a rescue unconventional

No! No! No! It can’t be! But it is!

The largest pocket of my backpack is come unzipped! It’s empty! Gone is my friend of 8-1/2 years. Berr Symon. Who only 10 minutes and 1-1/2 blocks ago’s snug as a bug in the zippered pocket.

Before I’ve ordered I race outta the women’s restroom at the ice cream store, announcing “I’ll be back! I’ve lost something!” I sail out the glass door, cut a line through a family entering.

I run run run! past stores. Past people. Oh the people! Many people! Descending in droves on the Courthouse Square for the town’s Idol weekly summer event.

My heavy-ish backpack bounces on my back. My flip-flops slap the sidewalk awkwardly. I round the corner. Sprint a long block lined with shops, restaurants and bars. My eyes scan side to side and ahead. It can’t — it won’t! — be hard to spot a teddy bear lying on the sidewalk!

Symon. Where are you?!

He’s nowhere! Nowhere to be seen! I beeline it to my car, weighted by backpack and flip-flops. I’m retracing the 1-1/2 blocks I’d just walked less than 10 minutes ago! Surely he couldn’t have disappeared already! Surely someone couldn’t have spotted him lying on the sidewalk, picked him up already. Claimed him as theirs already!

Yes they could’ve! Downtown’s packed with people — adults, kids, families, visitors, locals — here for Prescott Idol.

I arrive at my Subbie breathless. My last hope dashed. The hope that Berr Symon had slipped outta my backpack and landed between two cars.

Forget the ice cream! And the cash for it! I unload the backpack into the car.  U-turn in my panicked dash. Remove the flip-flops. Grasp ’em in one hand.

And for the 3rd time in less than 15 minutes, sprint at full speed back up the 1-1/2 blocks. Retracing the very same for the 3rd time in less than 15 minutes! Eyes sweep side to side. Symon! Where are you?

My heart’s cracking open. Caving in. Crying, I lock it down. In a zillion places we’ve been, I’ve never once lost him, dropped or left him anywhere!

Yet he’s nowhere! Nowhere to be seen on the sidewalks! Oh my god! What if a kid really did pick him up?! I’ll search high and low! I’ll go into every bar, restaurant, store asking if anyone turned in a teddy bear! Forget the ice cream! The live music!  Finding Symon is my mission!

I round the corner near the ice cream store. The end of the trail. He fell out somewhere between my car and Frannie’s. It’s my last hope — far as a teddy bear lying on the sidewalk.

I’m about to burst through the door. Ask the Frannie’s staff: Did anyone turn in a teddy bear?! I’m panicking. My heart’s breaking. Really breaking. Symon, he’s been with me for 8-1/2 years. A rescue from the Goodwill.

There are stories. We have stories. He’s been with me across thousands and thousands of miles. Through stories never told that should be told. Or not. He’s been my best friend. My ONLY friend. He’s real. More real than places I’ve been or people I’ve met. Symon’s steadfast. I don’t treat him as I should. As he wants. Meaning I don’t talk to him like I should and like he likes. Fucking isolation. Depression. Darkest of dark times. I’ve always been like that. The more things hurt, the more I stop talking.

Suddenly in front of the ice cream store, I’m stopped dead in my tracks. I mean full-tilt stop on a dime!

There, in the middle of a black metal mesh chair 2,000 times too big for him sits Symon! Serenely. Dignified. Handsomely. His driving scarf (a ribbon) of tangerine with orange and red and green polka-dots loosely around his neck, reminding how he would love to drive if he could!

Elation! Relief! Burst through my being! “There he is!” I exclaim. Maybe. Or “Oh my god!” I don’t remember. I just remember the joy! and relief! Of finding Berr Symon! Of finding a little stuffed bear sitting so dignified in the middle of an adult black metal-mesh patio chair!

I grab him fast. Hold him faster to my heart! Hugging him tight. Everything in the world’s suddenly righted in that one moment.

Oh my god, I can’t believe he’s here! Something like that. At a table a young lady, 27-ish, who’s witnessing the reunion speaks up.

