Hypertension leads to moral decay

Imagine the scene in my pulmonologist’s office a few months ago. A spirometry reading indicates that I have pretty significant airway remodeling going on in my lungs, which is irreversible. Nothing serious, really, just that my lungs have been permanently damaged by a lifetime of asthma, and my lung capacity is lower than it could be (but, surprisingly, actually better than average for people my age and size). The nurse looks at the results of the spirometry and says, “You’ve got plenty of obstruction there.”

“Yeah,” I joke. “I keep telling people that my asthma is going to kill me some day.”

The nurse checks my chart again. “Well,” he says, “if that blood pressure doesn’t come down, it won’t be your asthma that kills you.”

Okay, I’ve known for years that I have hypertension, but I admit that I’ve only taken a half-hearted approach to getting it under control. Take a few pills, then go back to my bad-for-me lifestyle of little exercise and too many cheeseburgers. But this time, something clicked in my brain and I finally realized that this is something I have to take very seriously, and that lifestyle changes are required.

Hence, the cauliflower that I am snacking upon at my desk while wrestling with Oracle.

And let me tell ya, raw cauliflower is one of the least inspiring foods you can possibly inflict on yourself. It’s healthy, sure, but it sits on my desk, in a little Tupperware container, amidst a few carrots and bits of broccoli, looking a little bit like a brain with an engorged brainstem.

“Yeah,” it says cheekily, “you want me.”

It lies. It’s like a whore who stands on the corner, saying the same thing as she wipes a booger from her upper lip and scratches her behind.

Not that I’m comparing cauliflower to a whore, mind you. I’m sure the whore is much more wholesome.

My soul longs for something better. Steak, maybe. Prime rib. A chocolate sundae piled high with strawberry ice cream and hot fudge and whipped cream and nuts, probably as dessert to the aforementioned steak or prime rib. And a big mug of a good stout beer to the side.

But my heart betrays me. Cauliflower it is. There’s something deeply poetic in that, I’m sure.

I’m sure that I could bring some light salad dressing in to dip the cauliflower into, or steam it a little so that I wouldn’t have to eat it raw, but I think of these as exercises in self-deception. It doesn’t even alter the flavor, all that much. All it does is try to convince you that it’s not really cauliflower you’re eating; but God and your conscience know better, and the taste remains.

Cauliflower, I know, would taste much better if it were brown in color, sweet, chocolate flavored… in short, if only it weren’t cauliflower.


Two years ago, Jennifer and I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), mostly as a way to get my own mind on something else other than the fact that I’d been laid off the month before. Jennifer swears that the 50,000 words she wrote were pure garbage, but since she deleted them all, no one will ever be able to tell for sure. Me, I wrote the text to a novel I’d been pondering for awhile, something called Unfallen. It turned out to be half-complete. Someday I’ll finish that one up. And since it’s just part of a huge epic involving many different novels in many different genres taking place in many different times and places, it’s going to be a huge project. Maybe someday I’ll finish it. I suppose that I could use NaNoWriMo this year to write the next book in the Unfallen cycle, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that unless I finished the first one. Go figure.

So anyway, I’ve decided to do something totally different this year, and write something called The Road to Gilead. Sounds cool, doesn’t it? It was originally going to be a post-apocalyptic story about a prophet in a mega-city called New San Francisco who was going to lead a group of refugees to a mythical homeland in the midwest known as Gilead. When I first conceived of it, the thing that enchanted me the most was the whole New San Francisco setting. But I never got anywhere else with it.

Then I created this web page for The Road to Gilead. I grabbed the background image almost at random, thinking it was just kinda neat (it’s a picture of an old abandoned mill in the California ghost town called Bodie), but when I really looked at it, I discovered that it kind of awoke something in me. The original idea for Road to Gilead didn’t appeal anymore.

So now The Road to Gilead is a western. A post-apocalyptic western, to be sure, but a western nonetheless. And since I’ve read very few westerns, this is going to be quite a challenge to me. I checked a few books out of the library and I’m planning on watching a few movies… but that’s probably not going to be enough.

Well, fortunately, NaNoWriMo isn’t all that serious. And the point is just to get the thing written. You can always fix it up later.

One of the really interesting things about NaNoWriMo, though, is how seriously people are taking their fiction when it comes to realism. I don’t think anyone is expecting to have a perfectly researched and written novel, of course. But there’s a forum on the site which is meant specifically to hook writers up with each other to exchange information, with the idea of making novels more realistic. I think that’s kind of neat. So I’ll be posing questions about horses, probably.

Not much else is going on my world right now. I think it’s neat that the Chinese have sent a man into space; I wish it would help get the U. S. space program back into gear, but I know we don’t currently have the vision or the competent leadership that would be required. Tonight I lead Bible study at my church. No word on the process of turning my temp job into a permanent one. And so on.