Sunday, 19 April 2020

The Inside Of A Ping Pong Ball

I’m rather reminded of a punishment I once received when I was at school - I was charged with writing a twelve hundred word essay entitled The Inside Of A Ping Pong Ball. I wish I still had it - it might make a good self-help manual for what’s going on now. 

Amy and I seemed to be building some kind of a life for ourselves on the inside of our ping pong ball. I’m glad I’m not alone in here.

I haven’t actually been very well in the past three or four weeks - chest and rib pains, cough, low level fever, intermittant headaches - I was pretty sure it must be the virus though I was told the only way I could get confirmation of this was by presenting myself at the emergency room, death’s door, sick to the point of dying, ready to be hospitalised…

No fucking thank you. I was still able to operate, though in a somewhat reduced capacity. We’d go for walks and the slightest incline would have me out of breath and clinging on to the nearest tree or telegraph pole for support. Aside from that I’ve had more sleep since the middle of March than I had in the whole of last year. Sometimes all I’ve felt capable of is lying prone on the sofa waiting until it’s time to go back to bed.

It had to be the virus. Either that or some fearful wasting disease. Either way it didn’t seem at all possible to get checked out so I waited for it to go away, which it seemed to be doing, albeit rather slowly.

I thought just maybe it was over it but I still felt quite depleted - some days I’ve felt like I’ve been hit by a truck. Then I seemed to be better - alive, well, fully functioning but… down again. This past week I’ve felt worse than I can remember feeling since this thing started.

We found out that as of this week people like us - old people, the over sixties - could get tested up in Albany. Amy called and got us an appointment, 8am on the university campus.

There were barriers, policemen, soldiers, healthcare workers… Everyone was wearing a mask and the whole operation apart from the test itself was conducted with the car windows up - photo ID on the dashboard, signs held up Are You A First Responder? (shake of the head), Do You Have An Appointment (nodding of head), a document held up against the window Verify That This Information Is Correct...

The soldiers made us laugh - they were all wearing camouflage with high visibility vests over the top, a wonderfully ridiculous conflict of purpose. As we drove slowly through the checkpoint one of them seemed to smile from behind his mask, then he struck a dramatic GI Joe pose just for us.

Finally we got to the actual testing site, the bit where you open the car window. They did Amy first. The woman who conducted the test couldn't have been kinder - 'Okay honey, this is not going to be comfortable but it'll be over in thirty seconds.’

Basically they shove a big Q tip rather a long way up your nose and waggle it about quite a lot. She advised us to sit on our hands to avoid involuntarily swatting her. She was wearing a full hazmat suit complete with a perspex visor and face mask, but I could see that she had short black hair cut in a chic style and carefully applied blue eye make-up. As she probed around somewhere where my sinuses meet my brain I couldn't help thinking this lovely woman was going to see a lot of weird grimaces today.

As we left we were both moved to tears at the great job alll these people are doing. I don't want to clap and bang saucepan lids for healthcare workers, I want to see them properly rewarded for the work they do. It should be clear enough right now that tripling the defense budget at the expense of decent healthcare for everyone was not the smartest course of action.

Anyway, back on the inside of this ping pong ball…

We haven’t been helped by an urgent need to prepare a tax return for 2019 so that I can get my health insurance coverage reinstated. I turned sixty five and to mark my passing into the Old Person category this great country of ours interrupted my health insurance and won't reinstate it until we present a tax return for 2019.

Completing a tax return is a depressing business. I figured it out a good few years ago - nobody wants to be a loser or a failure but that’s exactly what you need to be when you’re in the middle of it. I laugh about: it’s bad enough being a loser without having to prove it once a year… but it’s a serious business. I don’t mind paying for street lights, road repairs, schools and libraries, but I don’t want to contribute to the defense budget, state banquets or even some cunt’s inflated travel expenses. I want to be a loser, not a winner like the president, but I'd still like to be smart like him and not pay any tax.

The test results came through last night. Amy’s is negative, even though she lost her sense of smell the other week for about ten days. Mine’s positive - I’ve got it. I felt deeply disturbed when I got the news and quite emotional.

