I just got back from my second oral surgery in a month. The surgeon pretty much sliced open the deepest part of left lower mouth and gutted it out to insert bone from some stranger. It's called a bone graft. I had no idea it would be so invasive and INTENSE! The surgery was an hour from start to finish!!!  He must have put 15-20 stitches in!!! He re-shot me with Novocain a half-dozen times during the procedure!


I’m now in bed, elevated by five pillows and still bleeding with gauze in my mouth to catch it. I’ve got an ice pack on my swollen cheek and the pain is super raw! Thank goodness he gave me a little Vicodin (only 12 pills but I imagine I'd be dead without it right now!!!). I was literally crying in pain when the Novocain first wore off and I was still driving home after waiting over a half-hour for Walgreens to fill the RX!


I made the horrifying mistake of unwittingly bending down at a newspaper rack while exiting the pharmacy to look at today’s Chicago Sun-Times, reading for a moment the cover story about how Rahmbo’s ego must be smarting with Motorola’s news that it’s cut 700 jobs designed for Chicago.


Suddenly awful shooting, stabbing, throbbing pain radiated from my mouth and blood was running at a scary pace. Once in my car, I oh so carefully placed more moistened gauze in my mouth and drove the mile back to my apartment with my head up in the air so high my bi-focals were out of focus. I was moaning the whole way, actually dizzyish from the pain and fear that I had somehow broken through my stitches.


I’m now just trying to take my mind off it all with my head propped up and all. Wouldn’t you know, my converter box reception for the TV is weather-goofy this afternoon and I can’t even get PBS with a steady screen. About the only thing to watch is “I Dream of Jeannie” and I’ve never cared for that show!


Here is another piece I started writing before the above update:

I was about a quarter-way through a very invasive hour-long oral surgery late this morning in downtown Oak Park when the epiphany came. I was focused on a framed print of a watercolor of the Italian Riviera. The surgeon sliced open my lower left mouth and inserted somebody’s else bone for a bone graft to prepare for a future implant.

I had been in another one of his operating chairs for a molar extraction not even a month ago when there was only a watercolor of a bicycle race through downtown Manhattan to try and escape through. This surgery today seemed a little more intense although they both rank right up there.

Looking at this hilly downtown waterfront scene from Italy, and seeing a little stone castle-type tower at the very top of one of the hills, I recalled a PBS travel show I’d seen several years ago in which a real hairy skinny guy in a robe had carved himself a cave abode inside a big hill in a remote desert of Egypt. He had a Bible and other religious books and spent his days alone, communing with God and nature. He was happy!

“You should write as if there’s no audience,” the thought came to me in my reclined, ultra-Novocained state. Many years ago I had first read this same advice from a very famous author I admired and I thought, “That’s crazy! You have to have an audience in mind. It’s impossible not to!”

Now I’ve come to this strengthened realization that what is meant by the creative directive is you shouldn’t see yourself as the writer trying to influence or impress anyone, etc. It should be what’s in your heart that flows out onto the page without regard for “what will people think” or “is this any good or not?”

Knowing I was heading into another major habit-modifier trial again starting today (with a bleeding, gauze-filled mouth, ice pack on the face, only cold liquids to consume and super raw pain that Vicodin doesn’t cut through—plus only very soft food for 3 weeks!) I popped in a learning tape on writing (“If You Can Talk, You Can Write”) to go with my LSD-to-Congress-to-Eisenhower commute to the dental appointment.

The guy giving the audio lesson, Joel Saltzman, an established New York City-born author who gives classes on writing, actually said  in one segment from side two, “After you shoot your wad of two or three great stories that really happened, then what do you write about? Face it, if your life’s anything like mine, it’s just not that interesting. . . . Don’t tell us what happened. Tell us what might have happened. Invent something. Make it up. Make your story interesting and compelling even if your real life isn’t. Whatever you do, do not listen to Sergeant Friday. Do not stick to ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’ Sticking to just the facts you’ll find yourself chained to what writer Ralph Lombreglia calls ‘the tyranny of actuality.’ . . . ‘But that’s the way it happened is no excuse for a boring or meandering story . . . So what do I do with the facts of my life, you ask. I say, ‘Hold a mirror up to your life but make it a fun house mirror. Change the facts; distort them. Take reality and shape it the way you want it to go. Remember it doesn’t matter if that’s the way it really happened. All that matters is if it interests the reader.”

Just think about that in relation to the Bible and its stories!!!! Fortunately I have never--and will never—subscribed to this kind of logic. The truth is where it’s at in all its nitty-grittiness and it will SELL!!! This is one of the most basic messages of God’s Word! The Bible is still the most popularly read literature out there!

A very close old friend (one of my longest and dearest ongoing friends—much like a family member although I rarely see him or even speak with him over phone) recently called me and we got on the subject of why I wasn’t writing anymore. He tried to give me his best kick in the pants.

Just the other night I got an email from him that read in part, “You need to write a paragraph that doesn't review something someone else has said or written, and you need to be snarky, sarcastic, scathing, plaintive, critical, holier-than-thous (plural of thou, which you SHOULD know already....Phttthth!!), smart-assed, mean-spirited, and only, ONLY marginally based in any sort of logical reasoning or in facts. It can be anything from a news story to a basic flaw of appliance design to all the stuff that DNA scientific types on CSI could find out about you from the crap that ends up in your sink trap.”

Well, that’s definitely a case of what you call “creative differences”! I will use this time in recovery to write some pure, unadulterated stories of truth that are not based on any audience my mind can conceive and just see (or not see) whether anybody’s interested. What I will do is try and just let the Spirit lead me for a change!