grinninfoole: (strangelove)
Actually several "its". Next weekend, I'm off to DexCon in NJ. This August, I'll be driving down the east coast to visit friends while I head towards DragonCon.

I've been seeing a life coach, which sounds kind of dumb to me, but it's been helpful, because she's helping to articulate what I really care about, and thus to focus on doing what I want to do, rather than what I think I should. I find that I am more relaxed and confident lately, and I'm accomplishing more things that matter to me. (Such as getting to the trainer 4 times a week, getting solar panels on the house, driving out to Kentucky for a family wedding, and spending more time with friends.)

It's ten months since my brother died. I'm still growing my hair out, two months to go, and it's such a nuisance. I don't know how people deal with it.

I started listening to a podcast on the History of Rome on my long drive, and it feels good to be learning about stuff that I didn't want to spend a ton of time reading about, but that I'm glad to know nonetheless. And so far, my favorite historical character has been Hannibal Baraka, so I'm sad he lost.

Millari is living here at the house again for the summer before she moves to Mexico. It's lovely to have her around so much, though her stuff is creating some clutter. The kitty is very happy she's here, and is every more cuddly and purring than otherwise. (She's in the crook of my arm as I type this. I think she sends her felicitations to you, dear reader.)
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I'm currently in CA, near San Francisco. My good friend Usakeh's mother has just died, so I have come out here to offer moral support. It's quite a blow for anyone, and harder when your mom is so young. [livejournal.com profile] millari is here, too, and it's been nice to spend time together. Things I like about it here: it's so sunny and mild; the gorgeous countryside of rolling hills; there aren't any mosquitos to eat me alive when I'm out exercising. What I don't like so much is that everything is more costly than back home in MA. If I were living out here, I'd really have to get a job.

Usakeh's dad is a Stanford prof, and he's been very accommodating of our presence, but I'm sure he'll be pleased to see the end of lounging on his sofas. Happily, it's a large, sunny, pleasant house so there is at least enough room. (Actually, the previous owner was apparently an AV nut, so there's a home theater room that's like a more comfortable version of the little downstairs venue at the old pleasant street theater.

We spent last weekend in Carmel, with U's grandparents (retired professors originally from Vienna), in a gorgeous villa overlooking the sea. It's probably worth millions now, but they've been there for decades and it has a pleasantly lived-in feel. It sort of reminds me of my grandmother's house, for all that it's a comfy Adobe structure on a slope with a gorgeous view of the bay, rather than a stodgy box in North Andover.

Lots of great places to go walking out there, and the most beautiful was Point Lobos state reservation. There were deer, seals, pelicans and many other birds, plus some truly gorgeous terrain and vegetation. I took a bunch of pictures, mainly thinking how Mole Underfield would love them and how he might paint them.

I'm flying back tomorrow, and then... Well, we'll see. No civil politics this week, as we're all away, which is a pity as Cruz and Kasich dropping out leave only Trump in the running for the GOP nomination is probably worth a few minutes discussion.

I have started reading the Three Musketeers, and enjoying it quite a bit. Dumas is quite the storyteller, and it's interesting to me how much I'm enjoying it despite the characters all being rather broad and archetypal. I wonder how much of that is because he created the archetypes? I have seen various movie adaptations, so I'm familiar with some of the story and general plot elements, but it's interesting to see how much of the milieu, the flavor of the story, comes from Dumas. Also, I'd forgotten that he was black. It fascinates me how much of the most popular pop culture is created by marginalized people.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I'm in a better mindset than my last post. It's tough to resist the old patterns of my family, but one of my friends (I think it was millari but it might have been morlock) summed it up well: don't go back to Andover to care of your mom, go back to visit your mom. And it's true that we already have a great team helping mom, with the PCAs from Home Instead, house calls from Patricia and Margaret at Elder Care Coordinator, financial coverage from the folks at US Trust, and chats with the minister. I'm going to focus on making my time in Andover about what I can do that others can't. Also, when I'm away, I call every day.

Right now, though, I'm in Tarrytown. I came down on Saturday and stayed with friends in Mount Vernon (super pleasant home for a super nice couple) (saw the Last Witchhunter movie, which was just as predictable and ersatz as a Snickers bar). Sunday we had the 'make plans for 2016' board meeting, and in the evening Lefty and I played Pathfinder (the adventure card game not the RPG, because who has time for such a baroque rules system?)* I had planned to drive back home tomorrow early in the day, but Lefty called and asked me to come take him to urgent care. He's got some sort of bladder problem that I think has been greatly exacerbated by an infection? Anyhoo, it was horrible so he needed a ride and a friend while he got treatment. I stayed the night at his place, and this morning the pills are working and he's much improved. Huzzah! (I beguiled the hours after he crashed out by watching Burn After Reading, which was as great as M told me it would be and was like watching a Fiasco game adapted to film, and the The Seven Percent Solution, which I had seen thirty years ago but I hadn't noticed that it's kind of racist and that Robert Duvall's British accent sounds terrible.)

