I was doing my morning check around the warehouse. I went outside to the loading docks and then stepped outside. Someone had dropped off a grand piano on the pavement in front of Dock 1! It had books piled on it and in it. It was an old workhorse, its finish no longer gleaming but dull and worn. Who would do this? Larry? It started raining. I summoned assistance to get it under the overhang that extends from the rear of the building. A few people came. It started raining harder. We will need to push it further down and get it under a trailer, I thought. How will we sell such a thing? But first a picture. I held my iPhone up above my forehead and expanded the image size to encompass the enormity of the situation.
I rolled on my side and realized there would never be a picture. I was home in bed. I hoped I wouldn’t cough, as the wracking hacking had my ribs aching like they’re broken.
I’ve had a lot of vivid dreams in my life, but most don’t stick. There have been times when I’ve been blessed with these that I’ve had the presence of mind to write them down before falling back to sleep.
I wonder what dreams are.
A conversation with my long-dead father happened recently. It was so real. Tangible. Audible. Sadly, I don’t recall what we discussed. But we were together again, and it felt good.
My cough took a turn for the worse as the weekend approached. I broke down and called the doctor’s office about 3 a.m. Friday. (My interaction with healthcare and big Pharma is appended at the bottom. It might be tedious.)
My bronchitis, flu, pneumonia has given me some forced down time. Much of it so “down” I couldn’t read or even do minor chores.
There’s been a pile of papers accumulating next to my bed for some years now. In 2016-17, things went topsy-turvy. My bread had been so sweetly buttered. Then it was knocked from my hand. Of course, it landed butter side down. Maybe both sides were buttered!
I’ve made a vow to dig into this archive and sort it out. I got started last week. I scooped up armfuls of paper—mostly—and set them on the floor in the “big room.”
I could sit on a pillow and go through the mess with something on the big screen TV as background.
It is a kind of archaeology. Tickets, brochures, notes, manuscripts, ephemera from places visited…
Some of it is fun.
Some of it brings back bad memories.
I embrace those. Learning experiences. What not to do again.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.Frederick Douglass
Some photos… I wrote a poem about them.
Your face, a bit dusty,
Stares up at me from the bedroom floor…
A few mysteries. (Did I see Bonnie Raitt in 2017? Who did I go with? I have the ticket…)
There is a box for recycling. A pile for souvenirs (golf score cards, local maps, menus…) A pile of manuscript verse and stories. (That is cool! Finding one of those, unrecorded, is like returning to a captured time and place.) Notes and to do lists. Booklets and printed material to shelve or sell.
When I’m done, they will all be filed. Some in milk crates. One holds manuscripts. Another typed up final versions. There’s a big wooden box in the bedroom. It is made in the shape of a stack of giant books. I put the event ephemera in there. It is a “Box of Where I’ve Been and What I’ve Done.”
Some things will be put in folders and filed away. The recycling will go to the warehouse to be remade into paper again. Blank pages from covered ones.
I could have just recycled everything, and the world would be none the wiser. But that is not “me.”
Sadly, in the last few days, I’ve been too drained to do even that. Yesterday, Tuesday, I came home and actually tried to plant some bulbs. I got a hundred in or so and realized how weak I was. Then the coughing started. The handkerchief to my face capturing… yuck.
I made some chicken bouillon. That is excellent sick fare. I put on an episode of Sharpe. He is still in Spain, but the French are beginning to flee north. It was all I could do to just sit there and watch.
I had a small loaf of hard bread. Tearing off pieces to press into a small Portmeirion bowl with olive oil and a little garlic salt. It is so good. The olive oil I imported from an organic farm near Lecce. The visit was about a year ago. I’d never tasted olive oil so good. It has a kind of green bite to it. When I make pasta, I can just drizzle on some of that, add a little salt, a few herbs, garlic… peasant fare. Hermit fare.
To bed just after 7. Too weak and drained to read more than a page.
Another vivid dream. I was a young soccer player again and scored two World Cup goals. When I awoke from that, I arose to let the dogs out and bring in some wood. I heard something in the leaves just outside the reach of the houselights. Coyote? Probably just raccoons. Whatever it was, I didn’t feel up to dealing with it. I called the dog in urgently, pushed the door closed and turned off the lights.
