Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Levaquin with a Twist of Lyme

Was it the flu? Was it Pneumonia? Was it Lyme Disease? Was it all three combined?

Or was it the Leviathan? Levaquin. That god damn SOB...

The nightmare began when I - perhaps foolishly - decided to seek medical help at an Urgent Care clinic...for the SECOND time. I had already been to Urgent Care two weeks earlier. I had horrible flu symptoms. This virus I had was a bitch. I'd had flus in the past but they all ran their course after three or maybe four days. But this flu? It lingered like a mack daddy and the symptoms kept getting worse! And worse!

I tested positive for Flu Type-A. The doctor (okay, in actuality she was a physician's assistant, aka PA) told me to get some rest, drink a lot of water and keep popping the Tylenol. I heeded her advice and even started feeling better for a few days.

But then it came back. This "flu". It came back with a vengeance. And it brought along a new cough. A nasty cough. One of those coughs that makes you choke when you wake up in the morning. Even my dog was disturbed by it.

With a temperature of 104 or maybe even 105 at times (when I really felt bad I was afraid to take my temperature in fear it would be so fregging high), I knew something wasn't right. So I returned to Urgent Care.

And this was when I received the doomed diagnosis.

According to the doctor...er, I mean physician's assistant...I had pneumonia. She wanted to pump me full of steroids and chase it with an initial shot of antibiotics, something from the Keflex family. But I told her to pump the brakes. I had experienced adverse reactions to steroids in the past. So I said, (a la Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction) "bitch be cool" with that shit. And as for the antibiotics, I knew that Keflex made me ralph (i.e. throw up) in the past. So I said bitch be cool with that shit, too.

She said fine, "I won't give you any of that shit (I paraphrase) but I'm going to prescribe you an oral antibiotic called Levaquin. You must take that shit once a day for five days. We must treat this pneumonia aggressively and please stop calling me 'bitch'."

I told her I would take this Levaquin. And that was that. She sent me home. I picked up the antibiotic at the pharmacy. I popped a pill. And went on with my life, which mostly - due to me not feeling well - consisted of watching TV, particularly depressing daytime television like "People's Court" and, even worse, "The View". Yuck! More like "The One-Sided, Mind-Poisoning, Brainwashing View"! The lowest of the lowest form of television! Clearly I had hit rock bottom!

The first pill of this Levaquin seemed to go ok. And by the next day I even started to feel better. Fever was down. Flu symptoms subsided. Even my cough got better. Much better.

I was a little dizzy, though. Muscles felt stiff, too. These were new symptoms, most likely side-effects of this Levaquin stuff. But, shit, small price to pay for getting rid of pneumonia, right? God bless Big Pharma, I said to myself. This Levaquin is a godsend.

Next, came the second dose. So far, things were still good. Flu was just about gone by this point. Coughing was better, too. I felt pretty good...

But how did I look? That was where things were getting weird. Because I looked...

Red. In the skin, that is. Sunburnt-red. And then later it became fire-engine-red. And then, even later that night, Frank's-Hot-Sauce-red. I didn't look right. Something was wrong, I thought. But I felt okay. Right? No, wait, WRONG.

At around 10:30 at night, right in the middle of a Nick-at-Nite episode of "Full House", it hit me. I started feeling so hot. And, then, a title wave of dizziness rushed at me. My heart started rapping against my chest like I had just snorted a potato-sack's-worth of cocaine. Oh, fuck, I thought to myself. This isn't good. This is bad.

Desperate for air, I rushed out to my back porch. Then I started pounding glass upon glass of cold water. I also poured glass upon glass of water over my head. I was fighting unconsciousness. A blackout was imminent, trying to take my body over like the Reaper. I was scared as anything. I didn't know how far this feeling would go. Would I collapse completely? All I could think was, "This is what death must feel like! I'm dying! I'm dying!"

My mother witnessed everything that was happening. I told her I think I needed an ambulance. But then I thought about how creepy it would be riding in an ambulance. Then, I thought about my dog and how she would bark and be scared by the paramedics. I also thought about how much the ambulance ride might cost me. I'd heard stories about being blindsided by bills of $500, maybe even more.

Miraculously, I started to stabilize, but my whole body felt numb and I could hardly walk. I knew I needed to get to the ER but I thought I could get there without the ambulance. I was right, I guess, because my dad drove me and I didn't die on the way. And I'm still alive now. As I write this. Obviously.

Upon my arrival at the ER, I was admitted right away by a nurse who was very pleasant but, unfortunately, her shift was about to end and the graveyard nurses were starting their late shifts. These graveyard nurses were unfortunately very cold human beings and perhaps even borderline sociopaths. Then again, I guess it makes a lot of sense that ER nurses lack the capacity to empathize because they probably see some serious shit, almost on a nightly basis. Patients in pain. Patients suffering. Even patients dying. If the nurses felt empathy, they probably couldn't function well in the ER. They'd be an emotional mess all the time.

The doctor of the night was also sociopathic. She entered the room and seemed to stare into space as she tried to assess what was wrong with me. She also had a student nurse standing beside her and, though I didn't say anything about it at the time, I felt uncomfortable being an object of study by a med student. I was essentially on death's door and here was this student using me as a lab rat to educate herself. Or that's what it felt like.

The doctor asked me too many questions and it made me uncomfortable. In fact, I felt as though I was being interrogated, like I was a suspected drug user. I seriously think they thought I smoked some synthetic marijuana or was tweaking out on some bad meth. Molly perhaps. PCP even.

I guess I eventually convinced the space-case of a doctor that my problem was an allergic reaction to a DOCTOR-PRESCRIBED drug called Levaquin because she eventually said she would go fetch some anti-histamine medicine and then she (along with her student) left me alone. 

Too alone. I was so lonely in my room and it was so quiet except for the sounds of the nurses gabbing away at the nurse's station down the hall. They were talking about eating at Burger King or something along those lines. The thought of eating Whoppers at that current moment made me want to ralph in a major way, but what made me want to ralph even harder was that the nurses sounded so relaxed and jovial. There they were laughing away in bliss about burgers and kings and they possessed not one flying care about my suffering. Maybe it was narcissistic to think that they would give two cares about me, but I mean, come on, keep the volume at a three (out of eleven) at the most. Sociopaths! But, wait, they have to be! They must turn off the emotions! Too much pain and sadness between these walls! Must lose capacity to empathize!!!