If I’m honest about this I’m vaguely / acutely worried in the back of my mind that I might suddenly go downhill and die, but I find getting older is a business of constantly facing up to one’s own mortality. A growing list of friends that are no longer with us appears to be developing and it’s becoming clear to me that one day I’ll be on it.

So I stumble into moments of acceptance and find myself thinking that if this doesn’t kill me then old age or something else eventually will. Dying… it’s an ironic fact of life. 

When my mother was getting really old and incapacitated she once said: ‘I’m not scared of dying, it’s just that it’s a great party and I’m not ready to leave it yet.’ 

I feel pretty much the same except that I’m not exactly not scared of dying - it’s not the being dead that worries me, it’s the manner in which it might come about. And I like being alive - I want to stay on at this party until some time in the small hours so I’m hoping midnight isn’t going to come along to turn me into a pumpkin or whatever. 

The crappier I feel the more I’m driven to get in the studio and get things done. I’ve got albums to make. I decided a long time ago - and I’m down on record as saying this (literally as of last year’s Transience album) that I want to leave behind an indelible stain. And I feel almost ok when I’m working on my recordings.

I think I’m going to be ok. I’m more concerned about people who haven’t got anybody, people who are going through this alone. I wish there was something I could do to help but right now all I can do is work on getting better. We’re quarantined. It’s nothing new for me, I’ve been fairly well isolated since March 15th but now it’s official - 'You can’t leave the property' the nurse said, 'until April 28th'. For a moment I felt like landed gentry. Now I just feel... grounded.

I’m going to take a walk around the back yard before it goes dark. I’ll keep well away from the perimeter and try not to attract the attention of any of our more redneck neighbours. Some of them possibly still think this is a hoax. It isn’t.

I’m waving and sending love from inside my ping pong ball.

93 comments:

  1. Wishing you all the best, Eric, from my bunker in North Carolina. I hope you come through on tour and I can take you and Amy out for a nice dinner.

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  2. Waving right back. Get well soon, Eric.

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  3. Wishing you the best, Eric. Hope to see you and Amy when things get saner and happier. Love, C.

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  4. Keep yer pecker raised!

    (Nice to know that you haven't lost all touch with humility!)

    We are all in this together, I keep waking up sneezing my face off, and a throat that feels like I've been gargling with sand. Luckily, I have been doing this for the last year or so, and the sneezing is from the neighbour sanding his floorboards and the throat is from snoring like "Deep Throat" must've on The X Files.

    We're all rooting for you (Is that the correct spelling?) so rest when you can, keep smiling, and get better soon.
    I'm sure Amy won't let you get "down" as they say, so PLEASE get better asap.

    Cheers ol' chap,
    Reg

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  5. Take care of yourselves. I enjoy reading and listening you. Erik

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  6. Wishing you and Amy the best. Much love from The War Mouth crew in South Carolina. -PB

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  7. Hope you will recover soon. We are on lockdown in Cyprus, beautiful weather but not allowed to go to the beach which I can see from our house.

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  8. I wonder if Amy's test was a false negative. Losing sense of smell for ten days just doesn't come out of nowhere, and it's such a weird symptom. As for your positive test, mine came back three days before I went into the hospital with a fever near 104 degrees, and had a pretty close brush with eternity. That won't happen to you, as you're already long past that most dangerous phase. At the hospital they reassured me, in passing, that I most likely wouldn't need to go into ICU, and get intubated, but that all depended on how my vitals were reading on a daily basis. In the meanwhile I looked over the edge and didn't like what I saw. At times I was so tired of dragging in each breath I wished I had the energy to crawl into the hallway and beg someone to just kill me. At that point, I wasn't thinking about my legacy. But now that I'm a few weeks out of the hospital I, too, am wondering about what I'll leave behind, when the time does come, and what I really want to do. It's got to be more than earning money to pay the taxman and keep food on the table, though that is very important. It'll become more important, because for now I'm unable to earn any money at all. But my brain is so ill-focused and foggy that I can't begin to formulate a plan. In the few days leading up to my hospitalization I was furiously trying to mix music tracks on my computer that I hadn't gotten far enough along, as of yet. I wanted my kids, at least, to be able to hear their dad's music in case I didn't make it back. I'm much better at starting things than finishing them and have piles of good work, art and music, I've left on the edge of completion. But I'm going to make a concerted effort to wrap up loose ends while I can, and rethink, when I'm able, what I'm doing here and what, and for whom, I go on making things.