Another log in the stove and back to bed. My consciousness drifted away quickly.
I’ve been away so much. 35 of the last 90 or so days. When I got back a week ago Monday, I was ready to throw myself into the fray. My body soon failed me. I’ve been limping along at work, puttering at whatever I can.
Then I realized it has been doing fine without me. Am I now redundant? In some ways, that is a sign of success. I’ve built a machine that is running on its own. The team is so strong that there are no problems into which I feel the need to insert myself.
It is dawn on Wednesday. There’s a prism of color on the horizon. One lone farmhouse in the valley has a plume of chimney smoke rising from it. It rises from the house, spreads and dissipates into the atmosphere. Heaven swallows its smoke.
The Winter Solstice. The sun is rising at its furthest point south of here. It is the shortest period of daylight all year. The sun will set at 4:49 today. Tomorrow it will be a minute later. Sunrises will begin creeping north along the horizon. In three months, the equinox. The sunrise will be almost due east then.
Another measure of time. A celestial calendar. Fall has fled. Winter is here.
The phone says the temperature will be at a low of 5 degrees Friday into Saturday. Brutal. An “arctic blast” may turn into a “bomb cyclone.” Well, it sells newspapers… or “clicks” nowadays.
I rose a few minutes ago and let the dogs out—one at a time. No creatures in the dawn light to attack or be attacked. I turned on the tap to fill the teakettle. Water from the mountain rock three hundred feet below is pumped up to the house. It is crystal clear and so sweet. No color or taste. Another blessing. Another reason to be up here. None of that killer fluoride for me! LOL…
It is Christmas Week! I should be everywhere. Pointing my finger. Barking out requests. Tweaking this. Putting that on display. Asking customers, may I help you? Cranking out fresh stock. Culling the old dead tomes to make space for better books.
In 2019, I’d be meeting friends at Le Parc Bistro for Happy Hour and maybe stay on for dinner. I’d probably have been to Manhattan for Christmas in New York City. I’d have driven down to Montgomery County or DC searching for gifts I couldn’t find in Frederick. (I’ve discovered you can actually order things on the computer, and they will be delivered quickly. But I still think it is more “real” to go and hunt and gather in person.) A few dinners with family or friends. Cap and Adams and I would have gotten together for holiday cheer beers. The house would have some holiday decorations up. I’d have baked cookies out of a box and shaken red and green sprinkles over them. Not that long ago, a tree.
There would have been a small, or even a large, gathering up on the mountain. I would likely have grilled tuna with dill and…
2022 is a sterile time. I’m wearing a mask to make others feel comfortable.
The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.
Wonder Book is sponsoring a screening of A Christmas Carol Thursday on the Weinberg big screen. It is the 1951 version with Reginald Owen. I’ve never seen that on the big screen before. Hope I am up to going. I’d just huddle in the front row and bathe in the flickering black and white shadows pouring over me…
Before 2020, I would have already watched the two old Christmas Carols and A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life and Rudolph and…
Am I not needed anymore?
I have brainstormed some big innovations with Clark and other managers at the warehouse in the last week, however.
We are out of space. There is no place to put up more bookcases. To add the new stock pouring in onto the internet, we have to “kill off” older sections that have stopped selling well and whose prices can’t be reduced any further. But the pace is too fast.
Clark calls it, “Eating our tail.”
Looking at the problem, I saw an option.
“Why don’t we use the top shelves?”
“It’s too hard for some people to get up there.” It’s 8 feet to the top shelf.
I found one of the rolling stepladders. It is small and easy to maneuver. I take two “stairs” up, and even I can easily get a book off the top shelf.
“See how easy it is? We can order as many of these per cross aisle as you see fit.”
“The books fall off the ends when things get loose because of attrition.”
“I’ll get metal bookends screwed onto the metal shelves for stability. We have hundreds we aren’t using.”
(We get a lot of bookends that come along with books. The more exotic ones we sell at the stores. The plain ones have just been put into storage.)
“Going from 8 to 9 shelves throughout will give us an increase in shelf space of 12.5%. The building will become that much bigger. We can stop eating our tail.”