I tried to drown out all the Burger King talk and I accomplished this by looking up to the wall above the doorway. On this wall hung a crucifix and I thought maybe, if I focused on Jesus, it would bring me some comfort. However, I couldn't help but think about all the other patients who had done the very same thing I was doing...sick patients...suffering patients...even dying patients, all looking to Jesus for comfort. Yes, how many doomed souls stared at that very crucifix hanging above the doorway as death took them away to the other dimension? That crucifix was the last thing so many people saw as they died. Really. That was the reality of the situation. So many people had died in the room I was in. Heck, so many people had probably died in the very bed I was in!

Feeling freaked out, I took my eyes away from Jesus and felt so lonely all over again. 

But, then, there was a voice. 

Not just any voice. A disembodied voice:

"You're gonna be ok."

Wha? Huh? Who said that? The voice was almost a whisper and I had no idea where it had come from. As far as I knew and as far as I could see, I was alone in the room. Was it the voice of an angel? Maybe my guardian angel was manifesting him or herself?

And, thus, the voice spake again:

"Please talk to me."

That was when I realized it wasn't an angel speaking. What I hadn't even noticed was that my room was actually a smaller section of a larger room parted by a long curtain. I had a "roommate" on the other side.

"Oh," I said to the voice behind the curtain. "Hello."

My roomie was a woman, an older woman, with a Swedish accent. I know for a fact that it was Swedish because the woman informed me that she was from Stockholm and she had studied at one of the top universities there. Along with this extraneous info, she also informed me - pretty much right off the bat - that her husband and daughter had died a long time ago.

"Sorry to hear that," I said.

"No, it's a good thing," she said but did not elaborate as to the why.

Overall, the Swede sounded like a creepy ghoul and I only later (into the night) learned that she was drunk out of her gourd. I overheard the nurse say she had a blood/alcohol level of 100. Of course, that sounds unrealistically high but I swear that's what I heard, which further leads me to believe that I may have, indeed, died - just a for a little while - and went off to some strange, alternative dimension.

The strangeness didn't stop with the Swedish woman, though. Just when I thought things couldn't get any creepier, I happened to hear a nurse say from down the hall, "Dr. Rosen, (name changed because I don't remember the real name), are you ok with treating a prisoner from Norfolk Correctional?" The doctor said, "Yes, that's fine."

"Shit!" I wanted to yell. "Hate this place!" First, it was my creepy roommate. Now there was going to be a maximum-security (okay, maybe it's more like medium-security) prisoner just a few doors down from me? Certainly I had died and entered a twilight zone!

That was when a female "tech" came to wheel my bed to the X-ray room. She didn't say anything to me. In fact, the only noise she made was heavy breathing and her lungs rattled as oxygen went in and out of her trachea. I concluded that this phenomenon was probably due to her being a heavy smoker. Helping me make this conclusion was the fact that she smelled like stale Virginia Slims.

In the X-ray room, I managed to stand on my two feet so the sniffling, runny-nosed X-ray tech could X-ray my chest and check on the status of my supposed pneumonia. Then, the sniffling X-ray tech wheeled me out into the hall where I had to wait for the rattling-lung tech to return and take me back to my room.

There I waited, all alone in the quiet, eerie hallway, somewhere deep into the hospital. Well, I was alone, but I didn't feel alone. Call me insane (and, trust me, I was probably hallucinating at that point) but I felt entities all around me. Lost souls. People who had died in the ER. Surrounding me. Wanting a piece of me. Wanting to suck the teat of my energetic body, my life force.

I felt so horrible and I also felt, damn, this is how I'm going to die! All alone in a quiet, creepy, hospital ward. This is how I'm going to die!

After a few minutes, the raspy, ghost-like tech returned, wheeled me back to my room, told me how to operate the TV remote control (which I guess was nice of her) and, by that time, both of my parents had come to keep me company and, God, how happy I was to see them!

The rest of the night went better. At least I wasn't alone and the doctor seemed to treat me more respectfully with my parents present. I guess my folks validated the fact that I wasn't a drug addict from off the street. I seriously think, up until that point, the doctor was still convinced I had smoked something rotten or huffed something fierce. She did a blood test...urine test...I'm sure she was expecting to see some illegal toxin turn up. Didn't happen, though. Nothing but Levaquin. Yes, your beloved pharmaceutical was the only thing to blame here. Your beloved Levaquin!

They hooked me into an IV and gave me steroids, Benadryl and Pepcid, all three of which collectively help stabilize allergic reactions. My heart rate went down. I felt a little better, at least like I was a few steps further away from death's door.

Finding nothing on the X-ray, the doctor decided to do a CT scan, but nothing was found there either. She ultimately determined that there was no way I could've ever had pneumonia. It was impossible for it to disappear in a day, she said. The Urgent Care diagnosis was likely a mis-diagnosis and I took the Levaquin for nothing. Dammit!

But, for whatever reason, this didn't stop the doctor from giving me two more antibiotics, Ampicillin and Sulbactam, via IV. I told the nurse that I was feeling a little weird again and, "Since there's no evidence of pneumonia, couldn't we maybe stop the antibiotics?" I thought this was a perfectly reasonable request but then the nurse went to fetch the doctor and the doctor said, "You seem uptight. Do you want me to give you something to help calm you down?" I said, "Well, hmmm, seeing that I'm having an allergic meltdown from a doctor-prescribed drug, AND you also just pumped me full of steroids, Benadryl, Pepcid AND two other pointless antibiotics, not to mention that black dye you injected into me for the CT scan, I would say 'no' to that. No, I do not want any more junk in my system." The doctor gave me a look that said, holy shit, a patient's never turned down anti-anxiety drugs before, "Maybe my horoscope today was right about expecting the unexpected," and then she walked away to prepare my discharge papers.

Discharged, yes, at 5:30 in the morning.

Did I feel better? No. Not really. But did I want to get the hell out of the hospital? Yes. I did. I figured I would go home, pop another Benadryl and I would be OK. The hospital was giving me the heebie-jeebies and I did NOT want to spend another minute there. If I were going to die, I wanted to die at home.

So, my parents took me home from the hospital that morning, we stopped at a 24-hour CVS for Benadryl first, then I returned home to my own bed, dropped a Dryl and went to sleep.

One hour later...

I wake up. Room spinning. So dizzy. Utter anxiety. I feel panic. I'm making too much of this, I think. Suck it up. I do NOT want to go back to the ER. No way. Fight this feeling. Walk this off.

And that's exactly what I did. I tried walking it off, right to the downstairs bathroom where, full-clothed, I ducked my head under the shower, dousing myself with the coldest of water. This felt good but I was still fighting unconsciousness from taking me over. It felt like Death, that fiend, was fighting to take control of me. I could literally feel the struggle between life and death, like...like an arm-wrestling match...yes, that's actually a great analogy right there. But Death was strong, man. I could feel its awe-inspiring power.