Now I'm heading off with Lefty on a store errand, and then it's home to vote!

{BTW, while driving down, I listened to a podcast recommended by a friend I'll call Vanderbilt, the Blacklist Table Reads, which turns unproduced screen plays into audio dramas. It's a Hollywood thing, but the episode I listened to was Chrome Noir, a 30s crime story with robots that was a lot of fun.}



*I do, actually, in a game that Stoic is running. Honestly, though, if it weren't a long-running and already ongoing campaign, I don't know that I would find it worth the trouble, and I kept my character simple.
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Today it's been six months since my brother died. His cat has warmed up to me considerably, and is now flopped against me, purring. I have accomplished some important stuff in that time, mostly taking care of MU's estate. I have been coming back to Andover to stay with mom for a couple of days almost every week. This has started taking a toll on me. MU was the one who was good at taking care of routine business in an orderly manner. I was the one who handled the crises. Now that he's gone, and been gone awhile, things aren't in a crisis anymore. There's just the soggy, grey slog of normal life, with wealth and privilege smoothing over the worst problems that come with old age, Parkinson's, nerve damage, and a resultant confinement to a wheelchair. Or, if you're me, having a mother in that position, and wanting desperately to help her stay happy, active, and connected with friends. Since most of her friends have either died or moved away, this isn't easy.

I haven't handled this well. Mom has a script in her head, from long before I ever existed, that tells her that no one really values her, and she's reacting in ways that are really codependent. Or maybe it's better to say ways that make me codependent. Anyway, the more time I spend in Andover, the more I'm staying up all night and sleeping all day, like I did when I was a kid, and the less time I spend actually doing stuff I care about, and the worse my depression gets. I don't want to cut mom loose, but I can't keep this up. I want to spend my energy changing my home, getting fitter, dressing better, writing more, gaming with friends, starting another radio show, and maybe even going on a few dates. Plus, my cat now has hyper-thyroidism, so I need to make sure she's OK.
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As of January 28, it's been 14 years since I started this journal. I'm older and fatter, yet both physically and emotionally healthier. I have gone from an apartment in Northampton to a house in Easthampton. When I started this journal, Modern Myths didn't even exist, and now I'm looking back at a career there. [livejournal.com profile] millari And I were just starting to date, now we've had a whole marriage. Feisty has gone from vibrant young little tiger to sleepy old kitty who creaks with the years.

Some other moments worth noting:

This past weekend, I had a lovely supper at a tapas place near Union Square with Redacted. I haven't seen him/her since last spring, so it was good to catch up.

I tidied up in my bedroom and found a number of old cards from [livejournal.com profile] usakeh. They follow a consistent pattern of apologizing for not staying in touch more, and then thanking me for sending a gift, calling when she was in the hospital, or otherwise reaching out. It's actually rather pleasant to read so many affirmations piled up together. I hope she keeps sending them.

I also found a program from when [livejournal.com profile] mole_underfieldAnd I went to see Book Of Mormon last March 15th. We very much enjoyed the show. We stayed at my godmother's flat near Lincoln Center, and didn't go out that much. I had wanted to gad about the city more, but MU, as was his wont, preferred to stay in and chill. We tried to get into the Nightly Show, but couldn't. (We went to see American Sniper instead, which was OK.) I spent a fair amount of time reading a book which I quite enjoyed, but now I can't recall what it was.
[edit: China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. Just the kind of immersive fantasy I can't stop eating with a spoon.]

That was, in retrospect, about the peak of MU's respite from the cancer. He went off the chemo for a couple of months after that, and the cancer bore down on him until he smothered.

The weekend of October 4th, I flew to Cleveland to catch the final game of the season between the Red Sox and the Indians. I'd floated the idea to MU last winter, and he said he'd like to go if he felt up to it. I stayed with B, whom I hadn't seen much of for many years, as we'd had a falling out after my doomed romance with Grounded. I had a great visit. We reminisced, and carried on as we had done years ago when we in our 20s. I even dug up an old 2nd edition character, just in case it had worked out that I could join his D&D group for a session.

The weather was perfect, and Cleveland was lovely and friendly. The Red Sox capped a losing season by getting beaten 3-1.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I started taking sertraline back in 2011 when I hit a serious depressive spell. I stopped last autumn quite abruptly when I ran out of pills in Andover, and didn't have any easy way to refill them. Apparently, 'cold turkey' is not the recommended way to go off mood stabilizers, as I felt really weird for about a month or two. My doctor was aghast when I told her.