“A lady found him on the sidewalk. Said she’d thought she’d seen him in someone’s backpack …”

“Oh my god! I can’t believe it! Do you know what she looks like? What she’s wearing?” I want to find her! Thank her!

“She was an older lady. With a group. I don’t remember what she’s wearing.”

I’m elated in gratitude. An honest person. An honest lady. I’m stunned! Even though I’m as honest as the day is long, never have and never would take an item of value — sentimental or monetary —  I find, indeed go to extreme lengths to return a lost item to its owner, I don’t expect people to do likewise. I don’t expect people to be good. Or kind. Or thoughtful.

I leave the young gal. Hasten down the street in hope that I might somehow find a lady with a group. But it’s a lost cause. Downtown’s filled with people. She’d set Symon on the chair like 15 minutes ago. She could be anywhere …

I cuddle Berr Symon, almost crush him, talking to him, kissing his furry. Confidential stuff between a girl and her bear.

I know what I must do. I can’t personally thank the  woman who in a simple kind act spared me enormous grief.

Random acts of kindness. I’m very big on this anyhow. Yet in the coming days, weeks, month or more, I’ll look for those opportunities to pay forward the goodness of that stranger. And when I commit these random acts of kindness — may be buying a police officer or senior a cup of coffee at a cafe, covering someone’s shortage of cash at a supermarket, such needs take many forms! — I’ll do so with that lady — the Bear Rescuer — in mind.

This tail, err, tale, my friends, is one with a happy ending. Loss, grief, a hole in the heart (mine), a place in my life, my car, my bed, my home emptied of Berr Symon … it’s more than I would ask of myself or would want to bear. It’s the small action of one person who changed the course of weeping to joy.

Actions matter. The smallest sometimes matter the most. Be kind to another. Be honest. Be good.

For you never know how even that littlest or seemingly most innocuous action can change another’s day, month or life for the better.

I now give you Berr Symon. A rescue from the Tacoma, WA Goodwill in 2008. Freshly laundered just today in celebration. In one of his seasonal driving scarves for rest assured he WOULD drive if he could.

And to that anonymous Bear Rescuer: Bless you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Enormous gratitude to you. I shall be paying it forward.

Berr Symon at cafe

Berr Symon — in the moment at the cafe







Read this. But do not picture it.

Two things never fail to help during distress, depression and despair (the Triple Ds):

Journaling and swimming.

Fortunately today I was able to get the former in — at length (yey!).

But not the latter.

Even though I reserved an hour for my lap swim before work.

Got to the YMCA. Was THRILLED to find the lap pool empty. Best places in civilized society: an empty pool and an empty theater.

And surprised as all get out. It’s summer in Arizona. That means hot. That means TONS of kids — correction: bratty screaming monsters with zero discipline from parents — in the pool.

The YMCA usually reserves a lane or two for adult lap swimmers and God bless ’em for that!

Then I found out why the pool was void of people.

“Someone had an accident.” The guy at the front desk.

Seems the look on my face relayed my first thought: something gruesome.

But no.

“It was a kid” is all he volunteered. “They juuuust shut down the pool. They’ll open it up again in an hour.”

“That’s no good! I’ll be at work in an hour.”

So I was forced to give up a badly-needed and much-anticipated swim.

“Do I want to know what kind of accident?” I asked the guy. Rhetorically.

His response was as expected. “No.”

A kid in a pool. Not hard to imagine.

Not GONNA imagine! Otherwise, I’ll never be able to dip as much as a toe into my beloved pool.

Gotta admit, I’m pissed at the kid. S/he ruined pool playtime and workouts for lots ‘n’ lots of people.

Missing swimming for a few days really exacerbates the internalized pressure cooker. Certainly puts the heat on to get to the pool tomorrow!

The challenge: NOT imagining the kid’s accident that shut down an entire huge (indoor) pool!

Kids. Barf.

40 Days, Fat Tire & a Fucking Bad Neighbor.

I skipped the dark coffee this morning.

Say it ain’t so!

Oh, it be so.

Instead, I headed to a Fat Tire ale. Straight from the bottle. No chilled glass from the freezer.