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    1. That must have been a terrible ordeal you went through Dan. Documenting it on Facebook as it was going on was a great thing - it surely confirmed for a lot of people, myself included, that this thing is really serious and we should absolutely take whatever precautions are neccessary.
      I hope you and Julia are recovering well. I'm sure you'll be back to work soon! I'm so glad you made it!

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  9. I wish you both well from the UK x

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  10. Get well soon Eric. Just discovered your music today. Although I technically was around in 1978, having just been born, I am ashamed to say that I have only encountered your songs for the first time today, even though I have made some small forays into punk and new wave in the past. Starting with the old stuff now, I will be working through to the new. Keep making albums and stay safe and sound. Love from the south coast of Ireland. šŸ’š Andrea

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  11. Take care Eric,all the best to you & Amy. See you all on the flipside.

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  12. Much love and healing to you, Eric. Hoping you're over the worst of it. I've seen a few videos of nurses showing how to keep lungs clear - have Amy bang on your upper back, over the shoulders and down either side of the spine to break up mucus/fluid. Also, breathing exercises and movement (as much as possible) to keep lungs clear. Finally, being on the stomach seems to help since majority of lungs in the back of the body. Allows for better breathing. Take care. Can't wait to hear the new music when it comes!

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  13. “ I don't want to clap and bang saucepan lids for healthcare workers, I want to see them properly rewarded for the work they do”

    Too right. Get well soon xxx

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  14. Eric, my heart goes out to you. Please get well. My lousy two cents for what is worth. 2000mg+ of Vitamin C per day, Zinc, lots of fluids and rest. And please God stay away from the hospital by any means necessary. I hope to hear new music from you soon I am a big fan.

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    1. Also yes to what Leigh said above. Lying on your stomach for better air flow.

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  15. All the best to you chief, get well soon!!

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  16. All the best wishes that you recuperate and stay healthy in body and mind. Take care!!

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  17. Eric, be good to yourself. I’m still waiting for a us tour, and when that happens I’ll be there. Look forward to the upcoming music, but know that you have left a lasting impression as is, and I hope your very proud

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  18. OMGs, yes, you did leave an indelible stain on this aging punk rocker. I love your music. Best to you and Amy; get well soon, please. The world needs you <3

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  19. I just want to wish you a speedy recovery, and reading such as you have set out here offers a perspective that the news fails to deliver, no matter how many hours of it we digest. I had the good fortune to see you play in Poole quite recently, and the two albums bought that night are now part of my way of dealing with self-isolation, as they are getting plenty of air play, and such things do help.

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  20. oh Eric you are such a great story-teller. I wish it was an easier and less painful story, of course, but thank you for some laughs out loud, the poignancy and for the update. Ping pong life indeed. Much love to you and Amy. Some day we'll be in the neighborhood and maybe we can converse via placards from within our vehicles. Until then, please be well & fully recover soon.

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  21. Wishing you and Amy good health now and for a long time to come. All the best from Chicago!

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  22. Oh Eric this has hit he hard. I feel for you, sir! I fully expect you to get through this, and I hope to see you once again in Sioux Falls blowing us away with these new songs you're cooking up!

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    1. Ignore the governer - stay at home!! And thanks, but don't worry, I'm going to be fine.

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  23. Get well soon Eric, all good wishes to you and Amy. Take care!

