Cold Turkey

I had breakfast with Mike Arrington. He wanted to know why I called him Magic Mike Arrington.

I had breakfast with Mike Arrington. He wanted to know why I called him Magic Mike Arrington. I said because everyone knows that everything he touches turns to magic. Funny how that sounds like a dig when it isn't. Anyway Mike has this fabulous dog who's 4 years old and our dog is 14 and dying. You can always tell about people by what their dogs say about them. Mike's dog is just crazy about Mike.

As we nurse our puppy (we call him that all the time) I've been going through some great records. Hendrix continues to amaze, particularly the Starbucks record he just put out. It's a bluesy selection and fills the bill. And Love and Theft, Dylan's death suite. And Little Feat, a terrific box set I bought several years ago and never even listened to until now. And then we noticed Murphy was actually getting up and moving from room to room as the music moved with us. Surely it means nothing, but it's everything to us right now.

I kicked Paxil about a week ago. I've been taking it for years since I had a series of atrial fibrillations in 2001 around the time I was negotiating to join InfoWorld. The first one landed me in the hospital in Charleston (I drove myself in) and I thought I was getting away with attending an XML Mag all-hands-on-deck from the hospital bed. I wan't fooling anyone. Except myself, of course -- I'd ignored out-of-control high blood pressure for years. The afibs continued for awhile as the doctors monkeyed with the medication; the last one occurred after a night of beer drinking in an Irish bar on Geary. But while they were happening, they were terrifiying, not the least because they would happen in the dead of night. Hense the Paxil, which curbed my anxiety and allowed me to learn how to realize that the base level of anxiety in my life was as much chemical as based on reality, or at least my dark interpretation of it.

I tried kicking it about six months ago, by cutting the dose in half. After about 2 weeks of it, my wife begged me to reconsider. Of course I should have known -- I've never been able to stop doing anything to myself by tailing off. So this time I just stopped, and carved out enough time to sleep through any rough spots. My theory was that I'd replace the opiates or whatever that stuff does with sleep. In fact, I'd been doing this sleep dance for a while, shutting down the systems and floating on the edge of dreams -- with great results: ideas, conversations with old friends and enemies long since dead or never been born, 'til then.

And this time almost from the beginning I could feel the subtle fog lift. Don't misunderstand me: the medication saved my life, I really believe. But now i need whatever talent and courage I can muster. We're in the midst of a transformative moment or wave or whatever we want to call it, and I am unwilling to coast or miss a precious moment of it. Things were going well on the professional front, our kids were in South Carolina for the summer with their grandparents, and Tina and I were finally making some headway in finally unpacking and fixing up the house we moved into 2 years or so ago.

In case you're wondering, this is more personal than I intended or expected. We got Murphy 13 years ago after Tina and I suffered a miscarriage. We went down to the Charleston ASPCA in our heartbreak and peered into the cages at all these bouncy, jumpy puppies. But Tina's mother put an end to that notion as she came out of the cages with the most pathetic excuse for an animal in her arms. So mangy that even after a fullbore shave down to the skin they still called him "Scruffy" on his cage door. She put the dog down on the ground near Tina sitting cross-legged, and the creature crawled on its belly trembling with fear right up into her lap. What's the old line -- you don't choose your family. He sure did. And 10 months later our daughter Naomi was born.

Time to wrap this up, as Day at the Dog Races begins its wending way to a parallel galaxy where dogs outlive their masters. We go into it knowing the rules, the arc, the beginning, the glorious middle, the end. Yes, he's Murphy as in law. No matter what, things will always screw up. Maybe he'll screw up and not die on us. Who the hell knows.