Still, it was done, and I noticed some major changes: my moods were much more variable than I was accustomed to. I felt, at times, ebullient and, at others, deeply sad. All would wash over me like a wave and like a wave all would pass. My libido was more powerful and more insistent. This was all acceptable, even desirable, but I also found that I would fly into rages like I hadn't in years, and over trivial matters. I'd get frustrated with something in the kitchen at Mom's house, for example, and I'd be tossing things about, banging pot lids, and swearing up a storm. It was embarrassing for me, and upsetting for Mom. So, about two weeks ago, I started in again on the sertraline. I'm only taking 25 mg a day, but the way it has muted the emotional color in my life has been quite noticeable. Over the past week, I have been settling into a mild depression, a dysthymia, that makes it hard to take care of business–which is particularly embarrassing when I have no business but my own. Still, I'm holding my temper in the manner to which I have grown accustomed, and that's worth it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I had a dream last night, and like most dreams I recall little of it, and the context makes no sense, but one detail still resonates, and I mention it here: I was driving my car around, but sitting in the passenger seat, and thinking to myself 'I should move over, in case I need to hit the brake'. Given my increased responsibilities and autonomy, it's a surprisingly clear message from my subconscious, n'est-ce pas?
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I started 2016 off well. I spent New Year's Eve with MaMEd and his family, swapping gifts and enjoying each other's company. The Attraction game (which is like playing marbles with magnets) was a big hit with Princess C. Saturday into Sunday was a lot of games. [livejournal.com profile] millari and I had a nice supper at Mulino's Saturday evening, followed by some Chrononauts at her place. Sunday was twelve hours of gaming fun at my house. M came over, as well as Suave, and folks from my Deadlands/Transhuman gaming group (until I come up with nicknames: SS, TJ, JEL, JE). We played a cute trick-taking game called Friday the 13th, then Lords of Waterdeep (as there were only five of us yet–poor M had to wait an hour for us to finish, but was very chill about it–and it was a close game to the end), and all seven of us played Shadows Over Camelot. It turned out that none of us was a traitor (only 12.5% chance of that) and we managed to find the Grail, retrieve Excalibur and Lancelot's Armor, defeat the Black Knight, and drive off an invasion of Picts. Ironically, we won by allowing an invasion of Saxons to proceed, thus filling up the Table. After that, Suave took off, so we played Unspeakable Words (the Lovecraftian word game) and more Friday 13th. Then TJ and M departed, so the four of us remaining wrapped up with an old chestnut (for me, at least), Reiner Knizia's Lord Of The Rings coop game. I got that game back in 2001, and I have played it dozens of times (according to the scoring sheet), but not since 2007. It was a bit of a roller-coaster as I tried to recall the rules, but the hobbits managed to chuck the ring into the fire all the same. Poor Stoic, who has been my houseguest for the past month as he reboots and regroups, is also recuperating from an injury, and he felt too unwell to join us. Perhaps next time.

It was enormous fun, exactly why I keep trying to have these sorts of parties. I hope to have more luck with them in the year to come.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
My saga of brother's battle with cancer approaches its tragic denouement. He was diagnosed last May with adenocarcinoma in his stomach, and after several surgeries, all the radiation he could stand, and six months of chemo, his doctor at Dana Farber Cancer Institute has thrown in the towel. He's lost so much weight, his liver is failing, and he's got hardly any appetite. I don't know how much longer I'll have a big brother.

I'm starting to think about what comes next–writing an obituary, delivering a eulogy, helping my mother carry on. I shall soon be an only child–how long til I'm an orphan? My life is in flux, as well, because I recently quit my job, so I could spend more time with the family, and finally got around to filing the divorce papers with Millari. I don't miss the actual duties of my job, and I'm still quite satisfied with how my marriage played out, but I do need to re-answer the fundamental question of mortal existence: what now?

I don't know what MU is thinking or feeling right now. I hope he's not plagued with regrets. I hope he isn't full of dread. Those are natural responses, and I'm sure every person who's ever lived felt them in some measure (I do), but I hope my brother feels loved and contented. He deserves to.

It occurs to me that, as an atheist, I should perhaps share my thinking about what it means to be dead, as distinct from the process of dying. Dying is a transitive, not to say transitional, physical experience. I sometimes find myself thinking about what it will be like for me, where and when it will happen, and what my last sight will be.

The actual source of existential dread, however, is the boundless unconscious unbeing that follows. After a life of consciousness, and especially a life of linear narratives, I really can't grasp what formless, endless, nothingness will be like. The classic answer for we unbelievers is that it will precisely nothing. "I" will no longer exist in any way, so, for me, everything will simply stop forever.