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  24. Sorry to hear that you have caught the bug Eric. The numbers are higher for those that pull through rather than the other option. Keep positive. I need more Wreckless Eric music!! Love to Amy & yourself...
    Rob Sweeney

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  25. Get well man - the daft folks need you :)

    Please watch this film about breathing help
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwLzAdriec0&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1-ERO_61kWLk5fmOE7Rdn7rM_9-CFzfhxs0bp2d0Tm55fPayQMhtjjg9E

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    1. Expect you have seen the video posted by Willie Wit, but if not do watch it - very best to you, have cancelled Final Taxi so you'd better recover!

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  26. The family and I will be praying for both you and Amy. COVID sucks.

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  27. Dammit. Take care of yourselves, and start feeling better soon, as it sounds like you hopefully are.

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  28. Oi !!! How’s it going today ? Hope your ok.. sorry to hear that you have got the fucking virus. What a load of shit it is. Love having you at the party.. especially loved it last year when we briefly met at that gig with one dressing room between us, you and the Flamin’ Groovies... I real memorable night for me and the rest of the Trashcans. Let’s do it again sometime !! Much love to you and the missus from me, John, and all the Trashcan Sinatras.

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  29. Get well soon, Eric, your countries need you. GP

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  30. Sorry to hear. Get well soon. Looking forward to seeing both in Bristol again when this is all over. All the best Eric and Amy from Eric

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  31. Best to you Eric. Sounds like you may be slowly on the mending side of this ordeal. Please take care of yourself and your Love. We’ll look for you back at the great party soon.

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  32. Wishing you all the best Eric. Take care.
    Ian Trotsky Law.

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  33. Thank you for your words and your fight. Words from a registered nurse who brought her family alive through this:
    Stay active, keep moving as much as you can. Use pursed lips breathing. Keep your lungs flexing.
    Lots of hot drinks, lemon and honey. Avoid cold ones.
    Hack and spit as much of that crud out as will let you. Far away from anyone, of course and disposed of carefully.
    Wash up a lot. Gargle with peroxide and water a lot.
    Stay positive. Those soldiers are right. You are at war!!
    Love and blessings to you!!! A fan for 40 years!!

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  34. Saying a prayer for you right now.

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  35. Thank you for sharing your experience. I wish you and Amy a speedy and full recovery.

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  36. Love you Eric and Amy,,,get well soon ....Sian Christmas xxx

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  37. Get well soon Eric. Take it easy rest will help your recovery.
    Thinking of you and Amy and loving your music and looking forward to seeing you both soon. Charlie. UK

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  38. Eric, get well soon and don't worry. People have been loving your songs for more than 40 years - how much more of a winner could anybody be?...

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  39. Sorry to hear of your illness. I am wishing you well from Tennessee where I have sat in one place for a month and a half. Yuck yuck.

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  40. I wish you all the best. Take your time and get well.
    I'm waiting over here in Berlin to see and hear you play again. So now you have an appointment and HAVE to recover.
    Get well soon.
    Ralf

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  41. What? I know it's a park and there is no loitering. I'm not loitering. I'm dancing with Joey Ramone.

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  42. So sorry to hear you have that mess. Take care, Eric! Hope its scrams out of you post haste.

    ❤️

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  43. you are an inspiring punk af truth slayer and I hope to god you are that last dude at the party, that won’t go home and has to be asked to leave.

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  44. All the best Eric. Look after yourself and make sure your are there for the last dance :)

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  45. Sending positive thoughts your way Eric. I saw you at the Hardys Bay Club on your Australian tour a couple of years ago. You sang, played amazing guitar, and gave the Keno numbers out off the telly at the other end of the room! Remember that? Great night. Take care.

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  46. Hey, Eric. Long time, no talk. I just happened across an article that led me back here, after such a long hiatus. You'd better get soon. I'm pulling for you. Sorry I've been MIA for so long.

    XO Erica

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  47. Hey Eric, wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery from Adelaide Australia.

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  48. Wishing you and Amy the best and a quick recovery. Can't wait to hear the next indelible stain you send us.