I also brainstormed an idea for the excess mass market paperbacks. (That’s the smaller size—under 7 inches tall—versus “trade paperbacks”—over 8 inches tall.) We’ve created a huge backlog of them via the sorting process. Backlog as in 20-25 pallets stacked high with tubs or boxes neatly packed with them.
It is more than you want to know, but the change will revolutionize the sorting and data entry process. It will take a touch or two from every one of those books that comes in. A “touch” by someone working here is actually the biggest expense associated with what we do. Every time someone who works here “touches” (or handles) a book, it adds to the “cost” of the book. Payroll is by far our biggest expense.
Do I have any more big ideas?
Are there any more big innovations we can employ?
Or am I just a figurehead now?
The World Cup final last Sunday was very exciting. Extremely. Maybe the best game ever—of any kind. For those that don’t “get” soccer, I understand. The snarky US pundits who call it “kickball”—well, was the audience a billion? What is the largest American “football” audience ever?
I have close friends and relations who don’t “get” Tolkien. Maybe it is a missing gene or something. They are missing a whole world. Just like soccer.
The whole world was watching.
Look at this celebration in Buenos Aires.
It is a culture. A common denominator for most of the world.
I wonder how many hours of soccer I watched in the past month? Much of it while in Europe.
The day of the World Cup final, I got through a bunch of carts of old books, ran out of gas and dragged myself home early.
I feel guilty missing so much time after being away so much. But the stores and warehouse are doing so well without me.
I put American football on TV as a default. I didn’t have the energy for anything else. There were some of the goofiest games ever last weekend. I bet a few players got fired.
I put on an episode of Sharpe. Watching these again was triggered by the visit to Spain. All the early episodes take place there. The Peninsular War where Arthur Wellesley established himself as a leader who could finally counter Napoleon. It was after a battle there that King George made him Lord Wellington. The bus passed by Talavera on the way to… somewhere… It was the victory there that established Wellington’s reputation.
The Bernard Cornwell novels are like popcorn. Page turners. And like the Horatio Hornblower novels, I learned a lot of history from them as well as what it was like to be a sailor or soldier or human in those times. Same with Flashman.
Sean Bean plays Sharpe. Sharpe is a kind of an early 19th century James Bond superhuman. Bean also played Boromir in the Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. I took the kids to see Bean play Macbeth in London long ago when they were little.
It is Tuesday morning. I’m feeling a lot better. I hope I’ll be able to interact with humans over the holidays. I think so.
Still, when I step out to the porch to bring in some wood, the cold air hits my lungs and a coughing fit starts. Not as acute as before. But it still hurts.
Winter has settled in hard and early. Christmas weekend might be in the single digits here.
The woodstove ritual is a pleasurable part of my life. Thoreau was right when he wrote…
When I awoke in the dark and went to the stove this morning, I opened the dampers and lifted the lid.
It has the house at a comfortable 64 degrees, nearly 40 degrees higher than just outside the window.
I’d been told The Washington Post story might get published on Monday. You never know how these things will turn out. I’d spent most of a day with Karen Heller in November. We’d toured and chatted in the warehouse first.
Then we went over to the Frederick store. I hoped she might be able to interact with someone selling us their books in the parking lot outside the store. That was a goal of hers.
Sure enough, there was a flurry of buys when we went out into the parking lot. 5 or 6 people standing by their cars waiting to have their books looked at. I approached a few people.
“Would you be willing to speak with a Washington Post reporter about how you feel selling your books?”
One gentleman was amenable. I hooked them up and stepped away while she did her thing.
She was also looking for people who were selling their books from their household to ask how they felt about it. I’ve been tethered to the warehouse so much recently it is rare I get out to house calls. I gave her Larry’s contact. He does a LOT of house calls—most for us, I think.
In the late afternoon, she was done. She’d offered lunch, and I wanted to converse with her more. I was learning many things about myself and Wonder Book from her probing.
And it is not every day you can get “Jeff Bezos” to buy you lunch.
“I’d like to show you downtown Frederick. There are great places to eat everywhere.”
Carroll Creek is filled with brightly colored boats in winter. At night, they are all lit up. It is a festival of color. I chose The Wine Kitchen. There, in summer, you can sit outside and people watch the human comedy passing below on the Promenade. I ordered a burger. She ordered a wild mushroom strudel.
