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15th of April, 2024



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A Burning in Your Gut

Art is the residue of passion. That’s what I read, anyway, in an old National Lampoon cartoon, the punch-line of which was, “OK, so you get to sleep on the ‘art’ spot.” Low-brow, to be sure; but in every ham-handed, proletarian joke there’s a nugget of truth. And a Jew.

There’s a lot of things that keep my brain occupied, and I don’t understand the half of them. Sometimes, it’s like there’s some brilliant novelist from the 1930s sitting next to me, spouting clever saws about brandy or the unwashed masses and urging me to use that line in my next blog post. Other times, it’s like an old college buddy asking me what I’ve been doing with myself the last 15 years. I keep explaining, and although it makes sense to me, he just doesn’t get it.

The tops of my feet are numb. I can’t feel a thing on them. I usually notice it when I’m laying in bed; I can feel the covers on my toes, but the tops of my feet tingle, and don’t feel the sheets sliding over them. I’m not sure what you do with an anomaly like that. It’s not like you need to feel the tops of your feet or anything. But I take it as a symptom of a larger problem. Two weeks ago, I tore the ligaments in my ankle at baseball practice, and had to go to the doctor. When I was there, decided I’d ask the doctor about the numbness, and see if it rang any alarm bells. He told me that it would be ‘highly irregular’ for someone my age to have connection problems between the spine and foot, and we left it at that.

When I was 18, I dislocated my hips from my spine. I think it happened during ice hockey practice, with a bad hip check. I didn’t realize it until the free-floating spinal column moved a half-inch to the left and cut off communications to everything below my waist. I was in my dorm room at Georgia Tech, at eight o’clock in the morning, getting ready for class. Having just gotten out of bed, I was walking around in my boxers, which coincidentally were covered in red hearts, and gathering my books for my calculus class. I leaned over my desk, and lost all feeling in my legs. I fell backward onto the floor, and couldn’t move. A minute or two later, my friend from across the hall walked in to see if I was ready for the long walk to class. I was laying on the floor in my underwear with a sheaf of notes in my hand, my legs pinned backward under me, and I just kind of looked at him. “Close the door, and don’t tell anybody,” I remember saying. He walked in, and closed the door behind him. Taking my hand, he pulled me off my legs and onto my stomach. Suddenly, I could feel my legs again, and I stood up. I skipped calculus class that morning. I climbed back into bed and covered my face for the rest of the day.

So now, maybe I should get a second opinion. The novelist in my brain is also, unfortunately, a hypochondriac. He tells me the doctors in these days don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course, he comes from an age when doctors prescribed cocaine as a ‘pick-me-up’ and actually had an official cause of death named ‘Old Age’.



Very much indeed. No American has died of old age since 1951, I read the other day.

Jim - PRS

  1. Baseball? In Germany?

  2. Calculus did that to my legs too, but your deal sounds different, because I assume you understood calculus.


... free-floating hips sounds kinda painful...

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