That may be the whole truth.

I do have some suspicions that it isn't, though. (buckle up)

First off, consciousness is demonstrably linked to the electrochemical processes in our brains. Whatever it means to think and be self-aware, everything we know about it depends upon our physical brains. What we don't know, and maybe can't know, is whether our experience of consciousness can be wholly explained by what our brains do. (The Baconian Idol of the Tribe, though the tribe in this case may be any living organism, and not merely humanity.) Many people have written stories about being disembodied, or existing as spirits, or an afterlife, but the truth is that no one has ever experienced life without a body, so we really have no reliable testimony at all on this matter.

Second, the atoms in our bodies are no different from the atoms in anything else. If consciousness is just something that emerges from complexity, then the fact that matter is eternal means that we are eternal. We cannot be destroyed because matter cannot be destroyed, and just as matter can't be created, maybe we weren't really created, either. Maybe we were simply latent in the universe, and even after the complex processes that make us us apparently stop, we're still just as latent, just as waiting to emerge, as we were for the 14 billion years that passed by before our cue.

Third, if consciousness is a property of sufficiently organized matter, then the patterns of that organization are governed by physical laws, just like everything else. Which, I think, is another way of saying that we are specific iterations of a universal thingamabob. The wave crashes on the shore, but the ocean is still there. Everything about "us" will survive the death of our bodies, because consciousness (in this wild notion) is inherent in the physical structure of the universe.

Fourth, this starts to resemble the Platonic ideal forms, with everything physical thing merely an imperfect reflection of the metaphysical exemplar. That may well be nonsense, of course, a charming fantasy with no basis in reality. (Or maybe just a more poetical way of saying 'math, bitches'.) I get antsy when things move away from the concrete and specific towards the abstract. But, I must admit, I can't dismiss the reality, the actual not-made-upness, of abstract concepts. Two plus two equals four, even without humans to think it (I can't believe these are arbitrary things we just invented), even though "two" has no physical reality.

I'm dozing off, so I may have lost my thread, I think that, even without indulging in superstition, the old adage may be true: omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I last posted near the Winter Solstice, and now it's less than a week to Summer's. Sigh.

I'm waiting around at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. My brother just had an endoscopic procedure to put a stent in his liver. It's been a bit more than a year since the diagnosis, and nine months since we learned it's too advanced for a cure. Six months of chemotherapy followed, then a couple of months hiatus while he built up his strength and we waited to see what effect it had had on the tumor. Yesterday, we learned that the cancer rebounded aggressively, and MU needs to restart the chemo next Monday. This sucks, but is not unexpected--MU's had pain, worsening and increasingly constant pain, for the last couple of weeks--and we think it likely that the chemo will again be tolerable and effective in controlling the disease.

As for me, I'm in a comfortable but difficult limbo. I resigned from my job managing the store in Northampton, because I took nearly 3 months off last year, and we just can't sustain that if I have to do it again this year. Dropping everything to help my family was the right decision, but it's created problems for me. I'm muddling through financially, but the great swaths of unstructured time pose real challenges for me. I'm good at thinking of things I could, should, or even need to do, but the 'executive functioning' that lets people actually set goals and accomplish them doesn't work so well for me. It doesn't help that my long-standing ADD meds seem to be causing some irritating nervous tics, so I need to switch to something else.

Still, I have had time to watch a crapload of stuff on Netflix and Hulu. It's not an actual accomplishment, but it has been pleasantly diverting.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
Alas, she does not feel about me like I feel about her. I do wonder if this is indicative of some personal flaw that I must address, or if my sample size is simply too small. As with many things in life, rejection is an inevitable part of the process. Food for thought in 2015.

For now, what matters is I spoke my mind fully and well, and I'm the better for it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
2014 has brought some unpleasant changes to my life, but some good ones, as well. The best has been getting to know a woman who lives on the west coast via Facebook and Google chats. The other day I could no longer deny that I was smitten with her, so I wrote her an email professing myself, and asking if perhaps she felt similarly.

As of this moment, I have no idea what she will say. I can imagine a range of positive and negative replies, but I really can't even make a guess what she will do, and I'm both nervous and intrigued by the uncertainty. This will be a profound turning point in my life, no matter what she does. If she turns me down, I'll be sad and my days will continue on as they have been until my next big decision or crisis. If she shares my affections then this could be the start of a whole process that leads to... marriage? A new home? Kids? A new career? An ugly divorce? Learning a new language? A tattoo? Finally finding a form of exercise I actively enjoy?