Again, I did NOT want to go back to the sociopathic hospital. And as far as letting anybody else know (mainly, my parents)  about my current condition, I guess I didn't want to alarm them. They were still sleeping since they, too, were up all night.

All I could think to do was pray. I just kept praying for help. If I were dying, then I was dying. I just wanted to make sure I had divine assistance with the process and I wanted to be sure my soul was guided and helped to the rightful place after I died. I didn't want to be a lost soul. 

Miraculously, I never lost consciousness, but I still felt Death fighting to take me away. The more I walked around and moved around, the more I felt conscious. So I kept walking. In fact, I walked outside my house, into the backyard, took off my shoes and socks, and then walked barefoot on the cool, dewy grass. I kept doing this for the next 40 minutes. Paced back and forth. I needed to keep moving. I wasn't going to let unconsciousness take me over.

There was something about being barefoot, naked feet against the damp grass, that made me feel better. I think it made me feel more rooted to the earth. On some primal, instinctive level, I felt like the more rooted I was, the more grounded I was and, the more grounded you are, the more alive and attached to this earth you are, and the more attached to this earth you are, the further you are from DEATH!

But, man, if there were a video camera filming me that whole time, I must've looked like a zombie. Or maybe a rabid animal. My blood felt so poisoned. 
I can't tell you how many times I got to the point where I wanted to scream, "Help me! Help me!" off the top of my lungs. I felt so hysterical, in utter fight-or-flight panic. I saw a woman walking her dog in the neighborhood and I wanted to run up to her, grab her by the shoulders and scream "Help me!" But I knew I would totally freak her out. I knew I looked like a rabid zombie.

It was about 7am in the morning, July 25. I will never forget July 25, 2017, because that was the day I - for real - thought I was going to die. There's that cliché that says your life "flashes before your eyes" when you're faced with death. Well, it's a cliché because it's true. I don't even know how to express the feeling. It was like I could see my childhood, family vacations, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, then post-college and then I could see my death and I could see my life wrapped up in the final package. Yes, 35 years bundled into a package. It was seriously like a life-review. I could see the theme of my life and, what the main "point of it" was. 

I could also see my wake in my mind's eye. I could see that people were sad because I died so young. And then I saw my funeral. I could hear my eulogy, what would be said about me. "He was passionate about writing, blah blah, blah...went down a unique path in life, blah blah blah."

Pardon my Mandarin, but it was so fucked up, seeing all this - the life review and the impending wake/funeral - so vividly. I thought to myself, "Wow, this is the process everybody goes through in the end. This is what death feels like. It was all so abstract before but now I'm experiencing it myself, *living* through death, as much of a paradox as that may seem to be."

I kept praying and praying to the Lord. I felt like I was bargaining with Him. "There's so many more positive things I can do, God. I can do so much more. I don't want to go right now. I'm not ready. I have so much unfinished business. Show me how to help you, God. I am your humble servant." 

Eventually, I realized I could only pray so much and I was avoiding the inevitable. I knew I needed to go back to the hospital. That was the logical thing to do. That was the wise thing to do. I wasn't "walking this all off". I needed professional assistance, even though it would most likely come from sociopaths.

So I (calmly) woke up my parents (didn't want them to freak out), told them I needed to be driven back to the ER, but that was when my dad reminded me that the doctor had prescribed steroids and maybe those would make me feel better? Oh, right, the steroids. I guess that sounded reasonable. I should probably try what the doctor prescribed to me before I go back to the ER. The doctor prescribed the Roids for a reason.

My dad kindly made the trip to the pharmacy (I obviously wasn't fit to drive), procured the steroids - prednisone or something similar - I popped two of them and, oh...I did actually feel better, a little more stable. Maybe that's what I needed the whole time. Of course! I was still fighting the allergic reaction, after all! God bless steroids! All would be swell now, right?

Not quite. I took it easy during the day, popped another steroid later on, but, by afternoon, I felt horrible again. So friggin' drained. All the pacing must've caught up to me, I thought. So I took a nap, and then I woke up, ate a little food, most of which I could hardly get down, AND...

Crap, it was happening again. Are you kidding me?! My skin was turning tomato-soup-red, just like the previous night. I started getting hot, too. Heart rate went from zero-to-sixty. Numbness. Tingling. The whole nine yards. Now there was no debating it this time; it was back to the hospital for me. There was no other logical alternative.

Back to the ER I went and I was once again admitted pretty much right away. There was a different doctor working the graveyard shift on this particular night but she was just as sociopathic as the one from the previous night, if not more sociopathic. She basically assessed my situation, put an order in for another cocktail of anti-histaminic medications and that was it. I didn't see her for the rest of the night.

Fortunately, the (male) nurse who administered the medications via IV was extremely caring and his non-sociopathic personality basically made up for two-nights-worth of medical pathologicals. The only downside was that he did take a while to start treating me with the medicine but this was because he was busy treating a patient across the hall who had Lyme disease. Though I was blind to it at the time, this was the universe probably giving me a sign, because little did I know that I also had Lyme disease. That's right: it wasn't until another three weeks or so after my nightmare with Levaquin that I officially got diagnosed with Lyme disease and this may have been what was causing all my issues to begin with - the alleged "flu", "pneumonia", and the like.

But I'm getting just a tad ahead of myself here.

After that second night in the ER, I fortunately didn't have another hospital-worthy "reaction". I kept taking the steroids for another four or five days, though I probably only took half the dose of what I was supposed to. This was because the steroids themselves seemed to give me potentially harmful side-effects, the most significant of which was ear pressure and eventual popping, like I had just been on an airplane with a head cold. You know the feeling.

For the next week or so, I experienced several different symptoms, one right after another. First, it was chest pain...or, actually, it felt like lung pain, which made me freak out because I thought I still had pneumonia. I gave the pain a few days and it eventually disappeared. Weird.

Then, I couldn't open my jaw. The jaw joint, or hinge, was all inflamed. I had trouble eating anything that required me opening my mouth wide and I had to chew with very small bites. Weirder. 

After my jaw pain subsided, my throat swelled up. I thought for sure I had a streppe and I would have to take more antibiotics, which, for obvious reasons, made me panic because I did NOT want to take any more antibiotics. However, after three days or so, the sore throat disappeared.

Three days. That's how long each of these symptoms seemed to last and then it would be on to the next weird symptom. Muscle pain. Back pain. Kidney pain...

On top of everything else, I could hardly walk...I mean, I could walk but I couldn't walk, as in exercise-walk. If I walked more than 50 yards outside, I would come back home, completely crash and then...THEN...came what-I-will-call the "episodes".

