I might post something bleak once in a while, but I try not to get too maudlin or depressing. I was diagnosed with severe Emphysema in 2005 and I strapped on my first oxygen tank (actually, my first tank was on wheels and when the doctor first brought it into the exam room, I cried like a baby). In 2007, I pressured two different doctors into telling me how much time I might have left. They both said the same thing: “two, maybe 3 years.” I was 58 and not too thrilled with the news. I swear, I musta pouted for 3 years after putting that first cannula in my nose.
I may have 1 foot in the grave,
but my other foot just ain’t ready yet.
Smoking kills! It’s killing me and I quit smoking many years before diagnosis. Home movies from when I was just a baby show that I had been getting smoke in my lungs for about 50 years. I was an active smoker for 35. I may talk a little about those hazy days, but I hope to spend a good deal more time talking about what’s now and what’s left.
But what about what came before? Army brat, born in Ft. Richardson, AK, moved from base to base, town to town and finally landed in Greenville, CA, where I spent the last 8 years of my schooling, graduating in 1967. I became an avid model car builder and customizer, had photos of my cars in magazines and even won a local contest. I played percussion instruments in the various high school bands and was in a rock & roll group as the drummer and we played local parties. I worked as much as I could at the local pharmacy doing whatever the boss wanted me to do and I also did a number of odd jobs around town and delivered newspapers on my custom made bicycle. Somehow I got interested in interior design. I practiced that whenever I could at home and at my friends’ and for anyone who’d let me. But I kept it kinda quiet because of the stigma held over a male with a bent for interior decorating. I wasn’t gay, but I saw how boys were treated when there was the slightest hint that they might be.
I volunteered for the US Army during the Vietnam war, but they wouldn’t send me there because I was only 17. But after 6 months in Germany, I got my wish and found myself in the Big Red One – 1st Infantry Division – then later in the Mekong Delta, 52nd Signal, and did various jobs in communications. Spent my last 2 weeks in the Army in the stockade because I sent pot home. I didn’t know anyone back home that smoked the evil weed and I wanted to make sure I had a supply of my own when I got there.
My first real job seemed like a dream come true. It was part time working for a local business, McNutt Home Interiors. The plan was to get a p/t job to supplement my VA education benefit. I picked up an interest in writing while in Nam, so I made English my college major. But the part-time work became full-time and I loved installing (and occasionally selling) wallpaper, window coverings and flooring. I spent 35 years, mostly doing floor coverings and owned my own business a couple of different times.
Along the way, I got interested in cars, motorcycles, photography, computers and anything that let me express my talents. Unfortunately, something I started doing in high school and continued for over 20 years, at some point became so important that I let it take everything away. Alcohol and later on, drugs became all that I really wanted. Of course, it’s more complicated than that. I stopped drinking and doing drugs on April 18, 1985. My first day of sobriety was the next day and I haven’t had a drink or drug since. That’s not to say my life all of a sudden got better. I wasn’t through screwing up my own life and the life of others. It took a while and I’m sure it would have been a whole lot worse had I kept getting loaded or went back to it. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be making amends for the rest of my life. I’m glad that I haven’t added to the list very much in the last couple decades.
You can learn more about me by reading some of my posts here. My photography habit got so intense that I started a website just for that: Jim McClain, Photographer. If you have something to say about what I write, please do say it. I’ll be doing my best to make the most of what time I have left. Some of my posts will be better than others and I tend to go long periods without posting. It’s a personal blog, whataya want? Take what you like and leave the rest, as they say (that’s not permission to steal my content).