Terrible insomnia. Around 3 hours tossing and turning. It was 6:05 a.m. last I dared look at the clock. Stress.

Started drifting in and out around 6:30 a.m. Finally! Slept maybe 4 hours. Better than nuthin’. Still, far from adequate for my work shift tonight ’til midnight. Long day ahead. I run a radio board. I work alone. Fall asleep at the job and buh-bye job.


It’s official. Neighbor James has moved from being a Bad Neighbor to a Fucking Bad Neighbor.

Gist is, a week ago we talked for the second time about the Montrosity called his swamp cooler. The noise. The loud idling of a car engine combined with the high-pitched squeal of metal on metal. Which is far worse than the former.

24 hours a day. 7 days a week. In 40 days, that damn monstrosity has been off only 4 times.

It gets worse. James is RARELY home. He’s 20. He’s tight with his guy friends plus has a girlfriend. Easy math why he’s away.

Yet that motherfucking monster runs. Runs runs runs runs runs and runs. Day and night. Regardless of weather. Regardless of temperature. Could be a fucking blizzard and it’d still be running!

Because James is forgetful. He is negligent. He’s too engaged with his own life to remember that others in close physical proximity also have theirs.

Or not.

Last week, second talk. He promised PROMISED to turn off the Noisy Montrosity when he’s away. Or when it’s not too hot.

He’s done neither.

1-1/2 months he’s been given the benefit of the doubt. License for youthfulness and irresponsibility. Ours is not a bad rapport. Yet it don’t mean shit if there ain’t no follow-through.

Today marks 40 days of James being a Bad Neighbor. Only 4 times in those 40 days has he done what he’s twice promised to do: turn off the fucking swamp cooler!

That’s a 1% success rate. Or 99% failure rate.

How many times does someone need to promise something and not deliver to be called a liar? Unintentional liar perhaps but liar nonetheless.


My migraines have shot up exponentially. Up to 3-4 a week. Stress. Shitty sleep.

No home to go to.

No home.

James has taken that from me.

The landlord has taken that from me. By refusing — OUTRIGHT REFUSING — to get that damn cooler repaired!

OR let me get it repaired and PAY FOR IT MYSELF.

My landlord’s immature. Emotionally. She lets emotions blind her from reason and worse her responsibilities as a landlord. Immaturity knows no age. She’s, what, 53? So what. She acts like a troubled teen.

No one’s on my side at home.

I’m gettin’ zero support from James. Or the landlord.

Hence the insomnia. All. Night. Long.

And the Fat Tire. First thing in the morning.

Certain situations make ya wanna drink.

Certain PEOPLE make ya NEED to drink.

Why must people be such shits? When it’s a 100 times easier to do the right thing?

From that, all becomes well.

It’s Saturday, July 9.

James in #8 is promoted from Bad Neighbor to Fucking Bad Neighbor.

Another beer to celebrate his rise, shall we?!

A special thank you to Fat Tire. For being there for me when my neighbor isn’t.

Seek and Ye Shall Find. They Say.

No. Sounds lovely but not true.

Yesterday’s migraine.  Oh what a migraine it was!

Today it’s tapering off, in the final phase, in what’s called the postdromal phase.

Yes, research and science have found four migraine stages: (1) predromal phase – early warning signs; (2) aura phase – strange feelings start; (3) attack phase  – migraine underway; (4) postdromal phase – after migraine.

Each phase has distinct and discernible characteristics.

However, I’m not here as a scientist, rather a migraineur.

Yesterday’s was a real doozy. Once I got through my 4-5 p.m. work shift, all I wanted to do was go home.

Shut out the world. Lie down on my bed.

Open all windows to let in the clean refreshing cool air after the monsoon.

Close my eyes. Rest. Breathe in the quiet.

I could have none of it.

Because my neighbor James never turns off the monstrosity that is his swamp cooler. The tally to date: 2-30. That’s wins to losses after he promised to shut off the Noisy Beast when it’s not hot (it’s not) and when he’s away.

Well, he’s away like all the time. And the mother-er still runs.

But back to the migraine.