Yes, the episodes. The episodes would happen at unpredictable times but usually after significant physical activity and when I say "significant", for me that meant a brief (less than 20 minutes) walk or oftentimes something as simple as giving myself a haircut or even taking a friggin' shower.

Said "episode" consisted of me suddenly being hit with a wave of dizziness, extreme shakiness, heat and an overall feeling of needing to fight for consciousness. In other words, it felt like I was having a reaction to the Levaquin all over again, though I'm not quite sure this is what was happening. Whenever I felt these episodes happening, I blasted the air conditioning in my house and proceeded to pour glass upon glass of water over my head. Besides cooling me down, the cold of the water shocked my nerves and kept me conscious. I did this more out of instinct than out of conscious decision. It felt like something I needed to do and something that would help me. I think I was right.

Anyway, the episodes became frequent and happened at unpredictable times, eventually prompting me to see my newly-acquired primary care physician. Yes, I hadn't needed a PCP before then because I hardly ever needed to see a doctor, I was always healthy, whereas now I was suddenly Mr. Health Problems.

After explaining my various symptoms, my PCP and I decided it would be good if I got tested for Lyme disease, though both my doctor and myself thought it was extremely unlikely I had Lyme since I had tested positive for the flu. Could I have had both Lyme and the flu at the same time? Sure. But, c'mon, the odds of that were pretty slim. I figured I had a really bad flu virus and then things got way worse because of (needlessly) taking a very strong drug (Levaquin) that messed me up something nasty. 

To my surprise, a few days went by and the test results came back positive. According to my doctor, I had "acute" Lyme disease, the "acute" part meaning that it was a recent infection, as opposed to "chronic", which means the Lyme had been in my system for years. So was the "flu" not a flu after all but Lyme disease the whole time? Could the flu test have been wrong???

Well, according to my doctor, the answer to that question was 'yes'. He said that there was a 30-to-40-percent chance of getting a false positive with the flu test, especially when your body is in the middle of fighting off Lyme disease. This was all news to me and it meant that Urgent Care probably gave me a false diagnosis not once (with pneumonia) but twice! In other words, Urgent Care did nothing to help me at all whatsoever. In fact, they only served to destroy me. Thanks, Urgent Care!

Okay, maybe I shouldn't be so hard on Urgent Care. I'll give the physician's assistant a pass with the flu test. If the test was positive, I can see why she said I had Type-A flu. Why question it at that point? The PA had asked me if I was bitten by any ticks recently and I hadn't been bitten (that I knew of). Why WOULD she expect something like Lyme?

But the pneumonia? All right, she probably DID see lung inflammation in the X-rays. This inflammation was likely due to the Lyme and I did, indeed, have a bad cough so she must have seen SOMETHING in the lungs. Did it look like a really bad pneumonia, though? I mean, did it warrant an "aggressive" (PA's words) treatment, with steroids, an initial shot of Keflex and the super-strong beast of an antibiotic that is Levaquin? I wouldn't think so. I don't know, I'm not a doctor, but that seemed reckless to me.

Anyway, as I write this, I'm battling the Lyme disease with a four-week round of Doxycycline. Was I nervous about taking the Doxy? You bet your bottom butt I was. However, I decided to consult with yet another doctor - a more "alternative" doctor - who told me to take the vitamin supplement Molybdenum (1600 whole micro-grams daily) to help my liver process the Doxy. He said, otherwise, the Doxy would make me sick. For whatever reason, my liver wasn't functioning well. Could have been the Lyme that messed it up. Also could have been the Levaquin. The jury's still out on that one.

Currently, I'm on my fourth week of Doxy and, though I feel better, I'm still far away from normal. I still have dizziness, shakiness and overall lethargy. I also still can't walk much without feeling awful afterwards. I used to run pretty much every other day, several miles, do bleacher work-outs, push-ups, the works...but now I can hardly walk more than 400 yards at a time. Now, it very well could be true that this is still the Lyme kicking my ass in. But my fear is that the Levaquin did some hardcore damage and it's the Levaquin that's still making me feel so bad.

In fact, many of these fears were confirmed after doing some Googling and stumbling upon a condition known as "fluoroquinolone toxicity". Levaquin is part of this fluoroquinolone family, as is Cipro and a couple other hardcore antibiotics. Basically, it means that you've been poisoned by the antibiotic and you will perpetually continue to feel poisoned unless you do something about it.

One thing I was directed to do (by my alternative doctor) was to keep taking the Molybdenum, even after I finish the Doxy. The Moly will help my liver manufacture the necessary enzymes to aid in my detoxification process. In other words, it will help my liver get back to a state where it's functioning normally and I'll feel more normal again, at least in theory. Hopefully.

As for what else to do? Well, I'll continue to see the doctor for guidance, the alternative doctor that is. He'll tell me what vitamins and minerals I may need to help build my body up to the state it was in before I encountered the Leviathan that is Levaquin with a twist of Lyme. Only time will tell whether I have fluoroquinolone toxicity or whether all my problems are due to Lyme. I wish I could separate one culprit from the other but, unfortunately, every problem I have could be from either poison. The symptoms of toxicity and Lyme are virtually identical to each other.

At any rate, I would seriously recommend to anyone reading this to think twice before taking Levaquin or any other fluoroquinolone. Even if Lyme is my prevailing problem now, Levaquin seemed to almost kill me and, if you do some browsing online, you will find a whole slew of similar horror stories. In some cases, I'm sure the benefits of taking a drug like Levaquin outweigh the risks but I would imagine that would only be if you have a very serious, life-threatening infection, such as a serious case of pneumonia, which I did not have. And again, even if I did have pneumonia, it must've been mild, so throwing Levaquin at me was reckless and stupid.

To her credit, maybe the physician's assistant that prescribed the Levaquin didn't even know how dangerous Levaquin actually is. Maybe she's ignorant, but, shit, if she has the power to prescribe it, she ought to know what the drug is capable of. Even if she's mindlessly following proper protocol, that doesn't mean she still can't kill people.

Of course, if I were to have died at any point this summer, the official death certificate would have said, "death due to complications with pneumonia," not "death due to the Leviathan that is Levaquin." In our society today, pharmaceutical drugs are to be unquestioned and uncriticized. Pharmaceutical companies are gods and laying any blame on their drugs for any amount of destruction that you may endure would be considered blasphemy.

Our response to this should be that we need to be more vigilant. We need to question the doctors much more than we usually do, not place so much trust in them, because they have, in a lot of cases, become puppets for the profit-hungry pharmaceutical industry. If they give you a drug and your gut says something doesn't feel right about it, you shouldn't be afraid to say, "no way am I taking that shit, doc." It's your body and your body is YOUR body - emphasis on YOUR body, not the doctor's body - and allowing some of these drugs into your body is like allowing pure evil into them. They can be such destructive substances. They can absolutely ruin you as they did me...at least temporarily and I'm hoping it only stays temporary. Only time will tell.