I can't find the words to capture this mix of feelings. A bit of dread, certainly, but also excitement. Hope, blended with anticipatory heart break. Pride that I have put myself forward with what I believe to be an appropriate mix of confidence and humility. Curiosity, and a desire to preserve this person I am now, before I am reborn into a new life. I am the larva inside its chrysalis, and I wonder what imago will be revealed.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
In the beginning of May of this year, my brother was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in his stomach.  Scans showed a tumor near his small intestine, small enough that it still be in early in its development.  I spent almost all of that month at home in Andover with him and my mom, taking him to the hospital, setting up radiation and chemo therapy, and trying to offer moral support. I was just about to go back to work when my father died, and we had the memorial service for him, and all that.

MU finished the radiation and chemo in July, and had a follow up scan in August.  The results were, according his oncologists at Mass General, the best possible.  Plans were made for surgery on 9/9 to cut out part of his stomach, where the tumor had been, to prevent it returning and spreading.  Once the operation began, however, the doctors observed little spots of cancer spread across his stomach and into his intestines.  It was too late to perform the surgery, or to hope for a cure.

My whole family is stunned by this, and I can only imagine how terrible this must be for MU, given his tendency to assume the worst and worry about what can go wrong.  Imagine going to sleep before an operation to cure you, only to wake up and be told you're going to die?

We got a second opinion at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and we're going to have them take over MU's treatment.  He likes their facility and atmosphere better.  In a couple of weeks, he will start more chemo therapy, which we hope will hold things at bay for a while.  How long, we don't know.  If I understand that statistics correctly, the five year survival rate is 10 to 20 percent, which is pretty bad, but hardly a fait accompli.

I'm going to switch from salary to hourly at work, so I can take off whenever I need to, and they have promised to do everything they can to give us all the time and support we need.  I can't properly express how grateful I am for this, not just for my family, but for me.

I have never experienced anything like this before.  When Mom had cancer ten years ago, it was clear that they were both new and hadn't spread.  The operations to deal with them went smoothly, and she needed little follow up treatment.  I didn't truly appreciate then how ridiculously rare and lucky that was.  Now I do, because I just want to curl up and hide from this.  I'm going to be away for much of the next week, and I plan to do useful stuff at the old family home, and I really don't want to go to work.  It feels like such a burden to be there and deal with the challenges we face right now.  (It's a whole separate post, but basically Lefty and I put our faith in the wrong guy to head up the Northampton store when Lefty went to New York.  It's emotionally very draining, and by far the biggest mistake of my life, as well as the worst misjudgement of character I have ever made.)  It feels like a weight pressing on my chest.

I'll try and post about some of the other noteworthy stuff, like my fun vacation to DragonCon, my failed attempts at romance, and maybe even gaming or something.
grinninfoole: (Default)

Today is a day to support people coming out and proclaiming their sexual identity to the world. Gay, lesbian, bi, or some other label; trans- or cis- gendered; celibate, monogamous, polyamorous, or whatever else. This is a time for people to step forward and push back against the mass of society trying to stifle their joy, their love, their relationships, their choices, and the bedrock truth of their lives. It's also a time for those of us who care for those people, and those of us who believe in liberty, to speak up in affirmation.

So that's what I am doing now. I'm going to come out as heterosexual, cisgendered, and basically monogamous (though poly curious). I like women. I emotionally identify with them. I find many of them sexy. I tend to go for paler skin and skinny (like our advertising culture uses to sell to us all). and shorter than I, though I'm by no means exclusive about this. God help me, I'm even kind of attracted to Miley Cyrus. I know that this may seem like the opposite of coming out--instead of speaking up for something repressed, I'm proclaiming something constantly validated and assumed. However, I'd like to point something out: everything I just told you about myself is a taste (or preference or orientation or what-have-you). Or, to put it a sexy way, a kink.

The difference between me and someone who likes rubenesque women, or bearded women, or a foot-fetishist, or a transvestite, or just about anything else, is that my kinks are common enough, and reinforced enough, that hardly anyone recognizes them as such. There's nothing weirder about wanting to suck dick than to lick pussy. Or both. Or neither. Or only with whipped cream and a cherry. Heck, I find the poo, pain and/or blood kinks disturbing, but that really is just me. The consenting adults can do their thing with my blessing (though, please, no poo in my whipped cream, OK?) Double heck, even the folks with non-consensual urges like pedophilia aren't that different from me in their feelings. The damage comes from acting on those feelings, and I feel sympathy for anyone struggling to live a full human life while protecting others from those impulses, and I think we should do more as a collective to help them do so.

(Honestly, while I agree that sexuality is largely, if not completely, orientational and that 'gay reparative' therapy is therefore misguided, I do hope that it isn't completely so, that there we can make meaningful choices about our sexual feelings, because I'd like to think that pedophilically inclined people can choose to grow into something healthier. And, yes, I know that homosexuality and pedophilia are completely different things, and I'm not trying to morally equate them. I just made a logical leap.)