I need my home. I need my home to be my sanctuary. A place of respite. Safety. Peacefulness. I’ve paid my dues a thousand times over with domestic wars, abuses, upheavals, distresses starting in childhood. Oh the stories I could write about roommates!

I’m 59 now. It’s time for my home to be a good thing not a hell on earth to escape.

James isn’t a bad person. However, he is a bad neighbor. He can do better. We need to talk again.

But how do you talk with someone who’s never home and yet the Montrosity spins and spins and spins, screeching its siren, 24/7?! Every day of the week. Every week of the month. Rain or shine. Cloudy or clear.

Swear to god, it could be snowing and he’d be running it! He’s just … well, a bad neighbor. At this time.

Back to the migraine.

I couldn’t go home for relief for obvious reasons. His metal beast is outside my bedroom window. It’s audible through the walls and with all windows and doors sealed.

Actually it’s on the side with the most windows and doors — also a problem. I’ve been forced to keep them closed for the past month+ even though my nature and desire are to have them open for fresh air and circulation. I told him that.

It’s a mobile-home park so spaces are tight and narrow, sounds audible and amplified.

I am beside myself with frustration and rage toward James for this past month where he’s failed so miserably in doing the right thing. Which is being a good neighbor. The first ingredient: attentiveness.

Yesterday’s bone-crunching migraine really drove home — haha, no pun intended — the message. Just like the 1,000 spikes piercing my skull.

What I needed — a quiet space that would hold me as the migraine passes — was not available. Was taken from me on another’s thoughtlessness. Forgetfulness. Bad neighborliness.

Seek and ye shall find? No. What I sought was healing silence. What I found was a shit swamp cooler that doesn’t shut the fuck up ’cause the neighbor doesn’t shut it off!

So what’d I do? What could I do? I couldn’t go home.

Well, I couldn’t rent a motel room! $ for starters but this weekend is Rodeo Weekend! People from around the country have flooded this little town for the world’s oldest rodeo! It’s the town’s moneymaker of the year. You cannot find a motel room to save your life!

Or grant relief to a migraineur.

So I could do nothing but endure and avoid going home. Kill 5 hours hanging around downtown, walking aimlessly and blindly (the migraine effect) with a jaws of life crushing my little skull.

That walking could last only so long in a small downtown so I switched over to until 10 p.m. closing.

Five hours wasted. Five hours that could’ve and should’ve been spent home in bed. And would’ve been … were James being a good neighbor.

By turning off that motherfucking monstrosity of his swamp cooler. Instead of letting it run ALL THE TIME when it is not needed. 24-7. Every day of the week. Every week of the month and more.

James did not give me my migraine.

However, he gives me reason to hate him as a neighbor.

He gives me reasons to invent stories that’ll end the problem. I won’t share, let’s just say the suspense/crime/mystery genre is my fav for a reason!

He gives me 50 Ways to Disconnect a Cooler. Subversively.

Most of all — most distressing of all — James gives me: Bad Neighborliness.

James, if you’re listening up there:

You’ve been a bad neighbor for more than a month. You’ve done none of what you said you would do: Turn off the cooler when it’s not too hot and when you’re away. You’ve failed and are failing to be a good neighbor.

You can do better. Much better.

I need my home back now.

I need my sanctuary and my space. My solitude and my home as a haven, not a hell.

I need to come home and have it be quiet.

And, as yesterday’s migraine teaches poignantly and powerfully, I need that silence when my head is being ripped apart by a wild animal.

Listen closely James.

The season of inattention and forgetfulness is over. I’ve endured it. I’ve endured it long enough. You’ve had plenty of time and opportunities to do the right thing. You’ve failed.

The inattention. The forgetfulness. The thoughtlessness.


It needs to stop. Now.

You need to do what you said you would do. Turn off the cooler when it’s not too hot and when you are away.

You’re being called upon to consider your neighbors. To step up to the plate. To do what you said you would do. In doing so, you grow. You restore harmony.

James, your swamp cooler score today is 2 wins 30 losses. You can do better.  So much better.

Be a good neighbor. Like Nike says, Just Do It.

My migraines and I will be so grateful.