So beware! Take care! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Revisting Powell-Peralta Skate Videos

Just recently, my nephew reminded me that his birthday was a couple months away and he already knew what he wanted for a gift. I, of course, asked him what it was he wanted. His response?

No more "Ninjago" Legos.

No more "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.

No more hockey goals or Lacrosse sticks or Nerf guns either.

He wanted...

A skateboard.

Ah, that word was candy to my ear canals. Both my brother and myself had been skateboarders -- oh, pardon me, I meant to say "thrashers" -- during our childhood years and I thought the skateboarding gene may have been successfully passed on to my nephew. His sudden interest in skateboarding seemed to indicate that this gene was, indeed, present in his DNA and this gene would be GOD DAMNED if it was gonna spend its living days in a recessive state.

This was all very exciting to me, the thought of my nephew possibly becoming as passionate about skateboarding as I was when I was young (heck, I'm still passionate -- or maybe I should say 'stoked' -- about it now). My mind flash-forwarded eight or nine years to when my nephew would be in his teens. Would he still be skating? Would he be the next Tony Hawk or Natas Kaupas or Julien Stranger or, even better (in my opinion), the next Rodney Mullen?

Rodney Mullen (doubling for Christian Slater) in the highly-recommended skateboarding film Gleaming the Cube (1989 starring Christian Slater, also with Tony Hawk).

Then I realized, damn, maybe this wasn't strictly a matter of nature. Maybe it was up to me -- Uncle Matt -- to nurture his sudden interest in skateboarding. He was already heading down the right path, the skateboarding path. I needed to keep him on that path!

I immediately dug into my old VHS collection, which was located in a large plastic bin collecting dust under my bed. I rifled through my VHS versions of E.T., Indiana Jones (Last Crusade) and, um, You Got Mail, then I found what I was looking for:

1991. Powell-Peralta Productions. A 40-minute skate video simply called "Eight". As soon as I picked up this video and held it in my hands I could hear the Archangels sing from the heavens. It possessed powerful energy. It made my flesh tingle.

Powell-Peralta's "Eight".
In the late 80s and early 90s, former Dogtown Z-Boy skateboarding pioneer Stacey Peralta produced a library's-worth of super, kick-ass skate videos, one of which was "Eight". These videos featured the "Bones Brigade" skateboarding crew, consisting of such skater greats as Tony Hawk, Mike McGill and Steve Caballero. In Stacey's words, (paraphrasing) "I was a great skater but it wasn't until I got behind the camera that I really shined."*

I dusted off my VCR, hooked it into the coaxial jack on the back of my TV, popped in the Powell-Peralta masterwork, adjusted the tracking just a liiiiitle bit and I stood in front of my TV absolutely mesmerized by what I saw...

Opening skating sequence: Mike Frazier thrashing upon an enormous vert ramp somewhere in Florida. Catching major air. Nailing nasty grinds. Tail slides. Nose slides. Kickflips. Heelflips. Tail-grabs. And even a nasty hand-plant that he holds for about three seconds, maybe more.

After the Mike Frazier sequence came three street skaters: Adam McNat, Chris Senn and Pat Brennen. Holy crap. These dudes were pulling the nastiest of tricks. We're talking nose manuals. Regular manuals. Ollying stairs. Nollying stairs. Fifty-fifty grinds down railings. Five-O grinds. Nose grinds. Manual grinds. Board slides. Dark slides (okay, no dark slides, I got carried away). In short, they were friggin' ballerinas on boards, man. Screw The Nutcracker or Swan Lake; street skateboarding should be on the same level, if not on a higher level, than ballet. It's considered the lowest of the low "sport" or "hobby" but it should be the highest of high art.

Oh, and what was it about California, man? I mean, seriously, they literally designed all their towns -- the concrete, the benches, their railings, parking lots, post offices, banks, even their friggin' picnic tables -- in a way that begged for a skateboarder to come and thrash it all up. Why didn't they do that on the east coast? The Northeast had no school parking lots with curved lips in the concrete that could be skated upon as if they were gnarly quarter pipes. In fact, everything about California schools were so skater-friendly. A jungle of concrete. A playground for skaters. All the world's a skate park.

Watching "Eight", I felt a rush of energy take me over. All I wanted to do was thrash and thrash hard. Then I remembered how, when I was young, I would watch these Powell-Peralta videos over and over again, go out and skate, and I would hum the skate video's music to myself while I grinded curbs and copings so nastily. The video fueled me with so much energy that I actually skated better after a viewing.

"Oh man," I thought, "I gotta show this video to my nephew. 'Eight' will absolutely blow his mind! Surely this video will provide the nurturing he needs to become the next Rodney Mullen!"

So, next chance I got, I sat my nephew down on the couch, asked him if he was ready to have his mind blown for the first time during his eight years on the earth, then I popped in the Powell-Peralta special, AND...

My nephew wasn't too impressed. He said he had seen much better tricks on a video he saw on YouTube. He wanted bigger ramps. More insane tricks. Tail-grabs weren't impressive enough. Neither were hand-plants. And as far as the street skating went? Weak sauce, bruh. He didn't share my sentiment about street skating being a more advanced form of ballet.

"But...but...don't you...don't you see what I'm seeing...all the...all the grinds...and the nose manuals...."

No. He didn't see it.

I was heartbroken. I expected a reaction more along the lines of, "Wow, Uncle Matt, what in the world am I watching right now?" and my response would've been, "What you're seeing, nephew, is the energy of God manifested in the form of skateboarding." And then I would become his favorite uncle because I had exposed him to such a sick skateboarding video.

Nah. Didn't happen that way. YouTube has basically sucked the fun out of, well, basically everything. Gone are the days of acquiring one sick skateboarding video that you watch over and over again until the tracking withers away into a windy storm of analog and then a snow blizzard and then eventual oblivion. Now you can surf YouTube and you're exposed to the best of anything and everything you want. In short, YouTube has made us jaded. Nothing impresses us anymore, or, well, it takes a lot more to impress us, that's what I'm saying.

I guess I sound like a ninety-year-old's flatulence, though. Yes, that's my creative way of saying I was an old fart. You probably got it but I wanted to be sure.

Anyway, that was it for me. My attempt at nurturing my nephew's (potential) skateboarding gene failed. I leave it up to nature now because if he's not impressed by Powell-Peralta videos then, in my eyes, he's a lost cause. If my nephew becomes the next Tony Hawk, that's great. But it won't be because of me.