All of us, when you strip away our street clothes and public manners and let us rock out with our metaphorical cocks out, can be weird, gross, amazing, tender, inappropriate, transgressive, and awesome. It's best when we can do it with love and kindness, and it's so much easier to do that when we can be out and proud about who we really are, whoever that is, because there are people out there who are just what we're looking for, and who are looking for us, too.

So happy coming out day, everyone. May we all love long, and prosper.

grinninfoole: (Default)
I have taken this week off from work, in the hopes of clearing my head and getting a better handle on managing my life in light of the problems with my parents' health.  I seem to need some help, too.

It's an ongoing grieving process as they fail and die on the installment plan.  My Dad is slipping slowly.  His mental acuity has declined, so that he's much like the other human ghosts in the home, and he's physically much less steady on his feet.  Soon, I think, even a walker won't be sufficient.

Mom has returned to the rehab hospital, and hopefully will not bounce back to the hospital for more acute care.  The good news is that she is definitely recovering from the back surgery: she can sit up without pain, her legs don't hurt, she doesn't look so washed out.  The bad news is that she's despondent and a bit confused. She's not remembering new people well, and she's asking me about driving back to Maine or called M by the wrong name.  It's too early to despair, but this is what Dad's dementia was like at the beginning.

On top of that, I'm worried about what we are going to do in the longer term.  Mom will, I hope, go back home by the end of the month, but I don't know how mobile she'll be.  We have arranged for some in home care for now, but in the longer term, if Mom needs a walker that house becomes very difficult for her, and impossible if she's in a wheelchair.  Finding a new house is something we have all acknowledged will be useful, but I'm at a loss for driving the process forward.  I'm more reactive than strategic in my thinking, and that's a weakness in this context.  The stress of confronting a problem whose limits I can't define, the next step for which I can't see clearly, and the consequences thereof could be severe for my family, eats at me.

Personally, I had a terrible job review last week.  Honestly, it was more of an intervention.  I have, apparently, gone from being a great ASM to a bad one because of the stress and worry and sadness I'm dealing with.  This is not merely a knotty problem, or an extended crisis, it's a protracted grieving process.  Apparently, it's leading me to be short with customers and employees, which cannot stand.  I'm definitely forgetting things as they slide through my ADD brain without sticking.

The worst thing about it, though, was not hearing that I need to straighten up and fly right.  I have heard such things before, and while I'm somewhat chagrined that I need to be told, it's sadly part and parcel of ADD.  No, the worst was realizing that I needed help, and that these three people in what was ostensibly a professional context were going far beyond the call of duty to throw me a lifeline. 

I'm ashamed that I let things get so bad they had to step in.  I'm ashamed I didn't ask for help sooner.  I'm especially ashamed at how Lefty, who I honestly feel like I can annoy at any moment without meaning to, made it very clear that he trusts and respects me professionally.  (He even offered me a job as his full-time #2 again with the NY store.  O.o)
EDIT: It occurs to me that I suffer from the fond delusion that I'm a bit like the Doctor: the compassionate madcap who pops out of the background from time to time, helps people, and then disappears while folks shrug and get on with things.  

I guess this sort of distress is hard for me to notice. Instead of causing pain, it causes numbness.  I'm going to have to do better in keeping it in mind.  I need to work on re-establishing and maintaining my domestic routines, which will help me keep it together.

Which is my project for this week. So far, I'm off to a crappy start, with dozing away much of yesterday and today, but I have at least paid some bills, done some cleaning, and seen my therapist.  I'm going to call a personal organizer to come and help me set up some systems to better control the chaos towards which I tend.  I also could definitely use help from friends.  If any of you would care to come by and help me sort through the clutter, I'd appreciate it, especially if you could come over and help me sort comics perhaps tomorrow evening?
grinninfoole: (Default)
1) Mom is still in the rehab hospital, and the pain in her back is gone, but unfortunately she still suffers agonizing pain in her legs, and  she's actually losing some mobility in her feet.  Yesterday, she had a CAT scan to figure out what's going on, which appears to be a herniated disc with a bone fragment from the compression fracture in her t12 vertebra (which is what they fixed last week).  So, Mom 
needs more back surgery (a laminectomy) to fix the damage.  This is mostly good news, because it's a fairly routine procedure, and it will likely allow her to recover and come home.  BUT, it's serious enough that she'll need to be anesthetized, recovery from it can take a week or two even when isn't suffering from Parkinson's, osteoporosis, and somewhat frail.  

