to be a writer. I don’t want to work all day or hook up to a weird machine all night. I want to spend my days creating something that is a pure bliss to the mentally handicapped while annoying the piss out of the world at large. I want to be an Arugula.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week everyone

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