When I’m Angry And I Don’t Know Why

Growled Friday. Loud. Like a beast. Angry beast. Picked up a box off floor. Dropped it. Picked it up again. Dropped second time. Noise came from chest. Started as a grunt, maybe a groan. Came out as something primordial and ugly. Pure rage. Scared me.

Where did this creature come from?

Born of pain. Fueled by anxiety. Sustained by brain chemistry malfunction. Happens. Happens a lot lately. How to fix? Trace back to last change. Medication? No. That’s long out of the system. Diet? Eh. Up and down. Not consistent enough to miss carbs, etc.

Mercury in retrograde? Bah. Astrological poppycock.

Still, darkness fell over this Dude on Friday. Reason: Unclear.

Quiet day. Slung sentences. Stacked paragraphs. Watched “Star Wars” show. Listened to the Beach Boys. Life Rule: Impossible to be in bad mood listening to Beach Boys. Help me, Rhonda. Help, help me, Rhonda. Get her outta my heart.

Continue scan for source of anger. Logical progress. Where was latest big change.

Boom. Thursday. Gym.

Increased intensity a half click. Steps were six inches, about an inch-and-a-half more than earlier. Heels burned. Sore feet exercise led to altered stride. Altered stride led to back pain. Back pain led to anger.

Back pain taps vein of fear. Rich, flowing vein of fear. Fear I’ve destroyed this body before expiration date. Fear I’m headed to the scooter. Fear all mobility will be loss. Fear of breaking chairs in people’s homes. Fear of not being able to fit into a seat at public venue. Fear of not being able to walk from parking garage to office. Fear of not being able to stand but for a few seconds. Fear Parents 2.0 will have to bury me.

Adjacent to fear vein? Shame. So much shame. Shame over body. The fatness. The immobility. The disregard for warnings, both obvious and expressed kindly or with malice. Fear of dying with a wheeze instead of a gently letting go.

Fear: See also work stuff. Can’t say more. Want to. Can’t. Rules. Flouted them once. Paid full price for mistake. Not going out that way again.

OK. Anguish identified. Anger still churns. Now what? Anxiety med chased with swig of Diet Mountain Dew. Wait 15 minutes. Text friend. Express anger by text. She bounces back with positive vibes. They don’t work. They can’t. But the talk eases angst.

Pill hits system. Anguish abates.

This is life on anxiety. This is life in physical pain. People ask: Why write this?

Because people still don’t get it. There are people who love me who knew me in high school. Boisterous Dan. Dan the Man. Doc. Fun guy to be around. Acerbic wit. Good writer. “Mr. Congeniality.”

True. To a point. Also true: Terrified and self-loathing with complete absence of confidence.

What’s different between then and now? I stopped hiding that which is also true.

Less boisterous. Fat. Angry. Sad. Introverted. More self-loathing. Maybe not fun to be around.

But this is my life, one that I endure as much as enjoy.

I share. I share so people who don’t walk this path can understand. Empathize.

Am I a drag? Sometimes. Sure. Yes.

I am also trying. I work on it. Empathy. Kindness. Dignity. Humane behavior.

The other day was #WorldKindnessDay on Twitter. Amazon asked a question: Pay a compliment to yourself because you deserve it. Compliment someone else because it’s kind.

I could have burned up Twitter with compliments for others. For myself?

Couldn’t come up with a damn thing.

That is the mindset. That is the sickness.

I know I’m not all bad. I know the rage is a temporary malfunction of brain chemistry.

But, again, we are in the space between emotional reaction and intellectual understanding.

My dial needs adjustment at present.

With love and hope, dpf

It sucks, but it’s worth it (I’m pretty sure)

Ouch. Everything hurts. Shoulders. Quads. Heels. Gym. Day 4. Mark it. Over. Done. In the books. Me? Totally spent.

Basic movements. Nothing fancy. Sitting dumbbell cleans. Walk with 25-pound ball overhead to end of gym. Step up 6-inches 30 times. Carry 35-pound kettle bells back. Rinse. Repeat.

Steps the worst. Heels yelled. “WTF?” Felt like they were shredding in my shoes. I kept stepping.

Worst part: Thought it was a 20-minute workout. Put my stuff down on the floor.

“Need a break?” Nate says.

Thought it was 20. He holds up eight fingers.

“Twenty-eight,” he said.


Roll over. Stand. One more full round.

Finished. Put stuff away.

Met my buddy Mimi for dinner. Grouchy. Everything hurt.

Mimi good egg. Kind. Motherly.

Where would I be if not for the kindness of strangers?

Now the hour is late. The body is beat.

One more day slinging sentences, stacking paragraphs.