So, they just told Mom tonight at about 10 PM that on the schedule for 10 AM tomorrow, and she's kind of freaked out.  I'm already in Andover today, because Dave asked me to come back and help with taking Dad to a routine doctor's appointment.  So, I'm going to stay here another night and go with her tomorrow.  I'm glad I can help, but I'm worried I'm going to let something slip between the cracks with...

2) The Paint & Pixel Festival is THIS SATURDAY.  It's going to be a really fun, really cool show, and if you can make it out, I hope you will.  I'm stressing about because I'm arranging the panel discussions, and I still need to make a few arrangements that I should have done about a month ago.  :(   I hope that Peggy, the founder and main organizer, isn't going to crazy because I'm so behind.   Most of it's done, but there a few important details I need to finish.  Most importantly, I need to come up with proper titles, descriptions (to list in the program) and questions (to ask during the event itself).

3) I'm filling in on the next Mythspoken podcast, and I need to make time to plan what I'm going to say.  I want it to go smoothly, since I'm filling in for Mike, and Jim and I don't have the same easy chemistry.

4) I saw my doctor for my annual physical yesterday, and I'm apparently in decent health, except for being 50 to 60 pounds overweight, plus struggling with dysthymia (that's depression  that isn't so bad that I can't enjoy anything ) and a bit of ADD.  She recommended that I take my ADD meds every day, because that might stabilize and improve my moods enough that other areas of my life will be easier to manage.  (Apparently, the significant mood lift I experience from adderal is actually a sign that I do have ADD, as all your non-crazy folks just get more energetic and focused).

5) We had a great concert at the store on Monday night, the Ladies Of Ragnarok, which was three geeky ladies coming and singing nerdy songs up in the Mythos.  I have never been particularly interested by fan music before when I've bumped into it.  It seems, like fan fiction, that much of it lame, but some is actually well made, interesting and fun (albeit perhaps not to a general audience). I particularly enjoyed the Doubleclicks for their great comic stage presence (Aubrey the cellist is my new celebrity crush).  The crowd loved the show, and we got both Molly Lewis and the Doubleclicks to do an encore, so they did the mah na mah na song.  :) 


grinninfoole: (Default)
1) This coming Saturday will be the second Paint & Pixel Festival.  I've managed to arrange programming this year, which is good, but I still feel like I did a slap-dash job, and kind of guilty about it.  Peggy continues to impress with her passion and capability. 

We're hosting comics workshops for kids at the store as part of the build up to the show.  Colin, the education guy, has done a great job setting these up and running them.  Peggy also sponsored a couple of movie nights at Popcorn Noir, the next of which is the Muppet Movie on Thursday..... which will conflict with my Deadlands game.  aargh!

Oh, and there's a filk band performing in the Mythos on Monday at 7, which could conflict with dinner plans!  double argh!

2) On columbus day, M and I went to NYC, met with the Ladies of Brattleboro for dinner at the Green Table, and then went to see Sleep No More, which is an extraordinary experience in immersive theater.  One is given a mask & enjoined not to speak, and for up to 3 hours one wonders around inside a warehouse of four or five stories where a troop of interpretive dancers performs something inspired by Macbeth.  One can explore the trappings of the set as much as one wishes, or follow performers around or hang out in the lounge.  It's a choose your own adventure style of show, though only as an observer.   I wound up following one stunning beautiful woman around for a while, and wound up getting whisked into a locked room for a short private performance that, while a scripted part of the show, was quite intimate and moving.  Which, if you are thinking of something sexual, is completely wrong--yet it felt like everything you would fantasize about.  A great experience which was well worth the cost.  I plan to go back at some point.

3) My mom is still in a rehab hospital, still in real pain, but I think getting better.  I hope.  Dad is still slipping away a bit at a time.

4) I drove back to Andover last night, couldn't sleep, and watched the Matrix Reloaded on demand.  It's better than I recalled.  The talky scenes make more sense when I can process the sometimes ornate and philosophical dialog, and some of the WTF plot twists actual do make some logical sense.  The biggest weakness that remains, for me, are the pointless action scenes.  The first Matrix was good in part because all the fight scenes served the story, developed character, and looked cool.  In Reloaded, there a couple of set pieces that just take up time. If the Wachowskis had done more with them, they'd have greatly improved the movie.  (Three examples: the introductory fight with Seraph--what does tussling with Neo for two minutes tell him, or us, that we don't know?; then. the  big fight scene with a crowd of Agent Smiths drags on; and the fight with the Merovingian's goons in his foyer is designed to waste Neo's time, but must it waste ours?  What's the point of another display of kung fu?  Are these guys really as challenging as the huge crowd of Agent Smiths?)  On the whole, I stick by some of my earlier criticisms, but I have to upgrade my rating of the film.