Oh, I'm just kidding. I'll still nurture him. Sort of. Just kidding not kidding. Opposite day regular day. Fingers not crossed fingers crossed.

* Quote taken from the documentary Bones Brigade.

The full "Eight" video. This thing is sick:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tripping Down Grunge Music Alley

With the death of Chris Cornell, I decided to revisit early-to-mid-90s Seattle-born grunge music. My journey took me to Soundgarden (obviously)...with a little Audioslave thrown in there for good measure...but then to Stone Temple Pilots...and then, finally, to Alice In Chains.

Surprisingly, in the end, I became more focused on Alice than Soundgarden, though, had it not been for Cornell's death, I wouldn't have rediscovered Alice. So thanks to Chris for leading me down the rabbit hole.

In particular, I became fixated on Alice's EP from 1994 entitled "Jar of Flies". I played it from beginning to end and all sorts of memories flooded back into my mind. See, "Jar of Flies" was the very first CD I ever bought. It was the sixth grade and I had just purchased my very first Sony CD player at the local Lechmere department store. I was all excited that I had "gone CD" (from cassette tape) and I wanted my first CD purchase to be something real special. But, at 12 years old, I was more or less a music ignoramus. I had no idea what bands I even liked.

I browsed the selections of new releases at a store called "Tape World" located in North Attleboro's Emerald Square Mall. I saw that there was a new album by Alice in Chains out. I figured, shit, I loved that song "Would?" that always played on the radio circa 1992/3. Surely I would love this new Alice in Chains album.

So I purchased the album and, at first, I was a little disappointed, mainly because the entire album was...acoustic. Yuck! I wanted electric shit, man, like that "Would?" song or, wait, now I remember the other one that played on the radio: "Man in the Box". That one rocked hard, too!

But acoustic? Fiiiine, I'll give it a shot. I felt obligated to, anyway. I had spent a good fifteen dollars of my paper route money on the album and it was my first and only CD. I HAD to listen to this CD lest I waste money. I had to play SOMETHING in my new Sony CD player.

Well, the album grew on me. And grew on me. And grew some more. Listening to it today, it's almost like a soundtrack for my entire year in the sixth grade. Every single note triggers memories of my time in Eleanor Johnson Middle School...the teachers I had...the friends I hung out with...the skateboards I thrashed upon...the girls I started to crush on...the album encapsulates all those memories for me, mainly because that album was the only thing I was listening to at the time.

But did I ever give the EP the appreciation it deserved? No. I didn't. No way. I was 12 years old. I didn't know better.

Listening to "Jar of Flies" today, I'm absolutely blown away by how beautiful it is.

But I'm also blown away by how f***ing sad it is.

You can hear melancholy in every note. You can also hear the heroin that numbed the melancholy of the lead singer Layne Staley. Layne's voice drooooooones in each and every song, like it's already a ghost moaning from another dimension. He, of course, was destined to become a ghost sooner than most. He died of a drug overdose in 2002 at the young age of 34.

So it's weird. This blog should be about Chris Cornell, right? Well, it is, in a way. His death lead me to rediscover one of the first grunge-era casualties, not including Kurt Cobain. Layne went first and, more than any of the others, he embodied the depressed, toxic-blooded vibe of the grunge era. Then STP's Scott Weiland died, only a year and a half ago. Also a drug overdose. Then Chris went...suicide due to depression.

Eerily, all three of these melancholic bands were my first three CDs. "Jar of Flies" was first. But then "Superunknown" was my second. Third was "Purple" by Stone Temple Pilots. All three albums were fantastic, all born out of the grunge movement but so unique from each other as well.

Anyway, I post one of my favorite "Jar of Flies" songs below called "Nutshell". If you're in a good mood, I warn this song may make you sad. If you're already in a sad mood, this song may make you more sad. If you're in a deep state of depression and you listen to this song? Well, I gently caution you to stay away from any loaded gun or bottle of sleeping pills or especially a noose that looks strong enough to hold your bodyweight.

"Nutshell" unplugged...

"Nutshell" album version...

Friday, October 21, 2016


Hello all!

Please check out my new Kindle books for sale on Amazon (listed below). All of them are 99-cent Kindle singles. More singles and some novels will be on sale soon. Rate the books, leave reviews, send me positive energy and, hell, send me sexual energy, too, if you want. Thanks for the support!

Matt Burns
Boston, MA.
October 21, 2016

Sunday, July 10, 2016

RIP PowerBook G3

Well, I knew the day would come eventually. It had probably been a year and maybe a half since I fired up my Mac PowerBook G3 and, alas, when I tried to boot it up just the other night, there was no more life in it. I pressed the power button several times, desperately trying to resuscitate my beloved machine, but it was to no avail. If only I could have performed CPR or mouth-to-mouth! I couldn't do this, though...mainly because it was a computer and not a human being. Instead, I unplugged and re-plugged, blew softly on the keyboard, gave the tracking pad gentle kisses, recited seven Hail Mary's with an Our Father for good measure, but it was no use. My PowerBook laptop was officially dead at the age of 16.

Indeed, it was 16 years ago when my parents gave the laptop to me for a high school graduation gift. It was the best Mac laptop on the market at the time and it had eight whole gigs for a hard drive! Holy shit! I needed a computer for college and I convinced my parents that the PowerBook was the best one to fit my needs. See, the dawn of digital video and digital video editing was just on the horizon. The PowerBook was being marketed as the first user-friendly laptop out there that had "Firewire" ports where you could import and export video from a digital video camera. Then you could edit the video with new user-friendly software called Final Cut Pro. My plan was to major in film at Boston University, so I figured this was the laptop I NEEDED to have. There was no better one out there that would suit my needs.

Of course, it's almost laughable these days to think that a computer with a eight gig hard drive would be a practical computer to use for video editing. Today, only about five minutes of rendered high-definition video would take up eight gigs of space. But the early 2000's were the days of non-high-definition video so you could actually fit about 40 minutes of raw video footage on the hard drive at a time. This is still not much at all, especially if you were looking to make a feature film or documentary where you usually have hours and hours of raw footage to edit. Nevertheless, I was still able to make some really cool short projects with my little PowerBook; I just had to be a little conservative about what shots I wanted to import. But I'll get to all that in just a bit.

The Canon Optura PI
About a month or two after I got my PowerBook, I went out and bought my first digital video camera for about $1200. I worked two jobs that summer - one as a cashier at Stop N' Shop and the other as an "associate" at CVS pharmacy - to save up for the purchase; plus, I had a lot of high school graduation money saved in the bank. The camera was a Canon Optura PI model and even today I would still consider it a good camera, though it was non-HD and it shot in a standard 4:3 aspect ratio (i.e. non-widescreen).

