Home Alone

Aug 16, 2013 10:34pm

This is another Landmark week. Starting last Saturday, I have spent the last week at home alone while Julia was away painting.

A few months ago, she was invited to be part of a group of artists going on a week-long camping trip to paint in a remote region of the Sierras. Although she was absolutely thrilled to be asked, her first instinct was not to go, because of me. However, after talking about it, we realized that this could be a significant target for the both of us to aim for. I would try for some much needed autonomy and she would prepare for some equally needed time away from work (not to mention a rest from Gimp Patrol). So that is what we’ve been working toward for the past few months.

In order for my part in this to work, I needed to prove that I could get myself out of trouble. For someone in my situation, a lot of that is making sure to have a fully charged cel phone on hand at all times and a roster of friends who will call for daily check ups. I also needed to demonstrate that I could get up off the ground unassisted if I ever fell over. That is still difficult due to the weakness of various muscles in my leg but, thanks to some specific training from my physical therapist, it is now doable.

For Julia’s mission, a lot was about assembling the right gear: compact painting supplies and easels, a comfy pack and sleeping bag, a tent and boots and so on. She also needed a certain amount of mental preparation for being away from the comforts of civilization. Hair-dryers, flushing toilets and showers.

I am aware that leaving me alone was a big hurdle for her to get over; to trust that I would be OK if left to my own devices. After all, It was poor Julia who found me naked on the floor when I was stricken with the stroke (and just imagine the horror of having the no-pants image of me seared into your head.. Brrr) but I am very grateful that she was prepared to take that leap of faith. A leap that I must take too, for she will be out of cellular range and un-contactable for the entire week of her trip into that remote area.

I am happy to report that my part in the experiment has gone very well so far. Of course my week “alone” has not been ALL solitude. I still have my therapy classes to do and my pal Gordon has been a great friend in driving me to and from those, and checking in on me with the occasional lunch. My good buddy Bosco has also kept an eye on me too and we’ve gone out to dinner, movies and so forth. I had several home visits from the acupuncturist who is treating me so I never felt that I was far from help if I needed it this week.

In my genuine alone time this week I’ve had a chance to think and write. I am now coming to terms with how long the rehabilitation of my hand will take, and it may be another year away, or even more. I am absolutely not going to give up on the goal of getting back my dexterity, but at the same time, I do not want to wait another year or more to create (or for that matter, TO WORK) so writing may be my salvation. At the very least, I can properly write out the half-formed projects in my head so they are ready to be made into comics, graphic novels (or whatever) when my hand is finally equal to the task, and who knows, I may even hammer one into a book or screenplay.

Speaking of those, I got to watch a ton of Netflix guilty pleasures this week; the kind of stuff Julia does not really enjoy (which means a lot of crime drama and a few horror movies). So all in all the ALONE TIME experiment has been a success.

DAY SEVEN UPDATE: I just got a few quick texts from Julia, who has come back into cellular range after a week. Apart from an alarming text about “bears in the camp site” she seems to have had a marvelous time, and is due back later tonight. Her cell was close to no batteries when they hiked out and got on the road for the return drive to the Bay Area. I expect to hear about her adventures in detail when she gets in late tonight.

I better go and tidy the flat!

10 thoughts on “Home Alone”

  1. Way to go James!!!
    That’s got to be therapeutic!!
    I was just thinking about you yesterday and wondering about your progress….so, very glad to read your latest good news!
    Writing is definitely a very serious strength of yours….very engaging turn of phrase in everything you write, highly entertaining.
    Can’t imagine how difficult it must be to get yourself off the ground unassisted….. most incredibly impressive that you’ve come that far.
    Next you’ll have to be trained up to outrun bears so you can join Julia’s painting camping excursions!!
    Not sure about the passage of time for you but I always find that a year is over in an instant…your recovery taking longer than you anticipated initially will most likely zip by and be a foggy memory in the years to come. So can I commission you to write me a sort of Dr Suess-ish, Roald Dahl-ish book that I can illustrate???? Not too long please.
    Times a wastin’ on my children’s book illustration career!!
    Haven’t done one yet!
    Too busy blowing glass in my down time.
    All the best from London Mr Baker.
    Big hugs and kisses from myself , Lisa and the girls. Phil

    — Philip Vallentin, August 17, 2013

  2. Wait! Did I just hear jimmy baker say he needed to tidy the flat?!!!

    Hey if you need a hand to flesh out some of your ideas…shout! I for one would love to scribble some stuff with your brief. Keep up the fight mate.