Then: The Quiet. Football. Basketball. TV. Rest.

With love and hope, dpf

I hate the ski machine (and other topics)

Head on the floor. Eyes stare up at the LED lights hung from ceiling. Sweat pools beneath body on rubbery gym floor. Workout over. Legs tremble. Breath rapid. Shoulders burn. Back sore. Heels ache.

It feels … great. Gym Day 3. Progress. Squatted to the 18-inch box instead of the 20. “See, you haven’t lost everything,” trainer Nate says. The squats. The bench. The skier. The sit-ups from incline.

The skier. Brutal bastard of a machine. Flash-fries shoulders. Achy back rebels. “Knock it off,” body yells. Cries unanswered. I grunt.

“What?” Nate asks.

“Back,” I say.

He asks if I need to stop. No. Must keep going.

He forces me to break up sets. Change position. Adjust form. Get the reps. Take more time. Build endurance and mobility. We’ve barely dug the basement. Don’t try to put in second story.

Fine. Feels like defeat. But I complete. Six rounds. Inclined bench. Box squats. Skier. Sit-ups. 10 of each. Time: 30 minutes, 15 seconds. Slightly longer than when we did same workout a week before.


Gym again Thursday. Physical therapy. Movement. Endurance and mobility. Keep moving forward.

Wafer-thin takes …

Disney+ equals win. “The Mandalorian.” Excellent pilot. The Man With No Name, only in “Star Wars.” Heavy Japanese samurai movie influence. A true serial like the 30s and 40s. Much fun.

Also Disney+: 1979 “Spider-Woman” cartoon. A childhood favorite. Only seen in bootlegs since. Go, Jessica Drew, go. Made me want a bowl of Count Chocula.

Also Disney+: 1990s “X-Men” cartoon. Not as good as remembered. True of most things. Garish colors. Bad voice acting. Still, watched four or five episodes in a row. Theme song the best.

Netflix: “The Devil Next Door.” Worthy documentary. Was he a Nazi? Was it mistaken identity? Dunno. Documentary plays it straight.

“Nancy Drew.” Saw snarky review in Variety. Disagree. Enjoy show. Silly? Maybe. Same as “Riverdale.” It’s all sexy “Scooby-Doo” to me.

Comics: Finished “Preacher.” Miss Black Medicine Comics. Coulda talked it over with the gang there. Working on the “Complete Jason Aaron Thor Vol. 1.” “God Butcher” and “Godbomb” stories are A+.

Book: Started Richard Hooker’s original “M*A*S*H” novel. Keep falling asleep between pages 2 and 3. That is not commentary on Hooker’s prose.

That’s all from the psych ward.

With love and hope, dpf

Get on the bus

Woke up way too early. Headache like someone driving a rail spike into the top of my head. Sucked down Tylenol with massive gulps of water. Blame the heat. Not outside, but inside.

HVAC units in apartment old hotel room-style. Two settings: Cold as Antartica. Hot as hell. Any use of heat sucks all moisture from the apartment. Must drag small humidifier out of closet later today.

Suggested dictionary revision: Age — A brutal series of indignities of increasing intensity ultimately resulting in death. I’m 44. Feel older. Any pressure change makes the space between bones ache. Arthritis in knees and lower back.

Winter. I don’t fear it. I don’t run for bread and milk. But early this year, slipped on ice outside of office. Smashed my lower back and bent my ribs. Took seven months to get right. Soon after: Overdid exercises in pool. Achilles tendonitis. Plantar fasciitis. Maybe Achilles tendon bursitis.

Still limp from the heel pain. Wear socks with gel pads to ease impact.

Snow falls. Former winter warrior withers. This is where it all broke bad in 2019. Job change. Then cascade injuries. Become nervous. What if it happens again?

Irrational. I know. But there I am in the space between again. Rational? Stay upright. Be more cautious. Keep moving forward. Irrational? I fall again, hurt worse, loose job, loose insurance, loose mind, die broke and alone in pain.

It is hell to live with a mind that does that to me. So it goes. I quiet the mind. Football. Basketball. “Nancy Drew.” Comics. Novels. Eschew social media.

Therapist story: When he was a boy, sickness came to his stomach when school beaconed. He wasn’t faking. His mother forced him to go. Pain in stomach grew worse until he got on the bus. Then stomach abated.

The lesson: Just get on the bus. It will be OK after that. That’s Tuesday for me. Just get on the bus.

With love and hope, dpf

Death by flurries

Natalie and 10,000 Maniacs play in the speakers. Many spins this CD has spun through the years in my collection.

Natalie Merchant. Such a beautiful voice. Her lyrics land like lullabies, fall softly on the soul like snowflakes outside my window.