I videotaped a lot of silly stuff when I first got the camera. For some reason, I shot some footage of my friends using a Pogo Stick and jumping into a snowbank. How silly! Then, I documented a trip my friends and I took to a thrift store called "Savers". Riveting stuff, right? I also set the camera up on a tripod and filmed myself playing the drums. Oh, and I think I got a lot of footage of my Basset Hound Oliver playing with his bone. 

It wasn't long before I got sick of shooting nonsense. About a month after my camera purchase, I cut the crap and decided I was going to shoot and edit my first short film.

That short film was a horror movie called GUTTER.

A "publicity" still from GUTTER.
This movie - for the most part - made no sense whatsoever. I played the role of a psycho who is out to murder two teenage dudes who happen to be watching "Full House" in a finished basement. One of these dudes mysteriously disappears at one point in the movie and is never mentioned again. It's basically a continuity error that would make Ed Wood's continuity errors look like mere blemishes. But, yes, I wore a creepy horror movie mask and I went and murdered a teenage Full House fan played by my friend Tim who puts up a little fight and then the movie basically ends with me posing in Christ-like formation. There was no reason for this apparent religious symbolism. Fans of GUTTER would later try to "read into all of it" and I unfortunately had to tell them not to waste their time. "It's all bullshit."

Despite the fact that GUTTER was pretty terrible, it will always have its place in the Matt Burns history books as the first edited movie I ever made. The only 'editing' I had ever done before that was in a high school video production class but that was during the pre-digital-era and we edited with the archaic "on-line" (or was it off-line?) tape-to-tape machines.

Although I did manage to get my hands on a pirated version of Final Cut Pro (don't tell anybody) I never actually used Final Cut until several years after having my PowerBook. Instead, I paid about fifty bucks to download a program called Imovie onto my computer. Yes, these were the days when Imovie wasn't pre-installed on Mac computers. If you wanted the program, you had to buy it.

So I bought Imovie for fifty bucks and boy did I make good use of it. I edited GUTTER during my winter break from college and, at the time, I was pretty amazed with the final product. It was an edited film that told a story through the Eisensteinian (not to be mistaken with Einstein) art of montage. Of course, it was a pretty bad story with many plot-holes, but it was a story nevertheless. What impressed me the most was the realization that I didn't need to buy any expensive 16mm film or try to rent out a Steinbeck film editing machine from God-knows-where. I had the power to make movies with my video camera and my laptop. That's all I needed in this new digital age. It was pretty awesome.

My next major film endeavor came that next summer when I made another ten-minute short narrative movie called "British Dingo from Ireland". The title of that movie was basically born out of my inability to speak in an Irish accent without it sounding either British or Australian, so I figured, well, why not create an ambiguous character who may be all three?!

And I did just that. The character was named Mr. Dingo and he was a shady dude who wore a scally cap and a black trench coat (I was kind of ripping off the movie Boondock Saints, which was popular at the time). All Mr. Dingo cared about was money and he recently got himself involved in a big drug deal with some shadowy characters named Kado and Pristine. But Kado and Pristine try to double-cross Dingo and screw him over. The drug deal goes sour and Mr. Dingo finds himself in a fire-fight.

The "fire-fight", of course, involved toy guns and lots of gun sound effects that I believe I downloaded off Napster. The film also involved some pyrotechnics and when I say 'pyrotechnics' all we did was light a firecracker in a Miller Lite beer can to simulate the can being hit by a whizzing bullet.

The trailer for British Dingo from Ireland.



When it came down to editing "British Dingo from Ireland", I really pushed Imovie's parameters. I remember that the first version of Imovie only provided two soundtracks for you to work with. This meant that you could usually put music on one track and then sound effects or dialogue on the other track. The problem was when you wanted to use background music, dialogue AND multiple sound FX at the same time. In editing programs today, you basically have unlimited tracks to work with so, say, if you have a car accident sequence and you want multiple sound effects (the crash, the horn sounding, glass shattering, hubcaps rolling, not to mention musical score and maybe even some dialogue, e.g. "holy shit we're crashing!") you have plenty of tracks to layer all the sound on top of each other. But when you only have two sound tracks? Well...your options are limited.

A rare photo of me editing "Dingo" on my PowerBook.
What I ended up doing is putting sound effects on the same track as music, which Imovie allowed me to do and the sounds would end up playing simultaneously. But you weren't supposed to do this, so it significantly slowed down the computer. In fact, in many cases, it slowed down the computer to such an extent that my poor PowerBook froze on me several times. I was beginning to realize that Imovie was really only useful for extremely simple editing. My movies were already becoming too complex what with their multiple sound fx, music and dialogue tracks etc.

Surprisingly, I didn't quite see all this as writing on the wall telling me I should really make the switch to Final Cut Pro. Well, maybe I did see the writing on the wall but I ignored it, mainly because I liked and knew how to use Imovie. 

So, short story long, I kept using Imovie. But it was with my next movie that I pushed it too far...

The movie was called "GAS" (later renamed "Only Entertainment") and the first version of this movie was made between my sophomore and junior year in college. It was a super-ambitious cat-and-mouse film about two teens who are playing Mario Kart, one gets pissed that the other dude beat him, they say "wanna take this outside?" and then a real-life car chase ensues. Reality mirrors fantasy and all that deep stuff. Despite the fact that I had no stuntmen and no permits to orchestrate any stunts, I surprisingly made the car chase look rather realistic through the use of montage and sound fx. 

Now, as I mentioned above, there are two different versions of this movie. Imovie was able to survive the first version of this edit, the version entitled "GAS", but then came the summer between my junior and senior year in college. I had just read filmmaker Robert Rodriguez's book Rebel Without a Crew, which is a very inspiring memoir of him making his first independent movie El Mariachi on a shoe-string budget. I was feeling all energized after reading the book and I realized, damn, I could do a whole lot better with GAS. I mean, it was a pretty solid movie but it could be waaaay better. All it needed was some better editing.

So I reedited GAS with A LOT MORE cuts and A LOT more sound FX and, well, this was when Imovie said, "No more!" Not only did the program die on me but it crashed my entire computer. My senior year started at the beginning of September and my poor little PowerBook didn't work until about the beginning of October. I had taken it to a repair place on the BU campus and they kept giving me the runaround whenever I asked what its status was. After several phone calls and numerous complaints, the computer finally came back fixed and it never crashed until the day it died in 2016. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the main reason it didn't crash was because I upgraded to the very first version of MAC OS X (i.e. Panther) later into my senior year. MAC OS X was being marketed as a system software that was virtually un-crashable. From my experience, this turned out to be true. My lovely PowerBook never crashed again.