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  49. Eric, I'm sorry the two of you have to go through this. Glad to see you're improving. Best to you, and I hope you'll be back in New Haven sometime for pizza and a show at the Nine. Big hug to Amy.
    Best,
    Fran in CT

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  50. Wishing you and Amy well Eric. Last saw you two at my friend Victor Abascals "Vines on the Marycrest" Winery in Paso Robles Calif in 2012. What great tunes and a blast of an evenings live music.

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  51. Wishing the best Eric, regards and healing vibes and best to Amy too.

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  52. One of my best interviews from one of my favorite artists... Thank you for your keen wit, fabulous music and perfect attitude for these time. Now... GET WELL!
    KTUF
    WMNF TAMPA 88.5 FM

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  53. You're in my thoughts, Eric. Get well and get well soon, my friend. J x

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  54. Sending love to you from Australia Eric, take care of yourself and get well soon. From Craig and everyone in Scott & Charlene’s Wedding xoxox.

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  55. Lauding your ambition not to be a winner like your ghastly president. I wish you a speedy recovery and that you and yours stay safe and well. Kia kaha (stay strong) Wreckless Eric! Arohanui (big love) from Aotearoa New Zealand. Ruth xx

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  56. much love to you and yours . Your telling of your covid story has me crying for those hit by it and those workers helping to save lives. We’re all scared. My 92 year old mom is on a dementia ward in Fruitvale and I’m so upset I can’t visit her as I did regularly with my dog before lock down.FaceTime visits aren’t the same. Your voice keeps us close and warm.thank you forever for your music and your words. Oh and your Mom’s! I too don’t want to leave this great party too soon.sending healing vibes from San Francisco. Come back soon!

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  57. Dearest Eric and Amy, wishing you all the good health you need! Despite this horrible virus it is good to see you haven't lost your optimism and Love for all that mean and do well... Take your time to recover fully and we're looking forward to your new material... and hopefully we will meet again in one of our many fine Belgian venues... Take Care!

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  58. So sorry to hear you have the virus. So glad you're still here to write about it. Hoping your recoveries are speedy and full. Our best wishes to you and yours.

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  59. Eric,
    You are one of the best people in my life. When we first met, and played some shows, I remember while walking in Manhattan, and speaking with you, how you listened to every word that I said. On the surface that may not seem like anything special, but it was not just listening, you heard, hung on to and cared about everything being said/discussed. I don't think that I had ever experienced such compassion and genuine kindness. Throughout the years, and we have not seen one-another for many years now, nothing changes, your kindness supersedes any other experience. You are a artist in the true sense of the word, you continue to evolve and have never settled, slowed down and your passion and talent continue to grow. It transcends what people believe what fame and success mean. You are at another level.
    I was blessed to study with Gary Chester, a prolific and extraordinary studio musician. One day he asked me to take a ride with him to the music store, he needed a new pair of drum sticks--no pretension. Here is this older Italian man, in a tank top tee-shirt, shorts, buying drumsticks and telling the store owner that he uses his older drum sticks for his tomato plants. After the store we went to a pizzeria, around lunch time, it was crowded and the radio was tuned to CBS-FM. "Promises-Promises", Dionne Warwick, began to play. Gary looked at me and just said, I remember this session. In a crowded restaurant no one had any idea who this man was and what his contributions to world culture were. It as a magical moment--being able to share it. That is genius, passion, and Art. It is your soul and being -- everything, thought, word, expression, interaction with people is a reflection of your art. It is a rare characteristic and treasure. All the people that you admire and are friends, possess the same qualities. It is rarified air, real, a gift--just knowing you makes my life better and provides hope and inspiration. And you have a soulmate in Amy with a symbiotic relationship to art and the world. Love you Eric and Amy--thank you for the truth, honesty love and passion that you exude and share. Be well--I will be thinking about you and praying.

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  60. This virus is something else, but you can and will survive it. I'm just over it myself and the one thing that my doctor kept telling is is to drink - the more liquid you take in, the better you'll do.

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  61. Much love and well wishes for you and Amy, Eric. From my ping-pong ball to yours.