Love female voices. Emmylou Harris. Aimee Mann. Lady Gaga. Taylor Swift. Dolly Parton.

Local TV successfully frightened everyone over one to two inches of snow. City will probably shut down.

Like Natalie sang: “I get a shiver in my bones just thinking’ about the weather.”

Old family joke: Mom 2.0 was hairdresser almost 40 years. Snow forecast steamed her up. Clients were old ladies. They feared death by flurries.

Phone started ringing after 6 p.m. Don’t know if I can make it, the customers said. They say it’s gonna be bad. They was TV. All people do is watch TV and get mad or scared.

“Why don’t you wait and see what it’s like in the morning?” Mom 2.0 would say gently. Inside she fumed. It’s snow. We’ve all lived through it before.

Even now, whenever a small amount of snow is predicted, I call the house and cancel my hair appointment.

Joke used to be funny because Mom 2.0 is retired 13 years. Joke funnier today as I am bald.

Called Sunday. Too late. Dad 2.0 answered. Mom 2.0 in bed. Dad 2.0 and I talked for a bit. I asked if they had enough bread and milk.

“Well, if we don’t we’ll stop and get some on the way back from Kohl’s in the morning,” he said.

Dad 2.0. Priceless wit.

Silent Sunday. Football. Naps. Comics. Chat with Paul by text and voice. Drake women’s hoops bested Iowa State. Watched on TV. Don’t do crowds unless necessary.

Rested sore legs. Ate reasonably well. New week beckons. Let’s get busy sleeping.

Love and hope, dpf


Bad eating this weekend. Why? Dunno. Don’t feel bad. Sometimes slake sadness with calories. Not the case now.

Need soup. Love soup. Make a nice beef stew with this week’s groceries. Lasts a week or so.

Don’t mind lack of variety. Variety spice of life. Maybe. Sometimes spices cause heartburn. I like consistency.

Summer 1992. Parents 2.0, me and cousin take trip to Baseball Hall of Fame. Mom 2.0 asks what we want. Hoagies. Next night. Hoagies. Almost every night: Hoagies. Great vacation.

Mom 2.0 doesn’t bake like the old days. Bad idea for health. But when she’d make cookies, she’d ask Dad 2.0 and I what we wanted. Chocolate chip. Always chocolate chip.

She just stopped asking. Made whatever she wanted once in a while. Mom 2.0. Angel who walks the Earth. True story.

Bit of a work hassle Saturday morning. Fixed it. Took a few extra hours. Quiet Saturday after that. Football. Naps.

Tried to connect with Paul. No dice. His job is dying. Stressful time. We’ll connect.

Legs OK. Still sore. Movement better. Feet iffy. So it goes.

TV quickies: Seth Meyers special on Netflix funny. Watched two episodes of “Devil Next Door.” Documentary about Ivan the Terrible trial in 80s. Creepy.

Quiet Saturday. Never underestimate the healing power of quiet.

With love and hope, dpf

Anger is vomit

So. Recovery. Quiet Friday. Finished a Veterans Day story. Finished a story on Jean Seberg, a favorite topic.

Seberg. Tragic story. Never trust the government with unlimited power. Ever.

Veterans story is on women who served in three different generations. Proud of it. Got huge assist from Iowa Veterans Perspective. Run by a dynamo named Sara Maniscalco Robinson.

She’s trying to preserve as many Iowa veteran stories as possible. She’s a vet too. Love working with her. She’s 100%.

My body is in rough condition. Quads sore. Heels OK. Not much movement today. Feet up after work. Watched a movie. “The Burning Plain.”

Kim Basinger, Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence. Three great actresses. Bummer story.

Cleaned palate with an episode of “Stumptown.” Much love for Cobie Smulders. Feet up now. “Nirvana Unplugged in New York” plays. The album of my generation, I think.

Lost my temper today. I dislike that. Old friend took a swipe at my shop. Hurt. It ain’t 1979 anymore.

Everybody in my trade struggles. It’s not a crises. It’s the goddamn apocalypse. We are doing our best.

I lashed out by email. I don’t like to display my anger. I don’t like how it feels when it comes out. Pure vomit.

Thing is, guy I barked at was guy who hired me back in the day. I love him. Gentleman scholar.

Maybe he would exempt me from his swipe. Maybe he would cite me as an example. I don’t know. We. Are. All. Doing. The. Best. We. Can.

Sigh. Heavy sigh. I can only say so much. There are rules. Lines I can’t cross. All I can do is my best. Sometimes I summit. Sometimes I fall. I get up. Dust off. Start typing.