As for GAS - now titled ONLY ENTERTAINMENT - I was worried that, with the computer crash, the newly edited version would be lost forever. And although Imovie didn't work at all after the computer was fixed, I was still able to export the finished movie to a DV tape and it was successfully saved. I was thrilled.


But, yes, Imovie was officially dead and - to no surprise - a new, more up-to-date (and legal) version of Final Cut Pro was on my Christmas wish-list that year. Santa Claus apparently decided I had been a good boy and I found "Final Cut Express" under my fake Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Final Cut Express was a more condensed (and affordable) form of Final Cut Pro. It had a few less features than its non-express counterpart, but it was still about a thousand times better than Imovie.

The first movie I made with the new Final Cut software (and last short narrative movie I made with my PowerBook) was a movie called WENDEL'S REVENGE. This was another silly movie that kind of fit in the horror genre. It's about a crusty dude named Rat Bonze who drives by his arch-nemesis Wendel and throws a dirty pair of underpants at him. Wendel takes offense and then hunts down Rat Bonze with the intention of killing him, hence the title "Wendel's Revenge". Sounds pretty avant-garde, right?

Here's the full WENDEL'S REVENGE movie.

I shot WENDEL'S REVENGE during winter break of my senior year in college but I didn't get around to editing it (with my new Final Cut Express software) until the summer after I graduated. It took me a little while to get used to the Final Cut software but it was so much more fit to handle a complex masterwork like WENDEL'S REVENGE. More importantly, it never made my computer crash! I was in love with Final Cut from that point forward and I must have created hundreds of projects (short films, wedding videos, documentaries and other videos) since. The only other editing programs I've used aside from Final Cut are Avid for my actual student films I made at BU and later on I tried Adobe Premiere but to this day it hasn't become a program I use very often, or really at all.

WENDEL'S REVENGE was the last short narrative movie I made on my PowerBook, though I did use it to edit numerous wedding videos, music videos and even a documentary called A PARALLEL WORLD (watch it HERE) where I investigate a haunted house on Cape Cod and attempt to communicate with the entities. All these projects were done between graduating college in 2004 and 2009 when I bought a new desktop Imac. I bought the Imac because I knew it was time to make the transition to working with hi-definition video. 

After 2009, I did still use my adorable PowerBook, mainly for word-processing, because by that time it had really lost its ability to do much else. It had long lost its Internet capabilities around the 2007 area and even then I remember it being very slow and sluggish. Web browsers were just getting too fast and complex for my poor eight-gig PowerBook.

The word-processing, however, still worked great. I had both Microsoft Office on it and my screenwriting software Final Draft. I can't even tell you how many things I wrote on my cute little PowerBook G3 between the years 2000 and, oh, 2014. In college, I of course wrote many a thesis paper, many of which got me A's...well, a couple A's. BU was pretty tough so I mostly got B's. One or two C's. 

Looking back, the most notable (college) paper I wrote on my PowerBook was a 50-page paper on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, 50 whole pages! The assignment required me to analyse the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece shot-by-shot and write about the "elements of suspense", which included sound, music, mise-en-scene, camera angle, camera movement, lighting and the editing from one shot to the next. It was an extremely tedious process, but I think it was very valuable. Today I know 2001 like the back of my eyelids and it taught me everything there was to know about the language of film (of which Kubrick was a master) and how to use that language effectively. 

What was great about my PowerBook was that it had a DVD drive built right into it, so I could have the 2001 DVD playing in one window and then write about each shot in another window. What a machine! I loved you so much PowerBook. We had such great times together!

Oh, and I should mention I got a B-minus on that paper because I had "too many grammatical errors". A teacher's assistant graded it. Total crock of bull! I spent forever on that paper.

After college, I no longer had any thesis papers to write but my PowerBook certainly didn't suffer from lack of use. What I didn't expect is that - after graduation - I would get bitten by the writing bug. First, it was screenplays and then, later, it became prose. So, as a writer, my PowerBook became my most valued possession. Every screenplay I ever wrote was at least initially written on that laptop. And I've written dozens of screenplays over the years. I also wrote about five of my six novels on that laptop. Then there were all the poems I wrote, and essays, short stories, erotic tales of sweat and nudity...you name it!

Even when I purchased my Imac desktop in 2009, I still did the majority of my writing on the laptop because, well, it was portable and it allowed me to write in different environments with different types of energy. A lot of times, these environments would be libraries, like the Boston University Mugar library and the Boston Public Library, which were two favorites of mine. But I also liked bringing my PowerBook to places like Starbucks, Panera Bread and other coffee shops where the caffeine became the fuel I needed to turn me into an insane writing machine.

By the time 2014 rolled around, I noticed that the screen on my laptop was getting dimmer and dimmer by the day. My eyes were getting strained when I used it and, pretty soon, I just couldn't use the laptop anymore.

On Christmas 2014, Santa Claus once again decided I was a good boy and he left a new laptop under the Christmas tree. It wasn't a Mac, though. It was Dell and it was a rather simple Dell at that, only worth a couple hundred bucks. But it was a nice little computer and would be great for word processing and Internet use. 

I must say, however, that it felt like treason making the switch to a Dell. I swear on some nights I could hear my little Mac PowerBook weeping in the far corner of my bedroom where it collected dust until its eventual death. It felt hurt knowing I had found another laptop to assist me in my writing endeavors. Its heart was broken.

The Dell laptop has served me well over the past year and a half (I'm using it to write this blog right now), though it has also been a pain in the ass at times. It will never live up to my Mac PowerBook G3, even though it will try and fail.

Anyway, rest in peace, Mac PowerBook G3! What I shall do with your dead corpse I do not know. I'm still not ready to part ways with it. Maybe I'll keep you for the rest of my life. Who knows: if I ever become a well-known writer, maybe some sort of Smithsonion-like museum will want you in its possession. I mean, it would be like owning the typewriter Hemingway wrote his books on. Or Fitzgerald. Or Hunter Thompson. You get my drift. And that's not to sound arrogant or anything. The fact of the matter is that I'm on the same level as all of those writers. Well, let's not get nuts here. I'm well above them.

Boy, we had some great times together, PowerBook G3. I will never forget you. In fact, I think I probably wrote most of my significant work on you. I won't quite be sure of that until I'm on my death bed, though I feel it's probably true. You were good to me. I hope I was good to you. You lived sixteen years so I think I could've done worse to you. Know what I mean? I'm sure you do. You always understood me.

Love. Always.