    — Deane Taylor, August 17, 2013

  3. Thanks so much for continuing to keep us all posted. It’s really cool that you both took this leap. It could not have been that easy for either of you. Congratulations to you both!
    — Brian McDonald, August 17, 2013

  4. Tidy? I’ve seen your ‘flats’, burn it might be better.
    (Hey Julia, did that week painting the mountains fade that naked Jamie arse retina burn ??) Tony Stacchi
    — Tony Stacchi, August 17, 2013

  5. Jamie, writing out your ideas and stories is a great idea. I hope you have fun with it!

    — Tony Preciado, August 18, 2013

  6. Jamie; I been thinking bout you- I got an original Jamie on my board I get to see everyday and that, by definition, rules. I’m living out in leafy nowhere. I’d love to take the mule into the city and see ya. Ill have to fuel olde muley up with a mashed prune gravy and head south! J
    — Jay Shuster, August 23, 2013

  7. I’m so incredibly late to this particular entry but read it and thought I’d chime in. I’m thinking of you, Jamie, and so delighted to hear about your excellent mates Gordon and Bosco contributing. I wish I could be there to take you to the doctor or watch horror movies with you. Though I’d have to watch in the morning, as I’m a sponge at night and bring that stuff into my dreams. I’m glad that you are writing because you are a very, very good writer. Go Jamie! xoxo
    — Anne Smith, August 24, 2013

  8. Having spent a great deal of the summer swimming (while son, Max, flails awkwardly at lessons), I kept having flash backs of the good old Colossal days when you, Mr. Baker, me, Anne Smith and Sally Bentley would all do lunch time laps. I have a clear memory of those absurdly tight Speedos you donned and mentioned as much to a little bird who spilled the beans that you found those lunch swims appalling, or at least the gabbing! So much for romanticizing the past!

    Did you see Cindy Ng’s FB post? Her son’s favorite comic book is Rocket Rabbit!

    — Beth Segal, August 27, 2013

  9. This is good news all around! We hope to see some of Julia’s paintings one day and see the fruit of your screenplay in our local theater near us!
    — jennifer clark, August 16, 2013

  10. Dear Boy and Best Girl
    Another bonza milestone breezed by for the pair of you. What joy to read all about it; well done!

    Allow me to join the chorus of chortles at the idea of Jamie and a tidy flat to be mentioned in the same breath. I can fairly claim the authority of one whose memory goes back an awfully long way on that subject. But I also have to confess to a long-ago lapse of commitment to a deal with a much younger Jimbo the very same subject. During his Higher School Certificate year James stayed at home working on his art project while his Mum and the four little brothers and sister and I were on an out-of-town visit to his Aunty Marg and her family. Our deal was that I should tip him a day or two’s warning of our departure from Sydney to allow some house-tidying. Trouble was I forgot about phoning till we were only about four hours’ driving time from arrival home. Can it be some vestigial guilt that causes me to recall these facts after all these years?

    As far as the Jamesian bare arse burned onto the retina is concerned, I have long experience of that phenomenon, as well. I changed his nappies (ie, diapers), on an eye-to-eye basis, so to say, almost from day one. Seriously though, folks, Wendy and I have been delighted to read your latest missive, couched in characteristic chirpiness and chocker with implications for your continued mutual wellbeing.
    Love, Dad
    — Rob Baker, August 18, 2013


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