“I didn’t see that. I’ll switch to that, please.”
It was wonderful.
Our chat continued. She told me about her own books and how the dilemma she envisioned with them had spurred her to pursue this story.
I spoke about the talismanic effect some books and some collections hold over their owners.
Did I tell her about the old battered The Lord of the Rings paperbacks I hold in as high esteem as the set of first editions I have? Maybe it was in a follow-up with a cut and paste from one of the early stories published here.
My brother Jimmie, a decade older than I, stuck his head in my Amherst, New York bedroom in the mid 60s. I would have been about 10 years old.
“You might like these. They’re full of dragon spit and elven snot.”
He tossed the trilogy of Ballantine mass markets onto my bed. I wondered at the brightly colored covers.
When did I first start reading them? Not long after. I recall vividly reading them under the bedclothes, using a flashlight so my parents wouldn’t call out, “Stop reading and turn off the light!”
Some books evoke a time or place. Some a friend or loved one. Some change your life. This little clutch of books did all those things for me.
You never know what to expect when a newspaper story comes out. Early Monday morning, I was texted a picture of page C-1 The Style Section. A colorful drawing of a person standing atop a colorful maelstrom of books takes all the space above the fold.
I stopped at the 7-11 that is on my way to work. “Any size coffee and a muffin for $2.49.” I’ll give the muffin away at work. I searched for the newspaper rack. It used to be right next to the point of the sale counter.
“It’s over there—behind you—with the chips.”
There were a couple of copies of The Frederick News-Post. A USA Today… a couple others, but no The Washington Post.
I pulled off the highway just before the warehouse exit and went into Sheetz. They had two copies. I cleaned them out. One to hang on the bulletin board. One for the archives.
As a kid, I would devour the morning paper. I did so as a young man and an adult as well.
At different stages of my life, I would start with the funny pages or sports or the A section or the book reviews…
In college, I subscribed to the Sunday edition of The New York Times. I would struggle with friends to complete the crossword puzzle. When my fiancé was going to law school in downtown Philadelphia, we would walk those mean streets to a newspaper stand late Saturday night when the first Sunday editions were dropped off. Was it midnight? There were hundreds of copies piled hip high. When we moved to a stone farmhouse near the Mason Dixon Line just below Gettysburg, it was so rural there was no delivery. There was no money, but the treat would be to go into the little town on Sunday morning and take a copy of the Post into the Lincoln Diner and have a long breakfast exchanging sections.
We still get the Frederick paper delivered at the warehouse. “Why?” I am asked by those that pay the bills. It is a kind of duty, I think. And maybe a nod, an ode, to the past. Employees often flip through it at lunch. Perhaps it is their only exposure to a physical newspaper.
I even got credit for a photo.
It is Friday morning. A warm 40 degrees out in the blackness. By sunset at 4:51 p.m., it will be 8 degrees and dropping to 4 later.
Winter is here with a vengeance.
I will be stoking the fire this evening, glad for my woodpile and my free heat. Free but for the time and labor of cutting, hauling and stacking the wood. But the ritual is good for the body, mind and soul.
I pulled out my set of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings first editions.
They don’t have the personal talismanic effect that the Ballantines do. It is more of a meta talismanic experience. This is how the books appeared the first day the few booksellers were willing to give them space in the shops to put them out.
If these had never been published, how different the world would be.
On the flight back from Madrid 11 days ago, I was busy writing when a small child behind me began screaming. And screaming. And SCREAMING! I would also like to think she was infecting me with whatever laid me low this past week. I decided to watch the Hobbit movies. I’d dismissed them when they first came out. They didn’t rise to the standard of Jackson’s LOTR set.
The headphones kept the screams out.
Near the end of the third film, when Bilbo finds Thorin Oakenshield dying from orc wounds, they bond one last time.
Bilbo, the reluctant adventurer, had achieved great things for such a small and insignificant fellow. And, unknowingly, he would set in motion events that would end a world and begin a new one.
Thorin’s last words were:
Farewell, Master Burglar. Go back to your books… and your armchair… plant your trees, watch them grow. If more people… valued home above gold… this world would be a merrier… place…
It is the eve of Christmas Eve.
