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Thursday, March 10, 2011


I ran ten miles yesterday.  I think I have a stress fracture in my left foot.  There's only a certain kind of guy who is going to run ten miles with a restructured (right) hip.  I am that kind of guy.  It is not an attribute.  I am obsessive.  This is a bad quality.  Or rather it can be a bad quality.   It can also be a good quality.  Pushing to 7 and a half miles yesterday, for instance, would've been a good thing.  Going to 10, not so much.  It's not that 10 miles is that long; people run a marathon a day (well, one guy did--he wrote a book about it); it's more that because of my lopsided body (I am 3 cm taller on my right side because of the pins in my hip), my running motion is all herky-jerky.  Plus, I am a big guy (210 lbs.).  So add those two with the arthritis, running is probably not the smartest idea.  So why do I do it? Aside from the obvious (trying to stay in shape, stay limber [activity is important with the arthritis], get ready for Bay to Breakers), it also is one of the few tranquil moments I get.  Because my head is a non-stop hodge-podge of relentless activity, from contemplating what kind of cancer I have, to what terrible tragedy wilt befall my son, to why Dear God couldn't the Yankees sign Cliff Lee?!  Running quells these thoughts.  So in effect I am obsessive to combat my being...obsessive.  Figure that shit out.


I was talking to my sister yesterday.  Her name is Melissa Nicole Clifford.  She lives in Boston.  The last time I told her I mentioned her in my blog, she was woefully disappointed in her lack of air time.  So to remedy, let me take a few minutes to tell you about my sister.  She's one of the brightest spots in my life, one of the biggest reasons I was able to get sober.  Melissa is 12 years younger than I, and I always felt like when our mom was dying, she held on long enough for me to be in a space to properly care for my sister.  I can never do what our mom did.  But I try.  And it is a priority in my life.  Melissa is a super-winner, and will soon have her Master's.  She has our mother's sparkling personality, and after a rough start (Miss spent a lot of time in hospitals watching those she cared for hurt), she has great things in store for her.  I wish I had half her attributes (better, kiddo?).

So we were talking after I called her back when I was leaving the gym, and she'd mentioned my obsessiveness.  It's true.  And it goes all the way back, really should've been a portend for things to come.

I guess it started with the...thoughts, these odd and ends that would worm their way into my gray matter and taking root, refusing to move, and then when a light was finally shined on them, they moved all right, worming deeper and out of the light, always a step ahead.  Crafty little fuckers.  This is why I have cancer.  Or think I do. Constantly.  And every other malady, at one time or another, all the junkie diseases, and when I tested negative, I'd have to retest and retest.  And when enough of those were finally negative, that's when the cancer started.  Throat cancer.  Skin cancer. Cancer cancer.  The other day I had toe cancer, I shit you not.

Medication helps.  Prozac, serotonin re-uptake pills, and they work.  For a while. It's more like they soften the sharpest edges.  But when I was a kid, I didn't have medication, so that left me only with the thoughts, which you can't really explain to someone like your mom, like why at 9 I'd be consumed with imaginary battles in my head over good and evil, forced to repeat certain words like mantras to save the soul of man.  Or why when I first started reading, I developed this game with myself where after every line I read, before I could read the next line, I had to make a perfect circle with my head. Perfectly.  If the circle wasn't perfect, without pause and no deviation in the spherical arc, I had to do it again or I wasn't allowed to read the next line.  As you might imagine, I didn't finish a lot of books.

Not much of a wonder I turned to drugs, is it?


Over the years, you learn to navigate around this stuff.  Sometimes force yourself to ignore it; sometimes it's just easier to tap the curb three times before stepping into the street.  It's all about effective time management.  The really fucked up part is, when you go back to check the stove for the seventh time...and you find that it is on.


At March 10, 2011 at 12:20 PM , Blogger Soybean said...

Ha, reminds of the that time you and I went to that bar where Melissa was working and all of her co-workers were madly in love with you (no they weren't) and they wanted us to sit in the same booth they were in (they sure as hell did not) and that one particularly cute blonde really had the hots for you (um no, no she didn't) and we had one hell of an exciting night (again no). I think we ended up going back to my apartment and watched Kids in the Hall re-runs until two in the morning (and talked about how close we had come to scoring). Good times, man.

At March 10, 2011 at 12:29 PM , Blogger Joe Clifford said...

"And she doesn't like you!" (followed immediately by random shouts of "whore! whore!"

At March 10, 2011 at 4:54 PM , Blogger Katie P. said...

Sounds so much like me! Minus the drug addiction. OCD sucks ass!

At March 10, 2011 at 6:15 PM , Blogger hlhinsley said...

Flashback a couple years ago.... Happy to have met your sister - she is the bomb! Your brother is not so bad either. AND you cook a mad meal..... Good times.

Keep on keeping on - refreshing honesty.

I suppose it is innate to us - born artistically. Funny that our birthdays our days apart Joe.

At March 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM , OpenID said...

I know what you mean about that last part. But in a way, it's a little reassuring. "HA! The stove IS on! See? I'm not crazy!"


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