I sling sentences. I stack paragraphs. It still counts. It still matters. I can only work at the paragraph factory today.

I can’t get in a time machine and go back to do it whatever era it was where newspapers were perfect, copy was flawless and the public universally adored us.

I think that destination is a fantasy. Pyrite panned from rivers tinted rose by brains designed to filter out any impurities.

I tap out. Watch “Stumptown” and cartoons. Temper blew. Ate bad. Pizza. Foolish. Open blog with bitch about soreness from gym. Reverse work with pizza.

My brain is broken thermostat.

So it goes. Get up tomorrow and try again.

With love and hope, dpf


Gym, Day 2. Made it. Quads sore. Slathered then with lidocaine. Baby steps, they say. More like crawling.

Will improve. Know the path. That’s the key. Been here before. Know how to get off the floor.

Nate measures workouts. Rest included. Lots of checks. How do the heels feel? How is the back? Challenges tempered. Injury now would be unacceptable setback.

Deadlifts today. Just the bar. Quads screamed. Kept form. Nate coaches. Butt back! Butt back! As if my butt doesn’t stick out enough all ready.

Stepping. Tiniest steps into a 45-pound weight flat on the floor. As many as I can in 30 seconds. Push ups. Inclined to the bar. Not off the floor. Still a challenge.

Six rounds. Short breaks. Good talks. Last round. I keep stepping. More steps. Yet more steps.

“Feels longer this time, Bose,” I say to Nate.

“Yeah, you were done about a minute ago, I stopped watching the clock.” Dry. Quick. No pause. “I’m a personal trainer, not a personal counter.”

I laughed so hard I almost didn’t feel the last round of pushups.

Barbell curls and walking. Meathead stuff. Nate’s words. Sweat dropped. Walks were hard. Heels from hell. Quads crushed.

Home. In bed. Sore, not cowed. Made a call to my friend Todd to talk Star Wars. Took a call from my friend Paul to talk baseball and rocks. Inside joke that last bit. Paul’s humor is dry.

Laughed a lot today. That feels better than anything.

Certainly better than my legs and heels.

With love and hope, dpf


Goals. Have them? Yes. Slave to them? No. Reason is key. If your goal is too high, you’ll just feel worse than if you’d done nothing.

If you’re goal is too low, you may as well do nothing.

Back to the gym Thursday. Thoughts on goals:

1. Mobility

2. Endurance

I’m not looking to bench press an F-150 or curl a Chevy Lumina.

I want to walk from the parking garage at work to my office without worrying if I’m going to have to stop because of pain or being out of breath.

Right now? No. Can’t do it. Heels hurt. Sweat pours. It’s a sad scene. Worse to live it.

Pain levels more than 24 hours after Day 1 at gym:

Quads: 7/10.

Heels: 9/10.

Shoulders: 1/10.

Skip return? Not a thought.

There’s a difference between pain and soreness. Heels are pain. Quads and shoulders are sore.

Kept in touch with Nate. It’s gonna be a gentle process.

Still, it’s progress.

I really was doing nothing, which is always worse than doing something.

Because when you’re doing nothing, you’re actually doing something: getting worse.

All for today. Wanna watch some “Riverdale” and “Nancy Drew.”

With love and hope, dpf


Whew. Return to the gym. Day 1. Done. In the books. Sweat sweated. Fear abated. Friendship renewed.

Sore? Sure. Movement’s been a minimum for more than a year. Injury. Depression. Injury. Rinse. Repeat.

I start where I am today, not where I was two years ago. Nate has me sitting a lot because of my Achilles tendinitis. Squats to a box. Twenty inches. Seated skier. Inclined bench. Sit ups from the inclined bench.

Six rounds. 30 minutes. Some breaks. But back.

Tired? Yes. Exhausted even. But it felt good. It felt great to talk to Nate again. To get fist bumps and hugs from other trainers.

Two days a week to start. Slow. Steady. No ram and tear. Ease into it. But get into it. Do something. Do anything.

Two months to checkup. Improve endurance. Increase mobility. Stay healthy. Practice fork to mouth control.

Nate. Damn fine man. Great man. Kind of man I want to be. Smart man. Kind man. Thoughtful man.

Spent a good 30 minutes talking mental health with me. Who does that? Not many. I was always comfortable. That makes it more so.

He runs three gyms now. He went from a hole in the wall next to a dive bar where they patrons puked on Nate’s door to taking over the bar’s space. To a gym in Valley Junction. And a gym downtown.

He’s a good dad. A good friend. I too often forget how lucky I am to have been blessed by so many good people who love me even when I can’t see the reason why.

What is that? Motivation.

Day 2 is Thursday.

With love and hope, dpf

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