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  62. Greetings from midtown Manhattan that I met you briefly several times in london in late 70s but never in usa even tho working for 2 years at stiff America 81 to 83
    We both did well to get past 27
    I just went thru the same tax/health conundrum you are in
    I have to explain to taxman the jona lewie pin i sold for $5 was once worth 10
    Funnily being in self isolation 2 minutes from empire state building has driven me to finally organise my 50 year music archive
    Its an ill wind etc
    Stay strong malcolm fisher
    my LinkedIn is Japanco ny
    So am actually making a loss

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  63. Soory about punctuation i just woke up and had been sent your billboard feature
    Ex stiffs not in hurry to become real stiffs

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  64. Thank you Eric for your candid nature and inspiration to us over many years. Keep safe

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  65. Wishing you the best of health from here in the UK. Your last visit to Barnoldswick (!) were you played A Popsong inches away from me was a lifetime highlight. We MUST do it again. Love to you and Amy. Be safe and Be stiff.

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  66. thinking of you guys and can't wait till your both can play and record and tour again. one day we will be together and share a cold one and hug

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  67. Best wishes from Iceland :)

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  68. Best wishes for a full and speedy recovery from Sussex by the sea. Keep on keeping on! Get well soon!

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  69. Waving and sending love back, Eric and Amy! Keeping moving back to full health - we need you at this party.

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  70. So sorry to hear this Eric, wishing you well & hoping to hear very soon, that you're on the way to a full recovery. Hope Amy stays well too.
    Please don't book your Final Taxi just yet! We will never forget the amazing house party you put on for us in Basingstoke 9th April 2009, eating hot cross buns at 3am in our kitchen with you both is a great memory! What an amazing night that was! Best wishes from Alastair & Carol, Basingstoke UK and Phil & Nigel.

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  71. Sending you positive vibes and healing light!

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  72. Wishing you both the best! The world needs those new Eric albums! x

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  73. Eric and Amy, Wishing you both get well soon ! Love from Ghost and Two Faeries down here in High Falls in the train station

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  74. Here's to a speedy recovery for you!

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  75. I regret that it took so long and COVID to get me here but I am glad I made it. Keep up the fight, we need you. Hearing Semaphore Signals on the Live Stiffs records when I was a naive teen was a pivotal moment in my life that led to decades in the music biz. Your music and spirit is always close to my heart. Keep moving. Don't let it strangle you. I had a case early on that didn't get worse than mid-range fevers and chest tightness. I was quarantined in a small bedroom and did yoga and deep breathing several times a day to fight off the boredom and stasis. It may have helped. Good luck!!! We are pulling for you.

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  76. Wishing you a full recovery, and soon! I am late to your music, and Amy's, but I treasure it now. The intelligence and vulnerability that run through it all, from the Stiff stuff to Transience, are what the world always needs. Sending you all my best,
    Greg Hack

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  77. In case you hadn't heard, if the shortness of breath is bothering you a lot (but not emergency-level), try laying on your stomach, it can relieve pressure on the back areas of your lungs: https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/14/health/coronavirus-prone-positioning/index.html

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  78. Get well soon, sir. All the best from Manchester England. Love to Amy.

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  79. Bad news, Eric. All the best from down under.
    It's almost the end of your lock down, so I hope you and Amy are feeling better. We need you :)

    Our f**king government is usually on Trump's side but at least this time they are taking this thread serious.

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  80. One hit wonder? I never heard of you.

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  81. I had the same essay to write as a schoolboy. I loved it as an opportunity to explore Schrodinger's world.

    Regarding Covid 19, I have had chronic lung disease for 10 years... Basically the symptoms of covid year in year out. I've found that stress is the biggest enemy. I just try not to worry about anything these days and if something becomes stressful I metaphorically walk away. Good luck with this and get well.

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    1. Thank you. I'm getting better now. I figured this out about stress - I was getting better and I got upset about something and relapsed quite badly. I noticed a pattern with that. So I'm taking it very easy and endeavouring to stay calm. Not looking at Facebook too closely is a great help!

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  82. great to read you are recovering , hopefully see you in Sunny Cromer when this is all over

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  83. This comment has been removed by the author.

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