I’m in bed finishing this with a cup of Gandalf the Grey tea. I know just when and where I got the box of tea bags. The Morgan Library had a Tolkien exhibition in 2017, and I drove up just to see it. They had a lot of Tolkien “stuff” in the shop, and I bought, umm, a few things.
How busy and exciting things used to be.
Now they are solitary and contemplative.
It is good to have a life that is new and different and changing. The plateau I tread upon now is a place I never would have thought my journey would have taken me to.
But, perhaps, next year will be different.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
In the last story, I tried to channel Ernest Hemingway from the scene near the end of the Sun Also Rises. I did a bit of editing. Here are the last couple of pages in their entirety:
We rode in a taxi down to the Palace Hotel, left the bags, arranged for berths on the Sud Express for the night, and went into the bar of the hotel for a cocktail. We sat on high stools at the bar while the barman shook the Martinis in a large nickelled shaker.
“It’s funny what a wonderful gentility you get in the bar of a big hotel,” I said.
“Barmen and jockeys are the only people who are polite any more.”
“No matter how vulgar a hotel is, the bar is always nice.”
“Bartenders have always been fine.”
“You know,” Brett said, “it’s quite true. He is only nineteen. Isn’t it amazing?”
We touched the two glasses as they stood side by side on the bar. They were coldly beaded. Outside the curtained window was the summer heat of Madrid.
“I like an olive in a Martini,” I said to the barman.
“Right you are, sir. There you are.”
“I should have asked, you know.”
The barman went far enough up the bar so that he would not hear our conversation. Brett had sipped from the Martini as it stood, on the wood. Then she picked it up. Her hand was steady enough to lift it after that first sip.
“It’s good. Isn’t it a nice bar?”
“They’re all nice bars.”
“You know I didn’t believe it at first. He was born in 1905. I was in school in Paris, then. Think of that.”
“Anything you want me to think about it?”
“Don’t be an ass. Would you buy a lady a drink?”
“We’ll have two more Martinis.”
“As they were before, sir?”
“They were very good.” Brett smiled at him.
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“Well, bung-o,” Brett said.
“You know,” Brett said, “he’d only been with two women before. He never cared about anything but bull-fighting.”
“He’s got plenty of time.”
“I don’t know. He thinks it was me. Not the show in general.”
“Well, it was you.”
“Yes. It was me.”
“I thought you weren’t going to ever talk about it.”
“How can I help it?”
“You’ll lose it if you talk about it.”
“I just talk around it. You know I feel rather damned good, Jake.”
“You know it makes one feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch.”
“It’s sort of what we have instead of God.”
“Some people have God,” I said. “Quite a lot.”
“He never worked very well with me.”
“Should we have another Martini?”
The barman shook up two more Martinis and poured them out into fresh glasses.
“Where will we have lunch?” I asked Brett. The bar was cool. You could feel the heat outside through the window.
“Here?” asked Brett.
“It’s rotten here in the hotel. Do you know a place called Botin’s?” I asked the barman.
“Yes, sir. Would you like to have me write out the address?”
We lunched up-stairs at Botin’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.
“How do you feel, Jake?” Brett asked. “My God! what a meal you’ve eaten.”
“I feel fine. Do you want a dessert?”
Brett was smoking.
“You like to eat, don’t you?” she said.
“Yes.” I said. “I like to do a lot of things.”
“What do you like to do?”
“Oh,” I said, “I like to do a lot of things. Don’t you want a dessert?”
“You asked me that once,” Brett said.
“Yes,” I said. “So I did. Let’s have another bottle of rioja alta.”
“It’s very good.”
“You haven’t drunk much of it,” I said.
“I have. You haven’t seen.”
“Let’s get two bottles,” I said. The bottles came. I poured a little in my glass, then a glass for Brett, then filled my glass. We touched glasses.
“Bung-o!” Brett said. I drank my glass and poured out another. Brett put her hand on my arm.
“Don’t get drunk, Jake,” she said. “You don’t have to.”
“How do you know?”
“Don’t,” she said. “You’ll be all right.”
“I’m not getting drunk,” I said. “I’m just drinking a little wine. I like to drink wine.”
“Don’t get drunk,” she said. “Jake, don’t get drunk.”