5) Sometimes I'm fine, and sometimes the depression gets to me.  I need to spend more time with friends.  I clearly need that.

6) Had an interesting talk with Morlock about making changes in my life. He pointed out that I'm still struggling with some of the same questions that bugged me years ago.  Maybe, he suggested, I need new questions.  hmmmmmmmmmmm.

7) 2013 must be the year I learn to budget.  Just because my desires have heretofore not exceeded my means, doesn't mean those means are inexhaustible. I must get the hang of identifying priorities, choosing amongst them, and then setting aside the others while resisting impulsive spending.  Good grief!
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This has been a very busy time for me at work.  Last weekend, I went to Morristown NJ to sell stuff and promote the in-the-works Modern Myths NY at DexCon.  It was a bit of a drag driving down and then working late setting up on July 4, but the con itself wasn't too much work and, as I mentioned in my last post, I had some fun.  (I also tried Legend Of The Five Rings, a long-standing RPG that we carry and that I didn't know at all, so I got to have fun and learn something useful. :)

Driving back from the show on Sunday evening, I was feeling really sleepy, so I called a few friends for conversation to keep me awake.  The first couple of folks I tried weren't home, but Grounded was, so I talked to her for 20 minutes.  A nice chat, and while I think I'm still doing some grieving, I definitely feel better about myself and happy to have her as a friend.

In what might qualify as a modern miracle, two different insurance plans of my father's just paid our claims for his care in full.  His care is still shockingly expensive, but now it won't eat up all the family money in only 3-5 years.

I have started walking a couple of days a week in the morning with my friend [alias TBD], which is a good start towards my 'fit into my tux before a friend's wedidng' goal.  Also, it's nice to have nerdy chats about all sorts of stuff.  I don't know who else would tell me about the history of boxing and how it intertwines with racism in America.  Or that the NHL's fan base is growing in the south, possibly because hockey is the last remaining major sport with almost no black players.

Hmmmm, wow, have I really not posted about my college reunion in May?  OK, well, I flew out to Ohio for my 20th reunion from Kenyon College.  I stayed with friends in Granville and drove back and forth to Gambier on Thursday to Saturday.  I got to catch up with a number of my friends from my year in Exeter, which was great.  I went on the 'ghost tour' with Professor Shutt, who is older but still a goofy and charming raconteur.  (Still no word on whether Gunnar is home, but his halberd is. :)   I also spent some time with the Church of Otis crowd, and it was great to see them, particularly [ FVC alias also TBD] and her new boyfriend.  I have known FVC since I was a freshman, and I long had a crush on her (which she knows all about), and she's been an out lesbian all that time, so I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this guy she's been living with the past year.  Happily, I quite like him.  He's a friendly, grounded, witty person, and a great fit for her.  She's the happiest I have seen her in years.  I would love to see them again soon.

I am slowly migrating my life back into the master bedroom.  The key steps of getting a new bed and sheets etc. has been achieved.  There's more to do, but Feisty approves of bigger bed to share with me.

It's time for me to go, but I'm just going to mention that the fireflies were spectacular this year, and that on the weekend of July first I watched the Easthampton fireworks from my living room window, while the fireflies dancing in the foreground in my backyard.  It was lovely.
grinninfoole: (Default)
Last week when I posted about contacting S again, and it being a major turning point in my life. Still haven't seen or heard from S again since then, but I notice two things:

1) thinking about her makes me happy, and is giving me a little spike of adrenalin I can feel behind my sternum.

2) I have been feeling BETTER since then. Depression has been dogging me for a while, and about a month ago I increased my daily dose of Sertraline by 50%, which helped, but I've still been feeling unable to do stuff like laundry or cooking. (I was seriously eating out every meal for a while.) Since seeing S, I have gone shopping, made food, changed my bed, and gotten niggling stuff done at work.

I don't know why I feel like this. It could be that I'm still deeply in love, or it might just be that I have undone a fifteen year old psychic logjam, but I have decided that I want to find out. I even have these moments where I feel like we're meant to be together, and all I have to do is let it happen.

I don't entirely trust that feeling, since I am a drama queen, but I have enough faith in my subconscious and my self-awareness to give it a try. I'm going to try something new for me, and not spend so much time and energy imagining how something would be that I don't actually do it, yet still entertaining the possibility of it, rather than assuming it's hopeless and giving up before I even try. In other words, I'm going to live in hope, but carry on with my ordinary life as best I can. If S and I are 'meant for each other', then it will work out if I just have patience. If we aren't, then it's still a great adventure for me to find out, and definitely worth the price of admission.

I'll keep you all posted, of course. My secret plan is to invite her over to dinner with me and M, and she'll have such a good time, she'll call me a lot.

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