“Want to go for a ride?” I said. “Want to ride through the town?”
“Right,” Brett said. “I haven’t seen Madrid. I should see Madrid.”
“I’ll finish this,” I said.
Down-stairs we came out through the first-floor dining-room to the street. A waiter went for a taxi. It was hot and bright. Up the street was a little square with trees and grass where there were taxis parked. A taxi came up the street, the waiter hanging out at the side. I tipped him and told the driver where to drive, and got in beside Brett. The driver started up the street. I settled back. Brett moved close to me. We sat close against each other. I put my arm around her and she rested against me comfortably. It was very hot and bright, and the houses looked sharply white. We turned out onto the Gran Via.
“Oh, Jake,” Brett said, “we could have had such a damned good time together.”
Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.
“Yes.” I said. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”
My Interaction with Healthcare and Big Pharma:
I broke down and called the doctor’s office about 3 a.m. Friday. I hoped getting my recorded request in that early would put me near the front of the queue. I called again about 9. I like my doctor a lot. But I don’t think I have ever gotten a call picked up there. For a while, I was faxing a very brief description of whatever the issue was thinking that would be easy for him to tell at a glance what was needed. That stopped working a few years ago. About 11, I got a call from his office. It was an automated thing, saying I had an option to accept an appointment Tuesday. I could accept it or reject it.
Tuesday?! (It turns out that was a regularly scheduled semi-annual appointment, but I hadn’t looked that far ahead.)
I think I only call once or twice a year. It is either an injury or something like this that is so acute I’m willing to be a squeaky wheel.
It is almost Kafkaesque. How do I get in? I know there are 5 or 6 office people sitting behind glass partitions there.
I texted my old doctor now retired. He is also a good friend. He said he uses concierge medicine. Maybe I should try that. He checked. It takes two months to get accepted. He suggested I go to an “immediate care” storefront. I’ve never done that. I imagined it would take hours waiting in a dreary lobby.
Then the doctor’s office called, and a human said the doctor would call me around 2:30 for a tele-med appointment.
That went well, and he thought antibiotics and cough medicine might knock it out.
“Call back if it doesn’t.”
I waited for a text from the mega pharmacy. They used to be so good. I would just call their machine and leave the number of the prescription I wanted refilled. I usually got a text in a few hours that it was ready for pickup. I never used all the refills I had been allotted. Often none of them.
Something has happened this year where there is always some issue. They blame government regulation. Big Brother inserting itself in my healthcare.
When a coughing fit would strike, that reflex took complete control of me. It was impossible to stifle. I got looks from people at work. Plague? I’d tested negative twice. Still, I took to wearing a mask. Kabuki theater.
It got worse. My lungs were rattling and wheezing. I went home and suffered. No fever. Pneumonia? All I could do was lie in bed or set myself in front of the TV.
I’d hardly gotten any book work done all week. I dragged myself in Saturday and worked in slow motion. Every joint ached. I was so tired. And the cough, when it attacked, had me doubled over in spasms. No text from the pharmacy.
I know I should have called, been a squeaky wheel. But the physical affliction was affecting my head. I felt “vague.”
I went home early and collapsed. Drained. I would have blessed rest, completely out of it until the cough was triggered.
“Are my ribs broken?”
I’d reach for a book after an attack, but I would only get through a paragraph before the exertion was too much, and it would drop from my hand.
The night from Saturday to Sunday was miserable, but I awoke Sunday feeling a little better but so hoping nothing would trigger the “cough.”
I called the Walmart pharmacy as soon as it opened. I went through the phone tree which reminded me at every turn I could get my next COVID shot by appointment or drop in. I was eligible for another booster if I hadn’t had one since September. A clerk finally picked up. I spelled out my name slowly.
“We have one prescription ready. Antibiotic. We are checking with the doctor about the cough medicine. It is… [something, something.]”
“The antibiotic has been ready since yesterday, and no one let me know?”
“[Something, something,]” I couldn’t understand.
I know it would be futile to argue with a clerk. Maybe I will have to fire the pharmacy.
I found I had some leftover cough medicine from when I had a similar disease upon returning from Rome in 2019. I took some of that and called in the refill number.
It was ready Monday morning. The two drugs had immediate effect upon my symptoms.